Ficawesome Gift Exchange- TAKE 2
Title: Masquerade
Written for: HeartOfDarkess (Lisa Harris)
Written By: mouse555 (Mich Orson Brawl)
Rating: M (for language)
Summary/Prompt used: Characters meets at a NYE Masquerade ball. What lies behind the masks?

If you would like to see all the stories that are a part of this exchange visit the facebook group: Fanficaholics Anon: Where Obsession Never Sleeps
Or check here for all the stories.
http : / / www . fanfiction . net/community/FAGE_2/89748/

Dearest Lisa, When I was given your name as my recipient I burst out laughing, then I was chuffed to bits cause not only are you an awesomely supportive friend, but you are also one of my favourite authors and closest friends. Then, I got nervous, how could I write you something that is totally 'me' yet fulfil one of your prompts? Hope you like it darlin' xx

I want to give uber props to robrator for beta'ing this assault on the English grammar system. Love ya babe!

Disclaimer: If I owned Twilight, I would be sunning myself somewhere trying to bribe Jackson into my bed with promises of Jasper: The Origins!

Masquerade

Why was I going through with this?

I gave myself the final once over in the mirror before heading out the waiting taxi. Who on earth decides on a Masquerade Party for a company New Year's Eve celebration? Surely office parties were supposed to be in some crappy side street pub - where the alcohol's watered down and cheap - ensuring everyone is completely rat-arsed before midnight. So that they don't care who they kiss.

Not my company! Oh no. We were getting a new PR manager, so we had to pull out all the stops! It was a waste of money that could have been put into bonus cheques, and still we would have had enough left over for a decent night out.

Now not only were we being housed in some swanky hotel for the evening, but we had to dress up and wear ridiculous masks. Like those of us that had worked together for years wouldn't recognise each other anyway. I swear, upper management had no idea about us 'minions'.

My taxi arrived just as it started to rain. Fucking fabulous. Rain and a white outfit did not mix. At all.

I grabbed my purse and headed inside, quickly. Luckily neither my shoes nor dress got splashed. I headed into the ladies to check my hair. It looked OK. Not my usual plain style - but hey, as I was spending most of the night behind a mask, I guessed I could afford to branch out a bit on my appearance. When I pulled on the white and silver mask that covered two thirds of my face, I felt like The Phantom of the Opera. I never realised how heavy it was. Tonight was going to be utterly dire. Maybe I could duck out after dinner, after all it wasn't like anyone would miss me.

As I took a deep breath and entered the dining room, I nearly burst out laughing. Middle aged women, dolled up to the nines in taffeta of varying colours.

Oh lord.

I needed a drink, and sunglasses. STAT.

I could have sworn I'd seen a flash of puce out of the corner of my eye. As I headed towards the bar, I narrowly avoided the office octopus. He was bad enough during the day, but judging by the red blotches on his face below his mask, he'd been here quite a while.

As much as I appreciated the slight anonymity my mask gave me, it pissed me off that I couldn't see anyone else's face. How the hell was I supposed to know who to avoid? This kind of party was not conducive to me sitting in the corner, scowling at people like I did at the office.

"Hi Bella." A voice whispered in my ear. I spun round to hug Angela tightly.

"Oh Thank Christ. I was starting to go loopy surrounded by people I wasn't sure I could speak to or not." I told her aswe linked arms and headed to the bar. "Ang, you look stunning by the way. Have you cottoned on where Ben is yet for midnight?" As I spoke, I saw a hint of a blush on my best friend's throat.

"Hush your gums and get me a drink pretty lady." She indicated my outfit. I tucked away the fact that she hadn't answered my question for later use. Turning to the bar, I ordered two large glasses of wine. I was determined to fully make use of the free bar this evening, however long I lasted.

"So, any sign of the new guy?" I asked as we found our seats. My eyes darted around the room for any signs of him.

"Nope. Looks like he's going for fashionably late. Have you managed to find anything else out about him? Considering you're going to be his PA?"

I groaned. I'd been dying to become a PA to one of the 'bigwigs' for at least two years, but I'd hoped to get one into Rose's McCarty's office. She was ruthless yet fair, and I hoped that I could somehow get the contacts to start my own business. I came back down to earth with a bump as Angela kicked my chair. "You still with us?" She teased with a sly smile , knowing exactly where my mind had been.

"Sorry. Nothing new about him. Just that he's coming from the Dallas branch, where he'd been a PR whizz and wanted to come to Europe." I reeled off the same information we'd been hearing ever since we'd been told he was coming to our office.

"I just hope he can handle you hun. Little Miss Prickly."

Angela then nudged me with her elbow as she spotted someone who could only be our office manager legging it across the dining room towards the entrance. "Well.I guess he's arrived." Everyone else must have come to the same conclusion as heads soon swivelled in the same direction as they tried to catch a glimpse of the hot shot new boy.

"I need another drink." I groaned, with a sigh.

I just knew I would have to play nice if the office manager decided to introduce me tonight. I really hoped he didn't. I just wanted to be left alone to quietly get drunk. With this thought in mind, I returned to the bar and got a bottle of wine. I turned to go back to my seat, just in time to see the big entrance.

He was dressed all in black with hints of silver. Even his cowboy boots. Gee. Stereotype much? The mask hid almost all of his face, leaving only his jaw and eyes visible. However, It couldn't do anything to hide his crazy hair. All blonde , curly and tousled in a way that could only be annoyingly natural. I think I was going to hate him already.

I rejoined Angela and topped up her glass.

"Have you seen that arse?" God, If I didn't know better, I'd swear blind she just swooned.

"Uhm...Ang. I love you, really I do, but I thought Ben was your 'one true love' ? You know, your reason for coming to work every day...The only man you drooled over?" Angela sighed.

"I can appreciate pert bottoms on others though can't I?" She looked at me imploringly. I couldn't help but laugh.

"Of course you can." I said to her as I looked over her shoulder, causing her to whip around. The squeal at seeing Ben headed in our direction, made me realise I was going to be on my own for the rest of the night. I smiled, as he took her hand and led her to the empty dancefloor. At this bold action, others began to join in. Soon the small space was full of bodies, moving to the beat of the DJ's music.

I sat back in my chair and sipped at my wine, just watching the room. People watching was my favourite thing to do, especially at places like this. Alcohol and music brought out the best and worst of people, and there was nothing I liked better than seeing people make complete fools of themselves, and each other.

I remained at the table until the bottle of wine was empty, watching who could only be the mailroom boy,- judging by the too short trousers, white socks and black shoes, - try it on with the girl who would be taking over my job. With her blonde hair, long legs and fuck off high heels, she was going to be a complete twat magnet.

The new boss guy looked like a professional schmoozer. He never seemed to stay in the same place for longer than ten minutes, as he chatted, laughed and listened to all the bigwigs, who had turned up to the 'party'. All of this, just that they could attempt to impress him, when all they really wanted , was to be at home with their slippers and a book. Which was exactly where I wanted to be. Maybe not with the slippers though.

He always had a drink in his hand, but I never really noticed him actually drink anything. Not that I was watching him or anything, of course. Even from this far across the room, I could see he had an easy way about him. His ready, megawatt smile had already caused a bit of talk in the ladies bathroom, if the swooning I overheard was any indication.

I decided I had been at the party long enough, most especially now that my bottle of wine was empty, I could safely make my escape. I stood up and managed to catch Angela's eye. I mouthed to her that I was leaving, and she nodded and blew me a kiss. I grinned at her, as she wrapped her arms back round Ben's neck and continued to dance.

As I slinked my way around the edge of the dancefloor and headed towards the door, I was grateful that I managed to get across the large room, without anyone stopping me to talk or utter drunken crap at me. Stepping outside I found that it had stopped raining. As I took in a deep breath, I started to look around for a taxi.

"Excuse me. Have you got a light? " A deep voice asked from behind me. I spun around quickly, only to find the vision in black, smiling lazily at me.

"Sorry, my body's a temple, I don't agree with pollution by toxic fumes." I replied snarkily as I spun back around towards the road, keeping my eyes open for a taxi home.

"I'd worship at your altar any day." He said with a lazy drawl as I rolled my eyes at the blatant attempt at picking me up. I turned back to see a smug smirk on his face.

"Oh so original. How about you finish that cancer stick and fuck off back inside. There's people in there, who actually want to kiss your arse. I, on the other hand, want to be left alone so I can go home and do something interesting. Like watch paint dry on my ceiling while allowing my neighbour's cat scratch out my eyeballs."

I had to give him credit. The smile stayed exactly where it was.

"Wow - feisty much?" He took a step closer to me. "I like women that bite back."

As he got closer, I nearly melted as he held my eyes with his grass green ones. As he stopped inches away from me, I withheld the temptation to look up at him, focusing my gaze on his collar instead.

"I like that in my women." He lifted his hand and removed my mask. As soon as my face was exposed, I came to my senses and stepped back away from him just as the taxi pulled up.

I glared at him. "Who the hell do you think you are? I don't know you from Adam and you're trying it on. Your Texan drawl may charm the panties of the dumb and underage, but I pride myself on being a bit more on the ball than that. Now, give me my mask back so I can go home."

He handed me my mask, that infuriating smile still on his face. "I'll see you at work in two days." I said as I yanked open the door of the taxi and barked my address at the driver.

The next couple of days had me constantly thinking over my meeting with my new boss. I was beginning to regret being so harsh and dreaded going into the office. I spent hours on the phone to Angela over analysing every word I said and how he could have taken it. She reassured me that he'd returned to the party in high spirits and continued to make the rounds, charming everybody. Herself included. Traitor. She harped on and on about how nice he was and that I was lucky to be working so closely with him.

Little did she know, I was absolutely shitting myself about seeing him again. I may have a reputation for being a bit prickly, but underneath the exterior I put out to others, I was actually nothing like that. I just got nervous around good looking guys, which in turn made me seem a bit snarky.

My first day in my new job seemed to materialise out of nowhere. In just the blink of an eye, I was dressed in my regulation trouser suit and stilettos, making my way to the nearest tube station. The journey into work seemed to (which was just my luck ) have none of the usual delays and I found myself stood outside the office early, with a steaming cup of coffee in my hand. I entered the building and made my way to my new office. Every step closer, feeling heavier than the last. Due to the early hour,the rest of the office was empty, and I walked to the very end, where my new boss would be soon.

I dumped my bag and coffee onto my desk before taking off my coat. I was about to sit down when I heard a throat clear behind me. I turned to find my new boss in the doorway.
Holy shit! He is stunning! I let my eyes travel over his double breasted suit jacket, and down his precisely pressed suit trousers. Somehow I wasn't surprised to see that he was still wearing cowboy boots. My eyes travelled upwards again this time, all the way up to his face.

I wish I hadn't looked. Simply put, he took my breath away. His skin was flawless, his eyes stunning and his lips were plump and red.

"So, we meet again." His deep drawling voice shocked me out of gazing at his sinfully beautiful lips.

"Errrrr...So it would seem." I stammered. Gee, great comeback.

He smirked at me. "Now I know why you were as prickly as a cactus on New year's Eve. I didn't realise you were my new assistant."

"Yes, well, that's the danger of throwing yourself at all and sundry isn't it?" Yes! I sat behind my desk and flicked the computer on. "Was there anything else you needed, or can I get on with my work now?"

"By all means, carry on. I'm expecting my first appointment in twenty five minutes. Make sure they have a coffee when they arrive." His grin still slightly smug, as if he knew something I didn't.

"Of course Mr Whitlock." I didn't look at him. I couldn't.

"Please, call me Jasper."