She turned in her chair.
He was leaning in her doorway, jacket on, computer bag slung on his shoulder. Ready to leave, and looking quite pleased with himself.
She took the pencil from between her teeth. “How did you know it was my birthday?”
“I’m very smart.” He came over to her desk, holding out his hand. A small black velvet bag dangled from his index finger.
She blinked at him, speechless and stupid, gradually accepting that what he was proffering was indeed for her. A present. He had never given her a present. In ten years he’d never bought her so much as a cup of coffee. Now, not only did he know it was her birthday, he had gotten her something. “For me?”
His smiled deepened, his eyes crinkling. “For you, dumbass.”
She took the bag from him. “Shouldn’t you be kneeling?”
He chuckled, shoving his hands in his pockets. “Ma’am, if only…”
Blushing a little, she tipped the bag and onto her palm fell a small gold pin, shaped like a bee. Pleasure suffused her, along with a small portion of puzzlement, for in their vast accumulation of private jokes, there was nothing about bees. The pin was lovely, and she didn’t know what to make of it.
Cradling it gently in her fingers, she looked up at him. “I love it,” she said. With her eyes she asked, what does it mean?
But he only smiled at her, and shrugged the strap of his computer bag up higher. “Don’t stay too late.” And then he was gone.
She looked a long time at her new treasure, slowly letting it tumble from one palm to the other. Then she got up and went to her coat, hanging on the back of the door, and pinned the bee to her lapel. She ran her fingers along the edge of the wings, still trying to divine its meaning. A bee. Was it something to do with honey? A poke at her being a spelling snob? Busy bee? Do-Bee? The bee’s knees?
Then her phone pinged an incoming text. Again, the heat rose in her face as she reached for it and brought up her messages.