AN: Creativity strikes at weird times. I know I'm supposed to be working on LSFT, but I just had this urge to write this story, and so it goes I'm going to be starting a news series. This story is based upon a song sung by Whitney Houston called "Saving All My Love For You". The story of this song is just so beautiful and compelling to me, I just had to write a story. And so I hope you guys all enjoy it!
Disclaimer: All rights to Sailor Moon belongs to Naoko TAkeuchi.
The flashing of the camera was like the crashing of lightning in the far distance; even though on the outside she was the rising star in the room, on the inside she felt as though she were a world away in a raging storm. As the photographer directed her, she quickly complied—flowing from one pose to the next with fluid grace—her faultless face, fierce and fragile, caught the light in such a way that she translated sheer perfection in her photos. With striking, vivid aqua eyes; lush, full lips; and a dainty, sophisticated nose; she did not need help from make-up to accentuate her good-looks.
The photographer inundated her with wonderful praise as he quickly flashed away. "Wonderful, darling," he would say, "Just like that, sweetie, you're a pro," or frequently, "Honey, your skin looks delicious—my God, it is flawless!" And though it was nice to hear that she looked beautiful, she just couldn't take the triviality of the photo shoot. Slowly her mind began to drift, and she found herself thinking about him again.
He was the last person she wanted to be thinking about. Try as she might, though, he kept popping up into her head. There were just so many emotions he elicited from within her: joy, sorrow, love, laughter, and most of all guilt. Guilt consumed her mind, crept into every corner and alley of her brain, and she was going crazy with it—she was sick of it. That's why she had decided long ago to simply stop thinking about him—stop seeing him.
But it was too late.
He had somehow become chocolate to her; something she knew she had to give up, but she kept going back for more; he was an indulgence, an addiction she could not quit. As bad as he was for her, she could not say no. A melancholic smile touched her lips as she acknowledged that truth. Her eyes mystified.
"Baby, baby, baby," the photographer sang excitedly, "That's brilliant—bloody brilliant! Just look up right here, doll face," he directed her, "What gave you the idea to exude such pain and sorrow in your eyes? I love it! I'm telling you it'll be your album cover!"
Snapping back to reality, she managed a half-hearted smile meant to acknowledge his comment. For five more minutes she had to endure the constant flashing of the studio lights, the watching eyes of executives, and the photographer's rain of remarks that were quickly starting to eat away at her nerves. She even began counting the minutes on the clock, feeling an emotional breakdown just threatening to explode from her.
"One last shot, sugar, so give me something sultry," the photographer cooed, and she gave him a playful wink that he ate up with delight. "Oh I love that!"
Taking a deep, steadying breath, she strode off the set with great intentions on going straight down to the awaiting car in the parking lot outside and ordering the driver to take her directly to her new apartment. Slipping off the five inch designer heels in a hurry, she stumbled slightly, and headed for the dressing room so she could take off her outfit. She had spent two hours getting glammed up for the photo shoot, and off it was to come in a matter of seconds. Her eye make-up was overly heavy, and all she wanted to do was take a nice wet towel and wipe it all off; also, the corset she wore was killing her, she could hardly breathe as it was a size too small for her so that it would push up her breasts.
"The price of beauty," she muttered under her breath as she ran a hand through her mass of loose honey-gold curls that fell around her shoulders, remembering how long it had took the stylist to get them in the perfect shape all morning. Too bad it looked like it was going to rain outside, she thought bitterly, knowing her hair was going to go flat at the first sign of moisture.
Getting into the dressing room, she quickly locked the door and began to change. As soon as she had undone the corset and was finally able to breathe freely, there was a knock on the door. Grabbing a robe hung across the chair in front of the small vanity, she put it on and tied it at the waist before asking, "Who is it?"
"Ms. Serena Tsukino?" A nervous voice replied.
"Yes, this is she. Who is it?" Serena repeated, leaning her ear against the door.
"Sorry, I'd hate to bother you, but it's important. I'm Jayla West; I work for your record label. I've got a call from the music producer requesting you to go to the studio."
Upon hearing this, Serena opened the door to ask what the reason the producer had given was, but Jayla simply shrugged, "He didn't give one. All he said was that it was urgent."
Serena slumped against the door frame and sighed heavily. "Thanks for telling me. I'll go right away."
"No problem," Jayla replied, and she smiled sympathetically. "Long day, huh?"
"Yeah, I was hoping to go home. But I guess it takes a lot more work to make it big, right?"
Jayla nodded agreement and half turned to go, but then turned around and said, "I'll tell your driver where you're going."
Feeling deeply gratified, and unworthy of her sympathy, Serena did the first thing that came to her mind. The small-town girl in her apparently must have remained intact through the whole glamorizing process, because she threw her arms around the woman she had just met and hugged her tightly. "Thank you," Serena said reverently before letting her go.
In stunned disbelief, Jayla—who looked to be in her mid-twenties, had dark olive skin and kind brown eyes—stared blankly at her. She recovered quickly though, and smiled in return, running a nervous hand through her boy-cut brown hair. "It's the least I can do," she replied and then disappeared around the corner.
"Hey Miss Up-and-coming-star, took you long enough to get here," a masculine voice drawled from behind her.
Serena whirled around and nearly clashed with the co-president of S&F Records. She blushed violently, and then realizing she almost made him spill his cup of coffee, she apologized profusely. With laughing green eyes, he stared down at her from his six feet tall height. Placing a friendly hand against her back, he directed her to the nearest elevator with him.
"We were stuck in traffic for half an hour," Serena explained fretfully, glancing up at the co-president, "I'm still not used to LA traffic; it's horrible! I think this is one of the reasons why I miss Crestwood so much."
"Yeah, that's the big city for you; horrible traffic, terrible air quality, and just too many people," he nodded in agreement. As the elevator doors closed behind them, he pressed the button with the number twenty-five on it. Taking a sip from his Starbucks Coffee cup, he said reassuringly to her, "Don't worry about it. I know we called you in here pretty late. You just had your first photo shoot, right? How did that go?"
Biting on her bottom lip, not wanting to totally crush the expectant look upon the blonde's face, Serena tried to answer as truthfully as she could, "It was definitely a new experience." But even to her, her voice sounded strained, and it was not believable. She winced as he gave her a knowing smile.
"You hated it, didn't you?" He laughed. "I have to say, Serena, you're a weird one. Thousands of girls across America would have loved to have your photo shoot."
Serena smiled, leaning her back against the elevator wall, feeling the soft vibrations as they continued going higher. "Well I guess I'm not like those thousands then," she replied brashly, winning a short chuckle from him. Changing the subject, Serena queried, "I hope I didn't have a lot of you guys waiting for a long time, Andrew."
"Oh no, not at all," Andrew answered, watching the numbers above the elevator doors climb from fifteen to sixteen to seventeen. "There was only two of us, and we had to discuss a few things too, so don't worry about being so late."
"How can you say that?" Serena teased lightly. "I feel so unprofessional keeping you guys waiting."
"Well if you really want to be professional, you should address me as Mr. Furuhata, not Andrew."
"Fine," Serena retorted, her eyes twinkling, "Mr. Furuhata."
"Relax," he said, rolling his eyes, "I'm teasing."
Slowly the elevator stopped and the doors swooshed open with a 'ping'. Stepping out onto the floor, there was a sweeping view of downtown LA through the enormous glass windows just beyond the elevator. Serena's breath always caught in her throat when she saw that view.
Seeing her awed expression, Andrew smiled. "You like?" He raised an arched eyebrow suggestively.
Serena turned to him and nodded emphatically. "Then there are moments like these, when I'm just staring out at such beauty, and I totally forget about my little hometown."
Andrew laughed loudly at her smart remark, opening the door against the wall adjacent to the window. And Serena smiled too as she walked through the door he held open for her. He was always laughing at her, Serena noted. Andrew thought she was just too naïve and small-town to be taken seriously—sure he truly thought that she had a gift for singing, but he really didn't believe that she would make it through the music industry still clinging on to her endearing, nice-girl personality. "Sooner or later," he once said to her, "They all change."
There was a polite cough from somewhere in the room, and Serena averted her gaze from Andrew's laughing face. Her heart nearly fell at the sight of him. Tall, dark and devastatingly handsome, Darien Shields looked up at her intensely over the packet of papers he had been reviewing from a desk in the recording studio. She froze like a block of ice under his gaze, feeling a cold flash seize her entire being. And it started all over again.
Her heart began beating faster. Thump. Thump. Thump. She could feel her throat clog up, and all of a sudden it was hard to breathe. Her hands were clammy and shaky, despite the fact that the studio was standard room temperature; and suddenly she could feel her temperature shoot up and she felt as though she were melting, like ice cream set out on a hot summer's day. It was amazing how he managed to do this to her every time. With her mouth as dry as the Sahara Desert, she nearly choked on her hello, right before she broke their lingering gaze. Damn his shocking, electric blue eyes, Serena cursed to herself.
"Ran into her on my way back with coffee," Andrew explained, oblivious to the intimate connection between the other man and woman. Taking off his suit coat, Andrew hung it on the back of a chair and went to take a seat beside the tousled, dark haired god sitting on the other side of the room.
Serena stayed where she was, unwilling to move, fearing she might get too close for comfort. Though she did not dare look, she could feel Darien's hot roving eyes roaming over her shapely figure—she could feel it as though he had put a hand on her and was caressing her—and her body shivered deliciously against her will, knowing that she should feel violated, repulsed, but she didn't. It excited her. Everything about him excited her.
"So, Serena," Andrew began slowly. "Why don't you take a seat? We've got a request for you."
Nodding silently, she grabbed one of the leather chairs and rolled it towards the two men. Together, Andrew and Darien made an intimidating pair, both were very good looking men, tall, extremely fit, and, of course, despairingly powerful in the music industry. Serena couldn't help but feel like a prisoner being brought to trial before them.
"Okay, so here's the thing," Andrew explained, picking up a folder and flipping it open, "We want you to do another song."
Confused, and somewhat stunned by Andrew's words, Serena gawked openly at the S&F of S&F Records. "So," she drawled uncertainly, "that means…what? I thought we've all ready finished recording the ten songs for my album and we were done. I mean, that's why I did the photo shoot today, right? It was for my album cover." Running her moist palms against her dark jean clad legs; Serena looked up apprehensively at Andrew.
"Well, yeah…" Andrew nodded amenably, snapping the folder shut, "But we've got this new song that's just been submitted and we think that you'll give it the right magic to make it a big record. It was meant for Rihanna—" Darien coughed loudly, interrupting Andrew, who then nervously amended, "I wanted to give it to Rihanna, but Darien, here, thought that you would just totally smash this song and give it the proper sound it needs."
Serena glanced over at Darien. He was hiding behind his papers, his face aloof, uninterested. She wondered why it was that he had to regard her this way; it hurt her terribly, and at other times it infuriated her. Would it hurt if he was just a little more amiable like Andrew?
"What's it called?" Was all she could manage to get out of her mouth.
Andrew handed her a piece of paper. Taking it from his hands, Serena read aloud the title typed across the top of the page, "Loving you."
Nodding, Andrew went on to clarify any of the doubts she may have about the song. "It's not exactly a ballad, but it's definitely not a high energy dance song either—it's for sure got a funky, soulful tune that I think will go well with your tone though. So," he said, taking a brief breath, "We want to hear you run through it a couple of times, you know, just to see if everything meshes well. If it sounds good we'll add it as a bonus track on your album. Does that sound okay?"
She tried to give him the benefit of the doubt, but her face just betrayed everything that she was feeling. "Don't look too uncertain," Andrew coaxed gently, "Just sing it once, at least. Darien did write the song, and he really argued that he wanted you to sing it."
He had meant to appease her, but it was funny how people's intentions never get across the way they want it to. Serena became a nervous wreck. She could hardly believe that Darien wanted her to sing his song. His stoic and impartial demeanor hardly portrayed him to even care as to whether or not her career took off or went quickly flushed down the toilet. It was mind blowing to her, and she couldn't seem to comprehend it. She quickly glanced over at the stony man sitting silently beside Andrew again, just to see his reaction, but he remained apathetic, looking down at his Rolex wristwatch as though he'd rather be somewhere else.
"What do you say?" Andrew asked hopefully.
Letting out a deep breath, Serena nodded affirmative, "I'll give it a try."
"Good," Andrew smiled charmingly, and then slyly said, "We were going to make you sing it anyways."
At that, Serena let out a shout of laughter, totally taken by the coy look in Andrew's eyes and the boyish glee that spread across his face.
Darien sharply snapped his head up when he heard the musical laughter spilling from Serena's pretty mouth. Throughout the entire conversation he had remained as detached as he could, but he could not hide his attraction to the mystical sound of her laughter, so beautiful and uninhibited. Like a siren's song she managed to entrance him, bringing him to the brink of his destruction. Her face was a stunning sight when she laughed like that, and she looked positively delectable, with her face flushed and eyes sparkling so brightly. He always found her a temptation.
"Are you guys done talking?" Darien inquired with a slight hint of impatience just laced in his tone. His cold and calculating eyes lowered slightly as he scrutinized them. "I've waited over an hour for her to sing the song; let's just get her behind the microphone and see how she sounds, because it's almost eight and I've got places to be."
Irritated by his abruptness and frustrated with herself for letting him affect her so, Serena quickly went through the glass doors into the live room, leaving Darien and Andrew in the control room to set up. Haphazardly, she put on the headphones and glanced angrily at Darien through the window. He shared her same look of heated passion.
The soft notes of a piano danced smoothly in her ears, and slowly the melody was rich and vibrant and bold, full of ardor and desire. She felt this all through the music. It wowed her to the point of breathlessness with its beauty. Truly amazed at the type of brilliance Darien could compose, Serena's eyes darted up through the glass, seeking Dariens'.
Their gaze locked. Subtly, Serena trembled from the pure force of their connection. It was like they were gazing into each other's souls, reading each other's thoughts and feelings, and taking the other's heart in their hands and pressing it to theirs so that it could beat in time with their own. Heart to heart.
As the last note of the piano drifted to a complete stop, Serena felt as though her whole life had been told through the composition.
"Well?" Andrew asked, with a wide smile on his face. "Did you like it?"
Serena nodded, unable to shake the breathless splendor of that moment.
"Good! See," Andrew exclaimed, "I told you you would like it. Now you stay there, and Darien's going to come over to that side to play the guitar to teach you the lyrics."
She gulped imperceptibly. "Okay," she replied as calmly as she could. Her nerves were jumping around inside her at the mere thought that for the first time since they met, Darien was going to be working with her in close proximity.
As Darien walked through the door, he handed her several sheets of paper and quickly began. His demeanor was very business-like and professional. She liked that. Afraid that he was going to be flirtatious and glib, Serena had been prepared to walk out of the studio; instead, he conducted himself well, and proved to be, in fact, a very talented man—definitely driven, and fiercely devoted to his work. In the end, she was the one who was disappointed that he hadn't tried to make a move on her.
"Go through the song one more time," Andrew announced from the control room, listening to the playback of her recording. "It sounds good, but there's something missing in your vocals."
An hour had passed since they had started and Serena could feel the strain in her voice. She nodded, willing to give the song one more try. The music started, and then it suddenly stopped. Looking up from her lyrics, Serena stared in confusion through to the next room.
"Is something wrong?" Serena asked.
"Andrew, we can't go through it one more time. I've got places to go; it's nine o'clock at night, and I'm starving. And honestly, I don't think Ms. Tsukino can give you her best vocals right now, she's obviously too tired."
With a look that, to Serena, appeared to be disappointment, Darien glanced over at her, and then turned back to Andrew. He did not sound as though he would be swayed, "Let's meet here again tomorrow morning and continue from there."
Nodding in agreement, Andrew sighed, "Okay, but there goes another Saturday morning; can't a man sleep in anymore?" He sounded disgruntled, but there was a teasing smile on his face as he looked to Serena. "You okay with that, honey? Get your ass back in here tomorrow morning at eight."
"Yes, Master," Serena replied jokingly as she slid off her headphones.
Andrew laughed, "Look, Serena, I don't know what you and your lover do in bed, but if he's into the whole slave thing in the bedroom, don't you call me "Master" again—"
The door slammed shut on Andrew's last words.
Serena turned to look at the empty space that Darien had just occupied. He was gone. Shaking off his cold exit, Serena turned back to Andrew and remarked dryly, forcing a wry smile to her face, "Don't worry, I don't kiss and tell."
"What's up with, Darien?" She asked, looking over her shoulders at the closed door as though the dark haired man was still standing there.
Andrew shrugged. Grabbing his coat, he hung it over his arms and answered, "He's been on edge lately." Walking her to the door, Andrew stopped as he reached for the door knob. His voice dropped perceptibly. "I know I shouldn't be telling you this, but I'm pretty sure you see how he's been so cold lately, and I don't want you to get the wrong idea about him. Darien, you see, is going through some pretty rough times at home, so don't write him off just yet. Give him a few more weeks and he'll warm up to you."
"Rough times?" Serena gulped.
"Yeah, but that's all I can say," Andrew said apologetically, "If you want to know, just ask him—though I don't think he'll be terribly pleased with that."
Walking back into the twenty-fifth floor lobby, Andrew guided Serena to the elevators again, with his hand on the small of her back in a gentlemanly gesture. Coming to the elevator doors he pressed two buttons, one for the elevator to their right and one for the elevator to their left.
Serena looked up at him curiously.
"I'm going to go up to my office to pick up my stuff before going home. You can take this elevator down," Andrew clarified.
The metallic sliding doors of the elevator swooshed open to their left, Serena insisted Andrew take it first, and so he did. He waved goodbye and wished her a good night before closing the doors. Sighing with relief that the day was finally over, Serena stepped into her elevator when it came and pressed the button for the parking lot floor. Walking straight to the back of the empty elevator, she leaned her head against the wall and closed her eyes. In her head, she registered the swooshing of the doors closing, but all of a sudden, she heard it open again. Her head quickly jerked back into place and her eyes flew open.
With one foot in the doorway, Darien stood there looking at her with an expression that could be set in stone. His granite features were sharp and rugged, his body lean and muscular; so masculine, that she felt a stirring in the pit of her stomach every time she set eyes on him.
"Going down?" He asked with a raised quirky eyebrow.
She nodded, tried to take a step further back, but realized that she was already up against the wall, and then settled for the corner.
They rode down the elevator in silence. Serena tried her best not to look over at him, but could not help her straying eyes. The minutes seemed like hours by the time they reached the bottom floor. She was so anxious to get out of the elevator that when the doors opened, she was the first to run out. Not bothering to look back at Darien as she half ran to her car, Serena was terribly disheartened when she heard him call to her.
"Ms. Tsukino," he said.
Serena turned hesitantly. "Yes?"
She watched as he raised an outstretched arm to her. "You dropped this."
Mortified and curious at what it was that she had dropped, she walked back towards him to see what he was holding in his hand. He met her half way, and without stopping, slipped the item into her hand, and continued on passed her without a single word of "see you later".
Slowly her hand clenched tight around the tiny crumpled piece of paper he had given her. She knew exactly what it was. Quickly shoving it into the pocket of her jeans, she walked to her car and tapped on the driver's window to wake up her sleeping driver. When they were finally on their way to her apartment, she reached into her pocket and pulled out the note.
Reaching up to turn on the light, she began to smooth out the paper. In the dim light, she saw seven words in Darien's fancy scrawl.
"My place. You left something of yours."
Serena groaned. Crushing the paper in her hand, she threw it onto the floor, and then directed the driver to a new address.
Darien's penthouse apartment in downtown LA was worth more than all of Serena's combined possessions. From the private elevator to the fancy glass doors of his abode alone probably cost him more than the money S&F Records was putting out for her career. Twenty-seven years old, with only six years in the business, Darien had already worked with and produced artists such as Nelly Furtado, Rihanna, Chris Brown, Shelly Mae, Corrine Bailey Rae, Janet Jackson and of course, Mina Aino (A.K.A. Sailor V). Voted number two next to Brad Pitt on E!'s "101 Hottest Male Celebrities", Darien's future was secured in the Hollywood spotlight for the rest of his life—or at least until he turned grey and ugly.
Standing outside the doors of his apartment, Serena debated whether or not to ring the doorbell or turn around and run for her life. There was something fishy about Darien's note to her. The entire car ride there, Serena had been racking her brain trying to figure out just what she could have possibly left at his place, but couldn't think of a single thing.
Could she have left her shoes? She wondered one last time. She contemplated it with one hand subtly poised in front of the buzzer, trying hard to remember just what it was she had brought with her the last time she came over, but was unsuccessful.
Her raised hand fell at her side. Serena sighed. She gave up. She didn't care what it was that he had of hers; she didn't want to risk her mental well-being stressing about him anymore. With one foot after the other she dragged her suddenly heavy body back towards the elevator doors. She congratulated herself quietly when she pressed the down arrow button beside the elevator; she was able to resist temptation. The doors glided open swiftly, making a smooth rushing sound.
It didn't drown out the click of a doorknob turning behind her though, and the creak of a door swinging open.
She swiveled around unsteadily, feeling dread like no other consume her.
"Hi Aiden," she forced a bright, vibrant smile.
It was Darien's son. He was smiling at her in such a way that she felt guilt pierce her like a stake in the heart; his mouth stretched wide, baring his white youthful teeth. With hair the color of honey blonde and dark emerald eyes, he was in no way the image of Darien. Well, perhaps only in the devious look that sometimes they shared, but over all there was no resemblance.
Eight years old, Aiden was very smart for his age. When Serena first met him, he had blown her away with all the interesting facts about the atom bomb he knew so much about. Her genuine amazement, adoration, and respect for the child completely won his total devotion to her. Because his father was not often home, Aiden quickly sought adult companionship in her.
With a wide grin and a beckoning hand he called to her, "Where are you going? Come on in!"
She could hardly turn the invitation down now, Serena thought begrudgingly to herself, and she walked back towards the apartment door. Aiden stepped aside to let her pass into the foyer and closed the door behind him. Walking up behind Serena, he tugged on her coat sleeve to get her attention.
"Can I take your coat?" He offered politely.
Serena beamed, looking down into his large green eyes. Running a hand through his brunette bangs, she slowly declined his offer. "That's very nice of you, but no thanks. I'm just here to pick up something and then I'll be on my way." He looked absolutely disappointed at her answer.
"You can't stay?" He whispered devastatingly, and Serena could feel the guilt clutching at her heart intensify.
She looked for a way to ease the tension and make light of his question. "Oh man, your father's got you trained to be a real charmer, hasn't he? A real lady's man. If my heart wasn't already taken, I'm sure you would have it."
"And who might he be?"
At the sound of Darien's husky, cool and commanding voice, Serena jerked to her left. Beside the delicate hand-carved wooden banister atop the staircase, there he stood. Always looking subtly sexy and real masculine. She didn't know how he did it, but he managed to make a pair of Adidas athletic sweatpants and sweatshirt look like something out of GQ.
"Darien," Serena muttered dumbly. She couldn't take her eyes off him; it was as though he had cast a spell on her, and all brain function had stopped for her.
"Hey Dad, I opened the door for her just like you said," Aiden proudly chirped.
Darien's attention turned towards his son. He smiled affectionately as he walked down the stairs. "Good job," he praised, and as he reached the bottom step he opened in arms in a gesture for Aiden to come over to him so he could receive a hug.
Serena watched as father and son embraced, feeling a swelling of overwhelming joy in her chest at the picture they made. It was easy to see that Aiden idolized his father; he did everything his dad told him to do. Darien was no exception. At S&F Records, he may be the ice king, but with Aiden, he became the watchful and worried parent. And damn her, she found that quality in him a turn on.
"How did you know I came?" Serena asked shakily.
"I called the downstairs lobby and told them to call me when you came in," Darien answered briefly. Aiden stood beside his dad, nodding in agreement.
Laughing at the pair they made, Serena walked up to Aiden and crouched down in front of him and inquired teasingly, "Is that so? Well why didn't you open the door sooner?"
Dumbfounded, Aiden looked up at Darien as though asking for reply. Darien, very much like a hero, swooped in to aid his son. "Well why didn't you ring the doorbell?"
She blushed at his sardonic look and had to break her gaze from Darien's blue eyes. "Touché," she allowed for the moment.
Darien stared at her for a long instant in silence. His expression unreadable. Slowly he placed a hand on his son's shoulders and crouched down to look Aiden in the eyes. "Do you have homework?"
Aiden rolled his eyes, and replied flippantly, "Its Friday, Dad."
"You didn't answer my question," Darien remained firm.
"Yes, I have homework," Aiden answered grudgingly, knowing just what his father was going to tell him to do.
"How about you go upstairs and go—"
"Do my homework—I know, I know," Aiden interrupted sullenly, all ready heading up the stairs.
"When I'm finished talking to Serena we'll watch a movie, okay?"
He didn't get a reply.
"Kids," Serena said with mock-dismay, meant to appease the annoyed look on Darien's face.
"Don't I know it," Darien grumbled, rubbing his weary face with his hands.
Silence fell like a heavy pall smothering the moment of peace.
"We need to talk," Darien said; his tone harsh, imposing. With scorching eyes, Darien watched her.
Fighting back the urge to scream, Serena bit out coldly, "I thought we were done talking, Darien."
He shook his head stiffly, and Serena noted the way his silky black locks fell into his eyes. He had that angry look on his face again. She liked to call it his cut-the-crap expression. Whenever he became impatient with her, he would clench his jaw tight and stare domineeringly at her. It wasn't exactly an angry stare either, but a more agitated and, strangely, pleading look.
"We never even began," Darien denied. "You left my apartment before I could explain anything."
"What is there left to explain?" Serena shouted angrily, feeling her fury rise full force within her. "You're married!"
His lack of concern for the matter lit a match to the waiting dynamite inside her. "What do you mean 'so'? My God, I had sex with a married man—no, not just sex, an affair! Can you feel a little remorse for me at least, who has to live with the shame! You might not care, but I do! How could I have been so stupid to have let you lead me on for so long and not even realize that a man as great as you, a man as rich as you, a man as gorgeous as you, was not all ready taken! I was silly, right?"
"Look, Serena, I know you're upset with me right now but—"
"No, I'm not upset," Serena managed to say calmly, "I am beyond furious! You lied to me!" She was sputtering, hissing, spitting like a boiling tea kettle with a fire beneath it that just refused to die.
Grabbing the offending finger that she pointed at him, Darien shushed her and pulled her into the living room away from the staircase so that Aiden would not hear.
"I never lied to you," Darien defended. He walked over to the bar on the other side of the room and decided to pour himself something hard to drink.
Pacing now, back and forth across the soft luxurious carpet, Serena was in a fit. "Not saying a word about your marriage constitutes as a lie!"
"Call it whatever you want," Darien grounded out irritably, gulping down his second shot of whiskey, "But you can't say that what we shared was a lie. I just can't stop now, Serena, I've got to have you. I want you."
"I don't want be a homewrecker, damn it!" Serena shouted angrily.
"You can't possibly be a homewrecker if the home's already wrecked, Serena!" Walking up behind her, Darien clasped her shoulders and shook her.In the dim yellow lamplight he could make out her reflection in the glass window. Her face was pained, her eyes tortured, and he felt like a real creep for asking her to stay with him, but he had to have her. She somehow had become very important to him.
Peeling his fingers from her shoulders, Serena stepped away. Hugging her arms around her body, she fought the vulnerability that threatened to break her down—to relent and tell him that she too wanted to be with him, wanted to hold him, and to love him. But that was all a fantasy, a dream that could not come true. Gathering all her strength, she whirled around and looked him straight in the eye and declared, "No, you don't get it. There is a moral code among women, and you just don't sleep around with other women's men even if their marriage is on the rocks. I'm not some tramp, Darien!"
"Well sorry to burst your bubble, baby, but this is Hollywood and I think you can agree with me that the moral standards here are relatively low compared to yours."
"Just leave me alone, okay? I never asked for any of this." She pleaded hopelessly, knowing the victory was so far away from her grasp. He held all the power over her.
Serena recalled the first night she had came to his apartment, how he had overwhelmed her with his sweet romance. Oh sure Darien would deny that he actually had a romantic bone in his body, but it was there, somewhere deep in him. It was in the way he looked at her, and the intense way they seemed to see right into her; it was in the way he held her as they had danced at the restaurant, and the way the mere touch of his hands on hers sent tingles down her spine; and it was in the way he went out of his way to make sure she was enjoying herself, and the way the husky words he whispered to her made her knees go weak. Oh yes, Darien definitely knew how to make a girl feel romanced, even if he didn't know he was doing it.
She found that sexy; the subtle way in which he didn't even have to try to make her attracted to him. And just in the same way, Darien was a gentleman to the very word; his cultured air was bred in him—as though it were a natural gift bestowed on him by Nature herself. He was such a dynamic man, and Serena thought that that was for sure the reason she had succumbed to his sensual seduction. He was everything she had never encountered in a man back in her small town.
No wonder that night when she came here, that night that now seems so long ago, she had fallen into bed with him so willingly. Days later she had asked herself why she had done it; she had no answer. Now she knew.
It was because of him. Not his money, not his good lucks, not his power in the music industry, but it was his great charismatic personality that just drew her in like a hopeless moth to a burning flame. She immediately got a crush on him. Just like that. How like a silly teenager, to just jump before looking at the abyss below the cliff.
And now here she was. Caught up in a torrid love affair that was tearing her to pieces.
"Liar," he snarled, wrapping his arms around her fiercely, and dragging her to his warm chest. "You asked for all of this." He shushed her when she began to protest. "You asked for it when you smiled at me when I first met you in the hospital, and when you held my hand at the restaurant, and finally when you kissed me in the recording studio. God damn it, you drove me crazy with those pretty eyes, and soft caresses, and sweet mouth of yours. That sultry swagger of yours definitely also invited more than just a brief flirtation, honey. And that kiss, oh baby, don't pretend you didn't want any of this."
"I didn't know you were married!" Serena tried to push herself away, but couldn't get out of his iron grip.
"What difference does it make? Everything's still the same. I want you, and I know as sure as hell that you want me!"
"It makes all the difference," she began to sob against his chest, giving up all effort to fight. "You're a taken man—you've got a family!"
"Tell that to my wife, sweetheart, she doesn't give a damn, and quite frankly, I don't either." His voice was gruff, but as he looked down at her tear streaked face his voice gentled. He pushed her slightly away to wipe her tears away. "All I know right now is that I want you. Please don't cry."
She breathed a haggard sigh. "And what about your son?"
Exhaling in frustration, Darien crushed her back against him. To him, in his arms was where she was meant to be, where she belonged. For the past few weeks he was going crazy by the distance wedged between them. He hated being so close to her every day, yet not being able to simply be with her, talk to her, laugh with her. He didn't know how it happened but Serena somehow managed to become very important to him. How did he let that happen?
Vanessa never made him feel this way. In all the years that they had been married she had never inspired such agonizing longing from him—and to think he had cheated himself of this piece of heaven Serena was giving him, to think that he settled for less than love. For a moment he let himself wonder if this could possibly be love that he felt for her. In the end he discarded the thought, knowing from experience that love never really lived up to its name.
"Don't bring my son into this." He murmured agitatedly into her hair as he laid his head atop hers.
His grip was not as strong as before and Serena broke from his embrace. "No, Darien," She shook her head solemnly; "You brought him into this. And, honestly, I don't think I want any part of this—shh—I'm not talking about the attraction between us. I can't lie to you about that. You've got me wrapped around your finger 'cause I want you so bad, but there is no way I could have any other relationship with you outside S&F Records as long as you're still married. I don't care about your sleazy wife, but it's not fair to your son."
"Don't be impossible," he pleaded irritably, taking her hand in his. "He loves you."
"I know," she acknowledged heart wrenchingly, pulling her hand from his. She hugged herself, wrapping her hands tightly around her arms as though seeking comfort from an inner strength. "And that makes it all the more painful. I can't let him think of me as the woman who split up his parents'."
Darien opened his mouth to protest, but once again was cut off by Serena. "Probably unlike most of the girls you've been with Darien, I have enough self-respect to know that I deserve more than to be second in your life next to your loveless marriage."
Something in Darien snapped. His patience was wearing thin by her constant opposition. It was apparent to him that they belonged together, how come she just couldn't accept it?
"What do you want from me?" Darien roared furiously, throwing his hands up in the air. His eyes went sharp as he scrutinized her pleading face. He was sick and tired of her naïve ideas and ethics, sick of her innocent small-town-girl personality, sick of her damned "good girl" visage.
He cursed under his breath. Those are the very same qualities that he loved and respected about her.
"All that I want is for you to do the right thing," she answered calmly.
"And what, may I ask, do you think the right thing is? Should I file for divorce? Would that make you happy? Would that make it fair for my son? Would that make you want to go to bed with me again?"
She gasped at his vulgarity.
"What's a divorce going to do when our marriage is practically terminated anyways?"
"Your son deserves a healthy environment to live in. But about your marriage: finalize it and sign the papers, because I'm not going for another woman's—"
"I'm not her "man", what part of that don't you get?"
"Well, I'm sorry," she remarked dryly, "The law says differently."
"Well screw the law!"
"I'm sorry, I've never screwed two things at once, and damn it, you know you were my first and only."
At her lewd comment, Darien's eyes twinkled as he studied her infuriated face. "You little—" he had grabbed her and crushed his lips to hers before he could finish his thought.
Serena struggled against him, knowing that if she didn't break the kiss soon, she would probably give in and fall straight to bed with him. That was the power he had over her.
With one hand holding her wriggling wrists against his chest, and the other clenched in Serena's silky golden hair, Darien was doing his dog-garn best to make her return the kiss, to admit that there was an undeniable fire between them that just could not be put out as easily as she claimed.
His mouth gentled its assault on her lips. Slowly his kisses strayed away from her mouth on a sweet descent along her jaw to her smooth, creamy neck.
"You smell good," his voice was hoarse with emotion as he nuzzled her neck, knowing how she enjoyed this.
Don't let him do this to you, she told herself as she felt her defenses crumbling. "It's called perfume," she bit out through clenched teeth.
She could feel his hot breath against her skin and it made her shudder involuntarily. His low, rumbling chuckle tickled her neck. But then he started again. Serena nearly groaned as she felt his velvety tongue slither up against the base of her throat, only to stop and have his mouth suckle ever so gently and lovingly in its place. She was losing the battle; she just knew it. He knew everything about her; well, at least everything about her body. He knew just where to touch, just where to kiss, just where to press. She was powerless.
Darien noticed she had stopped fighting, her fists had gone motionless, and he took that as a sign of encouragement. He loved the way she felt against him, all warm and feminine. Though she may be thinking that he was only toying with her, she really had no idea how much of an affect she was having on him. Just the closeness of her was driving him up the wall and it was unbelievable to him that she did not know that. It wasn't she who was powerless. No. It was he.
As he gently brought his lips back to hers, he felt her relax for him, and he responded enthusiastically. He claimed her mouth in a firm but gentle kiss, unleashing his pent up desire. And when she began to respond, he felt his heart soar. Tenderly his tongue licked the seams of her lips, and when she parted her mouth he took her bottom lips between his and gently sucked. She moaned loudly, breath labored.
They jumped at the sound of Aiden's voice, shattering the sexual tension that had just begun to build.
Darien groaned, letting go of Serena. He looked down into her eyes as he felt her hands glide off his chest. Mirth sparkled in her sapphire eyes, and Darien was irritated that she could find this funny.
"Don't you dare laugh," he commanded, grabbing her forehead and touching his to hers in a sweet gesture.
That did it. She laughed like a crazy fiend.
Frowning darkly at her, Darien stepped away from her shaking form and walked towards the light of the foyer. "What is it, Aiden?" He called to his son, who was poking his head over the top of the banister on the second floor.
"Oh nothing," Aiden replied with a big smile on his face, "It's just that it got really quiet, and I was just wondering…"
From behind him Darien could hear Serena break into new bouts of laughter and he couldn't help but crack a smile too. "Don't worry about us down here," Darien reprimanded, "Just finish your homework."
"But I'm done," Aiden protested.
"Really?" Darien asked disbelievingly. He watched as his son nodded his head slowly. "Do you want me to come up there and check?" He threatened, placing his hands stubbornly on his waist.
"Hey Darien," Serena said from behind him. "I think I'm going to go now."
"I've got to get some sleep or I won't be able to wake up tomorrow to go to the studio," she explained, taking her coat off the rack and draping it over her arm.
"Dad," Aiden called to Darien.
"Hold on a minute, Aiden, I'm talking to Serena," Darien scolded.
"No, really, Darien," Serena smiled softly, "I've got to go. You take care of your son. Just tell me what I left here so I can take it and go."
The look of confusion on Darien's face confirmed Serena's suspicions. He had made up that lie just to get her here. She decided to play along. "Remember," she said smugly, "You said I left something at your place. That's the only reason why I came."
Serena was disappointed when he replied nonchalantly, "Oh yeah," and he pointed to somewhere behind her, "It's on the piano behind you."
She turned about to see what it was and saw a brown lunch bag folded neatly on top of the pearly white grand piano, the center piece of the living room. As Serena walked towards it she could see her name written on it with an almost illegible scrawl, resembling that of an elementary student. She laughed and turned around to thank Aiden.
"Serena we're not done talking," Darien said to her as he walked her to the door.
"Oh yes we are," Serena opposed obstinately. "We're done." She opened the door and just before leaving she turned around to wave goodbye to Aiden.
"I'll talk to you tomorrow," Darien called after her as she walked down the hall towards the elevator.
It was ten o'clock by the time Serena got home to her apartment. With the brown paper bag still unopened she threw it onto her bed and began to get ready to sleep. She took a shower, put on her pajamas, brushed her teeth, washed her face and brushed her hair—by the time she was settled and comfortable under her bed sheets she had nearly forgotten about the brown lunch bag.
Lying back against her pillow, she reached over to her side and pulled the bag into view of the yellow glow of the lamp by her nightstand. She wondered what could possibly be inside and resigned herself to opening it to find out. Carefully she removed the tape pinning down the opening, not wanting to ruin the cute little drawings that Aiden had done all over the bag. When she got the tape off, she folded over the flap and looked inside. Horror struck her as she saw the content of the bag. A shrill scream erupted from her throat as she dropped the bag onto her bed.
Hidden inside the bag was her pink Hello-Kitty underwear.
End Note: So what did you think? I know I'm venturing into some controversial issues here, but I don't mean anything by it. I'm definitely not condoning adultery, but for the sake of this story it suits the purpose. Please review and share with me your thoughts. All criticisms are welcomed.