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Many romances start at the workplace, don’t they? And that’s exactly what happened with me and Chris. One day we found ourselves standing by the vending machine; I dropped a coin, and he picked it up. His fingers brushed mine and he asked if I would like to go out for lunch with him.
So, we went out for lunch, and the following night we went out for dinner. Two months later, he moved into my apartment. It seemed silly not to; he came home with me nearly every evening and stayed every weekend.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying I don’t enjoy going to bed with Chris, but let’s just say it has become a little predictable. We’ve done all the usual couple-stuff, a little bit of role-play and sex toys, but, well, it’s kind of boring now, and probably why I am sitting at my desk, doodling on a memo pad.
I look up to see that Chris is talking to me. He looks, I notice, a little flustered. ‘Are you OK?’
‘I’ve just been in to see Vincent. He wants to see you now.’
Vincent Carlton came to our office from one in Manchester. I know his arrival ruffled a few feathers, but he has settled down and been accepted by all, though he has a reputation of being a man of few words. Vincent is a man of action.
‘In his office?’
‘Have I done something wrong?’ I question as I get up from my chair and glance toward the private office.
‘You’ll be fine.’ Chris touches my hand.
I wonder why Vincent wants to see me. A few heads look up; eyes follow me discreetly as I head for his office door. I knock. He tells me to come in.
‘Sit down, please.’
My palms are a little sweaty; I feel stupidly nervous. I glance back toward the door. I can’t think of anything I could have done wrong, of any reason why I could have been summoned. Has he found fault with my work?
‘I couldn’t help but notice you seem a little distracted this afternoon.’
Colour flushes my face. I’ve been caught out. I really shouldn’t sit doodling, thinking about my lacklustre love life when I should be working! ‘Err, well, I suppose –’
‘It’s OK, Kirsten.’ He cuts me short. He stares at me rather intently from the other side of his desk. His eyes are very blue. Dark blue. His fingers are steepled under his chin. ‘I just wanted to talk to you. You’re happy in your work, yes?’
I nod. ‘Yes, yes, I am very happy.’
‘And your home life?’
I frown, I feel my brow furrow, and I bite back the question of what business it is of his to ask such a thing.
‘Please, don’t look so concerned. You and Chris? You’re together?’
‘Been together long?’
‘A year,’ I reply.
‘Can I ask what has this got to do with my job?’
He sits back, holds his hands out. He looks at me coyly. ‘Sorry, did I give the impression that it did?’
‘Well, we’re at work in your office and you’re asking me rather personal questions.’
He continues to stare, then shakes his head. ‘Kirsten, when I see members of my staff looking as – well, can I say as sad as you have this afternoon? I like to see if I can help them, that’s all. Not very good for morale, having someone looking so down in the mouth.’
I move my chair back a bit, make to get out of it. ‘Well, everything is fine, thank you. I’ll try to be a lot more smiley. Can I go now?’
He nods toward the door. ‘Sure. Chris is out there waiting for you. Why don’t the two of you head off now?’
‘There’s another hour to go until we knock off.’
‘He needs to take you now.’ Vincent looks down at some papers on his desk, dismissing me without eye contact. ‘Off you go, you have my permission.’