Mary-Ann felt the bus shake beneath her, shuddering as it moved along the road, bouncing and jostling her as they went along. She sighed and leaned against the window, feeling the cool glass press against her cheek.
It had been so long since she had ridden a bus, and the thought sent a spike of excitement and anxiety twisting up her stomach and shivering through her body. Everything was new here. In her old town, she always took the car, or had her father drive her. There were no major busses, so this was new and Mary-Ann only remembered the distant hum of her school bus from childhood.
She tugged on her skirt, shifting and making sure that the bodice of her dress was fitting okay. She had taken forever to get ready this morning and it didn’t seem to have helped her nerves at all. She swallowed them back. This wasn’t her first day of work. This was at least her fourth, but it didn’t get any less frightening as time went on.
Mary-Ann was in a new town, with a brand new job. Fresh out of college, she was new to the workforce, aside from a few jobs that she had taken during college, to pay her own way. She shifted in her seat again as the city whirred past her. Such a huge city, such a big place to be and so much to see and to do. She felt nerves shudder through her.
It was beautiful. Her job was amazing and she was very, very lucky to be able to work in such an amazing place. Mary-Ann swallowed and fixed a smile on her face. There was only one problem- she didn’t know anybody here! Her father had been the one who suggested that she apply for the job, and she had done so on a whim. She had not expected to actually get the position and she was surprised and stunned that they wanted her to start work right away.
It had been a hectic month of finding an apartment in the city, getting settled in and moved and ready for work. But now she was here, settled half way across the country and happy to be here. Mary-Ann’s hand strayed to the pendant that she wore on her neck, the chain light on her skin and the metal warm from wear.
Mary-Ann never took it off. It was her mother’s pendant, after all. She had given it to Mary-Ann before she passed and Mary-Ann never, ever wanted to let it go, let it slip from her neck. She smiled, feeling comforted by its presence. She wasn’t really as alone as she thought that she was.
The bus pulled up and Mary-Ann realized that they had reached her stop. She got up, stepping through the aisles and making her way to the door. She thanked the driver and stepped out, bag in hand. The doors shuddered shut behind her and Mary-Ann heard the roar of the engine as the bus tore away. She smiled and tilted her face upwards, feeling the warm glow of the sun against her skin, comforting and soft.
The weather here had been glorious so far, but Mary-Ann had been told that it could change in the blink of an eye. Mary-Ann walked the block it took her to get to work, stopping off and grabbing herself a coffee from a cute café. She decided that she needed something to settle her nerves and make herself feel a little bit better before work. After all, she was hoping to have this job for a while- she couldn’t have butterflies every day of her life.
With the warm, sweet coffee in hand, Mary-Ann felt more settled. She headed into the building, stepping into the elevator. Before it shut, a man stepped in beside her.
Mary-Ann felt her stomach tighten at the sight of him. She recognized him instantly- he was working security in the building. He was a big guy. Broad shoulders and defined arms, with tattoos curling from beneath the sleeves of his shirt. He wore black, and something about the way he held himself told Mary-Ann that he had had some serious training.
He looked formidable, with sharp, copper colored eyes and a burning stare. His hair was dark and neat, and his features were strong and handsome. There was something about him that made Mary-Ann shiver.
There was a predatory gait to his movement, a strength in his muscles and a barely restrained power that threatened to break loose. And then, there was perfect control, perfect balance and a silent watchfulness.
Mary-Ann wasn’t sure if she felt exceptionally safe around him, or exceptionally worried. He was dangerous. Mary-Ann knew that, and yet the scent of him in such close quarters had her leaning against the elevator wall, trying to keep her balance.
He barely glanced at her, save for to nod, and then went black to looking ahead of himself. Mary-Ann could see the way his muscles bunched slightly beneath his shirt, ready to move in an instant. Mary-Ann wasn’t sure why, but she was suddenly feeling very hot and very flushed. She sneaked a glance at his name badge. Alister.
She swallowed. The name seemed right for him somehow, a little bit edgy, a little bit dangerous.
The elevator slid open and Alister waited for her to step out. Then he followed behind, turning down the hall, no doubt doing his duty and performing his rounds. Mary-Ann felt a little giddy, feeling a rush of endorphins shudder through her body.
She swallowed, adjusted her skirt and tried to hide the way her face was now flushed, hurrying down the hallway and to her desk. She signed in, slid into her cubicle and grabbed the water bottle that she had tucked into her bag. Taking a quick, deep sip, Mary-Ann tried to steady her nerves.
She wasn’t used to a man making her feel that way, especially one that she didn’t know from a bar of soap. He just worked security in the building- nothing special, nothing to get so damn worked up over.
She flicked on her computer and checked her paperwork for the day. She had quite a bit to get through. Mary-Ann loved her marketing job. She loved taking on new clients, generating more sales, and chasing the leads. She loved creating content that could boost the sales and manage a product effectively.
She loved her job and it was easy to get lost in it, now that the nerves were easing and subsiding into a manageable glow. It wasn’t until Jennie knocked on her cubicle, that Mary-Ann felt the butterflies slip back in. Jennie was a nice girl about her age, also working in the company. She wasn’t that much more experienced in the company, but she was friendly to Mary-Ann and, in such a new place, it was exactly what Mary-Ann wanted.
Mary-Ann smiled as she entered and Jennie didn’t waste any time. A sly smile slid across her face and she smirked, “You came in looking a bit flushed, Mary-Ann…what was all that about?” She leaned against the wall, looking Mary-Ann over, and her eyes sparking with humor.
Mary-Ann blushed and shrugged, “It’s warm out there.”
“Oh no, not that warm.” Jennie grinned, “You rode the elevator with Alister, didn’t you?”
“What?” Mary-Ann squeaked, unsure how her friend had gotten it so right, so quickly.
Jennie laughed, “It’s written all over your face. That, and I saw you guys.” She grinned and leaned over, “Cute, isn’t he?”
Mary-Ann shrugged, “If you’re into muscle heads.”
“Oh, but I heard he had brains as well as brawn.” Jennie smiled.
“Oh?” Mary-Ann blushed.
“Mhmm. I heard he used to be a Navy Seal, before he got into the security business.”
That was believable, actually. It sent a shiver through Mary-Ann. So he was as skilled and as dangerous as she had first thought. It made sense, with the intense focus on his stare, the dark, brooding personality and the strong, tight muscles.
“He’s kept in shape, then.”
“I know, right?” Jennie purred. Then she laughed, a soft, pretty sound and shrugged, “He’s only been here for a few weeks, you know?”
“Really?” Mary-Ann was surprised. He walked around like he owned the place, while Mary-Ann was still trying to feel confident walking through the front doors.
“Yep. He’s pretty new.” Jennie glanced back, “I should probably get to work before I am caught.” She winked and smiled, before leaving as quickly as she had arrived. Jennie was fun, hard work and easy to talk to. Mary-Ann smiled, relieved that she didn’t have to explain herself any further, and turned back to her work.