The Program Ch. 01


Taylor's eyes widened again. "What? Why?"

He shrugged, running a soothing hand along her arm. "You yelled the name during the nightmare." Taylor chewed the inside of her lip for a moment, but said nothing, burying her face against his shirt. Bill sighed and tightened his arms around her, wondering what he was supposed to be doing. Her fingers flexed, moving from where her palms had been resting flat against his chest to twist into the fabric. He thought she was shivering again until she drew a shaky breath and tried to choke back a sob.

Oh crap she's crying, he thought in a panic. He hated when girls cried. It made him feel completely helpless and clumsy, as anything he had ever tried in the past had only resulted more tears. "Shh, Taylor, don't cry," he whispered, running his palm along the flat plane of her back. "Please don't cry."

She tightened her grip on his shirt, shuddered, and continued to cry silently. Bill smoothed her hair, tucking the stray strands back behind her ear before tipping her chin up so he could see her face. She shook her head, taking a deep breath. "I'm s-sorry," she hiccupped, wincing as more tears poured from beneath closed lashes.

"Oh, Taylor," he sighed, catching her face between his palms. He swept the tears away with the pads of his thumbs, giving up that task when he couldn't keep up with the pace of her crying. Instead, he tugged the hem of his shirt free and dried her cheeks, as she seemed to regain some control. Every time she met his concerned gaze, her eyes welled again.

"Sweetie," he said gently. "You're exhausted." She sniffed and nodded. He gave her a small smile. "I think you just need some rest."

He watched as she worked through an internal debate, her expression conflicted. Her eyes pressed close as she released a shaky breath, her fingers tightening reflexively in the fabric of his shirt. "Will you stay?"

If he had any thoughts of refusing her, the pleading look in her eyes banished any hesitation. "Sure," he whispered, pulling her down to rest against his chest, tucking her head beneath his chin. "I'll stay as long as you like."

She shifted in his lap, snuggling into his embrace. He suppressed a sigh as her fingers carefully released his shirt, her hands lightly searching for a comfortable resting place. He listened as her breathing slowly evened out. And only when he was sure she was asleep did he loose the groan that had been building deep in his chest. This girl was going to be the death of him.

Bill woke the following morning with a warm feeling and a pleasant weight on his chest. He shifted and a soft murmur issued from beneath a pile of ruddy curls. He glanced down and sighed. In sleep, Taylor could have been eighteen, her cheeks flushed, her hair in a messy fan around her face, and her peach lips parted slightly. Bill had to tamp down the urge to groan; he didn't want to wake her if he could help it.

Taking his time, he slowly extracted himself from beneath her and crept to the bathroom. He needed a shower, most likely a cold one, but at this point any shower would do. After the shower, he wrapped a towel around his waist and headed back into the bedroom, freezing momentarily when he was met with a sleep-clouded, green stare.

Taylor's eyes widened before she remembered herself, flushed, and her gaze dropped sheepishly. Bill's mouth pulled into a lop-sided grin, "Hey there, sleepy-head."

Taylor cleared her throat nervously. "Morning," her voice was still heavy with sleep, and Bill felt a tightening in the pit of his stomach.

"I uh," he rubbed the back of his neck absently. "I'm just going to grab some clothes. Do you want coffee or something?" He ducked into the bathroom to pull on his pants and couldn't hear her mumbled reply as he pulled his shirt over his head. "Sorry?" he popped back into the bedroom.

Taylor blushed again, "A cup of coffee would be great."

"I'll have breakfast ready in a minute. Take your time getting up." Bill hurried from the room. Nothing good would come of seeing her curled up and comfortable in his bed.

When Taylor emerged from his room, she seemed to have settled back into the jumpy, mousy behaviour that dominated her time in the office. He was tempted to be disappointed, but it proved the only reason he could motivate himself to drive her back to her car. And for the duration of the car ride, Bill couldn't help but sense that there was something Taylor wanted to say. But she didn't. He promised to check on her on Monday, and assured her that if Chad gave her any problems, he would handle it. Then Bill watched her clamber into her car and pull away. And for the next two weeks, things seemed to continue as if the night had never happened.


It was a bad day, bad enough that by noon, Bill wished he had stayed in bed. It had started off with a broken alarm clock. To be fair, the clock was broken because he had thrown it across the room. He had thrown it across the room because the alarm hadn't gone off on time, and the alarm hadn't gone off on time because the power in his apartment was out... The power in just his apartment was out, no one else lost power, only him. He had changed the broken fuse and was forced to take a freezing shower since all the water in the heater had cooled overnight. It was nearly nine before he was heading down the stairs to his car. Then his car wouldn't start. He was fit to be tied.

There was a very important board meeting at ten, and it was the career opportunity that Bill had been waiting for, struggling for. Hell, he had moved to this firm because they actually listened to the ideas of their programmers and even financially backed the good ones. Missing the meeting wasn't an option. He gave the car one final chance to start and grumbled with the straining engine as it failed to turn over.

He fished out his cell phone. It would be cutting it close, but he could ring for a taxi and get in just before ten. An angry squawk issued from the speaker of his mobile and the screen blinked out. He stared at the phone and barely suppressed the urge to hurl the thing out the window, but remembering the shattered alarm clock on his bedroom floor, he thought better of it. He tried to turn it back on with as much success as starting the car. With a barely contained curse, he slammed his car door shut and pounded up the stairs to his apartment to call from a landline.

Finally in a cab, finally on his way into work, Bill sighed. This was definitely not his day. But when he thought it could only get better from there, he was very much mistaken. And right about the time he reached his cubical to grab the copies of his proposal, he began to find out how wrong he was.

Bill reached his desk with only five minutes to gather his papers, his thoughts, and himself before he was due in the boardroom. He took a deep breath and turned, ready to let a room of middle management determine his fate. Taylor appeared at the entrance to his cubicle. Her cheeks were flushed and she skidded to a stop. Her eyes widened when she caught sight of him. "Bill," she sucked in a breath.

He raised a brow. "Taylor?" She shifted awkwardly from foot to foot as if unsure of what to do. She blushed and met his eyes fleetingly before glancing over her shoulder toward the main office door. Bill scooped up his stack of paper. "Look, Taylor, I have a meeting that I'm two seconds away from being late for. Can we have lunch or something?"

Taylor's forehead wrinkled. "Yeah. No. I don't know." Her fingers twisted together, half hidden in the sleeves of the oversized sweatshirt as her eyes fixed shyly on her shoes. "Bill..."

He smiled gently. "Sweetie, is the next thirty minutes going to change what's bothering you?"

"No," she whispered.

"Ok, then we'll do lunch, and we'll work this out. Alright?" he dropped a hand to her shoulder to give her a comforting squeeze, but she apparently was surprised by it. Taylor squeaked and jumped, her arm knocking his papers into the air and creating an impressive shower of documents. "Shit."

Taylor fell to her knees quickly grabbing stacks of the papers and piling them on the floor in front of her. "I'm sorry," she said quickly. "I'm so sorry." In her rush the papers were wrinkled under her fingers, and Bill caught her hand.

"I'll do it," he slid the papers away from her, carefully restacking them, salvaging what he could. Thankfully, they didn't seem to be too far out of order, and he'd taken the extra minute to have them stapled. He couldn't imagine the disaster that would have been if none of the packets were adhered in some way. He dropped the final paper on the stack and sighed, a glance at his watch telling him he wasn't late yet.

He set the papers on the desk and prepared to push himself back to standing when he heard her sniff. He glanced up to see a tear slip down Taylor's cheek. A fit of frustrated anger was quickly masked by a wave of guilt that twisted his insides. "No, Taylor, it's ok."

She swiped at the tear almost absently with the back of her sleeve and shook her head. "Never mind," she sniffed, scrambling to her feet.

Bill shot up before she could leave and snagged the hood of her sweatshirt, tugging her back into the cubicle. She let out a small squeak of protest and swatted at him as he tried to wrap her in a hug. "Taylor, stop," he said calmly. She stilled, her head hung, a mess of mahogany waves hiding her face from his view. "It's ok," he told her, wrapping his arms around her slight frame. She fit so well against him that he was tempted to remain as he was, his chin resting on the top of her head.

A door slammed, and Taylor nearly shot out of his arms. God, why was she so jumpy today? A glance over his shoulder reassured him that the door slamming was, in fact, not the board room door and he still had time to get in there. "Look, Taylor," he held her shoulders carefully, stooping to look her in the eye. "I really need to be in this meeting, but I'll be out in no time. Do you want to stay here until I get back?"

He couldn't read the look in her eyes, but it was something he'd never seen before. She nodded slowly, releasing a heavy sigh. He smiled and chucked her lightly under the chin, drawing a small laugh from her. "Ok?" he asked. This time Taylor met his eyes and there was no mistaking the expression, though it was completely out of place on her. He barely registered the change in her demeanour before she had snagged the front of his shirt and pulled him into a kiss.

His first thought was that Taylor was much stronger than she looked. His next thought was that he was really going to be late for the meeting. Then his brain seemed to stall all together as her teeth nibbled playfully at his lower lip. He groaned, his hands rising of their own accord to pull her against his body. With one hand holding his shirt, Taylor ran her other hand over his shoulder and her fingers wove into is hair. Even if he wanted to escape, Bill didn't think he would be able to free himself from her hands. But he didn't want to free himself. Her lips were soft and warm as they moved against his in a way he could only describe as demanding.

The next few moments of his life were a blur, no doubt more confused by the spinning sensation brought about by the kiss. But as everything had been a pleasant, fuzzy haze, the room was thrown into chaos with a series of concussive blasts. The tinkling of glass preceding the first explosion would only be recognized after the fact, but as the shockwave of the first detonation gushed through the office, he dropped to the ground, pulling Taylor with him.

He pressed his eyes shut, wrapping a protective arm over his head and cradling Taylor beneath him. He flinched as a second then third explosion of sound burst through the office, only raising his head tentatively when the silence became oppressive.

Smoke had filled the room, an acrid smell that reminded him of the smoke bombs he used to play with as a child. There was definitely screaming somewhere in the office, but there was no way to tell where it was coming from. He pushed himself back up onto hands and knees. "Are you ok?" his voice more of a shout than necessary over the ringing in his ears. Taylor nodded and scurried out from under him.

The smoke hung unnaturally in the air, and Bill found himself coughing. A series of loud shouts and barks broke the silence, but the voices melded together creating a discordant din of unintelligible sounds. He reached for Taylor, but his hand closed over empty space. He frantically sought her and caught sight of her doing the last thing he'd expected. She stood at the entrance of his cubicle squinting into the smoke. "Taylor?"

He could have sworn she smiled when she glanced over her shoulder. "Keep you're head down," she muttered and dashed out into the gloom.

Bill stared into the empty space. What the hell just happened? Nothing made sense. He shook his head; maybe he would wake up in a few minutes and find that this whole day had been nothing more than a dream borne of bad Taco Bell. But as his eyes came back into focus he still saw the heavy smoke. Perhaps it was ill advised, but Bill couldn't stay put. He dashed out into the smoke after Taylor.

The darkness was disorienting, and Bill found himself feeling along the edges of other cubicles to avoid crashing into things. Another series of shouts off to the right, none of which he could discern, were quickly followed by a crash and grunt of pain. "Taylor?" he shouted. The sound of running feet had Bill struggling to see through the fog, and he made out the distinctive pink shirt and dark tie that he'd seen Chad wearing that morning fly past him at a dead sprint.

Another shout very close by, "James!"

"Got it!" Taylor hollered back, as her grey sweatshirt flew past Bill.

Bill stumbled after her.

"Where did you think you were going, asshole?" Bill flinched at the tone in Taylor's voice.

Chad's answer was equally violent. "What the fuck do you think you're up to? You shouldn't mess with the big boys, girl."

Taylor's laugh was humourless.

Bill pulled up short as Chad landed face first on the ground a few paces from his feet. Taylor landed on his back, twisting his arm to keep him pinned down. "Wilson!" she shouted into the fog, pulling a pair of handcuffs from beneath her sweatshirt and efficiently securing Chad's hands.

Confusion was the least of Bill's problems, but it seemed to govern his actions for the time being. He took a step closer, "Taylor, what the hell is going on?"

Her head shot up and her eyes widened, but she never softened her grip on Chad's shoulder. Her eyes flit almost imperceptibly to the space over Bill's shoulder before meeting his gaze. What was that look? He wondered. Her mouth moved for a moment, but there was no sound. What had she said? Then she flinched, pain exploded from the back of his head, and everything went black.

Report Story

byewebie© 20 comments/ 31592 views/ 21 favorites

Share the love

Tags For This Story

Report a Bug

2 Pages:12

Please Rate This Submission:

Please Rate This Submission:

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Please wait
Favorite Author Favorite Story

heartchokahlua, GodKuuhaku and 19 other people favorited this story! 

by Anonymous

If the above comment contains any ads, links, or breaks Literotica rules, please report it.

There are no recent comments (20 older comments) - Click here to add a comment to this story or Show more comments or Read All User Comments (20)

Add a

Post a public comment on this submission (click here to send private anonymous feedback to the author instead).

Post comment as (click to select):

Refresh ImageYou may also listen to a recording of the characters.

Preview comment

Forgot your password?

Please wait

Change picture

Your current user avatar, all sizes:

Default size User Picture  Medium size User Picture  Small size User Picture  Tiny size User Picture

You have a new user avatar waiting for moderation.

Select new user avatar: