“You’ve been saying that for a year. Better watch out, because the right time’s not going to be when she’s set to marry someone else.”

“I thought she wasn’t even dating anymore!”  I grab Gus’s arm to stop him.  The thought of someone else even asking Frannie out, let alone marrying her, constricts my chest.  “Have you heard something on the grapevine I haven’t?”

Gus grins.  “No, but what are you gonna do when someday I do hear something?”

“I’m getting there, I’m getting there.  Will you back off already?  She probably isn’t even interested anyway.” 

This is a blatant untruth; I know for a fact that Frannie is definitely interested.  Now before you go calling me an arrogant specimen of egotism, it’s not that I think I’m God’s gift to womankind.  It’s just that anyone who knows Frannie knows that she can’t hide her feelings, and when the sexual tension between us gets too intense, she bolts and runs, which makes it distinctly hard to capitalize on such tension and ask her out.
We start back up the stairs again.  I’m ignoring Gus’s smirk.

“You should go in and talk to her, Sam.”

“Er…maybe later.”  What does Frannie even see in a stuffed shirt from the admin pond, anyway?  Although we work in the same office, the nature of our work keeps us moving in different circles.  What could we possibly have to talk abou—

With a slyness I hadn’t given him credit for, my so-called best friend shoulders me just as we pass the door of the break room.  I stagger several steps inside the room and bump into a chair.  The clatter brings Frannie’s head around as Gus continues on toward my office, chuckling and no doubt patting himself on the back for engineering such a clever move.  (I get him back later when we’re playing racquetball and he takes one to the groin, ruining for the evening all his pleasant fantasies involving Gretchen Clark.)

“Hi, Sam.  Here for some coffee? I just made a fresh pot.”  Without looking at the coffeemaker, she grabs the pot and holds it out.

“Ah, Fran…”  I motion to the machine behind her, which is still pouring coffee from the grounds basket, oblivious to the fact that the crazy woman operating it has removed the receptacle.  Dark liquid hits the warmer, hissing and spitting droplets.

“Oh, shit!’ she exclaims, whirling back around.  She sets the pot on the warmer in the pool of coffee, obviously not considering the laws of physics that govern displacement.  The coffee spills over the lip of the warmer, splatters onto the counter in front of the machine, and oozes over the edge, soaking into her skirt.  She looks down in dismay, bright color staining her cheeks.

“Frannie!”  The exasperated exclamation comes from the doorway behind me, and Gretchen Clark shoulders her way past Gus (who has miraculously reappeared) with a murmured “Excuse me, Mr. Haldemann.”

“Er…ah…Gus,” he stammers, but she’s already taking charge of the mess Fran has made and doesn’t notice.

“I’ll…ah…just come back for coffee in a while, Frannie.”

She looks up blankly.  “Hmmm?  Oh, yes, Sam, I’m sorry.  I don’t know what I was thinking.”  Her blush deepens, and in that moment I think that she’s the most fantastically gorgeous creature I’ve ever seen.

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