Caroline sniffled as she and Richard stepped into the hallway.

"Oh no..." Richard groaned. "You're not going to cry are you?"

"Yes!" Caroline sobbed. She opened her purse, frantically searching for a tissue.

"Here."

"Thanks Richard."

Caroline smiled tearfully and took the handkerchief from him.

"I'm sorry for crying like this, but I can't help myself! It's so beautiful!"

"You're still thinking about Stella and Vick, aren't you?"

Caroline nodded. "Uh huh... I mean, imagine being in love with someone and waiting fifty years to make it official."

As they walked on, Caroline brushed away her tears. "I'm pathetic, crying over something so ridiculous."

He stopped and turned to her. "Well... actually..."

Noticing his expression she frowned. "I'm sorry, Richard. I know how uncomfortable my getting so emotional makes you."

"Caroline..."

"It's all right. I'm fine now."

With all the strength she could muster, she forced thoughts of Stella and Vick from her mind.

"They're just a nice couple whom I happened to find by fate. I mean, if I had just gone to the deli for your sandwich like I said I was and not gone to that auction, none of this would have happened. I would never have found that drafting table and opened that package containing that watch. God, I'm so stupid, reading something romantic into something that wasn't even there!"

"I don't think so." Richard said quietly.

She turned to him in surprise. "You don't?"

He swallowed hard. "Well... Maybe it was fate. Because if you hadn't found that drafting table I might never have found the courage to do this..."

"Richard, what are you-."

She gasped at the touch of his lips on hers, kissing him the way no other man had.

The feeling was so heavenly that her hand went around the back of his neck, drawing him closer.

But before she was ready, he drew back.

For several seconds neither of them spoke, but instead stared into each other's eyes. Richard's hand was on her cheek; his thumb brushing away a tear that she had no idea existed.

All she knew that this man...this dear, sweet, wonderful man who meant more to her than she realized... had just given her the sweetest kiss she'd ever had.

"B-but you're my colleague." She said, unable to stop staring into his eyes. Nor could she resist running her fingers through his blonde hair. "W-why did you do that? Kiss me, I mean..."

He smoothed her hair back with his hand and kissed her again.

"Because... I don't want to wait fifty years."

"Wait for what?"

"To tell you that I love you."

The revelation stunned her and she opened her mouth, unable to speak.

"Look..." Richard continued. "I know this is crazy, and you can fire me if you want to.

I'm sure this falls into the sexual harassment clause of our employee/employer contract, so-."

"I'd never let you go, Richard."

"Well thanks for the vote of confidence, but-."

This time it was Caroline who initiated the kiss as her mind spun in circles.

"I think I'm falling for you..."

His eyes brightened at her words.

"Really? Are you sure?"

His boyish tone made her smile and she didn't hesitate in answering.

"Yes. I've never been this sure about anything before."

The sentimental words prompted him to take her in his arms and kiss her deeply.

"I love you Caroline Duffy. And if this jeopardizes our working relationship, so be it."

With a trembling hand, she removed Richard's glasses allowing her a full view of his face.

It was a complete mystery as to why she'd never realized how handsome he was before.

When she touched his cheek, he smiled nervously.

"Wh-what should we do now?"

"I know what I don't want to do. I don't want to waste another minute standing here. Can we go to my apartment?"

"Of course. I mean, we do have deadlines and-."

"Actually I was thinking we could put on some romantic music and relax on the sofa with a bottle of champagne. Because right now there's nowhere I'd rather be than in your arms."

THE END