A/N Curious about the reactions...


Chapter 9

"The physical language of the body is so much more powerful than words." (Bill Irwin)

~ B ~


Towards the end of October, I was exiting Mrs. Cope's classroom when, all of a sudden, someone grabbed my hand, and I was being hauled into the girls' restroom.

"Vic, what the hell?" I protested, pushing my bag up my shoulder as she let go of me, the door closing quietly behind us.

"Did you hear?" she practically squealed, bouncing on her toes; she was that excited.

"Hear what?" I asked, confused and a bit annoyed by her manhandling.

"Yovenko's throwing this huge birthday party for himself at a friend's house, and everyone's invited!" she exclaimed, clapping her hands like a hyperactive five-year-old.

"Oh, wow," I breathed incredulously, taken aback by this new piece of information; bad mood quickly vanishing. "Really? I mean, I never would have pegged Yovenko as the wild party-animal type."

"We have to go, Bella!" Victoria's tone of voice was pleading and excited.

"Uh, yeah, sure," I agreed absently, my thoughts set on a person I was particularly interested in seeing there. "Do you think Mr. Masen is going?"

She frowned, not getting why I was even asking that. "Who cares?"

Me. I cared. Quite a lot.

"So, when is it?" I tried to sound nonchalant, which was hard considering I was dying to find out whether Mr. Masen would be attending or not. She said everyone was invited, and by definition that also included him.

"This Saturday." She waggled her eyebrows suggestively, but then her expression changed to one of concern. "I don't even know what to wear. I swear to God I can never find—"

My concentration was starting to slip. I mean, I was concentrating, very hard actually, just not on Victoria anymore. My thoughts drifted to Mr. Masen and his not-so-social attitude towards the company dancers. I wanted him to come to the party, mostly because I was so desperate for more time with him outside the studio. Although, knowing him and his rigid manner of dealing with all things related to co-worker interaction, that was highly unlikely.

For the past month, ever since my acceptance to his offer that he get more involved, we'd spent quite a notable amount of time together, rehearsing. We'd even developed some sort of schedule. Three times a week, sometimes more, we would meet in the same studio, on the third floor, at the same early hour.

That said, our professional relationship was flourishing with each elapsing day, while, on a more personal level, things were stagnating badly. The fact he was deflecting, every single chance he got, wasn't helping either. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn't get too close. Those walls he kept up with such determination weren't flinching, and it was positively infuriating.

He was good to me—demanding, but ultimately good. He was kind, empathetic, not to mention he possessed unquestionable moral values, which was something I'd always appreciated about him. Still, the real him was hidden somewhere beneath those intricate layers of his personality, and that was the version of him I wanted to get to know.

Ever since the incident with the flowers, he hadn't done anything even remotely inappropriate or out of the ordinary, but if his body language was any indication, he and I were pretty much on the same page. Every single time he touched me, this weird buzz of electricity stretched between our bodies, causing me, and sometimes him, to lose our focus for the briefest of moments. Those were the moments I loved the most. It fascinated me how deeply our bodies connected, and I think he felt it, too. There was chemistry between us, and not even he could deny it. Obviously, I didn't expect him to flat out admit it, much less act on it, but letting down his guard a little bit would've been nice. So what better chance for me to get closer than a party?

Crossing my fingers, all I could do was hope he was going to be there.

Saturday couldn't come fast enough.

~ B ~

Saturday evening, at nine p.m. sharp, I stepped out of the cab and into the chilly autumn air. In front of me, a large, three-story house roared with loud 50's music.

I was wearing a short, black dress of lace long sleeves and bodice, with a daring v-neck showing quite a generous amount of cleavage. It had an equally revealing back and a flowy puff ball skirt that only reached a little lower than the middle of my thighs. All in all, it was a beautiful dress; sexy but not skimpy, although most definitely out of my comfort zone.

Tonight, I had my mind set on capturing the attention of a certain someone.

The neighborhood consisted mostly of luxurious mansions, and as I made my way to the front door, I couldn't help but wonder whose house this was. I didn't even get to ring the doorbell before the massive cherry wood door swung open, revealing a man in his mid-thirties.

"Hello there," he greeted, smiling down at me. He was tall, definitely over six feet, with platinum-blond, slicked-back hair and piercing blue eyes.

"Hi," I replied back, offering a tentative smile in return.

"And who might you be?" he inquired, cocking his head to the side as he took me in with an air of curiosity.

"I'm Isabella. I work with Mr. Yovenko."

His face suddenly lit up. "So, you're the infamous Isabella. He's told me quite a lot about you."

"Really?" I asked skeptically; eyebrows drawn together.

"Yes, really. I'm Caius; Maks' boyfriend."

"Oh," I breathed, his words slowly sinking in. Yovenko was gay. Holy shit! Hastily, I grabbed his extended hand. "Uh… it's very nice to meet you."

"Likewise." He motioned that I should step in, not seeming bothered by my awkward reaction. "Please, make yourself at home."

As huge as the place was, it was packed with familiar faces. Yovenko, who was just descending the stairs, greeted me more enthusiastically than usual.

"Isabella, I'm glad you could make it." He leaned down to give my cheek a barely-there peck. "I see you've met Caius."

"She's sweet," Caius responded instead, placing his hand on his lover's shoulder.

I tried really hard not to gawk.

Yovenko nodded in agreement, taking a sip of his glass of whiskey as his eyes roved over me from head to toe. Despite the fact I couldn't read his mind, I was pretty sure he approved of my outfit, which I guessed was a good sign, coming from a gay man.

"I hope you like it," I said, handing him his present: a tribal mask resembling the small pendant he always wore around his neck. "Happy birthday."

"Thank you, Isabella. That's very kind of you." He beamed, stealing a quick peek inside the glossy paper bag, then chuckled. "I'm more than happy to see you're paying attention."

I smiled back, mentally high-fiving myself for nailing it.

"Bella!"

I turned around to the sound of my name being called. Just a few steps into the living area, Victoria stood, her left arm linked with that of a guy I didn't recognize. She motioned me over excitedly.

"Go, enjoy yourself," Yovenko urged, already starting to walk away with Caius in tow.

I nodded wordlessly, making my way over to my friend. "Vic, hi."

"I'm so glad you're here." She gave me a tight hug to which I responded eagerly. When she pulled back, I noticed her cheeks were rosy, which probably meant she'd already had more than one drink. "I want you to meet someone."

"Okay." I smiled, directing my gaze towards the unknown man.

"Bella, this is James, my fiancé. James, this is my friend, Bella." She made the introductions, her glowing eyes alternating between the two of us.

"Vicky's told me so much about you," James spoke, taking my hand in his. "It's nice to finally be able to put a face to the name."

"Yeah, it's nice meeting you, too," I replied, observing him with genuine interest. He was of average height, with light brown hair and a friendly expression on his face. As first impressions go, he seemed pleasant enough, and I was glad I had the chance to meet him, knowing how much he meant to Vic.

"So, I hear you're quite popular in the company these days," he made small talk, casually holding a beer bottle.

I shrugged. "You could say that."

"Vicky won't stop talking about you. If we weren't engaged, I would seriously have to question her sexual orientation," he teased, causing both Victoria and me to burst into laughter.

"Shut up." Victoria smacked his arm playfully.

He winked at her, turning to me. "Seriously now, I'm glad she found such a good friend in you. She deserves it, and you actually seem like a genuinely likable person."

"Thank you," I replied, flattered by the sincerity in his voice. "You seem like a pretty decent guy, too."

He chuckled, nudging his fiancée. "You hear that? Bella, please make sure to remind her of that more often."

Victoria pinched his side in return, and I had to smile at their amusing display of affection.

As the party advanced into the latter hours of the night, I kept glancing around, hoping to spot the one person I was truly interested in seeing. Around eleven, there was still no sign of him, and I was getting restless. So, when Victoria pushed her double screwdriver cocktail into my hand, I didn't hesitate. I drank, cringing at the strong taste burning its way down my throat. I kept drinking until the feeling of nervousness, residing in the pit of my stomach, turned into pleasant drowsiness.

Sometime later—possibly around midnight—I felt a warm hand at the small of my back. Before I could turn around, the hand was gone, but the person standing behind me wasn't.

"Isabella," Mr. Masen greeted casually, stormy green eyes set on mine. He didn't look too happy.

"Mr. Masen, good evening," I replied, grinning stupidly through my drunken haze. My heartbeat picked up pace, and I suddenly found myself gripping the glass in my hand so hard I could've shattered it.

"How are you?" he inquired, not even bothering to acknowledge Victoria and James, who were now speaking with each other in low voices, while glancing between us.

"Fine, thank you." I turned around completely so I was facing him. He looked incredibly handsome dressed in jeans, white shirt, gray sweater vest, and a slim-fit black blazer. "And you?"

"Concerned," he stated flatly.

"I'm sorry?" I frowned, not understanding.

"I see you've been drinking." He nodded towards the drink in my hand.

Uh-oh.

"I just…" I trailed off, staring down at said drink. Suddenly realizing my stupidity, I started to panic. "I mean, yes, but—"

"Perhaps you should stop stealing sips from Victoria's glass?" he cut me off, and it sure as hell didn't sound like a suggestion.

"I… of course." I nodded vehemently, feeling my face heat with embarrassment. "Yes, sir."

"Enjoy the party." With one last pointed look, and a lingering peruse of my attire, he turned and exited the room.

"That could've gone downhill quickly," Victoria hissed, snatching the glass from my hand.

"Hey, you gave it to me," I protested, glaring at her.

James conveniently excused himself to take a call, and Victoria grabbed my hand, pulling me off into a secluded corner. "I say we keep you out of his sight for the rest of the night."

I puffed out a defiant snort. "I don't think so."

I was here for him; I most definitely wasn't going to hide from him. I wanted him to see me. I was going to catch his attention, no matter what or how.

It was then I realized: the only way he was coming back was if I kept doing what I'd done to make him take notice in the first place.

Forcing the ultimate level of boldness on myself, I reached out for Victoria's drink again. She was so shocked, for a brief moment, she couldn't even react. Easily grabbing the glass from her hand, I brought it to my lips, knowing it was going to attract the right pair of eyes.

"What are you doing?" she gritted, reaching back for it.

I grinned mischievously, hiding it behind my back. "Enjoying myself."

"You're distorting his words, and are you freaking insane?" Her eyes flew past my head, instantly widening to alarming size. "Oh, my God, he's right over there, looking at you!"

"He's not my father," I replied, daring. An exciting surge of adrenaline traversed my entire body at the thought of facing him once again. The alcohol was making me act reckless, and I couldn't have cared less.

"No, but last I checked, underage drinking was still illegal," Victoria whined pathetically, her face contorting into pure terror. "He's going to kill us both, or, at the very least, punish us somehow."

"Now, who's being a grump?" I teased, taking yet another sip.

I felt his nearness even before Victoria could announce he was coming; her expression almost comical in her alarm.

"I thought I told you to stay away from alcohol," he hissed in my ear, sending a shiver down my spine.

"Did you?" I reversed my position so that I came face-to-face with him. "It must've slipped my mind."

Before I could bring the glass to my lips, he grabbed it from me so roughly, he spilled nearly half of its content as he pushed it into Victoria's hand.

"Outside. Now," he snarled, looking positively furious as he clasped his hand around my upper arm. He dragged me towards the lovely set of French doors and onto the back patio, where he pulled me to the side so that we could have some privacy.

I had no idea what came over me, but as soon as we were alone, I threw myself at him. He pointed his forefinger in my direction, no doubt about to scold me for what I'd been doing, but my movement was so quick, he didn't manage to get a single word out.

Before either of us could truly comprehend what was happening, I was kissing him.

"What are—" He mumbled against my lips then pulled back; his eyes wild as he stared at me incredulously. "Isabella!"

I should've felt mortified. I should've apologized and run the fuck out of there. I should've done anything but what I did next. Taking a step forward and wrapping my arms around his neck, I crashed my mouth against his, again, refusing to back down.

I was possessed... and drunk.

This time, his reaction was the exact opposite of what I'd been expecting. Instead of pushing me away, he grabbed my hips roughly and pinned me against the brick wall, responding to my kiss with the same abandon and intensity it was delivered.

It was so good. He tasted of hard liquor and cigarettes, and I buried my fingers into his soft hair, pulling him even closer. He made a low noise at the back of his throat, and it was so primal and hot, it caused my scalp to prickle.

I wanted him. God, I wanted him so badly.

Suddenly, I had the urge to rip his clothes off and let him have me right then and there. The air between us was so thick with lust, it wouldn't have taken too much to get there.

His palm slid down towards my ass, where it squeezed lightly through the soft material of my dress. I moaned and drew back a bit, only to start kissing his neck, but as soon as our eyes made contact, the spell broke.

He let go of me with a jerk and nearly jumped back, horrified.

"I'm sorry, I…" His breath was labored as he swallowed hard. "Forgive me." He then turned around and rushed towards the French doors, hell bent on getting away from me.

I instantly panicked and started running after him, my legs almost giving out on me from the confusing array of emotions swirling inside of me.

Fuck, fuck, fuck!

What I'd done was suicidal. The man had the power to fire me; he had the resources to ruin my career forever, if he saw fit.

What the fuck had I been thinking?

Obviously nothing. The alcohol had taken my goddamned mind and my common sense with it.

Mr. Masen's reaction was like a cold shower. I was now perfectly sober and on high alert as I chased him though the throng of people, bypassing a confused-looking Emmett.

I caught up to him outside, just as he was climbing into his car.

"Mr. Masen, please wait!" I yelled desperately, opening the passenger door and getting inside without even thinking about what I was doing. "I'm so, so sorry. I'm drunk. Please don't be mad at me."

His jaw was set, and he was gripping the steering wheel so tightly, his knuckles turned white. "I'm not mad," he spoke in a low voice, staring straight ahead. "Not at you, anyway."

On their own accord, my eyes drifted to his lap. The prominent bulge, made me gasp audibly.

"Are you—" I began to ask stupidly. "Did I—" I shook my head and tried again. "Did you enjoy that? "

He turned to me with such venom in his eyes, it terrified me. "Get out," he snarled, spitting each word while starting up the engine. "Get the fuck out before I do something we'll both regret."

Throwing open the door, I stumbled out of the car and watched as he drove off in such haste, his tires left marks on the pavement.

Oh. My. God.

What the hell have I done?


A/N Um...

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