A/N: Hey! Long time no see. This update comes in 2 parts and this is part 2/2. So if you are reading this one first go back to "Feminine Sensibilities" or you may be lost! Enjoy and thanks for reading :)
It dawned on Caroline that Maria had probably been waiting for the conversation to end. Caroline wondered how long the car had been stopped without either of them noticing.
"Thank you, Maria," Klaus replied as he stepped out of the car and adjusted his jacket.
Caroline soon followed also smoothing out the creases in her blouse and skirt. She shot a disapproving glare at Klaus but he seemed to be ignoring her.
He walked purposefully towards the large gray building, obviously expecting her to follow him, and to her own chagrin she did.
She felt the familiar anxiety building as she got closer to the entrance and knew she needed a drink. She'd managed to avoid thinking about flying all week, but now that she was here staring it in the face her stomach was doing flip flops. The thought of being miles into the sky terrified her in a way few things did.
Once they'd gone through a security check she made a beeline for the closest bar, only to be restrained by Klaus' strong hands, something she'd fantasized about but under vastly different circumstances.
"We are late, Miss Forbes, our flight leaves in ten minutes and we are not on the plane," he lectured.
"But I-" she choked out, but he had no patience for her excuses at the moment.
With his hand wrapped around her wrist he led her to the proper terminal where they quickly boarded.
As they squeezed passed rows and rows of passengers on their way to first class Caroline's anxiety only grew. Once they finally arrived at their seats she was ready to combust.
Attention Passengers this is your Captain Speaking we will soon be cleared for take off, the Captain announced through the airline speakers.
Caroline suppressed a horrified sound, opting instead to flag down the nearest stewardess.
"Excuse me, Miss," she said to the stewardess as she tried to keep her voice even.
The stewardess stopped and studied her, she hadn't intended on being called on so early considering the flight hadn't even taken off yet.
"Yes, Miss?" the stewardess replied politely. She was older than some of the others they had seen walking through coach. She appeared to be in her thirties with tendrils of wispy blonde hair falling from her well worn bun. Caroline wondered what number of flights had this woman been on today.
"Yeah could you do me a huge favor and get me three bottles of those mini wines? Thanks that'd be great," Caroline asked with strained cordiality.
The woman frowned at her. "I'm sorry Miss but we can't serve alcohol so soon in the flight, it's against Airline rules. But I can bring it to you once we are at the appropriate elevation."
Caroline winced "Yeah see that'll be too late and I really need it now-"
"I'm sorry Miss I can't," the woman interrupted. She was beginning to feel worry about getting back to work and the last thing she wanted to deal with with some crazy wino.
"Yeah but-" Caroline began but she saw the stewardess' guarded expression and thought better of it. She'd rather not get kicked off the plane today. "Okay, great. Never mind," she finished.
The woman nodded once then returned to work. As Caroline tried to sort out what she would do without alcohol she sensed her boss glaring into her back.
"Can I help you?" she asked snarkily.
"Are you an alcoholic," he interrogated.
"What? No! I don't drink. Well, not anymore, well not usually," she corrected uncertainly.
"Are you sure? Because you tossed my booze back pretty easily the other day."
Caroline thought back to the night of the folder and the way she'd downed glass after glass of the sharp liquid.
"That was a special occasion," she grumbled.
"And what is it now?"
"Look, I'm afraid of flying okay?" she blurted out. As time ticked on she could feel the sweat start to cover her palms, she coped by wiping them on her skirt.
"You're kidding. Have you never flown before?"
"Of course I've flown before," she spat offensively.
"How did you handle it then?"
Klaus raised his brow "And why didn't you bring any this time?"
"Because I don't have the money THIS time," she hissed.
He smirked. A minor inconvenience for Caroline was a great joy to Klaus.
"Look," she glared menacingly "If you don't get me a drink before this plane takes off I'm getting off this plane and telling your girlfriend that not only have you been cheating on her, but you got the girl pregnant."
Klaus' face dropped. He looked horrified, "You can't do that!"
"Can and will." There was a look of determination in her eyes that even Klaus was unwilling to challenge.
With his hands now tied he waved down a passing stewardess.
"Excuse me, Miss," he said, flashing her a dazzling smile.
The stewardess paused, clearly thrown off by the gorgeous creature in front of her. Caroline got the feeling she may not have been used to such attractive attention.
The woman was different than before, younger, thinner, and judging by the now distracted look in her eye, easily swayed.
"Yes, sir?" she said softly. Her voice reminded Caroline of a cartoon mouse.
"Could you please get my companion here three bottles of your miniature wine? You see, she's quite the alcoholic and hasn't been drunk in at least an hour and she's really starting to get on my nerves," he said brightly.
Caroline shot him a dirty look.
The stewardess blinked as if she'd misheard him, "Um, I'm sorry, sir but we can't-"
"Because of safety concerns, I know," he said smiling up at her through his lashes. Again, the stewardess looked caught off guard, but his assault wasn't over. Caroline watched as he pulled a green sheet of paper from his coat pocket, she was certain it was money.
"But it's really important for the comfort of her flight and it means a great deal to me, I promise they'll be empty before take off," he said as he handed her the slip of paper with a flirty wink.
The stewardess swallowed hard as she glanced down at the piece of paper in her hand, her eyes going wide.
Klaus was a master of the bribe.
"Certainly, sir," she said quietly as she scurried away to grab the drinks.
Moments later she returned with three small wine bottles between her fingers.
"Here you are, Miss," she said politely to Caroline, though her eyes never left Klaus.
"No, thank you," Caroline replied cheerfully.
"Yes, thank you, love. You've been very helpful today," said Klaus lowly. His eyes had taken on a predatory quality, like he had spotted something delicious.
"No problem, just uh, let me know if I can do anything else for you," the woman said in a way that made it seem like being forward wasn't her strong suit.
Caroline's eyes widened at the subtle implication but she was too busy downing the first bottle to react further.
Klaus on the other hand didn't t appear shocked, "I will certainly let you know," he said modestly.
With a quick nod she then left them to their own devices.
"Wow, that was something," Caroline said as she began to open the second bottle.
"She was nice, I liked her," Klaus replied, looking rather proud of himself.
Caroline rolled her eyes as she brought the second bottle to her lips.
"That's like water to you isn't it?" he asked with voice full of judgement.
"Think of it as medicine I have to take if you don't want me to singlehandedly bring this plane down."
"Say that any louder and you might anyway," he added sourly.
By the time the plane began to ascend into the sky Caroline was already feeling the calming effects of the wine. Normally the bumps and change in air pressure was enough to send her into hysterics, but in her humming mind it only made her sleepy.
"Enjoying yourself are we?" Klaus said mildly, he was flipping through his tablet looking at business proposals.
"Could be worse," she replied a low giggle escaping her lips.
"Yes, I suppose it could be." Despite their flight's rough start he seemed rather content with himself. Caroline watched in slight amusement as he absently toyed with his bottom lip between his fingers
"What are you working on?" Caroline asked playfully while deciding to rest her head on his shoulder. It felt good to be this close to someone again. Since she found out about Tyler and his escapades she'd been more alone than ever. The heat coming off Klaus' body was like being wrapped in a warm blanket.
"You're drunk," he stated. She couldn't quite see his face from her angle but he didn't look upset.
"My head just feels heavy," she lied smoothly. She wasn't drunk enough to warrant such behavior, but the alcohol had made her bolder.
Klaus wasn't sure what to make of her, but he couldn't bring himself to make her move.
"I'm scanning through proposals," he sighed in defeat.
"Like the one for this trip?"
"No that one is basically decided. We're just here to make sure we're getting what we pay for. These things are like buying a car online, it's always better to see it in person before you sign."
She considered this in silence. It was reasons like this that made her want to continue her time at the company, she wanted to learn their inner workings.
She continued to watch him scan through the details of each proposal, quietly wondering what it was exactly he was looking for, but soon the wine took over completely and her eyes finally closed.
"Caroline, wake up, we've landed," a voice said.
As she came to she realized she was still laying on her boss' shoulder. She waited for a surge of regret to chastise her, but it never came.
"How long have I been asleep?" she mumbled groggily.
"An hour or two I suppose, didn't keep count. Honestly, I'm surprised you slept through the landing, it was quite bumpy."
She yawned before pulling a mirror from her purse to see what damage she'd done to her hair. Her fingers brushed up against something hard and she remembered the cell phone. She'd need time to look at that later.
"Yeah, I guess I was tired," she admitted quietly. She was now preoccupied with curious thoughts.
"Or drunk," he corrected.
She frowned at him.
Once off the plane Caroline followed Klaus out of the airport and into a waiting vehicle that she only vaguely remembered ordering weeks before.
As per usual Maria had stayed at home with her family, as she always did when Klaus left on business. It had been one of the conditions of her services.
"Four Seasons Miami?" the driver asked in confirmation.
"Yes, please," Klaus asserted.
Caroline spent the ride staring out the window at the gorgeous Miami scenery. Palm trees and sand seemed to be the most prominent thing lining the streets with the exception of the odd brightly colored building or Disney World reference. Eventually she had to move back from the window, being that it was so bright out she could almost feel her skin tanning through the tinted glass.
When they arrived at the hotel they went their separate ways. Klaus informing her that he was going to work on some projects alone and would call her if he needed her. She suspected he might just be tired of her company. This, of course was fine by her, she wanted to dig into that SD card.
On her way up to her own floor she made a pit stop at the sixth to throw out Hayley's cell phone. If this hotel was like any other they would dispose of the trash that night, thus washing her hands of the evidence.
She was now finally free to focus on the task at hand.
Her room turned out to be rather spacious, a perk of being an assistant for a high powered CEO was you yourself got a room on one of the swankier floors. It likely wasn't as good as the boss' but the point was to keep you close to the employer.
The entire thing seemed to be bathed in white. There was a desk, a vanity, a king-sized bed with what looked like a dozen down pillows, and a massive window nearly covering the entire back wall. And of course, the view was breath taking.
No matter where she traveled the view from the hotel was always her favorite part.
After a brief examination of the room and it's amenities she opened the suitcase that held her laptop, eager to find out what was on the memory card.
"Shit," she exclaimed. The screen was pitch black and unresponsive.
It was dead.
A sinking feeling came over her as she tore through the rest of her bags only to come up empty handed. She had left her charger at home.
Exasperated she flopped down on the cloud-like bed. She'd have to buy a new one while she was there.
Till then what was it she could do? It was five in the afternoon, too early for sleep. Too late to sight see.
She turned on her phone for the first time that day and found ten texts, two from Bonnie talking about her date from the night before and the rest from Tyler in varying states of concern and anger.
She stared at them, unfeeling.
Tyler had first asked her why she left without saying goodbye. His next text was begging her to respond, the one after that was angry that she hadn't. It went like this until he came full circle and apologized for being rude and begged her to reply.
Reading them made her feel suddenly heavy.
I need to get out of here, she instantly thought.
In minutes she had changed into one of her favorite LBD's and let her hair loose from it's bun. Her hair was now naturally tousled, a result of being bound tightly all day.
She was falling back on old habits, she needed entertainment, and she needed to entertain. In a place like this she knew the hotel bar was the best place to meet those needs.
She found it where it usually was, on the first floor of the hotel connected only by an accompanying restaurant. It seemed just like any other; dark and depressing with an illusion of luxury, like a glossy coat of paint over Styrofoam furnishing.
At the bar she was immediately surrounded by the type of men who used to employ her. She charmed them with edited stories from her travels and they in turn engaged her in the witty conversations she used to make a living off of. It was comforting to her.
The drink she held in her hand was untouched, a mere prop for the show she was putting on. She sipped it only occasionally as she was ultimately still over the taste of alcohol.
She hadn't been lying when she said she didn't usually drink.
"Oh, Aspen is beautiful, Caroline," a man named Mark chimed "The hilltops are one in a million."
Mark was in his thirties and lived in Seattle a fact that showed in his pallor. His skin almost resembled sweet cream, with his wedding ring still visible on his hand he seemed like one of the better men in the group.
"Oh I can only imagine," she said laughing heartily "It doesn't snow where I'm from."
"Well maybe I can show you sometimes," Mark replied, clearly flirting.
First impressions can be deceiving, Caroline thought with a forced smile in place.
His comment was met with a chorus of laughter from the other men at the bar.
"Forget, Aspen, I'll take you to a real town, New Orleans. Classy. Gorgeous. Reminds me of someone I know," a guy named David winked.
David was originally from Florida but now lived "somewhere in the Midwest you've probably never heard of". He too looked early thirties but was most certainly single, something Caroline couldn't forget because he wouldn't let her.
Again the group collectively cackled.
"Or we can cut to the chase and go back to my room," a different man cut in ominously.
Unlike the other guys there was something sinister about his comment.
Caroline's face fell into as polite a smile she could muster given the circumstances.
She hadn't paid much attention to this man. She thought his name might've been Ned or Nelson, but she wasn't sure. He had remained relatively quiet throughout the conversation, so quiet in fact she'd forgotten he was even there.
Though he had clearly overstepped his bounds his expression didn't change. He saw no reason to feel remorse.
Luckily for Caroline she was an excellent conversationalist and knew just what to say to put everything back on track.
"Well guys as fun as that seems I'm afraid my boss wouldn't like me running off with another business executive," she said lightly, trying to defuse the sudden awkwardness of the situation.
"Indeed I don't," a voice said.
Caroline swiveled on her barstool and came face to face with her boss. He was towering over her with a look that said he was tired of her shit.
"Fancy meeting you here stranger," she said coyly as she took a theatrical sip from her drink.
His lips formed a hard line, he was not in a joking mood.
"Hey! So this is the lucky guy, huh?" Mark said loudly, clearly inebriated. He had already managed to spill one David's drinks on his shirt, a mistake he fixed by buying the group another round.
"I might take her right out from under your nose if you aren't careful," David announced jokingly.
"I highly doubt that," Klaus droned "Caroline and I have an ironclad agreement, and besides I'm rarely unaware of anything. Isn't that right David..Thoreaugood is it?" Klaus said conspiratorially.
David's face paled.
The rest of the group laughed even louder at that.
Klaus flashed them all a resentful smirk before pulling Caroline aside.
"How come when you go missing I know you must be drinking?" he demanded through his teeth.
"For your information, boss," she shot back "This is still my first glass," she added motioning towards her gin and tonic. "I've barely had any."
Her look of triumph annoyed him. Oh how he wanted to wipe it off her face...
Thoughts of his fingers tangled in her hair as their lips crashed into another came to mind. Another involved her bent over a desk.
"A likely story," he said grimly shaking the thoughts from his head "So is there a reason you haven't answered my calls?"
A look of guilt flashed across her face, "I forgot it in the room," she lied.
Truthfully she'd left it there on purpose. It felt tainted to her somehow with Tyler's name filling her inbox.
"Let me tell you something, Miss Forbes," he snapped "If you want to prove to me you want this fucking job you better act like it. Because this barfly attitude you've been displaying is doing nothing to make me think you aren't just a gold digger without a ring."
Her eyes narrowed, "Fair enough," she agreed spitefully "I'll get back in the room and be boring old Caroline for you."
He didn't seem convinced.
"Sorry guys, Bossman says I have to behave now," Caroline announced turning back to her new fan club.
A chorus of drunken awes could be heard.
"You haven't even finished your drink!" one man cried.
"Yes, I know, but I will stick around for one more drink-of water," she compromised.
The group cheered.
Klaus scowled at the idiocy that surrounded him.
"A glass of water please," Caroline asked the tattooed bartender, he gave her a grunt of acknowledgement before filling the glass and placing it on the bar.
"Caroline," Klaus addressed.
"Yes?" she replied smiling politely. She wanted very much for him to leave her alone.
"I'm going back up to my room. Do not embarrass me any more than you already have. I recognize too many of these men," he warned.
"You got it boss," she chirped as she took a sip of her water. It tasted odd, perhaps lemon? Five Star hotels were so swanky sometimes.
With a final warning glare Klaus left her alone with her new friends.
"So Caroline, where else have you gone?" A guy whose name she thought was Steven? Or maybe it was Stu? asked.
"Well," she began slowly "I've been to Italy once or twice the Vatican is just bee-u-tiful..." she slurred.
That was weird.
"Man how long was that one guy Pope for? These new guys haven't been able to hang," Mark said entirely too loudly.
"Guess they don't make them like they used to," David chuckled.
Soon the entire group started in on a discussion about Catholicism and Popes.
"I learned to type from nuns. Our typing teacher was Sister Janice and she was always smacking my knuckles for chewing gum, it was ridiculous. How does gum impair your typing ability?" Someone else shared. He obviously had not gotten over the memory.
But Caroline couldn't join in, her world was starting to slosh.
"What's happening?" she thought but even in her own mind the question sounded like a whisper.
"Oh hey guys, I think Miss Caroline has had to much," someone laughed.
The group could be heard making various comments about her being a cheap date.
"Don't worry guys. I know her room number, I'll take her back up there," another voice said. She couldn't place him, but she didn't like him.
Caroline sensed arms wrapping under her own.
"No! Stop!" she thought, but the words wouldn't come out.
"Do. Not. Touch. Her," another voice interjected, immediately the arms dropped from around her.
Oohs and awes could be heard.
"Shut the fuck up," the voice demanded sharply. "If you all aren't out of my sight in two minutes you'll all be looking for work elsewhere," he threatened.
"We don't work for you!" someone shouted.
"Would you be willing to bet your job on that?" the tone was dark and dangerous, and the result effective. Soon after that Caroline was almost sure she heard the sound of shuffling feet.
"Not you fucker," the voice barked "You stay right the fuck here until security comes."
"I didn't touch her," the man objected.
"Don't lie to me, or I'll make it the last thing you ever say." This man was on the warpath. Whoever he was Caroline hoped to stay out of his path.
More feet shuffled in as Caroline risked glancing up even though her head was swimming. She thought they looked a lot like officers.
She had no time to decide because she was then swept up in someone's arms. They were different than before, they felt strong and sure. She looked up to see who they belonged to.
"Klaus?" she murmured, her world was still in a haze.
"Shh, I'm taking you to your room, where is your key?" Klaus soothed.
"My purse," she said hesitantly.
"Alright, just relax."
"I'll tell you later," this was definitely the voice from before, but it was so warm now, so comforting.
With his voice singing in her ears Caroline felt at ease and she allowed her head to fall back and eyes to close.
When her eyes had opened again she was laying on the soft down of the hotel's comforter with a stabbing sensation on her back.
Damn dress' and their tags. She had meant to cut it off months ago.
"Yeah, yeah, I saw him do it," Klaus said in what seemed like a phone call. He sounded so authoritative, so in control, it made her stomach flutter.
She glanced slowly around, trying hard to keep her fragile sense balance, but didn't see him anywhere.
Must be in the bathroom, she thought numbly.
Slowly she came to her feet, trying to find the zipper to the dress. After a few attempts it dawned on her that it was a slip on.
She rolled her eyes, exasperated.
"Could I catch a break for just once?" she mumbled.
She finally managed to slide the dress halfway down before it caught on her hips.
Her fingers were too weak from the drug Nelson had slipped her to continue. But the stabbing pain from the tag was still there and on top of all of this she was starting to feel dizzy again.
Normally she could've ignored the sensation, she had now for a while, but she was oddly aware of such a minute detail in her current state.
"What are you doing?" Klaus choked out.
He was trying to remain a gentlemen but he couldn't completely keep his eyes off her. She was half naked from the waist up and he'd be lying if he said he hadn't imagined her in worse.
But seeing her here in the flesh was doing something entirely different to him. Seeing her made him want to run his fingers across her skin but the thought sickened him now that she was unwell.
His mouth now felt very dry.
"Hey, sorry, didn't know you'd be out so soon," she said weakly as she flopped back on the bed in defeat. "My head is just so fuzzy you know?"
"Um, yeah, that's the drug I guess. I've made the appropriate calls..." he trailed off as he tried to avert his eyes.
There was silence between them. She wanted nothing more than to fall asleep now, but the damn stabbing wouldn't let her.
"So, I know this is really awkward, but I feel like a sardine in this dress, and there's this fucking tag that's been bugging me could you just-slip this off for me?" she asked hopefully.
Klaus' eyes widened.
"I don't think that's such a good idea, the drug is still in your system and-"
"Come on, Bossman, I'm sure you've had plenty of practice getting girls out of their clothes," she teased airily.
Klaus scowled disapprovingly, "Is anything serious to you? Some guy could've taken advantage of you like twenty minutes ago and now you are ASKING me to take advantage of you."
A soft smile appeared on her lips, "Sorry, I guess sarcasm is my...way..." she trailed off.
"Of coping?" Klaus finished dryly.
"Mm that, so can you do it?"
"Yeah, I think that's a REALLY terrible idea now."
"Please? I would do it myself but...I just can't," she said quietly. Far too quiet for Caroline.
For the first time since he met her he felt bad for her. Her voice was void of the sarcastic bite it usual held and instead sounded genuinely helpless.
He sighed heavily and made his way to the bed. For a moment he deliberated what the quickest way to get this over with would be, unfortunately he decided it would probably be to straddle her legs.
He was uncomfortable being this close to his half naked, drugged, assistant, but he was too far in to back out now.
Carefully he took hold of the hem on each side, careful not to touch anything unnecessary, and slowly slide the dress down her legs. His eyes never leaving the fabric but his traitorous imagination was still running wild.
Once he'd discarded it on the floor he stood and walked to the other side of the room, eager to put distance between them.
With the pain gone she was finally drifting off to sleep.
"I'm going to go back to my room now," he said suddenly, staring at designs in the carpet. His declaration concerned her.
"Why?" she mumbled.
"Because, you aren't decent and you're still drugged and you're black mailing me and this is very inappropriate," he explained with great effort.
"I'd ask if you were uncomfortable around naked women, but I already know the answer to that," she laughed, curling herself into the fetal position.
He could see her outline in his peripheral vision, she seemed to small.
"I just think I need to go-"
"Please don't" she begged, startling him "Look, I don't say this often, or ever, but I don't think I can do this alone. I couldn't even take off my dress, what if I need to do something harder than that?" she asked meekly.
She sounded like she may be on the verge of tears.
"I'll send someone up here."
"I don't know them," she countered.
"You barely know me!"
"Yeah, but you aren't all that bad," she said in a whisper.
"You think so?" he asked, his voice matching hers.
"Yeah, I mean. I know you're a total ass but you saved me, bad guys don't do that."
Klaus considered this, something about the way she said it spoke to him on a level that inspired nurturing.
"Fine. I'll stay," he gave in "But you're staying under the covers all night."
"You got it boss," she murmured happily, already drifting into a deep sleep.
Throughout the night he stayed on the far left of the king sized bed. It was as far away from her as he could manage. He sighed gruffly to himself, wondering how he had gotten himself into this mess.
He avoided looking over at her anymore than he needed to. Every time he did he pictured her sad voice, begging him to stay, and in her vulnerable state telling him he wasn't bad. He couldn't remember the last time someone had said something so nice to him and meant it.
He sighed and combed his fingers through his hair. It was nearly two and he hadn't slept yet. Piles of paperwork surrounded him but none of it could hold his attention. Not while she lay so close to him.
As far away as she was he could still smell her perfume, it smelled of roses and sage. It seemed to attack every part of his mind and engulf him in her. It called him to her.
He had avoided looking at her as long as he'd known her, but when he did now he found it hard to stop. In sleep her lips were soft and pouty, and her eyes were free of the lines that made them forever look like they were in on some big joke. Again he wondered what it would've been like to know her outside of work.
The gorgeous woman laying next to him confused him. She infuriated him. She used him. But in the same breath when she needed him he couldn't stay away. As his enemy he should have left her in her room, he should have left her at that bar, but he couldn't. He was sure she would've done the same. Wouldn't she?
Hayley would've. Hayley definitely would have, but Caroline? These were things he couldn't rectify in his mind. He almost couldn't believe she would be capable of such atrocities. Her smart mouth had pissed him off one too many times, but she'd never done anything to directly hurt him without him deserving it first.
Next to him he heard her stir and his breathing stilled. He glanced her way as she slowly shifted towards him in her sleep, her large blue eyes opening a fraction of the way before lazily closing once more. He thought he saw her smile, but decided he must've imagined it.
He sighed again.
How had he gotten into this mess?
A/N: Wooo! -sings- Looks like we maaddee itt.
I wrote WAY too much this time guys, but I couldn't find a good stopping point until I got all this out! I hope you liked it at least. What'd you think of all the Klaroline these two chapters? I know they haven't gotten together yet - I know - I'm working on it. They don't 100% trust each other yet but they will!
What do you think's going on with Hayley and her mystery guy? Any guesses?
Any and all comments really appreciated and thanks for sticking it out this far even though I suck at updating. -heart- you all :)