Finally! A new chapter- sorry for the long wait. Enjoy :) Or not. I can't make you ;)


4 days since we'd arrived in New York.

3 and a half days since I decided I would quit the club. I knew it was coming, but when Ally turned up, I felt an overwhelming urge to protect what's mine. I don't want to share him with anyone, and I could finally see how things would look from Tyler's perspective- he didn't want me touching other men and I most certainly didn't want other girls pining after him.

3 days since I'd last seen Tyler naked. And yes, he had been taking special precautions to ensure that he remains hidden from my view when sans clothes.

2 and a half days since I realised I am one horny motherfucker. Perhaps that was why I worked at the club so long, although the money was definitely a big motivation as well.

2 days since I realised that I could drive Tyler crazy just by licking my lips. And when I add my fluttering eyelashes into the mix… well let's just say a man can only have so much resistance. He'll crack soon. And if he doesn't, I most certainly will.

Yesterday was spent sightseeing. But now we're getting ready to go out to, gulp, Tyler's mother's house.

He assures me that I've nothing to worry about, that she'll love me and so will his sister.

The problem is that I've never been invited to meet my boyfriend's parent. Hell, I've never even had a boyfriend as such. Well, at least not one that has meant as much to me as Tyler does.

There's so much about me she could disapprove of- my job, although I'm not planning on her finding out- if only I could find my phone then I would have nothing to worry about.

Apart from the fact that I would be unemployed and out of education. Oh god, all these bad scenarios keep popping up in my mind. I just can't seem to win.

"She'll love you, Mallory, stop worrying." Tyler's tells me as I check myself in the mirror for the billionth time, running through my mental checklist once again.

Hair- down, slightly wavy. Dress- long enough not to scream out I'm a stripper! but short enough to show that I can have a little fun. Shoes – flats, knowing me I would trip up and end up sprawled on the floor if I wore heels. Make –up – minimal, but enough to show that I've made an effort.

I catch Tyler's eye in the reflection and force a smile, hoping it will be enough to prove that I'm not a complete wimp. He's wearing faded jeans with a black shirt- simple, but enough to make me want to rip the clothes off his body.

"Although your smile would usually be enough to make you seem at ease," Tyler starts knowingly, his eyes twinkling, "the fact that you haven't exhaled in over a minute gives the game away."

I'm momentarily confused, but then I feel the burning in my lungs and gulp in the air when I realise I've been holding my breath.

"Now, for the last time, you're going to be fine," he takes my hand in his and gently pulls me away from the mirror.

I groan in protest. As much as I want to meet Tyler's family and see the house he grew up in, I just can't help thinking something terrible is going to happen. What if his mother forbids us to continue to see each other? Or his sister decides that she hates me?

"You're doing it again," Tyler states, snapping me out of my thoughts.

"Doing what?" I ask nonchalantly, concentrating intently on walking to the car. Left foot. Right foot. I can do this, everything will be okay I try to persuade myself.

"Over analysing everything," he tells me as he opens the passenger door for me. I climb in and wait until he's settled in his seat.

"Sorry," I mumble, "I'm just nervous I guess."

"We've been over this, you have absolutely no need to be worried." He says, reaching over and taking my hand in his, "It should be me who's worrying- who knows what tales of my childhood she'll spurt out!" He chuckles and gives my hand one last comforting squeeze before releasing it and starting up the engine.

I try to concentrate on what's happening through the window- but it proves to hold no interest for me whatsoever and my mind keeps wandering back to all the terrible things that could potentially happen this evening.

After what seems like only a few seconds have passed, we're already parking in front of the house. I'd been too busy worrying about what could happen to build up any expectations of the house, but from the outside it seemed very homely and warm - there was even a doormat outside the front door reading, "Home sweet home."

Tyler opens the car door for me and I climb out, adjust my dress and ruffle my hair a little.

"Ready?" He holds out his hand which I willingly take, touching him makes me feel safer and more confident.

"As I'll ever be." I smile and we walk to the front door, butterflies seem to be having a party in my stomach and I have to restrain myself from running back to the car and hiding away curled up in a ball.

Before Tyler has even rung the bell the door flies open and then, before I can even comprehend what's happening, we're standing face to face with his mother.

She has a friendly face, the type with wrinkles from smiling so much. Her hair is down and falls in slight waves and her eyes twinkle just like Tyler's do.

"Sweetie! How are you, oh I've missed you so much!" She squeals out and attacks Tyler in a huge hug, forcing him to let go of my hand. But I don't mind, they both look so happy to see each other, I don't even try to stop the enormous grin spread across my face.

"Woah, hi Mom! I'm great, how're you doing? Where's Caroline?" Tyler pulls back from the hug to look into the house, presumably for his sister, but she's not there.

"She'll be down in a minute honey, she's just making sure she looks extra nice for our visitor this evening," she turns round and looks pointedly at me, "Caroline's so excited to meet you Mallory, she's curled her hair and worn her prettiest dress!" She continues to babble excitedly, and I sneak a glance at Tyler who runs his hand through his hair and smiles sheepishly at me.

I switch my focus back to his mom, making sure I'm still smiling sweetly – first impressions are important.

"…she even drew a picture for you! Did Tyler tell you she draws, because she's such a wonderful artist-"

"Mom! You're scaring her!" Tyler interrupts. He walks to my side, "Mallory, I'd like you to meet my Mom, Diane, Mom, this is Mallory."

He looks expectantly at me and I realise now I really have to start talking, "It's great to meet you," I say politely and before I can say anything else she hugs me. Well that was unexpected. I'm quickly learning that she's the hugging type.

Her arms are still wrapped around me when she starts talking, "It's so lovely to finally meet the girl who's made my boy so happy!"

I feel myself blush and avoid looking at Tyler. Diane pulls away, "Oh I'm being so rude! Please, come inside you two!"

We follow her inside the house. Tyler takes my hand once again and we're lead through to the dining room.

"Please take a seat, dinner's almost ready." She says and disappears into the kitchen leaving us alone.

We sit down next to each other on the far side if the table in silence. I know Tyler is looking at me, trying to figure out how I'm feeling, but the truth is, even I don't know what to make of everything yet.

I know Tyler would only ever want me to be honest with him, but I feel a lot of pressure to make sure this night goes perfectly and gain the go ahead from his mom. Needless to say, it means a lot to the both of us.

"Mallory, what-"

"Tyler!" A high pitched voice interrupts Tyler, shortly followed by a little girl bounding into the room.

"Caroline!" Tyler jumps up to see her. He picks her up and spins her around, it may just be the cutest thing I've ever seen.

Their faces look so happy as they hug each other and I find myself thinking about having kids with Tyler. Stupid, I know, as that would be a huge step and a very long way off. But the way the young girl's face lit up when he spun her around was almost too much to handle. Images of Tyler holding our baby warmed my heart. Would we ever get to that stage?

"Earth to Mallory…" Tyler's hand was waving in front of my face, snapping me back to reality.

"Caroline, say hello to Mallory," he said putting Caroline back on the ground.

"Hi Mallory!" She said to me sweetly.

"Hey, I love your dress," I replied, knowing she'd put a lot of effort into her outfit.

Caroline blushed and Tyler beamed at me.

"Thanks, I like yours too," she said, I was surprised at how polite she was for such a young girl.

There was an awkward silence. My experience with children was zilch so I had no idea what to say. Then, for the second time that night my thoughts wandered to those of children with Tyler. What if I was a terrible mom? I hadn't really had a good mother figure in my life to look up to. Plus the fact I'd been a stripper since the age of sixteen meant I had never even contemplated the idea of having kids. The only interaction I'd had with a baby was when a girl at work got pregnant and she'd brought the baby into the club to meet us all. She never came back after maternity leave because she was too busy looking after the baby by herself as the father had run off once he'd heard the news. The though of raising a kid single-handedly had terrified me. What if Tyler left me? How would I cope?

I shook my head clear of the unwelcome thoughts and looked at Tyler expectantly, willing him to say something.

"Caroline, why don't you go see if Mom needs any help in the kitchen?"

"Um…okay," she looked a bit confused but went to the kitchen anyway.

Once she was out of ear shot I turned to Tyler, "She's really nice, they both are," I said smiling, still trying to not think about getting pregnant and Tyler leaving me.

He looked at me sceptically, probably sensing that something was wrong.

He sat back down beside me and held my hand under the table. "Will you tell me what's wrong?" He asked with puppy dog eyes which I couldn't refuse.

"Nothing's wrong, why would you think anything's wrong? I'm fine, really." I babbled trying to avoid eye contact with him. I swear he could see straight through me when he looked into my eyes.

He opened his mouth to say something, but Diane and Caroline came in with plates of delicious looking food, effectively ending our conversation.

I risked a sideways glance at Tyler. He looked slightly frustrated. I wanted to make him happy again, to see him smile as big as when he hugged Caroline, not make him angry.

I mentally kicked myself and dug into the food that we'd been served, knowing I needed to talk to him in private later.

"This is really good." I said after swallowing a mouthful of potato.

"Thank you honey," Diane looked proud of herself, "So, tell us about yourself, where do you work?"

"NO." Tyler shouted, making us all jump. "I, I mean, that's a bit personal don't you think mom?" He snapped at her.

I felt guilty that Tyler had to cover it up like that. But I also felt slightly offended that he'd been so quick to interrupt, was he really that ashamed of me? He knew I was going to quit as soon as I found my phone, couldn't we just say that I was between jobs?

Diane looked shocked at Tyler's outburst, "Calm down Tyler, you know better than to raise your voice at me," she told him sternly.

I stayed quiet and continued to eat my food. Then she addressed me again, "Where are you from Mallory? That is, if I have the permission of my son to ask you that." She said sarcastically.

"Well I grew up in Florida, then New Orleans with my foster parents and then moved to Vegas when I was 17."

I wasn't technically fostered, but Doug and Lois were the closest things to parents I had. I hadn't told Tyler about them. I hadn't needed to, it'd never come up in conversation. But now I felt as though maybe I should have told him before, I knew he'd have a lot of questions for me as soon as we got back.

Diane nodded politely, probably not wanting to ask about my real parents in case it was a sensitive subject for me. But it wasn't. It's fairly simple- I was an accident, a mistake. I was born in Florida where I grew up having to look after myself. I never met my father and my mother tried to convince herself that I wasn't hers by repeatedly ignoring me and getting drunk every day. When I was old enough to realise she was an alcoholic, I knew I had to leave. I soon realised that fending for myself wasn't possible without money. So, I faked my age and managed to get work in clubs around New Orleans which was where I'd ended up after hitching lifts until I was sure that my mum could never find me again. I met Doug and Lois when I was 16 and they took me under their wing. But I was scarred from years of neglect and couldn't believe that they wanted to actually help me. Then, thinking they were playing some sick joke by letting me live with them, I ran away to Las Vegas. Only recently have I realised that they were trying to be nice, for reasons I still don't know. I still call them once in a while. They say they like to hear my voice because I remind them of someone. I don't know what they're talking about.

Conversation at the dinner table was pretty much dead. I could tell Tyler was still pissed off because he was noisily drumming his fingers against the wood of the table.

Diane cleared the empty plates away and Caroline followed her into the kitchen, probably wanting to escape the uncomfortable atmosphere.

Tyler and I didn't talk. We just waited.

His mom and sister came back in and sat down.

"So…" Diane started, "How's therapy going Tyler?"

Therapy? What?

I look at Tyler confused.

He pinches the bridge of his nose and exhales loudly.

"Mom, you know I don't like talking about that. And I don't go anymore anyway."

Go where? Why?

"Why don't you go anymore? I can tell just from tonight that you still need it. You know ever since-"

"SHUT UP!" Tyler yelled, growing increasingly angrier by the second.

I had no idea what was going on and why he was so affected by this subject.

"Tyler! Don't shout at me." She turned to me, "I'm sorry Mallory, I'm sure you're used to this by now. "

"Um…no, not really…" I was so confused trying to make sense of what was happening.

Tyler had therapy.

Why?

He didn't go anymore.

Why?

It was Diane's turn to look confused, "Well, I'm surprised by that! He's had a hard time dealing with his anger issues—"

"MOM!" He was louder this time and slammed his fists on the table.

"What?" She looked shocked, "You haven't told her?"

"NO!" He seemed at a loss of what to say. But he was still fuming. His face was red with anger and fists were curled up tightly on the table.

Anger issues? Tyler?

"Tyler," his mom started calmly, "It's ok to let people in, it's completely understandable considering the circumstances. Ever since—"

"DON'T say it. Don't even THINK about it!" He stood up abruptly, his chair scraping noisily across the floor, and strode out the room.

"Seems as though the therapy wasn't working anyway," Diane sighed. "I'm surprised he didn't tell you about his anger problems. I'm even more surprised you hadn't figured it out yet! Maybe you do bring out the best of him…" She trailed off.

Caroline was still sitting there quietly, she had a few tears running down her cheek.

"Mom, please can I leave the table?"

"Of course sweetie, "she said, noticing the distress her daughter was in.

Caroline scurried off out the room so just me and Diane were left. I was still bewildered by what had just happened. Tyler hadn't shown any signs of anger problems with me. And what was his mom going to say, ever since… what?

"Um, I think I'll go check on Tyler," I excused myself from the table and went into the hallway, not knowing where to look for him.

Luckily I didn't have to look far. I found him in their front room, sitting on the sofa with his head in his hands. He was breathing deeply, trying to calm down.

I closed the door behind me and quietly sat down next to him. He might not want me here after all, I'd never seen him like this before.

"Tyler…" I started, seeing if I'd get a response.

"Tyler, baby?" I used his nickname for me, hoping that he'd like it as much as I did. I reached out and gently stroked his back.

At first he flinched away from me, but after a few moments he seemed to relax.

I moved closer and wrapped my arm around him. I needed to comfort him, I hated seeing him this upset and angry.

"Mallory…"

"I'm right here, Tyler, look at me." I coaxed.

He slowly lifted his head out of his hands and turned to me.

He faced me with the most heart wrenchingly sad expression I'd ever seen. His cheeks were tear stained and his eyes were red from crying.

I felt myself tear up too, but blinked them away so I would seem strong.

I pulled him into a hug. I didn't care whether he had anger issues or not, he had been nothing but a gentleman to me.

"I'm so sorry Mallory," he sobbed into my shoulder, "I should have told you."

"It seems like we've both been keeping some secrets," I laughed, thinking about how much we still didn't know about each other.

"And," I continued, "I don't care about the anger thing Tyler." I had to make sure he knew that.

He pulled back from the hug. "Mallory, I need to tell you something."

"What is it?"

"You remember the first time I told you that I loved you?"

I nodded my head, happily remembering one of my fondest memories.

"Well," he took a deep breath and looked me directly in the eyes, "I lied."