Word Count: 4,467
His days were starting to become a blur, redundant, and repetitive. Taylor wasn't sure how he felt about that. He woke up, worked out, worked, came back, and crashed. Sometimes he'd watch TV or a movie, surf the net, or just sit back and chill, listening to music. Claire usually ended up at his apartment at some point during the night, but they were obviously trying to be discreet. It was one thing for her to be in his apartment for a couple of hours to watch a movie and another to be seen entering but not coming back out again.
He didn't care, but she did and so he was getting used to falling asleep with her in the bed and waking up with her not in the bed. He had no idea what time she woke up to move up to her room, but he knew it was well before anyone in the house was up and about.
He had some free time on occasion during the day. Nathan had security people assigned to his office, so if he was there for the day Taylor could come and go. There wasn't much to do, though. Play pool. Drink, but he couldn't do that knowing he'd be working later.
Didn't really interest him.
Not in the way it should anyway. He wasn't to the point where he threw a number away he was on the receiving end of, but he was definitely into someone for the first time in a long time.
And that someone? She laid a lot on him, which was he realized the reason he wasn't quick to throw away the numbers he got since being with her. It was not in the usual sense of how women typically laid heavy shit on a man. Usually it was an expectation of marriage, kids, spouting words of love and expecting him to say them back two seconds into things, or something like that.
Not with Claire. No, he had to go and get interested in someone who was … what was she? Immortal? Invincible? Whatever the term was she'd outlive him and then some. It'd be tempting not to believe her except he felt proof of what she was telling him every time he slid inside of her. Saw proof of it every time he left a love bite on her skin and it disappeared more quickly than how long it took him to leave it to begin with.
Hundreds of years. That's how long she said Adam had been around. Alone until finding her. Taylor found it hard to believe the man was really going to leave her alone to live a life without him. So far, though, he hadn't come after Taylor so he had to hope that maybe she was right in thinking he'd abide by her wishes.
How did a guy like him compete with one like Monroe? The dude had seen, Christ, everything. He hadn't paid great attention in school, but he knew the advancements that had been made just in the last one hundred years never mind the last three or four hundred. He'd fought wars when they were hand-to-hand combat. Something Taylor admittedly would get into talking over with the guy. And he no doubt would sit back, waiting for Taylor to screw up. A chance to tell Claire she was wrong in wasting her time on anyone but him.
And if that didn't make him all kinds of jealous. The idea that he couldn't be the man she wanted or needed. She hadn't put a lot of expectations on him to this point. Hell, she hadn't put any expectations on him. He wasn't even sure she wanted to go to the ballgame with him coming up this weekend. They hadn't done anything but sit in his apartment and she had never once complained or acted as if she expected him to take her places.
Probably he should wonder about that. Was she embarrassed? Clearly she was from a different type of life than he was. College and loving families who sent her somewhere to be safe. As if his father would have even thought of his safety.
He didn't come across it often, but there were women who just wanted sex and nothing else from a guy. Maybe she was that type of woman. Maybe she just wanted to get sex out of her system before settling down with Monroe.
Only thing was, he didn't think that was the case. She didn't profess her undying love the first night she'd spent the night or anything, but he sensed that she liked him with more than just casual interest. And he wanted her to. He wanted to be everything she needed in a man. He found himself oddly wanting to be the reason her time with Monroe was put off.
Nathan was going somewhere for the weekend to see his wife and sons, and Taylor's presence with him was not required. It timed perfectly with Matty coming into town. He'd been hesitant to ask for a night off, so had been surprised when Nathan gave him the weekend off. He was looking forward to some time with his friend not having to worry about leaving too soon. Or drinking too much.
He stopped at his fridge, grabbing a beer and popping it open before picking up the phone to see if there were any messages on this or the phone at his house. None. There rarely were as only a few had this number to begin with and anyone who knew him had his cell and information about his current living arrangements. He didn't consider this a permanent move.
One day he'd move on to a different job, and with as restless as he'd been feeling even only a couple of months into it he wasn't sure he'd last as long as he'd hoped. It was a good job, had the potential to be lucrative and pave the way to other things, but it wasn't going to get him anywhere. The other things would be the same type of work just for someone more important than Senator Petrelli. He'd bide his time, though, until his sparring gigs started becoming more frequent or turned into more than just sparring.
As much as the repetitiveness bothered him, it beat the hell out of working at nightclubs. He was glad to get out of that line of work. Unfortunately, there just weren't a lot of options open to someone like him. He knew this, was content with working with what he'd been given. His brawn. Not that he lacked for brains, but no one really sought him out for that sort of thing.
He undid his tie, sliding it through his collar as he took a sip of the beer and walked toward his room. He flipped the light switch and stilled at the sight of the person making him think twice about accepting phone numbers lying in his bed asleep.
He sat on the edge of the bed, brushing some hair away from her face before running a finger along her cheek, her mouth. She stirred then, waking as his fingertips found her neck, her collarbone, lower to the top of a breast he couldn't see because of the shirt she wore.
"Hi," she whispered.
"You waiting up for me?"
He chuckled. "Sorry, night ran late. I didn't know you were going to be here or I'd a called."
"It's okay. I was trying to surprise you."
"A nice one?"
"One of the better ones I've gotten, yeah."
"So, you're off for the weekend," she said, sitting up a little.
"Yeah, starting now, off til he gets back. Sunday night, Monday morning, not sure."
"Hmm, well, what are you going to do with all of that free time?"
"I was going to go home."
"Oh," she said softly and he could tell he'd said the wrong thing. Not really, though, because he hadn't admitted what had come to mind when he realized Claire wasn't accompanying Nathan on his weekend away.
"You could come with me."
"Really? You're not just saying that because I'm here."
"No. It's in Brooklyn. You think you can deal with that, you're welcome to come. Besides, it'll make it easier for going to the game with Matty and his wife."
"Oh, yeah, I wasn't sure you still wanted me to go."
"Why not?" He shifted a little, shrugging out of his suit coat. "I invited you. Said it was a date."
"Before you knew Nathan was going anywhere."
"What's that got to do with anything?"
"Maybe you want to see your friend by yourself."
"What does that have to do with Nathan?"
"Well, like you just said, you're going home."
"And I'm inviting you to come along."
"Positive. Go pack a bag for the weekend."
She sat up then, brushing her hair away from her face.
"Okay. What else will we be doing besides the game?"
"I don't know. Nothing fancy, though. So, you don't need a dress or anything, unless you want to wear a dress."
"You like me in dresses."
"You know I do. And skirts and anything that shows off your legs and gives me easy access to touching you."
"You did more than touch me last night."
Had he ever. She'd been so receptive to him he'd been a little too enthusiastic. He felt bad about that as he usually did after the fact and wished she hadn't brought that up right now. He was a fighter, grew up using his fists, his toughness to help him advance. Last night wasn't the first time either not that he'd ever hit her or get rough with her like that.
He hadn't thought of himself as the jealous type. He'd had women he'd spent time with more than a week or two, he'd see them with other guys and it stung a little but nothing like seeing that Monroe guy hold her hand the other night. All night. Talk to her, whisper in her ear. All night. Usually, it rolled off his back, he just didn't bother calling the girl again.
He might have done the same thing here, except she'd shown up at his door looking very much like she wanted to be there. And he'd had to have her. He wasn't sure how he felt about everything she'd told him, about her or Monroe, but he understood that there were things in the world that couldn't be explained or didn't fall under the category of normal. But seeing her standing there in that dress, knowing that no one had been with her but him did something to him.
And she'd been here every night since. They didn't have sex all of the time, but she'd yet to say no to him. Or to complain if he got carried away with his enthusiasm for wanting her. Last night he'd been particularly attentive because he'd overheard Nathan asking her why Adam hadn't been around. She hadn't responded in a specific way and that had sort of bothered him. Not that he expected her to rush out and tell the world they were together or anything. He wasn’t even sure they were together.
"Listen, I said I was sorry if I hurt you."
"That's not what I meant," she said with a light laugh, moving to her knees. She kissed him lightly, letting her arms rest on either side of his neck. "And I don't recall the word no or stop coming from my lips once. Ever. I do recall my requesting more a time or two, though."
"Well, no," he said. Put like that, yeah. He wasn't a rapist. If she'd told him stop he'd a stopped. Simple as that.
"So then don't worry about it."
She unbuttoned the shirt she was wearing, revealing the fact that it was all she was wearing.
"And see, not a mark on me," she said, sliding her hand lower along her body, between her legs. His eyes followed its path, which was no doubt her intention. He licked his lips at the idea of trying once again to leave a mark on her somewhere. She certainly didn't seem to mind him trying. Repeatedly. "Anywhere."
"Go pack your bag or we'll never leave."
"Hmm, you sure?"
"Yes, I want you in my bed, under my roof tonight."
"Okay. I'll be back in a while," she said. She redid the buttons, pulling on a pair of jeans she must have been wearing when she came here. And then she was gone.
It didn't take him long to pack a bag. He had most everything he needed at his house with the exception of clothes, and he wouldn't be needing any of his suits. So, that made choosing easy. Last thing he grabbed was his leather jacket, sliding into it just as she knocked on the door that led to the house.
"That didn't take long," he said, surprised it hadn't. Chicks always took forever.
She shrugged. "I figured I'd hurry while Nathan was distracted so he doesn't ask too many questions."
"All right, let's go then," he said, locking that door before they walked to the other one.
"What are you looking at?" he asked when she'd been quietly looking at him for a few miles now. In fact, they hadn't said more than a handful of words to one another since they left her house. Maybe this was too much for her, leaving the house with him.
"Nothing, I've just never seen you dressed like this."
"This is how I normally dress. Problem?"
"No. Are the suits yours?"
"What do you mean, mine? Who else's would they be?"
"I mean, were they yours before you took this job?"
"A couple were. Didn't have much need for more than two or three. Can't exactly go in and buy a suit and walk out with it at the time of purchase."
"I suppose not."
"So, yeah, I got some more. I needed to. Nathan offered to reimburse me, but that wasn't an issue. And I didn't want to feel like I had to leave them behind or something when I leave."
"Ah," she said, turning to look out her window.
She was quiet then, watching the streets as they drove. They went through some crappy neighborhoods. Ones even he wouldn't get out of the car after dark if the car broke down. The crappy area paved way to nicer ones, and finally his neighborhood.
"Wow," she said.
He had to admit, even at night it was impressive. Teddy Deserve didn't do anything half assed or understated. Teddy liked to impress, let anyone see that he was more than successful in his life.
"Wouldn't know it to look at me, would ya?"
"No, not that I really thought about it. Or care. The house I live in now, not at all what I'm used to."
"I get that."
He pulled into the garage, closing the door behind them. The driveway was a long one, so they couldn't see the street from the house. It was one thing Taylor liked about it, the privacy it offered. Teddy always said that it was a strategic nightmare having the house so far back. Having to defend the house not knowing when anyone was coming no matter the direction.
"You want anything before we go upstairs?"
"You sure? There'll be more to choose from tomorrow morning when my people have time to get to the store, I told them not to worry about tonight, but I have stuff."
"I'm fine, really."
"So, did you say goodbye to him?"
"I said goodnight, didn't want to say goodbye."
"So, he has no idea you're with me?"
"Why is that?"
"Because I may not call him dad, but he is my father and I'm not sure how much he'd like me sleeping with you."
"Cuz I'm hired muscle?"
"No, because I'm his daughter, silly. If my dad were here," she rolled her eyes. "Doesn't matter, he's not."
"You wouldn't be here in other words."
"No," she said simply.
"Thank heaven then for being away from your father."
"Oh, I'm sure we could come up with our own ways to skirt around his authoritative thumb if we had to."
"Had to do it before?"
She shrugged. "What teenaged girl hasn't?"
He chuckled. "I suppose that's true."
"I imagine you were involved in more than a few teenaged girls lying to their dads."
He smirked with a shake of his head as he led her through the house to his room. "Nah. I was too busy beating people up to take much notice of girls back then."
"Much notice, but you noticed some."
"Sure, told you I had a steady girlfriend back in high school. She went to college. I didn't and couldn't. Enough said."
"There you go again with that couldn't stuff. You could. You can."
"Too late now."
"Listen," he said, dropping his bag on his bed.
He walked to the sliding door that looked out onto a private balcony and opened it. He stared outside for a minute, not sure how to say what he felt the need to say. He wasn't even sure he should. She'd confessed a secret to him, but hers wasn't really the type to make someone run away screaming or wanting to call the cops.
Oh, sure, he maybe should a been intimidated by the fact that she was in a roundabout way saying one day, eventually, she'd end up with that Monroe guy. That she was going to live forever. Look as young and nice as she did now fifty years from now when he'd look more than likely old. He wasn't, though. Not really because he'd wanted to bring her here. To his home.
"This is who I am. I'm all right with that. I figure before any of my friends who could go to college and did graduated I'd gotten in over 500 fights. On the street. Not in a boxing ring where there are rules or a referee to call the fight if someone's knocked out or near death."
He turned to face her then.
"That's what I did. Who I am. This house was my old man's, it ain't mine. He died, I inherited it, so I'm here. Would a given it to my mother but she didn't want to live here and it seemed stupid to pay rent on a crappy apartment when I had this place."
"No, just listen, because I'm telling you who I am, Claire. What kind of man you're getting yourself involved with. I'm a thug. That's what my old man used me for. All my life, never paid a lick of attention to me until he realized I could be useful as muscle. Someone he could send out to help ensure money or whatever was owed Matty's dad was collected promptly. Someone he knew would fight to the death if it meant getting an inch of respect from my old man. It never happened. When he didn't need me, he treated me like something lower than pond scum."
"Don't tell me how sorry you are. I'm fine with it, but you need to know. You have secrets, so do I. Mine could send people to prison for a very long time. I've seen men killed. Murdered, Claire. You get that? That was a common occurrence with the people I ran with. I've beat people to within an inch of their lives and I did it willingly, happily, because it felt good."
"But you don't do that now, right?"
"No, I got out. It wasn't long before my old man died. I had my own business going, nothing lucrative, video games in stores and stuff, but I was trying to get out from under it. Go legit. I didn't want to be like my old man or any of the old man's of my friends. I wanted to be my own man. I've walked a straight line for a while now."
"You're not doing the video game thing now?"
"Nah, paid shit, and I realized bouncing I could use my muscles without doing anything criminal."
"You just need to know, because I like you. Don't know what's going on between us, but I'm not college material. I don't even have my high school diploma. I flunked too many classes because by the time my senior year hit I was big man on the street, the man my old man came to for any deed that required a ruthless fist. And I breathed life into that reputation, made sure everyone feared me. I'm not bring home to Mom and Dad to impress them material. I may not talk like a Brooklyn thug so much anymore, but believe me he's still in here. In me. Always will be."
"You say all right, but are you really all right with it? I'm not going to be the type of guy you bring to one of your father's parties to impress people like Monroe can."
"But I don't want…"
"I don't know pretty words or how to quote poetry and I'm probably not so good with regular words, but I'm faithful as a dog."
She blinked. "You're comparing yourself to a dog?"
"Well, no, not really, suppose that came out wrong. I'm just saying. I'm not like my old man. I don't cheat. One of the reasons I've avoided relationships, no one interested me enough."
"And I do?"
"You're here," he said, spreading his arms to indicate the house. "No one but Matty has ever been here with me."
He shrugged. "Because I don't want a woman who likes me because I have this. I didn't earn it, it was given to me."
"Sounds like you did help earn it."
He shrugged, willing to concede that point to a degree. "All right. Either way. This isn't really me. I didn't live here growing up. And contrary to appearances I'm not rolling in money. I was Teddy's only son so I got a chunk of change, but I can't help but think of it as blood money. A payoff from him in death to try and make up for how crappy he treated me in life."
"So, why bring me here?"
"Because I don't think you'll look at this place and think I can keep you outfitted in a different diamond necklace every day. I see you at Nathan's, but I know you're not from there just like I'm not from here."
"No, I'm not. I mean, that's not important to me."
"I just gotta make you understand, though. I'm out, but that doesn't mean the cops believe I'm legit. You know? That doesn't mean one day someone ends up dead beat to shit and they don't come looking to talk to me. Or they see you with me and harass you, try to make me look guilty for something in your eyes just to fuck with me."
"Does that happen a lot?"
"Not so much anymore. Most worth anything know I'm out, but there are a few old school cops who have a hard-on for bringing down a mafia guy who think I'm bullshitting. Or putting on an act."
He walked toward her then, leaving the sliding door open. It was a nice night for it. He hadn't wanted to take this room as his, but the balcony was a definite perk. There were nights he sat out there, drinking a beer or two and just stared at nothing. It was nice to do that.
"And you understand while things like what happened last night and the night of the dinner may happen again, I'd never hit you? I'd never hurt you under any other circumstance and if you ever said you'd had enough I'd stop."
"I know that, and you didn't hurt me. Not in a way I minded. Don't you get that? I liked it!"
"Yeah, well, you may not always and you're certainly entitled to more variety than just me taking you like I have no clue where a bed is. Or that I get off on hurting you."
"I know you don't. You've made up for it when you've been like that."
"You say that now."
She shrugged, but she was smiling.
"I'm not going to pretend I'm the most thoughtful lover. I have a lot to learn probably from the standpoint of how to actually treat someone I'm going to see more than once or twice."
"Well, I have a lot to learn altogether."
She eyed him for a minute, serious stuff going through her mind from what he could tell.
"This isn't because I was a virgin, is it? I mean, you don't think you owe me something?"
"Nah, figured if my reaction to seeing Monroe touching you was that intense from only being with you a couple of times I should look into us a bit."
"Speaking of Adam, you realize he's not going to go away completely? He will avoid kissing me and stuff."
"I don't think I want to hear about the and stuff, but that's good to know."
"I just meant, touching me, whatever, but he'll be around from time to time and he may not always be nice to you."
"I get that and I'm okay with it. I actually wouldn't mind talking to him if he knows that I know his secret."
"Really," he said simply.
"All right," she said. "Anything more you need to tell me?"
"Uh, no," he said with a soft chuckle. "I should admit I'm not really sure how long I can keep doing this job."
"I'm not used to being so locked in, locked down. I mean, I can't do anything without asking him first. I hate bouncing, but at least I had time to myself, had a night off here and there."
"I understand. Does that mean we'll be done?"
"Don't see why it has to mean that. I'd be able to see more of you and you wouldn't have to have Monroe take you to all those things."
She smiled a little at that. Yeah, he was probably acting like a jealous idiot, but it didn't seem to bother her.
"All right then, show me around your house."
"I, uh, what?"
"I want to see your house."
"Oh, well, I haven't done a lot to make it my house yet."
"Well, show me and tell me as we go what you plan on doing to make it yours."
"All right," he said, sliding out of his leather jacket then and tossing it on the bed.
Story ©Susan Falk/APCKRFAN/PhantomRoses.com