Tears, Fears, and Fairytales

Chapter One

Marissa Cooper felt that itch again. It seemed to strike her at the most inopportune times, when she was already stressed and unbelievably busy, but perhaps that's why it happened; it was the ultimate escape. Zoning out of her class, the stodgy professor droning on about absolutely nothing, she started making a list, a nameless list as that was her habit, in preparation for what was to come.

She wouldn't call herself a promiscuous woman. In fact, she could count the number of sexual partners she'd had on one hand, but every single time it had been a one night stand. Sure, she had relationships….well not one for a while. They never seemed to work out well. In high school she had dated just one boy, steadily, for four years, but she always refused to sleep with him. She knew he had cheated on her, but, no matter what, she couldn't give up the security of knowing she would always have someone at her side, even if she didn't really like that person. Then, in college, she had dated two different guys, both for approximately one month. They had both broken up with her because she had refused to sleep with them.

For some reason, the idea of sex had gotten warped in her mind. It was fine to have with a practical stranger, unattached, emotionless, no-strings sex where no one would get hurt and both parties would be physically satisfied, but sex in a relationship was a whole different story. Sleeping with someone you dated opened you up to pain and heartache. It was better just to wait until you knew you were definitely in love with someone and that they felt the same way about you. Then it wouldn't be just sex; then she would making love.

The first one night stand had been her first week of college back when she was a naïve, scared freshman. It wasn't as if she hated the feeling of not being at home with her family, for they had shipped her off to boarding school when she was twelve, it was the fact that she was, once again, alone. She had to make new friends, learn to fit in somewhere completely different than her elite, snobby prep school, and make it on her own. Her parents had refused to support her, cutting her off financially because she had made her own decisions concerning school, studying nutrition instead of business, law, fashion design, or one of the other respectable majors for a woman who would eventually marry rich and raise perfect pod children and continue the cycle of blind faith in the ridiculous, closed minded society they lived in. That night, her freshman year, she had found a random guy to loose her virginity to; she had just wanted to escape from her insecurity and doubt for a few hours. It had worked. She never did find out his name, and, in fact, never saw him again, but she could still clearly picture his face. He had been tall, 6'5'' at least, with a lithe build, jet black hair, swarthy skin, and eyes so dangerous, their intensity frightened her. Being that reckless had scared her, so she had sworn to herself that she would never have another one night stand again. Promises like that are hard to keep though.

It had been easy for a while to keep her word, but eventually her resolve started to wear down. It had been her sophomore year. She no longer was scared or anxious about school. She had made friends, formed a support system, and was doing well, but the night before her fall semester finals, when she was neck deep in text books, notes, and empty coffee cups, she had panicked. If she failed her tests, if she slept in and missed a final, if she forgot to turn a project in, a year and half of work would be for nothing. So, feeling that same need to escape, she had grabbed some money from her purse, put on a flirty outfit, and headed out to the local bar. Even though she was underage, they served her anyway; she looked old enough to be 21, and, if not, the owners of the establishment wouldn't turn down an easy buck. After sipping a few drinks, her confidence boosted from the alcohol coursing through her veins, she made her selection. This time she choose the opposite of the first guy, short, medium, soft build, mousy brown hair, and the kindest, gentlest, hazel eyes she had ever seen. With her second one night stand, she had been the experienced one, and the control she felt in bed that night carried over to her finals the next day and she aced every one of them. Again though, she swore that would be her last one night stand.

Junior year went by smoothly….that was until it was already May and she was waiting to hear if she had gotten the internship at the local gym she had applied for. If not, she had no idea what she would do to support herself that summer, and she had no time to send out applications to other prospective jobs. Needing to leave her worries behind even if until the mail came the next morning, she went to an end of the year part that one of the numerous fraternities were throwing, found the hottest guy in the room, not caring whether or not he was dating someone else, and flirted, teased, and played him until he was putty in her hands. He had been slightly taller than her, perhaps 6', with buzzed blonde hair, piercing, cold blue eyes, and a chiseled jaw. Finally, when he had been ready for her and she, again, had a few drinks in her to help dull the nagging protests in the back of her mind, she took him back to her dorm and used him for hours, never sleeping the entire night. He had collapsed in exhaustion sometime early that morning, leaving her with nothing else to do but get dressed and walk to the post office. When she got there, the letter telling her she had gotten the position was waiting for her. One night stand number three had served his purpose as well, but, just like with the other two nameless men, she had sworn he would be the last.

Of course that promise had been disregarded the first night she needed a proper distraction. It had been early in the spring semester her senior year. Her applications for graduate school had been submitted over a month before, and she was waiting to hear back if she had been accepted to any of them, and, if so, which ones. Classes, at that point, were a walk in the park for her, but the uncertainty of her future was another story. Not knowing whether or not she would get to continue on the road to her dream was driving her slowly insane, so, just like all the other times, she had gone out, this time to a dance club, bought a few drinks to steel herself against what she was about to do, and picked up a random guy to have her last one night stand with. If she had to describe what her fourth one night stand looked liked, she'd be able to sum him up in one word: dependable. He had brown hair, brown eyes, and his size and stature had been so average, she couldn't even remember the specifics, but that's what she had needed that night, stability, reassurance, and faith in the simplistic. Like before, it worked, she got into her dream school, and the oath was made, once again, to never have another one night stand.

Who knows what would have happened to her idea of the power of the one night stand if they hadn't of yielded the results she desired. Perhaps, if after the first one night stand she had been left feeling even more alone and unsure of herself, she wouldn't have had another one, but life didn't work out that way for Marissa Cooper, and there she was, sitting in another class, in another desk, with another piece of empty paper before her where she should have been taking notes, feeling that familiar itch to loose herself for one night in some nameless, attractive man, to escape from her mundane reality.

That was really the problem this time. She didn't doubt herself or her ability to get what she wanted or succeed. Her first year of grad school was going well, she had a dependable job, and a close network of friends, but she was still lonely. Looking around her life, she saw her friends settling down, falling in love, starting families, and she realized she wanted that, too. It just wasn't the right time for her yet; she had to finish school first, but, for just one night, she wanted to feel a connection with someone. Her mind made up, the rest of the two hour lecture passed by quickly as she made her plans for the night to come, arranging in her mind exactly what she wear, where she would go, and what type of guy she'd go after….and, of course, it would be the very last time she had a one night stand.

She had been watching him all evening, stalking her unsuspecting prey with her eyes from the moment he had entered the packed club. He was the complete opposite of what she had been looking for that night. If she was completely honest with herself, she'd admit that he was the exact type of man she always avoided, but, for some strange, undeniable reason, she felt drawn to him.

Somewhere along the lines, Marissa had become a very observant woman. She could spot a man and almost instantly size him up, figuring out not only what type of lover he would be but what his general personality type was. This man was no exception; in fact, he was easy to read. He was just like all the men she had left behind when she had left home all those years ago, the arrogant, blindly wealthy, spoiled playboys who got anything and everyone they wanted. Commitment phobic, they played the field every night, taking home a different woman for one night stand after one night stand, forever hiding from the fact that their father would eventually make them settle down, at least on paper, and start a family so that they could carry on the male line. It was an archaic idea that repulsed her, but for some reason, on the night she was looking for someone sweet, caring, gentle, and loving, her lust had fixated on someone who exuded the very antithesis of what she needed. Maybe that's the problem, she thought to herself. You always go after what you think you need, ignoring what you want. Maybe it's time to think with your body and base instincts and forget common sense and good judgment for one night.

So, that's what she did. She sat back on her barstool, sipping the sugary sweet, colorful, alcoholic drinks the bartender supplied in a slow, steady stream, watching her soon-to-be conquest from afar as he made his way from woman to woman, searching for just the right partner to take home that night, and waited for him to come to her. Normally, she was the aggressor, but she knew he would have to play that role in order to be comfortable with the situation; his ego was too shallow to accept a powerful, dominant, self-assured woman making the first move. Finally, after three hours and four drinks, he arrived by her side, slightly tipsy himself from the various martinis he had consumed while making his way through the many female prospects. Her desire about to erupt, she knew she needed to make the conversation fast but yet leave him feeling as if he had been in control of the situation the whole time.

"So," he smiled at her, the charm oozing out of his strong, tanned face and warm, blue eyes, "can I buy you a drink?"

Returning his smile, Marissa went to stand up, grabbing her purse as she responded. "Thanks, but no thanks. I was just about to leave."

Walking way, a smirk on her face the entire time, she literally counted the three seconds it took for him to catch up with her, turning her back around to face him, his hand sliding suggestively off of her arm low unto her hip. "Hey, hey, wait a second. You can't leave yet; the night is still young."

"It is," she agreed with him, "but I'm bored here, and I have no ambition to have another drink. Suddenly, I find myself craving more than just alcohol. You know, "she said while laughing softly, her hands innocently going to play with the buttons on the front of his shirt, "sometimes a girl needs more than a nightcap to get to sleep. Sometimes she needs someone to make her feel completely….exhausted before they tuck her in."

"And say I take you home, completely wear you out, and then tuck you in, who's going to put me to bed," the smug, stunning man in front of her inquired suggestively. "This would have to be a two way street."

"I'm sure we could work something out, find a middle ground that's agreeable to both of us," Marissa conceded, letting her hands slip under his shirt to absently stroke the toned flesh that she craved so badly, smiling wickedly when her silky smooth fingers discovered his happy trail.

Startling her and making her lips curl up in a pleased grin, he pulled her roughly to him, sliding his hands into her back pockets before leaning down to whisper into her ear, his hot breath on her neck sending shockwaves of desire through her already aroused body. "Perhaps we should continue this discussion someplace a little more…..private." Without waiting for a reply, he turned her around, running his hands down her stomach, stopping briefly to stroke the bare skin of her midriff, before letting them fall lower and lower to the point where he was holding her right above her thighs, pushing himself into her ass as they walked in sync towards the back of the club. "We're going to the VIP room," the man called over his shoulder to the bartender, "and we don't want to be disturbed."

Marissa had never been to the VIP room before, so he had to lead her the entire way, guiding her up the winding set of metal stairs that took them to a dark, plush room filled with black leather couches and a private bar, illuminated with only red lights. As soon as the door was closed behind them, they were all over each other, his mouth seeking hers forcefully, his tongue prying her lips open to explore every available inch of her mouth, his hands ripping her flimsy top of her body, not caring if he destroyed it. She was no gentler. Needing instant gratification, she went straight to his belt, tearing it off of his body and pushing his pants and boxers to the floor immediately. Taking him into her left hand, she squeezed him roughly, telling him without words how impatient she was, while her right hand worked at unbuttoning the clasps on his shirt.

"I don't think so," the stranger taunted her, pulling back slightly so he could regain control of the situation. "This is not going to be quick; we are going to take our slow, sweet time for this round and all the other subsequent rounds later back at my place."

As he went to move back towards her, Marissa stopped him, holding out her hand to push against his chest. "Fine, we'll go slow, painfully slow if you want to, but we're going to my apartment, not yours."

"As long as it has a bed to fuck in, your place works for me."

"Ah, someone's not that adventurous," Marissa teased, taking her own bra and jeans off as he stood by and merely watched her, fascinated and aching to touch her limber, flawless body again. Continuing her strip tease, she bent down slowly to remove her thong, but as she lowered her gaze from his, he took her by surprise, lifting her up unexpectedly by her hips, and setting her down on top of the bar, swiping it clear of all the bottles and glasses in one, swift swoop of his dangerously powerful arm.

"Was that adventurous enough for you," he asked her, slipping two fingers inside of her core before she could even respond.

Sucking in her breath, her body automatically reacted to his touch, leaning back to rest on her elbows and pushing her hips towards him, panting out her response. "Just shut up and fuck my brains out."

"That I can do," he agreed, pulling her body back with his free hand, his head and mouth seeking her exposed, round, perky breasts, sucking and licking one and then the other, while his free arm wound around her body, supporting her as she lost control in ecstasy.

Needing more of a release for his lust, he pushed her back so that she was lying down on top of the mahogany bar, shoving himself up so that he was laying on top of her, sliding far enough up her body so she could, once again, grasp him, working his aroused member while he continued to stimulate her, pushing a third finger into her wet, hot core. Their tongues melded together in an endless embrace of fiery hunger and a thirst for satisfaction, they continued to pleasure each other with their talented fingers until the stranger couldn't take the foreplay any longer, violently pulling his hand out of her and making her cry out in rapture as he slammed into her, immediately filling Marissa to capacity. Moving in a steady, slow rhythm, their sweaty, taunt bodies in sync, they orgasmed together for the first of many times that night, crying out in bliss and elation; both of them panting afterwards as he collapsed on top of her, never pulling out, as they recovered for their next round.

Without a word, he flipped them over so that she was on top of him, sat up, and slid their still entwined bodies off of the bar, lifting her off of his second erection of the night and putting her down. Quickly they dressed, the stranger only putting on his pants and shoes while Marissa slipped on her pants, shoes, and his shirt, simply leaving the unneeded and excess clothes behind. Guiding her out of the club's back door, her body once again pulled tightly to his as he rubbed himself up against her ass, he let his hands wander up the shirt she was wearing, playing with her free, unbound breasts the entire time. Her body was his to ravage for the night, and he made it quite clear that he intended to take full advantage of the opportunity.

Sex on top of the bar in the private VIP room was only the beginning of the mind blowing night they would share. By the time Marissa fell asleep early the next morning, safely tucked away in his arms, snuggled up against the strangers strong, tempting body, she had no idea how they had survived as long as they had….how he had been able to go so many times.

Luckily, he had a driver, because there would have been no way for them to keep their hands off of each other long enough to reach her apartment. Five minutes into the ride across town, she had had enough of his playfully massaging and teasing, his hands rubbing coarsely over the front of her jeans or across her chest, and had pushed him down on the seat so that he was slouching, and had gotten down on her knees in front of him, tearing open his pants for the second time that night and taking him in her mouth, savoring his taste over and over again until he came violently. He had pulled her onto his lap, kissing her with so much intensity it made her entire body shake, until he pulled away and whispered that as soon as they got to her apartment he would return the favor. And that he did.

They had kissed and played with each others bodies the whole way to her apartment, taking long, leisurely breaks to explore the other with their clothes on in the hallways and elevator, but when they had reached her door, they were both grateful. She remembered thinking, he must have a penchant for counters, as he lifted her up in her kitchen, sliding her pants off quickly before moving his head between her legs and kissing her inner thighs, licking circles into them, before finally moving where they both wanted him to go, to her very center, at first merely blowing hot air on her. Slowly he had progressed from the erotic breathing, first kissing her, then licking, then sucking, and finally, when she thought she would burst from anticipation and want, his tongue had pushed inside of her, sending her over the brink as he returned the favor just as he had promised.

He was impatient though, not even giving her enough time to recover from her second orgasm of the night before lifting her off the counter, leaving her pants where they had been dropped, and carrying her into her bedroom, stripping the both of them and stroking her with his hand again before she even came down of her post-orgasmic high. There, in her bed, they had engaged in each other twice, both rounds of sex hot, steamy, slow, and incredible. Panting and sweaty, she had suggested that they take a shower together, an idea the stranger became excited about almost immediately. The cold, rushing, harsh water seemed to only heighten their desire for each other. Finally, after another round of sex in the shower and then a bath which included only erotic, tantalizing foreplay, they had made their way out of the bathroom and into the hallway outside of Marissa's bedroom when the stranger surprised her once again, turning her around quickly and entering her without any warning. Up against the wall, the sex had been fast, rough, and hard, a completely new and exhilarating experience for Marissa. Sore and satiated, he had carried her into her bed, putting her down gently before tucking her in and climbing into the soft, soothing confines of her sheets, snuggly fitting her body against his before they both fell asleep almost instantly.

As Marissa laid there, letting him slowly wake not only her mind but her body as well with his gentle, sensual touches, she knew that her one night stand was not over yet, despite the fact that it was 11:00 in the morning and normally she would insist that he already be gone. Just one more time wouldn't hurt, she argued with herself, giving in to his pleasant seductions, turning around in his arms to take his mouth in a leisurely kiss, slipping her tongue against his and letting them roll together hungrily. I should be starving, Marissa realized, smiling inwardly at the idea, but the only thing I want is more of this stranger. She got what she wanted.

An hour later, as she lounged in her bed, the blankets all strewn across the hard wood floors, her tired, sexually satisfied body laying exposed to the man she had spent the night with, she serenely watched him get ready to leave. He put his jeans and shirt back on quickly, slipping his shoes on before going to stand beside her, letting her eyes take her in one last time. Surprising her, his left right hand trailed from her bruised lips all the way down her body until he reached her parted legs one last time. Slipping in two fingers, he played with her briefly, smirking as he watched her peaceful countenance turn into one of lust and desire almost immediately. Reaching into his pocket while his fingers continued to move inside of her, he slipped out his business card and left it on her nightstand.

"Call me whenever you're in the mood for another adventurous night." And with that, he withdrew his fingers and quickly left the room, leaving behind a confused and aroused Marissa to silently wander what he meant. She was too tired to think about it for long though. Her mind and body finally at peace, relaxed, and completely void of nagging concerns and doubts, she rolled over in her bed to rest on the stranger's pillow, inhaling his delicious scent, before closing her eyes and falling asleep, dead to the world and oblivious to the little, seemingly insignificant, cardboard connection to her fifth one night stand.

It was late that Saturday afternoon before Marissa finally woke. Stretching her still tender body, her lithe muscles of her limbs gracefully moving against each other, she exhaled a blissful sigh before rolling over to look at her bedside clock. Five o'clock, Marissa laughed at herself. When was the last time I slept in this late? Her good mood was spoiled though when her eyes caught onto something that was not supposed to be there. Reaching across the expanse of the bed until her nimble fingers could pluck hold of it and bring it to her still sleep-filled eyes, it took a moment for her dilated pupils to focus upon the scrap of paper in the dim, early evening glow.

"It's a business card," she mused out loud to herself, sitting up in bed to look at it closer, intrigued and baffled as to where it came from. Reading the name quietly to herself, "Ryan Atwood," she wracked her mind as to how she would have met this man or gotten his card. Suddenly a memory from earlier that afternoon slammed into her, making her drop the card as if it was on fire. "That's him….my stranger, my one night stand," she cried out, panic lacing her voice.

Her previous one night stand had been nameless faces in the crowd, but suddenly the unbelievably amazing, sexy man from the night before had an identity for Marissa, and the peace and sheer nothingness she had finally achieved after her night of passion disappeared to be replaced by worry. A man with a name is harder to forget…impossible to forget, she lamented, scrambling off of her bed and picking up the card. Running into her bathroom, she grabbed the pack of matches she kept in there to light the candles she used when taking a relaxing bubble bath and watched the card burn to ash in her fingers, attempting to singe his name out of her memory. It didn't work. Nothing would work. Terrified, she walked back to her bed, picking up her CD remote and turning it to the song she would normally listen to the morning after her one night stands.

The lyrics floated around her, their familiar nature and personally expressive meaning comforting in their blunt delivery….that was until the final stanza before the chorus.

You almost felt bad

You said that I should call you up

But I knew much better than that

And almost immediately I felt sorry

Cause I didn't think this would happen again

No matter what I do or say

Just that I didn't think this would happen again

With or without my best intentions

Now that she knew his name, it would be impossible to just fuck and run. There was a connection now, an unbreakable connection, and it scared her. No matter what, Ryan Atwood was a part of her now.

Hitting repeat on her CD player, she got up off of the bed and brought the blankets back with her as she settled down, once again, against the pillow of the man she had slept with so many times the night before and, again, that morning. Silent tears streaming down her face, she willed her body to go back to sleep, but it was impossible. As she lay there, the late afternoon passing unnoticed into dusk and then late night, there was only one thought raging through Marissa Cooper's mind: Ryan Atwood, Ryan Atwood, Ryan Atwood, and she had no idea how to stop it.