The Demon and the Angel
Tess was in, for lack of better term, a very foul mood. And what more was to be expected after finding her beloved dog, bless his heart, had crapped all over her new Manolo Blahnik Brazil Velcro sandals that had been given to her by the love of her life on her birthday, which had only been two weeks ago, and then having her hair dryer burn out on the night she needed it most. Why hadn't it lasted another twenty minutes for her sake? Why couldn't this happen on any other day when she wouldn't have minded walking out of the house looking like shit?
The answer was quite simple.
The gods had it out for her.
Granted she did do her share of blasphemy with the drinking and partying and swearing and smoking, but really, other people did worse. She wasn't out robbing banks or on killing sprees, though she wouldn't mind putting a bullet into a certain someone's head.
Sighing, Tess downed the rest of her Cosmopolitan. It had to happen on this night, the night that was supposed to be full of magic and professions of love. Her best friend and love interest Cameron Reynolds had invited her to come to an exclusive party in the Hamptons, yes the Hamptons, where only the elite of society and richest of the rich dwelled in their own little world, oblivious to the true hardships of life. What she wouldn't give to live in their surreal-like paradise as opposed to slaving away in the kitchen of a restaurant just so she could put herself through college.
But back to the point.
Cam had been her best friend since their junior year of high school, back when her life had been in shambles and she had no one to turn to, back when she had almost given up on life. And what girl in her right mind wouldn't with a mother too busy whoring and gold-digging to see that her daughter was suffering, a non-existent father, no friends in a school obsessed with social status and money, and a succession of boyfriends who wanted nothing more than her body? She had been teetering on the edge of oblivion, literally, when Cam had snatched her from the lip of the bridge and instead of reporting the attempted suicide to the proper authorities, had kept the incident between them.
Tess had long since buried the details of what drove her to near suicide. And yet at times, she couldn't help but wonder what would have happened if he hadn't come along that day? Would she have had the courage to take the coward's way out? Or would she have continued the drudgery of living out a completely meaningless and miserable life?
But Cameron he had given to her something that she had forgotten existed: companionship. He had introduced her to his friends, opened his home to her, and became her support system.
And somewhere along the lines, she had fallen for him, hard. He was sweet, funny, considerate, hot as hell, genuinely cared for her, and became the first guy to treat her with respect. He accepted her for who she was despite her many faults. But in spite of the fact that they clicked in every way imaginable, she had yet to get him to realize that they belonged together. He ignored the advances that had worked so well in ensnaring her other boyfriends and every time she brought up the subject of a relationship, he abruptly changed the subject or shut down.
She smiled. But tonight was going to change all that. Because before tonight, they had never went anywhere that didn't include frat boys, kegs, and scantily clad sorority chicks vying for his attention.
So here she was, all dolled up, in a sexy black number that had taken three months worth of paychecks to buy--with no matching Manolo Blahniks, might she add--but instead a pair of strappy black sandals, the store being immaterial, that paled harshly in comparison the expensive designer shoes that held her heart for all of their two weeks of their existence. And her hair, let's not even to go there. The mass of auburn curls that fell mid-back, which had unfortunately been spared the luxury of straightness due to unforeseen complications with her hair dryer, sat in a semi-wet pile atop her head after being slathered with enough gel and mousse to last eight months in hopes that it would be able to pull off a sleek, pin-up look and wouldn't frizz too much. She wasn't in an Afro mood tonight.
Tess glanced at the clock hanging over the bartender's head and frowned. Cam was late. Cam was never late. He made it his job to be punctual.
Yes, he had called and said he was waiting for two of their friends who'd be tagging along, but that wasn't the problem. Hell, she was still waiting on a Christmas present that her father had promised to give her and that was ten years ago. Waiting wasn't an issue. The issue lay in the fact that she was a young, beautiful woman of nineteen years sitting in a bar full of old, horny bastards whose stares had become increasingly frequent and bolder as time progressed.
Ugh. The things she did for love.
Tess resisted the urge to flinch when the meaty finger tapped her shoulder. Grinding her teeth, she turned to the owner of the voice, and didn't bother plastering a faux smile at the greasy looking fellow grinning at her through beer-stained teeth.
"Hey," he said, his gaze slithering up and down her body.
I hate this fucking borough. "Hi," she said shortly and looked away, hoping he would catch the hint.
He didn't. "I'm Ryan." He held out his hand.
"That's nice." She ignored his outstretched hand.
"Is this seat empty?"
This man was seriously beginning to grate her nerves. "Yes, and this one will be too if you sit down."
"Aww, darlin', why do have to be that way," Ryan said taking the seat anyway, his sleazy grin making her skin crawl. "So you wanna go back to my place?"
"What part of I'm not interested don't you understand?" Did she have whore stamped on her forehead or something? Frowning, she glanced down at her attire and saw why. The front of the dress was low cut, showing the curves of her breasts, but left more than enough for the imagination while the bottom of the dress, on the other hand, had ridden up, showing entirely too much skin to be considered conservative. Damn it, this was supposed to be for Cam's viewing pleasure only. She glared at the man, who was still staring at her expectantly. "Fuck off already. My boyfriend's going to be here any minute. I should warn you that he doesn't take too kindly to other men hitting on me." It wasn't a total…ok so it was a total lie, since Cam and she weren't officially going out, but Tess liked to delude herself otherwise for kicks.
The man's amiable façade dropped quicker than a hot potato, baring a darker, uglier (if that were even feasible) side of him, the harsh lines of his withered face drawing into an unattractive scowl. "Listen baby, I don't got time for this. I have good, hard earned money and all I want thirty minutes of your time. It ain't like you got anything better to do."
Tess raised a brow as the man stood and placed his fleshy palm on her upper arm. "Come on babe. I got things to do."
Her fingers crept around the hilt of the police taser in her purse. God bless her brother, the little thief. She'd been dying to try out this baby ever since he'd given it to her a couple of weeks ago. What an opportune time.
But before she got a chance to pull out her weapon, his hand was suddenly snatched away and his body removed from his seat in a blur of movement. Tess winced as his bulky body flew over the table and smashed into the wooden panel of the bar, disturbing glasses and bottles that rattled noisily with the collision. All conversation paused for a moment, then resumed again after surveying the damage, this kind of chaos being commonplace.
"I believe she told you she wasn't interested," a smooth, masculine voice said to the man, the frosty nuances of his tone sending frissons of ice racing up her spine.
Looking up, Tess almost swooned at the sight of her love. Decked out in a form fitting, black shirt straining around muscled forearms and black slacks that snuggly hugged a tapered waist, Cam was the entire package. His wavy, golden blonde hair had been combed back, though a few, thick strands dusted his forehead and framed the most beautiful blue eyes known to man, well, to her anyway and that was all that mattered. Their depths and intensity, though currently resembling dark, glacial icebergs, were one of things that had drawn her to him.
"Are you ok?" His eyes automatically roved over her body as if assessing if she were hurt before connecting with her eyes, and when they did, Tess felt her heart trip over itself within the cavity of her chest. Did he know how to get a girl worked up or what?
"I'm fine, I'm fine," she waved airily, then pouted upon remembering that she wouldn't get to play with her new toy. "You couldn't wait five more seconds before intervening? I wanted to try out my taser."
Darkness vanishing in the space of a breath, the cold glaciers was replaced by the familiar bright cornflower blue eyes that she knew so well. A wry smile curved at his lips. "Knowing the places you like to hang out, the opportunities for using your gun will be plentiful and boundless. But seriously," he voice took a stern edge, "next time, let me pick you up from your place instead. I don't like you hanging out in these ragtag joints, taser or no taser."
"I just wanted a drink," Tess shrugged and tossed a few, errant strands of wet hair that had managed to stray from the pack over her shoulder, but stiffened slightly when his hand encircled his wrist. And it was one of the few bars in the city that didn't card.
She rolled her eyes at both his censure in his tone and the citing of her full name, which she hated with a passion. "I didn't feel like having my mother and her bitch play twenty questions with me tonight. So sue me."
Cam sighed. "Must you persist in calling your stepfather a bitch?"
"Well he is. I've never seen a man more whipped than that bastard, following her around like a lost puppy. It's so ridiculous it's laughable," she spat.
"I've seen them together T. He loves her."
"And she loves his money, so what else is new?" Tess abruptly stood up and caught herself before stumbling. The bartender must have put something else in the Cosmo other than Bacardi. She was suddenly glad she'd left him an extra tip.
"I think that she might have feelings for him this time around," he said quietly.
"As opposed to the other twenty eight thousand times?" Her mother's shameless exploits were one the reasons she had been such an outcast growing up. Being a natural beauty that far outshone that of her classmates had made her feel strangely isolated, then having a mother whose predispositions that were no better than that of a prostitute and rumored to have slept with several of the PTA mothers' husbands had inexorably sealed the deal to a fate ordained for solitude.
Tess jumped when she felt his hand rest on the small of her back, warm, knowing blue eyes soothing the chaos of her mind. Pushing the depressing thoughts to the backburner, she attached herself to his arm and grinned. "Let's blow this joint. I'm ready to shake my groove thang." She wiggled her rear for emphasis.
He wanted to say something more, probably expound upon unsaid thoughts and feelings, but he held back, and for that she was grateful. Now wasn't the time for such discussions. He shot her crooked half-smile, one that had butterflies procreating at the speed of light within her stomach. "You're the boss."
Tess leaned her head against his shoulder as they walked out of the hazy barroom and was careful not to get any hair juices on his black shirt. She closed her eyes and breathed in the heavy, polluted air of the city, relieved to have finally left the dankness that encompassed the bar. The night was cool against her heated skin. The alcohol was running through her system and giving her a pleasant buzz. This was exactly how she had imagined it. Just her and the love of her life ready for a night on the town. A light sigh passed between her glossed lips, a content smile settling on her face. It was perfect.
And then she heard his voice. "I see you finally found her. What was she, fucking the bartender in the bathroom for a few free drinks?"
Hazel green eyes snapped open. The blood in her veins slowed, encumbered by ice, her smile fading. She stared at the silver convertible with its top down, revealing someone she didn't have the stomach to tolerate right now. His forehead was free from obsidian hair that had been brushed back into a low ponytail, enhancing the dark, amber eyes of a demon that stared at her from the backseat in disgust.
Tess leapt away from Cam angrily and stared at the man she had thought of as her friend. "What is he doing here?!"
Cam looked at her quizzically. "I called and told you that I had to pick up them."
"No, you said that were waiting for them, not driving them! I thought that we were driving separately!"
"Well you guessed wrong, but we wouldn't expect more from a whore who slept her way to college," the demon drawled.
"At least I'm not the walking STD who's screwed half the female population of New York City," she snapped.
"Enough Adonis, Tess," the exasperated platinum-blonde female sitting beside him spoke, "we're here to have fun, not rip out each other's throats. It's the last week of summer vaca before we go back to school so can we please be civil, or at least fake it, for once?"
Tess shot daggers at Monica, the traitor, before turning to her best friend. "I can't believe you didn't tell me he was going," she accused, keeping her voice low. "What the hell were you thinking Cam?"
He groaned and ran a tired hand over his face. "I was thinking that you two were old enough to act your ages and not your shoe sizes, but apparently I was wrong. No listen T," he began quickly upon seeing a dangerous fire kindling in her dual-colored eyes, "it was a last minute thing; he didn't feel like driving and I thought it was pointless to take two cars since we're both going the same place. And," Cam added wrapping an arm around her waist and offering her a tentative grin, "I knew you wouldn't have come if I had mentioned it. Am I right or am I right?"
"I suppose," Tess answered warily, the imploring glint in his eyes chipping away at her resolve to remain angry.
"Do you forgive me?" He gave her the infamous puppy dog look.
The heat from the arm snaked around her waist combined with the melting of her heart at the beseeching blue pools searching hers for forgiveness caused Tess to sigh. Oh yeah. Her stepfather wasn't the only one whipped. "Fine, but don't let it happen again." Without acknowledging her defeat, Tess walked to the passenger side and climbed in.
"Yay! Party time!" Monica cheered from the back as Cam rejoined them seconds later. "What's the ETA maestro?"
"About an hour and a half," the blue-eyed angel replied throwing the gear into drive and began backing out of the parking lot.
Monica leaned forward, a splash of white blonde hair following her movements as she nodded in approval upon giving her friend the once over. "Love the dress Tess. Where'd you get it?"
"The same sugar daddy she always gets her shit from, you know that babe."
Tess gripped the armrest, her blunt nails digging into the upholstery. The amount of effort it was taking not climb into the backseat and gouge out his disgusting eyeballs with her hairpins was evident from the white dotting her knuckles. A dry smile tilted her lips. It looked like she was going to get a chance to use that taser after all.
AN: I've had the concept of this twisted love triangle in mind for some time now and I had to get it out before it drove me insane. So much more drama, suspense, and passion to come. Drop me a line and tell me what you think. Thanks!