A Deceitful Web of Seduction

It was the hottest night of Marissa Cooper's life, and she was running late. A senior who had just finished her last final that very afternoon, she had been invited to go out dancing at one of the local clubs, and, though she had agreed, she was not particularly looking forward to it. After the past month of late nights cramming, studying, and worrying over test results and projects….well make that four years….Marissa just wanted to stay in her air conditioned apartment, wear her comfy, baggy, cool pajamas, and veg out watching mindless TV or read a book for pleasure, but she had promised and here she was running behind.

She must have fallen asleep, because by the time she rolled over and opened her eyes to glance lazily at the clock on her bedside table, she realized that she only had twenty minutes to get ready. Springing out of bed, she ran to the bathroom, preceded to trip on her area rug, sprawled out on the floor, and laid there for five minutes laughing at herself uncontrollably before she got back up and continued her way to the shower. Now showered and dressed in what might have been her coolest, semi-appropriate outfit, an adorable baby-doll, sailor dress, she was attempting to tame her hair and apply makeup.

The makeup was easy enough; she just applied the bare essentials, moisturizer, eye liner, mascara, and lip gloss, but her hair was a different story. Normally she would just blow dry her long, chestnut brown hair, but tonight no matter what she did, it just frizzed, the humidity too high to handle. Noticing that she was already twenty minutes late, she gave up on her hair and just let it dry naturally, welcoming the natural curls that would take over and give her that sexy, just out of bed look. Grabbing a pair of flats for there was no way she was going dancing in stilettos, Marissa didn't even bother with a purse, just pushed some cash in a very….personal…location and ran out of her apartment, not bothering to lock her door; her still studying roommate would let her in later.

She attempted to walk briskly to the club, but it was just too hot out, so she hailed a cab and rode the rest of the way there in the comfortable, air-conditioned confines of the back of the car, silently berating herself for agreeing to go out in the first place and deciding she'd only stay long enough to fulfill her promise. Tonight would not be a marathon club hopping session. She'd put in a few hours with her friend, stop by at the grocery store and grab a pint of her favorite Ben and Jerry's, and then spend the rest of the night in bed with mindless, fun, chick lit, perhaps The Bergdorf Blondes. She could read that in one sitting, and it had been years since she had perused it, so it would be like new again.

Arriving at the club, she flashed her ID quickly, smiled appreciatively at the bouncer who let her pass by the waiting crowd, because she was a regular, and entered the building with the pounding music totally oblivious to how that night would work out. It would be the complete opposite of what she had planned.

Sitting inside of the club up on the gallery overlooking the dance floor where one could find a table and chairs, Ryan Atwood sat brooding silently cursing himself for getting into situations like these. How did he let himself get dragged here? On his last night at school before he would head home to begin searching for a job all he wanted to do was spend a quiet evening in his dorm room, savoring the peace and quiet he would no longer have once he went back to live, once again, with his family for the summer, maybe watch a baseball game, and then just think, reflect about the past four years of his life that had flown by so quickly.

To Ryan, clubs were boring. He really didn't drink, and he sure as hell didn't dance, so the only thing that left for him to do was pretend to listen to his friends' snide comments about the women in the club and to find one particularly beautiful one and watch her discreetly all night. Unfortunately for Ryan, the guys were being abnormally callous and rude that night and he hadn't spotted a single girl yet who had caught his eye. There were however an equally annoying table of women sitting just down the gallery from them, rivaling his friends in their volume and hysterics. If only they would leave and go down to the main floor to dance, but they seemed to be waiting for someone to arrive or for something to happen.

Perhaps he would not be as miserable if it were not so damn hot in the club. He thought it had been wretched in his dorm room where the supposed air conditioner just seemed to pump out air hotter than the stifling breezes blowing though his open window, but there, in that crowded, hazy dancehall, the heat seemed to flow off of every person in waves creating a sticky, sweaty, suffocating atmosphere that screamed sex. His shirt was sticking to his body, his hair collecting moisture and sending beads of perspiration tricking down his neck, tickling his skin and making him irritable and slightly perturbed.

Taking a generous drink from his bottle of water that was already warm and unsatisfying, Ryan rolled his eyes at another crass comment from one of his friends and let his mind wander as his eyes shifted around the room hiding the fact that he was making a plan of escape. Realizing he was the only one not drinking alcohol, he knew that all he had to do was wait for his friends to become drunk enough and he could slip out of the building and go home without ever being missed. He just hoped that they kept ordering drinks at a rapid pace; the sooner they were three sheets to the wind, the sooner he'd be able to catch the Sportscenter highlights. Just as he was about to offer his services to go to the bar and pick up the next round of drinks, he stopped dead in his tracks as a woman stepped into the gallery and started looking around the dark, dim room apparently for someone she was meeting.

Please don't let it be a boyfriend; please don't let it be a boyfriend, Ryan found himself secretly chanting, surprising even himself at his instant attraction to the beautiful, dangerously alluring stranger. She seemed to be apologizing for something; perhaps she had been late to meet them since they had been there for over a half an hour without her, annoying Ryan to no end. Joining them, she sat down at their table and immediately they started talking quietly; at least he wouldn't have to listen to them any longer, but he found himself curious as to what the new addition to their group had to say. Snapping him out of his thoughts, one of his friends slapped him on the back and started ribbing him about his attentions.

"Dude, that chick is so out of your league," he taunted Ryan, laughing mockingly. "You couldn't get her even if she was stone cold drunk."

Turning to him, his face hard and angry, Ryan met his friend's hazy eyes with ice cold ones of his own, challenging him to say more without a word shared between them. Perhaps it was because he was attracted to the woman who had just joined the table beside them, maybe he was just bored and looking for some fun, and yet maybe he was just sick and tired of his friends putting him down like that, but then and there Ryan decided that tonight was going to be different than all the other nights they went out, tonight he was taking a stand….even if he fell flat on his face.

"If I wanted her, I could have her," Ryan said confidently, his inner doubts locked away behind his hard, steel blue irises.

Turning away from his stunned friends he caught the captivating woman staring in his direction briefly after a friend had apparently pointed him out. Oh shit, Ryan thought to himself, she did not just hear that, did she, but when she just smiled at him and turned back to her friends who seemed to be in a deep discussion he knew that she suspected nothing.

"Dude," a loud, obnoxious voice called out beside him, "you're so on. $100 bucks says she turns you down flat!"

"And what if I sleep with her," Ryan found himself asking, shocked at his own audacity.

"That's never going to happen, but if it does," the same friend continued, "we'll all chip in $100 bucks, so you'll make three hundred; if not," he snickered, "you owe each of us a nice, crisp Ben Franklin!"

Sliding his chair back noisily, Ryan stood up and met each of their gazes before walking away, muttering over his shoulder, "you're on!"

What the hell have you gotten yourself into Atwood? You're never going to win this bet," his inner voice taunted him ten minutes later as he sat at the bar sipping on his new, cold water, but before he could silently fight his doubts back, something smooth and soft brushed up against his arm and a slightly raspy, female voice oozing sex appeal called out to the bartender beside him.

"May I have a water please?"

Titling his head to the side he was shocked to see her….the girl he was supposed to seduce that night because of a ridiculous, immature bet with his buddies….standing beside him. And she's ordering water; there goes the whole drunk idea, he laughed at himself ruefully, knowing full well he'd never be able to do that anyway. Taking her presence there beside him as a sign, he spoke up before he lost his chance.

"Water," he questioned in a light, teasing tone, "someone's either really boring or really bored."

"Probably both," she answered, self-deprecatingly, making Ryan smile. "I don't drink, and I don't want to be here. What's your excuse," she asked nudging her head towards his own bottle of water.

"Same on both accounts," he answered her honestly, "Boring and bored, and I don't drink either."

"Well," she smirked at him, "don't we make quite the pair." Surprising him, she sat down beside him at the bar after paying for her bottle of water….with money she pulled from her cleavage…..and continued to talk to him. "So, if you don't drink and, sorry, but you don't seem like the dancing type, why are you here….if you don't me asking?"

"I don't mind, and, at this point, I don't know." When she looked confused, he expanded his answer. "I got guilt tripped into coming out tonight with my buddies, you know the whole 'last chance to have fun as a group' bit. You?"

"The same," she giggled at their similar situations. "Okay, so another question." He nodded to show her she should continue. "What would you like to be doing if you weren't here?"

"Remember, I already told you that I'm boring, but I just wanted to stay at home, lounge on my couch in my boxers, and watch a baseball game," he admitted and could have sworn that her eyes sparkled slightly when he mentioned his underwear, but he dismissed it to wishful thinking. "What about you?"

"I'm even lamer," she shot back as if they were in a competition and sounding proud that she was apparently more of a bore than he was. "I just wanted to stay at home, lounge in my bed in my pj's, and read a cheesy book."

Holding up his water bottle for a toast and waiting for her to meet his with her own, Ryan joked, "here's to us and our miserable night out. May we both find better friends with more interesting hobbies," but just as their bottles were about to click together, she pulled hers away rapidly, jumped up, and grabbed his arm dragging him to his feet.

"Let's get out of here," she suggested. "Let's just forget about our friends and find something better to do than sit around here and either watch them get drunk and annoying or have to sweat to death dancing."

"And what if they get mad," he asked her, curious to see how serious she was.

"Who cares," she shot back playfully. "I'll risk it if you will."

Not believing his luck, he smirked at her, grabbed his bottle of water and followed her out of the club, enjoying the view of her ass as it sashayed back and forth while she strutted off ahead of him.

10 minutes later Ryan found himself standing in front of a fountain in the park and he still had not gotten her to tell him her name.

"I thought you said we were going swimming," he pondered out loud. "I don't see a pool any where around her.

"We're not going in the pool," she replied breezily, slipping off her shoes and motioning for him to do the same. "We're going swimming in the fountain."

Standing his ground, hands on his waist in a slightly perturbed way, Ryan fought back with her. "First of all, it's illegal to swim in the fountain…"

"We're not going to be naked," she interrupted him while moving towards the glistening shallow pool of water, it's soft trickle creating a slight melody on the balmy, early May, spring evening.

"Second of all," he continued, "I was going to tell you that I don't care what you do, there is no way you're getting me in that fountain."

Moving back towards him with a mischievous glint in her eye, she looked him up and down before making her move. With his back to the fountain, she stood in front of him, hauntingly close to his body, and moved so that her lips were right in front of his and whenever she spoke, their noses would softly graze and her mouth would taunt his by blowing warm, cinnamon smelling breath onto his lips. "Oh, I think I can get you in that fountain," she said confidently.

"Oh yeah," he taunted, curious to see where this flirting session could lead.

"What if I do this," she asked letting her hands rest on his chest and suggestively trailing them down his stomach. He just stood his ground. Moving her face in even closer she began to leave quick, feather light kisses along his jaw line, astonishing Ryan at her forwardness. "And now," she asked him.

"Answer's still no," he said with a hitch in his voice, her nearness obliviously having a physical affect on him.

"Playing hard to get, huh," she continued to press, leaning her body fully into his and letting him support her weight. "I have just one more trick up my sleeve," she admitted before sliding her lips over his and kissing him. Gradually, their embrace went from soft, gentle, full of wonder to needy and sweltering as he deepened the kiss and took her tongue into his mouth while reaching to lace his arms around her delicate waist. Just as his mind clouded over in lust, he suddenly found himself being pushed violently, and he lost his footing tumbling down into the fountain and nearly missing hitting his head off of the center, stone figurine.

"Told you I'd get you in the fountain," she teased before joylessly jumping in as well and splashing him for good measure with her legs before sitting down in the water and sighing out of contentment.

"What the hell was that," he lashed out at her, anger replacing his desire. "You could have killed me if I hit my head the right way!"

Rolling her eyes at his melodramatics, she lowered her body down into the water and motioned for him to do the same. "It was a chance I was willing to take," she teased. Already soaking wet, he conceded and followed her down into the water, their heads meeting beside each others and their legs winding around the shape of the fountain in opposite directions. "Now," she ordered with a slight hint of amusement in her tone, "keep your voice down Dudley Do-right or we will get arrested and tell me about yourself."

Surprising himself, Ryan found that he was able to talk to this strange woman he had just met. Perhaps there was something about her that set him at ease or maybe it was just the lulling nature of the night, the air hot and humid against his face relaxing him, the refreshing, chilly waters of the fountain bathing his body in relief, the stars creating a serene painting above them soothing his nerves, and the solitude and peace of the park lulling him into submission, but whatever it was, he was opening up to her as she was to him.

At first their discussion had been limited to small talk, what they had gone to college for, similar classes they had taken, their friends, their immediate plans after graduation, but then somewhere along the way as the seconds floated by, their choice of banter drifted into deeper, more meaningful territory as they shared stories of their past, of their family, of themselves and the dreams of their future. Ryan could not remember ever having a better, more fulfilling conversation in his life.

Much later in the evening after they had heard the church bells strike midnight off in the distance, their talk slowed down and was replaced by a comfortable silence, both of them lost in thought, eyes closed, minds raging.

Ryan found himself in quite a predicament. Sure, he did not want to loose money or face to his buddies over their juvenile bet, but he genuinely, honestly liked this girl, and he knew that if he slept with her to win the contest he would be kissing away his shot at a relationship with her or even a real date. He had no idea what he was going to do.

Startling him out of his thoughts, Marissa spoke up, her voice softer, more relaxed than before, but shaking slightly, "my name is Marissa by the way."

"Ryan," he returned, moving his head slightly to look at her and noticing her lips were faintly blue. "Well, Ryan," Marissa giggled, "this has been fun, more fun than I've had in months, years even, but I'm freezing. Will you walk me home?"

Practically jumping at the opportunity she just handed him, Ryan sprang from the fountain and offered her his hand to help her out. She held onto it thankfully and smiled when he slid his arm around her waist to make sure she didn't slip on the slippery edge. When he touched her though he noticed that she was shivering profusely, so instead of letting her go, he brazenly pulled her into his side and kept his arm around his shoulder trying to warm her body with the heat of his own.

"Thanks," she said timidly before shocking the hell out of him by weaving one of her own arms around his waist and letting her hand rest inside of the back pocket of his jeans.

Her apartment was not far from the park, and they had gotten to the front door of her building faster than Ryan's taste would have permitted. He knew he had about two minutes, the time it would take to ride the elevator with her to her floor and then proceed to her apartment, to make up his mind about what he was going to do, make a move and pursue her or hope for a second meeting and loose the bet. Saving him the decision, Marissa made up his mind for him.

"Wait here," she instructed, "let me get rid of my roommate so she doesn't harass us and, when the coast is clear, I'll come back and let you in."

Obeying what she said with only a half smile to show that he agreed with the plan, he melted into the wall and disappeared from plain sight while she knocked on her door and her roommate let her in. Not two minutes later, she reappeared, waved to him, and then proceeded to pull him by the hand through her apartment until they reached her room. Shutting the door, she surprised him for what might have been the fiftieth time that night by locking it and motioning towards her bathroom.

"I'm going to change, get out of these wet clothes. You might want to do the same," she advised before turning her back to him and starting to unzip her dress. He never moved. Sensing it, dress then undone, she turned around to face him. "Are you going or not?"

"What am I supposed to change into," he asked honestly perplexed.

"Just wrap a towel around your waist for a while. I'll sneak back out and put your clothes in the dryer."

Shooing him back into the bathroom, he disappeared and changed quickly while his imagination ran away from him as he thought of her changing in the room next to him. He waited until she said he could come out, and when he did he couldn't take his eyes off of her. Dressed in merely a pair of boy shorts and a tiny tank top, hair loosely thrown up in a messy bun, makeup removed, Ryan had never been so turned on by a woman before in his life….and apparently she noticed.

Smirking at him, she instructed lightly, "watch out for the rug," mere seconds before he tripped on it and went sprawling on her floor, hitting his head on her dresser. "Told you," she said flippantly bending over to pick up the wet clothes he had dropped before walking out of the room without another word, thoroughly confusing Ryan to pieces.

Grumbling to himself, he got up off of the floor and looked around the room for a place to sit. There was no place other than her bed. Sitting on the edge of it, he waited for her to return and he let his eyes roam her room, getting a better sense of who she was, but she was only gone a moment before she returned, locking the door behind her once again.

"So, what do you want to,…." his voice trailed off even before he finished his question as she was walking towards him and taking off her shirt. Approaching the bed, she pushed him down and pulled off his towel revealing him in all his naked glory.

"You didn't think I brought you back here to talk or bake cookies did you," she taunted. "I want you; you want me." Lowering herself onto his body, she went to kiss him before playfully pulling back and kissing down his chest and stomach first, completely taking control of the situation. While her mouth was quickly arousing him by dipping her tongue into his navel and kissing below it, she shed the last article of clothing she was wearing and slid her body slowly up his until she was sitting on his chest. Leaning down, her breath coming slightly faster than normal, she asked, "Do you have a condom in your wallet or do I have to do all the work her?"

"I've got it covered," he said confidently before flipping her over on her back and gliding off the bed to find his discarded wallet. Fishing out what he needed, he returned to her and tossed several packages of protection on her nightstand before climbing on top of her body and whispering in her ear, "for several round." Taking her mouth in a rough kiss, they began to warm each others bodies up for a night of wild, unbridled sex….and, Ryan thought to himself, a morning of triumph.

Late the next morning, Ryan awoke to the feeling of something warm and supple in his arms only to have it pull away within seconds. Opening his tired, sleep-filled eyes, he surveyed his surroundings and determined that the previous night had not been a dream, but instead the beautiful, mysterious, hot, seductive woman had been a reality.

"Where are you going," he asked her while he went to wrap his arms around her and bring her back to him, but she shrugged him off. Leaning over his body, she took his mouth in a leisurely kiss, her eyes full of humor and naughtiness.

"I'm going to go take a shower." With that, she got out of bed and sauntered her way across the room, teasing him with every sway of her perfectly proportioned, naked hips. Just as she reached the bathroom door, she stopped and turned around, a smirk on her plump, swollen lips.

"So," she asked with a coquettish wink of her eye, "how much did YOU make from YOUR bet?"