She was new in the office. I watched her walk through the glass doors for the first time. She wore a thin, pencil skirt, a white blouse, and wire framed glasses. Her hair was brown and done up in a bun with a chopstick and just a few curls dangling down past her temples. She wore a blue blazer. She tucked a brown binder under her elbow. She wore black heels. Her legs were long. I watched the back of her calf peak through her skirt as she walked past me down the hall. She was wearing sheer stockings. I tried not to imagine her underwear. I greeted her as she walked past me but she said nothing in return.
We had been looking for a new employee for a month. We had interviewed a handful of candidates, but no one really fit the position. Every candidate felt just a little off. Until her. There was something about her. I looked at my watch. Ten thirty a.m. Time for a coffee break.
The employee’s break room was around the corner from our desks, by the bathrooms. It wasn’t a large room, but it was sufficient for the fifteen people working in our office. There was a small refrigerator, a sink, cupboards for dishes, and tables and chairs. There was one plant in the corner, a hasta, and a water cooler next to it. The boss had just bought a new espresso machine for the break room, not that anyone had asked for it. He was showing it off to the new girl as I walked into the break room.
“Morning,” I said to both of them.
“Ah, there he is,” Bruno, the boss, said to me. “How you doing, mate? How’s the morning going?” He liked to ask questions without waiting for the answer. “Have you met this sharp new whipper snapper yet?” He nodded his head in the direction of the new employee. She held out her hand to greet me. Now she’ll say hi to me, I thought.
“I’m Lucy,” she said. “Pleasure to meet you.”
“Hi,” I said. I couldn’t help watch the plush of her lips as she spoke. “Welcome to the office. Is everyone treating you alright?”
Bruno let out a nervous chuck.
“Of course they are!” he exclaimed as he slapped me on the shoulder. Lucy raised one of her eyebrows and gave a slight shrug.
“Wonderfully,” she said with a hint of sarcasm.
“I was just showing Lucy how the espresso machine works,” Bruno said. “I haven’t exactly figured it out yet, to be honest.”
“Let me help you guys out. I used to sling coffee in college,” I said. Bruno stepped aside. I rolled up the sleeves of my white shirt. I grabbed the handle of the portafilter. I gave it a twist and dumped out the old grounds. I shoved it under the doser, pulled the handle until it clicked twice and the espresso filled the portafilter basket. I tamped it and twisted the portafilter up into the group head until it was tight. Then I hit the dispenser switch and watched the needle on the pressure gauge float to the green line, where it was supposed to be. I looked up and I caught Lucy staring at my forearm. All those years of rock climbing are paying off, I thought.
“Wow. That was quick,” Bruno said. “I didn’t catch everything that happened. Lucy, did you catch all that?”
Lucy glanced at me to confirm that it wasn’t as difficult as our boss made it out to be. There was a slight mocking in her eyes.
“I think I got the gist of it,” she said.
“I told you she was a quick learner,” Bruno said. “Didn’t I tell you she was a quick learner?”
“You actually didn’t,” I responded. Lucy grinned.
“Alright you two, I’m off to take a phone call. Lucy, you’ll be alright won’t you? If not, ask this guy. If he can figure out an espresso machine, he can help you with just about anything.” It was one of those comments that only bosses say. One of those comments that means less than nothing.
“Uh, yeah. I’ll figure it out,” Lucy said.
“Remember, both of you, we have a meeting at two pm in the conference room.” he said. Bruno wandered out of the break room. We were left alone.
“Is he always like that?” she asked me.
“You mean extremely nice, helpful, and full of meaning?” I sarcastically remarked.
“Hah. Yeah. Right.” she said. “I get the picture.”
I pulled the shot of espresso out and dumped it in a mug. I handed it to Lucy.
“Anyways, welcome to the office.” I said.
It wasn’t the last time I caught Lucy staring at my forearms. Over the next few days I saw her checking me out a few times. I fantasized about her being a slut. But in reality, I had no idea how right I was. It started to interfere with my work. Every time I saw her I would get distracted. One afternoon, I bumped into her again in the break room. It was later in the day. I had stayed late to finish a report. I assumed she was working over time, trying to get caught up in her first few weeks. She was leaning against the counter by the sink. She wore a white skirt. Short. Her bare legs were long. She was stirring whatever was in her mug and blowing over the top of it to cool it down. I had just stopped in to get rid of the dirty dishes from my desk. I was on my way home but I didn’t want to be an asshole. I asked her how it was going. She sighed and rolled her eyes.
“Oh. You know. First few days on the job are the hardest. It’s a lot of stress.”