Title: Designs, Desires and Disasters

Rating: M

Summary: When the new guy, Edward, strides into the office, Jasper can't help noticing his beauty. But Jasper's rules about keeping work and love separate stop any chance of a relationship with him. Or do they? AH, slash.

A/N: SM owns everything Twilight. I just like to play.

JPOV

"Before you all go, I have just one more thing to add, although I know it's not on the agenda," Esme announces at the end of our Monday morning staff meeting.

I refrain from rolling my eyes as she almost always has unannounced items to add, but it's her company, and therefore her meeting and her staff. She always sounds so apologetic, but no one's going to complain.

"We've recently had the pleasure of acquiring one of the up-and-coming new designers, a real prodigy in his field, I think. He will be starting on Wednesday and will be placed in Jasper's team to learn the ropes and get his feet wet. I expect you all to be welcoming, and I will personally be conducting his tour and introductions when he arrives." She stares at each of us around the table, and I watch my coworkers none-too-subtly close their mouths and try to hide their surprised faces.

"Sounds great, Esme. I can't wait to meet him," I jump in because everyone else seems too chicken shit to say anything.

She smiles at me and nods once before closing her notebook and leaving the room to the still-stunned silence of the rest of the designers. As soon as she steps out the door, the whispers and speculation begin. Who is this new designer? Why does he get a tour from Esme? Why is he so special?

Personally, I've always hated office politics and don't care who this new guy is or why he's special as long as he's good and doesn't interfere with my team. That's not the entire truth. If he's as good as Esme says, then I expect him to do more than not interfere - he better be fucking brilliant.

The next two days pass as they always do, in a blur of work and not enough time at home to do much more than eat, read a little and sleep. My team has a large presentation to a major client the next Monday, and we are spending long hours putting the final touches on our sketches and models. Wednesday morning finds me at my desk, inhaling my second or third cup of coffee when there's a soft knock on the door. I barely have time to say 'enter' before Esme strides briskly into my office with a tall, well-dressed man following in her wake.

As she approaches, I stand as a gentleman should, but then I immediately wish I had stayed seated as my breath catches and my knees go slightly weak when I finally get a good look at the new hire.

He is staggeringly beautiful.

His red-bronze hair in careful disarray, his vibrant green eyes, his perfect pouty mouth and his long, lean frame are all straight from my fantasies. It takes a moment for me to recover and offer my hand to him, and I hope that my pause went unnoticed. By the slight rise in his eyebrow, it probably did not, but Esme seems too wrapped up in her introduction to have seen my stumble. He takes my hand as she introduces him as Edward Masen, newest asset to Esme Cullen Design, Inc. The warmth of his skin and the firmness of his handshake do nothing but solidify him in my mind as the perfect specimen of a man.

"It's nice to meet you..." He trails off and looks at me expectantly.

"Jasper Whitlock," I offer, inserting my cocky smirk and releasing his hand somewhat reluctantly.

"Jasper," he repeats in a sinfully smooth voice, the sound stirring unwanted warmth in my veins. "You're my team leader, then," he states, not a note of question in his sentence.

"Yes, and we have a team meeting this afternoon at three," I say, forcing myself back into my professional role, reminding myself of my vow to keep work and relationships separate and efficiently dousing the effect his presence was having on me. "That is, if Esme won't be taking up your whole day," I add, turning to wink at my boss.

"No, we should be done by then with the paperwork and getting him settled in his new office," she replies, smiling at Edward warmly while my stomach drops.

New office?

It took 5 years of steadily working myself to the bone in this company before I got an actual office, and this guy didn't look that much older than me. He couldn't have that much stronger of a resume. I restrain my grimace as I recall that mine does have that one spot of tarnish.

I keep my smile on my face as they leave, wondering what made this Edward Masen such hot stuff in the interior designing world.

For the rest of the day, I catch passing glimpses of Edward's riotous hair or the edge of his black jacket but don't actually interact with him again until the afternoon when he waltzes into my team meeting ten minutes late. Everyone turns to look at him when he enters, stares and whispers following behind him. He unapologetically takes the seat at the table adjacent to mine, completely ruining my rhythm and breaking my concentration.

So, Mr New Office doesn't think he has to have manners, does he?

I stifle a growl as I actually have to consult my notes to remember where I had been in the review before his interruption. After a short pause, I resume talking about the new design for the massive walk-in closet in the master suite when Edward raises his hand, his confident gaze not faltering as I give him my best glare.

"Yes, Edward," I huff, trying to control my rapidly rising irritation with this man, but he seems to know all of my buttons to push and in precisely the right order.

"I seem to have missed the beginning of the meeting," he states calmly, his clear eyes still boring into mine. "Would you mind recapping what I missed?"

There are quite a few unchecked gasps around the table as my team definitely understands how I feel about tardiness and not being prepared. I know this is Edward's first day, but Esme knows I run a tight crew and that is the reason why we always function without mistake or reproach. Nonetheless, I bite back my sarcastic reply and give him a little slack on his first day.

"I had assumed Esme had filled you in on this project," I start, not wanting to be an ass, but honestly he should have had a heads up if she had wanted him on my team with our presentation deadline so close.

"Oh yes. She sent me all the details last week, and I have reviewed them extensively," he responds, his smile never faltering. "I'm just wondering what you had said so far in this meeting."

Again, I bite my tongue, wanting to be 'welcoming' as Esme had instructed all of us. "Before you walked in, we had finished the overall and were just starting on the master bedroom changes."

He nods as if this is what he had expected and turns his eyes back to the images on the screen behind me. I look down at my notes once again, flexing and relaxing my left hand as I use my right to point to the relevant details that we still need to smooth over or tweak. I will not let Edward Masen get under my skin. I have worked too hard at this job, rising through the ranks with my smarts and my hard work to be where I am today. I will not ruin everything for this one guy, no matter how completely annoying, and therefore I must resist my growing desire to verbally kick his ass. That action would definitely not fall under 'welcoming'.

As always, at the end of the meeting, I tell my staff to have a good night, sleep on the ideas and we'll meet back at nine the following morning for a short creative meeting to iron out the remaining ideas.

Edward approaches me as I am gathering my materials to return to my office, and I straighten when he clears his throat beside me.

"Jasper, I can see that we've started on the wrong foot and I want to apologize for arriving late. HR had me filling out forms and I lost track of time," he explains in a soft voice, looking a little nervous as his eyes dart down and back up. "It won't happen again," he adds sincerely.

I nod at him brusquely and quickly continue to organize my notes.

"I think the remodel looks great," he offers and I glance up at him sharply.

"Great? You think this is great?" I ask incredulously, gesturing to my papers. He nods and I snort derisively. "If it was so great, then why did I call this meeting?" I challenge.

Edward physically steps back as his eyes widen and he begins to stammer an apology. This was not the reaction I was hoping for and I immediately feel like a dick. I take a deep breath to calm myself before addressing him again. "I'm sorry, Edward. You don't know me or my methods from anyone and I shouldn't jump on you like that on your first day." I look up at him seeing him staring at me wide-eyed again. "It's nothing personal, I'm just trying to push you. It's my unconventional way of trying to get you to think."

I start unrolling the plans again, smoothing the edges as I lean over the design. I beckon him closer and he takes a cautious step forward, still out of reach but able to see the drawings.

"Here is the major problem as I see it now," I say, pointing to the foyer and the main entrance hallway. "These clients entertain often and with long guest lists, so room flow and the appearance of the main entrance are important to them. I don't think we've come close to addressing the flow problem through the main level rooms." I flip through a couple pages and find the prints for the master bedroom. "Also, the wife wants her bedroom to be 'grand', and I'm not sure we're there yet. I don't think she wants ostentatious, but more classic. Clean lines, plush fabrics, that kind of thing."

As I explain, Edward nods next to me and inches closer until his arm brushes mine as he points to details and begins to ask questions. The heat from the casual touch permeates through my shirt sleeve, the intensity shocking me, but I shove those thoughts aside to keep this relationship professional. This time, I will stay professional.

I straighten and tilt my head at the man beside me, reassessing my first impressions. His questions are smart and, as his head turns and his eyes meet mine, I see genuine interest in the project.

"What is the top flaw in the bedroom as the plans stand now?" he asks, his gaze not faltering.

"Well, I think the main problem may be trying to work with the existing furniture," I begin as I force myself to glance away from him and lean forward again over the table.

His eyes light up with unabashed enthusiasm and he throws himself into the discussion. At some point, we both produce notebooks and begin furiously sketching ideas for each other to illustrate our words. Although rough, some of his ideas aren't half bad, and the easy banter and arguments fly back and forth between us until my stomach decides to weigh in on the evening.

Edward chuckles and raises an eyebrow at me while I try to find my train of thought that was broken by my hunger. He glances at his watch and back at me, opening and shutting his mouth several times.

"What is it, man? Just spit it out, or at least stop acting like a dying fish," I encourage, smiling at him to show that I'm teasing.

"Wanna grab some dinner?" he asks, his voice hopeful, and I almost, spontaneously, say yes. For a moment, I can see myself at dinner with this beautiful man, sharing a bottle of wine, our discussion turning back to work as it inevitably will, my inhibitions lowering... I shake my head and his face falls.

"Not tonight, I have some things I need to take care of." Which is a lie, but I need to put a little space between myself and Edward, between my attraction for him and my job. A small frown purses his lips and a crease forms between his brows at my words, and I, again, feel like an ass. He's just being friendly and this is his first day in a new town. "Maybe next time?" I offer, though I'm not sure I will be able to follow through until I can think of him as a colleague and not a stunningly gorgeous man with a chiseled jaw... I bite my lip to stop the unhelpful thoughts.

Edward glances down at my mouth and then back up. "Next time then," he agrees with a small smirk.

He helps me gather the plans and our hasty drawings, and we return them all to my office before leaving the building together, the chill night air washing over me. At my car, I give him a half-wave and a "see you tomorrow" which he returns before walking over to a silver Volvo. I sit in my idling car and watch him pull away, taking a deep breath before putting the car in gear and reversing from my parking spot.

The drive home isn't long, but it's enough to clear my head. I cannot allow my attraction to Edward to come into the office. First off, I don't know if he even bats for my team, but that is beside the point. He is my colleague, and last time I tried to date a coworker, when it didn't work out, it got messy. In hindsight, I know I shouldn't have dated the boss's son, but he seemed too good to pass up at the time. Unfortunately, due to the trouble that Peter caused when he made our relationship's demise a public affair, I was forced to leave my position. Plus, with Peter's close ties to the company and the man writing the recommendations, I know I got the short end of the stick. So, when I finally got a starting position with Esme's company, I had to work my tail off to get back to the level of responsibility I'd once taken for granted.

By the time I pull into my driveway, I have confirmed my previous decision. No romantic relationships on the job. I will keep whatever I have with Edward purely professional and not even think about him outside of work.

My resolve on the latter point lasts until I crawl into bed, tired but with a different kind of hunger in my belly. In the dark, the draw of Edward's beauty and grace on my unfulfilled libido is harder to deny. Lying on my back with closed eyes, I allow myself my fantasy, my orgasm pulled from me with a loud groan as I picture Edward beneath me, shouting my name in his release.

After cleaning up and tucking myself into my boxers, I tuck away that little part of me that has any inkling of desire left for him. I refuse to think any more about either of them, Peter or Edward. Rolling over and pulling the duvet over me, I relax as my mind quiets and hope that sleep claims me quickly.

~~00~~

When I arrive for the next morning's meeting I am pleasantly surprised by the contributions of my team and how they mesh with some of the ideas that Edward and I had sketched the night before. At the end of the meeting, the plan is solid and everyone is given their tasks to complete for the following Monday's presentation. I exit the room feeling better about that project than I have since accepting the task from Esme.

The rest of the week proceeds as expected, and eventually Edward's presence becomes a low simmer in the pit of my stomach. Every interaction with him adds heat to the fire, the boiling emotions a little closer to the surface, but whenever we separate I am able to put him aside once again.

Although, it's a little harder with each word, each smile, each touch that we share, and I have to firmly remind myself that there is no way I'm getting involved with a coworker again.

By Friday night, I need to blow off some steam and, although I am tired, I decide to visit my favorite club downtown. And, if I were to be honest, my intention to blow off more than just steam.

After I pass the bouncer with my usual wink, I make my way to the bar, seeing a few familiar faces and watching the half-clothed boys already gyrating on the dance floor. The pulsing beat of the music washes over me again and again as the heat of the whiskey I've been sipping spreads along my skin. After the third whiskey, the pleasant haze has consumed me, and there is no resisting the beat or the exposed skin in front of me.

I gulp down the last of the amber liquid and step into the mass of bodies and heat in front of me. My target for the night, a broad-chested, olive-skinned man, is dancing with his eyes closed and his arms folded above his head, elbows crooked as he grasps his own biceps. His jeans are riding dangerously low, and with my eyes I follow the line of dark hair that disappears into the waistband. I lick my lips as I approach, his sweat-slicked skin glistening in the flashing lights as he moves his hips to the music, oblivious to the stares he is receiving. The riot of dark hair on his head and his full lips spark a memory from my day, but I quickly push it aside. Work, or any part of my normal life, has no place here.

Slowly, I start to dance in front of him, inching closer with each beat, waiting for him to notice my presence. At the moment that my shirt brushes his naked torso, his eyes flicker open, deep brown eyes sweeping up and down to take me in. He slowly lowers his arms from over his head and wraps them around my neck, and I smirk, lifting my hands to his hips to pull him closer. He steps between my legs, our thighs rubbing to the intoxicating rhythm. Soon our cloth-encased erections are straining against each other as his mouth finds the rough stubble of my jaw, licking and nibbling up to my ear.

"Name's Alec," he growls into my ear, his voice deeper than I expected.

I grab his head, tilting it forcefully to the side as I lick a line from his shoulder to his jaw. "Jasper," I whisper in his ear before taking the lobe into my mouth and sucking hard. His fingers dig into my biceps as his entire body shudders.

We continue dancing, grinding and kissing through several songs before we are both breathless and sweaty. At some point, Alec has removed my shirt, tucking it into the waist of my jeans. As I palm his thick cock, closing my fingers around the shaft, he pulls me close.

"Let's take this somewhere else, yes?" he asks, fingers lacing with my free hand and pulling me toward the back room without waiting for an answer.

We descend the stairs to the basement in silence, the black walls and corners already supporting a few other couples. The room is large with dark curtains artfully separating the space and providing a small amount of privacy for the other men down here. There are scattered couches along the walls, but I can't bring myself to actually use those when I have seen the remnants of so many encounters upon the fabrics.

"Here," I say, pulling him toward an unoccupied corner where we continue our touching and kissing that we started upstairs. Soon he is kneeling before me, unbuttoning and unzipping my jeans and giving my cock some much needed attention.

He teases me with his tongue and hand. His sweet mouth closes over my dick seconds later, and it's all I can do to stay standing. This is what I've been waiting for, my release. My hands immediately find his hair, not pulling but directing him subtly to be what I need. The pressure increases in my stomach as he swallows around me, sucking along the entire length as his tongue caresses almost every inch.

Damn, this boy has talent, I think as my knees almost buckle. I look down and find him staring up at me, dark brown eyes steadily gazing into mine, and I ignore the pang in my gut that has nothing to do with desire.

There's something off about this, and I gasp when I realize what it is.

I close my eyes, focusing on the sensations of Alec's mouth on me and willing the image of bright green eyes away from my mind. But as soon as he enters my thoughts, I picture Edward kneeling in front of me, his lips wrapped around my cock, and I come almost without warning, my hands tightening in Alec's hair.

Luckily, he swallows everything I give him and then smiles up at me. He stands kissing me deeply, and I try to drown in his presence, but it feels like cold water has been dumped over my head, cooling my libido and taking any satisfaction away from the orgasm.

Alec pulls back before thrusting his erection against my thigh, reminding me that he is still there and wanting. I recoil slightly from the touch, panic setting in.

Fuck! What is happening to me?

This is my thing. One night stands. No messy clean up. No messy break up. Release and go home.

Alec backs away a step, his hand rubbing soothingly along my bicep. "Are you okay, Jasper? Did I do something wrong?"

Shit. "No, not at all," I start to console him, but when I almost consider hugging him, a complete stranger, I know I need to get the fuck out here. My emotions are too raw. "I'm sorry, I have to go," I stammer before running up the stairs while tucking myself back into my jeans. I sprint to my car and race home, not stopping until I have stumbled into my bathroom. I'm almost in a panic as I peel my clothes off quickly and step into the shower, allowing the warm water to wash away the night. Closing my eyes and leaning against the wall, I again see Edward's green eyes in front of me.

"Fuck!" I yell into the small space, slapping my hand against the wall in frustration. No, I will not let him do this to me.

This is a simple infatuation and definitely not worth my career...again, I chastise myself as thoughts of Peter and my abrupt termination at my last job make me shiver despite the warmth of the water.

I finish my shower quickly after that, drying off and slipping into my bed, naked and warm. I take deep breaths, calming my heart and letting go of all my feelings for Edward. He is not good for me or what I want to do with my life. I repeat to myself until I fall sleep, "I will not mix love and work...I will not mix love and work..."

~~00~~

The weekend passes quickly and without incident. I am generally domestic: grocery shopping, cleaning the apartment, doing laundry and even spending a couple hours at the gym. When Monday rolls around, I feel more in control of my emotions and my life and resolve to treat Edward well, but to not be too friendly or encourage closeness. I may be able to resist him as a coworker, but I can't risk actually getting to know him.

Monday's presentation goes without a hitch, and the clients are ecstatic with what my team's final plans are. The next steps are finalized, and by noon I am shaking hands with very satisfied clients who promise to tell their friends about us as well.

That Friday, Edward and I are in my office, brainstorming over our newest project, a ballroom. On the table between us are the architect's specs for converting the old dining room and sitting room into this grand affair, and it's our task to 'make something of the space' as per our instructions from the owner.

Due to the reconstruction, there are tall pillars along the edges of the room set about ten feet from the walls to support the cathedral ceilings. Our main concerns are to make them less obtrusive and to design areas for the band, a bar and easy access to the new former dining room.

We've been working together in this small space already for a couple hours, me because I was in a good headspace, him because he volunteered to help. We ordered Thai food and have been eating from the cartons and trying to get our heads around this space. Edward sighs slightly and pulls the sketches from the architect to him again. I unabashedly admire the flex of his forearms like I did when he rolled up his sleeves thirty minutes ago. Admire may be the wrong word. Salivate over may be more appropriate.

His brow furrows as he traces his fingers over the lines of the architect's renditions, and I force myself to concentrate on our task for the evening as I move my chair closer. He looks up at me and back at the plans before shaking his head.

"What?" I ask with a slight tease in my voice. "The great Masen is finally stumped for ideas? And here I thought we were on a roll?"

"That's not it, actually," he says slowly and then looks at me with slight discomfort.

"Then what?"

"It's nothing," he states, moving another set of drawings closer to him.

"Well, now I'm interested," I admit, leaning forward and setting down my Thai container.

He huffs slight and looks up at me. "It's just... We're designing a ballroom?" he asks, incredulity in his voice. "It just strikes me every so often. I mean, seriously, what century are these people from? Do they know that when women were finally allowed to wear pants, ballroom dancing really went out of style?"

I laugh as he echoes my own thoughts, and his face brightens with my reaction. "I know what you mean, man. I've been trying to figure that out myself. But, what the customer wants, the customer gets."

"Yeah," he admits, looking at me with a wide smile. "Doesn't mean we can't wonder about the soundness of our clients' minds, right?"

I laugh again, the tension from the week and from being around him slowly seeping out of my body. His smile fades as he picks up some of my sketches from earlier, flipping through the pages slowly while biting his lip. I recognize his concentration face from working with him so closely and wait anxiously to see what idea comes next. For whatever reason, he thinks better in these late night one-on-one brain-storming sessions than when given time to have material to present at a team-meeting.

"What are you thinking?" I finally ask, unable to stand the suspense or him biting his lip any longer.

He looks up suddenly at the sound of my voice and then blushes slightly, and I wonder if he had forgotten I was even in the room.

"Well, these pillars are just an atrocity," he starts, and I snort in agreement; we've been over this before, and it's the understatement of the year. "I'm actually beginning to wonder if the architects are playing some sick joke on us. But, if we can't get rid of them altogether, what if we work them into the room as a featured element, not something to hide. Maybe with arches extending across..." He fishes a pencil from his pocket and begins creating long sweeping lines, and I stand to look over his shoulder.

His additions are transforming the high ceilings and austere pillars into a graceful and intimate setting, connecting the pillars with delicate arcs.

And then I see it.

"What about this?" I ask, snatching my own pencil and leaning over, adding some details to the marble, small leaves and winding vines.

"Yeah!" Edward cheers, getting excited and continuing the pattern until we have a veritable forest lining the dance floor, creating a more comfortable and less stark atmosphere. He looks up at me as I lean over him, and I'm suddenly intensely aware of how close we are, his body heat seeping through my thin button-down shirt. I back up quickly, clearing my throat and sitting back in my chair a comfortable distance away.

"Yeah, well, that seems like a promising start," I say, rubbing the back of my neck with my hand. "Maybe we should continue this tomorrow then."

"Um, yeah, sure," he responds, standing quickly and shuffling the papers into a reasonable order. I grab the trash from our meal and discard it, returning to help Edward.

The awkward silence stretches between us, and I don't know how to fix it, or even if I should want to. Sure, we work well together, but I don't think I should enjoy spending time with him as much as I do. Eventually, there is no more straightening that needs to be done, and we part ways in the parking lot as we so often do, something always aching, unfilled and blatantly ignored in my chest.

Unsurprisingly, the ballroom is a complete hit and, over the next weeks, our success is repeated again and again. As reluctant as I was in the beginning, Edward's suggestions have often lead to major inspiration, and I definitely count him as an asset to my team and the company. I begrudgingly think that he might have been worthy of that office he acquired on the first day, but I still wonder if he's really team-leader material.

My physical attraction to Edward, unfortunately, has not waned. In fact, with the time I spend with him, the more I know of him and his quick and sassy personality, his sarcastic wit, I find it harder to resist my fantasies of him.

But, I have kept them to fantasies. Nothing more. I have not encouraged anything.

And, for his part, Edward has been nothing but professional. Since that first offer of dinner, he has not attempted to be social with me outside of the office either. And, although I can't seem to find the energy to go to clubs anymore, I have had a long line of blind-dates, and I can almost hold back my shudder when recalling them.

Things are going well right now. Professionally and personally, I am keeping it together.

~~00~~

Late one Friday evening, we are in the middle of another long team meeting about an office remodel when everything changes. Edward has forgotten one of the sketches in his office and, while he is at the white board drawing another idea, I offer to fetch it, knowing exactly what he's referring to.

I enter his office, scanning the pristine desk and eying the large filing cabinet in the corner. Opening the top drawer, I scan the very organized and well-labeled folders before realizing that this one will not hold what I'm looking for. The next drawer is closer, but still not the right dates. I bend forward and skip to the bottom drawer, hoping to save some time, where I find no files at all, but some of Edward's personal belongings.

And a photograph in a simple silver frame on top.

I lift the frame in slightly trembling hands, almost not believing what I am seeing. Edward is in the center, a broad smile on his face and his arms wrapped around the waists of the women on either side of him. One I don't recognize, but would know as Edward's mother anywhere. She has the same green eyes and red-brown hair, although hers is straight and long, while his is still a mess atop his head.

The other I know, and her resemblance to Edward's mother is not mistakable.

I sit down hard, the frame still clutched in my hand.

Esme.

Fucking Esme is Edward's aunt!

I don't know how long I stare at the photograph, willing it to change, willing this to not be true. Soon I hear soft footsteps in front of me and feel eyes upon me. A large sigh alerts me to Edward's presence.

"I see you found something," he states, his voice devoid of emotion, but I can't tear my eyes away from the image in front of me.

"Yes," I respond, uncertain on what to do next. "Why didn't you tell me?" It's not that we were friends, but I was his team-leader and I feel I deserved something. Didn't I deserve to know?

"Why? So you could think I got this job because of my Aunt Esme?"

I snort and shrug my shoulders, but he continues.

"She hired me because I'm good and she can trust me."

"Whatever," I say, thinking this has confirmed everything I thought on the first day. Edward is completely over-privileged and has been given everything I have worked so hard for. "How can you say that? She's your aunt! Of course, you got the job! Did you even have to apply?"

"Yes," is his simple answer as his mouth sets in a firm line.

"I don't believe it," I respond, shaking my head and finally laying the picture back in the drawer. "If you got this job on merit alone, why did you hide your relationship?"

"Because everyone would jump to the same conclusion. And I would have to prove myself to be better than everyone else, not just an equal. Without that knowledge, you thought of me as a good hire. But now you're questioning everything", he points out, gesturing to me.

"You don't know what you're talking about," I begin to shout as I stand, becoming more and more livid by the moment. "Why would I question you? Why would I question that you had an office the moment you showed up when I had to work years to become team-leader and finally get my own space?"

As I continue to rant and move toward him, he slowly backs up until he flattens against the wall, his hands in front of him defensively.

"I work hard, Jasper," he continues to defend himself. "I know what I'm doing."

"You work hard, but your ideas aren't more impressive than the others in the team. In fact, they can usually improve on your designs." I continue to stalk towards him until we are inches apart and I can see the fear in his eyes.

"Are you going to tell the others?" he asks quietly, his green eyes widening even further.

I can feel his warm breath against my face coming in short pants, and I close my eyes. So often, this has been part of my fantasies, but no longer. He is not worth this. Or me.

"I don't know what to do, Edward," I admit, fixing him with an angry stare before turning abruptly toward the door. Before I leave, I remember my team waiting in the conference room and call back to him, "I just... I need to get out of here for a bit. Take over the meeting and have them email me their plans. I assume you are capable of that," I seethe, wondering if it's in my best interest to leave him in charge, but knowing my emotions would not be able to handle stepping back into that room. My obligations taken care of, I stalk out his office and out of the building, not even grabbing a jacket in my haste. The anger I feel toward him, toward his betrayal of everything I have worked so hard for is staggering.

Walking purposefully to the closest bar and taking a seat on one of the bar stools, I order a whiskey double straight-away. When the grizzled barkeep places the glass in front of me, I hand him my credit card to start a tab and tell him to keep them coming. He leans forward as if he wants to ask me something, but I glare at him until he backs away, my credit card in his hand.

I sit on that stool and drink whiskey until the angry yelling in my head fades to dark muttering. I should go back to the office and give Edward another piece of my mind. I want to give Esme a piece, too, but I would really like to keep this job if possible. Which probably means continuing to play nice with Edward. One thing is certain, I will have him moved to another team. I cannot work under the constant presence of so much hypocrisy and nepotism.

I refuse.

I slam my glass on the table and decide that I should gather my things from the office and head home. At least I will have the weekend to cool down and organize my thoughts before I have to face anyone or anything.

After closing my tab, I walk slowly, weaving slightly, back to the office and stumble back through the glass doors of the building. Most of the lights are off and, thankfully, not a single person is in sight. I go to my office and gather my jacket and briefcase, throwing the notes from the meeting in before snapping it closed.

As I am leaving, once again, I pass by Edward's office, noticing the door is slightly ajar and there is a muted light seeping through the crack. My curiosity overwhelms my better judgment, which is already clouded by alcohol, and I soon find myself in front of Edward's desk, flipping through his notes and sketches, trying to find something, anything, to further condemn him.

Are the ideas that Edward suggested even his own? I snort derisively as I think that he probably gets advice and help from Esme at every turn. I picture her calmly explaining how design works when he calls her in tears every night, wondering how he will ever be good at this job.

I almost jump for joy when I find a sketchbook at the bottom of one of his desk drawers, beneath a pile of innocuous papers and receipts. Opening the cover, the first page has a rendition of the first project we worked on, the master bedroom completely redone with fabric samples included and small notes in the margins in Edward's careful script. Some of the ideas here never were mentioned, but I recognize others that made it into the final plan.

I begin flipping pages, elements of every project that we've had together staring back at me. Some of the better elements made it to the meetings, but most of them weren't directly from Edward, most often a suggestion of his being built upon by others. I stumble into his chair, amazed at what I'm looking at.

Cold realization washes over me, leaving me shivering in its wake. He did not get this job because of Esme. In fact, this kind of talent means that he should be a team leader. He should have my job.

Looking up, I realize where I am and what I've been doing and that I need to sober up and find a way to apologize to Edward. Standing quickly, I open the drawer, returning the sketchbook to its hiding place. As I'm straightening, I hear the door creak open and a gasp from the other side of the room.

"What are you doing here?" Edward accuses as he slams the door shut and strides across the small space to confront me, his eyes flashing and his face flushing with anger. "This is my office! Are you going through my things?" His voice raises even higher as he takes in the mess I've made of his desk and his plans.

I try to stammer a reply, but my tongue is tied with my lack of excuses and with his flashing eyes and aching beauty in front of me.

He shoves my chest and I sit roughly into his chair again as he looms over me, his fingers digging into my biceps. I don't know what to do when confronted with his anger, and I know he is justified. I just nod and hang my head, unwilling to look at the disappointment and hatred that I know will be in his eyes.

"I'm sorry, Edward," I mumble at my lap, my words slightly slurred from the whiskey.

He takes a small step back, a strangled sound coming from him as he releases my arms. I take a deep breath to ask the question that has been burning in my mind since I realized the whole truth.

"The only thing I can't figure out is why, Edward," I state, finally brave enough to look up at him. He tilts his head to the side and crosses his arms over his chest but gives no answer. I gesture briefly at the drawer and the contents within and know that he understands my reference as his eyes harden further. "Why have you been holding yourself back?"

His eyes soften minutely, the burning anger lessening, and a small crease forms between his brows. "Do you not know?" he asks, the softness even returning to his voice.

I shake my head, confused at how he thinks I should understand his motivation to hold himself back, to not be rewarded and noticed for his talents.

"For you, Jasper. To stay with you."

"Me?" I squeak, and my mind whirls with the impossibility that I could be keeping him from his true potential.

"Esme wanted me to learn from you and then start my own team. If I proved myself so quickly, then I wouldn't be with you anymore." He steps towards me again, leaning over the chair and burying his nose in my hair at my temple, his mouth at my ear. "And, even though you will never feel the same, I just can't be that far away from you."

I gasp at his words, the ones I have wanted to say for so long, but had always held back by fear and my own past failures. He stiffens immediately and begins to withdraw, but I grab his neck, preventing him from escaping, and pull him back to me. "Me neither," I admit before lifting my face and brushing my lips across his.

The heat from his skin touching mine sends a spark of lust straight to my groin, and he groans as he leans forward and presses his lips more firmly against mine. I sit up in the chair, trying to get closer to him as he opens his mouth to deepen the kiss. Our tongues touch and I taste him for the first time. There's a hint of wine mixed with an overwhelming flavor of Edward. It is divine and it is my turn to groan.

He shifts backwards as I stand, pushing him against his desk and pressing our bodies together. One of his hands grabs my hip as the other pulls my shoulder. Both of my hands are gripping his hair and neck, forcing our mouths and tongues together. As I break our contact to breathe, I begin nipping and licking a path along his jaw and neck, pausing to bite at the juncture with his shoulder. His grip tightens on me, and he tips his head as I continue on my path. Releasing my hold on him, I start unbuttoning his shirt, kissing the exposed skin that is revealed. He leans back on the desk, shifting his weight to one arm and then cursing when I suck one of his nipples into my mouth, thumbing the other roughly.

"Ouch, fuck!" he yells and I jump back wondering if I hurt him. He smiles shyly and then lifts himself off of his desk, glaring at the offending stapler. With one arm, I sweep the desk clean and turn back to him with a smirk.

"Now where were we?" I ask, stepping between his legs again.

"I was just about to remove your shirt," he answers cheekily, his mouth in a mirroring smirk. He quickly unbuttons my shirt and pushes it off my shoulders before kissing and sucking my shoulders and making his way down my chest. I keep my hands on his hips, loving his mouth on my skin. I gently rock my hips against him, feeling his shuddering moans more than hearing them. I finish removing his shirt, and run my hands ceaselessly over his skin, relishing in the smooth hardness and the feel of it under my fingers.

"I've wanted to touch you for so long," I whisper as his mouth finds mine again.

"Then do it," he replies huskily, his green eyes urging me to continue.

I fumble with his belt and buttons before shoving his trousers to the ground, followed quickly by his boxers. His hard cock springs free, thick and glorious, and I sink to my knees before him, wanting to worship him and show him how much I want him. His breaths are coming in short pants as I look up at him through my eyelashes and grab his hard length in my hand, the silky smooth skin sliding easily in my grip. Slowly, I lick from the base to the tip, swirling my tongue around the head and through the slit and wondering how I ever went this long without tasting him before. His face contorts into one of pure pleasure as he gasps my name, and I part my lips to take him completely into my mouth. I moan as the sweet, musky saltiness of Edward consumes my senses while he mumbles my name in encouragement. I need no further prodding as his fingers tighten in my hair as I take his length down my throat over and over. Too soon, Edward is tugging at me. I look up at him questioningly as I release his cock from my mouth with a slurping noise.

"Come here," he commands softly, the words barely loud enough to reach my ears.

I stand reluctantly, still savoring the taste of him on my tongue when his mouth crashes into mine as if he is trying to devour me. I can feel his hands at my belt, and I gasp when he roughly removes the remainder of my clothing as I toe out of my shoes.

Then we are standing there in his office, inches from each other, both naked and panting. I'm not sure completely why he stopped me, so I wait, needing him to make the first move.

"Jasper, I want you," he whispers, running his fingers along my jaw.

I lean into his touch and stare into his green eyes, trying to convey my earnestness. "I want you, too, Edward."

"Then take me," he replies, leaning back on the desk and pulling me with him until our mouths are touching. "Make me yours," he whispers against my lips.

When I realize the full extent of his statement, I quickly rise to find my pants on the ground, pulling the condom and lube from my wallet. Even though I haven't been frequenting the clubs recently, there were certain habits that I haven't broken, and in this moment, I am happy for that.

When I straighten, I find Edward splayed out before me, his hard cock straining against his stomach, his chest heaving with every breath and his eyes locked on me.

"Fuck, you're so beautiful," I growl, throwing my pants onto the ground and climbing onto the desk above him, kissing and licking across his chest.

He pulls my face to his and returns the kisses, the intensity between us building once again. I thrust against him, our erections brushing together in exquisite pleasure but not enough, never enough.

"Jasper, I need more," he pants, echoing my thoughts.

I nod and find the lube, coating my fingers and preparing him for me, using my boxers to clean my hand before putting on a condom and coating both our cocks in the remaining lube. Pulling Edward to the edge of the desk, I stand and position myself at his entrance. I look up at him, and he nods while whispering his need for me.

I push in slowly, my head breaching his tight barrier before I loop his legs over my arms and brace myself against his thighs. I can feel him relax slightly, and I push again, sliding and pulsing slowly into him until my hips are against his ass. And all I feel is bliss. If anyone had told me that it could feel like this, that sex could be this all-encompassing, I would have laughed at them. I would have argued that sex is good, great even, but not a religious experience.

How wrong I would have been.

Edward and I just fit. I was made for this, for him.

"Jasper, please," he begs as he shifts against me, breaking my thoughts and bringing me back to reality. I pull back and thrust into him, and his eyes roll back into his head, his cock twitching on his stomach. I do it again and again, spurred on by his cries of pleasure mixed with my name.

"Oh fuck, Edward," I yell, knowing I am so close to ending this state of perfection. I grab his cock, slick with lube, and begin stroking it in time with my increasingly irregular thrusts. "Come for me. Oh Jesus, fuck, you feel so...unh..." I lose all control of my voice and my mind as my orgasm rips through me. The world flashes to white and then black as my toes curl and my back arches, and I come harder than I ever have.

I may have even heard angels singing.

When I come back to reality, Edward's come is painted across his abdomen and chest; his eyes are closed, and his chest is heaving. I am slightly disappointed that I missed his orgasm and vow that I will not miss it next time.

And then I hope and pray that there are many 'next times'.

I clean him off as best as I can with my boxers and help him stand as we try not to step on the papers strewn across the floor. We eventually fall together in post-coital warmth and happiness onto his couch. We kiss slowly with no words exchanged as we lie down together and he pulls a blanket over us. For a moment I wonder if I should be concerned, if I should try to talk about what just happened, but the leaden weight of sleep pulls at me and I quickly succumb.

~~00~~

I open my eyes to bright sunlight streaming through the slats in the vertical blinds, an arm curled over my waist and a warmth pressed along my back. A snuffling grunt alerts me that Edward is waking as well, and I turn toward him to see his bright eyes blinking at me slowly. I brush the hair away from his face and just bask in the beauty before me for a moment as he continues to wake up.

"Hey," I say, leaning in to brush my lips against his, sending what I hope is a clear message.

"Hey, yourself," he replies, a note of wariness in his voice.

Maybe the message isn't so clear.

"So," he begins, looking around his destroyed office and back at me with a look of hope. "Now what?"

"Well, I don't know what you're thinking, but I'm ready for breakfast," I offer, kissing him again but lingering this time.

His arm tightens around me, and when I pull back he is smiling.

"Is that a yes? A 'sure, I'd love to have breakfast with you, Jasper'?" I ask, teasing him slightly.

At this he chuckles and nods his head. "Yes, Jasper. I'd love to have breakfast with you."

"Could that be a 'Jasper, I'd love to spend the weekend with you'?" I ask hopefully, laying out all my plans before him.

"Yes, it could be that as well," he replies evenly, no hint of doubt in his voice.

I sigh as this time Edward leans towards me and captures my lips with his. As our mouths meet, I feel that sense of peace and bliss settle over us once more, and I know everything will be alright.