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The thing about Daniel    Ellen shook Oleksandr’s hand and smiled. She’d promised to help him and his family and whatever was said in this afternoon’s meeting she planned to honour that prom

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The thing about Daniel’s behaviour 

 

It’s amazing how a meeting can unravel quickly when something unexpected happens. Ellen thought it might have been from her timely ‘cough’ or Daniel with his uncharacteristic shaky hands spilling a little of his glass of water she gave him, but the meeting quickly went from one person talking to Daniel suddenly standing up visibly embarrassed and putting his glass on the table before covering the front of his trousers with his hands and briskly heading towards the door. After that it all went rather chaotic and crazy as Ellen watched in shock as Daniel’s face became redder as he headed straight for the door. 

 

What happened next Ellen wasn’t entirely sure but voices were raised, conversations became a rabble and Ellen felt compelled to make sure Daniel was alright. In the year of working with him closely never had he walked out like this or acted so strangely, and judging by the looks and shock of those in the room it seemed others felt the same. Leaving her iPad on the board table where she’d put it Ellen excused herself even though she knew it wouldn’t be heard over the commotion as she held onto the back of chairs as she made her way out of the room. She was sure she’d be right back and have to profusely apologise but the way her colleague had been acting she actually feared he might be unwell and about to vomit or something. 

 

Heading immediately for the reception Ellen was determined to find Daniel but her search didn’t last long as she pushed the door to the reception area open only to see Daniel looking distressed and stressed talking quietly to the girl at the desk. Being the caring person she was she walked right over to them both to check that Daniel was ok. As she approached though Daniel bowed his head and leaned forward in a strange tense manner with one hand gripping the reception desk tightly and the other hand still covering the top of his thigh at the front. Fearing her friend was about to faint Ellen increased her pace until she was now standing right next to Daniel, instinctively putting an arm on his back to reassure him. 

 

“Do you want a seat Daniel?’, she asked him quietly, but he didn’t reply. Looking towards the young receptionist for some sort of help Ellen caught her eye hoping for some answers. Had Daniel told her he felt sick or faint? Had he perhaps missed lunch and his blood sugar had dropped or was he just super embarrassed about spilling a little water on his grey suit trousers? Standing behind her desk looking at Daniel strangely the girl at least worked out that Ellen was keen to know what Daniel had just asked her and without taking her eyes off Daniel she spoke calmly and shyly. 

 

“He just asked if we had a gents he could use.” 

 

Knowing how reserved and professional Daniel was she assumed he simply wanted to clean his trousers up from the spill as Ellen continued staring at the receptionist waiting for more information. The receptionist, however, seemed more intent on staring at poor Daniel so Ellen abruptly disturbed her by asking loudly.

 

“And do you then?” 

 

Daniel whimpered as he tried to stand upright still not giving Ellen eye contact. 

 

“Just along from the coffee machine there.” 

 

Not even wanting to talk to the receptionist any further Ellen hooked her arm through Daniel’s even though he still had his hand covering the front of his trousers. Marching him quickly like a teacher might march a child to the head teachers’s office she pulled him along as he kept his head down silently going along with her. Pushing the door to the gents open Ellen stood holding the door open with her ample body weight until Daniel was fully inside before she stepped out shaking her head a little in anger at the receptionist and disbelief at the level of needless embarrassment Daniel seemed to be experiencing over something she felt was rather trivial given the importance of the meeting they were here for. 

 

Assuming he’d only be a few minutes using a hand dryer to dry off his clothing and knowing how embarrassed he’d be at returning to the meeting alone Ellen decided to risk waiting outside with the plan to make up some plausible excuse as to why they left and return to the meeting quickly and quietly together. 

 

Standing outside the door waiting Ellen started thinking. The thing about Daniel’s behaviour tonight was it was so out of character for him, so unusual. Was it really all because he had spilled a little water or was there more going on she didn’t know about? The fidgeting in the seat, the sweating, the tenseness. Was he being bullied by someone in the meeting and he needed a breather? Did he spill the water deliberately to have a reason to leave? Maybe after the meeting she might get a moment to ask him. If not tonight she’d definitely check he was ok tomorrow at some point. It wasn’t making sense but for now she just wanted back to the meeting to get everything sorted for Oleksandr and the others on the cruise ship. 

 

If only Daniel would hurry up! 

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