InuYasha Fan Fiction ❯ Purity 9: Subterfuge ❯ Exhaustion ( Chapter 95 )

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

-O oOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoO-

'When you looked at me, I should have run
'But I thought it was just for fun
'I see, I was wrong
'And I'm not so strong
'I should have known all along that time would tell …'

-'Vacation' by the Go Go's.


The strangest sensation woke Valerie from a dreamless slumber.  It was cold and wet and wholly unpleasant, and with a whimper of protest, she tried to burrow deeper under the blankets.

Evan chuckled and tugged the covers back.  "C'mon, sleepyhead," he coaxed, smoothing Valerie's hair back off her shoulder.  "It's a beautiful day outside!"

"Beautiful day inside," she muttered sullenly, waving a hand blindly over her shoulder in a vain attempt to recapture the blanket he'd removed.  "Give it, jerk."

"Sexy as hell when you're being crabby," he quipped.

Uttering a little growl and jerking slightly when another cold, wet droplet of water hit her bare neck, Valerie rolled over to pin the errant rock star with a decisive glower, only to find him standing there in nothing but a towel with bedraggled, wet hair dripping down his body in sparse little ribbons.  Narrowing her eyes, she wrinkled her nose and snatched the blanket, yanking it up to her chin.  "You're dripping," she muttered in an entirely accusing sort of way.

Evan's grin widened, and without warning, he gave his head a vigorous shake, sending a spray of water flashing through the air, and Valerie screeched when the cold droplets hit her full-on.  "Evan!"

He laughed, his smile turning a little more wicked as he draped his hands on his hips.  "You sure you don't want a shower, V?" he goaded.  "You can be the second to try the new shower I had installed while I was out on tour."

She muttered something completely unintelligible as she flopped over onto her stomach and tried in vain to burrow under the blankets once more.  Evan laughed and pulled them away despite her wildly swinging arm.  "You're really grumpy in the mornings, baby," he remarked casually, letting the covers fall on the floor as his fists shot into the air while he stretched.

"Go to hell," she grumbled.  "Better yet, get me some coffee."

That infernal chuckle of his ruffled over her like a caress, and she grunted, stubbornly burying her face deeper in the pillow, determined to ignore him—determined not to notice just how precariously low the soft white towel that he'd carelessly wrapped around his lean hips had dipped.  "You win, V," he tossed casually over his shoulder as he let his arms drop and sauntered toward the door. "Coffee, it is."

Heaving a sigh, Valerie made a face as she rolled over to retrieve the tangle of blankets off the floor.  If she were lucky, she'd be able to get back to sleep long before Evan reappeared with the coffee that he'd left to make.  If she managed that, then he might let her alone—maybe. Then again, knowing him, it might well be a lost cause.

She'd only stayed over because it was so ungodly late when the final show of the mini-tour had ended last night.  The show at Madison Square Garden had run a little longer than normal, mostly because Evan hadn't minded doing a handful of encores, and then they'd hung around after the show to spend some time with his special guests from the NYPD as well as Mr. Matthis' son, David and his best friend.  By the time the limo had turned into Evan's driveway, she'd been too tired to argue with Evan about wanting to go home.  At least, that's what she'd told herself.  It had nothing at all to do with the sly little grin on Evan's face when he'd mentioned a little too casually that she might not see him for a few days.

"Why?  What are you planning on doing?' she demanded, crossing her arms and leveling him with a no-nonsense look.

"Nothing," he drawled innocently.  "Just going to rest—That's all."

Something about the wide-eyed look he gave her convinced her better than anything that the man was up to no good.  "You remember the terms of our agreement, right?" she asked mildly.

"Now, baby, do you honestly think I'd forget about something as crucial as that?"

Somehow, that just wasn't as reassuring as he might have intended for it to be, and her thoughts must've been written in her expression because he chuckled.  "If that's the case, then you won't mind if I come over to check up on you."

That grin widened.  "Fine, fine, but don't get all pissy if I don't answer the door."

Of course, she hadn't really thought that he was actually dead serious when he'd said that he was just going to rest.  Evan was akin to the Energizer bunny, wasn't he?  Since when did he need that much sleep?

But he had, and as Valerie sat up with a terse grunt, she made a face.  She vaguely remembered waking up yesterday a few times—long enough to use the bathroom before crawling back into that sinfully warm bed and instantly falling asleep once more, and when she glanced at the clock, she blinked when she realized that she'd slept for most of today, too.

It wasn't surprising, though.  She'd spent a couple days, hammering out the details of the out of court settlement with Justin's attorney, slimeball that he was.  He, of course, had asked for far more money than she was willing to agree to on Evan's behalf, so the back-and-forth had been exhausting.  It was a small gift that most of it had been handled over the phone.  In fact, there had only been three face-to-face meetings, all told, and one of those was nothing more than formality to have the agreement signed and be shut of it all.  Bad enough, really, and something she hadn't told Evan: Justin had attended the second meeting, the way he'd stared at her, he'd known—at least, he thought that he'd known . . .

He still had that somewhat mocking lilt to his grin that she'd remembered.  When they were young, she'd thought it was sexy.  Now, however, the expression was almost enough to make her want to slap him silly.  In fact, the only things that had curbed her desire to gouge his eyes out were the pronounced bandages, the cast on his arm, the still vivid purple bruises all over his face.

"You sure you're Roka's attorney?" he asked, leering at her with as much of a smile as he could manage—sad, really, given that his lips were still cracked and swollen.

"This is the best Mr. Roka is willing to offer," she said instead, her gaze dismissing Justin as quickly as she might a fly buzzing around her head in the summertime as she turned her attention to the smarmy looking lawyer in the chair beside the table in the small office that he'd borrowed from one of the hospital's staff for the meeting.

Letting his gaze linger on her for several seconds before he took the file she extended to him, the attorney smiled rather stiffly, the kind of expression that irritated the hell out of her: the condescending look of a man who was merely humoring a woman.  "Oh, I'm sure that your client is going to be more than generous; am I right?" he said glibly as he cracked open the slim-file and pressed the button to turn it on.

"I know you," Justin said, his mocking grin still in place though there was a hint of uncertainty in his gaze.

Valerie didn't respond to that.  What was the point, anyway?  Waiting patiently while the attorney scrolled through the file before him, she didn't move, didn't even bat an eyelash, careful to keep her expression stony and impassive for the duration.

"We've met before, right?"  Justin laughed suddenly, a husky, rasping sound, and nodded.  "The after-Grammy party at Salozar's last year, right?  The blue dress?  Yeah?"

The attorney's terse and perfunctory chuckle cut off any response that Valerie might have been tempted to make, if she had been tempted at all.  "Surely this isn't the best that your client can offer," he said, his voice a smooth mix of derision and disbelief.  "Why, that's not even equal to the hospital bills and rehabilitation, not to mention the loss of wages for being unable to keep his commitments for the duration of his convalescence."

"And I assume you have an itinerary of the commitments that your client is going to miss?" she asked just as smoothly as he did.

The attorney's smile thinned, but he dug a document out of his attaché case and handed it over after making a show of smoothing it a few times, as though the entire idea of sharing it with her was something that he hadn't really considered.

There were a number of bookings that Justin was going to miss, most of them in second- or third-string venues, a far cry from the stadiums and arenas that Evan had sold out across the country, and the fees listed beside each very nearly made her raise an eyebrow in mock-surprise.  "Are you sure that these amounts are accurate?" she asked at length and without lifting her gaze from the itinerary.

The attorney chuckled rather indulgently.  "I assure you, Ms. Denning, the numbers have been checked and double checked."

She didn't bother even trying to smile as she lifted her eyes without moving her head.  "Then you won't have an issue when I call all these contact numbers to verify the amounts."

There was a moment of discomfort as the attorney's smile faltered for a moment, only to re-emerge a moment later as a dry, thin expression.  "Are you insinuating that the numbers I've provided you are incorrect?"

"Absolutely not," she replied in a tight, crisp tone.  "I'm sure that you do believe that they're factual, however, from my time spent representing Mr. Roka, these number seem more along the lines of what he would be paid per appearance, and considering he's able to sell out huge venues, I don't know if I am willing to accept these figures without verifying them first."  Pausing long enough to stow the documents into her attaché case, Valerie stood up to take her leave.  "I think you should read over Mr. Roka's offer one more time.  Since he's already offered to pay all medical bills as well as actual loss of wages on top of the lump sum payment, I think you'll change your mind about his generosity in this matter."

"We'll look it over and get back to you, Miss—"

"V-Valene . . .?"  Justin laughed—as much of a laugh as he could manage, all things considered.  "Well, I'll be shit-damned!"

Valerie bristled, jaw tightening at the loathed name that she didn't care to hear, not to mention the shared past that she didn't want to think about.  Summoning a tight, curt, barely civil smile, she shot Justin a bored glance that dismissed him completely before she ever really bothered to acknowledge him at all.  "If you gentlemen will excuse me," she said without missing a beat, "I have other things that require my attention."

The slick, smarmy attorney didn't even bother to rise to his feet as she turned on her heel and strode out the door.

At least they'd settled in the end, and while she had been afraid that they would drag it out, to milk it for all it was worth, she was surprised the next morning when the attorney had called to let her know that his client was willing to agree to a settlement that was only a little more than she'd originally offered.

Heaving a sigh, Valerie brushed the thoughts aside and shifted her gaze around the room.  Usually it took her a little longer to truly wake up, but today she was entirely alert, no thanks to that rotten rock star downstairs and his dripping hair.  Sleeping for as long as they had, though, she grudgingly admitted to herself that it wasn't entirely his fault, she supposed.

With a long, drawn out sigh, she sat up, shivering involuntarily when the cooler air outside of the cocoon of blankets she'd been cosseted by fell away.  Making a face, she gritted her teeth and tossed the blankets aside before swinging her legs off the bed and pushing herself to her feet.  Though a shower wasn't exactly the first thing she'd thought of right off the bat, she had to admit that the idea intrigued her, and if his newly-installed shower was really as impressive as he said it was, then she supposed that she might as well go investigate for herself.

Rubbing her face as a lethargic yawn threatened to split her jaw, she shuffled over to the sliding door that led to the rock star's master bathroom.

As usual, she couldn't help but appreciate the airy atmosphere that greeted her as the daytime lighting flickered to life even before the panel could completely slide open.  One of these days, she would have to ask Evan who he'd hired to take care of his interior decorating, but that thought was quickly nudged aside as she rounded the corner and stepped inside the room.  Pushing open the frosted glass doors that separated the shower from the rest of the wide open space, she frowned.  True, the huge showerhead that had been there before was gone, but there wasn't really anything else in its place that she could tell aside from twelve small fountain heads that reminded her of the fire sprinklers installed in her office building.  No, the only thing that looked different was the tile: a sealed and polished sandstone that was just shades darker than the off-white grout surrounding them.

Upon closer inspection, however, she finally saw them: camouflaged well enough that they weren't readily seen and set into the grout were literally hundreds—maybe thousands—of tiny jet nozzles, and when she knelt down to run her fingertips along the tile floor inside the cubicle, she could feel even more of those unobtrusive jets.

Biting her lip as she pushed herself to her feet once more, she couldn't help the little smile that quirked the corners of her lips as she reached for the touch panel installed in the bottom left side of the plate mirror that extended the length of the wall over the sink.  'V', the display read, and she blinked.  Why didn't it surprise her that Evan had already programmed in a custom bathroom setting for her, anyway, she wondered as she pressed the one marked 'shower'.  The default duration was preset to thirty minutes, and she figured that'd be more than long enough.  The time setting flashed for a few seconds before the shower sprays erupted, and with a soft, giggle, she yanked off her clothes and stepped into the shower.

"Oh . . . my God . . ." she murmured, her eyes drifting closed as the soothing jets of water hit her from every conceivable direction.  A few of them were more powerful than others, some of them only served to send up a soothing spray of steam.  Opening her eyes, she noticed that one of the tiles on the wall had lit up, revealing a more detailed control system.  Depressing the function button once changed the steady flow hitting her back into a welcome pulse massage, and she spared a few minutes to cycle through the other functions, as well.  The one that intrigued her most was the sauna function.  It brought down a sheet of clear glass that was somehow recessed into the ceiling and shifted all of the micro jets into steam mode while the ceiling fountains shut off and within seconds, she was surrounded by a delicious and sultry humidity.

With a heavy sigh and a thick dose of regret, Valerie pushed the function button to return the shower to its regular state.  As much fun as it was to play around, real life was beckoning her, and she knew it.

"You like?"

Uttering a terse scream as she whipped around to face the intruder, Valerie slapped her hands up over her breasts and glowered at the errant rock star who had so casually wandered into the bathroom while she was messing around.  Before she got a chance to lambaste him for it, though, she blinked.  He had his face turned away from the shower with his hand stuck over the top of the frosted glass separator with a cup of coffee in his hand.

Scowling since she really ought to take him to task for his unceremonious appearance, Valerie sighed.  He was Evan, wasn't he?  Grumping at him wouldn't actually do any good, and she knew it.  He didn't possess much in the way of a conscience, so she had very little doubt that he'd really feel bad for his intrusion, anyway.

Besides . . .

The coffee smelled damn good.

"Thanks," she allowed grudgingly as she stepped closer to the divider to better shield herself in case he decided that he needed to try to get a good peek.  "It'll do."

He chuckled but still didn't try to look.  "Just 'it'll do'?" he teased, tucking his elbow but not removing his arm from the divider.  "You're a hard woman to impress, V."

Closing her eyes as she wrapped both hands around the coffee mug, she took a drink before she deigned to reply.  "Oh, please, Roka.  Like you had this put in for me, anyway."

"Maybe I did," he countered good-naturedly.

"If you had, then you'd have had one installed in my apartment instead of here," she argued.

Evan snorted, but she could tell he was grinning.  "And why would I have done a damn stupid thing like that?"

"What's so stupid about that?" she countered, her voice muffled by the coffee mug that she'd lifted to her lips again.

Of course, he laughed again.  "Considering that I'd rather that you were here with me instead of holed up in your apartment?  Plenty," he scoffed.

After draining her coffee cup, Valerie wrinkled her nose and tapped his hand with the empty vessel.  "Yeah, well, get out of here so I can finish my shower," she remarked primly.

"All right; all right," he drawled, taking the cup and finally pivoting his head to stare at her.  "You want another cup of Joe?"

She opened her mouth to say 'no', but snapped it closed with a sigh.  While she knew damn well that encouraging Evan in any way, shape, or form was a bad idea, she had to admit that the man could and did make one of the best cups of coffee, bar none.  "Why don't you just bring me the whole pot, Roka, and leave it on the counter over there?"

Evan chuckled and inclined his head.  "Your wish is my command, Oh Magnificent and Awe-Inspiring V-ness."  His cheesy grin widened.  "Get it?  Venus?"

Rolling her eyes at his really warped sense of humor, Valerie just managed to keep from laughing outright—barely.  "Move it so I can finish up in here," she commanded, though she couldn't keep the amusement out of her tone.

"You hungry?  I could make you something," he offered as he turned to go.

She almost declined out of habit then sighed when her stomach growled.  If he heard it, he gave no indication, but she relented.  "Nothing overly fatty," she called after him.  Now that they were home from their little odyssey, she had every intention of getting back into her regular routine of watching what she ate and getting more exercise.  Being out on the road with Evan had made those things so hard to do, especially when they were rushed around so often, only to be confined to such cramped quarters, as well.  To be honest, she should have gone for a jog this morning, and she would have if she hadn't slept so long.  She'd just make sure that she was extra vigilant about her regime—starting tomorrow.

Raising a hand to indicate that he'd heard her without stopping to turn around, Evan sauntered away, pausing only long enough to glance back at her and waggle his eyebrows before moving on.

"Weirdo," she muttered under her breath at his perceived goofiness.

His laughter lingered long after he'd left the room, and Valerie shook her head.  No doubt about it, he was definitely in a good mood, and she figured that it could only mean bad, bad things for her . . .

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'Vacation' originally appeared on the Go Go's 1982 release, Vacation.  Song written by and copyrighted to Jane Wiedlin, Kathy Valentine, Charlotte Caffey.
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Thought from Valerie:
Okay.  So the shower is nice
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.