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A Lot More Than Just A Secretary

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“Please, Rose! I promise I won’t ask for anything else!” Rose turned and gave Albert a very pointed look.

“Albert, you promised that you’d only spend a year on Almaelou, and look how well that’s turned out.” It had been two and a half years since Albert had made that promise, and he still showed no signs of giving up his business. Rose went back to collecting stacks of papers from Albert’s desk and attempting to organize them.

Albert groaned in exasperation and turned back to try again. “Rose, will you please run the meeting with our new client? I already promised Mama I’d take her out to lunch tomorrow; I can’t do two things at once!”

Rose was still rushing about with her pile of papers (and effectively avoiding Albert). “Well maybe you should have thought about that before you scheduled the meeting for the same day,” she retorted. “You can’t expect me to always be there to pick up your messes and cover for your mistakes Albert, because I can’t.”

“Rosie, please!” Albert was desperate now. “It means a lot to Mama to be able to spend time with me,” he pleaded. “I’ll do anything, if you just cover for me one last time!”

Rose slowed and stared straight ahead, apparently lost in thought. Albert saw an opportunity and jumped on it. Ahh, I’ve got her now, he thought. She’ll give in any second now.

“You know, Rose,” he said, slowly sitting himself down on the desk behind her, “I’d do the same for you. What with you being my secretary and all. I mean, we’ve worked together so long…”

Rose heaved a great sigh and slammed down her stack. She spun to face Albert, pointing a finger in his face.

“What will it take to get through to you Albert?” she snapped. “I’m a lot more than just…your…” Rose dropped off mid-sentence. “Albert, did you say you’d do anything if I helped you out tomorrow?” He nodded apprehensively as Rose began to think.

Albert soon went from shocked to puzzled. “Rose, I—”

She slapped her hand against his mouth and cut him off abruptly. “One condition. I’ll run this meeting for you IF—” She grabbed Albert’s chin and locked eyes with him for emphasis. “IF you introduce me to your mother as your girlfriend. She’ll be coming here to the office before you two go out, right?” Albert nodded again, eyes wide. “Good. I want you to tell her about us, that I’m a lot more than just your secretary. Understand?”

Albert felt as if the floor had just dropped out from beneath him. “As my…you want me to…but Rosie,” he stammered as he stumbled weakly back into his chair. He floundered for a few seconds longer and ran his hand through his hair, until he saw the triumphant look on Rose’s face, that smirk and hand-on-hip combination that told him Rose knew she had won.

“All right, I’ll introduce you as my girlfriend,” he sighed with great reluctance. What a mess I’ve gotten myself into, he thought. To make it worse, Rose just smiled as she sauntered over to him and gave him a peck on the cheek.

“Running the meeting shouldn’t be that difficult anyway,” she said as she resumed her paper sorting. “Besides, it’ll be nice to have some good news to tell your mother when you see her, right Albert?”

Silence. “Albert?”

“Just one thing Rose,” he groaned.

“Yes?”

“Where are my pills? You know, the little white ones…”


11:48. 11:55. Albert couldn’t stop glancing at the clock, drumming his finger on his desk as he nervously awaited the arrival of his mother. He knew she prided herself on punctuality; in exactly five minutes, she’d come marching right through the door. And Albert would have to tell her…tell her that…well, he’d have to fulfill his promise to Rosie. Rose. He turned to look at her, sitting across the office from him. Just working; her face empty of expression, as if she were unaware of what was about to happen. Ignorant of Albert’s extreme discomfort.

He looked at the clock again. 11:59. He groaned inwardly, cursing whichever fool decided that time must always move at the same pace. Just this once, couldn’t time pass just a little slower? he thought.

Suddenly the doors of Almaelou burst open to reveal a short, stout (and slightly bad-tempered) woman dressed in furs. Albert winced as her voice rang throughout the office.

“SONNY!”

“H-hello, Mama,” Albert answered weakly. Rose stood, straightened her skirt and moved to stand beside him.

“Hello, Mae,” she said, a little forcefully. Mrs. Peterson continued as if Rose hadn’t spoken.

“We’d better get going, sonny. That place gets crowded awfully quickly you know…” She stepped forward to grab her son’s arm, but Albert stopped her.

“Mama,” he said meekly as she relinquished his arm, “I…have someone I want to introduce to you.” Mae waved her hand impatiently.

“Yes, Rose, your secretary. We’ve met before sonny, now can we—”

“Mama!” Albert interjected. He looked momentarily shocked by his own audacity but managed to compose himself before he continued. “Rose isn’t just my secretary.” There was a pause. Mae raised an eyebrow, wondering exactly what Albert was getting at when Rose nudged him hard with her elbow. “Ow,” he muttered, rubbing his side. “You see Mama,” he said louder, “Rosie is also…well, she’s-what I mean to say is that Rose is also my…” Albert hesitated slightly. “Girlfriend…” he whispered.

Silence. You could hear a pin drop with absolute clarity in that office. That is, at least until Mae Peterson let out a whimper and fell to the floor in a dead faint.

“Mama!” Albert cried. He rushed to kneel beside her and turned her over while Rose crouched behind him.

“Well, that went well,” Rose said. Albert turned slowly to stare at her. “She reacted much better than I thought she would,” she added.

“Rosie! Please! Now what are we supposed to do with Mama?” Albert asked. Rose thought for a moment.

“We could just leave her,” she suggested.

“Rosie!”

Rose knelt beside her boss. “Albert, she’s out cold,” she said gently. “She certainly won’t be waking up anytime soon. In the meantime, I can go run this meeting of yours, you can go pick up lunch, and when the meeting’s over, you can have lunch with your girlfriend,” she finished brightly.

Albert looked torn for a moment, until Rose spoke up again. “After all Albert. It seems you’re all dressed up with no place to go!” Albert glanced down at his attire, confused.

“But Rose, I’m not…”

“I know you’re not, Albert,” Rose said quickly. “I just meant that you were planning to go out anyway, and—” She shook her head. “What do you think?” Albert hesitated, thinking it over.

“Well, I suppose we could do that; I mean, if you’re really sure she’ll be alright…” he said slowly.

“She’ll be fine,” Rose assured him. “Just help me move her a little and we can both be on our way.”

Together Rose and Albert dragged Mae into a more or less upright position and propped her up against Albert’s desk. They both stood up and grabbed their various coats and briefcases and whatnot. Rose was about to walk out the door when Albert stopped her.

“Rose, wait.” He grabbed her hand and pulled her into his arms, putting a hand on her waist. The other hand brushed a stray curl of hair out of her face. “I love you, Rosie,” he murmured as he leaned in to kiss his girlfriend. His beautiful, beautiful girlfriend. As they broke apart Rose looked up at Albert.

“I know,” she whispered back, a smile on her face. Albert grinned and started to speak but Rose interrupted him. “After all, where else would you have gotten the courage to stand up to your mother?” She spun on her heels and left the office without another word. Albert shook his head, but he couldn’t stop smiling. I don’t know how I managed to win the heart of a girl like Rose, he thought. But no matter what happens, I am not letting her go.