First Meeting from Only Time by Dellani Oakes

First Meeting image smallestWhen I start looking for a new couple, I try to mix it up some. It’s easy to bring people who work in the same place, together. It’s also easy if they travel in the same social circles. I like to introduce couples who are unlikely to meet under regular circumstances. I also like to switch up their jobs, so they’re unique and unexpected. So it is with Zander and Gretchen. He’s a fashion designer and she’s the head carpenter for the company who’s building his catwalk. They meet at Zander’s studio.

Inside, chaos had returned. Garry took a crema to Rose, leaving Zander to look over the catwalk set up. A woman with black hair, approached. She was dressed in well worn jeans, a black, sleeveless top, and thick soled boots. She was about 5’7”, with a lean muscled build.

Mr. Wilkes?”


Gretchen Sanderson.” She held out her hand.

Zander didn’t know whether to shake it, or kiss it. She was beautiful. Breathtaking, really. Her black hair had a blue undertone that looked completely natural. Her light complexion set off her amber eyes.

How do you do?” He held her hand several seconds longer than necessary, while he stared at her face. “You are—perfection. Have you been back to see Rose about what outfit you’re wearing?”

The woman looked at her clothing, then back at him. “Am I not dressed all right?”

You need to get back there for your fitting. The ensembles are roughed in, but have to be fitted before you can go on stage.”

Tossing back her head, the woman laughed. Seeing his puzzled expression, she sobered a little.

I’m not a model, Mr. Wilkes. I’m the head carpenter. I had a few questions about the catwalk design. I don’t know who did the plans, but—I don’t think they’re completely safe.”

Broken from his appreciative reverie, he dropped her hand. “Not safe? How?”

I’ll show you. This way.” Tipping her head, she led him toward the stage area.

What’s wrong?”

The platforms are made with half inch plywood. We didn’t build these,” she gestured to her co-workers. “They’re going to buckle and bend when more than one person stands on them. I can either redo the tops, or reinforce with more supports underneath.”

Which do you recommend?”

Retopping them with one inch ply.”

How behind schedule will that put you?”

Pressing her lips together, she tipped her head to the left. “No more than a couple hours. The superstructure is fine. We just have to retop them. My guys are good and quick. There are only six of them, it won’t be that much trouble. We’re building the rest to my specs. I hope that’s all right.”

That’s fine. I want this done right. The fashion industry may be cut throat, but it’s not usually lethal.”

She smiled, dark eyes twinkling. “Good point. Thank you. We’ll get right on that.” Whistling sharply, she gestured to a couple men who were about ten feet away.

Retop those,” she ordered.

Yes, Boss,” they chorused.

They walked over, uncoupling the platforms quickly.

Zander chuckled. “My crew calls me that, too.”

I insisted. I’m not in the military, so I don’t really like being called ma’am.”

I can understand that. Are there any other problems you needed to discuss?”

Let me check.” She pulled out a small notepad from her back pocket. “Yes.” She went on to point out a few things that needed to be changed. “Again, I don’t know who did these plans, but they kinda had their head up their ass.”

There should be a name on the floor plan.”

She shook her head.

Check with my business manager, if you need to know. She handles those details. I just sign the checks.”

Not that important, except you don’t want to use them again.”

Then we’d better find out. Got a minute? We’ll find her together. I need to tell her that I fired a seamstress, and have her find another one.”

Sure. The guys are good, they can work without me breathing down their necks. In fact, they do better if I leave them alone.”

He chuckled, nodding. “My crew, too. I learned a long time ago, to let them do their jobs, since they sew way better than I do.”

I thought designers had to be able to sew, and stuff.”

Oh, I can, they’re just better.” He escorted her up the steps and through to the back. “Does the backstage need to be redone, too?”

No. My crew did that work. It’s just the ones up front.”

You didn’t do that assembly?”

No. Your manager fired the others, for some reason. But she was specific that the plan had to be followed.”

Hmmm…. Okay. Anyone seen Pamela?” he asked the room.

Office,” Melodie replied. She was wearing a different outfit now. Rose was pinning it into place.


Allowing Gretchen to precede him, he guided her to Pamela’s office. As he opened the door for her, he touched the small of her back. A spark hit the tips of his fingers. Hissing a little, he pulled his hand away. Gretchen jumped.

Are you all right?” Zander asked, deeply concerned.

Yes, fine. I must have picked up some static.”

©2020 Dellani Oakes

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