by David Cain
I should have known something was up when she smiled at me. She rarely smiled and she never smiled at me. I thought it was strange. It made her even prettier. I couldn’t help but smile back.
We’d been working together for about a year, sometimes closely. I admired her professionally and I admired her personally but I kept myself in check. Staying cool is the only possible strategy for working with attractive women. She never saw me be anything but respectful.
I’m sure I betrayed my attraction to her in subtle ways. I did my best to be cool.
Some one told me early on that she was involved with someone. A friend, a boyfriend, a fiancé, a husband, a relationship. That gave me another reason to stay cool. No one needs that kind of trouble.
Someone told me that she had broken off her relationship, that things hadn’t worked out, that she was on her own. I felt bad for her but then it occurred to me that maybe it was for the best, that she might be happy about the change in her life. Probably not. Most break-ups are unpleasant.
We ended up at a hotel, doing a job in one of the small satellite locations. Not just us, there were six of us and two local guys. We were in the hotel restaurant, sharing nachos and fried foods and big drinks with hefty doses of booze. She smiled at me again, a bit leaned over in her chair to get closer to me. She wasn’t exactly sober but neither was I. I smiled back. She laughed.
“You,” she said. “I like you.”
“Cool,” I said. “I like you too.”
“We should go dancing.”
“There’s no dance floor.”
“I don’t mean here. Not now. Someday.”
“Sure,” I said. “That would be lovely.”
She reached over and put her hand on my arm. I thought she was going to say something but she stood up and left with only a soft excuse. I watched her walk away. As she reached the elevators, I saw her look back and could have sworn I saw her wink. At me.
Something told me to follow her, something told me that she wanted me to follow her, expected me to come dance with her, but I didn’t. The gang was still going on about stuff, laughing it up, shoveling food and guzzling drinks. It was another hour before I headed for the elevators and a short night on a strange bed.
I found a note affixed to the door of my room. 342 was all it said. That was the number of the room across the hall. I knocked timidly. The door opened. She smiled at me. I went inside.