Monica watched me excitedly wander around the kitchen, making breakfast and coffee for the both of us. She sat at the table, reading the paper, relaxed as was always the case these days, simply enjoying the good life.
“Excited about today?” she asked.
“You know it!”, I exclaimed, “It has been great for the past three months doing pretty much nothing, but I really do enjoy working. It’s why I became an engineer. The job is simply fun.”
“Well go for it. I am glad for you,” she said.
Our house was in a nice location in London not far from the Tube. We had moved here from California two months ago, looking for a life change. We had made our fortune and this was our opportunity to try something different. We had struck it big - or at least my wife had. We were the classic Silicon Valley couple - she was from New York, I was from Nebraska, but we both converged on high tech central looking for the start up excitement that imbues all life in the area. We had met while rock climbing and found that we had a shared interest in outdoors activities. One thing led to another and we moved in together. Strictly speaking, we were partners because we had never actually married, but ten years of living together and supporting each other made us as close a couple as you could imagine.
I was the software engineer type, always looking for interesting challenges with a mild hope that somehow this would lead to an Uber-esque exponential ramp to success. It had never happened, but I was always well paid and was considered a pretty hot property in terms of getting software projects developed. I generally supported my wife as she moved from company to company, looking for the next big thing. And, astonishingly, it happened. At some, seemingly random Meetup, she met up with a biotech specialist and over a few days put together a plan with a software engineering friend on the back of a proverbial napkin. It was a back end system that analysed drug interactions and needed only one round of venture capital before they had some successes - enough to be purchased in a back room deal by a major pharmaceutical. She ended up with a cool eighty million dollars out of it - all cash. Her partners did quite well too. But after the buyout, their expertise was still needed and hers wasn’t, so we ended up with lots of cash and nothing much to do.
And that is how we ended up in London. I must admit that the stress of the previous five years was tough for our marriage, mostly with respect to sex (or lack of more precisely), so when the opportunity presented itself, we decided for a complete change. Monica suggested London - a place where we could base ourselves for travel to the continent, get jobs that we simply enjoyed doing, and live a low stress lifestyle. We purchased a row house - one of those pretty houses that you see in the movies - millions of pounds - but when you have the money, why not spend it? We toured around for a month or so before I began to get bored and started looking for an exciting job at a start up. I had stumbled on an interesting startup company involving genomic mapping, but most of the work was software, and they desperately needed a cash input into the company and someone to manage the software team. As a consequence, I ended up with thirty percent of the company, a small ramen noodle salary (not that I needed it), and, most importantly, someplace to go every day to keep my mind engaged.
The best part about the job was that it was only three Tube stops away and then a ten minute walk. How good is that? After years of being stuck on the Highway 101 parking lot, it was liberating to neither own nor need a car. When I jumped off the Tube, I realized that I was quite early - too early really - so I was wandering up the road to check out the cafes near work, when I was bumped, rather strongly in the back. I felt that flash of annoyance one feels at an unexpected physical hit and turned around to look down, at which all of my annoyance fled immediately.
“Ow! Ow!” moaned a woman on the ground, clutching her ankle. “I’m so sorry. I didn’t mean to bump into you. Ow!”
The first thing that struck me as I looked down was that she was very good looking: long dark hair and quite slim. The second thing that occurred to me was that I was a bit of an ass pondering on her looks while she was lying there in pain. I knelt down to see how she was.
“Are you OK? Do you need help?”
She straightened out her leg a couple of times and then grimaced when she put it on the ground.
“I’m not sure.” She looked around a bit and said, “do you mind helping me to the cafe? I think that I will be fine once I sit down a bit.”
I feel a nice gentlemanly thrill associated with being asked for help by a very good looking woman, and immediately responded, “No problem. Let’s help you up.”
I helped her up on one leg, and reached around her waist to help her hop over to the cafe. As I glanced down a her, I realised that she wasn’t just good looking, she was flat out beautiful, and very curvy. I couldn’t but notice that I was holding onto a narrow waist, with somewhat wide hips beneath, but most noticeable of all, I could see very large breasts bouncing up and down as I helped her hop over to the cafe. It was only a few hops over and I helped her over to a table to sit down.
She looked up, “Thank you so much. And, please, let me buy you a coffee. And join me at the table.” I looked at her for moment, seeing that her long black hair framed a lovely face. Since I was only walking around to scout out the cafes in the area anyway, I was more than happy to start this activity with the company of a beautiful woman.
“Sure” I said, “but the coffee is on me”.
I sat down and we looked at each other for that awkward moment when two people try to figure out how to begin. I broke the ice and introduced myself. We exchanged basic information about each other, looking for areas of commonality, as one does with strangers. It turns out that she was American and had been in the country for the same amount of time as myself.
Stephanie, her name as I learned shortly, provided me with her story, “I graduated a few years ago from a small liberate arts college in Connecticut and have been working for the past few years for a museum in Ohio. I know, I know, not exactly considered a prime source of culture, but it was pretty much the only job in the area that I could get. I specialized in Ancient History, the thousand years or so before the Romans appeared. I had a great time for about four or five years, but the museum had budget cuts and I was out of a job a few months ago. I received an interesting offer, albeit not full time, for a job here, and I jumped at the chance to see the world. Mostly, I have started work and have been exploring London for he past couple of months. By the way, it’s good to hear an American voice - I know that Americans are all over the place, but that’s mainly tourists, and I get the impression that you actually work around here?” she looked at me with the question in her eyes.
I gave her my story, though holding back on any mention of financial success, rather focusing on my intent to start anew in another country as a bit of adventure. I dropped “my wife” in the conversation a couple of times to head off any embarrassing misunderstandings, just on the off chance that she was interested in me for more than just a chat. I am not bad looking, but with my sandy brown hair, mild complexion, and ordinary build, I didn’t stick out. More importantly, I think that I exude a bit of geekiness, having been a software programmer for so many years and always being interested in technology. People like me just can’t hide this.
In spite of this, she gave the impression that she was interested in me and, if I didn’t pick up the wrong signals, attracted to me. Naturally, this appealed to my ego. Surprisingly we found common ground in technology - it turns out that museums are actually pretty high tech. She described how they scanned objects using multi-spectral scanners in order to avoid the metameric issues one gets with an RGB scan. I was actually quite impressed at her knowledge of color science and it wasn’t long before we were batting around our preferences of digital cameras and wide screen televisions. She was a woman after my own heart.
While physically stunning, she honestly wasn’t really my preferred type. I tended to prefer the athletic, thin, blonde look, like my wife, and Stephanie did not hit the mark on any of these other than perhaps thin. However, I don’t think that there was a man alive who wouldn’t appreciate her looks, and it was certainly nice to be seen with her.
We wound up the coffee and she insisted on exchange phone numbers, asking if I would be OK to “Do Lunch”. She explained that she knew hardly anyone, since she had spent most of the time traveling for the museum job she had taken in London. However, she was going to be based here for the next year, and needed to make contacts. Having precisely zero plans as yet, I was more than happy to agree to this situation. I left, forgetting about her ankle, something that I felt mildly guilty about when I recalled this later in the day.
.... There is more of this story ...