“I’m…I’m…I’m…” I stammer, backing up, dropping my head, and looking straight at the ground in humiliation.
“I’m…I gotta go,” I mumble, sidestepping out of his way, and heading straight for the elevator. I push the button repeatedly, knowing damn well my actions won’t speed up the elevator’s arrival.
Tristan runs to catch me, just as I eye the stairwell and bolt for the door. “Leah! Wait!” he yells; the “wait” is muffled by the sound of the door slamming behind me. I run down only one flight of steps and escape onto the twentieth floor, knowing that Tristan O’Donnell would chase me the entire way down the stairs—if seeing and talking to me were his goals. Tristan O’Donnell always gets what he wants. Always.
Hoping that Tristan doesn’t check the video monitors, I walk down the hallway to the other set of stairs and down to the first floor, exiting O’Donnell Industries. Once I hit the street, the winter sun reflecting off the snow burns my eyes. I squint at the pain of the brightness, knowing the sting of my tears has nothing to do with the shining, searing light.