Ellie scanned the ornate ballroom for Maxwell, the moonlight shown through the glass rotunda overhead adding to the almost dreamlike scene. The lights were dimmed low, she scanned faces painted in the pale blue moonlight. A big orchestral band was playing up beat cha cha rhythms, but they barely registered in her ears. Ellie didn’t do well in crowds, especially crowds like this. So many people from more money than she had ever seen in her life surrounded Ellie. She felt like an impostor in their world, or worse a subject to whisper about. Ellie hoped that whatever business Maxwell had to conduct in private with Sebastian was brief. She didn’t like Sebastian, or the way he looked at her when he introduced himself. There was no light behind them, try as he might to convey it; and something almost puerile in his gaze as he looked her up and down. Ellie searched the faces in the crowd as she idly toyed with the champagne flute in her hand when two massive, familiar hands rested on her shoulders. Ellie jumped, startled slightly until she turned and saw Maxwell, his smile seemed to conceal something; it was not the genuine one she had seen before he encountered Sebastian. Even still Ellie was relieved to see Maxwell again, he was her anchor in uncharted waters of opulence and frivolity. “Is everything okay?” Ellie asked while searching Maxwell’s face for hidden answers. Maxwell shook his head, his far off eyes returned to Ellie’s in earnest. His mask slipped again and the warm smile returned as his glance looked down into her eyes. “It will be if you dance with me.” Maxwell said as he took a step back and extended his hand. Ellie had never been much of a dancer, at least not a formal one but the gentle and reassuring energy of her boss had this way of getting under her skin, and making her feel as if everything would be just fine. She placed her delicate hand in his and couldn’t help but notice how much larger Maxwell’s were than hers. She tried her best to hide her anxiety under a coy facade she was almost certain he could see through. “I must warn you I’m not so light on my feet.” Ellie said in the most casual tone she could muster as she placed the champagne flute down. “Then I’ll show you something new tonight. Trust me, it’s not as difficult as it seems.” Maxwell said reassuringly. “Then lead the way, Mr. Malcolm.” Ellie replied as he enveloped her hand and gently pulled her into the center of the marble dance floor. Ellie was stricken again with that feeling she had been having so frequently as of late. That feeling when she was face to face with Noctys in the alley, the very same feeling she had when she first rose to shake Maxwell’s hand in Brant’s office. Maxwell was six foot three and two hundred and thirty pounds of solid, well carved muscle underneath all those expensive suits. Ellie resisted the urge to press her face to his broad chest as he guided her across the dance floor; she felt so small in Maxwell’s presence. She felt safe. Protected even. While Ellie hadn’t known Maxwell long she felt like he would be the one force that would keep her safe in life. There was something else, something she was almost afraid to admit to herself and certainly out loud. Ellie was small a five foot three, one hundred and twenty pound bundle of nervous energy and anxiety. Usually men of such stature terrified Ellie, filled her with a deep primal fear that made her feel aware of her size. She hated that feeling, it made her feel like prey. But with Maxwell she was aware of her petite stature and it enticed her. That feeling of his towering over her, shielding her elicited a deep electric buzzing of excitement in the pit of her stomach. It made her feel like prey, only now she fought hard against wanting him to pounce on her; now Ellie fought hard against wanting to be the gazelle under his roaring lion. “Max.” Maxwell whispered gently as he leaned into Ellie’s ear. “What?” She replied as she was ripped back into reality from her reverie. “You can call me Max.” He replied. Ellie gasped. “But no one calls you that!” She said in a hushed and shocked tone. “Only the people that I like.” He returned as he stood tall again and smiled, his eyes dazzling in the moonlight. Her gaze broke first as she looked away suddenly so aware of...everything. It always did. Maxwell lead Ellie in an active cha cha across the red and white checkered floor underneath the moon’s dazzling glow. She chuckled, her cheeks flushed as a familiar heat licked at them. It wasn’t often she made friends with a billionaire, much less got on their short list for personal exclusiveness. She leaned back and looked up at him again, emboldened by the kindness of the gesture. “Well, then color me flattered. Usually I’m an acquired taste not many go for.” She said softly. Ellie thought briefly her nose scrunched below her glasses before she added. “Between that, and all you’ve done for me. I wish I had something to give you in return.” Maxwell grinned, he looked at Ellie with a mischievous glance. “But you have.” Ellie was confused, what could she have possibly given Maxwell Malcolm; she wondered. Then as if he had read her thoughts Maxwell added. “You gave me one of the most wonderful nights I’ve had in a while.” Ellie’s heart dropped as Maxwell twirled her. The blood red ombre end of her black dress spreading out like hypnotic plumage on a bird of prey. As he brought her in to conclude their dance. As they made their way off of the dance floor, Ellie longed for Maxwell’s hand again. She reached for it and he did not pull away. They stared out at the most awe inspiring view of the city skyline that Ellie had ever seen, and a sea of endless wrongs to be set right for faces Maxwell wouldn’t see again after brief and violent rescue. “What did Sebastian want to say to you?” Ellie asked again. She gently tested the waters once more, hoping to get Maxwell to open up more. She hated to see him with such a grim expression. That darkness behind his eyes as he returned haunted her. “Nothing, that dancing with you didn’t fix.” He said. “Are you sure?” Ellie asked as she offered one last time. “I’m certain.” Maxwell replied gently. Neither Maxwell or Ellie broke their stare out at the sea of lights. Without a word Ellie rested her head on Maxwell’s arm ans squeezed his hand with both of hers. Maxwell looked at Ellie. She was bathed in the light of the moon. He had never seen such a beautiful woman; he looked her up and down silently. From her bare shoulders and her full lips, to the black bow holding her hair back, down the valley of her ample cleavage softly rising and falling as she breathed, to the always inquisitive look in her big brown eyes behind those thick glasses. He had many dates in his life, from everyone to models and ballerinas; but no one was as sexy as this tiny genius and her remarkable mind. For a second he wondered if the city would survive the night, just one night without him even if for just one more dance. But he regrettably came to the conclusion that his happiness would always take backseat to his nocturnal oath to uphold justice. Maxwell sighed deeply, almost sad to end the night so early. He put on his best vapid billionaire fake smile, one even Ellie could not see through yet. “Thank you for making one of these obligations so memorable and delightful. Best to get you home, before one of us turns into a pumpkin.” Maxwell said with a fake chuckle. Ellie looked at him and nodded. Her face sad. She had longed for another dance, to hold his hand and be there for him in his time of need. To feel like prey, his prey for just a little while longer. But something in his eyes told her that was not to be. Perhaps it was for the best she thought as he draped the long coat over her as they boarded the elevator down. After all he was her boss, and these feelings weren’t one sided; this much she certain of. She needed this job, her first adult job, and compilations could arise if they weren't careful, and she knew that she couldn’t be for much longer. She had hoped he wouldn’t be for much longer.