He Sent MebyScorpio44a©
[Seems that a percentage of the stories in Romance have little or no sex in them. This one is like that. This is the story of two people meeting. I'm making the assumption that if you're reading a story in "Romance" there is some belief in you in things you've never seen. Your votes and comments are welcome.]
I was assigned space in Lab Six. As a new transfer from the east coast I had some seniority but no name recognition or face recognition. I found Lab Six and discovered it was indeed once a lab. Just outside the door was a brass sign on the wall that read, "Lab Six." It was now a work office with two desks, two drafting tables and two tables that were for whatever use we might need. One desk was obviously being used by someone. The table near that desk had stacks of papers on it, a bonsai tree about a foot tall and a nice looking lunch bag. Some drawings were taped to the drafting table and a piece of newspaper taped over the drawings.
As I moved into the other desk a man came into the lab and asked, "You Mr. Peterson?"
I stood and held out my hand, "Yes. Nick Peterson." He shook my hand and said, "I'm Mike. I'm to deliver a computer and printer to you. Where do you want them?"
The computer went on the desk and the printer on the table. Well, I knew I was in the right place. A little while later the boxes from my old office arrived and Mike put them on the table. He asked, "Have you met her yet?" He pointed at the other desk.
"No, not yet."
"Good luck. This year three of you came to share this space. We have a pool as to how long you'll last."
"What did you pick?"
"I drew three months. No one lasts that long."
"I'll see if I can help you win."
"Ok. Good luck." He left. I wondered what she could be like that two previous office mates had left already. I wondered for a few second why I had suddenly put in for this transfer. I'd wondered the same thing almost every day since I did it four months before.
I emptied the first box into my desk and had just started the second box when the door opened. I stood up, saw that the person coming in was a tall, slender woman about forty who looked at me as if a hippo had just thrown up on me. She raised her hands and said, "Don't introduce yourself! Don't tell me you're happy to meet me. That's bull shit! I'm not happy to meet you and in less than a day you'll be sorry you met me. Just leave me alone and stay the hell out of my way."
I sat back down and didn't look at her for the rest of the day. She sat at her desk and hit the keys on her computer keyboard at a furious pace for hours. Quitting time was five. It came and went. She kept working. I got everything put away and started my new project. At six on the dot I heard a one second buzz and she closed down her computer and walked out. I waited two minutes and closed up and went home.
My new apartment had been rented for me, furnished, just three blocks from the institute. I walked there. Shifting to the west coast was supposed to make my research easier. Only time would tell if it happened. For the moment the big benefit was the weather. In Denver it had already snowed twice. As I walked the three bocks that first day it was still above sixty degrees. As I walked I thought about the woman I shared space with. To look at her you would expect her to be a nice, warm woman with a personality that welcomed friendships. Until you looked at her face. I thought she looked like a smile would crack her face and cause bleeding.
The work day, according to the new employee package I'd been given, started at eight in the morning. I like starting early. At six I opened the office door and started work. At three minutes to eight she walked in and sat down. I kept my eyes on the computer screen. She fired up her computer and started work.
I took a break at about nine and lunch at noon. She may have left the office while I was gone, but as far as I could tell she didn't pee and didn't eat. Her phone rang three times during the day. Her conversations lasted less than a minute each time and I didn't hear any adjectives or emotions in her conversations.
When I heard the buzz at six I looked up. Not at her, just looked up. She made a short noise, almost a harrumph but not quite, closed down her computer and left. I left five minutes later.
It became our pattern for weeks. By the time I had been there eight weeks she had not spoken to me once except that first time. I had not spoken to her at all. Then I had occasion to go to HR about a matter and I asked the man assisting me, "Tell me something about the woman I share an office with."
"Who is it?"
"I don't know. There is no name plate on her desk and she made it clear the day I got here that she doesn't want to know me."
"Tall, skinny woman?" I nodded.
"Sarah Tompkins. Ph.D. loves research and hates people. She's been here six years and produces great papers. She was married before she came here, but he died in an accident. What else do you want to know?"
"Where is she from?"
He looked in a folder and said, "Born in Bayard, Nebraska 20 November 1969. Graduated from Northwestern, got her masters from NYU and her Ph.D. from Stanford." He looked up at me and said, "You didn't get any of that from me."
"Right. Thanks." I had finished with HR so I headed back to our office. How could I use what I had discovered?
My fingers tapped the keys and I looked at information on Bayard. I'd been there camping when I was a kid. There was a place just outside town called Chimney Rock. I found a picture of the rock taken a long time ago. I printed a color print of it and tucked it in my desk. In my address book I entered her name and birth date. In the remarks section I put BS Northwestern, MS NYU and Ph.D. Stanford.
Her birthday was in ten days. She would be thirty-nine. A year most women hated.
I contacted one of the on-line flower companies and arranged for flowers to be delivered to our office. A dozen yellow daisies delivered one week before her birthday. Perfect, in my mind, that it was a Thursday. They would put a card with the flowers that said, "You are special." I didn't quite know why I put that message. I didn't have any indication that she was special.
I made sure that the order could not be traced to me. Then I placed two more orders. A dozen red and pink roses to be delivered on the seventeenth, Monday, and a dozen yellow roses delivered on her birthday. The card with the red and pink roses would read, "You inspire me." The birthday card read, "You are the gift." I made up those messages too.
No signature on any card.
I used a PayPal account and paid for the flowers. I went back to work and at six the buzz came again. The day of work was over. On my walk home I realized that on her birthday Mike would win the pool. I would have stayed three months.
I bought a small picture frame and put the picture of Chimney Rock in it. Before she arrived to work I put the picture on my desk and a picture of my Dad and I standing in a river. It was a picture we had taken on the last fishing trip we took. We were standing in the Big Thompson River, in a section that was on a flat area with lots of trees behind us. An hour after she came to work I left the office for an hour. When I came back she was sitting at her computer, working as always.
What was different was that she looked up for a second. In almost three months it was a first.
On the thirteenth, Thursday, she and I were in our normal positions when Mike came to the door. He opened it a little and said, "Delivery."
Sarah pointed to me and Mike opened the door wider. "No, Ma'am, it's for you."
She looked up and saw a box of flowers. She said, "It cannot be. You have it wrong."
"Read it yourself, Ma'am. It has your name." He held out the box and she took it. He backed out as fast as he could go and was gone. She put the box on the far edge of her desk and went back to work. At noon I left the office and stayed gone an hour. When I came back the flowers were in a vase on her table near the bansai tree. She looked up as I came in and said, "Did you send these flowers?"
"I don't even know your name." I sat down and went back to work. Five times during the rest of the day I saw her turn and look at the flowers. On Friday she moved the vase so she didn't need to turn to see them.
Friday night when she left the flowers left with her. I smiled all the way home.
Monday she didn't bring them back.
I knew Mike would be there again. At a little after ten he opened the door a little and said, "Delivery."
She looked up and saw another flower box. She held out her hands and Mike gave the box to her and left. She didn't wait until I went to lunch. She opened the box and I heard her sigh as she uncovered the red and pink roses. She took the vase and got water, trimmed the stems and arranged the flowers where the others had been. I typed nonsense as I looked over and saw a tear sliding down her cheek. I highlighted the nonsense and deleted it.
She turned and looked at me for many seconds. I looked up and she said, "They're beautiful."
"As they should be." I smiled and went back to work.
Wednesday morning she walked in with two cups of coffee. She put one on my desk and one on hers. I looked up and in as stern a voice as I could muster I asked, "Did you bring this coffee?"
She stopped, turned and looked at me. Ten seconds later she said, "No. Why would I do that?"
"I'm wondering that same thing." For the rest of the morning we sipped the coffee even after we both knew it was cold. When she left at the buzzer she took both empty cups with her.
On her birthday she changed. In three months I had not seen a ring, necklace or earrings. On her birthday morning she had diamond stud earrings in her ears. She didn't say anything. She wore slacks and a sweater, her standard uniform.
Mike arrived at ten-forty-five. He opened the door all the way and said, "Delivery, Ma'am." She took the box and started to cry as soon as Mike was gone. I typed nonsense. She opened the box and found the yellow roses. Suddenly she put her head down on her desk and sobbed. She didn't cry softly. Her body shook with the power of the sobs, her breath came in gasps.
I stayed in my chair. A few minutes passed and she opened a drawer and used some tissues from the drawer. She looked over at me, typing nonsense and said, "Stop it. I'm the only person on the planet cold enough to type while someone sobs. You're faking."
"You told me who to be three months ago. It's really hard. What should I do?"
"Lock the door." I got up and locked the door to our office.
"Come here." I stood beside her desk.
"He sent you."
"The Denver office sent me."
"Maybe, but he sent you."
When the man I married was courting me, he sent me three orders of flowers. He sent me dasies and a note that said, "You are special." He sent me pink and red roses and a note that said, "You inspire me." And on my birthday he sent me flowers, yellow roses, and the note said, "You are the gift."
I didn't feel like I had been told by an angel or a ghost to do what I did. She stood and wrapped her arms around me and mine automatically wrapped around her. Her face was near mine and she said, "When he died I swore standing next to his grave that I would never love again unless he sent someone to me."
"I'd like to take the rest of the day off. I'd like to go down to the beach and walk in the sand for the first time in my life. I'd like it if you'd go with me and allow me to hold your hand."
"Think anyone will notice we left early?"
"Think they notice we arrive early or stay late?"
"Then, I accept. Let's go."
We walked out of the building through the front doors. She was smiling, holding my arm and we were happy. Every person we saw stopped and looked, shocked. The next day we walked in together, holding hands.