Twilight and it's characters belong to Stephenie Meyers. I only like having a bit of extra fun with them.
Glass Caged Lion
The young woman sat at her desk, papers strewn haphazardly around the space. Piles and stacks so deep with forms, worksheets, memos, and print outs the rich mahogany surface below couldn't be found without serious digging. File folders of various colors and weight littered the floor, tables, and chairs placed in her office. The woman was frantically searching for a much needed report for her boss, a woman who found little joy in life other than when she was directing her misery at one Bella Swan.
Bella was not new to this type of treatment, in fact it had been her constant companion since first accepting the position as data analysis. While analyzing data was a far cry from the dreams Bella held for herself when she first graduated from university, she had learned like so many college graduate do that the job you want is not the job you often get. She had tried relentless, for months on end to find the perfect career. Hours and days spent working on her resume and submitting it to countless agencies, filling out applications, walking the crowded streets in pursuit of the next interview where she could display all of her knowledge only to be told each and every time 'no'. 'No, you don't have the qualifications we're looking for.' 'While we like you're enthusiasm, you just don't have enough experience in the field.' 'You seem like a wonderful person but we'd like a candidate who has a firmer grasp on what is going on in the business.'
All were rejections, some dressed up in pretty words and sugarcoated to ease the hurt but when it came down to it Bella wasn't wanted. This knowledge was hurtful in the beginning, she never did accept rejection well. Years of feeling it from those who were suppose to love her best, beyond all reason but who simply didn't, had left a deep mark in her soul. Bella Swan however was persistent, what some would even call stubborn. She only allowed herself to feel the burn of rejection for a short time before resolving to prove each of the naysayers wrong. She would show them just how worthy of an employee she could be, if only for the right company. Unfortunately for Bella Swan, the right company wasn't knocking on her door like the bill collectors were.
This is what lead her to working in the field of data analysis. The job wasn't ideal by any means, long hours of staring at a computer screen filled with numbers needing to be crunched only to fill out forms and reports which had to be double checked and filed away for other companies to use was not what Bella wanted to do with her life. But the pay was decent enough and the health package benefits were desperately needed due to her accident prone nature, so when the viper of a woman offered her the job Bella accepted, promising herself it would be temporary and only until she could land the dream job. Four years had passed since she began at CompuCon and Bella was still drowning in numbers, misplaced reports, hard glares, and venom filled words from her superior without an end in sight.
Thumbing threw the stacks of wasted paper once more in a valiant effort to produce the latest bi-quarterly figures for an up and coming marketing firm, Bella exhaled in frustration when the report continued to elude her.
"I swear Victoria already has this, I know I sent it to her last Friday," Bella grumbled out. She may not have found any satisfaction in her job but she was damn good at it. She always completed her work in a timely manner, sent in her reports and forms as much ahead of schedule as possible and with the most accurate data she could produce. It was a work ethic she had inherited from her father, a proud and dependable man who Bella had always greatly admired while he had been available to her. In times of great anguish or despair, she would often think to herself, "What would Charlie do?" This often lead her on the path to push through, carry on to the best of her ability and leave the situation with her head held high, knowing she had given her best effort. To bad that wouldn't help her now.
Bella began to pace her office, wading through mountains of folders in search of the report. She cursed the current state of her office; the mess wasn't entirely her fault. She was usually a very neat and tidy person, organized and clean in her workspace as well as her appearance. However, she had recently received a slight promotion, much to Victoria's displeasure, and moved to a new office space on a different floor of the building owned by CompuCon. Bella welcomed the promotion and change in office space, secretly thrilled to be no longer be directly under Victoria's rule. She was only indebted to continue under Victoria's harsh supervision's tactics a few more weeks until the new boss would begin and take over the newly created department Bella had found herself elevated to. Her new position had been one Victoria had sought and been denied, which would explain the extra hate thrown at Bella over the last few days.
Bella finally became despondent, flopping herself back into her rolling chair and pressing her forehead against the desk, closing her eyes in defeat. She let her arms dangle listless by her sides, her high heeled feet turned inwards with knees touching as she slumped in defeat. The report was no where to be found in the travesty that was her office. The mess was unavoidable, her usual organization baskets, filing cabinets, and shelves had not been properly installed or delivered as of yet. She had a feeling one unhappy, soon to be ex-boss may be the culprit behind the slow progress.
When Bella had first become a member of CompuCon, she found herself under attention of one James Smithe, a relatively attractive man with an admittedly nice body but an attitude so repugnant, Bella often avoided any and all social situations where she might be forced to interact with him. James did not agree with Bella's obvious disdain for him and continued to pursue her. Victoria observed these unwanted advances by Smithe, creating a deep hatred of the new girl simply because James was no longer showering Victoria in his desires. Bella, being new to the professional field and still young in the ways of the world, knew nothing of the growing animosity Victoria had for her and was unable to understand how anyone could be so cold to her when they didn't know her. It was only after a very public display at the company Christmas party two years prior that Bella had any inclination of why Victoria may have hated her. Victoria had been heavily drinking for most of the night, throwing back the red and green cocktails like the sun wouldn't rise the next day. When Bella had arrived wearing a simple black dress with sequins which hit just above the knee and dipped down in an elegant sweetheart neckline, James was unable to keep his beady eyes off of her.
Victoria, recognizing the look, snagged James into a corner and planted her lips firmly to him, pulling and pushing her hands all over of his body, willing him to be with her. When James reciprocated, Victoria turned their passionate embrace into an sexual altercation which garnered the attention of many other employees in the area. Not days later, James Smithe was packing up his belongings from his office and being lead out of the building by security. From that day forward, Victoria's rage and hate simmered warmly behind ice blue eyes anytime she looked at Bella. Victoria hated Bella for forcing her hand but if she was unable to have Smithe, a silly little mousy girl of Bella's stature wouldn't either. She made this comment to Bella in passing, eyes narrowed to slits and lips pinched as she walked down the hall past Bella's small cubicle on the day of Jame's departure. Still, Bella was unsure she had heard her boss correctly and wanted to believe the best in people so she gave the matter little thought. Of course, when situations like the present one occurred, Bella was more inclined to agree with her subconscious which said this was likely the reason for her mistreatment.
Bella inhaled a deep breath, holding it in her lungs for a few moments before pushing it out into the air, ruffling the papers surrounding her head in an attempt to calm herself. Mediation wasn't something she practiced, her mother's short lived attempt at forming some sort of connection with her in high school by signing them up for yoga proving little relief then or now. Instead Bella turned over to window, casting her eyes upon the new view she had acquired with the office change. A small smile crossed her lips, tickling at the corners to be pulled into a fuller expression. While many of her co-workers in higher standing positions had what would be considered spectacular views of the vibrant city in which they lived, Bella had decided her view was the best. Her office wall facing the street was made up of one large window, split into three frames. Long, white floor length blinds could be pulled shut to give her privacy from the outside world, but Bella had yet to draw the shades after they had been opened. For there, sitting across the way in a building similar in size and proportion to her own, one floor up and two windows over was the most beautiful human being she had ever seen.
She found herself gazing out at him, tracing her eyes over his masculine form. The tight confines of the city, bursting to life with people and buildings which she often found to be suffocating in their nearness was nothing but cause to celebrate in these instances. Bella couldn't find it in herself to feel trapped by the closeness when she was able to gaze out at him, separated by a few yards, bricks and mortar, glass and the busy street below. She was close enough to his building to see the broad shoulders and back he possessed, with long legs and strong arms also filling out his form. His face wasn't always clear across the distant, as he was often bent down to work on papers in front of him or turned towards what she assumed was his computer but she was able to see the glorious mess of brownish, red hair he combed his fingers through each day. She couldn't help but wonder if the mess was come by naturally, due to him running his fingers in it on a near constant basis or if he worked for long periods of time to get the hair 'just right.' She had a hunch it was the former.
She first discovered her window stranger by accident, not long after moving into the office. The blinds had been drawn closed, pulled tightly shut against the busy streets below. Bella had opened them, needing to feel connected to the world beyond her computer screen so as not to get lost in it's hypnotic maze of white light. The sunlight had streamed into her office by midday, pooling across the floor and casting a bright glare on the screen. Bella noted it was near lunch time and a break was needed. She had risen from her chair and walked over to the window to contemplate what lunch she should eat for the day. As she thought she let her eyes wander down to the street below, noticing the increase in foot traffic as others made their own journeys for lunch. Her dark brown eyes scanned up the building next to her, noting how nice of a building it seemed. It was taller than CompuCon's, reaching high into the sky for several floors, probably close to thirty or so if she had to guess. Bella didn't know what happened next door, if it all belonged to one company or if several shared the space but she did notice how many of the windows were covered in blinds similar to how hers had been. Starting as high up as she could see, she took note of the various types of window treatments she could find. Most had basic black or white blinds drawn closed, keeping the outside world out. A few were pulled open slightly with small plants and decorations on the ledges. She thought briefly of adding a few flowers and knick-knacks to her own ledge, just to add a bit of color. Some offices were quite large, having more window space to see into. Others appeared quite tiny, not big enough for the desk tucked away in them. But she noticed one lucky corner office, one floor up and two windows over from her spot, had an amazing space. The windows there ran from the floor to ceiling, glass on both sides so the occupant inside was almost given an 'around the world' view.
Bella had felt a small pang of jealous, wishing she could find herself in such a place for surely the owner of such a lovely office had to be in a career they loved and thrived at to earn such a nice space. She wished she could feel the same. Bella continued to stare in and noted that the furniture available to her eyes appeared to be of high quality, dark woods and filled with books. If she strained her eyes hard enough, she could just make out the far wall the bookshelf was against as being a sage color, with maybe some sort of art on it? She wasn't really sure. As she continued to admire the lovely space, a man came stalking into view, throwing something across the large desk where papers flew across the top and crashed to the floor. He stormed over to the panoramic window before throwing his hands up against the glass around the corner, taking deep breaths which raised and lowered his body. Bella could see his mouth working, tight and controlled as he appeared to be talking with someone out of her view. The conversation didn't seem to be going well as he paced back and forth across the space, popping in and out of her sight like a caged animal. With his wild hair, arms thrashing about and anger flaring she likened him to a lion. Gracefully striding across this domain, roaring for all to see and know his power. Yes, he was rather like the king of the jungle.
His face which was contorted with anger was still beautiful. Even across such a distance she could tell this to be true. He had a sharp jaw line, pulled taunt with tension as she gazed at him, high cheek bones, an elegant, straight nose and full, pink lips. His eye color was hidden by the divide between the offices, but she was sure they sparked in their own beauty. How could they not, the rest of him was perfection so surely his eyes would be no different. Bella was rather certain if she had been able to see his eyes clearly she would have fallen for him beyond measure even without knowing a single thing about him, given how much his physical presence already affected her. Seeing his eyes, being able to feel his soul through them, this would have been to much for someone like Bella. Sure was as sure of this as she was of her own name.
She watched him then, contained in the glass prison of his office and wondered what could cause such a reaction from him. Was he always so angry, perhaps he was a bitter and unhappy man who simply had no tolerance for those he worked with? No, Bella didn't think this was could be true. Somewhere deep within her told her this wasn't the case. Passionate perhaps, but violent and angry- no, she knew this wasn't the case. The seed of desire to know more about him, why he acted as he did was planted then, the soil turned over and packed tight as she saw his temper lower and it was watered by the crushed look of despair she caught fly across his face just before he turned from his view and closed his blinds.
The desire had not dissipated since that day two weeks ago. In fact, the desire to know more about her corner office stranger had only grown as each day she found herself drawn to his window. At first, she merely wanted to check and see if the lion was okay, if he was still caged. And often she found him to be, pacing an irregular path across the floor and across Bella's heart. She couldn't help herself, watching him for long stretches of time before he would seem to calm and settle himself, usually after a time of window viewing. The days he sat hunched over his work and partially hidden from view never bothered Bella, it was enough to know he was there, just a few yards away from her.
This day Bella hoped would be a good day, a day he wasn't the caged lion throwing his head about and roaring for his freedom. She wanted him to be tame today so she might feed off of his calm. On the days he was calm, his actions those of everyday workers, he soothed her. She was content to watch him from her window and bask in the relief he provided. It reminded her of trips to the zoo as a young girl, when the wild cats all sat in the open spaces of their cages, bathing in the sun's light. His calm was her sunlight, warming her in ways she didn't understand. Bella raised her eyes from his standing form, appreciating him in the most basic way a woman can. When her eyes reached his head, she found herself looking upon a sight she had never seen before.
He was looking at her.
A sharp gasp left her mouth when the realization struck. He was looking at her, the lion was standing in his window with his eyes fixed on her! Bella shot straight up in her chair, never taking her eyes off of his face. Could he really be looking at her? There were many windows on this side of her building, surely he wasn't looking at hers. Maybe it was just a window near her that had caught his attention? Oh no, had he caught her watching him? Bella became agitated with this new thought, frantic for an entirely different reason than before. Still, there had to be a chance he wasn't looking at her.
But no, it had to be hers for he gave a small, half smile as he saw her quick reaction. Wait, was he laughing at her? Bella was perplexed, his shoulders did seem to be bouncing lightly but if he was looking at her, she didn't see what was funny. He was laughing at her, the jerk! Okay, maybe she had been staring at him for the past two weeks without his permission and maybe that could be classified as a type of stalking but did he need to laugh at her?
Her emotions must have been playing across her face for he held up a hand and pointed at her briefly before he pointed to his own forehead. Bella was confused, what did that mean? Was he trying to say something about her hair? Bella reached her left hand upwards in an attempt to smooth the offending tresses only to come into contact with the edge of a post-it which had clung to her forehead.
Bella's eyes grew wide and her face flushed with color, her skin a deep shade of pink in embarrassment as she ripped the offending piece of paper off her head and threw it to the desk top. Across the way, his face bloomed into a huge smile and Bella could see the laughter rolling out of his perfect mouth. She was mortified. The beautiful man had not only caught her staring but then was present for more of her humiliation.
Shaking her head back and forth to dislodge the thoughts of embarrassment, Bella dropped her head into her hands in shame. She hoped he would be gone by the time she looked back again because there was no way she could face him. Bella was use to having odd situations happen to her but this was too much. Although it was unrealistic, Bella had allowed herself to have fantasies of the day her lion would look out from his view and see her. He would be pacing but stop for a moment to look out and that's when he would see her, gazing up from her window into his and he would be as enraptured with her as she was with him. And then they would meet, rushing down the stairs of their buildings to join each other on the street below where they could start the beginning of their lives, together.
So when the reality of how it actually occurred, him seeing her with a post-it attached to her head and laughing, she knew her fantasy had been ruined. He would never see her as sexy. He probably thought Bella was 'special' or a charity case. Bella decided she wouldn't be cheap entertainment for him. She would miss him and the calming effect he had on her but she wouldn't let him make a spectacle of her.
Decision made, Bella rose from her seat and marched over to her window to draw the blinds for the first time in two weeks. She glared out the window over to the man letting him see all the anger and disappointment she had for him. He appeared startled for a moment, surprised by her sudden actions. He quickly began to shake is head back and forth 'no' vigorously with his hands palm outward as if to stop her.
Bella paused, taken aback by the expression on his face. He looked... worried, maybe? The man held out one hand with fingers splayed out in the classic stop pose. Bella tilted her head to the side and raised an eyebrow in question. The man only shook his head slowly, his face apologetic and pleading. Bella thought it seemed as if he didn't want her to close the blinds but she couldn't be sure. She had no interactions with him before so she couldn't really read him. She stared thoughtfully at his face, curious as to why he would be upset if she closed the window blinds.
Bella watched as he ran his free hand through his messy locks, twisting and turning them into further disarray before he placed his open palm flush against the glass of the window closest to Bella's. He mouthed one word, 'don't'. He gave a slight shake of his head before parting his lips once more to say 'stay'.
He wanted her stay. He didn't want her to close her blinds and shut him out.
Bella didn't want to either. A smile, almost so tiny it couldn't be seen crossed her lips as she observed him. His face which was always so stunning, was colored with worry and sadness. Over her. He didn't want Bella to go. He wasn't disgusted by her obsession, he wanted the connection it seemed. This knowledge gave flight to something within Bella causing her heart to beat faster and her stomach to dance with butterflies.
Bella moved one hand up to the window and pressed her fingertips to the glass before flattening her palm against it. She gazed fixedly at the man and allowed her best smile, full of happiness and contentment to cover her face. She felt a surge in her pulse when he smiled back at her with a crooked grin that only enhanced his charming face.
Bella's lion was smiling, just for her.
And just for a minute, as the two admired each other, it was if the rest of the world faded away.
With their palms pressed against the cool glass of their respective windows, sweet smiles stretched across their faces, Bella could almost feel his touch.
The phantom feel of his fingertips washed over her as nothing ever had before sending a shiver down her spine in the most delicious of ways.
A/N: This is just a little idea I've been playing with for awhile. This will be a very, VERY short story. Probably three, maybe four chapters. Five at the very most. ;)