Above their heads, Nick Cave quietly asserted that he believed in love. Elias turned pale eyes up toward the ceiling, as he felt the weight of the phone leave his palm. Her voice slid silkily into the center of his stomach and curled there, radiating a warm ache that he consciously avoided naming. But he way she said his name... It was a gateway to trouble, and he knew it was, but that didn't stop his desire to reach across the space between them and --
Abruptly, he halted the thought. It was ridiculous, fanciful, inappropriate, and borderline ungrateful. It would never happen. It was better to be alone, to avoid all entanglements. Still, he wished he could see her. Was she as graceful as her voice? Did she glide over the floor the way her words slid across the air toward him?
"Cleo-dot-Grimes-at-dyntek-dot-com," he said, aware that he was close to too much silence. "It should read, 'I will not be in, tomorrow. Please advise my team.' Nothing more is needed, Ms. St. Giles."
Setting the tips of his fingers on his forehead, he rubbed roughly. He wanted to know everything about her, but he would have to ask. That was the difficult part. He felt awkward and thick-headed. Behind his eyes, a thrumming had begun. He was making, he understood, a wretched first impression.
"You are not catching me at my best," he said at last. "But I am... glad... that you are here. Do not judge me too harshly on this night alone." And then, dryly: "Wait until you've --"
The (admittedly bad) joke died in his throat. He closed his hands over his knees and slowly, slowly leaned forward. In the dim light, it was likely impossible to see how sharply he'd paled. But after a moment, he leaned back again, carefully. And if the tension was not yet seeping out of his form, it was clear that he was trying to make it go. Weak laughter spilled from him. "I've never been good with conversation," he said. "Perhaps you could tell me about yourself instead."
As soon as he said them, he blinked. It hadn't been as difficult to ask as he thought.