These Feet Were Made For Walking

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Romance  |  House: Booksie Classic
Naomi, an office worker in the technology department, and Laurence, CEO of the corporation she works at, have been together for two years. Lately things have been different, and not necessarily in a good way. Sure, he brings her gifts -but what does it really mean? And what happens when Devin Warner -Laurence's number one rival steps up to the plate?

Submitted: August 15, 2011

A A A | A A A

Submitted: August 15, 2011



When I first walked into my apartment, after a long day at work, the first thing I noticed was the box.

It sat on the coffee table in the living room, right in the middle of the dark brown, rectangular surface. The box was black, medium-sized, rectangular and glossy; a shoebox. But it wasn’t from some cheap shoe store. They were expensive. They had to be. Even without seeing the brand name I knew that much, and I knew that much because the gifts he showered me with were always expensive.

Lately he’d bought me a lot of expensive gifts: jewelry, dresses, shoes –hell, once he’d even given me a painting. What did I need a painting for? In my second floor, rundown apartment, what was I going to do with a painting that cost more than a year of rent?

I sighed and looked at the box from a distance. I stared at it as I slipped out of the coat he’d bought me a month ago, vaguely wondering if frowning would be appropriate at this time. It wasn’t that I didn’t appreciate the presents he gave me, just that sometimes he had a tendency to… over do it a little bit.

Laurence and I have been dating for a little over two years. We first met in my office building –I was part of the tech team, while he was the CEO; he was one of the youngest CEOs in America, at the age of 32. He’d come in for an inspection of sorts and caught the department head yelling at me for someone else’s mistake. After stepping up and sorting through the ‘misunderstanding’ –or so my boss liked to call it –Laurence invited me out to dinner.

He told me he fell in love at first sight –instantly smitten by my wavy blond hair, and bright, blue, almond-shaped eyes. He had gazed into the reflection of a window we passed as we walked down the street in the shopping district, and he commented on how well-matched we were, that we were perfect for each other. And with his short blond hair, and dark chocolate eyes, we really did look good.

In a lot of ways we’d been perfect for each other. Despite the significant difference in our payroll, we had a lot in common: the books we liked, the movies we enjoyed, the food we preferred…

Yeah… We used to have a lot in common…

He used to take me out to all these fancy parties, hosted by other CEOs, fashion designers, and some of the other rich guys I knew nothing about. But at the end of the night, it would be just me and him, sitting on a comfy couch back at one of our apartments, and we’d laugh, and smile, and giggle…

Laurence… Laurence took me to fewer parties these days. And it wasn’t that I minded it –I wasn’t exactly the type of person that liked those high-end, fancy ‘bashes’ –but that was beside the point. He didn’t even invite me anymore.  And when he did, he would tell me, like, the day before so that I didn’t have any chance to go out and buy something nice –because heaven forbid I should show up at a party wearing something that was seen at a different event.

My cell phone went off in my purse, and I retrieved it from the dark depths. I pressed talk, and placed the phone to my ear.

“Did you like the gift?” Laurence asked immediately.

“Oh, Laurence, you got me a gift?” I cooed, acting surprised.

“Yeah, I left it on your coffee table –” Which I could see from where I stood, leaning against the wall. “–since you weren’t home,” he told me.

“Well, I’m still in the cab, I was at work. You know, in the tech department, in your company… I’m almost home though –can you call me back in fifteen?” I felt bad lying to him, but I didn’t want to be on the phone when I looked at what was in the box.

It wasn’t that I didn’t think that I wouldn’t like it –because in all honesty, I probably would –but I’m not sure that I could be excited as he would hope for me to be. He’d bought me so many different things lately, and the glory of it all had faded a little.

Finally gaining the courage, I straightened up and went to the shoebox. I placed my hands on either side of the lid, hesitating to pull it off. The surface really was glossy, smooth to the touch. I could see my reflection, although it was slightly warped. Tentatively, I traced the golden letters that curled over its black surface. It was French.

Pour L’amour de chaussures.

For the love of shoes.

I think it was their slogan, rather than the name of the company or designer. I bet they were going to be gorgeous. Maybe black, like the other shoes he often bought me.

I took a deep breath…

And I opened the box.

What was inside surprised me. Not because they weren’t shoes –because, they were –but because rather than black, they were red. The colour was bright, but smooth. They had a thick, ribbon-like strap over the toe –though the toes would be exposed –and two other straps came from the side, overlapping one another to weave behind the heel, thinning out as they reached the back. On the side there was golden buckle, small and delicate.

I took one of them out, looking it over carefully, then taking the other. I slipped out of the slippers, shivering when my soles touched the cold linoleum floor. I sat on the couch and put on the first shoe.

They really were beautiful. They looked like ribbons, wrapping around my pale, white feet. The gold buckle rested just above my ankle.

Ivory, he called my skin tone. You’re not pale –you’re skin is fair.

My phone went off, giving me a fright. I fumbled for it, pressing ‘talk’ as I pulled it to my ear. I leaned back onto the couch as his voice reached my ear.

“Are you home yet?” he asked.

“The shoes are lovely,” I told him. “Beautiful.”

“You like them then? Good, you can wear them tonight,” he said.

“Tonight,” I repeated, reaching forward and grabbing the other shoe.

“I’m taking you to a friend’s party,” he told me.

“A party,” if I said I wasn’t surprised, I’d be lying. “Tonight… A party tonight.”

“Yes, it’s for his fiancée’s birthday. I want to take you,” Laurence said.

“You know, you can’t go making these plans by yourself,” I said slowly, slipping the strap through the buckle. “What if I was busy?”

“Are you?” he asked.

“No, but –”

“Then I don’t see what the problem is here, Naomi,” he sighed. I knew that sigh. It was the sigh that said that I was being difficult.

But I wasn’t going to stop there.

“The problem is that you don’t ask me. You tell me.”

“Can we discuss this another time? I’m still at work, and I have a little bit more paperwork to go through so that I can make the time to go to the party,” he said. As an afterthought he added, “And to see you, of course.”

Laurence was busy, and I knew that. He was always busy.

“Fine,” I told him, crossing my arms across my chest as I set both my feet in all their high-heeled glory on the floor.

“Be ready by nine sharp,” he told me.

“Nine?” I glanced at the clock. It was six-thirty. I let out a slow breath before saying, “Fine. I love you. Bye.”

“Bye –oh, and wear that red dress I bought you the other week,” Laurence said, and then he hung up.

I stood up, testing my balance in the heels. Laurence was much taller than I was. Without the heels I stood more than a head shorter than him. I didn’t mind it so much, but I did like the being closer to his height.

I walked to the full length mirror in the hallway, and admired the beautiful shoes for a moment. Then I went back to the couch and slipped them off, tucking them back into the shoebox.

With a sigh, I closed it, heading for the bathroom.

I took my time showering, figuring I had a lot of time to waste until he arrived. I closed my eyes as the water hit my face, raining over me in the most soothing of ways. The best part of this apartment was the bathroom and the kitchen, both of which had been recently renovated. The entire apartment was nice though. The single bedroom was spacious, and all the rooms had hardwood floor –except for the tiled bathroom –and it was in a decent part of the city. Being in the tech department in the company meant I earned a decent wage, so long as I did my work well.

Stepping out of the shower, I wrapped a towel around me and headed for the bathroom. In my small walk-in closet, one side was dedicated completely to the clothes that Laurence had bought me. I got out the red dress he wanted me to wear, and laid it out on my bed while I got into my terrycloth robe. There was no point in wearing the expensive dress until I was done preparing everything else.

And by preparing everything else, I meant painting my nails, doing my hair, my make-up, and moisturizing.

Since the dress and the shoes were red, I figured the best nail colour would be a red, just a shade darker. I grabbed the nail polish, and headed back to the living room, sitting on the couch, grabbing the remote and hoisting both my feet up on the coffee table as I turned on the TV. I switched to the music channels, and flipped through those channels until I found something upbeat.

I sang along as I painted my toe nails, then my fingernails. As they were drying, I rested my hands beside the shoes, flipping open the shoebox with my knuckle and comparing the colour. I sighed, half-smiling.

Maybe this party would be more fun than I anticipated –though there was a huge part of me that doubted that. I hadn’t gone to one of these parties in the longest time, and I knew that a lot of changes happened over a short period with this kind of thing. The people that I could talk to before would either be long gone, or would have developed an entirely new face to show the public.

I brushed my finger lightly against the nail polish on my fingers, then got up, turning the volume up louder as I moved to my bedroom to do my hair and makeup.

The finished product was great. I always had confidence in my looks, and Laurence fueled my ego, in all honesty. He always told me I was beautiful; gorgeous; stunning.

He never commented on how smart I was, and if he did, I knew he didn’t mean it. I may have been blond, but I was no idiot. I was in the tech department, and even if they all treated me like some kind of gopher, I was the one that stayed late in the evenings, looking over all the work and fixing mistakes. No one knew. They all thought I did my work slowly, which required me staying late so that it didn’t build up.

There was one time that I had been acknowledged for the work I did. And that was the time that I was yelled at by my department head –the time I’d met Laurence. Ross, one of my co-workers, had seen me in the office late one night. When he came to work, he noticed all the changes I’d made, and refusing to see that he was wrong and I was right, he changed it back. When that caused problems, he pointed his finger –at me.

Since then, I just let things happened –I did still look over the works, but I didn’t tweak them as heavily. And no one was ever the wiser.

As I slid into my dress, there was a knock on the door. Despite having fifteen minutes left, I knew who it was. There were footsteps in the hall, and then Laurence appeared behind me in the mirror. His hand came to rest on my arm, caressing me down to my fingertips. I wrapped my fingers between his, bringing them to my lips as I looked at the two of us in the mirror.

Beautiful. Gorgeous. Stunning.

“Are you ready?” he asked.

“Just let me put on those heels,” I told him, stepping away from him and heading to the living room. I perched on the edge of the couch and took out one of the shoes. Laurence came over, taking the heel, and kneeling down before me. He slipped it onto my foot, adjusting the strap against my heel before slipping the strap through the small buckle.

He did the same with the other heel. As he did up the strap, he straightened my leg out, kissing my ankle, then the inside of my knee. He crawled up me until his nose brushed against mine. Gently, he kissed my lips.

He broke away from me, straightening up and pulling me carefully to my feet.

“You look beautiful,” he told me.

“Thank you,” I murmured, grabbing my clutch as he held out his arm. I took it, letting him lead me to the door of my apartment. I slipped my clutch under my arm as I locked the door behind us, dropping the key into the thin, strapless bag.

He led me downstairs, out the door of the building, and to his Porsche. He held the door open for me, closing it when I was inside.

“Beautiful,” he repeated, starting the car. I just smiled as we drove to the party.

When we arrived, he got out, handing his keys to the valet, before coming around and opening the door for me. I took his hand, and once more let him lead me into the hotel, and, furthermore, into the party.

“How long will we be here for?” I asked as he led me deeper into the crowd.

“I don’t know,” he gave a small shrug. “Let me socialize, talk a little, laugh a little, and then we’ll go. I’ll drop you off at your place afterwards.”

“Drop me off?” I asked, but he kissed my cheek and walked off.

I wondered if he realized that keeping me out of the loop for so long had made me so… out of the loop.

I sighed, grapping a glass of champagne as a waiter walked by, then strolled around in search of a familiar face. There were a few people I recognized, but none I wanted to spend an entire evening with.

Eventually I found my way back to his side, unsurprised to see a woman standing there by his side.

“Oh, Naomi,” he said when he saw me. “I’d like you to meet my secretary, Julie.”

“A new secretary,” I commented with a smile. “A pleasure to meet you.”

“So you’re the beautiful Naomi that Larry’s always talking about,” Julie smiled cheerfully.

Larry, huh? I took a glance at Laurence. He had told me that he didn’t like being called that. Suddenly the heels felt too tight as I pursed my lips together before smiling back at Julie.

She was tall. A red head. Green eyes and a body that curved in all the right places. She was beautiful, and definitely a people pleaser.

“Laurence says that you’re a model,” one of the men that stood around the circle commented.

I looked at Laurence again, who just rubbed my back in reply.

“Trying to be,” I lied, though I didn’t know why. Laurence lying about my line of work made me feel like he was ashamed that he was dating someone from the company. My feet felt even more restricted. “I can’t say I have the time to audition right now. My work load’s been heavy.”

“I know how that is,” another man laughed.

“Oh, I just bet you do,” I muttered as I brought my glass to my lips, faking a smile as I looked around.  I met the gaze of a man across the room. He was handsome.

In my spare time at home, I liked to look through business magazines, see who was on top. Up until about four months ago, it’d been Laurence. He’d always been in the top three, along with the more experienced CEOs. And then Devin Warner came along. He was younger, more attractive, and better at directing and managing a company. He’d been at the last party I’d been to, which had been only his third party that he’d attended to, despite being a CEO for nearly half a year by that point.

“Devin Warner’s here,” Julie said suddenly. She looked at me, and said –as if I didn’t already know –“he’s Larry’s biggest competitor at the moment.”

I just nodded, pressing my lips together in a tight smile.

“He’s gone to a lot of parties in the past couple of months,” one of the guys said. “He used to hate them, and didn’t even come for the connections. I wonder what changed his mind.”

A round of shrugs went around the group we stood in. I finished the rest of my champagne, and as another waiter came by, I placed it on the tray, grabbing a full glass.

“Naomi, will you excuse us? We need to talk business,” Laurence patted the square of my back.

“No, I’ll stay,” I told him, wrapping my arm around his and tightening my grip.

He opened his mouth, then closed it and nodded.

They really did move on to talking about business. I listened idly, laughing when the odd joke slipped into the conversation.

For the hundredth time, I glanced up and across the room I caught Devin’s gaze. Each and every time, he gave me this killer smile. After a while I started smiling back. I couldn’t help myself. Laurence didn’t play these kinds of games with my any more. It was… relieving.

“Jo!” Laurence exclaimed suddenly, pulling me aside to make room for the man. “This is the man responsible for that new business venture. Jo suggested merging with Gungfo industries in order to bring up the profits in …” he rattled on an on, and it took all I had to not gape.

That had been my suggestion –months ago.

If my feet had hurt before, it compared to nothing I felt now.

“Naomi?” Julie looked concerned. Concerned my ass.

“Are you okay?” Laurence asked.

“I’m just…” I took a deep breath and started again, “I’m going to go get some fresh air. Excuse me.”

On my way out, I grabbed another glass of champagne. I headed for the balcony, pinching the bridge of my nose in hopes of relieving me from some stress as I exited through the beautiful French doors.

I made my way to the railing, placing my drink beside me as I leaned forward, resting my arms on the wide surface. The city was  Standing there alone made me feel both pathetic and yet, somehow, beautiful. Mostly pathetic, admittedly, but the wind blowing my hair I felt like the model that Larry, had told them I was –like the real models that attended the party behind me.

I closed my eyes, wishing I could kick off the high heels.

“Hi,” a voice said behind me.

I turned to see Devin Warner standing there, a glass in hand. He was even more handsome up close.

“Alone?” he glanced around, with his bright blue eyes, his dark hair combed back with a few loose strands hanging down in front of his eyes. It was sexy.

I looked past him to the party beyond the French doors. Julie was hanging on Laurence’s arm.

“Yeah,” I replied, focusing on the man in front of me. It was currently an easy task. Like I said, he was handsome, although slightly shorter than Laurence. His lips were at the height of my forehead –or they would have been, had I not been wearing six-inch heels. That was always the perfect height distance for me. A man didn’t have to double over to kiss a girl on the forehead if their lips were already there.

Devin laughed, “Then mind if I join you?”

“Misery loves company,” I half-heartedly raised my glass.

“Bad night?” he asked, coming up beside me on the railing.

“Well, I’ve certainly had better,” I gave a helpless shrug as I turned back to the city view.

“If you need someone to listen, my ears are open,” he said, stealing a glance at me.

“Thanks, but… I think I’m fine,” I arched my back. “What can I say? It’s quickly becoming apparent that this kind of scene isn’t exactly… my scene.”

“I know how you feel,” he said, casting another glance my way.

“Yeah,” I forced a laugh as I swirled the champagne around in my glass. “Riiiiight.”

“There’s only one reason why I’m here,” he said.

“The connections?” I questioned.

“No, not quite,” he chuckled.

“Then why?” I asked, turning to look at him.

He met my gaze for a moment, then turned away, “No –I won’t say.”

I opened my mouth, then closed it, rolling my eyes. “You were the one that brought it up.”

“That’s true,” he said, squinting slightly into the distance before turning back and facing me. “You see, there’s this girl.”

“Ah, so it’s a girl.”

“No –well, yes,” he said. “If you’re going to tease me, I won’t continue.”

“I thought you were supposed to be, like, thirty. What are you doing, acting like a teenager?”

“So you know who I am,” he looked slightly surprised.

“Sure,” I sighed dramatically, “You’re Devin Warner. I’m not sure if there’s a single person at that party that doesn’t know who you are.”

“I’m flattered,” he smiled. “But I don’t care about all the people in there.”

“No, apparently you only care about a single girl,” I leaned over the railing, looking down below before leaning back. The dress swam around my legs. The material was smooth, light and soft against my skin. I didn’t think it was silk, and I had never bothered to ask. It didn’t matter to me. “I should tell you, Devin, that my date for the night is one of your greatest rivals.”

“Laurence?” he asked. “Now I could hardly call him a major competitor.”

“Laurence is a very capable CEO.”

“I never said he wasn’t.”

“It was implied.”

He cracked a smile, “Well, I don’t deny any implications.” His gaze moved from my face down to my feet, where they lingered on my feet. “I’ve never understood why women where high heels.”

“Me neither,” I shrugged. “I wore them because Laurence bought them for me.”

“And what has poor Laurence done to make you come out here on the balcony?” he asked.

“It’s not…” I didn’t want to talk about it, but Devin was proving to be someone that was easy to talk to. “See, I’m in the tech department in one of Laurence’s branches, but I watch the stocks. When I applied, I wanted to be in the financial department, but with my work history they placed me in tech… Anyway, I suggested to him months ago to buy Gungfo’s stocks, and he chose to ignore me. Then some random employee comes along with the exact same idea, and suddenly it’s like, whoa, amazing idea, Jo… It’s… It’s…”

“Frustrating?” he offered.

“Mm,” I blew out a huff of air. I paused as I looked at the sky. I couldn’t see any stars with the lights of the city, but a clear sky was a beautiful sky. “Not like it matters now.”

“No?” he asked. “Are you quitting?”

“No,” I straightened up and looked at him. “Gungfo industries stocks are nearing its peak; now’s the time to sell –not buy.”

“You’re positive?” he asked.

“Mm,” I nodded.

“Beauty and brains,” he commented, bringing out his cell phone. He dialed a number, smiling at me as he told the man on the other side of the line to sell Gungfo’s stocks.

I was taken completely by surprise. Laurence never trusted my word so much.

“I’m trusting you,” he told me as he closed the phone.

I opened my mouth, then closed it. “Thank you.”

“You’re welcome,” he said, watching me. Our gazes lingered on each other, not critical. Relaxed. A moment that was shaped and warped to perfection.

I broke eye contact first, “I should go back inside.”

He didn’t say anything as I took my glass and headed back inside.

“Naomi,” he called.

I turned. I didn’t know how he knew my name, but at that moment it didn’t matter.

“That girl I was waiting for is…” his voice trailed off as his gaze focused behind me.

Slowly I turned to see Laurence kissing Julie. So the gifts he’d been showering me with… were they because he felt guilty? Because he still wanted me, even though apparently he had his choice of women? I felt my eyes water, although the only thing that really felt sore wasn’t my heart, but my feet. These stupid shoes.

Sadly, I wasn’t surprised. Just disappointed. There was a part of me that wished for that perfect façade to be more than that. To be real. There were so many signs along the way, but I had chosen to ignore them all.

Devin’s hand came down on my arm a little two late, spinning me back towards him.

“You’re better than he is,” Devin’s grip tightened on my shoulders. “You deserve better.

“Can you…” I took a deep breath, trying not to let the tears in my eyes slide past my defenses. “Can you just hold that thought for –I don’t know –five minutes?”

“It’s you,” Devin told me in a rush. “The girl I’m waiting for is you. The party I went to, I saw you, and you captured my attention so much that I kept coming to these parties for you. Forget Laurence. Forget those idiots in the company. Come be with me.”

Somehow, I believed in him more than I had ever believed in Laurence.

I took a deep breath, “Just… excuse me.”

I grabbed his hands, lowering them to his side before turning and strolling up to Laurence, who was now laughing with Julie. He spotted me, and his smile brightened for a moment before it fell –surprised.

“Naomi, what’s wrong?” he asked, placing a hand on my forearm.

“Don’t ‘what’s wrong’ me,” I clenched my fist. “You’re unbelievable, do you know that, Larry?”

“Excuse us,” Laurence said, beginning to lead me away from the group.

“Don’t touch me,” I shouldered him away. “I saw you. Just because I’m blond doesn’t make me an idiot! I told you months ago to go for the Gunfo stocks, but you ignored me.”

“Naomi, can we do this later?” he asked. “I have a public reputation to live up to.”

I opened my mouth, then closed it. I could feel Devin’s approach without even turning to look at him. I shook my head, forcing a laugh, “There won’t be a later, Laurence. Ever. I quit. I quit being your girlfriend, I quit your company… I… I quit everything that has to do with you.”

“I’ll make sure that no one ever hires you,” he said quietly.

“That’s fine,” I lost all respect for him –as if I had any left. “I already have a job waiting for me.”

Laurence looked up as a hand touched my waist lightly. Without another word, I let Devin lead me away from Laurence, the crowd –the party.

“Naomi!” Laurence shouted after us.

We were already out the doors. We headed through the lobby, and the valet left to bring Devin his car. Laurence grabbed my arm.

“You’re making a mistake. He doesn’t want you because you’re beautiful, he wants you because you’re mine. Or are you leaving me for him because you’re a sl–”

“You really want to make your image sink any lower?” Devin asked him, nodding towards the onlookers that had followed the three of us out. Cameras flashed; paparazzi.

“I practically own you,” Laurence lowered his voice.

“You –” Devin started, but I interrupted him.

“Because you buy me things? No, Laurence –I never wanted any of it. But you won’t know that.”

Laurence opened his mouth, closed it, and then started storming off.

“You don’t know what you’re doing,” he called as he neared the group and turned around.

The valet came around in Devin’s Lamborghini, got out, came around the expensive car and opened the door for me. Instead of getting in, I used Devin’s shoulder to support myself while I undid the straps of the heels and slipping them off.

I hooked the heel of one shoe into the strapped toe of the other, and hung them off of the nearest object –a silver fire hydrant. My feet felt free –no longer constricted and tight.

“You don’t know what you’re doing,” Laurence repeated.

Devin rubbed the small of my back gently, encouraging me. I hardly knew the man, and yeah, maybe this could be a mistake, but it was a chance I was willing to take.

“Yeah. I do,” I told Laurence as I got into Devin’s black Lamborghini. “I’m leaving you, Laurence. And I’m not looking back.”

Devin shut the door for me, and walked around to the other side as I rolled down my window.

“And Laurence?”

“What?” he asked coldly.

“Leave the key to my apartment in my mailbox.”

He turned on his heel and stalked back into the hotel.

I rolled up the window, and looked at Devin. He watched me, oblivious to the flashing lights around us. Devin Warner –hottest, youngest CEO –just ran off with the woman of his greatest competitor. Yeah, it was bound to be a headliner.

Finally, I said, “Thank you.”

“You’re welcome,” he told me, reaching out and placing a hand behind my neck. He lowered his head, giving me plenty of time to turn away.

“I don’t want you to think I’m doing this because I need comfort,” I whispered, but I didn’t pull away.

“And I don’t want you to think that I would take advantage of the situation if that were the case,” he murmured back.

“Would you?” I asked, leaning into his hand.

“You tell me,” his eyes smiled as he pressed his lips against mine. I closed my eyes, savoring the moment. Even if I were to wake up and for it to all be a dream, that single moment with Devin Warner was greater than any time I spent with Laurence Peterson. I felt free, light –as if a weight had been lifted and tossed away.

Devin pulled away, smiling as he put the car in drive and took off out of there.

I couldn’t help but smile as I wiggled my toes, glancing occasionally at him and his handsome profile.

There were no ifs, ands or buts in that moment.

And I didn’t mind the barefoot ride home.

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