Part 3

She grabbed the report from her desk and headed down to the conference room. She straightened her blouse nervously before pushing open the doors to the conference room. Daniel smiled at her from his spot at the head of the table, and she scanned the faces of the board of directors. Her nerves flared up as she placed the report and her speaking notes on the podium at the front of the room.
Taking in a deep breath, she began her rehearsed presentation. The words rolled off her tongue as her excitement replaced her nerves.
“By investing in this project, we will be decreasing the carbon imprint of this company by 15-20%. It will also create more job opportunities. This project will help the company both from a ecological and economic perspective,” she finished. She looked around the small room, trying to get a read on the room. Finally, she met Daniel’s gaze. Her boss’ grin lit up the room, and she felt like she was floating. Seeing his reaction made the months of late nights and early mornings worth it. Maybe she might get the raise she’s been hoping for, enough for her to bring Rae home. “Thank you for your time,” she closed and gathered her material. Clapping stopped her movements, and she looked up. Several of the board members stood, smiling. She clutched her folder to her chest, feeling anxious.
“I believe that we have an answer for you already. The board approves the project. Mr. Richards will give us a progress report each week.”
Hailey could hardly breath as she stared at the board. After another moment, she composed herself enough to thank them before ducking out of the room. She squealed the moment she stepped into her office and laughed before breathing a sigh of relief. A knock on her door startled her, and she opened the door. Daniel’s frame filled her doorway, and she stepped back to let him in. He closed the door behind himself, and she flung herself into his arms.
“We did it,” she cried. He wrapped his arms around her waist, and she grinned up at him. “I can’t believe that all our hard work paid off.” He smiled down at her.
“I knew that those long nights would pay off, but I couldn’t have done it without you,” he whispered. “I’m going to miss those nights with you though.” Her breath caught in her throat as she looked up at him. “I’ve really enjoyed getting to know you these last four months, and I’m having a hard time letting you go.”
“What do you mean?” she asked as her stomach dropped. “Are you firing me?” Her voice cracked as she took a step back.
“No, I’m not firing you, but I’ve recommended you for a position for our branch headquartered in LA. You told me that is where your daughter is, and I thought it would be easier if you were with her again.”
“You would do that for me?” she asked.
“I would do anything for you, Hailey. I wish you didn’t have to go, but I know that it is what is best for you.”
“And if I don’t want to do?” she asked, stepping back towards him. “If I like my life here? I’ve managed to save up enough money to bring my daughter out here. All that overtime was really helpful.”
“If you so choose, you will still have a job here. But I want you to think carefully about this opportunity before you pass it by,” he cautioned. He wrapped an arm around her waist and pulled her close to me. “On a purely selfish note, I would love if you stayed here.” He took a deep breath. “Hailey, I tried to keep myself from having feelings for you, but I couldn’t. I really like you, Hailey.”
The words were on the tip of her tongue, but she couldn’t get herself to say them. She stared at him, at a loss for words.
“Daniel, I-I-I want you to meet my daughter,” she said.
“What about your husband?” he asked, furrowing his brow.
“I will never be able to go back to him. The person I was is legally dead, and he’s no longer bound to me. Daniel, you showed me what it was like to be loved again. I want you to meet Rae.”
“If you are sure, I would love to meet her.”
Hailey stretched up on her toes and kissed his cheek. Blushing furiously, she hurried down the hall to the break room.