Anna couldn't get Ken out of her mind. It seemed like life was sending her on another roller coaster of desire.
She'd started working in the office just a few months ago and he'd been there for a little over a year. While being shown around the office by her friend, she cataloged which of the young men were most attractive and which would just be friends. Her friend, who was giving the tour, also filled her in on some of the secrets she'd learned over the previous few months she'd been in the office. They seemed to have similar taste in men and a glance or a smile told one or the other just what they were thinking as they visited Anna's new coworkers.
Anna was a very friendly person and knew that she'd quickly be friends with several of her coworkers. There were a couple that would never quite mesh with her, but they weren't nearly as important.
From her first glance at him, she knew that Ken was important.
He was a quiet man. He didn't present himself as someone great or overwhelming, but had the calm confidence of one who knew what they were about and was comfortable in their role. He was thin and not too tall, with wavy, brown hair and an easy smile.
Unfortunately for Anna, their paths didn't cross all that often. They worked on opposite sides of the office and rarely on the same portions of the multi-million dollar project. Occasionally, they'd see each other at the photocopier or in the break room, but each of those times was accompanied by Anna's tied tongue. She just couldn't seem to think clearly enough to say anything when Ken was around. She'd smile at him, of course, but a coherent sentence was beyond her.
She had it bad ... and it only got worse. Her thoughts constantly went back to thoughts of him. She imagined what it would be like to be held in his arms, to feel his lips on hers, to feel his body against hers.
Ken seemed to concentrate mostly on his work. Being the project manager for several portions of the project, he was always rather busy.
As the project progressed, the stars seemed to align for Anna and the project morphed into a situation that gave reason for her to work with Ken. The project was ready to be handed from Ken's group to Anna's, but he had to continue to be a part of it to carry the institutional knowledge over into the next phase of work. Anna was going to be working with Ken on a daily basis and really quickly would need to overcome her sense of being tongue-tied around him.
After all, there are so many better ways to use your tongue than having it tied up in your mouth!
Weekly meetings brought the two of them together. When others asked Anna questions about the status of her work, she was able to expound in great detail ... as long as she didn't look at Ken. Ken would speak up to answer questions about the history of the project and Anna's heart would skip a beat. Before too long, however, Anna started to appreciate the inner strength that Ken had and that made it easier for her, oddly enough. Anna stopped seeing Ken as just a hot coworker she'd love to be with and started seeing him as an intelligent man who had a quick wit and a keen sense of the project. Her respect grew and with it her ability to talk while looking at him.
Unbeknownst to Anna, Ken was really starting to appreciate Anna, too. He noticed how excited she was to be a part of the project and found her laughter to be rather infectious. He started to look at her with something more than just professional courtesy.
Ken wasn't someone to fall in love often or easily. Ever since he was last jilted in a relationship, he held his heart well protected within thick walls of privacy. He rarely opened up with anyone any more. It just wasn't worth the intense pain he felt with the last break-up.
Something about Anna was different, though. She had a quality that drew him to her. He started to wonder what she would feel like wrapped within his passionate embrace. It felt so strange for him to think those thoughts about a coworker. After all, he'd often heard the old adage about dipping your quill in the company ink.
One Friday, Ken found a reason to visit Anna in her cubicle. It was near the end of the workday and he needed to get an update on a particular portion of the project. He could have waited until Monday, as it wasn't all that important, but he felt it was time for something more and hoped she'd be willing to join him at the local watering hole for an end-of-week drink.
Anna looked up like a deer in the headlights when she heard his voice in her doorway. The feelings of doubt and worry sprang quickly to her mind and her tongue very quickly tied up into knots. She reminded herself that he was a good guy and that it was okay and she felt her tongue start to loosen ever so slightly.
Luckily, the answer to Ken's question was an easy one so she could put her mind on it quickly and could give him the answer he needed. To her surprise, he didn't leave when he had the answer. She was even more surprised when he seemed to be at something of a loss for words.
What's wrong with me, Ken thought. It's no big deal to go out for drinks! His mind wouldn't let him get over the idea that he was asking someone out, however. It really couldn't get over the idea that he was asking Anna out. He finally managed to say, "I know we've not spent a lot of time together aside from project meetings and such, but would you like to join me for a drink?"
Anna's heart seemed to stop, along with everything around her. Was he just asking me out?!
After what seemed like an eternity to Ken, Anna said, "I'd love to." She flashed him her best smile and started to gather her things together.
Since the bar was just a few doors down and the weather was really nice, they decided to walk. They didn't seem to be able to talk much, both caught up in the newness of being together and the excitement of being with someone they yearned to touch.
Finally, Ken decided he had to do something or Anna would never want to hang out with him again. He remembered a friend suggesting that if you want to start a conversation, start with something you know and that they would likely relate to. That way, you can both have something to say and things will flow from there. Unfortunately, the only thing Ken could think of, aside from the beauty walking beside him, was fishing. He had no idea whether or not Anna knew anything about fishing, but he couldn't seem to think of anything else.
"Do you like to fish," he asked.
Anna's memory was flooded with memories of being with her father in the mountains, fishing by his side, often competing to see who would bring home the largest or most beautiful fish. She'd been fishing since she was seven, but could rarely share that with men. They seemed intimidated by someone as good at one of "their" sports as she was.
"Actually," she said, "I do. I don't often talk about it, but it's something I've done every year since I was seven."
As predicted, the flood gates of conversation opened and the words came pouring out. They'd both grown up in families that seemed to live to fish. They could easily slip into their memories and share what they had there, without thought of who they were now or what they did for a living. Opening up that hidden portion of their souls felt so comfortable and created a bond between them that only true fishermen can understand. They got into silly debates over which fly was best for which conditions, which was the best method to prepare the trout for eating, and which method of take was most sportsmanlike. Before they knew it, they'd passed a few hours in the bar and had enjoyed the best evening of the past several years.
"Wow," said Ken when he noticed Anna's watch. "Can you believe what time it is?"
She said, "I guess we ought to wrap this up. I'm not quite ready to call it a night, though. Would you like some dinner? Maybe some breaded trout?" Of course, that was her favorite method of preparation, but who can pass up an opportunity to get a jibe in like that?
He laughed and agreed to dinner, but suggested something on neutral ground. "I love the L&L Hawaiian Barbecue. Would you be interested in that?"
Ken didn't know it, but that was one of Anna's favorite places to eat. "Excellent choice," she gushed. "I love that place!"
They walked back to the office to retrieve their cars and head over to the restaurant. Dinner was delightful and they'd both forgotten that they were supposed to be nervous around the other. They felt so incredibly comfortable together.
After dinner, they walked out to the parking lot. They were moving a little slower than when they'd walked in, both not wanting the night to end, but neither one sure how to proceed further.
"I hope I'm not being too forward, but would you like to come back to my place for a while?"
Ken's questions shocked Anna. She'd fantasized about him for so long and never suspected that he would feel the same way. Of course, she'd hoped he would, but figured that idea would remain in the world of delicious fantasy.
"Absolutely," she responded with a smile that shared her hopes, all the while hoping she wasn't dreaming this.
"Just follow me," he smiled. Then he did something surprising to both. He leaned in and kissed her lightly on the lips. "I'll see you soon."