CHAPTER ONE - Hot Guy-Cold Shoulder
“Oh my god, look at that guy’s ass. He is soooo cute!” Vicki said to her best friend and co-worker, Sara Pinkerton, as they feigned enjoying a salad for lunch at Grumpy’s Café on the ground floor of the office building where they worked.
“He’s okay looking. I’ve seen him in the hallway. He works at the law office down the hall from us,” Sara replied nonchalantly. “I think his name is Brad something.”
“Sara if you don’t think that guy’s hot then you need to get to an optometrist like today.”
“I guess he’s sort of cute,” Sara reluctantly admitted, “but he’s either shy or stuck-up. He never smiles or says hello to anyone in the hall. My guess is he thinks his shit doesn’t stink because he’s a young hot shot attorney.”
“I don’t know, but if I were you, I’d literally bump into him with my boobs and let him get to know me,” Vicki taunted. “If I wasn’t dating Jeremy I’d be all over that one before one of those bimbos we work with snags him.”
“I’m not ready yet. My breakup with Preston is still too fresh. I can’t handle the drama of another guy in my life just now and I’m certainly not going to go out of my way to meet him.” Sara said sullenly nodding at the guy in line.
“Well, Sara, sometimes opportunity presents itself when we’re not quite ready for it. Believe me, this guy is Mr. Opportunity. If you don’t find a way to meet him, I’ll do it for you.”
“Just stay out of it, Vicki. If I want to meet him I’ll take care of it myself. Promise me you won’t do something stupid and embarrass me,” Sara pleaded emphatically.
“Alright, I promise, but you’re missing a something special here,” she said one more time as they emptied their half-eaten limp salads into the garbage and headed back to the elevator for the ride to their office.
Moments after Vicki and Sara left Grumpy’s Cafe Brad Hinson took a seat at the table they had just vacated. He was dining alone. His I-Pad was his sole companion. One month ago he had moved across the country to begin his new law career at Brady, Bumford and Ching, a small but growing firm in a small but growing town outside of Seattle. He hated to admit it but he was overwhelmed. He was putting in long hours at the office, knew absolutely no one in the entire Northwest, and none of his co-workers seemed overly friendly. So far they had treated him as an outsider. He was beginning to think he had made a very bad decision to come here.
Just as he powered up the I-Pad, Bob Carter, one of the attorneys in his office, unexpectedly pulled up a chair at his table and sat down.
“Hey, Brad, sorry to interrupt your lunch. I know you’ve been working long hours and haven’t had much time to socialize since you’ve been here. My wife and I are having a party at our house this Saturday night and we want to invite you to join us. We’ll start around eight. You’re welcomed to bring a date if you like.”
Brad was shocked at this sudden change in acceptance. “Thank you, Bob, I do need to get out and meet some folks. I really appreciate it. I’ll be there,” he said smiling.
Bob added, “Great, I’ll email you the address. By the way I was sitting one table over while you were in line to order. I overheard the two good looking girls that were sitting here talking about you. They think you’re cute but stuck up. They work at the Ad Agency on our floor. I think the brunette with the long straight hair is an artist there. She’s wearing a short yellow dress. Her name is Sara and from what I overheard she recently broke up with her boyfriend. You may want to give her a shot. She’s a looker,” Bob said as he stood up. “See you back at the office,” he added as he headed for the door of the little cafe.
Brad sat pondering this sudden turn of events. Stuck up, he thought, why would they think I’m stuck up? Suddenly it dawned on him how extremely preoccupied he had been with his new life. He probably did appear standoffish and furthermore he knew he hadn’t been smiling much. He vowed to change that right now. What’s more, he decided to track this Sara down and ask her to come to the party with him. What did he have to lose? If she thought he was cute he would probably have a decent chance of her accepting a date with him. When he exited Grumpy’s he had a different outlook on his situation and finally a sincere smile crossed his face.
Later that afternoon, Brad stepped out of the office to get a coke at the vending machines down the hall. Standing at the soft drink machine was an attractive brunette in a short yellow dress fumbling to get the mechanism to accept her dollar bill. It kept shoving her crumpled bill back out at her. She took her wallet from her purse but the only other bill there was a twenty.
“Shit,” she said turning around exasperated and about to leave without her drink.
Brad was standing right behind her with a huge smile on his face.
“I can help,” he said inserting a crisp new dollar bill in the machine, “this one’s on me. By the way, I’m Brad Hinson,” he continued extending his hand to introduce himself. Sara reluctantly shook his hand and said, “I’m Sara. Thank you,” as she turned and made her selection from the blinking machine’s buttons.
Taking advantage of his covert knowledge Brad continued, “I’ve seen you in the hallway a few times. Please forgive me if I didn’t smile and introduce myself before. I’ve been overwhelmed with my new job. I don’t want anyone to think I’m not friendly or worse yet, that I’m stuck up. That’s really not me.”
Sara smirked as she thought to herself that was exactly how she had pegged him. She retrieved her drink from the machine and said, “Thanks again,” as she maneuvered around him to head back to her office.
Brad quickly followed, got beside her and said, “Sara I’m new in town and don’t know anyone. I’ve just been invited to a party Saturday night at the home of one of my co-workers. Would you be my date?”
She stopped in her tracks and turned to him. “We don’t even know each other,” she said haughtily.
“Yes we do,” he countered. “You’re Sara and I’m Brad.”
“What makes you think I don’t have a boyfriend or that I’m not engaged or married or something?” she asked sharply.
“Well you’re not wearing a ring and if you have a boyfriend I assumed you would tell me. I’m not trying to be offensive; I’m just trying to make a friend.”
“Thanks for the invitation, Brad, but I’m going to Seattle to visit my mother Saturday afternoon and won’t be back until Sunday evening,” she answered curtly, turned and began walking away.
Brad was now thoroughly intrigued by this hot young woman. She was becoming a challenge. Bob was absolutely right. She was a “looker.” He sensed that although she was playing hard to get that he really did have a chance of getting a date with her.
“I’m sorry you can’t make it for the party but how about breakfast Saturday morning?” Before she could respond he continued, “After breakfast we can take the new Segway tour of the historic downtown area. I’ve always wanted to try one of those things. They look like fun.”
Sara turned facing him with a scowl on her face. Suddenly she realized she was being obnoxious. He was new here and just trying to be friendly. Besides, he really was cute and didn’t seem stuck up. She relented.
“You are persistent Brad Hinson,” she said. “Okay, we’ll go to breakfast and on the Segway tour but I have to be home by 1:00 p.m. I really am going to visit my mother.”
“Thank you, Sara. I promise we’ll have fun,” he said handing her his business card. “Just email or text your phone number and address and I’ll pick you up Saturday morning at eight.”
Sara finally smiled at him. “I don’t know how good a lawyer you are but you are sure one hell of a salesman. I promised myself I wasn’t going out on any dates for a month and now you’re making me break that promise.”
“You’ve made a great decision Sara, don’t change your mind,” he said over his shoulder as they parted and each returned to work.
As soon as Sara walked into her office she went directly to Vicki’s desk, bent over and whispered, “You aren’t going to believe this, but I have a date Saturday morning with that new guy you think has a cute ass.”
Vicki looked up at her and said, “No way! How’d you manage that so quickly?”
Sara shared the details with her about their chance meeting at the vending machine and their subsequent conversation in the hall. Vicki said, “You go girl, I have a feeling this one is a keeper.”
Sara rolled her eyes and replied, “Don’t count on it,” and then returned to work wondering if she had made the right decision.