Excuse the Jess

S3 Ep 2 - New Beginnings

June 19, 2023 Jessica J Garner Season 3 Episode 2
S3 Ep 2 - New Beginnings
Excuse the Jess
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Excuse the Jess
S3 Ep 2 - New Beginnings
Jun 19, 2023 Season 3 Episode 2
Jessica J Garner

Send us a Text Message.

Jess buys a croissant.

Support the Show.

Excuse the Jess is a fictional story told over each season.

Written & Performed by: Jacquie J Sarah
Website: ExcusetheJess.com
Produced by: Deliciously Bright Productions
Instagram: excusethejess

Leave a Review: https://excusethejess.com/review


Show Notes Transcript

Send us a Text Message.

Jess buys a croissant.

Support the Show.

Excuse the Jess is a fictional story told over each season.

Written & Performed by: Jacquie J Sarah
Website: ExcusetheJess.com
Produced by: Deliciously Bright Productions
Instagram: excusethejess

Leave a Review: https://excusethejess.com/review


Episode 2 – New Beginnings


Hello, and welcome to episode 2 of season 3 of Excuse the Jess.   I bet you’ve all been on tenterhooks waiting to hear this episode.  I have already decided to put these out bi weekly or weekly, depending how organised I am.  If you would rather binge listen, I know I do, make sure you hit the like/following/download key NOW on whichever platform you are listening on and at the end all the episodes will be waiting for you.  Make sure you do that though, don’t forget; I will see you in 55 weeks (or fewer, keep checking).  


Right, for all you weekly people, shall we continue?  This week, I will be talking about new beginnings.    I know what you’re thinking, we don’t care about new beginnings, can you just crack on with the story?   But this is not how these things work.  You are not the boss of me.  Okay, please stay.  I’m not needy or anything but do.  I know it’s new beginning not new beginnings because New” is an adjective. “Begin” is a verb. Adjectives do not modify verbs. Therefore the correct phrase is “New beginning.”  It’s just some pedants listen to this and I don’t want anyone saying to me, oh Jessica, didn’t you do a degree in English and you don’t know that?  I do so just shut up.  Sorry, please stay.  I’ll start.




You left me last week in a coffee shop, in Reading on day zero.  I had just purchased a cappuccino and a croissant and I must say, I really enjoyed that croissant.  It was light, flaky – but not too much – and had a lovely buttery flavour without the need for more butter. I know you have been concerned about that.  I lied also when I said I would only have one.  I have had more since.  At the time though I kidded myself that I would only have one so not strictly a lie.  Well, only to myself.  That’s all I have to say about day zero at the coffee shop.   Not really.


I had just purchased my coffee and croissant when a familiar voice called my name, it was Niles.  


It was the first time I had seen him in two weeks, him being my manager’s, manager’s, manager from the States.  Not since the whirlwind struggle I had with him to save the factory in Wales from closing, and how much his visit bled into my personal life.  When he flew in to sort out the mess initially I wasn’t prepared for the fact he would change everything immediately in the organisation or that I would end up falling for him or thinking I had developed some sort of friendship with him, or that he would yell at me, tell me he needed to see his partner, leave and not speak to me again.  Well until now.


The thing was that time had changed me somewhat.  In the final podcast of season two it seemed I had calmy resided myself to the fact that he was gone, he had been nothing but good to me, and I had made something out of it because I had feelings for him.   At the time, this was how I felt.  Now, I was fucking furious.   I hadn’t not only lost my job, I had to move to city I didn’t know, the enormity of my new role had hit me, my bed was rock hard, and I had barely slept.  That on its own was enough but no, Niles had shouted at me for not answering my work phone after I was assaulted when I had just left it in work in shock, he had me work a Sunday helping him find new accommodation, he had invited himself to my birthday meal with friends, and then insisted on paying like the big I am, I spent the entire day of my birthday showing him around Cardiff, he yelled at me in the office for not being real, I mean what the fuck does that even mean, he made me believe for about a second he might reciprocate my feelings before announcing he had to see his partner, then after all that, he didn’t get in touch to make me redundant or wish me well or anything really.  The last time I saw him he was racing out of the office to see Daphne, his partner.  For newbies, obviously these are pseudonyms.  That was until that moment.  Until I heard that New York twang and suddenly he’s there.  In front of me.  I think I froze before seeing the red mist.  How did I not realise how angry I was with him?


He said my name again and made a move towards me, so I stepped back.

I saw the look of confusion on his face and my stomach flipped a bit.  Yep it was still there.  I have lousy taste in men though.  It was why I was still single.

‘Will you sit?’, he asked and gestured to a seat opposite him.

I didn’t say anything, didn’t move.  I didn’t know what to do.  Part of me was ready to storm off and the other part was desperate to know why he was here.

‘Please’, and his eyes burned into mine.  The desperate part of me won so I sat.

‘How have you been?’, he asked hesitantly.

‘Peachy.  What are you doing here?’

He reached inside his bag and pulled out a folder, talking as he did so.  He seemed nervous and rambled a bit.

‘You were right.  The factory is financially better off without your role but moving it to head office would mean someone with less experience than you so I thought it would be better if we gave you the work and more as a freelancer.’

He started to show me a contract, but I wasn’t really looking.  All I could think was he had come all this way to offer me a job.  Maybe he’d twist the knife in and give me an invitation to his wedding too.

‘No’, I interrupted.  It was loud, people around looked.

I felt the overwhelming urge to go.  As I stood.  I told him.

‘If you wanted me to work for you then maybe you might have mentioned it whilst I was still working for you.’

I took two steps away and I swear if he hadn’t grabbed my arm I would have had the nerve to storm out.

‘Please Jess’, he quietly pleaded.  ‘I haven’t handled things very well’.

That was hard, making that decision to sit back down.  I was still furious but that was ebbing away by the second and I hated myself for that.  

I silently sat back down, and decided I would let him say his piece.  Then I would definitely go.

‘It all went wrong when I got home.  Daphne said she was moving out but when I got back she said she wanted to give it another try and then I had to be the bastard that told her it was never going to happen.’ 

My heart leapt but nope, that still didn’t mean anything for me.

‘I told my assistant to draw up your severance papers while I put your contract together and I didn’t know that she had already sent them to HR.  I didn’t know because I was distracted and I only realised when I emailed you and had a message stating the email was no longer in use.  I was always coming back to you and I’m a little hurt you’d think I wouldn’t.  

I said nothing, none of it was my fault, so he continued.

‘It was difficult too to get a flight to London.’

‘Why?’, I asked genuinely believing it was another excuse.

‘Because of the Queen’, he said without irony, and it made laugh me little.

‘So it’s now the fault our beloved deceased monarch that you yelled at me, and then didn’t speak to me for two weeks’.

He hung his head.  ‘No, it just explains my delay getting here.’

‘You didn’t have to get here, you could have just got in touch.  I literally leave contact details on the end of the podcast, the one you claimed to listen to, it’s not like you couldn’t have spoken to me at any time.  You didn’t need to come here’.

He lifted his head, ‘I did’.

‘To offer me a job when you already knew I had another job because here we are in Reading.  In the building my job is.’ 

He shook his head.  ‘To see you.’

Okay now there was no mistaking the way he said it and that look.  

Then I came back to my senses because there was no way on earth that was the case.  He was just feeling bad because of the way things happened.  He had just offered me a job, a huge no no for the organisation.  Relationships between manager and employee.

The red mist subsided; I was kind of back to liking Niles again who had come all this way to apologise for the way he handled things.  Even if it didn’t make sense.

‘Do you forgive me?’, he asked.

‘How can I?  At the least you haven’t said sorry’, It wasn’t a lie, plus I only had about 70% forgiven him. 

‘Let me buy you a meal tonight? I promise you will get a full apology plus some low-level pleading.’

I glared at him, only half joking.  ‘Do you think you can buy me off with expensive wine, and decent food?’

He smiled.  ‘Not buy you off, that’s just the basics on a first date.’ 




I tried to play it cool, and pretended to hesitate before saying the apology had better be good, but if he heard the podcast he already knows anyway.  I wondered if he had.  It just meant my cards were on the table though.  He took my phone number.  Even checked straight away that I had given him the right number.  He said he would text me the address of the meal after booking.


I was in a daze when I finally arrived in the office.  Everyone looked up when I walked in and I realised this was probably not a great second impression.  Swanning in at 10.30 with a coffee and croissant, and the stupidest expression on my face.  I said hello as I wondered through the office and to my door.  I become vaguely aware there was someone sitting at a desk in front of the office.  This must have been Jo.  She was around thirty.  I was getting useless at guessing ages so it’s a complete guess with purple bobbed hair and the biggest smile.

‘Jo?’, I asked knowing perfectly well who she was.

She nodded and said ‘Jess?  Good to meet you.’

‘Good to meet you too.’

I went towards the office and she followed me in.  I noticed the bunch of flowers on the coffee table.

‘I bought you the flowers as a welcome, don’t tell Dawn as it’s on her card.   Sorry I wasn’t here on Friday to welcome you.’

I put down the coffee and croissant on the desk and put down my bag.

‘That’s okay, it was really thoughtful of you.  Thank you.’

Jo put the office glass to frosted as she was leaving.

‘If you need anything let me know.’

Day zero was turning out to be a big surprise.




The words were spinning in my head all day.  A date.  It was really unhelpful.  It was unhelpful when I had a meeting with Dawn about her expenditure.  It was unhelpful when Jo asked me what I wanted for lunch in town.  It was unhelpful when I was researching grants that afternoon.  At one point I wonder if I had hallucinated it.  The stress of moving, a new job, and lack of sleep was bound to play with anyone’s mind.  Had I imagined it?  Would Niles ask me on a date?  I picked up my phone and I checked my contact, there was his name.  I could have added that myself.  I hoped I hadn’t been talking to myself in the coffee shop because it’s one thing to know you’re losing your mind, it would be bad if people who worked in the building knew too.  Then the text alert went on my phone and a message appeared from Niles.   He suggested his hotel restaurant which was presumptuous and really handy at the same time.  If this was me, I was pulling some next level Fight Club style shit.  There was no mistake.  This was not a friendly meal, this was a date which meant food, flirting, and sex.  I was actually going to sleep with someone I fancied for the first time in years, maybe decades.  He hadn’t said that bit of course, that was me making the decision, whatever happened, tonight was the night, before he came to his senses.  Which I was hoping wasn’t going to be in the next few hours.  I texted back to say see you there.  He texted a little while later to say he was really looking forward to it with a kiss.  Not more than I was.  




I took a large handbag, it had some toiletries, clean underwear, flat pumps, and a T-shirt.  I couldn’t show up with an overnight bag, but this was a good second.  He likes me too I kept thinking and then again had to give myself a reality check, because schoolgirl crush Jess was not a good look for a middle-aged woman.  A couple of times further, I thought was I imagining it.  Even looked to my phone to check if his messages were there.  As I was getting ready, I looked to my freshly made bed with the mattress topper and thought, well at least if I am losing my mind, I might actually sleep tonight.  There was the other side too.  I haven’t been on a proper date in years, what if I fucked up before we got to the good stuff?  


It was a long day but I finally got to the restaurant and looked for Niles.  A waiter looked at me as if I was too working-class to be there, but I saw Niles and pointed to my table.  The waiter followed my gaze and led the way.  Niles smiled as I walked over.  I loved that smile because it doesn’t happen very often.  I don’t mean he is miserable, but he has a miserable screen-saver face so when he smiles it feels like you’ve earned it.  He told me I looked lovely.  Which was well lovely.  I sat down and it confused him because I think he was going to move my chair for me so scurried to sit back down.  He’d already picked wine and was hugely apologetic about it.  What was going on?


The waiter brought over a couple of menu’s which we accepted and then Niles started making a fuss about the limited menu and he was sorry if there wasn’t anything I liked as if it was his fault.  My heart sank and I thought he had already come to his senses.   Then he moved his menu, which nearly knocked his drink and drops of red wine ended up on the white tablecloth.  I realised he was nervous.    A waiter came running over and mopped it up and Niles was hugely apologetic again.

I had to say something, even if I had a response I didn’t want, but I as soon as the waiter left I said.

‘You know, this doesn’t have to be a date?’

He smiled, that big beautiful smile and emphatically stated.

‘It does have to be a date. Why did you say that?’

‘Because in this country, if someone asks you on a date, they usually bring flowers or chocolate, both if they really like the person.’ I looked at him deadly serious.

He was a bit taken back, then screwed up his eyes, and smiled again.

‘You’re joking.’

I slowly nodded.

‘Good because I was thinking how the fuck was I going to sort out chocolate and flowers right now’.

And it seemed to calm him right down.  Although why he was so cock sure that I wanted it to be a date?

‘Niles?’, he suddenly asked grinning.

It made me ridiculously happy.  He’d listened to my podcast.  He’d actually listened.   Which meant two things, one that he knew exactly how I felt about him and two I had one listener.




Now this is where it gets interesting because, and even as I think about it now, I let him get away with so much.  The words I’m sorry did leave his lips, but it was never implicit for what.  He made it clear Daphne had gone; he was 100% single.  He was also serious about the job offer but the loophole was as a freelancer I would not be under the same terms as an employee.   The rest of it, which was only about an hour, was slipping right back to where we were before the yelling and disappearing.  Which was exciting and a little bit terrifying, seeing how it ended last time.


After the meal, the waiter asked us whether we liked to see the dessert menu.  I told the waiter I would just like a coffee, Niles said the same so he disappeared.

Niles looked at me so seriously.  ‘We’re going to do this again?’

‘We’d better’.  I replied just as seriously.

He went on. ‘And nothing needs to happen tonight.  We can take our time, get to know each other better. Do it when we’re both ready.’

I nodded, ‘okay, as long as you know that it’s taking all my willpower not to leap over this table and tear your shirt off.’

He stared and I wondered if he’d been serious.  I mean, we’re old.  How long can we wait?

Then he called for the waiter to come over and demanded the bill.  Asked if he could charge it to the room.  No, they couldn’t. He would need to pay by card.  Niles complained what had happened to this country, I could have told him, but I didn’t care at that moment.  As he waited for the bill to come over, I casually stood up, picked up my things, and walked out of the restaurant into the hotel main lobby.  It would save time.  I could see he was still messing with the card system which obviously was slow.  I was being so fucking impatient, though so I pressed the lift button.  He would have to be here soon, I didn’t have a clue where to go beyond here.  I heard the ting of the lift and the doors flung open.  A couple walked out, and I made way for them.  Where was Niles?  Maybe I could hold the lift doors, but as I went to go in, I felt my hand being grabbed and I was pulled into the lift.  It was Niles before you started to think this was about to take a dark turn.  He pressed the doors for the lift to close and I knew as soon as it did, we were finally going to kiss.  Within a milli second of the doors shutting though, a hand came in then a briefcase stopped them from shutting.  Niles leant forward to open the doors, and I scowled at him.  The guy with a briefcase said good evening to us and turned to face the doors.  Then there were three.  On a painfully slow elevator.  I couldn’t look at Niles, I am not sure he could look at me.  Every so often, he’d touch the back of my hand with the back of his, and I swear it was like electricity shooting through me, and I pulled my hand away.  He knew what he was doing.  The familiar elevator ting, and then the doors opened.  We walked around the briefcase man and were finally free.   I stopped dead not knowing which way to go.  Niles reached for my hand again, and we walked, I say walked, I was dragged until we got to his room.  Then he reached into his pocket, pulled out his wallet and started trying to get the key card out, and I couldn’t work out why he wouldn’t just put it in his back pocket ready.  Then he put the key against the lock, and the light was red, then he did it again, red.  Now he had a clear choice we were going to get in that room now, or I was going to kill him.  Suddenly the light was green, and we were both a bit stunned.  He pulled down the handle, and the door opened.  What happened next isn’t clear, or who did what.  All I know is that I was suddenly pinned against the wall just over the other side of the door, and his mouth found mine and then his tongue found mine and I watched as the light from the hallway disappeared as the door slammed shut, and we were in darkness.




He was magnificent.  He told me to say that.  Then he told me not to say that he had said that.  Of course, I am not going to talk about the ins and outs, literally, of that.  Something odd happened afterwards though.  I stopped thinking.  I know what you’re thinking. When do you ever think?  Seriously though, I just got lost.  I was laying in bed, sober, and conscious but no thoughts, no feelings I was aware of, just nothing.  I wasn’t even aware it was happening until I started drifting to sleep, and the thought snapped into my head that I couldn’t go to sleep. I had to go home.   Niles came back from the bathroom, into bed and turned off the light.  Then I was Jess again, wishing desperately to go back into oblivion.  I went to turn, and pain shot through my lower back.  Packing, moving and being old had affected it so I instinctively turned my back to Niles and curled up in a ball to relieve the pressure.  Niles asked what was wrong, so I told him and he started to rub my back.  He asked if it was getting better, and it was.  I realised this was probably my cue to leave, instead Niles moved next to me, put his knees under my knees, his stomach and chest into my back so my back was supported.  Then he placed his arm around me and put his hand on my stomach.  Which was kind of horrific, so I carefully lifted his hand and clasped it, so it was my hand on my stomach.  I felt him kiss the back of my head and finally he whispered, night Jess.  He didn’t want me to leave.

Within minutes he was asleep.  


And so was I.  Of course not!  Have you not been paying attention?  I am an insomniac.  It’s not like those romance novels where the woman can’t sleep and then suddenly they get with a man and all their problems are solved.  A man I was mildly obsessed with was breathing softly into my neck but not a single one of my problems was solved.  In fact, I had so many questions at this moment, first one being how do you fall asleep so fucking quickly?


Incid Music


I didn’t speak to him after that, leaving him around 6.30am on Day 1 to come home to get ready for work. I left a note saying I would be back lunchtime.  I was so excited, like a 3-year-old high on sugar.  Niles had texted that morning insisting I went to his room which only meant one thing.  When he answered though he looked distressed, and I knew he had come to senses already.  This was it, one night.  I asked him what was wrong and it looked like he was dancing around the subject.  Finally.

‘A maid came in.’

I nodded, it happens in hotels.

‘I was asleep, naked asleep, exposed.’

I burst out laughing which upset him further.

‘It’s not funny.’

‘Beg to differ’.

He started to rant.  About how he couldn’t show his face in the hotel, and he hated hotels anyway, and this one was crap.

The words were out of my mouth before I even thought about it.

‘Stay with me’.

He stopped, ‘Really?’

‘Well I am not sure what your plans are while you are here but when you are in Reading, just stay with me’.

He actually looked like he was going to punch me, exasperated was not the word.

‘Again, I am only here to see you.’

In between two to three site visits, I thought.  ‘You’d better pack then’.

For the second time in a month, I was sorting accommodation out for Niles.  He packed, checked out, we got to the flat and I had to go back to work.   




It was a long afternoon.  My brain couldn’t quite comprehend what had happened, what was happening and I just put my head down and worked.  Well, the best I could in a brain fog I had.  I finally got back home.  As the lift opened to the flat, a gorgeous smell of food cooking wafted through the landing, and I thought someone was very lucky. I was hungry.  I’d only had the croissant I’d picked up with my coffee this morning.   The door was open when I got to the flat.  Niles had my set of keys and I had to ring the intercom to be let in.  As I walked through the hallway, I realised that the lucky person was me, the food was being cooked here.  Unless of course, Niles had just made himself something which would have been rude.  


As I got into the kitchenette he was stirring a sauce.  The place was spotless.  There was a good reason to invite him.  He came forward and kissed me which was not unpleasant.  Then he ordered me to get out of my clothes which was exciting, and finished with and put on something comfortable, which wasn’t so much.

‘You’ve got some explaining to do’, he said which was rich coming from him.

When I changed and went back into the room, Niles presented me with a box of chocolates and a bunch of flowers, because of course, he didn’t do it the night before, even though he knew I was joking.  It was nice though because I rarely get presents.  The last time was when Niles bought me that coffee machine, which I gave away.  He handed me a large glass of wine and I could have kissed him, so I did.  He almost immediately pulled away.

He went to my dining table which had his work on and pulled out a folder.

‘When did you do this?’

I was at first unsure what he meant, but then he pulled out all the notes I had done on hotel notepaper from the file he’d showed me the day before with documents and my contract in.   Now I remembered why I had a sore arse all day, two hours sitting on a hard hotel bathroom floor working.  

‘Somewhere between 1 and 3’, I replied and took a huge gulp of wine.

‘You are taking the job?’

Ooh chocolates I thought and started to tear cellophane off the box as I spoke.

‘No, I have a job.  I was bored and you were being rude by sleeping’.

My manners taught me to offer first which I did, and he refused.  I took one anyway.

‘It’s good work, Jess’.

I shrugged, my manners also taught me that you don’t speak with your mouth full.

‘So we’ll work out a way that you could do both.’

I chocked back the chocolate.

‘Will we?   Let me know how that works out.’

He began getting frustrated with me again and I thought well that was a lovely 24 hours.

‘That tells me nothing. Could you just be honest?’

‘Me be honest’, I started.  ‘It’s okay for you, you know how I feel about you.’

‘I don’t’, he snapped back.

That I wasn’t prepared for.

‘Did you not listen to all of my podcasts?’

He didn’t speak immediately, gathering his thoughts.  He then spoke calmly and evenly.

‘I’ve listed to all of them, more than once, more than ten times, but I heard that I took your breath away, which fyi woah, I heard school girl crush more than once, and one stage you said you were in deep trouble but.’

And I just blurted it out, me Jessica Jodi Garner, the last person in the world to say this stuff.

‘I love you’.

I think I expected him to run instead his face broke out into a huge smile.  It was okay, it wasn’t a bad thing to tell someone, even if it was me saying it.

‘When I said I was in deep trouble, that’s when I realised.’ I confirmed.

In the movies, that’s when there’s a kiss and music swells and it’s the end, except it’s not the end.  We’re still on day one in episode two.   Stupidly if I had just finished Season 2 of the podcast 2 weeks later, we could have just left it there.

Niles still hadn’t spoken, and I knew I had to help him.

‘It’s okay though, I know you don’t feel the same way and’

He started to pace, agitated again.  ‘Don’t do that again, don’t put words in my mouth because you have been wrong every time.  I asked you to show me around Cardiff because I liked you, I asked you back to the flat because I wanted to have sex with you.  Which fyi, you were right about, I shouldn’t have done that.’

All the time he was talking I was thinking this is not real.  He managed to take my breath away for the second time.  Except he was agitated and raving at me again which can’t happen, again.

‘Stop!’  I yelled.

He stopped in his tracks.  

‘Don’t do that again, don’t rave at me, this is the last time, understand?’

He wasn’t annoyed, the opposite.

You could cut the tension though with a knife.

He leant against a chair, again gathering his thoughts.  ‘I’m sorry.  I shouldn’t have done that to you in the office.’

I agreed.

‘It was confusing.  I realised how I felt and I needed to get home because you wouldn’t have started anything with Daphne still around.’

It was lovely but didn’t make any sense.

‘No, you said you liked me before that’.

‘Yeah, I realised I liked you when you got punched.’

There was too much to unpack in that sentence.  What was wrong with people?  My indignance nearly meant I missed the end of his thought.

‘But I realised I loved you in the office.’

Wait, what?


F/X Teams call 


A call came through on Niles’s laptop.  He sheepishly looked at the screen.

‘It’s my manager’, he announced.  ‘I have to…’

I nodded, completely flummoxed. I became aware of the sauce bubbling away on the hob so went to turn it off as Niles took the call.

I didn’t know what to do.  Then realised I probably should give Niles his privacy and went to the bedroom.  It was dark, I went to go to the bedside lamp.  The next thing I felt was being thrown on to the bed and Niles weight on top of me.  That wasn’t unpleasant either.   He whispered into my ear.  

‘The internet is shit in this hotel.’, and that may have been the hottest sentence I’d ever heard in my life.




Later that evening two exhausted but happy people sat at my dining room table to enjoy the meal that Niles had cooked a few hours before.  It was only Spag Bol but it was absolutely stunning and I had no idea how he managed to do so much this afternoon.  We were eating silently when he went back to my podcast.

‘I don’t understand how my ex was Daphne though.  You are Daphne, she was Maris.’

I picked the pseudonyms from Frasier, one of my favourite sitcoms of all time.  In Frasier, Niles’s ex wife was called Maris, the woman he loved was called Daphne.

‘I don’t understand.’, I said and I wasn’t being obtuse.

He deep sighed which meant he thought I was.  

‘Daphne was the one he loved, he left his wife for her’.

‘No, he left Mel for Daphne, Maris was long gone.’

‘Who was Mel?’

Alarm bells started ringing.

‘Mel was his wife when he finally confessed his feelings for Daphne.  Did you not watch Frasier?’

‘Not after the first few seasons.’

That was it then, he was not perfect. 

‘Then I guess I know what we are watching then when we’re together.’





On Day 2, which was Thursday evening, 48 hours from our first date, 30 hours since we started living together, and 23 hours since the I love you’s, Niles presented me with new coffee machine, to replace the one I gave away, a TV and Roku sound box for the bedroom, and a gold necklace with a gorgeous heart-shaped pendant.  It was too much.  I told him but he pointed out only one of them was really for me.  I didn’t recognise myself at all in this scenario.  What excitement did we have planned for that evening?  I don’t hear you say, Niles had to work.  I should have done some writing too, or something at least productive.  I was exhausted though.  The difference between us being that I had to get up early for work each day.  He was asleep when I left him.


He was sat on the sofa next to me with his mac on his lap our arms tight together, and I was resting my head on his shoulder.  I was drifting to sleep, in that state between sleeping and waking when you have lucidity.  I saw mum and dad when they were young, a memory probably as a small child.  They were laughing together and I snapped out of it.  This was it.  I was apparently in the cosy sofa napping stage of the relationship.  I managed to go from the honeymoon stage, that was Tuesday, the rowing stage, yesterday and now we in the comfortable stage already.  That was all I was going to get but it was good we fitted it all in because he was back home sometime soon.

I leapt up and you know how something catches your eye, but you don’t quite register it for a second.  Niles asked if I was okay.  What was niggling me?  This weird relationship, seeing Mum and Dad or

‘You’re not pressing charges’, I said

Niles immediately put down the laptop.

That’s what I’d seen on Niles's laptop, an email.  Three words standing out, not pressing charges.

I mean it could have been about anything.  But I knew it was about that factory in Wales where I uncovered the theft that had been going on there for years.  That factory where I went through months of people being rude, people hating me, my manager trying to get me to leave.  

Niles had the intelligence to look ashamed.

‘It’s been decided that there would just be too much bad press around it.’

Bad press?  I thought all it takes for good people to do nothing is bad press.  Fuck me.  

‘I went through hell, I had to move’, I was getting upset, I could feel the tears and that was no good.  Absolutely no way, not on a work issue.

‘I know’, Niles agreed.  ‘But something good came out of it’.

I turned my back, tears to swallow down, actually now anger too to swallow down.  Because they were idiots absolute idiots because people talked there and it was only a matter of time before someone else tried knowing the worse that could happen is they’d be found out.

‘Jess?  Are you okay?’, Niles asked.

I wasn’t, I had nowhere to go though.   I realised why Ems always kept going on about long baths.  I had a long bath this evening, peace she would say.  I didn’t want a long bath so I had to suck it up, I could, and I would.  I realised there was a good reason why corporate didn’t like relationships between colleagues, this was it.  I laughed a little.  I was wrong about that too. All these thoughts were just fragments in seconds.   Articulated for here though, I was tired of being the one who fights for what’s right.  Maybe it was time I fight to be in charge, to earn the most money, to look after myself at work and just fuck everyone else because I kept losing.  The man in the room with me claimed to have liked me but he still would have closed the factory despite my efforts.  The tears had gone, and the anger subsided.  With sheer determination now in place.   I was changing, and I knew just the person to help me.

I spun back around.


‘I’ll take the job, part-time though, but I want 10% more than was on that contract and you to mentor me.’

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