Bring Me to Life
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Most of my favorite stories on the site to date have been the longer stories with a slow build. In that vein, I have chosen to take a similar approach to my first story. If you are just looking for a story that jumps straight to the sex with little content, then this won’t be for you. If however you are interested in stories with a longer build-up and more developed characters, then I hope you will enjoy my first attempt at writing here. All constructive criticism is welcome, and thank you for your votes and comments in advance.
Note for clarity: Though not overly specific on location, the story is written as occurring in Canada with respect to observed holidays.
Special thanks to careythomas for her invaluable assistance with editing, if you’re not already familiar with her work I highly recommend it – her writing is probably what most inspired me to try my hand at my own contributions. (If uncertain how to search by author, you can easily find her in my favorites!)
Alexis – Friday, November 14th, 2014
It was dark by the time I got home, I’d been working late again, as I had done all too often since losing Sam almost a year ago. My friends had been supportive for a while, trying to get me to go out and socialize, but without Sam, nothing seemed worthwhile. After a while, they got the hint and stopped asking. We drifted apart. I suppose I missed them, but I didn’t really notice because I missed Sam more.
Before anyone judges them for giving up, it wasn’t something I blamed them for at all. First off they were mostly couples that Sam and I used to get together with, and that was itself a part of the issue: they weren’t “my” friends, they were “our” friends. With Sam gone, the dynamics changed and we didn’t know how to fit together anymore. Second, I didn’t have the emotional energy to do what they tried to get me to do, which was to talk and talk and talk about what happened. I just wanted to shut out everything around me that reminded me of her.
Without friends, and without Sam, the only thing left for me was work. As a Financial Planner and Portfolio Manager for a respected wealth management firm, I threw myself into my work. Over the past year I had built up my portfolio quickly enough by consolidating client assets, attracting new clients, and some well-timed calls on the US markets taking advantage of the incredible spike in value resulting from their long delayed post-recession recovery. The combination of these factors had conspired to make me the highest performer in the firm, both in new client acquisitions and in growth of average assets under management per client for each of the first three fiscal quarters. With year-end numbers almost final, it was looking like fourth quarter – and by extension my year-end – would be just as strong.
My performance had always been strong, but my near obsession with my work this year had yielded significant enough results to get me noticed by some of the senior partners in the firm, and the buzz was that I was favored for a promotion. I honestly didn’t care one way or another. First, I never paid attention to office gossip, or invested enough time in my coworkers to be a part of any water-cooler conversations. Sam used to say that I was the most lovable misanthrope she’d ever known. Second, work was the only thing that made me get out of bed each morning, so it was my sanctuary – they didn’t need to promote me to get me to show up. All that said, I was good at my job, took care of my clients, and ultimately what mattered in this business was results. My boss Marc, the only one at the firm whom I would consider a friend, joked that I should suffer personal tragedies more often. The fact that I found the remark morbidly humorous was a credit to the friendship that we seem to have fostered, and to the fact that time had allowed room for such comments to not completely flatten me.
There was one thing about the promotion that was appealing to me – I’d get a new office instead of the four by four trading desk I currently had: more privacy and less forced socializing. I would also earn the privilege of having an Associate Portfolio Manager assigned to work with me. I hadn’t yet decided if this was a good thing or a bad thing. In theory it would allow me to focus on acquisitions and more complex client concerns while my Associate managed the day to day concerns, but in practice I knew a lot of Associates were no better than glorified secretaries.
As I walked in the door, my black lab, Max, came running up to greet me, barking excitedly. He was the only thing that could get me to smile these days, and the only part of the life I shared with Sam that I felt no compulsion to push away. Maybe it was my imagination but he seemed to understand what it meant to lose Sam, we’d had Max for six years together and so she had been a part of his family too. In the post-Sam world, it was me and Max… and that was enough. My favorite part of the day was to go for a run after work, and Max was the perfect bahis firmaları running companion. I gave Max’s ears a quick scratch, “Sorry I’m late boy, why don’t we get your dinner ready and then we’ll go for a run?”
Barking once, as if in agreement, Max ran to his mat and waited patiently for his dinner… which he wolfed down in about five seconds flat. I chuckled as I changed, marveling at his ability to literally inhale his food, and pulled my sneakers on. Max scratched at the front door as I put my hoodie on.
The moment I took the first couple steps towards my normal route, I felt like Max and I shifted into a different world. I wasn’t alone, and I didn’t have to remember to breathe. The steady thuds of my footfalls and the clinking of Max’s collar were my therapy, and I was able to think about Sam – cry about Sam – without prying eyes and idiotic platitudes from well-meaning witnesses.
It was after nine by the time we got home from the run. My ragged breathing and the clickety-clack of Max’s paws echoed through the house, which was now almost bare. Everything sat haphazardly in various-sized boxes, the only items remaining were the bigger pieces of furniture and my office. At one time I had loved living in this house, two stories with a red brick exterior and a finished basement. The back of the house faced west and opened onto a large yard bordering on a small lake, and the master bedroom on the second floor had floor to ceiling windows looking out over the yard, providing spectacular views of sunsets over the lake. Sam had been an architect and had designed every inch of the house when we bought the land ten years earlier, and that was ultimately the problem… as much as I couldn’t let her go, I’d come to realize that living in the house she had built for us was untenable. Every bit of the place spoke to me of her… and yet as much as I couldn’t live here anymore, I couldn’t bring myself to sell it either. Instead, I had hired a property management company to furnish it and rent it out however they felt would be best. In fact, they assured me that they’d have a tenant in by the end of the next week.
As for myself, I was moving into the city. I’d just closed on purchasing a condo close to my work, it was ground floor, had access to a small yard for Max, and I had already found several parks in easy walking distance. My thoughts were interrupted by my phone. I picked it up and noted an unusual number of missed calls from Marc.
“North American markets closed hours ago, signaling the start of the weekend where, as you usually enjoy reminding me, means no matter what happens I can’t do anything about it for two days. Why are you bothering me?” I couldn’t fathom what the urgency could be.
“Human interaction doesn’t just have be predicated on market movements, Alexis; I almost don’t want to tell you now.”
Marc sighed dramatically, “They promoted you. I tried to tell them you were a lost cause, but there were dollar signs leaking out of your portfolio, so there you go.”
I laughed, “Good to know you have my back. So why not wait to tell me on Monday?”
“Staffing. You have the option of getting staffed with an Associate, and the new rosters go out over the weekend. So, if you want an Associate, you’ll get one. Happy early birthday, Alexis Hart.”
Glimpsing the calendar out of the corner of my eye I was reminded that my birthday would be this weekend… the first one without her. I closed my eyes as I fought back the memories of how much had changed in so little time. I would be turning 32 this year and while most people would insist I was still young; I felt like my best years were already behind me.
“Sure, why not,” I said resignedly, “I guess I’ll meet her Monday.”
“Nonsense,” said Marc, “Take the week off. You’re moving, right? And you’ve got more vacation days accrued than anyone at the firm.”
I didn’t say anything. I couldn’t imagine what I would do without having to go to work.
“Take the week off,” Marc repeated, “I’ll assign you someone and he or she can shake in their boots for a week before you come back and torture them as only you can.”
I frowned, wondering if whoever Marc chose would actually be helpful to my workload.
“… I assume by your silence that you agree,” Marc had a slight hint of amusement in his voice, “It’s rare to catch you at a loss for words, Alexis. A vacation will do you good.”
I muttered something stupid in response and Marc hung up. With a sigh, I went to shower and get ready for bed. Sleep, as usual, did not come quickly, but eventually I drifted off to dreams of the life I was supposed to have with Sam.
Alexis – Monday, November 24th, 2014
My week away was a blur. Thankfully, the logistical tasks of the move were enough to make the days pass without issue. Max seemed to have taken the change in location in stride and I followed his lead in not overthinking everything. It wasn’t until my first morning back at work that I remembered kaçak iddaa I had my new Associate to meet.
I got to work a few minutes after nine, as was my habit – technically I was late, not being much of a morning person, but I more than made up for it in both hours worked and results so Marc never gave me any grief over it. Deciding that since I’d be working closely with the new associate I should make an effort to at least know their name, I made a quick stop at admin where Jonathan was already at work organizing the year-end meeting for the senior partners to review our office’s performance with the corporate VPs from headquarters.
Being largely independent, the senior partners managed the day-to-day operations, but since being acquired by one of the country’s largest financial institutions almost six years ago, this quarterly song and dance had become a new part of their routine. I was happy enough not to be involved in that nonsense, preferring market analysis to corporate politics any day. “Morning Jonathan, have you got a moment?”
He looked a bit surprised, though whether because I rarely approached anyone at the office or because he hadn’t noticed me wasn’t entirely clear, “Uh, of course Alexis, what can I do for you?”
“I was told a new Associate was going to be working with me and should have started last week, but I was on vacation. Any chance you know their name?”
“Oh, sure, let me see… Mikaela Young.”
“Thanks Jonathan, have a good day.”
“You too, Alexis.”
Giving him a simple nod of acknowledgment I set off towards my office ready for a long day catching up with clients and their accounts and to find out just what type of Associate I had been assigned. Our office was certainly large enough in its own right, and even larger in you take into account our corporate office, that there was a broad pool of talent to choose from. Despite that, I reminded myself that everything was a bell curve and I had heard a wide range of feedback from other Portfolio Managers about the professional chemistry, or lack thereof, which could make being staffed with an Associate one of two experiences: either a heaven-sent lifesaver or an absolute nightmare.
Walking into my new office, my first thought was that I had just stumbled into a third category: total enigma. The young woman sitting behind the smaller desk had her black hair in a pixie cut with the tips bleached and dyed pink. Looking past the hair I noted a silver stud on one side of her delicate nose, and her makeup darkened her eyes and lips. She looked like she would be more at home at a club than in one of the most reputable financial firms in the country.
But she somehow made it all work: she was professionally dressed in a sapphire blue silk blouse that seemed to set fire to the bright emerald green of her eyes, and a pair of black slacks that fit her form so well they must have been tailored for her.
Looking up at me as I walked in, she smiled slightly, albeit confidently, and introduced herself, “Good morning, Alexis I presume? I’m your new Associate, Mikaela.”
“Alexis,” I said curtly, confirming her assumption, and offering her outstretched hand a firm shake, “You’ve been busy, apparently.” I noticed a thick sheaf of papers in her other hand.
“I took the time to go over your accounts last week and familiarize myself with your clientele. I have some questions – but I won’t bombard you with them until you’ve had a moment to settle in.”
“Fire away,” I said, slightly amused by her take-charge attitude. She was not intimidated by me in the slightest.
“Really? Wow. Ok. Of course I would appreciate getting your feedback as I go, so that in the future I can better put this stuff together for you.”
Over the next hour she presented her review to me, and while a few points merited a bit of debate, most of them were largely based on the client’s network and potential influence on referrals which she did not have context for and could not be easily tracked through simple account histories. She had also managed to identify two potential at-risk clients who had been slowly moving out large portions of their portfolios over the last six months. To say I was surprised by the acuity of her evaluation would have been an understatement. Closing up the review, I acknowledged the quality of her work before mentally adjusting my schedule for the day, “You’ve done a great job here Mikaela,” I couldn’t help but smile as her eyes lit up, “I had planned some follow ups for this morning, but you’ve already covered most of it. So let’s pivot and tackle those two large accounts you mentioned right away so we can work to retain them, and in the meantime I have a few files I’d like you to look at and a couple of clients to contact for me…”
Mikaela – Friday, November 28th, 2014
I was exhausted after my first week working with Alexis. I’d known her reputation well ahead of time and where others saw an ice queen or other far less flattering terms, I had seen kaçak bahis an opportunity to work with, and learn from, one of the more successful women in the firm. When word had spread that she would be getting an Associate soon, I wasted no time in making my interest in the position known. While I didn’t play it up, I wasn’t without connections in the firm and so I had easily secured myself the position. Of course, it didn’t hurt that I wasn’t exactly facing a whole lot of enthusiastic competition.
One thing was for certain, however, her reputation for being stand-offish was nothing compared to the hours she put in. With the added task of learning to work together we had easily put in over sixty hours this week at the office alone, with plenty more corresponding from home, and I was running on fumes. And it was a relatively light week, given the Thanksgiving holidays in the US, I found it hard to imagine what it would be like with the US markets open all week.
As had been more often the case this week, I grabbed a light dinner in town after leaving the office late and stumbled home with little on my mind except for a hot shower and sleep. As I climbed the stairs to the second floor and into my bedroom, my eyes flitted to the windows on the far wall, the beautiful lake view shadowed by the dark of night. I’d only just moved in last weekend, a miraculous real estate fluke. This was the first place I saw with the broker and fell in love with it immediately.
Shedding my clothes and placing them in the hamper, I stepped into what might have been one of the best parts of this place: a large full master bath containing both a sizeable stand-alone shower and a luxurious bath complete with jacuzzi jets. Even with being outside of the city, I still could hardly believe the deal I had gotten for this place, the rent could easily have been double what it was and still be considered fair, and I rather preferred being away from the noise in the evenings.
As the hot water of the shower poured through my hair and I gently lathered in my favorite lavender shampoo; I closed my eyes and just basked in the cathartic combination of soap and water as the heat slowly worked its way deep into my muscles.
Finally feeling clean and refreshed, I turned my attention to rinsing off the last suds of the soap, my hands skimming lightly over my breasts and lingering slightly to massage the sensitive mounds. Tilting my head back and closing my eyes as I enjoyed my soft caress, I was startled when a pair of sharp blue eyes appeared in my mind’s eye. There was no mistaking they were Alexis’s eyes. They most often appeared as cold as her icy reputation, but I had also seen them melt to a gorgeously warm sapphire the night before when she was briefly lost in thought… Fuck…
I finished the rest of my shower quickly, pushing aside thoughts of Alexis as I dressed for bed and resolutely ignoring my aching need for a quick release… the thought that her eyes, or any other part of her gorgeous body, might drift into (or drive) my fantasies was more than enough to keep my erotic urges at bay. I mean, lusting after a colleague, especially one who was my boss in everything but name, could never end well. Right? Right…
Alexis – Friday, December 12th, 2014
In the three weeks Mikaela had been working with me I quickly came to depend on her far more than I would have imagined possible. If there was one word to describe my time with her, it would be “unpredictable,” but in the best possible way. Her keen insight and ability to see beyond the numbers had helped me to not only save my accounts with two of my larger clients that were recently being courted by a rival firm, but to significantly expand my relationships with a half dozen other clients by demonstrating the value of consolidating their family’s assets with me, further reinforced by reminding them of how much I had helped them with their portfolios over the last seven years, most notably after the global financial collapse in 2008. As with most people, they had wanted to abandon their investments when, after a year of bad news, they started to feel like there was no end in sight. I had been able to successfully argue the value of their defensive investment positions and the importance of weathering the storm. Six years later, where many others were still struggling to regain their losses from that horrible time, my clients were profiting nicely. I had already signed one of them on for a family management pricing plan and had appointments booked for the other five in January to do a full review of their family portfolios.
More surprising for me was that despite everything we had accomplished in the last weeks, having her in my corner meant that I was actually going to be leaving early on a Friday, if for no other reason than I was so ahead of schedule that I honestly couldn’t come up with an excuse to pull another late night. As I grabbed my coat, I hesitated at the door and, faced with the prospect of an evening without distractions did something completely impulsive. Before I could stop myself, I turned back to Mikaela. Ever alert to what I might need, her eyes flicked up from her computer monitor, “Something you need from me, Alexis?”
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