Squirrels leapt across the grass and up into trees. Daffodils were in bloom and blossoms were just beginning to unfurl from their buds. It was warm, with a cool breeze that played across the back of his neck.
He meandered through the park at a leisurely pace, taking in the view of the river that divided the park from the luxury flats with their floor-to-ceiling windows. Nate had always loved this park. Especially in the morning, before anyone else got to it.
It was short-lived, though. It took twenty minutes, if he dragged his feet, to walk from one end to the other, and soon he was on the other side of it. Looming over him was a red-brick block of offices, the lights off and blinds drawn. He pressed the buzzer on the door and waited for Gladys, the cleaning supervisor, to let him in. He greeted her warmly, but she barely acknowledged him in return. He got the sense Gladys was not a morning person. That, or she just didn’t like him very much.
He wasn’t the first person into the office, for once. Someone was in the staff kitchen, clinking cutlery, and the kettle was rumbling to a boil. He peered around the doorway to see a young man he didn’t recognise. His hair was short, curly and bed-rumpled, but his suit jacket was wrinkle free, well-ironed. As Nate walked through the door, the stranger turned, a teaspoon in his hand.
“Oh, hello,” he said, all Welsh vowels. “I’m Steffan. I started last week. D’you want a cuppa?”
Nate looked him over. He must the be the new sales assistant, Tina’s replacement. He was short, with wide eyes and a slightly pointed chin. Kind of cute, Nate decided. That was good. They needed more of that around here. His liked his colleagues, but none of them were very good eye candy. Except maybe Dianne, but she was the boss, and married. Or he supposed there was Isaac, from accounting. Okay, so maybe not none of them, but it had been a while since Nate had had someone new to look at.
“I’ll take that as a no then, shall I?” Steffan asked, and Nate realised he’d been staring, silently.
Great, he thought, I’ve creeped out the new guy. What a way to start the morning. “Sorry, yes,” he said, before feigning a yawn. “It’s too early. Not quite with it yet. I’m Nate. And I’ll take two sugars.”
Steffan nodded and turned his back to Nate, busying himself with the mugs. He was careful to choose only the plain white ones, Nate noticed, which was good. If he accidentally used Lisa’s kitten mug, this place would become a living hell for him very quickly.
“So where you from, Steffan?” Nate asked, taking a seat at the nearest of the three tables, and stretching his legs out.
Steffan turned, a steaming mug of tea in each hand and his eyebrows raised. “What? You can’t tell?”
“Ha. Well obviously. But where abouts, I meant.”
At Nate’s blank look, Steffan smirked; clearly he’d assumed Nate wouldn’t know where that was, and he’d been right.
“Powys,” Steffan clarified. “About half an hour from Swansea. What about you?”
“Bristol born and raised,” Nate said, a hint of pride leaking into his voice.
“Huh. You don’t have much of an accent.”
Nate chuckled. “Get me drunk, and you’ll hear it.”
Nate couldn’t help but enjoy the way Steffan blushed.