InuYasha Fan Fiction ❯ Purity 9: Subterfuge ❯ Grit ( Chapter 60 )

[ X - Adult: No readers under 18. Contains Graphic Adult Themes/Extreme violence. ]
~~Chapter Sixty~~
~Grit~


-OoOoOoOoOoOoO oOoOoO-

'The broken locks were a warning
'You got inside my head
'I tried my best to be guarded
'I'm an open book instead
'And I still see your reflection
'Inside of my eyes
'That are looking for purpose
'They're still looking for life …'

-'Broken' by Lifehouse.

-Valerie-


"Morn in', V," Bone called out the window of the small guardhouse as he pushed the button that controlled the electronic gates that barred entrance from the Roka mansion.  "Lookin' good, as always, ya."

Snorting indelicately, Valerie shot him a withering glower and shook her head.  "Bite me," she muttered under her breath, simply not in the mood to deal with anyone at the moment.

As if he'd heard her, the man's grin widened as a low chuckle escaped.  He saluted her as she drove through then closed the gates behind her.

"You are . . . unhappy, yes?" Violca asked rather timidly as Valerie gunned the engine on the long and slightly curving driveway.

"No . . ." she said, unable to keep the clipped quality out of her voice.  Glancing at the girl out of the corner of her eye, Valerie let out a deep breath, reminding herself that she really didn't seem to know any better.  No, the person that Valerie ought to be angry with wasn't Violca, she supposed, but her mother.  After all, what kind of woman would even consider giving her daughter away like that, let alone to a man like Evan Zelig?  And then to have tattooed that stupid contract on her back, of all places?  As far as she was concerned, there simply wasn't an excuse for any of it . . .

Unfortunately, her temper was a little too short to think completely clearly.  Having spent the majority of the night wide awake simply wasn't agreeing with her.

She sighed but ended up having to stifle a yawn with the back of her hand as she pulled to a rough stop in front of the wide porch.

Violca reluctantly got out of the car and watched Valerie as she headed for the front door.  Subdued, almost reluctant to follow her inside, the girl bit her lip but picked up her bag and trudged onto the porch behind her.

Valerie rang the doorbell and tapped her foot impatiently.  To be completely frank, she wasn't thrilled with the idea of bringing the girl back, but there really wasn't much she could do otherwise.  She hadn't realized that Violca's 'hospitality' would extend to her, as well, though maybe she really should have.  According to Evan, she was to show proper appreciation to whomever provided her with shelter, and since Valerie had insisted that she take her home with her last night, then she really, really should have known . . .

In fact, it had only taken about twenty minutes for Violca to get the idea into her head that she needed to 'appease' Valerie.  The kiss had been not only shocking but also highly disturbing, and not in a good way.  Valerie had shoved her away before she could stop herself—sort of a knee-jerk kind of reaction.  Luckily, however, Violca had only ended up plopping onto the sofa with a confused expression on her very pretty face.

It had only gotten worse from there.

Valerie had tried to make her understand that she could do a bit of cleaning or something if she really wanted to show her gratitude, but the language barrier had been too hard to overcome, and Violca hadn't understood her when Valerie tried to explain things to her.  It seemed that her grasp of the English language was exceedingly limited, but at last, Valerie was able to get Violca installed into the extra bedroom for the night.

Or so she'd thought.

No sooner had Valerie crawled into bed than her bedroom door had opened and a very naked Violca had slipped inside.  Shocked into momentary silence, Valerie had only gawped as the gypsy girl had started to approach the bed, a tentative little smile on her face, as though she were trying to assuage Valerie's rising panic.

The next hour or so had been the stuff headaches were made of.  Violca hadn't understood why Valerie wasn't letting her do what she had in her mind that she needed to do, and she'd ended up crying, babbling in German or Dutch or whatever the hell language she spoke since it hadn't sounded quite like German, at least to her ears, and what the girl had said, Valerie could only guess.  She, though, was entirely too flustered, too frustrated, to try to do anything but escort Violca back to the guest room where she'd closed the door firmly after pointing at the bed and saying the one word that she'd prayed that Violca knew: stay.

Then she'd trudged back to her room, locked the door, crawled into bed, and promptly fell asleep—for about an hour.

The next time she'd woken up, Violca was in her bed again, this time cuddling with Valerie in an entirely too-intimate kind of way.  Since she couldn't get through to her, though, she gave up and had spent the rest of the night, sitting on the sofa and teaching Violca a handful of words by picking objects up and repeating the name a few times until Violca could replicate it herself.

Evan wasn't answering the door.

Letting her head fall back, Valerie closed her eyes for a long moment.  Out of sheer desperation, she grabbed the handle and gave it a good jerk.  To her surprise—and relief—the door opened with a soft 'click', and she let out the breath that she hadn't realized that she'd been holding as she stepped inside and set her purse on the table.

"Evan?" she called, knowing that he had to be here somewhere if his door was unlocked.

He didn't answer, but the smallest of his dogs trotted into the foyer and plopped down in front of her, its tail dusting over the floor in a wide arc as it cocked its head to the side to stare at Valerie.  Gritting her teeth, she gave the animal a wide berth, sticking as close to the perimeter of the room as she made her way toward the arch that led into the living room.  The dog continued to watch her with the utmost interest, but thankfully, it didn't move.  Valerie wasn't taking any chances, nor did she take her eyes off the dog until after she'd stepped into the bright, airy room.

Evan was nowhere to be seen in there, and he wasn't in the kitchen, either.  The door to his music room stood wide open, and when she glanced out the back doors, she didn't seem him anywhere outside.

She sighed, crossing her arms over her chest as she glanced toward the stairs.  The last thing she wanted to do was to go up there, but she couldn't just leave Violca here, either.  Valerie didn't doubt for a moment that the minute she did, the girl would bolt for those stairs to find Evan and 'thank' him for looking after her, and that was the one thing that Valerie was trying to avoid.

But the dog trotted out of the foyer and straight past Valerie, who stepped back quickly to keep out of the animal's path, lest it decide that her feet looked yummy or something like that.  The dog didn't pay any attention to her, though, and Valerie watched as it disappeared through the doorway of the room where Evan normally meditated.

Narrowing her eyes, she followed slowly, stopping in the doorway when she finally spotted the errant rock star.  Sitting on the floor with his legs crossed and his hands on his knees, he had his eyes closed, his back straight, exuding a serene air.  The only movements were the rise and fall of his chest as he breathed.  Lightly tanned skin glowing golden in the sunlight filtering through the row of windows, he looked like the epitome of calm.

The dog was lying down on a black velvet pillow that was easily one of the most expensive dog beds that Valerie had ever seen in the far corner of the room and didn't even lift its head when Valerie stepped inside.  She wasn't entirely sure that she trusted the animal, but it seemed to be content to ignore her existence, which was just fine with her.

"Evan, we need to talk," Valerie whispered loudly, unsure why she was so reluctant to disturb him.

He didn't move or even acknowledge her presence.

Valerie rolled her eyes.  Okay, so she did know that he liked to meditate, but to be honest, she wasn't entirely sure that she really bought into the idea that he really was concentrating.  He was something of a human perpetual motion machine any other time, and it struck her as odd to see him sitting so still—and so silent.  Shuffling toward him with her arms crossed over her chest, she nudged him with a foot to his left buttock.

He didn't even budge.

Rolling her eyes, she uttered a terse snort and nudged him a little harder.  Still nothing.

It occurred to her during the third nudge that there was probably something kind of sick in her fascination for picking on Evan Zelig.  It was almost a compulsion, really: the longer he was able to ignore her, the more interested she was in trying to bother him.  It bordered on perverse, she figured.  All the same, she wrinkled her nose and poked harder.

"I'll let you play with my ass all you want," he murmured without moving and without opening his eyes, "just give me another hour or so."

"An hour?" she blurted before she could stop herself.  It took a moment longer for the first part of his statement to register in her head, and she snorted, wondering absently if it'd really hurt him if she smacked him upside the head.  "And I am not playing with your ass."

She might as well be talking to the wall for as much of a response as she got out of the rotten man—none at all.  Behind her, Valerie heard a soft whisper of movement, and she glanced over her shoulder in time to see Violca peek around the corner into the room.  The girl bit her lip but seemed completely reluctant to enter, and when she noticed Valerie's perusal, she blushed and ducked out of the entry once more.

"This is important, damn it," she snapped, nudging him with her bent knee in the center of his back.

He finally popped one eye open.  "So is this," he replied mildly.

Valerie rolled her eyes again and shook her head stubbornly.  "Like you're really meditating," she scoffed.  "Anyway, this is more important."

The other eye opened, and he stared at her, his gaze slowly roving over her from head to foot then back again.  He must have decided that she meant business, though, because he shook his head and slowly pushed himself to his feet, crossing one arm over his chest and catching it with a hand to stretch.  "All right, you win," he told her with a good-natured grin.  "What's up?"

Valerie shot him what should have been a quelling glower.  That damned grin of his widened.  "Sleep well last night?" she asked, ignoring his question for the moment.

"Like a baby," he quipped, stifling a yawn for good measure.

"Good," she drawled, nodding slowly.  "Glad to hear it, of course."

That idiotic grin of his widened, and she had a feeling that he knew damn well that she couldn't say the same.  "Did you?"

"No," she snapped, unable to stem the wash of color that infiltrated her skin as her irritation soared higher.  "No, I didn't.  I was too busy trying to fend off your concubine."

He blinked, probably at her interesting choice of words.  "Bet that would've been hot to see," he replied as the idiot part of his grin dissipated, only to be replaced with a wolfish sort of delight.

Valerie snorted and slapped the back of her hand against his bare chest.  "There was nothing hot about it, you disgusting jerk.  All I wanted to do was to go to sleep, and she kept breaking into my room—"

"So she picked the lock?"  He didn't sound surprised.

Valerie narrowed her eyes.  "How did you know?"

Evan chuckled and sauntered toward the doorway, leaving Valerie to follow.  "I told you yesterday that she knew how to do that," he said in a tone that implied that she needed to work on her listening skills.  "Did she give you a blowjob, too?"

"I hate you, Evan Zelig," she gritted out as she stomped through the living room and into the kitchen in his wake.  "I really, really, really hate you . . ."

"Oh, come on, V!  Live a little, will you?  You're young.  You're hot.  You're smexy, and—"

Valerie shook her head and grabbed Evan's arm as he started to reach into a cupboard for a mug.  "Did you just say 'smexy'?"

He grinned down at her before hooking two mugs with his index finger and tossing them, one at a time, into the air.  He caught them and set them down, open side up, with a flourish.  "Yes, I believe I did," he told her.

"What the hell does that mean?" she challenged.

"It's 'internet' for 'sexy'," he told her as he reached for the coffee pot.  "Actually, it's better than being just sexy.  I mean, it has more letters, so it has to be, right?"

"You're so wrong," she muttered, sipping the cup of coffee he'd given her.

Evan shook his head and drained his cup before sloshing more into it.  "Whatever, whatever," he said.  "My point is, there isn't a damn thing wrong with a little girly-girl time, if you get my drift."

Setting her now-empty mug on the counter with a heavy thump, Valerie frowned at the rock star while he filled her cup again, too.  "Of course there is," she retorted.  "I am engaged—and I don't like women—and she's underage, even if I did, which I do not—just for the record, mind you."

Evan snorted and emptied his mug for a second time.  "Hell.  Didn't anyone tell you the rules?"

"Rules?" she echoed, pushing her mug in again to get a refill while he was pouring his third cup.  "What rules?"

His grin was definitely untrustworthy.  "It doesn't count against you when you're engaged and you get a little something-something from someone who is the same sex as you.  Didn't you know?"

"Oh, is that right?" she challenged with a raised eyebrow.  "I'd think that'd be worse."

"How so?"

Valerie shook her head, wondering just why she was having this particular conversation with the irrational man.  Probably because she was exhausted; that had to be it . . . "You wouldn't worry that your fiancée would like the woman better than you?"

"Hell, no, and I'll tell you why," he said as shot her a smug sort of glance.  "I've got a penis."

"And?"

He shrugged and shook his head.  "No 'and'.  Just a penis."

"Idiot," she muttered under her breath.

He wrinkled his nose and held up the empty carafe, frowning as he stared at it rather blankly, as though he couldn't quite feature exactly how it got that way.  "Fuck, no," he told her, his voice a little distracted.  "Anyway, there ain't nothin' wrong with a little licky-lovin' . . . and I happen to know that Violca isn't too bad at that, either . . ."

"Hrumph," Valerie snorted since she really didn't want to hear anything else about how good Violca was at anything, given the circumstances.  "Spoken like a true moron . . . That'd be why you're not married."

"I'm not married because I've yet to find the 'hum' for my 'dinger'," he replied.

Valerie shook her head and gestured at the empty carafe as she lifted her mug once more.

He laughed and turned on the tap to the filtered water to refill the carafe.  "Would you prefer the 'Bo' for my 'Diddley'?"

"No, I don't think I would," she said, her voice echoing in the confines of the mug.

"So, why do you look so rough this morning?" he asked as he added grounds to the new filter and closed the swing out drawer.

"I don't look rough," she shot back despite the inner knowledge that she most likely did.  Her clothes were fine, as always, but she wasn't entirely sure that she was able to cover the grayish-yellow circles that puffed under her eyes.

"Okay, V, whatever you say," he agreed without missing a beat.  "Then why do you have that glazed over look in your eyes like you've either just dropped an eight—which I doubt—or you've been up all night.  Trying to fend off the sex fiend, were you?  'You see 'em comin' at you every night, strung with pretension, they fall for you at first sight . . .'?"

Valerie blinked and set her empty mug aside as she shook her head in confusion.  "What?"

He grinned and turned around, leaning back on the counter and crossing his ankles.  "'You know their business; you think it's a bore.  They make you restless; it's nothing you ain't seen before . . .'"

"What the hell are you—?" Eyes narrowing, Valerie snorted as a sudden suspicion erupted in her head.  "You're quoting lyrics at me again, aren't you?" she asked dryly.

That grin widened.  "Maybe."

"Jerk."

He laughed.  "Sorry, sorry," he said, sounding anything but sorry.  "Jeez . . . lost your sense of humor, too, huh?"

"That girl," Valerie said slowly, deliberately, as she reached for an apple in the basket on the counter, "knows how to pick locks."

The miscreant chuckled.  It was an altogether pleasant sound, little more than a low rumble that issued from somewhere low in his throat, that still made her want to choke him, just the same.  "I told you that yesterday, V.  Why else did you think that I woke up with her lips wrapped around my—?"

"For someone who didn't want that to happen, you don't sound at all sorry for it," she cut in before he could finish his question.

And, of course, he laughed again.  "Oh, I'm sorry, all right," he quipped, winking at her as she rubbed the apple on her jacket before biting into it.  "Now, had they been your lips drilling for the white oil, I wouldn't have been sorry at all . . ."

Try as she might, she simply couldn't staunch the flow of blood that flooded into her cheeks at his bawdy comment.  Heaving a sigh designed to let him know that he was fast approaching the threshold of her tolerance, Valerie took her time chewing the apple as she counted to twenty-five in her head.  "Your attorney, Evan.  That's all I am," she reminded him a good deal more calmly than she felt.

"I know," he replied, making a face to register his silent complaint.  "You keep my fat out of the fire, right?  Relax, V.  I got you."

His answer didn't actually pacify her in the least.  She wasn't entirely convinced that he knew how to take anything seriously, and considering that most people would bow down and let him have whatever he wanted, she figured that was the reason why he thought that none of the normal rules applied to him, anyway.  "You said that you knew someone who might be able to help you figure out what to do about all this?" she reminded him, opting to ignore what she couldn't change.

Evan rubbed the back of his head and nodded at the counter across from him since she was closer to it.  "Toss me the phone, please," he said, holding out his hand and flopping it up and down a few times impatiently.

Valerie did as he asked, handing over the cell phone without a word.

It didn't take him long to scroll through the numbers until he found the one he was looking for, and when he did, he clicked the  'send' button and held it up to his ear.  "Hey, Ben, it's me, Evan . . . Fine, just fine, and you . . .?"

Valerie nudged him aside with her hip, reaching for the fresh pot of coffee to refill her cup.  Evan slapped her rear end lightly, which earned him a glower that only made him chuckle all over again.

"I was wondering . . . I mean, you've been around since Hector was a pup, right?  So you ever come across any gypsies?"

Valerie raised an eyebrow at Evan but remained silent as she sipped the black coffee.

"Okay, you're right.  Hector wasn't even born when you were young.  My mistake . . . No, I don't mean those fake gypsies that rip you off at the county fair, I mean real Romanys—the ones who can curse your pecker off . . . Yeah, those ones . . ."

"We could only hope," Valerie muttered.  Evan poked her in the side with his index finger, and she jerked away.

"You don't say . . . Really?  And you still managed to keep your balls?  How'd you manage that?" Evan asked with a chuckle.

The girl in question slipped quietly into the room and skirted around the outer wall, making a bee-line for the refrigerator.  She ducked inside, only to emerge a moment later with a plastic container filled with different cheeses that she proceeded to set out on the counter before digging in the cupboard for a pretty white platter.  Then she started to slice off pieces to arrange with some thin slices of dark bread.

"You think that'd work, huh?  Nice . . ." Evan went on, watching Violca work with an absent sort of gaze, like the kind a worker in a toll booth might have on his face after a few hours of having change thrown at him.  "Don't suppose you'd be game . . .?"  He chuckled again.  "Yeah, I didn't think so . . . Is that right . . .?  Nope, I hadn't heard that . . . Yeah, I'm going to catch seven kinds of hell when I call her, I'm sure . . . Absolutely, Ben!  When do I ever?"

Satisfied that Violca wasn't going to make any more moves on her, Valerie tossed the apple core into the trash and grabbed a bunch of grapes to help Violca with the platter.

"Okay, I'll give him a call.  Thanks.  Take it easy."

Snapping the phone closed, Evan grinned when Valerie shot him a questioning glance.  "See?  I got it all figured out."

Her expression was dubious, at best.  "You do?"

He nodded and wandered across the floor, leaning across the island counter to nab a small bunch of grapes that Valerie had just placed on the platter.  "Yep.  Ben said that the agreement should be loose enough in interpretation."

"Meaning?"

Yanking a grape off the stem with his teeth, he shrugged.  "Meaning that she should be able to serve in whatever capacity is asked of her.  Contract isn't broken, old gypsy woman's daughter is taken care of, and best of all,  I keep my penis!  Everyone wins!"

"Debatable," she shot back smoothly.  "I'm still serious, though.  She really can't stay here."

"Keep your pants on, V . . . or don't—" He leaned back suddenly, his rather condescending grin taking on an entirely goofy sort of tilt.  "Hey, you know, she's a 'V', too," he pointed out, waving a finger in Violca's general direction.

Valerie snorted indelicately, opting to ignore his first statement since it wouldn't get her anywhere to point out to him how entirely inappropriate it was.  "No, she's not," she replied.

Evan laughed inclining his head toward her.  "Okay, V.  I forgot.  You're the only V, right?"

Rolling her eyes, Valerie pushed a lock of hair out of her eyes with the back of her hand, staring at the cheese tray and refusing to meet Evan's gaze.  "That's right, Roka," she replied tightly.

Evan breathed out an airy chuckle before plucking a couple more grapes with his teeth.   "Yes, ma'am," he allowed as he opened his phone again and dialed another number.  This time, though, he walked out of the room with the phone against his ear, and try as she might, Valerie couldn't quite catch exactly what he was saying.

"Käse," Violca said, holding up a slice of what looked to be cheddar cheese.  "Auf English?  What is?"

"Cheese," Valerie answered absently, leaning over in a vain effort to hear what Evan was talking about—and to whom.

"Che-e-eese," Violca repeated slowly, then giggled.  "Cheese!"

Valerie forced a smile that she hoped convinced Violca of her approval as Evan breezed into the room once more with a spring in his step that made Valerie want to choke him.

"All set," he said, intercepting her questioning glance.

"So just what do you plan to do with her?" Valerie went on.

Evan grinned as he picked up the platter and carried it over to the breakfast nook.  Violca followed him obediently and started to sit down beside him until she caught Valerie's disapproving look.  Then she slipped onto the bench across from him instead.  "Ben said that ol' Cain's looking to hire a part time maid to help Mama clean since the mansion's too big for her to do it all alone.  I figure it'd be perfect for her."

"Um, cheese . . .?" Violca asked, eyes wide as she stared at Valerie and tilted the platter toward her.

Valerie sat down beside the girl and carefully selected a bit of bread and a small slice of fresh mozzarella cheese.  "Thank you."

Violca smiled finally, and her entire body seemed to relax.  "Thank you," she repeated.  "It mean 'danke'."

Valerie nodded, satisfied with the girl's attempt at broken English.  It struck her again, just how lost Violca looked, and she sighed as twinges of guilt rippled through her for her harsh treatment of her after Violca's untoward displays the night before.  "Danke," Valerie said.

Violca's smile widened, and she delicately picked up a slice of bread with a bit of cheese, obviously happy that she'd appeased Valerie, even if it was in just a small way.

Evan grinned then winked at Valerie before saying something to Violca in German.  Violca considered whatever he'd said then slowly nodded, and the two of them shared a brief exchange.  Judging from his tone, it seemed that he was trying to talk her into something, and in the end, Violca must have agreed because Evan's grin widened as he grabbed some food.

Catching Valerie's questioning expression, Evan paused before stuffing a piece of bread with about four slices of cheese stacked on it into his mouth.  "I asked her if she wanted to go live with Mama and Cain," he told her.  "I told her that they live on the ocean, and she was sold."

"That was easy," Valerie said, satisfied enough that the girl wouldn't be staying with Evan, after all.

"Good morning, my darlings!  Don't you all look bright-eyed and bushy-tai—Good lord, V!  What happened to your face?" Madison said as she breezed into the kitchen, only to stop short when she got a good look at Valerie.

Valerie rolled her eyes and dusted her hands together to knock off crumbs.  "Thanks, Maddy," she muttered, casting Evan a disparaging glance, lest he should decide to give Madison the long version of the story.  "I just didn't sleep very well last night."

"Hmm . . . Maybe you should stop by the salon.   I can call and have Brittany take care of you."

"Brittany?  Why not you?" Valerie asked, unable to contain the half-whine in her voice.

Madison laughed and kissed her on the cheek.  "Sorry, sweetie, but I'm on my way up to Maine to drop off some things for my parents and visit with them for the weekend before I head to Miami."

Evan's chin snapped up, and he grabbed Madison's hand.  "You're going up there?  Good, good . . . Mind if you take along an extra body?"

"Depends on whose body you're talking about," she replied.

Evan nodded at Violca, who was still happily eating her breakfast.

Madison's eyebrows lifted in surprise.  "And where will I be taking her?"

Evan grinned and sat back, lacing his fingers together behind his head.  "She's going to be Cain's new part-time maid in exchange for room and board."

"Is that allowed?" Madison countered.

"Absolutely," he told her.  "Nothing to worry about."

"Hmm, okay," Madison said, tapping a long, tapered fingernail against her chin as she considered it.  "That won't be a problem at all."

Evan's eyes flicked to the girl in question, and he said something to her that neither Valerie nor Madison understood.  She nodded happily and glanced at Valerie, who got the message and slipped out of the booth so that Violca could, too.  "It was . . . nice to meet you," she said, throwing her arms around Valerie's neck before she could stop her.

Valerie blinked but didn't push her away, giving her a quick pat on the back as the girl let go.  "Nice to meet you, too," she murmured.  Madison wiggled her fingers at Valerie as Evan stood up and followed the two out of the kitchen.

Shuffling over to refill her coffee cup, Valerie stifled a yawn with the back of her hand.  Now that everything was taken care of, the sheer exhaustion of having stayed up all night was definitely catching up with her, and she'd be better off to go straight home and drop into bed.  She'd do that, too—just as soon as she drank her refill . . .

Rubbing her neck, she rolled her head back, letting her eyes close as she let out a long, tired sigh.  She almost jumped a moment later when two very warm hands grasped her shoulders, but the warning that had been ready to come out disappeared a moment later when Evan started to massage.  "Mm," she half-groaned, unable to stop herself from leaning back just enough to accept the gesture.

Evan didn't speak, opting instead to rub gently as a comforting lethargy spread down her arms and through her body.

"Where'd you learn to do that?" she managed to ask just before another yawn crept up on her.

"Ancient Chinese secret," he quipped.  "I'm a man of many talents, V . . ."

"Is that what you call it?" she asked in a bemused tone.

Evan chuckled.  "Something like that.  Come on."

She uttered a little growl when his hands fell away, only to catch her and tug her out of the kitchen and toward the stairs.  "Wha . . .?  No. Evan, no," she protested, trying to pull her hand away but unable to break his grip.

Evan glanced back at her and let out a deep breath.  "You're too tired to drive, you know," he pointed out.

Valerie opened her mouth to argue, only to be thwarted by another jaw-splitting yawn.

"I'm being completely selfish here," he informed her as he dragged her up the stairs and down the hallway toward his bedroom.

"How so?" she asked, figuring that she might as well humor him until he let go of her on his own.  Then she'd make a break for it . . .

"If you got hurt or killed in an accident on the way home because you're tired, I'll feel guilty because I didn't stop you.  Do you know what that kind of guilt will do to you?  Have a heart, will you?"

Valerie snorted, mostly because she highly doubted that he'd feel that bad, after all.  He tinkered around with the touch-screen panel—she didn't know what he was doing, and without looking up, he jerked his head toward the closet.  "Go ahead and pick something more comfortable to sleep in," he said.

Letting out a deep breath, mostly because she thought that it really was mean of him to drag her into a room with a bed so close at hand, she crossed her arms over her chest.  "I'm going home, Evan," she said quietly.

"You like it warm, don't you?" he asked, suddenly turning to face her.

She blinked and shook her head, her mind distinctly foggy despite her best efforts to clear it.  "What?"

"You don't like cold beds, right?"  He gestured over his shoulder at the active display on the touch-screen.  "I'll set the temperature if you tell me how warm you want it."

"You . . . you can make the bed warmer?" she couldn't help asking.

He grinned.  "It is a waterbed, V," he reminded her.  "And we've been through this before, damn it.  Remember when you were my girl for the day?"

"Oh, yeah, that . . ." She made a face as a surge of outrage shot through her.  How dare he offer her something as enticing as that when there was no way in the world that she could accept?  "I'm not sleeping with you, Roka," she gritted out from between clenched teeth.

"You're right; you're not," he agreed a little too easily.

She shot him a very dubious if not entirely pouty scowl.  "Oh?  Then what are you going to do, then?"

"Relax, woman.  Mikey's coming by to fill me in on the tour plans, then the band's coming over so I can listen to some demos," he told her.  "That's why I'm turning up the bed temperature—so you don't miss my smokin' hot body."

"So you're not going to try to slip into the bed while I'm sleeping?" she asked cautiously.

He sighed and grimaced.  "I know; I know.  I'm sorry about that, too."

She snorted and stepped around him, tapping the arrow key in rapid succession on the monitor to raise the temperature control of the water bed. Evan peered over her shoulder and chuckled.  "Damn, V.  You do realize that you can cook yourself if you get it too hot."

"Shut up, Roka," she shot back as she planted her hands in the middle of his chest and started walking him backward out of the room.

"You're not going to change your clothes?" he asked from the threshold as she hurried over and crawled beneath the coverlet.

"I can't . . . hear you," she mumbled between yawns as she snuggled down and closed her eyes.

She was asleep within seconds, and she didn't feel Evan's hands as he gently removed her shoes and tucked her in.  With a gentle smile, he smoothed back the hair that had fallen into her face and kissed her forehead, ignoring the compulsion to crawl into the bed with her, at least until Mike arrived.  "Sweet dreams, V," he whispered.

Indulging himself for a few minutes as he stood beside the bed, watching her sleep, he smiled to himself.  'One day,' he thought, savoring the sound of her light, even breathing, 'One day . . .'

And then he turned and slipped out of the room.


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A/N:
'Broken ' released by Lifehouse on June 19, 2007's Who We Are.  Song written by and copyrighted to Jason Wade.
'Everybody Wants You' released by Billy Squier on 1982's release Emotions in Motion.  Song written by and copyrighted to Billy Squier.
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Reviewers

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MMorg
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Final
Thought from Valerie:
… I do like his bed … even if it is the tackiest thing I've ever seen …
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Blanket disclaimer for this fanfic (will apply to this and all other chapters in Subterfuge):  I do not claim any rights to InuYasha or the characters associated with the anime/manga.  Those rights belong to Rumiko Takahashi, et al.  I do offer my thanks to her for creating such vivid characters for me to terrorize.
~Sue~

Chapter 59
Chapter 61
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