Oh right - by flirting.
As if the TDH situation isn't enough of a challenge for me, I seem to have gotten myself into another mess. A really doozy.
Allow me to set the stage: I work in a very male-populated industry. It does me well to lay on the female charm with some of my clients (and no, I'm not some sort of escort - I work in a big office building downtown, for a great big company), and thus far, it's always gotten me what I needed. I win people over, close deals, and use my soft, giggly voice to smooth things over on the phone.
Alright, so I've got this one client - about 52, the CEO of his company, married, halfway across the country, loves to flirt back, is intelligent, and funny. Essentially, if I was about 17 years older, he'd be quite the catch.
I've been dealing with him for about 4 years now, and though we work well together, and always get things done, our emails back and forth to each other have always been somewhat flirtatious. About a year ago, I had to send him some files when we were both at home, so we inadvertently exchanged personal email addresses. He emailed me out of the blue one day, asking if that was okay, and I said it was fine.
Since then we've exchanged the occasional personal email, never overly flirty, until about 3 months ago, when he sent me a drunken message. In this email he began telling me how he thinks about me sometimes and how he loves the sexy glint in my eye in the one picture I had sent him of DD and I right after she was born. It wasn't anything too far, but still, I didn't know how to respond, so I didn't.
Fast forward to 2 weeks ago. He emails again, asking how I've been, and apologizing for his previous email. I write back, tell him it's great to hear from him, and that I'm a big girl and I can handle it, but that I was surprised for all of that to come to light. I mean, we had just been flirting all these years, after all.
He writes back. Whoa. He listed everything he loved about me, said that even though it didn't start with a physical attraction, he definitely has a thing for me. He loves my laugh, the sound of my voice, the way he can hear me smiling on the other end of the phone, how I love to banter with him in emails, how I'm so smart, and my sense of humour...and then says that he thinks about the day we'll meet. (It's inevitable really, because he sometimes has business here.) He wants to take me out to some incredible restaurant...and that even though he knows we're both married, he can't help but think about what he wants to happen after dinner...
(Those were all his words, by the way.)
THEN he says that he's flying to Vancouver in May, and just for the sake of conversation, what would I do if he sent me a plane ticket to meet him there?!?
So, I panicked, and emailed him back trying to gently tell him that while I was incredibly flattered at his email, I thought he was crazy. I said that I enjoyed our messages, and that he was fun...but we had better rein things in a little. And I said that though I'm sure Vancouver would be fun, I thought it best not to risk any trouble we may get into.
I was trying to let him down, without letting him down.
That failed. Epically.
He sent me another email where he had taken everything I'd said and turned it around to make it sound like I would love to meet up with him, and it seemed as though we were "on the same page" with what we wanted.
So now, I'm sitting here with this open reply box, which I've been looking at for two days, unsure of exactly what to write. Obviously I need to clear things up quickly, but I do love to work with him, and I would hate to jeopardize the relationship we have...oooooh Kate, this is a delicate line.