EXPOSURE

Parental Advisory Rating: L & AC &

Break out those V-Chips, everyone!

Credits:

Directors: XWPFanatic & TNovan

Writers: TNovan, XWPFanatic and Tonya Muir

 

Episode Eleven: It Must Be The Morning After

When my brain decides it’s okay to function again, I become aware of several things at once. One, I am hung over. Not the "begging God to let you live" kind of hangover, but a "I can’t quite remember last night" kind of hangover.

Two, there is an incredible body spooned to my back and a strong arm draped over my waist. As I run my hand over that arm, I also realize we are both totally nude. My breath catches, forcing me to inhale.

I smell the rain and forest and sea and …

Oh my God!

Oh my God! No.

It can’t be.

I’d know that scent anywhere. Before I can roll over to confirm my suspicion, she stretches and her entire body goes taut against mine and it’s all I can do to keep from moaning aloud.

She relaxes and curls back around me. As she does, she murmurs something as she kisses my shoulder. My entire body shudders with pleasure and I know have to stop this. "Harper?" I manage to get out as I give her arm a little squeeze.

"Hmmm?"

Oh, Jesus, it is her.

"Harper… umm… wake up."

"No. No reason to get up. Day off." She sounds like a kid in the morning, her voice all petulant and sleepy.

I roll over in her arms and open my eyes. Oh yeah, it’s her. God, she looks sexy in the morning.

Now that my eyes are working I really should see how bad it is. I slowly lift the blankets. Oh yeah. Totally naked. Oh my, Harper, nice little navel ring there. That must be fun to play with. Stop it, Kels! But what a view! This should be illegal in most states.

No, no, I take that back. It IS illegal in most states.

Okay, Kels, why in the hell haven’t you moved yet? Could it be you don’t want to wake her because she is positively the most beautiful woman you’ve ever seen? Or, maybe, just maybe, it’s because she’s been rubbing her entire body against you for the last few minutes?

I clear my throat just a little. "Harper?"

"Hmm?" Her head moves forward and she brushes her lips against mine.

Oh my God, I gotta stop and gotta stop right now.

I take the sheet and wrap it tightly around myself. I leave the blanket for Harper, which I have to straighten out (so to speak) over her before I lose all my will to get out of this bed. If any of her body parts remain on display, my resolve is toast.

As I sit on the edge of the bed, my mind swims, trying to put together everything that happened last night. We gave statements to the cops for forever. Then we dropped Jims off at the hotel, and Harper and I decided to go out to dinner. After dinner, we decided to blow off steam with some dancing and a drink or two. I seem to recall a country and western bar and line dancing. One or two drinks led to at least eight and that’s where the problems start.

I get up and move across the room toward the bathroom. On my way I pass the dresser mirror and stop. I look at my reflection and see the deep purple bruise on my neck. "Oh my God," I mumble as I run my fingers over it. "Okay, Kels, breathe, a hickey does not mean anything happened."

Slowly I open the sheet and inspect the rest of my body. Umm … well, now those marks probably mean a little more. Oh Lord, what did we do? It doesn’t quite feel like a morning after, but it sure looks like one.

I close up the sheet and begin looking around for my clothes. The first thing I find is Harper’s shirt. All the buttons are missing. "Did I do that?"

"Un-huh," a low voice agrees from the bed.

I look up. She’s awake now, leaning back on her elbows with a huge smile on her face and nothing at all on her chest. This is not helping my concentration.

"You bit the first two off then you just ripped it open."

"Oh please. I have never in my life bitten off a button. Let alone two."

"Well," she smirks lazily, "you did seem to find ripping them off far more satisfying."

"Harper." I rest my cheek in my hand as I lean against the doorframe to the bathroom. "Can I ask you a question?"

"Umm-hmm."

"Will you answer it honestly?"

"Umm-hmm."

"What happened?"

"You mean you don’t remember?" Her tone is teasing.

Oh, I just know I’m gonna choke on this next word. "No." Okay, I don’t need the laughter coming from the bed. I throw her shirt at her. "Go to hell."

"Ah, come on, Kels…" I hear her as I head into the bathroom. I need a shower. I close the door behind me, leaning against it and trying to rattle my brain into remembering anything. And I don’t know what my body is telling me, talk about mixed signals. Oh God, I can’t believe this is happening.

The knock on the door brings me back. "Leave me alone!"

"That’s not what you said last night."

"Fuck you."

"Yup, that’s what you said last night. See, Kels, it’s all coming back to you now."

"Harper, if you have a kind bone in your body, you’ll let me take a shower in peace."

"No problem." Her voice is subdued suddenly. "Could you hand me a robe first?"

I take the robe down from the hook and open the door. And gape.

I should have known she’d be naked; I just should have known it. I swallow hard and try not to look. Wonder if a prayer to be struck blind would do me any good? Because my damned eyes are certainly not obeying my brain’s command not to look. "Here." I shove the robe at her and close the door.

"Do you want breakfast? I’ll have room service send something up."

I don’t answer, assuming the question to be rhetorical. She’ll do what she wants, I imagine. God, what did she want to do last night? What did we do?

And what am I going to do now?

 

* * *

 

I am having a wonderful dream. I’m in Louisiana, staying at one of the old plantation houses, and the scent of magnolia is drifting in an open window. I’m in an upstairs bedroom, laying on a plump feather bed, being embraced by both its softness and a small body in front of me. She’s snuggled up against me tightly, leaving no room between our bodies, which is just fine with me. Her head is resting on my left arm and my other arm is thrown around her waist, under the fullness of her breasts. Her skin is soft and smooth and smells wonderful, even better than the flowers outside.

I feel her hand stroke my arm. It feels so good, so gentle. I stretch lazily, like my fat cat, and enjoy the feel of our skin sliding against one another. I kiss her shoulder. "Stay. Nice," I whisper. No need for this dream to end anytime soon.

"Harper?" My dream asks.

"Hmmm?"

"Harper … umm … wake up."

"No," I protest. This is too nice. "No reason to get up. Day off." I deserve one, especially after the last few days and the hostage situation. Surely, the world can continue on without me for awhile.

I relax again into sleep, letting it take me back without protest.

My dream girl turns in my arms, stirring me again. I fold my arms around her, pulling her close. She needs to learn to be still, enjoy the quiet of the morning. Instead, she’s plucking at the heirloom quilt covering our bodies and letting cool air hit warm skin.

"Harper?"

Honey, it’s early morning. Maybe she feels awkward here. I can fix that. I kiss her gently, enjoying the taste of her lips. It’s familiar, surprising me; I didn’t think I knew her, other than in a Biblical sense.

Then, my dream does the unexpected: she pulls away from me. I feel the sheet disappear and the quilt tucked tightly around my body. What’s going on here? This was supposed to be a nice dream.

Awareness comes suddenly.

This ain’t Louisiana, that ain’t an heirloom quilt, and she ain’t no dream girl. That’s Kelsey.

Oh shit.

I play possum and try to take stock of the situation. Through barely open eyes, I see Kelsey standing in front of a mirror, examining her body. I wish she’d drop that sheet a bit lower so I could join in the inspection.

Because I sure as hell don’t know what happened.

But, given the pounding behind my eyes, I’m surprised I can recall my own name. Jesus. That was some strong shit they served last night. Gotta remember to not drink Omaha Special Blend Whiskey in the near future. Or ever again.

I take stock of my body. I feel like crap. But that’s the hangover talking. My shoulder hurts, but I think that’s explained by my tackle of Kelsey yesterday after throwing the Betacam at Scamp. I am certainly relaxed, but it doesn’t seem quite like the normal post-sexual lassitude I typically enjoy. Did we? Or didn’t we?

I hear Kelsey begin rummaging around for something near the bed. Rolling over, I push myself up on my elbows to observe her. I think my Little Roo is upset.

"Did I do that?" she asks my shirt, as if it might answer her.

"Un-huh," I answer on behalf of my shirt. This is one of the few things I recall from last night. "You bit the first two off, then you just ripped it open." Surprised the hell out of me. Little tiger. I may have to change her nickname.

"Oh please. I have never in my life bitten off a button. Let alone two." The most precious blush is creeping up her neck and cheeks.

"Well, you did seem to find ripping them off far more satisfying." Come on, Kels, this isn’t so bad, is it?

"Harper." She sounds so weary. "Can I ask you a question?"

"Umm-hmm."

"Will you answer it honestly?"

"Umm-hmm."

"What happened?"

I smirk, a bit relieved that she doesn’t know either. At least, we have a level playing field. "You mean you don’t remember?"

"No," she squeaks.

God, it’s too funny to see the fierce Kelsey Stanton standing wrapped up in a sheet and looking none too sure of herself. I laugh at the thought and get smacked in the face by my shirt, suddenly flung at me by an angry blonde.

"Go to hell."

Ah, damn. I didn’t mean anything by that. Come on, Kels, this is funny. I mean, we both obviously want each other. This isn’t the end of the world, is it? "Ah, come on, Kels." I follow her to the bathroom and knock on the door.

"Leave me alone!"

"That’s not what you said last night," I tease. Kels, don’t be this way. It doesn’t have to be this way, right?

"Fuck you."

"Yup, that’s what you said last night. See, Kels, it’s all coming back to you now."

"Harper, if you have a kind bone in your body, you’ll let me take a shower in peace."

"No problem." Guess it does have to. "Could you hand me a robe first?"

The door opens, she stares for a long moment and then she shoves a robe into my hands, the door closing again immediately. "Here."

Maybe this can still be salvaged. "Do you want breakfast? I’ll have room service send something up." Perhaps food will calm the savage beast.

 

* * *

 

As the water runs over me and I let it wash away some of the cobwebs, I try really hard to remember what the hell happened last night.

All right. Now let me think. We came back here. I remember Harper having a little trouble getting the door open.

Oh God. It was because I was standing behind her running my hands up and down the front of her shirt.

I remember pushing her into the wall and kissing her senseless once we were inside. She tasted so good, oh so very good. I remember the burning in the pit of my stomach, the ache between my legs. Oh Jesus, I remember wanting her so damn bad. I don’t ever remember feeling like that before, to want someone so much it hurt.

Her hands were all over my body and felt so good. I didn’t want her to stop. I wanted her to take me to bed and make me feel, make me feel anything she wanted me to. Of all the things I do doubt this morning that, most certainly, is not one of them. Last night, I wanted Harper Kingsley.

Have I lost my fucking mind?

Good God. I lean against the shower wall as the water runs over my body. How goddamned irresponsible could I be? Harper is my co-worker. The last thing I need is an affair with her. I laugh a little as the word "affair" tangles itself in my mind. I didn’t want an affair. I wanted a quick fuck.

It was a bad idea then and it’s bad idea now.

I finish my shower and begin toweling off, trying to remember the rest of last night. Okay. After the kiss, what happened? What happened?

She began undressing me. Slowly. I remember it being slowly. Far too slowly for my tastes.

Shit!

I did bite her buttons.

Fuck! I think I even spat one across the room.

Then she caught on to the game we were playing and began undressing me the way I wanted it done. Fast and hard.

We ended up on the bed pawing each other like the first two women to discover great sex. Oh yeah, I remember her long strong, body coming to rest on top of me. Her firm thigh finding the exact spot that I wanted it in. Her mouth on my neck.

I lean with my hands against the sink, my head down and my eyes closed as some of those sensations come flooding back, nearly causing my knees to buckle.

Then what the fuck happened?

 

* * *

 

I hang up after ordering breakfast. In the bathroom, I hear shower running and I try not to imagine Kelsey’s naked body under it. As the fog clears, I do remember the magnificent body I uncovered last night.

I started imagining it in detail when we were out dancing.

I remember the Denim Diamond, the country and western bar we ultimately ended up at. It was a classic – sawdust scattered on the floor, along with peanut shells, a large dance floor, lots of two top tables circling it, and peroxide waitresses in boots. Those are a personal favorite of mine.

But, I hardly noticed them last night with Kelsey.

We grabbed a table near the dance floor, ordered a round of drinks and listened to the latest Dixie Chicks single. Some of the locals recognized us from the television coverage and sent over another round.

And then another.

And another.

And then someone showed up with a bottle of Omaha’s famous special blend whiskey. Which we drank.

Soon, there was a whole crowd around our table, laughing, drinking, and daring us to line dance.

I was actually pretty good considering I was drunk off my ass. Kelsey, bless her heart, was trying.

So, like any good friend, I helped her out. I found the best way to do that was by placing my hands on her hips and guiding her through the steps. Good, clean, innocent fun.

Certainly nothing that anyone at the bar thought twice of.

But, they didn’t see us in the hallway outside her room at the hotel.

I remember her fondling my breasts as I tried to open her door, causing me to drop the damn card key twice. Each time I bent down to pick it up, she ran her hands over my ass in ways I didn’t imagine she would think to do.

I nearly bashed my head into the wall the first time.

The second time I moaned and got the fucking door opened.

We stumbled into the room and somehow managed to get the door closed. No need to give our fellow guests at the hotel a free show. I was surprised to find myself pressed up against the wall. Not quite how I imagined this moment. It was supposed to be Kels against the wall, me pressing against her, taking control.

I was so shit-faced.

She was climbing up my body, her hands on my shoulders, her legs around my waist, her mouth everywhere. Damn. I thought she just got laid last weekend. She acted like I was the last drink of water in the middle of the desert.

The way her tongue was probing in my mouth she wasn’t going to share any of it with me.

I tried to cool things down a couple notches. I remember exchanging slow kisses, pulling away when she tried to deepen them. My fingers found the buttons on her blouse and I tried to undo them slowly.

She was having none of that.

I yelped when she leaned forward and bit my top button off.

God, I thought she was going to take a hunk of my flesh with it, her expression was so intense.

When she spit it across the room, I got the hint. I stumbled across the room to the bed – you should try walking gracefully when you have a hundred pound hellcat in your arms – and we collapsed on the bed together.

I remember ripping the clothes off her body while she destroyed my shirt. First the silk one in the library, which she never did pay me for, and now this one. I might be safer going topless around her.

Yeah right.

She calmed down a bit once we got naked.

I just wish I knew what happened after that.

 

* * *

Finally, I know I have to face the inevitable. I hear the knock on the door and Harper answer it to allow room service to bring in breakfast. I take the opportunity to put on a robe and wrap my hair in a towel.

Maybe breakfast will help. We can sit down and discuss this like two rational adults.

Once the waiter is gone, I exit the bathroom. Harper gives me a smile as she adjusts the table. "I wasn’t sure what you wanted, but I guessed you’re a fresh fruit and bagel for breakfast type."

"I am. Thanks."

She smiles as she holds a chair for me. I glance sideways at her. She’s being far too kind. As I take my seat, she moves to the chair across from me and pours coffee for herself, then she hands me a cup of tea.

"Earl Gray, right?"

"Right."

She leans back and drapes her napkin in her lap. "I, however, am a ham and eggs type." She uncovers her plate and looks at the meal with an appreciative nod. "Looks good."

"Uh-huh," I offer as I sip my tea.

We sit in an awkward silence. Well, actually, I sit in an awkward silence. Harper is eating breakfast.

"Kels, what’s wrong?" She finally responds to my staring at her.

"What’s wrong? You have to ask?"

She looks up from her breakfast as she cuts through the ham. "Yeah, I have to ask. I mean, is it really that bad?" She takes a bite as she waits for my answer.

"Harper, we got drunk and we came back here and we… we…"

"Made love."

"Ah, is that what you call it?"

"Well, isn’t that what we did?"

"Do you know where the buttons are to your shirt?"

She chuckles. "No."

"Then it wasn’t making love, Harper. It was sex." I lean back in my chair and set my tea cup down. I hate how composed she looks. How it seems like none of this matters to her. I want her to feel as badly as I do. "You know sex. You’ve had lots of it."

Puzzled blue eyes meet mine. "What’s that supposed to mean?"

"Harper, the first time I laid eyes on you, you were practically fucking a woman on the seat of your motorcycle."

She laughs a little as she nods. "And you should have seen the look on your face. It was priceless."

"I’m so glad you’re amused. I mean, it was such an accomplishment for you, such a quality moment in your life. And let’s not forget about Sparky."

"Her name was Victoria." She sets the knife down forcefully, her breakfast forgotten for the moment.

"And did you see her more than once?"

"No."

"Do you ever see anyone more than once?"

"Occasionally I might find someone I see two or three times."

"So basically you notch your bed post and move on."

"Christ, Kels, what do you want? A run down of my sexual past?" she growls as she wipes her mouth with her napkin. "Sorry, I don’t keep track. I have healthy sex life and I enjoy it. Unlike some people."

"Is that a dig?"

"No, that’s a fact. You’re so fucking uptight, you squeak when you walk."

"Oh, that’s rich coming from someone who will sleep with anything that’s willing."

"Willing is the key word, Kels. And you were more than goddamn willing last night!" she says as she gets to her feet and begins collecting her clothes.

"That was last night. So now you can go home and add another notch."

"You’re not worth one. On my bedpost or anywhere else."

She starts dressing quickly, slipping on her jeans and T-shirt followed by her shoes. She collects everything else and starts to wrap them in her shirt. As she does, she pauses, reconsidering, then tosses me the shirt.

"That’s the second shirt you’ve totaled. Keep it as a souvenir of the one time in your frigid, uptight life when maybe, just maybe, you were willing to let go and enjoy yourself."

"You are the most arrogant person I have ever met!" I’m on my feet now throwing the shirt to the floor. "The world does not revolve around Harper Kingsley."

She moves to the door and turns as she lays her hand on the knob. "Oh, I know it doesn’t revolve around me. But at least I know how to get out into it and enjoy it a little. I don’t hide in hotel rooms waiting to be with someone who sneaks into town twice a year to give me a quick fuck and leave."

She pauses at the door and stares at me for a long moment. Her mouth starts to move, but nothing comes out. Finally, she clears her throat and says, "Get packed. We have a plane to catch."

She leaves without another word.

I sit on the bed retrieving the shirt from the floor and bring it to my face. That scent. God, tell me I didn’t destroy a friendship over something that might not have even happened.

 

* * *

 

My heart is pounding when I step out into the hallway. Where did this morning go wrong? I woke up happy and naked with a beautiful woman in my arms. Now I’m standing in the fucking hallway slinking away like I did something wrong.

I don’t even know for sure that we did anything. I bring my hands up to my nose and sniff tentatively.

Damn. Eggs and ham. Somehow, I doubt if that’s Kels’ scent.

Okay, what are the facts?

Fact one, I woke up naked in bed with Kelsey.

Fact two, she acts like we had hot monkey sex.

Fact three, I’m standing out in the hallway after a fight I don’t even understand how it started.

Great. I nail her. And I don’t even remember it. Even if I did carve fucking notches in my bedpost I wouldn’t be able to count this one.

I don’t even know if I would want to now.

Good-bye, Kels. It was fun while it lasted.

<fade out>

 

Scene from Next Week’s Must Read TV:

I take my tea and the card and cross over to her office. I enter as the messenger leaves. Tossing the card down in front of her on her desk, I take a sip of my tea as she reads it.

"Aww, now isn’t that sweet?" she sneers as she shoves it to the corner of her desk.

"Cut the fucking crap. Don’t play around here, Harper."

"What? I’m sitting here minding my own damn business in my own damned office. You’re the one who blew in here with the attitude."

"You sent the roses."

"Yeah, right. Hate to disappoint you, Kels, but if I was going blow that kinda money on a woman, it wouldn’t be you on the receiving end."

 

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