Hello everyone! I’m here as Holly today because yesterday, A Well-Functioning Cubicle was released. Yay! It’s a short contemporary story about Jace and Paxton. An office romance! I don’t think I’ve written an office romance before.
It was one of those stories that poured out of me. Some stories are a struggle, every sentence a battle, and some stories you don’t really know what happened when you type The End. It’s like you’re under a spell and everything pours out of you without you having to do much about it. This was one of those.
A Drop of Moonshine, that I submitted earlier this week, was a struggle through and through. So it’s nice with a bit of a change LOL
Jace has some anxiety problems, not in the way that he can’t leave his home, but everything needs to be in its right place or his world crumbles. Straight lines and order is the way to a happy life, only Paxton doesn’t see it that way. He likes to adjust the labels so they’re a little crooked, put the pen in the wrong place, and so on.
One of hubby’s closest co-workers is like that, and I felt so bad for him some time back. They were moving to another building at the military base where he works, and they were moving their office too. When everything had been put in the right place, they were to put labels on all drawers and boxes and stuff. To mess with him, they put them all on crooked.
Poor guy. Hubby said he had a minor fit. I told him it was not funny and really mean to do something like that, but he laughed at me. Men. Sigh. Anyway, the poor soul fixed all the labels, so I guess it’s fine now. Still mean, though.
I didn’t think of that incident while I wrote, but it was probably there at the back of my mind because Jace has a problem with the labels.
Oh, I forgot to say, I wrote it to celebrate National Flash Drive Day.
Jace Villin likes straight lines and clean surfaces. Life is so much easier when everything is in its right place, and he and his friend Felicity have a good system for the cubicle at work. They have a drawer each, one side of the bulletin board each, and they don’t interfere with each other’s territories. But then Felicity quits, and Jace has to share his cubicle with someone else.
Paxton Sallow promised himself never to work in an office again, but there are no job openings, and he has bills to pay. The job might be the most boring he’s ever had to endure, but at least he can amuse himself with moving Jace’s things around. It’s amazing how upsetting a crooked label can be.
Jace doesn’t know what to do with Paxton. He wants to snarl at him to respect his boundaries at the same time as he wants to run his fingers through his hair and kiss him silly. Paxton knows he should leave Jace alone, but he can’t help himself. He wants to see Jace outside of work, but how will Paxton get him to agree to have a cup of coffee with him when he runs off as soon as he tries to ask him out?
Contemporary Gay Romance: 14,339 words
Grabbing a cup of coffee in the break room, he slowed as he passed Andrea’s desk. She didn’t pay him any attention, so he continued only to come eye to eye with the mousy girl in the cubicle next to theirs. “Hi.” He grinned.
When he reached the cubicle, Jace was in the middle of logging off. “Did you have a good day?”
The blank stare Jace gave him had a shiver going through him. He was overreacting, had to be, but Jace looked haunted. Maybe he’d had a bad night’s sleep or something.
“Odin doing okay?”
Jace nodded. “He’s fine.”
“Have you had him long?” Watching some of the tension melt away from Jace’s shoulders shouldn’t feel like a victory, but it did.
“Four years in June.”
Pax smiled. “Nice. I’ve been thinking about getting a pet, but…” He shrugged. “I’ve mostly worked at restaurants and the working hours aren’t great.”
Jace nodded. “Have… eh… a good day.” He walked out of the cubicle, keeping as much distance between them as was physically possible. Pax didn’t like it.
“That’s near impossible in a place like this.”
Jace looked confused. “You don’t like the job?”
“Do you?” Did anyone?
“I think it’s a good job, not too stressful and no crowds.”
Paxton nodded. “You have a point.”
Jace nodded and walked away, no goodbye, or see you tomorrow. Though he had wished him a good day, so maybe it was farewell enough. It wasn’t. Pax had a silly notion of calling him back. He wanted to see the too-wide mouth smile, not that Jace ever smiled at him, but he’d replayed the nearly-there smile he’d given Andrea the day before in his mind more times than a sane man should.
It didn’t take many minutes before Andrea showed up by his cubicle. “Don’t mess with the label on the drawer.”
“What?” Pax chuckled.
“I told you not to mess with Jace.”
“Oh, come on. It’s a label.”
“Yes, it’s a label, so it means nothing to you, and you should be able to leave it alone.”
“Do not mess with Jace.” She whirled around and walked toward her desk with determined steps.
“Andrea!” He shot up from his chair. “You can’t be serious. I moved a label.”
She glared at him, and Pax raised his hands disarmingly.
“You moved it to mess with him, and you succeeded.”
Succeeded? Paxton waited for her to elaborate. She didn’t. “What do you mean succeeded?”
“He was…” She took a deep breath. “He begged me not to tell you, but please, Paxton, don’t mess with him.”
Pax nodded and went back to his desk. There was a new label on the drawer, placed in a perfectly straight line. Sighing, he sat and opened the first email of the day. When Andrea went on her break, he walked to the supply closet, made one label that said pen and one that said notebook. Back at his desk, he opened Jace’s drawer and fixed the labels to the pen and the notepad, only he put the notepad one on the pen and the pen on the notepad.
There was a bag of Fritos chips, a ten-piece pack of Oreos, and a bag of mini-Twix. The pretzels were gone.
Pax went to grab a cup of coffee and stole an Oreo. After having answered another ten emails, he grabbed the flash drive from his drawer and started reading. Before long he was sucked into the story, the office fell away.
When footsteps came closer, Pax minimized the window with the pdf reader and opened an email.