She didn't bother to turn around. Her only interest was in getting as far away from Chuck Bass as possible. In her haste Blair almost tripped in the oh-so-perfect silver Manolos that she'd just had to have and she cursed the shiny heel torturers. Tears were stinging in her eyes and she knew that she wouldn't be able to stem the flood much longer. Worst of all, she hadn't worn waterproof mascara. Since things were already such a disaster, Blair decided to capitulate and turn in to the suite her mother had rented for her.
Getting involved with Chuck had been a mistake. She wished she could go back in time and slap some sense into the weak, vulnerable version of herself that she'd been after the breakup with Nate. What bothered Blair the most was how deeply wounded she was by Chuck's betrayal. It shouldn't have surprised her that he could so callously destroy her cotillion for his own pleasure. It was just what Bass did. She shouldn't have expected him to care about her feelings… and yet, she had. And now she knew that trusting him only got you hurt.
Blair skirted around the ballroom that was still scattered with impeccably dressed debutantes and their handsome escorts. She gave them one last envious glance before mounting the sweeping staircase that led to the suites. Now that she was mostly alone she finally allowed herself to cry, but only a little. Just a few errant tears that she couldn't contain. Blair swiped at them with one gloved hand.
"Blair?" This voice was different and she looked up, startled. Nathaniel Archibald was on the landing above her, looking none the worse for the wear after his fight with Carter.
"What?" she asked tiredly as she brushed past him and worked to control her unsteady breathing. Though he'd seen her cry before, Blair's emotions were too raw to deal with him and her breakdown. One disaster at a time.
He grabbed her arm and came to stand in front of her. "Blair, I wanted to say how sorry I am about what happened tonight. I didn't mean to ruin your debut." The sincerity in Nate's blue eyes had her defenses weakening. "I know we were only supposed to be here as friends but just the thought of that scum Carter Baizen touching you…"
Nathaniel shook his head in disgust and a small smile tugged at the corners of her mouth. He'd never been so protective of her even when they were together and it made her feel special to know he cared.
"It's alright," Blair replied and she actually meant it. "I'll get over it. I always do."
"I miss you so much," whispered Nate and the next thing she knew, he was cupping her face and kissing her.
It caught her off guard and she opened her mouth to him which he took as encouragement. He was enthusiastic but gentle and it was even better than she remembered. The part of her that longed for them to be the way they were had her molding her body against his. She braced one hand against the suite door behind them and kissed him back, sliding one hand up his arm to grip his shoulder.
"It was so hot how you punched Carter out," she said against his warm lips. "I've never seen you do anything like that before."
He smiled and kissed her lips once again as he opened the door. Blair nuzzled his neck and he drew her into the room. A chill ran down her spine; she glanced over her shoulder and froze. Chuck Bass stood motionless on the steps, watching them. It wasn't that he'd seen. No, it was his dark, anguished eyes that burned in the otherwise perfectly controlled mask he wore. It almost looked as if his heart were breaking… Which is an almost laughable concept.
What disconcerted her more was the answering twinge of pain in her stomach. Before Blair could dissect that unsettling little twinge, Nate tugged her all the way into the room and closed the door behind them. He pulled her back into his arms and kissed her, tracing his lips over her neck, jaw and even the bridge of her nose before lowering his mouth to hers. At the same time he skillfully unzipped her dress. The material fell to her waist where it caught on her hips and Nate helped it slip all the way to the floor.
Her body was already reacting to him. Blood pounded through her, quickening her breath and clenching things low in her body. Blair pressed her thighs together to try and keep herself composed so she wouldn't jump on him before they even reached the bed. She squealed when Nathaniel picked her up, carried her to the bed, and tossed her gently on it. He stripped off his jacket and shoes while maintaining a smoldering eye contact with her that made her shudder in anticipation.
She knelt on the bed and removed her own shoes. Then Blair slowly peeled off her gloves and freed her brunette curls, letting them tumble down around her shoulders. The way Nate watched her made her feel like the most beautiful girl in the world. He climbed onto the bed, kneeling in front of her too. He touched her almost reverently and Blair's pulse jumped erratically. Nathaniel unbuttoned his shirt and she helped him slide it off.
So this was it. After so many planned nights that ended in her sleeping alone, they were really going to make love. Now if only she was still a virgin; that would be the one thing to make this night more special. Blair looked away guiltily. Nate seemed to chalk this up to nervousness. He took her face in his hands again and kissed her sweetly. When he drew back a little to gaze at her there was reassurance and everything else she'd yearned to see in his blue eyes. It was just like old times.
So why wasn't she happy?
Sure, she was aroused. Nathaniel was incredibly gorgeous and you'd have to be stupid not to want him. But as her palms slid over the heated flesh of his firm and muscular chest, Blair realized that was all she wanted: his body. Not the love that shimmered in his ocean eyes. She didn't need that anymore, didn't need him, didn't need to be 'Blair and Nate' again. She wasn't sure when that had no longer become essential to her but she was sure it was how she truly felt.
Blair wished she had figured it out sooner. Because as certain as she was that she and Nate were done, she realized exactly who she did desire in more ways than one. That person was now wounded because of her indecisiveness. They would need to clear a few things up first and set some definite rules if they were ever going to have a real relationship but Blair was willing to try.
This next part was not going to be fun.
She pulled Nate's hands off her and backed away from him. "I can't do this. I'm sorry."
"Uh, that's.. okay. I'm okay." he panted, the bulge in his trousers contradicting his words. "If you're still not ready, we can wait… Come and lie down with me." Nathaniel fell back onto the bed and sighed. He looked like a deliciously rumpled angel spread across the bed, all shirtless, with his mussed golden hair and sparkling blue eyes. Though she was moved by his beauty, it didn't shake her determination.
"I can't." She slid off the bed, retrieved her dress, and wiggled back into it. "It's not that I'm not ready. I am. I've been- The thing is, I can't do this with you. "
He propped himself up and his brows were creased with uncertainty. "I don't understand."
Blair went back to him and sat on the edge of the bed. "Nate, you were right the first time. We aren't right for each other any more. It's time to move on and sleeping with you wouldn't help that." She took one of his hands and looked at him seriously. "I did miss you and I do still care about you but not the same way."
"You're serious…" Nate pulled away from her and sat up completely. The confusion was gone and replaced by irritation that was tinged with hurt from her rejection. "I never thought we'd actually be over. I figured we would make up eventually."
"I did too," she admitted. "Maybe some other time. Years later down the road. You never know."
He smiled bitterly. "I guess."
"Good. I have something that I need to do now." She made it to the door and had her hand on the knob when he spoke again.
"Blair. I just need to know… Is there someone else?"
She leaned against the door, keeping her back to him. "Not really."
"'Not really' isn't no," he pointed out.
"But it is a 'I don't want to talk about it' and that'll have to do." Blair glanced back over her shoulder regretfully. "I really need to go. I'm sorry."
Nate nodded once. "Yeah. Me too."
She left him and padded downstairs in her bare feet, having forgotten her shoes among other things. People were milling towards the general direction of the doors, the soirée slowly breaking up. Blair paused at the last step, peering over heads to look for Chuck. He wasn't around but she did spot his unremarkable blonde date, Naomi something-or-other. She made her way quickly through the crowd and interrupted the conversation Naomi was having with the Prince by grabbing her arm and pulling her aside.
"I need to find Chuck. Have you seen him?"
Naomi didn't look pleased by the disturbance but no one talked back to Blair Waldorf so she answered sulkily, "He's over by the bar. When I finally found him again, he was such an-"
Blair didn't bother to stick around and hear how Bass had dumped his latest conquest. She found him easily enough, leaning against the bar and nursing a scotch that was probably the finest the bar carried. He didn't even look up when she sat on the stool beside him.
"What are you doing here, Waldorf? Need to borrow a condom?" he asked contemptuously as he tossed back the last of the drink and signaled the bartender for a refill which he got instantly. A Bass never had to wait for anything.
"I'm going to pretend you didn't say that," Blair answered stiffly. He infuriated her far too easily for her liking. Once she was in control again, she commanded, "Look at me."
Chuck waited a few moments and then turned to face her. He was composed again, eyes blank of any emotion.
"Why do you think I'm here?"
"How should I know?" His velvet voice was laced with annoyance.
"Oh come on, Bass!" Tired of the song and dance, she grabbed him by the lapels of his jacket and drug his mouth to hers. Blair kissed him fiercely and possessively for several long minutes, then let go. "That clear things up for you?"
He seemed dazed and shook his head slightly as if he still didn't believe his good fortune. "Only a little. Nate -"
"- is the past," she cut in with finality. "I see that now. He's not what I want."
Chuck raised one dark eyebrow. "And I am?"
She smiled wryly. "It would seem that way."
He returned her grin. "You always did have excellent taste."
"Of course," she allowed. Then Blair put on her business face. "There are rules though. Non-negotiable ones." Chuck looked taken aback but didn't protest. "First off, no more sneaky little plans. You don't ever pull anything like what you did tonight again or we are over instantly. No other girls, you will be faithful and respectful to me if it kills you. We're taking this slowly, understand? And we'll have to wait awhile before we can go public."
"Anything else, my queen?" he asked teasingly.
"Not for the moment but don't be surprised if I think of other things later," Blair responded, raising her chin regally.
Chuck nodded once and caressed her cheek. "I'm yours to command… as long as you belong to me."
"I can live with that. It seems we have an agreement," she murmured.
"Indeed." He leaned forward and sealed the deal in his favorite manner: with a firm, meaningful kiss. Blair wished it would never end.