Fanfiction – Cordis

kalendraashtar:

Previously - Part I

Cordis

Part II – Wallflower in Blue

The human forearm is a magnificent piece of engineering (author unknown, circa a few million years ago). With two bones forming a practical joint, they achieve what one alone could not – flexibility, strength, range of motion, length to touch what goes beyond the space that constitutes us. The ulna and radius are one of those couples you could truly call “meant to be, together for always”.

People have a strange fascination for the things that can break them. My fractured arm – a distal fracture of the radius, like a broken car antenna - was the subject of much speculation and curiosity, as if every acquaintance of mine felt there was a tale of caution awaiting them in the story of my predicament. When asked, I used to shrug with a smile as yellow and spicy as Dijon mustard, and tell them “It’s a small price to pay for winning the Hunger Games” (it’s hard to be truly funny, when you have an itch somewhere you cannot reach – be it the tingling of the fluttering heart or a rash of the skin underneath a closed cast).

When the bone heals the loss of connection becomes almost invisible - no thicker than a hair, really - but a frailty remains that serves as weathercast and constant reminder that you are breakableFinite.

Jamie’s palm would cover my wrist, just above that secret place on the marrow that once was a precipice, as he pressed me again the wall of his office. “I want to kiss ye”, he would whisper hoarsely next to my ear, the vibration of his body more real than his words. I’d tilt my chin to offer him my parted mouth in silent challenge and he would laugh softly, in that way that came from the belly – dark, sultry, copious, flying over the parachute of his diaphragm. “It’s not yer mouth I want, Claire.”

The story of how I ended up in the X-ray machine to assess my swollen and bruised wrist - braless, while wearing a silky backless blue gown -, started about six months after our transfer to Aberdeen.

“There’s a formal invitation in your mail tray, Claire.” Mary peeked from the door, while I bit the tip of my finger in the process of trying to decipher a diagram made by Rachel, one of the best of my engineering team but a terror in the writing department. “It has the Aberdeen Council stamp on it.”

I turned my neck so quickly to look at her, that my cervical muscles spasmed painfully.  I cursed between teeth, massaging the offended tissues with my knuckles, while I nonchalantly hopped towards the unattended correspondence.

I had glimpsed James Fraser heading to the City’s Office that same morning, while I took my rollerblades for a spin in the park, and almost got ejected into the fountain while I stared at him. He was wearing a full grey suit with an anthracite tie, with a knot that wouldn’t pose a real challenge to my eager fingers, keen on solving puzzles of the human nature. The hollow of his neck, that small cranny between the swell of his Adam’s apple – named after the first man to be choked with desire - and the cartilage of his clavicles, was a conundrum that occupied my restless mind at night. I didn’t know how to fix that ache he imposed on me.

The invitation was sophisticated and elegant, with a tasteful font, the paper creamy and soft on my hands. I read it avidly, while reminding myself it wasn’t a summon for a date with him.

Councillor James A.M.M. Fraser, Lord Provost of Aberdeen

Cordially invites Ms. Claire E. Beauchamp, CEO of CordisTech, to the Heart of Scotland Awards. We’ll enjoy an evening of dinning, dancing and a special silent auction, benefiting the neonatology ward of the Aberdeen Maternity Hospital.

Friday, September 20th, 7pm. RSVP by September 1st.

It was signed by the hand of the man himself, his calligraphy bold but with a remarkable economy of twirls and loops. It was the handwriting of a reserved man, who didn’t want to show too much of the mechanisms of his mind to foreigners.

“You need to get a dress.” Mary raised her brows, smiling widely. I opened my mouth to complain, to tell her we were still on cost contention after the move, but she didn’t offer me a chance. “Pamper yourself for once, aye? The company won’t go to immediate bankruptcy over a salon visit and a new pair of stilettos. You deserve it, Boss.”

“Fine.” I raised my hands in mocked surrender, rolling my eyes. “I might just get a brazilian wax with your bonus payment.”

The dress had been an absurd impulse. It called to me from the window display in a way that clothing usually didn’t, as if part of my skin was on that hanger, waiting for me to seek it. It was conspicuous, to say the least – modest in the cleavage but with a fully open back, that finished just above my dimples of Venus. The bold cut meant I’d be wearing nothing but my own skin underneath it; it made me feel powerful and somewhat reckless. And stupid, since deep down I knew I wasn’t dressing for myself, going against a set of mental womanly rules I tried to keep strictly in place.

What the fuck was I doing?

A question that would turn into mantra during the gala, making me gnaw on my cuticles like a woman possessed.

A myriad of businessmen, sports figures, distant relations to ancient Scottish nobility and mild celebrities filled the generous hall, the champagne on their glasses as sparkly as their enthused eyes. The high walls were decorated with old clan mottos, family crests and pieces of exquisite tartan; an explosion of legacy of epic proportions.

The Lord Provost looked absolutely dashing in his black-tie number, towering above most men, his flaming hair like a banner announcing the army of his blue eyes. By the second hour of the affair, it became blatantly clear that James Fraser had made it his mission to greet, influence and charm every person on the venue.

Except me.  

I felt like a wallflower, standing mainly alone at a corner of the place, as I was still mostly an outsider to the community. InvisibleEmbarrassed.

By the end of the night, after the silent auction, everybody would come to know my name.

***

The door opened and he strode in, graceful and silent like a wild beast on the prowl, and I pretended to take a moment to raise my eyes from a report to finally indulge on acknowledging him. He looked disturbed.

Good.

“Councillor.” I greeted him flatly, as Jamie decidedly marched in the direction of my desk and sat on the armchair in front of me. “Please, do sit down.” I said ironically since he had already taken the liberty, slightly biting the inside of my cheek.

“Are you holding Ian’s prosthetic as hostage to punish me?” Even though his tone was dead serious, the ridicule of the tirade almost made me giggle. Instead, I adjusted my position on the chair as if I was carefully contemplating the idea of ransoming a custom-made prosthetic. Adding pirate of limbs to my curriculum.

“Ian’s leg is ready.” I assured him, when I thought he was about to snap, his hands coiling on top of my desk. Jamie’s slightly wavy hair was curling just above his ears – I knew how it felt in my fingers, in the tender and ticklish skin between the digits - and I struggled not to let it distract me. “Calm down, Mister Fraser. Such stress isn’t good for your health.”

“You’re enjoying this.” He accused me, squinting in my direction. “Ye truly think I deserve to be punished, aye?”

Once, Jamie had told me - his voice deep and brutal -, “I like to see ye mad. Impassioned. To see ye undone, ferocious, because of something I said. Because I shifted yer axis and ye’re struggling to hold on. I like when I come close. I like to see ye so.”

Maybe I liked to see him so, too.

“Let’s go to the atelier.” I ignored his words and raised from the chair, not waiting for him to follow me. “I’ll show you my creation.”

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