. 5 .
By 1:00 the office returned to its former frenzy and Shannon could see Lisa scanning the report summary on her way to a meeting. Looking back at her desk, she realized she had no work to do, having never received any feedback from Lisa or any other business from last week. She contemplated surfing the internet again, as she would normally when it was slow, but she was determined to avoid the norm.
She found some stray papers around her workspace and a couple empty coffee cups, so she decided that her top priority should be tidying up her area. Certainly, it was a productive activity, adding value as the posters dictated. She started by reaching under her desk for some old sticky notes that had been there for weeks, possibly years. Unable to extract them from the carpet with her feet, she got off her chair and on all fours crawled under her desk to peel them off one at a time.
She was thoroughly satisfied with the way the first note came off the carpet, causing a slight bulge in the nap as it desperately clung to the last fibers. But before she could start on the second, she heard a throat clearing directly above her. Fearing the worst (namely, Lisa) she burst from underneath the desk so quickly she nearly hit her head, but with a small amount of grace she was able to regain her position on the chair and brush the hair away from her face with one move of her hand.
Now able to see the source of the noise, she discovered it was the bicycle courier in his usual thermal tights and plastic helmet.
“Excuse me,” he said, blushing slightly, “I hope I didn’t disturb you.”
“Oh no, I was just, you know, tidying up.”
“I see. Well, I have another package for Ms. Hensel. She’s not in her office, so I need you to sign.”
“Of course, um, what’s your name again?” Shannon was determined to call people by name now.
“Yes, Bryan, right. I’ll take that. Thanks.”
“No problem, um…”
“Well, it’s like we’re old friends now. Bye, Shannon.”
Old friends? With the courier? Why not! The new Shannon didn’t make class distinctions—not that she was some socialite, but this was hardly the kind of person with whom she would associate were Hannah around. Besides, he looked good in tights, especially when walking away. But Shannon wanted him to turn around again, to take her into his arms and carry her down those thirty-two stories with his bike strapped to his rippled back.
Instead, he picked up his bike, which was resting by the window, and rolled it into the elevator. When he turned around as the elevator doors closed, Shannon turned away, pretending to be engrossed with the new delivery.
It had a plain brown wrapper with a return address from some unfamiliar acronym-named company with a strange nine-digit ZIP code and no further information. The more she looked at it the more genuinely engrossed she became. She opened up her internet browser and went to a mapping site, where she entered the first five digits of the ZIP code just to see where it came from. It came up as a remote mountain area in Wyoming, so she figured that she must have typed the wrong number, but she looked at the package again and it was the same number, no mistake. Such a mystery would have kept her intrigued all day, but she instead found herself smelling the box to catch what kind of cologne that Bryan used.
It smelled mostly like lower Manhattan mixed with hot dogs, so no help there. She couldn’t remember any specific smells from when he was at her desk, or from any of the many times he had been in the office previously as just another unnamed courier. Now he was Bryan and he needed a context.
He’s only a courier, she thought, so whatever he wears it couldn’t be too expensive, if he even bothers with a scent. Pedaling that bike all over the city must make him sweat through anything. He probably just puts on some Right Guard or something and calls it a day. Maybe Speed Stick, if he’s sensitive. He probably is sensitive, and has all those aloe products with green labels made to be conspicuous yet still masculine. Maybe he likes more organic stuff, even on his tight budget.
But, then again, he may just do this courier thing on the side. He’s only around about twice a week, and who can say how much time he spends elsewhere? Well, he could, but he’s been silent up until now. He may be a trust fund kid, holding down a part-time job that gives him a little exercise. Sure, why spend all that money on a spa membership, even if money is no object? Put in ten hours a week riding your bike, making some spare change on the way. That probably pays for his lunches alone. The rest of the time he’s serving on charity boards and attending soirees.
One thing she did manage to notice was the lack of a ring on his finger, or one that he put on a necklace. No necklace at all. Probably not Catholic, but that’s not a problem. Bryan. He could be Jewish, but he didn’t look at all Jewish. More Irish or German. Bryan would likely be an Irish name, if spelled with a Y (as it was, obviously, but she had yet to discover it). Depends on the last name, of course, and that was not forthcoming.
Are those thermal tights comfortable? Do they breathe? Maybe they’re not supposed to breathe, being thermal and all. That would keep the body heat inside the tights. Taking them off must not be pleasant at the end of the day, but in his case it’s probably pretty short, having to get to a dinner party that night on Fifth Avenue, followed by clubbing in SoHo. An exhausting schedule, to be sure, but at least a couple changes of clothes.
Wyoming? What’s that all about? Why would Lisa receive a package from the middle of nowhere? Was it just to get a delivery from Bryan? Maybe she’s having an affair with him. A little quickie here and there during lunch, or maybe around 3:30, when nobody would suspect. Her husband, Morgan, would be working across town, none the wiser, probably balling his secretary anyway. But he would not be pleased to hear about Bryan.
He’d probably try to kill Bryan, the violent bastard. All that college football screws with your mind. How to protect Bryan? The affair with Lisa must be stopped! If it ends before Morgan finds out, everybody will be safe. Somebody has to get to Lisa now!
“Lambert! What are you doing?”
Shannon shook her head and turned around to see Lisa staring at her in disbelief. All she could muster was a bewildered grunt.
“Hello? Is that my package you’ve been staring at for five minutes now? Lambert? Can you hear me?”
“Oh yeah, of course, Lisa. Here you go.”
“Dammit, Lambert, what did you have for lunch?”