Friday, July 18, 2008

EIGHTEEN

I happily drew an "X" over December 14th on my desk calendar. The work day was officially over, and I only had one full work week to push through before I could leave for Montreal with Sidney for Christmas.

"Karine, could I talk to you in the meeting room?" Christopher asked as I was gathering my things to leave. "We won't keep you long." I hesitantly entered the meeting room and was greeted by Christopher and another man I recognized as the head of International Affairs. "Have a seat," Christopher said with a huge smile. "You know Mr. Litton, our head of IA."

Litton gave me a small nod as a greeting and cleared his throat. "Karine, we have an offer to make."

"Oh?" I replied, feeling my spirits lift slightly. I had assumed I was being called into the meeting room because I had done something wrong.

"As I'm sure you know, PPG has been working to acquire several French firms and expand our overseas operations," Litton explained. I nodded. My coworkers and I had been working on what Christopher had dubbed 'The French Connection' project for some time. "Well, we need some people from the States to go over there and get things running. You are the ideal candidate, not only because of your strong work ethic and impressive résumé, but also because French is your first language."

"Sir, am I to understand that you're offering me a position in France?" I asked timidly.

"Yes."

I felt the blood drain from my face at Litton's one word answer. "Are you sure I'm qualified?" I was beginning to panic. I liked my job in Pittsburgh. I liked my life in Pittsburgh. The last thing I wanted to do was move overseas for who knows how long.

"We think you're more than qualified," Litton replied tersely.

I inhaled sharply and closed my eyes. "I don't mean to question your judgment, but I've only been working here for a few months."

"And in that few months you've really proved yourself," Christopher said in an encouraging tone.

"PPG will pay for your living arrangements in France. We have an apartment ready for you in Paris, only a few blocks away from the office. You will also receive a significant pay raise and a private car with a driver for your personal use," Litton said.

Nerves began to attack my stomach. The job offer sounded amazing. It would probably do wonders for my career, and I wouldn't have to pay for rent. But would it be worth leaving Pittsburgh and Sidney? "How long will I be in France?" I asked softly.

Christopher and Litton glanced at each other. "At least a year," Litton said. I could tell he was lying. This job was more long-term than they were letting on.

I swallowed and tried to clear my head. Before I gave any kind of answer, I needed to think long and hard about what this would mean. I needed to talk to Sidney. "This is an amazing offer, and I am flattered that you both think I'm qualified for the job, but it's a big move for me. I need some time to think. How long do I have before I need to make a decision?"

Christopher and Litton traded another glance. "We've…already found your replacement," Christopher replied quietly.

I opened my mouth, but no words would come out. My mouth was impossibly dry and my head was reeling. "So…if I don't take this job…" I stammered.

"Your services will no longer be needed at PPG," Litton replied firmly.

I nodded and stared at my hands. "Karine, I understand that this is a major transition for you, but we're going to ease you into it. You'll be working here next week, and then you will have two months off before you need to relocate to Paris," Christopher said in an almost warm tone.

Tears began to form in my eyes. Relocate to Paris. "Right," I replied thickly. "Thank you." I shakily stood up, shook both Christopher and Mr. Litton's hands, and left the office in a daze. I didn't notice the biting December wind as I slid into the driver's seat of my car and robotically drove to my apartment. I tried to make sense of what had just happened, but my brain couldn't process everything. All I kept hearing over and over was relocate to Paris.

I entered our apartment building and climbed the stairs, feeling in danger of passing out at any second. I hesitated before unlocking the door and tried to collect myself. I needed to be completely calm when I explained the situation to Sidney.

I took a deep breath and pushed the door open, only to find the apartment was empty. A note was resting on the kitchen counter, weighted down by a bouquet of white roses. I smiled at Sid's consideration and read the note. "Karine, I have some annoying media stuff to do at the arena, so I'll be home late. Stop by if you want. Love you, Sidney."

I breathed a sigh of relief and poured myself a glass of wine. I was glad Sid wasn't home. I still needed some time to think and clear my head.

I found a permanent marker and scribbled "pros" and "cons" on top of a napkin. I needed to think about this as logically as I could. Under "pros," I wrote: great for my career, living in Paris for free, pay raise. Under "cons," I wrote: no Sidney, moving to a foreign country alone (again), there for at least a year.

I closed my eyes and rested my head against the back of the couch. Being logical was getting me no where. "What's more important?" I said quietly to myself. "Sidney or my career?" My mind flashed back to the first time I met Sidney. I saw him standing in the doorway of my room at Uncle Mario's with that goofy smile on his face, and butterflies rose in my stomach. As unbelievably tacky as it sounded, I fell in love with Sid the first time I saw him. I had never felt so comfortable with anyone. He had completely changed my life in the three short months I had known him.

For the first time, the fact that we had only been together for less than three months hit me. Our relationship had moved very fast in that time. Too fast, maybe? He had basically moved in with me. I couldn't remember the last time he hadn't spent the night at my apartment—in fact, I had taken to referring to it as "our apartment" lately.

Things can change quickly, I thought pragmatically. My heart sank. As much as I hated to admit it, I couldn't see into the future. Although Sid and I had what Sylvie referred to as 'the perfect relationship', who knew what could happen three months in the future. On of my Grand-mère Lemieux's favorite sayings flashed in my mind: "The only thing you can be certain of is that nothing is ever certain."

I needed to keep my job. I didn't get into McGill, one of Canada's best schools, and slave through four years of business school to quit my first job after only working for three months. I had always been an independent person, and I was not the kind of girl who would pass up an amazing career opportunity for a guy. Even when he was the most amazing man I had ever met.

"Growing up fucking sucks," I groaned aloud. I glanced at the white roses Sid had left and felt a pang of regret. I knew I couldn't expect Sid to wait for me to return from France—I didn't even know how long I would be there. It would be selfish and wrong of me to try to cling to our relationship when we were on separate sides of the Atlantic Ocean.

I tried to will the tears away that were clouding my vision. I wondered when Sid would return home, and hoped it wasn't soon. Breaking up with Sidney was going to be the most painful thing I would ever have to do.

6 comments:

gpat08 said...

SOOO GOOD! Thanks for the update, I can't wait to read more!!!

Trish said...

Ahh I love your story!
But I don't want them to split!!
Update soon!!

Aeryn said...

OH my GOSH! This chapter was great, i love the story. I don't want them to split either. Can't wait for the next update!

KylieD32 said...

I must say, I've tried to read other FanFics and they just come off as creepy, but I love your story! Keep the updates coming!

Summer said...

Hahaha I'm glad I'm not creepy. Thanks =)

Bridget said...

NNNNNNNNNOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!