Angela Wilson fumbled with the keys to her boss' office. Ryan Messier was watching, amused by her apparent struggle.
"You, uh, need help with that?" he asked, lightly teasing.
"I think I got it!" she laughed. She was charmed that the handsome big shot spoke to her. Sometimes she would see him in the copy room (a.k.a. her office), but they never really talked. The hum of the copy machine took over instead.
She didn't know he was actually an intern, just like her, at the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Angela, a senior at the University of South Florida, worked with the Lightning Girls dance team, mostly spotting trends for uniforms. Ryan was a University of Tampa senior interning with the hockey operations department. He worked with the team handling paperwork and overall team logistics.
"He had such a professional demeanor that really set him above everyone else," says Angela, now 25. "I thought he was a VP or something."
Ryan, also 25, had noticed her, too: "She's unbelievably beautiful. I was instantly drawn."
The day of the key incident, Angela decided to do a little snooping on Facebook. She typed in Ryan's name. Click. She added him.
A few innocent messages were exchanged. Then, a bold move: She asked him out.
They slid into a cozy booth at Bella's Italian Cafe in Tampa. Their curiosity in each other heightened with each bite.
More dates came and went: Ryan invited Angela over for homemade pasta dinners, Sinatra playing in the background. In return, Angela went to see The Hangover with Ryan . . . again.
• • •
On the way to the movies, Ryan "missed" the exit, pulled over and parked on the street. He stopped at the very spot in downtown Tampa where he and Angela had shared their first kiss. She was confused: "What are we doing?"
He guided her out onto the sidewalk. Then, right there, he asked her to marry him. When she said yes, Ryan popped a bottle of Champagne he had stored in the trunk.
Passers-by cheered, offering congratulations.
Then, the couple slid into a cozy booth at Bella's. The same one they had shared two years before.
Sabrina Rocco can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 893-8862.