For the remainder of the week, Willow had zero physical contact with Christian. A shift change meant they missed bumping into each other, and their workload left little time for idle chatter.

On Sunday afternoon, however, Christian lingered after his morning shift ended. He paced outside Willow’s office, then after he’d punished the carpeted floor for several minutes, he slumped into a chair. The seat felt restricting; he squirmed until he jumped up and resumed his pacing, hands jammed deep into his pockets.

He whirled around at the tap on his shoulder. “Earth calling Christian. Come in Christian.”

At the sight of Willow, his heart hammered against his ribs; his face split into a broad smile, camouflaging his discomfort. “Hi … you … it’s nice to see you.”

Willow felt a blush creep from her neck onto her cheeks, and turned away. The keys rattled in her hand as she struggled to unlock her office door.

“Let me help you.” Christian folded a hand over Willow’s, inserted the key into the hole and gently twisted. “There you go.” His hand remained in place, clasped over hers, and he pushed the door open with his free hand.

“Thanks.” Willow wiggled her hand free from Christian’s, her eyes cast down. “I’m sorry, but … were you passing by or … uhm … waiting for me?”

Christian followed her into the office, gaining confidence with each step. “I’ve waited for you for six years. A few more minutes is nothing.”

Willow spun around. “Heh? What’s that supposed to mean?”

“I’ve liked you from the first day I laid eyes on you, Willow.” Christian took a step closer to her. “Your bubbling personality, your no-nonsense attitude, fierce loyalty.” He held her gaze and took another step toward her. “Everything about you captured my attention.” He reached up a hand and stroked her cheek.

Willow blinked at his touch and took a step back. “You … err … don’t have to butter me up, you know. I lost my bet and owe you three dates.”

A dark cloud flitted over Christian’s eyes as he surveyed Willow. “I wasn’t buttering. Look, if you want to cancel, I’ll respect your wishes.”

“Oh, no. No, no, no,” Willow said and waggled a finger at him. “My word is my bond. I will not be known as a tease or worse. We are going on these dates and we’re going to have an awesome time, or my name isn’t Willow Jenkins.”

“As you wish, boss lady.” Christian smiled and brushed a hand over his head. “Tomorrow then, 7am. Pack a bag for the beach and bring along a jacket too. It could get cold where we’re going.”

“Cold? At the beach?” Willow raised an eyebrow. “Where are you taking me – the North Pole?”

Christian chuckled, his eyes crinkled at the sides. “It’s something you’ve wanted to do for a while.”

Willow narrowed her eyes as she peered at Christian, but his expression provided no clues. “A proper hint would help. I have many items on my bucket list.”

“And I’ll help you with them where I can, but tomorrow … tomorrow is,” said Christian, spreading his arms far apart, “a big one. And that’s all I’m saying.”

“Hmmm.” Willow thrust her hands onto her hips. “What if I’m not ready for it? What if I need preparation? What then?”

“Nice try, but no prize. Trust me, you’ve already got all the skills you need and more.” Christian strolled toward the door. “You’ll just have to wait and see.” He winked at Willow with a confident smile. “See you tomorrow. Enjoy your shift.”


Tell us: Do you think Willow is being cruel, not taking Christians declaration of long-term love seriously? Or is she simply not that into him? Or just disbelieving?