So, I'd really appreciate it if you'd give me your opinion of this chapter. In spite of what people may think, I actually want to know what you think. Please tell me if you think it's still in-character and if you like the direction it's heading. Also, BIG thanks to everyone who has reviewed. To, X1Sweetie1X- thank you for telling me what you wanted to read. OhhTaylorJade, your review literally made me what to squeal. But thank you to everyone and try to enjoy this chapter!
Jerk, jerk, jerk I thought violently, gritting my teeth. I was running behind. I hadn't meant to stay in that damned interview room for too long but—
"Ah!" I grunted out in frustration as I raced up the stairs to my office. After locking the door, I immediately began to strip. Of course, I was still moving and ended up tripping over a chair leg.
Ignoring the pain, I rose and moved to the standing lamp in the corner of the room that acted as my coat rack. The dress I had chosen for the occasion was burgundy, with a halter top and the skirt ending just above my knees. It was easy enough to slip into but I struggled to put my shoes on in a hurry. I was midway through the act when my phone went off. Without looking, I hit the answer and brought the receiver to my ear.
"I'm sorry I'm running behind," I immediately began to explain, struggling with the strap. "I got stuck in an interview and—"
With a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach, I froze. For on the phone wasn't the man I was glad to be escaping with, but the woman who made me want to escape—Maegen.
I snapped into a straight standing position, the blood rushing to my head. "Maegen."
"Hey," she said, sounding somber, "how have you been? I haven't heard from you in awhile."
"Um…" I couldn't think of anything to say. No, that's a lie. I knew exactly what I wanted to say. But since she was actually listening, I found myself unable to say it. I couldn't say how bothered and hurt I was, especially with Bruce coming and with all of my other business.
"I'm fine," I finally choked out, my throat tight at the lie. "How-How are you?"
"Good, good." She didn't sound good. She probably already knows that I know. In spite of our current situation, I still know how in-sync the two of us are. We've known each other since we were twelve (oh, God, it's been that long) and best friends for almost as long.
Unable to think of anything else to say, I didn't say anything. A long minute passed when my phone let out a rather annoying buzz and I pulled it away to see the screen.
Bruce was calling.
Shit. I have a date.
"I've got to go," I spewed into the receiver, bending back over to continue my shoe fiddling.
"I've got to go," I say again. I switched the lines and forced a smile onto my face as I said, "Bruce?"
"It's me," he confirmed, voice calm and cool. "We're crossing the bridge now. Are you ready to go?"
I grunt as I finally forced the buckle into place. "Yes."
There was a chuckle. "We'll take our time."
Somehow, the smile became real and I said a small, "Thank you."
Nearly two hours later, we were still on our date. Bruce had been as courteous as ever when he rescued me, complimenting me on my outfit and creating a comfortable atmosphere. The restaurant he had picked out was ridiculously fancy but Bruce kept it casual. He even did me the favor of suggesting something from the extensive menu instead of making me suffer through the entire thing.
Our conversation had been light with lots of laughter and jokes. It was as pleasant as I was hoping, but before we started to become reminiscent, Bruce suggested that we change venue.
"Would you like to go back to my condo?"
Luckily, Bruce was busying flagging down a waiter as I blushed. It's not like I expect anything to happen (it's only the first official date, for Christ's sake) but my lack of pausing to process the question was unsettling.
His condo was near the exact center of Gotham, and miles away from my apartment. I attempted to memorize the route, in case of some sort of incident, but I continually grew distracted by the lights. Having lived in Gotham for less than three months, it seemed so new and bright. There was danger everywhere but it was still so alluring.
Bruce's condo had the best view I had ever seen. As it was on the top floor and the building was incredibly tall, it just looked like everything was laid out in front of us. The darkness encompassed every sparkling light in the city and it vaguely reminded me of Christmas.
"Here you go." Bruce's voice broke through my revere and I smiled and accepted the wine glass he held out for me.
"Thank you," I replied. Taking a small sip, I spare him a glance to see that he does the same.
"You have a great view," I comment unnecessarily. "How long have you been here?"
"Too long," he said, surprising me. "I'm in the midst of restoring my old house and it's taking longer than I thought. I do like it here but I can't wait to have a more permanent nest."
I nodded, trying to understand. I took another sip and prayed that it wouldn't stain my teeth.
"So," he drawled after a moment, "what's your favorite color?"
After a second of mindless smiling at the question, I said, "Green, I think. And yours?"
"Black." I quirked an eyebrow. "I think black is very suiting. What's your middle name?"
"Are we playing twenty questions?" I asked. "And it's Ellen."
"I just feel like asking questions," he answered. "Mine's Arthur."
"Bruce Arthur Wayne," I recited aloud, tasting the texture of it. "It's a good name."
The questions continued and as they progressed, they became heavier and more story, and therefore, past oriented. It was dangerous territory but we treaded carefully.
"First kiss," he urged, making me laugh from the side of the couch I was leaned against.
"Oh, God," I cursed, before licking my lips and trying to remember. "Seventh—No, eighth grade. I was at a school dance and my friend George pulled me aside and kissed me underneath the bleachers."
"That's it?" Bruce questioned. I gave a little shrug with my shoulders and looked away in embarrassment, smiling a little to myself.
"What can I say? It was magical. What about you?" I asked. Our back-and-forth method was working well enough and it was only fair, after all.
"I was twelve," he began, pausing to drink from his cup. "And it was with…Tanya Whitney."
A small scoff of a laugh left me. "What was her last name?"
This caused Bruce to smile and shake his head at my child-esque manner.
Ignoring my derisive question, he continued. "Alfred made me attend this birthday party and they were all playing spin-the-bottle. I only played because the girl I wanted to kiss was playing."
"Aww," I sounded, smiling widely. He gave me a look that made me laugh.
"Anyway, it was awful." I laughed harder. "She-She tried to put her tongue in my mouth. It was the most disturbing moment at that point in my life. It was awful, just awful." The shiver that went through him made me laugh even harder. "Will you stop laughing at me?"
"I'm sorry," I choked out, trying to look at him through the collecting moisture in my eyes. I sniffed and tried to collect myself. "I am… sorry that that happened to you. Honest."
Taking in a few deep breaths, I began to calm. And after I calmed myself, I remembered something and asked, "So who's Alfred?"
Bruce paused for the smallest of seconds. "He's my butler and guardian." That was all the info he gave me. Not how Alfred became his guardian or why, but it was still enough to keep me from pressing the matter.
"That was your worst kiss then?" I voiced instead.
"Yes." The readiness to admit it made me giggle.
"What about your worst kiss?"
"Hmm," I hummed, placing down my now empty glass on the coffee table. I thought back to all the guys I've dated and all the kisses and whatnots I've had. After a moment, I finally said, "I don't think I've ever had one."
"That's not fair!" he accused, looking shocked.
"Well," I drawled, "I don't know. I've had bad relationships, not bad kisses."
It got quiet and I wondered if I had revealed too much. I didn't exactly say what fell under the category of a bad relationship but obviously they didn't work so they were all kind of bad. But that's not true! Some were good, real good, and others were bad, real bad. Oh, God, don't let him question about past relationships.
Not wanting to bring up past relationships, I asked the first question that popped into my head.
"Ever kiss a man?"
I expected an automatic "NO" but was surprised with the silence. Looking closely, I saw that Bruce was blushing. My jaw dropped.
"Oh, my God, you have!"
"He kissed me!" he automatically defended.
I began to laugh. I couldn't help myself and I knew that if I didn't stop soon, I'd end up hurting his pride.
"I'm sorry, I'm sorry," I chanted, fanning my face. "I'm sorry. Why don't you explain yourself?"
"I will." As my temperature regulated and the tears disappeared, I saw clearly that he was only mocking anger. From what little I know of Bruce, he doesn't seem like the type to get annoyed or upset with teasing. But then again, I've only known him for so long.
"I was a sophomore in college and I lived in an apartment with two other boys, Stephen and Ronny. Well, it was Super Bowl Sunday and Ronny had invited a few friends over. I've never cared for football so I was just eating." I smothered my chuckles so he could continue.
"Well, I was in the kitchen getting something to drink, when Stephen walks in. He comes to stand a bit in front of me and puts his hands on my neck, like this." He demonstrated how the hands were placed on himself, which made me far happier than if he were to do that on me. He removed his hands after I got the gist of it. "I didn't have a lot of friends in school and the few that were my friends were pretty weird, Stephen included.
"But he's holding me and I say, 'What are you doing?' because I sincerely have no idea. He says, 'Are you ready for the magic?' Of course, I'm like 'No,' because I have no idea what that means.
"And then he leans forward and gives me a peck on the lips."
I guffawed but quickly shut my mouth to hear what else Bruce had to say.
"He pulls away and I go 'What the hell?' to which he responds with, 'It was good, right?'"
"That is hysterical," I say through my peals of laughter. His persona of himself and Stephen were such a contrast and his ability to fall into the act of it happening was adorable. "That is, by far, one of the greatest stories I've ever been told."
"Well I'm glad you enjoyed it."
Our eyes connected as he took a sip of his wine.
Forcing myself to look away, I tried to ignore the intense fluttering that erupted in my stomach and my throat. I cleared my through and frantically thought of a way out of this situation.
"What time is it?" I ask, trying to sound casual and tired.
"It's a little after one," Bruce answered.
"Really?" Was it really so late? I would have never guessed.
"Do you have somewhere to be in the morning?"
"Well, no, not exactly. I just wasn't expecting for it to be so late."
"It is rather late and I've got a meeting in the morning." This made me unbelievably relieved. "Would you like me to call you a cab?"
"Yeah," I replied with a small nod and smile.
The seven minutes it took for the taxi to arrive were the most nerve-wracking of the entire night. I didn't want to spend the night because I didn't want to push on this relationship. And I really like Bruce. Like, I really like him. He's sophisticated and smart and sweet. He has almost every attribute I'm looking for in a man—
which is also why I wanted to stay.
He walked me down to the lobby of the hotel and then to the taxi as it arrived. We stood facing each other for a moment, until I finally forced words forward.
"Thank you for taking me out tonight. I had a really nice time."
"I'm glad," he replied with a smile. He then leaned forward a placed a kiss on my cheek. "I'll call you tomorrow."
I smiled, nodded, and nestled into the back seat.
The taxi driver seemed to already know my address as he began to drive. I watched the outside world melt by and wondered if he would call. I hope he will. That kiss wasn't enough.
Reaching my apartment, I attempted to pay the driver only to find that it was already paid for. It made me feel reasonably assured that Bruce was as invested as I was.