Romances

Romantic Endeavour (sample, 1,300 words.)

It was just my rotten luck to miss the IT guy’s first day. Well, maybe it wasn’t luck, as much as it was my on stupid, selfish fault for getting so badly drunk, I had to miss work on Monday. That was Corin’s first day.

But if I missed seeing him right away, I didn’t miss hearing about it. By the time I’d crawled, tortoise-like, from under my bed covers, made it somehow to the shifting bathroom without injury, and then stumbled towards the storm-tossed kettle, my phone was throwing a fit with all the Facebook notifications I’d received. Squinting, I failed to enter the right password three times before I finally got my phone unlocked. My Facebook icon was bursting with notifications. What the hell was going on? Had the zombie apocalypse finally happened? Had the Queen of England paid my town a surprise visit?

It was neither, as it turned out. I was confronted by notifications from a dozen different work colleagues who’d posted blurry photographs of what appeared to be a man, dressed in a white shirt, blue tie and jeans. Every picture was badly framed and looked to be taken in a rush. As I swiped my screen, I couldn’t help but note the lewd comments beneath each picture. Every one of my friends had the serious hots for this guy – whoever he was. But according to them, he was being closely guarded by my friend and supervisor, Nicola, as she inducted him into the office. Some of the girls added unkind comments about her having already dug her claws into him.

I laid the phone aside and cursed my bad timing, wondering if I ought to put in an appearance after lunchtime. My stomach lurched, reminding me how much I’d overdone it last night. Sunday night drinking wasn’t a normal habit for me, but last night I’d become despondent and angry at my apparent inability to track down a compatible male.

~

Once home, I’d thrown off my outdoor clothes and settled into jammies, telling myself I was better off without the burden of a relationship. However, my libido had disagreed, dragging my hands down to my thighs, then between my legs. Too drunk to care, I immediately slipped into a fantasy. I’d brought a hungry male home with me, and he couldn’t keep his hands off my body. I’d already grabbed my living-room vibrator, discreetly hidden inside a vase, in preparation for a wild, if solo, evening naked on my couch. My nipples were pebbled with need and my fingers were slipping through lightly-trimmed pubic hair when the kettle clicked off, a reminder that a mug of strong coffee was in order. My fantasy evaporated, leaving my mind doused in cold reality. I sighed, telling myself that this new guy was probably no better than the rest of the XY-bearing population. No, he could wait until tomorrow. Surely, no-one would snap him up before then.

First Sighting

I was wrong. The moment I walked into the building, feeling loads better after gallons of coffee and a quiet (sadly, orgasm-free) night in bed, Nicola pounced, dragging me by the arm into her office.

“Did you see him?” she squeaked hoarsely, bouncing on her feet in a most un-managerial way. Her auburn bob shivered as she stole anxious glances through her partly-open door.

“The new eye-tee guy?” I asked, knowing full well who she was talking about. “Everyone’s been eff-booking about him, but…”

“I told him to report to me at eight-thirty. If you wait here, you’ll get to see him close up.”

“What’s all the excitement about? He didn’t look like—”

“When you see him, you’ll get it,” Nicola whispered, still grinning like a loon.

“Okay,” I shrugged, “I can wait five minutes.” I settled my butt against the side of her desk. “What’s he coming to see you for, anyway?”

“Does it matter? He’ll be here, that’s what counts.”

I peered at my friend. “You’ve got it bad, haven’t you?”

“Me?” She pressed her hand to her chest. “No. I’m just…” her words trailed away as she struggled to explain her adolescent behavior.

“See?” I grinned. She threw me a glare. At that moment, a blonde head appeared round the door. Charlie was my desk-neighbor and long-time friend

“Hi April. How’s the hangover?”

“Tummy bug,” I reminded her. “I think I had a bad Chinese.”

“Yeah, all those glasses of red probably had nothing to do with it.”

“Charlie…” I growled.

“Whatever. Can you and your bad-Chinese belly help me with a printing problem?”

“Right now?” I glanced at the clock, which was approaching eight thirty. I’d been promised my first contact with the new guy.

“Can it wait for—?”

“Sorry, babe. I really, really need to get the stats to the morning meeting. Not a lot of time left and I’m struggling.”

I shook my head. “I’m off for one day and the place falls apart.”

“Pleeeez?” she begged. “It’s thirty pages long and I’ve got less than twenty minutes to staple ten copies together.”

“You know it’s serious when Charlie starts spouting numbers,” Nicola said, then nodded toward the door. “Better get out there, babe.”

“Babe…” I muttered as I followed Charlie to her desk. Head-to-head with mine, hers was a shambles of scattered paperwork. Mine was clean and relatively bare. Except for the large collection of furry desk-bugs stuck around the edge of my monitor, keyboard, mouse mat and paper trays. I’d made the mistake of sticking a few on my monitor a year ago, presents from a conference. Since then, they’d multiplied like Tribbles. No-one would own up to it, but new bugs appeared every week, sporting ribbons from every company, advertising campaign and worthy cause in the country. I wondered if it would ever end. Nicola told me she had recommended me for promotion – simply so I could have a bigger desk, which would mean more space for new bugs.

“Very funny,” I’d retorted.

“Management are quite worried,” she confided.

“About what?”

“That your desk will suffer a bug-epidemic. Every time you take a day off, they worry you’ve been eaten.”

After that remark, I’d threatened to extend my collection to her office.

“Any bug that appears in my office will earn itself a one-way trip to the incinerator.”

“Spoil-sport,” I muttered.

“What was that?” Charlie asked, pointlessly shaking the large printer.

“Nothing,” I replied. “Just going over something.”

“I hope it’s not your chat-up line for the new guy, because it sounded a tiny bit negative.” She held her thumb and forefinger an inch apart.

“So what’s your printer not doing?” I asked, trying to concentrate on the present.

“Printing,” she replied.

“Charlie…”

“Okay, I’ve sent the files, but my pee-see says there’s an unexpected error.” She indicated her screen with a manicured nail. I glanced past her at the message.

“Paper jam,” I sighed. “Charlie, just pull out the jammed sheets.”

“Already tried,” she explained. “Didn’t help.”

“Lemme see…” I pulled out the paper drawer and peered into the depths of the four-foot high machine. At the back, the edge of a sheet hung down, almost invisible. Why didn’t the designers think to put a little light inside these contraptions? They put lights in fridges, didn’t they? I passed the paper tray to Charlie, who immediately threw it down on her desk.

“He’s here, he’s here!”

“Who’s here?” I asked the printer’s dim interior.

“New Guy. Eye-tee man. Corin!” She was quivering like a schoolgirl. What kind of man could set off a reaction like that? I straightened up in time to see a figure disappearing into Nicola’s office. Darn, I thought. Missed again. It was like trying to catch a glimpse of the Loch Ness Monster, or Sasquatch. Not that I’d seen either, but then, that was the whole point, wasn’t it?

~

 

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