It started on a Tuesday.
Cara Lomond was filling up her water bottle when she noticed something out of the corner of her eye. She turned to the left and squinted. She blinked to make sure she wasn’t hallucinating. Next to the coffee pot were two chocolate Easter bunnies, posed like they were kissing each other. They were the bland tasting, hollow kind that no one liked eating, even at Easter.
It was August.
That meant that these bunnies were … how many months old? Cara tried to do the math. Was Easter in March or April this year? She could never remember and wished that Easter was like Christmas, reliably on the same date. Either way, it was not chocolate bunny season. There’s no way that any store would still be selling these. They had moved on to Halloween costumes and even a few stray Christmas decorations.
She absentmindedly screwed the cap back onto her bottle. So many questions here. She looked around the kitchenette for other things that might be out of place. But everything else looked normal, with the exception of the two sad candy rabbits. Cara noted the pink ribbon tied around the neck of the bunny on the right. It must be some kind of inside joke with one of the other departments, she figured.
She instinctively tilted her head to examine the scene closer, the way her puppy Bones would tilt his head when he was confused or curious.
“Huh. Is there a market for Labor Day candy that I’m not aware of?” A deep male voice broke her concentration.
She laughed and shook her head incredulously. “Seems an odd choice. You’d think they’d be little chocolate union workers or something.”
Her co-worker Pace Ford smirked and ran with it. “Gummy Bears with picket signs! Sour Patch Kids, campaigning for an 8 hour work day.” Pace stepped past her to fill up his travel mug with coffee, giving a sidelong stare at Mr. and Mrs. Cottontail. “No, but really though… what’s happening here?”
Cara shrugged. “I honestly don’t know. Makes you wonder who in this office hoards holiday candy for months on end.”
She glanced at her watch and realized she had a meeting in five minutes on the other side of the building. “Listen, I have to go but if you hear any leads on this… situation” she waved her hand broadly over the mystery bunnies, “let me know, buddy.”
He gave a small salute. “Ay ay, Captain. Consider me Elmer Fudd.”
She furrowed her brow. He continued, “Elmer Fudd. Like Looney Tunes?” His voice got high and lispy. “I’m hunting wabbits?”
Cara groaned, “Oh wow, you’re a bigger dork than I realized.”
He raised his mug, like he was giving a toast. “Time to get hopping along!” He gave an exaggerated wave goodbye and she laughed her way down the hall.
Cara met Pace on her first day at SeaLutions. Ron in HR was touring her around the building, pointing out where she would sit and the lunchroom. A few people were leaning against a counter in the lunchroom, sipping coffee and gave a half-hearted smile. Ron introduced her as “Carrie” and she didn’t bother correcting him. She could tell they weren’t very invested and no one bothered to introduce themselves.
Ron’s phone buzzed. “I’m sorry Carrie, I have to take this. Excuse me.” He stepped into the hall and she could hear his voice become fainter as he walked further away. Not one for small talk or awkward conversations, she turned to walk out of the lunchroom… and walked right into a human pillar of handsome. She started to apologize profusely and felt her entire body turning a deep shade of red.
“I, I, I’m so sorry. I was just leaving and – oh no, did you spill your coffee? Oh my God, I’m the worst.” She worked up the nerve to make eye contact. He was smiling and mid-chew. She noticed that in one hand, he had a styrofoam cup of (now, half-full) coffee and in the other, what looked to be a footlong sub.
She paused her apology parade. “Are you eating lunch? At 9:30 in the morning?”
He nodded and swallowed. “Yes. And the coffee is awful and free so, no worries. Just a little spill on this conveniently coffee colored carpet.” She glanced down, noticing the thin brown carpet which looked like it had seen it’s fair share of stains and was worn down from years of traffic.
As the lunchroom clique exited together, Cara and handsome man stepped to the side to let them through and she inadvertently almost knocked into him again. She momentarily squeezed her eyes closed tight. God, stop acting like the most socially awkward person in the world! she scolded herself silently. Curly hair professional good-looking sub sandwich eater didn’t seem to notice.
“Pace!” HR Ron’s voice boomed down the hall, as he walked with purpose towards them. “Carrie, I see you’ve met Pace Ford, senior market manager.” She smiled. Pace? Like Pacey? Like ‘Dawson’s Creek’?
“We hadn’t been formally introduced yet, no, but I did almost knock him over a minute ago.” She turned to face him and stuck out her hand. Remembering that he was double fisting his lunch/breakfast, she realized he wasn’t going to be able to shake her hand easily and quickly turned it into a short wave. Pace laughed.
“Yeah, Ron. This one just about knocked me off my feet.” His eyes twinkled and you could tell that he knew he was charming and loved it. She couldn’t help but blush a little. “Well, see you later dude and nice to run into you Carrie.” He emphasized his play on words and winked as he stepped into the lunchroom. She didn’t even care that he repeated the wrong name. She briefly considered just going by Carrie here instead of having to correct everyone later.
But she knew that she wanted Pace to know her real name.
And she definitely wanted to run into him again soon.