Ben’s heart raced every time she walked by. Maria Lopez. The most beautiful girl in the world. The smartest, funniest, kindest…he would speak about her all day, if he could. She was the one reason he didn’t mind coming into the office. The only reason he stayed in this miserable job at all. If only she’d look at him more often, or maybe even send one of those sunshine smiles across the room, he’d be…
“Ben? You okay, ese?”
Ben blinked. “Oh, Carlos. Sí, just thinking. ”
“Well, don’t think too hard. I can see your brains leaking out.”
Ben watched the other man leave the room before he pulled the envelope from his inside jacket pocket, opening it to ensure its contents were still intact. A pair of tickets to the Hoax Beat concert on Friday. Ben knew they were Maria’s favourite band; he had heard her speaking with Gloria from HR about one of the lead singers. Tommy, or Tony. Something like that.
Inhaling deeply, Ben pushed back his chair and strode out the door, walking across the corridor to Maria’s cubicle. Frantic thoughts began to race through his head. Was his hair too greasy? Was he wearing too much aftershave? What if she didn’t like the smell?
But Maria wasn’t there.
Ben exhaled. She had probably stepped out for a break. Should he wait? He had a full thirty minutes before his next call. Or maybe…
Ben grabbed a Post-It note and a pen. A few moments later, he slipped out of the cubicle, sans envelope, and sauntered towards the coffee machine. Soon, Maria appeared at the end of the corridor, her arms linked with Gloria’s. What they were discussing, Ben wasn’t sure, but both of them had huge grins on their faces. The two women disappeared into Maria’s cubicle, and Ben pressed himself against the wall outside, straining to hear the voices…a rustle of paper…a high-pitched giggle.
“From your secret admirer? Who could that be?”
“I bet it’s Carlos. Have you seen the way he looks at you?”
Ben’s hands curled into a fist. He’d be sure to have words with Carlos later.
“Well, go on! Open it!”
Ben tried to move, but his legs were frozen to the ground.
“It’s…a pair of tickets…to…wait…”
“They’re Hoax Beat tickets. But I bought mine last week. Who…”