The light was flashing on the answering machine. Hoping it was my sister, I eagerly punched the button as I slid out of my coat. The deep, masculine voice startled me.
"Hey, Mick, its Nate. I got those tickets to the game. Had to do some sweet-talking, but they are so worth it, buddy! Second row, courtside ... we're in, man! Call me when you get back from London Thursday night. Damn, will that phone never stop? I have to go—this new secretary isn't cutting it..."
I had no idea who this "Nate" was, other than a sexy voice that had the wrong number. Too bad, since I wasn't involved with anyone, and he sounded so delicious! Erasing the message, I soon forgot all about it as I changed out of my suit and heels into comfortable jeans and a sweater. Before I knew it, the evening was over and it was time for bed.
Tuesday when I played my messages, mom cheerfully updated me on family news and then reminded me of the party Friday night. Lovely, another set-up for me ... she hated that I wasn't married yet. She was determined to find someone for me, so there was no use telling her I could find my own man. The second message was a hang-up. It was the third one that caught my attention though.
"I'm getting excited for the game, Mick! Want to bet on who wins? Loser covers the tab after the game. Let me know!"
It was that same sexy voice from yesterday! Now if I could find someone that was as hot as this one sounded, there would be no more set-up dinners. Just my luck this one was probably married or nothing like he sounded...
I was eager to check my messages Wednesday, wanting to hear that voice again. Even though I knew he wasn't calling me, it was fun to see what the news was for the day! Was I ever shocked at the message!
"This is Nate Foster. I think I've been leaving messages on your machine this week meant for my friend Mick. The new secretary I had--notice had--programmed my phone incorrectly. All week messages have gone to the wrong people. My number is 555-1212. Give me a call. I would like to apologize personally instead of just in a message. Hope to hear from you soon."
My machine was programmed for people to leave a message with the standard voice that came with it, not my own. Therefore, this Nate had no idea who heard about his tickets this week. A plan began to form in my mind, a way to get some information on this Nate. Excitement building, I took the paper with his number and dialed before I changed my mind.
The line was busy, making me waiver a bit in my plan. No, this might work, I kept thinking. So dialing again, I almost forgot to reply when I heard his voice!
"Nate Foster Architects, Inc. This is Nate."
"Hello, Nate, my name is Emily and you've been leaving messages on my machine this week by accident," I began.
"I'm sorry about that. My secretary messed everything up when she programmed the phones incorrectly. My former secretary that is," Nate emphasized.
"No problem. Sounds like you ended up with great seats for the game, though. I hear tickets have been sold out for weeks to that game."
"My cousin had these so I begged him for them. I won't even go into everything I had to promise him in exchange," he said with a laugh.
"I saw the last game they played where the referees made a call that few people agreed with."
I hoped to get him to chat longer, and that play had been very controversial. Several minutes passed as we discussed some recent games.
"Well, I'm sure if Mick can't make it, your wife would be happy to take his place," I added.
"No wife and no girlfriend. Do you know how tough it is to find a girl interested in sports?" Nate asked.
"Probably as hard as it is to find someone that apologizes," I said.
"That's true, I guess," he added.
"Nate, it's been great chatting, but I really can't take up your work time. Don't worry about the messages, and I do hope you have a great time at that game. I'll be looking for those seats when the cameras run through the crowds. They're second row, courtside, right?"
"You don't really have to go yet, do you? There are two other lines for the office, and I close in less than 30 minutes anyway. I'm enjoying myself. Say you can chat some more."
"If you're sure I'm not taking time from your work," I replied.
He was so easy to talk to, and it seemed we had several things in common. Time flew, and soon it was time to close down his office. Already I felt the disappointment, figuring he would head home.
"Emily, I know this is a bit weird, but ... do you want to go to dinner?"
"Well, I am enjoying our conversation," I hedged.
"We can go to that new place over on Crescent Street. If you meet me there, then you can leave anytime you choose to," Nate offered.
"That sounds like a good idea, Nate."
Nate gave me a brief description of himself so I would recognize him. We decided on a time and ended the call. I looked at the clock and realized I only had an hour to get ready.
I worried the entire drive to the restaurant. Maybe I should have worn the green slacks. The blue skirt looked more casual but the brown dress was sexier. The red was quite flashy even though I felt confident in it. However, if I went for the sexy look he might think I was coming on to him. Before I stopped second-guessing my outfit, I was there.
The middle of the week usually meant a lighter crowd but not this week. Their parking lot was packed, but I finally found a spot one block down. I ended up hurrying to get inside on time. I kept going back to how Nate described himself so I would recognize him. Nothing he said would set him apart from other men. I was suddenly nervous.
The lobby was quite empty so I quickly looked around for Nate. One man sitting alone could be him ... one standing against the wall that I hoped was NOT him. Then I heard that voice. His back was to me so I had a few seconds to study him. Standing straight and confident, he had his shirt sleeves rolled up exposing his muscles. After a couple more minutes with the host, Nate turned.
"Hello, Nate," I said.
"Emily. You're beautiful," he remarked.
"Thank you. Your description doesn't do you justice, Nate," I told him with a grin.
"Wait ... How did you even know it was me? I had my back to you."
"Your voice gave you away," I admitted.
There would be a wait of twenty minutes so we took seats in the lobby. We picked up the conversation from earlier as if there had been no break.
"How long was this secretary with you, Nate?"
"Forever, it feels like, but only four weeks. I spent hours looking for the contracting forms today," he said. "Nothing is where you would expect it to be."
We talked about his office until our table was ready. He told me how shocked she was when he let her go. Apparently, she thought she was doing a great job, and that she had made his office much more organized for him. I laughed at the way he rolled his eyes as he relayed the scene.
Our meal was fantastic and the service was excellent. We lingered over coffee as we discussed topic after topic. When we decided to leave, Nate held my chair and gently laid his hand on my back to guide me through the restaurant. It felt good there, as if he was telling everyone I was his.
Discovering that we had parked in the same general area, we made our way to the cars. Talk went to the game coming up soon. I envied his friend, being able to go along and enjoy all those hours with Nate. Trying to think of a way to spend more time with him myself, it suddenly dawned on me.
"Nate, you said your files were a disaster and that you have no idea where things are."
"You can't even imagine what those drawers look like when I open them now. I keep thinking it should be simple. If I want a file in the "T's" it should be next to the "S's", but of course, it isn't. All the time I'm wasting finding things is less time I can work on new business, and it's so frustrating. I'm a small company, and I can't call a client and say I don't know where their file is, so I need more time to submit my bid."
"Well, I may be able to help with that. Are you willing to put up with me in the evenings for a while? Say for the next couple weeks?"
"Oh, somehow I don't think that will be a chore at all, Emily," Nate grinned as he replied.
"Then let me see if I can figure them out. My system might not be the best in the world, but I guarantee it will be alphabetical. You can help me if I need it, or get some of your own work done. What do you say? Sound like a good idea?"
Nate said nothing, just looked at me. I worried that I had over-stepped or rushed things.
"You've got a deal, Emily. The best thing that woman did for me was to program my phone with the wrong number."
My first night at his office came a few days after our dinner. We had decided I would just go there straight from work. However, the sight that greeted me was nothing like I had imagined. Nate hadn't exaggerated. Piles of folders sat on the floor, on top of the filing cabinets, even under the conference table. I just stood there, staring.
How could anyone have made this much chaos in so short a time? Nate had only put up with her for a few weeks. I couldn't even comprehend trying to work in this. No wonder he had been so frustrated. It would take hours to find any file you needed from this mess.
Where did I even start? I wasn't sure I dared open the cabinets. By the looks of the room though, they should be empty. Nate came into the room and laughed at my expression. I was embarrassed he had caught me.
.... There is more of this story ...