Shadows sliced across the office as Josh bowed his head over a stack of briefing books. His eyes darted from the words on the pages to the clock at the side of his desk. Ten hours-ten hours-since Donna had arrived in the East Wing. Josh had arranged for Donna's gift to be delivered by seven-thirty, and he had expected a phone call, an e-mail, a visit-something-by now. Not this. Not nothing.
When Otto breezed into the room, Josh straightened up in his chair. He raised his eyebrows as Otto upheld a small, two-by-three envelope.
"Donna sent this over from her office," Otto said, wearing a smirk.
The enveloped fluttered onto the desk, and Josh swiped it when it landed. "You better not have read my mail," he said, sliding his finger beneath the unsealed flap. "I could fire you for that."
"Didn't have to read it. You think I don't know what's going on here?" Otto pointed at Josh and the tiny envelope-its contents still inside. He blew past Josh's eye roll. "I remember what was going on at this time last year, too. Not long after San Andreo. Just before the election. You."
"Okay," Josh said and squirmed, lifting his hand to signal Otto to stop.
"Donna," he taunted. "It's your-"
Josh launched himself out of his chair. "You're sad. You know that?" Josh said as he rounded his desk and slipped the envelope into his pants pocket, aware of the fiery heat of embarrassment creeping up his neck. "You gossip more than the women around here."
Even as Otto backpedaled toward the open doorway, he wouldn't shut up. "What? You think I'm some kind of idiot? Wait-" Otto's smile faltered for a moment. "Don't answer that."
"Seriously, don't you have, you know, work to do? Or your own pathetic dating life to worry about?"
"Your ears are red."
"Get out of here." With a shove, Otto sailed out of the room, and Josh hurried to close the door, his blush still in hot, full bloom on his face. He stood with his back against the door, shaking his head as he fished the envelope out of his pocket and removed the card.
A different sort of heat-familiar and comforting-spread over him when his eyes panned across the words on the card-the same card, he realized, that had accompanied Donna's gift. Block letters formed his original message: THANKS FOR TAKING ME BACK. Donna had written a reply underneath; Josh read it a dozen times before he allowed himself to believe it.
I never wanted anyone else.