See Part 1 for Disclaimers.
No writer can write in a vacuum. We beginners are especially in need of feedback, advice, encouragement, cookies, etc. I will do my best to respond to any messages sent to Dreams2Fly - even criticisms (though don't be surprised if it takes a while on those. I'd rather not respond when I'm upset.) This is my first attempt at a full length story and second posting overall, so bear with me. I believe I am far enough ahead that I should be able to post one part every week or so. I hope you enjoy it.
Lee was fighting, ducking and twisting to avoid his opponent's attacks while attempting to make his own reach their targets. He was vaguely aware of a buzzing roar as if a crowd surrounded him. Sweat was stinging his eyes and he brushed at it ineffectually with the back of a padded fist. He had carefully moved around the ring, maneuvering his opponent into the perfect position, and was now ready to launch his new combination, one he expected to be enough to win him this very important match.
As he launched his much practiced but never used combination, the warning alarm sounded, distracting him just enough to change his rhythm and ruin the timing of the attack. On the third strike, Lee found a fist where it should never have had a chance to reach. His body spun an instant before the pain exploded in his jaw and his vision clouded. As he crashed to the mat, he could hear the bell sounding the end of the match.
For a long moment, Lee lay on the mat too stunned to rise. His mind marveled at the softness of this particular tatami as the bell for the match sounded again. Fuzzily, he wondered why they were ringing it again, but was too sore to really look up and ask. Overhead, the crowd continued to buzz.
When the bell sounded a fourth – or was that the fifth – time, Lee finally forced an eyelid to peel up. On the third blink, he was able to clear the sweat from his eyes enough to focus them on the two inch tall glowing red numbers of his alarm clock mere inches in front of his nose. As he tried to make sense of the presence of an alarm clock on the sparring mat, the bell rang again. This time, though, he finally recognized it as his phone and, suddenly, his surroundings once again made sense.
With a groan, Lee untangled an arm from the sheet twisted around him and pulled the phone from its cradle. As soon as the handset hit his ear, he muttered in the clearest voice he could manage, "I'm naked. I could show you a really good time."
There wasn't even a pause before the reply was fired back, "That's nice, dear, but you know I don't swing your way."
Lee sighed dramatically as he rolled onto his back, "Ah, the story of my life." He swallowed the disappointment that always swamped him every time he was reminded of his best friend's adamant position on dating him. At times, it was painfully difficult to accept that rejection.
Finally, on the tail end of a jaw splitting yawn, he muttered, "G'mornin', Cass."
"Good afternoon to you, too. You've got two hours to get moving and get in here. Do you think you can manage?"
Lee grinned despite the fuzziness that threatened to drag him back down to sleep. "Oh, I don't know. I may need you to come scrub my back for me. You could give my other parts a good rubbing, too." Sometimes, she just left the door open and he had no choice but to walk into it - even when he knew it was going to be slammed shut again before he got a chance to enter.
"You," Cass chortled, "are incorrigible."
Lee completed the equation softly, "So you keep telling me."
Lee's eyes remained closed as he listened to Cass' laughter slowly dwindle. When she'd finally calmed down, she spoke again. "Whew! Right. So." She took a breath. "Mrs. Leminski called to confirm your meeting with her tomorrow at 5:30. She said to make sure you were aware that she couldn't be 'sweet talked,' as she put it, out of her organization's stance on your show."
Lee growled softly. "Mrs. Leminski can just bite my left–"
"Now, now. Remember, you're the producer of a major children's show," she admonished, but Lee could actually hear the grin on Cass’ face.
"Yeah.” Lee blew out an exasperated breath. “Just make sure I have my notes for her meeting. And, see if you can find something out on her I can use as leverage. I really hate dealing with these holier-than-thou folks who seem to think they've figured out the secret to the perfect society – especially when that perfection involves censorship."
"I'll see what I can do." Cass paused a moment before continuing, "That girl, Hillary, called again. What do you want me to tell her?" She rushed ahead before he could even begin to form a reply. "And, Laurie called to tell you that there'll be 23 kids for tomorrow's shoot. She wants you to give her a call before the end of the day if you have anything specific you want them wearing."
"Okay, I'll give her a call on the way in."
"Good deal." Except for the steady hum of the desk fan moving the too warm air around his room, there was silence. Forgot to turn the heat down again, he mused to himself. Then, Cass asked quietly, "What about Hillary?"
"Just…" Lee laid an elbow over his eyes and let his voice drop to a plaintive whisper. "I don't know. Just tell her…" His voice trailed off as his mind supplied various responses for him: She's not the one... It's just not going to work... I'm not going to be her trophy... "Ugh!" he exclaimed as much to give an answer as to silence his mind.
"Tell her 'ugh,' huh?" Cass' voice was light.
"Ha. Ha.” Lee gave up. “Tell her whatever you think is best. But, I'm not taking her out again."
Her voice gentled further. "I'll take care of it, hon. Not to worry."
Lee took a deep breath then let it out in a long exhale before speaking again. "Ok, well, if there aren't any emergencies that need my immediate attention, then I’ll see you in a bit."
"We'll be here." There was a pause. "Don't forget about Laurie."
“Uh-huh.” Lee disconnected the line and let the phone drop to the bed beside him. For several minutes he simply stared at the ceiling, completely forgetting about work and his bad luck with women, and giving his mind a chance to sort through the images from the dream he'd had. "I wonder," he mused to the room after a while, "if I'm trying to warn myself about my lack of concentration or something."
With a snort – whether of disgust or amusement, even he couldn't have said – and a grunt, Lee lifted himself up into a sitting position. He took another moment to arch his back and scratch areas on his stomach and chin where his hair had matted in sleep before swinging his feet out from under the covers and onto the floor. With one last sigh, Lee was standing and ready to face what was left of the day.