Shades of Gray – by Darlin
Disclaimer – I don't own or make any profit from the Marvel characters depicted herein.
Working as a secretary for the up and coming modeling agency called simply X had its perks. When the short heavily muscled man came in with the wild looking hair and the even wilder look in his dark blue eyes Ororo Munroe nearly choked on her morning coffee.
"Hey, how you doing? Where do you want them?" he asked as he heaved a heavy box on his massive shoulder looking around for a place to sit it.
"What are they?" she asked, eying him curiously.
"I didn't make the order, just delivering it. That's my job."
"What the . . .?" he thought as he observed the intriguingly looking woman and then, aloud – "Look, this box is pretty heavy, where do you want me to put it?"
She could think of a number of responses but none of them appropriate.
"Come on lady . . ."
My, he's rude, she thought. The image matched the persona – too bad.
"Here," she said, pointing at the floor beside her desk.
As he bent to the task she swiveled slightly in her chair, lifting up on the top of her toes just enough to get a view of his backside. Nice and tight, she mused appreciatively.
"Sign here," he said when he stood, removing an electronic clipboard from the top of the box and handing it to her.
"Thanks," she said, returning the board to him after signing.
"Pleasure's all mine," he said with a grin that made her start.
"Not hardly," she thought as she watched him saunter out of the office.
Rough but good looking, fine build, if she were the whistling type she would've had her fingers in her mouth giving the loudest cat call in history. That was one fine piece of man walking out the door rude or not.
"What am I thinking?" she said out loud. "I work for a modeling agency! After your man, Ororo!"
But he was gone when she got outside. Gone as if he'd never been there. Weird. Parking in New York wasn't the easiest and he would have had to have transportation, a truck, something. And here she was thinking she'd discovered the next Fabio.
Not one of the pin up girls on the calendar in the locker room at work could match the white haired lady he'd just made a delivery to. Logan Howlett wished he'd had the nerve to ask her name if nothing else. Her signature was so bad he really wasn't sure what to make of the swiggly O and r's or n's but you could never make out names out of the ordinary on the electronic board they used nowadays. It didn't matter. A fine looking woman like that, high class, high quality like that would never give him the time of the day. She'd just let him stand around holding the heaviest package he'd had to deliver all day. She was rude, probably selfish; she wouldn't have given him the time of the day if he'd begged. But knowing that didn't keep him from thinking about her.
It was dark when she left the office. He knew because he was waiting for her but not where she could see him. He had no intention of approaching her. He just wanted to see her again. And there she was, tall, too tall really but those legs, a mile and a half long, the strappy stilettos only made them sexier. He'd wear lifts in his cowboy boots twenty-four seven if that's what he had to do to get to those lips of hers. And they were lusciously full without a lot of lipstick, not a lot of makeup on her beautiful face either. He liked that.
Simplicity is what he thought when he remembered her throughout the day. Maybe adding anything more to the blue eyes and white hair and brown skin would be overkill and she knew it. He'd never seen a woman like that before or at least not a young woman. She had to be in her late twenties, several decades younger than him but what did that matter? He was only going to look a bit not touch.
Not normally paranoid Ororo still took proper precautions while walking home whether it was late or not. Tonight she'd felt someone was following her. Every time she glanced back she saw nothing out of place, nothing strange and yet she had that feeling you get when you know someone's watching you. Her right hand was on her pepper spray, her left hand on her cell phone. But nothing happened.
Once inside her apartment building she leaned against the wall and took a deep breath. That had to be the silliest she'd ever acted since moving to New York. Just what she needed an over active imagination. Of course an over active imagination could get a girl a good nights rest too, she thought. First a hot shower and then a glass of wine and she'd pile into her down feather mattress and dream about the stud that got away. It would've been fun to have discovered him, pity that.
Fantasies turned into dreams and as her stomach grumbled for lack of food she smiled in her sleep. Sometimes if she thought of something hard enough she would dream about it. She had a lot of sweaty dreams about her favorite movie stars and more often than not they were in a hot tub or on the beach alone and . . .
"What the . . . ?"
There it was again, a noise – as if someone was at the front door? So she wasn't crazy someone actually had followed her home and now they were trying to break in.
Okay, don't panic you're in control here, she told herself.
The look on her face when the she opened the door was as priceless as the look on his face. Why he'd done what he had he didn't know. He hadn't meant any harm but the police had him pinned up against the wall, handcuffed and waiting for her to make a statement. He'd only been trying to knock or rather working up the nerve to knock just a little louder. All right, yes it was kind of creepy and stalker like, one reason he hadn't knocked any louder. Really, he knew he'd arrest himself too. What kind of man stalks a beautiful woman right up to her apartment door? Not a sane man, he knew that much. And what did you say once you were face to face with the woman you were stalking?
"Hi, I followed you home – I mean I just wanted to get to know you better – to ask you out is all. I didn't mean – it's not what it looks like."
The looks the police and Ororo gave him after he spoke were just what he deserved. He couldn't believe he'd made a confession as lame and as honest as that. Why couldn't he come up with something more sensible? Like, I was looking for a friend or, oh what was the use? He was in handcuffs for crying out loud!
"Ma'am, do you know this man?"
"I . . . uh . . . not really."
"Do you want to press charges or what?"
"You can get a restraining order if you think it's necessary," the female cop said with what Ororo thought looked to be a hopeful look.
"I . . ."
"You don't need a restraining order, Miss I was just looking for my friend's apartment, he lives in the neighborhood. I must've gotten the buildings mixed up."
"Okay, buddy you just gave us two different stories which is it gonna be?"
The look on their faces told him he was in too deep. She didn't do anything to stop them from taking him to the police station. He didn't blame her all that much but still, she could've said something! Told them yes she did know him because she did. Kind of.
Last night was decidedly weird. Not quite as scary as she thought it would've been but weird all the same. How often did a delivery guy follow you home and then get taken away by the police? So much for sexy, rude, wild man. Remember next time that wild looking men are most likely just that, wild and completely unbalanced.
They laughed about it over coffee at the office, her boss and she but she was sure Charles looked at her a little differently after that. Just what she needed. He probably thought she was either a tease or a nut or maybe just mean spirited. But seriously, if Charles showed up at some woman's apartment that he didn't know and shouldn't have known where that apartment was wouldn't he expect to be carted off to the pokey without her saying a word otherwise?
Next time she decided and laughed at the thought – next time? Well, if there ever was a next time she would make sure she didn't tell Charles about it. Sometimes she just didn't know what to make of that man. He had great taste in picking America's next top models but the way he looked at you when you opened up – just weird. Oh well.
The new delivery man was skinny. With knobby knees. She didn't like knobby knees and hated men that looked emaciated. She liked meat on her men and if you were going to be delivering goods to a modeling agency she expected the delivery men to look their best kind of in between the guy from The King of Queens and the short wild and scruffy stalker dude.
Yeah, right, she thought when he winked at her. As if you stood a chance. Put some long pants on and eat an energy bar.
Common sense told her not to but after the frail looking delivery man left she simply felt compelled to call his company.
"I want them hot and spankable from now on," she thought she'd say but instead she asked if the delivery guy from yesterday was working today.
She hung up when they said yes. Brilliant. Now he'd have a real good idea she'd called and how would that look? At least she hadn't asked what his name was.
So, she called. That had to mean she wasn't as cold hearted as he'd thought she was. He'd been lucky they didn't toss him in a cell for the night what with the way that lady police officer kept looking at him. She'd taken her sweet time giving him a thorough frisking too. He was still burning over that. He'd felt out of control, totally in her command while she cupped his privates and felt him up smiling evilly all the while.
Broads! Who needed them? But still, she had to be worried about him why else call his job? Could be a good thing or really, really bad. She might be worried if he was free how she was going to get home tonight. He'd really screwed up. Big time. Insert mouth after kicking self.
The skinny kid who'd taken his route that morning came back looking like he'd fallen in love. He would've swooned if he'd been a girl, Logan thought with derision. He didn't have to hear what the kid had to say he already knew. He'd seen the tall white haired chick, stacked and gorgeous. Yeah, he knew.
"Man, I'll do your route every day from here on out."
"I'm good but thanks for covering for me today kid."
"Any time. Man, that woman at the modeling agency, she was smoking!"
"Dame like that wouldn't give you the time of the day, kid."
"I . . ."
"Can it will you? I got the rest of your packages to deliver.
She half expected to be followed again but she'd taken extra precautions and left early. Charles wasn't quite pleased but his partner Lilandra, being a female, let her go. Ororo suspected that Lilandra was always so nice to her because she still hoped to get her in front of the camera but Ororo didn't want to be in the spot light any more than she already was which was too much already.
Why was it that men always followed her or did stupid things to get her attention? The skinny kid was standing outside bobbing his head up and down to his iPod as people streamed past. Was he seriously waiting for her? She turned around and went back inside. It had to be the hair. If she could dye her very delicate white hair she would have done so years ago but nope the dye did horribly cruel things to her hair. Green was not particularly flattering to her skin tone.
"I thought you were leaving early."
Charles. Just whom she did not want to see right now – always so serious, seriously annoying. Men.
"I'm being stalked."
"Really?" Lilandra asked. She looked out the window but there were so many people passing by she didn't notice the young man. "Who?"
This was too embarrassing.
"I'm just kidding. Charles, I'm far too dedicated to walk out on you when you need me," Ororo said as she plopped down into her chair ready to continue working.
"Good, we were just putting the finishing touches on the reality show we're planning but we still need a name. See if anyone's still at the Hanover Agency or get me the Millie Collins agency or better still call Millie at home if necessary."
"How about Ororo's Odyssey; a Stalkee's real life ordeal?"
"Stalkee?" Charles asked. "Is that even a word?"
"Ha. Ha. Ha," Ororo deadpanned.
. . . And just so they didn't think she was crazy the burly little guy was standing outside the office when they left late that night, his hands stuffed in his pockets. Was he reaching for a weapon?
"Wait! Wait!" Logan shouted when the older man raised his fists and circled him in an old fashioned pugilist stance.
"Look, I'm calling the cops right now," Lilandra said, fingers flickering fast over the numbers of her cell phone.
"I am not losing my mind," Ororo muttered.
"Or your appeal either, darling," Lilandra remarked as she waited for the connection.
"It isn't what it looks like – really!" Logan barked.
"Then what are you doing here?" Ororo asked.
"I came to tell you – the other night, it was all a misunderstanding."
"An apology should start with the words 'I'm sorry'," Lilandra informed him. "Hello, 911? We have a stalker harassing an employee of ours."
"Look lady please don't call the cops I'm leaving already all right?"
"Leave now before I pummel you within an inch of your life cretin," Charles said, taking a swipe three feet short of his target.
Logan looked Charles up and down. He was an elderly gentleman with no hair and bushy eyebrows. He imagined one whiff of his breath would keel the old codger over especially since he'd been drinking all evening at the bar across the street. He shook his head and walked off.
"We really must get at least one photo shoot from you, Ororo," Lilandra said, "No, I'm not talking to you. Oh, I'm sorry kind customer service representative but the stalker's gone. No. No, everything's fine now that my partner threatened to pummel him within an inch of his life – seriously – we're make sure our secretary gets home safely. Thank you so much. Oh, you have a good night too."
When the police didn't show up the next day at his job he figured he was safe. She wasn't going to press charges. That was good. The skinny kid took his morning route again. That was bad. He wouldn't be able to see her again now. That was bad but he couldn't risk having them call the cops on him again. That would be very bad. Three times and it starts to look a little suspicious.
He sill hadn't explained to his boss why he would have to give up one of the best routes they had but he couldn't see any other way out of it. If he ever went back to the modeling agency he was sure the police would escort him home, home being to a jail cell. All because of a white haired witch. And he definitely meant witch. She'd cast some kind of spell on him.
This would've been a joking matter if it wasn't so serious and it was so serious because she was drop dead gorgeous and he couldn't stop thinking about her. He wondered if she would work late tonight. No, he wasn't going to play stalker again but he didn't want anyone else to either. The kid from work had told him he'd waited all evening for her but she worked so late he gave up and went home. Did he really think he stood a chance with her? Logan thought the kid needed a serious reality check.
So he wanted to make sure she got home safe. That was all it was. That wasn't wrong. It wasn't being stalkerish – was that even a word? – to make sure she got home in one piece was it?
Of course being discovered when you're trying to be sneaky makes it look like you're a stalker he decided when he got a shot of pepper spray in his face. It didn't burn so much as eat away at his face like he imagined acid would. Bright idea. The kick to the groin and a heel raked down his shin didn't make him feel any better. Those stiletto's hurt.
The sound of sirens nearby had him sprinting off into the night blindly sure they were coming for him. He didn't see the taxicab when he ran out in front of it. From bad to worse he thought; his last thought before he succumbed to the pain.