a/n: *takes a deep breath but still feels extremely nervous* This is my first attempt at fanfic. This is my first attempt at a short story. This is, most definitely, the first thing I have ever surrendered for public consumption. Can you tell I'm anxious?

I would like to begin by apologizing because I don't have a beta. I am the first person who should slap my hand for that because I have an obsession with editing. The obsession helped with my own editing, but I apologize now if the lack of beta is painfully obvious. I haven't hunted for one yet because then I have to admit that I like this story enough to really want to write it. Can you hear me through all of this sand? If you are interested in being a beta for me, please PM me.

Lastly, I would really appreciate reviews. I don't mind if they are negative or positive as long as they are honest and pertinent. I don't like asking for things from others (ie: issues with finding beta,) but reviews will let me know if this is worth writing/reading.

I lied when I said lastly before. This story, the characters and the title sort of just popped into my head after reading a poem I have liked for a while. Leave it to me to smuttify a poetry reading. I had no intentions of writing fanfic, but they would not shut up once they started talking. The poem is American Rhapsody by Kenneth Fearing. If you can't find it online but would like to read it, PM me and I'll send it to you.

Rhapsody 1: a musical composition of irregular form having an improvisatory character 2: effusively rapturous or extravagant discourse


I squinted at my hair as it mocked me with its utter unruliness from the mirror in my entryway. I turned toward my front door and then back to the mirror, the door, and then the mirror again. I looked down at my watch. Again. 11:02 a.m. I bit back the urge to walk to the elevator directly outside my front door. There was, absolutely, not one good excuse for me to deviate from schedule. I reasoned with myself that I would just end up pausing at the elevator, finger hovering over the button, for the additional four minutes. I was well prepared from experience. If I walked out to my elevator at 11:06 a.m., I had the best chance of meeting her in it on her way downstairs.

Ha. Meeting, indeed. What a poor choice of words.

11:04 a.m. I pushed a deep breath out of my lungs in an attempt to settle my nerves. I wasn't even sure why I was so overly wrought. I had been following this routine for over six months. Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday she was here. In the building. Where I live. Thankfully, I worked from home, composing music, so I was able to keep these appointments.

She walked a dog that lived here. She was a dog walker. She was magnificent.

11:06 a.m. I smoothed my shirt to attempt a more calm exterior. I stepped through my door, and approached the elevator. With deliberate movements, I reached my hand out and pressed the button to summon it to me. I pushed the button again. And again. This was one of the two times during the week when I actually rode in the elevator. My condo was on the seventh floor, but I preferred to take the stairs. I had no problem traveling in a small metal box suspended by only a thick wire cable. I just felt more comfortable with the repetitive, rhythmic steps of the stairs. If I paced myself well, I could close my eyes and hear an imaginary metronome sounding itself in the soft stomp of my shoes on the steps. It helped me organize the notes that constantly swirled around in my head.

So, on Monday and Friday I waited for the elevator, hoping to encounter her. I realized quickly that crossing paths with her was not an exact science. I had a plan B. I was always on time or early for my potential elevator date, so if I missed her, I simply walked through the lobby of my building and out the door. If I turned to the left outside of the front door, there was a self service Newspaper vendor, and fifty cents lighter, I would turn around and walk back through the lobby. If I didn't get to share her elevator, I could slowly pass her as she made her way outside.

If I was lucky, she would stop and talk to Mike at the front desk, and I could observe her more thoroughly through her stillness. I would walk at the slowest possible pace while she spoke to him. I even got to hear the soft tones of her voice sometimes. She always spoke quietly in the lobby. As if she were in a library or a mausoleum. Even for less than a minute, as I moved beyond her, it was the apex of my day.

Wednesdays were different. They were my favorite days.

On Wednesdays, I ignored the elevator and took the stairs at 11: 17 a.m. I would stroll leisurely across the street towards a small park nearby. On Wednesdays, she spent time in the park with the dog, and, on Wednesdays, I was able to linger with her presence, albeit from a distance. I would casually walk around the park and watch her as she read. Sometimes, her whole body would tense, her muscles strained and cheeks flushed, with anticipation for her story. That flush was worth a week of elevator meetings. Other times, she would worry her lower lip softly with her teeth, or sigh contentedly over the words on her pages. Very rarely, she would languidly tilt her head back, letting her eyes roll closed, and a comfortable calm would draw a small smile on her lips while she absorbed the warmth from the sun. Wednesdays were most definitely my favorite.

I gave my watch a nervous glance. Again. 11:08 a.m. My anxiety was starting to escalate; where was the elevator? I was suddenly rooted to the floor in my indecision. I had never had to wait this long for the elevator. I had never thought of a contingency plan for this. I had no plan. What if she made it out of the building before I was able to see her? I could take the stairs, or, maybe, I should call down to Mike to find out if there was a problem. Or maybe . . . My anxiety escalated while I was vacillating between unanticipated variables. I needed time to evaluate. I didn't have time. My breathing sped, and I could feel my skin flush with uneasiness. I had no plan.

I was abruptly calmed as the elevator doors slid open with an accompanying bell sound. I was so distracted trying to regain control of my pulmonary function, that I almost didn't notice her standing in the center of the car.

I knew from experience that I had, approximately, a five second count from the moment I looked up at her before I needed to avert my eyes. I would love to stare, no gawk, at her openly for indefinite amounts of time, but I knew that it would cause her disquiet. Most people find it uncomfortable when someone stares at them intensely, which I have been accused of doing to people in my lifetime, often. So, when I was lucky enough to encounter her in the elevator, I had five seconds of eye contact. Once we were descending, closed into this small space, I could glance at her again, but they were always furtive sideways glances. No eye contact.

Five seconds was enough. Five seconds would never be enough.

I met her eyes for five endless seconds that seemed to be over before they began while I stepped into the elevator. Her luxurious brown eyes were full of warmth. It seemed impossible that things so physically small could contain so much depth within them. Her lashes were a few shades darker than her hair, and, at first glance, might even appear to be black. They most definitely were not black. Black is cold. The fringe around her eyes was a color for which I don't even have a name. And her hair. Her hair was the richest, most delicious shade of mahogany, and it was restrained into a ponytail of messy waves today; some days she would wear it down. It always looked a tiny bit wild as if she had given up any attempt to conform those locks into anything but what they were. I followed the luminous, creamy skin of her cheeks down to her supple mouth. She lifted the corners of her glorious, peach tinted lips infinitesimally at me in a shy smile as my eyes moved down past her chin.

My five seconds were up.

I couldn't smile back at her. I always tried my very hardest not to appear conflicted or distraught or disturbed. I didn't want to scare her. I was afraid to say something. I had never planned a way to talk to her. More than anything I worried that, if I did say something, I would, unintentionally, draw negative attention to myself. I definitely could not function without these weekly appointments, so I refused to do anything to disturb my status quo.

We were slightly more than one foot apart. So close. While I couldn't ogle her endlessly, I could absorb her presence. She exuded warmth. She radiated calm. She emanated an easy, pleasant, bohemian feeling.

And her smell. Ohh. She smelled like summer and lemonade stands and waterfalls and freshly mown grass and this thing my Gram called ambrosia that she used to make with marshmallows and pineapple and coconut and sweet cream in it. And, when I was lucky enough to meet her in the elevator, I got to spend six whole floors in a very slow, small, overly warm, steel box breathing her in.

I was dizzy, no giddy, no . . . I'm not even sure. I didn't mind that the elevator was too warm. The warmth intensified the whole experience. I struggled to keep my breathing normal. I didn't want to scare her by hyperventilating for no apparent reason.

I glanced down at the humongous dog on the end of the leash she held, and I felt an inexplicable pang of jealousy. I took a few seconds to run my eyes over her exquisite body. She was wearing a pair of low slung jeans that appeared to have the potential to be older than her. They were slim enough not to swallow her whole, but weren't skin tight. They only hinted at the beautiful body hidden underneath, and they had threadbare holes that were obviously created by repeated friction from regular wear.

Hmmm . . . friction.

She was wearing two different colored tank tops, that melded into her shape, layered on each other; turquoise and terracotta. A long strand of mismatched beads had been looped around her neck a few times; it rolled sensuously over the swell of her supple breasts, and she had a few small delicate silver hoops in each earlobe. Her feet were mostly exposed in green flip flops, and even her toes were adorable. Ugh.

She had a colorful tattoo that covered the upper portion of her right arm and curled over her shoulder to end under the wide straps of her tank tops. The tattoo depicted a beautiful woman draped in gauzy white cloth and enveloped in flowers that wrapped her arm completely. The woman looked so innocent; I thought she might be an angel at first, but there were no wings. I was inclined to think of her as a maiden or a virgin. The flowers were full and colorful in beautiful shades of pinks, yellows, oranges and pale purples. After the first time I saw the tattoo, I spent an hour and forty-five minutes online discovering that they were mostly mums of different colors with a few small lavender asters interspersed throughout. I had studied the tattoo before, and I often wondered who the woman in the picture was supposed to represent.

It made her seem so brave compared to me. I wasn't afraid of the physical aspects of getting a tattoo; I was afraid of the permanence and finality of them. I didn't like tattoos on women. I liked tattoos on her.

My eyes moved back down to the bag she wore slung over her shoulder. It looked like it had been made out of a sari, and it was open at the top. I noticed a book peeking out, and smiled to myself. She had been carrying this book around for almost a month, even though she sometimes brought others intermittently. It had taken me two Wednesdays and a lucky elevator Monday to figure out which book it was. In those Wednesdays, I had discovered that it had color blocks of blue, white and brown placed horizontally across the cover, and that it was a soft cover. I managed to read the largest word on the cover, Poems, but that didn't really narrow it down enough. The Monday following, she was holding the book cover out in the crook of her arm as I stepped into the elevator.

Poems: American Themes. I went out, tracked it down and bought it that same Monday.

I had been skipping through it, landing on poems that I liked. It seemed to be a collection of early and mid 20th century American works. Now that I knew it was poems, though, I wanted to know which ones she was reading. I had read novels with her, but that was easy. Just open the book and we are both enveloped in the same story. A compilation of poetry was too diverse. I had no way to determine which poems only garnered fleeting glances from her, which ones she read until the book's pages unfurled them for her, which ones made her laugh, cry, think. I languorously inhaled her and closed my eyes for a moment, imagining alternate realities in which I could just talk to her.

I was jolted from my daydream by the sounds of the doors sliding open and the accompanying bell. And the highlight of my day was over. Actually, she was walking away from me with an enormous dog. I watched her hips swing slightly, sensuously with unconscious grace for a moment.

I stepped out of the elevator and nodded at Mike, unsure if he even noticed me. I walked approximately five feet past the elevator door to my left and entered the stairwell.

11:11 a.m. I moved up the steps with a measured but leisurely pace, and my head had already begun to whirl out of control. The notes were conducting themselves so rapidly that I couldn't focus my mind on them fast enough to register anything coherent. I tried to moderate my pace even more, hoping to calm the cacophony into something manageable. By the time I reached the third floor, 32 steps, I was snarling with frustration. The din only grew and soared to even more unintelligible altitudes.

How was I supposed to do anything with this? This...this babel of notes?

I ceded my measured steps, and took the last four floors two steps at a time, barreling towards my door. As I stepped inside, I slammed the door, and pressed my back into it.

I stalked over to my desk, and shoved myself down into the chair fiercely. I picked up my soft leaded pencil and hovered it over the blank sheet with clef lines printed on it. I knew that most young composers would write their scores on a computer, or liked to play it out and then write it down. I was more particular. I had never been able to just play it out. I could sit down and play something original, but when I tried to write it down later things got lost. The essence got lost. I could never recover the soul in the music. I preferred the pencil and paper for tactile, corporeal reasons. The sound of the graphite moving across the paper and the repetitive patterns my hand created as the symbols materialized helped me focus on the notes I wanted to marry into something greater. It was ritualistic and methodical. Essential patterns.

I squeezed my eyes shut to try and sift out the various notes that were streaming erratically through my head. As my mind tentatively strained towards a focus, I started to see her behind my eyelids.

Her eyes were dancing as she watched me; her mouth curved into a warm, soothing smile. She reached out and stroked my cheek with the back of her hand.

The second I felt her touch me, I gained a modicum of clarity. I jerked my eyes open to stare at the page, trying to put the notes down before I lost my concentration again. As fast as it was there, it was gone. I forced my eyes shut with a frustrated grunt.

She tangled her hand into the hair at the nape of my neck and kissed me with ferocity. Then her hands were dragging her fingers from my neck and down across my chest as her tongue explored my mouth.

My breath hitched in my throat as my eyelids pressed together tighter.

Her hands moved down further to brush and then press the bulge in my pants.

I undid the button on my pants and pulled the zipper down slowly. I pushed my boxer briefs down over my erection, taking my pants down with them slightly.

She reached into my pants, taking my length out in her hands. Pulling her face back slightly, she gave me the most delicious grin. I watched the delicate fingers of her left hand wrap around me, not quite meeting each other. She began stroking me from base to tip with firm, confident strokes while brushing her other hand lightly over one of her cloth covered breasts. I let out a low moan as her mouth met mine again.

She stroked faster, now using both hands, as she pushed her tongue roughly into my mouth, pulsing it in a counterpointed rhythm with her hand. Her sighs and hums quickly picked out a harmony to mach her thrusting hands and tongue. My growls began to pattern themselves into a baseline accompaniment. Her hands stroked quickly, and I felt a heat begin to smolder in the pit of my abdomen. The burn ignited, and as the flickers licked up my torso and down through my legs, I heard our sounds meld together into a perfect symphony. Then my orgasm burned through me, cum pulsing out of my twitching cock, and she smiled peacefully at me. And my mind was calm.

I slowly opened my eyes and groaned dejectedly. "Shit," I muttered as I looked down at my hand. I had mastered the art of embarrassing myself in a room full of no one.

I walked to my bathroom while holding my pants up with my right hand. Once I was at the sink, I turned on the hot water only. I waited until I could see the steam coming off of the water, and pushed my left hand under the painfully hot stream to wash away the sticky evidence of my humiliation. I scrubbed my hands with the soap until I couldn't tolerate the heat anymore. Then I turned the water off, and grabbed my hand towel. I hung my head, so I wouldn't have to look at my face in the mirror as I tucked myself back into my pants. I knew I would see shame, but, worse, I would see contentment, peace. The calm peaceful feeling only contributed to my feelings of perversion.

I felt no shame because I pleasured myself. I was quite comfortable with masturbation. My issues were deeper. I knew that I was nowhere near the normal end of the spectrum when it came to the human condition. I was complicated and idiosyncratic, and I kept mostly to myself because people found me odd and difficult to understand. I was tired of justifying myself to others, but even I couldn't help but feel depraved because of my newest quirk. I had basically been stalking a seemingly innocent girl for six months, and pleasuring myself in a mad frenzy while I imagined her doing wicked things to my body. Wicked and Delectable. Ugghh.

I knew it wasn't exactly stalking. I didn't follow her about. I had no idea where she lived. I had never gone through her mail. I didn't know her social security number, or her favorite food, for that matter. It was more like watching with intent to lurk. Creepy. It was still creepy, and, as strange as I knew myself to be, I was not that guy. But I was that guy.

As I straightened myself up to walk over to my piano, I felt the strongest pang of disgust. Lately, over the last . . . um, six months, this was the only way I had managed to compose anything. I tried my hardest to work the way I always had, but it was no use. I would sit at a blank page, practically howling my frustration, until I finally broke down and imagined her touching me. Once I came, despite the disgust I felt in myself, I could sit at my piano and create the most beautiful music. When the melody flowed out of me that way, I had no trouble documenting the score perfectly later. It was all for her. Always for her.

It didn't change the fact that I felt akin to a dirty old man in a trench coat waving a lollipop at a cute little girl, though.

She wasn't a child, but she just seemed clean and fresh and good. I felt like I was throwing a beautiful white flower in the mud when I imagined her that way. Both literally and for all that a fresh white spring flower could represent. I mean, I didn't even know her name, and I defiled her in my head on a daily basis.

I settled myself on the piano bench, and found the poetry book, for lurkers, propped up where my sheet music would go. I picked it up and began to read through more of the poems. I was startled by a poem that felt so close to home. Well, if home was my mind, it was more of a cold and isolated and gray and condemned industrial building, but close enough.

The words felt like me. The prosaic and methodical nature of my mind. The constant familiar repetition that I needed to function. Then the words were a question and a challenge. I was safe and happy with my routine, though. Wasn't I? I had built this pattern for my life because I needed that. Didn't I? It made me feel a thousand times less crazy and a thousand times more crazy than I already felt, all at the same time.

I left the book open to the poem and set it back on the piano, so I could still read mind drifted to her again and I wondered if she could see herself in those words. I wondered what they made her feel about herself. I let my fingers hover a few millimeters above the keys for a moment, and then I began to play.


I let Jake pull me along while I was lost in thought. My brain was running a million miles a minute trying to keep track of my week. I had to help my sister Rose and her husband Emmett out and work at their restaurant tonight and all day Thursday. I still had a hard time believing that Em convinced Rose to open a restaurant (she doesn't cook), but maybe she just got tired of trying to feed him at home. He could eat more food than the rest of the family combined in one sitting. I smiled as I remembered last Christmas dinner.

The nights I wasn't helping at the restaurant, I babysat my beautiful two year old nephew while Em and Rose were still working. He was a rambunctious ball of energy, and I loved getting to spend so much time with him while he was still so young. He looked like the perfect combination of my sister and her husband, and his personality seemed to merge their best traits as well. He had Emmett's dark brown bouncy curls and Rose's deep indigo eyes. I smiled as I thought about all of my attempts to get him to pronounce my name correctly; we were still stuck on "Behwuh".

I told my best friend Alice that I would edit her final thesis paper for her, and she needed it back by Wednesday. She was so excited to be finishing Grad School, finally. She had taken a year off after college before deciding she wanted to go back. Alice would pick up shifts at the restaurant a couple days a week too. Rose and Emmett were having a hard time finding good servers, and we could both use the extra money.

I had signed up to tutor kids at the community center a while back, and they had asked me if I could plan to be there Wednesday and Friday afternoon this week. My fridge was barren, and I was wearing a pair of jeans that, while I loved them, were actually older than me. So, somewhere in there, that meant a trip to the grocery store and the laundromat.

Hmm. Grocery store first; I'm out of detergent.

I started to pull scraps of paper out of my jean pockets trying to decipher any other commitments that I may have written down and promptly forgotten. Of course, then there was this job; the only one that didn't fluctuate. I had a date with Jake every Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 11 a.m., and I really enjoyed it.

If I was completely honest with myself, this job was more hassle than it was worth because I was only getting a paycheck for three hours a week, and any other job I might be able to do had to revolve around those hours. The simple fact that everyone who loved me continually hounded me to quit this job would, normally, have seen me bailing months ago. But I hadn't left yet. Jake wasn't the reason I enjoyed it either. I liked Jake; he was a good dog, but I wouldn't really miss him if I didn't walk him anymore. He was just a big oaf of a monster mutt; goofy, and that's about it.

If I was completely honest with myself, the only reason I still had this job was apartment 702. I was responsible for keeping Jake company three days a week for one hour each day. I told everyone who asked that the job was two hours each of those days because of apartment 702.

I made my usual stop at the coffee shop on the corner to get a hot tea (English Breakfast for today) with milk as Jake and I strolled back towards his apartment building. As we passed through the lobby, I nodded absentmindedly towards Mike.

I pushed the button to wait for the elevator to take us back up to the eighth floor. When the elevator arrived and the doors opened I was startled by the warm air that gusted into my face. This elevator was always so damned hot! I hustled Jake through the doors before they could automatically shut again.

One time the doors started to close on the big buffoon, and he went completely nuts before they even touched him. It took me a whole month to get a 200 pound dog back into the elevator because he was afraid the doors were going to attack him. It wouldn't have mattered much, but after walking him for an hour, the last thing I wanted was an eight story hike back to the apartment.

We arrived on the eighth floor, and Jake darted out of the elevator, dragging me completely out of the lift by his leash. I managed to calm him down and get him to sit, so I could unlock the door. Finally, I manhandled Jake into his apartment and stepped inside behind him. I put my tea on the small table in the entry way and set my bag down on the floor near the door. I hung his leash back on its hook, and I walked to the kitchen to refill his water bowl with fresh water.

He was completely on to me as I tried to sneak his treat out of the box with stealth, and he cornered me against the counter in his excitement. Quickly, I shoved the cookie into my pocket, so I could lure him to his pillow. As soon as I got within ten feet of the gigantic plush pillow, he trotted obediently over to it, spun quickly and sat. I told him he was a good dog, and I patted his head as he crunched the peanut butter dog cookie to bits.

Excitement started to build in my stomach as I grabbed my bag and tea in the entryway before stepping into the hall and locking the door. I went to the stairwell and headed to my favorite place to be. I walked down to the seventh floor, and as I pushed the door open I could already hear him playing.

I stepped to his door and lightly pressed my hand over the cool 702 just below the peep hole, feeling the sounds reverberate through the fibers of the wood and the molded metal . It reminded me of a heartbeat. A simple feeling and sound that embodied so much . . . more than its simplicity suggested.

After a few seconds, I turned around, and I leaned against the wall next to the elevator, across the hall from apartment 702. I pulled my bag to hold it in front of me, and I grasped my hot cup of tea carefully as I slid slowly down the wall into a seated position.

I could feel my anxiety slip away as I listened to him play. I sipped my tea and closed my eyes. A contented hum escaped my throat. I had no idea who the pianist was. I only knew it was a man because I asked Mike about the tenant once, and Mike said he was very private. Apparently, Mike wasn't allowed to talk about the tenants, and he didn't want to get in trouble or risk getting me fired.

This. He was why I still had this job. This was a swanky building, and I would have a pretty hard time trying to sneak in to sit on the seventh floor for an hour three times a week. I already knew Mike wouldn't let me in if I no longer babysat Jacob, the traitor; didn't he know he was the help, too? I giggled quietly at myself, and thought about the mystery musician.

My idea of him fluctuated. Most of the time he was a genuine, sweet older man in his fifties or sixties that had lost his wife, and no longer used his talent for anything but anonymous hallway concerts. I didn't really have a reason to suspect that he was older, but his music was so soulful and melancholy and practiced at times; I found it hard to imagine a younger man encompassing that kind of depth into sound. Sometimes, depending on the music he played, I truly couldn't see an old man. The music would be too exuberant or youthful or even sexy. Maybe I just didn't want to associate an older man and sexy. I giggled again and felt my cheeks flush.

Oh, really! I'm completely alone with no one to be embarrassed around. Can't my body figure that out?

Leave it to me to embarrass myself to myself. That doesn't even make sense. I giggled a little too loudly and immediately smacked my hand over my mouth to muffle the noise.

As I listened to him play, I felt like all the things misaligned in my universe were set aright again. That was another reason I wouldn't tell anyone why I liked to sit in a hallway three times a week. Pretty much everyone I knew would scoff at me like I just informed them that I had started reading Tarot Cards to predict the outcomes of sporting events, or something.

His music always seemed to feel custom tailored to me. He always seemed to be playing to my mood, or just for me. I'd never heard any of the pieces he had played before, and, as far as I could tell, he had never played the same thing twice.

I felt my muscles melt, and my mind stopped spinning with my busy week. A restful sigh escaped my lips as I let my head lean against the wall. I sipped my tea and thought about what I was hearing today. The music was normal, predictable, even repetitive, but it carried an undertone of angst.

I was instantly reminded of the wash, rinse, repeat feeling I often struggled with regarding my day to day life. Even though my schedule seemed massively inconstant, I felt like I was on a repeating loop with no change of scenery sometimes. The one element of my schedule that never changed was the intent behind all of my plans. Almost every aspect of my schedule, on any given day, was focused on me doing something for someone else. I always felt like I was doing favors. The only parts of my week, besides laundry and grocery shopping, that felt purely selfish for me were the hours I spent sitting in the hall on the seventh floor.

I liked helping others, and not everything I did was charity. I did receive pay for many of my jobs, but I believed it was possible to perform a task selflessly and still receive money for it. Mostly, I wasn't involved in anything that fed my intellect, my wants, my motivations. Except for this.

As the crescendo wove its way into the music, the music stayed comfortable. No, actually it became more comfortable, but the notes were developing into a question too. How interesting. Wait, not just a question. Maybe, a little bit of a challenge.

I was inspired to pull my poetry book out of my bag, and I flipped through it. I was skimming the pages looking for something that fit with my mood, my music. I stopped on a poem and my jaw slackened. Having read it already, I knew the poem. It was one of my favorites in this book. I read it again voraciously while The Pianist played.

They fit together beautifully; I was stunned. I read it again and again.

I let my head fall back to listen. When the crescendo rose for the second time, I felt my cheeks flush and warmth started to spread through my chest. It was a sweet, gentle heat that filled my torso and started to radiate out to my limbs. It reminded me of getting into my car on a warm day after leaving a cold building; pleasant shivers tickled my skin. I could feel the warmth pushing all of the strain and stress and uncertainty out of my body. Everything was right in my universe, here, now.

Then I heard a missed key. Huh.

I'd never heard his fingers slip before. His fingers always seemed so sure, transferring no hesitation into the notes. The next chord was tentative as if he were testing out different combinations. Not as if. He was! It had never dawned on me before, and I couldn't believe I'd never realized it.

He was a composer. I guess I just figured that I didn't recognize what he had played previously because my knowledge of various piano compositions wasn't exactly vast. While he continued to struggle with different options, I decided it was probably time for me to go. Rose would be expecting me soon, and I had been sitting here for over an hour already.

I pushed myself off the floor slowly.

"Oof!" I had somehow managed to bang my head against the wall and drop my bag with a loud thud at the same time. I looked down quickly to take inventory of all my parts, and when I realized I had managed to hang onto my tea without spilling it, I did a celebratory shimmy. I was grinning like a fool, but that was normal after one of my therapy sessions.

Suddenly, I froze as I realized that the music had completely stopped. I didn't know if he heard me. I didn't want him to catch me sitting in his hallway. Talk about disturbing social behavior.

I immediately blushed to a deep shade of, what I would call, eggplant, and bit down hard on my lower lip. I spun to face the elevator, then the door to the stairwell, then back to the elevator. Ugh! Nope, it had to be the stairs.

I darted for the door and ducked into the stairwell as quickly as possible. Once I had made it a couple of floors down, I took a deep breath and a loud belly laugh escaped from my mouth unbidden. My hand flew up to my mouth again as the laugh echoed through the stairwell, and then I just gave up and let it out. I stood in the stairwell laughing at myself until tears streamed from the corners of my eyes. I finally managed to pull myself together and wipe off my face, so I could head down to the lobby.

When I pushed the door open on the first floor, it jolted in my hands with resistance as someone caught it before I smacked him in the head. Damn my luck today! My eyes flew up, mortified, to see my latest victim. Okay, maybe my luck isn't all horrible. Standing directly in front of me, half hidden behind the open door, was HotElevatorGuy.

Oh yeah, I forgot to mention him didn't I?

Well, he is the second reason for me to keep my job here. I didn't know his name, which explains my cleverly devised nickname. Snort. I saw him in the elevator a lot, and what girl in her right mind would complain about a nice piece of eye candy?

As usual his hair was in complete disarray, and it reminded me of the thrashing waves of stormy water. Oh, and sex. It reminded me of sex, too. The color was nigh indescribable. More shades of brown, copper and amber passed through my head than I even realized I was aware of. It seemed to fall somewhere between a bronzy-umber and I-need-to-lick-you-from-head-to-toe-to-figure-that-color-out. The eyebrow I could see was raised in curiosity over the most intense, vibrant green eye I had ever seen. I followed the dangerous edges of his jaw down to his chin, and I could almost detect an upturn at the corner of his luscious, should be illegal mouth.

Aaaand . . . cue dumb Bella. As in, nothing would come out of my mouth. I just turned into a damned mute. I could never get anything out when he was near me. I managed to close my mouth after a few moments. I swallowed loudly, mumbled an "I'm sorry" and quickly moved towards the front desk as I felt my cheeks begin to heat up. Halfway across the lobby, I tucked my head to my shoulder and peeked behind me to see if he was still there. All I saw was an empty lobby.

I exhaled a deep breath and walked up to the counter. I crossed my arms on the shoulder high ledge and dropped my chin down to my arms. Mike jumped slightly when he realized I was there.

"Hey Bella!" He had asked me out before, but he seemed pretty harmless.

"Hi Mike. I just thought I'd come over and see if you've decided to come over to the dark side yet?" I gave him the most charming smile I could muster, tweaked up one eyebrow and tried to make my eyes twinkle. Can you even do that? HotElevatorGuy could. All I got from Mike was silent confusion.

"Are you ready to roll over on him or not? I need the info on apartment 702!" I tried to keep grinning and keep my desperation out of my face. I wasn't even sure why I wanted his name. I wasn't planning on stalking him. Erm, well, any more than I already was. I just needed to know his name. I felt like he knew me; he played for me. Having his name would feel more personal. Like an introduction for someone with disturbing and misguided social skills. Mike scowled.

"I don't know Bella . . ." he looked reluctant.

"Mike, I swear I just want to know! That's all. No one will even know you told me," I was wheedling now. Mike looked down at the counter. Yes! Check your list, Mike!

"His name is Edward Cullen, and that is ALL I will tell you! You're not getting his phone number," he shook his head, but he was chuckling at me. Phone number? Wait, I wanted his phone number! Yeah, that'd be even better. I could call and breathe into the phone before hanging up in cowardice. That would be just great! Ugh.

Bouncing on my heels, I ignored my demented train of thought and leaned over the counter to peck Mike on the cheek. "Thanks, Mike, so much! I'll see you later." I skipped out the front door.

When I got to The Garlic Clove, Emmett and Rose's restaurant, I was distracted, to say the least. I was in robo-waitress mode, and my thoughts were somewhere completely different.

"Bell?!" Rose yelled at me with a challenge on her face. As if she would have liked to have yelled, "Bell, what the fuck?!"

I giggled at her. I enjoyed being around Rose when she was trying to be customer-centric. She shot daggers at me out of her eyes, and stomped over, gracefully. Rose did everything gracefully.

"What's going on with you Bell? I called order up like three times!" She was trying to be nice, probably because she didn't have anyone to take over my shift. I scoffed trying to be tough and blow her off. She gave me the crazy eye. Then, I broke.

"Okay, look I'm just really distracted. I'm sorry." I did feel kinda bad that I was dropping the ball; a little.

"Well, we have a little lull, so why don't you take a break?" She'd really been working on her people skills. I was impressed.

"Thanks, Rose," I said with genuine relief. "Do you mind if I use the internet in your office?" I asked her.

"Go right ahead, Baby Girl!" Emmett yelled at me from four tables away, "Oh, and thanks for the suggestion about the roasted garlic! The customers love it."

"When he says 'the customers' he really means himself," Rose whispered conspiratorially to me behind her hand, "he's eaten just as much garlic as we've served!"

"No problem, Em," I called back as I smiled at Rose and headed towards the office. Last week I had recommended that they serve whole garlic cloves roasted in olive oil for customers to spread on the french bread instead of butter. Honestly, I didn't think it was that ingenious; the restaurant was called The Garlic Clove. It kinda made me think in garlic.

My fingers aimlessly tapped out patterns on the desk as I waited for the laptop to start up. I figured, maybe, if I googled Edward Cullen, I could remove at least one of the 8 gajillion subjects swirling in my head. If he was a composer, as I suspected, he probably had a bio somewhere online. I flopped into the chair at the desk and typed his name into Google. After a few moments, a list of possibilities appeared on the screen. Only the first two links actually had the names Edward & Cullen together.

I clicked on the first one and was rewarded with a small review of a piece he had composed about a year ago. So, he was a composer. It had been performed by some big symphony. The reviewer seemed to think his music was inspired, and he threw around words like genius and virtuoso. I searched the whole page for any personal information. There was nothing. Absolutely nothing. No picture. No age. Nothing. The next link was just another review, like the first. Different composition, and no personal information.

Ugh. Well, I have his name. I'll just have to be happy with that. Maybe someday I'll be brave enough to knock on his door and introduce myself, pretending I just happened by, of course. I was sure he was a nice old man that might like some company. Okay. Get over it, Bella.

I did my best to pay more attention for the rest of my shift, and was rewarded with a smiling Rosalie. That was worth more than the paycheck. I loved her and wanted her to be happy and all of that stuff, but mainly I just hated when she was mad or aggravated. Even though she fumed gracefully, no one wanted to see it. If Rose was in a bad mood, everyone was, or would be soon. She would make sure.

When I got home I didn't even see Alice, and I headed straight to my bedroom. It wasn't that late, but, still, I was exhausted. Leaving the light off, I dropped my bag next to my dresser. I closed my door, and abandoned my clothes in a trail to my bed. I slid into the cool sheets, grabbing a pillow to hug, and burrowed down under my comforter. I was asleep before my eyes had time to adjust to the darkness in my room.

. . . HotElevatorGuy was kissing his way down my abdomen. When he stopped over my belly button, I looked down at him to see what had stopped him. He was staring up at me through his thick lashes, and the rich, scintillating green of his eyes was sparkling.

He dipped his tongue slowly into my belly button, flicking the tip lightly against my skin. I moaned unexpectedly and clapped my hand over my mouth, blushing. He smirked, the sexiest fucking smirk I have ever seen, at me, and I felt more heat flood my face . . . and the area between my legs.

He tilted his head down and began trailing lusty, open mouthed kisses towards my pelvic bone. He pulled back and stared between my legs. Then he ran his fingers, from my knees, up the insides of my thighs, making me shiver. I gasped when he added more pressure and shoved my legs further apart. He looked down, and his face transformed with lust. He slid his hands further up my thighs to my wet lips and opened me for his mouth.

He started at the bottom of my opening and forcefully licked his way up to my clit in one fluid stroke. His tongue darted out then to lick my wetness off of his lips, tasting me. My eyelids fluttered closed, momentarily, as I moaned loudly. His mouth began sucking and tonguing my clit, and at the same time, he pushed two fingers deep into me. I groaned and breathed out loudly, wrapping my fingers into his tempestuous hair.

He created a strong steady rhythm as he plunged a third finger into me and curled them up towards that sensitive spot inside. I moaned and panted in time with the pace he set for my body. His tempo began building into an intense crescendo, and he started nipping at my clit with his teeth. I felt a warmth start to fill me, spreading out from the pit of my abdomen. As I started to lose myself to the sensations, I heard my music. My gasps and moans were the melody, and as I looked down at HotElevatorGuy, I could tell that he was smiling into me. A triumphant smile. As if I was his instrument, and he was coaxing me to his masterpiece. I closed my eyes to be able to absorb more physical sensations, and I felt my whole body begin to spasm . . .

My eyes popped open, and I could hear my panting. I was disoriented for a moment, and then I realized that I had just had an intense dream. And amazing, don't forget that. oh, and, uh, earth shattering . . .

"Whoa." I whispered to myself. That had to have been the best, strangest dream I'd ever had. I mean the feeling was unbelievable, but I was a little flabbergasted by the things my subconscious had decided to throw together. I mean HotElevatorGuy was, well, absolutely beautiful, so that was a fairly obvious mental leap. I found it strange that while he was very oral he wasn't very oral. As a matter of fact he didn't make a single noise through the whole dream. Strange.

Smack your head in a "Duh" moment Bella. I'd never heard him speak before! Okaaay, I was going to have to figure out how to remedy that soon. In the interest of a, um, well rounded subconscious.

The ultimate strange element, though, had to be my music. It was definitely the piece I'd heard most recently, and the closer I got to coming, the fuller and more magnificent the musical arrangement became.

"Whoa." I whispered again. I definitely didn't want to think about a sweet old man playing my music now. That single thought alone made my cheeks burst into flames. I felt like such a perv thinking about a sweet old man, in any way, associated with that dream. Ewww.

I shook my head slightly and got out of bed to go take a shower. Today I had to go to the grocery store, then the laundromat, which was sure to take hours, and somehow find a way to edit Alice's thesis paper for her. I shrugged into my light cotton robe and tied it closed. I walked out of my bedroom to take over the bathroom, and almost ran into Alice as she was walking out of the kitchen. She was holding her coffee cup up to her nose like she was obsessed with smelling it constantly as she sat down on the couch.

"So, Bella," my eyes narrowed at her tone, and then I saw the smirk in her eyes that she was trying to hide in her coffee cup. I could already feel my cheeks flushing as I turned around resolutely to head towards the bathroom.

"Hey, it's not nice to ignore me! I just wanted to know if you slept well. So, Bella, did you sleep well?" And then the little smart ass started cackling loudly, like the witch she was. I sighed; at least she was usually on my side with her evil genius and crafty voodoo, or she purported to be, at any rate. I still hadn't made my mind up yet. The rest of today might just have to weigh heavily on that decision. I snorted to myself and started the shower.

a/n: *peeks out through fingers* So, what did you think? I have at least four more chapters close to the same length planned for these kids if you want them. As you could probably tell earlier, I'm weird when I am unsure of myself ("public consumption" need I reference more?) so let me know what you think.