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After my wife had left the kitchen and went back upstairs to our bedroom, I preferred to remain in the kitchen and clean the dishes from supper. I was washing dishes and working on clean up when Nicholas strolled into the room.
"Hey," Nicholas said.
"Hello, Nic." I said to him, not making eye contact. "Is there anyone lingering in the living room?"
"Not anymore, Sir." Nicholas answered, "Josh and Jimbo went upstairs to speak with their better halves."
"What about you?" I asked him, "Do you plan on speaking to your better half before bed?"
Nicholas stood there and took a deep breath. "No, I'm afraid not."
I stopped doing the dishes. "And why is that?"
"She doesn't want to talk to me, Sir." Nic replied.
"What makes you believe that?" I asked him.
"Exhibit A would be the divorce papers she had Fed-Ex deliver a few days ago." Nicholas said, "Which also came with a restraining order."
I stood there for a moment and then deeply sighed, "I'm very sorry to hear that. I can't imagine what you're going through."
"Thank you," Nicholas said, pausing for a moment. "You need help?"
"Appreciated, but I got this." I said, gesturing to a chair by the island in the kitchen. "Take a seat and keep me company though."
Nicholas looked very hesitant, but complied none the less. I could tell he wasn't comfortable with the talk we were about to have, like a child that expected to be scolded for something he said or did. That couldn't be further from the truth, but I did a few more dishes and let him sweat it out before letting him off the hook.
"Just to let you know," I started, as I paused for a moment. "I'm not angry at you. I admire your honesty and your refusal to take advantage of your insider knowledge. You had an inside scoop and refused to cheat your way to what could have been an easy win. That's not something to get upset about, it's something to admire and respect."
"Thanks," Nicholas said, as he seemed to relax a bit more.
"I've seen some people do the opposite," I also added, "And when I found out, that person was dismissed with prejudice. I think you totally made the right and a classy call here. "
"I appreciate that," Nicholas replied, "Though I kind of feel responsible for what's going on."
"Really?" I said, as I stopped doing the dishes and put the sponge down. "Explain."
"I'm the reason Chris resigned," Nicholas started, "I didn't divulge any company secrets, as all I did was tell the truth about what great people we work with and for.
"You praised what a great person Chris was?" I asked.
"That's it," Nicholas confirmed, "I was just trying to gloat about one of my great bosses, and someone heard that and made him an offer."
I paused for a moment. "It's Gerard, isn't it? He made Chris an offer he couldn't refuse."
"It was," Nicholas said, feeling a tad ashamed, "To be perfectly honest, he offered me the job first cause he was really enjoying us hanging out so much. I declined for the same reason, that being I needed the same job for stability."
"At least you're consistent," I said, taking a sip of my drink beside the dishes. "I appreciate the loyalty, but I learned the hard way that working with friends isn't such a good idea."
"That's also another reason I was hesitant," Nicholas agreed. "I don't want to ruin our friendship, especially since I'm already pushing my luck crashing in his spare room."
"Hold on," I called out, "You're living with Gerard right now?"
"Yeah," Nicholas said, "I've been there for about four months now."
"Oh, that explains a lot." I said, thinking about it. "His company has seen a spike in quality and activity in the last few months. I think that new gusto comes from you, having someone new to speak with and bounce ideas off of."
"I don't talk about my work," Nicholas assured him, "And he's respectful enough not to ask."
"That's good to hear," I said, as I resumed the dishes, "But I have a request of you."
"Sure," Nicholas said, eager to please. "What did you have in mind?"
"There's a guy in development," I started, as I recalled a meeting with the department head. "He's had a rough year and we've even considered letting him go despite his raw talent.
"Okay," Nicholas said, as he was now curious. "What would you like me to do?"