Some characters belong to Stephenie Meyer. The rest are mine.
This started as a flashfic to commemorate the birthday of Cullens TwiMistress. It got out of hand. Sorry, I couldn't help myself.
Beta'd by Edwards Beachlover and VampyreGirl86 and only made possible with the advice and support of the Triangle of Curls Girls - especially Maplestyle, LayAtHomeMom and Heather Maven.
From chapter 4 on, Hadley Hemingway was in control of this.
"How do you get through traffic, pick up coffee and still arrive here at the same time each day? He's pulling into the lot, Izzy," Angie announces, draped over the windowsill next to her workstation.
"I didn't know it was a crime to arrive on time every day."
"No, but it's a crime to arrive looking like that. Jesus, the way he walks."
"He'll know you're watching him, Angie! Get away from the window!" I tell her in complete frustration.
Her eyebrows rise and she says, "I'm telling you he likes you and I can prove it."
"He does not. He gets along with everyone. He's the IT guy for Christ's sake."
"Right, well he's coming in now."
She sits back in her chair and waits for him to enter our office.
"Morning all!" He says this same thing every morning because he's always last to arrive, being on the late shift. His counterpart starts at seven and goes through until three. Masen's here until six. Just hearing his voice makes this place light up, like there's suddenly a buzz all through the office.
"Here he comes, Iz. He doesn't need to walk this way. He should go straight and then turn right but…"
"Hi, Isabella." He walks past and turns slightly, shooting a gorgeous grin my way and I swear I hear girls sigh.
"Hi, Masen." The smell of his shower trails along about ten feet behind him and I notice a few people look up.
"Here we go in three, two, one," Angie says, speaking to herself.
Masen throws his keys in the air and catches them as he does every day lately. Angie starts to laugh silently and wheels her chair out a little to ogle him all the way to his office. "Did you hear that?" She cups her hand to her ear.
"I didn't hear anything Angie."
"Exactly, he only says hi to you and nobody else. That's funny don't you think?" She smirks and wheels her chair back.
I'm not answering that. It's just because I'm still new and he's the kind of guy who's nice enough to welcome newcomers into the company. He set up my permissions on the network, created my email, and gave me unlimited access to reliable storage without any fuss. He lobbied for me to get my own copy of the full Creative Suite, saying it helped my productivity, so he's two-thousand percent better than the last IT guy I had to work with.
I have big files. I create big print jobs from stunning high quality images for a magazine and at the other end of the scale; I capture the essence of the campaign for the website and create the artwork for an online paper, so I'm an expert at huge and at tiny. Masen knows this and has commended me on the way I don't waste his precious backup space. He knows he doesn't have to tell me not to upload gigabytes during business hours either because he knows I understand how it works.
The trouble with this job is it's like a time warp for me most days. I can start working on a design and the next thing he's asking me when I'll be finished so he can kick off the backups. I look at the clock and see he's been waiting for thirty minutes past his clock out time so he can start the program. He never complains but I know he doesn't like to leave me here on my own, so I always apologize and shut down right away. I enjoy leaving work with him. I like hearing him say "Goodnight Isabella," because he's the only one who calls me that. To everyone else I am Izzy or Iz.
Lately, I've made sure I'm off the network well before six because I've been working here on something of my own after hours since this office is toasty warm and my apartment is… not. It gets dark very early and there have been quite a few nights when I've looked out lately and seen snow on the ground. It's eerie and bleak, another reason why I like us to leave together. I enjoy waving goodbye to him because that smile warms up my car much faster than any heater could.
I studied media and publishing at college and found it more lucrative to be artistic than wordy, so I design by day and write by night, purely as an outlet for my fantasies. I've been writing Twilight fan-fiction in my spare time for a couple of years now and God help me if anyone finds out my real name is Isabella. I certainly don't write under that name and I can't help my ears pricking up every time Masen's boss calls for him because he's a surname guy and Masen's surname is Edwards.
Angie is the only one who knows the connection and it's the reason she constantly plays up his interest in me, but the only thing Masen Edwards has in common with Edward Masen Cullen is that they are both hot. Masen's dark and his eyes are aquamarine, not green like Edward's, but he still has the most amazing eyes I have ever seen in real life.
The story I am currently working on has several people updating it. Firstly, there are two of us writing it and now two others are editing so we've started using Google Docs to record the changes live.
I'm reading over some new pages that have appeared today and I burst out laughing, as much as one can in a quiet office where there is only one other person working. It's the breathing in part of the laugh that gives me away every time.
"Everything okay, Isabella?"
"Yes thank you Masen. I just sneezed."
Please don't come over here. This story is so not for a work colleague's eyes.
This collaboration is going very well. My co-author is as open-minded as I am and we are having so much fun with the comedy that we're flying through it. Her new pages inspire me to write a few more paragraphs, amazed that it fits so well with her new stuff, and then I scroll up to see if anyone has looked at the first half of the chapter yet. This is new to me but I know I have to click on 'File', 'See revision history', and luckily, they haven't made their changes yet because I want to add a short paragraph.
I move my cursor to the right spot but it won't let me type anything. I can see everything and highlight it but it won't accept any new text. I can't work out what I'm doing wrong.
Sitting there and staring at it, I'm trying to fathom what they haven't told me when I look more closely at the list of revisions. I go back to the point in time just before I added to the doc, click on 'restore this revision', and the new pages are now gone. I gasp at the screen, watching the word 'saving' appear at the top. It's quickly replaced with 'All changes saved in Drive' and I hear a pathetic noise come out of me.
I have to stop what I'm doing before I do serious damage to this chapter and I wonder if Masen can help me. It has to be something simple and he can work anything out. I compose myself before I walk towards his office, seeing him on his phone, not looking very busy, and he tells his caller to wait for a second.
"Can I help you with something, Isabella?"
"Yeah, I just need some advice." I say casually, while dying inside.
"I'll come over." I shake my head but he tells whoever is on the line that he'll call them back later and then he stands.
"No, you don't have to come to the computer!" I say with absolute fear in my voice. "I was working in Google Docs and I seem to have lost the updates. Do you have any idea how it works?"
"Uh, let me just find out how to use it and I'll come and see you." He starts tapping on his keyboard and I wander at a snail's pace back to my desk. I'm shaky now and impatient for him to just fix it before I have to message the others and tell them I've screwed up the doc. I don't even want to think about what he's going to say when he finds out I'm not working on something business related.
My phone notifies me I have a Facebook alert so I check it on the computer. The message says, "Do you know WTF happened to the doc? Today's changes are gone."
I type back, "I'm working on the WTF now. Don't panic. I'm getting help from my IT guy."
Masen now heads toward me so I bring up the doc to cover my Facebook page. He smiles that goddamn gorgeous smile at me again and I lose my train of thought for a moment before asking, "Can you help me?"
"Sure, seems pretty straight forward. Did you try to undo?"
I make the sound of an idiot and hit control Z. The pages re-appear and my hands cover my mouth in relief. "Oh God, thanks."
"Now close down and open it again."
I'm so happy I don't even think. I close the window and reveal my Facebook page with another message. "I'll bet. Give him one for me."
He can clearly see the three messages in the thread and, thank God, he lets me minimize it before I die of humiliation, but he's seen all the cover shots of Rob and some other very sexy images.
"Sign in," he says calmly; ignoring what was just in front of him.
I sign in to get the doc up again and he says, "May I sit?"
"Um, I'll be okay from here, Masen. Thank you so much." I'm visibly shaking at this point and my pulse rate is off the charts because he can see the beginning of the chapter and it's not the kind of story you read with a male friend. The amazing thing is that the word Edward is not visible but I can see a few Bella's.
"Don't you want me to show you how to use it?" he asks me, looking quite disappointed.
I suddenly feel terrible since he took the time to look it up for me and he's probably read the paragraphs already anyway. I get up, aware that my seat is very warm and he sits down, looking at the screen, reading my smut.
I watch as his eyes widen for a moment but he covers his reaction with a cough. "Excuse me. All you have to know is that you can't edit while you are looking at the revision history." He opens the revision pane and shows me you can't type while it's up. Then he closes it and types 'Isabella' very quickly as if he types the word every day.
I get out a strangled "Thank you," and he smiles sweetly as he stands and goes back into his office. I fall into my chair and die. He has just seen what I can never explain to him. He won't understand that I can be normal and write this type of material. It's just fun, an outlet, like men buying tools they don't need on eBay or women taking scraps of material and creating something sensational out of them. It's only a hobby.
I realize it's after six o'clock so I send a quick message to the girls, telling them the problem is solved and I shut down, ready to leave. Masen comes out of his office and locks it as he always does. He comes up and says, "Shall we?"
I try to act as if nothing happened and we leave together like we do every other night. He locks the building and we head to our cars, always parked a couple of spots from each other's. He waves and says, "Goodnight Isabella."
I wave back and say, "Thank you Masen." I try to smile but I'm still dying of embarrassment inside.
He throws his laptop bag on the passenger seat and gets in. He starts the engine and as I think he's about to take off, he lowers his window. His eyes roam over me from head to toe and then they fall on the spot at the top of my legs.
Oh God, he's thinking about my pussy.
He uses that killer smile on me as he looks back up to my eyes and says, "Goodnight Bella," and raises the window, waiting for me to do something.
That's when I realize I'm standing here in the cold, still leaning back against the door of my car, so I jump in and watch him, unable to take my eyes off him as I fumble with the key. Thankfully, it starts the first try because it's freezing and I can see my panicked breathing in the cold air.
He swipes the security box and the boom gate rises. Then we both drive forward, leaving the lot and turning in different directions.
-The IT Guy-
"Morning all!" The very sound of his voice this morning makes my spine straighten in anticipation of what awaits me. I've been tossing and turning all night, certain he'll let something slip today and everyone here will know that Izzy writes smut in her spare time.
If it gets out, how the people here will react is anyone's guess, but some will be interested, maybe wanting to read it, some will back away like I have a disease, and I'll certainly get some unwanted attention from men who think it's encouragement. Masen's "Goodnight Bella" comment as he eyed my cooter last night was a sure sign of that.
I know he's not the kind to do something maliciously but who knows what he and the other IT guy talk about, what secrets they have on all of us. I've heard about reports they run on our internet usage, where we go and how long we spend there. It's no secret that they screen our email.
He swings past my desk, flashing me his smile as usual, but this time he stops and I hold my breath as he drops some sheets of paper on my desk.
"Hi Isabella, I made you a training guide on how to use Google Docs."
I'm too nervous to thank him, looking from the paper to his face. He gives up when he gets no response, shrugs and walks into his office. I look more closely at what he has given me, six pages with screen prints cropped precisely. He's even translated the techno speak into English for me. Is this his way of showing he approves of what I do in my spare time or is he giving me this knowledge so I never have to call him anywhere near my computer again when I'm writing at work? Whatever it is, he's gone to a lot of trouble to help me and the document shows on the baseline that he printed it at 1:10 AM.
Angie stands next to me, not understanding what he's given me, waiting for me to explain.
I ignore her. I have to get up there quickly and thank him for his effort before things get too awkward because I don't want to ruin our friendship for something as stupid as what happened last night. I take my little training manual with me and as I stand in his doorway, he beams at me, sending me a welcome so sweet that it stops my heart for a moment. I can breathe. It's going to be okay.
I hold up the papers and say, "This is great. Thank you so much."
"No problem. I learned something myself while I was doing it."
I start to fidget. "Well… can I buy you a coffee?"
He holds his fresh cup up and says, "Maybe some other time?"
I nod and slink away, feeling ridiculous, and Angie's ready to attack when I sit down. I put her off, telling her a half-truth; that Masen is helping me with Google Docs for a job I'm doing. She knows something's off but she gives up and I get on with my work.
The day flies by and I'm working on the story again, writing a scene with Bella and her friend, Alice. Masen ignores me, going in and out of the server room, doing whatever IT guys do. I'm more aware of him now than ever. Every movement seems to catch my eye so I'm not very productive. Suddenly, I see a new edit pop up and I read it. It's a scene where our two lovebirds are getting hot and bothered.
I look up at Masen, going back to his desk, and as he sees me, he waves. Watching his graceful movement around the office while seeing Edward's name in print in front of me has the strangest effect on me. For the first time, I'm seeing Masen as Edward in my head, not Rob.
I realize I can't write this here any more because I'm imagining myself riding Masen. It's been three months since I've had any sexual contact and I have to keep my work and my private life apart after the disaster at my last job.
I will never get involved with someone I work with again. I reinforce that idea in my head and sigh, closing the document down. I shoot off a quick message to say I love where this is going with the build up of tension and I say I'm going home to write as I hear the click of Masen's office door.
By the time I shut down, he's already standing there, waiting for me to leave. I want to say something about last night but the words don't come, so I stand and he holds his arm out for me to lead the way.
"Goodnight Isabella," he says, like always, when he opens the door of his car.
"Thank you Masen," I respond, hoping he'll read from those three words that I value the fact that he has acted professionally and moved on without giving up my secret. It's another reason to keep this friendship going.
-The IT Guy-
The next day, Angie's computer has some problem and Masen spends an hour trying without success to rectify it.
"I'll have to rebuild it Angie. I'll give you some more space on the network so you can back up anything you have saved locally."
"Well how long is that going to take?" she questions him rudely. "I didn't cause the problem you know. This computer is always slow."
He handles her beautifully. "I'll speak to your supervisor, Ang, so you can leave early and I'll have it ready for you when you arrive in the morning. I'll upgrade it at the same time if you like."
"Oh, okay" she says, obviously thinking about getting off work early. "Well where should I back my stuff up?"
He gives her some basic instructions and gets her to write her password down on a post-it note, which he takes away after shooting a smug smile in my direction.
As soon as she leaves, he opens her computer and adds some parts. Then he spends the next hour going back and forth, checking on the progress of the build. He seems to be doing most of it remotely but as soon as everyone else has left, he sits down and starts installing and customizing.
My phone has been going nuts with Facebook alerts for five minutes when he asks me to answer it, telling me he can't concentrate. The girls have read a long scene I wrote last night and the messages on the thread make me break out in loud laughter. I feel relieved that they liked it and I'm happy it's out of the way. They keep quoting little snippets that they particularly like and I laugh harder, replying with thanks for their votes of confidence.
"What's so funny?" he asks, half-laughing with me.
"It's nothing; just some friends of mine. They are funny."
"Is this about your story?" he asks, grinning.
I look at him, wondering if I should answer him truthfully, and then notice another comment that cracks me up so I nod while trying to contain myself.
"Can I read it when it's finished?"
I don't have to answer with words when my face automatically screws up.
"Or not." He shuts down the computer and goes back to his office. I feel bad. It was nice having him there next to me even for a little while and I already miss him.
He busies himself with his usual end of day routine and I lose interest in Facebook and in the story. I realize what a fool I've been, thinking I could bring that world into the office without someone finding out and it's already hurting my friendship with Masen. He's very attractive, intelligent, helpful, good at his job, and if he worked anywhere else, I would be definitely encouraging him but since he works under the same roof, I have to keep this professional. I can go home early from now on and put on extra sweaters and socks when it's only for one more month. By the end of December, I will be out of here.
"What do you think?" Masen walks towards me with a wide screen monitor and a grin on his face. "This should stop her complaining when she realizes she has to personalize everything again."
I nod and laugh because he's right. She's been lobbying for a wide screen for a while now but her supervisor won't sign off on it. "Isn't that…?"
"Yeah, it's your old one. I cleaned it up. Do you think she'll notice?"
I shake my head, chuckling, thinking about her reaction in the morning and the big deal I'll make of it. He swaps the monitor and boots the computer up, adjusting the resolution to get the maximum out of it. As he shuts it down, he asks, "Are you going soon? I'm finished."
"Sure," I say, feeling our friendship might not have taken a hit after all and feeling delighted about it.
"Do you want to get something to eat?"
Hell, I was feeling so optimistic and he just ruined everything.
"Uh, thank you Masen but I… I don't get involved with guys from work."
He frowns and says, "It was just a meal. Don't worry about it." He goes and gets his laptop bag, locks his office and waits for me before he follows me out to the lot.
I open my car door to get in, drop my purse on the seat and I'm suddenly overwhelmed with the need to explain why I'm pushing him away. "Masen, I'm sorry."
"There's nothing to be sorry for, so please just do me a favor and get in your car. It's freezing out here." I look down at my arms wrapped around my waist and see white vapor coming out of my mouth, knowing he's right. Standing outside in this weather at night is no place for me to start opening up about my past.
For a second I weaken, asking myself who it would hurt if I shared a meal with this lovely man, and I know the answer is me - I'm the one who would get hurt. I know how quickly I'd fall in love with someone like him and suddenly the need to flee is so strong that I get in my car and don't look back as I drive off.
The first thing I do when I get home is change into thermals, sweats, two pairs of socks and slippers. Then I check out the realtor site for apartments nearby. The plan was to sign a three-month lease on this flea trap and wait until my probation period was over before committing to something more permanent, and it was a good plan until the weather turned on me. I had what I needed to sustain me and for a while it felt like penance for having the stupidity to get involved with an arrogant prick who fed lies to my colleagues about why we split up.
I will never understand why he turned on me like that.
Tonight I have to get a scene done where Edward wants to know why Bella can't make a commitment to him. I'm trying not to let it get too heavy but it's hard when you're feeling melancholy and when I read back the last few paragraphs I've written, I realize it's reminiscent of what happened just after six o'clock.
I can't write any more. My eyes well up with tears as I see the comedy I'm supposed to be writing turn into the truth about my relationship with Masen. In the story, Bella and Edward will get past this stage and go on to fall deeply in love but we won't. I think about rewriting it but decide to leave a little part of me in there that no one will recognize anyway. The poignancy of the moment will be lost in the overall humor of the story.
I make a cup of tea and get into bed with my electric blanket on high and my spirits at an all time low.
-The IT Guy-
I tell Angie how hard Masen worked to make sure her computer was ready and I say she's not to draw attention to the fact that he's given her a new monitor. She mimics a zipper running across her lips and winks, pleased with both the monitor and the secret.
There is a flurry of activity and some loud words as one of the PA's rushes out of the office and someone sticks the foil 'Happy Birthday' sign that gets reused constantly across Masen's door. We've never mentioned birthdays, so I'm not surprised I didn't know today was the day. However, when the same person comes back and sticks a page underneath it, my heart feels like it just turned sour in my chest.
The sign reads – FOR YESTERDAY.
Hope you like it Missy. Happy Birthday.