A/N: Quick note before you start. There will be some language in this story. Please read at your own discretion. I will not censor it. There is not excessive cussing, but there will be a couple in each chapter.
Summary: Coward. I spent the last 7 years running away from my past, my demons, but I couldn't avoid it forever. One day, it will all catch up to me...unfortunately my downfall came in the form of a cocky, arrogant jerk who happened to be the epitome of scorching hot.
I had nothing but a suitcase trailing behind me and a duffel bag in my arms as I walked down the long street. The street was full of mansions, each lined up on their perfectly manicured lawn and their roofs to the precise angle that the owners wanted it. The buildings towered over me, making me feel insignificant just like I was in the prison where Father was. But that chapter of my life was done and over with and I was ready for a fresh start.
I scanned the numbers on the polished mailboxes, trying to find number 8779. One lady stepped out of her house as I was examining the numbers on the side of the mailboxes and she let out a high-pitched screech. I jumped backwards, startled by her sudden outburst. She pointed a finger at me, her mouth moving but no words came out. I looked at her confused, until she finally gathered her bearings to say something.
"What the fuck is a dirty, cheap slut doing so near my precious mailbox? You don't belong here, get out and dig another man's gold somewhere else!" I stared at her make-up covered face, bright red lipstick, and dyed blonde hair as her words registered my brain. She had a Chihuahua in her arms and she hugged it tightly as it tried to squirm out of her grasp to bound towards me.
"Excuse me?" I asked haughtily, narrowing my eyes at her. She huffed, as if I wasn't worth her time.
"Look at you. Ratty jeans, a shirt that was so last season, and your shoes? Please, go wear closed toes shoes, those unpainted toes do not deserve to see daylight," she sneered at me. Her silver earrings dangled as she spoke, shaking her head as she took in every detail of my fashion.
"And who are you to judge me?"
She shrugged. "I have more fashion sense, more money, and I'm prettier. Enough said, now move along and don't you dare step on my lawn!"
"Pretty after that plastic surgery in Korea," I muttered, before continuing to walk along the sidewalk. I hadn't intend for the woman to hear me, but apparently she did.
"What the fuck did you say to me?" the woman screamed as if she was screaming bloody murder. She chucked a rock at me, but missed terribly. I broke off into a run as I didn't want to be the one with a concussion during the few hours I had been in California. I laughed as the woman shouted profanities behind me. She cursed herself for wearing four inch heels; she couldn't run after me in those. A curious butler in the house across the street peered out to see what the commotion was. When he saw the woman screaming her head off for nothing, he sighed and slammed the door shut. The woman retreated into her house, probably to whine to her husband about me.
I continued down the row of houses, finally spotting 8779. I felt an extra spring in my step as I took each step closer to my brother's home. I could finally see him again, after seven years of no communication. I walked up the long, winding driveway; limousines parked there as well as rich cars. I had no knowledge on cars at all, but one look at them, it screamed, "Expensive!" I reached the front door and hesitantly rung the doorbell. I didn't know who I would find behind the door, what if I didn't even recognize my own brother? Seven years could do a lot to one's body.
An older woman, probably in her mid-forties, opened the door. Her graying hair was pulled up in a tight bun. She smiled at me, placing down the duster in her hands on a nearby table.
"Hello, how may I help you?" she asked politely.
"I'm Katie, did Jake tell you about me?" I asked. Her eyes lit up.
"Ah, so you're the mysterious Katie Falkins we all been dying to meet. Come on in." She stepped aside to let me pass.
"What do you mean mysterious?" I asked, as she led me through the marble floored lobby. I admired the vast beauty, the smooth floor, sparkling chandelier that dangled from the high ceiling, and the homey feeling that the decor gave. The grand staircase that stood in front of me made me awe at the marvelous beauty. The polished banister gleamed under the sparkling lights.
"Everyone's been dying to know what Jake Falkins' sister looked like. After he announced you would be coming, we all wanted to know who you were. We were ecstatic about your arrival," the woman whispered. Her words were lost in the emptiness. She began up the staircase and I meekly followed behind her with my suitcase in tow. Her footsteps seemed to echo off of the cream walls.
"I need some fresh air," I heard a voice announce, before a door was slammed shut. The woman didn't seemed a least bit fazed by it, so I shrugged it off and continued my way to the second floor.
Once we reached the top, I dropped my things on the hardwood floor as I gazed down the seemingly never ending hallway. Another maid walked by and whispered a few words into the woman's ear that I wasn't able to catch before strutting away.
"Right how rude of me to not introduce myself. I'm Annie, head maid. The girl that just passed by was Isabelle. Anyways, I hope you don't mind sleeping in the guest room while we have your room prepared," Annie said. She walked past a couple of doors before stopping in front of an open door.
"No need. I hate to inconvenient. Guest room is fine," I said, brushing away her doubts.
"Mr. Falkins' orders," she simply stated. I looked at the fresh room, the sheets white and clean, neatly tucked in. The pillows had been fluffed and I just wanted to bury my face in it. The window was open so a slight breeze came in, blowing the curtains. I glanced at the spotless carpet, no doubt recently vacuumed. Near the window stood a desk with a desktop computer on it. There was a bed stand next to the king size bed, with a lamp on top of it. A dresser was pushed to the wall opposite of the bed. I opened the door that led to the bathroom.
"Wow this is amazing," I said, running my hands over the porcelain sink. Annie looked proud of herself.
"I'll let you get settled and explore the house. I should get back to work."
"Don't let me keep you." Annie left the room after a curt bow. I dumped my duffel bag onto my bed and began to unpack my suitcase. I threw my clothes in the closet, making a mental note that I should buy a new wardrobe. Most of things that I owned were barely acceptable to be worn in this upscale home. After I unpacked my suitcase, I shoved it off to one corner then proceeded to unzip my duffel bag. My wallet laid on top of the very few possessions I owned. I looked inside to see a few crumpled twenty dollar bill left from my trip here, not even enough to buy an article of designer clothe. I placed the rest of my belongings on the desk, mostly important notes and documents. I wanted to flop onto my bed to enjoy the softness of it, but I was afraid that I would get it dirty. Instead, I decided to explore the house. I tossed on my college sweatshirt before heading out of the room. I closed the door behind me.
I walked down the long hallway to find it was mostly servant rooms, more guest rooms, and bathrooms. I went downstairs, cautious with each step I took. I made it down without causing any unnecessary loud noises, so I was grateful for that. I ventured to the kitchen to see the chef preparing for tonight's dinner. I decided to leave him alone, so he could do his work. I found myself staring at the long table, chairs placed on both ends of the table. A lone case with a bundle of dandelions stood in the center. The flower was already wilting, the petals were floating on top of the water in the vase. I sighed before moving on.
The living room contained two leather couches surrounding an spotless coffee table. A 60" flat screen TV was installed into the wall. I marveled at the sleekness of the black screen. I almost jumped for joy when I saw a bookshelf full of books. I bounded over, exploring the titles of each book that laid on the self. I started making a note of all the books that I wanted to read. The books were mostly brand new, it looked like it hadn't even been touched. I gazed down to the bottom shelf, where the books were worn and the spines were bent. I ran my fingers along the spine of the books; dust floating in the air. They were mostly Classics, the kind of books that I suffered reading throughout Literature classes.
"He won't like that you're touching his books," a voice said behind me. I jumped at the sudden noise that pierced the silence. I turned around to see a man with his arms crossed over his chest. He wore a light-blue button up shirt, the sleeves rolled up to his elbows. He wore a dark-blue tie to match it. He had crisp, tan dress pants on and dress shoes. He must be one of my brother's business partners.
"What he doesn't know won't hurt him," I replied as I saw him take in my appearance like I did to him. I suddenly felt conscious of my casual wear as his brown eyes swept over my attire.
"A Georgia Tech girl huh? What did you major in?" he said, commenting on my sweatshirt.
"Computer Science. Minor in English and Business."
His eyebrows rose in interest, "Business?"
"Yes. But I can't compare to a hot shot like you who went to Harvard."
"Who said I went there?"
"Please. The tabloids tell it all. Tyler Vanderbilt Harvard graduate along with Jake Falkins. The pair has been business partners for as long as anyone can remember. And it doesn't help that they're the two hottest bachelors of all of California," I recited.
He smirked. "Hottest bachelors?"
"The tabloids' words not mine," I said quickly. I felt my face get hot, chastising myself for letting that piece of information slip. Tyler must have noticed me fidgeting uncomfortably under his scrutinizing stare because he suddenly let out a slight chuckle. My embarrassment faded away and was replaced with anger. I glared daggers at him, crossing my arms over my chest to make myself more intimidating. But at 5'4" compared to his towering 6' 3" stature, I was nowhere near intimidating. I was just a little girl in his eyes.
"But somehow that piece of information seemed to stick into your mind," Tyler commented. He smirked, like he won this conversation.
"Don't flatter yourself. I only remember it because Jake was mentioned." Tyler placed a hand on his chest and pretended to hurt. It was almost comical.
"You wound me so much my dear."
I snorted at that. "I'm not your dear. Besides that's what guys call girls because they can't ever remember their names. Been through too many to care?" I challenged.
"That's not the case this time. I never caught your name," Tyler said condescendingly.
"That's because I never gave it to you. I was raised to not give my name out to random strangers."
"I wouldn't call myself a stranger per say. Besides, you read all those tabloids about me; they can assure you that I'm completely harmless." He raised his eyebrows at me.
"You may be harmless," I said, "But no telling whether you have men for hire to pummel me to death."
"Now why would I want to kill you?" He cocked his head to the side quizzically.
"Because I irritate you?" I tried.
"Quite the contrary. I find you quite amusing." I saw his brown eyes sparkle in amusement.
"I'm sure you have other important things to do than to so rudely interrupt me while I was browsing through the lovely collection of books."
"I don't know. I rather be here with someone my age rather than in a room full of older businessmen who speak in monotone, raspy voices. The men who glare at me in disgust if my tie is one degree out of place. The men who think I'm too incompetent to be in the conference room because I'm significantly younger than them. You relieve the stress off of my back."
"Thanks I guess?" Tyler shrugged and glanced over his shoulder, eyeing the wooden double doors with a brass knob. He sighed before turning back to me.
"Well thanks. Hopefully we will see each other again."
"Hopefully not!" I yelled after him as he crossed over the marble lobby floor. He turned towards me and grinned, giving me an almost boyish wave. I felt my face flush at his action and I found myself staring at his back until he pulled open the wooden door and disappeared into the conference room. I let out a sigh of relief before going back to examining the books. I tried to concentrate on the book titles, but my mind kept lingering back on Tyler. The tabloids said that he was ruthless in the business world, but he seemed so carefree. I shrugged off my thoughts about him and decided to go grab something to eat.
I grabbed some Oreos and a glass of milk before returning up to my room again. I didn't want to risk another run in with Tyler if I could help it. I hope I never meet him again; one encounter already left me flustered and confused. I didn't come here to be distracted and I certainly was not about to let a boy distract me.
I flopped onto my bed with a book I snagged off of the bookshelf, Heist Society. I lost myself in Katrina Bishop's story while I nibbled on the pack of Oreos I swiped from the kitchen. I occasionally took small sips of my milk, downing the Oreos with it.
I was halfway through the book, when my phone dinged. I reached over to my bed stand and grabbed my phone. I saw one new text from the Jake Falkins himself.
"Hey sis, dinner together at six?"
"Where at?" I replied.
Almost instantly, I got a reply back. "The dining room? Where else do people eat?"
I scoffed at his reply. "Oh geez, I don't know, restaurants?"
"You got me. Anyways, a French place. I'll drive you there. Sorry, but I have business during dinner too."
"I know; I know. After all that's what father did. Work all day and night even during meals when he wasn't yelling at you or degrading me."
"Are you comparing me to that bastard?"
"You don't have that much faith in me if you think I would even come close to comparing you and him," I shot back.
"Right, anyways I need to focus on the meeting again. The other guys are glaring at me because I'm not sneaky enough to hide the fact that I'm texting. I already got called out for it." I could imagine him rubbing the back of his neck nervously and letting out an awkward chuckle.
"Hope you get in trouble!" Jake replied back with an angry face. I laughed to myself, before tossing my phone over to the other side of my bed and burying my nose in my book again.
I lost track of time as I got sucked into the fantasy world. By the time I finished the book, it was already getting close to six. I rolled off of my bed, tossing the finished book onto it. I dug through my closet, praying I had a slightly formal wear. I sighed as I eyed only jeans and t-shirts that laid in front of me. I grabbed the cleanest pair of skinny jeans I owned and a t-shirt. I got dressed. I threw on my Georgia Tech sweatshirt to cover my plain shirt. I ran a brush through my hair, pulling it up into a tight bun. A few loose strands escaped, but I didn't have the time to care. I swiped my phone off of my bed before exiting the room.
Once I was downstairs, I grabbed a pair of sandals that looked my size and put them on. I didn't know who they belonged to, but I hope they wouldn't mind. I couldn't wear my ratty sneakers to such a formal dinner. Either way, I probably would looked like shit next to my brother.
I saw my brother leaning against his silver Porsche talking rapidly on his phone. As I walked closer, I caught a few of his words; it was enough to determine that he was dealing with business again. I waited patiently as he finished up his business. Once he hung up, he shot me an apologetic look before gesturing for me to get into the car.
"You know work. It's overwhelming," Jake said as he slid into the driver's seat. I buckled up my seatbelt and adjusted my mirror so that it wouldn't reflect my face.
"It's fine," I said. I hadn't expected anything when I took up on Jake's offer to come here. Sure I was disappointed that I couldn't spend time with my brother without business interrupting, but I was understanding. I grew up in a business orientated family, so I was use to being cut off in the middle of my sentence by the shrill ring of the phone.
"So Katie, you don't have a job yet do you?"
"Not yet," I answered as we began to pull out of the driveway, "But I'll find one I promise. I won't be here to freeload."
"What about working for me? I have job openings."
"I don't think I'll be qualified for any of them. I screwed up father's work as a teen, nothing has changed much," I said, wincing at the memory.
"You majored in computer science right? I don't think you can screw up this job then."
"I need someone to make the presentations for every proposal I have to launch and read over the reports to make sure there are no mistakes. Also, sometimes you might have to type up reports for me and stuff like that. Please sis? The last person just quit on me and I need a replacement pronto."
"Only because you said please."
"Awesome. You can start tomorrow if that's okay with you." Jake looked at me expectantly. When people looked at me like that, I knew I couldn't refuse.
"Fine but I don't have anything to wear."
"Who cares? I'm the boss and I don't give a crap. As long as you're not the receptionist, I could care less about what my workers dressed like."
"Really? Are you sure you're not just saying that to entice me to take the job?" I asked teasingly.
Jake scoffed. "No. There are hundreds of job applications, I just don't want to sort through them all."
"Seriously? I'll do it. It's always fun to read people's resume." Jake laughed, probably because he remembered what I did as a child. When Father wasn't around, I would always sneak a few resumes and read them because I found it interesting. When he started teaching Jake how to weed out the difference between a real one and a fake one, I would always take them from Jake to read them as well. I could always tell the real and fake by skimming over the information, but my brother struggled. Eventually after much headaches and frustrations, I finally managed to teach him how to read a resume. Even after, he always despised it.
"Glad to see your eccentric hobby still around," Jake commented as he pulled into the parking lot. I admired the exquisite restaurant, the colorful lights, and the polished glass windows. The sign was written in French, so I was unable to read it. Unlike my brother who took French as his foreign language, I took Spanish to rebel against father. So far, it hasn't come to use yet.
I stepped out of the car into the gentle breeze. My brother led the way and I followed closely behind him, still unfamiliar with the area. I hated change; it always bothered me that I would have to adjust to it. I especially hated new places where I didn't know the roads. I always had a fear deep down in my heart of getting lost; that's why I had to memorize every street before I even dared to drive around the area.
My brother held the door open for me like a gentleman and I smiled at him. He grinned back as he entered the restaurant behind me. He went up to the booth and spoke in rapid French to the usher. The usher's eyes lit up in recognition and he replied back in French. He gestured for us to follow him.
I stared in awe at the dimly lit restaurant. Everything was placed strategically to give the restaurant a romantic feeling. I saw mostly couples whispering in hushed tones across the table to each other. The shiny granite floors were so clean that I was afraid to step on them. Each table had a tablecloth draped over it, with a vase of roses in the center. There was a plate on both sides of the table, with a fork and spoon on one side and a knife on the other. A shiny glass stood just above the plate. This place was so high class, I was sure I had forgotten all of my table manners. Not that I gave a crap about it to begin with, but when there's a guest, things are different.
The usher assigned to a booth designed for four. I slid in first, with my brother taking a seat next to me. The usher went back to his booth and a waiter replaced his spot.
"What would you like?" the waiter asked in accented English.
"Water please." The waiter looked at me weirdly, but nodded and scribbled down my order.
"A bottle of red wine," my brother replied. The waiter nodded approvingly at his choice. He placed two menus down on the table and turned to walk away, but Jake stopped him.
"We are waiting for another guest. So three please." The waiter nodded and placed one more menu down before walking away. I flipped through the French menu, utterly feeling like crap because I couldn't read shit on it. Some had pictures with it, but the majority didn't. I wanted to bang my head against the table. Maybe I should have taken French instead of being a rebel like I always am. I stared intently at the menu, hoping I could use common sense to decipher what some of the foods were. I was too busy trying to comprehend the menu that I didn't see someone approach our table until Jake spoke up, "Hey Tyler." My head jerked up and recognition dawned on both of our faces.
A/N: Let me know what you guys think of the first chapter. The chapters are going to get longer and for those of you who love a fast progressing story, I'm afraid that this story is not for you. I hope you guys enjoy it, because I have a lot of fun writing this story.