The strong brewed coffee wafted up my nostrils as I took a sip. I walked past the office cubicles. People greeted mornings to me as I walked promptly past their desks. I nodded in greeting in return. I opened the glass doors and walked swiftly in.
Harper was sitting at her desk, typing on her keyboard. Her delicate fingers strummed the alphabet left and right. Her brown hair tight in a bun as usual and her white shirt buttoned up chocking her throat. I shook my head. Her brown eyes looked up at me from behind her purple spectacles. Her pink lips softly smiled.
I couldn’t help but smile back. I wasn’t used to the action so early in the morning. Usually I had a ‘talk to me and die’ attitude striding in.
“Morning sir- Eric.” She greeted hesitantly, as if she wasn’t sure to say my name anymore.
I lightly chuckled as I grabbed my morning financial journal ready for me at the edge of her desk. “It’s okay Harper, we still friends.” I joked.
She seemed relieved and smiled brighter. “The morning reports is on your table and Mr. Carson called for you. He’s waiting for the budget report.” She said brightly.
“Thanks Harper, we’ll chat later. Meet me at Razz Bean café at 1pm.” I said with a wink.
Harper nodded and smiled, her fingers returned to her typing.
I walked into my office; the journal article tucked under my arm. I placed my hot coffee on the mahogany table and looked out the window. The bright morning sun pierced through. I sat at my desk and looked at the stack of contracts and reports I had to sign off. I huffed preparing myself for the tedious work.
I cracked my neck and got down to business. The receiver rang, Harper was on the line. I picked it up.
“Harper?” I simply said.
“Antonia is on the line 2, she said she’s being trying to call since last night?”
Oh shit, I cancelled our wine tasting and said I’ll call her back. She was a dark haired beauty from Italy, and I wanted to show her a good time on her visit in Chicago. But took a rain check instead.
“Say I’m in a meeting Harper, I’ll call her back.” I lied. I need to take a break from dating myself. I can’t keep fucking track anymore.
“Okay Eric.” She said, still unsure of saying my first name.
The corner of my mouth jerked up. It was the first time a woman was unsure of saying my name. It was an odd feeling. Suddenly, I remembered offering my expertise to help her. Eagerness nudged at me. I found myself checking the time. It was only 9:30am.
I grabbed the one report and flipped through the pages.
My cell-phone unexpectedly rang. I checked the caller ID and sighed. Fuck it was too early in the morning for this, another one I had to explain myself too. But I had to pick up the call, she deserved it.
“Hey babe.” I said.
“Eric, I’m not impressed.” Rebecca said, annoyed.
I took a deep breath, ready for a lecture or scolding. “I’m sorry baby, things are just tough around here. There’s a lot on my mind. I know I’ve been a really bad boy lately.” I said smirking.
“Ya think?” She said. “I’m not some woman you can mess around-”
She was ranting. I had to diffuse the tension.
“Baby, let me take you out tonight and show how sorry I am.” I said.
Rebecca scoffed. “Fat chance.”
“C’mon Becky, let me wine and dine you?” I said. “If you need this bad boy to be punished. Then punish me.” I teased. “And besides I need a date for the gala. And I was thinking about taking this hot blonde with me.”
She chuckled. “Hmmm... We’ll see.”
“I’ll pick you up at 8pm?”
“Guess you’ll see if I pitch up or not?” She said and hung up.
I smirked. Knowing that wasn’t even a question. She’ll pitch up.
The Razz Bean café was quiet, a few people seated at small round tables around the grounds. Fortunately, it was a pleasant day. The afternoon sun shaded by the small umbrella above. Harper sat opposite me, stirring three spoons of sugar in her vanilla cappuccino. A cream donut next to her hot drink.
Harper and her vanilla flavored bites.
I sipped on my unsweetened black coffee, and watched Harper carefully grab her blue notebook and set it neatly on the small wooden table.
“What the fuck, Harper? What the hell is that for?” I said shaking my head. Damn, she wants to be professional in her love life too. Such an odd woman, she astounds me sometimes. I’ve never met anybody like her before.
Harper cleared her throat. “I like to be prepared and take notes. I don’t want to forget anything.” She grabbed a pencil, opened her notepad, and smoothed out a page. Ready to jot down fuck knows.
I grabbed the notepad plastered in front of her, closed it and tossed it aside. My eyes were met with confusion behind her oversized purple spectacles. “You too of a damn perfectionist Harper. I expect it in the office, but it can’t work in your personal life. You’ll end up miserable.” I barked.
She opened her mouth to say something, no doubt about my dating life, but was wise and didn’t say anything. She crossed her arms and took a bite of her donut instead. Some cream smudged the corner of her lip unknowingly.
I tried not to be distracted.
“Alright vanilla bean, what are you looking for in a man you want to date’? I told you to think about it.” I said.
She nodded; her words muffled by the donut stuffed in her mouth. My eyes glanced again at her smudged creamed lip.
“It’s in my notepad.” Her words muffled as she held her hand over her mouth, trying to be polite. Pointing at the damn blue book.
I huffed and rolled my eyes. Of course it is. I slid the book towards her, and she opened it, tearing out a page and passed it to me.
I took the long list filled page and raised a brow, scared of what the fuck I’ll find. My eyes glanced over the neatly written list:
“Mr. Perfect are you serious.” I asked amused.
She glared at me and finally licked the cream at the corner of her lip. “You said to provide a list!”
“I asked what are you looking for in a-... Alright, fine.” I said raising my hands in defeat and continued to read.
In no particular order:
1. There must be physical attraction.
2. Must be a Harry Potter fan.
3. Must be honest and kind. Preferably involved in charities.
4. Must be compatible, need to have a strong connection.
5. I need to know his past in depth. E.g. family illness history, criminal records ect.
6. Does he want any children, because I want two.
7. Discuss money. Does he have a concrete financial plan?
8. Discuss marriage.
9. Needs to take life seriously.
10. Must be an animal lover
I stared at the piece of paper, my mouth dropped reading the list, ′Must be a Harry Potter fan’? My gaze snapped to her anxious ones. Her fingers fidgeting with her charm bracelet on her wrist. I didn’t know whether to burst out laughing or shout. I opted for the shouting. “Fuck me Harper. Why don’t you marry a monk from Gryffindor wanting to become the next president why don’t you!” I blurted out.
“Gryffindor?” She breathed out, as if I impressed or offended her.
I nodded with a raised brow. “That’s the house I’ll choose at Hogwarts.”
Her eyes narrowed, as she pressed her lips together. “I picture you more at Slytherin.” Harper said as she reached an arm out and grabbed the note grasped in my hand in one rapid movement and placed it back in her notepad. Clearly, I had offended her.
A tinge of guilt sparked through me.
I sighed. “Listen Harper, I’m not trying to make you feel bad about your ‘perfect man’ but it’s unrealistic, you can’t have a perfect man, perfect relationship or perfect marriage. Shit comes with it. Believe me.”
“I know that Eric. I’m not stupid. But it’s something I’ll wait for.” She hesitated. “I’m not in a rush. I guess.”
I sighed and rubbed the bridge of my nose. “Listen carefully, your sex life depends on it okay.”
I looked up, her eyes slightly amused at the comment.
She huffed, a smile ghosted her lightly freckled cheeks, that turned suddenly rosy pink.
“Does the word ‘sex’ excite you Harper?” I asked curiously.
She cringed slightly, squirming in her seat. And shook her head adamantly. “I don’t want to entertain the discussion of intercourse with you okay.” And looked away slightly shy.
Her reaction, I don’t know why but it excited me. She acted so inexperienced. Was she pretending? Or was it for real? I felt the need to uncover.
“Alright, let’s get down to business Harper, that’s what we here for anyway. Let’s not get off track.” I spoke with precision as if I was back at the meeting presenting an investment deal to a client. But instead of providing financial advice, I was providing dating tips. I shook my head reigning it in slightly. This was harmless fun. Helping my desperate assistant find a date.
What the fuck was I doing? But I couldn’t help but enjoy it.
“Okay, I narrowed it down to 3 simple rules to follow if you want to succeed in the dating game.” I said.
“Oh please,” Harper scoffed.
I gave her a pointed stare. She cleared her throat when she saw my grim expression, that usually got people to wake up, and straightened in their seats.
“All ears.” She sighed.
“Good.” I snapped. “Rule no. 1. Throw yourself out there!”
“Is that it?” Harper mocked. “That doesn’t sound too hard.” She said with the wave of her hand. “No big deal. I don’t even have to write notes on it.”
“Doesn’t sound too hard huh?” I said dangerously low. She snapped her eyes to me and frowned.
“Why don’t we start with the first rule.” I dared, a wicked grin forming on my lips.
“Okay, when do we start?” She said hesitantly.
My eyes focused on hers. “We start right now.”