"I Married the Boss!"

An Actual Lady's Confession by Sally Suarez-Parker I looked up and smiled lovingly at the man standing across from me, then down at the wedding ring he'd just placed on my trembling hand only minutes earlier. "I do," I said softly, tears of joy streaming down my face. Only a year before, I thought I would never know such happiness again. But now, standing in front of the small group of close family and friends who had come to witness our special day, I realized the best times lay ahead of me. I was happy, I was in love, and now, once again, I was married-- this time, to my boss!

This was not my first trip down the aisle. Many years earlier, I'd joyfully wed the man I wanted to grow old with. Sadly, it was not to be. After seven happy years of marriage, my husband Ron was killed in a head-on collision with a drunk driver. All I was left with was memories and our precious daughter, Carol. Before the accident, I had enjoyed staying home, taking care of Carol, and making a home for us all. Ron worked very hard at a large shipping company in town, and even though we never were rich, we felt blessed that we always had food on the table and a roof over our heads. The small amount of money Ron and I had managed to save was helpful at first, but it wasn't long before I faced the unhappy fact that I would have to find a job.

With some of the money, I enrolled in a local secretarial school. It was difficult to find time for studying on top of caring for Carol and dealing with our sad feelings about missing Ron. But I was determined to succeed so that Carol and I would never have to worry about having enough money to live. After putting Carol to bed each night, I would stay up for hours, studying my lessons and practicing my typing and shorthand. Then I'd sleep for a few hours before waking up to cook breakfast and send Carol on to school. I was exhausted, but determined. The hard work paid off at the end of the course when I graduated at the head of my class and was quickly hired as a secretary at the same shipping company where Ron had worked for so many years.

I hated being away from my daughter when I was at work. My own mother had worked, and I knew how difficult that had been on me and my brothers and sisters. I was afraid that I would be so busy that I would miss the chance to watch her grow up. Also, I didn't like the idea of having to leave her with strangers to look after her during the day. Luckily, my sister Cindy offered to take care of Carol while I worked. This made me happy because it meant Carol would be able to spend the days playing with her little cousins, Shellie and Matt. As soon as I got out of work, I would go straight to Cindy's house to pick up Carol. Then I'd spend the entire evening with Carol, talking, playing games, helping her with her homework, reading from the Bible, and doing all the other little things mothers and daughters should.

Of course, making time for Carol meant I had to cut out other things from my lives. No socializing after work with the other women from the office, no television, and most of all, no men. I was too busy for them and, besides, even after many years, I was still faithful to the beloved memory of Ron. Occasionally, Cindy or one of my co-workers would mention a single man they wanted to introduce me to, but I always said no.

"Don't deny yourself," Cindy would urge me. "You're a young, attractive woman! And you deserve to be happy."

"I am happy," I would mumble back, even though I knew that, deep inside, it felt like something was missing.

After several successful years at the shipping company, I was made an Executive Secretary and began working in the office of the company president. This meant I would be getting a bigger paycheck, but it also meant more responsibility. The president's calls and letters were extremely important, and I also was in charge of communicating with our prestigious international clients. Over the years, I developed a strong working relationship with the president, Mr. Edwards. He was a kind old man, and it didn't take long for me to realize he was more than just a boss. He was also a friend. As a parent himself, he often had wise words of advice for me about raising Carol, who had now blossomed into a beautiful young woman and an honor student at the local high school.

Sadly, after I had been his secretary for almost five years, Mr. Edwards suffered a stroke and was unable to continue working. I became very busy at work, taking hundreds of calls and resumes from applicants interested in taking over Mr. Edwards' job. After more than a month, the Board of Directors made its decision.

I didn't know much about my new boss, only that he'd formerly been an executive at a Chicago marketing firm and that his name was Dennis Parker. I arrived a few minutes early to work his first day, just to make sure things went smoothly for him from the start.

I was seated at my desk when an attractive, dark-haired man walked boldly into the office. With his youthful energy and looks, I thought he must have been a representative from one of the companies we do business with. Mr. Parker didn't have his first appointment until eleven, so I was confused.

"You must be Sally," the man said. "I've heard a lot about you!" There was a short pause. "Yes, I am Sally, Mr. Parker's secretary," I replied, my concentration a little thrown off by the visitor's striking good looks. "Is Mr. Parker expecting you?"

He looked confused for a second, then laughed. "Sally," he grinned, extending his hand to me, "I am Mr. Parker!"

I could feel my cheeks growing red. "Mr. Parker, I'm sorry," I stammered, leaping to my feet and shaking his hand. "I just didn't expect you to be..." What I didn't expect was that my new boss would be so young-- or handsome!

"You didn't expect me to be what? On time?" he kidded. I just smiled back at him.

That day at lunch, the other girls in office were all excitedly talking about the new president. Secretly, I was also excited about Mr. Parker, but I didn't think I would be doing my job right if I gossiped about him. I was brimming over with girlish energy, just like Carol did whenever she had a secret crush on a boy at school. But I made up my mind not to let it show.

"Sally, come sit next to me," my old friend Brenda from the personnel office called out when I entered the lunch room. "Tell me all about our new president."

"What do you want to know?" I asked, taking my seat.

"What's he like?"

"Oh, he's nice," I said hesitantly. "He's funny and he seems very smart."

"And young!" our friend Marcy from the billing office joined in. "He must only be a few years older than you, Sally!"

Like usual, Brenda got right to the point. "He sure is cute!"

"Brenda!" I gasped. I didn't think it was very professional to talk about our president's appearance. And I didn't want to let on just how much I agreed with her!

"Is he married?" she went on.

"I betcha he is," Marcy said. "All the good ones are!" I just shrugged my shoulders and took a bite of my salad, but inside, Marcy's comment hit me like a ton of bricks. I hadn't even stopped to wonder if there was a Mrs. Parker!

That afternoon while Mr. Parker dictated a letter to me, I found my eyes kept returning to his left hand. Finally, I caught a glimpse of what I dreaded seeing: a wedding band.

I sighed to myself as all my silly fantasies about Mr. Parker went up in smoke. I believe in the sacredness of marriage. Any man who belongs to another woman is strictly out of bounds for me! I couldn't help being sad; with Carol leaving for college in the Fall, I had been thinking the time might be right to have a man in my life once again.

As the months passed, I enjoyed working for Mr. Parker more and more. He was a very skilled executive, and the company did great under his leadership. He was also charming and sweet. Strangely, he never spoke about his family, but I figured he didn't feel comfortable discussing personal matters in the office. Sometimes, I thought I saw him looking at me with desire in his eyes, but I stood firm on my rule. As long as a man was married, I wouldn't allow myself to even think of him in a romantic way.

One day Mr. Parker asked me to come into his office. I went for my pencil and steno pad but he told me I wouldn't needing them.

"Is anything wrong, Mr. Parker?" I asked, confused, shutting his office door behind me.

"I've told you before to call me Dennis," he smiled, "and, no nothing is the matter. Please have a seat," he said, waving his arm toward the sofa. I sat. He poured himself a drink and offered me one. I refused, since I never drink during office hours.

"Sally, how long have we been working together now?" he asked, sitting next to me on the sofa.

"Almost six months, Mr. Parker, I mean, Dennis," I answered.

He cleared his throat and said "In those six months, have you noticed anything special about our relationship?"

"Yes," I answered honestly, "you're one of the best bosses I've ever had!"

"Thank you," he said, leaning closer to me. "But I mean something more than work. I mean as a man and a woman." For a second, I was confused. Then I realized what he was getting at.

I couldn't believe my ears. "Mr. Parker! I'm shocked!" I exclaimed, standing. I was dismayed to see what was happening. After six months of a wonderful professional relationship, my married boss was ruining it all by making a clumsy pass at me! It surprised me to see how little respect he had for me-- and his wife!

"Sally!" he cried out, taking my hand, "what's wrong?"

"What's wrong? I'll tell you what's wrong," I muttered. "I'm a secretary, nothing more and nothing less! I am a professional and should be treated with respect. You're acting like I'm some dime-store floozy!"

He tried to interrupt but I wasn't done. "You've got a wife and a family! Do you really think I would help you betray them?"

"But don't I mean anything to you?" he asked, a sad look appearing on his face as he stood. "I always thought you were attracted to me, too!"

"That may be so," I admitted, as I headed toward the door, "but that doesn't mean a thing as long as you're married!"

"But I'm getting a divorce!" he called after me. "Please don't walk out."

I turned and looked him straight in the eyes. "You're getting a divorce," I echoed sarcastically. "That old line might have worked in Chicago, but not here with me!"

"Stop, Sally!" he cried. "I love you!"

I was stunned for a second. Could it really be true? Had Dennis fallen for me the same way I'd secretly fallen for him? "It doesn't matter," I said, speaking more softly than before. "I know what it's like to lose a husband. I lost mine, not to adultery but to an accident, and I would never want to cause another family to suffer the way my daughter and I did." With that, I left the office and headed straight home.

All night long, I kept thinking over what had happened in Dennis' office. In our six months of working together, he had never done anything like that before. I felt hurt and betrayed, as if the whole time I had been his secretary, he'd thought of me only as someone to have a cheap affair with. I was amazed that he had said he loved me. Was it true? Or was it really just a cruel trick to try to get me into bed with him?

I dreaded going back to work to the next day. I didn't see how anything could be the same again. How would I be able to answer calls, take dictation, and bring coffee to the man who had just tried to start an extra-marital affair with me? I wondered if this is what they call sexual harassment. He had brought the idea of sex into our working relationship, and I did feel very uncomfortable because of it. I knew I could probably have an investigation brought up against him, but I wasn't sure if it would be a good idea. First of all, there were no witnesses; it would be his word against mine. I was relieved he hadn't tried to touch me. Fortunately it had only happened once. I knew that many women were subjected to repeated harassment by their supervisors, which I would never stand for. And I was especially glad he didn't threaten to fire me if I didn't go to bed with him. If any boss ever tried that form of sexual harassment on me, I would report him immediately. I decided not to press charges. But at the same time, I felt that I could no longer work with him in the office. Sadly, I found myself considering quitting the job I had loved so much.

I decided to call my sister Cindy for advice. She had always been so level-headed, even when we were children. She had always helped settle the disagreements between me and my other brothers and sisters. For my whole life, I had been able to ask her for advice. Sometimes she was tough, but usually she was right. I hoped she would help me decide what to do. When she heard how upset I was on the phone, she said she'd come right over.

Cindy sighed when I told her about Dennis' advances toward me. "That kind of behavior has no place in an office," she said. I agreed. "You were right to be angry," she continued, "and I'm glad you let him now how insulted and hurt you were. I'm proud you stood up for yourself."

"But what do I do now?" I asked. "I love working for that company! I have friends there! Ron worked there!" A tear came to my eye. "That company is like a second family to me!"

"I know it is," Cindy smiled. "Everybody there loves you very much."

"Yeah, especially the president," I answered sarcastically.

"Mr. Parker was unprofessional and impolite," Cindy said, "but I don't think you should quit your job. That would be like punishing yourself for something he did wrong." She smiled tenderly. "Remember, when we were kids, how much we hated to being punished for something the other had done?"

I nodded, smiling through my tears.

"Well, you won't be punished for things that aren't your fault anymore. I think you should stay with the company, but not in Mr. Parker's office."

I realized that she was right. Leaving the company I loved just because of Dennis' advances would be unfair to myself. But I couldn't work with him any more. I would miss working in the president's office after so many years, but after Dennis' behavior earlier in the day, I knew I had no choice except to ask for a transfer to a different office.

When I got to the office the next morning, I found a note from Dennis on my desk. It said "Please come see me in my office as soon as you get in." I was scared, wondering what he was going to try this time.

"Hello, Sally," he said, as I stepped quietly into the office.

"Hello, Mr. Parker," I replied, struggling to stay professional.

"Please sit," he said, gesturing at the sofa like the day before.

"I'll stand," I replied, coolly.

"All right, then," he said softly lowering his eyes. "Sally, I know what I said yesterday made you angry."

I nodded. Even though I was still angry, I felt the time for bitter words had passed.

"I think you misunderstood," he continued. "I don't want an affair with you."

"Oh?" I scoffed, unable to control my sarcasm. "It sure seemed to be what you wanted yesterday afternoon!"

"I know that's what it seemed like, but that's not what I meant," he cried. "I was nervous, and everything came out wrong. I'm sorry that I hurt you. Please let me explain." He took a deep breath and gazed tenderly into my eyes. "What I really wanted to say is this: I love you, Sally, and I want you to marry me!"

This time I was speechless. I hadn't expected anything like this. I stood frozen for a second then took a seat on the couch.

"You want to marry me?" I whispered after several minutes had passed.

"Yes, Sally," he said, smiling assuringly.

"But you're already married!" I cried, tears of confusion welling in my eyes.

"But it's ok," he said, gently. "Like I told you yesterday, Margaret and I are getting a divorce."

A sudden chill went through my entire body. "You're not leaving her because you love me, are you?" I asked, trembling.

He shook his head and a sad laugh escaped from his mouth. "No, I am not leaving Margaret for you. Our marriage has been over for many years. We've realized there's no use any more pretending that our marriage is happy. At first, we tried to force it to work so that the kids could grow up with a mom and a dad." I was surprised to see tears come to his eyes too. "But after years of trying," he continued, "we could see we were hurting everyone by ignoring the truth. We decided to divorce eight months ago, before I even knew you. Legal delays involving the settlement have slowed the proceedings down, but by all other standards, our marriage is over. Margaret still lives in Chicago with the kids."

This was all surprising. One thing still didn't make sense. "Why do you still wear your wedding band?" I asked.

Dennis looked down at his hand and seemed to be surprised to see the ring there. "I guess old habits die hard," he sighed. "Sometimes, it's hard to let go of the past. But I want to start my future. With you, Sally." With that, he removed the wedding band. He rose from the desk, then kneeled in front of where I sat on the sofa. "Sally," he smiled, taking my hand, "will you marry me?"

My heart was pounding and my head was spinning. I looked deeply into Dennis' eyes for a minute before speaking. "Dennis," I finally said, "you are a good man. But I cannot accept a proposal from a man who is still married."

He looked disappointed, but I continued. Maybe he thought I was old fashioned, but I was determined to be true to my beliefs.

"I am not going to work in your office anymore. And, considering what has been said here today, I don't think we should talk again while you are still a married man. But," I said, smiling, "you'll always know where to find me when you do get divorced. I'm transferring to the personnel office."

The next day, I began working in the personnel office. Many of my friends from the company worked there, and I enjoyed being with them. Some of them were curious why I had stepped down from my job as executive secretary for the president. I just always said I had switched jobs for personal reasons, and they understood not to ask more questions.

Occasionally, I would run into Dennis. We would smile and make pleasant small talk, but I was not going to let it go further than that while he was married. I was afraid that if I did, the temptation for him to commit adultery would be too great.

After about five months, Dennis surprised everyone in personnel by coming in for a visit. He smiled and shook everyone's hand and took a short tour of the office. When he was done, he asked if we could speak to me alone. I said we could, and we went to the lunchroom, which was empty.

Dennis smiled and looked deep into my eyes before he began speaking. "I'm a free man," he finally said. "My divorce is final today." I gasped and felt my hand shoot up to cover my mouth. The news was not a surprise, but I was filled with excitement and a joy I had not expected. "I want you back in my life," he said, tenderly. "And not as my secretary!" We laughed together and my eyes welled with tears of joy.

We went out to dinner that night. Free from the office atmosphere, Dennis and I were finally able to relax and enjoy each other's company. We talked about things we never could at work. I learned he felt as strongly about children as I do. I also heard the sad story of his marriage. His wife, Margaret, had been an ideal bride for many years. But, after the birth of their second daughter, she had become moody and depressed. Before long, she began to drink heavily. At first, Dennis thought her drinking was a phase that she would pass through. But the problem only grew worse. One day, their younger daughter, who was only 4 at the time, fell in the swimming pool while Margaret was passed out inside. The older daughter was screaming for help, but Margaret could not hear. Fortunately, the mail carrier heard the child's scream and was able to rescue the younger girl in the nick of time.

The accident scared Margaret out of drinking for many years, and Dennis was happy that the marriage seemed to be on the right track again. But it didn't last. Things were fine for several years, but when the kids got old enough to take care of themselves, Margaret began secretly drinking again. One night, Dennis found empty wine bottles in the trash and confronted Margaret. She became angry and told Dennis to mind his own business. He insisted she stop drinking in order to save the marriage. After that, she would stop drinking for awhile, but she always started again. She and Dennis fought constantly. After years of trying to preserve the family, Dennis realized Margaret would not stop drinking and that the marriage could not be saved.

Hearing Dennis story made me like him even more than I already did. I admired him for trying to help Margaret and save the marriage. And I also admired him for recognizing that Margaret would not change and that he had to go on with his life. During the dinner, I also found him to be witty and charming. When he asked me on a date the next Wednesday, I agreed.

We took things slowly. Even though Dennis had said he wanted to marry me, I was not in any hurry. I thought it would be best for us to date for a long time, to see if we were compatible. It didn't take me long to see that we were very compatible. It warmed my heart that he got along very well with Carol. I very quickly came to love Dennis. I hadn't known the feeling since Ron was alive on this earth. And I know that where ever Ron is now, he is happy for me.

After a few months of dating, Dennis proposed again and this time I said yes. Since then, I no longer work for his company. I'm too busy at home, taking care of our darling son, Jason. Dennis is no longer my boss. Now, he's my partner.

The End

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