Girl Code


The entire evening had been off. Shalom had agreed to go out with her colleagues. But she had not expected to be in the middle of a love triangle.

Her colleague Elsie was there with a date. Shalom had not known who he was. She was asked if she wanted the seat because someone had bailed out on the gala. Originally she had not wanted to go, she had had the chance to get a ticket and declined.

Elsie’s date had bumped into her and made a joke about something benign, she assumed. She had only caught part of what he said because the music was so loud. When they realized they were going to the same gala table, Shalom and he had laughed heartily. He pulled out a chair for her, that was when she saw Elsie glaring at her.

Elsie and Shalom had gone to school together. If they were not close then, now they were even more estranged. Elsie tried to pretend like they had been close, but they never had been. But the look she gave Shalom now was cooler than ice cubes in a summer beverage. Elsie leaned into her date, who looked stiff and Shalom looked away.

But when his knee touched hers, it scalded her. She threw a nervous glance at him but he seemed oblivious, so she figured it was an accident. She picked up her glass of wine and sucked her wine-drenched lip when she put her glass down. Elsie’s date looked at her mouth and she was sure that there was a scarlet flush across her chest.

“Elsie, Loren and you might want to talk strategy tonight. Maybe you can persuade him to come back to work for us?”

Shalom stared at Loren.

Loren Richardson? He was a major competitor at their rival company who used to work for them. Shalom was pretty sure now she was not Elsie’s date.

“I actually have been following Shalom’s latest project,” Loren said with a nod in her direction. Her eyes were so wide that he knew her name and what she was working on. “I was thinking we might steal her away to work for me.”

Shalom gulped.

“Shalom is happy with us,” Norm Bailey, her boss said and she did not disagree.

Loren looked at her and she knew very well that he was going to have his way with her going to work for him or something else. Shalom hoped it was something else.

“Are you happy Shalom with Noah and company?” Loren asked her and smiled broadly.

“I am — nothing could make me happier,” she answered.

For a black-tie event like this, Loren’s company was a gold sponsor. Shalom’s company was a silver sponsor. The lights dimmed and dance music began, Shalom was dazzled by the live orchestra.

“Shalom, would you like to dance?”

She looked up at Loren who was already standing and putting out his hand. She got up, and he placed his hand on the small of her back — the only part that was covered since her back was out deeply.

They put their hands on each other. When Shalom looked up at Loren, he was already looking down at her. They began their waltz, and his warmth burned through her gloves. Shalom felt shy and her face burned when she saw the way Elsie looked at her.

As if she had broken some kind of girl code.

She had never been friends with Elsie. Even though she did not know how the night was going to go, Shalom might have been willing to break the girl code to dance with Loren in any case.

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