~Sleeping Arrangements~

The bathroom door opened and life as he knew it came to a screeching halt. Seth figured she would sleep in a t-shirt, or a baggy pair of p.j.'s, or even her clothes, so he was totally, completely unprepared for the sight of Summer, wearing a tiny negligee, standing in front of him. Is that what that thing was called? Or was it "nighty"? And why did he care what it was called? SO not important right now. It covered next to nothing, and it was - uh - whoa. Regardless of it's name. He decided he would rename the thingy she was wearing "my-new-best-friend". Hi! So happy to meet you! His eyes swept from her dark hair all the way down to her perfectly pedicured toes, and suddenly his jeans were a little too tight. SUMMER, in next to nothing, stood there, hand on hip, in front of the bed he was in. And THAT image was so very eerily reminiscent of several thousand fantasies he'd had. Yes, she would smile coyly and slink across the room to him -

"Get off the bed."

aaaand fantasy? Effectively ruined. Jeans? Loose. Ah, if only she would never speak.

Her tone of voice was an immediate challenge, so of course he refused to move, which made her whine that he should "be a gentleman". Uh, not happening. While his parents had raised him to respect women, Seth instinctively knew that to surrender to this one was to die. He shook his head, thoroughly skeeved out at the thought of his parents while he was in a motel room with Summer, who just happened to be wearing his "new best friend". What was he? - oh yeah - to surrender was to die. So yes, a bit melodramatic, but this was Summer we were talking about. And this was war. She complained about the couch and refused to sleep there. That? Was interesting since a few hours earlier she had been "ew-ing" the bed she so desperately wanted now. How far would she take this? He thought about suggesting the floor to her, but quickly decided that was a bad idea - she might start throwing things.

And then she flounced her way across the room. To him. What? No way. She gave up? That was much too easy. As he pondered her uncharacteristic surrender, a very small thought, almost a realization, but not quite, made itself at home in his head. ~ Maybe she wanted to get in the bed with him. ~ Exhibit A? She had kissed him at the party. Exhibit B? She had come to Mexico with him. Exhibit C? Just exactly why, not that he was complaining, oh no, was she wearing that, and not her clothes to bed? Before he got too excited, he reminded himself that there were also Exhibits D thru Z and on to infinity - the 6000 insults, put-downs, and general attempts at reducing him to a shredded quivering pile of human rejection that she had hurled at him throughout the day. Seth watched her pull back the covers and slide into the bed next to him with a mixture of thrilled excitement and debilitating dismay swiftly escalating into abject terror. Thank you to all that's good and holy, she was actually - getting into the bed. With. Him. How many times had he dreamed of this moment? Oh HELL yeah.

And she was -oh God - she was getting into the bed with him. How was he supposed to sleep with Summer inches away from him? He could already feel his fingers itching to touch her hair, it looked so silky, and she'd only been there a total of 3 seconds. Give him 5 minutes and who knows what his hands would want to do. She was wearing - uh, that thingy - and all that smooth, tanned, beautiful exposed skin, legs and arms and - Breathe, Seth! -was going to be 4 inches to his left, screaming at him, demanding that he touch, feel, and stroke. All night. With the screaming.

"Make a move, and I'll rip out your jugular," she warned him. Starting guiltily, he wondered if she possessed psychic powers. He decided not, because she surely would have slapped him by now.

"Oh. Hey, pillow talk," he tossed back at her. Her threat really should have snapped him out his fog, but no. He looked sideways at her, and then whipped his head forward. As soon as she'd said "jugular", his over- stimulated brain had translated that to "throat", and when he'd looked at her throat, it had taken all his will power not to lean over and kiss it from her jaw to her shoulder. Somehow, the connection between "rip out jugular" and "extreme pain" got completely lost in there. He closed his eyes and heaved a long sigh. There was a really tiny possibility that she wanted to be in the same bed with him, but obviously she didn't want anything else. She situated herself, facing away from him, and he looked over at her, eyes longingly skimming the curve of her waist up into her hip and down to her legs outlined by the covers. Yes. This must be hell. The happy side of hell, though, cause well, he WAS in bed with Summer Roberts. But Satan was definitely laughing.

Think about something else. Seth turned on his side, facing away from her. Where were Ryan and Marissa? He hoped they were talking, even if it meant they were yelling at each other. He knew the freeze-out she was giving him was wearing Ryan down, though he would never admit it. He was so not over her. Seth felt bad about forcing him to come. There had been so many crossed signals and misunderstandings between the two of them, and he thought if they'd just talk already, and tell each other how they felt, they could work it out. Forget Luke. It was obvious seeing Ryan with Gabby was why Marissa was still with him.

"Cohen, you disappoint me."

"Hey, that's shocking news. I'll alert the media." What was she talking about? He'd thought she was asleep.

She didn't respond, and he tried desperately to wait her out, but finally gave in. "OK. I'll bite. How did I disappoint the Queen this time?"

No answer. He waited another minute, and then turned over to his other side. "Summer?"

"Do you really think of me like that?"

Huh? "Like what?"

"Like a queen."

OK. Walk very softly here. This was loaded question. Was she talking about "did I respect and honor her" kind of queen, or "did I think she looked down on everyone" kind of queen? "Um, Summer, could you clarify that question for me?"

Still facing away from him, she shrugged. "Never mind. Seth, you've been - interested in me for a long time, haven't you?"

"Yes. And yes. I thought I made that embarrassingly, painfully clear with the whole squirrel and mermaid thing."

She turned over on her back and looked over at him searchingly. "Why? I've never been nice to you, but you still - like me."

Oh boy. This was uncharted territory. Where was her stinging wit? The sarcastic barbs? He was fully on neutral ground with her in those areas. This? Not so much.

So. Tell the truth. What did he have to lose? "Becaaause, I've known you since you were little. I don't know the whole story, but I know some things have happened to you that sucked, so now you're always on the defensive. Um, sort of like Ryan, but you're not so - quiet- about things. I know a lot of the mean things you say, you don't really mean. People see the other side of you sometimes, though. Like with Marissa. You'd do anything for her and everyone knows it."

Touched by his perceptiveness, Summer smiled at him. "Go on."

"What? You want more sucking up? Jeez, woman, you're greedy! If anyone ever hears about this, I'll never live it down."

She rolled her eyes at him. "Whatev, Cohen."

That was more like it. This Summer he knew. He propped his head up on his hand and looked down at her. "So how did I disappoint you? Remember? From before this conversation became all about you. Oh I forgot. It's always about you."

"Did I not give you enough signs? Hints? Or are you really just slow? I expected more from you."

A slow grin spread across his face, and he congratulated himself. He knew he'd been cracking her candy-coated exterior. Time to see the soft chocolate inside.

She went on. "You haven't tried anything! It's almost giving me a complex."

"Well really, that jugular thing was pretty harsh. What kind of complex? I'm sorry, Summer, but I'm a little confused. What exactly are you trying to say?" He looked at her innocently.

"You know what I'm saying, Seth." It had killed her to say this much. She'd given up after 10 minutes, realizing that she'd been too awful to him and hadn't given him enough to think anything other than she hated him. She'd then forced herself to start the conversation.

"Wow, I'm really tired. Long day." He rolled onto his other side and pretended to yawn.

He did NOT just do that. Summer glared at his back and sighed. He was going to make her admit it, damn it. She liked that he forced her to see things differently by not giving in to her like all the other guys had. She definitely found him a worthy sparring partner. THAT had never happened before. And she had to admit he was adorable. How had she not seen that before? Especially when he smiled. Those damn dimples. She sighed again. "Seth."

He immediately rolled back over to face her. "Yes?" He batted his eyelashes at her.

Summer somehow managed not to smack him. "If I told you I - liked you, and we dated, I wouldn't have to be all sweet all the time would I? Cuz that seems to be what guys want, is the sweet girl. Like Marissa. And we both know I'm just- not." She looked away.

Seth smiled, surprised by her never-before-seen insecurity. He propped his head up in his hand again, leaning on his elbow. "Not all guys. I would expect no less than caustic remarks and quick-witted retorts from you at all times."

Summer reached up and ran her hand through his dark curls. She had, irritatingly enough, thought about doing that for a few days now. She slid her hand behind his neck and his warm brown eyes scanned over her face. "Summer, you are so beautiful." She felt her face flush, and grow hot.

"Cohen, are you sure you want quick-witted retorts at all times? Cause I'm just not feeling like it right now."

"See? You can be sweet. So. Hey. What are you feeling like?" he asked cautiously.

"Come over here, Seth. I'll show you."