I wasn't entirely sure what had woken me up.
It could have been the light seeping in through the crack in the curtains. It could have been the quiet ringing I could hear from a phone in another room. It could have been the slightly uncomfortable position I had been sleeping in that had caused my arm to go numb. Or it could have been the weight of an arm around my waist and deep sleeping breaths I could hear from over my shoulder.
Either way it took my hung over mind a few moments to register and comprehend that there was indeed someone else in the bed with me. A very comfortable bed at that.
Images of the night before slowly appeared in my head. Vegas, me and two of my friends had come here for a long weekend to celebrate our recent success. Me promoted to a Junior Executive, even though it was in the family business, Sadie getting a permanent weekly column at the magazine she worked at, and Linley well… finally breaking up with her no-good boyfriend. Yeah, definitely a weekend worth the celebration.
I didn't feel in the mood for celebrating right now.
Slowly I opened my eyes, I was lying in a large four-poster bed and the room was immaculate, except for the random articles of clothing that had been thrown around. Clearly I was in a hotel room, a posh one at that, but decidedly not my own hotel room. One of the windows had been opened to its max – a huge one inch – so one of the flowing floor-ceiling curtains was blowing and swaying in the breeze being created, it was this movement that provided light to the darkened room, a light that could have woken me.
I reached up with my arm, shielding my eyes from the minuscule amount of light that stung at my bleary eyes. It was that movement that caused a reaction to the person behind me, suddenly bringing my attention to the situation I had definitely not planned for.
The person had groaned before then rolling away from me. It was a distinctly male noise, deep and masculine. Jesus, I prayed he would still be asleep so then I could just sneak out; I wasn't a huge cuddling person, especially when it came to strangers and one night stands.
Cautiously I peeked over my shoulder to see whether or not the man was still asleep. He had thrown his arm over his eyes so I couldn't actually tell, but I was willing to take my chances. I took just a moment longer to admire the man I had so drunkenly picked out last night, I almost started to congratulate myself as well, couldn't have done much better if I had actually tried.
His hair was dark and at that perfect length where it could be shaggy and sexy yet also styled perfectly if you tried, his jaw seemed strong with high cheekbones with a faint shadow of stubble, not a look I would usually go for, that traditional handsome aristocratic look was something I usually rebelled against, because usually the men behind them were arrogant trust fund babies that didn't know the meaning of hard work. Not that I wasn't a trust fund baby myself. Maybe that was another reason why, my parents seemed to run my life so I had always picked to date guys I knew they wouldn't entirely approve of, whether it be their own financial situation, upbringing, parents, views of the world, dreams and goals for the future, there was always something my parents wouldn't agree upon. A man that looked like the one beside me, my Mother would probably swoon at his feet. Gag-worthy I know.
The sheets were wound around his waist, but the torso I could see was definitely one you could pick out on a crowded beach. Arms and a chest that showed he took pride in his appearance and probably worked out regularly, not to mention the abs. But there, there was something my parents would hate, tattoos. I could see two of them, one on his chest and one just peeking out from beneath the sheet that I couldn't entirely see.
I took a closer glance at the one on his chest, it was printed on the left side, right above where your heart would be, somewhere you would write the name of a loved one of something. But his wasn't, instead he had a sun, yellow in color with thin black lines acting as the sun's rays, about the size of an egg or something with a blueish white lightning bolt cutting through it. I frowned, it almost seemed familiar. Why would it be familiar to me? I didn't think I even knew a man who had gotten a tattoo, a couple of my female friends, yes, but one of the men-
"What the fuck!" I suddenly yelled, recognition forming in my brain.
No, no way in hell. No, I wouldn't dare go near him even if I was out of my mind drunk.
"Jesus, keep your fucking voice down would you?" was the sleepy nonchalant reply I got.
I sat up, holding the sheets above my naked torso. No, no it wasn't him. It couldn't be.
"Christian, Christian fucking Fletcher." The anger and disbelief was evident in my voice. Maybe it was that tone that finally caused a reaction from him.
He lowered his arm from his face, his bright hazel eyes sluggishly opening and turning on me. Disbelief then covered his own face. Shit. Shit. Shit. What the fuck had I done?
We sat there for a few moments just looking at each other, probably both hoping that it was only a dream, a sick and cruel twisted dream, no nightmare. But he was still there, lying in front of me.
Out of everyone in the whole fucking world that I could have had sex with it had to be him. Really, was fate punishing me or something?
Christian Fletcher, even his name caused hate and disgust to bubble up inside me, after all it had practically been ingrained in me for nearly the last two decades to hate him and his entire family. Funny considering we grew up being neighbors. Our Fathers had once been best friends, meet in college and all that stuff, eventually they decided to start a business together, Copthorne and Fletcher it had been called, a financing company that actually made a huge splash and moved in leaps and bounds. Then for some reason I can't even remember, they had a falling out, I was seven at the time so it was all a blur really, I just remember being upset because we moved away, Christian and his brother had been best friends to my brother Sam and I up until that point, hardly surprising considering that our parents had always just lumped us together.
The company split, Father went on to make his own, Copthorne Global, and Christian's Father started his own, Fletcher Financing, which for obvious reasons became leading rivals in the industry. So knowing that since I was seven years old I hated anything Fletcher, how in hell did I end up in Christian Fletcher's bed?
"Shit." He mumbled, breaking the silence. He sat up then and swung his legs over the side of the bed, showing me his back and revealing yet another tattoo, Jesus how many did he have? I had only heard about the sun one, and then it was only from an acquaintance that had the poorest sense to sleep with him one night. Wow guess this means I don't have any sense either.
"I didn't realize you had so many tattoos." My voice was scornful even though I couldn't help but admire them.
"I didn't realize you would stick around in the morning." Was his sullen reply as he looked around on the floor, probably for an item of clothing.
"What's that supposed to mean?" My eyebrows had sunk in confusion.
He shrugged, while picking up something by his feet. "Aren't you supposed to be the Ice Queen or something? Never hanging around long and breaking guy's hearts left right and center."
"Ice Queen?" My voice was now rising in anger, is that what I was known as? Was that my reputation? Sure I had a handful of one night stands and didn't hang around for the guy to wake up in the morning, but shouldn't they know the deal? I wasn't going to make them breakfast and dote on them for the rest of the day. Besides, wouldn't he be glad I left before he woke up? Isn't that what guys are all about?
He merely shrugged again before standing and pulling on a pair of cotton boxer briefs, cotton boxer briefs that he could definitely fill out. Wait what? No I was not checking him out. No, no way in hell.
He walked away from the bed then, heading towards a door that led into a bathroom I presumed, closing it softly behind him. I took this moment alone to look around for my own clothes, with an infuriated growl I saw my underwear lying closer to the door he just disappeared into than the bed I was sitting in. No way was I going to walk all the way over there, naked, with the potential for him to walk out and see me. I looked further but couldn't find any more of my own clothes, where in hell are they?
I sighed then, and lent down to pick up one of Christian's shirts off the floor, it should be long enough to cover me until I find my clothes, after all Christian wasn't exactly short. It was blue in color and fell to my mid-thigh when I stood out of bed. It will have to do.
I scurried across the room and picked up my flimsy excuse for a pair of underpants, red, see-through and lacy; they had seemed like a great idea last night when I got ready. A shame only Christian got to see them, I would probably throw them out the first opportunity I got now.
Just as I had slipped them on, the door opened and Christian once again reappeared.
One of his eyebrows rose as he took in the sight of me. "Good look, Na-na Banana." He scoffed. I knew a furious expression then appeared on my face because he started laughing. I hated that nickname; it was something his smart-arsed five year old self had come up with in one of his moments of genius clearly.
I huffed and turned away from him, heading into the lounge area to find, hopefully, the rest of my clothes. There they all were thrown about the room in the no doubt drunken ecstasy we had been in at the time. God I was going to vomit just thinking about it. Quickly I picked them all up and pulled them on, I wasn't going to let Christian get another chance at a sneak peak. The only thing I was now missing were my socks, and with the boots I was wearing last night, I would definitely need them to protect my feet from blisters on my walk back to my own hotel. I couldn't find them lying on the floor anywhere so decided they must have disappeared under the furniture, on my hands and knees I searched the room, heading over to the coffee table to look under the couches.
Instead, I found something else entirely.
There was a collection of papers and photos sitting on the coffee table, curious by nature I just had to go over and look at them. If it was Fletcher Financing related then even better, though why would Christian bring work with him when he was obviously in Vegas for a vacation I don't know.
The first couple of papers were some sort of itinerary; he had been here for a week to discuss some deal with a casino/hotel owner, huh he was actually here on business. His secretary or whoever had carefully planned out his days with meetings, lunches, and dinners, whilst also giving him some down time. His flight was scheduled to leave at three this afternoon, guess that was why he was out partying last night, he must have scored the deal.
Under that was a folder which contained the contract or something, I was about to start reading it over to find out any information I could, call it snooping if you will, when a photo sitting underneath it caught my eye.
It was of Christian, his friend Zander, me and my friend Sadie, and judging from the clothes I was wearing; it had been taken last night. What really shocked me was that Christian and I were standing together being flanked by our friends. Our arms were wound around each other's shoulders, and bright drunken smiles graced our faces, by the looks of the champagne bottle in Zander's hand I would have to guess we were celebrating something. It was then I took in the background of the photo, we were standing in front of one of those cheap white chapel wedding venues that were dotted all over Vegas for impromptu weddings, God they were tacky.
My eyes narrowed then, why were we standing in front of a wedding chapel?
Slowly my gaze drifted to my left hand, a realization suddenly dawning on me. There sitting on that oh-so-important finger was a ring. It was gold but inlaid with small diamonds right the way around, it actually looked quite beautiful. The moment of shock suddenly wore off and I screamed.
Christian practically came running out of the room, buttoning up a pair of well-fitting jeans and looked around as though he was expecting someone to be attacking me. Though if someone were, why would he even care?
He paused, confusion clouding his face. "What's wrong?"
"What's wrong?" I yelled back at him, standing up and waving the photo at him even though I knew he wouldn't be able to see it clearly from where he stood. "Everything is fucking wrong, that's what. I mean honestly, I must have been some serial killer of innocent children in a past life to deserve this fucking karma. I don't think anything could be more wrong!"
"Jesus, okay calm down for a second." He had put his hands up in a surrendering position. "Do you want to explain it to me?"
I collapsed back down on to the couch I had been sitting on, the last piece of paper in the pile now blatantly staring up at me. It was a marriage certificate that proudly proclaimed that Serena Jane Copthorne was now legally married to Christian Rupert Fletcher. Oh kill me now.
My head fell into my hands and I did everything I could not to cry. My life was over; my Dad was going to kill me. Literally.
I heard Christian slowly approaching, obviously wary of me after my shouting. "Umm… Serena, are you okay?" He actually sounded concerned.
All I did was point at the marriage certificate sitting on the table. I couldn't even speak right now, I was felt drained, resigned to die I guess. I sound like a drama queen but I don't even know how angry my Dad would get at me because of this, I don't even know if he will be able to handle that amount, he'll probably have a heart attack.
There were several moments of silence before I heard Christian cruse and then sit beside me.
"Your Father is going to kill me." I just nodded, my head still buried in my hands. "What are we going to do?" I shrugged.
It was a moment or two before I felt his hand softly on my shoulder. "It's going to be alright Serena; a quickie wedding can get a quickie divorce, right?" Was he trying to comfort me?
"I don't think there is such a thing as a quickie divorce." I replied, my voice sounded lifeless.
"Well, we'll just have to figure it out." He said with a set determination. "Aren't there annulments or something? I'm sure we would qualify for one of those. As soon as I get back to New York I'll see the lawyer about it."
"How did this even happen?" I said still in a state of disbelief. "I mean really what were we thinking? Why would we want to…? God, I can't even remember a thing about last night."
Christian stayed silent next to me, his hand softly brushing up and down my back in a calming way, or at least it was supposed to be calming, it didn't really have that fortunate effect. I was still wound up tight and his hand seemed to only make me more on edge. I shook it off roughly, not liking this suddenly concerned Christian, where were all his snide remarks and cutting insults? They were the only interactions we had over the last decade or so, since the time we were old enough to understand the other as the enemy. It made high school exhausting I can tell you that, though people generally knew to keep us apart as much as possible, unless they wanted a screaming match with as much ferocity to stop a T-Rex in his tracks. Yeah we were fairly immature about it in those days, always trying to get the better of the other. The four years away from him at college had been a paradise, I was actually able to get out from under that repressive shadow and by the time we both came back to New York to start work for our respected companies, well we had grown up quite a bit and generally avoided one another, something made not so easy when we ran in similar social circles.
"I blame you." I suddenly said breaking the silence. "This is your entire fault."
I stood up angrily and once again began the search for my socks.
"My fault? Personally I think it takes two to get into this situation." He replied back, almost haughtily.
"Yeah, and I wouldn't be in this situation if you hadn't taken advantage of my inebriated state. You saw your opportunity to utterly humiliate me and took it without even a second thought." I said back, voice rising in volume as my anger returned. The search for my socks once again abandoned.
"You think I did this to humiliate you? Are you fucking out of your mind? How do I know it wasn't you who took advantage of my inebriated state? Huh?" He had now stood from the couch and matched my anger.
"Because why would I even want to be within ten miles of you, let alone get married to you? You are the most horrible, vile, vulgar bastard I know, it's practically nauseating how you think you own the world, so why would I want to commit myself to a lifetime of that? Huh?"
"Because you know I'm just so irresistible, Na-na." He sneered sarcastically. "You can't get enough of me so why not put a ring on it?"
"Is that what this is about? Some boost to your already over inflated man ego because I'm the one woman in fucking New York City that would turn you down. Really? You would go to these extremes just to prove to you and your little posse of eager admirers that you can have anyone you want?"
He let out a humorless laugh then. "Like I would have to marry you to prove that, we all know you're not some celibate virgin. If I wanted to sleep with you then I would, I wouldn't have to go through all that 'To have and to hold' bullshit."
"I wouldn't sleep with you even if you were the last man on Earth; you probably drugged me or something to make it happen!"
There was a tense silence after my outburst, and I immediately backed down, I had gone too far, way too far. As much as I hated Christian and could make an entire book just on his faults and personality traits that were infuriating to anyone in a ten mile radius, one thing he would never do would be to harm a woman, whether it be un-consensual sex or domestic violence or whatever, he would never raise his hand against a woman. After all the years we had been picking fights with each other, after all the times I had punched him in the arm, kicked him in the shins, or slapped him across the face, never once had he got violent, and there was no one he hated more than me. I almost felt guilty. Almost.
"Wow." His voice was deadly calm. "You're accusing me of drugging you now? What's next, going to call the cops and tell them I raped you too? Get your worthless arse out of my fucking hotel room. Now."
He turned away and walked back into the bedroom, he didn't have to ask me twice.