I'm looking for a word that describes more than a friend and less than a boyfriend. That is, describing the early stages of a romantic interest.
E.g. suppose a woman meets a colleague at work and they are attracted romantically. I want to describe this as more than "Her friend John..." or "Her colleague John...".
I'm looking for "Her _____ John..." to imply a romantic future and clear (mutual) interest, but they've just met and tension is still building.
To elaborate based on comments:
- This is an omniscient narrator, for something like a blurb, where you're trying to get info across succinctly yet tantalizingly.
- Context is mid-twenties colleagues in a US company.
- "Crush" works pretty well (even though it doesn't convey the mutuality of it).