A/N: Really taking advantage of your temporary free time, aren’t you? Why yes…yes I am =)
I was really and truly doing it—making my way to achieving my dream. Not only had I finally been given my own office space, but I was also quickly propelled into being a Department Head, a position that I was, to be honest, surprised to be offered, but also one that I couldn’t have been more appreciative of. It’s not that I didn’t think I deserved it of course…I worked more and harder than was even somewhat necessary and I never failed to give my all, but to be promoted so quickly? It was jarring.
I had even heard talk that I was being considered for a position as a Division Manager, which was pretty intense stuff. I’d be in charge of sales, marketing, customer service, manufacturing…all of it. …but I needed to make sure I didn’t get cocky. Hard work was what had gotten me where I was, and it would take even harder work to get me where I wanted to go.
Buttercup kept me from “becoming a goddamn robot,” as she put it, but making me come to her new band’s shows. Yup, that’s right, Buttercup was officially in a band. Her and Tony had apparently been working on this for awhile—song writing, practicing, logistical concerns, and now they were performing in various clubs for free, hoping to pick up some notice and, best of all, some actual paid gigs in some of the ritzier hang-outs.
They called themselves the Azure Heliotropes. Say what? Yeah, I know. A heliotrope was apparently this bright, pinkish, purplish flower, while azure, of course, meant blue, and they liked the fusion of some of their favorite colors, as well as the way it sounded. And well, I supposed I couldn’t really fault them on that—it did sound pretty cool.
They also sounded pretty good together, a kind of…acoustic indie rock feel. Buttercup was a lot better than Tony was, in my opinion, but the more I saw them perform the better he seemed to get. Their voices also just melded really well together. I didn’t really know a lot about music, so I couldn’t really explain the technicalities of it but, they just sounded good. I’d be surprised if they weren’t noticed soon.
Things were going pretty well…until I randomly ended up in the tabloids accused of rummaging through people’s trash and stealing things. Yeah um, I wish I were kidding. But seriously. This happened. I have no idea WHY it happened though, because number one, I DIDN’T DO THAT, and number two, WHY did they care about ME?
Of course, that was when I also found out that the people of Bridgeport had begun to buzz about me, the new guy who was “trying to take over” and the “heartless fiend” that was “making his way up the corporate ladder at an alarming rate,” just these lame rumors because the local papers were clearly at a loss for anything else to talk about. It was complete bullshit, but if I’ve learned anything about Bridgeport while here, it’s that its inhabitants were INSANELY gossipy. It’s like they weren’t happy if they weren’t slandering someone’s name.
After my boss had called me and asked me about these allegations, I decided that it was time to head down to City Hall and sue the stupid tabloid, so I did. I even won my case and got a decent chunk of cash out of it since they couldn’t provide any proof that I was a garbage thief (god, that still sounds so ridiculous). They were even required to print a little notice in their paper that retracted the statement, which I was quite pleased about.
Unfortunately, the damage was already done and I was forced to spend the rest of that day, and multiple days afterward, calling up everyone I knew and letting them know that the tabloids were just making shit up. I didn’t even realize I would have to do this until people starting giving me dirty looks on the street or ignoring me. What. The. Fuck.
I may not have been crazy about Neverglade, but at least bullshit like this rarely ever happened. Damn.
“No, I have not been stealing garbage out of trash cans. Why would you even believe that? ….I see, and do you trust everything you read?….what do you mean absolutely!?!”
WHAT the hell was wrong with these people!?
Eventually though, the clamor died down and people left me alone again. I was still a little bitter about the whole incident because it had almost jeopardized my job, but hey, I still had it, so it was time to move on.
I plowed headfirst into my work, determined to show them that I could take on the role of division manager…and maybe even more. I studied at the library, reading books upon books about business and marketing and stocks and so on and so forth until my brain felt like it was melting, but I wanted this—badly, and I was going to do anything it took to get it. After all, that’s why I had come to Bridgeport in the first place. I wanted to become a CEO…maybe even more. I didn’t care whether people liked me or not. Hell, I couldn’t allow myself to care. Not in a city like this.
That being said, I did have a lot of friends, so don’t believe the effing tabloids. I am not a heartless corporate drone, I assure you. …damn, I’ve gotten defensive. You already know I’m not like that…as much as a journal could ‘know,’ that is….
“Oh Reeeeeed,” Buttercup called out in a singsong voice as she walked into the living room.
“Oh no,” I muttered, trying to show how busy I was by staring even more intently at my computer screen.
“Oh yes,” she said, stopping right next to me and standing so close that I couldn’t ignore her.
“Another practice run you want me to attend in your efforts to keep me human?” I asked as I proofread a write-up for my boss. “….beep boop,” I added in a monotone, fighting to keep a straight face.
“Har har, Reed. You did not inherit dad’s talent for humor.”
“Does not compute.”
“You’re stupid,” Buttercup said with a laugh. “And no, not another performance, but I do need you to get out of the house tonight.”
“What?” I asked, finally looking away from the computer and at Buttercup. She looked slightly sheepish and avoided my gaze, which was a first.
“Well, it’s Tony and I’s anniversary and we’d really like the place to ourselves tonight,” she admitted, still not looking completely at me. Oh god, kill me now. “It’d just be for the evening. I won’t force you to stay out all night. We…we just want a quiet night in.”
I looked outside where Tony was practicing on his keyboard. He met my eyes for a second and then looked down intently at the keys, purposefully avoiding my gaze. It even looked like he had begun to whistle. Real casual sir, reeeeeal casual.
“Fine,” I muttered, looking back at Buttercup. “Yeah. I’ll go out. ….all by myself. Wandering the streets of Bridgeport. Might get mugged. Might get attacked by a vampire. Hell, might even get tetanus. But hey, it’s okay. I’ve had my shots. I think.”
“Thank you!!!” Buttercup cried, clearly having ignored everything I said as she threw her arms around my neck. “I owe you. If you ever want to have the apartment to yourself for the night, done. Heck, anything! If you ever need a favor, just let me know and done.”
So with a sigh, and a supreme effort to NOT think about why Buttercup needed to have the apartment to herself with Tony, I grabbed my keys that evening and left, figuring I’d go hang out in a bar or something.
So that’s what I did. I went to a little, somewhat sketchy place, called “Waylon’s Haunt.” If anything, I figured I wouldn’t get into too much trouble here if I just kept to myself. When I walked in, I ordered a drink and leaned against the bar counter, just looking around and taking in the sights. It was a weird sort of place with things like No Diving signs, lifesavers, and stuffed fish hanging on the walls. I guessed they were going for a nautical theme of sorts.
But what really distracted me was the young woman sitting at the end of the bar with a drink in her hand, staring blankly ahead. It threw me off seeing such a beautiful woman by herself in such an off-beat place. I was tempted to say something to her, but I also didn’t want her to think I was a creeper or anything.
“Hey, your drink is ready,” the bartender suddenly said in a raised voice, and I realized she must have already tried to get my attention before. Huh, this seemed to happen a lot. Apparently I was too deep of a thinker.
“Thanks,” I said, slipping money across the counter and taking a sip. Mmmmm. Perfect as usual. Now, I know I said I wasn’t going to drink ever again…but I did say that while I was hung-over. On that note, I did vow never to drink as much as I did before. I was a happy, but really stupid, crude drunk and I didn’t exactly feel like humiliating myself again anytime soon. …which is why I only had three. …okay, so I was still a little tipsy, but not that bad. Really, not that bad. I didn’t have any desire to point out women’s breasts at least. I shuddered at that embarrassing memory.
After having enjoyed those drinks, I felt a little bit less paranoid about talking to the young woman who was still sitting in the same place and staring blankly ahead, so I took a seat next to her. I kept stealing glances at her, but she seemed entirely distracted and I wondered for a moment if I should have just left her alone, but curiosity kept me rooted to my spot.
Curiosity…and the fact that this woman was absolutely stunning. I just had to talk to her. I noticed that she had finished her most recent drink, which seemed to distract her for a moment from her thoughts, so I decided to pounce.
“Hey…I er- I couldn’t help but notice you sitting here by yourself and well…are you uh…okay?” I asked, feeling a little stupid, but also a bit proud of myself for speaking up.
“Hi Reed,” she responded politely, glancing over at me. “I’m okay, I guess.” I halted in place, staring at her and feeling completely bewildered. How did she know my name? “It’s me…Marina,” she said, looking somewhat amused despite the funk she was clearly in. “From work? I thought you said hi because you recognized me,” she smirked, looking as if she were trying not to laugh now.
“OHHH, Marina!” I said, recognition finally hitting me as I took a good look at her face. “Oh…wow. I…I didn’t recognize you at all. I’m used to the suit and your hair up….” And it was completely true. I literally hadn’t even had a clue that this was the same woman I saw walking into work everyday looking as poised as could be. Heck, sometimes she even looked a little snobby, and here she was, hair loose and definitely dressed for a club scene and NOT the office. Goddamn. Who knew she was hiding that body underneath that modest business suit? Then again, there were clues. I mean, who in the office hadn’t noticed that ass? …and I mean that in the BEST way possible, I assure you. Like…damn.
“Oh,” she said, blushing and suddenly slightly self conscious. She shifted on her bar stool and pulled down her skirt some. “Yeah…I just figured I should get out. A lot on my mind,” she finished, hesitating now as if considering how detailed she should get in front of a virtual stranger. After all, I’m pretty sure all she knew was my name and that I worked in the same building….
I felt drawn to her for some reason though. For something beyond her perfect ass, those incredible curves, and that oh so very slight touch of a Spanish accent, but I couldn’t really explain it. So I found myself genuinely wondering what had her so down.
“Oh?” I said casually, not wanting to sound nosy, but also wanting to let her know she could talk if she wanted to. “Boyfriend troubles?” Smooth Reed, real smooth. Way to be discrete. =D….>:[
Marina looked thoughtful for a moment, but then shook her head. “Not really. I mean, I did get out a relationship recently but…I’m not upset about it. It needed to happen. It was never going to work.”
“Don’t be sorry,” she said, surprised. “Trust me, this was a good thing. It’s just…work. I don’t know. They passed me up for a promotion again. I just don’t get it. I work just as hard as anyone else in that building if not harder and someone else always gets promoted over me. I thought it was just a fluke the first few times, but now…well now it’s just depressing.” Marina dropped her gaze for a moment and then flushed. “I’m sorry, you don’t have to listen to me,” she added with a nervous laugh, probably realizing I had been one of the many promoted over her. “Just…blah, I talk even when I shouldn’t!”
“No, it’s fine,” I said quickly, noticing her already standing up to leave. “I’d be frustrated too, believe me.”
“Thank you,” Marina responded, seeming unsure what else she should say in response. “I should really go now though,” she said, starting to leave.
“Wait,” I said, hopping off my bar stool and catching up to her. “Don’t go. We could…maybe hang out tonight? …get your mind off things? Besides, I’ve been kicked out of my apartment tonight. I could use the company,” I said, trying to be light-hearted, but also really trying to convey that I wanted her to stay.
She bit her lower lip and looked at me, and something changed on her face, almost like she was relieved. Had she been wanting me to ask this? For how long…just now when I saw her in the bar? Or even just seeing me at work? If the latter was the case, I had been completely oblivious. “Sure…okay,” Marina said with a soft smile. “That sounds like a good idea. I mean, that’s why I came here in the first place, you know? I was going to meet up with a friend and just try to forget about it, but she cancelled at the last minute.”
“Great! We could-”
“But why were you kicked out of your apartment?” she asked over me, and then immediately realized she had interrupted and covered her mouth.
I laughed though, finding it almost, well, endearing. What was it about this woman? “Oh, it’s my older sister and her boyfriend’s anniversary apparently and they wanted the place to themselves,” I said, scrunching up my face in distaste.
“I’m sorry to hear that,” Marina responded with a gentle, warm laugh.
“Yeah, me too,” I said with a frown.
“You’re so cute,” she suddenly said, that look on her face again. She seemed to be trying hard not to retract the compliment in embarrassment, instead smiling at me hopefully. I couldn’t help but return the smile.
“You are too,” I admitted, meeting her eyes. And wow, what a sight—a deep olive color and beautiful…just like she was. How had I not really noticed before? I resisted the urge to make another move, not wanting to screw this up like I’d done in the past. No, this time I was completely single, completely into this woman, and completely 100% invested in wanting to get to know her better.
Now either Marina had a few too many drinks or she really wanted to get to know me better too, or maybe even both, but she suddenly pulled me into an embrace and kissed me so passionately that I’m pretty sure actual explosions went off in my head. Like, giant goddamn fireworks that burst into a thousand hot points of light in the darkened sky and then floated downward only to settle right below my belt. Shit shit shit.
Before I could pull away some so I didn’t freak her out or anything though, she pressed her body even harder into mine and that’s when my brain pretty much stopped working. I had had a few drinks, she had had a few drinks, and I suddenly wanted her more than I have ever wanted a woman in my entire life. And I’ll be honest…that was saying something.
“Do you think your sister has had enough time?” Marina suddenly asked breathlessly, pulling away from me slightly.
“Umm…” I blinked hard. Oh god brain, work, WORK. “I say yes,” I said quickly and she kissed me again just as passionately as before if not more so. “Oh god you have to stop doing that,” I gasped when she pulled away.
“Why?” she asked with a giggle, knowing full well why. I growled and took her hand, immediately leading her out of the bar. Marina continued her soft, warm laugh as I did this and for the first time in awhile, I could feel my heart filling up with warmth as well.
I really barely remember making our way up to my apartment. All I know is that it seemed like it took FOREVER and that the elevator had seemed torturously appealing and by the seventh floor I couldn’t take it anymore and pulled Marina into my arms, kissing her feverishly. …which is why we nearly fell out of the elevator when the doors finally opened on the 19thfloor.
As it was, we did stumble, getting tangled within each other as we caught our balance before Marina tripped over one of her own shoes and fell into me. Yeah…that didn’t help matters at all. She started to laugh that warm, melodious laugh though and I couldn’t help but smile as I helped her on her feet again.
“Are you okay now?” I asked amusedly, my hands still on her waist. She continued giggling, although she tried to keep quiet since we were still in the hallway.
“Yes,” Marina answered with a soft smile, looking up at me. “You’re so sexy when you make that face,” she suddenly said with a much less innocent smile.
“What face?” I asked, bewildered.
“That face you make, when you’re amused and you do that thing with your eyebrows.”
“You mean like this?” I asked, cocking my eyebrow in an attempt at being seductive. Of course, she burst into giggles. Fail.
“Nooo you are trying too hard!” Marina said. “When it’s more natural, it’s sexy. Though, that’s not too bad. It reminds me why we’re here,” she added with a sly smile.
“Hmm, I don’t think I remember after you wounded my self-esteem back there. Laughing at my sexy face? Really?” I asked jokingly, smiling at her.
“That’s the face,” she grinned, and then pulled me into another one of her electricity-charged kisses. And there went my brain again. As soon as she released me from her kiss I took her hand again and we very quietly snuck into my own apartment. Out the window I could vaguely see Tony and Buttercup in the hot tub on the balcony, but they seemed completely absorbed in each other, so I took the moment to hastily lead Marina up the stairs and into my room.
Marina immediately hopped on the bed and I followed suit, my heart suddenly pounding, both with desire, and with slight panic—I had never done this before. In my sudden jolt of nerves, I slowed our pace some and took Marina in my arms as I tried to calm myself. Luckily, she seemed to find this sweet and immediately cuddled up to me. How did she fit so perfectly beside me like that? The thought encouraged me and I pushed her gently onto her back, kissing her deeply.
“Reed, you’re shaking,” Marina murmured against my lips, smiling against them. “Haven’t you ever done this before?
“Mmmm,” I murmured noncommittally, kissing her lips again and then trailing kisses down her neck in an effort to distract her. …it didn’t work.
“Reed,” she said, pulling back some. “It’s okay if you haven’t. I’m sure plenty of people haven’t. I mean-”
“Marina?” I interrupted, looking down at her.
“You’re kind of killing the moment,” I admitted.
“Oops, sorry,” Marina said, giving me an apologetic smile. “Here, let’s revive it, shall we?” she asked with a coy smile, pinning me onto my back and hovering over me at just the perfect angle where I could see right down her top. Oh god….
“Moment officially revived,” I mumbled in a daze, wrenching my gaze away from her breasts to look up at her face. Damn she was beautiful.
“Good,” she murmured, leaning down to kiss me softly. “Because I plan to let it continue living for as long as possible….”
And HOLY- JFDSLFHJLSFHDFSKLAS dear sweet plumbobs above….
She more than stayed true to her word.
“I think I was too loud,” Marina squeaked after our third go at it, peeking out from under the covers. I couldn’t help but start laughing at this pronouncement, which caused Marina to roll her eyes and playfully slap me. “I’m serious! I don’t want your sister to hear! That would be so embarrassing!”
“I doubt she heard. They have that music blasting,” I assured her. Although I was so on cloud nine at that moment that I really didn’t give a damn. My brain felt…exploded. In the best way possible.
“Are you sure?”
“Positive.” Marina smiled and then leaned back against the pillows, looking completely content with the world.
“I don’t think I want to go yet. ….could I stay with you for the rest of the night?”
“Yeah, of course,” I answered, feeling slightly taken aback by the question. She responded by cuddling into me and holding me tightly, and I wrapped my arms around her too, and everything seemed so peaceful and right with the world at that moment that I couldn’t ever imagine anything being wrong.
When I woke up the next morning, I practically jumped out of my bed, nearby breaking my foot in the process. “Shit shit! What time is it?” I yelled, searching the end table for my glasses but not being able to find them. In frustration, I grabbed the alarm clock instead and held it up to close to my face in order to see it. 10 AM. Later than I would typically wake up, but thank god I hadn’t missed work. I didn’t go in until 1 today. I looked up then only to see a blurry Marina grinning and walking toward with me a funny little jaunty bounce to her steps.
“What are you doing?” I asked with amusement as she strutted right over to me.
“Gloating. I totally got some last night,” she said, grinning at me. I raised an eyebrow at her and then started laughing, unable to help myself. Marina laughed as well and then stopped, walking up to me normally.
“Good morning,” she grinned, looking up at me happily.
“Good morning,” I said with a goofy smile, it dawning upon me how little Marina was wearing at the moment. My eyes must have wandered without me noticing because she rolled her eyes and swatted at me. “Sorry,” I laughed. Dang. I could barely remember the last time I had laughed so much.
I pulled her into my arms and hugged her closely. She hesitated for a moment, but then upon realizing I really did just want to hug her (ughh I was a sap, wasn’t I?), she relaxed and then hugged me so tightly that I began to worry for a moment. I don’t even know if I could say why that feeling of all feelings hit me in that moment. Maybe it was because the hug felt…different. Sad. Desperate almost.
My heart pounded and it dawned on me. I had fucked this up again, hadn’t I? I mean what was this, a one night stand? No wonder Marina had basically asked permission to stay. This wasn’t a committed relationship, or any real relationship really! We had met each other at a bar, felt a little tipsy and a little lonely, and had fallen into bed with each other.
Shit. What the fuck had I just done?
“Reed?” Marina asked quietly, pulling away some, but not completely.
“Mmmm?” I responded, feeling sick to my stomach. Surely it didn’t have to end this morning? Surely I could just ask to see her again? Or would that break some kind of code? But she had asked to stay longer…was still here. Was that normal? …yeah probably. Shit shit shit.
“Don’t at all feel like you have to say yes, because I know what this was, I really do, and if you say no there will be no hard feelings, I promise, but…and I hope this won’t freak you out because I just want to be honest with you…but…damn it what was I saying?”
“I have no idea,” I admitted, feeling completely confused.
“Sorry. I ramble too much. I just mean…would you be interested in seeing me again?” Marina finally asked. I was so overcome by relief at this point that I couldn’t even speak. So I hadn’t fucked up completely after all. I wasn’t just dreaming it, there really had been something between us besides lust. There was something there…something there…I couldn’t help but smile at the thought.
“Oh no, don’t feel obligated,” Marina suddenly rushed in, wrongly judging my silence and gently pushing away from me while I was still in my dazed happy mood. “I’m sorry. I’ll go now. I have to get back to my place and get ready for work. I-”
“No!” I said quickly, snapping out of my stupidly happy daze. “I mean yes! Damn it, I mean, no, don’t leave, and yes, yes I’d be interested in seeing you again.” Relief flooded Marina’s features, but she seemed to keep herself at bay for a moment.
“Really? So you don’t already have a wife, or a girlfriend, and you’re not just not ready for a serious relationship right now, and you’re not just with me so you can try to convince yourself that you’re really not gay, even though you are and that’s a beautiful part of you that you need to learn to accept and-”
“What?” I interrupted, taken completely aback and looking at Marina in surprise. “No, no to all of those. ….who the heck have you been dating lately!?”
“Um…hypothetical situations. Of course,” she blurted out quickly, looking away from me. Oooo…bad liar. But I wasn’t going to push it. To be honest…I wasn’t sure if I wanted to. Like…seriously. What? “It’s been a rough year…” she finally admitted, noting the semi-shocked look on my face. “I’m apparently really bad at choosing the right man,” she added with a nervous laugh, suddenly looking at me worriedly. “But you seem different.”
“I am,” I assured. “Or at least, I think I am. I mean, I’m not in any of those situations you described, at least. So…that’s a start, I hope?” I asked with a nervous laugh, trying to get them out of my head.
“Yes. It’s a start. …I’m sorry, you must think I’m so stupid. I shouldn’t have jumped you last night like that. That’s why I get into trouble! I don’t think, I-”
I silenced her with a passionate kiss, holding her closely to me and…trying not to concentrate too much on how little she was wearing because seriously that bed was RIGHT next to us but we had work and work was important but she was too and…now I needed to shut my own brain up.
“I don’t think you’re stupid. …I’m pretty sure I was jumping you just as much as you were jumping me.” Marina seemed to think about it for a moment and then laughed again, and I couldn’t help but laugh as well. We agreed to see each other again, but this time with more talking to get to know each other than action, and we parted ways and in that moment I had never, ever, ever been more thankful for my sister….
After all, if she hadn’t kicked me out of the apartment last night…none of this would have happened.
A/N: HMMM, what will happen next!? Is the sweet and beautiful Marina the one for Reed, or is he mistaking intense attraction for something more? Will he go back to Ginger, or will such a prolonged time apart lead to forgetting? Does Tony have the right intentions? Will Buttercup make it big? Will Reed become a CEO? Will I stop asking questions!?!?
Guess we’ll both find out ; ) In the meantime, thank you for reading ^_^