Word Count: 2,584
Needless to say, she avoided the house as much as she could. She went to friends houses after school instead of coming home. She did her homework at the school's library, a coffee shop, or on a park bench if the weather was decent enough to allow it. She took advantage of living in New York and all the opportunities that gave her.
If Nathan was home and she happened to be as well, she made herself scarce. It was cowardly, she knew that, but she couldn't help it. She'd done a lot of crazy things during the couple of weeks from when Adam told her the truth about her ability and when she'd had random sex with her biological father's bodyguard in a storage room.
She'd never come face to face with anybody she'd encountered during that time. This was New York City. What were the odds? She should have known better.
She got a text message from Adam saying he was pulling onto the driveway. She threw her leather coat on and grabbed her purse. She shut the light off before heading downstairs. She had no idea what exactly they were doing, but she didn't care. So long as it got her out of the house until after Nathan went to sleep that was all she cared about.
"Not so fast," Nathan said.
Damn. What was the point in living in a house this size if she couldn't get out the door without being seen?
"Yes," she said, turning to face him.
"Where are you off to?"
"Just out with Adam."
"You've been seeing a lot of him lately."
There was a reason for that. He knew her secrets. All of them, including exactly who Nathan's bodyguard was. She hadn't meant to tell him about that night and certainly hadn't right away. He had a way, though, of getting her to talk. To say things she wouldn't say to anyone else. A partner in crime. He'd even gotten her a fake ID so that they could go anywhere. She hadn't wanted it at first, but as he reasoned she was going to look this age for the rest of her life so may as well get into the places now that will always card her. She'd call him a best friend except he would be extremely insulted to rate such a moniker from her.
"Are you sure?"
"Just making sure I don't have to talk to him."
"About?" He gave her a knowing glance to which she rolled her eyes. "No. He's just a friend. Someone who gets me."
"I don't get you? Peter doesn't get you?"
"It's not the same!"
She glanced behind him, noticing Taylor in the doorway leading to Nathan's office. He had a suit on, one that looked very nice on him. She'd never really taken the time to look at guys in suits before, but she was making a habit of it the few times she saw Taylor and he was dressed that way. Had they just gotten home? If Adam had gotten here ten minutes ago, could she have avoided this conversation entirely?
"No, I suppose it isn't."
"Thank you," she said, glad to hear he was giving in. He didn't usually give her a hard time. Not since that period of time anyway. She'd toned it down and was behaving herself. She was getting A's and B's in her classes. So, he had nothing to fear. From her behavior anyway.
"Where is he taking you?"
"To a movie I think. Something to eat. You know, the usual."
The usual could include a bar, but Nathan didn't know about the ID. Claire hadn't used it without Adam along since that night. She glanced at Taylor, blushing at thinking about it. She hated that he could do that to her. She may have healed the results of that night within a matter of minutes but her mind remembered every last detail.
"He should come to the door," he said, just as a knock came at the door. She smiled, gloating a little and they both knew it.
"It's not a date, but you were saying," she said, opening the door.
"Hi," she said, going up on her tiptoes to give him a quick kiss. She was probably giving Taylor a nice view of a lot of leg with the movement but she didn't care.
"You are ready," Adam said, kissing her back and sliding an arm around her waist in the process. He did that a lot. He'd take whatever contact she'd give him and prolong it even if it was only for a second or two. "You didn't answer my message and I didn't see you so wasn't sure."
"I'm ready. Nathan was talking to me."
"Oh," Adam said, taking his eyes off Claire for a moment then. "Senator," Adam said, sounding somewhat respectful. Nathan didn't like Adam hanging around Claire at first. To say the least. She'd had Peter on her side, though, and Nathan had given in.
"Adam," Nathan responded in kind. Looking at them, an outsider like Taylor would never realize that Adam was so much older and experienced than Nathan. Claire wondered sometimes how people missed it, he carried himself in such a way that betrayed the fact he wasn't of this time and place. At least she thought he did. Maybe it was only because she knew his secret.
"So are you ready then?" he asked Claire.
"Yeah, sorry, Nathan was asking me what we were doing."
"Oh, right. You filled him in? Gave him our itinerary?"
"Yup," she said. "Now I'm ready to go have some fun."
"All right," Adam said, moving his hand out from around her waist and sliding it into hers. She took it without hesitation. She liked touching him, though she'd never admit that to him. He'd get all bigheaded about it.
Claire had been told more than once that she and Adam looked good together. She wasn't with him like that for right now. That certainly wasn't his idea. She'd insisted on time and after the threat of sending him away for good he gave in. She probably wouldn't have sent him away for good, as she'd come to realize that he was most likely going to be the one - and only - constant in her life for a very, very long time.
"You take care of my girl."
"I always do," Adam said. In more ways than Nathan probably realized, Claire thought. "Good night, Senator," he added with a slight nod of his head, turning to the door impatiently. He hated having to play nice with Nathan, but he did it understanding it was the way it had to be for now.
"Good night, Nathan," Claire said, drawing the door closed behind them.
Adam opened her door for her, but didn't wait for her to get in before walking to his side. She didn't expect him to so it was fine.
"What was that about?"
"I'm not sure. He doesn't usually get that pushy. That bodyguard was there, lurking in the background. I'm not sure if that had something to do with it."
"He was watching you," Adam said, starting the car.
"No, the bodyguard. What's his name?"
"Taylor," she whispered.
"Why are you afraid to use it?"
"His name, Claire. Don't pretend to be dense."
"I don't know," she said, shrugging as he pulled onto the street. "I just don't want to get used to saying his name."
"You mean you didn't cry it out in a fit of passion that night?"
"No," she said. "I didn't ask." She thought back to the night. "And the guy that came to get him didn't call him Taylor."
"Hmm," Adam said. "Did you cry out anything? Or are you the silent type? Just curious."
"Oh God, can we not talk about it."
"How long has he been working for your father?"
"He's not my father and a week."
"Technicalities, you're here as a result of his sperm so let's not quibble over the details. Especially considering the legality of your adoption may not hold water in court. How often has he seen you?"
"Not very. I try to be elsewhere when they're around. And he's in his apartment when he's at the house a lot of the time."
"I give it a month."
"Give what a month?"
"Before he realizes that he at least knows you."
"Come on. One of the reasons I chose him was because he had a different honey every night."
"So you were told."
"What does that mean?"
"Oh, sweetheart, you shouldn't believe everything you hear. Especially when it comes to a man's sexual prowess."
"Hmm, so all those things you told me about you?"
"That you can believe," he said with a chuckle.
She let her head fall back against the rest, sighing. "I don't know what I'll do if he remembers."
"He'll remember. You're a hard one to forget."
"You're just saying that because to you, literally, I'm one in a million."
"That may be, but if you described the night to me accurately."
"Claire," he said, setting his hand on her knee. He did that a lot. Touched her. It was almost as if he wanted to reassure himself that she was real. It was probably the reason Nathan was suspicious of Adam, thinking their relationship was more than it was.
Not to say they hadn't kissed, but for now that was all Claire would allow. Well, not quite, they'd done some touching, exploring but always with clothes in the way. She wanted to have a chance at a life before she thought of Adam in a more permanent way. Eventually, she guessed she'd end up with him like that, but she wanted at least one lifetime of being just Claire.
"Yes?" She glanced at him then out of the corner of her eye.
"A guideline. He didn't finish the deal, right?"
"No, we were interrupted."
"He's going to remember."
"Why does that make a difference?"
"A girl who looks like you? And probably felt like you did? If that wasn't incentive in its own right. Not making the necessary deposit when he was primed and ready to do so is bound to leave a lasting memory."
"More than if I'd stuck around and waited for him to come back?"
"I hate to say it, but yes."
"Oh God," she said, closing her eyes.
"Cheer up. You said you enjoyed it."
"When he remembers maybe he'll want to finish what he started months ago."
"That may be, but I speak the truth."
"It's not going to happen."
"Why not? You picked him for a reason."
"I did not."
"You didn't? Claire. Come now."
"I knew I shouldn't have told you about it."
"That's probably true, but you did and there are no takebacks in the conversations we have. So, you were in a club filled with hundreds of possibilities but you chose him."
She shrugged. "He wasn't drunk."
"That was the only reason?"
"He was nice to look at."
Adam chuckled softly. "You say I'm nice to look at, but you don't fuck me."
"I know you!"
"Pity. I could have Rene come take your memories of me."
"No! And he wouldn't do that anyway."
"Why do you say that?"
"Because he'd be suspicious as to your reasons. Anyone who knows anything about you knows that you wouldn't want me to forget you."
"That may be true. Either way. A month and you'll be calling me asking me what to do because he's figured it out."
"So, tell me what to do now?"
"You're absolutely no help to me at all. Why do I hang around with you?"
"Because I'm so charmingly irresistible you can't tell me to scram."
"That must be it." She laughed. "Can we not talk about him anymore tonight?"
"As thy lady commands."
"You're welcome," he said, taking hold of her hand. She gave him hers willingly, enjoying the contact knowing there was no expectation of more.
"Who is he?" Taylor asked Nathan once Claire and Adam had left.
"A friend of the family the same as she is."
"Looks like they're cozier than friends."
Nathan shot him a look, telling him plainly to butt out. Only thing, Taylor didn't want to butt out. He wasn't sure why it bothered him to see that guy putting his hand on Claire. And it wasn't as if they were out of control with the touchy feely stuff. She'd kissed him, the guy kissed her, and held her hand as they walked to the door. Nothing bad. He'd certainly seen worse.
All he knew was that it bothered him.
He didn't miss the way she'd checked him out just before her friend rang the bell. He'd caught her doing that more than once. She had a way of looking at him, too, that made it seem as if she knew him better than he realized. And that made him wonder about her all the more.
"She's new here, doesn't have a lot of friends. I know she's safe with him."
"Safe with him? He doesn't look like much."
"You'd be surprised," Nathan said.
"Why isn't he where I am then?"
"Because he's not for hire. And you are."
"How new?" Taylor asked.
"Five, six months. Since the election. Why?"
"Just wondering," Taylor said with a shrug. "Are we done for the night?"
"Yes, I think so."
"All right. If you need me just give a call," Taylor said, already making his retreat from Nathan's office. He knew it was unlikely the senator would need him again tonight. Despite the fact his wife and kids weren't staying here he didn't do things that other people in politics engaged in. At least not so far he hadn't. Taylor imagined that could change once he got comfortable having Taylor around to take him places.
"Thank you, Taylor."
"Good night, Senator."
Taylor popped open a beer and sat on his couch, turning on the TV as he loosened the tie from around his neck. He played back his messages as he flipped through the channels, discovering there was nothing on as he slid the tie through his collar and off, draping it over the arm of the couch.
The messages netted him some extra income. A sparring match for the day after tomorrow. He had to clear it with the senator, but didn't see why he couldn't do it since it was in the evening and Taylor didn't think there was anything on the senator's schedule. It'd be good to get in the ring, he hadn't been in a while.
He tried to figure out why Claire Bennet looked so familiar to him. It had been bugging him for a week now. His first day here when she'd opened the door, looking as if she'd seen a ghost. He just took that as fear. He got that reaction sometimes. Not usually when he hadn't done a thing to be scary, but he chalked it up to that.
She'd only been here for six months, so that narrowed it down somewhat. The thing was, she could be anyone. And, really, he had no clue that he actually knew her. She hadn't said anything, but then he hadn't seen her much in the past week either.
Story ©Susan Falk/APCKRFAN/PhantomRoses.com