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This story is in response to Jessica's challenge to write a romantic story, or romance! I have never had such a hard time with a story! It was indeed a challenge! All I can say is, I tried!

The Hal

Ted saw Janet sitting at the same table every day. He had been going to the “Egg Pan” coffee house for breakfast every week day morning for the past year. She had made her first appearance just two weeks ago. It was the same routine every day, he would arrive about five minutes before her, and she would leave about five minutes before he did.

They couldn’t help but notice each other, they were among the first customers of the morning and the place was practically empty.

Janet had just moved into the area. With the ink on her bachelors degree barely dry and freshly hung on her apartment wall, she had started what she hoped would be her first and only job. The company offered a lot of room for advancement, and she planned on taking advantage of the opportunity. She noticed Ted at the breakfast counter each morning. She didn’t really know anyone in town yet and was trying to work up the courage to talk to him.

Ted had been watching Janet closely as she paid her breakfast bill the past few days. He had noticed that she wore no wedding ring, no rings at all actually. He thought she was quite attractive, but there was something about her he couldn’t quite put his thumb on at first. Finally, it dawned on him. No makeup. Five thirty in the morning, and she didn’t even need the false mask that mascara and the other various cosmetics would provide to make her look good.

The next morning, Ted arrived just a little earlier than usual. He had stopped at the flower shop on his way home from work the previous day, and bought a dozen roses arranged in a vase. He took the flowers into the “Egg Pan” and placed them on the table that Janet sat at each morning. The waitress gave him a knowing look and smiled, which resulted in a colorful blush on his part. Then he went back out and waited in his car.

As he saw Janet pull in the parking lot, he casually got out of his car, and slowly walked to the coffee shop’s entrance. He planned on timing it just right so that he would arrive in time to open the door for Janet. They both arrived at the same time as planned, but just as Ted opened the door, Janet turned and went back to her car. She had forgot her purse. Ted felt like a fool holding the door when they hadn’t even spoken to each other yet, so he went in.

Janet walked in and went to her table. She saw the beautiful vase of roses sitting there and paused. She looked around, thinking that maybe the table had been reserved by someone else. Then she saw Ted staring at her. She looked down for a second, blushing as much as Ted had earlier. She looked back up to meet his eyes...

Ted was just getting ready to stand up and go to Janet’s table to introduce himself when his cell phone rang. There was an emergency at work, and he had to leave immediately. He threw some change on the counter for his coffee, loosing all thoughts of Janet after the emergency phone call, and quickly walked out the door. As the coffee shop door was closing behind him, he thought he heard his phone ringing again, but as he pulled it out of his jacket pocket, it remained silent. He glanced up and saw Janet through the window, talking on her phone...

Ted was sitting at his computer, trying to decipher the error log displayed on his monitor. He was staring intently as his boss walked up to him.

“Ted, we finally have your new assistant trained. See if she can’t give you a hand on this. We were lucky to get a hold of the both of you so soon.”

Without looking up, Ted Said, “Ok, sure Manfred, just give me a sec...”

He continued studying the log, he was almost finished and didn’t want to loose his place. When he was done, he straightened his back and rubbed his eyes. He smelled something. Sniffing the air, he actually recognized what it was.

Spinning in his seat and talking at the same time he said, “Interesting perfume, roses isn’t ...” and suddenly, he was stricken speechless and could only stare with wide open eyes.

There, standing next to his boss was the girl from the coffee shop. She had a rose carefully pinned in her hair.

Seeing the look on his face, Ted’s boss said, “Oh good! You two must know each other! Fine! Get it fixed Ted!” And he walked away.

Janet was equally surprised as she and the boss were standing behind Ted and couldn’t really see his face until he turned.

A short, uncomfortable silence followed. They both said hi to each other at the same time, and they both laughed in unison.

“I’m Janet Manning.” Janet held her hand out in introduction.

“I know,” replied Ted, and then hastily added, “I mean I know they hired someone by that name, I didn’t realize it was you... From the coffee shop I mean. My name is Ted...”

“Ted West. I know, they told me that was who I would be working with.” Janet looked beyond Ted at his monitor and asked, “So what’s the problem?”

“What?” Oh! Yes, of course. Here, this will be your work station...” And with that, Ted turned and pulled Janet’s chair out for her, pushing it gently back in as she sat down.

During the course of the day while working, they exchanged small talk. They ate their lunch together in the small company cafeteria, and gradually got to know each other. In the small amount of time they had shared that day, they became as comfortable as life long friends would be.

As they walked out of the employee entrance at the end of their shift, hand in hand, they made plans for dinner together that evening. Ted was to come to Janet’s apartment as she was still as yet unfamiliar with the area, having only lived there two weeks.

Ted arrived on time bringing another bouquet of flowers. They sat at the small, candle lit dinner table and ate mostly in silence. The evening passed, spent in a combination of intimate talk and sipping of wine, cementing the new found relationship they both had longed for from the day they crossed paths.

It was quite late when Ted got to his feet, explaining that he should be going. He wished they didn’t have to work tomorrow.

Janet was briefly disappointed, then realized that this was the first date she had enjoyed without her partner trying to get her in the sack. She smiled at the thought and walked him to the door. They embraced and shared a quick, friendly kiss on the lips. At least it was intended that way, but their lips lingered, and the passion increased.

Finally, they released each other, both looking shyly down at their feet. “I’ll see you tomorrow Jan.” Placing another brief kiss on her lips, Ted turned and walked out the door.

Janet closed the door behind him and leaned against it. She didn’t know this kind of relationship still existed. Something more than sex. ‘How romantic’ she thought as she turned out the lights and went to bed...

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The following comments are for "A Lost Breed"
by The Hal

Hmm...I don't remember seeing a challenge. Perhaps I'm out of the loop. If this goes for everyone, Jessica, would an earlier story of mine, called Toi, qualify?

Anyway, sorry about the off-topic response, Hal. I can tell you put effort into this, though parts of it feel a bit strained. Not that I'm exactly the quintessential romance guru, mind you. Anyway, it's good stuff. Cheers.

( Posted by: Beckett Grey [Member] On: March 17, 2002 )

The man w/ the silver tongue
I think yours fits the challenge better than mine, Hal. It was both romantic and sweet. :) You old softy.

Think you handled yourself well with a very tough task.

Good job


( Posted by: Richard Dani [Member] On: March 17, 2002 )

re: Hal and Beckett
Competitive? I am? *blinks*

( Posted by: Beckett Grey [Member] On: March 17, 2002 )

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