Posted on Fri Feb 21st, 2014 @ 11:18pm by Unawakened Jana Rotherbridge
Date: March 21st, 2010
Time: 10:00 pm
Location: Lake Texoma, one hour outside Dallas, Texas
”At last,” he said, moving forward with a tone of satisfaction. “I thought I wouldn’t have a chance like this all night.”
Jana thought fast. She knew if she let Simon get his hands on her, any hope she had of getting answers was done. Not only would she not say no, but her fingers itched to scrub off his paint with friction, ‘erase’ all the phone numbers left by the unworthy. She’d rub away the lip marks as well, but she might catch something.
She picked up the woven wicker chair by the make up table and brandished it in front of her like a lion tamer. It might have been a little rash, but she needed the space. “Stop!” she said. Then took a deep breath. “We need to talk.”
Simon stopped a few feet away, raising his hands in defense. “Talk?” he asked.
Jana nodded, feeling some measure of control coming to her, finally. “I don’t think you’ve been clear,” she said. “About why you want me.”
Simon raised an eyebrow. “Haven’t I?” he asked.
Jana shook her head.
“I’d be happy to clarify the issue if you put the chair down,” he said amenably.
Jana rolled her eyes. “I said talk. I put down this chair, we won’t talk.”
Simon smiled. “You are perceptive. Though it’s nice to know you are as affected as I.”
Jana inwardly cursed herself for giving him ammunition. “Why me?” she asked, doing her best to stay on topic. “There are other girls. Easier girls. H*ll, there’s a massage parlor downtown for your needs.”
Simon elegantly snorted. “I do not wish to combat the sorts of diseases that come from associating with such girls.”
“There’s still the other girls,” Jana pointed out “Some of them probably did your paint job.”
Simon gave her a look. “It would be much the same thing,” he said.
It was Jana’s turn to snort. It wasn’t nice, but it was honest. “That still doesn’t answer the question,” she pointed out.
Simon sighed. “You wish for full disclosure?”
Jana nodded. “I do.”
Simon nodded back. “Very well. It’s liable to take a bit, if you want to put that thing down. The round bottom is not likely to do much damage if you do decide to use it as a weapon.” At her hesitation, he sighed once more. “I promise to keep my hands to myself.”
Jana paused for another moment, then put the chair down, being careful to keep it between them. it was a meager obstacle, but at least there was one. “Talk.”
Simon took a seat on the bed. “I’ve noticed how you liked to keep to yourself. You’re not terribly interested in gossip. Neither am I. You don’t suffer fools. Neither do I. For what I want, I require someone who can be discrete, but available. You aren’t given to much talk, and I already know how available you are.” His smile was threatening to turn into a grin, and Jana fought not to return it.
Jana moved to turn, sitting in the chair. “I’m not a gossiper and I have no real friends. Very attractive,” she mocked.
Simon sighed again, rubbing the bridge of his nose. “Full disclosure,” he muttered. He looked her in the eye. “I wasn’t always so well-off. Technically, I live on the largess of my friend, Robert Carlston. He’s the son of the family that my family has served for over five generations.”
Jana raised an eyebrow. He was a butler’s son. She nodded for him to continue.
“As I said, my family is very loyal,” he continued. “Lord Carlston is an earl of the realm, and fond of my father. So fond, in fact, that he offered him the chance to give me a title, to become a peer like him. A gentleman.”
Jana blinked. “Don’t you need to be born to it?” she asked. She’d heard about that somewhere before.
“It’s the most common way,” he said. “Adopted brats are eligible as well. But if you aren’t born to it, you can still attain a title. One way is by buying it. Another, as is the case with my father, is to have done such a great favor for a peer that your offspring are groomed for the position.”
Jana nodded. “Okay, I can understand that. But what does that have to do with propositioning someone like me?”
Simon leaned back on his hands. “Groomed as I am, I don’t gain the title until after our commencement. In the meantime, I have to behave myself. That means no visiting ladies of the night. No easy girls who talk. A hint of scandal and the title is as good as gone. My father has such high hopes for me, I don’t dare dash them. I have a chance to attain a higher place in society. I want to seize it with both hands.”
Jana couldn’t help admiring him a bit. He wanted a better life for himself. She couldn’t fault him for that. “And that’s where I come in?” she asked.
Simon nodded. “I may not want to cause trouble, but I also have needs. So I started looking among my fellow students for some relief. You came to my attention after you told three of our humble cheerleaders what you thought of the football team.”
Jana snorted at the idea that any of the cheerleaders were humble, let alone as a group. “I also pushed one into a pool,” she reminded him.
“And you were magnificent,” he told her with a smile. “And it can be seen as an honest mistake. Except by the cheerleader.” The smile turned into a smirk. “You are one of a kind, Jana. I knew I had to have you.”
Jana felt herself blush. “Because of Bridget?” she asked, her voice quieter than she intended.
“And more.” Simon leaned forward, caressing her jaw with his finger. "Given the sensitivity of my situation I require a woman of exceptional taste and intelligence. A woman who appreciates discretion as much as I."
Jana could feel herself losing the battle. “Oh?”
Simon looked her in the eye. “I can’t risk everything on the immaturity of a girl or the lack of scruples of the alternative. You stand apart, Jana. That you are beautiful and enchanting only makes me more certain. You are clearly my best choice.”
Jana heard a distant part of her curse in her mind for letting him get this close. “I… I’m flattered,” she said, drawn in as his eyes held hers.
“You should be,” he asked, moving closer.
Jana nodded, lost under his spell. “Yeah,” she said, moving closer to him, feeling as if the heat in his gaze was consuming her self control.
There was a loud knock at the door.
Jana jumped, but before she could speak, she heard, “Jana, it’s me. We have a problem.”
“Coming,” she called, feeling disappointed when Simon pulled back, but also relieved. That had been too close. She got up, then looked at him. “Hide.”
He looked around, then back at her. There weren’t many places to hide a guy his size.
“Get under the bed!” she hissed. Simon gave her a look the plainly said what he thought of that plan. Jana sighed. “Fine. Just stay out of sight,” she said. She didn’t want Gabe seeing him, not after their talk.
She went to the door, and once she saw Simon was out of sight, she opened it. It was Gabe and Cole, along with Gabe’s tutor, Trevor, flanking Cole’s other side. It only took her a few seconds to realize what was wrong when she cupped her youngest brother’s face.
“Oh, no,” she said, thinking of all the things Aunt Mariah would say if she saw Cole like this. “This is bad.”
“You already heard?”
Jana looked up, spotting Tommy as he came up the stairs, dodging around people with a phone in his hand. “Heard what?” she asked, moving Cole’s face so Tommy couldn’t see he was high.
Their host looked apologetic. “The roads are washed out. Nobody is going home, tonight.”
That was not the end of Jana’s bad news. It was heralded by the warm breath on the back of her neck, causing a shiver to go down her spine.
“Jana.” Gabe’s voice was horrifically even. “Why the h*ll is he alone with you?”