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The Dating Chronicles
The Pretenders

Tom pretended to be deeply engrossed in a contract on his desk when he heard the voices coming down the corridor.  It was the usual group who passed his door with admiring glances and girlish chatter, and he didn’t want to be disturbed.  He knew he was the talk of the office because he was single, attractive, and aloof. 

He had purposely distanced himself from his male colleagues due to the expected exchange of “company conquer” stories, which held no interest to him.  He refused to mix business with “office fun.”  He had no desire to participate in the frivolous camaraderie which was common.  He would nod politely when confronted with a flirtatious wink or smile and keep moving without uttering a word.

As the chatter faded past his doorway, he looked across the corridor at Tess, whose office was opposite his.  Tess, who seldom looked up from her work to acknowledge the presence of others, was the only one who never looked at him adoringly, and she was the only one he wished would smile his way.  Suddenly, he felt the urge to forego his own rule.  He stood up and tossed a piece of peppermint across the hall on her desk.   She never looked up, and he was unable to concentrate for the rest of the day.

Meanwhile, Tess had developed perfect vision above her glasses.  While all the females in the office were smiling at Tom, she was watching him as he watched her.  Her stomach had fluttered wildly when she’d first seen him three months ago coming out of the president’s office.  The office buzz was that he was coming in as a junior partner, and his reputation as a sharp lawyer preceded him.  Tess had heard of his staggering looks, but she was not prepared when she saw him. 

As she approached him, she consciously straightened her blouse and hair to back up the welcome smile she hoped would be dazzling.  But when she saw how coldly he spoke to Wendy, (the friendliest person in the office) she quickly regrouped.  By the time, he passed her in the narrow hallway her head was in her notepad.  As time passed, he became more aloof toward the females who fluttered long eyelashes at him continually.  For Tess, it seemed the more attention he got, the more distant he became.  She decided to ignore him as much as possible.

She never looked him in the eye if she had to talk to him and she never called him by name.  She would often look up over her glasses and catch him staring at her when he would ordinarily be engrossed in his computer.  She understood it was because she was not like the others, and he found her disinterest to be intriguing.

Now, all of a sudden his icy manner melted, and impulsively, he threw a piece of candy to get her attention.  She was amused and tickled, but not enough to respond.  This small act let her know he was beginning to become unglued from his self-imposed wall, and her silence was caving in his door without knocking. 

She was suddenly enchanted with this psychological breakthrough.  She smiled to herself as she made a decision to bump into him later when he made his daily ritual to the water fountain down the hall.  This time she would look him dead in the eyes and speak to him by name.  She knew he was about to become putty in her hands and she was ready.


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