Thank you everyone for helping me choose a title for my stories featuring my dolls that are adults! I appreciate everyone who voted on the poll, and everyone with clever and fun title suggestions of their own. Grown Folks Business had 53% of votes on the poll, and that's the title that I'm going with. There is now a tab at the top of the page called Grown Folks Business, and if you click there you will see all of the stories in reverse chronological order going back to the beginning.
So let's check in on Palmer and Zalika, shall we?
Since the break-up, Zalika has thrown herself into her work, volunteering for extra projects at her job (much to the annoyance of her assistant, Vincent). Zalika is also on the Board of Directors of the largest charitable organization in Roxville, and has volunteered to chair the committee responsible for planning their largest fundraising event of the year. She has been going home late each night of the week feeling physically exhausted, but still has trouble sleeping. Staying busy throughout the day has helped her to keep her mind from dealing with the pain of losing Palmer, but at night when everything is dark and quiet, her mind races with thoughts of millions of possibilities regarding her failed relationship and how things could have gone differently.
As Zalika sat in her office at work on Friday, she busied herself with one of her many projects, while simultaneously thinking of ways that she could keep busy on the weekend. She was interrupted by her assistant Vincent, who came into her office and announced rather excitedly "David Palmer is here to see you." Zalika sat there stunned for a moment while Vincent looked at her wide-eyed. She told Vincent to send him in, and Palmer entered and closed the door behind him as Zalika stood up. Her mind was racing. This is something that he NEVER would have done during the time when they were seeing each other, why would he do this now?
Zalika took a few steps towards Palmer and said quietly "It's not a good idea for you to come here." Palmer said "I'm sorry, it's just that you haven't returned my calls, texts, or emails..." Through the window of her office, Zalika saw Vincent and one of the other assistants casually and slowly strolling by outside her office, looking through the window while trying to pretend that they weren't looking. "Excuse me for just a moment...", Zalika said as she exited her office. "Vincent, would you please book a conference room for me for the next 30 minutes?" Vincent headed to his desk and said "Sure, let me just see what's available... All of the conference rooms are booked." Zalika tried, but was not successful at hiding the annoyance in her voice as she said "All of them?" Vincent said "Well, no one is in Conference Room C, but that room is undergoing remodeling and there is no furniture." Zalika said "That's fine, I'll take that one. Just bring me a couple of folding chairs, please."
Zalika led the way to the conference room and Palmer carried the chairs that Vincent had provided. Palmer caught a glimpse of her thigh as she walked, and he couldn't help but to think about how sexy she looked, even in her work attire. Once they had entered the conference room, Zalika closed the door. She felt more comfortable there, a room with no windows and away from prying eyes, with little threat of disruption since the room was currently not being used. Palmer held her chair for her as she sat down.
Palmer sat down and said "It's really not my intention to disrupt your day. I just haven't heard from you, and I really needed to know that you're okay. Are you okay?" Zalika paused and thought about how to answer the question. Was she okay? No, she didn't really feel that she was okay, but this really wasn't the time or the place to go into it. After a long pause, she said "I'm making it." There was an awkward silence.
Palmer: I just really wanted to speak to you, to see you. When you wouldn't return my calls or texts, and you wouldn't answer the door when I came by, I became... I don't know... I just really needed to know what I'd done to make you hate me, and what I could do to make it better.
Zalika: I don't hate you! I could never hate you! I'm sorry, I'm so sorry, I never meant to make you feel like this is somehow your fault. I blame myself for all of this! I'm just trying to get through this the best way that I can, and I don't know what I'm doing, and I don't know how to make this any easier.
As tears welled up in Zalika's eyes, Palmer reached into his pocket and handed her his handkerchief. Zalika had always thought that it was cute, old-fashioned, and rather sexy that a man as young as Palmer carries a cloth handkerchief in this day and age (monogrammed with his initials even). As much as he hated to see her in pain, Palmer was relieved to see her show emotion, because that let him know that she did still care. Zalika dabbed her eyes and then handed the handkerchief back to Palmer.
Palmer: I want you to know that I respect your decision to end our relationship, but I want to ask you if you'd reconsider.
Zalika: I can't even begin to tell you how many millions of times I've reconsidered over the past month. I keep replaying things over and over in my head. But it always comes down to the same thing. Nothing has changed. We can't change the past. We can't control how others will seek to destroy you. If we were to get back together, we would be torn apart again in what, a month? A year? Several years from now? I can't go through this again. This is too hard.
Palmer: What can I do to change your mind?
Zalika: My mind is made up.
Palmer: What can I do?
They talked for several more minutes, but in the end nothing changed.
Palmer: Well, can we at least talk sometimes? I miss you so much. I miss you helping me to see the lighter side of any situation.
Zalika: I wouldn't be much help to you in that right now. Not much is funny to me anymore.
Palmer: Can I call you?
Zalika: Eventually, I may get to the point where it's not so painful being around you without being WITH you. I'm not there yet. Let me be the one to contact you.
Zalika stood up. Palmer asked if he could give her a hug. She hesitated for a moment, and nodded.
Zalika allowed herself to linger in that moment, just for a little while.
Palmer held her tightly, not wanting to let go.
Zalika let go first, saying that she needed to get back to work. "And by the way, I didn't know that you had come by my house. I haven't been home much lately."
Palmer nodded and stepped towards the door to leave. Zalika stopped him, and asked if he'd be willing to do something to support her fundraising effort for the charitable organization that she served. Palmer said "Of course!" Zalika asked if he would record an ad for radio or TV to briefly talk about the organization and to advertise the fundraiser. Palmer agreed. Zalika told him that someone would be in touch with his people. They said good-bye.
As Zalika walked back to her desk, Vincent said to her "I can't believe that I just met David Palmer!" Zalika nodded and kept walking. Vincent followed her into her office. He asked "What was he doing here?" Zalika told him that she had been trying to contact him to seek his support in her fundraising efforts for the upcoming event. She said that Palmer was a very busy man, and that it was nearly impossible to reach him to arrange a meeting. When he found himself in the area and with a few minutes to spare, he had decided to drop by. They met to iron out the details, and he'd agreed to help. Vincent said "I can't believe he stopped by here in person like that!" Zalika told him that Palmer is the real deal and that he is humble, and that he truly cares about his community and strives to improve it. Vincent said "Well, he's got my vote!"