“Big day tomorrow Mum, I can’t chat for long” I say down the telephone receiver balanced between my cheek and shoulder.  With words of good luck and the usual I love You’s, I finally hang up the phone.

Gone 9pm already, I pour myself a large glass of red wine and light a cigarette.  Feet up on the sofa, I flick through the channels and as usual find nothing of interest.  Flicking through the CV’s of the candidates for the fourth time that day, I am pleased with my final three.

Two women and a man all from a sound background within Advertising and all young enough to mould to fit the specific requirements of Splash.  Having started my own Advertising Agency five years before, I was finally getting the clients coming in after a great campaign for the Spic and Span Soap company.  Glamourous?  No, but it got other clients booking me to the point I needed an assistant and I needed one fast.  And hopefully tomorrow was going to be the day I finally found the perfect assistant.

Skating in December on an isolated ice rink in central London.  Not a soul around, just the sound of the ice whooshing as I glide gracefully across it.  The snow on the battered branches of the ornamental  trees lays heavy but shines bright against the dark night.  Fairy lights the only colour adorning this otherwise black and white scene.

Lost in my thoughts, I miss my step and end up gliding less than gracefully on my butt along the ice.  I let the ice take me, rather than fight and end up by the entrance gate. 

“OOF” I say out loud whilst trying to pick myself up carefully.

“Hey, you okay there” a voice says.  I can’t see anyone and now on my feet, I do a 360 degree turn.

“Hello?” I say to the inky blackness of the night.  My breath evident on the cold night air.

A figure steps into the dull glow of the fairy lights.  Dressed in a suit, an expensive one at that, with a scarf hanging loosely around his neck on the inside of his unbuttoned sheepskin coat.  I am frozen to the spot.  Where did he come from?

“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to startle you.  I was watching you skate and I saw you fall and I wanted to make sure you were okay?” he questioned with raised eyebrows.

“Oh I’m fine, honestly, I do it all the time, it’s a flaw I am guilty of, I lose myself in the moment and bam, my butt suffers for days after” I say laughing.

“Would you care to dance with me”? the stranger asks.

I don’t know why I said yes, I have sense after all, but I was compelled to dance with the handsome stranger before me.  He stepped onto the ice, did he have boots on before?  If he did I didn’t notice and he takes my hand and pulls me to him.

For the next twenty minutes we glide around gently as if on a dance floor, the rather old PA system plays Endless Love although I hardly hear it.  With one of my hands on his chest, the other holding his hand, he eases me around, our bodies fitting together like the final pieces of a jigsaw puzzle.  We don’t speak, we just dance.  The cold night air feels a distant memory as I am pressed against his chest.  Our cheeks touching, I feel his breath in my hair and I close my eyes and let him guide me.

Once we are both breathless, we exit the ice hand in hand and both remove our boots.

“Well, thank you” I say.

“No, thank you” he says.  He walks towards me, places his hand behind my head and looks into my eyes.  His eyes are bright, the green shining brightly in contrast to the glow of the white around us.  He pulls my head towards him, caressing my cheek with his thumb.  And just when I think I may explode with anticipation, his lips brush mine.  I do not take my eyes off of his.  The light feather like touch of his lips causes me to quietly murmur. 

“Goodnight Carrie, see you soon” he says and turns and walks away into the black of the night.

“Wait…..how do you know my name……”I shout whilst my fingers automatically come up to touch the place his lips caressed mine.

I sit bolt upright.  Goosebumps adorn my bare arms.  That will teach me to fall asleep on the couch with no blanket, no wonder I was dreaming of ice rinks.  I groan as I sit myself up and look at the clock.  Oh no, I’ve been asleep for over an hour, the CV’s are now scattered around me on the floor.  I scoop them up and put them on the coffee table.  Wow, that was some dream.  It makes me chuckle, ever the dreamer because there is no way a man like that is ever going to exist in ‘real life’.

I head to bed this time and fall asleep surprisingly quick with a small smile playing on my lips.

I am in the office bright and early the next morning, opening up the blinds I see the snow is still there but the sun is desperately trying to shine through the whiteness.

I put the radio on.  Twenty minutes and my first interviewee would be arriving.  Followed by the other two late afternoon.  A busy day ahead of me. 

Deep in thought, pouring over my latest project, I hear the door to the office open. 

“Won’t keep you a moment” I say standing and smoothing my trousers that has somehow managed to wrinkle in the space of half an hour.

“No problem” a voice says back.

I walk into the reception and freeze in my tracks.

“Hello you must be Carrie” he says walking towards me with an outstretched hand.

I know I am meant to take the hand or at least say something but I am literally frozen to the spot.  The only movement I make is my eyes as they take in the expensive suit, scarf and sheepskin coat.  Am I dreaming again?  As I look into the eyes of the man before me, I see the man of my dream.  Not a cliché but literally the man of my dream the previous evening.  Everything is spot on from the incredible green eyes, to the clothing he wears.  I snap my head down to his feet convincing myself that he will be wearing ice skates.  But of course, he wears sensible black loafers.

“Hello…..erm yes, I am Carrie, it’s a pleasure to meet you.  You must be Michael” still flustered, I manage to pull it together and smiling broadly I offer my hand in return.  As he takes it in his, I feel a jolt of electricity explode inside me.  Michael only grips my hand tighter as I seem to swoon physically in front of him

‘Great first impression Carrie’ is all I can think to myself.  I am looking for an assistant and acting like a deranged woman.

“Hey you okay there” Michael asks.  Yes he really says the same words he said last night.

I assure him I am fine and gesture for him to go through to the small conference room.  He removes his outer coat, suit jacket and scarf and hangs them on the coat stand.  He then leads the way.  As I switch the phone to answer machine, I watch his back and wonder if it feels as good as his chest did.

Once we start talking business I find my mind focuses a lot more on the job and a lot less on the eyes of Michael Bishop. I learn he is twenty eight and looking for a new company to work for due to him being made redundant from his last position.  He is quietly confident but not arrogant and there is just something about him that makes me want to keep him talking all day.

I show him the current project I am working on, spreading the diagrams and slogans across the table.  When I point to a certain section, he eases himself from his seat opposite me and stands behind me leaning in close, for a better look for course.

I feel his breath in my hair and the cotton of his shirt brushing my arm.  Oh damn I am stuck again.  Remembering the ice rink and the way our bodies felt so right nestled against each other.

“Wh….What….erm….what do you think about the slogan?  Is it too bright or does it work against the dull background?” I ask not daring to turn my head and look at him.

“You know what I think Carrie, and do forgive my forwardness but I think we should go and grab a hot chocolate and take a walk along the river.  I think the slogan will look a whole lot better with a little fresh air, don’t you?” he whispers quietly into my ear.

Should I have remained professional and told Michael that this was an interview and not the best way to go about getting the job?  Maybe I should but fresh air and hot chocolate was just what I needed. As I went to grab my coat, Michael took it from me and held it for me as I slid my arms into the still cold sleeves.

Was this guy too good to be true?

I locked the door behind me and Michael and I set off across the road.  The perk of working in London was the two minute walk to the River.  We stopped at the refreshment stand and Michael produced two steaming hot chocolates.  We didn’t speak, only to agree to walk through to the park.  Once there we sat on a bench and used the hot chocolate to warm our hands.

It was still a crisp morning and our breath combined with the steam fizzled into the atmosphere.

“So Michael, tell me more about yourself” I said.

“More about me.  Professionally or personally?” He asked.

“Well I think we covered professionally in the office and might I say you are more than qualified for the role so how about a bit about you personally.  If you are going to work for me, it would be nice to know what you do and don’t like so I don’t bore you senseless on a daily basis” I laugh.

Oops! I think I just offered the job to Michael.  Did I regret it?  Not on your life, he had all the credentials I needed in the office and let’s just say the appearance would be a bonus too.

“I’m very into stars, not the celebrity type but the universe as a whole.  I like nothing more than looking up into the night sky and watching the stars.  Strange maybe but there is something about a clear London night that nowhere in the world compares to” he looks up and I follow his head.  The sky is white suggesting more snow will be with us and that the sun lost its battle for supremacy.

“Other than that I have a deep dark secret that not many people know about” he laughs and looks at me.

“Oh really?  Is this going to make me retract my job offer” I say with a smile on my face.

“Really?  You are offering me the job?  That’s fantastic.  I guess I should say I’ll think about it and pretend to have hundreds of people after me but I like what I have seen and would love to work with you Carrie, thank you” he says.

“I tell you what, what time are you leaving the office today?  I will show you my little secret once you close up, I mean if you don’t already have plans that is” he asks.

We start to walk back to the office and when we reach the main door, I feel almost sad to see him walk away.   I want him to start immediately but I know I have to honour my other interviews even though my mind is made up.  I agree to meet him after work and with a firm handshake and a lingering look, I carry on with my afternoon.

Surprisingly the afternoon goes fast.  One interviewee had left a voicemail cancelling her appointment and the other one turned up late with no excuse let alone a decent one and wearing tracksuit bottoms.  I’m all for casual dress but for an interview?  Seems fate had dealt the right hand in delivering Michael to me first.

As I was locking the office door, I felt a hand on my shoulder.  I whirled round ready to scream.

“Hey, it’s only me.  I must stop startling you like this” Michael said steadying me with his hand on my elbow.

“You ready to meet the real me?” he asks.

I simply nod and we set off, falling into easy conversation as we go.

“Nearly there, you okay?  It’s getting a little dark already which is great news” he says looking up into the sky.

I am beginning to think I may have the next Jack the Ripper on my hands when we stop again and I catch my breath. 

“Da Da” Michael says sweeping his hands in front of him.

Before me the scene of my dream.  Give or take a few minor details I was back in my dream.

“You skate” I say turning to see Michael putting on skates.  “Seriously, you skate?” I say again.

“I sure do.  I find it a great way to unwind and these outdoor rinks are fantastic.  Have you skated before”? he asks.

“Well, not really, as a kid I waddled my way around the edges.  As an adult, only in my dreams” I say safe in the knowledge that I am the only possessor of my secret!

“Well Carrie, today I’d love you to skate with me” he holds up a pair of skates “what do you say, you game”?

“Well okay, I’ll give it a go but don’t expect any Ice Queen” I say laughing.  Am I really going to go skating on a cold December evening with this man who turned my world upside down before I even met him.  Looks like it.

Michael takes my hand and leads me onto the ice.  He skates slowly backwards holding my hands tight.  I feel my legs warming up and start to enjoy the fluidity of movement.  I feel free and light and I feel myself smiling broadly.

“You are a natural Carrie, really you are” he says letting go of my hand and circling around me with loud swooshing noises.

“You think so?” I say feeling confident.  A little too confident as the next thing I know I feel the wet of the ice creeping round my butt.

Michael is above me in seconds helping me to my feet.  Asking over and over if I feel okay.  Am I hurt?  I assure him I am fine.

“That may be but I’m not letting you go this time.  Would you like to dance? I promise I won’t let you go” he looks so earnest that I agree.  Giving my sore bum one last rub, I let him take me in his arms.

As we stand in the middle of the ice, everyone and everything else fading away to nothing, I let my head rest against his chest and close my eyes.  His hand rests on the small of my back.  We move in small circles.  I feel peaceful.

Any moment now I think I am going to wake up.  But as I open my eyes and peer up, I see the stars start to appear in the night sky and I know I am not dreaming.

“Carrie………” Michael says bringing us to a standstill in the middle of the rink.

“……….I know we have just met and I know you are my boss, although not officially until Monday morning……but I wondered if you would like to have dinner with me tonight.......” he appears almost shy as he looks into my face.

I look into his startling green eyes as his hand cups the back of my head.

“I’d love to Michael” I say as his lips gently brush over mine, light as a feather.  After all “you are quite literally the man of my dreams”.