“Too often, the thing you want most is the one thing you can’t have. Desire leaves us heartbroken, it wears us out. Desire can wreck your life. But as tough as wanting something can be, the people who suffer the most are those who don’t know what they want.”
San Myshuno Senator Suites Apartments, Penthouse
Vivien had searched around the apartment for him, she knew he was home, his keys were in the bowl by the door, when she realized Liam had to be in his room, the only place she had not tried yet, so after a brief knock, she burst in without awaiting an invite and found him hanging up a sweater, as he turned to her, startled.
“Ah, there you are … hey Liam I was wondering …” she spoke but halted when he tried to usher her back out of the room immediately.
“Let’s go downstairs.” he said, pulling her with.
“Hey! Wait! Quit pushing me!” she dug in her heels defiantly.
“Come on, let’s get.” he kept trying to drag her with him.
“NO!” Vivien pulled away from him and before he could grab her again had stepped out of reach, landing her close to his bed where she stopped, surprised as she looked up.
Behind herself she heard Liam mumble some curses, while she walked up closer to a near life size poster of herself performing with her dad, almost taking up an entire section of his bedroom wall, right next to his bed.
“Liam …” she mumbled, surprised, when she realized stacked on the sideboard beneath the poster were all her singles that had been released to date, and tons of magazines with feature stories of her career so far.
“Yeah, you caught me. Embarrassing fanboy moment over. Come on, let’s get out of here. What did you want? Other than bust my balls for this now for all eternity.” Liam neither looked nor sounded like his usual confident self.
“Liam, I would never do that! This is incredibly sweet actually. Why did you not want me to see it? I am honored and flattered. I didn’t think you even really liked my music.” she turned to him.
“Uh, yeah, cool. So, what did you need? Towels?” he asked hastily, apparently unwilling to continue the matter.
“Uh .. no. The pool. I was wondering if it’s heated.” Vivien decided to let it go to not make him more uncomfortable.
“Not right now, but it can be. You wanna go swimming? I can turn the heater on for you, by the time you showered and changed it should be warm enough for you to get in.” he flashed a boyish smirk, seeming more like his usual self.
“Join me?” she asked.
“I can’t. I have work to do. I need to read and memorize a San Myshuno phonebook sized stack of documents to be ready for a meeting first thing tomorrow.”
“Just for half an hour? I’ll give you a neck and shoulder massage, like back during finals. Those always helped. Afterwards you could focus a lot better.”
“I really shouldn’t. But you go enjoy.”
“Pleeeeeease … pretty pretty please ….” she begged.
“Dear Lord, you are worse than my sisters. Fine, but seriously just for a moment. I really have to work.”
“Okay. Meet you down there?”
She was already in the pool, which was small compared to the one back home at the Cameron Mansion, but the rooftop view made up for the lack of size, the water was comfortably warm, when Liam finally appeared. She smiled, as she had worried he wasn’t gonna show after all.
She couldn’t help staring as he slipped the towel off from around his waist, then with an elegant arch dove into the pool, to surface near her, wiping the water off his face, flashing his signature smile.
“Finally! I thought you were standing me up!” she greeted him, returning his smile.
“Have I ever not kept my word?”
“No. You always come through for me.”
“There you have it.”
“You sure you don’t want that massage?”
“You know what … why not? Since you are so willingly offering.” with a swift and smooth motion he flipped around in the water, offering her his back and shoulders.
The moment her fingertips touched him a strange feeling shot through her, as she began to gently knead the firm muscles beneath his skin, generating an appreciative moan from him. She wordlessly continued this for a while, till he turned around, smiling big at her.
“Thank you. That really does feel better. Guess I was pretty tense.”
“Hard like a rock.” she said, realizing the awkward double meaning it could have too late, blushing, which he acquitted with a smirk, but didn’t comment. The smirk faded into another, indescribable, softer expression when as in the past, Vivien couldn’t keep her hands from taking on a life of their own, touching his muscular chest, which had always mesmerized her.
She noticed him closing his eyes, visibly enjoying her caress, when suddenly he stiffened, eyes wide open, then turned away from her without warning, swam to the edge and with a quick, smooth movement pulled himself up by the edge of the pool and exited it, wrapping the towel around his hips, without turning back to her he hurried inside.
“I gotta get to work. Stay as long as you like.” he said before the door shut behind him.
With that, he was gone, leaving a surprised and disappointed Vivien in his wake.
“What the hell was that now?! I really don’t know what’s wrong with me. I must exude some pheromone or something that repels men after a while. He almost stumbled over himself trying to get away from me. Jeeze, Vivien.” she mumbled to herself.
With a deep sigh she stared up at the nighttime sky over San Myshuno, wondering why this felt so much like home, when it wasn’t. She had never spent any significant amount of time in this city, so very different from her hometown Del Sol Valley, yet the past few weeks here with Liam felt so comfortable, like it was supposed to be this way, them living together again through an odd twist of fate. Even if technically only temporarily.
The wind picked up, the slight breeze was icy cold and send a chill down her spine, so she got out too, dried off and went inside, to find the downstairs dark, save some minimal night lights. She hurried up the stairs and after a long, hot shower, changed into her sleepwear in her room, but decided she wasn’t tired enough to turn in just yet.
Stepping out into the hallway, she peeked into Liam’s home office, which was also upstairs, but it was empty, only the yellow halo of the desk lamp and the piles of disheveled papers on the table proved he had been there, working. A peek over the railing showed the downstairs dark, quiet and abandoned.
Tempted to enter his room again, she stood there, door handle in hand, contemplating what to do. She didn’t want to upset him again, but felt a strong urge to clear the air between them, ease the odd feeling his sudden departure from of the pool had left her with, when she felt someone behind her, second later she was flung backwards against the door. With a startled meep she found herself staring at Liam.
“Which part of ‘stay out of my room’ do you not get?!” he roared, apparently angry, his face just inches from hers, reddened and sweaty, his body exuding heat. Despite his obvious anger, she wasn’t afraid.
“Why is that such a big deal? I have been in your room at college a million times, and in the one at your parents’ home, and you have been in mine back home and in college. I already saw the poster, I told you it’s nothing to be embarrassed about, so what’s the big problem?!”
“I asked you politely to stay out. This is my home, I don’t need to explain myself here!”
“Oh, you are pulling that card now? YOUR home. I am just the guest, and should be grateful just to breathe the same air here? Got it!”
“At least be respectful. Is that too much to ask?”
“Fine. I won’t enter you damn room again. You got it. Can you just back off, you creep?”
Liam seemed to just now realize he had her pushed up as he did, stepped backwards, releasing her.
“Look Liam, I get it. You are a man’s man, you don’t want people to know you have posters of some pop singer on your walls, I get it. But come on now, it’s me. Not just some girl, ME. You know I can keep a secret. And why would I make fun of you for supporting me? That makes no sense. Like I told you, I am super-flattered. I would have never expected this. It’s sweet.”
“Yeah, right. I should have taken it down before you got here, my own fault. Can we just forget about this?”
“Okay. You got it. Done with work?”
“Not even close. Brain shut down, went for a jog. Just got back, thought I’d check on you, to make sure you are not floating face first in my pool or something. Turns out you are creeping around places you are not supposed to again. This place is big enough for you to roam, you really don’t need my room too, do you?”
“Okay, okay, I said I got it. But you could work in the living room and I could join you and read. I promise I won’t bother you. I’ll be so quiet, you’ll forget I am even there!”
“That is impossible, but all right. Sounds good. Let me take a quick shower and I’ll be down.”
“Liam … I wanted to say I am sorry. I meant no disrespect. You need your privacy, I get that. It was wrong of me to just burst in like I did. Won’t happen again.”
“Ok, it’s fine. I probably overreacted as well and am sorry too. Truce?”
“No. Let’s just forget about all that altogether, okay?”
“Even better. All right, let me freshen up, I really need to get to work. I’ll meet you in the living room. Put on a pot of coffee, extra-strong, I am gonna need it.”
“I’ll make you coffee so strong, it can open a jar for you.”
A few days after that, Saturday night now, Vivien came home earlier than usual from her singing engagement, using the spare key Liam had given her to let herself in without having to bother him by ringing the doorbell. As soon as she entered, she heard music, someone’s rendition of an old pop classic. Vivien stopped in her tracks, listening to the lyrics
I can’t fight this feeling any longer
And yet I’m still afraid to let it flow
What started out as friendship, has grown stronger
I only wish I had the strength to let it show
It sounded different, but nice and so heartfelt, so Vivien put down her bag and followed the music, only to realize it was Liam singing along to one of the old vinyl records his father Jamie had given him.
Leaning in the doorway, watching him clear off papers and folders he had sprawled across the coffee table, his singing replaced by just humming along, Vivien started singing a few lines of the song in her well-trained voice.
And even as I wander I’m keeping you in sight
You’re a candle in the window on a cold, dark winter’s night
And I’m getting closer than I ever thought I might
“You’re home early!” he exclaimed as he shot up to stare at her, clearly surprised, maybe a little shocked to see her.
“Hi. Wow. I thought you couldn’t sing! Imagine my surprise to hear you belt out sounding all fancy and nice.”
He shrugged, dumping another stack of papers on a side table before facing her.
“Well, imagine my surprise that you know the song. So, how come you are home? Natural charm got you fired or why are you back hours before your show ends?”
“Of course I know that song! Even as a child I wanted to follow in my father’s and grandparents’ footsteps, so learning all the pop and rock classics was mandatory! I am home early because there was a kitchen fire at the lounge. You probably heard the sirens, that was us. They had to close down for the night to air out.”
“Oh shit! Everyone okay? I think I heard the sirens, but was so engulfed in work, I didn’t realize they were across the street!”
“Yeah, nothing dramatic. Just stinky. But let’s get back to the here and now, Mr. REO Speedwagon cover band. You have a great voice. Why did you hide that when we did karaoke together?”
He smirked, cocked his head, then shrugged.
“At the time, you needed me to sound terrible. So I made the monkey for you. It worked, didn’t it? Fixed ya right up.” he grinned at her.
“Yeah, it did. So you are a Cameron after all, music in your blood. I’d like to hear more of that some day.”
“I don’t know about that, but thank you, considering you would be the expert in the field.”
“What else are you not telling me, Liam. I feel like sometimes I don’t know you at all.”
“I refuse to say anything without my attorney present. Join me for a drink?”
“Sure. Are we celebrating?”
“We are. I got my work done, meaning I get Sunday off. Finally. I already don’t know what to do with myself tomorrow.”
“You really do work too much. That’s not healthy. Besides, I haven’t seen you go out at all since I got here. I really hope that’s not because of me. I don’t want to … ahem … cockblock you.” Vivien said.
He laughed, then took a big gulp of his drink, but didn’t reply.
“How about a movie? I’d offer to take you out, but I really am too tired. My ass is staying in tonight.”
“Me too. Movie sounds great. Gentleman’s choice.”
“Hardcore porn it is. Hope you like threesomes.”
“Just a joke, give me a break and a little credit! As if …”
A bit later they were curled up together on the couch, the latest action thriller playing on the big screen, both of them comfortable like an old couple, except they weren’t one. Once again, Vivien got distracted playing with Liam’s chest, it always seemed to magically attract her hand whenever she got close to him, unfortunately this time it was covered by a shirt, which distracted her from the film, evidently it distracted him too, as he reached for her hand and enveloped it with his, rubbed it a little, then placed it on his knee, before wrapping his arm around her shoulder.
This evoked yet another round of strange emotions in Vivien, she looked up at his face, his eyes still focused on the screen, when he noticed her looking and their eyes met.
“What?” he sounded confused.
“Nothing. You’re a handsome man, you should be used to girls staring.”
“Girls, maybe. When you stare at me I usually screwed up and am about to get the rolled up newspaper. I feel like the chicken picked from the flock to become dinner. I am scared.”
Vivien giggled, stretching up to give him a peck on the cheek when he moved at the same time and somehow her intended friendly peck on the cheek ended up hitting his full soft lips by accident instead.
Hot waves washed over Vivien that very instance, both of them too shocked to stop at first, then unwilling to and the accident became intention, a kiss, long, deep and passionate.
Before Vivien or Liam knew what was happening, she had pushed him back, crawled atop him and was straddling his lap, unbuttoning his shirt, while the kissing intensified, becoming more and more demanding. Her thigh was in between his legs and she could feel his desire for her physically, as his groin region pressed hard up against the softness of her inner thigh, sending heatwaves through her entire body, causing her own body to react in kind, while her tongue slipped between his lips, greedily met by his.
It wasn’t until a deep, guttural moan escaped out from the depths of Liam’s chest that he’s posture stiffened, he grabbed her by her tiny waist, lifted her off himself sliding her onto the couch next to him, before jumping up and nearly running from the room.
“Fuck!” his voice echoed through the hallway.
“Liam?! LIAM!” Vivien called after him, but could hear him running up the stairs.
She stood there, in a sort of daze, her body shivering with the desire, pleasure and intensity she had just experienced, leaving her on shaky knees staring into the dark hallway, hoping Liam would return. When it became clear that he wouldn’t, she followed him.
Knocking on his room door returned no response, so she tried the handle and it wouldn’t budge. He had locked himself in.
Or her out!
That realization stung badly, forcing tears into her eyes instantly.
“Liam?! LIAM! Let me in! Don’t shut me out like this! Please!” she banged her fists against the door.
It was no use, eventually she gave up, frustrated, tossing and turning in the guest bedroom all night long till she finally drifted of into a restless slumber.