On Common Ground
Two days passed. Stefan had taken Zander home and then he had returned to Wyndemere. The place felt more empty than ever before and Stefan buried himself in work as a way to convince himself that he didn't care. And to convince himself that he didn't miss Zander. It was crazy to miss him. They had no relationship what so ever, yet miss him Stefan did.
"Yes?" Stefan did not look up from his desk as he replied to Mrs. Lansbury.
She cleared her throat. "Young Mr. Smith is here. Shall I show him in?"
Stefan's head shot up. "What? Zander is here?"
"Send him in immediately." Stefan rose from his desk and a smile threatened, but he schooled his features into a neutral expression as Mrs. Lansbury bustled out to do his bidding. A moment later Zander entered the Study. "Good to see you," Stefan offered in greeting.
Zander smiled. "Thanks. You too. I hope you don't mind me just showing up like this."
Stefan shook his head. "I don't mind at all. Are you all right? How are you feeling? Have you been back to see the doctor?" Stefan knew Zander hadn't been. He'd asked.
"I'm fine. I heal fast." Zander shuffled his feet.
"Is there something I can help you with?" Stefan prompted, sensing the young man's nervousness.
Zander made a face. "Well...that depends. Is that job offer still open?"
Stefan felt a sense of relief and allowed himself a bit of hope as he nodded. "Of course it's still open. Are you interested?"
"Yeah...yeah I am." Zander ran a hand through his hair and paced a few steps.
"Don't take this the wrong way, because I'm pleased that you've accepted my offer. But why?" Stefan was more than a little curious.
Zander shrugged. "Alot of reasons. I need the money, but more than that I need to change my life. I'm kind of hoping that by being here and being busy...maybe I can escape the memories of my other life."
Stefan nodded. "Your life with Emily."
"Yeah. So…when can I start?"
"Right now." Stefan's tone was brisk but his heart was light as he approached Zander. "We can get your things later."
Zander winced, shuffled his feet again, then announced, "Actually...I brought my stuff with me." He headed out of the room and into the hallway.
Stefan followed and was surprised to see Zander standing by a large duffle bag. "That's it?"
"Yeah. I learned not to collect things a long time ago." Zander dropped his eyes to the floor.
"Of course. Well then.." Stefan could have kicked himself for making Zander feel embarrassed. "Did you like the green room? You can call it yours if you like."
Zander smiled. "Yeah...it was cool."
Stefan was pleased. "Do you want to unpack first?"
"Nah. I'll just drop my bag off then meet you back in the study. I’m ready to work."
"I'll meet you there then." Stefan couldn't stop the smile that curved his lips as he watched Zander scoop up his bag and bound up the stairs. He felt a sudden presence behind him and turned to find Mrs. Lansbury standing there. "Did you want something?"
She shook her head but a smile threatened to spread across her face. "No, sir. I assume Young Mr. Smith will be staying with us?"
Stefan nodded. "Yes, he's my new assistant. Treat him well." A foolish thing to say for Stefan knew that she would. He had seen how Mrs. Lansbury had taken to Zander when he had been here last. With Nikolas gone, she craved another young man to fuss over. Stefan wondered how Zander would react to being mothered by Mrs. Lansbury. It would be interesting to watch. "Oh…I need you to call Everton's for me. Ask for Mr. Phillipe and tell him to send over someone with a complete wardrobe in Zander's sizes. I'll need everything." Stefan knew that she understood what he meant.
"I'll get right on there, sir," Mrs. Lansbury assured him. Then she bustled off.
"Thank you," Stefan replied, but she was already gone. He heard footsteps and Zander was now bounding down the stairs towards him. "Ready to go to work? I won't be easy on you." Stefan warned.
Zander grinned. "Bring it on," he invited.
Stefan led the way back into the study and closed the door behind them.
* * * * *
"We'll take that one," Stefan announced, nodding at the suit that Zander was wearing. Dark gray with a pale blue shirt and matching tie.
"Are you nuts?" Zander shook his head. "You already picked out four suits. Which is like four too many. I hate suits. Besides which, I already have two of my own."
Stefan sighed. "I explained this to you already, Zander. You'll need the suits for your new position."
Zander glared at Stefan as he shrugged out of the jacket then almost ripped off the tie. "And I suppose I'll need all the fancy sweaters and the casual slacks, or whatever you called them, and stuff too?"
"Yes, you will. We will attend various functions and you will require suitable attire." Stefan hid a smile as he spoke. He had gone on a spending spree with Zander, but he couldn't help it. Everything the boy tried on he looked wonderful in and Stefan was enjoying himself. Nikolas had stopped allowing Stefan to gift him with anything long ago. With Zander, Stefan could go a little wild.
"Did you buy clothes for your other assistants?" Zander queried.
Stefan was pleased to be able to answer honestly. "Yes, I did."
Zander frowned. "Oh." He undid the silk shirt he was wearing and pulled it off.
"I have a few more things I would like you to try on," Stefan announced. He tried not to watch as Zander undressed in front of him, but he couldn't help it. The young man had a beautiful body, its perfection not in the least bit marred by the bandage on his shoulder, or the scar between his pectorals. Stefan felt the old stirring and was almost relieved when Zander yanked on his jeans and a tee shirt.
"I'm done trying on anything," Zander stated. "I want to finish up the research on that file you gave me."
Stefan was pleased by Zander's eagerness. He was a quick study and he had a quick mind. Zander Smith was very smart and Stefan planned to make good use of his intelligence. "The file can wait until morning, Zander. You've put in a full days work."
Zander shook his head. "It'll drive me nuts if I don't finish it." He stomped his feet into his sneakers. "Um...thanks for the stuff. It's way too much though. You need to take some of it out of my paycheck."
"I'll pay for the clothes, Zander. Don't worry about it." Stefan smiled then waved him off. He then picked out a few more things, paid for them, sent the assistant on his way then called in one of the serving girls to take Zander's new wardrobe to his room and put it away for him. He then headed down to the study to find Zander elbow deep in reference books. Stefan watched for a moment then he turned and walked away. A smile on his face.
© Shelly 2004