Cynthia tossed back another shot and glanced at Aiden as he refilled his own glass. She handed him hers as well and refilled it without a word.
"What do you think of Ella?" He asked.
"I think I like her, she's good for Tanner."
"She doesn't seem like the kind of person you'd get a long with."
"I admire her and her sweetness. I wish I could be that nice to people." She tossed back another drink.
"Don't worry, someday you'll be dead and I'm sure then you'll be a very pleasant person to be around." He tossed back a shot.
"I hate you."
"If you were my butler I'd fire your sorry ass."
"If I were your butler I'd have thrown my sorry ass out the window by now."
"Only if I didn't push you first," She replied.
He leaned over and refilled her drink and then his own. Something about the alcohol made their biting words a little softer and less harsh than usual.
"How long did that bastard harass you?" He asked suddenly.
"Not this again."
"Yeah again, how long?"
"A few months, I can handle myself."
"Why didn't you quit? You don't need the money, you're practically a socialite."
"I happen to like my job, unlike you."
"I like my job, the only part I don't like about it is you."
"Funny, the only thing I don't like about your job is you too."
He rolled his eyes and place the now empty bottle of scotch on the coffee table she was resting her feet on. She looked at him and then clinked her glass gently against his.
"Bottoms up," She said before tossing back her shot.
Tanner pulled the car over in the wide spot, they'd drove miles out of town into the woods and Ella would have been frightened had she been with anyone else. He climbed from the car and jogged around to her side to open the door for her.
"Come on," He offered her his hand.
He helped her from the car and led her to edge of a tall hill, she could see the entire city from where she stood. It was beautiful and she took a minute to take it all in.
"I grew up with Cynthia and her parents as a kid. They were good people but I used to sneak out at night and I'd come up here and think about my parents."
"What happened to them?"
"They died, in a car wreck actually. Define irony right?" He laughed but she could hear the hurt in his voice.
"I'm sorry, I couldn't imagine losing my mama."
"I was only seven, not really old enough to even understand at the time."
"But you still wanted to be a race car driver?"
"It started as me hoping I'd die, I wanted to wreck then somewhere along the way it became about wanting to live and just feeling alive."
"They'd be proud of you."
"Cynthias parents were and they're gone now too, all we have left is each other."
"What happened to them?"
"Her mom died of cancer about four years ago and her dad had a heart attack when we were teenagers. They were very well off and they left enough money for Cynthia to never need to work and enough for myself to get my career started."
"They sound like good people."
"They were, Cynthia took her mothers death really hard. I was worried about her and Aiden barely left her side."
"So, they used to get along?" Ella asked.
"No, they've never got along but he was concerned about her anyway. He's been my butler for over ten years."
"I'm sorry you've both been through so much."
"Enough about me, tell me about you. Where's your father?"
"He ran off when I was four, it was just mom and me after that."
"You never heard from him?"
"A few times, not a lot." She shrugged.
They stood side by side, admiring the view and enjoying the silence. When he noticed her shivering he realized just how chilly it was getting. While most drivers lived as far south as possible he'd chosen to live as far North as possible. This gave him some seclusion from the circuit but also meant near the end of the race season he was already getting Snow at home.
He shrugged out of his coat and draped it loosely around her shoulders. She turned to offer him a timid smile and he couldn't resist reaching out to touch her. He let the back of his hand trail gently across her cheek, she bit her lower lip but didn't protest, her blue eyes questioning.
"You're an angel," He said gently.
"No, I'm not." She said with a blush.
"I can almost see a halo."
She blushed even more if that were possible and for just an instant he debated kissing her. It hadn't been his intention when he brought her here, he never brought anyone here before but now he wondered if she'd stop him.
If he kissed her would she fight him? Would she resist his touch? Or would she let him lead her back to the car and take her in the back seat?
"Mr Wild?" Her timid voice broke his thoughts.
"Let's get home, it's getting cold."
He let his hand fall away and turned to go to the car. She fell in step behind him and as he held the door for her he tried to figure out what caused him to hold back. Why did he treat her with kid gloves when any other woman he would have made a move by now? She was different and he didn't know why.
Tanner unlocked the door to his flat and held it for Ella to enter. She hurried inside and he flipped on the hallway light. They moved down the small hall way into the living room and Tanner stopped so suddenly that Ella ran into him.
Aiden was sitting on the edge of the couch, his feet propped up on the coffee table and curled up beside him with her head nestled under his chin lay Cynthia. Both were sound asleep.
Tanner approached and debated waking the pair. He saw the two empty glasses and empty bottle of scotch near Aidens feet. Cynthia had her own dainty feet pulled up underneath her and seemed quite comfortable.
With a sigh Tanner leaned down and carefully pulled her shoes off her feet. He dropped the shoes on the floor and then pulled a blanket off the back of the couch and draped it over her body. She made a small noise of protest and then fell silent.
Tanner moved around the couch and then motioned for Ella, she glanced one more time at Cynthia and Aiden as Tanner turned off the light. The living room was plunged into darkness the only light was a soft blue coming in from the large windows.
Tanner and Ella walked to her room together and she handed him his coat.
"I had a nice time tonight," He said honestly.
"So did I."
He smiled gently and then with a sigh as if the weight of the world was on his shoulders, he turned and went into his room. Ella couldn't hold back the smile that broke free and she let herself into her room. She collapsed onto her bed still dressed and still smiling.