TITLE: Five Times Ryan Heard Kirsten Say, "Don't Tell Sandy"
PART 1/5: Got a Light?

01. He exhaled slowly, a puff of smoke blowing past his lips and dissipating into the dewy Newport night. Just a few hours in this place and he still felt like he was in a dream. He glanced toward the driveway next door, where just hours before he'd met the patented "girl next door" -- Marissa Cooper. She was beautiful, but... probably more screwed up than Ryan could possibly imagine. And probably insanely spoiled.

He took another drag off his cigarette and studied it as he puffed out the smoke. He wasn't allowed to smoke near the house -- Kirsten's rules. He scoffed aloud. Kirsten Cohen. What a piece of work she seemed like. Probably twice as spoiled as Marissa -- the "queen of the manor" as Mr. Cohen had dubbed her. Ryan thought "Ice Queen" could have been more appropriate. Her smile was warm, but he could tell just from one look at her that the smile was a mere mask for all the ice beneath.

It was past midnight, far past; he figured the Cohens were probably fast asleep. How the hell would the "lovely" Kirsten know if he smoked out by the poolhouse? He turned to head up the driveway.

That mask of a smile greeted him just as he wheeled around, and Ryan looked down at the cigarette almost (not quite) embarrassed to be caught out here. He glanced up again, still seeing the Queen's faux (tight) smile as she surprised him completely by asking, "Got another?"

His brows raised. "Huh?"

"Another cigarette."

Unsure of her motives, but strangely captivated by her big, blue (ice blue) eyes, Ryan reached into his pocket and fished out another cigarette, presenting it to her almost gallantly. Kirsten smiled, this one genuine, and plucked it from his fingertips. "Light?" she asked next.

Maybe it was the real smile, maybe it was the eyes... maybe it was the way she held herself -- poised and sophisticated with just a hint of vixen hidden somewhere deep inside. Ryan felt an odd sensation then... some sort of pull toward her; in that moment he was more than willing to comply with any of her demands. He held out his own cigarette, just as he'd done with Marissa, and watched, captivated as Kirsten took a step forward and touched her cigarette to his.

Their eyes met and it was suddenly fifty times more electrifying than with Marissa. Maybe he'd been wrong about that whole "Ice Queen" thing. No way could a woman with that much fire in her stare have ice running through her veins. And then he had to know. "I thought you didn't allow--"

"I officially quit three years ago," she cut in, somehow knowing what he'd been wondering without the sentence needing to be finished.

"Oh." The smile Ryan exhaled was tentative... a little nervous as he noticed her gaze hadn't wavered from his while she took a drag. Her presence was doing strange things to his pulse. "And... unofficially?"

Kirsten smirked for a moment and folded one arm across her stomach, propping the elbow of her other arm (the one that held the cigarette) on it. She blew the smoke off to the side. "Unofficially... I have little setbacks every now and then." She looked down at the cigarette dangling between her fingers almost accusingly, made a face at it. "It really is a disgusting habit." She threw the cigarette to the driveway and crushed it almost savagely beneath her (probably insanely expensive) pumps. Then, she looked up at Ryan almost expectantly.

He grinned, unable to resist the urge to after seeing the nearly-flirtatious look in her eyes, and took one last drag off his own. "I'll quit if you do."

The queen of the manor laughed then, a rather melodious sound, and nodded approvingly. "Deal."

Together they walked, side-by-side up the driveway, shoulders knocking together every few seconds. Ryan stole glances at Kirsten each time, his heart beating a very odd rhythm. Once inside, they looked at each other a moment in the foyer, the house dark. Kirsten smiled a genuine smile one last time. "Sleep well."

"Yeah, you too." He allowed his eyes to flick over her briefly, hoping his look was hidden in the dark. He started to turn away and felt a hand on his arm, his bicep, turning him around.


He met her sparkling eyes for just another moment as she made him promise, "Don't tell Sandy."

Ryan quirked a half smile and nodded in agreement. "Secret's safe with me," he vowed.

Kirsten smiled gratefully and slid her hand down his arm, turning to head for the master bedroom. Ryan watched her go and decided that maybe he actually could get used to this place.