Valerie and her younger sister, Chloe were at the café having lunch. “I think moving to Berlin would be good for you,” she said. “It’s a great opportunity for you to broaden your horizons. I chose to study here in London because I wanted to be close to home but if I were to do it all over again, I would have opted to study in Berlin and then move back here after graduation. It’s cheaper to study in Germany than here and the scholarship you applied for and got allows you to study there for free. What more could you ask for?”
Chloe sighed. “I’m excited to go but scared at the same time,” she confessed. “I’ve never been away from home before and I don’t know what it would be like living on campus in a strange city. Maybe I’ll get homesick and want to come back at the end of the first semester.”
“Or maybe you’ll love it there and we won’t see you except during the summer and Christmas holidays. Don’t assume the worst. Just have faith that everything will work out. And who knows, you might meet a cute guy.”
Chloe smiled. “If he’s as cute as Colin, I wouldn’t mind at all.”
Colin was Valerie’s boss. “Yes, Colin is very good-looking, isn’t he?”
“You like him, don’t you?”
“Yes, I do.”
“What about him? Does he like you?”
“I don’t know. I really can’t tell.”
“Why don’t you ask him out?”
Valerie balked at the idea. “I can’t do that,” she exclaimed.
“Why not? Is there an office policy that says you can’t date?”
“No, there isn’t but—”
“Val, I think you should ask him out. The worst thing that could happen is that he turns you down.”
“And it could affect our working relationship. I don’t know, Chloe, I have to think really hard about this one.” She glanced at her watch. “I have to be getting back to the office. I’ll give you a lift to the train station.” She signaled to the waitress for the bill.
When they stepped outside, she blinked in the bright sunshine and chided herself for not having her sunglasses. They walked to where her car was parked and drove to the train station which was about twenty minutes away. Outside of the station, they hugged and Chloe promised to call her over the weekend.
As Valerie drove to the office, she thought about what Chloe said. The idea of asking Colin out on a date both thrilled and terrified her. They have been working together for six years yet she still couldn’t say with any degree of certainty that the attraction she felt for him was mutual. There were times when she thought that it was but since nothing came of it, she dismissed it as wishful thinking. Well, there was only one way to find out but she was afraid to take that chance. She didn’t want to jeopardize the great working relationship they had. So, if she couldn’t be with him romantically, at least, she could be with him professionally for now.
By the time she got to the office, she had made up her mind that she wasn’t going to ask Colin out on a date. She went to her desk and put her handbag away. After logging on to her computer and checking emails, she was about to reply to some of them when her phone rang. It was Colin. He wanted to see her. She got up immediately and went to his office. After closing the door behind her, she walked over to where he stood looking out of the window. He turned when he heard her.
He looked amazing in the grey striped suit and white shirt which was unbuttoned at the neck, exposing his throat. Like clockwork, her heart was pounding and her pulse was racing. She tried to appear nonchalant by tucking her hands in her pants pockets. She saw his gaze travel over the short grey jacket, white blouse and black pants she was sporting before it returned to her face. “Did you have a good lunch?” he asked.
She nodded. “Yes. Chloe got the scholarship to study in Berlin in September. She is nervous about living away from home.”
“It was the same thing with my sister, Kathleen when she got accepted to the University of Edinburgh to study medicine. She was nervous about living away from home but after the first week, she loved it. She had made new friends and was getting used to the student life. Joining different clubs helped.”
“The next time I speak to Chloe, I will tell her about Kathleen.”
“I can do better than that. I can have Kathleen get in touch with her.”
“That would be great. Thanks, Colin.”
“Do you have plans for tomorrow?” he asked suddenly, startling her.
“Good. I’d like you to have dinner with me at my place.”
She stared at him for several minutes. Did he just ask her out?
“What’s the matter?” he asked when she didn’t answer. “Don’t you want to have dinner with me?”
“Yes, I do,” she said. “It’s just that you caught me by surprise.”
“You and I have been working together for a long while now, don’t you think that it’s time we pursued a more personal relationship with each other?”
“Yes,” she agreed, sounding a little breathless. He was staring at her and the expression on his face made her mouth go dry. “What-what time would you like me to be there?”
“Seven. Val…” he reached out and caught her by the hand, pulling her toward him, his eyes darkening on her face. Then, he was kissing her and she eagerly responded. His hands pressed her against him and her arms wound themselves tightly around his neck as they exchanged kisses. This lasted for several minutes before he raised his head, his breathing unsteady. “I’ve wanted to do that for a long, long time,” he admitted huskily.
“What prevented you?” she asked, trying to catch her breath.
“I wasn’t sure how you felt about me and I didn’t want to put you in a bad spot.”
“It’s funny but just today, Chloe was encouraging me to ask you out but I was afraid to because I didn’t know how you felt about me and I didn’t want to ruin our working relationship.”
“Well, I’m glad that one of us took Chloe’s advice. I wish I didn’t have to go to a meeting now but I do.” He reluctantly released her and went over to his desk to get a notebook and some papers. They walked together to the door. He opened it and before they parted he said in a low voice, “I’m looking forward to tomorrow.”
For the rest of the afternoon, she was on cloud nine and all that evening she thought of nothing else but having dinner with Colin. She called Chloe and her sister was thrilled. “Good for him,” she said. “He took a gamble and it paid off. Well, have fun and call me on Sunday with the juicy details.” Valerie chuckled and ended the call.
Saturday evening came and she was on her way to Colin’s flat over at Canary Wharf. She fixed her hair and smoothed her dress before she rang the doorbell. Colin opened the door, his eyes brightened when he saw her. “Hello,” he greeted her before stepping aside to let her in. He removed her coat and his eyes slipped admiringly over her slim figure in the long sleeved Cranberry colored dress with the scooped neck. Her hair was pulled back at her nape with a clasp with a few tendrils framing her face. “You look great,” he remarked.
“Thank you. So do you.” He looked incredibly sexy in the black shirt and black jeans. His hair was slightly damp with a few strands brushing against his forehead. She handed him a bottle of non-alcoholic white wine before she followed him into the living-room. “You have a beautiful place,” she remarked, her eyes sweeping over the spacious room with its muted shades of titanium and brown.
It was very stylish, decidedly masculine décor and cozy. There was a large balcony which faced the tall office buildings in the Financial District. It was too cold to go on there now but she could imagine how pleasant it would be to sit out there during the summer. In the centre was a rug that looked like wall tiles with a low table on it and adjacent were the stereo system and television set. Opposite was a large brown leather sofa with four decorative cushions and a gorgeous antique chair faced the balcony. Behind the sofa was the dining-room and on the table were dinnerware, two glasses and unlit candles.
“Have a seat at the table,” he suggested before he disappeared into the kitchen.
She sat down in the chair facing the balcony and watched the skyscrapers. A delicious and mouthwatering smell wafted into the room and she found herself eagerly looking forward to what he was preparing. “Something smells really, really good,” she commented when he brought out two bowls of salad.
He smiled. “We’re having Crispy Chicken with Shallots served over wild rice.” When he came back, he lit the candles and sat down at the table. After she prayed, they tucked into the Green Salad with Cranberry Vinaigrette. It was delicious and she made a mental note to get the recipe from him. When they were done, she wanted to take the bowls in and help him to bring out the dinner but he said, “I can manage, but thanks for offering to help.”
He brought out the plates, set them on the table and then went back to get the bottle of wine which she had brought. “Thanks for bringing this,” he said as he poured some in her glass and then his. He raised his glass in a toast. “Here’s to the first of many dinners together.”
She smiled and raised her glass. Over the mouth-watering main course, they talked about different things, including making plans to see each other. A long while after, he asked, “Do you have room for dessert?” She nodded, although she didn’t think she could eat another morsel.
When he brought two glasses of chocolate mousse, her eyes brightened. “I love anything with chocolate,” she exclaimed and picking up her spoon and dived into it, savoring the thick, creamy richness. When she was done, she looked up at him. He looked amused. “Thank you for a wonderful dinner.”
He smiled. “It was my pleasure. Make yourself comfortable on the sofa while I clear the table and chuck everything in the dishwasher.”
She got up from the table and went into the living-room. Instead of settling down on the sofa, she went over to the glass door and stood, looking out at the city skyline. The buildings loomed like giants above the streets and the wharf, silent and the lights that dotted their structure reminded her of diamonds. What a magnificent view and to be greeted by it every night must be a real treat.
Colin joined her in the living-room. He turned on the stereo and the sound of R&B filled the room. He went over to her, and taking her by the hand, he danced with her in front of the sliding doors. She put her arm around his neck and gazed up at him as they moved to the music. His eyes searched her face before he lowered his head and kissed her. It was a light caress at first and then it deepened. They stopped moving to the music as they kissed wildly, passionately.
Then he picked her up and as he carried her through the living-room, the following quote came to her mind, “Nothing important was ever achieved without someone taking a chance”. Colin took that chance and here they were.
Source: Scholars 4 Dev