And as we grow older, the truth will be understood. Because we never turn out the way we thought that we would. Sebastian never longed for what he had—and he never had what he longed for.

Duplicity

My name is feared above all others in New York- especially among people with teenage daughters. The Valmont name had always commanded respect- namely because they were a bunch of wealthy bastards- but I raised it to a new level. That was just my style. I was never content with being good at anything. I had to be the best. And I was. I was a fucking legend. And now I lay here in a dull hospital bed with dingy cotton sheets and a humidity level so high I'm surprised it's not raining, and I wonder, not for the first time, if any of it was worth it. I'm dying now, and my reputation won't save me this time.

Even as a young child, I was pretty fucking good looking. And I say that with total modesty. Mommy's little angel, she would call me. I can't blame her. There's no way she could've known what I would become. Then again, she could've helped by sticking around. Don't get me wrong, I don't blame her. She was long gone, but I loved my mother. My father never deserved her. She was elegant, and beautiful, and classy and—Kathryn, I suppose. Only with an actual heart. That's the only part I was never really fond of.

With a mother as kind and gracious as mine, you would wonder how I turned out to be the way I did. I'd love to tell you that there was one moment where everything went downhill, and blame that location, situation and surrounding crowd for the pain it would cause everyone else. Or maybe that there was a bad seed planted somewhere deep inside of me, that there was nothing anyone could do about it. Like I said, I'd love to tell you any of that. But Kathryn once told me that I look slightly to the left when I lie.

Some of my fondest memories of my youth involve the torment of other people. That sounds cruel. And you know what? It was. But I didn't care. This might have been where some parental interference should have intervened, maybe even straightened me out for good. By then, my mother was living in Europe, shacked up with a duke or a marquee or a vicomté or something along those lines, and had forgotten all about her little angel. Bitter? Who me? Nah. Oh, maybe just a little.

My father could've picked up a little of the slack, though, instead of handing me over to nanny after nanny. What, did he think it was coincidence that they all happen to run screaming with terror out of our three story townhouse? Then again, he probably welcomed the opportunity. Edward Valmont had always abided by the code of nail and bail, and once he'd had the help, it was always time for new employment.

And I know what people would say to this. The apple doesn't fall far from the tree. But I digress. I'm nothing like my impotent alcoholic of a father, thank you very much. We're both men. We're both rich. We're both handsome. We both like to fuck. That's all we have in common—with both each other, and just about every other man in the Upper East Side.

I would like to point out at this moment that I never asked for any other this. I didn't ask for money, or power, I was born into it, and even after I got all that, I never asked for love. I certainly never asked for the fifteen million beeping machines I'm hooked up to, trying to keep my lungs breathing and my heart pumping. Maybe no one has informed them yet, but they shouldn't waste their efforts. I don't have a heart.

Though I'm inhaling shallowly now, I can still smell her perfume. It's warm and homey, a kind of mix of vanilla and the scent of the country. I know that she's crying now, and that there's nothing I can do to stop her. Maybe I wouldn't if I could. For though I'd always hated to see a girl in tears, though I'd caused it so many times, it was kind of her fault that I'm like this now. Her thick blonde hair is tickling my hand, which she is clasping tightly while she leans over and sobs, and I wonder if this is the last thing that I'll ever feel.

Annette Hargrove. Even her name sounds innocent, and you might wonder what she was doing with a guy like me, Sebastian Valmont. Go ahead and wonder, everyone else will be. And even being here right now with her like this is kind of paining me, and not just because I've been in a fucking car accident… but that might have something to do with it. This whole thing started over a bet, a stupid bet that we took too far. Yes, I, Sebastian Valmont, have finally admitted something many people have been waiting their entire lives to hear—I crossed the line. But it's a little too late now, and everybody seems to know it, and nobody will ever hear those words.

And I'm feeling guilty now, for what might be the first time in my miserable over-privileged life. Because I'm wishing that it was her lying here instead of me, and I know that that's the possibly the worst thing I've ever wished on another person—and I've done a lot. But if she had just gotten out of the street, out of the way, then I could be home right now, in one piece. No, I decide, I don't wish that she were in pain. I just wish that it didn't have to hurt me so much. They were all right about me. Selfish bastard until the end.

I don't regret pushing her out of the way. Annette was one of those rare people in the world, who actually give a shit about someone other than themselves. She was someone who could do good, and be more than just a waste of space and money. That was what I thought as I jumped into harm's way, but the thoughts vanished as I smashed into the hood of the yellow cab, only to be replaced with a single one 'How the fuck did I get myself into this?'. The answer is simple, of course. Some games should never be played. But sometimes the prize is just too tempting.

This brings me to the one person that I've been trying so hard not to think of. I've gone through a mental checklist, as you may have noticed, blaming anyone I possibly could, because that's the kind of vindictive asshole I am. I've even found ways to pin this on Blaine, Greg McConnell, Cecile Caldwell, hell, even Court Reynolds. It was easy to pin it on Ronald, of course, but I can't help but pity the fool. He doesn't even know how severely he's being played.

But now that I've managed to open old wounds far enough to blame them for my fate, the mind comes back to the one girl it had rarely left since that fateful day four years ago. Of course, there are ways for me to trace every misfortune that's fallen upon me back to her, but strangely enough, she's the only person I want to see as innocent in all of this. God knows she isn't innocent in any aspect of life, but I'd prefer my last thoughts about her to not be how she killed me. Indirectly, of course.

She was beautiful. Not more so than any random supermodel I had fucked, but there was something about Kathryn Merteuil that made her more desirable than any other girl.

I had first laid eyes on her when returning home from Europe, where I had been visiting my mother. That was when back when I was still fourteen, and she still gave a shit. She had been standing there in the living room with her uptight mother in her Manchester Prep uniform, and I had never felt such a pull towards another person. I shocked even myself, because there was this sudden urge to do better, to be better, to be worthy of this golden girl. Of course, that night she had revealed her true self to me, knowing that she had found her true counterpart. Maybe that was the night that I had lost all faith in humanity. It didn't matter though. I wanted her anyway.

Where everything was black and white with Kathryn, Annette came into my life and showed me vivid color and a thousand shades of gray. But damnit, I wanted black anyway.

And now I know that I'm in my final moments, and I wonder where Kathryn is. Is she at home? Has she heard the news? Does she even care?

Yet you know, on some deep level, I knew that she did. She would never voice it, and neither would I, but we were in love. In a twisted, fucked up, taboo kind of love, but it was our kind. She could deny it all she wanted, and she could give as many cruel speeches as she pleased, but it would never change that. That might have been the hardest part, knowing that these feelings were there between us, but never getting to act on them, because of all the blocks that society and our family and reputation and everything else put up in our way.

It's the strangest feeling, when your life is about to slip away from you. It's an intense clarity, such that you can barely continue to think because you're afraid of what you might see. But it's in this moment that I could still feel Annette's tears wetting the back of my hand. She could see the monitors going down. She gave me all that she had, and I know that in my final moments, I have to give her something to hold onto in exchange. Kathryn still hasn't showed up, I registered as I mustered up all the strength I had left in me.

"I love you," I whispered, and the sudden silence and pressure on my hand told me that she had heard me anyway. The monitor flatlined, and in that moment, all was lost.

She didn't see my eyes move slightly to the left.

--------------

Okay, so this is an idea that would not leave me alone, so here it is lol. I know it was kind of rough in editing and format and the overall style of the thing, but that's just how I had imagined it going. I hope that you liked it, but please review and let me know!

Xo Sam

p.s.- Breaking the Broken, chapter nine is up.