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Double Trouble (CC, AU, Adult) [COMPLETE]
Posted: Thu Jan 01, 2009 12:39 am
All characters and plot lines that appeared in the series or in the books are not ours. The concept of Roswell does not belong to us either. They all belong to Melinda Metz, UPN, yada, yada, yada…
M&M, K&T, A&I, M&L
Summary: (AU without Aliens)
In Long Beach, at the California State University, four girls who thought they had all the answers in their lives learn that what they really have are more questions… when they meet four guys who thought they knew what they wanted out of life and who are about to find out that they really don’t have a clue.
This fic is intended solely to entertain; there are underlying issues for the characters, but for the most part it’s a happy fic. Readers should be reminded that the fic is rated Adult for a reason – be warned that there will be plenty of (at times, kinky) Candy scenes within these pages!
Author’s note 2:
This fic was written in response to a single question, asked by one of us during a conversation a few months ago. We hope you’ll enjoy reading it as much as we’ve enjoyed writing it.
Link to our trailer – made by us: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AnVW_Bopb3Q
Part 1 – Moving In
The weather forecast for southern California had promised beautiful, clear skies and a comfortable 84° for the high and as the first rays of sunlight fell over the young women eagerly peering through the window on the plane it looked like the perfect day for moving. After the plane landed they waded through the sea of people in the terminal to claim their mountain of luggage.
“Can you believe we’re finally home?” Tess Harding exclaimed as she led the way, her demeanor that of a woman on a mission.
“I’ll be glad when today’s over and we can really say that,” Maria DeLuca said, following her excitable friend.
They finally reached the luggage carousel and Tess surveyed their luggage as it passed by them on the conveyor belt. “Okay, that’s just way more than we had when we left.” Her blue eyes twinkled with purpose as she glanced around, seeking a willing participant for her plan. “I’ll be right back,” she said, blond curls bouncing as she took off after her unsuspecting prey.
Maria just shook her head, green eyes amused when her friend set her sights on a young man nearby, minding his own business and definitely no match for Tess as she went into full-out flirting mode. She brushed her blond hair back behind her ears and crossed her arms over her chest, unable to stop the quiet chuckle when the guy shot up from the chair he had been comfortably sprawled in. He hurriedly removed the cowboy hat he was wearing, holding it to his chest as his shocked gaze locked on the woman talking a mile a minute and shaking his free hand.
The poor man opened and closed his mouth several times without a single sound being made, unable to get a word in edgewise as she explained the situation. She retrieved a cart for their luggage and dragged him with her to the carousel, pointing out their bags and smiling when he dutifully collected them and loaded them on the cart.
“Can I take these to your car for you, ma’am?” he offered in a slow Texas drawl.
“Oh, aren’t you just the sweetest thing,” Tess gushed, glancing up at him through her eyelashes. “Our roommate’s meeting us and she’s bringing her boyfriend to carry all these heavy old bags.” She let the fingers of her right hand trail along his arm, fully aware of what she was doing. “But, if you could just push this heavy thing out front…”
He pushed his hat back and hurried to do her bidding, carefully moving the overloaded cart through the crowded terminal. As they stepped out through the automatic doors and into the cool, early morning air, the sound of a blaring horn in combination with two distinctly different female voices shouting out greetings, announced the arrival of their roommates.
Isabel Whitman opened the back door of the pickup truck and rushed over to embrace her friends. She was tall with dark brown eyes and long blond hair, and she loved to have a good time. She had broken up with her boyfriend from high school recently and she was enjoying being single for the first time in a long time.
Liz Parker was the last to join them; short with brown eyes and long, dark hair, she was the most serious of the roommates. She was focused on two things – her studies and her fiancé, Sean Harrison. The girls had known him their entire lives; they had grown up together in the small town of Roswell, New Mexico and the couple had gotten engaged the year before when the girls had taken a weekend trip to Long Beach to check out the California State University campus where Sean had been a freshman.
Maria and Tess were a year older than Isabel and Liz, and they had graduated the year before and then spent the first few months of freedom just hanging out. They had all wanted to start their first year of college together and Maria and Tess had been perfectly fine with taking a year off. They were just arriving back in the States after spending several months in Europe where Tess had made it a point to date her way through the male population.
Maria had played along for a while, but knowing that none of the guys were going to be around for very long had eventually caused her to grow bored with the whole thing. She was looking for someone who would stick around, someone who wasn’t like every other loser she had ever been with. She had finally figured out where she was going wrong. It was the type of guys she was attracted to: bad boys, rough and tough, believed that the rules were made for everyone but them, totally sexy, and didn’t give a damn what anyone thought about them. It was Liz’s excited voice that brought her back to the present and her friends surrounding her.
“I can’t believe you guys are finally here! Sean agreed to help move all of your stuff from the storage unit,” she said, oblivious to Isabel’s eye roll. “He borrowed the truck from his roommate’s older brother and he kept the entire day free to help us get settled.”
Maria and Tess exchanged an amused look and Tess quickly turned back to the young man standing with their luggage. She was going to start laughing at any second and she didn’t want to hurt the younger woman’s feelings. She thanked him for his help and sent him on his way, smiling as she handed him a small piece of paper as his flight was announced and he hurried back inside.
“I know you did not just give him your phone number,” Isabel said, shaking her head.
“No, I didn’t.” Tess looked down as she dropped her pen and the small notebook back in her purse. She lifted her head and grinned impishly at the tall blond. “I gave him yours.”
“He was very sweet, Isabel, and besides, you’re single now.”
Maria shoved her elbow in Tess’ ribs at the tactless reminder and quickly picked up the conversation before more damage could be done. “She did not give him your number, Iz; she gave him her old cell number.”
Isabel nodded, clearly relieved that she wouldn’t be receiving any unwanted calls from some cowboy she wasn’t interested in anyway. She had broken up with her long-time boyfriend over the summer and she wasn’t ready to take a dip in the dating pool just yet. She and Logan had been together for three years and out of nowhere he had decided that he wanted to start college as a single man so he would be free to date whomever he wanted.
“Welcome back, ladies,” Sean greeted warmly as he moved past them to start loading their luggage into the back of the pickup. He was tall, blond-haired, and had green eyes that stayed locked on Liz any time she was in the vicinity.
Maria thought, laughing to herself. The way the two of them mooned over each other was a constant source of amusement between her, Tess, and Isabel.
“We should probably drop this stuff off at the apartment first,” Sean said as he reached for the last bag on the cart. He grunted under the weight of the heavy bag and had to sit it down on the curb to take a deep breath before hefting it up onto the tailgate. “Geez, Tess, what’ve you got in this thing?”
“Did you smuggle some hot, European guy back, Tess?” Liz asked, giggling.
“No.” She grinned unrepentantly. “I thought about it though; there were a couple of guys who would’ve been worth the risk, but a couple of dates and they think it’s serious so they had to stay there.” She sighed dramatically and patted his shoulder as she walked past him. “Be a sweetie and take the cart inside, Sean.”
“But, there are people who – “
Tess waved him off. “Go on now, Sean, otherwise I’m gonna ask completely embarrassing questions about you while you’re standing right here.”
He needed no further encouragement.
“So, Liz, give us details, girl!” she insisted as soon as he was out of earshot.
“Details?” Liz choked out, but the trapped look on her face said that she knew exactly what Tess was fishing for and what the other girls were waiting for.
“You and Iz have been in the apartment for a month now, so… what’s going on with you and Sean?”
“You know what’s going on,” she insisted, busying herself with looking for her fiancé. “We’re engaged and we’re taking things slowly.”
“Meaning you still
haven’t had sex?! Girl, you two are going so slow you’re gonna start moving backwards pretty soon.”
Maria and Isabel started laughing when Liz turned bright red and looked like she wanted the ground beneath her to just open up and swallow her whole.
Maria hugged the youngest member of their group and patted her shoulder in a consoling gesture. “It’s okay, Liz, it’s… sweet, that you guys are waiting.” She bit her bottom lip to control the urge to laugh again. “So, when’s the wedding?”
“Well, we both think it’s very important to get through college first…”
The rest of them tuned her out when she went into the ‘four year plan’
as the others had already dubbed it. She had been perfecting ‘the plan’ since entering high school and she was determined that nothing was going to throw her off of her set course. She was interrupted when Sean came back and held the door open for her, holding her hand as she slid onto the front seat.
“I’m upping my bet up to a hundred bucks,” Tess said.
“You’re on,” Maria challenged, grinning as she slid into the backseat.
“Hey, if you guys are upping your bets, I’m upping mine, too,” Isabel insisted.
The three of them were betting on whether or not the engaged couple were going to make it through college without having sex. Tess and Isabel were certain that there was no way that Liz would make it through another four years as a virgin, and Maria was betting that she would. She had taken the opposing side of the bet because for one thing, they couldn’t all be betting on the same side, but also because if anyone was going to make it through college with their virginity still intact, it would be Liz Parker.
Their first stop was the apartment and the girls rushed inside, leaving Sean to carry the luggage in by himself. The girls had gotten together and picked the apartment out before Maria and Tess had left for their European vacation and the two older girls had moved their stuff into a nearby storage unit for easy access when they returned. They had already staked their claims on the bedrooms, drawing straws for the two larger rooms, so that had been settled before anyone had started to move in.
Tess and Isabel had taken two of the rooms with a connecting bathroom at one end of the apartment and Maria and Liz had taken the other two with their own connecting bathroom at the opposite end. Something that was bound to work out much better since Tess could be loud with the guys she brought home,
Maria thought with a chuckle. Poor Liz probably would’ve passed out if she had gotten the room next to Tess.
Under normal circumstances, she would’ve worried about scaring Liz half to death herself because she wasn’t a shrinking violet where sex was concerned either, but she was determined to take a different approach this year. She was going to find a decent guy who didn’t have a single bad boy bone anywhere in his body and who would rather die than cheat on her or treat her badly.
At least she had gotten one of the larger bedrooms!
She wandered into the bathroom that connected her bedroom with Liz’s and smiled when she saw the neat, orderly way that the younger girl had arranged everything. There was plenty of space for all of Maria’s things without the two of them having to fight over equal space. Which was good because equal space was so not going to happen!
She was certain that there would be a war over space in the other bathroom because Tess and Isabel were going to both demand adequate counter space for all of their things, and for them that meant the entire bathroom.
“You didn’t leave room for any of my things!”
Ah, the war had already started.
Maria hurried out through her bedroom and down the hall to the other bedrooms, already knowing that Liz wouldn’t be able to referee if it came down to that. Tess and Isabel had faced off on opposite sides of the bathroom, arms crossed over their chests as they glared at each other.
“Okay, you guys; what’s the problem?”
Tess gestured at the bathroom, her movements erratic as she attempted to convey her irritation with a loud huff. She was indignant as she stomped her right foot and pointed at the counter that was filled to capacity. “There’s no room for my stuff!”
Maria cleared her throat, determined to try the diplomatic approach first. “Okay, well, Isabel, you’re gonna have to give up some of the counter space.”
Isabel’s expression turned mutinous. “I can’t possibly give up any space. You can see how much – “
So much for diplomacy.
Maria scanned over the counter, taking in the bottles, tubes, and vials taking up all five feet of the counter space. “This’s easy enough to fix,” she muttered, quickly sliding everything from the left side to the right. “Your room’s on this side, so you get the space on this side of the sink.”
“Now it’s all jumbled up,” Isabel complained.
“Find a guy who can build some shelves on the wall on your side.” She grinned when the tall blond just glared at her, unable to believe that Maria had shoved all of her things together. “You might wanna consider getting laid sometime soon, too, because if this pissy mood is gonna be a constant, it’s gonna suck for all of us.”
Isabel stuck her nose in the air and stalked out of the bathroom, slamming the door behind her.
“I can’t believe you said that!” Liz hissed.
Maria and Tess exchanged a quick glance and laughed. “Liz, honey, you’ll understand one of these days. And Iz knows it’s true!” she shouted over her shoulder.
“C’mon, let’s go grab something to eat and then get over to the storage unit so we can get our stuff moved,” Tess said, leading the way through the apartment. “It’ll be so nice to sleep in my own bed tonight.”
“I second that,” Maria agreed. “Where’s the nearest Starbuck’s? We should stop and grab something to go before we start moving furniture.”
Double Trouble (CC, AU, Adult) - Part 2 - 1/8/09
Posted: Thu Jan 08, 2009 12:46 am
destinyc: The guys will start appearing next week, but don’t look for them all at once.
begonia9508: We’re glad you like our portrayal of Liz. She’s a serious character, but we won’t be taking her too seriously. Look for more fun in the next part.
Hunter: Thanks for the review! We’ll be updating every Thursday.
chanks_girl: We’re glad you liked the trailer! The kinky scenes are kind of dictated by the direction of the fic, but won’t be limited to M/M only. Look for the guys to start appearing next week.
nibbles2: We wanted to do a fun fic where the girls were all friends, and avoid all the angst that so often exists between them in fics.
RosDude: That was our intention! Glad to know it worked.
mary mary: Thanks for the review! The story will be even more fun as it progresses.
Gamma Rho Girl: We’re glad you liked the beginning of Double Trouble and that you liked the video as well! Updates every Thursday!
Alien_Friend: Glad you’re lovin’ our fic! Hope you’ll be around for the long haul!
tequathisy: Some of the guys will be introduced with the next update, but don’t look for all of them to show up at the same time.
Part 2 – First Night Together
Hours later the girls collapsed on various pieces of living room furniture, exhausted from moving everything that Maria and Tess had put in storage before leaving. Sean was slouched down on the couch next to Liz, and she tipped her head back to look up at him. “You must be so tired now,” she said sympathetically. “We just worked you so hard today; what can we do to thank you?”
Tess snickered from her position across the room, lying sideways in an armchair with her legs dangling over one of the arms. “Take him to bed and make a man out of him.”
“I thought maybe we could all hang out tomorrow night,” Sean said, ignoring Tess. He just wished there was a way to ignore the embarrassing red flush he could feel creeping along his neck. “I could bring my roommate and maybe his older brother, the guy who loaned me his truck for this little project.”
Maria rolled her eyes even though she currently had her eyes closed as she stretched out in the recliner. If Sean had a roommate the guy was sure to be just like him, she thought. “So, your proposal is for us to spend a perfectly good Friday evening at home with you, your roommate, and some old guy?”
“Yeah, I’m not seeing the potential for screaming the roof down in that scenario,” Tess agreed, her tone expressing doubt.
“I wasn’t suggesting that I would bring my friends over as subjects for your sexual conquests.” His tone was annoyed. “Nevermind, it was probably a bad idea.”
“No, no, no,” she objected. “Bring your nerdy friends over; if nothing else, Isabel has been fading away from a lack of sex, so…”
“Damn it, Tess!” Isabel snapped. Her voice lacked the anger she had intended for it to have, but she was so tired that at the moment she didn’t care. “I am not fading away, and I’m not interested in replacing Logan just yet.”
“Well, you don’t have to replace him totally, but, seriously, girl… sex would soothe the savage beast, and you haven’t exactly been your most pleasant today.” She rolled her eyes. “I’m just trying to help you out.”
Isabel decided it just wasn’t worth the effort to argue with her so she flopped back on the loveseat and reached up to rub her eyes. It was still too recent to just talk about the breakup with Logan like it didn’t matter, because it did. She could pretend that she was happy to be single and looking forward to the college dating scene, but the truth was that she wasn’t ready for any of it. The memory of that day was still too fresh in her mind, the emotions still just a little too close to the surface, and until she could think about it without it hurting she knew she wouldn’t be ready to move on with someone else.
She looks in the mirror one more time, making sure her makeup is perfect and that everything is in place. She has to look good because this is the last time she’ll see Logan for a while. It’s her last official date with him before they leave for different colleges in different states. She takes a deep breath when she hears the doorbell chime from downstairs, knowing that it means he’s arrived.
“Isabel,” her mother calls from the foot of the staircase, “Logan’s here to pick you up.”
“I’m coming.” She meets her own gaze in the mirror and tries to force a smile. They’ve known for months that this was coming; they’ve talked about it so many times, agreeing that they want to stay together despite the distance that will separate them. But lately something’s felt off and she hasn’t been able to put her finger on it. She can’t control the nervous feeling that settles over her as she enters the living room where Logan’s waiting for her.
“Hey.” He tries to smile, but it doesn’t reach his eyes and she can tell he’s forcing it. “You all ready to go?”
She just nods as the feeling that something’s off escalates and she knows that this evening is going to end badly. Sure, it’s time for them to say goodbye because they won’t see each other again until probably Christmas, but she feels like there’s something else going on.
Sitting in one of the finest restaurants Roswell, New Mexico has to offer, Logan reaches across the pristine white tablecloth and takes her hand. “We’ve had a blast the past couple of years, y’know that, right?”
He’s breaking up with me. He doesn’t have to say the words aloud, she already knows. “You’re breaking up with me.” It isn’t a question, it’s a statement of fact made in a quiet, accepting voice.
He looks shocked for just a second and then he’s nodding slowly. “You saw that comin’, huh? You always were a smart girl, Iz.”
She doesn’t respond. She can’t. Somewhere inside she had known it was coming, but he’s sitting here talking in a tone that could be used to discuss the weather. It doesn’t matter that she’s been suspicious that this would happen; hearing him confirm her fears makes it hurt worse than she had expected. She is vaguely aware of his voice droning on and she makes an effort to focus on what he’s saying even though she doesn’t want to hear it.
“It wouldn’t work and I think we both know that. It was stupid to think that we could make a long-distance relationship work; we’re gonna be on opposite sides of the country, we’re gonna be meetin’ other people…” His eyes took on an excited gleam. “We’re gonna be goin’ to college parties. It’s only gonna be a matter of time before one of us meets someone new and decides to move on anyway.”
Someone new? How can he think I’m gonna find someone to replace him? And why would he think it’s something that’s gonna happen so soon? He’s rationalizing our breakup, she realizes suddenly and she quickly buries the hurt that comes on the heels of that thought.
“You’re right,” she agrees, sitting up straighter. “Y’know, I’m really glad you brought this up, ‘cause I was gonna break up with you tonight, but I guess you’re faster than I am, sooo…”
He looks a little disappointed, but she’s too upset to give it much thought beyond a brief, good! “I think we should just get this over with. There’s no reason to drag it out, so, goodbye, Logan.” It takes all of her strength just to stand up and walk away without falling apart.
She hears him calling her, but she doesn’t turn around. She can’t.
As soon as she reaches the exit her grasp on her composure slips and the tears begin to fall, hot and too fast to stop. She pulls her cell phone out of her bag to call the only person who can possibly understand, the only person she wants to talk to right now.
Across the room Maria felt herself beginning to drift off and she quickly sat up and stretched in an attempt to wake up. She glanced at the others, realizing that Liz and Sean were nowhere to be seen, Tess had fallen asleep, her mouth hanging open in a completely unattractive manner as she snored loud enough to wake the dead, and Isabel was lost in thought. She could tell that the tall blond wasn’t lost in happy memories, and Maria knew what that meant.
Hauling herself to her feet she grabbed one of the throw pillows off of the couch and swung it at Tess’ head as she walked past her. “Wake up before you start drooling on the furniture,” she said, shooting a grin at Isabel. “Hey, Iz, what d’you feel like for dinner tonight?”
“There’s a great Thai place nearby that delivers,” she said as she stood up and followed Maria along the hall to her own room. “I don’t know about the rest of you, but I really don’t feel like going out anywhere.”
“That sounds good.” She paused at the door to her room and turned to look at the other girl. “How’re you doing?” she asked.
“One day at a time, right?” Isabel smiled faintly. “There’s a menu on the refrigerator; I’ll call the order in when I get out.”
“I think it’s safe to say that I’ll beat you out of the shower.” Maria chuckled. “You and Liz still order the same thing?” She nodded at Isabel’s affirmative answer. “Why don’t I take care of calling in the order that way it’ll be here by the time you get outta the shower.”
Freshly showered and lounging around the living room a while later, the girls divided the food up and settled back to eat. Maria leaned forward to grab the stereo remote and aimed it at the sound system now housed on the entertainment unit. She scanned the stations, looking for something that fit her mood and jumped when Tess squealed and started hopping up and down in her seat.
“Right there! Leave it right there!” she demanded. She bounced around as the pounding music filled the room and she started to sing along in between bites of her noodles. “This is sooo my favorite song right now!”
Maria chuckled. She already knew that, she had spent the past two months being subjected to it. She dropped the remote on the coffee table and reached for the container with her meal.
“Hey, what’d you order?” Liz asked, leaning closer to see what Maria was eating.
“A meal chosen in honor of Billy’s memory,” she muttered. “Prik-King.” She chuckled and shook her head before lifting the carton up. “To a new year and finding a guy who’s nothing like every other guy I’ve ever been with.”
Isabel nodded and held her carton of spicy fish up. “I second that.”
Liz took a bite of her sweet and sour pork and glanced at the girl sitting at the other end of the sofa. “So, what kinda guy are you looking for, Maria?”
“A guy who’s interest in me goes beyond getting in my pants. I swear every jackass I go out with is just a replica of the one before; I’d like to find a nice guy who treats me like a human being for a change.”
She knows it was to be expected and she feels like a fool for feeling shocked when she walks into Billy’s apartment and catches him in bed with the airhead who hands out shoes at the bowling alley. She knew he was cheating on her, had already suspected it, but seeing it “in the flesh” so to speak is a completely different matter altogether.
She should leave but she’s tired of being treated like a doormat and she’s not the one who should have to leave anyway. Miss Bowling Alley should be the one leaving, but apparently she hasn’t been asked to leave because Billy walks into the living room wearing nothing but a pair of jeans and grinning like he hasn’t just been caught cheating on her.
He doesn’t care, she realizes and that hurts more than she wants to admit. She’s never had any grand illusions where Billy’s concerned; she knows he isn’t the kind of guy who will ever remain faithful long-term, but she had expected better than this. Why? She doesn’t know. He’s treated her like crap the whole time they’ve been together and even though she knows she deserves better, she’s stayed with him and put up with it.
“So, you still wanna get dinner?”
She stares at him in disbelief. He has no shame, no guilt whatsoever for what he’s done. “Do I still wanna get dinner?” she parrots. “Are you seriously asking me this?” She waves towards his bedroom and her temper spikes as she struggles to get the words to come out in some form of coherency. “You were just having sex with that… that… shoe slut from the bowling alley, Billy! How can you just stand there and ask me if I wanna go out and get dinner?!”
He shrugs and it’s obvious that he doesn’t care one way or the other whether she stays or goes. “Hey, calm down, okay? If you’re worried that there’s nothin’ left for you…” He shakes his head and his heated gaze slides over her.
Maria feels dirty when his eyes move over her body and she can’t believe that it’s happening again. Over and over, she falls for the same type of guy, and every time she gets kicked around until they’re finally bored and they leave. They lie, cheat, and treat her like crap, and she’s tired of it. He’s just the last in a long string of losers and she just wants it to be over. Again.
“We’re done, Billy.”
He laughs and roots around in the refrigerator for a beer, uncapping it and taking a long drink before looking at her once more. “Then go on and leave.” He waves towards the front door.
“I’m not kidding.”
“Neither am I, so either leave or have a seat and wait your turn.”
Hurt turns to disgust and from there it’s a short trip to outright anger, and she turns and walks away, making a silent promise to herself that she’s going to change her expectations where guys are concerned. She refuses to get involved with anymore guys who come anywhere near falling into the bad boy category. She can’t take it anymore… and neither can her heart.
Tess saw the expression on Maria’s face slip into sad contemplation and she knew where her thoughts had taken her. She had hoped that a few flings in Europe would take Maria’s mind off of Billy Darden and all of the hurt he had caused, and it had worked for a while, but she always came back to it. If she ever got her hands on that asshole she was going to make him regret the day he had hurt her best friend. Maria had a long history of bad relationships and Tess knew she was struggling to change that, but she was pretty sure that she wasn’t gonna be able to just change the type of guy she was attracted to.
That wasn’t going to be as easy as just making a decision and sticking to it. How much control did people really have over who they were attracted to anyway? It was a matter of chemistry, attraction, and sexual compatibility; it wasn’t something that you could control the way Maria intended to do.
Well, either way, she would support her friend. She chuckled to herself. She would also give her hell about the guy she picked too, because if Maria really intended to go against her preferred type, it was going to be an interesting year.
It was time to lighten the mood, she thought, glancing around at her roommates. Two of them were moping in their dinner and Liz was staring at her engagement ring, her eyes glazed over as she pictured the perfect wedding, no doubt.
“Who has a great sex story to tell?” she asked, immediately drawing their attention. “Liz, you’re obviously off the hook on this one…” She frowned when the girl got up and started to leave the room. “Hey, where’re you going?”
“Well, I thought I’d go call Sean.”
“Girl, you can’t be calling him all the time like that.” She shook her head. “It makes you look needy. Now, sit back down and settle in because if no one else has a story to tell, I’ll be happy to share one of my many sexcapades from vacation.”
“Oh, I don’t think we really need to hear about that,” Liz protested.
“You might as well get used to it.” Isabel rolled her eyes. “I don’t have anything to share.”
“So, Liz, no stories to share?” Tess teased, shaking her head. “You must go through a lot of batteries.”
Maria laughed when Liz’s confused expression turned her way seeking an explanation. “She’s talking about batteries for a vibrator. Y’know, since you and Sean haven’t actually had sex…” She trailed off and shook her head. “You guys do make out, right?”
“Well… yeah, sure.”
“How far have you gone?”
“Have you had your hands in each other’s pants?” Isabel asked, exasperated.
“What?! No! I told you guys we’re waiting until – “
“So, you haven’t had sex, you haven’t done any major making out, and you don’t have a vibrator?” Tess shook her head. “Okay, well, you’re just too sad and you’re not allowed to share anymore.” She looked at Maria. “C’mon, DeLuca, I know you got laid while we were in Europe, so ‘fess up.”
“You’ve already heard it all,” Maria said with a laugh. “Besides, how many different ways can I tell the same story?”
“You only told me about a couple of the guys… what about the tourist you hooked up with while I was otherwise occupied with Andre?”
“The guy with the nose ring?” Maria made a face and shook her head. “His nose wasn’t the only thing pierced and I wasn’t about to go there.”
“Wait, you mean his… his…” Liz was speechless. “It was pierced?”
“Penis,” Isabel offered helpfully.
“Dick,” Maria threw in, holding her breath.
“Cock,” Tess added with a straight face.
The living room exploded into a raucous chorus of giggles and they all collapsed into their seats as Liz’s eyes grew wider with each new word.
The next four years were going to be something else, Maria thought as she felt herself beginning to relax.
Double Trouble (CC, AU, Adult) - Part 3 - 1/15/09
Posted: Thu Jan 15, 2009 1:09 am
Alien_Friend: Maria will find what she’s looking for… all the girls will, even though they don’t even know that they’re looking for something. These girls will watch out for each other and they’re definitely gonna get themselves into some adventures along the way.
begonia9508: Logan was right and Isabel will see it before long. You called it right about Billy and while Maria knows that she deserves better, the question is what will it take to find it? Liz, well, stay tuned on that front! As for Tess, she is a smart girl, but she may be meeting her match pretty soon.
mary mary: It’s quite possible, but it won’t be something that happens immediately.
nibbles2: We’re glad you like the girls’ relationship! Sean is definitely deserving of some sympathy!
sarammlover: Look for the adventure to start soon!
tequathisy: Definitely interest-worthy, lol!
Hunter: We’re glad to hear that scene struck your funny bone! A lot of us probably have (or have had) a friend like Liz at one time or another – some of us may have even been that friend!
chanks_girl: The girls’ past relationships are definitely an important part of the story and it helps to understand some things about them. The guys will be introduced slowly, but the first one will be making his appearance in this next part. We’re so glad that you like Tess in our fic; we wanted to take her out of her stereotyped role and she’s turned out to be one of our favorite characters as well.
Part 3 – The Perfect Boyfriend?
“Seriously, Liz, what is up with the clown car?” Tess grumbled as she attempted to unfold her body and squeeze out of the backseat of Liz’s car the next night.
“It’s a hybrid and it’s good for the environment,” Liz protested.
“Uh-huh.” Tess stared at the tiny two-door car disparagingly. “Well, I’m sure these things must keep chiropractors in business.” She brushed her hands down over his short skirt, trying to brush the wrinkles out of it. “Are you sure you didn’t pick it out to discourage Sean from trying to put the moves on you?”
“What do you mean?”
“Girl, you’d have to be seriously flexible and possibly double-jointed to ever have sex in this thing.” She shook her head. “I’ve had sex in some pretty tight places, but I think this is one that even I wouldn’t attempt.”
“I don’t know what you’re complaining about,” Isabel muttered as she recovered from tripping on the doorframe as she had exited the backseat on the other side. “At least you’re short.”
“Well, not all of us can be amazons, Whitman!”
“Go bitch to someone who cares, Tinkerbell.” Isabel glared at Maria when she laughed at them. “I know you cheated… I haven’t figured out how yet, but I know you did.”
“It was ‘rock, paper, scissors’,” Maria exclaimed. “How could I have possibly cheated at that?”
“I said I haven’t figured it out yet.”
“You’re not gonna figure it out because I didn’t cheat.” She rolled her eyes and looked at Tess. “When is your dad bringing your car up here?”
Tess wrinkled her nose and shook her head. “He said if I wanted it brought up here I had to pay for it.” She grinned suddenly. “Don’t worry; Daddy’ll give in before I do.” She was about to say something else when she noticed that Liz was staring avidly at something and she turned to see what had captured her attention. “Oh, look… it’s Sean and company.” She pursed her lips as her gaze raked over the two guys with him. No, no, no, neither of them would do. Why had she allowed herself to be talked into this again? “Liz, tell me that the two guys with Sean just happen to be walking next to him and they’re not the guys he said he was bringing with him.”
Liz glanced at Tess and shook her head. “No, that’s Brendan and Alex.”
“Okay, I don’t want you guys to be completely offended, but as soon as we get inside I’m ditching you.”
Sean leaned over the front seat, glancing between his roommate Brendan Guerin, and his roommate’s older brother, Alex. “I warned you guys about Tess, right?”
Brendan shrugged one shoulder, dark eyes glued to the handheld video game he was playing. “Yeah, you said somethin’ about her,” he mumbled.
Alex chuckled and glanced at Sean in the rearview mirror as he turned into the parking lot of their usual hangout. Sean was stressing out over some girl he had grown up with and from what he had surmised it was because she liked to embarrass him and his fiancé every time the opportunity presented itself.
“Sean, you need to relax, buddy.”
“No, Alex, you don’t understand.”
As they climbed out of the truck Alex reached in and grabbed his brother’s jacket. The kid was absent-minded on a good day, he thought, shaking his head in fond exasperation.
“You guys aren’t takin’ me seriously,” Sean complained.
Brendan paused and turned to look at the guy who had become his best friend over the course of the past year. He ran a hand through his shaggy, dark blond hair as he gave Sean his full attention. “I missed that lecture on economy and the global market to hang out with you, Liz, and some of your friends from back home and all you’ve done is go on and on about this Tess person.”
“I’m tryin’ to get you to understand that she’ll go outta her way to completely embarrass us.”
Brendan frowned at that. “Why?”
“Because she thinks it’s hilarious that anyone can make it to twenty years old and still be a virgin.”
“So, she’s gonna make fun of us for not havin’ sex?”
“Exactly.” Sean was relieved that Brendan was finally getting the point.
Brendan shrugged and turned his attention back to his video game. “You’re on your own with that one; I’ve had sex.”
Female laughter interrupted the conversation and Sean felt his face flush with the heat of embarrassment once more. He’d recognize Tess’ voice anywhere and most of the time it seemed like it was leading the others as they all laughed at him.
“Sean, there’s nothin’ wrong with the decision you an’ Liz made to wait until you’re married to have sex,” Alex said quietly. “Just accept that you’re gonna get teased for it and find a way to roll with it, buddy.” He reached out to grab a handful of Brendan’s shirt when he kept walking; the kid had some sort of sixth sense that allowed him to maneuver while completely focusing on one of his video games, but it made Alex nervous to just let him walk around the parking lot.
Liz made the introductions when the two groups met up in the middle of the gravel parking lot, praying that Tess wouldn’t say something completely inappropriate.
Maria watched the tall, dark-haired guy as his gaze slowly appraised Isabel, who was making it a point to avoid eye contact. Interesting, she mused. “So, Alex, what do you do?” she asked as they walked to the bar’s entrance as a group.
“I’m a graphics designer; I work part-time for the Kramer Ad Agency downtown and the rest of the time is spent on school.” He grinned and his gray eyes shifted to the tall blond trailing behind them.
“How are you with your hands?”
That brought Alex’s gaze right back to her. “Excuse me?”
“Well, we just moved into our apartment and Isabel’s in dire need of shelves on her side of the bathroom.”
Isabel just barely restrained herself from giving Maria a shove when she heard her friend’s comment. She remembered Maria’s suggestion from the day before with crystal clear clarity and she didn’t want the older girl trying to arrange for something to happen with the guy she was trying to pawn off on her.
“You need someone to build shelves for you?” Alex asked, his grin teasing.
“Um, no. I have plenty of space.”
“So, you are good with your hands,” Tess said, sidling up on his other side. “That’s good because Isabel really needs a man who knows what he’s doing with his hands.” Her gaze flicked down over his tall, lanky body. “Never hurts if he knows what he’s doing with the rest of his body, too.”
No wonder Sean had looked like he was on the verge of stroking out. “Well, I can’t promise how well they’d turn out, but I could at least give it a shot.”
“That’s an interesting way of not answering my question,” Tess pouted.
Alex laughed and shook his head. “The answer to that question is only given to the woman I’m involved with, so you may want to find another pond to fish in.”
Maria’s gaze wandered to Sean’s roommate, tipping her head to one side to observe him when she saw Alex reach out to touch his arm in a guiding manner yet again. She glanced at the video game he was playing and she frowned. She slowed her pace to drop back and walk with Liz and Sean, reaching over to shake him and get his attention.
“What’s up with your roommate?”
“What d’you mean?”
“Well, he seems a bit… I don’t know, off? Is he… slow? Does he have a learning disability or something?” She looked up when she suddenly walked into something solid and her gaze collided with a pair of dark eyes… eyes that were amused as they stared down at her.
“My name’s Brendan and I happen to be a genius. Literally,” he clarified, his voice raspy, “a genius. As a rule I find that I’m more compatible with computers than I am with human beings and unless something happens to catch my interest I rarely bother.” He looked at her, really looked at her, for the first time since the introductions had been made; he hadn’t paid much attention when Liz had started giving out everyone’s names. He closed up the handheld game and shoved it in the front pocket of his cargo pants as he waited to see what she would say next.
Unfortunately he didn’t get chance because they entered the bar before she had the opportunity to respond. The music in the bar was loud and it drowned out anything else that might have been said as they walked to a table large enough to fit all of them. After the waitress had taken their orders and returned with their drinks the live band took a break, Tess took off in search of someone who could hold her interest for the evening, Isabel expressed an inordinate amount of interest in checking old text messages on her phone, Sean and Liz made their way out to the dance floor, and Maria was left with Brendan and Alex.
It didn’t take long to figure out that Brendan was as smart as he claimed to be; he was intelligent, he communicated in a very educated way, his manners were impeccable, and he had given her his full attention once he had put the video game away, but despite all of that Maria was bored to death.
He certainly knew a lot about business and economics, and he had gone into such great detail about the differences between microeconomics and macroeconomics that at one point she had seriously contemplated just calling a cab and going home. Business was not fascinating, it was not interesting, and it certainly didn’t require such extensive attention to detail when describing it. She was certain of that.
But, he was nice and polite, he pulled her chair out for her, he stood every time one of the girls had left or come back, and he held the door for her when they left the bar. He was attractive too. She had known he was going to ask her out as they walked back to the parking lot several painful hours later and she debated her answer the entire time. Should she say yes? Did she want to encourage further mind-numbing conversations? Maybe she should say no? But, he was the exact opposite of all the guys she had ever gone out with. What should she do?
“So, I thought, if you’re interested…” Brendan reached up to scratch the back of his neck, the gesture revealing his nervousness. “Maybe we could go out one night next week? Dinner and a movie?”
Had she ever done dinner and a movie? “Yeah, I’d enjoy that, Brendan.”
Not far away Tess was rolling her eyes, certain that Maria was making a mistake of epic proportions. She waited until Brendan wandered back towards his brother’s truck, pausing once to turn and smile shyly at Maria before continuing on his way. She looked back, checking to see where the others were and deciding that she had enough time to have a quick word with Maria.
“So, he’s the one, huh?” Tess asked doubtfully. “Brendan? He’s the chosen one?”
Maria just shrugged. “I can’t really say for sure just yet. But, yeah… maybe. He seems to be fairly normal, loyal, no signs of having a single bad boy bone in his body, and he has goals that he’s set for himself and he’s working towards them.”
“Okay, Maria, no offense, but the guy’s boring! You’re never gonna be happy with him.”
“I just wanna give it a try, Tess. I know we all bust Liz’s chops, but sometimes I kinda envy her, y’know?”
“Liz? Our roommate, Liz?” Tess couldn’t hide her surprise. What was there to be jealous of?
“I know, it’s strange, right?” Maria shrugged. “She’s so happy with Sean though; he loves her and she loves him and she doesn’t have to worry about him because he’d never cheat on her or hurt her or anything.”
“But, they don’t even have sex! Do you realize there are probably countries that she can’t even visit because she’d be in danger of being a human sacrifice? Y’know, sacrifice the virgin to appease the gods? Some countries still do things like that, Maria!” She ignored the other girl’s laughter at the absurdity of her rant. “Look, she’s never gonna have sex with anyone else, just Sean… and that’s if they ever get around to actually having sex!”
“Liz doesn’t seem to mind…”
“Uh-huh, let’s just think about that statement for all of two seconds, okay? Liz is getting ready to start her first year of college, she and Sean have been together since the moment they were conceived – “
“He’s a year older, so that’s technically impossible,” Maria pointed out helpfully.
“Maria, would you listen to yourself?! I don’t care that they’ve decided to wait until they get married to have sex, I don’t care that their parents have been pushing them together since before either of them could walk, and I don’t care that at not-quite-nineteen-years-old, Liz Parker thinks she’s found the guy she wants to spend the rest of her life with! I don’t care how good your intentions are, if you’re with the guy you wanna marry, you’d better have a hard time keeping your hands off of each other. They’ve never even touched each other sexually… don’t you think that’s just a little bit odd?”
“Well, yeah, but they – “
“Don’t you give me that ‘they’re-waiting-until-they’re-married’ bullshit, Maria! Would you ever consider spending the rest of your life with a guy you hadn’t even seriously made out with? You know why they’re content waiting until they’re married? Because there’s no heat between them and they don’t even know it!”
“Tess, just because we don’t understand it – “ She frowned when the other girl simply snorted and shook her head. “What?”
“There’s nothing to understand! And you’re defending their decision because you’re desperate to believe that there’s a perfect guy out there and that happily-ever-after really exists.”
“Maybe that guy and that scenario really do exist.”
“First, there is no such thing as the perfect guy, those two words shouldn’t even be spoken in the same sentence. And happily ever after? Please! My parents are divorced, your parents are divorced, Liz’ parents have never really been happy, and… and… okay, fine, Isabel’s parents are still married and they seem happy enough.”
“How do you know Liz’ parents aren’t happy?”
“Have you ever seen her mother? The woman has worn the same expression since as far back as I can remember; she looks like she was born sucking on a lemon! Do happy people look like that? No, of course not!” She rolled her eyes and shuddered. “God, can you imagine having to go to bed with someone who looks like that all the time? Which certainly brings up the question of how they managed to conceive a child – ”
“Okay, can we please not talk about Mr. and Mrs. Parker’s sex life? How did we even get to this topic anyway?”
“Because you’re gonna go out with a guy that you have nothing in common with just so you can break the bad boy cycle. Look, he’s attractive, I’ll give you that, but the two of you aren’t compatible in any way.”
“Well, it’s not gonna hurt anything to go out with him and get to know him a little better.”
“Uh-huh. You’re starting to scare me. You’re not Liz Parker, you’re Maria! And Maria DeLuca isn’t gonna be satisfied with a guy like Brendan; he’s too well-behaved… too nice! Mark my words, Maria… he’s gonna drive you insane!” She looked up when Liz and Isabel finally reached them. “Will you guys help me here?”
“After you spent half the evening trying to pawn Alex off on me?” Isabel shook her head negatively and opened the passengers’ side door. “You’re on your own.”
“Oh, please, like you weren’t checking him out when he wasn’t looking!”
“I was doing no such thing,” she denied haughtily.
“You are such a fucking liar.” Tess dismissed her with a wave of her hand and turned to Liz. “What d’you know about Brendan?”
“Um, he and Sean have been roommates since their freshman year.” She smiled. “They’re actually a lot alike…”
Tess tuned Liz out and glanced at Maria. “I rest my case. You will never be happy with a guy who has anything in common with Sean.”
“Thanks, Tess, you’re a great support here lately.” Maria smiled slightly at her best friend and slid into the front seat, closing the door before she could say anything else. I will make this work. Maybe Tess is wrong and Brendan is exactly what I’ve been looking for. She wasn’t going to consider the other possibility, that Tess was right and that she was making a huge mistake.
Double Trouble (CC, AU, Adult) - Part 4 - 1/22/09
Posted: Thu Jan 22, 2009 12:49 am
We’re so glad you’re enjoying the girls!
Tess has a very good point and she has the special gift of telling it like it is – no holds barred.
Michael will be coming onto the scene pretty soon, so look for him to be… well… Michael.
Tess does say what she means and makes no apologies for it. Settling is never the answer… the question is, how long will it take for Maria to realize it?
Don’t feel guilty! We wrote this fic hoping to show Tess in a much friendlier light and to break her out of her stereotyped role for a while.
LOL, you haven’t see anything yet!
We’re glad you enjoyed that last part. Liz definitely deserves to find a guy who can rock her world… and her body! Just hold onto that thought.
We’re glad to hear you’re lovin’ our fic! Oh, wow… thanks for the compliment! The girls are in for some great times – especially when the guys really get on the scene.
Are you kidding?! We’ve gotten such a positive response to Tess’ character in our fic, and we’re glad readers are accepting her so well. The girl does have sex on the brain a lot… but she’s got a lot of layers. It’s interesting that you should picture a “Michael-esque guy” for Brendan… but, we’ll get more into that later. You’re right, Maria shouldn’t settle.
Is Sean gay? Waiting until marriage is great, but he and Liz aren’t intimate at all, and that’s definitely a little strange. Clearly they’re not in true, true love.
Something, somewhere in there is true, but we’re not giving it away just yet.
Welcome! We’re glad you’re enjoying all the girls together. Michael and Max, brothers? Hmm… wait and see. Maria’s so determined to change what she thinks is the problem that she won’t be easily deterred. We update every Thursday!
We’re very glad you’re lovin’ Tess here! That’s the great thing about true friends – no matter how different you are, you accept each other, flaws and all. You can expect to see more of Alex in this next part. Brendan and Michael, twins? That’s one possibility. Sean does have it tough, but we’re glad you’re enjoying his dilemma, lol! Thanks, we’re glad you liked the the banner!
Thanks for the review! Half of this writing team has never watched Sex in the City, but considering the popularity of the show, we appreciate the comparison! The rest of the guys will be introduced before too awful long.
Part 4 – He’s Not Your Average Handyman
Tess glared at the front door when the doorbell chimed for the third time but her gaze quickly focused on the television again. “Somebody get the door!” she yelled.
Maria wandered out of her bedroom and rolled her eyes at Tess; the excitable blond was sitting on the edge of her seat, bottom lip clamped between her teeth as she waited for the verdict to find out if the singer she favored would make it another week. She pulled the door open and motioned for Sean, Brendan, and Alex to enter as she greeted them.
Alex glanced at the television screen and shook his head. “Isn’t that an old episode of American Idol
Maria laughed at that. “It doesn’t matter… she’s obsessed with it.”
“Shhh!” Tess hissed once again.
Alex leaned on the back of her chair and watched the judges deliver the crushing blow to the hopeful contestant and he shook his head. “Y’know, I really thought she was gonna make it a few more episodes at least,” he mused. “She had a really good voice.” He chuckled when Tess turned the television off and threw the remote at it as if it was personally responsible for her favorite singer losing. “So, what’re your thoughts on the current contestants?”
“You watch Idol
Alex shrugged. “Guilty pleasure.”
“I haven’t seen the last three episodes; we were traveling and I missed them.”
“Huh. That’s too bad; it’s been pretty intense.” He straightened up and scratched his chin. “Convince Isabel to go out with me and I’ll let you come over and watch ‘em.” He grinned and winked at her. “I’ve got ‘em on my DVR.”
“Throw in a pizza and you’ve got a deal.”
Alex held his had out and he laughed when she shook on their agreement. “Now, point me in the right direction so I can see about puttin’ some shelves up.”
“Sean, you’re here early,” Liz said when she entered the living area and saw her fiancé.
“Yeah, Alex asked me an’ Brendan to give him a hand with some shelves.”
“So, the three of you are gonna put shelves up?”
Maria’s eyebrows shot up in surprise when she heard the doubtful tone in Liz’s voice. There was something that the perfect Sean Harrison couldn’t do?
“Liz, honey, we’re men; this is the kinda thing that men do,” he explained patiently.
Maria turned to look at Brendan when he remained silent. “No sexist remarks to add to that?”
Brendan shrugged and shook his head negatively. “We don’t know anything about building shelves, so there’s nothin’ to really brag about.”
Maria sighed and walked into the kitchen when the guys followed Tess out of the room. This was what she was giving up bad boys for? What was wrong with her?
“Okay, you’re not being fair, Maria; you haven’t even gone out with him yet.” She snorted. Like a date was gonna change anything about his personality.
A scream from the back of the apartment pulled her from her musings and she left the kitchen at a run. She rolled her eyes when she saw Brendan and Sean cowering in the hallway, red-faced and eyes downcast as Isabel read Tess the riot act from inside her bedroom. She winced when she stepped into the room because she knew in less than a second what had set the other girl off.
Isabel was doing a pretty good job of looking angry and indignant despite the fact that her face was covered in a mud mask, her hair was hidden under the towel wrapped around her head like a turban, and she was wearing a short, red silk robe that came to mid-thigh and had obviously been pulled on in a hurry.
“Well, how was I supposed to know you were having a spa day in your underwear?” Tess demanded.
“There’s this amazing thing called knocking!” Isabel shouted. “How could you just barge in here, dragging these guys with you – “
Tess quickly became indignant at the accusation. “I did knock – several times. Besides, it was just Sean and – “
Maria was about to step in and referee when Alex moved between the two girls, his arms stretched out to keep them separated.
“You certainly deserve an apology from us,” he said, glancing at Isabel. “And I’ll be the first to apologize.”
“Well, I’m not apologizing,” Tess insisted stubbornly and stomped out of the room.
“I don’t owe anyone an apology,” Isabel muttered, thankful that her face was covered with the mud mask so he couldn’t see that she was blushing.
“You realize Sean has probably never seen that much skin before, right? And my little brother will probably never be able to look you in the eye again because he’s so embarrassed. But, if you were gonna apologize to anyone it should be your roommates.”
“Have you looked in a mirror lately? You’re gonna give them a major inferiority complex.”
Isabel couldn’t control the smile that surfaced in response to his compliment. His expression was very open as his warm gaze met hers and she felt a frisson of excitement race along her spine. What was she doing?
Alex knew the exact moment that she was going to walk away; her eyes took on a distant, sad look that quickly replaced the look of happiness that had just been so prominent. He reached out to wrap his hand around her wrist in a loose grasp. “What’s his name?”
“The jackass that hurt you.”
Isabel looked away and reached up to scratch her cheek when she suddenly remembered the mud mask. Her eyes widened in shock and embarrassment and she fled from the room.
Maria had been watching their interaction with interest and she moved to block the doorway when Alex looked like he was thinking about following her friend. “Let her go,” she advised. “Why don’t you boys concentrate on those shelves and I’ll go talk to her.”
“Is she gonna be okay?”
“She will be.” She smiled reassuringly. “Just don’t rush her, okay?”
Alex nodded. “I’m just gonna take some measurements and head over to the hardware store.”
Sean followed his friends through the wide aisles in the huge hardware store, trying to remember what they were there for. They had been walking around for nearly half an hour and Alex hadn’t picked up a single thing yet. He nudged Brendan and lifted his shoulders in question when they turned down another aisle.
“What’re we lookin’ for, Alex?” Brendan asked, bored with all the aimless walking.
“We’re lookin’ for the wood section.”
“The wood section?” Sean repeated. “Is that an actual part of the store?”
“Well, they sell wood, right? So, obviously, there has to be a wood section.”
“You boys are looking for the lumber department,” a woman’s voice spoke up from behind them and they turned as one to look at her.
“The lumber department.” She pointed in the opposite direction. “It’s all the way at the other end of the store. Here, let me show you.”
Brendan and Sean exchanged an annoyed look as they followed Alex and the store employee, ignoring the conversation in favor of talking between themselves.
“So, you an’ Maria, you’re goin’ out?” Sean asked.
“Yeah.” Brendan scratched the back of his neck. “Got anything you wanna share about her since you an’ Liz have known her for so long?”
“Well, you’re nothing like the guys she usually dates, but Liz said somethin’ about Maria wantin’ to find someone who would treat her right, so…”
“So, the guys she normally dates… what’re they like?”
“They’re usually jerks; she hasn’t had very good luck with guys in the past.”
Brendan nodded and was getting ready to ask another question when his brother’s conversation caught his attention. The woman helping him was explaining how to cut the wood to achieve the correct angle and he could tell Alex was taking it all in, mentally mapping the information out.
“Um, Alex, maybe this isn’t such a great way to impress Isabel,” he said finally. “You’ve never cut a piece of wood in your life – “
Alex shifted uncomfortably and glared at his brother when the younger man pointed out the obvious.
“Oh, boy,” the employee said, shaking her head. “If you’ve never done anything remotely like this before maybe you should go with something simple.” She motioned for them to follow her and they walked several aisles over where pre-constructed shelves lined the walls. “This is your best option.” She led the way to a section that housed a specific size and she gestured at the different styles of shelving available. “Any of these will fit the space you described and the measurements you have without seeming overwhelming.” She pulled one down and flipped it over so that she could show him the pre-drilled holes. “All you’ve gotta do is use a level to make sure they’re straight, drill the holes, use the screws with anchors like we were talking about before, and then mount the shelves to the wall. There’s a lot less chance of screwing it up this way, trust me. Now, a drill isn’t necessary; you can do this with just a screwdriver.”
“No, I need the drill.”
Brendan rolled his eyes. “Why’re you doin’ all this?”
“I’ll explain it when you’re all grown up. For now,” he waved at the shelves on the second rack, “you two grab four of those while I go pick out a drill.”
“He has no idea what he’s doin’,” Brendan muttered as he and Sean grabbed the shelves and followed Alex.
Maria leaned in the doorway to the bathroom she shared with Liz, one hand propped on her hip as she watched Isabel wash her face. “C’mon, Iz, talk to me,” she urged.
“It’s just stupid, Maria. I’m not interested in getting involved with anyone and he’s getting ready to start his last year of college anyway, which means he’ll probably be leaving when he graduates so there’s no point…”
“Don’t judge him based on what Logan did,” Maria advised, glancing up when Tess opened the door on the other side and stepped into the bathroom.
Isabel turned to look at her reflection. “I’m not talking to you.”
“Look, you know you can’t stay mad at me for very long anyway, so just forgive me and let’s move on.” Tess leaned back against the counter and waited to see if Isabel would talk to her again. “C’mon, Iz, I honestly don’t see what the big deal is; I knocked, you obviously didn’t hear me, and it’s not like the guys saw you naked.”
“Mud mask and my hair up in a towel,” Isabel growled. “That is not how I wanted him to – “
“Ah-ha, I knew it!” Tess shouted triumphantly. “Admit it, you like him!”
“He seems to be very nice.”
“He’s building shelves for you.”
“Uh-huh, something that has yet to be seen.” She rolled her eyes and turned to look at Tess. “He didn’t strike me as the type who knows the difference between a nail and a screw, much less the complexities of building shelves.”
Maria chuckled. “I’ll bet he knows the difference.” She shrugged when Isabel turned and glared at her, shaking her head at the absolutely filthy tone. “What? Just because he’s quiet doesn’t mean he doesn’t know what to do in the bedroom… or wherever else the mood strikes.”
“Yeah,” Tess agreed, “I’ll bet he’s good in bed. He seems very… capable.”
“Okay, you two need to take a cold shower and then get yourselves a reality check. I’m not going out with him.”
“C’mon, Iz, just go out with him once to test the water; you don’t have to sleep with him on the first date. Just give it a shot.”
Isabel narrowed her eyes at her friend. She was up to something.
Tess reached up to grab Isabel’s shoulders, shaking her head as she met her suspicious gaze. “You’re my friend, and I want you to be happy.”
“Uh-huh. I’m gonna go get dressed so that I don’t get caught in my underwear again.”
Maria waited until Isabel was out of earshot before she shook her head at Tess and laughed. “If she agrees to go out with him and she finds out you pimped her out in exchange for access to his recorded episodes of American Idol
she’s gonna kill you.”
“Whatever. If it means she’ll get laid and rediscover her sense of humor, I’m willing to make the sacrifice.”
Isabel answered the door when the guys returned, wearing a pair of jeans and a sweatshirt. Sean hurried to go find Liz for their date, Brendan looked everywhere but at her, and Alex simply smiled as he walked past her carrying a toolbox that looked suspiciously new and dragging his brother behind him.
She settled down on the couch, stretching out and alternating between watching the newest episode of America’s Next Top Model
and thumbing through a recent issue of Cosmopolitan
magazine. She waved absently when Sean and Liz left and before long she dozed off amid the sounds of drilling intermingled with muttered cursing.
In the bathroom Maria and Tess had wedged themselves into the doorway as they watched the guys attempting to put the shelves up. It was apparent that they didn’t know what they were doing, but Alex refused to give up. He frowned at the drill in his hand, turning it so that it was aimed towards him as he studied the bit.
“Doesn’t make any sense,” he mumbled to himself. He grabbed the directions that he had tucked into his shirt pocket and unfolded them, scanning over them once more.
“I really don’t understand why you’re doin’ this,” Brendan said, standing back and holding the shelf as he watched his brother, oblivious to their audience. “You don’t know anything about puttin’ shelves up, so if you wanna do somethin’ for her why don’t you just call someone who does know what they’re doin’?”
“Because it’ll mean more if I do it myself.”
“So, messin’ up her wall means more than – “
“Brendan, I’m not gonna mess the wall up,” Alex snapped in annoyance.
“You don’t know what you’re doin’,” the younger man reminded him.
“You’re not helpin’.” He pointed to the shelf the kid was holding. “Stand there, hold that, and be quiet while I figure this out.” He stared at the operator’s manual once more and then turned the drill over to look at the underside of the tool. He snapped his fingers when he spotted the small mechanism that controlled the drill’s forward and reverse motions. “Oh, well, no wonder,” he chuckled to himself, “who knew that was there?”
He lined the point of the drill bit up with the dot he had marked on the wall to designate the position where the hole needed to be drilled and he pulled back on the trigger. Every other time he had tried it he had put all of his weight behind the drill and nothing had happened, but this time the bit chewed through the wall without the slightest hesitation. “Okay, see, that wasn’t that difficult at all. Hand me that packet of anchors, kid.”
Maria couldn’t take it anymore. She stepped inside and reached for the packet of anchors and screws that Alex had asked for, peeling the tape off and popping the plastic lid back before holding it out for him.
“You know about this stuff?” Brendan asked, showing more interest than he had shown for the past half hour.
“My dad wasn’t around when I was growing up, so I learned about a lot of stuff that I never really had any interest in.”
“Right, well, necessity often calls for one to learn certain things.”
“Brendan, it’s not the same thing as you learnin’ how to make a pot of coffee.” Alex motioned for his brother to bring the shelf up and hold it in place.
“Well, that was important too, Alex.” Brendan looked at Maria and the smile that he had trouble controlling when she was around crept onto his features. “Our dad wasn’t around much either when we were kids, but he wouldn’t have been much help with stuff like this anyway. He’s never been much of a manual labor kinda guy.” He shrugged one shoulder. “We had people around who did know stuff like this though; Mr. Sheng, he was our gardener and Mr. Johnson, he did all the maintenance stuff around the house…” He trailed off when she shook her head. “What?”
“That’s sooo not the same thing,” Tess muttered.
“No, when I said my dad wasn’t around, I mean he wasn’t there… at all.”
“Oh.” Brendan reached up to scratch his neck.
Alex barely controlled the urge to chuckle when his brother shifted awkwardly and revealed his nervousness with the tell-tale neck scratching. Time to step in and keep the kid from tripping over his lack of social skills.
“So, Maria, since you know somethin’ about this kinda stuff, how’s it lookin’? Does the shelf at least look straight?”
“Yeah.” Maria grinned at him, recognizing the way he was stepping in to prevent his brother from making anymore of a mess than he had already made. This guy was perfect for Isabel!
“Although you might wanna remove the screws, put the anchors in the wall, and then use the screws; otherwise the weight of the shelf is just gonna pull them outta the wall.”
Double Trouble (CC, AU, Adult) - Part 5 - 1/29/09
Posted: Thu Jan 29, 2009 12:01 am
Alien_Friend: Alex is definitely gonna do his best to impress Isabel. LOL, Brendan is no match for Maria… do you think he’s ready for someone like Maria? We promise, it’s not that difficult to have a sibling who turns out to be your complete opposite. Tess thinks she has found a way to make everyone happy… and she could be right.
loviedovie: Max and Michael won’t be helping out with this project, but one of them will be making an appearance in a soon-to-come chapter.
begonia9508: Alex wasn’t missing out on that opportunity!
nibbles2: These girls definitely require special handling… but, they’ll meet their matches.
April: Most of the updates will stay within this range – there are only a few that are slightly shorter. Alex rocks, right? He does! He was cheated on the show so we’re taking the opportunity to fix that error on the writers’ parts.
mary mary: You would be correct! Thanks for reading!
destinyc: A woman’s work is never done… and with these guys trying to hang shelves, well, any help would be welcome.
spacegirl23: We’re glad you’re enjoying the fic! Let us know what you come up with in regards to Brendan… we’re interested in everyone’s theories! We’re glad that Tess is one of your favorite characters – we were hoping that readers would enjoy her in her role here.
Buddha-boy: We’re glad you enjoyed that part! Having witnessed a similar shelf-hanging experience, it’s true that it can be that funny! You’re picturing Brendan just right and you’re on the right track as far as his chances once Michael makes his appearance.
chanks_girl: It could get ugly when Isabel finds out about their deal… we’ll see. The question is, how long will Isabel hold out before giving in to Alex’ charms?
Part 5 – The First Date
Brendan’s room looked like it had been hit by a tornado, Alex thought as he knocked on the doorframe and stepped inside. He narrowly missed being hit by a blue shirt as it was thrown out of the closet, sailing past him and landing on the bed. He hadn’t been surprised when he had gotten a call from Sean, demanding that he come over and do something about his crazy roommate.
“Brendan, whatcha doin’ in here, buddy?”
“Lookin’ for somethin’ to wear,” came the muffled reply.
“Uh-huh.” Alex glanced around the room again; clothes for just about any kind of date hung from every available surface. “Where’re you takin’ your date?”
“Oh. Um, that French restaurant that looks out over the ocean.”
Alex winced. The restaurant Brendan was referring to was pretentious; it catered to the wealthy and the one time he had been there with his family he hadn’t been comfortable at all. It was the kind of place that gave upper class families such bad reputations as snobs. He knew that the atmosphere had been lost on his little brother; the kid had been oblivious to everything but the food that was good, plentiful, and expensive. “Did you tell her where you were takin’ her?”
“No, but they’ve got good food and I’m gonna pay…” He paused and frowned when his brother shook his head. “Dad said that the man should always pay for the meal. He said it’s bad manners to expect a lady to pay for anything.”
“I’m not arguin’ with what the old man said, but a lot of women these days prefer to pay for half of the tab. A lot of times it’s believed that if a man pays for everything on a date that he has certain… expectations at the end of the evening.” He knew the question was coming just as soon as the words were out of his mouth.
Alex chuckled. His younger brother was brilliant, a genius even, but when it came to anything dealing with things on a personal level it had to be spelled out for him most of the time. “A lot of women believe that if the man pays for everything that he expects her to repay him with sex.”
“Oh.” His eyes widened. “Oh, no, well, I’m not gonna… I mean… I wouldn’t…”
Alex put a hand on his brother’s shoulder. “Take a couple deep breaths, Brendan; I know you wouldn’t have that expectation, but you have to consider how your actions are gonna be viewed by your date. Now, the next question; if you didn’t tell her where you were gonna take her, did you at least tell her to dress up for the evening?”
“Why? Whatever she wears will be fine…” He shook his head. “That’s wrong, isn’t it?”
“That response is never wrong, but you can’t just spring dinner at a restaurant like that on a woman without letting her know to dress for it. Chances are good that if you didn’t tell her any different she’s probably thinking it’s casual. Don’t get me wrong, she’ll probably look dressed up to you, but a woman’s definition of ‘dressed up’ is different than ours… what looks like dressed up to us, is casual or a step above to them.”
He sat down on his bed and looked around his room. “She’s gonna think I’m an idiot; maybe I should just call and cancel.”
“No, you’re not gonna call and cancel on her. You are gonna cancel those dinner reservations, though.” He made a waving motion with his right hand. “Go take a shower and let me think about this for a few minutes.” As soon as Brendan disappeared into the bathroom and closed the door Alex hurried into the living room where Sean was talking on the phone. “Sean?”
“Hey, hold on just a sec,” the younger man said into the phone. “What’s up, Alex?”
“You wouldn’t be talking to Liz by any chance, would you?”
“Ask her if she knows what Maria’s plannin’ to wear tonight. But, tell her not to say anything to Maria.” He waited while Sean relayed the question and several minutes later he had the answer. Armed with the necessary information he went back into his brother’s room and started picking up the clothes strewn everywhere, hanging them back in the closet and then selecting a pair of tan slacks and a burgundy button-down shirt. The kid could dress to perfection for anything else, but if he didn’t give him a hand he was gonna go on his date looking like he was on his way to a business meeting.
Maria frowned at Liz when she overheard her telling Sean what she had chosen to wear for her date with Brendan. She glanced down at herself, taking in the floral print summer dress with spaghetti straps. He hadn’t said where they were going, other than dinner and a movie, so she had assumed that it would just be a casual date, but now she was concerned that she wasn’t dressed nicely enough.
“Liz?” She waited for the younger girl to disconnect from her call and look at her.
“What’s up, Maria?”
“Why were you telling Sean what I’m wearing?”
“Oh, that was just… Sean was…” Liz sighed and shook her head. She had never been any good at lying, but maybe she could get by without the whole truth. “Brendan wasn’t sure what to wear, so Sean was just checking for him. You won’t say anything to him, will you? Sometimes Brendan just… misses the obvious.”
Tess rolled her eyes as she passed through the living room on her way to the kitchen and paused to lean on the bar that separated the two rooms. “Are you still going through with this farce?” she demanded.
“Tess,” Maria warned, “leave it alone. He’s very nice and we’re going out for a nice evening.”
“Yeah, a nice, boring evening.” She turned back to open the refrigerator and pull out a bottle of water. “I’ll bet he has you home at a reasonable hour, too.”
“What’s reasonable?” Isabel questioned, reaching past Tess to pull the freezer door open so she could grab a Popsicle. “Midnight?”
Tess snorted at that. “With classes starting tomorrow? I’ll bet she’s home by ten at the latest.”
Isabel peeled the wrapper off of the frozen treat and disposed of it. “I don’t know, he might do better than that.” She took a bite of the Popsicle and chewed it thoughtfully. “What kind of a kisser do you think he is?”
“The kind that will have her home by ten.” Tess shook her head when Isabel happily hummed and started sucking on the grape Popsicle. “Practicing?”
Isabel’s eyes sparkled as she walked into the living room and flopped down in the chair she was already favoring. “What makes you think I need practice?”
“Whatever. The way you’ve been looking at those friggin’ shelves in the bathroom.”
“And what way would that be?”
“The what-can-I-do-to-thank-Alex way.” She nodded in approval. “That would do it.”
“Yeah,” Maria agreed, nodding. “The humming thing, most guys get off on that if you do it at the same time.”
“What’re you guys talking about?” Liz asked, feeling once again that she was being left out.
“Going down on a guy,” Isabel answered.
“Giving head,” Maria added.
Tess grinned as she delivered the final descriptive. “Blowjobs.”
“They like the humming thing, huh?” Isabel asked, leaning back to stare at her Popsicle while Liz tried to sink as far into the sofa cushions as possible.
“Yeah, hold onto that information for future use.” Maria frowned as she looked down at her outfit again. “Okay, how do I look? Honestly, you guys.”
“He won’t know what hit him, Maria.” Tess leaned on the counter once more. “So, where’s he taking you?”
“Dinner and a movie.”
“That’s all I get? You can tell me more than that,” Tess huffed. “It’s not like I’m gonna show up at the restaurant and theater you guys go to. I’m not that bored.”
“I don’t know; he didn’t say and I didn’t think to ask.”
“Girl, it has not been that long since you’ve been out with a guy; you know you should always ask that question.”
“He was nervous enough just asking me out.”
“Uh-huh, which just proves my point. He’s gonna bore you to death.”
“He’s very smart, Tess, and he’s very sweet.”
“Smart, sweet, and a zero between the sheets.” Tess giggled. “Hey, that rhymes.”
Isabel laughed and repeated the little rhyme. “That’s cute. Well, unless you’re the one between the sheets with him, and then it’s not gonna be that cute.”
“I have no intention of having sex with him tonight. We’re going out for the evening and we’re gonna get to know each other. I’m not kidding about my plan.”
“Fine. When you’re completely bored and you’re ready to drown yourself in the bathroom sink just to get away from him, resist the urge to call me to come and rescue your ass.”
Maria rolled her eyes at Tess’ dramatics and gathered up her purse, checking to make sure her cell phone, credit cards, and drivers license were all inside.
Brendan was so nervous that he started to feel nauseas as they placed their orders for dinner and he reached up to scratch his neck when the waiter walked away. He glanced around at the other people in the restaurant and desperately cast about for something interesting to talk about. Why hadn’t Alex told him what to talk about? God, she was gonna think he was a total loser before the appetizers even arrived.
“So, you’re studying business?” Maria asked, praying that it would break the ice and get the conversation moving. The poor guy looked like he was going to pass out at any second and she wasn’t feeling much better herself.
“Uh…” What was he supposed to do now? Alex had told him to avoid talking about his studies at school because he’d get too wrapped up in them. “Yeah, yeah, business.” He cleared his throat and scratched his neck again. “So, um… what about you?”
“So, you’ll be taking architecture classes then?”
Maria laughed quietly. “Well, I certainly hope so. Do you know anything about the subject?”
He shook his head and tugged at his collar, looking uncomfortable all of the sudden. C’mon, Brendan, pull your head outta your ass or she’s gonna walk out on you! “Is that somethin’ you’ve always wanted to get into?”
From that point on the conversation flowed a little more freely and as they talked back and forth about their chosen fields of study they both started to relax. After dinner they left the restaurant, walking along the boardwalk as Brendan pointed out some of the more interesting attractions and shops.
“You can fish down off the pier, too,” he said, leaning on the railing and motioning towards the long pier that stretched out into the distance. “We took Liz down there last month and rented some poles… none of us were any good at baitin’ the hooks though. Me an’ Sean, we kept getting our lines tangled up together and Liz actually caught a pretty good-sized fish, but it was floppin’ around like crazy when she reeled it in and she just screamed and threw it back in, pole and all.” He laughed at the memory and it completely transformed his features.
Maria laughed along with him, easily picturing the scene he was describing. Now that he had started to relax a lot of his clumsy behaviors had receded into the background and he was almost charming as he shared stories about the area, school, his brother Alex, and their sixteen-year-old sister, Brooke.
He glanced at his watch after a while and his eyebrows lifted in surprise. “Looks like time got away from us,” he said, his tone regretful. “I don’t think we’re gonna make the movie.”
“Well, maybe we can catch one later this week.”
Brendan’s heart flip-flopped crazily when she smiled at him. “Yeah?”
“Maybe Friday night. Or Saturday… we could make a day of it?”
“I’d like that, a lot.”
They walked back to his car and he drove them back to her apartment, agonizing over the best way to end the evening. Sean had said that she was looking for something different from the other guys she had been with so he didn’t wanna come across like them, but at the same time he really wanted to kiss her. He debated back and forth over the best way to handle the situation right up until the moment they were standing at the front door of her apartment.
“I had a really good time tonight, Brendan.” Maria looked up at him, wondering if he would kiss her and if she wanted him to.
“So did I.” He played with his key ring, absently jingling the keys in his pocket. “Okay, look, I’d like to kiss you, but I don’t wanna pressure you or anything, so…”
Maria smiled when he reached up to scratch his neck, giving away the fact that he was nervous and she nodded, giving her permission.
Brendan breathed a sigh of relief and leaned in towards her, leaving a respectable distance between them as his lips brushed against hers for the first time.
Double Trouble (CC, AU, Adult) - Part 6 - 2/5/09
Posted: Thu Feb 05, 2009 12:20 am
Alien_Friend: We’re glad you like Brendan’s quirkiness! Tess will certainly share her opinion, you can be sure of that!
loviedovie: What’re big brother’s for? Hmmm… past the 10 o’clock mark… that’ll be revealed in this next chapter.
begonia9508: Tess doesn’t pull any punches… sometimes that’s a good thing and sometimes she’s gonna stick her foot in her mouth!
mary mary: There’s more to Brendan than meets the eye!
April: How long do you think Maria will be able to stick to that plan once Michael enters the picture?
destinyc: You would be correct.
nibbles2: We’re really glad you’ve found yourself in that position! Brendan may not be the guy for Maria, but he’s definitely a great character. Don’t worry though, he won’t be kicked to the curb and forgotten… we have something special in mind for him.
chanks_girl: Maria isn’t gonna like admitting that she’s wrong and Tess is right! LOL, now that sounds like an idea Tess would come up with! Alex is great and Brendan is very lucky to have him around. Hmmm… that assumption may be addressed sooner than you think!
Part 6 – Introduction To Trouble
The first day of classes was more than half over before Tess and Maria ran into each other. They were both exhausted after running from one class to the next and they were more than ready to call it a day.
“Why didn’t you stop me when I told you I wanted to study psychology?” Tess demanded. “Professor Salazar is a complete bitch!”
“I got Warner for Environmental Science… I could’ve slept straight through the class and not missed a single thing.”
“How was your date? I know I was out late, but Isabel left a twenty under the cookie jar which means I won the bet and you were home by ten.”
“My date was perfect, thank you very much. Brendan was the perfect gentleman.”
“Perfect,” Tess spit the word out as if it had a bad taste. “The perfect gentleman, the perfect date… he didn’t kiss you, did he?”
“Yes, he did.”
“Uh-huh.” Tess turned to study Maria when the other girl didn’t go into detail. “No tongue,” she guessed.
“I told you he’s a gentleman.”
“So? Does that mean his tongue doesn’t work?”
“C’mon, Tess, haven’t you ever been the slightest bit curious about dating a guy who doesn’t maul you on the first date?”
“Sure. But, I’m curious about a lot of things, Maria. Like, what’s it like to come face to face with a shark, or what’s it feel like when you bungee jump, or what does sushi really taste like, but I don’t wanna try any of those things either. And just for the record, there’s middle ground between mauling and boring.”
Maria forgot all about responding when she glanced up and saw Brendan leaning against a tree outside of the student center. His posture was slouched, his right leg bent at the knee, and his foot was braced against the tree trunk as he scowled at the paper in his hand. He was dressed more casually than normal, wearing a pair of jeans that were faded from wear, and a snug-fitting red tee shirt that showed off muscles she hadn’t realized existed beneath his loose clothes.
He reached up to run his right hand through his hair – hair that was standing up in soft spikes – and she smiled. It was a much better look for him, she decided, unable to stop her gaze from sliding over him again. He must have felt her stare because his head lifted and he smirked at her as his dark eyes did some traveling of their own.
Damn, it was a good thing he hadn’t looked like that the night before!
“Whoa!” Tess muttered. “I may have to reconsider my opinion.”
“Don’t you have a class you need to get to?” Maria growled, suddenly feeling territorial.
Tess pretended to think about it for a moment before shaking her head. “No.”
Maria decided to ignore her friend in favor of feasting her gaze on Brendan’s unexpected appearance. “What’re you doing out here all by yourself?” she asked as they reached him.
“Waitin’ for you,” he said gruffly.
His voice was rough and smooth at the same time and she felt a shiver race down her spine in response. “Okay, I’ve just gotta say that this look really works for me, Brendan.” For just a split second there was something undefined in his dark eyes, but he blinked and it was gone before she could identify it.
“What’s your excuse for kissing Maria goodnight and not using tongue?” Tess asked. “I don’t care how much of a gentleman you are, or that it was a first date, she deserved a real kiss!”
The heat in his dark eyes shifted up a notch as he ran his gaze over Maria’s body once more. “I don’t know where my mind was,” he muttered, almost to himself. “I’ve gotta get goin’, but I tell ya what, next time we see each other, I’ll rectify that.”
“Okay,” Tess said when he took off across the campus, his gait unhurried, “be honest, Maria; if he had looked like that last night, you wouldn’t have let him get away with just a little kiss.”
“I will not dignify that with an answer,” Maria said as she glanced at her watch and realized she was going to be late for her next class. “I’ve gotta run, Tess; I’ll see you back at home.”
Brendan opened the passengers’ side door of his car and dumped his over-stuffed backpack and his laptop case into the front seat. He locked the door and shut it again before walking around to the drivers’ side and pressing the button on the little remote on his keychain. He pulled the door open but before he could move back to pull it out far enough so that he could climb in, a large, booted foot kicked it shut again.
He didn’t need to turn around to know who the foot belonged to, but he knew he would only be putting off the inevitable if he didn’t. He turned and leaned against the car, arms crossed over his chest and a frown on his face as he met the eyes of his antagonist – eyes that matched his right down to the smallest detail.
“What d’you want, Michael?” he asked, unwilling to engage in yet another argument.
“Why? You think you’ve got somethin’ I might want?”
Brendan’s mind immediately flashed to Maria, but he kept his expression neutral as he shook his head. “It’s doubtful.” He knew Michael was waiting for him to show some sign of weakness, something that would trigger his quicksilver temper so he could push Brendon into an argument. Fights were rare between them while arguments were frequent, and he didn’t know how to put an end to them; the feelings of resentment and borderline hatred had been fostered by their parents and neither of them knew how to break the cycle. The difference was that Brendan would have been happy to let it go, but Michael wasn’t the slightest bit interested in that scenario.
“Doubtful, huh?” Michael took a step back and a smirk settled on his face. “Normally, I’d agree with you, but I had an interesting conversation with a little blond who went on an’ on about our date last night. Now, I did have a… date… last night, but she wasn’t blond and she wasn’t short, which means that she must’ve been out with you.”
“You stay away from her,” Brendan warned as he straightened up from where he was leaning back against the car.
“Oh, hell, why would I even need to go after her? Keep endin’ dates like you did last night and she’ll come lookin’ for me.”
Brendan felt a tiny spark of confidence deep inside as he remembered Sean’s assurance that Maria was looking for someone different. “You think what you wanna think, Michael.”
“I usually do.” He shook his head. “And right now, I think you’re wrong if you think you’re gonna keep a girl like that around with a little hand-holdin’ and an occasional brief kiss. How long were you an’ Karen together before you two got serious?” He was well aware that his brother had been with his high school girlfriend from the time he was fifteen until the year they had graduated and gone their separate ways. “Took you four years to get around to fuckin’ her and then she decided to go to college on the East Coast.”
He was not taking the bait! Brendan stared down at his hands where they were clenched at his sides. He had loved Karen and it had hurt when she had told him she was applying at colleges on the East Coast; they had always talked about going to college together. To this day he didn’t understand why she had made that decision. She had said that she had realized that she had dreams that were different than his and that she wasn’t ready to be in such a committed relationship at 18 years old. He hadn’t believed her; they had talked about it too many times and something about her speech had felt contrived, but he hadn’t been able to figure out what was going on with her. He forced his hands to unclench and turned back to reach for the door handle, but was once again prevented from opening it. He glanced up when Michael threw his weight against the door and crossed his arms over his chest as he stared at him.
“C’mon, Brendan, you must’ve asked yourself if she left because she just couldn’t handle bein’ with you anymore.” Michael’s dark gaze burned into him. “Was it you? Was it somethin’ else?” He paused a few moments. “What d’you think made her turn her back on a relationship that the two of you had spent so long building? God, that’s gotta keep you up nights, huh?”
Brendan’s hands were shaking so he shoved them in his pockets to prevent Michael from seeing the weakness. It still bothered him and there were plenty of times that he questioned Karen’s decision to end their relationship and stomp all over his heart in the process. Why did Michael have to show up and drag the memories up?
He’s standing on the threshold of Karen’s bedroom two days before Christmas, palms sweating, heart racing, and the sound of the blood rushing through his veins drowning everything else out. No one else is home; her mother’s working a double shift at the diner and they’re the only two people who live in the apartment. A soft smile relaxes his features as his gaze roams over her where she stands in front of her window.
The window looks down over the busy streets that are piled high with fresh snow and Christmas lights from below are reflected off of the pane of glass that she’s looking through. It’s early evening and the shadows in the room only heighten his awareness of her. They had become lovers right before Thanksgiving; they had been hanging out in her bedroom, watching the parade as it made its way along the street below when they had looked at each other and known that the moment was right.
He’s never felt closer to another human being in his life and he knows without a single shadow of doubt that he wants to spend forever with her. The fingers of his right hand brush against the tiny black, velvet box he’s been carrying around in his pocket for the past week. He already knows that his parents are going to be unhappy about his decision, but for the first time in his life he’s prepared to stand up to them. For her. He would do anything for her, even stand up to them.
She turns around as if she suddenly realizes that she’s being watched and a smile lights up her eyes for a moment before it fades. “Brendan, what’re you doing here?” she asks.
He frowns at the question, sensing that there’s something deeper and darker behind it. Normally she’s happy to see him; she lights up and runs to throw herself in her arms, and kisses him like she can’t get enough of him. But, this is different. She’s hesitant, wary, and it scares him in a way that nothing else has ever scared him.
“We need to talk, Bren.”
Her voice is so serious that the level of fear he’s feeling skyrockets. He moves across the room, intending to take her in his arms and reassure her, but she sidesteps him and he can’t ignore how much that hurts. “What, um, what’s goin’ on?”
“I’ve been doing a lot of thinking, Bren, and I’ve decided that I’m not gonna apply to any colleges out west.”
“But…” What’s she talking about? They’ve been making plans for this for several years now. They’re gonna go to college together, they’re planning to earn their degrees in something related to computers and design, and someday they’re gonna sell their own gaming software. The best school for that is on the West Coast; the possibility of getting the proper education for that type of work is slim on the East Coat. “I thought we had agreed that we were gonna go to college out west? That was the plan, right?”
“I’ve changed my mind, Brendan.” She paces around the room, her agitation palpable. “I thought I could pursue that type of degree and be happy because I’d be with you, but I really need to consider a different path.”
“I don’t understand.”
“Damn it, I can’t live my life doing everything you wanna do!” she shouts. “I have my own dreams to fulfill and we’re already much more committed than I ever intended to be at 18. I need space and I need to be away from you.”
He’s crushed. Since when had her decisions been based on what he wanted? They’ve always talked everything out, never making a decision unless they know it’s what they both want. His world feels like it’s spiraling out of control and he doesn’t know how to make it stop. His hand clenches around the box containing the engagement ring he bought for her, holding onto it like a lifeline as his heart shatters under the weight of her words.
The memories dragged the pain from the past back to the surface and no matter how hard he tried he couldn’t control that hurt from revealing itself in his expression. He sighed roughly and shook his head as he met his brother’s gaze. “I’m not gonna give you the fight you want, Michael, and you know that.”
“What’s new?” Michael started to walk away but then paused and turned back to his brother, smirk firmly set in place as he ran a hand through his spiked hair. “Oh, that’s right… looks like you’ve finally got yourself a girlfriend.” He nodded. “She’s cute, Brendan… I’ll have to make it a point to introduce myself to her.”
Brendan sighed as he slid in behind the wheel, sitting there for a few minutes as he tried to calm down. Encounters with Michael always left him on edge, confused, and questioning whether or not it was his fault that Karen had chosen to walk away from him. He wondered if Maria had been interested in his brother as he inserted the key into the ignition and started the car. Maybe he’d go by and see her after dinner, just to test the water and see if she was still receptive to him.
Maria stood in the middle of the kitchen that night, relieved to have the apartment all to herself for the first time since she and Tess had moved in. It had been an incredibly long day thanks to the constant running from what seemed like one end of the campus to the other, trying in vain to memorize where everything was located. She hadn’t had much of a chance to stop and just breathe the entire day, much less squeezing in the time to sit down and eat something.
Most nights the apartment was loud as she, Tess, and Isabel blared either the stereo or televisions in their rooms at a decibel loud enough that she was still surprised that their neighbors hadn’t complained yet. Liz usually listened to her iPod while she was studying so she rarely engaged in the sound war going on between the others.
Liz had a study date with Sean, Tess had decided to chase after the pizza delivery guy from a few nights before, and Isabel was spending the evening at the campus library with a mountain of homework. Maria, having the apartment all to herself, had planned to lounge around in comfort clothes, eat something that was really unhealthy, and watch some really romantic movie. The first part of the plan was already in place – after a long, hot bath she had dressed in the oldest, rattiest, most comfortable pair of sweatpants she owned along with a red tank top.
The movie was in the DVD player, cued and ready to watch as soon as she decided what she wanted to eat. Popcorn always went well with a movie, she thought as she grabbed a bag from the box in the cabinet. As soon as the microwave chimed, signaling that it was finished, she pulled the expanded bag out and dumped it into a large bowl. She set it on the coffee table with a glass of soda and went back for the ice cream because it was impossible to overdose on junk food and ignore the ice cream. She popped the top on the frozen goodness, stuck a spoon in the center of it, and switched the kitchen light off as she made her way back to the living room.
The doorbell rang just before she reached her destination and she ran a hand through her disheveled hair as she bypassed the couch to answer the door. “Great,” she muttered under her breath. She wasn’t expecting any visitors and she didn’t want any visitors either, so whoever had dared to intrude on her evening was about to be summarily dismissed and sent away. She wasn’t prepared to see the guy standing on the other side of the door when she jerked it open.
“Brendan!” She was surprised to see him and disappointed to see that he had reverted back to his usual clothing style. The biggest disappointment though, was probably his hair; instead of standing up in the soft spikes from earlier that day, it was once more in the flat, shaggy style that he seemed to favor. “Um, did we make plans for tonight?” They hadn’t, right?
“Uh… no, I… I was just um… I was in the neighborhood so I thought I’d drop in and see how your first day went.” He scratched his neck nervously. Maybe it hadn’t been such a good idea to come over unannounced, he thought, mentally kicking himself. She didn’t look very happy about seeing him at her front door.
Maria glanced down and immediately realized what she must look like, dressed the way she was. Oh, my God, I look like major white trash! What had she been thinking, answering the door looking like this? “Sorry,” she apologized, “I’m being completely rude. You wanna come in?”
“Oh, well, only if it’s okay with you.”
She waved his concern aside. “Yeah, of course.” Liar! her conscience berated her. It wasn’t okay, but she didn’t want to hurt his feelings. “Just have a seat while I go change into something a little less… ugly.”
“You don’t have to change on my account,” he mumbled. “You’re cute just like you are.”
Yeah, right! She smiled at him. No other guy she had ever been out with would’ve said that to her and she wouldn’t have believed them if they had said it. She knew how stupid the raggedy outfit looked, but that was why it was reserved for nights when there was no one around who needed to be impressed. “You’re sweet, but I don’t believe you.” She shoved the half gallon of ice cream into his hands as she backed out of the room. “I’ll be right back.”
Brendan smiled at her before turning his attention to the TV, wandering over to the entertainment center when he realized that the screen held the image of the opening credits for a movie. She hadn’t said a word about running into Michael… was that a good thing or a bad thing? He reached for the plastic case lying open on one of the glass shelves, glancing over the title and wondering who would make a movie about a notebook. He shrugged and put it back as he looked over some of the other titles that were lined up on the shelf. He absently reached for the spoon and scooped up a large bite, sticking it in his mouth and pulling the spoon free.
When Maria returned a few minutes later, dressed a more presentable outfit, she stood in the doorway watching him for a little while. She wondered why he had dressed differently and changed his hairstyle for school; there had to be a reason, but she didn’t want to question him and make him uncomfortable. He was still attractive, but there had been something… different about him when they had met up outside of the student center that afternoon. There had been an air of confidence about him that nearly bordered on arrogance, but it had suited him perfectly, and even though she had only spent a few minutes with him that afternoon, she missed it.
After several more minutes of observing him she cleared her throat and moved further into the room. She settled down on the couch when he turned around and her eyebrows lifted when she realized that he was chowing down on her ice cream. She laughed when he pulled the spoon out of his mouth and froze at the realization that he was eating her treat.
“Um… I’ll buy you another one?” he offered sheepishly.
Maria nodded. “Yes, you will.” She smiled and waved him over. “You wanna watch the movie with me?”
Brendan relaxed when she didn’t say anything about his brother and he decided that he wasn’t going to so much as mention Michael’s name. The longer it took for his brother to become a blip on her radar, the better it was for him. He accepted her offer and sat down beside her on the couch, careful to leave a respectable distance between them.
“Do you mind watching a romantic drama?”
“No, that’s fine.”
Maria watched the shadows and light play across his features as he quickly became immersed in the movie. Most guys wouldn’t have still been sitting there, actually watching the movie; if they had managed to stick around they would’ve already started to put the moves on her, but Brendan was actually following the storyline as if it mattered to him personally.
Well, she had wanted someone different, right? Her gaze travelled over him as he shifted and she wondered if he was uncomfortable. Any other guy would’ve been all over her after moving under the guise of making himself more comfortable, but not Brendan. Even in her apartment, surrounded by darkness, with a romantic movie playing, he maintained his respectable behavior. Yeah, she had wanted different, and he was about as different as she could get from the guys she normally dated.
Double Trouble (CC, AU, Adult) - Part 7 - 2/12/09
Posted: Thu Feb 12, 2009 12:40 am
loviedovie: We’re glad you liked that twist! There’s a deeper story between the twins that will be explored as we go along. More to Brendan’s break-up with Karen, huh? Well, you could be onto something there…
Alien_Friend: Maria’s reaction should be… interesting. Brendan did actually have a girlfriend in the past, lol! There is more to the story and it won’t be abandoned as we move along. He does tend to be clueless about things, but that’s one of his more endearing qualities. Michael’s character is much deeper than the surface that has been revealed so far, and the journey to really getting to know him promises to be an interesting one.
begonia9508: They are twins! Michael and Maria, well… some things are inevitable…
tequathisy: The heart rarely follows the path of sensibility!
Buddha-boy: We’re glad to hear that you’re likin’ Brendan! As for Michael… well, we’re not excusing his behavior, but there is a reason behind it… and it will begin to be revealed soon. We promise Brendan won’t be forgotten once the inevitable has occurred.
destinyc: Brendan’s break will come – it’s all a matter of timing!
nibbles2: Thanks for reading!
mary mary: There’s more to the story, promise!
April: Well, that’s certainly one descriptive for Michael… unflattering for sure, but not necessarily wrong, lol! Yes, Michael is exactly the type of guy Maria wants nothing to do with… **cough “liar” cough**
guelbebek: Trouble is definitely in the air… and Maria is right in the middle of it! Poor girl has no idea what she’s in for, lol!
chanks_girl: We’re glad you liked that first encounter! Michael’s first appearance didn’t show him in a very flattering light, but you can be sure that the tension between the twins will be explained as we advance the storyline. We promise Brendan won’t be left out in the cold!
Part – 7 – Meeting the Parents
On Friday evening Maria found herself wandering around near the Belmont Pier that Brendan had shown her the weekend before. She loved being near the ocean, and the campus and the apartment were only about four or five miles from the Pacific Ocean. She never got tired of spending time at the pier just to look out over the endless expanse of choppy water. She walked along the wooden planks, her sandals slapping against the pier as she made her way out towards the expanded section at the very end.
The week had been exhausting and filled with a mountain of homework that was even now waiting for her at home. She and Brendan had gone out for a quick bite to eat after classes the day before and once again the date had ended with him walking her to her front door and a nice kiss. She rolled her eyes at the memory. He wasn’t a bad kisser by any means, but she felt like he was holding back. He had to be holding back, right? She had never dated a guy for a week without him making a move on her and generally, the kissing and making out was pretty heated from the very beginning. Maybe it was just a lack of chemistry.
Brendan was completely respectful, he kept polite distance between them at all times, and he always listened to what she had to say. She wasn’t used to any of it and if she was honest with herself, it was making her just a little crazy. She didn’t want to give up on pursuing what could be a real relationship with a guy who was so sweet and considerate, but why couldn’t she have sweet and considerate with some passion? Maybe he just needed more time, maybe that’s all it was.
“Hey, what’re you doin’ down here?”
She turned when she heard Brendan’s voice from behind her and she smiled at him. “Hi, I thought you had to catch up on some reading for your Economics class?”
“I’ll get to it in a little while; I just needed some air to clear my head first.”
Her gaze slid over him, surprised to see him in jeans and a tee shirt again. His hair was in its usual shaggy disarray and he was wearing a short-sleeved button-up shirt that hung open over the tee shirt. Her gaze was drawn to what looked like a funny-shaped, off-white stone hanging from the thin rope necklace he wore and she couldn’t resist reaching out to lift it up to rest in the palm of her hand. “What’s this?”
She looked up at him and the predatory look in his eyes made her feel like someone had just turned the heat up. “Really? I wouldn’t have pegged you as the type to have something like this.”
“No, it doesn’t really fit your personality.”
He reached up to scratch his eyebrow with his thumb and shrugged as he lowered his arm and shoved his hands in his pockets. “So, maybe you don’t know my personality as good as you think you do.”
Maria dropped the shark tooth and watched as it came to rest against his chest once more before lifting her gaze to meet his again. The differences were there again; the casual clothes, the comfortably slouched posture, the self-assured tone in his voice, and the heat that just rolled off of him. She didn’t know how to rationalize it because it was almost like dealing with two different guys. They hadn’t once been out when this side of his personality had shown itself; both times had occurred during random encounters and she had to admit that she wished it would happen when they were actually out together. “Well, there’s no time like the present, is there?”
He smirked and nodded. “Have you had a chance to learn much of the history of the city since you’ve been here?”
“Not too much, no.”
They started walking along the pier back towards the businesses and he pointed at the many buildings that lined the busy streets. “Did you know that Belmont Shore was originally intended as an Italian-style community?”
“No. What happened?”
“Cost and logistics, what else?” He turned and pointed in a different direction. “Have you been down Second Street yet?”
“Yes, earlier. It’s amazing!” she enthused.
“Did you see the brick firehouse?”
“With the red tile roofing?” She nodded. “The style is just gorgeous. Mediterranean, if I’m not mistaken.”
“Yeah,” he agreed. “It’s definitely got a certain…”
“Architectural character,” they both said at the same time.
Maria chuckled and bumped her shoulder into him. “I thought you said you didn’t know anything about architecture,” she teased, smiling when he just shrugged.
“I should probably get goin’ so I can hit the books.” He moved to turn and stand in front of her, blocking her path and forcing her to stop.
She watched him, studying his eyes as that thing that she hadn’t been able to identify several days before appeared in them again. She was disappointed at his announcement that he was going to have to leave; she was just starting to really enjoy their conversation. She still couldn’t figure out what was in his eyes, but it seemed to be creating some sort of conflict for him and she wondered if she should mention it.
He took the decision out of her hands several moments later when he moved closer to her, his big hands coming up to frame her face as he leaned in for a kiss. It was everything that had been lacking in their previous kisses; a fierce combination of lips, teeth, and tongue fueled by heat, fire, and passion.
Her hands came up to tangle in his hair, fingernails dragging against his scalp before sliding down to settle on his broad shoulders. This was what she had been waiting for; this was what had been missing. She was fine with taking things slow, getting to know him better first, and actually spending time with someone who was willing to treat her respectfully. But, she also wanted this… something to balance all of those nice qualities.
He eased back after several long minutes, his breathing harsh and his eyes so dark it was nearly impossible to see the brown in them. His left thumb slowly swept over her bottom lip and he leaned in to kiss her once more, slower, gentler, but with just as much heat as before. “I’ve gotta go,” he whispered harshly as he backed away from her.
Maria nodded and reluctantly let her hands fall away from his body. Sleep was not going to come easy tonight, she thought as she watched him hurry away. Was he going to act different tomorrow? Pretend that this had never happened? He had never mentioned them running into each other on campus the first day of classes, and he had been acting different that day too. Her fingers brushed against her kiss-swollen lips and she watched his retreating back until he disappeared into the crowd. They had a date the next day, so she would know soon enough.
Brendan knocked on the door of Maria’s apartment and waited patiently for someone to let him in. They were spending the afternoon together and he had been looking forward to it all week long. Homework and endless chapters of assigned reading had kept him fairly busy and he had only managed to see her a few times throughout the week. He had sat up late the night before, knocking out as much of it as possible so he wouldn’t find his mind straying to it while he was supposed to be focusing on Maria. His eyes shot up to the woman who answered the door and they quickly dropped to the floor in embarrassment when Isabel smiled at him.
“Hi, Brendan, c’mon inside.” She stood back and bit back a laugh when he shuffled past her, his eyes locked on the floor. Alex hadn’t been kidding about his brother’s reaction, she realized. “Make yourself at home and I’ll go check on Maria for you, okay?”
He mumbled an affirmative response and sat down on the couch. He was still embarrassed that he had seen her in her underwear but he couldn’t help it. It just wasn’t right that he had seen her like that! He fiddled with his key ring while he waited, looking up when he heard someone enter the room. He wasn’t sure if it was better or worse that it was Tess who came in and sat down across from him.
“So, Maria was telling me about the two of you at the pier,” she said, smiling at him.
“Huh? Oh, right, Belmont Pier.” He nodded. “Yeah, it’s pretty awesome. She told you about that, huh?”
“Yeah, she was… enthusiastic, about it,” she said as her gaze moved over him.
Tess nodded and studied him, trying to reconcile what Maria had told her the night before with the guy sitting across from her. If this guy kissed as well as Maria said he did, he was hiding that fact. Nothing about him hinted at the sexuality and heat that she had described.
“Hey, Brendan,” Maria greeted. “Sorry to keep you waiting.”
His gaze roamed over her, taking in the jeans and pink tee shirt she was wearing. “No, I didn’t wait very long, and it would’ve been worth it if I had.”
Maria smiled at his response and she hid her confusion when she saw what he was wearing. He had worn jeans as well, but they were pressed and starched to maintain a sharp look. His khaki-colored button-down shirt was a little bigger than it needed to be in the interest of comfort and it was tucked in. He was going for a casual look, but it was so different from his look from the day before. “Tess, I’ll see you this evening.”
“Depends on when you get in; I think I’m gonna go back to that club Isabel and I checked out last night.”
Maria nodded as she and Brendan left the apartment and she wondered why he had suddenly gone silent again. At the pier the evening before he had actually taken the lead and initiated the conversation and she had really enjoyed it. At his car he unlocked the door and paused before reaching out to open it. She could tell from the way that he was studying her that he wanted to kiss her and she waited impatiently for that more assertive part of his personality to present itself.
After nearly a full minute of his scrutiny she couldn’t take it anymore and she shifted closer to him, bringing her hands up to his face and holding him still so she could kiss him. There wasn’t an ounce of heat in the kiss; she tried to hide her disappointment and confusion as she pulled away from him. She smiled and stepped back so that he could open the car door for her.
How much longer should she wait before she asked him about it? she wondered, watching him as he rounded the front of the car and got inside. She didn’t want to hurt his feelings or come across as accusatory, but she didn’t understand how he seemed to switch between personalities… Her eyes widened as another thought occurred to her. What if he had some sort of multiple personality disorder? What if she wasn’t the one who was crazy, having all of these thoughts? What else could possibly explain the weird behavior? But, no, Sean would’ve said something if that were the case, right? He would be in the best position to know since they had been living in the same apartment for over a year.
“Hey, I’ve gotta stop at Alex’s house and drop off a software program he loaned me a while back. Is that okay?” he asked.
Maria turned to look at him when he spoke, pulling her from her thoughts. “What? Yeah, of course; does he live nearby?”
“About ten minutes from here; he has a house in a neighborhood that looks down over the Pacific.”
“That must be nice.”
Thankfully, the drive passed by relatively quickly and Maria felt relieved when he pulled into the driveway behind the truck she recognized as the one Alex had loaned them the day they had moved into the apartment. The house wasn’t as large as some of the others in the neighborhood, but at first glance it was architecturally sound and well designed.
“You wanna come in? I’m sure Alex will be glad to see you again.”
“Okay.” They walked up to the front door and he pressed the doorbell while she glanced around at the cars lined up on the street. She jumped back when the door was pulled open so abruptly and her eyebrows shot up when Alex hurried to join them and pulled the door closed once more.
“Why haven’t you been answering your phone?” he asked, glancing back over his shoulder.
“Huh? Oh, I dropped it off of the balcony last night and after hittin’ the ground it ended up in the pool.”
Alex rolled his eyes. He wasn’t even surprised by these strange occurrences anymore. “Okay, well, you guys should go; you’ve got a date and there’s no reason to hang around – “
“But, I thought you wanted to check the software?” Brendan was confused by his older brother’s behavior; since when did Alex try to rush him off?
“I did, but I’m very busy right now and I – “
“Brendan, I thought we were gonna have to send out a search party, son!”
Alex dropped his head forward and he sighed as their father pushed past him and grabbed his younger brothers’ hand, shaking it enthusiastically. The man quickly ushered his youngest son inside the house after a very quick and brief introduction to Maria. “I’m sorry,” he apologized, shaking his head. “I had hoped to catch you guys before my parents realized you were here; it always turns into a nightmare when they’re around.”
“You don’t get along with your parents?” Maria asked, following him inside.
“They’re just a lot easier to deal with when there’s about 2,000 miles separating all of us.” He paused to turn and look at her. “It can get pretty ugly with them around, Maria, so if you’d rather leave and not deal with it, I can explain it to Brendan.”
“No, that’s not necessary.”
“Okay, just remember, I warned you.”
Maria gasped in awe when they reached the living room; the west-facing wall was built entirely of glass and thick, wooden beams, the room had a cathedral ceiling that gave it a very open feeling, and the ocean was so close it looked like she could just reach out and touch it. “Alex, your home is absolutely breathtaking,” she whispered.
“Thanks.” He grinned at her and introduced her to his parents, Hank and Maureen Guerin. He rolled his eyes when his father spent several minutes chatting with her out of politeness before turning his attention back to his favorite son. Brendan was the one being groomed to take over the family business when the old man retired; Alex had no interest in the business world and Michael was too headstrong and difficult. Their father had decided years earlier that neither of them would be acceptable as a replacement for him when that time came and they were more than fine with his decision. His mother was friendly and polite, carrying on a short conversation with Maria for several minutes before Hank insisted that she fix him a drink.
“Unless you want a glass of juice, tea, or a cup of coffee, you’re outta luck, Dad.” Alex shook his head. “I don’t have any alcohol in the house.”
Hank sighed in disgust and shook his head. “Then why don’t you run out and get a bottle of – “
“I’m not gonna go anywhere and fetch your alcohol.” His gray eyes flashed angrily as he faced off against his father. “You want alcohol, go out and get it yourself. And that doesn’t mean bring it back here, either. I don’t want it in my house.”
“How did I manage to raise three boys and have two of them turn out like you and that useless brother of yours?” He smiled as he patted Brendan on the shoulder. “Thank God I got one kid outta the bunch that has some sense in his head.”
“You’ve got four kids, Dad. I’ll go start a pot of coffee.” He turned and glanced at Maria. “You should’ve run when you had the chance.”
“Your mother can make the coffee and she can start dinner as well. Stop fussing like some old woman and let the women do what they do best.” He looked at Maria and snapped his fingers. “You, go and give her a hand, girl.”
Maria pulled back in surprise; it was no wonder she had never heard them speak of their parents. “Excuse me?” Her mother hadn’t raised her to cater to any man’s expectations and she certainly wasn’t going to start now.
Hank Guerin’s stern features flooded crimson at her response. He wasn’t a man used to people questioning him or disobeying him. Brendan suddenly stood up and placed a placating hand on his father’s arm.
“I’ve been havin’ some trouble with some stuff in my International Business class, Dad,” he said, drawing the man’s attention. “I can access my class materials online if Alex will let me use his computer.”
Alex waved him on. “Knock yourself out, kid.” He waited until they left the room and then he turned to look at Maria with a big grin on his face. “I really wish I’d had a camera just now because a picture of my old man a few seconds ago would’ve been priceless.”
“How is your father like that and you guys turned out to be so sweet?” Maria was bewildered by the differences between them.
He chuckled. “Well, there are some advantages to bein’ raised by nannies; we had a couple who were pretty cool and actually knew what to do with kids.”
“You don’t have any of your father’s attitudes buried inside, do you? Because Isabel isn’t gonna go for that ‘the woman should be in the kitchen’ bullshit anymore than I do.”
“Uh, no, but you’re a good friend for askin’ that question. I’m quite capable in the kitchen and as you’ll see here in a few minutes, my kitchen is fully stocked and well-used, and as I’m sure you’ve noticed, I don’t have any women livin’ in my house.” They walked into the kitchen and Maria looked over at the long bank of windows that lined the wall above the double sinks and the long counters on either side of them.
“You can see the ocean from everywhere in your house,” she said, looking out at the lighthouse in the distance.
“It is beautiful, Alexander,” Maureen admitted, her voice pleasant, yet timid.
Alex reached out to cover her hands when she started to chop some of the fresh vegetables she had collected from his refrigerator. “Ma, it’s not necessary for you to come to my house and spend the evening in the kitchen. Let me make dinner; you’re probably exhausted from the flight out here.”
“Your father likes things a certain way and he gets irritable if they’re not done in that way.”
“Irritable? Ma, please, let me take care of this and you go rest for a little while. If he has a problem with what I make or how I make it, he can go out to a restaurant somewhere. He’d probably prefer that anyway because then he could drink like a fish.”
“He’s just very stressed about work right now and it helps him to relax.” She smiled and patted his cheek as she looked up at him. “But, if it will make you feel better, I’ll let you handle dinner, sweetie.”
He nodded. “Thanks, Ma.” He waited until she left the room before he grabbed onto the edge of the counter and dropped his head to hang between his shoulders as he sighed raggedly. “Every damn time… she defends him every damn time. I don’t know why I let him get to me like this,” he muttered.
“Because you care,” Maria said quietly. “You’ve got a big heart and that can make it hard to deal with things sometimes.” She smiled. “But, y’know what’s good about that?”
Alex raised his head to look at her. “What’s that?”
“You’re exactly the kinda guy Iz needs.” She glanced around before holding her hands up. “Now, tell me what I can do to help with dinner.”
Double Trouble (CC, AU, Adult) - Part 8 - 2/19/09
Posted: Thu Feb 19, 2009 12:06 am
Hank is a piece of work – that’s not likely to change. You’re right about Michael not letting Hank’s behavior pass; had he been the one in the room, the scene would have gone differently. We’re glad you like Alex – he certainly had to grow up fast, and you won’t have long to wait to see things with him and Isabel begin to move forward. You can definitely expect another encounter soon!
Hmm… Maria didn’t ask about the third brother or the fourth child. Michael’s residence will be revealed soon.
It hasn’t been easy for Alex, but it’s made him the man he is.
Don’t feel bad – you’re rooting for the right team!
Alex will only get better as this fic goes on. As for Hank… well, there’s no possible way for him to be redeemed.
The Sushi Monster:
Michael is definitely what Maria needs, but don’t worry – Brendan won’t be forgotten… he’ll get his happy ending. We’re glad you love Alex, and you’ll be getting more of him and Isabel pretty soon. One of the boys will be making his first appearance in this next part.
It’s funny you should mention that…
You won’t have much longer to wait for that realization. Hank definitely has some issues where women are concerned, and that’s not his only problem. Maria isn’t the type of woman to just let a man walk all over her or boss her around.
Hank and Maureen certainly aren’t gonna win any parent of the year awards! The fourth child will be making an appearance in this next part. Alex is awesome and he won’t be backing down! More Alex and Isabel is on the way… not in this part, but soon, we promise!
Thanks, we’re glad you liked the video!
Link to our new vid – made by us: http://s359.photobucket.com/albums/oo31 ... eagain.flv
Part 8 – The Truth About Predators
They were just putting the finishing touches on dinner when the front door slammed shut and a teenage girl’s loud voice carried through to the kitchen. Maria glanced at Alex when he nudged Brendan, who had joined them when the scent of food had drawn him away from the computer. It suddenly occurred to her that Alex had mentioned four
children in their family and she had only met two of them. She looked over at their parents, sitting at the kitchen table as they discussed something in hushed tones.
“Michael, give them back,” the girl shouted, laughter evident in her voice.
“Never,” the male voice denied, also laughing. He entered the kitchen with his back to the room, hands held high above his head as he dodged the dark-haired girl hopping up and down in front of him as she tried to retrieve whatever he was holding hostage.
“Are the two of you completely incapable of behaving like civilized human beings?” Hank asked, his tone annoyed as he watched them.
Maria inhaled sharply when the guy turned around and she came face to face with… Brendan… only, it wasn’t Brendan, because he was standing right next to her. Her head turned back and forth in a comical manner as she looked from one of them to the other, trying to make sense of what she was seeing. Twins,
she thought, they were twins!
Brendan glanced at Alex when his brother nudged him and he took a deep breath before clearing his throat and touching Maria’s arm to get her attention. “Maria, this’s my brother Michael and our sister Brooke.”
“You’re twins,” she said and immediately felt stupid for pointing out the obvious. Her gaze moved over Michael, taking in the spiked hair, the tight black tee shirt with a huge print of the band name, ‘Metallica’ emblazoned in red across the front, and the faded, worn blue jeans. Her mind slid back to that first day of classes and she immediately discarded the thought that leapt into her mind. No way! It was impossible!
Brendan watched Michael warily, certain that he was just waiting for the slightest sign of weakness so that he could step in and take Maria away from him. He was pulled out of his musings when he realized that Brooke had crossed the room and she was hugging him, talking a mile a minute as she relayed the day’s activities.
Maria’s eyes followed Michael’s movements when he lowered his arms and she noticed that he had a small dog in each hand. Her eyebrows lifted in surprise when she noticed that the dogs had perfectly manicured and painted nails; pink nails on the tiny tan and white Chihuahua and black nails on the tiny black and tan Chihuahua.
“Give me my dogs,” Brooke demanded, as she joined Michael once more.
“We can take ‘em down to the pier and use ‘em for bait,” he teased.
The girl kissed each dog’s head and glared up at him. “You can’t use Spike or Buffy as bait.”
“With names like that, they deserve to be bait.” He laughed heartily and collared her with an arm around her neck, tugging her up against his side so he could drop a kiss on her head. “I’m not gonna use your rats as bait; all that yappin’ would scare the fish off.” He let her go and moved to stand at the counter facing Brendan and his girlfriend while Alex finished moving the serving dishes to the table. “So, Maria, is it?” His dark eyes gleamed with challenge as he held his hand out to her. He turned his gaze to his brother as he shook her hand and then released it. “Has Brendan showed you around Belmont Pier yet?”
Maria tried to read his expression as Brendan rushed to assure Michael that they had already been to the pier.
“Yeah? Did he tell you about the predators out there?” He reached up to scratch at the neck of his tee shirt and a moment later he tugged at something and lowered his hand. “You never know what you might see out there… might even see a shark.”
Her eyes widened in shock when she saw the shark tooth hanging from the necklace he wore. Oh my God, oh my God, oh my God!
Her mind was screaming at the realization that the feeling that she had been spending time with two different guys was being verified. Damn it! She had kissed Michael Guerin… and she had liked it! Now what? Would he say anything about it? There was no way he didn’t know that they had kissed!
Her thoughts suddenly changed from shock and confusion to fury. Bastard! He had known the whole time that she thought he was Brendan and he had never once corrected her. Poor Brendan, he would be so hurt if he knew! Wait, if he had told her that he had a twin this whole disaster could’ve been avoided!
Now she was mad at both of them, but she didn’t want to make a scene in front of their family.
“So, Brooke tells me you guys have an ulterior motive for visitin’,” Michael said as he finally broke eye contact with Maria and turned to look at his parents.
“Brooke, we asked you to keep your mouth shut until we’d had time to speak with Alexander,” Hank said. “This isn’t a conversation we had intended to have with the entire family present.” His eyes narrowed as he glanced at Maria. “Or with anyone else around.”
Alex sighed and motioned for everyone to settle down at the table, hoping to intervene before a war broke out between their father and Michael. “What’s goin’ on, Dad?”
“I’m taking over one of our branches in Munich; your mother will be going along with me, but we feel it would be best if Brooke remained Stateside.”
“Michael said I could stay with him,” Brooke spoke up enthusiastically from across the room. She was in the process of filling four tiny bowls with food and water for her pets.
“We have already been over this repeatedly,” Hank said harshly. “You are not staying with the most irresponsible of my offspring. I’m sure between him and that roommate of his, there’re promiscuous girls over there all the time and that environment is not what you need. You can’t stay with Brendan because he needs to have space to focus on his studies and you would only be an unwelcome distraction.”
“You don’t have to talk to her like that,” Michael snarled, standing up and leaning over the table with his fists braced on the surface. “Why d’you have to say shit like that? She’s sixteen fuckin’ years old, she’s got a bunch of sixteen-year-old friends who talk as much as she does, and she has two noisy little dogs, so of course she’s a distraction, but you make it sound like it’s too much work for her to be around.”
“Sit your irresponsible ass down and shut up,” Hank yelled. “I will not tolerate such disrespect from you!”
“Okay, that’s enough,” Alex snapped, pushing back in his chair. “This is my house, Dad, and you’re not allowed to come here and talk to any of us like this. I’ll be happy to have Brooke stay with me; it’s not an inconvenience and she can even bring her yappy little dogs – “ He was forced to stop speaking when she hugged him from behind, nearly choking him in the process. “But don’t expect me to tell Michael he can’t come over because he’s a bad influence or anything else because I’m not gonna do that. He and Brendan both have keys to the place and they’re both very responsible; they’re also adults and they deserve to be treated as such.”
“You’ve gotten quite a mouth on you since you’ve moved out west,” Hank said, shaking his head. “I’ve brought the paperwork for you to sign, giving you temporary guardianship over your sister. We’ll need to have it notarized – “
“When will you be leavin’ for Munich?” Michael interrupted.
“Next week. We have some things to settle back home, make arrangements for the house and grounds to be taken care of while we’re out of the country.” He turned the conversation back to Alex. “Since you’ve agreed to take your sister on, we’ll ship her things to you that way we won’t have to worry about making another trip out here.”
“Yeah, I’d hate to inconvenience you,” Brooke muttered, slouching down in the chair between Michael and Alex and crossing her arms over her chest.
Alex propped his elbows on the edge of the table and rested his chin on his hands for several minutes while he considered the best way to handle the situation before it got anymore out of control than it already was. He finally nodded to himself and sat back, rubbing his hands over his face. “Michael, why don’t you and Brooke take the dogs for a walk? And, Brendan, why don’t you and Maria see if you can salvage part of your evening, okay? I’ve got some things I need to talk to Mom an’ Dad about.”
Maria slammed the front door as hard as she could, ignoring Tess and Isabel as she stormed through the hallway and barged into Liz’s bedroom. She leaned around the brunette and closed the textbook the younger girl had been reading. “Did you know?” she demanded angrily.
Liz frowned and looked up at Maria. “Did I know what?”
“That Brendan has a twin brother!”
Maria’s eyes widened as she stared at Liz incredulously. “’Oh, Michael’? Seriously? That’s your response? Did it not occur to you to let me know that not only does Brendan have a twin brother but that he’s also attending the same college?”
Liz shook her head. “No, not really.”
She was going to choke Liz! She could probably get off on some sort of insanity plea.
“Well, we don’t hang out with Michael; he’s the kinda guy who gets into trouble or starts it, so we pretty much avoid him.”
Maria clenched her hands into fists in an effort to keep from wrapping her fingers around Liz’s throat. “Whether or not you hang out with him is irrelevant!” she shouted. “You do not let your friend date a guy who has a twin and just not warn her!”
Liz shook her head. “I don’t know what you’re so mad about; Brendan and Michael are as different as night and day. I would think it would be obvious – “
“Not having sex has obviously affected your ability to – “
“Okay, okay, let’s all go to our own corners and try to calm down,” Tess suggested, stepping between the two girls before Maria said something she would only regret later. Sure, they all gave Liz a hard time about not having sex, but it was always good-natured teasing. Maria was pissed off and if she continued she was going to say something that couldn’t be taken back.
Maria jerked her arm out of Tess’ grasp but she allowed the other girl to guide her out of Liz’s room.
“Let’s go to my room so you can vent.” It was the right choice because Maria was off and running as soon as the door closed behind them.
“He has a twin, Tess! An identical twin! I can’t believe it,” she muttered as she paced around the room. “I was starting to question my sanity as well as his!”
Tess sat down on the edge of her bed and her eyes followed Maria’s agitated pacing for several minutes. “So, the first day of class? Not Brendan?”
“No, that was Michael,” she ground out.
“Uh-huh.” Tess’ tone was speculative. “And that kiss last night? The one that was so hot you would’ve slept with him if he had stuck around? That wasn’t Brendan, was it?”
“No, it was his brother, Michael. He let me think he was Brendan and you should’ve seen the way that prick was smirking… talking about predators and sharks… Well, he should know all about them!”
Tess was lost but it didn’t matter; this was the Maria she was used to, the one that had been missing for months now. “You are soooo in denial!”
“Maria…” Tess shook her head and rolled her eyes. “Girl, given the opportunity you’d be all over him.”
“I would not!”
“Maybe you’d rather be under
him.” Her blue eyes sparkled mischievously and she nodded knowingly. “You sooo would! You said his name’s Michael, right? Uh-huh…” She started humming to herself, getting the rhythm just right before she started reciting her altered and graphic version of a children’s schoolyard poem in a sing songy voice. “Michael and Maria layin’ on the beach… f-u-c-k-i-n-g…”
Maria had to force her mind away from that image. “You’re perverted.”
“Like you wouldn’t do him if you had the chance.” Tess shook her head. “You must have forgotten how long we’ve known each other, Maria. And I saw that man on campus… hell, I’d give him a go, but he didn’t so much as look at me.”
“He’s not my type.”
“What? Not your type? Tall, sexy, huge hands, those dark eyes, and good God, what he can probably do with that mouth!”
“I’m already dating his brother.”
“Yeah, and if this was based on looks alone, I’d give you a free pass.” Tess sat up straighter. “It’s not about that though, is it? You are not the type of woman who could ever settle for less than everything, and you can deny it all you want, but Brendan… he’s not everything. He’s got the looks, but he doesn’t have what it takes to satisfy you; not intellectually, not physically, and sure as hell not sexually. You’re on completely different wavelengths and you have zero chemistry, Maria. There’s no compatibility there.”
Maria was not giving in. “Not yet.”
“Not ever.” Tess sighed. “When I got home last night you made it a point to keep me awake while you went over every moment of what was obviously a hot kiss – “
“Let’s go out,” Maria interrupted. “I don’t feel like sitting around the house all night.”
“Fine, hide away in your little world of denial. Okay.” Tess jumped up off of her bed and walked over to the closet. “We’ll go to the club Isabel and I found last night; enough alcohol and you’ll start to believe all that bullshit about how you’re not interested in Michael.” She leaned back out of the closet and grinned at Maria. “Or, maybe you’ll start to see reason, realize how long it’s been since you’ve been laid, and you’ll give him a call.”
“Hey, what’d Brendan say about not mentioning that he has a twin?”
“Brendan didn’t really have much to say on the subject; he was very quiet during the drive over here. There’s quite a bit of hostility between them, but I don’t know what the story is.”
“Hmmm. Well, I’m sure you’ll figure it out sooner or later. Go get ready, stop by Parker’s room and apologize for being bitchy, and tell her and Iz to get ready to go out.”
“I wasn’t being bitchy.”
“No? Because that’s what it looked and sounded like to me. Between Liz maintaining her death grip on her virginity, and you and Isabel not having sex for whatever reasons, you guys are killing me!”
“I don’t know why,” Maria called over her shoulder as she opened the door, “you’re probably having enough sex for all of us.”
Both girls laughed at the insults being hurled back and forth, neither of them meaning them with any intention of harm. They were going to go out and forget their problems with men for the night and that was the important thing here.
Kyle Valenti was slouched down in the recliner, his attention divided between the football game on TV and the bikini-clad women playing volleyball on the beach nearby. The sun was setting, its golden light reflecting off of their glistening, tanned skin, and he was thinking about going out to join them when the front door opened and slammed shut seconds later.
His roommate looked mad enough to take somebody’s head off – which was great out on the field, but not so great when the only thing for Michael to focus his anger on was him. Kyle’s sense of self-preservation forced him to ignore the obvious and try to redirect that anger before it got out of hand.
“Hey, let’s go get a beer.” He stood and switched the TV off. “C’mon, it’s Saturday night and you know what that means.” He frowned when Michael continued to stomp around the apartment. “Wet tee shirt contest…” Even that didn’t get his roommate’s attention and he wondered what Hank Guerin had said or done to put him in this mood.
Under normal circumstances he would’ve just grabbed Michael’s arm and dragged him out of the apartment, but in this mood Kyle knew better than to touch him. He had known him since their sophomore year in high school and they had quickly become best friends; he knew what Michael’s relationship with his father was like and he knew his friend well enough to know that he was gonna be pissed off until he could bury the incident and forget it.
The sound of someone knocking on the front door gave him a momentary reprieve and he moved to answer it. He stepped back as soon as he recognized Michael’s older brother waiting on the other side. “I hope you brought somethin’ to calm the beast.”
“You wanna give me a couple minutes with him?”
Kyle nodded. “Sure. We were just talkin’ about goin’ to the bar; I’ll go get ready while you try to calm him down.”
Alex looked around as he walked through to his brother’s bedroom, chuckling to himself at the thought that the cleaning woman who came in a couple of times a week certainly earned her paycheck. The guys weren’t complete slobs, but their apartment definitely made it known that they were young, single guys. He knocked on the doorframe as he walked into Michael’s room, dropping down to sit in the chair at his desk so he could watch his younger brother pace around restlessly.
“You wanna talk about it?” he asked, already knowing the answer.
“Nothin’ to talk about,” Michael muttered. “Where’s the brat?”
“Brooke’s spendin’ the evenin’ with Mom, and Dad went over to see Brendan.”
“I didn’t mean to leave you hangin’, but I couldn’t stay there any longer, Alex.”
“Don’t worry ‘bout it.” He shook his head and leaned back in the chair. “I don’t like the way that it went down, but hell, if it gets Brooke out of that environment…” He rubbed his hands over his face and stared at the younger man. “You gonna be okay?”
Michael shrugged. “I’m fine. I don’t give a fuck what he thinks or says about me, Alex. I just don’t understand why he’s gotta talk to Brooke like that.”
“There’s nothin’ to understand. He’s a jerk and he treats us like we don’t matter; Brooke has the disadvantage of bein’ a girl and unfortunately, that means she’s of no use to him. Look, don’t get caught up in tryin’ to figure it out, Michael. She’s gonna live with me for the next year and if they do come back at the end of his time in Munich…” He shrugged. “I’ll sue for custody. I don’t know if I’d even have a chance in hell of winnin’, but I’ll do it. But, this is where you come in because I’m gonna need your help to keep her in line; if it looks like I can’t handle her, any chance I do have will be gone.”
“You’d do that?”
“Yeah, but I’m serious about you helpin’ me. She listens to you better than she does anyone else.” No one knew why the teenager actually listened to Michael, but he was the one she gravitated towards and he was the one she was most likely to take advice from. They had a good, strong relationship that no one had ever been able to understand, but it worked for them.
“Okay. You’re really gonna let her bring those damn dogs too, huh?”
“Yeah, like you’ve got any room to give me shit about that.” Alex stood up and stretched. “C’mon, this could very well be my last night as a free man for a while, so let’s go out.”
Double Trouble (CC, AU, Adult) - Part 9 - 2/26/09
Posted: Thu Feb 26, 2009 1:15 am
Alien_Friend: Brooke is lucky to have these guys for brothers. As for Alex, he’s awesome, there’s just no way around it! He’s overcome some rather large obstacles and he chose to take the high road. We’re glad you like the bond Michael and Brooke have – expect to see more of it as the story progresses. Kyle’s a great guy and we think he’ll be well-liked! The fact that he and Michael are best friends and Tess and Maria are best friends is definitely going to make things interesting! LOL, we’re glad you enjoyed our little… poem.
Buddha-boy: Michael may have deserved Maria’s immediate wrath, but since his parents were there as well… maybe not just yet. Michael is a complex individual and he has many sides to his personality – we’re just beginning to scratch the surface with him. LOL, it never even occurred to Liz to warn Maria about Brendan’s twin.
mary mary: The ability to overcome such a childhood takes a lot of strength and determination – the Guerin kids have these traits in spades!
destinyc: You’ll see more of the guys’ protective behavior! There’s a deeper story behind Brendan’s choice to not mention his twin.
begonia9508: Hank is a real piece of work, but leaving Brooke with Alex was really the best thing that he could’ve done for her. These boys are gonna make life interesting!
tequathisy: The antagonism between Michael and Brendan is something that will be explored as we move through the story.
April: We’re glad you liked our little poem! Stay tuned!
chanks_girl: We love your summary of the Michael/Maria meeting! Your summary of Hank’s treatment of the boys is right on target – as far as Hank is concerned he only has one child that is even worth his time. You think they’ll meet up at the bar, huh? Well, you might be right about that!
Part 9 – The Art of Denial
Maria, Tess, and Isabel were out on the dance floor, soaking up the energy that was so heavy in the atmosphere while Liz held the table for them and watched over their drinks. She glanced up when Isabel joined her, reaching for her glass and taking a drink before turning to hurry back out onto the dance floor. She froze when she came face to face with the man she had been thinking about more than she had intended to lately.
“It’s gotta be a good thing that you remembered my name, right?” he asked, his gray eyes sparkling as he smiled at her.
“Well, lucky for you, those shelves are still on the wall.”
“You’re beautiful.” His tone was sincere and his gaze appreciative as it moved over her without being offensive.
“Thank you.” She blushed and looked up at him. “Do you dance?”
“I actually do better with formal dancin’, but for you, I’ll give it a try.”
Tess poked Maria to get her attention, pointing at Isabel as soon as she had it. “Did you know he was gonna be here tonight?” she asked loudly to be heard above the music.
“No.” She looked around when she felt the hairs on the back of her neck standing up. He was here. She could feel it.
“What’s wrong with you?” Tess asked.
“Nothing.” Her gaze swept through the room once more, not seeing him, but certain that he was there.
“Oh, my God! Maria, I’m about to ditch you because I just found the main course on tonight’s menu.”
“Where?” She turned to follow Tess’ pointing finger, checking out the dark-haired guy leaning on the bar. He was a couple inches under six feet and his eyes were roaming over every woman in the immediate vicinity as he flirted shamelessly with them.
“I’ll check with you before I leave.”
Maria rolled her eyes as her friend took off in pursuit of entertainment for the evening and she turned to go back to their table. She changed her mind and switched directions, heading for the bar to order a fresh drink. She leaned on the counter and called her order out to the bartender when he nodded in question and before long her body was moving with the beat of the music.
That feeling of being watched came over her again and she glanced over her shoulder, expecting to see Michael Guerin’s smirking face. She shook her head when he didn’t materialize in front of her, wondering if she had finally lost her mind. He was getting to her, driving her crazy, making her feel as if he were watching her when he wasn’t even there. She turned back to the counter and jumped, startled when she saw Michael leaning against the bar beside her, his intense gaze burning into her.
She was tempted to give in to the urge to become physically violent with him, or at the very least, give him hell for pretending to be his twin, but that would only feed his ego and she refused to give him the satisfaction. “I hope you’re not intending to pass yourself off as Brendan because I won’t fall for it again.”
“No need to…” His gaze slid over her and his lips turned up in a knowing grin. “I know what you want now.”
“Then why’re you still here?”
Michael just shook his head as he watched her do everything in her power to ignore him. Uh-huh, that wasn’t gonna work, he thought arrogantly. “Shouldn’t you be hittin’ the books with Brendan?” Her head immediately turned so that she was facing him once more. Yeah, that was more like it.
Maria glared at him as she waited for her drink from the bartender. “Y’know, I don’t know what your problem is, but it’d be great if you could go bother someone else.”
“I bother you, huh?” he asked, smirking because he already knew the answer.
His smirk was not sexy! She wondered how many times she’d have to repeat that before she started to believe it. “Yeah, you do, and not in a good way.”
He took a long drink from the bottle in his hand as he studied her, his eyes slowly assessing her because he knew it was pissing her off. “Why’re you datin’ him?”
“Brendan… why’re you with him? You’re not his type and he’s sure as hell not your type.”
“Because you know what my type is?” She rolled her eyes and turned back to face the bartender when he set her glass on the counter. She picked up the glass, closed her eyes and made a wish for him to go away, then took a long drink. So much for the power of wishing, she thought when she turned her head and saw that he was still standing there. “You don’t know anything about me, so you can’t possibly know what my type is.” Why had she said that? She was just encouraging further conversation with him by throwing such a challenging statement out there.
“No?” He chuckled and motioned for the bartender to bring him another beer. “You’re a woman who likes a challenge and while Brendan can be challenging, he’s not the kinda challenge you’re lookin’ for. You want a guy who’s interested in what you do and can at the very least carry on an intelligent conversation about it.”
“Brendan is very intelligent.”
“Not disputin’ that,” he corrected. “Just sayin’ that you want a guy who has an interest in what you do; your eyes were startin’ to glaze over durin’ dinner when the conversation turned to the rather mind-numbin’ topic of business and as I recall, Brendan had no idea you were bored out of your skull.”
“He was talking to your father – “
“Does he even know what your interests are?”
“We’ve only been seeing each other for a week.”
His right eyebrow lifted at her defensive tone. “So, you’ve told him but the information didn’t really attach itself to his brain.” He shrugged. “Really not that unusual where he’s concerned; if it’s not related to his studies or kissin’ my father’s ass he has a difficult time rememberin’ stuff.”
Maria narrowed her eyes as she tried to decipher his tone. She couldn’t tell if he was insulting his brother or defending him. Maybe it was both? “Are we finished with your less than accurate knowledge of what I’m looking for in a man?”
He took a drink from his bottle. “You never did answer my question.”
“I wasn’t aware that you had one.”
“What’re you doin’ here while Brendan’s at home hittin’ the books?” He smirked knowingly and leaned in closer to her. “You wanted to know if I was finished… well, one more thing and I’ll go away. You want a man who gets you hot whether he’s kissin’ you, lookin’ at you, or just talkin’ to you…”
Maria’s heart was pounding so hard and he was leaning in so close that she was sure he could feel it too. She knew her skin was flushed and it wasn’t helping that she could feel every single heated breath against her lips as he exhaled.
“You two need anything else?”
She wasn’t sure whether she was happy or not that the bartender had spoken and ruined the moment. She glanced at her empty glass but before she could open her mouth to make a request, her unwanted companion ordered for her.
“She’ll have a Slow Comfortable Screw,” he said, his eyes locked on her as if he were daring her to refuse.
“And for you, sir?”
Maria’s eyes flashed as she glared at him, but she refused to back down or be bested by him. “He’ll have a Swift Kick in the Balls.”
Michael took a step back as if the very words themselves could endanger his more sensitive body parts. “Actually, I’ll just have A Piece of Ass,” he said before the bartender could start on the wrong drink… wrong for so many reasons.
“Well, you got the ass part right,” Maria muttered.
As soon as his drink was ready, Michael paid his tab and turned to scan the room. “I know it sucks for you, but I’ve gotta go.”
“By all means, don’t let me keep you from tracking down the easiest woman in the place.”
Michael snorted at that. “The point isn’t findin’ the easiest woman to nail,” he argued. “The point is findin’ the hottest willin’ woman before my roommate finds her, and since he’s been talkin’ to that hot little blond for longer than it takes to get her phone number, he’s already ahead of me tonight.”
Maria stared after him and her eyes widened in shock when he crossed the room to talk to the guy Tess had been monopolizing for quite some time now. Oh, no, it wasn’t even possible! God, fate, the universe… surely none of them would be so cruel? “Apparently they would,” she grumbled when they slapped each other on the back in that universal greeting that all guys shared. Great… just great!
Alex led Isabel off of the dance floor and they walked to the table where Maria and Liz were sitting. “Hey, Liz, where’s Sean tonight?” he asked as he pulled a chair out for Isabel.
“He has a study group tonight.” She smiled. “We’re gonna go to a movie when he finishes up with them.” She shook her head when the waitress stopped at the table and asked if they needed anything.
“I’ll have an orange soda,” Alex said after Isabel asked for a glass of water with lemon. He glanced up when his brother joined them, grabbing a chair from a nearby table and plunking it down next to Maria.
“How’s that Slow Screw holdin’ out?” he asked, flipping the chair around and straddling it. He crossed his arms on the back of the chair and leaned towards her, waiting for her answer.
Maria glanced at the half-empty glass before turning her head to look at him. “Well, it’s been half an hour and it’s still satisfying, so I’m guessing that means it lasts longer than you do.”
“Ouch!” Alex couldn’t help but laugh at his younger brother’s shocked expression when his sexual performance was called into question and it only got worse when Michael glared at him. “I’m sorry, kid, but you walked right into that one.”
Michael decided to ignore his brother in favor of focusing on his tormentor. “You can’t judge my performance based on your experiences with Brendan.” He felt vindicated when she choked on her drink and he rested his chin on his crossed arms as he waited patiently for her to respond, dark eyes gleaming with interest as he watched her.
Alex took a drink of his orange soda when the waitress set the glasses on the table, his gray gaze bouncing back and forth between Michael and Brendan’s girlfriend. There was an undeniable heat between them; he had noticed it at dinner but he had been preoccupied with his parents. He wondered if he needed to pull his brother aside and have a word with him to remind him that Maria was dating their brother. It might not hurt to remind Maria as well, he thought before turning his attention back to Isabel.
Maria frowned as she looked at Michael again and she shook her head when his lips twisted upwards in the now-familiar smirk. “Find an easy lay yet? Or did you just hook up in one of the bathroom stalls for a quickie like the completely tacky, raunchy horn dog that you are?” She made a point of glancing at her watch. “That would explain why you’re back over here so soon.”
“Guess that rules out judgin’ my performance based on Brendan’s because he’d never stoop as low as a quick bump an’ grind in a public bathroom.” He leaned in next to her, tipping the chair forward on two legs to get close enough to speak without being overheard by the others at their table. “Bet you’d be willin’ to lower your standards though… with the right guy… a guy who gets you hot with just a look… so hot you couldn’t wait to get back home.”
She braced her hand on his shoulder and shoved him backwards, standing up and moving past him. She froze and looked down at him when he grabbed her wrist, preventing her from leaving. “You let me go or that Swift Kick in the Balls won’t be just a drink,” she growled in warning.
Michael leaned back and looked up at her where she was looming over him, enjoying the furious look in her green eyes. His lazy gaze wandered over her breasts, which happened to be at eye level courtesy of his position, and he grinned up at her. “Stick around and I’ll show you what a Slow Comfortable Screw really is.”
“You know that I’m dating your brother so why are you acting like this?”
“Who says I’m actin’?”
Maria leaned down over his shoulder, forcing him to lean further back to maintain eye contact. “I don’t really care one way or the other, Michael; I just want you to stop coming onto me.”
He stared into her eyes for several long seconds before shaking his head in denial. “No, you don’t.”
Maria shook his hand off and continued on her way, completely missing it when he leaned even further back to watch her and lost his balance, falling out of his chair and landing on the floor.
Tess was in the middle of kissing Kyle when she felt a rather insistent finger poking her right shoulder. She tried shrugging it off several times, but the annoying action continued until she just couldn’t ignore it any longer. She broke the kiss and smiled up at Kyle apologetically before turning to glare at the intruder.
“Maria! I’m kinda busy here, if you don’t mind.”
“Actually, I do mind, Tess.” She grabbed the other girl’s arm and pulled her along as she walked past Michael’s roommate.
“I’ll be right back, Kyle!” Tess called over her shoulder. She wrinkled her nose in disgust when Maria dragged her into the ladies’ room, rushed out the two occupants, and locked the door behind them. “Have you lost your mind?”
“That guy you’re with – “
“Kyle? Yeah, he’s hot, huh? He’s the quarterback for our football team and based on the way he kisses, he’s gonna be an animal in bed.”
“You can’t sleep with him.”
Tess’ blue eyes widened in surprise and a moment later she started laughing. “Okay, that was a good one, Maria. You totally had that whole sincere thing going on!”
Maria shook her head and narrowed her eyes in irritation. “I’m not joking, Tess! You can’t sleep with him. I… I forbid it.”
“You forbid it? What’re you, my mother? You can’t forbid me to have sex!”
“I’m not forbidding you to have sex; I’m just saying you can’t have sex with him.” Maria waved her arms wildly as she paced in the confined space of the small room. “Pick another guy, but you absolutely cannot sleep with him.”
“Okay, let’s just calm down here and discuss this rationally.” She paused to take several deep breaths, intending to speak calmly. “What the fuck do you mean I can’t sleep with him?!” she yelled, losing the battle for rational and calm.
“I mean, he’s Michael’s roommate – “
“So, I should be punished because you’re saddled with Brendan and you’d much rather be taking Michael for a ride? Um, sorry, Maria, but friendship only goes so far.”
“Tess, I’m serious.”
“I know, and that’s what scares me! How can you ask me to not have sex? Especially when I’ve spent the past hour making out with him, getting all worked up… getting him all worked up… and now you want me to go back out there and tell him he’s not getting laid tonight? That’s just cold, girl!”
“I doubt it’ll be the first time he’s jerked off.” Maria’s tone was unsympathetic.
“Soooo not the point!” Tess sighed when she saw her best friend’s expression. “What’s going on, Maria? Why does it matter that he’s Michael’s roommate? You’re dating Brendan…” She trailed off and nodded. “I’m right, aren’t I? You don’t wanna be around Michael because you want him; he’s got the whole bad boy image going on and he pisses you off and gets you hot all at the same time.”
“I’m not denying that he’s got the bad boy vibe.”
“Huh-uh, girl, admit it.”
“Fine, if I wasn’t with Brendan, then yes, I’d probably sleep with Michael.” She rolled her eyes when Tess just looked at her. “Alright, I would sleep with him. But, I’m serious about changing the way I’ve been living my life and the choices I’ve been making… and I can’t be around him. If you hook up with his roommate then it only stands to reason that Michael and I would run into each other more than we would if you’re not involved with him.”
“Okay, but I wasn’t intending to get into a relationship, Maria, I just wanted to sleep with him.” She sighed. The things she was willing to do for a friend! Her devious little mind quickly began to formulate a plan because she was not letting Kyle Valenti get away. “Alright, but I am gonna go to his games and his practices so I can drool from afar, and you’re gonna go with me. If I have to suffer, you’re gonna suffer with me.”
“Fine, if that means I can avoid Michael, then I’ll go to the stupid games.”
Maria nodded in agreement. “Done.” She hugged the other girl, relieved that she had agreed. “Thanks, Tess.”
“Sure, but if I turn into psycho-bitch because I’m not getting laid tonight I don’t wanna hear a single complaint from you.” She smiled and motioned at the room around them. “Can we go now? There’s no telling what we could catch just from standing here.” She followed Maria out of the room, mentally going over what she was going to say to Kyle. Somehow, “Kyle, we’re not having sex tonight because my best friend is having some sort of mental breakdown and to prevent that I promised that I would not have sex with you” probably wasn’t going to be an acceptable explanation.
Double Trouble (CC, AU, Adult) - Part 10 - 3/05/09
Posted: Thu Mar 05, 2009 6:06 am
Alien_Friend: LOL, do you really think Tess gave up sex? Tess is a good friend and she will be instrumental in pushing our difficult duo together. Brendan is oblivious to many things, but he’s far from being blind. Alex will have his say at some point.
begonia9508: Tess knows how to work the rules to her advantage.
mary mary: You’d be surprised!
destinyc: Michael won’t be deterred in his pursuit! Denied… ya think? Really?
killjoy: First, let us just say that bad boys are not just limited to a single type and not all women are attracted to them – that’s definitely not the message we’re trying to send here. Finding a guy that is capable of being both the bad boy and the nice guy is a rare find, but that’s what Maria’s looking for. Michael and Maria are beautifully flawed and the fact is that people rarely see what is right in front of them.
Tess knows her best friend well enough to know that what she’s looking for won’t be found with Brendan; he’s not Maria’s type, but most importantly, she knows that Maria is only fooling herself by thinking that she can alter her preferences just because it is a safer path.
We’re glad you like the Kyle/Tess stuff – you can look for more in future parts.
chanks_girl: Too bad we can’t grant your wish! Look for more Alex/Isabel interaction in this next part.
Pissing each other off is something that Michael and Maria excel at – and they will continue to antagonize each other.
LOL… it is unbelievable!
sarammlover: Brendan’s personality will slowly begin to reveal itself more as we move through the fic – it’s not that he’s lacking personality so much as he hasn’t reached a level where his confidence is showing through.
Author’s Note: Hey, just a quick note to let everyone – and especially you Dreamers out there who are following Double Trouble – Max will be joining the cast very soon. We have about four more parts before Mr. Evans makes his entrance!
Part 10 – The Undeniable Charm of the Guerin Brothers
Isabel smiled at Alex when he opened the passengers’ side door of his truck for her so she could slide into the comfortable leather seat. He shut the door and she watched him as he walked around to climb in on the other side. He was so different from Logan but she was slowly coming to the realization that she liked that about him. She had agreed when he asked her if she needed a ride home, not having a single second thought about whether or not she could trust him.
“So, how many brothers do you have?” she asked as they pulled out onto the street.
“Just the twins, Michael and Brendan, and I also have a 16-year-old sister, Brooke.” He glanced at her. “What about you?”
“Just me, no brothers or sisters.”
They talked for a while, conversing about things of little consequence and getting to know each other better. Hundreds of red taillights lit up the road ahead and Alex applied the brakes as they came closer to the gridlocked traffic. He turned the volume up on the stereo, scanning through the preset stations until he located one reciting the traffic report and the accident that had shut the freeway down.
“Looks like we’re gonna be sittin’ for a while,” he said with an apologetic smile.
“At least we’re in good company, right? So, I was wondering why you haven’t asked me out again.”
Alex shifted the truck into park and slouched down into a more relaxed position. “To be honest, when I saw you at the club tonight I was really hopin’ that I’d ask you out and you’d say yes. But, now that I’ve had time to think about it, that might not be such a great idea because I’m not the kinda guy who does casual and my life’s about to get complicated.”
Isabel shifted in her seat so that she could look at him directly as he talked. “I don’t do casual either,” she admitted, and suddenly she found herself telling him about her relationship with Logan.
“He’s a fool,” Alex said when she had finished. He leaned over and gently brushed away the few tears that had escaped to trail down her cheeks. “You deserve a guy who appreciates what he’s got with you in his life.” He shook his head. “You dodged a bullet with Logan.”
She reached out to take his hand when he lowered it from her cheek, holding it between both of hers as she searched his features. “Why’s your life about to get complicated?”
“I signed on as my sister’s legal guardian earlier this evening; she’s gonna be livin’ with me while my parents are overseas.”
“Is she like you?”
Alex rolled his eyes and dropped his head back to rest against the seat. “Uh, no, that would be way too easy.” He chuckled. “She’s just like Michael, so I’m expecting things to be interesting with her around.”
“That’s a huge responsibility, taking on your sister full time like that.”
“Well, I’m not even gonna try to gloss it over and lie about it, she’s a handful and I’m sure there’re gonna be times when I’d like to strangle her, but… she’s my little sister, y’know? They would’ve sent her to a boardin’ school somewhere if I had said no, and she wouldn’t do well with that.”
“Why didn’t they just take her with them?”
“My parents are… different. My father didn’t want a girl and he rarely has any interaction with Brooke; the bad thing is that she’s the one who’s getting hurt by it. Bringin’ her here was just a matter of findin’ someone to dump her on so they wouldn’t have to deal with her while they’re out of the country.”
“How long will they be gone?”
“A year, possibly longer, depending on how the job goes. If they come back before she’s 18 I intend to file for custody.” He shook his head. “I don’t want her to go back into that situation if there’s any way to prevent it. Tonight’s the last night that she’ll see them for however long they’re gonna be gone and my old man spent the evening over at Brendan’s goin’ over his business courses and discussin’ his future with the company.”
“Brendan’s the favorite?” she guessed.
“You picked up on that pretty quickly and you’ve never even met my old man.”
“Well, you seem to know what you want and from the way you’ve described your father I can’t imagine you working with him. Your brother Michael didn’t strike me as someone who would be interested in catering to anyone, especially an authority figure, so your father most likely doesn’t get along with him and vice versa. You said your father never wanted a girl and she’s most like Michael, so that would rule her out. That leaves Brendan; he’s intelligent, well-mannered, he’s studying for a degree in business, and you said your father spent the evening with him.”
“That’s a pretty accurate profile. You studyin’ for a career in the FBI?”
Isabel laughed and shook her head. “No, something even more difficult… I wanna be a teacher.”
“Not a high school teacher, I hope?”
“You don’t think I could teach at a high school level?”
He grinned at her offended tone. “Not at all, I just don’t think you’d have much luck with the teenage boys because they wouldn’t be payin’ a bit of attention to the lessons and you’d be outta luck with the girls because they’d all be mad because their boyfriends have it bad for their teacher.”
“I wanna teach elementary school so I think I’ll be able to avoid those problems.” She looked down for a few seconds, studying his hand where it was now holding hers. “So, are you gonna ask me out again?”
Alex unbuckled his seatbelt and shifted closer to her, reaching out with his free hand to cup her chin and lift her gaze to his. “Can you deal with the complications of havin’ a teenager around, disruptin’ things and quite possibly leadin’ to me cancellin’ dates at the last minute? Because it’s completely possible that it’s gonna happen; she’s gonna do somethin’ to get into trouble and I’m gonna end up stayin’ home with her or she’s gonna be grounded...”
“So, on those nights we rent a movie and stay in.” The fingertips of her right hand stroked along his jaw as she leaned in closer to him, her dark eyes locked on his as she kissed him. “I know you’ve got school, work, and now your sister to look after, but if you’re still interested – “
He cut her off when he heard the doubt in her tone, pulling her closer and wrapping his arms around her as he deepened the kiss, hoping to erase any doubts she had.
Sean opened the front door to the apartment he shared with Brendan, carefully balancing his laptop, backpack, and a sack of takeout from a local restaurant as he used his shoulder to shut the door behind him. His roommate had been absent quite a bit the past few days, but they had run into each other in between classes that afternoon so he knew that Brendan was planning to be home.
He set dinner on the counter in the kitchen and then carried the rest of his stuff back to his bedroom. He hurried to take a quick shower so he could eat and hopefully talk to Brendan before hitting the books to study for the quiz he knew was coming the next day in his Algebra class.
It was Thursday night and he was still waiting for the right opportunity to present itself so that he could tell Brendan that his brother was putting the moves on his girlfriend. He still wasn’t sure how exactly he was supposed to share that information, but Liz had insisted that he couldn’t have such knowledge and not pass it along to his roommate.
He was pulling a couple of plates down so he could divide the food up between them when he heard Brendan enter the apartment. He called out to let him know that dinner was ready if he was hungry and almost hoped that for once Brendan wouldn’t be hungry. He set the plates on the small breakfast table and was on his way back to the kitchen for something to drink when his roommate joined him.
“What’s for dinner?” Brendan asked, poking around in the empty bags.
“I stopped at that restaurant over on Monterey and picked up a couple of meals. Steak, baked potato, and vegetables, or there’s meatloaf, mashed potatoes, and vegetables.”
“Which one’s got the broccoli?”
“The meatloaf dinner; the steak dinner’s got carrots and corn, I think.”
“I’ll take the meatloaf if you’ll trade vegetables.”
Sean shrugged. “Okay.” He pulled a bottle of water out for himself and pulled one of the bottles of chocolate milk out for Brendan. The entire second shelf in the refrigerator was full of bottled drinks – half water and half chocolate milk, his half and Brendan’s half. He paused at the dry erase board on the wall between the kitchen and dining area and scribbled out a couple of items that he had noticed they were low on before continuing on to the table.
“How’d you do on that pop quiz today?”
Brendan shook his head as he concentrated on slathering butter on the roll in his left hand. “Not as well as I wanted to do. I stayed out too late last night.”
“Yeah, you’ve been gone a lot this week.” Sean sat down and scooted up closer to the table. “Things are goin’ well with Maria?”
Sean turned his attention to his steak, well aware that it was a waste of time to try to carry a conversation with Brendan while food was in close proximity. It wasn’t a topic he was in any hurry to get to anyway.
“You didn’t happen to get any of that chocolate butter cream cake, did you?”
“Yeah, I got a couple slices for you; they’re in the fridge.” He shook his head when Brendan retrieved a thick slide of the cake and another bottle of chocolate milk; his roommate ate more chocolate than anyone he had ever known. “So, Brendan, things are progressing pretty well with Maria?”
“And you um… you really like her a lot?” God, he felt so stupid asking questions that sounded juvenile to his own ears!
Brendan straightened up and looked at Sean curiously. “Well, I wouldn’t have asked her out if I didn’t like her,” he said as if it should have been obvious.
“Brendan, there’s something we need to talk about before I leave,” Hank says as he moves around the living room of his son’s apartment. “I’ve been loathe to bring this up because the last thing I would ever want to do is hurt you, but I think it’s time you know the truth about your brother.”
Brendan watches his father, unsure if he wants to know what is about to be revealed. “I don’t understand.”
“I’m concerned about this girl you’re dating, son. Perhaps you didn’t notice the way she and your brother were – “
“Dad, Maria’s not like that! And I know Michael and I don’t get along very well, but I don’t think he’d really go after – “
“You do realize that he’s the reason Karen broke up with you, don’t you? Your brother was seeing her behind your back and she left you out of guilt.”
“I don’t believe that. Karen never would’ve done that and Michael never had any interest in her.”
“His only interest was in coming between the two of you and destroying your relationship. I want you to be aware of what he’s capable of because if you let yourself get involved with that girl and your brother repeats his past behavior it’ll disrupt your studies and you don’t want that.” Hank sighs as he reaches out to put a sympathetic hand on his son’s shoulder. “Listen, boy, I know you were planning to ask that girl to marry you and she could’ve been good for you, but she chose to sneak around behind your back and cheat on you with that worthless brother of yours. I don’t want to see you go through that again.”
“Yeah, right. Well, the thing is…” Sean shifted uncomfortably and scratched his chin. “The thing is that Liz went out with the girls last Saturday night and your brother and his roommate showed up at the club they went to.”
“Ooookay,” Brendan said slowly, already not liking the direction the conversation was taking.
“Anyway, Liz seems pretty certain that Michael was flirtin’ with Maria. I wanted to let you know as soon as possible but it’s been hard to get you alone long enough to say more than a couple words this week.”
“So, Liz actually saw him hittin’ on her?”
“Yeah. I’m sorry, Brendan; I didn’t wanna be the one to tell you, but – “
“No, it’s fine, Sean. I mean, better to know what’s goin’ on, right? I’d hate to get caught completely unaware like last time.” His father had warned him to watch out for Michael when he had stopped by the apartment the weekend before, revealing something even he had never considered his brother of being capable of doing.
Brendan pulled himself out of his thoughts and took another bite of his chocolate cake. It still didn’t make any sense to him why Michael would’ve made a move on Karen, and even more importantly, it didn’t make any sense why she would’ve accepted his brother’s advances. But, his father had no reason to lie to him and Michael did have a certain… reputation.
“I really am sorry, Brendan.”
“It’s okay, Sean, don’t worry about it. I’ll just talk to Maria about it tomorrow night; we’re goin’ to that beach party everyone’s been talkin’ about at school.” He had no idea how he was gonna bring that subject up, but it wasn’t one that he could exactly ignore.
Maria was walking across the parking lot the next afternoon, doing her best to dodge Tess when her path was cut off by a familiar blue car.
“Tryin’ to avoid me?” Tess asked, shifting into park and hopping up to lean on the windshield. The top was down on the convertible Mustang and she had changed into a pair of shorts and a tank top. “Daddy had the car delivered today.” She grinned playfully. “I told you he’d give in before I did.”
“Uh-huh, you sound surprised and excited to see me, but we both know you’re not. Get your ass in this car and go with me to Kyle’s football practice! He has a game tomorrow and they need all the support they can get.” Her blue eyes flashed in warning. “You promised, Maria.”
“Fine.” Maria dumped her stuff into the backseat and slid in next to Tess. “I’ve been really busy.”
“You are sooo lying! You’ve been avoiding me all week long. Even if you don’t like football, you have to appreciate all those big, sweaty, male bodies running around out on the field.”
“Well, yes, of course I have a great appreciation for the male physique, but – “
“But, nothing!” She shook her head as she parked in the parking lot of the stadium. “C’mon, you’ll forget all about it as soon as you get a look at all those rippling muscles and cute little butts.”
Maria followed her through the gate and up the concrete steps into the stands, not surprised that Tess cut through the bleachers and moved down to get as close to the field as possible. “Damn, Tess, any closer and they’ll be sweating on us!” she complained.
“Well, if you had left me alone on Saturday I would’ve already experienced Kyle Valenti’s sweaty body firsthand. However, you ruined that…”
“Okay, I do not need to know anything about Kyle, his sweaty body, or what you’d like to do with him, Tess.” Maria made a face and shuddered.
“So, this would be a bad time to state my position on oral sex and debate whether or not it actually qualifies as ‘having sex’?”
“Thanks, Tess, because I needed that image in my head.” She wasn’t surprised; she had seen Tess with the football player and she had known that her best friend wouldn’t be able to stay away from him for long.
Tess laughed and leaned back on her elbows as she watched the practice game being played on the field. The guys had been divided up into two teams to run the plays and she whistled and sat up straighter to wave at the quarterback when he jogged to the sidelines to get a drink.
Kyle grinned when he saw the little blue-eyed blond sitting in the bleachers and he nodded in question when he noticed her friend with her. Her nod of confirmation had him grinning even bigger and he raised his cup in a triumphant toast before downing the sports drink and grabbing his helmet as he ran back out on the field.
He didn’t understand women or what made them do the things they did, so he had been really confused about why his status as Michael’s roommate was preventing him from getting laid. Tess had explained it, but he had only been more confused after that, and even a consultation with Buddha hadn’t given him any clarification. All he knew was that Tess intrigued him like no other woman ever had and she had assured him that they would have sex just as soon as they could get Michael and Maria to be friendly towards each other. Hell, how hard could that be? he wondered. Guerin was friendly with lots of women… they loved him!
“Okay, what about him?” Tess asked, pointing at one of the players. “Number 73?”
“What about him?” Maria was bored and ready to go. “They’re wearing uniforms and helmets; it’s not like I can tell whether they’re hot or not.”
“Y’know, I think you’re being deliberately stubborn.” Her eyes followed the players when the coach blew the whistle and yelled for the guys to take a five minute break. Most of the guys dropped down to sit or lay on the field while the quarterback and a couple of the others huddled up before taking their helmets off and dropping them on the ground. Within seconds their shirts came off and joined their helmets and they ran around on the field, tossing the ball back and forth and running their own plays.
Maria followed one of the taller players, his dark blond hair matted to his head and sweat glistening on the muscles in his broad back. He ran down the field and turned to catch the ball that Kyle threw and she got her first good look at him from the front. “Good God,” she mumbled under her breath. Perfectly toned muscles, skin tanned from being out in the sun, and every inch of perfection gleaming with a fine sheen of sweat. Her gaze lifted to his face and she cringed when she recognized the smirk.
“That’s the wrong Guerin brother, y’know,” a young feminine voice spoke up from behind them.
They both turned to look at the owner of the voice and Maria smiled when she recognized Brendan’s younger sister. “Hi, what’re you doing here?”
“Just checking on Michael’s progress; he broke his collarbone last season and he missed the last few games.”
Maria turned to introduce her best friend to the girl and went back to watching the game as the coach blew the whistle and yelled at the guys to get back into formation.
“So, you’re Michael and Brendan’s little sister,” Tess said, glancing at Maria. She could see the blush on her friend’s cheeks at being caught drooling over the wrong twin. “I’ve heard a lot about you.”
“Uh-huh. From Isabel?” She smirked when both girls turned to look at her. “Thought so; she’s been spending quite a bit of time with Alex.”
Maria watched Brooke, surprised when she realized that the girl and Michael had the same smile.
“So, Maria, what’re you doin’ with Brendan?” the teenager asked.
“Well, don’t get me wrong, Brendan’s a sweetheart and he totally deserves someone who really appreciates him and loves him and all of his quirky habits. But, girl, when you and Michael are anywhere near each other the sexual tension’s off the charts. I mean, look at the way you’re drooling over him – ”
“What? No, I’m only here because Tess dragged me here; I’m here under duress.” Maria rolled her eyes. “And besides that, I don’t think you’re old enough to be talking like that.”
Brooke snorted and tossed her dark hair back over her shoulder. “Please.”
“See?” Tess asked, glancing at Maria. “I told you it’s obvious.”
“Oh, it sooo is,” Brooke agreed. “And trust me you’re much more Michael’s type than Brendan’s.”
Tess leaned back, her blue eyes following Kyle as he shuffled backwards and looked for an open man out in the field to throw the ball to. “So, Brooke, how well do you know Kyle?”
They talked for the next hour, getting to know each other and cheering for the team at the appropriate times. When practice finally came to an end Michael and Kyle jogged up to the fence, grinning and high-fiving each other.
“Hey, Tess, you’re gonna be at the party tonight, right?” Kyle asked as he jumped up on the bottom rail and leaned towards her.
“Wouldn’t miss it,” she said, smiling as she stood and moved so that she was mere inches from him. She ran her hands over his shoulders before bringing them up to cradle his face as she leaned in to kiss him long and deep.
“Hey, brat,” Michael greeted as he looked up at his sister. “What’re you doin’ out here?”
“How’s your shoulder?”
“Good as new, don’t worry about it.” He shifted his attention to Maria and his smirk surfaced. “Like what you see?” He winked at her. “I’d be happy to show you more.”
“Nope, I’m good.”
Brooke glanced between them and rolled her eyes. How was it not obvious to them that they wanted each other? She was just going to have to do something about it, she thought. Her gaze slid over to Tess and she nodded to herself. Tess would help her out; the other girl understood what was going on even if her friend was in denial.