"Miss MacEvoy, take your hands off of me!"
In the total darkness, the waft of her perfume and the feeling of her breath was overwhelming. He had not heard Kendra approach, his mind had been elsewhere. The destruction of his computer system and the power being cut had rather distracted him. He realised he had been holding his breath. He let it out, slowly and focused on breathing shallowly so she would not notice she had startled him.
"Did you hear what I said?" He said, quieter but no less sharp.
"I'm sorry, Mr Eckhart. I don't like to admit this, but I'm afraid of the dark."
She had a firm grip on his lapels and was refusing to let go. He could feel her trembling. He covered her hands with his own and tried to remove her.
"I fail to see how you expect me to protect you," he said.
She giggled. And - oh no - now she had put her head on his shoulder. Her hair was touching his face. This was deeply uncomfortable.
"The backup-" he began, and faltered because her hair brushed against his lips when he spoke. He shuddered. "-generator will kick in shortly." Please please please let that be true, he told himself.
A light flicked on outside the window. Kendra lifted her head and gazed up at him. The cold blue light illuminated the side of her face and sparkled in her eyes. Mason had not been quite this close to another person in years. It was... odd. She still had hold of his jacket. And he realised his hands were still on top of hers. He pulled them away as the emergency lighting in his office came on.
Mason had to take a few breaths before he spoke. "It's not dark any more," he said.
Kendra blinked a few times, then took a single step backwards. "Sorry about that, sir," she said, smoothing down his jacket. "What must you think of me?" Her gaze fell to the floor.
Mason stared right at her. This was one of those situations when he was expected to fill the silence. He refused to.
Kendra straightened up and looked him in the eye again. "You will be needing some help to rebuild your computer system," she said, a smile playing on her lips.
"Indeed. Go and do what you can."
She flashed him a wide smile. "Thank you, sir," she said, leaning forward to kiss him on the cheek.
Kendra strode out of the room, pausing in the doorway to glance at him.
Mason stared at the doorway, astonished. His hand moved slowly to his cheek. He wondered how much bacteria was on her lips. That wasn't what he had intended to say at all. Had she socially engineered him again?