Disclaimer: I don't own Twilight or any of its characters.
Huge thanks to my betas sapphirescribe and cocoalvin! (Edited and reposted 3/9/11)
Chapter One: Traumatophobia
"Hey! Hold the elevator!"
Oh, heaven help me, it's him.
Lowering my gaze to the floor, I stuck my hand out to prevent the metal doors from closing. I was the first to admit, I had an irrational fear of an elevator dropping while being stuck in the doorway. I blamed my twin sister for making me watch Speed an excessive number of times when we were younger.
Now, my left hand lingered on the edge of doom; any moment the cable could snap, the door could malfunction, or the electrical circuits could blow, causing a cascade of events which could lead to the severing of my hand or, more likely, my horrific demise!
However, I could not let that deter me. It may come as a shock for some, but I usually don't step outside what I've dubbed "Edward's comfort bubble."
And by I, I mean my sister, Alice. The name sort of spread fast through close friends and family. It wasn't until I caught myself using the name that I gave up trying to make them stop.
Some might wonder about the cause of my sudden display of heroism.
Well, it was all because of him…the one known as Jasper Whitlock. I may…may be slightly attracted to him; nothing big, of course.
Honestly, it was probably just due to him being the newest employee and his excellent skills in the marketing field. Yup, nothing to do with the swimmer's body he maintained, the slight hint of an accent that had me wondering for hours where it originated, his ability to command a room or the way his sly smile seemed to cause my legs – among other things – to quiver.
Like I said, it was just a small attraction.
I was sure that in no time at all, I wouldn't even think twice about the name Jasper Whitlock.
Good God…I loved his name! Of course, over the past couple of months at Cullen Enterprises I had heard people refer to him by many other names: Jazz, Jazzy, Mr. Whitlock, Whit and – what the imbecile Mike Newton so lovingly nicknamed him – the Lockmeister.
And he's in charge of public relations. I still don't see why my father hired Mike Newton, but using my brilliant deductive skills, I think it may have to do with my father being friends with Michael Newton Sr. for the last 35 years.
The sound of Jasper nearing caused me to raise my gaze from the floor.
Okay, Edward this is it, time to play it cool…
It was as if someone was trying to torture me.
Sure, to others it may only seem as if Jasper was jogging down the hall in an attempt to catch the descending cube of death; but to me, he was running in slow motion. His short blond curls slightly bounced with each step he took. With each bounce he made, his untucked shirt flew upwards to reveal a small area of his impeccable abs.
He easily could have been an extra on Baywatch….um, a show that Alice made me watch…against my will, of course.
Images – specifically sweaty, inappropriate images – came to mind. Jasper dressed in red shorts, carrying a life preserver and sprinting off to save an ill-advised individual who decided to venture into the water a little too far.
There are serious dangers when visiting the ocean, people should be more cautious. I could reveal such horror stories those with a weak heart should leave the room prior. There was the threat of the vicious undertow, the piercing qualities of certain coral that could cause severe blood loss, or stingers of doom…otherwise known as the common jelly fish.
Oh, and I may have an irrational fear of sea creatures.
Jasper finally arrived and entered the elevator. He stepped past me, grazing my shoulder with his own.
After recovering from the shock of his close proximity, I retracted my hand and held it across my stomach.
I would not leave it in death's grasp any longer than need be.
"Hey," Jasper said in a tired breath. "Thanks for waiting, Mr. Cullen."
If only we were on a first name basis…but, that would require me talking to him for that to happen.
I chanced a peek at him. I should have known better.
He was far too close, his smile was far too mesmerizing, he was far too…just too much everything.
I must stick to the plan. Play it cool. As long as I say something, it will be a step up from previous encounters.
Jasper had been working for my family's company for a couple of months now. I had done my best to avoid as many direct interactions with him as I could.
I've been told that I'm not the best "people person." Sure, I don't feel the need to fill silence with talking or volunteer any personal information about myself to anyone, but that doesn't mean I'm not personable.
I am very personable! Just ask the guys in my online fantasy football league or the group I play Call of Duty with online.
I just have a harder time starting a conversation with someone I don't know as well; that person just happens to be Jasper of course.
It fell to my younger brother, Emmett, and me to meet with each department on a regular basis and make sure that all the branches within Cullen Enterprises ran smoothly and efficiently. So when there was a meeting or conference with Jasper's department, I just let Emmett handle it.
However, "Operation Don't-talk-to-Jasper" didn't really work out for me when every day for the last month – no matter what I did, no matter what time I left – we always ended up together on the elevator at the end of the day.
It was getting very frustrating, to say the least; especially, considering my irrational fear of enclosed spaces. It was getting better. The doctor and I were working on overcoming that phobia; but now, for some odd reason, being in the elevator with Jasper made me feel a different level of anxiety than before.
However, I would overcome it! I would play it cool. I would speak actual words to him.
I am Edward A. Cullen. I am twenty eight years old and I will not be intimidated by anyone – elevators, heights, sea creatures, horrific accidents, swans, falling ill and stepping on cracks, maybe…but not anyone!
Of course, I will start out small. Maybe say a 'good bye' or a 'see you later,' nothing fancy, just a nice little baby step.
After what may have been the longest elevator ride in my life. The elevator doors opened and we stepped out, breaking off in two different directions.
Jasper sent a smile in my direction and turned toward his designated parking spot. "Good bye, Mr. Cullen. See you tomorrow."
I swallowed hard. This was it, time to man up.
"Good you later, Mr. Whitlock!"
My body tensed and I saw Jasper stop mid-step.
Did I just say, "Good you later?"
Jasper started to slowly turn around but before he could face me completely, I did what any one else would have done in that specific situation. I booked it in the other direction and practically power walked the entire way to my car.
Well, that could have gone better.