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Secrets are for Sharing


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Title: Secrets are for Sharing

Author: JenJen

Fandom/Original: Original story

Summary: A wealthy exec succumbs to a fit of terrible allergies. His secretary takes it upon herself to help him through it.

Author's Notes: I've been working on this slowly but surely ever since the end of last year. @__@ So in order to motivate myself to finally try and finish this, I'm posting the first chunk.

I also found two stock photos that look exactly like how I imagined the characters. Not sure how I managed that, but I uploaded them here in case you want to look.


Roger Lewis sat perfectly straight at his desk, one manicured hand poised upon the polished cherry wood, the other holding the phone to his ear. A smile stretched across his face, but his eyes were dark and focused. “Listen Jerry, the numbers don’t lie. Don’t worry so much and you might live longer. Hm? Yes, of course, I’ve got Alan looking at the figures right now, but—yes, Alan Perkins. No, you met him at that Christmas thing last year, remember?”

“Sir?” came a sunny voice. Penny Brewbaker stood in the doorframe to his office with a manila folder in one hand. “I’ve got that fax from—”

“Jerry, hang on a tic. I’ll be right back.” Roger put the man on hold. The odd smile dropped away and he stared evenly at his secretary. “What is it, Miss Brewbaker? What could possibly be so urgent?”

Penny, unfazed and cheerful as usual, said, “Well, sir, Mr. Perkins just now sent up a fax of the numbers you requested.”

Roger rubbed the bridge of his nose with a sharp sniff. “Bring it in after I’m through speaking with Mr. Jones, here. Do not interrupt me again.”

“Certainly, sir,” Penny said.

Roger put the phone to his ear again and snapped back into character. “Jerry? Hey, I’m back. No, just my secretary. You know how she can be.”

Penny shook her head a little and turned on her heel. The ginger curls escaping from her up-do bobbed as she walked back to her desk in the other room and resumed her seat.

“All right, all right, well listen,” Roger continued, “we can talk more business tomorrow over some lunch. Your country club or mine? All right, you got it, Jerry. Tee-off at eight? Okay buddy, take care. Bye now.”

He carefully placed the phone into its cradle and allowed his eyes to drift closed. Talking to that man always seemed to temporarily take it out of him. Today, especially, he just wasn’t feeling up to his typical schmoozing. He popped open the top drawer of his desk and shook the little orange pill bottle inside. Still empty.

The pharmacy Roger used since moving to the city had never been late on refilling his prescription before, but this time the shipment was delayed due to severe winter weather. His medication would be in at the end of the week, but today was only Tuesday. Roger didn’t know how he had made it almost two days already without an allergy attack, and he honestly didn’t know how much longer he might last.

His allergies were a dirty secret, one he worked diligently to maintain ever since entering the corporate world. He kept healthy; he exercised every morning, ate a balanced diet, and supplemented himself with a high-end multivitamin. He had not fallen ill since his childhood, and he had never missed a day of work.

But his allergies undid all of that careful tending of his flawless image. They were a weakness, one he could not overcome by simply exercising or eating right.

“Would you like that fax now?”

Roger dropped the pill bottle back into the drawer and slammed it shut. “What did I say about interrupting me?” he barked. His heart thudded in his ears.

“Sir, you’re not on the phone anymore,” said Penny without missing a beat. She moved toward his desk and slid him the manila folder. “Should I call down to Mr. Perkins and let him know he can go home now?”

“What? No.” He flipped through the report. “This may require some double-checking before the day’s through and he—”

“It’s past eight already, sir,” said Penny, a stern edge to her tone. “Unlike some of us, Alan has a family to get home to.”

Roger’s jaw tensed and he sighed through his nose. For a split second, he was nearly overcome with the urge to sneeze. Adrenaline raced through his veins as he fought off the sensation, though the only outward sign of his struggle was the slightest twitch of his lips. “Fine, tell him he can leave,” he said, a little breathier than he would’ve liked. Penny grinned and walked back through the door. A minute later, he could hear her faint voice speaking to Alan Perkins on the phone. It was a quick conversation, and then there came the light tap-tapping of her fingers on the keyboard.

Roger was still caught in the midst of a sneeze. His nostrils tingled and the inside of his head felt muzzy and thick. He couldn’t sneeze here, he just couldn’t. He knew that if he started, there would be no stopping until his medicine came in. The breath hitched in his chest and the tickle tormenting his sinuses was swiftly becoming too much to bear.

“Hhih…eih—” He pinched his nose shut and froze in place until the sneeze finally subsided.

“Did you say something, sir?” Penny called.

“No,” Roger managed. He pushed away from the desk and rushed from his office, passing Penny as he crossed the carpet to a set of double doors. “Go home, Miss Brewbaker,” he said, and exited to the hallway.

He sprinted to the nearest executive washroom and was relieved to find no one else inside, which shouldn’t have been surprising seeing as he was the only exec on the floor working after hours. The heels of his Italian loafers clacked against the green-hued marble flooring as he approached the sinks. The mirror confirmed his suspicions; his nostrils were tinged pink and his eyes weren’t fairing much better. Had he looked like this all evening?

After loosening his tie and splashing his face with a bit of cool water, Robert again sensed the tickle playing along the edge of his nose. He allowed himself a hard sniff, then another, and another. But there was no relief to be had.

He planted his palms on either side of the sink and stared down at the drain, concentrating on keeping his breathing even. “Hh…hih…not now, n-not now…”

A full-on allergy attack was manifesting, and Roger was becoming increasingly aware that he couldn’t stop it. He had to get home, and fast. But patting the pockets of his suit jacket and slacks, he realized he left his apartment keys and cellphone back in the office.

After another futile sniff, he left the restroom in a hurry and burst through the doors to his office. Penny jolted and dropped the dangly earring she had been attempting to put on. “Sir!” she yelped, bending over tactfully in her skirt to pick it up. “Goodness, you scared me. Are you all right? I thought you’d gone home or something.”

Roger thought she would’ve done the same by now. Without an explanation, he made a beeline for his desk and fished around for the keys and phone. “Hehh…come on…hnn…” He crammed them into his pants and went to leave, but walked right into a freshly-spritzed cloud of choking perfume so thick it nearly colored the air.

His sinuses blazed and tears welled up in his eyes. The furious prickling in his nose reached its apex, and then there was no helping it. He sucked in a handful of jerky breaths, his lashes fluttered, his head tipped back, and his forehead creased with the strain of one more desperate attempt to regain control over himself.

“Ah…iahh…haahhh…heehht’ttkchhoo! Eihhht’ktxtchoo! Ha…hih-hieeht’txckhhoo! Ehh…eh-eehhht’tksschoo!”

Roger ended his fit bent over and gripping the door frame to keep from toppling. He stood there, chest heaving, eyes and nose leaking.

“Bless you, sir. Here,” said Penny, offering a tissue from her purse. He grabbed it, turned away from her, and blew for a few seconds before tossing it in the trashcan. “I’m so sorry about that. I wasn’t thinking, I just sprayed. I didn’t know you were allergic to perfume.”

Roger sniffled, but that irritation in his nose simply wouldn’t let him be. “I’m n-not allergic to yyeh…eihh…y-your perfume, Penny, I…iihh…aiiihht’kkchhoo! Hh-heeiht’sschoo! Ah…aahht’ktxsschoo!” The last sneeze forced him down on one knee. He tried to stand, but was overpowered with another quick fit. “Heht’kchhoo! Iiihht’txkchoo-‘kschhoo! Eih…aihh…aiiht’tgxchhoo!”

Penny knelt beside him and rested a tentative hand on his shoulder. She had never touched him before in any capacity, and the sudden closeness made the nape of her neck bristle. “Bless you again, sir. Are you sick?” she asked. “I’ve never heard anyone sneeze that many ti—”


“—times. Bless you.”

“Stop s-saying that.” Roger’s head swam and his face was flushed red all over. “I’m going hh…home,” he huffed, and he struggled to his feet.

Penny watched his legs trembling. “You’re going to go out and flag down a cab at night in the snow? And in this condition?” she asked. She didn’t wait for him to reply. “Come on, sir, I’m driving you home.”


To be continued! biggrin.png Hopefully soon!

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Just lovely! Caretaking fics are the best! Also, I'd be interested to see how Roger and Penny's relationship develops as Roger is made more and more vulnerable by his allergies. Please keep it up!

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Oooh very nice :D I love Penny so far. No-nonsense ladies are my favorite.

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