Game of Seduction

Chapter 14

By Mg

Don't own SM

This chapter edited by my editor Loki.

BTW, there's alotta French in this chapter...MG pulls out her wand:: Don't be afraid! Embrace it! Embrace it!::

Serena squinted in the darkness, her hands lazily buttoning a couple of the lower buttons of the shirt she stole from Darien's closet. Once her eyes adjusted, she walked towards the kitchen, slipped into his shoes that lay at the entranceway. She sighed as she sauntered towards the fridge and looked for something to eat.

"Orange juice, bread, celery…celery?" she cringed in disgust before continuing. "Cookies…bingo." she snatched up the jar and closed the door behind her with her foot before heading towards her bag that was strewn across the living room table. She reached over to her bag to open the zipper and retrieve her cell phone before unscrewing the jar top and placing it down on the coffee table. Seeing the light flash for missing two calls she checked her call log and then pressed the button to retrieve one.

"Hey Moll, w'sup?" she sank into the couch, pulling a cookie from the jar and nibbling on it, bit by bit.

"Did you talk to him yet?"

"We talked about it today, okay…he's legit," she sighed as she reached into the jar for another cookie.

"You wouldn't be lying to me would you?"

"I promise you for real this time…so, did my parents call?"

"No, they didn't."

"Oh…right, I mean good." She crinkled her brows and frowned, her parents never checked up on her. She wasn't sure if she should consider that a bad or a good thing.

"So, got birthday plans? Almost eighteen!"

"Yeah I know, four weeks till my birthday, party hard…rah-rah…"

"You okay?"

"No, I'm-I'm fine." She rotated her neck and laid back against the couch. "I'm just not as excited as I thought I would be…the big eighteen. Don't wanna jump for joy…don't feel like I'm getting any older…"

"Of course you don't now you goof…but maybe you will later."

"Maybe…hold on, someone's on my line." She pressed the flash button to click over to the other line.

"Hello mon petit chou."

"Papa!" She sat at attention as she pulled the revealing part of the shirt together, only to roll her eyes with the knowledge that he couldn't see her.

"I called the house and you were not home, où êtes-vous?"

"Um…I'm…at Molly's," so much for her parents not checking on her.

"Bon, having fun?"

"Uh…yeah…um…hold on a sec?" She clicked over. "Moll, I gotta go, my father's on the other line…"

"All right, I guess we'll talk later."

"Oh, and I told him I'm at your place."

Molly sighed. "Fine."

"Thanks a bunch, Moll, later."

"Yeah, yeah."

She took a deep breath before clicking over once more. "Ensuite, papa, how's it going?"

"Fine, fine, I'm on the second plane heading back now…again sweetheart, I am sorry that I could not stay longer."

"No, that's okay, I understand."

"About your birthday…"

She rolled her eyes. "Papa, I said surprise me."

"No hints?"

"What do you think I want?" She sighed as she passed her fingers through her hair and flinched when she felt Darien plant soft kisses along her neck from behind. She swatted him away.

"You know you're almost as hard to please as your mother?"

"Yes papa I know…"

"If you don't give me a hint, I promise that I will go overboard," he chuckled.

"Honestly papa…" she fought to bite her tongue when Darien snatched the cookie jar from her hands. She crossed her arms instead.

"Oh fine…of course, I have even bigger plans for you this summer after graduation."

"Nothing too big I hope," she attempted to reach for the jar but he pulled it towards him, holding it close to his chest as he nibbled on the cookie in his hand.

"You know, mon petit chou, you really do take the fun out of being a father sometimes."

"It shouldn't be too easy," she frowned when Darien began taunting her with the jar, pulling it away from her every time she made a move to reach for it.


"Oh, sorry papa…what did you say?"

"I asked why it can not be easy?"

"Because…" she stood up quickly to snatch back the jar, but his reflexes were too quick and he held above his head. She crinkled her brows when he lowered it some, and attempted to jump for it. He smiled and raised it again.


"Because…I think you should," she jumped, "know me enough," she jumped, "to know what I want."


"Sorry…I'm-I'm trying…to reach…something."

"Bon, I must get off the phone, we are preparing to land."

"Okay then…" she crossed her arms again and pouted at Darien.

"I will see you next weekend then, non?"

"Uh-huh." She extended the pout even further and watched as Darien rolled his eyes before handing her the jar.

"I guess I will speak to you then. Hugs and kisses."

"Hugs and kisses to you too papa, bye."

She narrowed her eyes at Darien as she hung up the phone. "Asshole."


She plopped down on the couch and extended the jar towards him. "Cookie?"

He shrugged and sat next to her. "Sure."


Serena gripped the stick shift of her car as she pulled into the parking lot right next to Molly's and parked. She felt like groaning when she saw the big banner hanging outside the front of the school.

Senior Prom Under The Stars. Tickets now available. See SGA President Molly Kendall or any of the SGA Staff.

She furrowed her brows before rubbing the bridge of her nose; it was going to be a long day.


"Why didn't you remind me that tickets for the prom were going out today?" Serena whined as she leaned against a neighboring locker while Molly pulled books from the one they shared and put in others.

She gave Serena a sideways glance before shutting the locker door. "You've been such a space case lately that you probably didn't here me."

"I know we haven't have much hanging out time lately, but-"

"Don't sweat it, we're still cool," Molly smiled before glancing around her and lowering her voice to a whisper. "So what are you doing about prom?"

"Huh?" Serena crinkled her brow in confusion.

"Well…you know?" Molly gave her a knowing look. "You're going right?"

"Oh…well…I haven't talked to Darien about it yet…but I really wanna go…but he'll probably be mad at me if I tell him that I wanna go...I was thinking that I should just forget it."

"Are you kidding me? It's the prom! You can't miss the prom. It's the most important night of our senior year!" she frantically replied.

"I know, I know." Serena sagged against the locker before turning on her side and picking at one of the stickers on the locker door. "But what am I s'posed to do anyways?"

"Go with David…that's not against the rules. Besides, he's cute, he's funny…he's your age."

"Thanks for the support," Serena frowned. "But I do have a boyfriend remember, how is dating another guy not against the rules?"

"It isn't a date. Besides, I don't think I need to remind you that while I respect 'you', and support 'you', I still don't trust 'him'. I think this relationship thing is just a cover to keep you easy."

Molly's words stung almost as much as if she had physically slapped her. Serena's eyes watered. Implying that Darien lied just to get laid implied that Molly thought she was, in fact, easy.

"I told you that's not true," she whispered.

"You know, we shouldn't be talking about this in the hallway. Besides, it makes me feel really icky talking about Mr. Shields in that way anyway."

Wasn't she the one who brought it up in the first place? "I'm sorry that talking about my relationship makes you feel 'icky'."

"Serena," Molly sighed, "you know that's not what I meant to say, it's just--"

"What you were thinking?"

Molly winced at her words. It was true; it was what she always thought. Mr. Shields was twenty-five years old and not to mention their teacher. It gave her an icky feeling every time Serena brought him up, or mentioned that they had done…well…it. And to think, she had to go to his class everyday. She had to sit and listen to this asshole who took her friend into the privacy of his home and…and well…did…whatever the hell it was that they did.


"Huh?" Molly shook her head.

"I said what's in the bag?"

Molly looked down at the furry object sticking out from the corner of her backpack. "Oh! Let me show you what Melvin got me!"

"Oh?" Serena plastered a small smile on her face.

Molly smiled as she pulled a medium sized soft and fluffy brown teddy bear with a blue and brown plaid bow tie from her bookbag. "Isn't he the cutest?"

Serena swallowed. "Yes…I mean…yeah…he's great!"

"And…" she smiled as she reached into her bag once more, "a box of chocolates," she replied before putting them back into her bag. "I think I'm going to have to carry the bear around though, it won't fit in my bag once I add my other books to it, in fact I don't even know how I fit him in there in the first place. It took alotta effort…but isn't he sweet?"

"Hey Molly, Serena!"

They turned towards where Eileen stood with a wide smile on her face.

"Aweee! That teddy bear is so cute! Is that from Melvin?" She arched her brow with a smile.

"Yeah! He also got me these chocolates!" Molly beamed as she took the chocolates out of her bag once more to show her.

"Awweeee! You guys are so cute!" Eileen giggled as she held her folders to her chest and leant against the lockers next to her. "You are so lucky, Melvin is so adorable!"

"Yeah," Molly blushed.

"A group of us were talking the other day about you two, and I have it on good authority that alotta girls think Melvin's hot, but he's just so brainy that it's a little intimidating." Eileen replied. "Speaking of which, you should probably watch it now."

Serena crinkled her brows, when did Melvin become the hot one?

"Why?" Molly gave her a sideways glance as she filled her book bag with the things she would need for the rest of the day.

"He's sensitive, smart, sexy, and romantic! He's so the new secret cutie! He's up there with new French exchange student, David. Hey Serena, what's the scoop? Everyone's talking bout it, he your boyfriend now?"


"Hmm…go fig, anyway—oh my god! Molly, you and Melvin should totally run for prom king and queen!" she squealed.

Molly blushed at her comment. "I dunno-"

Serena tuned them out. Go figure? What did she mean by that? Go figure. What? Was she not good looking enough to get a hot guy? Just because Molly's dating, Melvin doesn't mean she's prom queen material. Melvin's not 'that' hot. So what if he got her a stupid teddy bear. Besides, she was the captain of the track team; she was the one who the football captain chased after. Shit, she was the one who was secretly dating the hottest guy in the whole school. What the fuck did Eileen Jenson know?

"Don't you think so Serena?"

"Huh?" Serena shook her head free of her previous thoughts and Molly rolled her eyes from behind Eileen's back. She gave Serena a look, as if to say she knew exactly what going through her mind.

"I asked you if you thought Molly could win Prom Queen?"

"Oh…I…well," she licked her lips, "it isn't Molly's thing."

"Yeah, but if she ran you agree that she would win right?"

Serena faltered, trying to look away from them as she though of what to say? What the hell was she thinking? Molly was supposed to be her friend, her answer was supposed to be automatic. "I…I guess." She forced it out and watched as for the second time a knowing look came over Molly's face.

"See! Serena agrees with me! It's not like it's a leap, you are the SGA pres, so it's not like you aren't popular enough."

"Hey ladies!"

Serena jumped at the sound of Jessie's voice.

"Hey Jess!" Eileen smiled. "You think Molly's hot don't you?"

"Eileen!" Molly squeaked.

"Yeah she's hot," he winked, "and if I didn't like the Melster I'd definitely ask her out."

"Tease!" Molly blushed as she pushed him in the shoulder and he laughed.

"See! You're a knockout. It's a shoe-in, trust me. I've seen several guys checkin' you out. Come on, I think the bell's bout to ring for the end of lunch period, I'll walk you to class."

Serena watched disbelievingly as they both left her to stand with Jessie alone. When did she become so insignificant?



"I asked you if you wanted to be my date for the prom."

"Excuse me?"

"I know you don't have a date, I've asked around."

A minute ago, he was all over Molly, talking about being her boyfriend, but with her, it was all about squeezing in another date. Or another lay? God, did it even matter? Did all guys 'really' see her that way? She thought it was all just in her head, but now that she thought about it, Jessie never made any talk about her being his girlfriend. She took a deep breath. This idiot was an asshole, was she seriously obsessing over him?

"Fuck off Jess." She tried to push past him but he stood firm, blocking her path. From the corner of her eye, she saw Darien walk outside of his classroom while conversing with one of the other teachers, Miss Preston. He gave Jessie a quick scathing look before pretending to focus his attention on what she was saying to him.



Jessie sighed. "Serena…stop using the bullshit lines to hide your true feelings-"


"Let me talk," he replied. "I've been with you and I know how much chemistry we have. You need to stop blockin' baby, or you're gonna miss out."

"Wait, wait, wait, wait, wait…hold a sec." She sighed as she placed her hands on her temples and rubbed. "Let me get this straight…I put you down, I make fun of you, I tell you I don't want to go out with you…and that is supposed to be me, hiding my true feelings?"

"Uh—yes," he replied, unsure.

"I knew going out with you that one time was the absolutely wrong thing to do," She replied. "Listen…Jessie." She took a deep breath before letting it out quickly. "I…don't like you…in fact, you being a football player--and the quarterback at that--makes you the representative of every moralistic value and belief that I have come to hate. And further more…I wouldn't let you take me to the prom if you paid me."

"Serena…I know you feel me…that one date told me everything-"

"Fuck!" She clenched her hands at her sides.

"Serena Kingston, curve your tongue." The sound of Miss Preston's voice filtered down the hall from where she stood talking to Darien.

Serena sighed before bringing her voice down to a whisper. "Did it ever occur to you that perhaps I was using you? I mean, get a clue! I spent three and a half of my years here so far ignoring you and turning you down and then suddenly I just agree to go out with you like that? Use your fucking head! I only went out with you to get back at someone else!" She looked up at Darien to see him lean back against the doorframe casually with the cross of his arms. The bell rang, signaling that it was time to go to class. She sighed once more, clutching her books in her arms before walking away, ignoring Jessie as he tried to call her back.


Darien grunted. He shouldn't have made it a free period today. He should have given his students some kind of work to do. When teenagers didn't have work to do they talked, guys even. Speaking of which, if they didn't shut the fuck up he was going to beat them to shit.


"Heard you bombed out on Serena today Jess. I don't know why you even bother."

Jessie watched with indifferent eyes as Jeff Tanner, one of the hurdle runners on the track team, snickered at him.

"You should just go out with Terry, she's easy game anyway, and I heard she's been waiting for you to ask her to the prom."

"Terry's too easy, besides, I already had her. Fine ass body, but who knows where that pussy's been." He laughed as he lay back in his chair and looked towards his teammate Bryan, lifting up his hand to accept a high five.

"That is so true man. I think Terr's fucked the whole football team with blowjobs all around. That means she's probably fucked Nelson too and I'll be damned if I'm gonna get a pass at her after she's been with that asswipe," Bryan scowled.

"That's why I'd rather go for Serena, I mean why would I wanna park my car in a lot that's full?" Jessie replied.

"You do realize that once you park its no longer empty?"

"What are you asshole's talking about?" Jeff arched his brow and Jessie rolled his eyes.

"Her pussy dickwad," he replied, "are you sure you're not a blue baller?" Jessie laughed as Jeff punched him in the arm.


"Like I was saying, who the fuck said I was planning to stay?" he continued. "Serena was made to be laid. I can just see her laying back on my bed, her tits hard, her hair all wet and shit from sweat while I'm fuckin' her brains out."

"Whatever man, I'd probably park her before you do." Jeff replied.

"In your fucking—Mr. Shields!"

Darien's smile widened as he crossed his arms from where he stood behind them. "No cursing aloud in the school classrooms boys, detention, all three."

They groaned as he handed each of them a detention slip just as the bell rang and everyone began gathering their things.

"And, I will be checking to make sure you show up yourself, so don't try to pull anything funny." Darien breathed deep as they picked their books up and walked out with the rest of the class. "Was I ever that horny?" He paused, "probably."


"What do you think of this one Drew?" Mina asked with a smile as she stared at the oak crib before her, her fingers passing slowly over it to trace the intricate design. "I really like this one."

"Better than the last five cribs we've seen Mina?" He flipped over the price tag before drawing back in alarm. "Oh hell no…keep walking cause there's no way on god's green earth that I'm gonna pay the fucking money for this piece of shit."

"Well what about the other ones? Did you like any of those?" she replied softly as she glanced at baby blue quilt pattern that was nestled inside the crib for decoration.

"Does it really matter? Just pick one and let's get the hell outta here. I'm starving and my fuckin' feet ache." He replied with the toss of a hand in the air.

His feet ached? HIS feet ached? Mina licked her lips slowly before continuing. Patience seemed to be a virtue when it came to her boyfriend. "Drew, I was thinking…I…the place you have is so small and—"

"Mina we've had this conversation before. I like my place and I'm not about to give it up. Besides, we don't need an extra room for the baby. We can put the crib in my room."

"Your room," she replied slowly, she could feel the tears already starting to fall down her cheek. Andrew groaned, and threw his head back with a sigh.

"I'm sorry, I didn't mean that," he replied as he reached out for her.

"Don't fucking touch me Drew." She said as she moved her hands to the bottom of her belly as if to carry it, more tears spilling down her cheeks.

"Shit, don't cry all right."

"I'm not crying!" She replied as she wiped her face, "I hate this body and I hate the way it makes me feel! I don't want to cry right now but I can't help it! My body is a ragging inferno of hormones all because of this baby, and Andrew Johnson if you don't want it why don't you just say so!"

"Look all right, I want the baby, okay," he said, "if you wanna talk about this some more, let's do it later cause this is neither the time or the place for this Mina." He looked around, "everybody's watching…what if—"

"Hey Drew."

Andrew closed his eyes tightly, clenched and unclenched his hands before turning around to greet the man whom had interrupted his conversation. Behind him, Mina rapidly wiped her eyes with the sleeve of her sweatshirt before plastering a fake smile on her face.

"Jay-man, what's up?"

"Nothin' much."

"Uh…just out of curiosity, what are you doing in a baby store? Something you'd like to tell us?" Drew lifted his brow with a smile.

"Buyin' somethin' for my nephew," he chuckled. "Not what you're implying. This man is still…a free man." He paused before looking towards Mina for the first time.

"Hey sexy," he said. "Ya know, if you had only said yes to me that might be my baby you're carryin' instead of Drew's."

"Back off my girl asswipe," Drew laughed as he pushed Mina behind him. "There's no way you could get this lucky."

"I think that's Mina's decision, right honey," he replied with a wink.

"I think one man's trouble is just about as much as I can handle right now," Mina smiled.

"If this asshole gets to be too much, you know who you can call."

"Excuse me? Hello, boyfriend standing inches in front of you and just itching for something to punch."

"Sorry Drew, old habits die hard. Anyway, I'm glad I ran into you. Do you think you could do somethin' for me?"

Andrew eyed him suspiciously. "Depends on what you want."

"Well, the brothers and I," he smiled, "well we were wondering if you could get Darien to bring a keg of that specially imported beer to our party on Saturday."

"I know how hard it is for you children to get beer, but really, you could have asked me."

"We're planning' a surprise for him…make up some excuse as to why you can't do it, or find some other way for him to get there, I don't care, just get him there."

"What's going on?" Drew raised his brow.

"It's a surprise all right? Just get him there."


"Take that asswipe!" Darien said from his position on the couch, his eyes glued to the tube in front of him.

"Shit, you are such a fucking sore looser. Don't worry, there's still time, I can still kick your ass." Andrew smacked his gum as Darien carefully maneuvered from side to side as he rapidly pressed the buttons on his controller.

"That was pure luck…I let you win."

"Right dipshit, we all know that I'm the reigning Tekken PS2 master…so eat shit and die." He leaned forward on the couch, before leaning back again with a grunt. "That's right, eat it."

Darien jumped up spontaneously while angling his controller to the side. "Ha! You eat it!"

Andrew grunted once more. "Take that shit! And what? What? What the fuck you know about that shit huh? What do you know? Yes! Yes! Eat that shit Shields! Fuckin' eat it you pussy! You fight like a girl!" Andrew threw his controller down when his last combo led him to win the game.


"So the wittle pussy doesn't know when enough is enough?"

"Are you through gloating now?"

"Mmm…I don't know if I wanna play with you any more with that attitude."

Darien rolled his eyes. "Just pick up your fucking controller dipshit."

"Maybe we should go back to studying for the MCATs?"

"Now who's being a pussy? Stop tryin' to play hard to get and get your ass over here and pick up that controller," Darien replied. "Besides, I'm too hungry to focus anymore."

"Ohhh, right. That's why we ordered out in the first place. How long ago did you order anyway?"

"Half an hour give or take."

Andrew groaned as he sat back down next to Darien and picked up a controller. "By the way, you know that Greek beer that you used to always bring to the frat parties? The brothers were wondering if you would drop off a keg of it for their party on Saturday." Andrew sat forward, closer to the tube, as if it would help him see better. He tilted his body to the side.

"Why can't you do it?" Darien tilted to the left.

"Can't, Mina says I must abstain from touching the stuff ever since what happened last time."

"Why can't they get it--yes!" He sat up straight and almost lifted himself off his seat.

"Beats me man, I just know that they wanted you to bring it." Andrew leaned forward once more. "Come on…come on."

"Hangin' with Serena on Saturday, I can't go."

"Just drop it off and leave."

"I guess I could do that."

The doorbell rang, catching them off guard. Before Andrew could reach the small wooden table in front of them, Darien snatched the money from on top of it and clamored towards the front door with Andrew not far behind.

"It's about damn time the pizza got here." Andrew said as Darien swung open the door. They were thrown off kilter when Serena rushed by in a navy blue sports bra and matching tights mumbling something about needing water. She ran down the hall and made a quick left towards the kitchen. Andrew glanced at Darien in a questioning manner as Darien tilted his head to the side and walked to the kitchen. Andrew shrugged and followed close behind. When they got there, the vision before them held them to their spot. It was odd, but for the life of them, they couldn't figure out why.

Serena stood with her eyes closed and her hands supporting a gallon of water to her lips as she guzzled it down.

Andrew's gum fell from his open mouth.

Darien tilted his head to the other side with a small groan.

"Get lost Drew."

"But the pizza-"

"I said get the fuck out."


Serena sighed, her breathing labored, as both Darien and her cleaned up the mess of water and dishes off the floor. The doorbell rang and Darien went to go get it, coming back in the room with two large pizzas.

"What brought that on?" She whispered with a small smile as he placed the pizzas on the counter.

"I don't even know…I just found it real fuckin' hot." He chuckled as he picked up a few dishes here and there. "It's a good thing all my dishes are plastic."

"Are you kidding me? I was just drinking water!" She giggled as she thought back to the five-minute session they had just had. Darien had pretty much jumped her, sending the dishes on the counter to the floor as she staggered to balance herself, not to mention the leftover water in the gallon she had been drinking; it had been sent hurdling to the floor. They chuckled repeatedly throughout the whole event whenever they bumped into things, such as when Serena's head hit the bottom of one of the cupboards. He had moved her to the stove then, almost tripping on some of the dishes in the process. After some time he finally did trip, slipping on a plastic plate and taking her with him, only to land on his rear with her on top. At that point, the backs of his running shorts and loose gym shirt became soaked from the puddle of water on the floor. Many curse words followed and he chuckled deeply before forcing her to ride him hard and fast. When it was over, they both laughed, admitting to each other that they were bumping into various objects more often than they were ever really fucking. He chuckled as he admitted it had been the worst, yet best sex he had ever had. It had been a fun experience. With a small smile, she shook her mind free of her thoughts and focused her attention on him.

"What did you say?"

"I said that's why it's so odd." He stopped what he was doing to look over the dispersed dishrags, pots, and plastic cups that now lay on the floor. "I can't believe I just did that."

"I can't believe you just did that." She giggled as she stood up with the dishes she had gathered and placed them in the sink. "Do you always have a condom in your pocket?"


"Why?" She replied as she walked out of the kitchen with her gym bag that she had carelessly dropped on the floor earlier.

"Do you honestly think you need to ask that question now?" He replied when she reentered the room empty handed.

"But you're at home," she arched her brow.

"Well…always be prepared," he smiled.

She shook her head in amusement as she glanced back down at the mess on the floor before looking to where he stood with the mop in hand.

"It's so hot in here." She said as she leaned against the counter.

He looked up at her from what he was doing as a drop of sweat slid down from her neck and landed in between her breasts.

"And it smells so muggy like…like-"


She blushed as she walked over to the switch to turn on the fan.

"You know what though, never have I felt that I needed a shower more than I do now."

He passed the mop back and forth, chuckling at the scrunched up look on her face.

"I feel so sticky and moist…especially in certain places." She walked over to one of the pizza boxes and opened it, pulling out a slice and sticking the end of it in her mouth.

He watched as she practically swallowed the slice before reaching for another. He laughed when she finished the slice and then reached for another. "If it weren't for the fact that you exercise everyday, I'd really have to wonder where all the food goes."

"Shut up." She whined before picking up another piece.

"That's four slices now. How much you wanna bet that you reach for--"

She was sticking her hand into the box even as he spoke.

"--another one before I finish this sentence." He laughed. "God, you're a pig."

She rolled her eyes. "I'm just suddenly hungry, that's all."

"Then I guess you're suddenly hungry all the time then huh?" He arched his brow at her and she threw a dishrag at him before reaching in for another slice. "Damn girl, you're a human vacuum."

She pointedly ignored him as she lay back against the counter with her sixth slice.

"I'll finish up in here, why don't you go start the shower?" He picked up the mop and brought it to the kitchen sink to ring it out. "I'll meet you in five." He turned to her with a wink; she could feel her skin flush.



She glanced at his bookshelf with a sigh, her fingers lightly passing over the binds of each book as she read each title. She sighed again. Physics. Sigh. Organic Chemistry. Sigh.

"If you sigh anymore you might suck all the air out of the room."

She turned towards where he was seated on the couch typing on his laptop, his eyes glued to the screen. "Sorry." How was she going to ask him about the prom? Would he be angry? She sighed.

He groaned. "Okay, spit it out." He closed the lid of his laptop and put it down to the side of him.


"Whatever it is, let's get over it quickly because I have a lot to do." He combed his fingers through his hair before wiping his face haggardly and crossing his arms over his chest.

She sighed as she slowly walked over to where he was and situated herself opposite him on the floor Indian style.

"Well?" He arched his brow.

"I was talking about…about the…well, you know that I wanted to…I mean…"

"Just rip it off, the slower you pull it, and the more it hurts."


"Band-Aids babe. What do you want?"

"I was thinking…about…goingtotheprom." She breathed. "But if you don't want me to…I mean…I understand." She picked at the carpet before switching to picking at her toenails.

He arched his brow in confusion "I'm confused, exactly why wouldn't I want you to go to prom?"

"I just…I remember that you said…before…you were upset when I was going to the V-day dance…so I just wanted to be sure that you wouldn't be mad now, because I've always wanted to go… I mean, it's all I've dreamed about for the four years that I've been in high school. Hanging out with my friends, getting my hair done, my nails done, having the perfect date with a really cool guy."

"Serena," he sighed, "you know I can't go with you."

"I know I know…but there…there's this guy." She chewed on the side of her lip as she traced designs on her calf. "I've told you about him before…his name's David…a foreign exchange student. He's really nice and…he asked me, and I told him that I would see. I wanted to ask you if it was okay first, if you would mind..."

How the hell was he supposed to answer that without sounding like some fucking idiotic jealous boyfriend? Cause he wasn't. He was merely placing his claim on his property, and somehow her going out with another guy would completely negate that. Hell, so now what? What the fuck was he supposed to say? Wait, couldn't she just go by herself? He crossed his arms and put on an impassive face.


He focused his eyes on her. "You could go alone."

She glanced up at him quickly before looking down on the floor again. Go by herself? Was he serious? She swallowed. "I…I guess…that I…I could." She didn't want to go by herself. Only losers who couldn't get dates went by themselves to the prom. It would be so embarrassing, especially after turning down both Jessie and Jeff earlier today. Going by herself would leave her open to them, didn't he understand that? "It's just that…" and Molly would probably look so smug dating Melvin while she stood there alone. She licked her lips. "Molly will be bringing her date…and I always thought that we'd…well that we'd both be going to the prom with dates together."

"You know, when I was eighteen I went to my prom, with this girl named Mable…and just like every other guy, I know what I was really thinking about with prom. It's the same thing a guy who gets married thinks about -- hell, who cares about the fuckin' dancing or the food. We just think about what comes after that and the whole idea of not coming home until five o'clock in the morning, or in the former's case, not at all. Most of us never even tell our dates that's what we have planned, and a good portion of us score. All we do is rent the hotel room and have it ready. Then we spend the whole night making prom this magical place just so that whoever our date was would go wherever with us. And if you're really good, you get a room and convince her that you don't plan to use it for sex." He combed his fingers through his hair as he stood up and walked away from her.

"I'm not an idiot Darien; you don't have to tell me your fucking life story to make a point. Besides, David has a girlfriend in France--you don't--you don't have to worry about him trying anything with me." She stood up from the couch, walked over to the patio doors, and leant against them.

"If you didn't meet me, you'd probably be dating him by now…girlfriend abroad or not--I know what it's like to be the foreign student, it's a fucking goal mine for dating hot chicks and getting laid"

"Darien, I…"

"Have nothing to say right? Cause you know its true?" He chuckled as he shook his head. "I just don't like the idea of you fuckin' around with someone else."

"Wait a minute!" She clenched her hands at her sides. "It has nothing to do with the fuckin' guy! It's me. You don't trust me. You don't think that I have the ability to say no. What? Do I look that easy to you?"

"Well it didn't take much did it?"

Her eyes watered slightly. Did he just say what she thought he said?

"Speechless again?" He replied as he walked over to where she was standing. "Come on, if I wasn't fucking you already your prom night would have been your first time with him," he said. "And honestly, I really have to wonder when you tell me that your idea of the perfect prom is spending it with a special guy, and when I tell you that I obviously can't go with you, you fucking insisted on going with somebody else."

She shoved him hard and he hit stumbled backwards before catching himself. "Fuck you Darien." She cried as she stomped over to the living room table and picked up her gym bag before walking towards the door.

"Fine! Go ahead and get fucked for all I care! And while you're at it, why don't you take the whole football team down with you!" he yelled as the door slammed hard behind her.


12 midnight Early Wednesday Morning, Miami, Florida

"For heaven's sake papa, can I please take off this blindfold now?" She could feel her hands curling and uncurling against the soft velvet of her seat in the limousine. After being awoken at an ungodly hour, given something to wear while her mother fixed her hair and presented her with pearls, only to be shoved out the door blindfolded, she now felt angsty. All she knew of her location was that she was in a limousine.

She sighed as she curled and uncurled her fingers once more. Her father had built a reputation of giving her great and memorable birthday presents. She always felt like a five-year old kid on Christmas morning when it was her birthday. Her mother had always commented that he spoiled her, but she never complained, after all, what kid didn't want to be spoiled? Not that her mother didn't give great gifts, in fact, she was the one responsible for the ensemble that she was wearing now, a gray tweed wool and nylon strapless dress with a fit and flare shape and front pleat detail. According to her mother, she had bought the dress in Italy on one of her business trips with her in mind. It more than likely cost over a couple hundred easy. The way her mom gave gifts, she always gave her something a little expensive with something simple and memorable on the side. For example, one year, she gave her a cell phone, and an original brown suede hand stitched Winnie the Pooh Diary with lock and key. She was such, and in many ways still is, a Winnie the Pooh fanatic. This year, it's the dress and a teardrop pearl necklace with pearl earrings. Her mother explained that the earrings have been passed down in her family to the oldest girl on her eighteenth birthday for a long time. She added the necklace for effect. Serena almost cried when she gave it to her. She always gave her gifts that could never be replaced. Her father, he gave her moments in time. It was hard to explain.

"Don't worry mon petit chou, we're almost at our first destination," her father said

God she was sleepy. She sighed. What was Darien doing right now? Were they still girlfriend and boyfriend? She had cried herself to sleep the night they had the argument. The things he said hurt her deeply. It was hard enough when she felt like everyone at school was sending her a message that she was easy. She didn't want to believe it. It wasn't like she slept around. Darien was her first and the only guy she had ever been with. What? Just because he was older, meant that she was easy? She never thought so. But then things turned around when suddenly it seemed as if he thought the same thing. He thought she was easy. It hurt so bad.


12:15 a.m. Miami, Florida

Serenity sat and watched from her seat as Serena fidgeted; she really didn't know why she decided to come along this time. Perhaps it's because her husband could be very convincing, and the fact that it was Serena's eighteenth birthday probably helped. Did she just say husband? He wasn't her husband…he was…he wasn't even her boyfriend…she didn't know what to call him. Maybe she should just call him by his name, Charles.

Since Serena's blindfolded, 'Charles', had no qualms about reaching for her hand absentmindedly and caressing it gently. Well, at least if she asked him, he would probably argue that it was absentmindedly. But when it came to her, he always knew what he was doing, while she, she was always the nervous wreck. Not that his touches make her sick, it was just that…they made her feel 'too' good. God she must sound crazy. She felt crazy. She was 36-years-old with an eighteen-year-old daughter, yet she still felt just like a kid sometimes. Maybe she still was. Could Serena tell that she was probably more lost than she was? Serena deserve better for a mother. Look at her. What kind of a role model was she for her? What kind of moralistic values could she possibly teach her if she got pregnant when she was 19 from a man whom she wasn't in love with? A man who didn't even care about her?

Being pregnant at 19 was no fun. The looks she was given from all the students at her school. It was this "I know what you're doing" look. Granted, she wasn't stupid enough to believe that other girls weren't doing what she had. The only difference was that other girls weren't walking around with proof of what they were doing. She had tried to stick it out with school but the moment it became evident she was told that she would have to pack up and go home. A pregnant girl walking around their Catholic campus would not be tolerated. Rumors were flying and her presence at the school was disrupting the other students. Suffice to say, she was shaking with uncontrolled tears when she had to call her parents and not only tell them that she was two months pregnant, but also tell them that she'd lost all of her scholarships and had been kicked out of school. It was especially hard to do because she was poor, her scholarships were the only reason she was even able to go to college.

Her throat felt dry. She swallowed, attempting to soothe it. It was funny, she remembered being so adamant about saving herself for the 'right' guy right before she chucked it all away for one night with Charles. She blamed it all on him. But as psychologists would say, that's a prime example of displacement. The truth of the matter was that the blame should have rested with her as well. It takes two to tango as they say. But it felt easier to yell at him, it was less threatening than yelling at herself. She used her own naiveté as an excuse for her not knowing that he didn't use a condom that night.

"Papa?" Serena was squealing again and tapping her foot impatiently. She glanced at Charles surprised as he clasped her fingers and brought her knuckles to his lips to kiss each one, only he wasn't looking at her.

"Yes, sweetheart."

"Can I take off my blindfold please?"

Serenity hid a smile. Her daughter sounded like a little child; it made it harder to believe that she was now eighteen. She knew that Serena wasn't a spoiled child outright, but sometimes she swore she was borderline, almost as if at any turn she might switchover.

"No," was his simple curt reply.

Serenity watched sort of amused as Serena sagged back in her seat; despite her mannerisms at the moment, her little girl was now a woman.


12:20 a.m. Miami, Florida

He was a complete and utmost nervous wreck. He felt like his heart was beating a mile a minute. He couldn't believe that his wife agreed to come along. Did he say wife? She wasn't his wife, she was his…she was his best friend. She was his love; she was his one and only. He knew it sounded rather cliché but that didn't make it untrue. Of course, she neither knew nor believed it. She'd never know how much she meant to him. In just one night he managed to ruin the one chance he had ever had of developing something with her, in just that first night, their first time, 'her' first time. He didn't remember why he didn't use the condom. What if he had used it? Where would they be? Would they be together right now? Married even? Would Serena have been born? He wouldn't want to risk that. He was glad things turned out the way they did, he loved Serena too much to wish for things to be different.

He looked down when he felt her draw back as he brought her knuckles to his lips. Did it disgust her when he touched her? Or maybe she was just as nervous as he was? It's funny how a birthday present for Serena had suddenly turned into something completely different. He didn't know how he was going to get through the night without holding her, or touching her. He knew that Serena knew something about them, they've always had this weird invisible link that spoke more volumes than met the eye. It's just how much she knows, that he didn't know. In any matter, he knew that her mother didn't know that Serena knew, so he'd pretend for her sake. She believed that Serena was just fishing for arguments when she brought them up. She refused to believe otherwise. Ignorance is bliss as they say.

When the car stopped, he glanced at Serena amused as she sat up at attention.

"Now can I take off the blindfold?" She whined.

"Not yet, pumpkin," he grinned as the chauffeur came to open the door. He stepped out first before helping Serenity out. Finally, he reached out for Serena's hand. "Let him help you." She placed her hand in his and he pulled her out of the limo. He then turned to the driver. "You know what time to be back."

"Yes sir, eleven thirty this evening sir."

"Papa where are we?"

He chuckled at his daughter's impatience before becoming thoughtful. God, this was his daughter. His daughter! Was he really old enough to have an eighteen-year-old daughter?

"Hold on mon petit chou." He turned towards Serenity with a smile before silently helping her out of the car. He faltered slightly when their hands touched. He watched as she licked her lips before stepping out. Fuck. He didn't care what anyone said. She 'was' his wife. She belonged to him. He belonged to her. It was evident when he fucked her, made her scream, claw at his back, crying, hot, and heated. It was evident when they made love, when he caressed her, when she touched him, when they kissed, slow, easy, and patient. He swallowed hard. It was going to be a long trip.

"Serena, right now we're at a private airstrip and we're about to board a plane."

"Where are 'we' going, papa?"

He smiled as he led her blindfolded to the plane. "It's a surprise," he whispered.


2:20 p.m. Paris, France; 8:20 a.m. Miami, Florida

Serena sighed back in her chair after the plane landed. She was giddy and excited at the idea of finally knowing where they were going. Her father must have given strict instructions to the pilot, because not once did he announce where it was that they were landing. It was a long and grueling flight to say the least.

For the first couple of hours she pretty much slept. Then for a about an hour or two her father let her remove the blindfold so she could lounge around and watch a movie to occupy her time. Of course, all the windows on the plane were also shut so she couldn't even tell what they were flying over. Oddly enough, he kept getting up to go to the back cabin but when she wanted to follow he would always tell her that's it was a part of her surprise. For the last hour, her father made her don the blindfold once more, serving only to increase her angst.

She yawned wide as she stretched, unbuckled her seat belt, and stood to her full height.

"Ready baby?"

She jumped when she felt her father behind her. "Papa! Do you always have to do that?"

He chuckled as he glanced back to Serenity with a smile before walking ahead of them both. "Would you mind escorting this impatient young brat out of the plane for me Madame." He smiled as he walked towards the now open door of the plane.

"Very funny papa," she replied as she rolled her eyes and crossed her arms. She laughed to herself, it's a good thing her eyes were covered because she knew her father hated when she did that. "Wait, who are you talking to?"

Serenity smiled as she linked Serena's arm with hers. "He's talking to me."

"Mom!" She beamed as her mother helped her out the plane, down the steps, and towards another car. "How long have you been here? Did you meet us at the airport?"

"No baby, I was in the limo too."

"Oh--are you going to take off my blindfold?" Serena smiled.

"Nah baby, that's your father's job."

"And not now either."

Serena heard him call out amusedly.


5:40 p.m. Paris, France on the Boulevard des Capucines, 11:40 a.m. Miami, Florida

"Now, can I take off my blindfold?" Serena felt like she was going to burst from excitement as her father helped her out of the car. The sounds of violin's and accordions playing music mixed with odd clopping sounds and car engines, the smell of sweet pastries and bread, and people talking in French assaulted her senses all at once like an explosion. Based on how loud her surroundings were, she guessed that she was in the city, but where? Okay, so there was a lot of French speaking people around, but there was no way that she could be in France. But then again the flight 'was' long…nah, no way…or could it? "Papa?"

"No mon petit chou…now 'I'll', take your blindfold off." He smiled.

"Yes!" She almost leapt out of her shoes as he removed the cloth from her eyes. Her smile grew wider as she looked around in awe at her surroundings. "Oh my god!"

"I thought I wouldd share a bit of my upbringing and culture with you," he said. "I thought you might find it interesting to see France through my eyes."

"Oh papa!" She ran into his arms and hugged him close, tears falling from her eyes. "This is so…it's so wonderful," she replied, "je vous aime papa." She released him only to wipe at the tears in her eyes. "So, where are we going?"

"Well, I have reservations," he replied as he placed his arms out for both Serenity and Serena to take, "with two very beautiful women, for a restaurant called Le Grand Cafe; my family used to go there all the time when I lived here. I thought you would like to go."

"Is it around here?"

"No, we are going to walk with feet you spoiled little girl," he chuckled. "We shall walk just like I did when I was your age…it is better this way anyway, we can take in the scenery."

"Very funny, papa," she giggled as he led the way down the street only to stop at a pastry stand. He released himself from their hold and approached a ruly old man with gray hair tucked under a beret and a white apron covering his clothes; his back was turned to him.

"Excuse me sir, but could I have a pastry please?"

"Certainement," he replied as he wiped his hands on his apron. "Just a moment-" His eyes grew wide as he turned to look at a laughing Charles. "Charles!" He smiled. "Regardez toi! C'était un long temps! Comment vas-tu ici?"

"Anglais s'il vous plaît. Ma," he looked towards Serenity with his mouth slightly parted as he suddenly realized he had to approach a subject that they had never discussed before, especially together in front of Serena.

Serena sighed before jumping in and saving him. "Pardon mon père, ma mère ne parle pas le français." She knew that her father had been trying to explain to the man that her mother didn't speak French, but he didn't know just how to introduce her mother to him from his own lips. In the end she decided, why not let the old man come to his own conclusions?

"Pas de problème. I, comment vous dites, eh…I need to practice my Engli-wait! Attendez! You have a daughter?" He exclaimed as he gave Serena the once over. "Un bon fauteur de trouble like you is allowed to have children?" he shook his head and laughed.

"Francois, you are embarrassing me," he chuckled before pulling Serenity and Serena closer to him. "Bon, this is Serenity, and this is Serena," he said. "Serenity, Serena, this is Francois. I used to come here to get a pastry for breakfast on my way to school down the street."

"Him and his…eh …harem of women," he said with a wriggle of his brows.

"Francois!" Charles exclaimed.

Serena laughed as the man continued to talk about her father. Serenity stepped back, pretending not to be interested in where the conversation was going.

"Your papa used to come here with a different woman tout le temps when he was walking to school. He would say, Goûte les patisseries, elles ont le goût de mile sur ta lèvre…you know…my pastry…like honey, on the lips…the taste." He winked at Serenity.

Serena blushed; she wasn't really that surprised to hear that her father was a bit of sweet talker.

"Donc, I taught him to, ahhh, faitun gateau…eh…make cake?"

Serena's face lit up. "You taught papa to bake?"

"Mais oui, ma puce…that was the best part…then he would say, I can make this for you." Francois looked to where Serenity stood a little ways behind Charles. "I'm sorry, I do not mean to upset your wife, but I must say félicitations! A woman who can apprivoise this one must be worth it, no?"

Charles wanted to die when he said those words, he couldn't turn around to face Serenity, he wasn't even sure he wanted to know what she was thinking right now.

"We're not married," she replied. "I'm here because of Serena's birthday," she said, "isn't that right Charles?"

She was putting him to the test and he knew it. She was forcing him not to avoid what Serena had saved him from; she was forcing him to define their relationship once and for all, out in the open.

Moments after she had spoken, however, she felt like an idiot. Why had she said that? Had they been alone this would have been the perfect opportunity; but they weren't alone. Serena, 'their' daughter, was there. It wasn't fair to her on her birthday to have the focus of the day changed to her own mother. It was that last thought that made her suddenly understand where the feeling in the pit of her stomach was coming from. Suddenly, she found herself feeling guilty, her stomach swarming into a chaotic mess, her heart beating quickly. She was jealous, of her own daughter. It was easy to feel put out when father and daughter shared a bond so tight that she couldn't be a part. It was easy to be envious when she knew that she had no real bond with the father of her child at all. Father of her child. That's what he was to her; that's all he 'thought' he was to her. And as far as he was probably concerned, she was just another pair of good birthing hips and a roll in the hay. She was considered a part of the harem that the old man had spoken of. The problem was, just like all the other women, she allowed herself to be settled for just that. She allowed herself to become just a pretty face among many.

"And that Francois, is how you catch a fish, all you must do now is take him home, tenderize and sauté him," she laughed. It was better to pretend that it was all a laughing matter, than to face a truth that she decided she was not ready to come out in the open. "Come dear, while your father recuperates, I see something interesting over there." She linked her arm into Serena's and walked down to where a man stood in the midst of a courtyard juggling porcelain cups while balancing one on his nose.

"You are a lucky man…" Francois replied as he watched both Serena and Serenity laugh as a slim monkey dressed like the juggler took two of his cups and began to juggle, everyone clapping in the background. "This marriage thing is no big deal. You know no one cares about that here."

"This is only half the story…" Charles sighed as he glanced towards the two women in his world.

"Je ne comprends pas, what else is there to know?"

"It is compliqué, elle n'est pas français, she is American. She does not understand these things."

"Donc, let me ask you something. Why have you never brought her here to meet your famille, your amis? I know you have never come otherwise I would have seen you…c'est une grande rôle de ta vie, you should have brought her here if you feel the way you do, American or no."

"Je sais, je sais…" he replied. "I am ashamed to admit…but I was embarrassed by it all." His eyes focused on her form and the way her dress fit snuggly around her.

"Embarrassé? Pourquoi? Elle est belle, your daughter also. They are also both healthy, and they both love you."

"Mon frère aîné, he is happily married, deux enfants. Ma sœur dernière de deux, my baby sister, Gabryelle, she has is happily married with three…what do I have? J'ai une belle femme, and though I am in love with her and she gave birth to my child, une belle fille…it does not matter no? She does not trust me," he replied. "I wanted to bring her to mama when I knew that I had it together, when I was complet, terminé."

"Why would she not trust you?" He watched as Charles suddenly withdrew, his eyes distant. "Merde, qu'est-ce que vous avons faites?"

Charles sighed, refusing to answer.

"Donc…why now?"

"Je ne sais pas," he groaned as he slipped his fingers through his hair. "Alors, it does not matter, wish me luck. Today she will meet my famille…the both of them will."

"Bien sûr, take some pâte feuilletée sans charge ," he replied as he shuffled around his cart. "Your mother always loved them, I am sure that it will put her in lighted spirits." He handed him a small basket of fresh warm pastries wrapped up in paper and then closed the top of his cart. "Cependant, I have not forgotten, vous n'avez pas répondu ma question, why today, why now?"

"I thought I would show my daughter my hometown for her eighteenth birthday," he replied.

"Birthday? Je ne comprends pas."

"Americans call it birthday, en France, it is her anniversaire dix-huitième."

Francois's eyes grew wide. "Dix-huit ans?"

Charles winced. "Yes."

"Bon chance."

"Merci, I know I will need it."


Charles grinned secretively as he ushered both Serenity and Serena into the Café at four o'clock. Its richly lit windows wrapped the Grands Boulevards in a magical glow. In the foyer, a man greeted them with a smile as he showed the way to a darker room. Serena looked on quizzically, curious as to why the man didn't take her to one of the more lit rooms where other people sat. In a moment, she understood as they entered the room and the lights flickered on.

"Surprise! Joyeux anniversaire!" She nearly jumped back in shock as she glanced at all the strange faces lit with smiles. Her heart felt like it would leap out of her chest as she turned around to hug her father and cried soft happy tears as they began to sing in French to her.

After a flurry of many greetings she settled down at a long rectangular dinner table next to her cousin's Faina, whom was 20, and Iseline, whom was 17. The person she found most intriguing however, was her grandmother. She only smiled in the back of the room and glanced wisely over the proceedings. Faina whispered to her that the reason for which their grandmother did not speak was because she had only known and understood French. Serena nodded her head in understanding as she lay back and smiled in awe of her surroundings.

It was so beautiful. The ceiling was made of glass and ornated with flowers and fruits; the terrace had nouille style furniture, the whole restaurant was richly lit with grand lights.

One by one, the waiters came and placed plates before them. They started off with what she was told was Roasted goat's cheese on aubergine dip; she found it had a rather exquisite taste to it. Next, they served Supreme of Tandoori chicken and for dessert, it was a simple hot soufflé. To her, everything had been delicious and new with mouth-watering flavors that she couldn't believe. She glanced at her mother to see that even she had been enjoying herself, engrossed in a conversation with her father's young sister, Gabryelle. She wondered what they were talking about, seeing as they were extremely secretive in their words, but from what she could tell, it must have been funny, cause her mother was letting out hushed giggles here and there.

After the meal was over, they all gathered in the parlor where her father's older brother, Jacques, began to speak.

"Gentlemen, gentlemen. Écoutez! J'ai promis mon frérot, my kid brother," he ducked when Charles threw a punch at his arm. "Quand meme, I promise my brother we would show his petit chou how things go in France. Donc, nous allons démarrer avec la dégustation du vin, we are going to start with tasting of the wine. He has spent long time in America, no? I think he is now an American." Everyone laughed around the room at his words. "À tout prix, il est coutume, when we get together it is tradition that we taste the wine…ton père, avant, before, your father was okay…"

"Okay? J'ai été magnifique!" Charles exclaimed.

"We know, we were there," Zamir laughed. "Toutefois, that was before, it is not now."

"Gentlemen, gentlemen. We are loosing time. En plus, we will see in a minute what is what, n'est-ce pas?" He swept out his hand and bowed his head as all the men began to sit around the rectangular table, nine in all, everyone else standing around to gather behind them. Both Serena and her mother stood behind Charles, curious as to see what would happen.

"Je parie cinquante francs, he will not know the first bottle." Fernando, his brother-in-law, laughed.

"Bet all you want." Charles replied as his brother's wife Carmen, with the help of Gabryelle began to walk around the table, putting down three differently sized glasses for each of the men. In the center of the table, she placed two loaves of French bread, and a pitcher of warm water for mouth rinsing. Carmen's son, Felipe, followed in her wake, placing clean clothes in front of each man as well.

"Comportez-vous. Behave!" she laughed charmingly as she placed a large ceramic bowl in the center of the table. "Vous spécialement, Walter."

"Excuse me Carmen, but it was not I whom dropped that wine bottle last time, it was Sidney."

Serena smiled as the men began to argue before her Aunts Gabryelle and Carmen broke them up once and for all.

"Gentlemen, grandis un peu!" Gabryelle said.

"I have grown, Zamir needs to grow up," Charles replied.

"Oh, I don't know about that." Serenity joined in softly, causing everyone to laugh.

"We should talk later Serenity." Jacques chuckled. "You have much to tell, no?"

Charles threw his hands in the air. "Assez! Let us get on with it."

"Il est anxieux," his cousin, Raynoud, replied. "Continuons! Avant l'Américain perd la tête."

"Very funny Raynoud." Charles said as he lifted his glass in the air as if to inspect it. "But I will not lose my head."

"Assez, gentlemen. We will all taste the wines and agree, but it is up to Charles to guess, d'accord?" Jacques continued.

"Bien sûr," Charles replied. "Cent Franc…no…deux cent Francs…pour tout bonne réponse?" He placed his money in the center of the table and they all followed. "I will win this money as a present to Serena…"

Jacques laughed. "Then I am afraid that you will be leaving with no money Serena."

"Assez! Enough!"

Serena watched fascinated as her father moved the glass beneath his nose and inhaled deeply before moving it away, careful not to overwhelm himself with the scent as he pondered the characteristics he had noted so far. "

"Il se sent chêne, it smells of oak on the nose-- toasted wood et vanille." He brought the drink to his lips, took a sip, and held it in his mouth, pushing against the front, and inhaling it through his teeth. He sloshed it around further, and covered his tongue; he even chewed it to help him arrive at his conclusion before reaching for the ceramic bowl and spitting it out. The other men around the table did the same before huddling in a group and discussing what they believed it to be. "Il est franchement généreux dans la bouche, the aroma of ripe fruit on the lips,--passion fruit, litchi—le vieillissement potential est grand…ahhh…I have it," he replied. "Ȇtes-vous prêts?"

"Mais oui," Jacques smiled as he leaned back in his chair. "Et toi frérot?"

"It is tres simple, Château le Grand Moulin Blanc, de l'année 1998."

Jacques clapped his hands. "Pas mal, Charles, tres bon."

"That is only one…we will see how well you do with the rest." Raynoud replied as they all began to rinse their mouths with warm water and then proceed to clean their cups. It wasn't until Charles announced correctly the third wine they brought out that Carmen decided it was time for the rest of them to retire from watching them play.

"Venons! I believe that Serenity and Serena have seen enough, no? We will leave the men to their games et nous divertissons? We must entertain ourselves," she continued. "Nous allons jouer Belot…it is a card game."

Delianne frowned. "Mais non, only four people can play Belot at the most."

"Pas de problème," Carmen replied, "we will make it work."


Serena sat and watched with interest as her mother, her Aunt Gabryelle, and her second cousins Denise and Kimberly sat down and began to play what Carmen had described to them as Belot.

"Donc, en Berlot, l'atout de couleur, the suit of trump is the spade. The jack is greatest and worth 20. Les cartes neuf are fourteen. The ace is eleven. Les cartes dix are ten. Les cartes de roi, king, is four. Les cartes de dame, queen, is three, and huit et sept are zero."

Serenity crinkled her brows as she tried to catch everything that Denise was saying. It was a little hard to say the least with the mixture of languages. She felt like she had been caught up in this French whirlwind; this completely new place where she didn't belong. But she wanted to try. She wanted to fit, if not for Charles, then for Serena. It was her family too. A part of her life she didn't know and she wanted Serena to have this. Serenity felt like her own side of the family was certainly lacking, both she and her mother had no siblings. Unfortunately her aunt died at a young age from cancer, leaving only her own mother. So today was especially special for Serena. Today she had a big family. Today she also had cousins, aunts, and uncles.

Serenity shook off her thoughts as Gabryelle touched her shoulder. "Serenity, watch out, Denise and Kimberly sont tricheur. They cheat." She said as she cut the cards and handed them back to Denise.

Kimberly laughed. "Do not mind her Serenity. Gabryelle does not like to lose."

"Ce n'est pas vrai," she replied. "Do not worry Serenity, it does not matter if they cheat, we can still win," she added as Denise gave them a set of three cards each, then another set of two cards, turning the next card after face up. "Je passe," she said as she looked at the upturned card.

"Serena…would you like to play poker?"

Serena turned around as her cousin Felipe approached her from behind. "Giovanni, Faina, and I were about to play and we considered that you would like to join us as the fourth player."

She looked quickly to her mother and caught the smile on her face as she nodded her head. "Sure…I would love to."


Serena laughed as her cousins Giovanni and Felipe taught her the "French way" to play poker. According to Faina, it was the "cheaters" way to playing poker. But Serena didn't care; she never had so much fun in her life. They also taught her how to bluff which she had somewhat of a good ground in. But the funniest thing they taught her, was how to pretend that she didn't know how to play, or in other words, they introduced her to the school of "How to be a hustler", which she found quite amusing.

She turned her head and observed the room with a contented sigh. From what she could see, her father had finished the wine contest with his brother, cousins, and uncle. Now they contented themselves with talking and making jokes; she inwardly wondered if her father had won. When he turned around and caught her glance, he winked at her and waved a load of cash before her. She giggled and grinned widely before turning to look for her mother, whom was nowhere to be found.


"Je vous…eh…parlez avec moi?" Serenity asked in her best French as she glanced at Charles's mother whom sat in the corner of the room, watching quietly over the party. She motioned for Serenity to sit with her hand.

Serenity swallowed the dryness in her throat as she sat down next to her. She didn't know what else to do; she had never learned French and therefore didn't know how she could possibly have a conversation with this woman. But it was Charles's mother, Serena's grandmother; this woman was a part of her life.

"Yes," she whispered. "We must talk."

Serenity looked quickly around, surely she was hearing things. Did his mother just speak in English? "I thought…" she murmured.

"What my children and my famille do not know will not hurt them," she replied with narrowed eyes. "Now…I ask you to sit here that I make talk to you about my son."

"About Charles?" If she wasn't nervous before, Serenity was definitely nervous and concerned now.

"I love my boy."

"Yes, of course you do," Serenity hurriedly replied.

"Do not interrupt," she replied as she grabbed Serenity by the elbow. "Now I know you…no money, so you go for my Charles.

Serenity felt her hands shake. If this woman's true game hadn't been clear before, it was definitely clear now.

"But you does not know. My son love me, he listen to me. I tell him and he will leave you and your bâtard with no money."

"Charles would never—he loves Serena," she shook her head in disagreement and unbelief, that this woman would ever say that about her daughter.

"You does not know my Charles," she narrowed her eyes. "I know what my Charles need and it is not you…I will bet your bâtard is not for my Charles, no?"

"No!" Serenity whispered as she yanked her arm away. "You don't know him…and I swear that if you ever, 'ever'--threaten my baby or call her that name again, I will-"

"You will what? You have nothing, no?" she looked Serenity over haughtily. "He know you for eighteens year and it is now that he bring you here to see his famille? Ha, he is ashamed of you and you have no control over him."

"He may not love me, but I know he loves Serena. Don't you ever threaten to destroy their relationship, if you do, I will make it so that you will never see your son again." Serenity stood up and turned to look at her one last time. "I can make it happen, believe me."


"Où est Juana?" Serena asked, attempting to stall as she looked towards her two eager cousins. She had been pulled aside by Faina and Iseline for what they had designated "girl talk". Of course, she knew that it was really an opportunity for them to dig into her private life, and the last person she wanted to talk about right now was Darien. In fact, she had actually managed to forget about him for a while, that is until they cornered her. She turned to her cousins and realized that they had been talking to her. "I'm sorry, what did you say?"

Faina crossed her fingers over her knee. "J'ai dit, nous n'invitons pas Juana faire la conversation."

"Why not?" Serena replied.

Iseline frowned, "because…Juanna is a bit of a squealer…she does not know how to keep a secret," she said. "Quand même, tell me Serena…do you have a boyfriend?"


"Ce n'est pas vrai," Iseline laughed as she placed her arm around her shoulder, "Do not worry, we will not tell your papa."

Serena felt uneasy. It wasn't so much that she was against talking to them, as it was, that she didn't know what she would talk about. Her situation merely left her embarrassed to say the least, and she still wasn't sure how she felt about it or what she was going to do. The things he had said. She didn't even have time to really mull them over. Did he mean them or was this just a stupid fight?

"If I tell you about mine, you will tell me about yours?"


"J'ai la connu!" Faina laughed. "She does have a boyfriend, no?"

"Now you have to tell Serena, do not worry, we will not tell your papa or your mama." Iseline smiled.

"O-okay." Serena sighed, realizing the mess she was about to step into. She just hoped that these two really weren't the gossiping type.

"We will tell our boyfriend's name, his age, what he looks like, and what he does good at," Faina began. "I will go first…my boyfriend's name is Eric," she smiled. "He is from l'États-Unis and is studying to become a doctor and he is four years older. His eyes are of green and he has hair of brown that is curly," she laughed. "He is really sweet and is good at cooking for me."

Iseline looked around secretively before whispering, "my boyfriend's name is Rueben," she said. "And he is of twenty four." She giggled shyly, her face turning red.

"Vingt-quatre!" Faina replied and Serena laughed, at least she wasn't alone. "You never told me!"

"I do not have to tell you everything," Iseline laughed as she rolled her eyes and crossed her arms. "Quand même, Ruben has pretty eyes of hazel and his hair is golden like yours Serena and it is short but the bangs are sometimes long and…eh…comment tu dis salement, eh… fouillis?"

Serena smiled. "Messy."

"Yes, it can be messy, no?" Her face lit up as Serena nodded her head. "I love to feel it between my fingers…oh and he wears glasses," she sighed. "What is he good at, well…Ruben is very good at…well, il est un bon coup!" She blushed.

Serena laughed when she saw Faina's skin flush red at Iseline's words. "You have slept with him…was it…was it good?"

"Il sait faire plaisir, it was heaven," Iseline smiled as she slouched lazily in the chair with a far away look on her face.

"I thought you were going to wait?" Faina continued.

She giggled. "Well…we could not wait."

"If your papa ever found out-"

Iseline looked at her with a hard stare that stopped her words short. "They are not going to find out because you are not going to tell them," she replied before turning towards Serena with a broad grin. "Your turn."

"Well…" Serena licked dry lips nervously as she combed her fingers through her hair, uncrossed then crossed her legs. The best thing to do for now was just to pretend that things were okay. She hadn't even spoken to Molly about their fight and she didn't think she was ready to face it all.

"Serena, you okay?" Faina replied. "You don't have to tell us if you do not want too."

"No, I…well, the guy that I…well….his name is Darien and he's 25."

Faina rolled her eyes and threw her hands up in the air. "Toi aussi?"

"Leave her alone…you are just jealous, no?" Iseline replied. "Serena, qu'est-ce qu'il semble?"

"Well…" She crossed her hands over her knee, stretched out her arms and locked her elbows. "He has deep blue eyes and a—thick black hair and he--he is good at…well, il aussi, il est un bon coup."

Iseline struggled to keep her laughter in check, biting the side of her lip at the look of disbelief on Faina's face.

"What are you two telling my daughter?" They all sat at attention as soon as they heard Charles's voice.

"Nothing cousin," Faina smiled as Serena turned slightly away, avoiding his gaze, "just girl talk."

"Elles font juste la conversation," Iseline added with a smile.

Charles arched his brow before looking towards his daughter. "Sere, have you seen your mother?"

Serena looked at her father with a hint of nervousness. "Not since she was playing Belot with Aunt Gabryelle, and cousins Denise and Kimberly," she softly replied.

Iseline scratched her head. "Maybe she is outside?"

He chuckled. "You wouldn't by chance be trying to get rid of me, would you now cousin?"

She grinned broadly, attempting to give him her winning smile. "Of course not cousin."

He arched his brow once more before walking towards the back of the room. As soon as he was gone, Serena sagged in her chair, her face and upper chest area flushing a bright red.

"I can't believe that just happened," she laughed, both Faina and Iseline laughing along with her.


Charles sighed as he walked over to where Gabryelle stood talking with Denise. "Avez-vous vu Serenity?"

"No," Gabryelle replied, "not since mother asked to see her."

He looked towards where his mother sat to see that Serenity was not there.

"Elle est peut-être à l'extérieur?"

"Yes, outside, maybe in the patio?" Denise added.

"Thank-you, I will go look there now." He stuck his hands in his pockets before walking away.


Serenity sighed as she leant on her elbows and looked towards the moon. What was she doing here? Getting close to Charles's family only made things worse. Agreeing to come here with him and Serena was a bad idea, but how could she say no? But then what about what his mother had said, it struck something in her that she had never even thought about. God, what an idiot she had been.


Her body went still when she heard his voice.

"I have been looking all over the world for you," he chuckled.

"You're eighteen years too late," she replied as she felt him stand behind her, his hands resting on her waist. She blew out a breath when he turned her around.

"What is wrong?" he inquired softly.

"Why did you wait eighteen years to let me meet your family? Were you ashamed of me? Did we not live up to your standards of a perfect family?"

"Where is this coming from?"

"Just answer the question."

How could he tell the reason why he'd never done so was because he was ashamed of himself and the fact that they weren't together. He had royally messed up with her and he wanted to fix things between them, gain her trust again. Where had the time even gone? He should have never moved to Japan.

"You can't answer it can you? You can't even tell me I'm wrong."

"I am not—I am not ashamed of us…chérie," he replied. "I just…never got around to it."

"Maybe we should just stop fooling ourselves…we're never gonna fit good together, and I don't belong here…with your rich family. Where I come from and where you come from is not the same and I…I should have never agreed to let you help me take care of Serena…I should have ended it there."

"What are you saying?" His throat felt dry and parched. She wasn't going to say-

"Maybe we should just forget about the whole thing." She tried to loosen herself from his grasp.

He kissed her.

"Time for cake everyone!" Gabryelle's voice could be heard from inside.

She pulled back from him and pushed him away from her.

"Its cake time," she whispered before stepping back inside.


With a smile, Gabryelle pushed Serena into what they had dubbed the birthday chair while Serenity stood silently behind her, "open this one first."

Serena took the gift in her hands and tore at the wrapping.

"Ah la vache! If your daughter goes any slower we just may die in this room," Jacques joked, making everyone laugh. "Need any help with that Serena?" He smiled as she got through the wrapping to reveal a small case. When she opened it, she found several square candles inside.

"They are scented candles," Gabryelle said, "les fragrances de Jasmine et Gardenia, Freesia et Tuberose, Lavender et Herbs, et a set of Vanilla Luminous scented candles. It is very nice to light and smell while taking a long bath, no?"

"Merci beacoup Aunt Gabryelle, Uncle Fernando…it's wonderful," Serena smiled as she leaned up to give each of them a peck on both cheeks.

Jacques quirked his brow as he stared at the gift. "Merde, what is this fascination with women and taking baths-ouch, what was that for?" Jacques rubbed the side of his head as the other men in the room chuckled.

Carmen glared at her husband as she handed Serena her next gift, "watch your mouth."

"That one is from me," Delianne said as Serena tore the wrapping. "You will like this gift if you really liked the first."

"Bath salts!" Serena grinned widely. "I've always wanted some foreign scents. None of the other girls back at school will have these," she replied as she kissed her on the cheeks.

"They have the scents of peach, rose, cinnamon orange, lavender, verbana and Vanilla," she said. "But they are…qu'est vous dites…er…richer here, no? They smell more authentic. Now you can have several scents that no one else has."

"Okay, it is time for a changement de cadence," Jacques replied as he handed her his gift. "This one is from me and Carmen," he smiled as she carefully removed the wrapping to uncover a wine bottle.

"Eh-em…I will take that thank-you," Charles said as he took the bottle from her hands.

"Pour l'amour de Dieu, Charles! It was never my intention for her to open it now," Jacques laughed. "It is Château Crecy Bordeaux 1998. It came from Saint-Émilion and has a very exceptional vintage year. With that type of wine, you should wait a couple of years to open it, no? So I thought it would be nice if you had a bottle of wine that you could save for your 21st birthday." He smiled as Serena stood on her toes and kissed both him and his wife and then sat in her seat once more.

"I know," Charles replied, "and I will watch over it with a keen eye until that time comes," he said. "Next gift."

"Here, open ours," Kimberly replied as she handed her the gift and then stood next to her husband Sidney. "Careful, it is fragile," she smiled.

"Wow, this is cool," Serena, replied as she looked at the antique clock.

"It caught my eye, and even though I did not know you Serena, we agreed that it was something you 'may' like. Charles attempted to give us an idea of your tastes but he was very lacking in description," Sidney replied with a cross of his arms.

"It is not my fault, she was being very difficult," Charles replied as he threw his hands in the air.

Serena blushed as everyone shared a small laugh, so that's why her father kept on asking her what she wanted.

"Cependant, the clock is very special. Kimberly can tell you, she sells and collects antiques. Care to do the honors ma caille?"

"Oh yes, this is what le représentant Américain told us when he was showing us the clock." She scrunched up her face and licked her lips. "Eh-em, this, Madame, is a time worn patina of solid aged brass and is a reproduction of one made by a clockmaker on Boulevard Etienne in Paris at the turn of the century. Notice the intricate yet decorative rim of cornflower blue that encircles the antique face of the clock. Its quartz movements assure accuracy and reliability and it operates with an AA battery," she smiled and everyone laughed.

"Merci beacoup," Serena replied as she kissed them both, "now all I need is a mantle," she said, causing everyone to laugh.

"You will see to that right Charles?" Kimberly said sternly, crossing her arms.

"Oui madame," he replied with a grin as he reached over to pick up her next gift off the floor and nearly dropped it when he noticed how heavy it was. "Merde! What is in this box? A huge lead pipe?"

"No, but you are close." Gianna smiled. "It is made of lead."

"I think I will leave this on the floor by your feet mon chou," he said. "I do not think you want something this heavy on your lap," he finished as he stood up and watched her unwrap the gift.

"Awwweee!" She replied as she moved aside the white Styrofoam packaging and saw the winged, lead pig. "He's so cute." She pursed her lips as she ran her finger down its back.

"You can use it for your door or just for décoration, no?" Gianna said. "The man who made this one says there are only a few of these in the world. Consider yourself lucky."

Serena smiled as she leant up to kiss her and her husband Walter before sitting back in the chair once more. "Thank-you, I know just where I'll put him," she replied as she took the next gift from Gabryelle's hands. When she opened it, she found a small bottle of perfume.

"Yet another fragrance for Serena to add to her collection!" Jacques said.

Carmen rolled her eyes. "Honestly Charles, I do not know how you grew up with him, c'est un vrai casse-pieds! A royal pain, he is."

"What is that American saying Serena? It takes one pain to know a pain, no?" Jacques chuckled as his wife hit him playfully.

"Assez petits enfants!" Denise sighed. "Sorry Serena, Serenity, but those two can go on for hours. Quoi qu'il en soit, the fragrance is Red Flower perfume," she continued, "it is nice and it is not common." She smiled as Serena kissed her on the cheek.

"Thank-you, I'll wear it for all those special occasions."

"Here is mine," Raynoud said as he handed her a large somewhat thin and rectangular object. "Je veux connaître si tu vas l'aimer."

She smiled as she began to tear the brown wrapping. "A painting?"

"Oui, j'aime…pardon…I mean to say that I like to collect art," he replied with a smile. "It was a rare find."

"A Van Gogh!" she squealed.

"Tu reconnais le peinture!" he said happily.

She beamed. "Yes, but I'm not familiar with this painting in particular. I do love his work though," she replied. "Learned about him in my art class."

"It is Starlight over Rhone," he said, "It is not the original, it is a remake by a reputable artist in France…the original hangs in the Musee d'Orsay…perhaps next time you come I can take you on a tour, no?"

"It's lovely and I would love to," she smiled as she put the painting down next to her chair and leant up to kiss him on the cheek. "I'll put this one on my wall."

Jacques rolled his eyes. "Show off-ouch…" He glared at his wife. "Merde woman, you punch like a man-ouch!"

"You're just jealous," Carmen replied, "and I told you before to watch you mouth in front of the children."

Charles chuckled at the look on his brother's face. "Time is of the essence, next gift please."

"Our gift is, il est tres grand, donc, we thought it would be better for you to look at the picture and open it when you get home?" Cathleen said. "It is more… pratique, n'est pas?" She handed Serena a large photo of a tall screen with glazed gold metallic damask squares coming together to make up four panels.

"It is a Damask Screen," her husband, Zamir, said. "It is about 2 meters tall, et 1 meters wide."

"That is so cool!" Serena smiled as Cathleen and Zamir leant down to kiss her.

"We are happy you like it," Cathleen replied with a smile.

"Maybe it will be good if you wait on our gift as well," Catherine said. "It is way too big."

"What is it?" Serena asked.

"It is a Magazine Street Trumeau… essentiellement, it is a mirror with a pretty design all around it…you will see when you get home, n'est pas?"

She stood up to give him a kiss. "Sans aucun doute, merci beacoup."

"Bien, time is running short so we have to go," Charles said. "Gentlemen, if you could help me carry the gifts into the limo?"


After they all said their good-byes Charles helped both Serena and Serenity into the limo. He then gave his mother a final kiss on the both cheeks. She smiled and both hugged and kissed him genuinely before bidding him adieu.


10:00 p.m. Paris, France; 4:00 p.m. Miami, Florida

It was ten o' clock in the evening as they sat quietly in the recess of the limo. Charles sighed lazily, continuously passing his fingers over Serena's hair as she slept with her head in his lap. He had been considering, ever since he stepped in the limo, how he would bring up the subject of their earlier conversation. He hadn't wanted to believe that she was serious and hoping it was just momentary burst of emotion connected to something else he knew she had not told him. He took shallow breaths as he watched her, he couldn't let her go and leave her without settling this matter once and for all.

"About earlier," he said. He watched as she fidgeted with her fingers in her lap before looking up at him. "You don't…you don't seriously believe that we should stop trying…do you?" He looked her in the eyes and she turned away to look towards the window.


"I don't understand why…we, we-"

Her face was dull and lifeless, she looked spent, and she looked tired. "Cause look at us," she said. "I mean really look—we are only fooling ourselves."

"And why is that love?" He replied. "Because I thought we were getting somewhere. But since you seem to have all of the fucking answers, tell me why we are fooling ourselves."

"Because we've been fooling around for eighteen years."

"Fourteen," he whispered.

"Yeah, that makes it all the better. What? Are you proud to know that you've managed to fuck me for fourteen g'damn years? Are you happy to know that you're the only man I've been fucking for fourteen damn years? This is bullshit!" she whispered. "I don't know about you, but I want to get married. I'm thirty-six years old with an eighteen-year-old kid Charles!" She said. "It's time for me to let go, maybe move on."

He moved his tongue over his teeth and heaved a deep sigh. "Move on," he said. "You say 'move on', 'let go'—you want to move on from me…you want to let 'ME' go."

She wiped the tears falling from her eyes. "If we didn't get it right for eighteen years--what in your heart tells you that we'll get it right now?"

"You want to know what tells me this?" he said as he looked down to where Serena slept soundly. "This tells me," he replied as he continued to pass his fingers through her hair before reaching over to Serenity's abdomen, "and this tells me."

She turned away, not even bothering to move his hand. "How did you-"

"Now I am stupid? I am a fucking idiot right? Did you honestly think I would not find out? It has been over a month since we had sex and the condom broke. Not to mention that I know your cycle like clockwork," he replied. "God knows I love you but you can be one cranky bitch when you are on your cycle—you have not been that way with me in a month or so now…all you've been is sick." He sighed as the limo suddenly became silent.

"I won't stay in a relationship with you just because I'm pregnant. I will not use our children as an excuse. This isn't like last time. I don't need your money, and I can stand on my own two feet."

"Children may not be a good excuse but they are a good enough reason to try. You may have given up on us, you may have decided in yourself that you are going to move on…but I am not going to let that happen. I do not give a damn what you believe, I am 'not', letting this go," he said. "So you go home in your bed tonight and you dwell on that."


"We're here David, all right?" Molly whispered before shutting off her cell phone. Both she and Serena had just pulled into the parking lot of Club 9th Street where she had set up a surprise party for her, inviting a lot of the teens from their school. Serena thought they were just going out to celebrate her birthday alone as friends. The truth, of course, was far from that. The tricky part was getting Serena to wear the appropriate clothing, short white shorts and a white halter. The party had a black light theme that she had gotten permission from the bar owner to throw, as long as she had paid some professionals to come clean up the mess afterwards. It had been David's suggestion and she had thought it would be a cool idea and a lot of fun. When she got out of her car, Serena was waiting for her.

"I don't know if I feel like partying right now Mol," Serena said as she crossed her arms over her chest.

"Serena, are you still brooding over Mr. Shields?" Molly rolled her eyes, "you need to let that dead weight go, he's just bullshitting you..."

"I said I don't want to talk about it okay?" She said. "And could you stop saying his name so loudly?"

"Whatever…all I am saying is, you're eighteen now, you should be living like it," Molly replied as she opened the door.

"You know, this is the first time I think I've ever come to this club and there wasn't a line waiting outside," Serena said before stepping into the dark room.


She shrieked as a gallon of what felt like paint was splashed all over her. Blue lights suddenly turned on all over the room and everyone glowed like a rainbow of colors in the dark. She looked down at herself to see that she now lit up like a bright purple light, the paint on her body giving off a luminescent glow.


Serena smiled as she danced with David in the midst of the heated club. As the birthday girl, she was forced to dance with at least one of the single guys there. Her body pulsed and she felt hot and wild as she put her hands up in the air and moved to the beat. Her hips moved from side to side, front to back, sometimes bumping into his. Her hair flared about her with life. She had to admit, having this party made her feel really good. She grinned when she noticed that two other guys had joined them in their dance, the three of them now bumping, grinding, moving, and sometimes grated movements, sometimes fluid, silky, and liquid. She looked over to where Molly was dancing with Melvin and laughed. Apparently, Molly must have dragged him onto the dance floor, because he was moving awkwardly and shyly against her. Even under the pink goop that was splattered all over him and in his hair, she had to admit that he was kind of hot, especially without his glasses on. She looked up at David and he smiled down at her as she moved against him smoothly. The music stopped suddenly, catching them somewhat off guard.

"Everybody! It's Popsicle time!"

Serena groaned and turned around when she heard Molly say the words.

"Grab your partners, guys, because we are going to play a little role reversal here," the white with blue glowing form that was Molly spoke.

Serena could feel David possessively bringing her closer to him, and she had to wonder for a moment if it meant more than she thought.

"I think most of us here know how this game is played, but for those of us who do not…I will explain."

"What is the Popsicle game?" Serena heard David whisper close into her ear.

"Just wait." She placed her head back against his chest as Molly continued to pass out cold popsicles to all the girls in the room.

"In the Popsicle game, it is up to the girls to hold the popsicles in between their legs while the guys suck on it till it is done. No cheating guys, you would not want a girl biting down on you."

Serena rolled her eyes. Sometimes she was surprised at the fact that Molly was a virgin. But like they always say, it's always the innocent ones.

"If the guy bites down girls, you have to scream ow, and if he finishes you have to call out his name," she laughed. "Don't go too fast or you will get a brain freeze which equates to overload."

"You are kidding." She heard David whisper. "You play this often?"

"Not exactly…" Serena blushed as he knelt before her.

"This should prove to be…interesting," he grinned as she peeled the wrapper off the Popsicle and placed the stick between her legs.

"Everyone ready?" Molly called out.

"This is so awkward," David said.

"I think that's the point," Serena laughed as she placed her hand in his hair. She was surprised at how soft and curly it was. He was definitely a looker.

"Okay guys, ready? Go!"

The room became filled with giggles and laughter as the guys performed their part of the game. The sounds of 'ow' could be heard from various places as well as groaning as guys more than likely had to stop because of brain freeze. Serena rolled her eyes, some people never pay attention to the rules. She looked down at David as he placed his hands on her hips to see him licking the juice slowly. Sometimes he would suck for a while and other times he would merely change the pace with breaks in between. She blushed and turned to look at the ceiling. This moment was almost a pinnacle of embarrassment. When she looked back down at him, he had paused for a moment to look at her with a raised brow.

"Can't handle it," he smirked.

"I can handle the fire just fine, playboy," she laughed as he continued sucking on the Popsicle once again.


Serena breathed a sigh of relief when she heard a girl in the crowd call out another guy's name. David seemed too much of a pro for her liking and the last thing she wanted to be doing was calling out his name for everyone to hear. She blushed when David stood before her, Popsicle in hand, as the DJ began to play a slow song. She could feel him put out his hand on her hip and bring her close to him, the other hand retrieving the Popsicle from between her legs and bringing it to his lips.

"Want some?" He teased.

"You are such a flirt," she giggled as he chucked the Popsicle in a trashcan that was being passed around before placing his other hand on her hip and rested his chin on top of her head. It gave her an apprehensive feeling.

"I don't bite," he chuckled and she relaxed against him, resting her head on his bright lime green shoulder and putting her arms around his neck. After dancing at a fast pace for so long earlier, no one could help but get all the colors of the rainbow on them to the point when you couldn't tell one person apart from the next. Not to mention the fact that some people were going around and spraying different colors of black light paint on everyone.

She sighed as she glanced around the room. There were a lot of couples on the dance floor, some at the tables eating the pizza, cheese seasoned curly fries, chicken wings and tenders, and drinking the drinks supplied, and still others in private booths, away from the black lights. She couldn't exactly see what they were doing, but then maybe she didn't want to know.

"God you smell good," she smiled shyly when he whispered the words close to her ear.

"Thank-you," she replied, "it's French."

"I know," he chuckled, "someone's been bathing in Vanilla bath salts and putting on Red Flower perfume."

She giggled. "It's Lavender salts."

"I was close."

"I got it for my birthday from my Cousin and Aunt in France," she said as she looked up at him.

"Did you go to France for your birthday?"


"Spoiled brat."

She laughed. "Homesick?"

He nodded. "Miss my girlfriend," he said. "She kind of looks like you…except she has brown eyes instead of blue, brown hair instead of blonde-"

She laughed again. "She doesn't seem to look like me at all."

"Are you kidding me? Everyone looks like Karrida," he replied. "That girl over there looks like Karrida…and that one over there with the black hair…the one with the red…all I ever see is her."

She smiled. "Someone's got it bad."

"Je sais, je sais..."

She arched her brow. "So why are you over here instead of over there?"

"Our parents' idea…they thought we were getting too close because we were always together," he replied. "Her parents in particular really…they were afraid I would "defile" their daughter."

Serena continued to laugh at his obvious disdain. "Um…have you, defiled, their daughter?"

"I know that I am, how you say, not a saint, but that…is none of your business," he smiled, "so, what is your story?"

"My story?" she arched her brow.

"I know that you have a boyfriend…where is he?"

She looked away, ignoring his question for a moment. "Can I ask you something?" She said, looking back up at him.

"Fire away."

"What does your girlfriend think about you going to the prom with me?"

"Well, she is a very understanding person I guess…in France it is more of a celebration or a big party?"

She arched her brow. "So she's going with someone else too?"

"Yes and no," he hissed through clenched teeth as he looked at a point on a far away wall. "She is going with a group of my friends, but I know that there are some who look at her…they are very er…tricky, no? I do not really approve…she is beautiful…and I worry that some guy is going to take advantage of her…sorry to say that I can not be as understanding as she…no matter how much I trust her."


"But you did not answer my question…" He replied, his anger deflating quickly.

"He…well…he couldn't be here."

"What country is he in?"

"Country…well…he's in…he's in Greece."

"Can I ask you something?"


"What does he think about you going to the dance with me?"

She sighed as she rested her head on his shoulder. "Pissed," she replied before looking up at him. "But I really wanna go...and…and you're the only guy I know that I can go with whom won't try anything."

"Serena," he sighed, "I guess now I know how it feels to be the other guy."

"And how does it feel?"

"The truth?" he chuckled, low.

"Ummm…yeah," she whispered.

"The desire to be bad is unbelievable." He moved his head closer to her, her scent filling his nostrils as he held their bodies together and dipped them to match the rhythm of the music. "Merde, temptation…is a bitch."

She turned her head up to look at him and her lips brushed against his. "Yeah…it is."

"And to be alone means to be lonely." He pressed his lips against hers.


They heard her name being called in the distance and they jerked back away from each other.

"Je suis désolé …I did not…I mean I should not have-"

"It's okay…I know…me either." She looked down at the glowing paint spots on the floor.

He passed his fingers through his hair nervously, his breathing shallow.

"Could the girl whose name is Serena please raise her hand?"

She watched as a man with a glowing white shirt, whom could be none other than the bartender Jason, approached her area. She raised her hand.

"There you are girl…with all this fucking paint and darkness…I've spent half an hour trying to find you," he chuckled as he handed her a black envelope. "Someone left this note for you at the bar…the envelope's black, but my guess is that the words are in white so that you can read them."

"Thanks," she replied nervously. She waited for him to walk back to the bar before she stepped to the side and opened the note.

Booth 7


She tore up the paper nervously, letting the pieces fall to the floor.

"Something wrong?" David said.

"No I…I have to do something…I'll be back okay?"


She wasn't quite sure which booth was booth seven and only knew it was somewhere in the direction she was heading. It was hard to tell where anything was in all the darkness. She hoped to god that Darien had not witnessed what had just happened. She didn't want him to be madder than he probably already was. Besides, it meant nothing, it was just a mistake.

When she passed by one very dark booth in particular, a hand reached out to pull her in. She shrieked as she looked up at her assailant only to stare into Darien's cool eyes as he quickly clicked on a small flashlight to let her know it was him.

"What?" She said, sitting down amidst the darkness, arms crossed over her chest. She felt like she should be on the defensive, even if she was questioning herself at the moment.

"I wanted to tell you that I didn't mean it…what I said."

She sighed as he pulled her closer to him, almost to the point in which she was sitting on his lap.

"But I couldn't get the thought of you in some other guy's bed, with him touching you the way that I do out of my head."

She rested her back against him, thinking about what David had told her earlier. "But I don't want another guy Darien, I want you."

"Do you?" He turned her chin towards him and brushed his lips against hers.

She could feel her lips tingle, this wasn't the same kind of touch her and David just shared. This was better, way better. "Yes," she replied.

"We're having fun, right Serena?"

She swallowed. Of course, she was having fun, why would he ask her that? "Yes."

He smiled as he slipped his hand up her thigh slowly, trailing his fingers up, the revealing parts of her skin before cupping her breast through her top. He basked in her whimpers. No, she wasn't going anywhere. He was a good fuck. If anything, he'd leave her before she would ever leave him.

"Darien," she breathed as his mouth moved to her neck and began to suckle.


She swallowed. She didn't want to start another fight but she had to know. "Are you okay with me going with…with David?"

"Yeah babe I trust you, go ahead to the dance," he replied as he moved her so that she was sitting in his lap, his lips going lower. "Get wet and ready for me…then come home…I'll rock your world."

"Darien," she nearly screamed when he began to suckle her through her top.

He lifted his head, "I missed you…you know."

She blushed in the darkness, happy that it hid her face from his view as he leaned over to whisper in her ear, licking the lobe. "What are you doing tonight, after your party?"

"My mom wants me home by midnight," she breathed before looking down.

He felt her shift her head. He placed his hand under her chin to lift up her face. "But I want you now," he replied as he trailed his lips up and down her face.

She wondered how he could see in all this darkness.

"What time's the party over?"

She inhaled slowly. "Eleven thirty."

"Guess that doesn't give me time for much of anything does it…being that you'll need sometime to get home," he chuckled as he passed his fingers through her hair. "I read somewhere that medically speaking, a woman can orgasm from just kissing." His lips moved gently over hers, gently suckling her bottom lip. She moved closer to him and he pulled away, teasing her. She followed his movements, opening her lips up to him. She could feel herself warm up against him as his hands progressed again from thigh to breast and planted themselves firmly there. She purred in the back of her throat as one hand slipped under the halter to cup her, passing his thumb over her already hardened nipple. "God you feel so good."

She closed her eyes.

"Smell so good," he breathed.

She moaned before maneuvering herself so that she was now straddling him.

"God Serena…you'd think I'd never had sex before," he groaned as he gripped her hip with one hand. "We should stop."

"No." She was insistent as her hand reached for the buckle of his pants.

He pulled her wrist away, his breathing labored as he leaned back into the cushioning of the booth.

"Darien," she whimpered at the loss.

"If we continue this…I'll take you right here in this booth, no questions asked…and though that sounds really damn good now, I know you, and it won't later and after the fact." He wished he could see her, knew that she must look real damn good with her halter halfway up her chest, her heated skin probably flushing a bright red.

"Please." She pouted her lips the best she could in hopes that even if he couldn't see it, maybe he would at least feel it. She didn't understand how he could think she could regret this later. She never regretted anything with him.

He groaned.

"Spoiled brat," he replied before blindingly searching out her nipple and fastening his lips to her breast.

She bit her lip hard as he pulled down the zipper for her shorts…and slipped his fingers inside. She cradled his head against her as she rocked against him. It wasn't what she wanted, but it would have to do.

It came fast for her. Wild. And then she was back on Earth again. She sagged her sweaty body against him, her head in the crook of his neck. Reality dawned on her moments later and she felt awkward and embarrassed by what she had done. She pulled away from him shaking and covered herself.

"I feel like a real whore." With shaky fingers, she tried to zip up her shorts.

He stilled her hands.

"You told me this would happen and I practically begged you."

"Don't ever let me hear you say that about yourself…you're not a whore…people do this all the time."


She wanted to cry when she heard them calling her name.

"It's time for limbo everyone! But in this limbo, the birthday girl is the stick!" She heard Molly say. "If someone could find the birthday girl?"

He took some napkins off the table and handed them to her so she could clean herself of the aftermath. She zipped up her shorts awkwardly and as he grabbed at her wrists, the tears began to fall.

"Serena…look at me…you're not, a whore," he said firmly.

"In a bar Darien," she reminded him, replying to his statement from before, "with people all around?"

He wiped at her tears and kissed her lips. "Yes," he replied as he took her fingers in his hands and slowly sucked and nibbled each digit.

"You've done it before." It was more a statement than a question. She turned away. The thought of him doing such things with other women didn't sit well inside her gut.

He released her hand. "Truthfully?"

"Now I don't want to know." She moved somewhat away from him.

"The answer is no." He kissed her hard before settling her back onto the seat. "You're the first…and I'll have you know that I'm usually more controlled than this."

She flushed, a small smile building up on her face.

"You make me do things that I know I "really" shouldn't be doing." In the darkness, he looked her up and down the best he could in an approving manner before leaning towards her ear and whispering darkly. "You make me want to be--so fucking bad."

She bowed her head before murmuring. "You mean you aren't giving oral sex to all the other girls in your classroom closet before the bell?" She giggled shyly.

"Well, actually, I have two appointments lined up right before yours but I guarantee that yours takes the longest to accomplish."

"Will somebody find Serena?" They heard Molly call out in the background.

"See you tomorrow evening?" He paused, licking her ear and making her senses tingle "7:00?"

She nodded, and almost felt like an idiot when she realized he couldn't see her.

"We can have our own--" He licked his lips approvingly. "Mmmm, Birthday celebration." He tugged at her ear with his teeth before releasing her.


"All right," he began as he stood up. "I believe the limbo game is awaiting its limbo stick." He laughed.


"Look, I just have to bring in this keg and then I'll be back, all right?" Darien glanced at where Serena sat staring out the window of his car. He chuckled. He couldn't wait to show her what he had planned for the night. He just hoped she wasn't planning on doing any running this weekend, because he wasn't sure she'd be able to close her legs when he was through with her.

"All right," she turned to look at him before looking at her hands in her lap. God, sometimes he was just too sexy to be believed.

"Nothing's going to ruin tonight, I promise…just me and you," he smiled before opening the door and getting out of the car. From the back seat, he pulled out the keg and placed it down on the cart he brought to wheel it. No point wasting his back too early in the evening, he laughed. "I'll be back."


"Oh, and whatever you do, don't come inside."

She arched her brow.

"And lock the doors."


"That house is full of a bunch of drunken frat boys," he replied, "I repeat, don't go in, and lock the doors."

Serena watched as he wheeled the cart up the small hill to the front door, her hands absentmindedly fidgeting with knobs of the radio as she attempted to find a station to keep her occupied. She released a knob, laughing when he attempted to knock on the door with his foot but kicked the keg instead. When she blindly moved her hand to the knob once more, she missed the tuner and turned the volume instead. She jumped in her seat. "Shit!"

As she scrambled to turn down the radio, she missed the door to the house opening and Darien being pulled inside.


They closed the door behind him before pouring gallons of beer all over his hair and clothes.

His face turned beet red. "What the fuck is going on here?" he said angrily, wiping his face as they pushed him towards the center of the room, all the guys rooting and hollering in the background, some calling out his name, the girls passing caresses along his body as he passed them by.

"Darien, the brothers and I wanted to pay homage to our former president with a gift." Jeremy smiled before stepping aside to present a woman standing with a smile amongst the crowd of girls, her long black hair accenting the black sleeveless formfitting dress she wore.

His eyes quickly hardened, "Rei."

"We present to you the esteemed queen of DP," he smiled, "we believe that you have some things to discuss."

Before he knew it, they were shoved towards a closet with the door locked.

"Get me the fuck out of here!" The sounds of him pounding against the door were barely heard over the loud music as he spat the words vehemently, a string of curse words flowing thereafter.

In the background, Andrew cursed and banged his head against the wall where he stood next to Ken, Darien was going to kill him. If he had known that this was what those idiots were up to, he would have never suggested Darien come. Oh yeah…he was going to get a serious ass whooping for this later.


Serena drummed her fingers against the handle of the car. "Okay, I gotta pee…really bad," she breathed. "I can hold it." She looked at the lit windows of the frat house. Where was Darien? "It's been ten minutes. Well, ten minutes isn't that long, what am I, five? I can hold it."

Five minutes later…

"Where the hell is he? Okay…just relax. You can hold it." Serena crossed her legs and wrung her fingers repeatedly. How long does it take to bring a keg inside?

Another five minutes later…

Okay, enough was enough. Darien would probably tell her to go pee when he got back to the car anyway. She turned off the engine and took the keys out before opening the door and closing it behind her. If anything, she'd probably see Darien in there anyway right? Besides, this would only take her five minutes tops. Get in, get out.

She walked quickly up the hill and rapped lightly on the door. When nothing happened, she knocked louder. As soon as it opened and Serena stepped inside, she was splashed with beer. She shrieked as she opened her arms and looked down at her ruined clothes, the stench of beer was now all over her, matting her clothes to her body. She wiped her face, spitting out the liquid that fell into her mouth and looked up. Maybe this was why Darien was taking so long to get back?

God, she was surprised that she didn't hear the music thumping from the outside, it was loud enough to make someone go deaf. Looking around at everything made her skin flush. This party made all the parties she ever been to look like church gatherings. There were women dancing on tabletops with bottoms on and only bras to conceal their breasts. Others wore white t-shirts that were now soaked in most likely the same substance she was soaked in now. Only thing was, for them, it showed everything, down to the fact that some of them weren't wearing any bras. When she looked at some of the guys, whom danced shirtless, she noted that some had bras on their heads. Now she knew where the missing bras went. In the corner she could see people having drinking contests, and in other corners people making out so blatantly that she was surprised one of them didn't get their tongue swallowed in the process. Then there was the dancing. These people might as well be having sex on the dance floor. She looked around and could see guys leading girls upstairs for the obviously naughty entertainment. She blushed deeply when she noted some very obvious arousal in some of the guys. If this was college life, she was definitely turned off.

Shit. She was wet and she needed to pee, and where the hell was Darien? Her mother would kill her if she came home smelling like this. Okay, relax. First things first, find a bathroom, hopefully, a clean one.


In the darkness of the closet, Darien clenched and unclenched his hands. They had been standing in silence for over fifteen minutes now.

"Is it really that bad being near me Darien?"


"So you're back to not speaking to me again?"



Serena cringed every time she thought about the bathroom that she was forced to use so that she could pee. What she needed to do, was not think about it. Just find Darien. That's what she needed to do, just find Darien. But she didn't know any of these people and she didn't really want to draw attention to herself. She was a little girl at a grown up's party. She needed to blend in with the wall. She nearly tripped over a couple making out on the floor against said wall. "S-sorry." When she turned around, she caught a glimpse of a familiar head talking to a blond haired girl. Andrew! She didn't really 'know' him, but it was something. The trick now was to get through the throng of people before her. She felt like she was at a concert. She couldn't seem to get close enough but she realized she was in ear shot when she heard him say Darien's name. Maybe if she at least got close enough she could hear him say something about where Darien was?

"You may have to raise the baby without me."

Mina arched her brow. "Why?"

"Cause Darien is going to seriously kick my ass for this one."

"Did you write your will already?"

Andrew turned slightly towards her with narrowed eyes. "Ha ha."

Mina leant on his shoulder as she stared at the drink in her hands. "You don't think they'd spike a pregnant woman's drink do you?"

Andrew chuckled, "I wouldn't put it pass them."

"Okay then." She tossed the cup in the air, not caring where it landed. "God I just wanna go home. Hey, did you know Rei was in town?"

"Shouldn't I be asking you that? She's your friend."

"Well I didn't know. You know Rei, she likes to surprise."

"Yeah, well."

Serena rolled her eyes from where she stood. She felt like throttling something. Either someone needs to tell her where he was or he needed to show up now.

"Hey, is Darien seeing someone?" Mina asked.

Serena's ears perked.


Mina smirked. "You're lying."

"Shit…all right, fine, but you can't tell anyone."

"Honestly, honey, someone should tell you that."

"Do you want to know or not?"

"All right, I'm sorry."

"Yes…he's 'seeing' someone."

"Yes, but there's more right?"

"Fuck! How do you do that?"

"Call it a gift that only seems to work on you."

He sighed. "She's younger all right?"


"And nothing. It doesn't mean anything. They aren't dating, they're just exclusive."

Serena shook, waiting with baited breath for Mina to correct him.

"Not dating?"

"Not dating. Darien says it's just a quick meaningless fuck. I've always said he can charm the panties off of anything."

Mina rolled her eyes. "Must you be so crass?" She replied. "You think Darien will get back together with Rei?"

"You know bout as much as I do."

Serena shook her head. No, no, no. Just a quick meaningless fuck. He can charm the panties off of anything. A quick meaningless fuck. Meaningless, a meaningless fuck. She felt her world stand motionless. We're having fun, right Serena?


"This is so fucking like you…always drawing away into your own 'isolated' world," Rei said angrily as she faced the direction she believed he was looking in.

"Oh, I'm sorry, forgive me for my complete lack of manners Rei. What would you like me to say?" he replied. "Wait I know, would you like me to get on my fucking hands and knees and beg this time?"

"Darien grow up…we've had time to think about this…and I think we should make a go at it again…I'm ready to talk about the problems we had in the past, are you?"

He looked in her direction angrily before deciding to vent what he had tried not to think of for a long time.


She felt like a deer caught in the headlights. She couldn't make herself move, she couldn't shake the feeling of complete and utter loss. She'd lost herself. Molly had been right. But it didn't make her feel any better. Her eyes caught on the record that the DJ was spinning. She couldn't think. She watched the record go round and round before the DJ took it out and the music stopped for but a moment.

"Damn it Rei!"

Serena looked up to the door of the closet when she heard Darien's voice.

"You left me at the fucking alter!"

Andrew stared in disbelief right into Serena's eyes before she ran out of the room. "Shit."

Mina looked at him confused. "You know her?"

He knew better than to lie outright. "Yeah, that's Darien's cousin." So he told a half-truth. Hey, it wasn't like it was likely that he would see Serena around anymore after this anyway.