Lucas: Media file - We Belong - Thora Moon
This chapter should have been longer but my concentration is shot and it's been too long since I've posted. I'm putting this one up just because. Unfortunately, not much is happening but the next will feature more of Lucas and Alaine. Again, I issue the warning to prepare yourselves. I also have another chapter in 'The Trouble with Apples and Trees' baking so it should be up soon. If you haven't checked out that story yet, I ask that you please give it a spin.
The clock on the wall in Ian’s office reads 12:43. Through his opened door and from the angle that she is sitting, Alaine can see how slowly the hands keep turning.
Mostly, since the server room fiasco, lunch with Lucas has been playing on repeat in her head, driving her to keep peeking covertly at it.
Her excitement about their date and the trepidation which had caused her to catapult herself out of his life march to the same rhythm inside her -- a heavy beat that sets her heart skipping. Or possibly, the former is much stronger and more persistent than the latter because, she has every intention of going. Seeing him earlier had unwrapped the longing she’d been forcing herself to contain during their separation. Now, that it’s out, there’s no putting it back in a box.
Two short buzzes inside the last drawer of her desk alert her to the incoming text message on her phone.
She keeps her head fixed in the direction of the computer screen in front of her and her hands moving across the keyboard to keep up with the appearance of being hard at work. Her eyes, however, steal a glance down at where it’s hiding.
She dares not reach for it.
The server room debacle had left her anxious enough already. Following Ian’s footsteps back to the office had been difficult and she has no intention of presenting him with any more ammo to use to fire her on her first day. He’d filled her with all the thrill of someone being hauled off to jail, knowing that they are guilty of the crimes with which they had been charged. Each time he’d turned around to give her that look -- one that she can’t describe since there had been so many things in his eyes -- had made Alaine feel exactly that way -- guilty; as if she’d committed some heinous crime.
To make herself feel like the diligent worker she usually is and to remove the temptation of contacting Lucas to tell him that he shouldn’t have come, but that she’s glad that he had, and to complain that she doesn’t want to work here anymore after a mere five hours on the job, she’d stuffed the phone all the way to the bottom of her bag and then stuck the bag all the way to the back of the largest drawer. Not that it had made too much of a difference helping her to focus.
She’s sure that after the server room incident, her supervisor has her name jotted down on his blacklist. Slacking off on the job might only further incur his wrath and having one enemy is enough to contend with. Gaining another -- especially in the person responsible signing her pay check -- is not on her list of things to do today. Or ever!
As if to confirm her suspicions about their standings, Ian has left his office door wide open like he might be watching and waiting for her to mess up again.
Every now and then, Alaine’s sixth sense gives her a kick. She suspects that in those moments, he has his light brown eyes set on her. Even if she is tempted to catch him the act, she forces restraint on herself. Ian’s looming so closely over her might be costing her the ability to fully concentrate on the new task he’d charged her with but she’ll never let him know it.
Now, she just has to add ignoring a text message to the list of things crowding her thoughts.
She’s not a phone addict. Not by any means. There aren’t that many people in her contact list to begin with and half the people on there form part of study groups and project partners from college who, currently, she has zero contact with. That text message could have only come from one of five people -- Delah, Mona, Bethany, Seth or Lucas. However, she would bet her last dollar who it’s from and would probably come out a winner.
Most likely, that text whispering to her, like a red devil on her shoulder, encouraging her to put herself out of her misery by reaching into her drawer to read it, came from Lucas. She just knows it. He’s probably checking in to ensure that she hasn’t changed her mind. If he does harbor any skepticism, she can’t blame him.
Apart from making her happy, seeing Lucas today had also confirmed what she’d already suspected about him. She’d broken his heart. He’s barely keeping it together. She’d read all of his hurt like he’d presented her with an open book about the destruction she’d wrought inside him. She’d seen it in the way he’d looked at her.
Even if it might be the worst idea ever for the two of them to be out in public together, she’s going, dammit! Turning him down would have been a cruel punishment. Cancelling will make her the devil. And Lucas deserves better than that kind of treatment.
He deserves a good girlfriend. After he’d said goodbye to her earlier, she’d made a promise to herself that she would work become exactly that.
Those thoughts stir a rebellion inside her against the idea of keeping him waiting for a response to his message.
Her fingers inch away from the keyboard to the handle of the drawer and close around it. Before pulling it open, however, she shakes her head softly, straightens her spine, takes a shallow, determined breath and goes back to focusing on the laptop screen.
For about ten more seconds, Alaine successfully avoids reaching for the phone. After that, she takes a resigned sigh, yanks the drawer open and digs into her bag.
Although her spirit had already been convinced that the text was from him, the smile on her face, when she sees Lucas's name on the screen, is irrepressible. To block the lower half of her face from view of everyone, particularly from Ian's, she covers her mouth with her hand and takes a glance at his direction to ensure that he isn’t watching her. Finding him with his back toward her and a phone strapped to his ear, she taps on the message and frowns.
Lucas: Media File -- We Belong -- Thora Moon.
Alaine: What’s this?
Lucas: I promised to share my playlist with you, remember? I never got the chance. Will you listen?
Alaine: I will. I promise.
On account of this morning’s incident between Ian and Lucas, she is hesitant to listen within view of her boss. The plan to be the best girlfriend that she can be to Lucas and getting into her boss’ good graces wage a war inside her. By the end of it, Alaine concludes that a job is replaceable.
She drops the phone in her pocket, grabs her earphone and wraps her fists tightly around them too keep them out of view and pushes her chair back.
Feeling a little stressed about playing hooky, even if it’s for a few minutes, Alaine clears her throat and slinks away from her desk. She hurries to the ladies room and occupies one of the empty stalls.
While typing out a message with one hand, she sticks the ear buds in her ears then presses send.
Alaine: I’m listening now.
Lucas: Okay. How is your first day going?
Alaine: Other than everybody’s now glaring curiosity? It’s going okay. Greta has a big mouth. She told everyone about our little encounter and you exchanging words with Ian. But I like my desk.
Lucas: You deserve an office. How is your supervisor treating you?
Alaine smiles at his assertion
Alaine: He’s been a little attentive.
Lucas: I noticed. I don’t like it. Be careful, baby.
Alaine: I will. What did you say to him?
Lucas: Nothing much. Mostly that he should keep his hands to himself. Especially if he wants them to remain attached to his body. What do you think of the song?
Alaine: You did not say that!!! You threatened my boss?!?!! Lucas! You realize that I work for this man. That a part of my life -- my aspiring career -- lies in his hands.
Lucas: Trust me, he wouldn’t dare.
Alaine: I do trust you. But, I don’t need another enemy. I don’t need someone else in my life to be afraid of.
Lucas: You have nothing to fear from Ian. I just know him. He’s a bit like me before I met you -- just more persistent and with less morals. If he is in need of saving, he needs to find his own goddess to save him. However, if it will make things better, I can have another chat with him.
Alaine: Please, don’t. That’s enough interference from you, thank you very much.
Lucas: Are you certain?
Alaine: 100% But if I do need you, I know where to find you.
Lucas: Good. I'm glad to hear it. What about the song?
Alaine: I haven’t listened as yet. You’re kind of distracting me.
After that, Lucas says nothing. For four blissful minutes, Alaine allows herself to be transported away from the grief that’s been saddling her for the past five days on the words of a love song. Lucas might not have said it, but she knows that he’d sent the song to express how he feels.
The two of them belong together. She agrees with him without a shred of doubt.
She’s his goddess.
And, he’s her knight -- a sappy one, at that.
Knowing that Ian has likely taken notice of her absence by now, she walks out of the bathroom half expecting to see him lurking on the other side of the bathroom door, waiting for her. The coast is clear, so Alaine's shoulders sag with relief.
Not every man is Angus, she has to remind herself.
While making her way back to her desk, she leaves the earphones on and puts the song to play on repeat. This time, Alaine truly makes herself ignore Ian’s attention. She doesn’t even acknowledge him when she straightens her spine and takes a seat. Right now, she feels optimistic about life and the future in general.
Alaine: I love the song. Thank you.
Lucas: I’m not giving up on us, Ali.
Alaine: I really don’t want you to.
Feeling a renewed sense of purpose, Alaine pulls in a lungful of air-conditioned office air but she might as well have been breathing in a garden of flowers in the freshness of spring. Her heart rewards her with a happy sigh. Just one more hour and she’ll see him again.
When the hour hand of that dratted clock finally makes a full circle, Alaine saves her work for a final time. She’s not fully aware of AeroTech’s company policy, so she wonders if she has to inform her boss that she’s heading out to lunch.
When she’d worked with Mona, she hadn’t really had to answer to anyone. It had been like working with a family member. Everyday had been casual Friday and she could have picked her hours if she’d wanted. She’d never had to inform Mona that she was going out for lunch or anything like that. Most days, she’d sat in that little flower shop by herself as her own supervisor.
Too bad Angus had burned it down.
Trying to keep the flame of optimism inside her glowing, Alaine tells herself that Mona is recovering.
She gets up from her chair and walks towards her boss. Nervously, she knocks on his door and waits for him to acknowledge her before stepping inside.
“Something I can help you with, Ms. Knight?” he grunts at her.
“Just letting you know, I’m heading out to lunch now,” she says.
She could kick herself for the timidity in her voice.
“With Lucas,” he states.
Alaine regards him passively even if she wants to tell him that it’s none of his business who she passes her lunch time with.
He leans back in his chair and says, “you really shouldn’t bring your private life two work with you, Ms. Knight. Especially not on your first day. Leaves a bad impression.”
You really shouldn’t be a jerk. It leaves a worse impression, she thinks but bites her tongue.
Although it might gain her some sympathy with him, she doesn’t explain the situation which had brought Lucas here. Doing so might soften the reprimanding look in his eyes. That feels like carting more of her private life to work so she doesn’t say that either.
All she does is nod her head and say, “I’m sorry. You’re right and it will not happen again.”
“Good,” Ian tells her. Then he gives her charming smile. “And you really don’t need to inform me you’re going out to lunch,” he says sounding amused. “You’re not my assistant.”
Feeling a little silly, Alaine replies, “right.”
“Unless you want me to take you instead,” Ian suggests.
Unsure of whether he’s being serious or merely joking, Alaine cracks a little uncomfortable chuckle.
“Definitely not that,” she tells him as she backs away from the door.
She hurries back to desk and sends a quick message to Lucas to let him know that she will be waiting for him.