Welcome to the sequel to Insomnia.
Please do not read this story without reading Insomnia first; for two reasons, firstly, there are bits of Early Bird that will be hard to understand if you haven't read the alternative POV, and secondly, Insomnia is a 'mystery drabble' and if you read this one first you will spoil the mystery. You have two options: To make it easy there is a one chapter stand-alone post, called Insomnia - The complete story... Or, if you missed the original daily postings, please consider reading the original 'drabble' entries, Insomnia, and letting me know some of your guesses as you go along.
Thanks to edwardsisobel for taking the time to beta this story and for being there, yet again, and supporting me to put this out there. You are a real friend, bb.
Elyze26, you are a wonder, my dear; always eager to listen and offer great ideas and support. I love our g-chats more than I can say. Hugs.
Disclaimer: My only claim is to this plot. This story is rated M. It has adult themes, including M/M slash.
I received a facebook notification yesterday reminding me that one of my fic friends was having a birthday today. Rather than just write on her wall, I thought I would post this first chapter today, on her birthday, and dedicate it to her. Happy Birthday bornonhalloween, this is for you. ~coco
Three weeks earlier…
Monday, 7:45 am
Alice greets me as soon as I step from the elevator into the office. "Hi, Jazz." I hear the melodic voice I've become so familiar with before I see her, and smiling automatically I turn my head, seeking her out.
"Hi, sweetie, how was your weekend?" She's walking from the kitchen with a big vase of fresh flowers in her hands toward her desk just outside my office. She looks radiant, dressed perfectly as always, but today there is an added 'something' about her that is hard to miss. I might be gay but I've never been opposed to the female form. Alice is gorgeous; petite, but beautifully proportioned. Today, the knee-length fitted skirt she is wearing shows her shapely calves off perfectly, drawing the eye down to flirty but decidedly office-appropriate heels. No wonder half the men in the office find it hard to concentrate when she walks past. I didn't see my best friend over the weekend, and I'm anxious to hear all about what happened with her.
"Oh, Jazz, it was perfect…"
It's a very different greeting to the one I received from her my second day here:
"Good morning, Mr. Whitlock,"
"Mornin', Alice," I replied, smiling down at her diminutive form sitting behind her desk, "and please call me Jasper."
"I just don't want to be inappropriate, Sir— Jasper." Her nervous smile confirmed her discomfort, but she corrected herself anyway.
"Well, at least call me Jasper when we're in this office. I'll understand if it makes you uncomfortable when we're in meetings with Carlisle and Esme."
"Okay… Jasper. I'll try to remember." Another smile and she went on to fill me in on my agenda for the day.
I smile at the memory—that certainly didn't last for long. I'm Jazz or Jazzy now, sometimes Jasper, but rarely Mr. Whitlock—only when necessity dictates it with clients and the like—not even in front of Carlisle or Esme.
With me sitting casually on the corner of her desk, we discuss the important things on my agenda for the day and then chat and laugh for a while as she fills me in briefly on her weekend date with a new mystery man I've been hearing all about but have yet to meet. I'm ecstatic for her, hoping that he will prove to be 'the one' she is so certain he's destined to be. Unfortunately, her track record with men has been less than stellar lately—a bit like mine really. It's been the topic of many wine-fueled Saturday nights we've spent together, lamenting the poor male opportunities available to us. We are quite the pair. I've come to love her so much; I'd have probably married the girl if I were straight.
The ping of the elevator signals the arrival of someone else, and I briefly consider the possibility of it being… No, that's highly unlikely at this hour; I discount the thought as quickly as it arrived. I look to Alice, silently communicating our agreement to continue our conversation later, probably over shared turkey on wheat sandwiches. It's something we try to do, and on the rare days I am free, we always share our lunchtime. It's cathartic, one of the best things about working with your best friend, because Alice doesn't work for me, she works with me.
"Morning, boss," Mike bellows as he walks with his usual confidence into the office and toward his desk, looking over at Alice and giving her a wink before adding in a come-on tone, "Hi, Ali."
I can't help the smile that graces my lips at his overly familiar greeting to her. Will the guy never learn? Especially considering the goo-goo eyes Jessica is always throwing his way. You'd think he'd be clue-y enough to take the hint from the pretty girl who wants him, rather than make a pain-in-the-ass of himself all the time with the one that definitely doesn't. He's certainly a glutton for punishment, but knowing Alice is more than capable of dealing with Mike and will shoot him down a peg or two for continuing to persist doing something she has repeatedly asked him not to, I walk for my office, returning his salutation. "Morning, Mike. Hope you had a great weekend? Alice, when you're ready, come in and we'll go over those files."
"Sure, Jazz." Her voice follows me through the door as I close it behind me. "Now, Mike, how many times…"
Shaking my head at where I can only imagine that conversation will go, I walk straight to the corner of my office where my Nespresso machine sits waiting for me. Alice has already been in and switched it on to heat up, and I know she'll have filled the water reservoir, so all I have to do is insert a capsule, place a cup under the outlet and hit go. The aroma of the Arpeggio blend I have chosen for my morning pick-me-up assaults my senses, prompting me to breathe deeply as I make the most of my ritual. I'm a self-admitted coffee whore, hence the addition of the somewhat indulgent machine to my office. The company supplies perfectly acceptable coffee in the kitchen, but I prefer espresso, and considering I am very generous in offering guests to my office a coffee of their choice, I've yet to have any complaints.
Our offices are in an older style building with functioning windows rather than the ostentatious glass panels of modern multi-stories, and I push up the window behind my desk a few inches to let in some fresh air, taking a moment, cup in hand, to look out over the city and appreciate the amazing view. I've been awake for a few hours already, but I'm ready and raring to get on with my day.
I like to get to the office early. It gives me an opportunity to make a start on everything before the daily meetings begin… and before he arrives.
Thanks for reading.
As always, I'd love to know what you thought. Please review.
Some of you may realise that this chapter is exactly 1000 words long. I decided to be a glutton for punishment—at least for the short-term—and post drabble style again. They're the long ones this time though, 1000 words every single time. At the moment I will promise two chapters a week, Mondays and Thursdays, which may become three if I find I can cope with it. Only time will tell.
Next post: Thursday, 3 November