Found this in the back of my hard drive so I polished it up, added some details and here it is! Enjoy and please R&R!
My heart is racing out of pure lust the closer he gets to me because I can see where this is going and at this point, I have no desire to stop it. Tyler sets the glass of scotch down on the table with a clink and slowly leans in; he's apprehensive. About my reaction, I imagine. The smirk returns to my face, and my grip on the back of my couch tightens, knuckles even paler - if that's possible. As his lips barely touch mine with a smile, a certain blonde's face pops up in my mind. I'm doing this for Emily, I'm doing this for Emily, I'm doing this for Emily; I repeat the mantra in my head. But it's been so long, so long, since I've had someone to share my bed and share my life with, that even though I know he's a conman and that this is his specialty, my body can't tell the difference. My lips part easily, receptive to his touch as the kiss becomes more forceful. My brain is screaming at me to stay focused; stay clear-headed. But when he shifts his hands to grip the collar of my shirt - a royal blue one - and pulls me tighter against him, my brain loses; my body tells it to shut the hell up as I wrap an arm behind his neck. Why can't I enjoy myself while doing Emily's bidding? Two birds with one stone...For a second I wonder what she would think if she barged in right now, uninvited, as she has a habit of doing. The thought brings a smirk to my face, lending its devious intent to the kiss. Tyler's hands leave my collar and push me back against the arm of the couch as slip under my shirt. His skin is cold and sharp against my chest; my mouth releases a moan without my permission. I can feel his lips curl into a tight smile against mine, and it's enough to snap me back into reality.
This is a game. You're conning the con. I am determined to gain back control, and decide that the best way to do it is to catch him off guard. So I let my tongue slip into his mouth and have to stop myself from rolling my eyes at his exaggerated moan as he meets it with his. Really, Ty? Who do you think you're fooling here? It's not as if I doubt my abilities, but the fake noises don't exactly work wonders for my pride. I abruptly break the kiss and stand up, his hands slipping out from under my shirt. He's watching me closely from the couch, his smile still there, but I can see the guardedness of his eyes. He's wondering if he's gone too fast, pushed me away and lost the game. I smile. Well, he's about to. And the poor bastard won't even know it. Leaning down, I wind my hand around his tie and kiss him, pulling him up toward me. I can feel the relief in his body as I lead him away from the downstairs guest bedrooms - where no guests ever stay - and into my own room, my own bed. My hand is on the back of his head, his lips pressed against my neck; breathing hard as he gently pushes me down onto the bed and tears off both our shirts. I take in a sharp breath as his lips leave marks along my chest; another moan escapes my mouth. My eyes are following him, but they dart up quickly to my right. I smirk when I see the glowing red light of ever-so-loyal Shamu on the nightstand next to me. I grab Tyler's hair and pull him back up, kissing him hard, determined to win this little game. For Emily, of course. Always for Emily. As his hands drift down to my belt, the smirk on my face grows wider. He is not making it to that dinner tonight.
Afterward, I get about 20 minutes of Tyler lying in bed next to me, our legs and sheets all tangled together. He doesn't want to stay too long or leave too early; it's an art. I can feel his heat and the smell of expensive cologne mixing with my own as he turns to me with a puzzled face; it's then that I realize I'm grinning like an idiot. Part of it's the pleasure, but part of it is knowing I've done well tonight, keeping Tyler occupied and away from the Graysons. I understand how Emily feels after each take down, knowing she's won this battle in the bigger war. She warns me all the time that her revenge isn't a game, but it is. And so is this, whatever it was, with Tyler tonight. I've learned to guard my emotions, keep them as far away from men like Tyler as I can, but I still have to play the game, and it's one with high stakes. So as Tyler adjusts his tie and I watch, my silk robe hanging open, I grab his perfectly smoothed down collar and pull him in for a long, lingering kiss that he doesn't fight as I taste the scotch on his lips. He pulls back and gives me a practiced smile – I've seen enough of Emily's to know what it is – as he runs an almost tender finger down the length of my jaw. I shudder as he backs away to leave, the smile still in place. It makes me uneasy, like I'm one of Emily's targets, unsuspecting prey. She never uses it with me. Politeness isn't an integral part of our relationship but I happily trade it for the realness we have with each other. I hear Big Ed show Tyler out, heat rising to my cheeks. I'd forgotten about my bodyguard. It's certainly not my sexuality that I'm ashamed of, and worse men than Tyler have shared my bed, but I can't help feeling like I should be feigning some sense of decorum for my bodyguard. I shake my head. The Hamptons' societal expectations seem to be getting to me. I shake off the concern and collapse back onto my bed with my laptop.
I wake up to the sound of an electronic ringtone blaring from my nightstand. Groaning at the ridiculously early hour, I roll over and lazily press it to my ear, deciding to let my exasperation with Emily show to her.
"Nolan here, and extremely annoyed at being woken up at such an ungodly hour, not to mention twice in one day." I'd actually managed to go back to sleep for a couple hours after Ems dropped off her little twin at my house at sunrise.
"Part of the deal, Nolan." Her smooth voice intones. She sounds awake and alert.
"24-hour tech support?" Even in the morning, I refuse to lose whatever edge I may have with her. I can almost see her rolling her eyes and glancing up the stairs for signs of her boyfriend. I sit up, rubbing the sleep from my eyes as her skeptical demand drifts though:
"Did you fix the picture of me at the 2002 New Year's Eve party like I asked?"
"Come on Ems, you know me better than that. It was all done and sealed 20 minutes after you stopped by."
"Emily?" I can hear Daniel's voice calling from the background, his naivete and sheer stupidity radiating through the call. I bite my tongue to stifle the mocking comment at his expense. "Gotta go." The line's disconnected before I can think about what she wanted to say. Shrugging, I toss the sheets off my body and stretch out my sore limbs, a smile drifting onto my face at the memory of last night. I glance at Shamu and pause, considering it, but eventually decide against it. Not right now, Nolan. I think. You just woke up. I pat Shamu on the head and sleepily make my way towards my extravagant bathroom, attached to the bedroom. I'm halfway there when I smell the scent of my shampoo and soap drifting from the bathroom. I freeze just outside the door, taking in the foggy mirrors and dripping shower. Someone's been in here.
"Hello? Emily's...twin?" I call hesitantly, though I know it's unlikely. She's got a whole guest bedroom and en-suite bathroom to herself downstairs; what the hell would she want in my bedroom? Besides, from the cameras I planted in that room, the girl's still asleep. I'm extremely tempted to call her Fauxmanda, due to her uncanny resemblance to a young Amanda Clarke, but on the off chance that she's the one in here with me, I hold my tongue. I don't trust many people, but her especially; she seems unstable and sneaky. I step closer towards the bathroom. "It's times like these I need a gun, damn it!" I voice my frustration out loud.
"Of course, it'd be nice to be able to shoot it, too." I whip around, utterly shocked to see the creature before me standing in my room. Said creature happens to be Tyler Barroll, with one of my very expensive towels wrapped around his waist, fresh out of a shower in my bathroom.
"And you would know about my skills with guns how exactly?" I fold my arms across my chest defiantly, but he simply steps closer and tilts his head into a teasing, somewhat condescending stance.
"Come on, Nolan. Guy like you? No chance in hell." He chuckles and brushes by me.
"Oh and I suppose you're a great shot." He gives me a look like it's the most obvious thing in the world. Harvard business student, conman, gun-enthusiast. Who wouldn't have made the connection? "Would you do me the pleasure of explaining why the hell you are in my house? Because I very particularly remember you walking out that door." I point a long, pale finger at the nautical themed entrance to my chamber of secrets.
"Ah, yes, and leaving you all alone. You didn't really want that though, did you?" I stiffen at his jab, but stand tall, using my height as an advantage. He sighs. "I did go back to the Graysons last night, but snuck out this morning."
"Leaving your pretty little girlfriend behind?" I tease, unable to resist. His jaw tightens.
"Unfortunately. But-" He takes a step closer, his naked chest pale in the morning light."I think we both agree this is a much more beneficial arrangement."
"Mmmm.." I sigh, then step back.
"Besides, the pool house was empty without Danny last night. Your pal Emily's got quite a hold on him." Pal? To the outside world, Emily and I are acquaintances, traveling in the same social circles because of our wealth; not even Jack knows how deep the connection goes. It's a secret I'd like to keep safe, much like any negotiation with Tyler. "Plus, anything to avoid another minute with that despicable family." I raise my eyebrows in surprise; his tone sparks of true disgust. I have to admit, the man has ambition that I find myself drawn to, admiring it. At the very least, he can see through the deception and utter bullshit that comprise the Graysons. But at the same time, Tyler is definitely an opportunist, much like Ashley, not that I can claim to have risen to the top without stepping on a few throats, even with David's help. "And I-" he takes two steps this time, hooking a finger under a button on my pajama shirt. (Yes, I wear pajamas. Got a problem?) "actually missed you." It's not hard to guess his next step, his next con. But the truth is, it's nice having it all out in the open, both of us aware of the game yet willing to play it. So I lean in and press my lips fully against his, something beginning to stir inside my chest, something different from arousal. His fingers curl silently around my collar and I let mine wander the knobs of his spine on his bare back. Early morning kisses are not a part of my routine, unfortunately because most of my...ahem...lovers don't spend the night. I'm enjoying the peculiarity and softness of it when a beeping brings me out of the haze. I pull back, breaking the kiss, leaving an inch of space between us.
"You smell good," I murmur, as a knowing smile plays on my lips.
"I've always been told you have superb olfactory senses." He whispers as he grips the back of my neck, but again the touch is light.
"By whom?" I purr back. Before he can answer, the damn beeping starts up again. I suppress a sigh and pull out of his hold, thoroughly regretting my choice, to see my Nolpad lit up. I slide it off the table and deftly run my fingers over it, tapping arbitrary buttons here and there. I'm showing off a little, I'll admit, but it's nice when you actually have an audience, and Tyler's eyes are trained on me the entire time. My eyes widen in a slight panic when I realized the beeping was from the cameras in Emily's bff's room. The girl is up and moving, first to the bathroom, then the living room, admiring it, now moving to the kitchen for breakfast. I turn to Tyler like a deer in headlights, to see him looking expectantly at me. I can't have her catching us and then reporting back to Emily like the loyal little lapdog she no doubt is. Who knows what kind of mind games Ems has played her with?
"You need to go."
"Whoa, what? Oh come on, don't tell me you didn't enjoy my surprise visit." He tries to protest with a coy smile. I roll my eyes and give his chest a gentle push towards the door. He holds his hands up in surrender. "Wait, if this is about me breaking in, I mean I think you can understand-"
"It's not about that, just go." My blue eyes take in the bed, the dresser, the desk, searching for garments that he must have brought. "Where are your clothes?" His forehead crinkles in confusion, but he points silently, and I snatch up the components of a suit. He slips them on, throwing off the towel, not that I care. He loops the tie around his neck and I tie it; watching him fumble with it starting to irritate me. As I'm tightening it around his neck, my mind begins spinning. This is strangely domestic. What the hell have I gotten into with this guy? I give the tie a final smooth down, and practically push him out the back door, on the opposite side of the house from the kitchen, where Mystery Girl still lurks. He lingers in the doorway, and when I move to close the door, he plants a peck on my lips and slinks out as a warmth spreads through me. I slam the door shut with confusion, relief, and annoyance. I have allowed myself to be played. I've become the conned. But for some reason, I find myself less bothered by this than I might have. In a loyalty contest, Emily, thanks to David, beats out my new boy-toy. But why not let myself have some fun and for once, give into my feelings? The dangerous thoughts are running through my head at warp speed, and I've just decided to do it, hide it from Emily and start something with Tyler when I hear Mystery Girl bound up the stairs and find me slumped on the floor in my PJs.
"You ok?" She gives me a quizzical look. I snap out of my funk.
"Yeah, yeah, I'm fine. Just woke up." I make a show out of standing up slowly, yawning, and stretching my long limbs. She eyes me, not suspicious, but amused, as many people are by me.
"Good, because you're out of strawberries." She turns and skips confidently back down the stairs as I pull myself together, snorting at the irony. Strawberries...so much for being Emily's twin.
"Well, well, well. Look who's in a demanding mood." I purse my lips together, my eyes scanning the door of the pool house to make sure we're alone. I am seriously starting to regret giving up a small amount of the leverage I had in this relationship by asking Tyler for inside information on Grayson Global . Conrad's decided to double up on cybersecurity and while I enjoy a hacking challenge, Ems has kept me plenty busy with other things in her revengenda, and I'm not in the mood to cross her on this request of hers. "You know, after the way you practically kicked me out a couple days ago, and that too after I so generously decided to spend more time with you, well. I'm not so inclined to help you." Despite his words, he moves closer, the irises of his eyes boring into mine. "Besides, I think we should keep our distance, at least until Ashley calms down." This makes me roll my eyes in annoyance. One little (and rather amusing, from my end) exposé of his sexual flexibility and he gets all shy?
"Your girlfriend problems and public persona are none of my concern, Tyler." His eyes darken, the color shifting from caramel to dark chocolate.
"They better be. Remember, I can break this deal any time I want." This makes me almost laugh out loud. I step closer, my finger tracing his cheekbone.
"It's cute when you try to threaten me." His eyes narrow as a hand reaches out to keep the distance growing between us. I smirk. "Besides, I don't think you or Ashley want me to open my mouth about what you're really doing." He grits his teeth, and even though my threat found its mark, a small corner of my heart deflates. Some public, romanticized love affair certainly was not the objective nor the expectation I had when I got involved with Tyler. I gave up the fantasies of a classic domestic life long ago, but as I see the change in Tyler from the one who showed up at my house a couple days ago, all soft and real yet still with an edge, my mind flashes back to the way he kissed me. I can't help it. Too many lonely hours, too much time to wonder what could have been if Tyler hadn't been a conman and I hadn't been involved in Emily's plan. What could have happened if we were just ordinary citizens...I bring myself out of the thoughts. We are not ordinary and nothing is random, as Ems so kindly reminds me every now and then. I started this for a purpose, and it grew, at least for me.
"Fine. I'll help you. One USB drive of files, nothing more." I pout childishly, satisfied with the arrangement but always willing to get more.
"That's all? Come on, Ty, you're not exactly staying with Conrad for the most noble reasons."
"I'm ambitious, same as you once were." And still am. It takes commitment and ambition to push the boundaries at NolCorp, not to mention the moral boundaries of ruining people's lives.
"I can see that." I smile and start towards the door but am stopped by him calling out:
"Nolan." His eyes are caramel again, the tones of his voice relaxed as his face breaks into a genuine smile. "See you tonight?"
I roll lazily in bed onto my side, facing Tyler, my breathing and heart rate finally back to normal. He's smiling, looking up the ceiling, my sheets twisted around his bare legs and mine. I shift my gaze upwards with his, my mind going blank, which is why I don't hear it at first when he speaks.
"I've been doing this for a long time." His voice is a whisper, softer than I've ever heard, so real it scares me. I don't respond. "I wasn't lying when I said I needed the money." My body goes completely still, waiting for some admission of him stealing from me to pay off his debts.
"How much did you take?" I ask bluntly, wanting the wound to come fast. He turns to me with a puzzled expression, hurt stirring beneath it.
"I didn't take any from you, Nolan. That's what I'm trying to tell you." My breath catches in my throat.
"Well, our agreement paid off in other ways." I glance at my desk, where the files are uploading onto my computer. I'm relieved when he smirks at that, but his expression quickly reverts to somber.
"I didn't take any from Daniel either. But that's only because I needed him to trust me. I needed a way into Global." I nod.
"And what about me? Why didn't you take any from me? Because I'd expose you?" The weakness in my voice at the question would have irritated me a week ago, but now I want him to hear it, I want it to break him so that he's honest with me. He turns on his side and we face each other, his fingers reaching out to trace patterns on the back of my hand. A shiver runs down my naked spine.
"Yes. At first. But then..." He doesn't continue, and I can see his cheeks beginning to burn, and soon our glowing faces mimic each others'. It's ridiculous and foolish, the shyness of us both. "I don't want to explain." His voice has dropped two levels, barely audible.
"Then don't." I pull him closer and kiss him, not caring about anything but the feel of his lips against mine, how he winds his fingers through my hair as I caress his neck. His lips leave mine in favor of my collarbone, tender, heated lips touching everywhere. I don't hold back on the moan that escapes, feeling a vibration somewhere. I'm confused and aroused until I realize that, quite mundanely, it's my cell phone. I groan, not wanting anything to do with my technology at the moment. But the device is relentless, it's nearly impossible to concentrate on anything but its incessant buzzing.
"Don't answer it." His voice is a desperate plea, fueled by emotion even I can see he hasn't felt in a while as he nuzzles my neck. Loyalty wins out once I see the called I.D. I slip away from Tyler's body, hearing him groan in exasperation as I climb out of bed, not trusting myself to stay. Grabbing a button down shirt and some shorts, I slip out the door, pulling my clothes on as I talk.
"Possibly the worst time in the world, Ems."
"Why, were you too busy rolling around with your new boy-toy?" My blood turns to ice, my jaw goes slack as I pace outside my bedroom, shutting the door.
"Save it." She snaps. "How long did you think you could hide this from me? You made it about two weeks. Not bad."
"What do you want?" I'm annoyed at myself and at her, and want nothing but to crawl back into bed and spend the night warm under the sheets with Tyler. An unusual tone overtakes her voice, something I recognize as fear running through it.
"Nolan, you need to get out of there."
"I found the video of you and Tyler." My cheeks flush; I'm massively glad she can't see me. "So I went to search the pool house, in case he had a copy to use against you. And me, by default. Nolan, I found Clozapine." She pauses dramatically.
"Ems, it's late at night, and I'm really not in the mood. Can you just spit it out?"
"He's schizophrenic, Nolan. Clozapine treats schizophrenia. When I left, I saw him tearing the pool house apart and smashing the mirror. He's dangerous, and I don't want you anywhere near him. Get out. Make up an excuse and go, and call Big Ed. I'm on my way over." She leaves with an abrupt bleep, leaving me listening in shock to if you'd like to make a call...I put down the phone and slowly open the door to my bedroom to find my bed empty. My heart rate begins to rise again.
"You taped us?" I whirl around, horrified to see Tyler standing behind the doorway with my laptop, its screen with the video facing me. His voice burns with rage and a sense of betrayal I am all too familiar with.
"Why would you do that? How could you?"
"Look, let's just calm down, all right?" I hold my hands up in surrender, inching toward the door, fumbling for my phone. He shakes his head.
"I always knew you were a sick bastard. Knew I shouldn't trust you." He's schizophrenic, I remind myself. He doesn't mean it. The reassurances, sadly, are more to protect my emotions than my physical being, even as he slips his hand into his pants pocket and pulls out a knife. Its blade gleams in the moonlight seeping in from the window. "What, did you keep the video around for pleasure? Well you should know I certainly didn't get any from our little...tryst." People say things they don't mean when they get desperate. They unleash words that are meant to hurt, meant to throw their opponent off guard. For all the men and women that I have been with over the years, all the walls I've put up to block just that sort of thing out, I can't seem to do it in that moment. The cut runs deep, and I have to force back salty tears from leaving my eyes. Stupid. Stupid, stupid, stupid. The anger at myself comes out at him.
"What about you? Conman, opportunist, just like the others. If I'd known earlier about how crazy you really were, I never would have gotten involved." It's a lie. Where I was moments ago, I would have forgiven him for not telling me about his illness. I shudder at the thought, at how tight his hold was on me. He tilts his head to the side, a mocking smile replacing the gentle one on his face just minutes ago.
"Too late." He's right, I see his arm swing down too late. The slash comes fast, stings as it cuts through my cotton shirt, and I cry out in pain. I watch, awed, as blood seeps from the cut, a deep red stain where there were only stripes.
"Tyler-" His rage-driven, mad eyes are the last thing I see before he falls to the ground. In front of me Emily stares down at him, darkness coloring her features.
"I'll call Ed. Let him get Tyler out of here." Her voice is clinical, cold. Not for the first time, it bothers me. But my bleeding arm and an unconscious Tyler leave me in shock as she pulls out her phone and dials. I stare down at him, memorizing every feature on his face, from the curve of his nose and chin, to the shape of his eyes, remembering the taste of his lips. Less than 10 minutes ago they were pressed against my neck, leaving marks that I gently stroke as I stand there. I would have forgiven you. I hate to admit it, but I would have. Emily hangs up and turns to me, her fingers quietly reaching out to probe the cut, her warm touch only making it worse. I hiss and pull back, reeling from the pain.
"Sshh." She soothes, softly smoothing her hand over the fabric of my shirt, her fingers coming back a sticky crimson with my blood. "We should get this wrapped up." She starts towards the bathroom for painkillers and gauze, but stops halfway. Without turning around, she says, with the most sincerity I've heard from her since we first met, "I'm sorry, Nolan." I am too.
"He pulled a knife on you, Nolan. He could have killed you." She reminds me time and time again, and my response is always the same:
"I know." And of course, I do. I see it in my mind's eye every time I close my real ones: the glint of the silver blade, the crazed expression on his face just as Emily got the drop on him. But staring at his grave two weeks after the disastrous Engagement Party, where Tyler returned and got himself killed, I feel a strange sense of longing. I replay the last thing I heard him say, over and over in my mind. Hey, Nolan. How's the arm? His voice was wrong: cold, detached, and hollow. It was enough to stop me from following Emily to her ransom deal just to see him again. I lean down and place a whale cam, a replica of my own, on the grave, to keep watch on it. That's all I am left with, because this is how it always ends. Granted, murder isn't usually a part of my relationships, but what it boils down to is what it started as. I was just another mark, and he was just another conman.