EVENING OF DECEMBER 20, 2012.
Another year, another Christmas party. This year's theme was fittingly apocalyptic, as it was the night before the world was supposed to end. What was even more fitting was that his ex-wife had chosen this night to show up at his penthouse, practically begging for him to take her back. When he had declined, it had turned into an hour long argument. She shoved him, he avoided shoving her back. She called him names, he asked her to leave. The whole ordeal had not only given him the headache from hell but it had made him late for the party. Though he was obviously upset about it, when he made his speech barely five minutes after arriving, not one person noticed he wasn't his normal cheerful self.
Well, except for Lisandra Micheli. He could see the worry in her eyes even as she laughed at all of his horrible jokes.
Ever since sharing a moment in an elevator nearly two years before, their relationship had changed. Gifts of tea and chocolate were often exchanged, they met up for lunch here and there, and the conversation was always flowing. He teased her, she pranked him, and they had a great working relationship. August respected her and maybe even felt something for her. It seemed that every time they were alone, there had been a spark pushing them closer. They had almost kissed more times than he could count, and the tension between them could be cut with a knife. Not that he was allowing himself to acknowledge any of those things, especially now that she was in a relationship with his best friend.
"And if the world ends tomorrow, I'll see all of you in Hell," August finished his speech on a particularly hilarious note, and laughter erupted as he stepped down from the stage. Wasting no time, he made a beeline for the bar, tossing his suit jacket on a chair as he passed an empty table. His hand lifted to loosen his red tie as he walked. He could hear the sound of heels behind him, and he didn't have to turn around to know who was following him.
She at least let him order his red blend before speaking, "Spit it out, August."
He turned around and looked her over. Form-fitting black dress and matching black heels. She always did look good in black, he thought. He swirled the wine in its glass before taking a sip from it. "My ex-wife decided tonight, what with the impending end of days, was the perfect night to demand I take her back," he said, frustrated and voice dripping with sarcasm. It surprised him when she immediately reached forward and placed a comforting hand on his shoulder. He looked at her gratefully, noticed the concern in her eyes, and it was then that he realized he knew exactly how he felt about her.
Leave it to August Bergmen to complicate things.
The woman standing in front of him was absolutely perfect. She challenged him, she made him laugh, and she understood him in ways that no one else ever had. It had taken him eight years, but he knew that he could finally love again.
"I'm sorry," she said. "You haven't told me a lot about her, but she doesn't sound like the love of your life."
He nodded as if to say it was fine and took another, longer drink from his glass. Before he knew it, it was empty.
"Drinking your troubles away? I don't think so. Come on, Bergmen. You're dancing with me."
He gave her a pleading look, one that read don't make me do that, but she was already dragging him towards the dance floor. He sighed and relented. The music for the evening had been hand-picked by their music expert, Gavin, whose day job of playing video games instead of doing actual work had finally paid off. Because of this, most of the music was from the 50s, as had been done in the Fallout game series. The upbeat Frank Sinatra tune that had been playing faded to end as they reached their destination, and The Ink Spots' "I Don't Want To Set The World On Fire" began to play. As other duos and couples adjusted to the change, August offered Lissa his hand.
"You still up for it, Micheli?" he asked, and she answered by wrapping her arms around his neck. He placed his hands on her waist, and they started to move in time with the music. They made small talk, and Lissa attempted to make him laugh, trying to distract him from the situation with his ex. It worked. As the song went on, it didn't go unnoticed that they were gravitating closer and closer to one another. His arms were completely around her, and he could feel her breath, hot against his chin.
August looked down at her, and a warm smile crossed his lips. He noticed it when her eyes briefly flickered to his lips, and he dipped his head, wanting nothing more than to kiss her in that moment, despite knowing how wrong it was. She caught on, and he sensed her moving to meet him. Apparently she didn't care either.
"Lissa, are you ready?" came a voice from behind them. August cursed silently as David came up behind them. He noticed that her cheeks had turned the same shade of red as his tie as she jerked away from him. To distract himself from what had just happened, he reached out to affectionately pat his best friend on the shoulder.
The three of them chatted for a moment, David and August gushing over science while August avoided Lissa's gaze, afraid of what he might see in her eyes. There was a guilt in his own, from even thinking of betraying his closest friend like that. All he could do as he hugged them both goodnight was be grateful David had interrupted when he did.
"Merry Christmas, boss," Lissa said apologetically as she took David's hand into her own and walked away from him.
August grabbed his coat and left immediately after. No matter how many times he told himself it was for the best, he never quite believed it. He couldn't take his mind off of Lissa or that look in her eyes as she had leaned to kiss him. With each sip of wine he took, sitting on the cold floor of his wine cellar, he hoped her face would become fuzzier. Instead, it became more vivid, and this infuriated him. The only answer to his problem was to drink more wine. Eventually it would do what he wanted it to.
When midnight came, and the world hadn't ended, August was almost disappointed.