I am writing this story down because I have been asked to by one, Miss Tanner. I will tell it with as much factual accuracy as I can, without exaggerating or embellishing. While some parts of this story may shock or alarm, I have been promised that nothing I say will be held against me.
I walk through the office, glancing at all that surrounds me. The room is cleaned, or as clean as one should expect a room to be, but unfortunately I notice the small details that tell me that this room belongs to someone else. I suppose a more accurate description would be that it did once belong to someone else, though I have been assured that it has not been occupied since then. Even still…
There's a small crack or a cut on the corner of the desk that bothers me. It's inconsequential and does not stop the desk from performing its task of maintaining file and order, but the thin line curving along the corner, down the side, disappearing along the edge… it bothers me more than something of that nature should.
The color of the carpet is nonuniform. There's a slight inconsistency in places where you can see that someone has been pacing now and then. It's not obvious or easy to tell, but the longer I stare at the floor, the more I can see it, and once you see it, it's difficult to unsee. I dare not point this out, for fear of being thought of as, shall we say… esoteric. Yes, that's a good enough word.
People are judgmental and I don't profess to being anything less than judgmental myself, but the fact of the matter is that I have particular preferences and tastes, and this carpet annoys me.
The final part of the room that bothers me has nothing to do with the room itself, but how I feel when I'm standing within it. I have a desire for solitude in most all aspects of my life, and yet I do not like feeling as if I'm alone. For whatever odd and unfortunate reason, this room makes me feel lonely, though. I can't explain it, nor do I have an inclination to have a long, drawn out discussion about why this is or what might make me feel this way. That's how it is, though; there, you have it.
“What do you think?” Asher asks me, watching me as I step quietly around the office room, glancing at this and that.
“I don't know why you're asking me to do this,” I tell him. It's the truth; I don't.
“I think we've gone over this, Lucent,” Asher says, sighing. “The position is vacant and I know you can do the job. Isn't that enough?”
“No,” I say, because it's not. It's not nearly enough, and he of all people should understand that.
Silence. We're both waiting for the other to say something, except I'm unsure what I should say. I walk towards the window and glance outside it, looking at the city skyline. The view really is quite breathtaking if you're into that sort of thing. I don't fancy myself the type of person to stare aimlessly at the sky, but if I were, I could find hours of enjoyment in this very spot. I imagine the night stars are glorious in appearance, as well, though they haven't had a chance to peek through the veil of dusk as of yet. Give it another hour or more and they'll have their chance.
“Solomon Royce's betrayal was something of a surprise to everyone,” Asher says. “Especially to me. It's been difficult to keep everything under wraps since then. I have members of the board of directors questioning me on a daily basis, and what should I tell them? I can't tell them anything. Even though Beatrice is gone now and we divorced on friendly enough terms, people question Jessika's involvement in everything, too. The fact of the matter is she wasn't involved at all. I thought I could handle it on my own, but I can't. I trust you, Lucent, and–”
I stop him. “You shouldn't,” I say. “What reason do you have to trust me over anyone else?”
He gives me an odd look. We're at an impasse, I suppose. Yes, I feel as if he has more than enough reason to trust me, and I know for certain that I would never betray his trust, but that doesn't change the fact that he shouldn't trust me. I don't think he should trust anyone, and personally I try to refrain from absolute trust, as well. There is a time and a place for everything, and you can never really tell when the time or place will be when someone feels the need to destroy your trust in them. Now, tomorrow, or never… it's always impossible to tell.
“I wish you wouldn't be like this,” Asher says.
“Like what?” I ask him.
I spot something out of the corner of my eye. It seems like nothing at first, just a brief whisper of interest that will be gone as soon as I fully look at it, but I turn to look, anyways. Asher comes up beside me, presumably to better build the friendship between us.
Yes, I consider Asher Landseer a friend. In fact, I would say he's the closest friend I have. That doesn't change the fact that I do not know if there will ever be a time when he'll prefer to forgo our friendship for something else. Trust is dangerous.
I realize how foolish this sounds, as a man who desires trust above all else, but I also realize it's a near impossibility. What am I speaking of?
Bondage, domination, submission… mastery.
The entire premise relies on trust. The submissive trusts the dominant to safeguard her. She believes that the dominant will always have her best interests in mind, and thus gives the dominant her absolute trust. In turn, the dominant does everything he can to guard and protect this trust.
And, yes, this is what I've done, but I want more. I need it. I can't just have trust and dominance, I cannot simply be the master to a submissive. I want a slave, one who is bound to me, our hearts connected so closely that I can feel and know and believe every single thing she feels, she knows, she believes…
I do not want to be two people, matched, in two separate bodies. I want to be one person, separated into two, the trust between us infinite and eternal, absolutely unbreakable.
I also know that this is a pipe dream, the fantasy of some foolish man who wants too much. I know it can never happen, that something like that likely doesn't even exist, and yet that doesn't stop me from desiring it. I have dabbled with women on the off chance that I can find one who suits my needs, but they're never of the same mindset as myself. Some might call me picky, and I can't disagree, but…
I digress. This isn't the time nor place to consider my personal faults and foibles, now is it?
“I could really use you here, Lucent,” Asher says. “I understand, alright? We've talked about this more times than I care to remember, and I understand everything you're saying, and probably everything you're thinking about right now. If it makes you feel better, I'll tell you that I won't ever fully trust you, but that's always going to be a lie.”
I smirk and glance over at him. It's funny, and also endearing. “That would make me feel better, actually,” I tell him.
“I know it would,” Asher says, grinning. “You're strange like that.”
There it is again. What is that? Out of the corner of my eye, I spot something, and this time I spare it a proper glance. I look down, across the street, a little more than a block away. It's easy to see here, especially considering this is the tallest building around. Landseer Tower is of an impressive height, and the office Asher is offering me is quite high up. Cars zip on the streets, wandering like ants, and the people far below are even smaller still, but if you look—if you really look at them—you can see more. You can see a little of who they are and what they're doing, and…
I don't know who she is nor what draws my eye to her. For all intents and purposes, she's likely quite plain. She's wearing a professional looking skirt the ends just below her knees, with a pair of high heels she doesn't look entirely comfortable in. When she steps out of the library, she fumbles her gait slightly on the concrete stairs leading down to the sidewalk.
How did she catch my eye? I'm not entirely sure, but once I've found her, once I catch myself staring at her, I can't seem to look away. She has a bag over her shoulder, possibly a purse, though much larger than that. A school bag? I don't know. She slips on the last step, almost toppling to the hard sidewalk, but catches herself at the last moment and regains her balance.
For some inane, illogical reason, I briefly believe she may be perfect, which makes absolutely no sense whatsoever. Perfect for… what? The perfect librarian, perhaps? Is that even what she is? Yes, she was in the library before, but that doesn't make her a librarian. Perhaps it's just a simple visit. This will be the last time I ever see her, because she'll never go there again. Even if she does, I haven't accepted a position with Landseer Enterprises, so it very well still may be the last time I see her.
Why does that make me sad? It's the room, no doubt. The loneliness that sinks into my heart and soul when I stand here, except that doesn't make sense, either. Why is this room lonely, but others aren't? A room's a room, no matter how you look at it.
I'm confused. I don't think I've been confused in a long time. The emotion and the feeling is entirely baffling to me in a way I can't describe.
To ground myself to this exact moment in time, I watch after her like some protective guardian from up high. That's what I am, isn't it? Except I can't protect her. I know this. If something happened to her right at this very moment, I'd be helpless to intervene, and for some reason this frustrates me even though I know it shouldn't.
She marches down the sidewalk and takes a sharp turn into the employee parking area. Well, there we have it. Yes, she works there. Or else she's one of those people who parks where they shouldn't. She goes to her car, unlocks it, and topples into it with all the grace of an injured sloth. The sight of her makes me smile for reasons unknown.
“It's a wonderful view, isn't it?” Asher says. “I like the library. Actually, now that I mention it, I went there awhile back. They helped me restore the old copy of Dante's Inferno that my father gave me. One girl, Elise, was very interested in it. I thought that was strange, since she's younger, but there really are people still fascinated with books.”
“Why are you telling me this?” I ask him, continuing to stare after the deceptively fetching woman far below me. “We aren't exactly old, if that's what you're trying to say.”
“No, of course not,” Asher says, laughing. “Mostly I'm rambling to myself in a vague attempt at hoping you'll change your mind.”
“Change my mind?” I ask.
“Yes, because I'm almost positive you've already convinced yourself you're going to say no and I'll need to grasp at straws finding someone else I can trust. I realize that the position of Director of Public Relations doesn't seem all that exciting, but I assure you there's a lot to it. More than you think, Lucent. I'm not going to leave you bored. In fact, I plan on putting you to good use if you'll just shut up and accept the damn job.”
“I'm not the one who's rambling,” I say, grinning. “If anyone needs to shut up, well…”
“I suppose I can't get offended since I'm not your boss,” Asher says, smiling.
“What color are her eyes, do you suppose?” I ask him.
“Who?” he counters.
I point down to her, the mysterious woman sitting in her car. She's just sitting there now. And talking to herself. It's entirely too strange by far, though I think I can understand the sentiment of it. I do most of my self-talk in my mind, but is that any more or less effective than doing it out loud? Doing it aloud only makes people look at you like you're a lunatic. I envy her for that. I doubt I should envy someone for intentionally making themself look like a lunatic, but it seems like there's a certain sense of freedom involved, which I may be lacking.
“The girl sitting in the car?” Asher asks.
I nod. “Yes.”
“That's her,” he says. “The girl I was talking about before. I think it is. It's a little hard to see from up here, but I'm almost positive it's her.”
“Yes, you know, Elise? The one who was interested in my book. She helped fix it, actually.”
Elise. So that's her name? Hm…
“I don't know what you're getting at by asking what color her eyes are, though,” Asher adds.
“It's a guess,” I say. “From up here, it's impossible to tell. All we can do is guess. We can imagine one thing, but we'll never truly know until we take a closer look for ourselves.”
“I accept your proposal,” I tell him. “I'll come work for you, Asher. Or, should I say, Mr. Landseer. We must always keep a certain sense of propriety at all times, and if you are to be my employer, I do not wish to overstep my bounds.”
“Lucent, are you serious? Asher is fine.”
“Mr. Landseer is equally suitable, if not more so,” I say.
He grunts and shrugs. “Whatever you want. So you're accepting? The position of Director of Public Relations for Landseer Enterprises? In this office. Starting on…?”
“Monday,” I tell him. “That should be fine. I can commence work on Monday.”
“Do you even know what you'll be doing?”
“Work,” I say. “Of preferably an intricate and detailed sort.”
“We'll figure it out,” Asher says, nodding, smiling. “There's the general director's duties, and meetings, but I'd like you to take on some special tasks if you're up for it.”
“I'd rather just perform the special tasks if possible,” I say, candid.
“Yes, well, maybe,” he says, then again, “We'll figure it out.”
Of course, and I'm sure we will. I glance out the window one last time, only to spot Elise in motion now, driving her car. It's old, and undoubtedly not very safe. She's parked at the exit of the employee parking lot at the library, waiting to turn into traffic. She waits, waits just a moment more, and then she goes. It's very safe and cautious.
I wonder if my new career at Landseer Enterprises will afford me the opportunity to see her again. I don't know why I want to, but I would like to. Briefly, I wonder if I have any books that are in need of repairs. Unfortunately, no, but I'm certain I could find one.
I'm also certain that's a foolish idea to entertain. I'm not irrational and I refuse to allow my chaotic, baser instincts to control me.
If I happen to look out my window now and again and see her, what harm is there in that, though? One of the perks of the job, I suppose.