Disclaimer. All of the characters, plot, settings...etc. belong to me as they are my original characters and idea's that come from my imagination. I will not tolerate any theft or infringement of this story. With that said, I hope you enjoy the story and let me know what you think of it! - Bella'Xo

The Way the Chips Fall

A/N: If you have any questions or comments, post them in my reviews and I will answer them in my next author's note at the bottom of the chapter! Enjoy! - B


Alexia Wither's life changed the day she took her new job at a confidential underground facility in the middle of the Las Vegas desert. She was amazed at the high tech compound and the start of the art laboratories and was excited to get started. However, she did not expect to meet Billionaire Entrepreneur, Damien Blake, the company's CEO and founder of DB Enterprises. There was an immediate attraction, as well as sexual tension that was off the charts. But after getting a glimpse of his arrogant attitude and no-nonsense proposals, she knew she needed to stay away from him at the risk of losing everything. However, Damien Blake is not a man used to hearing the word 'no', and relentlessly pursues her to the point of obsession. Meanwhile, Alexia's lab has completed a new top secret formula, one that could very well change the balance of power overnight, and Damien's enemies, as well as many others, would do just about anything to get their hands on it. Especially after both Alexia and Damien run human trials on themselves, finding that the formula has more potential than either of them could have ever imagined. With everything that's happened, will they be able to keep this new formula and it's capabilities under wraps? Or will it fall into the wrong hands, putting the whole world at jeopardy. And what does Alexia's diseased father have to do with all this?

Chapter One: Underground


I stood with my back to the blue screen, a neutral expression guarding my face as the man behind the computer screen to my left snapped my picture. I watched as my image immediately filled the blank square on the computer monitor and stepped forward to hand them the rest my paperwork. He mutely accepted the small stack I held out to him before disappearing behind the steel automatic door that led to the office area in front of me, behind what appeared to be bullet proof glass. When he reappeared, he made his way over to one of the women who seemed to be consumed with whatever was happening on the screen in front of her and slipped her my paperwork, which she accepted without so much as a smile or a gesture of acknowledgement to the man or myself.

Not too friendly around here, are they? I couldn't help but think as some of the staff eyed me wordlessly while they worked, the rest pretending as though I were invisible.

Was I making the right decision when I accepted my new job here? Would the rest of my coworkers be just like this robotic crowd with no emotion or friendly gesture painted my way? God, I hoped not. I don't know how long I'd last here, otherwise.

"Identification?" The woman asked in a monotone without looking away from her computer screen. Like the rest of the women who were staffed in the office area, she wore her dark brown hair pulled slick back into a tight bun and dressed in a navy-colored skirt and blazer with a white collared button-down top.

"Oh, um..." I turned and began to dig through my bag for my wallet, pulling out my federal driver's licence when my fingers graced the dark leather. "Here."

She looked up to where I held out my licence and eyed the card in my hand with disdain, making no move to reach for it. My God, she was acting as though I were an underaged teenager trying to get into the local bar with a handcrafted fake ID!

"What?" I gestured at my licence, shaking it a bit in an attempt to encourage her to take it, "Haven't you ever seen a Colorado driver's licence before?"

The woman's expression didn't change, though I could tell that she was fighting not to roll her eyes and scowl. "We will need two more forms of photo identification, as well as your government clearance papers."

"Well, you could've just asked," I grumbled to myself as I unzipped my messenger's bag to collect the necessary items, placing them onto the counter next to my untouched driver's licence. "There you go, all here."

"Place them in the drawer." Again, with the monotone! I was beginning to think that this woman had no personality, whatsoever!

Some reception…

Without another word, I pulled open the metal drawer and placed everything inside before sending it through to the other side, fighting not to slam it shut.

She didn't say anything more as she reached in and took my information before she immediately began to type away on her keyboard, looking up at her computer monitor while, once again, pretending as though I didn't exist. It was beginning to feel like freshman year all over again.

As I waited, I bided my time by looking around the waiting area and took a closer look at my surroundings. The room was very plain with white walls and glass desks that were stationed inside the office on the other side of the glass. There were no windows on any of the walls or anything that gave a view to the army base outside, and the large LED fluorescent lights on the ceiling where the only source of light brightening up the expansive, yet colorless work area.

There was one set of steel double doors where I'd come in, as well as an automatic set on the opposite wall where the man who had snapped my picture had previously disappeared through after taking the picture that they would undoubtedly be using for my building credentials, only on this side there was what appeared to be a keyless entry system with a touch screen monitor mounted on the wall next to it with a place to slide a keycard through for access. But one of the main things that I noticed about the room was that there were no pictures hanging from any of the walls. Not even a single plaque revealing the name of my new employer. There were no magazines laid out on any of the tables or televisions mounted anywhere as a source of entertainment within the waiting area. It was completely bare, aside from the two long white benches displaying several fitted navy cushions that were pushed up against the far wall a couple of paces away from where I stood.

In all honesty, this was far more than I was anticipating upon my arrival, especially as we were inside the helicopter flying over the large army base that had cleverly hid the underground compound. It was located in the middle of the Nevada desert, out of view from any passing roads. Even from the air, which had provided a full scale view the army base housed at the foot of a large desert mountain, I would never have known that it was really hiding. Not that anybody would even think of finding out otherwise.

There were several armed guards at each of the gated entrances, as well as several elevated posts around the acres of land. It was rocky and dusty, nothing like the clean white room that I was currently standing in. But, to be frank, I have no idea what I was expecting in the first place when I'd accepted this job.

Several weeks ago, I had been hunted down by a man named Donovan Cross. He explained that he was representing who would later become my new boss, Director Gregory Howe. He'd expressed how the Director had heard of my expansive talents in all things science and wanted to know if I would be interested in applying for a classified position at the compound where he worked. He wouldn't tell me anything more than that or about the position and, as you can imagine, I was skeptical and reluctant to go into a new career blindly, especially one that was so under wraps when I'd already had a decent paying job, but he'd assured me that it would be well worth it if science was something I was truly passionate about. Then, after an extensive background check was done, along with a signed NDA, he would be able to discuss this new position with me to see if it would be something I would be interested in. However, as hesitant as I was to go through with it, my constant curiosity and inquisitive nature won out and I was endorsing away my life to be poked and prodded at.

About a week following our first meeting, I had gotten a phone call informing me that I had been approved for full disclosure and that all I had to do was meet with the Director of Human Resources' assistant and their company's Lawyer to sign the NDA in order to commence to the next stage of the application process. I had a video meeting with the Director, himself, and as he introduced himself and explained the job that I was applying for, as well as the possible promotions that could follow. Needless to say, I was hooked. Even the fact that I would likely need to live at the facility nearly five days a week didn't even deter my fascination, even if it was an inconvenience of epic proportions.

My roommates, Leah and Kyle, however, were another story altogether. I probably told them more than they were allowed to really know, but the NDA only outlined the finer points of the matter, leaving the rest up to me. Either way, they were my family and deserved to know at least the basics. Not to mention, I trusted them with my life and knew they would never say anything. Needless to say that they didn't exactly like the idea of me taking a classified job at a place that they weren't allowed to know anything about, and especially didn't like the part where I'd have to stay there out there in the middle of the desert during the week for convenience purposes - not that I blamed them. Leah had somehow gotten it in her head that I was signing my body and life away to an underground gang who were determined to turn me into a sex slave to be sold off to the highest bidder. But I'd assured them that it was a legitimate job with tax records and everything. After a long battle of wills, they finally let it go and agreed that I had to follow my own path, but made me promise to keep in near constant communication until they've grown more comfortable and familiar with the prospect and accommodations.

But that wasn't the end of my journey to officially accept this position. After the personal interview, I had to get cleared physically by their doctors, receive vaccinations, and ensure that I would be mentally competent to work at the compound. That in itself had taken longer than the actual application process. It was all worth it in the end, though, to receive the phone call from Director Howe, congratulating me on my admittance, should I choose to accept it.

"Ms. Withers?" A woman's voice caught my attention as the door buzzed open, revealing a blonde woman who looked to be about thirty. She was wearing a white pencil skirt and blazer with a powder blue blouse, her hair pulled up into a sophisticated french twist.

"Yes, that's me," I smiled as I stepped forward, relieved to find at least someone in this building who would treat me like a person and who had any personality.

"My name is Christina Lincoln, and I'm the Director of Human Resources," she held out her hand to introduce herself, shifting the clipboard and tablet she was holding onto the crook of her left arm.

"Hi, it's nice to meet you," I smiled as I reached out to take her outstretched hand, "I'm Alex, but you seem to already know that."

"Yes, I believe you'd met with my assistant, Darcey, during your application process. Though, I'll assume that you'll be surprised to find that everyone will know who you are by dinner tonight. We don't get many new hire's around here, as I'm sure you can imagine." Christina took her hand back and gestured to her clipboard, which held a large manila envelope, as well as other paperwork.

"Here, I have the originals of everything you gave our office staff, as well as your new security credentials, which also double as your keys to gain entry into all the areas that you've been granted clearance into." She explained as she handed me the envelope. "First, I've been instructed to take you on a tour of the premises where you will meet some of your superiors and coworkers, and then I will take you by the security office to pick up your belonging from where you dropped to be inspected. Finally, from there, I will take you to your living quarters where you can unpack and get accustomed to your suite where you'll be living most of the week."

"Okay, that sounds great. Thank you, Director Lincoln," I smiled, slipping the manila folder into my messenger bag.

"Call me Christina," she waved me off. "I'm not nearly as formal as some of the other people you'll meet around here."

I followed the Director over to the set of automatic double sliding doors from where she had just appeared through and watched as she instructed me how to use my keycard to gain entrance into this high tech facility. However, it was a lot more complicated than just swiping my keycard through the slit and she explained that the higher clearance areas would be just like this with possibly more security. The main entrance to the entire facility, where we were about to enter through, was the only exception and would require a fingerprint scan on top of the keycard to gain entry. If the two didn't match up or weren't listed in the security system, the silent alarm would be triggered and armed security officers would arrive in a matter of seconds.

"We'll be stopping at the processing center before we begin the tour so that we can get you squared away in our systems," Christina explained as we made our way through the set of sliding automatic doors and into a long neutral corridor painted completely in white.

We didn't make it too far down the hallway before she turned to face a door on our left, swiping her keycard before giving a retinal scan and typing in what appeared to be a four digit pin code.

"Are all the doorways going to be like this?" I asked as the door slid itself open. There were no door knobs that I could see on any of the entryways in this hallway and I couldn't help but wonder about the additional hastle.

"Good heavens, no!" She laughed as she gestured for me to enter in front of her. "Each floor as we go down will require a specific level of clearance, but will be the only time you will need to go through this whole to-do. Basically, in a nutshell, the further you go down, the higher the security. But once you're on the floor itself, you won't have to do more than swipe your credentials to enter any locked doorway. However, there are exceptions to every rule, but you'll be notified of any changes as you go."

As we made our way inside a dark room, which was a surprising contrast to the brightly lit white hallway and reception center, I noticed a man around my age with curly red hair sitting in front of a computer screen. He had a friendly face, unlike the sour-pusses at the reception area, and big hazel eyes behind a pair of black framed glasses. He didn't seem to notice us right away, what with the large headphones covering both of his ears as he concentrated on the different monitors in front of him.

Christina made her way around the desk and placed her hand on his shoulder to get his attention, causing him to jump a bit in his seat and spin around sideways..

"Sweet Jesus, Christina! I didn't hear you come in!" He grinned as he removed his headphones and leaning back casually in his chair, revealing his black button down with his sleeves rolled up to just below his elbows, and khaki slacks. "What can I do you for?"

She grinned, gesturing at me, and he spun the chair around as he noticed me for the first time. "Stewart Timmons, I would like to introduce you to our newest hire, Alexia Withers."

"Ah yes, the new lab rat Howe hired," He rose from his seat and held out his hand, "Good to finally see a new face around here. Call me Stewie."

"It's Alex," I couldn't help but to grin widely as I shook his hand. He just had that type of comical personality where you just couldn't help but to smile. "Nice tie," I nodded down at the fabric hanging from around his neck, regarding the black and white photos of the Three Stooges.

Stewie looked down at his chest, taking the tie in his hands and laughed. "Yeah, I like to add a little something extra to this place. Some of the people working here act as though they have a twenty-foot flag pole stuck up their asses while sitting on a cactus. It can be so monotonous at times."

I bit my lip, trying to hold back a smile as I thought back to the way the office staff eyed me before ignoring me altogether. "Yeah, so I've noticed."

"Oh, you're talking about our five star reception service," He grinned widely, revealing a pair of dimples indenting both of his cheeks. "Fantastic, aren't they?"

"If by fantastic, you mean mundane, then yeah, sure," I rolled my eyes, "What's up with that, anyway? Aren't the people working at the front supposed to be, I don't know... welcoming, or, dare I say, friendly?"

It was Christina who answered, "Well, technically, you're right, but this isn't exactly the kind of place that you want to encourage people to revisit."

"You can say that again," Stewie mumbled as he sat back down and began to fiddle with his mouse.

Christina shot him a disapproving glare, but continued on. "Basically, their jobs are more along the lines of keeping up with everything in my H.R. department, as well as assisting with office work and helping to manage the army base up above."

"I guess that makes more sense," I shrugged.

Stewie rolled his eyes, "Yeah,lucky you."

Christina laughed,"Anyway, let's get you processed and we can officially begin our tour."

Stewie gestured to the machine on the far right. "We'll start with getting your fingerprints scanned in, and then move on to your retinas."

It took about a half an hour to get me completely entered into the security system's software, and by the end of it, I had both hands fully printed, my retna's scanned, given a small sample of my DNA, came up with my own four digit passwords, and created an accurate voice analysis. It was crazy, the kind of security this place had. I almost felt like I was in a futuristic Sci Fi movie. Kyle would absolutely thrive in a place like this.

"Now that that's done, we'll get started on the tour, and then get you settled in to your suite. You won't be starting work in the lab until tomorrow, Wednesday, so you have all day today to get your bearings and get used to the layout." Christina explained as we made our way down the hall, stopping in front of the bank of elevators down at the very end. "If you have any questions as we go, feel free to ask. And remember, there is no such thing as a stupid question."

"I'll remember that, thanks," I smiled as she summoned the elevator, displaying her perfectly manicured nails..

It didn't take more than a handful of seconds for the car to arrive and we stepped inside.

"Here is where the majority of the security checkpoints lie," she gestured towards the touch screen monitor mounted onto the wall on the side in place of where you would normally see the rows of buttons advertising their designated floor. The screensaver wasn't anything flashy. Instead, it had the company's logo bouncing around a navy blue backdrop.

"As I explained to you earlier, the lower you go, the higher your security clearance needs to be. So, I will only be showing you the places that you'll need to be familiar with."

"Sounds good," I nodded.

"Go ahead and pull out your keycard and I'll show you how to work the security software."

I reached into my messenger's bag and removed the manilla envelope she had given me earlier, reaching inside to pull out the requested object. I saw that it had a sturdy clip and was retractable so that I didn't have to take it off each time I needed to use it.

"Just clip that onto your blouse," she instructed and showed me how easily it can be removed for when I wanted to take it off. "Now just stand in front of the monitor and slide the card down the right side over there."

I did as she instructed, bringing the monitor back to life, revealing my newly taken photo along with a long list of places, such as the dining hall, living quarters, the different labs I would be using, and, of course, our present floor, among others. Along side of those names were also the floor numbers.

"We'll start off with the dining hall and finish with your living quarters," Christina explained as she began to show me how to work the system. She also demonstrated the security of each floor, and how to provide the different scans necessary. The different labs were the only ones with higher security clearance, whereas places like the dining hall didn't need more than a swipe of your keycard.

I was amazed by the expansive facility and everything I saw. It was all so light and open, you would never in a million years guess that you were actually underground. I found that the labs I would be working in were far more high-tech than I was used to and knew that it was going to take me a while to get the hang of everything around here.

We were currently on our way to the office of Dr. Elena Granger, who was going to be my new Supervisor, under the lab's Director, Gregory Howe, who was the one to hire me.

"Elena is a bit of a stickler and doesn't interact well with people in a general setting, but I think you'll find that you'll like working with her. I haven't gotten very many complaints from anyone regarding her or her work ethics, so far." Christina chatted with me as we made our way up the stairs to a large loft overlooking this part of the lab.

We then came up to a U-shaped desk with a quirky looking light-skinned African American secretary, who smiled when she saw us approaching. "Hi Christina!"

"Hey Sabrina," she smiled as we stopped in front of her desk. "This is Alexia Withers. She's a new hire for the labs and is working under Elena."

"Oh yeah, I remembered her saying that we were getting some fresh blood around here soon," she winked. "You here to introduce her?"

"You caught us," Christina smirked, leaning her elbow against the counter top.

"Well, she and Director Howe are just getting ready to finish up their meeting with the company's CEO, so you'll get to meet him, as well, if you haven't already." Sabrina said looking down at her watch.

"I'd met Director Howe when we video chatted during my interview, but this will be the first time meeting him in person," I clarified before shifting the conversation. "So, who's the CEO, anyway?" I asked out of general curiosity.

I wasn't sure if it was my imagination, but Sabrina's eyes seemed to spark at the mention of him and it almost looked like Christina was trying to hide a smile. Their reaction intrigued me as I wondered at the origins of it, but decided not to ask, figuring that it wouldn't be appropriate first day talk.

"Oh, that'd be Damien Blake," Christina replied as she continued to hide her reaction. "You will probably run into him on occasion - while he's here, anyway."

"Why wouldn't he be here?" I cocked my head slightly to the side as we made our way into a small sitting area off to the side of Sabrina's desk. "Doesn't he need to be here to run the company?"

They both looked at me with odd, dubious expressions.

"Don't tell me you've never heard of Damien Blake?" Sabrina gasped with a look of incredulity.

I held my hands up in mock surrender, "Sorry, guilty."

Sabrina scoffed, shaking her head. "Where have you been? He's a 28 year old bazillionaire who's like been on the cover of nearly every business, gossip and celebrity magazine in the country! basically owns the entire city - a casino or two, as well as several business franchises, clubs and restaurants, and that's only in Vegas. He also owns and invented DB Enterprises, which also has a building in both California and New York City. Not to mention, he's gorgeous!"

"Sounds like you've got all the intel," Christina smirked suggestively.

Sabrina waved her off, "Girl, you know I'm taken. But that doesn't mean I don't have eyes."

Just then, the double doors to the right a little ways down the wide hallway behind Sabrina's desk opened and a group of people emerged, all wearing expensive business attire. Christina and I stood and made our way back over to the front of Sabrina's desk where we waited for Elena while Sabrina moved around behind her desk, gathering several stacks of paperwork.

"Looks like you got here just in time," Sabrina noted as she rounded her desk. However, just as she stepped out, she was bumped into by one of the men with a black leather briefcase, causing all of her papers to scatter on the floor at her feet.

"Oh, I'm so sorry!" She apologized as bent down to pick up everything that she dropped.

The man she'd bumped into just glared down at her and scoffed, rolling his eyes before turning to resume the conversation he'd been having with the two similarly dressed men beside him.

"Here, let me help you," I volunteered, setting my messenger bag off to the side against her desk as I squatted down to help her with the mess.

"Oh, no, you don't have to," she waved me off.

"It's fine," I insisted as I started to gather the array of scattered papers into a neat pile. I wasn't sure if it was supposed to be in any particular order, but did the best I could.

Just then, I noticed another set of beautifully manicured masculine hands join in on our quest as he picked up the last stapled pamphlet and handed it to me.

I looked up to thank him, following the line of his arm into a pair of startlingly blue eyes, and gasped, sucking in a quick breath.

"Uh, thanks," I nodded, hesitantly taking the pamphlet from his outstretched hand and rose to my feet.

"You're very welcome," he answered in a deep, slightly raspy yet alluring voice, immediately causing a mass of butterflies to erupt in my stomach. I'd never heard a voice like his before. It sounded like a beautiful mixture of lush velvet and sex, the type of voice that you could imagine coaxing you into a heady climax.

I continued to stare at him wide-eyed, taking in the immaculate form that belonged to the sex-like voice of the Adonis in front of me. He was tall with broad shoulders that filled out his very expensive grey suit and checkered silver tie handsomely. His dark brown hair was pushed back at the perfect length that made me want to run my fingers through it, knowing it would be soft to the touch and perfect to hold on to in the throes of passion. His sculpted cheekbones were covered in short stubble, giving him that ruggedly handsome appearance that I always found so appealing on a man, and his blue eyes were so bright and such a stunning shade of blue. They were the kind where you felt as though you could see deep into his soul, able to unravel all of his deepest, darkest secrets. It scared me, and yet I couldn't bring myself to look away.

God, what was I doing? I was just standing here ogling this man and haven't said more than two words to him. But I just couldn't manage to do more than that as I stood here completely dumbstruck by his extreme good looks and the instant connection I felt with him as he looked back at me. I could imagine that he turned heads wherever he went, and I began to wonder what it would be like to be so attractive to garner that kind of attention, to cause everyone in sight to do a double-take, unsure if the man they were looking at really existed outside of their deepest fantacies.

"I don't think I've seen you around here before," the gorgeous stranger noted, "I'm Damien Blake. And you are?"

So this was Damien Blake. Sabrina wasn't kidding when she said he was gorgeous.

At the quirk of his brow, I suddenly realized that I hadn't responded to his question. Instead, I was still standing here looking like a loone, and shook myself out of my stupor. "Alexia, uh Alex Withers," I managed to respond, shocking even myself at my ability to speak. "I'm new here."

"Ah, so that explains it," he smirked, revealing a dimple on his left cheek. "I was so sure that I would've remembered such a beautiful face, had I seen it before."

I felt a blush rise to my cheeks and awkwardly cleared my throat, tearing my gaze away from him to hand Sabrina her papers back. She had been standing off to the side with an amused smirk as she watched this train wreck of an introduction take place.

This wasn't me. I didn't get speechless or shell-shocked over a man I just met, no matter his good looks! What was wrong with me?

"Thanks," Sabrina winked at me and nodded politely at Damien before indiscreetly walking away, leaving the two of us alone in perplexing silence.

"Uh, so, it was nice to meet you, Mr. Blake, but I better get back over to Christina," I motioned with my thumb towards the woman in question, who looked to be speaking with who I assumed was Elena Granger with Sabrina now standing off to the side of the duo.

"Of course," he nodded with a cocky grin on his face.

"Yeah, so...um...nice to meet you," I said once again as I awkwardly waved as I retreated.

"Ms. Withers?" He called, causing me to turn back around to see him holding my messenger's bag. "Don't want to forget this now, do we?"

"Oh, um, right," I quickly reapproached him and took my bag from him with a nod, "Thanks...again."

He nodded once more, still wearing that cocky, yet incredibly sexy smirk. "I'm sure I'll see you again soon."

"Uh, yeah, sure," I swung the bag over my shoulder and began to retreat for the second time. "Bye."

I could still feel his stare heating my back as I made my way over to where Christina stood. I pictured the intense gaze as I walked, but quickly shook him from my thoughts, needing to keep myself level-headed and focused as I met my new superiors.

Instead, I took this time to take in my new supervisor's appearance, noting her light brown hair that was sharply pulled back out of her face and into a tight bun, military style. She reminded me of a librarian gone commando with her thickly rimmed glasses that hid her dark eyes, and pants suit.

"Oh, perfect timing!" Christina smiled as soon as she noticed me taking the last couple of steps to her side. "Elena, this the new lab technician that Director Howe hired, Alexia Withers."

"It's very nice to meet you, Ms. Granger," I smiled and held out my hand for her to shake. "I'm really looking forward to working here under such a brilliant mind, like yourself."

She eyed me speculatively and didn't reach forward to shake my hand, only nodded her greeting and replied with an "I'm sure you are," before turning to Sabrina and flipping through several of the papers that I'd helped her pick up.

I haphazardly lowered my hand and quirked a curious brow at Christina, who shrugged with an 'I told you so' look in my direction. She seemed to spot something or someone over my shoulder, her eyes lighting up as her attention flickered back to me.

"There's Director Howe, now," she nodded behind me in the direction she had been looking, and I turned to see the Director making his way over to our group. Turning back, I noticed how she seemed to quickly straighten her outfit, almost as if she was getting ready to see someone she was doting on, and if this was true, I couldn't blame her. Even though he was nearly twice my age, Gregory Howe had that young looking face under his shortly trimmed goatee and there wasn't so much as a single grey hair mixed in with his dirty blonde streaks. Not to mention, he was nice to talk to and seemed to be able to make anyone comfortable in his presence.

"Ladies," He smiled his charmingly arristocratic smile that had contented and calmed me during our video interview. He noticed me immediately, his grey eyes lighting up and his smile brightening. "Ms. Withers, it's good to see that you've gotten settled in here okay."

"Yes, thank you," I grinned. "Christina was actually just giving me a tour and introduced me to Ms. Granger." I turned slightly to look over at my supervisor, only to see that she was still completely consumed with the paperwork Sabrina was showing her as they walked back around the secretary's desk.

Director Howe chuckled, "Elena takes some getting used to, but I think that you'll find that you like working with her. She's a very driven and focused employee, and has done great things for this company."

"Yes, that's what I've been hearing," I replied, shifting my messenger's bag higher up onto my shoulder.

"I trust that Christina is making you feel welcome?" His eyes shifted to the blushing Christina, who nodded and smiled, but didn't seem to be able to do much more than that.

"She's been a great host and tour guide, so far," I answered for her when she didn't reply.

"Wonderful," he grinned while looking down at his Rolex, "Unfortunately, I am not able to join the two of you for the rest of the tour. I have a one o'clock meeting that I should be getting to. But I'm sure we will all see plenty of each other in the future."

"I'm sure we will," I agreed, looking back over at Christina as I willed her with my eyes to speak. I would have elbowed her if it wouldn't have made my attempt appear so , luckily, I didn't have to.

"Yes, I'd like that," she managed to squeak out in the midst of clearing her throat.

"Well, then, good day, you two. Enjoy the rest of your tour," He nodded his goodbye before turning away and making his towards the staircase that we had used several minutes earlier.

When he was finally out of sight, I turned to Christina and smirked, quirking my brow inquisitively.

"What?" She asked, feigning ignorance, not willing to meet my stare.

Normally, I wasn't so colloquial around new people, but with Christina, I felt like I could just hang out and be myself around her, even if she was a few years my senior.

I scoffed, "Don't play dumb with me. I saw that. You like him, don't you?"

She looked away, seemingly unable to look at me as she answered, "I don't know what you're talking about."

I gave her an exasperated eye roll. "You're kidding me, right? I mean, look at you. You're still blushing!"

Christina sighed in resignation. "Is it that obvious?"

I laughed, "You could barely say four words to the man!"

"I know, I know," she relented with a groan, "But I can't help it! He just always get's me tongue tied and I can't explain it, but it's like I can't be myself around the man. You know what I mean?"

My mind flashed back to my recent encounter with Damien Blake and my smile faded slightly as I nodded. "Yeah, I get it completely."

She seemed to notice my hesitance to delve down that conversational route and took pity on me. "Well, let's finish up with this tour and get you settled into your living quarters."

I perked back up and nodded, "Lead the way."

By the time we finished with the tour and picked up my bags from security, it was late afternoon, early evening.. The tour itself shouldn't have taken that long, but Christina and I had gotten to talking and the time seemed to have gotten away from us.

"So, you're from Colorado?" She asked as she helped me place my belonging on a rolling cart to take down to my new suite in the living quarters.

"Yeah, I'm from a town called Breckenridge," I answered as I placed one of my boxes onto the cart.

"Breckenridge like the brewing company?"

"One in the same," I confirmed, leaning my elbow on one of the boxes as I looked over at her from the other side of the cart. "It's actually a pretty small town with only about 4,500 people living there. The rest are tourists who come for the seasonal sports and activities."

"Really?" Her brows shot up. "What's there to do around there?"

"More than you'd think, actually," I smiled to myself as I recalled the fishing trips that my dad and I used to take when he was home from tour. "It's in the mountains, so there's a lot of skiing, snowboarding and such."

"That sounds like fun," she responded just as one of the armed security guys came over to me with a slip to sign.

"Thanks," I smiled at him before turning back to Christina. "Yeah, it was fun - that is, when I decided to go or was dragged along. I was more of the kind of girl who was buried in her books while adjusting her microscope."

"Really?" she studied me. "I guess I can picture that."

We laughed and began to wheel my belonging out of the security office and down the hallway towards the bank of elevators. The living quarters didn't have as much security as the lab did, so it didn't take more than a swipe of my keycard to get us down to the right floor.

"Yours is number 1427," Christina pointed out as we entered the 1420's. "Stop right here on your right."

I stopped in front of the entryway that mimicked a hotel suite's and used my credentials to unlock the door. It made a quiet buzzing sound and then a 'click' before it pushed itself open a couple of inches.

Taking in a deep breath to prepare myself, I pushed the door the rest of the way open and stepped inside, relishing the first glimpse of my new accommodations.

I was pleasantly surprised by the size of the L-shaped apartment, figuring that it would have been a lot smaller and simpler, especially since it already came beautifully furnished. It had a narrow entryway that immediately opened up into a spacious living room/dining room combination with a small kitchen off to the right with a breakfast bar. The warm color combination with the unique furniture designs gave it a homey feeling, a complete contrast to the stark white in the hallway. A glass wall with sliding doors separated the bedroom from the rest of the apartment and had a spacious ensuite that could be entered from both the bedroom and living room.

"There's a button on the light switches that frosts the glass so that no one can see into it in case you need the extra privacy." Christina explained as she came up from behind me.

"Thanks," I smiled, turning to face her, "For everything, I mean. I have to admit that I was feeling really nervous about coming here and accepting this job since it's so out of the ordinary, but you've really made me feel welcome."

She appeared humbled by my statement, a soft blush rising to her cheeks as she replied, "It's no problem, really. I remember what it was like for me when I first took this job, and I have to say that if I had someone to make the transition easier, it probably wouldn't have been so hard for me to adjust to this place."

"How long have you been working here?" I wondered.

"About six years, now," she replied. "I started out as an assistant to the old Director of Human Resources, and when he retired, they offered me the job."

"How long ago was that?"

"Nearly two years ago."

"And you really like it here?" I pressed, still feeling anxious about this new position in such a bizarre, but prodigious company.

"I do," she answered honestly and genuinely. "It might not be admissible for some, what with us being so far away from civilization and not being allowed to discuss the deeper aspects of this place with anyone, but the perks by far outweigh any of that - in my opinion, at least."

"Yeah, I guess I can sympathize with that," I shrugged in agreement. "And the perks are pretty great." Since the company was also funded by the government, the benefits and insurance rates were over the top, not to mention the weekly salary.

She let out a long sigh, "Well, I guess I'll leave you to unpack." She gestured at the L shaped desk that took up the corner. "The employee handbook, as well as the directory are in the top left hand drawer."

"Okay, thanks."

"Also, I'm in room 1363, right around the corner, if you need me or just want to talk and hang out," she informed me as she made her way towards the entryway.

"Definitely," I agreed, walking beside her until we stopped in front of the door and bid her farewell, gently shutting the world out behind her.

I made my way over to the large four-poster bed and collapsed onto it with a loud sigh. This was it. I had finally arrived after weeks of preparation, physicals, vaccinations and background checks. It all came down to this, and I was finally here and ready to start my new life working at this makeshift Area 51. I just hoped I was making the right choice.

A/N: And there you have the finished chapter one! What did you guys think of it so far? Any thoughts on Damien and Alexia's first meeting? Awkward, huh? LOL! Let me know what you think!

If you have any questions or comments, post them in my reviews and I will answer there at the bottom in my Author's Note!

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