To the Readers: I'm so sorry I left you all hanging. My grandparents (rich as they are) take me on random spur of the moment trips to weird places at weird times with three hours notice. Literally. And yet they can't afford to get me a car. Damn it all. Anyways, when I got back in October I discovered that Tears of the Raine was in my room hording my stories like crazy and that she never updated. Tired and drowning in homework, I decided to wait a week or two before finishing my chapter and updating. And then ::glares:: there were some people who demanded that I update or else. And it wasn't in the joking way either. Surprisingly this was around 5 or 6 people and frankly it got on my nerves. So I decided that I was putting all of my stories on Hiatus until the next year.

My updating is sporadic I know. I make no excuses for myself except that I'll update when I want and if you make me mad, I'll simply not update. My will to write is my own- I have no obligation to you whatsoever to update.

With that being said, I would like to thank the other 127 people that reviewed (you know who you are) for both CEO and RT.

This story is getting updated first. Royal Trepidations will be out my birthday (NEW YEARS!) when I've finished being pissed off.

BTW, I had a blast though! THANK YOU ALL For your reviews!


-- Six Years Later - -

"Oh my god – oh my godOH MY GOD!!!!"

Matthew winced as he held the phone about a foot from his ear. When the decibel level had reduced somewhat, he carefully lowered the phone back down and spun his desk chair from the large floor to ceiling office windows to face the black leather sofa of his office- a sofa upon which his best friend was situated chuckling lightly.

"Gene I assume?" Ethan asked bemusedly.

Matthew merely nodded before concentrating on what his sister was saying.

"You did it? You did it? OH MY GOD I'M SO HAPPY FOR YOU!!!" half screams of excitement blared through the phone and Ethan smirked just imagining Gene with her wild untamable mop of curls flying as she jumped up and down squealing.

"I'm glad you approve," Matthew grinned, unable to contain his happiness either.

"Of course I approve," an indignant voice lectured over the phone, "I was the one who told you that Mr. Osman would approve if you only added a favorable stipulation."

"Of course you would know that Chelsea Osman had a fancy for me." Matthew said wryly raising an eyebrow at her insinuation. He could almost see his sister shrug over the phone.

"So she went to Stanford with me and I let her see your picture once or twice. Listen- I have to go- about to board the plane you know. And before I get reminded again, yes I remembered to get a dress for your grand opening ball or whatever the hell you called it."

Matthew chuckled, "It is a black tie business party hailing the success of Bright-Ashton Corporations. And you better come- I haven't seen you since last thanksgiving," Matthew paused, "and I'm sure Ethan would love to see you again- you guys haven't seen each other in what five years?"

"Six." Ethan's low baritone voice corrected.

"Since high school then," Matthew agreed.

"Whatever. Gotta jet - Love ya Mattie, I'll see you tonight!"

"Alright, Gene. Send mom my kisses when she picks you up will you? I feel kind of guilty for not coming home to see her in a while."

There was a slight pause before Matthew Ashton put the phone back in its cradle.

"How is the little squirt doing anyways?" Ethan asked, reminiscing all the good years in high school when she was more than a foot shorter than he, "and what is she doing back in New York when she's at Stanford?"

"As she always is I suppose. Gene graduated from Stanford three months ago and she's flying in today. As we have various meetings today I couldn't pick her up and so Mom's doing it."

"Your mom? She lives in upstate New York! How the hell is she going to drive here to NYC to pick up Gene?"

Matthew shrugged, "I sent the limo to take her. And it's not my fault really! As CEO of this company I have business to attend to."

Ethan grinned, "As your co-CEO and co-president and co-founder of Bright-Ashton corporations, I would have happily filled in for you just for today while you visited the Squirt."

"She's not fourteen anymore, Ethan. You haven't seen her in years- I can firmly attest to the fact that she's not a "squirt" anymore.

The dark-haired man shrugged carelessly. "I suppose so. Now what are we going to do about the Brookes-Withers account? Profits are going…."


----------- Later that Evening--------------------


A head of wild chestnut curls whirled around and erupted into a large grin as she faced her best friend.


Laughing they jumped around in each other's arms, not caring how everyone else reacted to their antics.

"If you wouldn't mind, I would like my fiancé back in one piece," a deep tenor voice said amusedly.

Slowly, Gene let go of Xandria, and quickly spun to punch the person behind her directly in the gut. However, the man had expected such a move and immediately caught her in an embrace.

"Brian Phillip Jacobson," Gene scolded, "how dare you not call me to tell me that you were getting married?! I had to find out from Xandria!!!!"

Brian managed to look sheepish, but then quickly shot back, "Why should I have told you before I ask her hmm?"

Gene stomped on his foot with enough strength to make him release his grip.

"Because," she nonchalantly swatted the air beside her head, "I was the one who set you two up in the first place, and I helped you pick out the ring."

He grinned, "and that gave you no clue as to what I was about to do?"

Gene waved it off, "of course not. I have no understanding of the male brain; if you're going to propose you have to spell it out for me. I'm a mite dunce at moments."

"Moments?" Brian mocked in disbelief.

Gene's eyes flashed, "Watch it mister. I'm in high heels and feeling very powerful and tall. I might just sock you again."

A low wolf whistle cut off whatever Brian was going to say. It seemed as if her brother had found her. Turning slowly so that her brother got the fully effect, Gene smiled.

"Mattie. I'm glad you approve."

"Good Lord sis, how much did that dress cost me?" Matthew mock grimaced as he took his sister's hand and spun her in a circle. The floor length, light peach satin dress flared beneath her slightly.

"Not a penny," Gene declared proudly, "I bought it myself."

Matthew frowned slightly, "Gene- I told you that I would pay for anything you needed."

She smiled and patted her brother's cheek, "I can take care of myself Mattie."

"Of course, Mattie, squirt can take care of herself." A voice drawled out behind her that she didn't notice before. It was deep, baritone, and rich like chocolate. Gene shivered slightly and turned slight to face it.

What was with people and getting behind her tonight? It was lucky that she hadn't fallen on her heels and killed herself yet!

"A little provocative for the evening aren't we Gene?"

"Not at all," she began before whatever sarcastic remark she had lined up in her throat died at the sight of him. In high school, Ethan had always been tall, dark and handsome. But there had always been a boyish quality to him. It seemed as though Yale had changed that. He was still tall, dark and handsome yes, but the first three adjectives that crossed Gene's mind when she saw him were: Dark, dangerous and delicious.

Ethan smirked. It emphasized the fact that his face had lost the hint of softness of childhood that he still had in high school. He had grown a little broader shouldered than she remembered, and his whole aura screamed successful corporate executive. Certainly the Armani suit he was wearing did nothing to detract from his aura.

"I beg to differ," Ethan said as he too lazily scanned her from head to foot. Certainly the little "squirt" had grown- not much just four inches, but he was willing to attribute three of those four inches to the strappy delicate sandals that encased her small feet. Her curls were as unruly as ever, but there was order to that chaos, and the mass of chestnut curls fell in such a way that he just wanted to run his hands through them. No, she was almost the same, except that now she had curves most women would kill for, and her satin peach dress was doing nothing to hide them.

Gene raised an eyebrow, "So you think my dress is provocative do you Mr. Brighton?"

Ethan smiled enigmatically, "no Gene. Your dress is not provocative at all". The way that he said it sent shivers down her back.

Matthew coughed nervously, "well then, I think it's time Eth and I resumed our rounds," He turned to his little sister to kiss her on her forehead, "I'll see you tonight babe."

Gene hugged her brother absentmindedly while still continuing her staring contest with Ethan.

"I suppose I'll see you later than Gene," Ethan grinned before kissing her himself on the forehead. But this was nothing like her brother's kiss. Ethan's proximity was overwhelming and his subtle scent of pine and cedar was driving her senses mad. The kiss itself was chaste, but one of his hands had entwined itself briefly in her hair, stroking her neck erotically before it disengaged.

The effect was her momentary loss of breath as he walked away with her brother, the guilty hand innocently resting in his pant pocket.

"Gene?" Xandria asked worriedly, "are you alright kid?"

She shook her head quickly as if to clear it and then smiled at her best friend, "Of course! Now lets talk about this wedding of yours- I want ALL the details of the proposal." Gene shot Brian a dirty look before walking off arm in arm with his soon to be bride.

He only smiled fondly and waved as his two favorite girls strolled off to gossip about him. Life was good.


"What the hell was that Eth?" Matthew demanded as soon as they were out of earshot.

"What was what?"

"Don't you play innocent with me Eth! I know that act of yours, I've seen it enough times- now quit it! That's my sister!"

"Can I help it if I'm charming?" Ethan asked jokingly but shut up as she saw the glare in Matthew's eyes. Shit. Matt could down right fucking scary when he wanted to be.

"Really Matt, I promise I won't hurt her."

"Don't you give me that! I won't have anyone playing around with her whether they mean to hurt her or not," Matthew said between clenched teeth, "I know your not over Evelyn yet, and I know that my sister is just a rebound for you."

Ethan's hazel eyes flashed, "Don't," he began quietly, "say her name with your sister's in the same sentence. I know I've been an ass to a lot of girls these past two years, but that doesn't mean I've changed. I would never intentionally hurt Gene, you know we've grown up together- hell you were there! I don't know what you make of me now Matt, but I'm not the rake you think I am."

A small lift by the corner of his mouth was the only indication that Matthew Ashton was amused. "Are you 'pursuing her affections' then?" He asked, now grinning widely as Ethan rolled his eyes upon hearing his mother's old saying.

"Of course not- it was just innocent flirting. You know that, I'm sure underneath all the smoky stares, and the sultry poses she's the same Gene I grew up with, and I'm sure I'm the same old Ethan to her. It probably won't ever happen." Ethan brushed away his best friend's comment with an airy wave of his hand.

Matthew gave a mock sigh, "Oh our mother's would be so disappointed."

Grinning Ethan joined the inside joke, "I know- I suppose all those wedding plans of theirs will just have to be modified. Gene and I aren't happening anytime soon- now come on, I'm sure there are at least twenty business deals we can get somewhere with tonight and talking about our mothers' dreams isn't getting us anywhere."

"Of course! Of course!" The two of them chuckled as they went their separate ways around the room.



-- Later on that night ---

"Brighton my boy! I see you've finally got this company up and running! I look forward to our future business deals you know."

Ethan grinned as he shook the business tycoon Jeremiah Langston's hand, "Of course Mr. Langston, of course!"

Mr. Langston looked over his shoulders and around the room before turning his attention to Ethan again.

"You know," the 73-year-old man whispered conspiratorially, "there are a lot of beautiful women in this room."

Ethan grinned, "Yes sir."

"And," he continued to whisper, "a strapping lad like yourself should be chasing these beautiful women, not talking to an old man like myself!" Mr. Langston gave a hearty thump on Ethan's back.

"But who would keep you company then Mr. Langston?"

The cheery old man waved him off, "Oh beautiful women still flock to me, my boy. I promise you that I won't be lonely. Now off you go- I don't do business with single men you know, untrustworthy creatures they are." He winked and wandered off into the crowd. Ethan, shaking his head in disbelief, grinned as he went to 'chase' a beautiful woman in red from across the room- who was he to deny a client?



Ethan rubbed his eyes as he threw his keys onto his side table of his relatively large apartment.

The night had gone rather well and Bright-Ashton Corps had gotten more than a few business proposals. Yes, there was definitely a great sense of satisfaction that he got from tonight.

Stripping only to his black and dark green stripped boxers Ethan crawled into his bed, exhausted, and strangely enough the last thing that crossed his mind was not the multibillion dollar deal he might have caught with Mr. Langston and his Stock Investment company, but a pair of arresting deep green eyes and wildly delicate curls caught up atop a deliciously curvy body.

The dreams he would have tonight would definitely not be child-suitable.



On the other side of New York, Gene sat with her mother in Matthew's bachelor pad- a large apartment near Manhattan eating ice cream.

"How was it darling?" Margaret Ashton asked her daughter with an eyebrow raised, "was Ethan there?"

"Of course mother," Gene smiled, "it is after all half of his company too."

"Well is that all dear?" Her mother egged on, "No comments about how dashing he looks or how you want to just fall into bed with him straight away?"

"Mother!" Gene gasped appalled, "of course not! I haven't seen him in six year but not that much has changed."

Margaret just smiled, "of course not dear, I suppose Sara and I need to put up that old dream of ours huh?"

Gene returned her mother's warm smile as she hopped off the kitchen stool,

"I've been telling you that for years Mom. Goodnight!"

"Goodnight dear!" Margaret sang at her daughter's retreating back. Little did she know that what she had said hit too close to home for Gene. Gene did think that Ethan's look were dashing, and deep down inside Gene couldn't deny that she wanted to dive into Ethan's bed.

But thoughts like these were dangerous, and she suppressed them all in her memory- away from her consciousness and peace of mind. There was no way that she and Ethan could get together! First off, they really didn't even have a concrete relationship- at each other's throats one moment and then almost close friends the next. Further more Ethan had always played the role of big overprotective brother with her, and Gene was sure that tonight's episode was only his way of trying to faze her.

No- she would not think about what could never be- besides she could do much better than Ethan Gabriel Brighton.

But oh how she would think otherwise if she could only look into Ethan's dreaming mind at the moment….


A/N: Happy New Years guys!!!

Review because you love me and it really keeps me going (though you might not see it)

Hugs and Kisses!

Angel of Artemis