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The Trader:I'm getting shirty

`There are plus points. No one can accuse us of rushing things'
ONE UNFORTUNATE effect of Rory taking off for a spur-of-the-moment two-week holiday is that it's delayed Jaap's move across to his new position as head of marketing. As this means he's still my deputy boss, we've agreed to hold off on the budding romance just a little bit longer.

No, that's not quite right. Jaap is the one who's being grown-up and sensible, which I suppose is one of the side effects of being 30, though it seems to have bypassed Rory. Jaap came up with his perfectly logical reasons over our first restaurant meal together, which wasn't a date because we're not doing those yet.

"Do you agree?" he asked as we tucked into our main courses. "Mmm," I said weakly through a mouthful of seared tuna, but what I was actually wondering was what he'd look like without his shirt. The thought was so distracting I had to change the subject, and we spent the rest of the evening in intense discussion about hedge funds, futures traders and the capacity of both for utter disaster.

Unfortunately, beguiling thoughts about Jaap aren't normally so easily banished. They're worst at night, of course. I've had to resort to reading books about options pricing to send myself to sleep because the downstairs neighbours said the shrieks from me having cold showers in the middle of the night was too disturbing.

It's just as bad at work. I'll be staring at the screens when suddenly I realise the figures don't mean a thing to me. This, I'm aware, puts me on a par with about 99.9 per cent of the rest of the population, and at least half of the senior managers in the City.

Nevertheless, it's not good. A couple of times I've nearly mispriced deals for that proverbial pain Simon - our new junior salesman - and you can just imagine how much political mileage he could get out of that.

Added to all this is the fact that no one else knows what's going on. Normally I would regard this as an advantage; the less anyone in the office knows about my private life, the better. The problem is Kirsty, who has taken rather a fancy to Jaap. To say it's unexpected is putting it mildly. Our girl's favourite slogans are generally along the lines of "a woman needs a man like a moose needs a hat rack", so I can only assume the moose has changed its mind and got into home improvements like the rest of the country.

So you can imagine how it feels to see Kirsty pressing her silk-covered arm against Jaap as she stands next to him to discuss some deal or other, and, boy, does she seem have a lot of deals to discuss at the moment. "Really, trust me, I'm not interested," Jaap says when I accuse him of enjoying the attention. "Well, perhaps a tiny bit flattered, but not interested." Then I notice the way the hair curls around his ear, and I lose concentration and have to sit down again.

Still, there are the odd plus points in all this. No one, after all, can accuse us of rushing into things, and as we all know from reading the problem pages "rushing into things" is up there with "not having a favourite Spice Girl" as one of the top Nineties crimes. Apparently, according to Jaap and any of my girlfriends still prepared to answer the phone to me, there's also the delicious thrill of anticipation.

"Well, I suppose the anticipation is rather amazing in an almost unbearable way," I tell Jaap over our second dinner-not-date together. "Maybe the moralists knew what they were on about after all." Then my thoughts begin to stray. Oh no. Oh dear. I don't think I can take another week of waiting.