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Degradation

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Degradation

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Degradation



STYLO FANTÔME





Published by Battleaxe Productions

First Edition

Copyright 2014



This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only.

It is the copyrighted property of the author,

and may not be reproduced, copied, re-sold, or re-distributed.

If you would like to share this ebook, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient.

If you're reading this ebook and did not purchase it,

or it was not purchased for your use only,

then this copy must be destroyed.

Please purchase a copy for yourself from a licensed seller.

Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.





Table of Contents

Mission Statement 4

Dedication Page 5

~Seven Years Ago~ 6

~1~ 20

~2~ 27

~3~ 31

~4~ 33

~5~ 42

~6~ 63

~7~ 78

~8~ 92

~9~ 108

~10~ 119

~11~ 129

~12~ 130

~13~ 145

~14~ 152

~15~ 155

~16~ 166

~17~ 167

~18~ 169

Acknowledgements 172

Soundtrack 174

To Be Released 175

COMING SOON 179





Mission Statement


I not only write, I read. A lot. Probably more than is healthy. There are a lot of things I love about self-publishing/indie authors, and a lot of things I'm not a fan of. Just personal preferences, no disrespect meant. So when I decided to self-publish, I made some promises to myself to try my hardest to avoid doing those things I didn't like seeing/happening in other stories. Now I would like to make those promises to you, the reader:



I promise to never leave you hanging. If I write a story with a cliffhanger ending, I will only publish it when the second part is completely written.



I promise that all cliffhanger sequels will be published within 16 weeks – maximum – of the first part. You will never have to wait six months, or a year, or years, for a sequel to any cliffhangers that I might write.



I promise that, while I am an unsigned indie author, I will never raise the price of any part of a series above $2.99. I will not “hook you” with book one, two, and three at $1.99 and/or $2.99, and then suddenly book four is $4.99. I refuse to pay for series ; that are like that, so I will never do that to you.



I promise that if I am lucky enough and blessed enough to have fans, I will interact and communicate with them as much as possible – you are who this is all for, after all.



If at any point in time, I fail to live up to any of these promises, you have my permission to tar and feather me, beat me, leave me for dead, or worst of all – call me out.

No work is ever really completed, no story ever completely told, but I will always try my hardest to bring you my best.



Thank you for reading.





Dedication Page


To The Book Blogs



What you all do is amazing. My mere mortal Facebook page follows many of you - probably most of you - and there are no words for the support you give to indie authors. Without you all, I would never have found the confidence to hit the "publish" button – literally, I can remember stumbling upon a book blog and my mind was blown, my life a little changed. There are people out there that actually like to read the same kind of stuff that I like to read and write!? AMAZING! Mind. Blown.

Thank you.



*



I also want to dedicate this to the AMAZING people I have met. I thought when I sent out my ARCs, I might make a fan or two, or a connection here and there – I never counted on meeting a bunch of new friends. So even though I didn't know you when I wrote it, this book goes out to my friends/street team:



Rebekah – no one is a better HBIC. I would sincerely be lost without you. Someday, if I am lucky enough to be rich and famous, I am going to steal you away and make you my PA and we shall travel the world, dropping F-bombs and selling books.

Jolene – I'm not famous, but can I call you my #1 fan? You're relentless in promoting me, and also seem like a party in a body. Can't wait to meet you, as I think we might be soulmates.

Ange, Beatriz, Betsy, Letty, ALL the girls at Cover To Cover – I have never laughed so much in my life. You guys are awesome, and everyone should be lucky enough to know people like you ladies.

Caryn – since we have “met”, I think we have spoken every single day, despite an 18 hour time difference. A new author, a new blogger, I think we have been a good team.

Shannon – kinda ride-or-die, been with me since the beginning, have read a lot of stuff I've written; thanks for sticking around for this crazy ride!



*



And I would like to particularly dedicate this book to a special kind of friend – Sue M.



You offered to beta read for me, no trade necessary, which is always like a gem to find. You always have amazing feedback and creative criticism. You have a gift for pointing out simple things that always manage to escape my notice, but really make a huge difference to the story. You respond to all my e-mails and questions promptly, even though sometimes I don't return the favor. We have never met in real life, but you know my real name, have my personal e-mail address, and I think you have read almost every single thing I have written, so really, you have been here since the beginning.



Thank you so much, I couldn't have done this without you.





~Seven Years Ago~


She had come over to their apartment just to drop off some boxes of stuff for her sister, Eloise - Ellie. Tatum had just turned eighteen and was moving to her own apartment in downtown Boston. She had been in a dorm room for her first semester at Harvard, but her parents didn't “approve” of her roommate, so her father had rented an apartment off campus for her. When Tate's father said jump, all she was ever allowed to say was “how high?”, so, she was moving.

Her sister Ellie was four years older, and they had never gotten along very well. About two years ago, Ellie had started dating Jameson Kane – Kane, as just about everyone called him. The relationship was strange to Tate; Ellie and Jameson seemed more like acquaintances than people who slept with each other, but who was she to judge? She didn't even really like her own boyfriend.

Tate didn't really know what to make of Jameson. He was so good looking, it was probably illegal. She worried if she looked at him too long, she'd go blind. He was also very smart – he had graduated early from Yale with an MBA, and was taking some time off to work on, and review, his job prospects. He came from old money, his father was some sort of big wig on Wall Street, and the talk was that Jameson would follow in his footsteps.

In the two years he had been dating her sister, Jameson hadn't seemed to take much notice of Tate. He ignored her, treated her with indifference. When he had to deal with her, it was almost like an after thought, like he had forgotten that she existed. He was tall, and handsome, and experienced, and smart. Tate was a brainy, naive, clueless girl, fresh out of high school, no real experience with the world or worldly people. He intimidated her.

It felt weird, showing up at Ellie's apartment without her being there. Jameson had let Tate in, and then pretty much ignored her. Such a gentleman. Tate had to haul several heavy boxes from the parking lot to the building, and then down a long hall to their apartment, all by herself. When she got to the last box, she dropped it by their bed, huffing and puffing.

“Did you want me to help?” Jameson asked, appearing in the doorway. Tate whirled around, startled.

“No, that was the last box,” she replied, straightening out her cardigan. He always made her feel nervous. His eyes wandered over her face.

“You look really red. Want something to drink?” he asked. She felt herself turn even redder than she apparently already was; she was never prepared for his blunt manners.

“If you have any tea, that would be great,” she replied, and then followed him to the kitchen. She thought he was going to pour it for her, but he just gestured to the fridge.

“I don't know what Ellie has in there, lots of health food shit. Dig around,” he offered. She made a face at his back.

“Water is fine,” she told him, and then just filled a glass from the tap.

“So. New apartment, all alone in a big city. You ready?” he asked. She nodded and turned to face him. His piercing blue eyes were wandering over her face and she resisted the urge to wipe at her skin. Was she dribbling water down her chin?

“As I'll ever be, I guess. I'm pretty self-reliant, so I think I'm ready,” she replied, taking delicate sips of her water. He chuckled.

“C'mon, you look like you're dying. Let's sit down, you can chug it,” he told her, leading her to a table. He even shocked her by pulling out a chair for her.

“Thanks,” Tate said, before following his instructions and downing the water in a few gulps. Without asking, he pulled the glass from her hands and refilled it before sitting down across from her.

“Don't you have like a boyfriend, or something? Is he in Boston?” Jameson asked, sliding her glass back across the table. She shook her head.

“No, Drew stayed in state,” she replied.

“You guys have been going out for a while – how is it, being in a long distance relationship?” Jameson asked. She was surprised at the question. Jameson never cared about anything she did.

“We've been together three years, but I don't know how long it's gonna last. He didn't want me to go to Harvard, wanted me to just follow him to Penn State. We argued about it a lot. He wants to try to work it out, but I think it's just time to get over it. Move on. We're in college now, I don't have time for that kind of crap,” she let it all spill out. Jameson raised an eyebrow.

“Wow, very mature approach. How old are you again?” he asked. Tate rolled her eyes.

“You've known me for two years, Jameson, and you can't even remember my age?” she responded with a question. He shrugged.

“I don't think I even know Ellie's age. How old?” he pressed.

“I just turned eighteen, two weeks ago. How could you not know Ellie's age? You've been together for so long,” Tate pointed out. He shrugged again.

“I don't pay attention to things like that. So what are you going to school for?” he asked. Tate had to stop herself from pointing out, again, that he should already know these things – it had been discussed, many times, in front of him. She had never realized it before, but he was kind of self centered. Arrogant.

“Political science,” she said. He rolled his eyes.

“We'll see how long that lasts. Go in to economics, more money,” he told her. She narrowed her eyes.

“I'm not doing it for money,” she replied.

“Then you're stupid.”

“You're kind of a dick,” she blurted out, shocking herself. She wasn't prone to foul language most of the time, or being rude. She had just done both. He didn't seem bothered, though; he burst out laughing.

“You're just now realizing that?”

Tate smiled. He had a nice laugh, and a sexy smile. She could feel herself blushing. She could remember the first time Ellie had brought him home. Tate had developed a crush on him the instant she had seen him – tall, dark hair, bright blue eyes, killer smile; what girl wouldn't fall head over heels in love with him at first sight? But it had never gone beyond that, she knew Jameson was so far out of her league, she wasn't even visible to him. She didn't waste too much time fantasizing about him.

But now, sitting across the table from him, she felt herself getting hot under her sweater.

“Well, yeah, you never talk to me,” she pointed out.

“I talk to you.”

“When?”

“Excuse me?”

“When do you talk to me? When was the last time you talked to me?” Tate asked. He thought for a second, looking up at the ceiling.

“I asked if you were okay, after your dog died,” he replied, smiling at her.

“That was last year,” she told him. Jameson started laughing again.

“Hey, at least I remembered,” he pointed out. She found herself laughing as well.

“I guess that's something. Doesn't matter anyway, I'll be gone – no more awkward, silent family dinners to go to, thank god. You and Ellie will be on your own,” she warned him.

“Well, you'll have to come back sometimes.”

“No,” she shook her head, “I won't. I've decided, I'm not coming back till I'm done with school, if then. I'm trying to get through a masters program in four years, or less.”

“Wow. Hell of a challenge, baby girl. You think you're up for that?” he asked. She shivered at his use of “baby girl”, he had never called her that before – never called her anything. She cleared her throat.

“I think I'm up for anything I set my mind to,” she responded. He smiled.

“Good answer. Would you like a drink? Ellie should be home any minute, we could crack something open and have it ready for her,” he suddenly asked, getting out of his chair. Tate held up her glass.

“I have water right here,” she pointed out. He laughed as he pulled a bottle out of a cupboard.

“I meant a real drink, Tate. Seeing as how I've apparently 'never' talked to you, I guess now is a good time to give you some congratulations. I'm assuming I never did that, right?” he asked, holding a bottle of champagne in his hand. She laughed.

“No, you weren't even at my graduation. And maybe just one glass,” she replied, pushing the water she had been drinking out of the way.

Having been too busy with school and all her extra classes, Tate had never been a party girl. No crazy parties and almost no experience with alcohol. Some champagne at Christmas with Granny O'Shea at the O'Shea farm in the Hamptons was about it. But she didn't want Jameson to know that – she wanted to seem mature, like a girl who had champagne all the time. It was silly, but she couldn't help it.

They polished off the first bottle, discussing politics and the current economic situation in the country. He disagreed vehemently with most of her views, but he never got heated or upset. He managed to get under her skin, though, and she found herself arguing just to get a rise out of him, but he was impossible to rile up. The champagne loosened her up a little, and she was a lot bolder with her opinions; or at least, more so than usual.

“No more after this, baby girl needs to be presentable for her family tomorrow,” Jameson said, taking out a second bottle. She made a face at him.

They drank and chatted some more. Ellie texted him that she would be late. She was a paralegal, and her hours were all over the place. Tate was fine with that, she never felt comfortable around her sister. Ellie was tall and beautiful, with dark blonde hair that was always done up in just the perfect style. She was always wearing the most stylish clothing.

Tate was average height, with dark hair, almost black, and she had never paid attention to what was stylish, just wore what her mother bought for her. She was intimidated by Ellie, plain and simple. That's why she was going in to an excelled program at Harvard – to beat Ellie. Ellie was the golden child, the favorite child. Tate had always had to work ten times harder, just to always fall slightly behind.

She wound up blabbering all that to Jameson. Then went onto tell him all about her boyfriend Drew, whom he couldn't remember ever meeting, even though he had – several times. How boring Drew was, how he always wanted to tell her what to do, but he never wanted to do anything. Jameson nodded and listened to her prattle, sliding the champagne out of her reach.

“You're pretty funny, Tate. I never knew,” he laughed. She rolled her eyes, shrugging out of her cardigan.

“Shocking. No one ever notices me, not when Ellie's around,” she snorted, pulling her hair in to a ponytail. He raised an eyebrow.

“I wouldn't say that, Ellie's not as great as you make her out to be,” he told her.

“Pffft. She looks like what would happen if Cindy Crawford and Christy Turlington had a baby,” Tate pointed out.

“You're pretty, too.”

“You have to say that, you're her boyfriend. You have to be nice to me,” she laughed.

“No I don't. I'm hardly ever nice, and I almost never lie. You're an attractive girl, you just have bad self esteem, and worse taste in men,” he informed her. She shrugged.

“Maybe, but that doesn't change the fact that Ellie is still better in most peoples eyes,” she replied, fiddling with the stem of her champagne glass. Jameson leaned back in his chair, folding his arms across his chest.

“I wouldn't say that. From a technical stand point, if we're being completely honest, I would have to say that you're much sexier than your sister,” he told her.

She didn't breathe for a moment. Did Jameson Kane really just say that to her? Or was it the champagne? She glanced at him, and he was staring right back at her, a small smile playing on his lips. She shook her head and shook off her nerves. No. He was just being nice. That had to be it – what kind of a guy would tell his girlfriend's sister that she was the sexier of the two? Not a very good guy, that's for sure.

“Whatever. It'll all be behind me in a couple weeks. It'll be like a new Tate, that's what I'm going for; Ellie can suck it,” Tate proclaimed, and then hiccuped. Jameson burst out laughing.

“See, now that's funny. Your sister sucking something – would never happen,” he joked. Tate could feel her cheeks turning bright red.

“Gross,” she blurted out.

“Too much? I guess we're not that good of buddies yet,” he laughed.

“You shouldn't talk that way about your girlfriend, it's not very nice,” Tate told him. He shrugged.

“Sometimes she's not a very nice girlfriend,” he replied. Tate's eyes got wide as she had a realization.

“Are you going to dump my sister!?”

“Now, why would you ask that?” Jameson responded, his smile gone as his eyes stared in to her own.

“I don't know. Your voice, your attitude. Are you?” she pressed. He sighed, rubbing a hand over his face.

“I shouldn't have given you champagne. I didn't know you'd turn in to Nancy Drew,” he commented.

“Oh my god. You're going to dump Ellie. You've been together for two years. She thinks you're gonna propose. She's gonna die,” Tate gushed, pressing a hand to her chest. His eyes narrowed.

“We haven't even talked about marriage, why would she think that? And I don't know what's going to happen with me and Ellie, we've got a lot to talk about; do not talk to her about this,” Jameson commanded, pointing a finger at Tate. She raised her hands.

“I go out of my way to not talk to her, I won't breathe a word. But can I ask why?” Tate pressed, reaching out for the champagne. Jameson didn't even notice, he was so lost in thought, so she poured herself another glass.

“I don't know. It's ..., boring. Not exciting. Like you were saying about Drew. She wants this pre-programmed life, has everything decided for us. She knows what she's having for dinner next Tuesday, where we're going for the fourth of July, what we'll name our first child. She goes to bed at ten, gets up at six – I'm not allowed to touch her between those hours, I'm not even joking. I don't like being told what to do,” his voice got quiet towards the end. Tate nodded, taking a large swig of her champagne.

“Sounds like Ellie. Do you know, one time when she was mad at me, to get back at me, she got in to my room and organized my closet? That was her idea of revenge,” Tate told him.

He burst out laughing, and that set Tate off. They both bent over, unable to breathe for how much they were laughing. It was hilarious, and it was totally true. Ellie was like OCD Barbie. Very pretty, and a little crazy.

“Oh my god, that sounds like her,” he chuckled. Tate nodded.

“I know! I've got a hundred more, she -,” Tate started, but she was gesturing with her glass, and champagne sloshed all over her front.

“Oh jesus, I knew this was going to happen,” Jameson shook his head, but he was laughing. Tate snorted, holding her wet shirt away from her chest.

“Then you shouldn't have given it to me,” she replied. He stood up.

“I tried to take it away. C'mon, I'm sure Ellie has something you can wear,” he said, gesturing for her to follow him. She got out of her chair.

“Oh no, she'll kill me, I'm not allowed to wear her stuff,” Tate told him, following him across the living room and back in to the bedroom.

“Who cares? She owns so much shit, she'll never know. Just grab something, her stuff is in there,” he explained, pointing to a section of the wardrobe before walking back out of the room.

Tate stared in to the wardrobe for a while, letting her eyes wander over the clothes. Everything Ellie owned was expensive; from a designer. From a young age, Tate had been taught not to touch. Jameson had just given her free reign. She snorted and dove in, yanking back the hangers. She laughed and pulled down a silk blouse – it looked ridiculously expensive.

Perfect.

She spun around and threw the shirt on the bed, stumbling as she did so. She didn't think she was drunk, but she was feeling a little light. Spinny. She laughed to herself, curling her fingers around the hem of her shirt and pulling the wet material up. She went to yank it over her head, but something happened. The shirt's tag got caught in a string of pearls she was wearing, which then got tangled in her hair, and she was stuck with her arms in the air, struggling to pull the shirt one way or the other.

“Oh my god,” Tate laughed, stepping back and forth.

She lost her footing and stumbled clear across the room. She rammed in to something, a dresser, and moved so her butt was against it. She was really laughing now, struggling not to hyperventilate with the shirt covering her mouth. Her elbows were pinned above her head and she tried to reach the back of her neck with her fingers, arching her back. Her fingernails were just brushing the top of her spine when she heard something.

“What are you doing?”

She went stock still, her laughter dying. Jameson was in the room, and pretty close to her, judging by the sound of his voice. Oh my god, oh my god, oh my god. With her shirt up over her head, she was standing there in just her bra and khaki skirt.

“Um, I got stuck,” Tate offered in a small voice. He chuckled, and he was even closer than before – right in front of her.

“Obviously. Help?” he asked. She managed to shake her head.

“No, I think I -,” she started, but then felt his fingers at the neck of the shirt. He pushed it up, exposing her mouth and nose, but then left it there. She took deep breaths.

“Are you drunk, Tate?” he asked, talking slowly. She shook her head again.

“No. I mean, I don't think so. I'm just stuck,” she replied. He laughed and she felt him pulling at the neck of the shirt again. A couple tugs, and the strand of pearls broke. She could feel them running down her body, some catching in her bra while the rest clattered to the floor. The shirt came free from her head and Jameson pulled it away, holding it in his right hand. He was staring down at her. She struggled to control her breathing.

“You're very different from Ellie,” he told her in a quiet voice. She rubbed her lips together and nodded.

“I know,” she replied.

Tate knew she should move, should grab her shirt, do something to cover herself. Run for the bathroom. She should not be standing in front of her sister's boyfriend, only wearing a black lace bra. He dropped her shirt as his eyes wandered down her body, and she found that she was frozen to the spot, unable to move a single muscle.

“Family heirloom?” he asked, and then reached out, tracing a finger down her chest. He ran it down her cleavage and she thought she might faint. But then he held his hand up, and he had a pearl pinched between his fingers.

“Present. From Drew,” her voice was just above a whisper. He examined the pearl.

“He's cheap. It's not real,” he commented. She almost laughed.

“What?”

Jameson let the pearl drop and his attention went back to her. Tate still couldn't move. Had even stopped breathing. He was looking at her like she was dinner. She couldn't believe it. Twenty-three year old Jameson Kane was looking at her, really seeing her, for the first time ever. It was wrong, so wrong. She tried to think of Ellie, but couldn't make herself. She could only see his eyes.

“You should leave this room,” Jameson told her, his hands gliding onto her hips. Her skin jumped at his touch and she could feel an electrical current pass between them. She gave a full body shiver and nodded.

“I know,” she breathed. His fingers spread as his hands moved to her back, up to her shoulder blades.

“Ellie's my girlfriend,” he reminded her. As if she needed it.

“I know.” Apparently her impressive vocabulary had deserted her. His hands slid back down, all the way to her butt. She put her hands on the dresser behind her, bracing herself.

“This isn't just me.” He'd said it as a statement, but she knew it was a question. She was feeling it, too.

“I know,” she whispered.

“If you want to run, I suggest you do it now,” he told her.

“Why?” she asked, and he leaned in close.

“Because I eat girls like you for breakfast,” he hissed in her ear. She shivered again.

“Then stop holding onto me,” she challenged, shocking herself.

Maybe it was the champagne, maybe it was him – Tate wasn't ever that bold, not in real life. Maybe that was it, she felt like she was in a dream. Jameson Kane, looking at her, not Ellie. Touching her, not Ellie. It couldn't be real. He was too ..., much. Everything. Too much for her. He couldn't want her, not in real life.

“Baby girl, this is nothing. If I didn't want you to get away, you wouldn't be able to,” he chuckled. She took a deep breath, preparing to tell him off, to tell him to let her go.

“Maybe I don't want to get away,” she whispered.

She hadn't meant to say that, hadn't even thought it. But it was out there, she coudn't take it back. Jameson groaned and his mouth dipped to her neck. She gasped when his lips touched her skin, and then moaned when his lips were followed by his teeth. She closed her eyes and let her head drop back.

This is wrong. WRONG. He belongs to your sister. You're the devil. Evil incarnate.

“Tatum, if you don't get the fuck out of here, I'm going to rip your clothes off, bend you over this dresser, and fuck you like you've never been fucked before,” he growled at her, his voice angry and sharp. His words shocked her. She pushed him away.

“You act like this is my fault!” she snapped at him. His eyebrows went up, but he kept his hands on her hips.

“You're the one who was getting drunk in my kitchen, babbling on and on about hating her sister. You're the one who's half naked in my bedroom,” he pointed out. She gasped.

“I never said I hated her! And you got me drunk! What does that say about you!?” she yelled. He laughed.

“I don't need to get girls drunk to fuck them, Tate,” he told her, his voice low. She snorted.

“You are such an egotist, I wasn't going to ..., do ..., that with you,” she replied, stuttering a little. Jameson threw his head back and laughed, taking a few steps away from her.

“'That'? God, I forget, you are just a little girl,” he laughed at her. Flames raced across her face.

“And you're just a pathetic excuse for a man, trolling his girlfriend's little sister, cause he can't get anyone else to fuck him!” she yelled, shoving him in the chest before storming out of the room.

God, she was so embarrassed. What had she been thinking!? She had been playing with fire. Really, Tate was lucky. If he hadn't growled at her, she didn't know how far she would have let him go. Drew had never spoken to her, or touched her, the way Jameson had – it set her on fire. But the things he had said to her. She did feel like a little girl. She felt stupid. She swiped at the tears that were starting to fall down her cheeks. She grabbed her cardigan out of the kitchen and rushed back towards the front door. Jameson was strolling out of the bedroom.

“I wasn't trolling for you. I didn't even know you were coming over tonight. Like I said, you were the one bitching about how no one likes you, how everyone likes Ellie, asking about our relationship. Sounds like you were trolling for me,” he commented, looking down at her. She sniffled, struggling to right the sleeves on her sweater.

“Then you're an awfully easy mark, I almost had you. Geez, what a great story that would've been to tell Ellie when she came home, 'hey, tricked your boyfriend in to having sex with me – BTW, he's going to dump you.' Sounds awesome, maybe I'll just call her and say it right now,” Tate threatened. His eyes narrowed.

“Don't play with me, baby girl,” he warned her. She glared right back at him.

“You're the one playing games, and you lost. Move,” she ordered, waving her hand at him. He was blocking the door. He folded his arm across his chest and stood his ground.

“I don't lose,” he replied. She rolled her eyes.

“God! Whatever! You tried to seduce me, it didn't work, get over yourself! I just want to -,”

She was shocked when he suddenly grabbed her by the back of the neck, yanking her forward so he could slam his mouth down onto hers. She gave a muffled shriek, pushing against his chest. He moved both of his hands to the back of her head, his tongue forcing its way in to her mouth as he started walking them backwards.

She struggled at first, but it was half hearted at best. Tate knew he was an asshole. She knew it was just a game to him. Just sex. She knew she was doing something very wrong with her sister's boyfriend. She was doing something very wrong with a guy who was not her own boyfriend. She was going to burn in a special place in hell.

And she didn't care.

Tatum O'Shea was a good girl. She did the right things. Not because she wanted to, but because people were always telling her she had to, that she must. She dated Drew because her parents had set them up. She started having sex with Drew because he told her that's what couples do. She was going to an Ivy League school, because that's what O'Sheas did. They did not engage in illicit affairs with their relatives' significant others.

She still didn't care.

She moaned in to his mouth, running her hands under his shirt, pushing it up. He broke away from her long enough for it to go over his head, and then his mouth was back on her own. He was demanding, almost punishing, with his kiss. Rough and aggressive. Drew had never been that way with her.

She loved it.

“Doesn't feel like I'm losing now,” Jameson growled against her mouth, his teeth biting in to her bottom lip as they backed in to the couch.

“Shut up, or I'll still leave,” she threatened, and then gasped when his hands covered her breasts. He chuckled.

“I don't think so,” he replied, one of his hands sliding down her stomach and over skirt. His fingertips brushed against her thigh.

“I can do whatever I -,” she ended in a gasp as his hand suddenly yanked her skirt up, diving in to her underwear.

“You'll do whatever I say,” he amended her statement. Her eyes squeezed shut and she pressed her lips together, nodding.

“Yes, yes,” she finally breathed, standing on her toes.

“You wanted this – from the moment you got here tonight, you wanted this,” he said, his fingers plucking and playing with her like she was an instrument.

“No, I didn't. I didn't want this,” Tate managed to pant, one of her hands moving to grab onto his wrist. Not to stop him, but to ground herself. To feel him. He chuckled.

“You're awfully wet for someone who doesn't want to do this,” he laughed at her.

“Oh god.”

It was the truth, she knew. She was always like that around him, for as long as she could remember. She had touched herself to many fantasies about him. With Drew, it took a lot of foreplay to get her in the mood. But sometimes just thinking about Jameson was enough that she would have to change her panties.

“Turn around,” he ordered, but he didn't even give her a chance to comply. He pulled his hands away and grabbed her by the arm, spinning her in a circle. She was still getting her bearings when he started yanking her skirt up over her hips.

“Are we really doing this?” she gasped, gripping onto the back of the couch.

“Unless you walk away right now, yes,” he replied, yanking her underwear down her legs.

She didn't move.

He put a hand in the middle of her back and shoved her forward, forcing her to bend in half over the couch. She put her hands in to the cushions, trying to gain a sense of balance. She felt his hands kneading the flesh on her butt, and then he was shoving one, two fingers inside of her. She cried out.

“Oh my god!”

But before she could even adjust to that, she could feel his erection. She didn't even make a sound, just held her breath. He was huge, or at least a lot bigger than Drew. She bent completely in half, her face in the couch cushions, her ass in the air. It felt like everything was moving in slow motion, and when he was inside of her, pressed up against her, she sucked in a gasp of air, her whole body shaking. She had only ever had sex with Drew. Nobody else. Until now.

It occurred to her that she had been missing out.

“Goddamn, Tate,” Jameson growled. “You're so fucking tight.”

This was surreal. Having sex with Jameson. Jameson talking dirty to her. How had this happened?

Then he was pulling out of her. Then pounding in to her. Pull. Pound. In. Out. She moaned, made noises in her throat, and managed to push herself upright. She couldn't even think straight. Everything felt so amazing. She'd never had sex like that before, with someone behind her. Drew was not adventurous. Only ever at night. Her laying down. Him on top. Lights always off.

All the lights were on in Jameson's trendy loft apartment. It wasn't daylight out, but all the shades were open. Anyone in the building across the way would be able to see her having sex. No wait, what had he said; what hadn't she been able to say earlier? Fucking. He was fucking her. She hadn't ever really been fucked before, but she could now see that there was a huge difference. This was much, much better. Jameson Kane could fuck her whenever he wanted, she thought to herself.

Oh my god, I am fucking my sister's boyfriend.

“This is wrong, Jameson. So wrong,” she panted out. His hand suddenly came around her throat and pulled her towards him. She had to arch her back to meet him.

“Then tell me to stop,” he dared her, pressing his face to the side of hers, his teeth bared against her skin. She shook her head.

“I can't, I can't,” she cried out. He laughed and the hand on her throat went to her ponytail, pulling hard on it.

“You love this. You've probably fantasized about this. Did you ever? Ever touch yourself while you were thinking of me?” he asked, his fingers pulling at the roots of her hair. She shrieked.

“God, yes! Yes!” she answered. He laughed again and leaned away from her, but didn't relinquish his hold on her hair.

“Fuck, Tate, you are so sexy. You should see yourself,” he groaned, his free hand running over her ass. “I knew I should've fucked you a long time ago.”

She was shocked.

“You ..., wanted to do this ..., before?” she managed to get out between thrusts.

“Are you fucking kidding? I don't know any guy who hasn't thought about trying to fuck his girlfriend's hotter sister, and baby girl, you are definitely a hotter fuck,” Jameson informed her, pulling harder on her hair.

God, he's talking about fucking Ellie while he's fucking me. So wrong.

“Oh my god, we have to stop, this is wrong. You're Ellie's ..., I'm her ..., this is so wrong. Oh my god!” she cried out. He pulled out of her, and she moaned at the loss. But then he was spinning her around to face him, his fingers digging roughly in to her arms.

“Don't fucking say her name again,” he told her.

“But it's wrong, Ellie could be -,”

“If you say her name one more time, I'm warning you, I will fuck your mouth,” he growled, and then he was kissing her again.

It was like getting slapped, when Jameson spoke to her that way. No one had ever spoken to Tate like that before – she couldn't believe it. She knew she should be offended. She wanted to be offended. But she wasn't. If anything, it made her hotter. Did he talk to Ellie that way? She couldn't imagine it. She moaned, wrapping her arms around his neck.

“I won't say it again,” she whispered, kissing him back. They stumbled in to the bedroom, lips attached, hands roaming everywhere. It hadn't escaped her attention that his kisses seemed just as desperate as hers, just as needy. As if he couldn't get enough of her taste. He wanted this just as much as she did – maybe even more.

“You're goddamn right you won't,” he snapped, giving her a rough shove so that she fell onto the bed.

He was on top of her in an instant, his hands everywhere. He pulled the cups of her bra down and lavished attention on her breasts, teasing her nipples with his teeth. His hand was back between her legs, his fingers gliding through her wetness. She moaned and thrashed around beneath him, her fingernails raking across his shoulders, no thought about hurting him. He hissed and brought his mouth back to hers.

“Jameson,” she breathed against his lips.

“What?” he snapped.

“Are we -,” she started to ask, but then he was plunging inside of her. No hesitation, no accomodating her – just full, hard, length, driving as deep as he could go. She screamed his name, her legs moving to wrap around his waist.

“'Are we' what, Tate?” he asked, his voice breathless as he slammed his hips against hers.

“Are we going to do this again?” she managed to ask. He pulled himself up onto his knees and grabbed her by the hips, driving in to her even harder. Her eyes rolled back in her head.

“You're going to let me do this whenever I want,” he informed her.

“Yes, Jameson, yes, yes, yes,” she chanted, scratching her nails down his arms. One of his hands came to rest flat against her chest, between her breasts, pushing her down against the bed. Anchoring her to his thrusts.

He's going to turn me inside out.

“You love this, fucking me. Your sister's boyfriend. Winning, right? Don't you think this kind of makes you a slut?” he asked, slowing his thrusts. She started panting again.

“Yes, I do,” she answered, and the hand on her chest slowly slid upwards, creeping onto her neck.

“Tatum O'Shea. Perfect, princess, goody-two-shoes, Tate. Who would've thought, a slut,” he swore at her. She moaned, raking her hands across her own chest. His fingers gently wrapped around her throat.

This shouldn't be turning me on. Why is this turning me on!?

“Yes, for you, Jameson. Just for you,” she moaned. His movements were so slow. He would almost pull all the way out of her, and then he would plunge back inside, to the hilt, so slow. It made it hard to breathe.

“Whenever I want,” he repeated his earlier statement. She rubbed her lips together and nodded again.

“Of course,” she sighed, and he let go of her throat.

It was almost like he was massaging her, on the inside. Only instead of relaxing her, it was causing her to tense up every muscle in her body. She was going to burst apart, completely explode, and no one would ever find Tatum again.

“Goddamn, you're so fucking sexy, Tate,” Jameson groaned, dragging his fingers up the insides of her thighs. She took a deep breath.

“Are we together?” she blurted out.

He stopped moving.

Uh oh.

“What?” he asked, his voice like steel. She let her head roll to the side and she opened her eyes, staring at the wall across from her.

“You're dumping Ellie. Does this mean we'll be together?” she asked.

He barked out a cruel laugh and then he was slamming in to her again. She cried out, her hands going to his chest, hooking her nails in to his muscles. He leaned down close, forcing her legs as wide apart as they could go, his chest pressed against hers.

“I don't date sluts, Tatum,” he told her.

“But I'm -,”

“A good fuck, yes. But Ellie is my girlfriend. I never said I was dumping her. And even if I did, I wouldn't date her sister. Wouldn't date some eighteen year old,” Jameson laughed in her ear.

“We have to stop, we have to stop, we have to stop,” she started moaning. Her brain was telling her one thing – get out, now, you stupid bitch! - but her body was going a completely different route – holy fuck, this amazing, don't ever stop doing this, why didn't you do this sooner, if you stop him now, you will never feel this way again!

“I don't think so,” he whispered, and then his hand was sliding between their bodies, his fingers pinching at the part of her that was aching the most.

She screamed. Her body felt like it was ripping up the middle. She had never had an orgasm like that before, not with Drew, not even with herself. She jerked forward off the bed and clamped her teeth onto his shoulder. He let out a roar and she could feel him coming as well. Every muscle he had tensed and pressed down onto her. Her orgasm intensified and she let out a sob. It took a moment for the tremors to subside, for both of their bodies to become still again.

“Holy shit,” Tate breathed, collapsing back onto the bed.

“Fuck. Fuck,” Jameson whispered, his breath hot against her skin as he rested his forehead on her chest.

They laid like that for a while, coming down from the high of good sex. Tate had never experienced it before – Drew wasn't good enough to induce it. Jameson had just blasted her in to the stratosphere. She didn't think she'd ever come down. She took deep breaths, trying to find herself in space. She rested her hand against his back, feeling his steamy slick skin.

“Did you -,” she started to ask in a thick voice, but he pulled away. He lurched off the bed, yanking his pants up as he went. She was a little shocked, and sat up, putting her bra to rights as she did so.

“Shut up. Don't say a fucking thing. Just get dressed,” he ordered, picking up the silk blouse from the other side of the bed and throwing it at her. She caught it as it landed over her face.

“How can you -,” she started when she was interrupted by a buzzing sound. They both froze for a second, and then Jameson made his way in to the living room. She heard him walk over to the door, assumed he was pressing the button for the intercom to the downstairs.

“What?” he asked, his voice rough and agitated sounding.

“I'm locked out down here, I forgot my keys. Buzz me in,” Ellie's voice filled the apartment.

Tate dropped her face in to her hands, the gravity of the situation falling down on her. She had just had sex with her sister's boyfriend. It was all fine and dandy to be caught up in the kink and sex of the moment – but the afterwards was horrible. She was a horrible person. Ellie was a mean sister, but Tatum was officially the worst.

“What are you doing? I suggest you get dressed,” Jameson's voice floated to her. She lifted her head to watch him walk across the bedroom and in to the bathroom.

“How can you be so calm!? After what we just did!?” she demanded. There was the sound of running water, then a toilet flushing, and then he reappeared, his pants done up.

“It's not a big deal unless you make it a big deal, Tate. Get dressed, or you're going to have a lot of explaining to do to your sister,” he said, pulling a shirt out of his closet and yanking it on. Tate struggled to push herself to her feet and pushed her skirt back in to place.

“I just had sex with you! We just had sex! We have to tell her!” she shouted at him.

Jameson finally looked at her, one eyebrow raised, and her breath caught in her throat. He was a massive asshole, but holy shit, he was good looking. And she now knew what he looked like while having sex. She would never be able to look at him the same way again. She swallowed and looked away.

“Alright. You want to start that conversation? Once I'm gone, it's over, I never have to see her again. But you, you're her sister. Much worse for you,” he pointed out.

Tate struggled with her conscience, her bottom lip beginning to quiver. She was going to cry again. He was so cold. He had always been so cold, how could she have thought he'd be different? Sex didn't change things. But he was right. Telling Ellie would just upset the whole family, and he would escape unscathed. He had said he didn't want to date her, so it wasn't like she would gain anything by telling her sister.

“You're an absolutely horrible person,” she hissed at him, blinking through her tears. He laughed, his voice loud in the large apartment.

“No shit, but you just fucked your sister's boyfriend, so what kind of a person does that make you? Now get your goddamn clothes on, and get out,” he said, grabbing her by the arm and dragging her through the bedroom door.

They stopped just long enough for Tate to button up the silk shirt while he grabbed her cardigan off the floor. She refused to look at him while she tried to make herself look presentable, finger combing her hair as best she could, praying she looked semi-decent. Or at the very least not like someone who had just had a steamy affair with their sister's boyfriend.

Oh god.

“I'm going to forget tonight ever happened,” she informed him as they strode towards the front door. Jameson laughed again.

“Baby girl, you couldn't forget if you tried,” he told her in a low voice, pressing himself against her from behind. She shivered and had to force herself not to press back in to him.

“You had better break up with her. If you stay with her, you're ..., you're sick,” she informed him, her hand on the door knob. He shrugged, not moving his weight away from her. His body was so warm, like a furnace. She wanted to curl up in him.

“I can live with that. See you around, Tate,” he said. She yanked open the door.

“No, you won't.”

His laughter followed her in to the hallway. It sounded demonic. Like Satan was laughing at her.

“I will if I want to.”

She stomped down the hallway, tears streaming down her face. How could she have let that happen!? She was a goody-two-shoes. Tate never acted wild, never did anything bad, never did anything wrong. Sure, she had always secretly kind of wanted to – but maybe something more along the lines of sneaking her dad's brandy, or staying out past curfew. Not fucking her sister's boyfriend. That was a little beyond wild.

Speak of the devil – her sister was getting off the antiquated freight elevator at the end of the hall. Tate let out a deep breath, wiping at her face. She didn't know if she could handle this moment. Jameson had just ripped her in half. Ellie would mop the floor with her remains.

“Kane didn't tell me you were still here,” Ellie clipped out in a brisk tone, striding down the hall in her expensive ballet flats.

I would never call him Kane, I hate that. He has a first name, I just screamed it about twenty times.

“I was just on my way out, I dropped off your stuff,” Tate said, her voice low and her head ducked, hoping they could just pass each other. No such luck.

“Are you wearing my shirt!?” Ellie suddenly demanded, grabbing Tate by the arm.

“Yeah, uh, I spilled something on myself. Jameson told me to grab something, so I just grabbed something,” Tate mumbled.

“Jesus, Tate, you're such a child. Kane doesn't know anything about clothing, do you have any idea how much this cost? Take it off, right now,” Ellie demanded. Tate gasped.

Can this day get any worse?

“Ellie! I don't have anything else! You want me to drive home naked?” she asked. Ellie rolled her eyes.

“You're so over-dramatic. You have your sweater.”

“It doesn't close! Ellie, c'mon, I can have your shirt sent back tomorrow. I'll even dry clean it,” Tate offered.

“No. You'll ruin it. Take it off, now,” Ellie ordered her.

Something snapped in Tate.

“Fuck you, Eloise. It's a goddamn shirt, and I'm going to wear this goddamn shirt, all the goddamn way home,” she snarled, and then stomped in to the elevator.

She leaned against the wall as the old contraption clanked and rattled its way to the ground floor. She couldn't believe she had spoken like that to Ellie. She had never talked that way, to anyone. Jameson had loosened something in her, shaken her up. She now knew that he was Satan in a male model's body, but he had done something to her, there was no denying it.

She dragged her feet as she made her way outside. She didn't want to think of the repercussions of her actions. It was safe to assume that Ellie was already calling their father. That never ended well for Tate, under the best of circumstances, and these circumstances were complete shit.

Snow was coming down, adding to the layer that was already on the ground. She got to the back of her car, but then couldn't resist looking up. Jameson's apartment had huge floor-to-ceiling windows that faced out over the parking lot and street. Gorgeous on a sunny day.

She had a clear view of the inside of the loft. Ellie looked like she was throwing a temper tantrum, shaking her arms and head at a very still Jameson. He had his arms crossed, and almost looked bored. At first Tate couldn't figure it out – if Ellie was freaking out over the shirt, then she was totally overreacting. Usually, she was sugary-sweet to Jameson. Fake. But she looked like she was screaming. She was holding something in her hand, and it clicked in to place in Tate's mind.

She's shaking my panties in her boyfriend's face. Apparently, this night can get worse.

Tate knew she should be scared. That she should feel bad, or guilty, or some kind of upset. But she didn't. Her sister was a bitch, and Tate just didn't care any more. About anything. She let out a shaky breath, and it was like she was breathing for the first time ever.

I really, truly, honestly, completely, just don't give a fuck.

Ellie's form turned to look out the window, and saw Tate standing down there. She fumbled with a latch, and then a huge section of the window was swinging open. A black scrap of lace was thrown outside, and Tate watched her underwear float to the ground.

“You stupid whore! I'm telling Daddy! I'm telling him everything!” Ellie was shrieking, leaning halfway out the window.

Tate smiled.

“You know what, Ellie!?” she called back, her fingers working at the buttons on the front of the blouse. She slipped it off her shoulders. “I don't give a shit!” She let the shirt fall to the snow covered pavement, and then she stepped on it, grinding her heel in to the fabric.

“No! You bitch! You stupid bitch!” Ellie screamed, and then ran from the window. Tate could just picture her tearing down the hall. She laughed to herself.

“Good for you, baby girl!” Jameson laughed down at her.

Tate stared up at him, shivering as snow sprinkled down on her bare shoulders. She was standing in a parking lot, at eight o'clock at night, and it was freezing out, and she was only wearing her bra and a nerdy skirt. She had gone crazy.

And she absolutely loved it.

She raised her arm and gave Jameson the middle finger. He laughed again, and then blew her a kiss before walking away from the window. Tate scowled and hustled in to her car. As she pulled out of her spot, she saw Ellie running in to the parking lot, waving her arms like a crazy person. She scooped up the shirt from the ground, screaming something at Tatum's car as it drove away.

I don't care. I don't think I ever did.





~1~


“Alright, who wants to get fucked up tonight!?”

Tate grabbed a guy by the back of the head and forced him to lean backwards over the bar. He smiled up at her and she winked at him, right before pouring straight tequila down his throat. She then clamped her hand over his mouth and shook his head back and forth. He stumbled when he stood up, but managed to turn around.

“That one's on me, honey,” she said, her voice flirty while she spun the tequila bottle in her hand. He dug around in his pocket and pulled out some bills.

“You're the best bartender ever!” he shouted, slapping the money on the bar.

“That's what they all say!” she laughed, sweeping the money off the bar top. She eyeballed it quickly before shoving it in to a jar behind her. Two twenties. Not a bad tip at all.

“You are the best, Tatey! We goin' out after this!?” her fellow bartender, and roommate, Rusty Dobber shouted at her. As loud as the music always was in their bar, a person had to shout to be heard at any given time.

“We'll see, Rus. I'm working on something,” Tate replied, nodding her head. Rus glanced over her shoulder. A sexy guy sat at the end of the bar, eyeing Tatum up and down. Brad, one of Tate's regulars.

In more ways than one.

“Oh pooh, you're so boring!” Rusty laughed before dancing away, heading to a group of guys who were clamoring for a drink.

Tate loved being a bartender. She had never gone back to Harvard. After Eloise had tattle-taled on her, her “free ride” had been stopped. But Tate would have quit anyway. She knew that before she even got home that fateful night. She hated going to college. She had hated high school. She hated studying. Hated her pastel colored wardrobe. Her pastel colored life. She got home, packed her bags, and ran. Didn't stop till she got to Boston – a seven hour drive.

Once there, it wasn't long before she got the phone call from Daddy. Her parents were beyond strict. They had their daughters' lives all mapped out. Ellie was a paralegal, on her way to becoming a lawyer – someday a supreme court judge. Tatum was going to become a political adviser, and someday a senator, or a governor.

But Tate didn't want those things. She had loved to paint, but had never been allowed to. She loved to sing, and dance, and be silly. All against the rules in the O'Shea house. So was sleeping with a sister's boyfriend – even if said boyfriend didn't even like the sister. The Kane family was very wealthy, very well connected. The O'Sheas wanted that connection. In their minds, Tatum had ruined that, had ruined everything. Worst. Christmas. Ever.

She wasn't invited back for Easter.

Her apartment had been paid up till the summer, nothing Daddy could do about that, and Tate certainly wasn't lazy. Going against her own nature for years had been hard work. She went out and found a job. Found two jobs. Made friends. Real friends, for the first time ever. Had a social life. Dated. Screwed around. Acted her age. She didn't talk to her family at all, but that was okay, because she didn't like them anymore than they liked her.

So now all these years later, life was better than ever – in her opinion. She realized that sure, maybe some of that was thanks to a certain blue eyed he-demon, but she didn't think about him too much. Jameson had awakened something in her, brought about her change, but she was responsible for her life. She had taken control. She had grown up. And he hadn't been there for that. He wasn't anything to her. Nothing at all. He didn't exist anymore.

And she was perfectly fine with that.



*



Tatum came to with a start the next morning, not quite sure where she was, at first. She squinted in the bright sunlight, held up a hand. There was an open window across from her. She moaned and almost pulled the covers up over her head, but a snort came from the pillow next to hers, and she stopped moving.

“Oh, jesus,” she groaned, bringing a hand to her head. Brad was snoring next to her.

She kind of remembered now. She had gone to an after-hours club with Rus and Brad. More drinks had flowed between them. Shots were taken. Tate was a pretty solid party girl. Under normal circumstances, she could handle her liquor and controlled substances very well, but last night had gotten a little wild, even for her. She could sort of remember stumbling up to Brad's apartment. Doing something naughty in the hallway outside his door.

There was something about going down on a guy in public that just drove her wild.

But it hadn't gotten a whole lot better from there on – a couple drinks, and Brad was pretty much done for the night. He'd passed out on the bed, right in the middle of Tate's striptease. Not confidence inspiring. But since she was already half naked, she just crawled in to the bed next to him and passed out, as well.

She was regretting that now. Brad tended to get clingy when she stayed the night. He wasn't her boyfriend. More of a stress reliever, really. She liked that, and wanted it to stay that way. But it had become more and more obvious that he didn't want it to stay that way.

Tate managed to slide out of the bed without waking him up. She tip toed around the room, collecting the clothing she'd tossed everywhere. She shimmied in to her tight white t-shirt and then hopped around, struggling more with the tight leather leggings.

“Now that's a sight I could get used to,” she heard Brad say from behind her. She glanced over her shoulder and laughed. She was bent over, struggling to get her foot through the pant leg. Her thong-clad ass was pointed straight at Brad.

“You could take a picture,” she offered, and then succeeded in getting her foot through. She got the other leg in no problem and yanked the leggings up over her hips.

“You'd really let me do that?” he asked. She shrugged, pulling on her boots.

“Maybe. Depends. Not with my face in the picture,” she said, grabbing her jacket off a chair.

“Why are you always in such a rush? I could use some help here,” he chuckled, gesturing to the tent that was happening in his sheets. Tate laughed out loud.

“Are you joking? You owe me one, after last night,” she pointed out, searching around for her purse.

“What are you talking about? I thought we had a great time,” he said. She gave him a Look.

“You had a great time, coming in my mouth after about two seconds, and then passing out. You have the the worst case of whiskey dick, of anyone I've ever met,” she informed him, and then spotted her purse, halfway under the bed. She crawled around, struggling to get to it.

“I could make up for it now,” he offered, his hand stroking his erection. She snorted.

“No thanks, that train has left the station. See you around!” she sang, dashing out of the room.

She stood on the corner down the street, waiting for Rus to come pick her up. She sipped at a coffee she had bought, playing on her phone. After about fifteen minutes, a beat up looking VW Beetle pulled up to the curb. She slid in to the passenger seat.

“So, was it amazing? Fireworks?” Rus asked. Tate chuckled, resting a booted foot against the dash.

“Pshaw, not hardly. I don't know why I keep trying with him. It used to be fun. Now it's just like ..., eh,” she replied, pushing her aviators higher up on her nose.

“You say that about every guy you're with, you know. Even back when you used to date. Now you don't even do that – just screw 'em and lose 'em. What kind of man does it take to satisfy the insatiable Tatum O'Shea?” Rus asked.

“If I'm 'the insatiable Tatum O'Shea', then by definition, I can't be satisfied,” Tate joked.

“No, seriously. What would it take? Perfect man. What do you want?” Rus pressed.

“I don't want a boyfriend. I've tried that, don't like it, over it. I like playing around,” Tate replied. Rus shrugged.

“Okay, so what would it take for a guy to be so good in bed, that you'd never want to leave it?” she changed the question.

Tate pressed her lips together and stared out the window, silent for a minute. It wasn't a line of questioning she liked too much. Made her think about the past, which she didn't like to do, at all.

“Someone a little domineering, someone who can handle my crazy, weird, personality. Someone who can make my eyes roll back in my head. Someone who can talk absolute filth to me, but still know where the line is, and even know when to step over it on occasion,” Tate started. “Someone who ..., will just let me be me, and be cool with it. Let me come and go.”

“Emphasis on the come?” Rus asked, and Tate burst out laughing.

“You have the maturity of a twelve year old. Let's get some tacos, I'm starving,” she groaned.

They sat outside, on top of a picnic table. Tate threw excess lettuce to some birds while Rus chattered on about her own guy problems. She was always looking for Mr. Right, and her current boyfriend wasn't stacking up. She was explaining how Vinny wouldn't know his way around her body even if she printed him a map, when Tate's phone went off. She glanced at the screen and then groaned before answering it.

“Yeah?” she answered, her voice muffled by almost half a taco.

“Tate, sweetie, cover for me tonight? I'll make it up to you, I promise,” a voice whined over the other end. Rachel. Another friend, who worked for a catering business. Tate temped with them on occasion, so Rachel would call her to cover every now and then.

“I don't know, I had kind of a late night last night,” Tate grumbled.

“This'll be easy. Drinks and hors d'oeuvres at some swanky building downtown, seven to ten; get there at six, done by eleven. Please, please, please, I will owe you my life,” Rachel begged. Tate rolled her eyes.

“Keep it, it's not worth anything anyway. I'll do it, I'll do it,” she responded. She could always use more money.

“Eeeeek! You're the best, Tatey-Watey, the absolute best,” Rachel gushed, and then passed along the address and event info. Tate hung up the phone and sighed.

“Her voice is so hard to resist. Wha'd she rope you into, this time?” Rus asked, finishing off the last taco.

“Just some party, cocktails and stuff. Some new company that just opened downtown, kind of a welcome event thingy. Kraven and Dunn, brokerage firm or something. A bunch of suits, people that are rich out the ass,” Tate explained.

“Oh, so your kind of people?”

“Shut up,” Tate snapped, punching Rus in the arm when she started to laugh. “Not anymore. My mother would die if she saw the way I lived.”

“We're not so bad,” Rus piped up. Tate nodded.

“I know – it's more of a comment on them than us,” she explained before jumping off the table. “Let's get out of here. I gotta go shower and find that uniform.”

Tate showed up at the address at six o'clock sharp. The whole office building belonged to the firm, and the party was being held on the top floor. Ooohhh, big money. Could mean big tip. Or no tip. Rich people were funny that way, she had noticed.

She changed in a bathroom stall, and then examined herself in a mirror. She hadn't really been sure how cleaned up she should get – when she catered, she always tried to score more low key events. She hoped her heavy eye makeup wasn't too much, she didn't want to go through the hassle of scrubbing it all off. She pulled her hair in to a high ponytail and made her way in to the kitchen.

All the servers were gathered together and walked through the event space, a large conference room that had been cleared of all its furniture and set up for the party with little tables everywhere. No guests were there yet, but some guys in suits were wandering around, looking things over. Tate sighed and picked at her nails, ignoring the run through; blah blah, serve the drinks, blah blah, don't talk to the guests, blah blah, drop a tray and instant death. It was always the same.

There wasn't a whole lot to do till guests got there, and Tate was a mover by nature. She didn't like standing around doing nothing. She began prepping drink trays, preloading some with champagne glasses that had been designed special for the occasion – there was supposed to be a toast at the end of the night, and all of the glasses had a large, cursive K etched in to the glass. She set them up in the kitchen, and then carried them to a table where the other trays were filled with food, ready to go. She was on her last tray when she turned around and rammed right in to somebody.

“What the shit!” she exclaimed, dropping the tray and falling to her knees.

“Excuse me,” a man's voice floated down to her. She grumbled and began grabbing at the broken glasses, slamming them onto the tray.

“Walk much!? Or is this your first time as a pedestrian?” she snapped. The guy squatted down next to her.

“Sorry, I didn't see you there,” he repeated, though his voice sounded anything but sorry.

She flicked her eyes to his face, giving him her most severe glare before concentrating on the glass in front of her. She frowned. Light eyes. Dark hair. He had been staring at her. He was very good looking, and wearing an expensive looking suit. God, had she just told off one of the guests? What was a guest doing in the kitchen?

“Sorry, I shouldn't have snapped. You just startled me,” Tate mumbled an apology. He laughed.

“That didn't exactly sound genuine,” he chuckled.

“Just doing my job, sir,” she managed a tight lipped response.

“You work here?”

“No, I just like to wear aprons and run around kitchens for fun,” she said before she could stop herself. He laughed again.

“Ah, a caterer. C'mon, get up. Ignore those, I'll get someone to clean it up,” he said, and then grabbed her arm, forcing her to climb to her feet. She was a little shocked at the audacity of just grabbing her like that, but she didn't say anything. Couldn't. His fingers felt like they were burning holes through the oxford shirt she was wearing.

“But I can't just leave that, I -,” she started, trying to bend back down. He kept his grip on her.

“Leave it,” he ordered, and a shiver ran down her spine. She finally looked at him again.

“You can't just tell me to leave a mess there, and it's okay. Who are you?” she demanded. He smiled down at her, and something fluttered in her chest.

No. Not possible.

“See the K on those glasses?” he asked. She glanced down at the tray.

“Yeah?”

“That's me. I'm the Kraven in Kraven and Dunn,” he explained. She managed a nod.

“Oh.”

“You seem surprised.”

“No. Just really wishing I hadn't yelled at you now,” Tate replied. He laughed again, loudly. She frowned. Something wasn't right. Her universe felt like it was tilting to the left.

“It's fine. I wasn't paying attention, I shouldn't have just barged in here. I just thought ..., thought I saw something,” he told her.

“I should probably get back to work,” she said, staring in to his eyes. His blue, blue eyes. He squeezed her elbow and then let it go. She took a couple steps away.

“You probably should. See you around,” he said. She nodded and walked off.

See you around.

Tate stopped breathing. Almost stopped moving. She made it to the end of a short hall and then stepped to the side, pressing her back against a wall. She felt like she was going to hyperventilate. It was ridiculous. It couldn't be, that guy said his name was Kraven. Not Kane.

She leaned to the side and peaked her head around the corner. He was still standing there, his hands in his pants pockets, looking down at the mess. She studied his profile. Dark hair. Strong features. Light eyes. Broad shouldered, and tall, probably like six-foot-two, or so. Very sexy. So good looking ..., she felt like if she stared at him for too long, she'd go blind.

Oh my god.

She hurried off, pushing her way through the other waitstaff till she found one of the event coordinators. The poor girl looked like she was on the verge of a nervous break down, but Tate didn't care. She had to know something.

“Who is hosting this event?” she demanded.

“We went over this earlier, Kraven and Dunn,” the girl responded.

“Yes, I know that – what are their names, Kraven and Dunn? Their full names?” Tate asked, struggling not to shake the girl.

“Never address the hosts by their first name, call them -,”

“Just tell me their goddamn names!” Tate snapped. The woman began flipping through pages on a clipboard.

“Wenseworth Dunn and ..., hmmm, let me see,” she kept flipping. It took forever. “Ah! Kraven. Jameson Kraven.”

Jameson Kraven. Not Kane. Still, what are the chances!?

Tate didn't have time to ponder it – another coordinator rushed in and clapped them all to attention. They were handed trays and sent out in to the fray. Tate balanced a platter of crab cakes on her palm and made her way in to the crowd of suits and cocktail dresses.

She didn't want to see him, but her eyes kept searching for him. She hadn't thought about Jameson much during all the time that had passed since that crazy night; except for when she was alone in bed. Or the shower. Sometimes on the couch.

But other than that, he had been absent from her mind. He had scarred her to a certain extent. For a little while, right after, her silly heart had hoped and prayed he would get in touch with her. “I will if I want to,” he had said about seeing her. Very soon, it became apparent that he didn't want to – he never contacted her. Then her life had gotten so crazy, Tate hadn't had time to dwell on him, she was too concerned with figuring out where her next meal would come from, or how she was going to pay her rent, to care about Jameson Kane. He hadn't ever really been anything to her. Just a moment in time, that had happened to change her life forever.

She served crab cakes and shrimp balls, delivered drinks and took empty glasses. She smiled and flirted, encouraged everyone to drink more, and assured them that everything tasted amazing. She knew she didn't look as polished as most of the other waiters, but sometimes that worked to her advantage, especially with uptight suit types. They saw her nighttime makeup and mussy hair, and tended to think naughty thoughts. Naughty thoughts equalled bigger tips – and in this case, where the tips were pooled together, it meant more for everyone. So she worked it.

After the toast – which she made sure to miss – the place started to thin out. No one was eating anymore, and they were encouraged to not serve anymore alcohol. She had busied herself with clearing off tables, starting in the back corner, when she heard a noise behind her.

“It is you, right?” he asked. Tate sighed and stood upright.

“I was wondering that myself,” she replied, slow to turn around. Jameson was smiling at her.

“God, you look so different, I didn't even recognize you at first. How long has it been? Six years?” he asked.

“More like seven. What's with the Kraven?” she asked, holding up a champagne glass with the etching facing him. He chuckled.

“Mother's maiden name – Jameson Kraven Kane. Has a nice ring,” he explained.

“Makes sense.”

“Are you a waitress?” he asked. Tate laughed.

“Like I said, I just wear aprons for fun,” she responded. He made her uncomfortable. Tatum didn't get uncomfortable anymore, so it was a foreign feeling.

“Cute. So do you just work catering gigs?”

“Among other things.”

“Like what?'

“I'm a bartender on the weekends. Temp a lot. Walk dogs. Taught yoga at a retirement home the other day. Do bicycle tours, walking tours, riverboat tours -,” she started to list off when he held up a hand.

“Tours. I get it. I thought you were going to Harvard. You were gonna change the world, or something,” he remembered. She laughed again.

“Once upon a time. But then I had this epiphany – I fucking hated school. I hated my life. I hated my parents. They pretty much hated me, so it worked out great. I left school and got a job,” she recapped her life.

“Why do they hate you?” he asked, his eyebrows raised.

“One guess, Mr. Kane.”

“No shit,” Jameson said in a low voice, looking down his nose at her.

“Yup. Eloise was never one to take things lying down. Though you would know more about that than me,” Tate teased. His eyebrows went up even higher.

“You are so ..., different,” he told her, his voice soft.

“Well, you never really knew me,” she pointed out.

“I think I got to know you pretty well.”

She sucked in a quick breath and held it. It got about ten degrees hotter in the room. Tatum was no blushing girl, not anymore – she had broken up with Drew that same night, and since then she had slept with a lot of guys. Probably more than she'd like to admit. She wasn't shy about sex. But something about him, made her feel that way. She didn't like it. She had to regain the upper hand. She stepped up close to him, almost close enough for their chests to meet.

“It was one night, Jameson. You don't know anything,” she whispered the last part, staring up at him.

Before he could respond, she turned and walked away. She halfway expected him to follow her, but he didn't. When she got back in to the kitchen, she peered out the porthole in the door. He was still standing there, staring after her. She smiled to herself.

Upper hand, achieved.

She didn't know why she felt the need to “beat him”; she didn't matter to him. He didn't matter to her. One fucked up, incredibly hot night together didn't mean anything, in the grand scheme of things. He had done her a favor, if she was honest with herself, and he had seemed to enjoy himself in the process, so it all worked out.

Closure. It was closure, Tate figured, for a chapter in her life she hadn't even known needed closure. Jameson Kane was most definitely a thing of the past. For real, now.





~2~


“How could you not recognize him!?”

Tate bent at the waist, swung her hips in a circle, clapped her hands, and then stood upright.

“I don't know, I was caught off guard! I didn't recognize him.”

Bend, circle, clap, stand.

“He must look really different.”

Bend, circle, clap, stand.

“Not really. Older, for sure, but still the same. Sexy as fuck.”

Bend, circle, clap, stand.

“Then how did you not recognize him!? I find it hard to believe you forgot the face of the guy who fucked you retarded and then treated you like shit.”

“Excuse me!”

Both Tate and her best friend, Angier Hollingsworth, looked over their shoulders at the woman who had just interrupted them. Okay, so maybe a Zumba class wasn't the best place to be having that particular discussion, but Tate hadn't started it. Plus, she thought eavesdropping was a nasty trait – if people were going to do it, they should have the good graces to pretend not to be listening and keep their mouth shut.

“Oh, shut up, this is probably the hottest thing you've heard all week,” Ang snapped at the woman before he turned back towards the instructor. They began hiking their knees up, skipping in place at the same time as pumping their fists in the air.

Zumba wasn't Tate's usual work out, but free was free, and she couldn't exactly afford a gym membership. Ang was a compulsive coupon hoarder, and always took her when he got a buy-one-get-one deal. She had been to many a jazzercise, step, Tae Bo, cycling class, courtesy of Ang. They also always knew where to go to score free smoothies, appetizers, cookies, whatever. When they really put their minds to it, the two of them could spend a whole day on the town and not spend a dime.

“I don't think about him that much. I guess I kinda forgot,” Tate kept their conversation going, body rolling to the right.

“So he's still sexy, huh? Gonna hit that?” Ang asked, rolling right behind her. She laughed.

“Um, no. Don't think so. I think one time was plenty, thank you. The things he said to me ...,” she let her voice trail off as they sashayed to the left.

“Get you so hot, you're probably soaking wet right now,” Ang finished for her, and she burst out laughing. The woman behind them huffed, but didn't say anything.

“You're so disgusting,” Tate snorted at him, brushing sweaty hair away from her forehead. Stupid as she felt, Zumba was one hell of a workout.

“I'm not the one getting off in the middle of a gym full of middle-aged women. Oh my god, you really are, aren't you? I can tell, come here,” Ang said, and broke out of the line to grab at her. She burst out laughing, slapping his hands away. They stumbled to the left, Ang digging his fingers in to her waist and hips. She laughed uncontrollably, trying to skip away from him.

“Excuse me! We are in the middle of a lesson!” the instructor barked out over the microphone. Ang rolled his eyes.

“C'mon, we can do this at home with techno music and vodka, let's blow this place,” he said in a loud voice, swinging an arm around Tate's shoulders and dragging her away from the floor.

“We probably won't be allowed back, you realize,” she pointed out.

“Who cares? There's a ton of other places. Shower?” he asked, stopping in front of the locker rooms.

“Yeah, I feel disgusting. Meet you in fifteen,” she said, but he started bustling after her through the women's door. She laughed and put a hand against his chest.

“What? If you're all randy from Mr. Angry-Fucker, I think I should get to benefit,” Ang said with a serious face. She snorted.

“I am not randy, and I don't think so,” she laughed, pushing at him.

“Oh c'mon, sweetie, it'll be quick. You always love it,” he begged, pouting out his bottom lip. She put both hands on his chest.

“I'll take a rain check.”

He let up when a disgruntled looking soccer-mom shoved her way out past them. Tate crossed her eyes at him and then danced off in to the locker room. Gathering her shower stuff together, she headed under the spray.

She had met Angier at a frat party, five years ago. Her rebellious phase had been in full swing. Streaks of color in her hair, way too much eye makeup – she might have even had her eyebrow pierced. It was the first night Tate had ever tried coke, and she had felt like a live wire, running around the building. She wanted to talk to everyone, meet everyone. Ang had cornered her. A lanky six-foot-four topped with light brown hair and striking gray eyes, he was very good looking. She had thought he was going to hit on her, but he had something else in mind.

He had asked her if she would be interested in doing a porno with him.

Tate had thought it was a joke at first, but he had been very serious. She had a great body, he told her. Perfect smile, good teeth. Great for porn. She politely declined. He had shrugged it off, but then invited her to come to a taping, get a “feel” for it, maybe. It was one of the most surreal moments she'd ever had with another person.

They had been best friends ever since.

Tate never got in to porn, but Ang swore by it. He did gay, straight, “selfie” porn – he would do pretty much anything. He explained that although he was straight, for the right price he could be just about anything someone wanted him to be; she knew that feeling, having been desperate for money in those days. Since she wouldn't do porn, he taught her the ways of coupon clipping.

After a drunken night at a wine tasting – free, of course – they slept together for the first time. Ang came the closest, of anyone she had ever been with, to making her feel the way Jameson had made her feel. And best of all, he didn't have any expectations of her. Sex was just sex to Ang. Almost like exercising. Something that had to be done to stay healthy, and it felt super good – bonus! But it didn't really mean anything to him beyond that, which made it easy to be with him. He was also a total freak, so she never felt bad about her own preferences, the way she sometimes did with other men. Ang was like a security blanket. A sexy, naughty, deviant, security blanket.

“What's taking you so long!?” Ang's voice boomed through the locker room while Tate held her head under a hand dryer. A couple ladies shrieked, but Tate just laughed. She righted herself, ran her fingers through her black locks, and then grabbed her stuff, hurrying out to meet him.

“I'm a girl, I take longer to look presentable,” she pointed out.

“What, exactly, looks presentable about you?” he asked, and she elbowed him in the stomach.

“Shut up.”

“So,” he began as they pushed their way outside. “Seriously. Are you going to see him again?”

“No. I mean, why would I? Unless he needs a waiter at his firm, I don't think I'll be hearing from him,” Tate replied, bouncing her gym bag off her knees.

“So. You could call him, you know where he works,” Ang pointed out. She scrunched up her nose.

“Why on earth would I want to call him?”

“Because you still think about him,” Ang replied, and she barked out a laugh.

“I do not. I told you, I didn't even recognize him at first,” she reminded him. Ang shook his head.

“But you compare every guy you're with to him. I've pulled some of my best moves on you – remember the swing!? – and I still don't stack up,” he said. She stopped laughing.

“I do not. You're amazing, you know that.”

“Well, duh, but I can tell. I'm good at these things – have to be, in my line of work. I'm pretty good, I can tell I'm one of your faves, but I'm not him,” he finished. She frowned. She didn't like this subject. She did not compare every guy to Jameson Kane.

Did she?

How could she? She'd only slept with him once. Surely he hadn't left that big of an impression on her.

She had to change the channel.

“If you're so good at sizing sex up, how do I stack up against all the people you've slept with? It's not really fair, I have to compete with both sexes – twice the competition,” Tate joked.

“Bitch, please. If I could find a woman who fucks like you, and would let me actually film it and sell it for money, I would marry her,” Ang said with a straight face. She laughed.

“That's what I like to hear.”

He walked her up to her apartment and stayed for a little while, making flirty comments at Rusty. It wasn't right, Rus had a huge crush on him. Tate had tried to explain to her that Ang didn't really date, wasn't looking for a relationship, but it didn't stop Rus from hoping. Tate was beginning to think she'd have to share some of her and Ang's dirtier stories, in hopes of scaring her roommate off from him. Rus was a sweetheart – sex swings and ball gags probably weren't her thing.

“Oh! I forgot, you left your cell phone here – it rang a whole bunch,” Rus said, after Ang had danced out the door. Tate grabbed the phone off the table, squinting at the screen. It was the temp agency she worked for – a new job? Score. She called them back.

“Hi, Tatum, how are you?” the temp agency manager, Carla, breathed down the phone line.

“Super dooper. You called me, like eight times? What's up?” Tate asked, rifling through a bowl of of mixed nuts and goodies.

“I've got a job for you, if you're interested!” Carla breathed.

“Sure. What is it?” Tate said around a mouthful of food.

“A law firm downtown is having a conference. Their regular assistant is sick and they have an important meeting with a client tomorrow afternoon. You won't have to perform her normal duties, just show up for the meeting and serve water, muffins, that kind of stuff. Quick and easy,” Carla's voice got even breathier.

How does she talk like that? Did she take lessons?

“Sounds like my kind of job. What should I wear?” Tate asked.

“Business attire. If you have a dress that works, that would be great, but a skirt, or trousers, and button down blouse would be fine. Be there at one o'clock sharp, okay?” Breathy McBreather breathed.

“Sure, sure. Where is it at?”

“Um ...,” Carla prattled off the address, her voice barely a whisper. “And make sure you're on time. They made a big deal out of that. They requested you especially, you know.”

Tate choked on an almond.

“Me!? Why me?” she managed to cough out.

“I don't know. Said they'd seen your work. I guess you did a really great job! One o'clock, remember!” Carla's breathy voice almost sang.

“Remembered.”

Tate stared down at her phone after she'd ended the call. She could kinda remember temping for a lawyer, but it wasn't like she'd done anything amazing. At least she didn't think so. She wasn't even sure if it was for the same law firm, but maybe it was; maybe her filing skills were super impressive. Legendary. Maybe she'd blown the guy. Who knows.

Oh well. A job was a job. She wandered in to her room and spent the next hour digging through her closet, seeing if she had anything that fit the bill.





~3~


Jameson Kane stood in front of his desk, staring down at a file folder. Tatum O'Shea's file from the temp agency stared back up at him. It had taken him forever to find which temp agency she even worked for – and then he had paid a hefty price for a copy of her file.

Over the years, he'd thought about her occasionally, but not enough to ask about her to anyone. The sex had been mind blowing. A young, twenty-three year old at the time, he had just been discovering the kind of man he was; he'd been dating Ellie for two years, and hadn't quite yet had the chance to fully explore his sexual appetites.

He had slept with other people, multiple times, but he never cheated – Ellie always knew, beforehand and afterwards. He had tried to break up with her, several times, but then the screaming would start. The crying. The begging. Then threatening. The Kanes and the O'Sheas were close friends. Did he really want to jeopardize that?

After two years together, Jameson had finally begun to realize he didn't care if he jeopardized anything. He was going to end things with Eloise O'Shea. Move away from Harrisburg, go back to school, something. Head to Manhattan. Just get away from everything. He was bored with everything, bored with his life. He needed something different. He just had to figure out what it was, and how to go about getting it.

And then Tatum had walked in to his apartment. He had developed a sort of hard on for Tate. Eloise's younger sister had always been a sex bomb waiting to happen. Leggy and tone, with chocolate eyes and a sexy body, he'd had more than a couple fantasies about her. But she was off limits. Too young, and too naive; not to mention the whole dating-her-sister thing.

Yet in the end, none of that had stopped him.

She'd come apart under his hands. Like clay. He had felt like he could mold her. Do anything he wanted to her. Say anything he wanted to her. Every word that crossed his lips, no matter what she'd said in response, she'd just gotten hotter. Needier. Pretty incredible. If Ellie hadn't come home when she had, he was pretty sure Tate never would've made it out the door. Ellie would've walked in on them in action.

Sometimes Jameson wondered how different things would have turned out, if that had happened.

He moved away almost immediately after the break up, didn't bother to keep in contact with the O'Sheas. His father died not long after, and Jameson pretty much filled his role in the world. Stocks and bonds. Acquisitions. Silent partnerships in a lot of businesses. On top of that, he inherited the family fortune. Jameson had more money than he knew what to do with – but that didn't mean he slacked off. He went above and beyond his father, was bolder, made more money, more connections. Garnered worldwide attention for his knack for making a profit.

He owned homes in Manhattan, Copenhagen, Rio – and now Boston. He dated supermodels and went to red carpet premieres. He had women falling at his feet. Life was pretty damn near perfect.

But then he had seen Tatum in that kitchen, and time had shifted. In the flash of an instant, he was back in his old apartment, talking so mean to her. Watching her cry. Watching her moan. He had to admit it, she had been a pretty powerful moment in his life. Profound.

She looked so different. Her curves had filled out a little more, but she still had the same tone frame he remembered. He would kill to see what her ass looked like now. Her dark hair had been pulled up in to a messy ponytail, making him think of sex. Her eye makeup had been dark and smudged, making him think of more sex. Her sarcastic smile and smart mouth were a complete one-eighty from the girl he had known before; this woman was a new creature. And he wanted to find out exactly what kind.





~4~


Tatum plucked at her shirt in a nervous manner. She had tucked it in to a tight pencil skirt and even put on a pair of sling back stilettos. If someone had personally requested her, she wanted to make an effort to look nice. She had blown out her hair and put curls in the ends, and toned down her make up. Even she had to admit it, she looked presentable.

For once.

Men in expensive business suits began to file in to the conference room and she stood still, giving a polite smile to everyone who entered. A team of lawyers was meeting with their client. Six chairs were lined up on one side of a long table, with just a single chair on the other side.

Tate had been positioned at the back of the room, next to a sideboard filled with goodies and coffee and water. She fussed about, straightening napkins and setting up the glasses. When all six chairs were filled on the one side, she stared at their backs, wondering who the big shot was that got to stare them all down. The person who would be facing her. A door at the back of the room swung open and her breath caught in her threat.

Holy. Shit.

Jameson Kane strode in to the room, only offering a curt smile to his lawyers. His eyes flashed to her for just a second, and then he looked back. His smile became genuine and he tipped his head towards her, almost like a bow.

She gaped back at him, positive that her mouth was hanging open. What was he doing there!? Had he known she would be there? Had he been the one to request her? Impossible, he didn't know what temp agency she worked for – but what would be the chances? She hadn't seen him in seven years, and now twice in two days.

Tate felt like swallowing her tongue.

“Gentlemen,” Jameson began, seating himself across from the lawyers. “Thanks for meeting with me today. Would anyone care for any coffee? Water? The lovely Ms. O'Shea will be helping us today.” He gestured towards Tate, but no one turned around. Several people asked for coffee. Jameson asked for water, his smile still in place. It was almost a smirk. Like he knew something she didn't.

She began to grind her teeth.

She delivered everyone's drinks, and then carried around a tray of snacks. No one took anything. She moved to the back of the room, refilled the water pitcher. Tidied up. Felt Jameson staring at her.

This is ridiculous. You're Tatum O'Shea. You eat boys for breakfast.

But thinking that made her remember when he had said something very similar to her, and she felt a blush creep up her cheeks.

She was pretty much ignored the whole time. They all argued back and forth about what business decisions Jameson should, or shouldn't, make. He was very keen on dismantling struggling companies and selling them off. They tried to curb his desires. His tax lawyer explained how his tax shelter in Hong Kong was doing. Another lawyer gave him a run down on property law in Switzerland. Tate tried to hide her yawns.

They took a five minute break after an hour had passed. Tate had her back to the room, rearranging some muffins on a tray, when she felt the hair on the back of her neck start to stand up. She turned around in slow motion, taking in Jameson as he walked up to her.

“Surprised?” he asked, smiling down at her.

“Very. Did you ask for me?” she questioned. He nodded.

“Yes. You ran away so quickly the other night. I wanted to get reacquainted,” he explained. She laughed.

“Maybe I didn't,” she responded. He shrugged.

“That doesn't really matter to me. What are you doing tonight?” he asked. She was a little caught off guard.

“Are you asking me out, Kane?” she blurted out. He threw back his head and laughed.

“Oh god, still a little girl. No. I don't ask people out. I was asking what you were doing tonight,” Jameson replied.

She willed away the blush she felt coming on. He still had the ability to make her feel so stupid. She had been through so much since him, come so far with her esteem and her life. It wasn't fair that he could still make her feel so small. She wanted to return the favor. She cleared her throat.

“I'm working.”

“Where?”

“At a bar.”

“What bar?”

“A bar you don't know.”

“And tomorrow night?”

“Busy.”

“And the night after that?”

“Every night after that,” Tate informed him, crossing her arms. He narrowed his eyes, but continued smiling.

“Surely you can find some time to meet up with an old friend,” he said. She shook her head.

“We were never friends, Kane,” she pointed out. He laughed.

“Then what is it? Are you scared of me? Scared I'll eat you alive?” he asked. She stepped closer to him, refusing to be intimidated.

“I think you're the one who should be scared. You don't know me, Kane. You never did. And you never will,” she whispered. Jameson leaned down so his lips were almost against her ear.

“I know what you feel like from the inside. That's good enough for me,” he whispered back. Tate stepped away. She felt like she couldn't breathe. He did something to her insides.

“You, and a lot of other people. You're not as big a deal as you think,” she taunted. It was a complete lie, but she had to get the upper hand back. He smirked at her.

“That sounds like a challenge to me. I have to defend my honor,” he warned her. She snorted.

“Whatever. Point to the challenger then, me. Defend away,” she responded, rolling her eyes.

He didn't respond, just continued smirking down at her. The lawyers began filing back in to the room and Jameson took his position on the other side of the table. She wasn't really sure what their little spar had been about, or what had come out of it. She was just going to try to get through the rest of the conference, and then she would scurry away before he could talk to her again. She didn't want anything to do with Jameson Kane, or his -,

“Ms. O'Shea,” his sharp voice interrupted her thoughts. Tate lifted her head.

“Yes, sir?” she asked, making sure to keep her voice soft and polite.

“Could you bring me some water, and something to eat,” he asked, not even bothering to look at her as he flipped through a contract.

She loaded up a tray with his requests and made her way around the table. No one even looked at her, they just threw legal jargon around at each other – a language she didn't know. She stood next to Jameson and leaned forward, setting his water down and then going about arranging cheese and crackers on a plate for him. She was about halfway done when she felt it.

Are those ..., his fingers!?

Tate froze for a second. His touch was light as he ran his fingers up and down between her legs. She glanced down at her knees and then glanced over at him. He was still looking down, but she could see him smirking. She tried to ignore him, tried to go back to setting up his food, but his hand went higher. Daring to brush up past her knees, well underneath her skirt. He couldn't get any farther, not unless he pushed up her skirt, or sunk down in his chair. She dumped the rest of the cheese on his plate and started to scoot away. She had just gotten back to her station when she heard a thunking noise, followed by groans.

“No worries. Ms. O'Shea! So sorry, could you get this?” Jameson's voice was bored sounding.

She turned around and saw that he had knocked over his water glass. He was blotting at the liquid as it spread across the table. The lawyers were all holding their papers aloft, grumbling back and forth.

Tate groaned and grabbed a towel before striding back to the table. She glared at him the whole way, but he still refused to look at her. She started as far away from him as she could get, mopping everything up, but eventually she had to almost lean across him to reach the mess. She stood on her toes, stretching across the table top.

As she had assumed it would, his hand found its way back to her legs. Only this time he wasn't shy, and her position allowed for a lot of access. His hand shot straight up the back of her skirt, his fingertips brushing against the lace of her panties.

She swallowed a squeak and glanced around. If any of the other gentlemen lifted their heads, they would have been able to see their client with half of his arm up his assistant's skirt, plain as day. He managed to run his finger under the hem of her underwear, down the left side of her butt cheek, before she pulled away. She stomped back to the food station, throwing the towel down with such violence, she knocked over a stack of sugar cubes.

When she turned around, Jameson was finally looking at her. She plunked her fists on her hips, staring straight back. His smirk was in place – as she had expected it would be – and he held up a finger, pointing it straight up. One. Then he pointed at himself. One point. Tied. He thought they were playing a game. She hadn't wanted to play games with him, but she hated to lose at anything, and she never wanted to lose to a man like Jameson Kane.

An idea flitted across her mind. Tate wanted to make him as uncomfortable as he had just made her feel. She coolly raised an eyebrow and then took her time looking around the room. The lawyers all still had their backs to her – not one of them had turned around the entire time she'd been there. Blinds had been drawn over every window, no one could see in the office, but she knew the door wasn't locked. Anyone could walk in to the room. She took a deep breath. It didn't matter anyway, what was the worst that could happen? She would get fired? It was a temp job, that Jameson had requested her for – he didn't even work there. Did she really care what happened?

She dragged her stare back to meet his and then ran her hands down the sides of her skirt. He raised an eyebrow as well, his eyes following her hands. When she got to the hem of the skirt, she pressed her palms flat and began to slowly, achingly, slide the material up her legs. Now both his eyebrows were raised. He flicked his gaze to her face, and then went right back to her skirt. Higher, up past her knees. To the middle of her thighs. Higher still. If anyone turned around, they would be very surprised at what they saw. One more inch, and her skirt would be moot. Jameson's stare was practically burning holes through her.

Taking short, quick, breaths through her nose, Tate slid her hands around to her butt. She wiggled the material up higher back there, careful to keep the front low enough to hide her whole business, and was able to hook her fingers in to her underwear. She didn't even think about what she was doing, couldn't take her eyes off of Jameson, as she slid her underwear over her butt and down her hips. As the lace slid to her ankles, she pushed her skirt back in to place. Then she stepped out of the panties and bent over, picking them up. When she stood upright, she let the lace dangle from her hand while she held up one finger. Point.

Winning.

Jameson nodded his head at her, obviously conceding to her victory, and then returned his attention to the papers in front of him. Tate let out a breath that she hadn't even realized she was holding, and turned around, bracing her hands against the table. She leaned forward and took deep breaths. She had just started to gain some ground on slowing her heart rate, when a throat cleared.

“What is that, Ms. O'Shea?” Jameson called out from behind her. She spun around, balling up her underwear in her fist.

“Excuse me, sir?” she asked.

“That,” he continued, gesturing with his pen at her. “In your hands. You have something for me. Bring it here.”

Now everyone turned towards her. Tate held herself as still as possible, her hands clasped together in front of her legs, hiding the underwear between her fingers. All eyes were on her. Jameson smirked at her and leaned back in his chair. She took a shaky breath.

“I don't know what -,”

“Bring it here, Ms. O'Shea, now,” he ordered, tapping the table top with his pen. She glared at him.

Fuck this.

She turned around and pulled one of the silver trays in front of her. She laid her panties out neatly on top, making sure the material was smooth and flat. She was very thankful that she had gone all out and worn her good, expensive, “I'm-successful-and-career-oriented!”, underwear. She balanced the tray on top of her fingertips and spun around, striding towards their table, a big smile on her face.

“For you, Mr. Kane,” she said in a breathy voice, and then dropped the tray in front of him. It clattered loudly and spun around a little before coming to a rest, the panties sliding off to one side.

As she walked away, she could hear some gasps. A couple laughs. A very familiar chuckle. When she got to the door, she pulled it open and then turned back to the room. A couple of the lawyers were gawking at her, and the rest were laughing, gesturing to the display she had just put on; Jameson was looking straight at her, his smirk in place. She blew him a kiss and then stomped out the door.



*



A couple hours later, Tate sat on the edge of her bed, staring at her closet. She should have been getting ready for work. She had promised to do a shift at the bar for one of the other girls, Tuesday was usually her day off. She had taken a shower, tried to motivate herself to get dressed, but after the afternoon she'd had, she really didn't want to get sexy-ed up and go sling drinks. She sighed.

Get over it. Rent is due.

She began yanking out clothing, not paying attention to what she picked out. Her mind kept wandering back to the conference room. Tate had grown pretty bold over the years, very confident in herself and her sexuality, but she had never done something like that before; had never stripped in a room full of people.

How was it possible that he still had that kind of power over her? One time. They had been together only one time, it wasn't fair. And weirder still – why did it seem like he was pursuing her? Jameson Kane didn't pursue anybody, not even seven years ago. Ellie had asked him out. He had certainly never pursued Tate. She had all but fallen on his dick that night, she'd been so eager for him. She shook her head back and forth, trying to clear her thoughts.

Never again. I am never going to think of Jameson Kane, never -,

“Tate!” Rusty's voice squealed through her door.

“What? It's open,” Tate called out, dropping the towel she had been wearing and shimmying in to a pair of sweat pants. Her door cracked open and Rus peaked her head around the corner.

“There is some guy here to see you,” she said in an excited voice. Tate scrunched her eyebrows together. Some guy?

“Who? What does he want?” she asked, pulling on a t-shirt and then yanking her damp hair up in to a ponytail.

“I don't know who he is, but he is so good looking, I can't believe he's real life. He's wearing some expensive looking suit,” Rus described. Tate groaned, rubbing her hands over her face.

“Jesus! What, is he stalking me now!?” she moaned.

“No,” a deep voice came from her doorway. She looked up.

Jameson Kane is in my piece of shit apartment.

“Make yourself at home,” she sighed, gesturing for him to come in to her room. Rus giggled and turned bright red, making room for him and then scurrying out the door.

“She's cute,” Jameson commented as he wandered around the tiny room, inspecting