COLLEAGUES

by Doreen F.

Simon and I had been colleagues for several years. At the beginning he had worked in Customer Support and I was in the Marketing Department. We had seen each other occasionally in the aisles of our companyís building, at the Christmas party and occasions like that. I had always thought that he was quite attractive and he was about the only one of my colleagues apart from two others who was about my age and the kind of guy I would feel attracted to. Whenever I saw him he was really nice and talkative. I heard a lot about him from other colleagues. According to them he was well-skilled and intelligent. He was Swedish, but was raised bilingually by his parents because only his father was Swedish. You could not tell he was not a native. After he had finished his studies in Stockholm he decided to go to his motherís home country because job offers over here were much better for his qualifications. This much I had found out by talking to him occasionally.

About a year ago an older colleague of mine retired and Simon was promoted to my department. It was great, I saw him much more now. We were not in the same office, but our offices were opposite each other, so we would sometimes leave at the same time. Every now and then I got a glimpse of him through his open door. It was really nice, but I had never wanted to get involved with a colleague. Some of my friends had had really bad experiences and warned me about that. I assumed they were right even though I got weak knees whenever I saw Simon. I willed the attraction away and tried to talk to him as casually as I could and to behave normally. It was hard at the beginning, but it worked. Still I had been single for a very long time. Not that I did not like being on my own, but sometimes I was longing for someone to share my life with. I had really high standards about what my boyfriend should be like, but I had standards that had to be met. For a long time nobody had crossed my way who would nearly meet up to my expectations except Simon in my day dreams. At least I was not as frustrated as many of my friends were in their current relationships because they did not want to stay alone.

Once or twice a month a bunch of people of my department went out to go bowling and sometimes I went there, sometimes I did not. It was fun, but most of them drank a lot and could be a real pain in the ass after a beer too many. Simon had never been to a bowling evening. I wondered why, but I did not dare to ask him. The rumours said that his girlfriend Ė yes, he was engaged Ė did not want him to spend evenings without her. Others said Swedish did not know how to bowl and he was afraid to make a fool of himself. There was no need for that because most of us did it for fun. Besides, those who took it really seriously were not much better, but it was great fun to watch them get really passionate about bowling.

About a month ago Simon asked me if I wanted to accompany him to a Chinese place in our lunch break. How could I say no to that? We had been talking quite a lot lately and I had the impression that some sort of friendship was developing between the two of us. He did not seem to be well that day. I drove since his car was blocked by some other cars Ė our parking lot was far too small. When we got to the Chinese Restaurant, which was not far away of our company, I waited until we were seated and had ordered before I asked him what the reason for this special invitation was. He seemed relieved that I had asked. Then he told me that his girlfriend had left him. It had obviously hit him hard. She had left him for one of his best friends saying that his friend was able to understand her needs much better than he did. Simon told me about their relationship, their problems, almost anything and I felt honoured that he had chosen me to talk to. He could have told it to anyone. I had realised, though, that he did not have any rather close friends among our colleagues. Neither did I. I did not interrupt him, let him talk until he had told me everything he wanted. We did not eat much of our food. What I was able to figure out was that his girlfriend had hurt him a lot by leaving him. I was so sorry for him, but I told myself not to take advantage of this situation. Once or twice I could see that Simon was close to break into tears, but he managed to hold them. I wanted to say something to comfort him, but I could not think of anything than these corny lines I did not like to hear myself when I was in a similar situation. So instead I petted his shoulder when we went back to car. Simon seemed to appreciate this and when we came back to the companyís building he thanked me for listening. I told him that he could call me any time he wanted, if he felt the need to talk to someone.

For the rest of the day I tried not to think about Simon too much and concentrated on my work. This was not much of a problem because I had a lot to do anyway. The afternoon passed quickly and I stayed longer than usual because I had to get one marketing analysis done before the next day. I noticed that Simon was still in his office when I turned off my computer. I left my office and went towards Simonís.

"Still working?"

"Stella, hi. Yeah, keeps my mind of my problems, but I wonít stay much longer. My head is already aching."

"You better get home and get some sleep."

"Iíll try, but most of her things are still there. Sheís gonna collect them on the weekend."

"Must be horrible to be surrounded by her stuff."

"It definitely is."

"Well, donít hesitate to call me, if you need someone to talk to, okay?"

"Sure."

We said goodbye and then I left. On my way home I thought about Simon and how he had been dumped on the day before their anniversary. He said that their relationship had not been perfect, but he had accepted her the way she was, but she had incredibly high expectations. Apparently Simon was not perfect for her. When I got home I took my brotherís dog, which I was looking after during his holidays, for a walk and made myself spaghetti. After I had put the dishes into the dishwasher, my phone rang. Who could this be?

It was Simon. He seemed really desperate, it seemed to me that he had been crying. His ex had called and they had been quarrelling. I tried to give him as much comfort as possible, hoping it was enough. Was it not strange that when I had finally accepted Simon as a simple colleague, who I got along with very well, he was suddenly willing to talk to me more than I had ever dreamed of?

So I found myself thinking whether I should invite him over to my place. When I found the courage to asked, he declined saying, "I wouldnít be good company today, I have to be on my own, and I donít want anybody to see me like that, but maybe some other day." I did not push him and we went on talking for another hour, so I had his company over the phone anyway.

An inner voice kept reminding me not to take advantage of the situation, but I felt that being nice would not be a bad idea. Simon did not seem to have that many friends here. Why would he talk to me, if he had?

On the next day Simon did not come to work, he had called in saying that he was sick. I could not blame him. I would have probably done the same, if I were in his situation. My day at work was pretty boring, but I could concentrate much better and got a lot of work done.

When I got home I called Simon. He did not sound better than the day before. No wonder he had spent the whole day in a flat full of things that reminded him of his ex. Simon talked about happy times they had had together and about his suspicion that she had been cheating on him for quite some time. I asked him, if he wanted to come over to have dinner with me, just as friends, of course. Probably Simon had not eaten the whole day. He accepted saying it would take some time because he had to make himself look presentable again. I did not really care about what he looked like, he could have worn a "Scream"-mask and would have been gorgeous. So I said, "Donít worry about that, I donít care. You donít have to dress up."

"Yeah, but I donít want you to mistake me for a homeless."

"Take your time. Just one question, shall I take my brotherís dog for a walk before you come or do you want to go with me?"

"Iíll accompany you, if you donít mind."

"Okay, then Iíll try to cook something nice for us."

"You donít have to make any efforts; Iím really hungry. Actually, I havenít eaten all day."

"That is what I expected."

"Okay, see you soon then."

"Do you know where I live?"

"Yes, it really close to my place."

"Good, bye."

I ran into the kitchen to see what I could cook. I decided on something rather simple Ė a Quiche Lorraine. By the time the pie was in the oven, Simon arrived. He did not look as bad as I had expected, but different to what he usually looked like. There were dark rings under his eyes Ė lack of sleep - , his eyes were quite red and his eyelids were swollenĖ he must have been crying - and his hair stood into all directions, which looked rather cute, though.

Stop it, I reminded myself.

"Mhm smells great. I could already smell it from outside."

"Itís nothing special, but tasty anyway. I hope you like it."

"As hungry as I am, I would probably eat our canteenís food without thinking twice." He said referring to the horrible food no one ever ate.

"Well, sit down or do you want to take a look around? Iíll check, if our dinner is ready."

"Okay, Iíll take a look at your flat in the meantime."

The quiche was ready and I took it out of the oven and cut it into pieces to serve it. As usual, I was not able to get it onto the plates without making it look like a complete mess. I knew it tasted great though. Hopefully, Simon would think so too.

"Dinner is ready. Donít judge it by the way it looks, try it first, okay?"

"No problem. Your flat is really great, so nicely decorated. Itís so much like you."

"Thank you. It has taken me quite some time until it was like that."

"The food is really delicious."

I could see that he liked it and that he was hungry. His plate was empty in no time at all.

"Do you want another piece?"

"If you have some more to spare."

"Certainly, I donít want to eat quiche the next four days anyway."

I got up and Simon followed me.

"How much do you want?"

"Iíll take it myself, if that is okay?"

"Be my guest."

I returned to the table and Simon came with the plate full of quiche.

"You were right, it is impossible to get it out properly."

"I told you." I said smiling.

We ate and talked, not about Simonís ex, but about normal things, people at work and so on. After we had finished I put the plates into the dishwasher and Simon cleaned the table. Then we went for a walk with my brotherís dog. It was already getting dark outside, but the moon was shining brightly. It was nice to walk around with Simon. We even laughed and I was glad to able to keep Simonís mind off his problems for a while.

When we returned to my flat I offered him a cup of tea. He accepted and we sat down in the living-room. Simon told me a bit more about himself and I spoke about my life and soon it was getting late.

"I think Iíd better be going now. We have to get up early tomorrow, donít we?"

"That is right. So you are going to work tomorrow?"

"I think so. It was a really nice evening. Thanks for inviting me over."

"No problem, I didnít have any plans for tonight anyway."

Saying goodbye we felt kind of awkward not knowing how to do it. Somehow we settled on pecks on the cheeks which was great for me and for him too, apparently.

I went to bed thinking I had won a friend. It had been quite a lot of fun with Simon considering what he had been through.

The next day was Friday and I was glad to see Simon come to the office. He looked much better than the night before.

Smiling we waved hello at each other. It was good to have him back at work, even though it had only been one day without him.

On Fridays most employees left earlier which was possible due to our flexi-time. Simon stayed longer because he had some work left from the other day. I left rather early to spend a weekend at my brotherís out of town. He had returned from his vacation and I was going to bring him his dog and stay at his place for the weekend. I had told Simon about it, but given him my mobile number in case he needed someone to talk. Apparently he had told me he wanted to go to Sweden for the weekend so as not to see his ex who was coming over to pick up her stuff. I could understand that.

The weekend passed really quickly and it was Monday in no time at all. Simon and I had talked on the phone on Sunday evening. He had told me that his ex had been to the flat taking her things with her and leaving the key. We talked about our weekends out of town. Monday morning Simon was already at the office when I arrived. That was quite unusual, but he explained to me that he had an appointment at the doctor in the afternoon and had to leave earlier. In the evening we spoke again on the phone, but about nothing in particular. Simon did sound a bit depressed. He did not tell my why and I did not push it. Our evening calls were becoming a routine. Thursday evening was bowling night, so I asked Simon, if he wanted to join us. He said it was about time he showed up there and I agreed.

On Tuesday evening Simon asked me if I wanted to come over to his place. He wanted to cook. I was curious what his place would be like. Simon cooked delicious spaghetti and we had a nice evening together. Several times I felt like he was going to say something, but then he did not. I did not push it. Again we said goodbye with pecks on the cheeks which we did not dare to do at work. It felt nice, but as long as Simon did not take a step, I would not consider us anything else but friends. I thought he wanted it to be that way too. I had told the others of the department that Simon and I were going to join them on their bowling evening. They were delighted to hear that.

Simon and I had planned to go to the bowling alley together. One reason for that was that I knew the way. Furthermore we lived rather close to one another, but the bowling alley was farther away and there were not many parking spaces around that place. Neither of us was into alcohol, so the drink and drive issue did not come up. We decided that he would pick me up and I would lead the way.

On our way I had found out that Simon had been bowling some times in Sweden, so he knew what it was about. Most of the others were already there when we arrived and had already begun to play. We played in two teams and Simon and I happened to be in the same team. It was great fun, although we lost. Around one or two we decided leave because some of the others were beginning to get drunk. I did not like that, neither did Simon.

We went back to his car to go back home. During the drive we talked about the evening and how much fun it had been. We reached my home far too soon. I could have stayed up all night talking to Simon, even though he seemed a bit tired. We had our usual kisses on the cheeks. I had the impression neither of us wanted to draw apart after those pecks, but neither of us had the courage to take action either.

I went up to my flat waving to Simon as he drove off. Had he lived farther away, I would have asked him to stay overnight. Would I have dared?

The next morning getting up was really hard. I had been in bed around three, which made only about three hours of sleep. Nevertheless I arrived at the office before most of the others who had been bowling. I was glad it was Friday and I did not have to stay this long. Simon was unusually late and I was afraid he might not come. He had said, "See you at work tomorrow", when he had left. Probably he had overslept, I did not want to call him; it would have been silly.

Around 8.30 he finally came, but to my surprise he was wearing glasses. I had never seen him in glasses before. He must be wearing contact lenses otherwise he would have worn glasses for driving at least. I felt strangely attracted to him when I saw him waving hello through my door in glasses. My heart was doing somersaults and I had goose bumps. What was going on? What about being only friends? I did not know and I was not sure if I could conceal my excitement. How should I react? How would he expect me to react? I was going crazy.

I decided to send him an e-mail. I wrote: Hi sleepy! What took you so long? I thought you were not going to come. Was about to call and wake you up! Kisses, Stella

His reply came really fast: Morning beauty! Glad you are worrying about me! I was having trouble with my contact lenses. Iíll explain it to you later! Want to go for a coffee after work? Love, Simon

I was flabbergasted: Okay, handsome, great, when and where? See you, Stella

His reply: At "The Roast" around 2.30? Looking forward to seeing you in private. Hugs, Simon

I confirmed this and counted the minutes until I left the office. We actually did leave at the same time, but only waved at one another smiling. We did not want the others to get suspicious. At least I did not, but was there anything to be suspicious about? I did not know. "The Roast" was a trendy cafť not far from where we both lived and we had found out that both of us liked to go there. The coffee there was delicious. I went to the cafť straight after work.

Simon was already there and had chosen my favourite table next to the window. We said hello with pecks on the cheeks. His glasses touched my face and made my knees weak again. I smiled and sat down. The waitress came to take our orders and in the meantime I was watching Simon really closely. He looked great considering he did not get much sleep. His short blond hair looked wild and spiky and I liked that. He was wearing a pair of black rectangular glasses in a plastic frame, which looked good. I did not know much about glasses, but his seemed rather strong. My sister-in-law wore glasses, but also contact lenses. Her glasses seemed not as strong as Simonís. After the waitress had left, I felt kind of nervous. Gosh, Simon was so gorgeous! It seemed that neither of us knew how to start this conversation. It felt awkward.

"This place is really cool." Simon started the conversation.

"Yes, I really love it here."

"This is so weird, donít you think?"

"Extremely weird."

Our drinks arrived and each of us took a sip of his coffee.

"The coffee is great."

"Absolutely, but can you tell me why we are having such a hard time talking today?"

"No, I really donít know", I lied.

"Did you sleep alright?"

"Yeah, but much too short. When my alarm clock rang, I thought I had been asleep for less than an hour. What about you, got much sleep?"

"Well, no. I kept thinking about yesterday evening, about my ex, about you and when I eventually fell asleep it was about four, I think, but I donít know for sure. I think my watch said four. Anyway, I must have forgotten to set my alarm and I only woke up because I had a nightmare. It was seven, which isnít much later than when I usually get up. But I was really tired, of course."

"Poor you, but did you see some of our bowling colleagues? They looked a lot worse."

"I know. Anyway I got up and went to the bathroom to put in my contact lenses like I usually do, you know."

"Mhm."

"I couldnít get them in. Well, I could, but it really hurt. I didnít know what was wrong. Usually I donít keep them in as long as I did yesterday because my eyes donít like it. Then I thought that I must have done something wrong when cleaning them in the night, but I couldnít think of what it was. So I decided to have breakfast first and try it again after that, but it didnít work. I couldnít tolerate them. So I had no other choice than wearing these today." Simon pointed at his glasses which he kept pushing up quite often in a really sexy manner. I liked that, but I could not tell why I felt so attracted to him when he was wearing his glasses.

"That sounds horrible. I didnít even know you had contact lenses."

"Of course you didnít. Well, you could have noticed, but Iíve tried my very best to conceal the fact that I have them. I always have."

"But why? What is so terrible about that? It is not your fault."

"I know, but I am really self-conscious about that, you know. Nobody in my family has glasses. Iíve always been the only one. So I tried to get contact lenses as soon as possible and wore them as much as possible. Too much, I guess. I mainly tried to hide the fact that I had contacts, which can be really difficult sometimes. My eyes were getting worse and I kept buying stronger contacts. My ex didnít like my glasses either."

"I wouldnít have expected her to like them."

"Yeah, to her they were a sign of imperfection. I didnít even own a pair of glasses for some years, at least none which was close to my current prescription."

"And what did you do when you had problems with your contacts?"

"I stayed at home and wore an old pair to partly correct my vision. That is stupid, huh?"

"Well, yes, but I can understand that you were self-conscious. But the glasses you are wearing today are not an old pair, are they? They look really trendy."

"They are rather new actually. I was having trouble with my contacts more often recently, so I went to the optometrist and he advised me to get a pair of glasses with my actual prescription to give my eyes a rest more often and not to wear my contacts that much for some time."

"But you didnít wear them to work before today, did you?"

"No, well, only once or twice maybe, when you were not there and only for some hours. My ex didnít like my new glasses even though I had spent so much time choosing the right frame. I knew I had to wear my glasses more often. I havenít told you about it because I was too embarrassed."

"There was no need to be embarrassed. ÖWaitÖyou wore them when I wasnít there?"

"Yes, I didnít want you to see me in glasses. Iíve had some pretty bad experiences. I didnít know you that well then. Now I know that you are different. At least, I hope so."

"Why me?"

"Because you were so nice and all. I really wanted you to like me."

"Iíve always liked you. Did you really think I was that shallow and superficial?"

"I hoped you werenít, but one can never be sure."

"Why didnít you tell me about this before?"

"Well, I tried to, but I couldnít figure out how to say it and I didnít have the guts to do it."

I thought of the moments when I thought that Simon had wanted to say something, but did not.

"The appointment you had. You were at an optometrist?"

"Yes, I was."

"You sounded so depressed after that? I wasnít sure, whether this was because of your break-up or the doctor. What did he tell you?"

"He said that I needed stronger contacts again. In order to get them I mustnít wear contacts for some days. My glasses have a more accurate prescription than my contacts at the moment, although it feels really weird to wear them after a long day in contacts. That was a reason for my headaches. I couldnít tell you about this."

"So why did you keep wearing your contacts?"

"Because I was scared of the reactions of the others and you."

"Do you want to know my reaction?"

"Certainly, what is it?"

"Well, close your eyes."

"Okay. What is this about?"

"Trust me and close your eyes."

"You wonít leave, will you?"

"No, stupid, I wonít. Now close your eyes and donít open them until I say so."

"Alright, alright." Simon closed his eyes and I leaned over the table and kissed him Ė not on the cheek, of course. He responded to my kiss. It felt fantastic. I eventually drew back.

"You can open your eyes now. What about this reaction?"

"This was the best reaction I have ever had when telling someone about my glasses", he smiled.

"You look really great, Simon, glasses or not. I like you very much. I have from the very beginning."

"I have always liked you too."

"Let me tell you a secret. Your glasses make you even more attractive to me. Believe it or not."

"Somehow I do believe you."

"Do you want to come over to my place?"

"IĎd love to."

We paid and left the cafť heading for my place. He looked so cute standing there at my door step waiting. We went up to my flat and ended up kissing on the couch. Unlike other men with glasses Simon did not take his off. I did not mind at all, I really liked it that way. It turned me on. I unbuttoned his shirt and he helped my out of my blouse. He was wearing a t-shirt underneath and I gently slid it over his head. The kissing led to more and neither of us had doubts about this being right or wrong. We changed location and went to my bedroom kissing on the way. We got rid of our jeans and lay down in my bed. Our bodies moved at the same rhythm and we even climaxed at the same time. Then we lay there next to each other simply enjoying the warmth of our bodies staring at the ceiling where I had painted a map of Europe. When we looked at each other we smiled and then we kissed again and explored each othersí bodies. This was great. None of my boyfriends had been able to give me such pleasure. Wearing only our underwear we went to the kitchen to get something to drink. We sat down on my couch watching each other, kissing occasionally. Simonís glasses were kind of smeared. So he took them off to clean them with his a handkerchief. It was really turning me on to see his eyes lose focus for a moment. Then he focussed onto the glasses, but held them really close to his face.

"Do you mind if I try them on", I asked.

"You wonít see a thing through them, but go ahead." He handed me them and I put them on. Simon was right they were really strong, I could not see much. I went to a mirror to check myself out. I looked strange. Returning to Simon I wanted to know what I looked like.

"I donít know, I canít see your face properly yet, you have to get closer."

I moved closer until we nearly touched.

"You look funny", he said pulled me closer and kissed me. I took off his glasses and carefully placed them onto the table, while we were kissing.

"Stella, uhm, where did you put my glasses?" Simon wanted to know after we had drawn apart. They were right in front of him lying on the table. I felt sorry for him that he could see only that little. I took them and placed them onto his face again.

"Thanks, Iím sorry, but I am feeling kind of lost without them."

"I understand. Your vision is really bad, isnít it?"

"Yeah and still getting worse. But only slightly."

"I donít mind."

"I know that now and that is really great. Today was the first time I had sex wearing glasses, can you believe that. I have always worn contacts. With my ex I had done it without correction too, but itís not much fun, if you donít really see your partner that well."

"Certainly not."

"After my ex I swore to myself I would never date anyone who did not like me in glasses."

"That should not be a problem with me."

"Do you want to go out tonight? Letís have dinner at a nice place."

"Sure, I would love to. I just want to take a shower before we leave. What about you?"

"A shower sounds really tempting."

Somehow we ended up taking a shower together and it was a lot of fun. Simon had taken off his glasses, but now he could not see a thing in the shower cabin. He wanted me to massage his body and really enjoyed. Of course, he had to do the same for me. It was really great and a lot of fun. Wrapped in towels we kissed in the bathroom, Simon was still bare-eyed and I had to watch that he did not run into anything.

Then we collected our clothes which were everywhere in the flat. I put on different clothes and we decided to stop by at Simonís place so he could get some other clothes too. In Simonís flat I watched him take off his shirt and put on a sweater. It was nice to see him take off his glasses before he put on his sweater and put them on immediately after his head looked out of the sweater. I could hardly conceal my excitement.

When we were about to leave there was a knock on the door. Who could this be? Simon opened and to our surprise it was his ex. She explained that she had forgotten something when picking up her things. I squeezed Simonís hand as she went past us to the bathroom. She had been surprised he was not alone and that he was wearing glasses. Simon and I looked at each other and we broadly smiled at her and politely said goodbye.

"Oh, you were great. Did you see that look on her face?"

"I did. I am proud of how cool you handled that."

"Yeah, me too. I wouldnít have been like this, if you hadnít been here. I guess, I wouldíve called you immediately afterwards and told you what an idiot I had been."

"And then we would have talked for another hour."

"Exactly. Letís go now, shall we?

We headed to a nice Greek restaurant not that far away. It was a great evening and I hoped that there were many more to come. The food was delicious and we had a really great time. Afterwards we went to my place and Simon stayed for the night. On Saturday morning he surprised me by serving breakfast. No man had ever done this before. We spent the weekend talking and going for walks and to the movies. It went by too fast and neither of us wanted it to end. Simon had been wearing his glasses all the time and I had the impression he had forgotten that he was wearing them. He had told me that he wanted to go to the ophthalmologist this week in order to get new contacts, but he admitted that wearing glasses was not so bad and he would be wearing them more regularly now. I did not mind at all, but I wanted Simon to feel comfortable with this decision. When we said goodbye on Sunday evening we were already longing to see each other at work on Monday. I had never anticipated a Monday more.

I was early as usual and was looking forward to seeing Simon again. We had agreed that we were not going to announce that we were a couple, but if anyone should ask we were not going to deny it either. Eventually Simon arrived and came into my office before he went to his. We gave each other a quick kiss and then started to work. Simon was wearing glasses again and I saw some female employees look at him a tick longer than usual. Could they also think that he looked great in glasses? I did not mind because it was me who he had spent the weekend with. We spent our lunch break together and had a really nice time. During the day I would sometimes watch Simon from my office and I was sure he did the same. It was a really nice sight, especially when he took off his glasses from time to time to rub his eyes and look over to my office with a smile on his face, when he put them back on.

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