Gabe Darrow did his best to keep the smile plastered on his face while Shirley, the middle aged Office Manager, notified him that they'd decided to change the office's floor plan for the third time since the job had started.
Bruce, his boss, had assured him that the job at NovaBank's tower would be an easy one; he and his crew were there to reconfigure the office space so more cubicles could be crammed in. Compared to their usual jobs of building from the ground up this would be easy... Or so he had thought
What Bruce hadn't counted on was NovaBank's employees having so many complaints about the changes their superiors had planned. Their requests ranged from things that were easy to change - like not wanting their desk to face a printer, to not so easy alterations - like doubling the size of the filing room. The employees seemed to think that Gabe had the ability to somehow add square footage to the space which was on the 18th floor of the building.
Gabe and his crew were working on half the floor at a time. Half the employees were moved to other parts of the building, while the other half were typing away on the other side of the plastic tarp he had hung to keep construction debris away from their work. The situation wasn't ideal for either them or his crew to get their work done so he could wait to get the job over with.
"I'll get back to you later today with the updated quote for the changes." Gabe told Shirley as he took the new floor plan from her hands.
"But there's a contract for the price of the work. Why would it cost us more?" Shirley said, unsatisfied with Gabe's answer.
Gabe had made the mistake of accommodating her previous two floor plan change requests without adding on extra charges. Now that they were further along, this new plan would put them a full week behind. It wasn't a cost he was willing to eat when he knew the bank had deep enough pockets to afford it.
"The contract was for the original plan we agreed on. Now that we're making a change so far in it's going to push us back a week and I still have to pay my guys."
"Oh..." Shirley said clearly disappointed. "Let me get back to you about after I speak with my boss. I'm not authorized to spend any more on this."
"Sounds like a plan Shirley." Gabe said with a tight smile.
As he walked back to his side of the office, a svelte brunette entered the room in a flurry.
"I'm here! So sorry I'm late!" She said announcing to no one in particular. "My freaking water heater broke and I couldn't get ahold of a plumber to fix it for me – And let me tell you, Monday mornings are bad enough without starting them with a cold shower."
Gabe smiled to himself, thinking how adorable this woman was. With her slightly upturned nose, warm brown eyes and soft brown hair she had a girl next door quality that he found endearing. Better yet, she was the exact opposite of his usual type which was women who did their best to mimic their look after porn stars. When he was younger and overflowing with hormones, he preferred trashy looking women. But as he got older he started to regret that women like this one usually looked right through him - A construction worker wasn't even close to being on their radar as a man who was potential "husband material".
Deciding to take his chance to get noticed by a woman who was way out of his league, Gabe walked over to the pretty brunette. "Miss... I'd be happy to pop over to your place after work today and have a look at the water heater for you."
The woman looked up at Gabe, taking notice of him for the first time. "Are you for real? You have no idea how much that would help me. I've got a date tonight and I'm just not up to another cold shower. You're a life saver!"
Gabe was disappointed to hear that she was going on a date, but felt some solace in the fact that she didn't have a ring on her finger. If she wasn't engaged, then as far as he was concerned, she was still fair game.
"I'm Claire," she said to him while handing him a sticky note with her phone number and address scribbled onto it. "I live close to here and I'm off at 5:00 pm... I usually stay late but I'll just work through my lunch to make sure I get out of here on time."
"I'm Gabe... I'll meet you at your place at 5:30 if that works for you." Gabe said, as he directed his most knee buckling smile at Claire.
Gabe felt increasingly nervous as the day wore on. He felt as if he was heading to an interview rather than to fix a water heater.
He didn't want to mess up his shot with a woman like Claire.
Over the past five years all of Gabe's friends had gotten married and started having children. His crew of "boys" that he used to go to the club and pick up women with, were now preoccupied changing diapers and cuddling with their wives on their oversized sectionals from the Brick.
Gabe had tried settling down with his last girlfriend, Chastity, but she had rewarded his devotion with him finding her in bed with another man when he came back from the bar early one night. If he was honest with himself, while his pride was wounded for a couple of weeks, he wasn't that heartbroken over Chastity – Her hotness and his loneliness was what had made him settle for her. Gabe certainly didn't miss her forcing him to watch endless episodes of Desperate Housewives or regularly having conversations about the colour of her manicure.
Even though all Gabe knew about Claire was her place of employment and her home address, it was enough for him to decide that she was far more ambitious, and likely more independent, than the women he was used to.
By the time work was done for the day, Gabe had decided that he would do whatever it took for Claire to take notice of him.
YOU ARE READING
Love Like a Man - CHECK OUT THE REVISED VERSIONRomance
**This story was a top 55 SYTYCW15 Finalist!** Claire Warren felt like she had her life under control; she kicked ass at her job as an investment banker, had her own condo overlooking the City and spent her personal time knocking back G&T's at some...