The loft seemed more open and less crowded with all her stuff gone. Jason surveyed the added space in his closet for the fifth or sixth time and sighed. "It also seems pretty lifeless now..."
It wasn't as if he hadn't seen this one coming. After you've been in a few relationships that fall apart, you start to see the writing on the walls. The initial denial that there is anything wrong, the long silences during the day, that at first you both chalk up to companionable silence. Finally, the snippy-ness and the fighting takes up more and more energy until, like a rubber band, the whole thing snaps. Then next you have the inventory of 'that's mine and this was yours'. Jason had long ago learned to label anything he thought was of value.
"I'm getting too old for this shit!" Jason was, at 27, a little too old for all this shit. The whole junior high drama was getting a little old. "Why, oh why can't I find the one? The one woman that I know is out there somewhere looking for me?" Opening a window and leaning outside, Jason shouted "Where are you?" Somehow the city managed to hold that secret tight.
Monday dawned in its usual late fall splendor. An even downpour fell firmly onto the city, and the rain slick streets returned the morning commuters to work in a gray mood fit to match the skies.
Jason checked his mail queue and then the help desk queue to see what earth shattering crisis had bubbled up while he was away for the weekend. There was the usual cloud of 'cluser' problems that could be dealt with as time allowed. "Hmm... what's this?" Jason muttered to himself when he saw a request from Human Resources to set in a new user. "Looks like Accounting has a new worker bee... Melinda..." With that Jason put on his gear vest and headed out into the addled world of the clusers.
Having navigated the sea of cubicles that was the outer ring of Accounting (or was that Hades?), Jason was lying under a cube desk trying to trace a cable run when a pair of ankles and the bottom edge of a short skirt moved into his field of vision. From his vantage point on the floor he could see almost all the way up her skirt. What he saw he liked, and he had to think long and hard about batting averages so as not to give his feelings away. Lying on your back under a cube desk is not a good place to get a hard on! Besides, he reminded himself, she might look good from down here, but all he could see were her legs. The rest might howl at the moon for all he knew. That thought took the last hints of arousal clean away. More than once he had seen a nice set of legs attached to something that had crawled out from under a rock, or was the second coming of the Wicked Witch of the West!
Since he'd traced the cable run back to the wall port, Jason slid out from under her desk, saying "Excuse me, but if you could step back a bit I can get out of here without crawling between your legs."
With a slight giggle, the legs in question moved back and to the left, into the opening to the cube farm.
Jason scrambled to get up on his knees. As he turned, but before he stood up, Melinda stepped back into the cube to allow a delivery to pass, so when Jason stood he came up very close indeed to Melinda. Close enough to fully enjoy her scent, to feel the warmth of her body, and to look deep into her clear blue eyes. A bit embarrassed to be that close to a stranger, he tried, unsuccessfully, to step back but the inner wall of the cube kept him from moving very far. At least he could see more of her face and wasn't so far inside of her personal space.
"Uh, umm, I'm Jason from IT Services..." He tried to offer his hand for her to shake but there really wasn't enough room.
"Hello, I'm Melinda", she said as she also extended her hand. She did not back away.
As a result they managed to barely touch in the space between them. The warmth of her hand almost took Jason's breath away. So much so that he blushed a furious shade of red. Well, definitely not a rock dweller, but the witch...
After waiting a beat or two for Jason to recover, Melinda offered, "So, you've come to set up my computer, have you?" And the smile she favored him with almost set him back to blushing.
"Yes, err, umm, yeah!" Jason stammered while trying to clear his head and not sound like a total moron. "I mean, yes, I'm here to set up your user account here in Accounting and to let you know when your orientation to IT is scheduled." He ended with a lopsided smile that he hoped looked less stupid than it felt. "I can show you the basics of getting to your e-mail and such, but the big picture stuff will have to wait until tomorrow afternoon. You'll be so busy trying to get the lay of the land that you really won't have much use beyond that between now and then anyway."
"Oh, and will you be giving the orientation tomorrow afternoon?" Melinda asked with what she hoped was the right amount of interest. She knew it was always useful to be in good with the guys from IT, and besides that, he was kind of cute.
"I'll have to check the schedule, but it should be one of us, so... perhaps I'll see you tomorrow afternoon?" Well, at least his voice hadn't cracked like in junior high. Damn! This is like asking for her home room number, or what lunch she has... damn, damn, damn!
Like she was reading his mind, or had been on the other end of a lot of these types of conversations, Melinda asked, "Are you doing anything for lunch?"
Lunch. What had always been a simple activity involving the intake of sufficient calories, now had become a potential battleground. Jason wasn't at all sure that he was up to the task. Sure, he had eaten lunch with women before, even pretty women. But something about this lunch felt different. Like it was somehow both a test and a trial by fire, and there was no way in Hell that Jason was going to fail. And this was no normal lunch. It was a first lunch with a woman that, when he took a moment to sort it out within his mind, looked like she was everything he could wish for.
Melinda was five foot six inches, or so, and had shoulder length strawberry blond hair that was lightly curled. She had those intensely blue eyes he had fallen into during their first somewhat cramped meeting in her cube. She was slender without being too slim, curvy in all the right places, and that smile... Jason's soul almost cried out the first time she smiled at him. All in all she was the woman of his dreams... all of them!
Jason wasn't a slouch, nor was he a typical geek in that he did work out and was in better than average shape. As a plus he had interests outside of computers and stuff. At five feet eight he was not imposing. He could carry on small talk on a wide variety of topics, and could play a mean game of pool. But somehow Melinda had gotten the better of him and all he could do in her presence was look lost and goofy. Lunch promised to be, interesting...
"So tell me Jason, how long have you worked here?" Melinda asked as she munched happily on her Cobb Salad.
"Well, I've been here almost long enough to be vested, so that's what... almost five years I guess." Jason watched as she ate with delicate precision and for the third or fourth time wondered what is she really like?
"Listen, it was really nice of you to have lunch with me. What with this being my first day here and all, and not knowing a soul..." Melinda once again tilted her head to the side which she did whenever she asked a question she seemed interested in hearing the reply to.
"Well, it's not like I have a lot of other offers." Jason said with a frown.
"What, a good looking guy like you?" Melinda opened her eyes wide as if this caught her by surprise. "I mean, you don't strike me as awkward or overly geeky!" This last was said with another of her infectious laughs.
"Well, Ma'am, I thank you kindly..." Jason said with a Southern twang and a mock tipping of his hat.
Melinda shocked them both by bursting out laughing, then covered her mouth when others "prairie dogged" to see what was so funny. Still laughing, though not as loud, she socked him on the arm, eyes twinkling with mirth.
"All right, all right, that was unfair..." Jason said while he screwed up his courage. Then figuring what the hell, he asked, "Can I make it up to you with a drink or coffee later?"
"Sure!" Melinda said, "When?"
Rubbing his 'injury' while stalling for time Jason said "Okay! How about tonight for a drink? I'll stop by your cube after work and then we can walk over to a place nearby that's not too bad. Maybe get a bite to eat too?"
"Okay you're on!"
Monday: Late Afternoon
Although he'd worked through many opening lines in the hours after lunch, Jason was no more certain what to start with when he saw Melinda than he had been before lunch. The only real change was that he now had a dry mouth and sweaty palms to go with his confusion. "Why oh why does this woman do this to me?" he muttered to himself as he got off the elevator and walked into Accounting.
Melinda had been far too busy with her orientation to the department to spend a lot of time thinking about Jason. Not that during the occasional boring part of one of the hundred little talks she had had with co-workers and her supervisor she hadn't had a moment or two to wonder what he might be like.
.... There is more of this story ...