Chapter 1 : And So the Story Goes....
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It had been a long, drawn out nine months for Kenzie D’masi. A year ago she would have never been able to predict her current circumstance. She thought she had everything planned, she thought that her life was on the right track—and a fast one at that.
At twenty-two, just four years out of Beauxbutons, she had a dream job and was happily employed at Lazarus Brooms Incorporated. Not only that, but she was preparing for a career changing proposal that would transform the industry forever. It also didn’t hurt that she just so happened to be engaged to Decimus Lazarus, the heir apparent to the company. Everything was perfect, or at least it appeared to be.
For the preceding year, she had been working night and day trying to perfect her pitch. Her proposition was going to revolutionize they way people thought about brooms and would catapult Lazarus to the status of premiere industry innovator, she was sure of it. You see, the World Quidditch League regulated brooms, however the rules in place only dictated restrictions on length, weight, and bristle head breadth. Your broom could be so long, weigh so much, and the width of the bristles could only be so wide. Of course all broom manufacturers complied with these restrictions, but most specialized in only one model; she wanted to change that.
It never made sense to her why Seekers, Keepers, Chasers, and Beaters all rode the same brooms when each position was so diverse and required mastery of different skills. Why shouldn’t there be a broom designed specifically for the speed and agility required of a chaser. Why wasn’t there a broom that could deal with the transfer of kinetic energy and recoil experienced when a beater goes to hit a bludger? These were problems that needed remedied if the game was to evolve. There should be a broom that was optimized for the dives seekers were prone to make, and there should be a broom designed with the capability to aid in the skillful blocks required of keepers who were often only steering with one hand. It made perfect sense, but no one had ever done anything about it.
Sure all the brooms available now were sufficient, but not specialized. So why not make them as in tune with the needs of the athlete as possible, and make the game that much more competitive? That was her goal, and she poured all of her time and energy into the proposal. It was going to change the business and Lazarus was going to be at its forefront. Talk is cheap though, she had to follow through and it wasn’t an easy task she set for herself.
The actually modifying of brooms, for each position’s optimization, was a logistics and engineering nightmare. It had taken months of off-the-clock work, design tweaks, and meetings with different experts, both muggle and wizard, for the schematics to come together. But even with all her planning, the manufacture of an actual prototype proved to be even more of a hassle. As if getting the aerodynamics and physics of everything just right wasn’t difficult enough, the enchantments and spell work required were doubly temperamental. This, coupled with testing the brooms out herself, proved to be extremely dangerous and ended her up in St. Mungo’s more than a few times. Still, she was up to the task even if it did mean giving up her life outside work.
After four months of no sleep, countless meetings with the World Quidditch League to make sure everything was in line with their regulations, compiling detailed manufacturing diagrams and requirements, outlining the cost of implementing such a huge endeavor, not to mention production of several keepers prototype as well as plans for brooms for the other remaining positions, she was ready to divulge just what she had been working on and what she was spending the companies money on. Her pitch went perfectly, and she couldn’t have been more thrilled.
Her proposal was met with extreme excitement from her soon to be father-in-law, as well as other industry authorities, including representatives from the WQL. Together they were going to change the game they all loved so much. She was put in charge of everything, from hiring research developers to work on broom designs based on her initial concepts, to overseeing the test trials of the different models, and even approval to move into the manufacturing stage. It was her baby and they were going to let her raise it from the ground up, at least that was the original intention.
With all the time she was spending working on the project, it was hard to have a life outside of work. It probably didn’t help her relationships that she had been very secretive when going about her tasks prior to the giving her proposal, everything was meant to be a surprise. Then again, after her idea was approved, there wasn’t much of a change either. She was still so engrossed and wrapped up in making it a success she had time for nothing else; she wanted to take the world by storm. It was most likely because of this that she didn’t notice the distance growing between herself and Decimus. She didn’t see the signs, or notice his strange behavior, until it was too late.
She had spent another a late night in the lab working on perfecting the momentum absorbing charms for the Beaters broom design, only to arrive back to the flat she shared with Decimus to find her place in bed occupied. Apparently the girl had moved in three days prior to Kenzie finding out, she just never noticed until then considering she spent the last three nights asleep at her desk at work. The betrayal nearly threatened to destroy her; she really never saw it coming. He called off the engagement then and there, and had her come fetch her packed up things the next day.
With pressure mounting, and her life outside of work falling apart, progress on her project was going through a noticeable decline. The deadline delays built up to such an extent, and she was spreading her despondent self so thin, that she was demoted to head research director of the Keeper broom development team, while responsibility for the oversight of the entire endeavor fell to Decimus.
Now, after nine months, having been deserted by the man she considered to be the love her life, and alleviated of the responsibility to implement the innovations she alone had proposed, she felt like a shell of her former self. There was nothing to be done however, except maybe pour herself once again into her work.
With a plethora of perfection seeking adjustments to designs behind her, as well as months of emotional torture, they were finally in the final stages of prototype development for the keepers broom. They were now selecting people to participate in test trials before everything went into production. Several Professional Quidditch players would be by tomorrow to test out all her hard work, and she meant to be prepared for them. Some of her co-workers however had other ideas though.
“Kenzie, give it up will you and come out tonight, you need a break for Merlin’s sake! Hell, you need a life.” Said Daphne Plummer. Kenzie herself had hired the young witch. She was a year older than herself, and had graduated from a Wizarding school in Denmark with superior knowledge in charms. She had come highly recommended by Miranda Goshawk herself, and she was heading up the work involved in getting the charms and enchantments just right.
Kenzie sighed knowing Daphne was right, but was unable to stop fussing. “Wait a second will you, I’m kind of rethinking the shaft angle. You don’t think we’ve bent it too high do you?” This was her life’s dream and passion, she wanted to execute everything flawlessly.
“Will you quit it with your ruddy meddling!” her antsy friend said exasperated. “Not only have we had ten different focus groups approve it, we’ve done the math based on arm length and body height for sample size of bloody three hundred people! The angle is perfect for almost everyone….excluding giants and goblins! Now will you please get you arse in gear, we’re both off-the-clock for Merlin’s sake!” She was clearly getting irritated.
Dragging herself away from the prototype, Kenzie felt uneasy. Tomorrow had her nervous, everything had to be just right. Picking up her jean jacket off a nearby bench with a sigh, she headed towards her friend. “Listen, I know I promised you that we’d go out to celebrate, but I just don’t know if I’m going to be able to have fun. What if the pro’s don’t like it? I keep going over the specifications in my head and second guessing everything!”
Daphne grabbed her by the shoulders and steered her towards the exit, “That is exactly why we are going to get you downright pissed tonight, so you stopping thinking! I know you hate me saying it but you need to get laid. It’s been nine whole months since Decimus called off the engagement. You need a bloke at least for a night!”
Kenzie frowned unhappy at the reminder that she clearly hadn’t moved on. She still wasn’t sure if she was ready to either. “The last thing I need is more complications!” She said trying to justify her lack of a dating life, “I’ve got enough on my plate with everything moving into the production phase! You’re lucky I agreed to go out at all!”
Daphne rolled her eyes. “Yes I do realize that getting you to go out for drinks one bloody night in the last year is quite the feat. I swear if you back out on me now I’ll forever sabotage the rest of you revolutionary broom ideas!” she teased. When it was clear that Kenzie had no response except to grimace, Daphne smiled and looped arms with her colleague. “Glad to see that there are no more objections!” she smirked, “And there better not be anymore when we go back to your place to get you all tarted up.”
Indeed Kenzie had tried to object, however the pull of sidelong apparition took the words right out of her mouth. When she got them back she was standing in the middle of her living room, however Daphne beat her to the punch. The girl was quick with her words.
“Bloody Merlin Kenz!” said the young witch looking around her friend’s disastrous apartment. “I mean I knew your flat was small, but look at this chaos,” she indicated pointing to the mess of schematics and blueprints strewn all over the furniture, floors, and even the walls. There even looked to be a prototype broom graveyard in one corner. “You think maybe you’ve taken the phrase ‘bringing work home’ a little too seriously?” She asked aghast.
Kenzie threw her hands up in the air. “Enough with the criticism will you! I love what I do, I’m sorry if I’ve made it my life. I wish you people would just lay off already and appreciate my passion.” She had heard this all before, it sounded much too much like some of the fights she had with Decimus. She sat down in a huff upon letting her thoughts go to her ex. She couldn’t believe he was already engaged again.
Daphne noticed the sudden watery appearance of her friend’s eyes and she softened just a bit. “I didn’t mean to upset you Kenz. Sometimes you worry me though. Brooms aren’t people!” she tried.
Kenzie sighed. “I know you’re right, I do need to get out there. I mean, I would like to bring some of the old me back. It’s just hard to admit how much I changed. Its like if I do, I’m giving justification to his infidelities, ya know?” She looked up at her friend, “I was just so caught up in work, I didn’t even realize what I was becoming. I changed, he cheated.” She finished flatly.
Daphne knelt in front of her friend shaking her head insistently, “You didn’t become anything you weren’t before Kenz. I know you well enough to realize you’ve always been a hard worker, and your passionate about what you do, even if you get a bit looney about it. Decimus knew it too; the ponce just couldn’t keep it in his pants. It’s not your fault so don’t even go there.”
The reassurance was kind, but it didn’t fix the insecurities she had. Sighing and in need of a change of subject, she stood up and shrugged, “Alright Daph, if you’re going to tart me up, lead the way and get it over with.” She said gesturing for the girl to lead the way to her closet. She happily obliged.
Three dresses, a volumizing charm, and some makeup spells later, Kenzie was looking in the mirror at someone she used to know. Even in her normal sorry state she could hardly be called ugly, however she had gotten lazy and hadn’t seen the need to put in any effort towards herself...Decimus should’ve loved her anyways, right?
Now seeing the difference the effort made really got her thinking twice. Maybe he was right, maybe she had let herself go. Her normally lifeless light brown hair was out of its usually messing bun, and was cascading down her shoulders in appealing waves. Her grey eyes were smudged with eyeliner and dark shadow making her gaze appear sultry with out any effort, and the tight red tube dress really showed off a body that had been honed by years of flying and legs that went on for days. This was the girl that handsome, rich, debonair Decimus had fallen in love with.
Looking at herself in the mirror emotionlessly, she only smiled when Daphne came up behind her, “Now there is the girl I hear all the pervy blokes at work day fantasizing about!” she smiled, “Damn you look good enough to eat!”
Kenzie scoffed and threw a pillow at her friend, “Please refrain from the disgusting comments!” she requested disturbed, “Get ready will you? It’s almost eleven, and if you’re going to get me pissed like you promised, we better leave soon.”
Daphne grinned, “Glad to see you’re finally on board. It’ll only take me one sec.” In reality it was more like two minutes, but in that small amount of time she managed to give her short black hair a bit of a curl, squeeze her short petite frame into a green and black crisscrossed cocktail dress, and use a charm to give her blues eyes some emphasis with natural looking make-up. After that it was only a matter of putting on some strappy heels and Apparating to the club.
Kenzie was actually most nervous about where they were headed. Pariahs had been the trendiest nightclub since she could remember, and she had frequented there with Decimus when they first started dating at the age of nineteen. With any luck he wouldn’t be there tonight, and she could just worry about having fun and making it to work the next day. Apparating to the door front, Kenzie made to go to the back of the long line when Daphne tugged her by the elbow.
“I know it’s been awhile for you, but it hasn’t for me. I know the bouncer, he’ll let us in.” she grinned and lead the way past the velvet ropes and into the noisy club.
It was just the same as Kenzie remembered. All kinds of colorful lights beating in time to loud dance music, while everyone pulsed to the bass line, dancing and appearing to be one large vibrating entity. It brought a smile to her face and made her realize how much she missed dancing like a buffoon, not caring who was watching. She let a smile creep onto her lips and began to feel like it actually was going to be a good night. All she needed was a few drinks, and Daphne seemed to agree.
It was much too loud to actually talk so the shorter girl grabbed Kenzie by the hand and led them through the crowd to the glowing bar in order to get drinks. It seemed Daphne was really determined to follow through on the promise to get her pissed, because her first order was for three shots of firewhiskey, of which she made Kenzie take two. After that they stuck to Artic Gin and tonic.
It didn’t take long before Kenzie was able to feel the effects of the alcohol, and by that time it was long past due they head out on the dance floor. They got right into the thick of things, making their way to the middle of the crowd to lose themselves in the music. Instead of trying to be really serious and sexy about it, they fooled around, twirling each other about, and busting out seriously laughable moves. Anyone watching would be hard pressed to think they weren’t professionals the way they were throwing out the sprinkler, and the shopping cart, and even the famed can opener. It was all in good fun, even the times they jokingly began grinding on each other when the music turned raunchy. By the time they finished their drinks, or more or less spilled them on the floor and everyone around them, they had worked up quite a sweat.
All the body heat coming off of the crowd was making Kenzie’s hair stick to her neck, so she pulled it out of her face and up into a pony tail as they tried to dance their way back to the bar. Eventually they made it, and were attempting to get drinks when the bartender put two shots in front of them and pointed over toward the VIP area saying the drinks were paid for. Together they glanced in the direction he was pointing and picked out an area full of good-looking guys, one of whom must have been watching their ridiculous moves. Once he saw he had their attention he grinned and joined in on their comedy, acting as if he were casting out a fishing line only to begin reeling it in again.
They both about died right there, recognizing the silly dance move, but managed to join in on the fun pretending to be hooked fish swimming in his direction from where they were standing; they couldn’t resist joining in the lameness of the move. He beamed at their reaction and motioned them over with a hand, Daphne held up her index finger indicating they would in a minute. They had to take their shots first, and Kenzie was going to need it if she was expected to socialize with men. For good measure they order another round before heading over.
When they finally did take the fishermen up on his invite, he met them at the entrance to the VIP section, yelling over the music and offering his hand in greeting and to help them up the steps. “Well if it isn’t the two best looking ladies in the club, and with moves to match no less!” He grinned at them impishly. His section looked to be made up of about fourteen guys all clearly well on their way to wasted. Many were rough housing and bantering with one another, while some were snogging with random girls, and still others were dancing as if they were in the middle of the crowd rather than overlooking the dance floor. None of them were terribly bad looking, although many appeared to have broken their nose at one point or another. The boy who greeted them however was quite the looker.
“The names Darren.” He yelled over the music a twinkle in his warm dark eyes.
Daphne introduced both of them, “I'm Daphne, this is Kenzie.” Kenzie waved and offered a bright grin from behind her friend and he shook their hands in turn. “Seems like you’re pretty good with a fishing rod.” She jested once he was done.
Darren chuckled, “You caught me.” He said putting his hands up in admittance, “I really know how to reel ‘em in.” They all shared a quick laugh before he gestured for them to follow him to where he poured them drinks. “So what do you guys do? You from around here?” Darren asked after they downed another shot.
Kenzie was really beginning to feel the alcohol at that moment, and with the question hanging in the air she couldn’t help the chance to talk about work. Only as she opened her mouth to do so, a hand was slapped over her lips. She frowned somewhat cross-eyed at her friend, but didn’t remove the hand.
“You better not be bloody trying to talk about work. This is a strict no work zone!” Daphne said rather crossly before turning to Darren to explain. “Get her started and you’ll never hear the end. Bloody workaholic she is! Can you believe this is the first time in over a year she’s come out for drinks with me?”
Darren’s eyebrows disappeared into his hairline, “Merlin woman, show your girlfriend a good time once in awhile!” he joked mirthfully with them before standing up abruptly, “Hell what are we doing still sitting down! Quick this is your annual chance to compete to see which of you has the corniest dance moves!” He waggled his eyebrows and offered them both a hand to help them out of their seats as they laughed and walked over to where others of his group were dancing.
The three of them got on like old friends. Darren took pleasure in twirling them both around enough to make them dizzy, and even attempted to tango with Daphne at one point. He wasn’t the only one acting ridiculous though; Daphne and Kenzie periodically looped hands around him and began skipping in circles leaving him to just wave his hands in the air absurdly. He didn’t seem to care at all that they looked like fools. in fact, he rather seemed to enjoy it. Especially when they both decided to have a little bit of fun and sandwich him, shoving their bums in his personal space.
Kenzie couldn’t remember the last time she had had this much fun, or gotten this drunk for that matter. She really didn’t even realize her own state until one of Darren’s spins sent her wobbling trying to catch her balance. She only managed to keep her feet because she stumbled into something hard. When she looked up from within strong muscled arms, it was into a pair of warm brown eyes that seemed to be sparkling at her.
“Easy does it there.” He said in an appealing Scottish drawl, griping her by the waist with a small grin on his face.
She couldn’t say a word. She was much too conscious of how inviting his eyes were, and how good it felt to sense a mans hands on her waist. It had been much too long. She looked up at him with what must have been a hazy wide-eyed gaze, her thoughts betraying her as they escaped her lips. “Your eyes…..they’re gorgeous.” She said lamely in an entranced voice. She was shaken from her momentary stupor as he lifted an eyebrow and smirked at her questioningly. Completely embarrassed and a blush coming into her cheeks, she ran back over to where Daphne and Darren were continuing to dance. Luckily Darren alleviated any unnecessary lingering humiliation by grabbing her hand and twirling her into him where he and Daphne proceeded to sandwich her with their bodies. She laughed heartily but couldn’t help glancing over to see a pair of brown eyes on her watching amusedly.
She could practically feel his eyes on her for the rest of the night, and she would’ve been lying to herself if she said she didn’t like it. Every time she turned around, she tried to catch his gaze, and was pleased to find him watching her from where he stood next to the couch and beverage table. She didn’t know if it was the alcohol working or what, but she was really feeding into it, even going so far as to send him small shy smiles when their eyes met.
Before long he had deserted his position of observation in favor of joining in the dancing. Darren’s immediate instinct was to inaugurate his friend with a three way sandwich and the girls happily obliged. It provided Kenzie the perfect opportunity to innocently grope him with the help of some liquid courage, but it didn’t go unnoticed. He smirked at her knowingly and she managed a bashful grin.
The were all dancing around like fools, reveling in the laughter they shared as they made idiots out of themselves. Kenzie’s was breath was coming out in pants, she was refaced, and her feet were beginning to protest in pain, but she kept on dancing. Right up until Darren, once again, spun her a little too aggressively and into another bloke who just so happened to spill his drink all over her.
She was momentarily shocked feeling the cold, sticky liquid flowing down her skin, but she recovered enough to tell the guy to stop his profuse apology, and insist that it was her fault. Before she could properly convince him that she was all right however, she was being whisked off to the bathroom at the back of the VIP section. She looked down expecting to see Daphne’s hand, but smiled upon seeing a much larger hand and warm brown eyes looking down at her.
He escorted her into the bathroom and led her over to the sink where he wet a paper towel and tried to hand it to her. When she didn’t take it (because she was too busy gazing at him stupidly) he just grinned and began trying to clean up her dress for her.
Feeling his hand brush the wet paper towel over her stomach trying to absorb the mess, she couldn’t help but feel somewhat shocked at how nice he was being. She listened to his words.
“Sorry about that plonker, he’s clearly had too much to drink.” He said, his alluring Scottish accent much more discernible now that the music was only a dull background noise.
Kenzie smiled at his words but didn’t say anything, just continued to watch him try and clean her up. He was much more attractive than she initially thought. The small smile he wore on his features was bright and inviting and lit up his whole face in a pleasant, confident way. It was amazing to her how gentle he was being considering the tight fit of his sweater and the strength she had felt under it when she had not so secretly groped him. She was a bit mesmerized if she was being honest with herself.
He was too busy with her dress to notice her staring at him contemplatively, but when he stood up straight having done what he could, he met her wistful eyes. The words he had been about to say were caught in his throat and his smile disappeared as he gulped, his breath taken away at how purely captivating she looked; she was breathtakingly stunning when she was completely relaxed, all anxiety gone. His eyes flickered from her smoldering grey gaze, to her lips before he was able to control himself. Still, he wasn’t going to let himself take advantage of someone in a vulnerable state. She was probably more inebriated than she was letting on.
Had she not been as drunk as she was, Kenzie probably wouldn’t have leaned up to kiss him softly. But even in her intoxicated state, she immediately knew it was a mistake. His body went stock still, and he didn’t return the kiss.
She pulled away quickly feeling a wave of sobriety coupled with mortification. “Shit, I’m such a git, “ She mumbled out hurriedly taking a step back from him and turning to leave. “I’m so sorry. I don’t know what I was thinking.” She shook her head completely embarrassed and headed anywhere but the bathroom.
He stopped her, after battling himself, by leaning over her and using a strong hand to shut the door she had just begun to open. She wasn’t slurring at all, and he much rather preferred her look of bliss than the blubbering apology and crestfallen expression. Plus her lips did look as if they’d feel nice on his.
When she still didn’t turn around, he grabbed her hand and whirled her about to face him. Of course, being a tad bit uncoordinated due to alcohol consumption, she tripped and fell in the process and he had to catch her. He took it all in stride and lifted her back to her feet, chuckling with a roguish grin on his face before drawing her into him once more, crashing his lips down on hers enjoyably.
Shocked because of his initial reaction, she was pleased he changed his mind and quickly kissed him back with just as much intensity, smiling at first into his lips. It felt good to feel the touch of someone else, it felt good to feel wanted. There had been too much time since she last had any intimate contact. She enjoyed the feel of him, and took the opportunity to run her hands up his muscled arms before letting them rest on his broad, solid chest.
Any doubts that she had overstepped her bounds were erased when he pulled her closer, compelling her to arch her back into him and slide her hands around his neck with the force of his large, strong hands. She broke away from his kiss due to the suddenness of the movement, but her lips found his neck in the interim and she was rewarded with the emission of small moans and the feel of him shuddering briefly in pleasure. Merlin she had missed this!
It came as more of a shock to her than to him when the door burst open suddenly. He was used to his friends trying to have a go at him by interrupting when he least appreciated it. So when he heard the door, he spun them both around suddenly, holding her defensively away from whoever had come barging in to poke fun. Surprisingly, it was the other girl he had been dancing with who was doing the teasing.
“You alright Ken---Oh my bloody merlin!” She started before going off in disbelief. “You’re snogging!” she muttered awkwardly as she started to back out. “I’ll just be going then…she really needs this.” She finished, gesturing towards Kenzie while smiling towards them both. Kenzie buried her head into the muscled chest in front of her, horrified and expecting that to be the worst of it. Unfortunately her friend popped her head back in. “Why don’t you head back to her place, yeah?” she asked devilishly before backing out again leaving them alone once more, hoping they’d follow her suggestion. Kenzie cringed wanting to hit her friend, but the punishment wasn’t over. Daphne barged in once more, “On second thought, make it his place. Your flat is disastrous!” Kenzie’s jaw dropped as she watched the door thankfully close for the last time.
Left in silence, she fully expected the bloke to pull away, but he didn’t. He stared at the door momentarily stunned, before chortling a bit at the spectacle and turning to face her, eyes twinkling. She waited with baited breath and worry in her eyes for him to make a move, afraid he would leave her feeling dejected.
Instead, to her complete surprise, he kissed her again. Gently at first, that is until Kenzie returned his kindly acceptance of her sorry self, with enough thankful passion that he was compelled to match her intensity. He lifted her up off the ground in the heat of the moment, unintentionally releasing a small growl that caused him to realize what he was doing--and in a nightclub bathroom no less. He pulled away breathless, resting his forehead on her own.
Her eyes looked adorably afraid of rejection as he met her gaze. He grinned laughingly. How could she think he didn’t want her? Kissing her forehead he trailed a hand down her jawline, “My place then?” He asked simply, still gasping for air and grinning like a fool.
He was rewarded with a smile so sultry it made his blood boil, even more so when she pulled him back into her for an answering kiss. Daphne had been right, Kenzie did need this.
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