Scent of an Alpha
- Genre: Romance
- Age: 18+
- Status: Completed
- Language: English
- Author: Taylor Brooks
In the eighteenth year of his short life, Gilbert graduated from secondary school and was proud to say that he had also done well on his examinations. He sat down at the creek behind the local pub with his friend William, both of them with mugs of ale in hand.
“Congratulations, Gilbert,” Will said as they clinked their drinks.
“Well done, Will,” Gilbert replied.
They took long sips of the hoppy ale, relishing their reward after the closing ceremony at school.
“We cleaned up well,” Gilbert said as they looked at their reflections in the water.
“Real adults,” Will agreed as he looked at themselves in their suits – Gilbert with his dirty blonde hair combed back and Will with his dark curls breaking their ordered style.
Gilbert thought they were now at the next stage in life and had to get on to their future. He was tired from the ceremony though and didn’t want to think about it too much. So instead, he looked over at his friend, who was taking another sip of his drink.
“This is pretty strong stuff,” Will said.
“I think we’re just not used to the taste of alcohol yet,” Gilbert mused.
He tossed a few twigs into the water and watched them sail away downstream.
“Lots to get used to,” Will said. “Welcome to the world of being an adult.”
“Ughh…” Gilbert lamented.
Will wasn’t as academic as Gilbert and had decided to undertake an apprenticeship at the local printing shop. Gilbert admired him, for the life of the heavy presses and sticky inks didn’t appeal to his bookish personality. He sipped his drink and thought about his prospects. He was looking for a direction in life, something to take centre stage, and he wanted to use his gift with maths and science for a related career. His family was proud of him and hadn’t pressured him to decide on anything yet, but he was eager to start his new life.
They looked up to see some local girls walking past the pub on their way back from the seamstress shop. One of the girls, Grace, saw them looking up and nodded shyly before continuing on her way. Gilbert wondered how things had changed so suddenly since they had graduated. Those girls had gone from being their classmates to being eligible young women, and he didn’t understand how a slip of paper could change that. But he had noticed Grace’s blush directed at Will.
“Who are you sweet on?” he asked.
“Huh?” Will replied. “What’s with that question, out of the blue?”
Gilbert nodded in the direction of the girls who had just passed…He still couldn’t believe that they had all just finished school.
“Time to settle down,” he said as he stuck out his tongue.
Will scowled at him. “For you, perhaps. I plan to get a steady job and some savings before any of that.”
Gilbert thought about that reply. He also hadn’t thought about settling down…He was not interested in women. He’d sometimes thought about Rosie in their class whenever he was distracted from studying. She was pretty and a little disorderly compared to the other girls – always with ink on her fingers or her collar unbuttoned. He’d enjoyed looking in her direction to see what was different about her every day.
However, Rosie seemed to be getting along with someone else. Gilbert sighed at his poor luck in love and realised that he probably wouldn’t see Rosie often anymore because he intended to move to the city as soon as he could.
“I don’t care much for any of that, either,” he commented.
“With your looks, that’s a shame,” Will said with a laugh.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Gilbert said with a pout; he had no interest in his own looks.
They were halfway through their ales by now, and Gilbert had begun to feel a little philosophical. He mused again about what he wanted to do with his life while Will went inside to get them more drinks. Will took a while, so Gilbert walked inside to see what caused the delay and found his friend stopped by someone to talk at the bar counter.
“Hello,” he said to the man politely with a nod as he took his beer from Will. “I’m Gilbert Jones.”
“Oh, another young patron!” The man said. “We don’t see many of your type here!”
Gilbert smiled. “We just graduated today. Thought it was time to come check out the place.”
The man smiled back. “I’m Heston. Nice to meet you. Come and sit at our table.”
Gilbert looked over at Will, who shrugged, so they sat down with a few men who were still young, perhaps mid-twenties. After the introductions, Gilbert felt curious when one of them said he was a civil engineer.
“What do you do at work?” he asked the man.
“I work with the architects designing structures and buildings,” he said. “Have you decided on what your job will be?”
Gilbert hadn’t and listened to the man as he told him about the exciting steel structures and built environment projects he had worked on. When Gilbert heard that the role involved maths and physics, he was more than interested; the job sounded fantastic.
“Here’s my card with my address. If you have any questions about engineering, just write to me, and I’ll reply as soon as I can,” the man said.
Gilbert held the card in his fingers, admiring the printed name and job title.
“Thank you very much, sir. I’ll write to you once I know what my plans are.”
After returning home from the pub, Gilbert sat at his bedroom window and looked at the card again. Engineering and architecture? It all sounded thrilling. Before he knew it, he sat down at his desk and wrote the man a letter asking how he could get into the field.
A month later, he was in London against his mother’s wishes, looking at a boarding house room with the landlord. It was cramped, but it would serve him well as he was only there to work, not stay home. He made the downpayment on the rent and then put down his suitcase to look out the window. The view was of a narrow alleyway without much light, very different from his room at home. He noticed the lack of privacy as he could see directly into the room across from his, also a boarding house from the looks of things.
Seeing that the light was fading, he sat down at the small table to begin a letter to his mother. But he was exhausted from the long trip, so he lay down on the small bed for a minute and promptly fell asleep.
The following day, he woke up early to the sound of voices in the street. It was different from what he was used to, which was absolutely quiet, but he liked it. He exited the boarding house to buy himself some bread.
“Newsboy!” he called as he returned from the bakery.
A young boy selling newspapers ran up to him.
“Thanks,” he said as he paid him for the paper.
He headed upstairs to look at the ads for employment. Architecture or engineering…What could he find? He saw an ad and penned down a job application to send off.
A few days later, he stood outside the doorway to an office above a bookshop not too far from where he was staying. He composed himself, climbed the stairs, and knocked on the dark-stained door. The cover was inlaid with frosted glass and curving leadlight floral art. The curves and details were beautiful – even the door of this place intimidated him. A man about his age answered the door.
“Good day, I’m here about the position advertised in the paper. My name’s Gilbert Jones.”
“Ah, yes, we’ve been expecting you. Come in,” the young man said.
Gilbert was shown into a large room filled with light and several large tables covered with technical drawings, with a few men at those desks drawing quietly. A man in his thirties walked up to him from between the tables.
“Hello, my name’s Charles. I’ll be doing your interview.”
They sat in an office at the back of the drafting room, where Charles looked at his paperwork and asked a few questions about his skills and abilities. At the end of the interview, he smiled.
“Everything looks good,” he said. “When can you start?”
“I can start tomorrow, sir,” Gilbert said.
“Excellent,” Charles said. “We’ll see you tomorrow at nine o’clock, then.”
He farewelled Gilbert, who hurried home to write to his mother about the good news. His first drafting job! He was thrilled to bits. He made sure to buy something to take to work for lunch the next day and made sure that his clothes were ready. Then, all he had to do was get a good night’s rest to start his new job on a positive note.
“Good morning!” the young man who had answered the door the day before said as Gilbert entered the architecture practice. “I should introduce myself today. The name’s Noel! You’ll be sitting next to me.”
“I’m Gilbert. I look forward to working with you.”
“Same to you. Charles hasn’t come in yet, but he’s our direct boss,” Noel said. “I’ll get you set up.”
Gilbert was shown a desk and all the drawing implements he would use, and then Charles arrived at work.
“Alright, Gilbert,” he said as he sat with him at his desk. “We need to do some acoustics calculations for a building we’re designing. I’ll take you through what you need to study.”
As they looked at the formulas and the acoustic engineering volumes that the firm owned, a tall man entered the drafting room from one of the back offices. He looked rumpled and exhausted like he hadn’t slept all night, but that didn’t take away from his handsome, rugged looks. Gilbert couldn’t help admiring him as he strode through the room to leave the office with his coat slung over his shoulder. The others nodded to him as he passed, and he didn’t notice Gilbert at all. Nevertheless, Gilbert found the man interesting and wanted to know more about him.
When eating the bread he had brought for lunch, he asked Noel who the man had been.
“That was Nelson Taylor, the firm’s director.”
“Director…” Gilbert mused. “So, he’s the top boss?”
“Yes, I suppose he is,” Noel replied with a smile.
“He seemed exhausted! He must work hard,” Gilbert said.
“Yes, when there are deadlines, he puts in long hours. Sometimes overnight, like today. It’s the life of an architect, it seems,” Noel said.
“I see!” Gilbert replied, always keen to know more about the profession.
Work at the firm was hard going. Gilbert had to get up to speed with engineering calculations and technical drawings but was given plenty of time to study the books in the small library at the back of the office. He sat with Noel as he worked and picked up some drafting skills he needed to use. Charles gave him an oral education in the principles of architecture that he worked by, then directed Gilbert to some books on architectural history. Gilbert did well absorbing the information and impressed his boss.
During his seventh month at the firm, he was sitting at his table drafting up the plans for a simple warehouse they were renovating when he was startled by shouting coming from Nelson’s office. One of the draftsmen exited a minute later, flustered and red-faced, as he hurried to his desk to pack his things. Everyone kept their heads down as he left.
Nelson stormed out of his office, bellowing for Charles, who followed him back into its confines to deal with the aftermath of that dramatic scene. Nelson had looked wild and alive in his anger, and a shiver went down Gilbert’s spine. He didn’t understand the feeling of excitement that he had as he watched Nelson command Charles, fiery and masculine in his demeanour. Noel glanced at Gilbert and whispered that the draftsman must have been fired, much to Gilbert’s alarm.
“Are you serious?” he asked.
“Happens from time to time,” Noel said. “Now he’ll have to find another senior draftsman. I hope he doesn’t promote me.”
“Me neither,” Gilbert replied. “That doesn’t sound good.”
But that was how Gilbert ended up working directly under Nelson.