I know the updates are taking awhile, but I hope you all will stick with me. This story isn't coming as easy as AWA did, but I'm still enjoying writing it all the same. Please know I will not abandon it.

Warning: This story contains underage drinking and mature content. Please do not read if you are under 18.

Big thanks to Shepeppy for betaing for me.

Emerson awoke the next morning feeling surprisingly well rested. It was very odd for her to sleep so well with someone else. Alexander was still formed perfectly around her, his head buried in her hair. She could feel his shallow breaths blowing across her neck and she smiled in spite of herself.

"You know, without all that girlie shit, you smell like tangerines," Alexander's gravelly voice spoke in her ear. She cringed slightly, remembering how much Grant had enjoyed that, too. "Did I say something?" Alexander felt her body go rigid.

"Sorry." She took a deep breath, willing her body to relax. "Someone else used to tell me the same thing," she informed him as she moved to sit up.

"Oh," he replied in understanding, sitting up as well. "What happened between you and Grant anyways?"

"I don't really wanna talk about it, okay?" she asked, turning slightly to face him.

Alexander took in the deep sorrow her eyes were emitting and instantly felt bad for bringing it up. "Yeah, of course," he assured her with a nod and a slight smile.

"Thanks," she all but whispered, turning to face the wall again.

Alexander desperately wanted to know what had gone on between the two of them. He had never seen Grant so stressed over a girl, not to mention that Grant had also started turning them away. Alexander knew asking him was out of the question and talking to Xavier about it would only evoke questions he didn't feel like answering, but maybe he could ask Q. He might have a chance to talk to him today during golf, but that all depended on how fatherly Mr. Rochester felt like being.

"You better start getting ready," Alexander told Emerson, coming out of his own thoughts.

"For what?" she asked, finally turning her whole body back to him.

"Brunch," he informed her.

"Eh, I don't really feel like eating," she replied, getting out of bed.

Alexander laughed quietly to himself before responding. "Brunch has nothing to do with food and I'll save you the time and just let you know now that you won't be able to get out of it; it's a responsibility."

Emerson blew out a long breath as she finger combed her hair, she didn't feel like going anywhere, but it didn't sound like she'd have much of a choice. "Alright," she agreed, making her way to the bathroom to turn on the shower.

Alexander got up quickly and pulled something from one of his drawers before tossing it to her.

"What's this?" she asked, examining the green sweater vest he'd tossed her.

"One of my old vests, you'll need it for brunch," he said as he began to pull his shaving things out.

"There's a uniform for brunch?" she asked, raising an eyebrow at him.

"Yup, black or khaki skirt and sweater vest of your family's color," he replied without looking up.

"Your family's color?" she asked skeptically.

"Yeah, some weird tradition from way back to insure that the women didn't show up in the same colored gowns, or some crap like that," he answered, shrugging.

"Sounds kind of ridiculous to me," Emerson murmured, setting the vest on the counter before turning towards the shower.

"Ridiculous or not, it's tradition."

"So, you must look pretty cute in a skirt then," Emerson teased. "Tell me, do you go with khaki or black?"

"Funny," he dead panned, watching her in the mirror as she undressed. "The guys just wear khaki pants, black look a little odd on the greens."

"You golf after?" she asked and he could hear her climb into the shower.

"During; we golf, you gossip."

"So, this is what finishing camp was preparing me for." She laughed without humor.

"Hope you paid attention," he quipped as he began sliding the razor along his face.

Emerson managed to hold back the laugh that was threatening as she and Mrs. Pierson made their way into the club's dining room and to the table holding her friends and their mothers. Roslyn sat next to her mother, both dressed in a soft gold, while Caroline and her mother wore a deep purple. Noelle sat next to a woman her spitting image, dressed in classic black. Kiki had on a bright pink vest and was seated next to a very fake looking woman in ice blue. Emerson recognized Grant's mother in a stunning red blouse sitting next to a woman with light brown hair and a crisp white blouse. The woman was a spitting image of Nate and Emerson knew right away that this must be his mother. A stunningly strong woman finished off the group dressed in gray with a young girl no more than eleven at her side. Emerson was suddenly glad that she had become such good friends with these girls. A years' worth of Sunday brunches with girls she didn't like would've been very uncomfortable. Emerson and Mrs. Pierson took the last two available chairs at the center of the table across from Roslyn and her mother.

"Corrine, dear, how are you?" Roslyn's mother greeted Mrs. Pierson, standing and kissing her on the cheek.

"Well, and yourself?" Corrine returned, offering polite smiles and nods to all the other ladies in attendance.

"Welcome to the inner sanctum." Noelle giggled into her ear.

"Inner sanctum?" Emerson asked, looking confused.

"The center of the table is reserved for Piersons, Rawlings, and Rochesters only," Noelle informed her.

"Great, now I'm guilty by association," Emerson murmured.

"Did you know the first three letters of association spell ass?" Noelle giggled and snorted into Emerson's shoulder again. Emerson looked up a little startled.

"She's still drunk from last night," Roslyn whispered behind her hand.

"I am not!" Noelle cried indignantly. Several eyes turned to stare at her and she tried to compose herself. "I've been drinking this morning," Noelle whispered to Emerson loudly and Roslyn shook her head trying to hide her smirk.

"You've already been drinking this morning?" Emerson asked, slightly surprised.

"Who said I stopped?" Noelle asked with another giggle.

Emerson turned to Roslyn and Caroline hoping for some sort of explanation, but the two just looked amused at the situation their friend had put herself in. Emerson didn't get a chance to ponder the situation further as Roslyn's mother spoke up requiring her attention.

"So, you're Janelle's daughter," Margraux addressed Emerson. Her tone wasn't cold but it wasn't exactly friendly either.

"Emerson," Emerson replied, offering her hand politely.

"Tell me, Emerson, how are you enjoying Cromwell so far?"

"It's alright," Emerson replied vaguely. She wasn't sure why this woman was specifically seeking her out just to ask her about the academy, but she was almost certain it wasn't out of the kindness of her heart.

"It's not too challenging for you, is it dear?" Margraux asked in a patronizing voice. Corrine shot her a disapproving look but said nothing.

Emerson was trying to think of a polite way to respond to the rude comment, but before she had a chance, a cool yet authoritative voice spoke up. "I highly doubt she's finding it too difficult, if anything, I'm sure it's not challenging enough." Everyone's attention turned to Evelyn Rawlings. Anyone who was anyone knew that when Evelyn Rawlings spoke, you listened. "Emerson is quite bright. I had the opportunity to spend some time with her this summer and we had some very interesting discussions on Dickens."

"Who knew a Van Ness even knew how to read," the blond in the ice blue top spoke up in a snarky tone.

"Sarah Beth, I'll take this moment to remind you that the only reason you sit here is because of whom you married and that if you choose to be disrespectful to our guests then you can find somewhere else to have brunch." Evelyn's tone wasn't harsh, but it was stern and left no room for questioning. The blond looked taken aback for a moment before her reaction was ignored by the rest of the women at the center of the table as they launched into their latest bits of gossip.

Emerson took that as her cue to be excused from the conversation and turned her attention back to Noelle, Roslyn, and Caroline. Caroline and Roslyn's faces held a cross between boredom and amusement while Noelle's previously giggly disposition had started to wear off. Emerson was about to ask what was up with the blond when a bundle of bright pink dropped into her lap.

"Enjoying your first brunch?" Kiki asked, smiling widely down at Emerson.

"It's been interesting so far," she replied. "What's up with the blond?"

"Oh, that's Sarah Beth, don't let her bother you." Kiki waved it off as if it were of little importance.

"Who is she?" Emerson asked, glancing back at the woman again.

"She's Q's step mom. Married his father when we were all in middle school," Kiki explained.

"She's a walking after school special on the dangers of plastic surgery," Caroline quipped.

So, that's the bride of Frankenstein, Emerson recalled Grant telling her about Dr. Rochester's creation.

"Am I the only one that still finds it odd that she graduated with Joshua and married my uncle?" Roslyn asked, casting a wary glance down the table at Sarah Beth.

"Joshua Pierson?!" Noelle asked a little too excitedly. The first real signs of life the girls had seen from their drunken friend.

"Uuuuggg." Kiki, Caroline, and Roslyn groaned in unison.

"You are not still hung up on him?" Roslyn asked, clearly annoyed by the thought.

"Alexander's brother?" Emerson asked. "He was here last night." She shuddered internally at the thought of what might have occurred if she hadn't snuck out of her room last night.

"He's here?" Noelle asked, her eyes as big as saucers.

"He left this morning, said he had some important research he had to do on the case he's working on." Emerson rolled her eyes at the thought of his conceitedness the night before.

"I really don't know why you waste your time pining after someone who is so clearly using you." Roslyn tossed her long mane of curls over her shoulder.

Caroline, Kiki, and Noelle stared at her in amusement. "Yes, because clearly I'm the only one with that problem," Noelle stated, pointedly.

Roslyn was about to respond but the waiters began delivering the breakfasts and so she chose to shoot Noelle a look instead. Noelle smirked slightly in response, but her smirk quickly turned to a look of nausea as her skin took on a slightly green color.

"Are you okay?" Emerson asked, startled by the drastic change in her color.

"I think I'm gonna be sick," she blurted out before bolting for the bathroom.

The girls stared at her in confusion before Kiki's eyes landed on the plate of eggs Benedict sitting in front of Noelle's mother.

"Not cool, Lillian," Kiki admonished, rising to her feet.

Emerson stared from the blond woman to Kiki in confusion as she, too, got to her feet.

"Perhaps my daughter should refrain from showing up at Sunday brunch so obviously intoxicated," Lillian returned, taking a sip of her mimosa.

Kiki rolled her eyes before leading the way to the restrooms.

"What was that about?" Emerson asked as they were joined by Caroline and Roslyn.

"Just the scent of hollandaise sauce makes Noelle vomit when she's been drinking," Caroline explained.

"Lillian decided to punish her for showing up drunk by making her puke," Roslyn finished.

"The ridiculous part is that Lillian won't even eat it!" Kiki exclaimed, throwing her arms in the air.

Yeah, that's the ridiculous part, Emerson thought.

"I bet you anything that there'll be half a grapefruit sitting in front of her when we get back," Kiki said, pushing open the door to the ladies' room.

The sounds of someone vomiting quickly filled the room as the girls filed in. Kiki began opening random stall doors until she found Noelle, leaning over the large bowl. Kiki looked down at her as she held open the door, shaking her head sadly. Roslyn took up residence in front of the large mirror and began touching up her make-up while Caroline stood to the side inspecting her nails. Emerson stared at the three girls, slightly confused, before making her way into the stall and kneeling down. She scooped up Noelle's hair, holding it back from her face as her friend continued to retch. She tried to rub soothing circles on her back, hoping it would help, but she knew the best thing for her right now was probably just to get it all out of her system.

As Noelle's heaving finally began to subside, another stall door opened. "Well, well, well. What do we have here?" Natasha Marcel quirked an eyebrow at the group of girls. "Really Noelle? Throwing up in a public restroom is so low class." She cast a disdainful look at Noelle as she stepped in front of the counter to wash her hands. "I really thought this club screened their members better." She shook her head in mock disgust.

"Funny, I was just thinking the same thing," Roslyn spoke up, moving herself in front of Natasha's path.

"Come now, Roslyn. The Amazonian thing so does not work for you." Natasha dried her hands and tossed the towel in the trash. She turned back to make her way out of the restroom, but found Roslyn still blocking her path. "You don't want to get in my way," she threatened.

"Don't I?" Roslyn asked, returning her icy glare.

"Not today, dear." She patted her on the shoulder patronizingly before squeezing past her. "Toodles, ladies." She waved her hand over her head and walked out the door.

"God that chick is a bitch," Noelle spoke up, standing and flushing the toilet.

"What's she even doing back here?" Caroline asked, looking up from her nails.

"I heard she got kicked out of her last school," Kiki supplied.

"Maybe she heard Noelle fucked her dad," Roslyn added.

"You fucked her dad?" Emerson asked, shocked.

Noelle shrugged lightly in response before bending down to rinse out her mouth. Roslyn handed her a tooth brush from her makeup bag. "If I'd known what a lousy lay he was going to be, I wouldn't have wasted my time," she said, wiping her mouth and handing the tooth brush back to Roslyn.

After Roslyn had reapplied Noelle's make up, the girls made their way back to the table where all the food had now been served. Emerson glanced at Lillian's plate, only to find half a grapefruit where the offending dish had been before. She looked up, catching Kiki's eye in the process. Kiki shot her a "told you so" look before retaking her seat on the other side of Q's step mother.

Sometime later, the food had been cleared and the older women of the table sat with a drink in one hand and a Monte Blanc pen in the other going over their planners with each other.

"I've scheduled Anastasia to come to the house on Tuesday with all the dresses," Margraux informed the other ladies. "I've informed her that Emerson will be there as well. What color are we thinking?" Margraux turned her full attention to Corrine.

"What color for what?" Emerson interrupted before Corrine had a chance to respond.

"For your dress," Roslyn informed her, briefly looking up from her phone. She had been busy texting someone for the last fifteen minutes and the look on her face seemed to sour with each passing minute.

"What do I need a dress for?" Emerson asked.

"The Rochester Ball is next Saturday," Corrine informed her before turning her attention to Margraux.

"What's the ball for?" Emerson persisted.

"Every year the Rochesters host a benefit for local charities," Corrine responded. "It's a huge event, everyone will be there."

"I'm not sure I'd really fit in," Emerson offered in a lame attempt to get out of going to something she hadn't even heard about.

"Don't be ridiculous, dear," Margraux replied as Corrine faced Emerson with an odd look. "All the girls will be there, you'll know pretty much anyone who's important enough to know."

"I'm just not sure I'll be feeling up to going," Emerson tried again. "I just moved here and I'm still adjusting to everything. New school and all." At this point, half the girls at the table were staring at her in confusion. Everyone went to the Rochester Ball, not going was practically unheard of.

"I'm sure everything will work out fine." Corrine smiled at her but Emerson caught something different in her eyes. "You'll have a great time with the rest of the girls and you'll enjoy it very much." Her tone was kind, but the look in her eyes told Emerson that the subject was closed and there was no point arguing. If she hadn't cared so much about being polite to the family she was staying with, Emerson might have pushed the point further, but she didn't. She really had nothing in particular against the ball; she just couldn't stand being told what to do. "Now, about the color." Corrine turned her full attention back to Margraux. "Since I'm sure Alexander will be bringing that girl, we can't have her in green."

Margraux shuddered at the thought of Constance. "I really don't understand what he sees in her," Margraux responded.

"Neither do I," Corrine replied, biting her lip in annoyance. She understood what Constance saw in her son, but not the other way around.

"I suppose I should make sure there are gowns there for her as well, then?" Margraux asked.

"I may not approve of the girl, but I won't have my son's date wearing something off the rack," Corrine answered. Margraux and Roslyn both shuddered in disgust, but said nothing. "What about a deep blue for Emerson? I think the color would compliment her nicely." Margraux nodded in agreement before making a notation in her book.

July 2nd Continued

"So, there's this incredible place a little up the coast that has the best oysters anywhere," Grant informed Emerson as they began to make their way back to his house after their full day at the beach. "Why don't we take a little drive up there, have dinner, and watch the sunset?" Grant slid his right hand to the back of Emerson's neck, pulling her to him and leaving a deep kiss on her lips.

"Mmm," she moaned appreciatively. "That sounds like a great idea. Is it a fancy place or casual?"

"Is this one of those times you're asking because you think you're supposed to ask?" Grant cocked an eyebrow at her in amusement, remembering her asking what kind of car he drove.

Emerson laughed in response. "No, I'm asking because I need to know what to wear."

"Well, if we can get it to go, you can wear nothing while we eat." Grant grinned at her before burying his head into her neck, leaving a trail of kisses there.

"As tempting as that sounds, I think I'd like to keep my clothes on during dinner."

"But maybe not after?" Grant asked hopefully, earning another laugh from the beautiful girl by his side. He was so engrossed in her smile and the way the late afternoon sun reflected off her hair, that he didn't notice the young couple approaching them.

"Rawlings," Xavier greeted, immediately gaining Grant's attention. "Already having fun without the rest of us?" Xavier nodded slightly to Emerson as he cocked an eyebrow.

"Xavier, Caroline," Grant said their names as the smile on his face quickly disappeared. "I, um, I thought you weren't coming out 'til Saturday and Caroline, I thought you weren't making it out at all." Grant instantly grew uncomfortable and Emerson could tell he was not expecting his friend, she assumed, to be here already, but she couldn't understand why it seemed to have thrown him so much.

"I'm leaving after the big party," Caroline explained. "We just thought we'd come spend a couple days together before I had to leave."

"I'm glad you were able to come out a bit early then." He smiled at the tall brunette who was watching him in amusement. "This is Emerson Van Ness," he introduced the girl at his side, pride evident in his voice. Emerson smiled widely at the two before shaking their hands. She had been nervous for a moment with the way Grant had been acting and was silently wondering if she was going to have to introduce herself. "Xavier Lindsey and Caroline McAllister. They're friends from back home." Grant turned his gaze solely on Emerson.

"Oh, good!" Emerson laughed lightly. "Caroline, perhaps you can back me up in the point I made to him yesterday then?"

Caroline eyed this new girl with interest; she had extremely long legs and a pretty decent figure in general. Caroline wasn't surprised at all to see Grant with her, but it was the level of commitment to her that had Caroline really interested. She could tell by the tone in his voice when he introduced her that this girl was something special to him. It was something Caroline had never experienced with Grant and she couldn't help be amused by it.

"What point would that be?" Caroline asked with a small smile in Grant's direction.

"Grant was going on and on about how ridiculous it is when girls fight. He was telling me something about a friend of his, Roslyn, and how she had been busted for making out with some guy days after she'd found Evan getting blown by some random senior," Emerson began explaining. "He said none of it made sense, but I tried to tell him, when girls fight, it's an art form."

A genuine smile appeared on Caroline's lips as she answered. "You'll have to forgive Grant, he's never been interested in a girl's brain before. She is right, however." Caroline turned her focus on Grant. "When girls fight, it is an art form." Her violet eyes flashed at him briefly and he couldn't help but wonder what the meaning behind them was.

Xavier chuckled slightly behind his hand, completely amused by Caroline actually taking an interest in this girl. Caroline, however, was simply contemplating exactly how serious Grant already was for what Caroline had been assuming would be nothing more than a summer fling. It was obvious this girl had a brain and the fact that she and Grant appeared to be, not only talking about things in general, but about his friends and their lives, showed Caroline a little bit more. There was something she instantly liked about Emerson and she wasn't quite sure what it was.

"Do you guys have plans for tomorrow?" Caroline asked Emerson directly, not even glancing at Grant for an answer.

"I don't think so," Emerson replied, looking to Grant for confirmation.

Before Grant had a chance to respond, though, Caroline was already speaking again. "I have an appointment at the salon at nine, you should come with me. Then, maybe all four of us can head to the boardwalk or something."

Xavier's currently amused mood turned sour hearing his girlfriend's plans for the next day. He'd planned on spending the whole day in bed with Caroline's legs wrapped around him in one way or another before he had to part with her and his libido for almost two months. Grant's face wasn't much different from his friend's. He had absolutely no desire to share Emerson at all and he had even less desire to do it with Caroline.

"Sure, that sounds like fun." Emerson nodded and smiled in agreement. She turned to Grant, offering him an excited smile and he couldn't help but mirror hers right back. She had to admit, she had been nervous about how Grant's friends would respond to her, but things seemed to be going well with Caroline and if she could win one or two over before she met the rest, it might make things easier, especially since one was female.

The two couples bid farewell to each other after finalizing plans for the next day. Emerson and Grant making their way back to his house and Caroline and Xavier heading down the beach.

"What was that about?" Xavier asked after they were well out of earshot. He'd never known Caroline to be quite so friendly and he instantly decided she must be planning something.

"I don't know why," she began, "but, I like her."

"Really?" Xavier asked skeptically. "You never like anyone though."

"That's not true."

"Okay, you never like anyone at first glance. I'm not stupid, Caroline. Tell me, what is going on in that calculating head of yours?"

"A true magician never reveals her secrets." Caroline smirked at Xavier as he rolled his eyes in response. "But, seeing as you and I have decided that no secrets works better for us than our usual ways…" she trailed off and he nodded in agreement, reminded of how long it had taken the two of them to get where they were. "I do actually like her. There's something different about her, especially in contrast to his usual conquests. She's smart, obviously pretty, and the way she was talking about 'art,' the girl knows how to work the world." Caroline stopped walking and turned, looking out at the ocean. "She's sparked something different in Grant, too. And I want to know what that is. Tigers don't change their stripes overnight and that is clearly not the same Grant we partied with two weeks ago." She spun herself so that she was fully in Xavier's arms now and he watched her eyes with interest. "I will talk to her tomorrow and find out all there is to know about Emerson Van Ness and you will talk to Grant and figure out exactly how much this girl has changed him already."

"Oh, I will, will I?" he asked with a smirk, leaning in to kiss her.

"Yes, you will," she stated firmly, pulling back just slightly out of his range. "Or all those lovely outfits I packed," she traced her tongue along his bottom lip, "will stay exactly where they are, never seeing the light of day."

"Consider it done," he agreed, pulling her forcefully to him and attaching his lips to hers.

Present Day

Constance's lazy Sunday afternoon was interrupted by a knock at the door. She sighed in frustration, placing a marker in her book before setting it on the bed and heading downstairs. Her parents were out for the day and she had been thoroughly enjoying the peace and quiet. It wasn't often that she got an entire weekend to herself and had been extremely happy when Alexander had told her he wouldn't be able to go to Caroline's party Saturday night because his siblings were in town and he had to attend a family dinner. The knocking began again as she descended the rest of the stairs, staring at the door in annoyance before opening it. She almost did a double take when she found Alexander on the other side of it. He was dressed in perfectly pressed khakis with a green sweater vest over a crisp white shirt. His shoes were slightly dirty and she figured he must've been golfing because Alexander never walked anywhere long enough for his shoes to get that dirty.

"What're you doing here?" she asked, slightly confused.

"Am I not allowed to drop in and see my girlfriend?" He smiled his crooked smile at her before swooping down to place a soft kiss on her lips.

Constance kissed him back briefly before pulling back. "I thought you weren't allowed out on Sundays? I thought it was family day?"

She continued to stand in the doorway without inviting him in. In all honesty, she looked forward to Sundays because she knew she wouldn't have to put on a fake smile for anyone or deal with people she couldn't stand. She knew that Alexander had brunch with all the others and their families every Sunday morning, not because she'd ever been, because the Langdons were not considered a high society family.

"I got out for awhile on good behavior." He smiled at her again. "Are you gonna invite me in?" He quirked an eyebrow at her and she sighed internally in defeat before moving back to allow him entrance.

Constance couldn't help the suspicious feeling that came over her. She could count on one hand the number of times Alexander had come to her house just to hang out in the last year. She led him upstairs to her room and plopped back on the bed where she had been reading before he showed up. Alexander sprawled out on his side, leaning his head on his arm right next to Constance's knee. He picked up the discarded book, taking in the bent spine and smiled to himself.

"How's your weekend been?" he asked casually, looking up at her.

"Well, after scrubbing my hair for hours yesterday, it was pretty mellow." She shot him a look when she mentioned her hair and he let out a deep breath of air.

So, they were going to head right back into that, he thought in annoyance.

"Are we really going to go back to that again?" he asked, hoping beyond hope that she would just let it go.

"How can you not think she had anything to do with it?!" Constance practically screamed at him.

"I'm sorry, I just don't understand how Roslyn could have caused Jamie to throw up on you," he reiterated the same response he'd given her Friday night on the way home.

"You don't understand how an invitation to a girl, whose name she couldn't even be bothered to remember the day before, had anything to do with it?" She raised an eyebrow at him skeptically. "Come on, Alexander, I know you don't want to believe that Roslyn has a problem with me, but you're not that naive. I see the way she looks at you, I'm not blind you know. And I'm sure she thinks the only thing standing between you and her is me." She chose to leave out her knowledge of how much was already going on between the two of them; there was no reason to turn this into a completely different kind of argument.

"That's ridiculous!" he exclaimed. "Even if you and I weren't together, I wouldn't be with her." Although he'd left out the fact that there was stuff already going on between them, too, the fact that if he wasn't with Constance, he wouldn't be with Roslyn was true. He had no desire to date her seriously and though they were long time friends, he never saw her as more than a means to an end and lately one he didn't even want.

"I think you at least need to talk to her then and relay that fact." She turned to face him full on, her eyes demanding.

"If I agree to talk to her, can we let this go?" he asked, pleading with her with his eyes. He was well aware of the fact that between his perfect smile and startling green eyes, he could usually get his way with anything.

"As long as you promise to talk to her," Constance replied, letting her voice calm again.

"I promise. Good?" he asked, turning his eyes full force on her.

"Okay." She sighed and he grinned automatically.

"Good, because I brought you something." He reached into his back pocket and produced a small but fat rectangular box. It was wrapped in emerald green paper, the same paper that any gift he'd ever given her was wrapped in, and had a small silver bow on top.

"What's this?" she asked hesitantly as she took the box from him.

"You'll have to open it." He shrugged his shoulders and continued grinning at her.

She tentatively slipped her finger under the paper and ripped it open. In her hands sat a brand new iPod Nano in orange. She was surprised by the gift itself, but the color left her somewhat confused.

"Sorry, I had to open it," Alexander began explaining, misunderstanding her look of confusion. He took the box from her and pulled out the device before turning it on. "I also bought all your favorite books on cd and uploaded them. I figured this way, when you're too tired to read at night, you can still listen to them."

Constance took the iPod back from him and scrolled through the titles. Sure enough, all her favorites were there. She was momentarily speechless at how thoughtful the gift was.

"When did you do this?" she asked, unable to keep the awe from her voice.

"I picked it up yesterday while I was out." He shrugged as if it were no big deal. He couldn't believe how right Emerson had been. Judging from the look on Constance's face, Emerson was a miracle worker. "Do you like it?" he asked the unnecessary question.

"I love it!" She grinned at him, extremely touched by the sweetness of the gift, all question regarding the color immediately gone from her mind.

She leaned forward to give him a small kiss, but Alexander had other ideas. He quickly turned the kiss into one full of passion as he tangled his right hand into her hair. It had been so long since they'd been alone like this and Constance felt herself grabbing Alexander's shirt and pulling him towards her. He moved his left hand under her head to cradle it as he began kissing along her neck. He removed the iPod from the bed and set it on the nightstand above his head before bringing his hand to them hem of Constance's shirt.

He slid his fingers along the bare skin of her waist teasing her slightly. She moaned as his lips began to skim the tops of her breasts and she couldn't help tangling her hands into his hair as he began unbuttoning her shirt with his teeth.

He smirked up at her when he felt her hips buck up beneath him. He used his free hand to unbutton the bottom of her shirt and soon it was completely open. He chanced a look up at her face, knowing this was where he usually got stopped, but he found her eyes closed and her cheeks slightly flushed instead.

He smiled to himself as he continued kissing along her neck. His fingers traced lightly across the bare skin of her stomach before journeying upwards. She felt his tongue tracing the curve of her ear and leaned into it, enjoying the sensations it was sending through her. Alexander's hand gently cupped the bottom of her breast before moving his thumb gently over her nipple. He stilled his hand but kept kissing on her ear, waiting to see if she would stop him. He really hoped she wouldn't and he thought that maybe if he could show her how good some things could feel, she'd be open to doing more, or at least more of the same.

Meeting with no resistance, he slid his thumb back across it as he began to kiss down her neck. He could feel her continue to harden beneath his touch as he skimmed the tops of her breasts with his lips. In a bold move, he slipped his tongue under the thin material of her bra, tasting her peak quickly. Constance let out a quiet moan but made no attempt to stop him. Alexander continued skimming across her chest, placing light kisses here and there as his hand snaked its way around her back stopping at her bra clasp. Other than the night she'd practically thrown herself at him, this would be only the third time he'd ever gotten her to go this far. He held his breath as he deftly undid the clasp and waited for her reaction.

Constance felt the journey his hand was making and knew exactly where he'd end up. She couldn't help smiling at him as he held his breath. Once the clasp was undone, she sat up, allowing her shirt to fall off her arms before pulling her bra completely off. She watched his eyes take her in before coming up to her face once again. She slid back down the pillows, pulling his lips to hers before hitching her leg over his hip.

Alexander was suddenly filled with hope for the second time this weekend. He kissed her without abandon as his hands continued to explore her bare chest. He could feel the heat from her, covering his painfully hard erection, but the only thing he wanted was to bring her release. He covered her breast with his mouth, sucking and licking her as she moaned in ecstasy. The back of his fingers slid down her side, softly tickling her in the best way. He traced his index finger along the inside of her jeans until he reached the button.

He slowly undid her pants before dragging the zipper down. His tongue made a warm trail from one nipple to the other, offering it the same treatment as the first. Alexander pulled his body slightly away from hers, trying to get a better angle to touch her. His hand moved slowly from her bellybutton to the top of her panties before dipping inside. He was somewhat surprised to feel how groomed she was considering he had almost never gotten this far. He blew cool air across her nipple causing it to harden even more as his finger slipped between her slick folds.

Constance fisted her hands in his hair as he nipped and sucked on her breasts. She couldn't think of anything else but his mouth on her and the feel of him above her. She cried out quietly when he blew the cool air across her hardened peak, momentarily lost in the sensation. When she felt his finger about to enter her though, she sat upright quickly pushing Alexander off her.

"Fuck!" he cried out as his wrist was bent at an odd angle. He quickly pulled it from her pants before looking up with a bewildered expression. "What the fuck?"

"What were you doing?!" Constance asked, breathing heavily.

"I was trying to get you off," he explained, rubbing his painfully throbbing wrist.

"I think you need to leave," she replied simply, grabbing her shirt off the bed, making sure to cover herself before rebuttoning her pants.

"I don't understand," he said, running his hands over his face. "I thought things were going good. I thought we were finally connecting."

"Is that the only way you can connect, with sex?" she challenged, placing her hands on her hips.

"It's the only way you won't let me connect with you," he shot back, rising to his feet.

"Maybe I don't want that," she spat back at him.

"Maybe you should figure out what you do want." He glared at her for a moment before walking out the door. "Enjoy your gift," he said as he descended the stairs.

Alexander slammed the front door behind him as he jogged down the couple stairs to the cement. He climbed in the Maserati and headed down the path that his car knew all too well. Constance may not want him or anything he wanted to give her, but he knew someone who did and she was always willing to please him. Hoping things would change was useless, he never should've tried changing things. There was never going to be more between him and Constance than there was and he needed to accept that and continue doing what he'd been doing for the last eight months.