To AJ, who will never know all this.
She saw him coming into the office, carrying his leather messenger bag and wishing everyone good morning with a nod as he walked by. She smiled but stared straight into her laptop, typing away as if her heart was not beating faster, hoping her face didn't turn red at his sight.
A moment later she looked up, as if she had just realized that he was there. He smiled straight at her as he settled into his desk, right behind hers. “Good morning.” “Hey, good morning, AJ.” She smiled sweetly back, trying to look all professional, making sure she didn’t seem too excited to see him.
It hasn’t always been this way. When Julia picked her team it was almost definitely not because he was the leader. She found him smart but aloof, almost cold. But in the end she decided to go on with it as she would rather go back to her old job than to work on the other project.
June 11th, a few Fridays ago.
“Are you coming back to the office?” She asked as she gathered her things to go for an off site meeting.
“Are you stupid?” He joked as he closed his laptop and prepared to go. She shrugged.
"You said my car was pink?" He laughed as they hurried into the underground parking lot. "No, dark purple, I don't know why, perhaps it's the lighting." She said as she got into the passenger side of his charcoal Audi.
The interview went well, and it was only four o’clock in the afternoon.
“How about a beer?” He asked as they drove out of the parking lot.
“Sure, why not?” Julia was surprised at his invitation, but went along with it.
“Where would be a good place around here?” He looked at her while waiting for the lights to change.
“Um, we could try the quay, it’s right down the road.” She hasn't been out this early on a weekday in a long while.
The quay was relatively quiet. Groups of tourists strolled along the riverside, but no office dweller was in sight. He picked an outdoor seat.
They poured over the menu together. “Lightly hopped, I like this one.” “OK, I’ll have the same.”
AJ seemed a lot friendlier outside the office. That was the first time Julia noticed his two brown eyes that turn into half moons when he smiles, the few tiny brown spots on his left face, and his tight, unruly dark brown curls. To her AJ looked more Greek than Dutch, maybe a little like Mark Zuckerberg. She realized how young he looked, despite his seniority.
“How old are you?” She was curious.
“34.” “Wow, 1980?” “Yeap, 1980. You?” “81.”
“Oh, similar age. Cheers.” He raised his glass, head tilted as he smiled. She smiled back and clinked her glass.