The Heir to the Emerson Refrigerator

"Did you have fun?"

The light flickered on, and Ryan's head exploded in white hot pain. He pinched the bridge of his nose with his fingers and squinted his eyes as tightly shut as they would go.

"Up until now," he grumbled into his pillow. He groped blindly for his phone, and when he found it, he flipped it open. Three-thirty.

He glanced out the window. Sunlight was pouring in since he'd neglected to close the blinds the night before. Or rather earlier this morning when he'd stumbled into the house.

Three-thirty in the afternoon. So he'd been asleep for roughly eleven hours.

The covers were ripped from his body and a feral growl escaped his lips as his father tore the pillow from underneath his head next.

"Get up," he said roughly.

"Dad, I had a late night..." he grumbled, reaching for anything to shut out the light and make his father shut up. The headache only grew.

"Oh, I know all about your late nights with Grant, Eric, Samuel, and Weston." Ryan rolled his eyes. And Elle, he added to himself.

"Yeah?" he wondered aloud, groaning at the use of his voice so soon after waking up hung-over.

"Where did you go this time?" his father demanded.

"Go?" he wondered, feigning innocence. "We hung out at Grant's house."

"Bullshit," his father replied. "I heard the cops showed up last night at the Preston household around four-o-clock. What time did you get in?"

"Before that," he lied.

"We could watch the security tapes or you could tell me the truth," he said, holding up a small, black tape.

Was he serious? He was going to punish Ryan for going out and having a little fun? He'd just gotten home from college, for heaven's sake! And it wasn't like his father didn't know he'd been partying at school anyway. Penn State University wasn't exactly an innocent school when it came to partying. Hell, it wasn't like his father didn't know he'd been partying here at home since his sophomore year of high school! So what was up his ass this morning?

Afternoon. Whatever.

"Four-thirty," he grumbled.

"So were you at the Preston's or is the timing purely coincidental?"

"That depends on if you have security footage of the Preston's house," he growled.

"Ryan, when are you going to start taking your life seriously? You are an Emerson for Christ's sake! Do you even understand what that means?" his father lectured.

"It means I sit behind the people with last names that start with D in classes," Ryan drawled. He sat up, rubbed his face, and then opened his dark brown eyes blearily. He stared into his father's eyes, the eyes that mirrored his, and could see the small golden specks, so unexpected in such dark eyes, dancing in anger. "Is this going somewhere Dad? Should I get dressed first? I'm rather uncomfortable arguing with you in my boxers."

"Being an Emerson means you have social responsibilities!" his father continued, completely ignoring Ryan's sarcasm. "You come from one of the most prestigious and well-known families in New England! Doesn't that mean anything to you?"

"Honestly?"

"You have to uphold the family name! You are responsible for continuing the family business! The family wealth will pass down to you!"

"The family dog is mine, the family butler is mine, the family BMW is mine, the family refrigerator..."

"This is not a joke," his father growled.

"Oh, I wasn't joking. When you and Mom die, I'm taking that refrigerator for myself."

"So this is how you're planning on spending your summer now, is it? Lounging about during the day, waking up after noon every day and then going out and drinking at night? Rolling in at God-forsaken times in the morning and not caring at all about the name you're making for yourself and for your family?" his father demanded, his voice rising past hysteria.

"It sounds promising."

"No – I will tell you how this summer is going to go. There will be no more late parties. You will not sleep past nine. And most importantly, you will not be living in this house."

"... What?" Ryan asked, finally intrigued. His father was going to kick him out? What was that going to do for the family image?

"And I'm going to put a stop to your little fantasies about bunking with Grant or Wes right now – you're going to live in one of the guest rooms in the country club."

Cherry Brook Country Club, one of the finest country clubs in all of New England. Not only did it have an exclusive, members only golf course, but it had another one for commercial use – it was one of the highest rated commercial golf-courses for four years running. Tourists from all over came to Ogunquit, Maine to test their skills on Cherry Brook Country Club's golf course.

Ryan's mind immediately supplied him with the facts on Cherry Brook. The statistics that had been drilled into his mind since infancy drifted across his thoughts. Then he shook his head and stared at his father, open mouthed in shock.

Not for the first time, he wished he'd put pants on. Arguing in boxers was demeaning. His father probably planned it that way.

"Is there any particular reason why I'm being exiled to CB?" he asked, using the name his sister and he often used when they were speaking about the country club.

"You will join the staff and me in Cherry Brook Country Club this summer so that you can learn the workings of the business. I will not have you slacking off this summer no matter what – it's time you learned how to handle yourself like an Emerson."

"Dad –"

"This is non-negotiable." His father glanced around Ryan's room. "Since you haven't unpacked in the week that you've been home from school, you should have no problems moving your belongings into the club. I'll expect you there by tonight – we have a dinner with an important client at seven, and you will be present." He studied him up and down. "Clean shaven and dressed appropriately."

His father left his room, slamming the door on his way out. Ryan stared after him and sank slowly onto his bed, his mind reeling.

His dad was seriously going to move him out of the house he'd grown up in and shove him into the country club to live? Did he seriously think he'd become less pampered with the room service and maids that the club offered for the guest rooms? Ryan's lips curled into a smirk as he thought more about it.

How bad could it be, living at the country club? There was a pool, tennis courts, a golf course, and a basketball court at his disposal. He could make it to the batting cages no problem in one of the golf carts. And he and his friends practically lived there during the summer anyway. Now it was just official. Ryan's smirk grew. If his father thought he was punishing him by forcing him to live at the country club, he was sadly mistaken. Hell, he'd gladly move in there if it meant avoiding his father.

"So that was fun," a voice announced from outside his door before it was swung open.

"Get out, Elle," he grumbled, although his voice wasn't convincing. He really didn't mind his kid sister. In fact, he liked her company more than anyone else's in the house, and she usually hung out with him and his four best friends anyway. He was used to her being around.

"Put some pants on," she retorted before throwing him a pair of jeans. He caught them easily and pulled them on. "So you're going to the country club for the summer?" she asked.

"What, were you pressed to the wall outside?" he asked, scowling.

"Hardly – I was with Andre in the security room," she replied lightly, smiling and flipping her curly blonde hair behind her. "Dad's right, the new sound system really picks up everything!"

Ryan rolled his eyes and pushed some of his auburn hair out of his dark brown eyes. He stumbled over to the mirror to style it, but it was still pretty much intact from last night's escapades. "He's spying on me now?" he asked as he ran his fingers through his hair to fix the ends that were sticking up from sleeping where he fell.

"No, the cameras and microphones have always been there – they just have a new and improved system. Here," she said, handing him two blue pills and a glass of orange juice. He thanked her and swallowed the pills.

"Why aren't you hung –" but Adele's hand shot out and covered his mouth. He glared at her, and she motioned to the hall. "Oh come on, they're not that strong," he said. Except her hand was over his mouth, so nothing really came out except mumbles.

"They're pretty damn powerful, Ry," she warned.

"You mean you could hear our conversation from the microphone in the hall?" Ryan asked, going out of his room and staring into the camera that was positioned in the middle of the ceiling in the hallway. He waved half-heartedly, knowing that Andre would get a kick out of that, and then he retreated back to his room. "Those are good."

It would have sounded strange to an outsider, the two of them talking so casually about such an obvious showing of distrust on their father's part. But Ryan and Adele had grown up with this kind of treatment. They were used to the cameras and the security checks. They were used to having to enter a password before pulling into the driveway. It was just the way of life for the Emerson kids.

"It's good for some things," she muttered. He went back to the mirror and began fixing his hair again. Suddenly, her reflection appeared next to his. She motioned for him to lean down so she could whisper in his ear, and he rolled his eyes and declined his head.

"How was the party after I left?" she asked. "Did anything exciting happen?" He glanced at her excited face, alight with the promise of some gossip. Ryan let his little sister come to certain parties (ones that he knew were relatively safe) if she promised him two things: one, that he would never catch her doing anything with a guy he didn't specifically approve of (which basically limited her to his four best friends, the likes of whom Adele would never think about romantically), and two, that she would leave alone before two-o-clock. Two-o-clock is when things started to get ugly in Ogunquit.

The last party had been especially taxing on Ryan's drunken nerves. Not only had he caught people using in one of the bedrooms, but the cops had sprung the party earlier than usual. If Adele had been there...

"No – and speaking of which, I really don't want you coming to any more of these parties. There were drugs there, and if you'd –"

"Ry, chill out. I'm not stupid, you know. And I'm not a child," she whispered.

He glanced down at her, letting his auburn hair fall back into his eyes. She looked up at him with her light blue orbs, challenging him to fight her. "I know you're not – but that doesn't mean I can't be a little protective, does it?" he asked, smiling and putting his hand on her shoulder.

She stepped back and used a normal tone of voice again. "Between you, Grant, Wes, Sam, and Eric there's no way I can get into any kind of trouble," she scoffed.

"They just care about you is all – and I think that's good."

"Are you sure about that?" she taunted, grinning suggestively and raising her perfectly manicured eyebrows.

"What are you implying?" he asked. She shrugged and picked up a picture of the six of them at an amusement park. Ryan looked over her shoulder.

"Hmm..." she mumbled, and then she pointed to herself in the photo and grinned up at him. "I'm just saying that I'd watch Eric a little closer if you're trying to keep my virtue intact."

Ryan grabbed the photo and scrutinized it while Adele skipped out of his room. Eric was next to Adele and he had his arm around her. He was looking down at her lovingly and she was laughing, something that Ryan had never thought twice about.

He seized his phone and pushed five on his speed dial. It rang four times before someone answered.

"What?" was the muffled response. He sounded like he'd been jostled awake.

"What the hell are you thinking?!" Ryan demanded of one of his best friends, Eric Downey. "She's my sister, you ass-wipe!" he shouted into the phone.

"What the holy hell are you on? I'm going back to bed." And then the line went dead. Ryan glared at his phone and then threw it onto his bed, fuming.

Adele popped her head into his room again. "I was kidding, Ry," she said sweetly. His head pounded, his headache only slightly lessened from before. "Now come on, I'll help you load your shit into the trucks." She shook her head and then grabbed one of Ryan's many duffle bags.

For a pampered rich girl, Adele Emerson sure wasn't a push-over. She was a seasoned tennis player and was stronger than most of his friends. Well – actually, just Eric. She left the room with a duffle strung over each shoulder and Ryan followed her, smirking.

After two hours, they managed to load all of his belongings into two overstuffed SUVs. Adele grabbed the keys for one while Ryan took the keys to the other, and then he led the way to the country club, drinking a tall glass of orange juice as he went to fight off the headache that was still threatening him.

They pulled into the club a few minutes later and parked in the fire lane in front of the entrance. They could do that because they were Emersons and they owned the club. Adele switched off her engine and stepped out. The wind blew through her blonde curls and Ryan watched as two college-aged guys stared down at her from the steps. He growled and jumped out of the truck. He shot them a glare and then went to his younger sister.

"Which room are you staying in?" she asked. "One of the servant's quarters?"

"Oh, very funny. No, I'll be in the master suite, whether Dad likes it or not. He's not going to completely exile me," he drawled. He grabbed a few duffle bags and made his way up the stairs and into the club, almost bowling over a girl on his way in.

She huffed loudly and pushed her brown bangs angrily from her eyes as he pushed through. He shrugged at her and kept going. He heard Adele apologizing for him.

"You could be nicer, you know – you'll probably be seeing her every day now," she joked, laughing at her own humor.

"I doubt I'll be socializing with the help even if I wanted to," he muttered dangerously. "Dad's got my social life booked for the next three months. Meetings, dinner parties, golf rounds..." he rolled his eyes.

"It's a good thing you're good at golf then, isn't it?" Adele joked again.

"Don't think you're getting out of this, Elle. I'm going to mention to Dad how you're just dying to take over the family business – he'll be so thrilled, you'll be moving in next door any day now," he told her. He didn't tell her he was actually considering it. The summer would be a lot more bearable for him if Adele came too.

"Don't you dare!" she hissed, although she had a smile on her face. He opened the door to the master suite which was decorated blandly for guests and threw his duffle bags down. Adele did the same and then cracked her knuckles. "Well... that's four out of four-hundred," she muttered.

"I didn't ask you to help, you know" he pointed out to her, slinging his arm around her slender shoulders and ruffling her hair with his free hand. It was slightly awkward since she was three inches shorter than he was. "You're just naturally awesome."

"No need to tell me that, dear brother," she said, reaching up and ruffling his hair in return.

It took them seven trips, but with the help of some of the country club staff, they managed to haul all of his things into the master suite. He sighed and fell onto the bed, his headache dulling to an uncomfortable and ever-present pressure. Adele stood by the door.

Her silence tipped him off. Adele wasn't one to let a moment slip by without some sort of witty comment or smidgen of gossip. But she was quiet, leaning against the door frame and twisting the end of her shirt in between her fingers. Ryan sat up and narrowed his eyes.

"Elle? You okay?" he questioned her.

"Ry – you won't kick me out if... I'm allowed to come visit you, right?" she asked nervously.

"Never," he said immediately, swinging his feet around and landing them on the floor. "This is the last time I want to see your face in this room!" He smirked and she smiled shyly before continuing. Ryan didn't like her this way. It frightened him.

"I just... anytime, right? Whenever I want?" His brow creased in confusion and interest.

"Sure..." he said slowly, "but why the sudden seriousness?" he asked.

Her face brightened immediately, and it almost seemed forced. "I'm just thinking about the moment this summer when I simple snap -" she snapped her fingers, "and I can't be in the house any more. Without you there to calm me down, it's bound to happen. It might be sometime late at night, and if that happens, I want to make sure I have somewhere to go," she explained, shrugging it off.

Ryan narrowed his eyes some more. That hardly warranted the nervousness she'd exhibited. They both knew that Adele was prone to emotional tirades during prolonged exposure to their parents. He'd expected her to spend most of her time with him anyway. But he nodded. "Sure thing – just warning you though, I plan on having the guys over more often than not."

Adele waved her hand dismissively. "I don't care about them," she said. "I like them. Especially Eric."

His face darkened as she grinned evilly. "Okay, get out," he said, pushing her out.

"But why?" she asked, laughing as she dug the heels of her tennis shoes into the carpet.

"Because I have to take a shower before dinner at seven. Apparently Dad and I are meeting an important client. Exciting right?" he asked her. She made a face and he mirrored it, and she laughed.

"Alright Ry... have fun. Call me after – we'll steal a golf-cart and get ice cream or something."

"Sounds good," he told her. She straightened his shirt for him before leaving, waving.

Ryan watched his little sister leave and then sighed. He hated being apart from her – it was strange how close they were, but he assumed that came from their constant fight against their father. They had to stick together or else be torn apart by his relentless business-babble. They'd chosen each other for their sanity.

He groaned and pulled out a black shirt, black slacks, and a pink tie. Then he showered and changed, but didn't shave. He figured if the important client didn't like his five-o-clock shadow, he could go to hell. Or to Oakmont Country Club. Either was okay with him.

His father's important client had a full grown beard.


A/N: So it's a new story! I hope you like this first chapter - it's a little slow, I'll admit, but I do kind of like it. Don't worry, things'll heat up. )

Thanks for reading - leave a review por favor!

- L. Shaye