How I Met My WifebyTory_del_Ricoh©
As usual, my grateful thanks to evanslily for her guidance and editing skills.
There is no sex at all in this story. You have been warned.
It's an odd place, the City of London. Odd shaped buildings in odd narrow winding streets, odd shaped modern offices squeezed in between old buildings that had been refurbished. Then one warm September morning I discovered the big advantage of being in this rabbit warren of commerce; I could see into the windows of the offices across the narrow tarmac ribbon of Costermonger's Lane. It had been several hundred years since the last Costermonger left (not that I had any idea what they did). Sanderson and Robbins were marketing associates and I had no idea what they did either. But the gold lettering emblazoned across the window proudly proclaimed their profession and telephone number.
As I blew on the surface of my coffee trying to reduce the scalding liquid to a drinkable temperature, I glanced across to Sanderson and Robbins to see HER. A Goddess. Long straight blonde hair that cascaded down her back to her slim waist. The elegant dress showed her shapely figure to perfection, the full bust with enough cleavage to entice and yet appear demure, the sleek hips that were a testament to regular visits to a gym, and legs that seemed to go on forever. Her face, when my eyes finally reached it, was sheer beauty.
I have no idea how long the vision held me spellbound, but when the telephone brought me back to reality, my coffee had cooled sufficiently to permit a long drink before I picked up the receiver.
From that day I watched her. I saw her arrive in the morning. Her every appearance near the window entranced me. At lunch time, I followed her to the sandwich bar, where she favoured tuna or prawn sandwiches with fruit and a bottle of still water. Each evening, I watched her walk towards the Tube station at Holborn. I was becoming a stalker — and yet I seemed powerless to escape the siren quality of her beauty.
Each day saw me drawn inexorably further under the spell of this seductress. It became harder and harder to work. My secretary began to make pointed remarks about the time I spent admiring the view from my window — I might have been tempted to make some sharp retort, but she was so like my mother I dared not. Thank God she didn't know what I was really looking at.
As I left for my daily lunch in the sandwich bar, Dani, the receptionist, a pleasant young woman with a fondness for shapeless dresses, would comment on my eagerness to fetch my meal. She always had an enigmatic smile on her face. OK so it was a pretty face but the expression was unsettling. Did she know of my infatuation?
How could I talk to my dream woman without looking like some creepy pervert stalker? What if she had a boyfriend? Worse still, what if she didn't have a boyfriend? Why would a woman so beautiful not have a boyfriend? What if she was a harridan? Perhaps no man was good enough for her. The endless list of questions tore at my confidence. How could I dare approach her?
By December I was completely beguiled and had to do something. I had to speak to her. Through my window I watched as she and the other staff at Sanderson and Robbins decorated their offices with fake Christmas trees, shiny foil decorations and balloons. Finishing my coffee on Friday morning, I was trying to do some of the work for which I was paid. I looked at my inbox: thirty-seven emails.
The first twelve took until lunchtime. Well not all of them obviously, five were spam – God knows why the company paid for a spam filter. Four were the usual company news, in this case two staff announcements, an engagement and a birth, and two notifications of new contracts obtained. So I actually had to work on three and they provided a welcome distraction from the Goddess.
She went to the sandwich bar and I was surprised to see her order a ham Ciabatta. Perhaps this change in routine was an omen. I wondered if I should talk to her but before I could make a decision she was gone. So I took my cheese and tomato toastie back to my desk where I could wash it down with a mug of coffee.
Leaving greasy finger prints on the computer keyboard, I returned to my email inbox. I didn't want any Cialis, I had no debt problems and I didn't want a degree in psychology, despite the cheap price. The company had won another good contract and Corporate Relations wanted to know if anyone on the staff wished to enter the Three Peaks Race. People actually wanted to run up a mountain for fun? Not for the first time, I thought I would get more work done if I wasn't trying to read all these pointless emails.
No I didn't want to know about the changes to the telephone system, someone could come and tell me in person if it was important. I wasn't eligible for overtime so I didn't care the submission date for claims had changed. At last I came to the first work email of the afternoon and yet a thought was niggling in my brain. Telephone. That was it, I could telephone her.
I glanced across to Sanderson and Robbins. She was there, sitting by the window. Turning back to my desk, I dialled the gold painted number and waited for a couple of moments before she answered.
"Sorry to keep you." Her voice sounded soft and smooth yet breathless as if she had been running. Somehow it was a surprise. I don't know what I expected but it wasn't what I got.
"Er. I realise this is going to sound odd, creepy even, but I feel I know you. I see you at your desk every day and you've captured my heart." I waited for her to speak. Looking over my shoulder, I could see her sitting with the telephone against her ear.
After a short pause she spoke again, sounding suspicious. "This is very weird. Why would you use the telephone to speak to me? Are you too scared to face me?"
"I apologise. I've been trying to summon the courage to talk to you and I almost managed it today but I'm afraid I lost my nerve again. This is the first time I have ever done anything like this. I know it's freaky and I'm truly sorry if I'm scaring you."
Once more there was silence. I expected the sound of her hanging up every moment and yet I could still hear her breathing. What would it be like to feel that soft breath on me? I looked again at the office across the road and she was still there, pushing her hair behind her ear as she leaned back in her seat. Eventually I had to say something.
"Hello? Are you still there?"
"Yes. I'm just thinking. I suppose you want to meet me?" Her voice was already sounding familiar to me, surely a sign we were meant to be together?
"Oh yes, it would be a dream come true." Could this be real? She was actually considering meeting me? My heart soared.
"Well it had better be somewhere decent. The Floating Lotus in Harper Street at eight o'clock tonight?"
I knew the best Chinese restaurant in the area. It would be busy as always, but then again she'd want to meet in a busy place with a lot of people about. "I'll make a booking."
"I shall look forward to it. Goodbye." Giving me barely enough time to say my own goodbye, she hung up.
I tried to return to my computer but couldn't concentrate. SHE had agreed to meet me. I booked a table at the Floating Lotus and returned to my PC. After a fruitless hour I admitted defeat and headed for home. Thankfully my secretary was not at her desk, so I left her a quick note and walked to the main doors. Dani was by the electrical cupboard behind her desk in deep conversation with a workman, whose overalls identified him as working for Premier Telecomms. Neither of them looked my way as I slipped out.
All the way home I was wracked by questions and self-doubt. Perhaps she'd just agreed to go to get rid of me. Maybe she would turn up with her boyfriend – who would, of course, be a short-tempered, rugby-playing giant. The police might arrive to arrest me for stalking her. Would I be in hospital, prison or alone in the restaurant tonight?
At half past seven I was in Harper Street. I'd spent three hours trying to decide the image I wanted to portray, which had resulted in the contents of my wardrobe being spread across my bed. I thought the black leather jacket, white dress shirt and designer denim jeans would allow me to look smart and casual. A heavy rain shower that began suddenly as I came out of the tube station had left my trousers damp and my hair unkempt. The wet road reflected a blaze of colour. Red car tail lights, orange street lamps, white headlamps and the many colours of neon shop lights. Perhaps if I'd noticed the puddle in the gutter around a blocked drain I might have avoided it – the speeding taxi didn't and I could only estimate the damage to my Azor la Mode designer shoes. From the unpleasant wet feel of my socks I knew the shoes were soaked.
I had intended to wait outside the restaurant but drying off in a comfortable chair had become much more appealing. The wonderful aromas of the food greeted me as I opened the door: ginger, garlic, spices, onion, and others I had yet to identify. An obsequious waiter escorted me to my table providing me with a coffee to warm me up, and a brandy to calm me down. After twenty minutes I began to feel conspicuous and asked for the menu, to provide both something to read and a screen behind which I could hide.
Every time the door opened I was ready to leap from my seat, only to be disappointed on each occasion. The restaurant began to fill and my despondency grew. By eight fifteen I had begun to think I would be eating alone. Half past eight found me on my third coffee and second brandy — and getting ready to slink home. Another quarter of an hour, I decided, was as long as I would wait.
The door opened at twenty to nine and a bedraggled figure appeared, shaking an umbrella and dripping water from a raincoat. It looked like a woman, but her head and face was hidden beneath the hat pulled down hard on her head. I watched her as a waiter took the hat, wet coat and umbrella. As she turned to face me I recognised Dani — maybe I wouldn't have to eat alone. There was still the risk that my Goddess might arrive but I'd resigned myself to accepting I'd been stood up. Since Dani wouldn't have known about the date, there were no embarrassing explanations required.
I waved at her across the room and received an answering wave with a broad smile. Her dress was the opposite of anything I had seen her wear at work. Those awful shapeless sacks she usually favoured had hidden a very shapely figure. As she approached my table I realised for the first time she was actually rather attractive.
"Hello Peter," Dani said to me cheerfully as she arrived. "God isn't this weather awful? It took me ages to get a taxi."
"I know, I had an awful journey here too." But at least my feet had dried out.
"And after an afternoon like I had, it just about finished off the day," she continued as my attentive waiter friend pulled out her chair and ensured she was safely seated. The brief glimpse of leg as her skirt rode up her thigh was very rewarding and I began to believe the evening would not be a complete disaster.
"What was so awful about your afternoon?" I had rather hoped we wouldn't be discussing work.
"I was on the telephone from the time I finished lunch to when I went home," she complained.
"Who to?" A woman with long blonde hair had arrived and just for a moment I thought it was HER. I almost missed Dani's reply, a few innocent words that destroyed my dream.
"Just about everyone. You'd think they'd have been intelligent enough to read the email about the new system."
I forgot about the Goddess that night, my heart captivated by another, though I did notice a few weeks later that she was no longer in the offices across the road. Dani is my wife now but ten years and two children later I have no intention of telling her that I too couldn't be bothered to read an email that told me to dial nine for an outside line.