Fool Me Once

By K.T. Chambers

enough
Jen had to be the most gullible person on earth. At least, that was what her best friend, Sunny, firmly believed. On one hand she had Ben, who claims to have just been through a nasty divorce that lost him his two daughters, and on the other she has Jason, a logic-defyingly hot IRS agent who says Ben is FULL of it. Who should she trust?

Chapter 1

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Medusahead42: One good reason, Jen. One.

JenThomas85: Oh, come on, Sunny, he has two daughters that his ex wife won’t let him even see! Two of them!

JenThomas85: Poor guy’s going through a horrible divorce, and all he wants is a family.

Medusahead42: So you SLEEP with him?

JenThomas85: OF COURSE I slept with him. The guy needed a pickmeup. And I think it’s really sweet that he cares so much about his kids.

Medusahead42: You have got to be the most gullible person I’ve ever met in my life, Jen.

JenThomas85: What is that supposed to mean?

Medusahead42: It means I’ve lost count of the number of snake oils you own, and I think it’s a really bad idea for you to lose your panties over some guy’s sob story.

Medusahead42: If it’s even true. Which it probably isn’t.

Medusahead42: A guy you hardly even know, I might add.

JenThomas85: Ok, first of all, I’ve lost fifteen pounds on this diet pill, it’s working perfectly. And secondly, Are you trying to call me a slut?

JenThomas85: Because if I remember correctly, it was YOUR people promoting free love in the 70’s, buddy.

Medusahead42: For the love of god, would you please stop calling hippies my ‘people’??

Medusahead42: Just because I’m a vegan with dreadlocks doesn’t make me a goddamn hippie.

JenThomas85: And bongos.

JenThomas85: Can’t forget about the bongos.

Medusahead42: Oh whatever. I don’t even know how to play those things.

JenThomas85: HA! Does anyone? I’ve never seen Bongos listed in the available instrument classes around town.

JenThomas85: You just boppity-bop them while spouting free verse poetry.

JenThomas85: Which, by the way, YOU HAVE DONE.

Medusahead42: We’re getting off topic here! You’re a gullible slut, and you need an intervention.

JenThomas85: Right, ok, what do you suggest? I travel across the country, living off the ‘land’ (ie: dumpsters) and ‘finding myself’ (ie: chronic masturbation because no one will sleep with my nasty unwashed ass)?

Medusahead42: Enough with the hippie jokes. Where the hell are you? I’m about to come smack the shit out of you.

JenThomas85: I thought your people were big on anti-violence?

Medusahead42: GODDAMN IT JEN I SWEAR TO GOD.

JenThomas85: Wow, I’m sensing some hostility here.

Medusahead42: Ya think?

JenThomas85: Maybe some Meditation? Oh, or wheat germ. I hear that flushes the bad vibes RIGHT OUT.

Medusahead42: I will destroy you.

JenThomas: CENTER YOUR CHAKRAS!

Medusahead42: Where the hell are you bitch? I will rain wrath and fire down upon your slutty mcslut slut head.

JenThomas85: Ok, well, you remember that job I had for a few months last year, that went under?

Medusahead42: The one where you were airbrushing designs on poodles? Vaguely.

JenThomas85: Well, he never sent me a W-2, so I have to go visit the IRS building to straighten it out.

Medusahead42: The man was promoting Wedding Henna for hairless cats. I’m not even remotely surprised that he didn’t manage to get you a W-2.

Medusahead42: And you call ME a hippie.

JenThomas85: Hey, now, look, Dave made a GREAT case for it.

Medusahead42: God you are so GULLIBLE. Don’t tell me you never noticed that fact that the man was constantly drugged out of his mind.

JenThomas85: Those were perscription.

Medusahead42: You’re making my case for me here, Jen.

JenThomas85: What, that you’re a hippie?

Medusahead42: GODFUCKINGDAMNIT JEN.

Chapter 2

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With everything Jen had heard about the IRS, when she pulled up to the building she kind of expected…you know, like, columns of fire and brimstone making up the support structure of the building.

A colossal demon with a 80 foot wingspan hunched over the roof.

Maybe a three headed dog.

As far as a dwelling for the source of all evil goes, the Austin IRS building was surprisingly non-descript.

Which might be why it took her a damn hour to find it.

She slammed the car door and looked up at the building. It was just a big…grey…dull building.

Maybe that’s what Hell really looks like. A dull, grey office building.

Jenny sighed. All this just because she never got a W-2 from Dave? It seemed pretty silly. She shook her head and started toward the door.

She narrowed her eyes when she stepped into the building. The waiting room smelled like feet and mold.

The receptionist glanced up at her. “Name?” she drawled in a bored voice.

A bored brooklyn-accented voice.

Why the hell would she have a Brooklyn accent? This is AUSTIN.

“Jen Thomas.” she said with a frown.

The receptionist glanced over at her computer and then nodded her head toward the chairs against the walls. “Have a seat, hun. Someone will be with you in a bit.”

She walked over and sank down into one of the chairs, happy that she’d thought to bring a book, but wishing she’d thought to bring a face mask or something. The feet-and-mold smell was starting to get to her.

It was about twenty minutes later that someone finally called her name, but when she looked up, Jen nearly choked.

So here’s, the thing:

Sunny may think she was pretty gullible, but there are a few things Jen knew were supposed to be universal truths. Though recently she’d gotten pretty disillusioned about a few of them.

If you work hard, you’re supposed to be rewarded. If you’re smart, your life is supposed to go well.

If you’re a stupid asshole who cheats on his girlfriend with some skinny high-maintenance bitch from frigging HOOTERS with fake boobs, fake hair, and a fake personality, your life is supposed to fuck you over and you’re supposed to rot in hell.

Unfortunately, in Jen’s personal experience, none of these turned out to be true.

But if you work for the IRS, you’re SUPPOSED to be the geek from high school who hates the world and wants to take your revenge for each swirly by destroying the lives of innocent bystanders. You’re supposed to have weird proportions, a bowtie, glasses, and a pocket protector. You’re supposed to be pasty white with acne scars, and some kind of weird lisp.

This was what Jen was expecting, because that’s how it’s supposed to be.

That’s not what she got.

“Jennifer Thomas?”

She looked up. “Jen, please.” she said out of pure reflex.

Adonis lifted an eyebrow at her. “Jen?”

“I just hate people calling me Jenny, and Jennifer is kind of a mouthful. I’d rather have my name shortened to Jen than Jenny.” She wasn’t sure how she even managed to speak through the flood of hormones swamping her system. Is it normal to feel like your skin is humming? It didn’t seem normal.

The IRS agent grinned and nodded. “Well that sounds perfectly reasonable.” He said.

Jen blinked, her apparent superhuman talking abilities momentarily stunned. WOW that guy had a great smile. And really, really good biceps.

He stared at her awkwardly for a second, waiting for a response. All Jen could do was blush.

“Well, my name is Jason, and it’s very nice to meet you, Jen.” He said finally with a reassuring smile. He stepped closer to help her out of her seat. Jen hadn’t noticed until that exact moment that she hadn’t budged.

Now that he was this close, she could see that his eyes were very blue behind his glasses.

Yes, he did actually have glasses. And a pocket protector. Jen found these facts strangely comforting.

Jen followed closely behind Jason, through a doorway and to a room with dozens of cubicles. He led her to one nearby, sitting down behind the desk and gesturing toward the free chair across from him. There was maybe two feet of distance between them.

You know, was it just her, or was the room getting hotter? It must have gone up ten or fifteen degrees since she reached Jason’s cubicle.

Surely it was because she was sinking deeper into hell, rather than the stubbornly persistent fantasies involving an IRS agent, handcuffs and just a ton of melted chocolate.

“So what brings you in today?” Jason asked, smiling at her as she took her seat.

Jen gulped, so focused on his extremely inviting mouth that for a moment she actually forgot where she was. “Oh, it’s silly really.” She said when her memory returned, laughing nervously. “I had this job last year, a guy named David was trying to start a progressive animal grooming business…Well, it didn’t work out.”

Jason smiled, and Jen let out another little nervous laugh. “My friend Sunny thinks I was silly to work there in the first place; he thinks I’m super gullible.” She rolled her eyes. “Of course, mostly Sunny’s worried right now because of this guy I went out with, but the poor guy just went through a nasty divorce and his ex-wife won’t let him see his kids, and it just seems so sad.”

Jason was starting to look a little confused (and maybe a little amused), but she was so focused on the tiny opening where his shirt was coming unbuttoned at the collar that Jen didn’t even notice his expression. Or what she was saying. “But I don’t think it was slutty of me to sleep with him, anyway, because I haven’t been out with anyone since Kevin dumped me for that whore Hooters girl, and I was with him for three years-” In the surge of extremely unpleasant emotions that followed the memory of her prick ex, Jen realized what she was saying.

“I’m so sorry,” she gasped. “I didn’t mean to say all that, I’m just very nervous, and you’re so attractive-” She cut herself off again, choking. She dropped her face into her hands. “Oh my god, I can’t believe I just said that…” she moaned, her voice muffled.

Jason laughed, reaching out to touch her arm. “Don’t worry about it, I’m flattered. And I’m sorry about your ex-boyfriend, but…I don’t know if I just missed it with everything you were talking about, but what is it you’re here for, again?”

Jen felt like curling up in a little ball, but she restrained herself. Even so, her hands remained over her face. “The dog grooming business never sent me a w-2.” She said quietly.

“Ah!” Jason said, nodding. Jen peeked up at him from between her fingers.

“It’s just, my friend told me that was bad, and that I needed to see an IRS agent to fix it, so that’s what I’m doing.” She explained simply. Her nervousness made it difficult for her to keep from spouting off another stream of random, pointless information, but she managed.

“Well, it’s not exactly necessary for you to see us for that,” he held up a hand to her when she made a strangled sort of squeak. “But it is something I can take care of, don’t worry.” He smiled, and Jen started to calm down. He turned to his computer and started typing rapidly.

“I’m just going to need some information from you.” He said after a moment. By then, Jen was sure she’d pulled herself together.

He asked her a bunch of questions about her job with Dave, how long she worked there, how much she was paid, how he paid her (by commission, hourly, ect.) But he also asked her friendly questions, like whether she’d had fun working there and if Dave was a good boss. He laughed out loud when she told him about the wedding henna for hairless cats.

“It turned out terribly of course, no matter what he did the cats ended up trying to lick it off, or scratch it off or something.”

Jason was grinning. “I hate to sound encouraging, but did he try to sedate them?”

Jen shook her head. “Oh, no, I think you need to be a vet or something to be able to sedate animals, and Dave was barely even able to maintain his business license.”

“That sounds about right.” Jason said, nodding. “Well, it sounds like it was a lot more interesting than my job, anyway.”

“Oh, come on,” Jen began without thinking. “You get to wield a pitchfork and harvest souls and junk, don’t you?” She felt like punching herself in the face as soon as the words left her mouth, but Jason started laughing.

“Is that why you were so nervous when you got here?” He asked.

Jen shrugged. That was probably a better explanation than ‘I was trying to resist the urge to dry hump you in your chair.’

Jason smirked. “Well, don’t worry, I’ve already met my quota for souls this month.”

Jen snorted, and tried to cover it up with a cough. “But we’re only a week in!” She said.

Jason had turned back to his computer monitor, but he turned to give her a quick wink. “I’m just that good.” He assured her.

There was a lull in the conversation, but by now Jen had calmed considerably. Jason was friendly and easy to talk to. Not to mention smoking hot.

That last one was still causing her some trouble.

“So,” Jason said, breaking the silence. He was still typing, but she could see him smiling. “This guy you said you were seeing…is it serious?”

Jen hesitated, blushing. She didn’t want to admit that she’d only been on one date, since she had already admitted that she had slept with him.

Jason glanced over, frowning slightly at her silence. “Jen?” Her blush deepened further. “That wasn’t an official question or anything.” he said, smiling slightly, trying to get her to laugh. “You don’t have to answer or anything, I promise. See? I don’t even have my pitchfork.”

Jen laughed in spite of herself, and shook her head. “No, it’s not…it’s not really serious.” she said. “I mean, he only just went through his divorce.”

Jason eyebrows furrowed. “Divorced? I thought he was just separated?”

“Oh, no.” Jen said, shaking her head again. “The divorce was finalized last week, I think.”

Jason frowned, still confused.”But he’s not able to see his kids?”

“Uh, yeah.” Jen said, frowning now, too. “Two little girls, he said. Why?”

Jason visibly shook himself. “It’s nothing.” he said, smiling at her. He turned back to his computer and typed something very quickly, then turned to grab a business card from a holder on one side of his desk. “This shouldn’t take me too long, but I don’t want to keep you. Here’s my card, and let me go ahead and get your number so I can call you when everything’s ready.”

Jen nodded easily, her frown evaporating. She took his card and gave him her number, which he wrote down on a stack of post its by his monitor.

As she got up to leave, though, he stopped her. “Oh, uh…just out of curiosity, what is that guy’s name?”

Jen didn’t even hesitate. Jason was so nice, what reason could she possibly have to be suspicious?

“Ben Doyler.” she said cheerfully, and turned to leave.

Chapter 3

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“Stop banging your head on the table.” Sunny said grumpily. “My olives keep trying to bounce off the plate.”

Jen smacked her head on the table again, completely ignoring him. “I was such a total spaz.” she moaned. In front of her, her ‘seaweed, walnut and pumpkin seed pizza’ lay mostly untouched. It was a testimate to how distraught she was that she had let Sunny pick the restaurant. She hated the ‘Raw Foods’ places he always picked.

“Well, you kind of are a total spaz.” Sunny said, spearing one of his olives with his fork before it could make a bid for freedom. “As far as a first impression goes, isn’t it better to be honest?”

“Not like this.” Jen whimpered miserably. “It’s just that he was so hot. You don’t expect someone that hot in a government building. It just doesn’t make sense. You’d have been spouting free-verse bongo poetry for a week if you’d been able to see him. He was just so hot.”

Sunny glared at the back of her head. “I’m not gay, Jen.” he said, his tone dry.

“What?”

“I’m not a hippie, and I’m not gay.” he said simply, turning back to his antipasti.

Jen’s head jerked up, looking at him in total confusion. “But you’re a vegan.” she said incredulously.

Sunny’s eye’s narrowed. “Woman, I will stab you in the face with this fork.”

Now she sat up, openly shocked. “Someone gave you a fork??” She squeaked. “What were they thinking, you could hurt yourself!”

Sunny rolled his eyes, trying to find something he could throw at her without getting in trouble with the establishment. But they were interrupted by Jen’s phone.

“Who is it?” He asked, as she grabbed her phone from her purse.

She frowned as she looked at the screen. “It’s a text from Ben.” she mumbled.

Sunny smirked. “Ah, yes. Speaking of your most recent conquest,” Jen made a face. “How does he factor into the whole ‘Sexy IRS agent’ situation?”

“I don’t know.” Jen said, dropping her head back down onto the table. Sunny frowned in irritation. He had not meant to bring that on again. “I really, really like Jason, but I can’t imagine trying to break that to Ben after everything he’s already been through.”

Sunny shrugged. “Just feed him some line about how things are moving too fast, or maybe he needs to fully recover from his divorce before you two get serious. Or tell him you’re madly in love with him, and now that his divorce is final you wanna elope in Vegas. That should send him running.”

Jen propped her head up on her hand. “That’s not very Hare Krishna of you.” She said blandly. Sunny sneered, but she didn’t give him a chance to retort. “Besides, he wants to have dinner tonight.”

“So tell him at dinner.” Sunny said, easily ignoring her last jab.

“He wants to go to JD’s.”

Sunny looked up, his eyes wide. Jen raised her eyebrows and offered him her phone so he could see for himself. He shook his head. He believed her.

“So…ok, maybe tell him tomorrow.”

Chapter 4

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JD’s was a little expensive, but not overly fancy. And she didn’t really want to give Ben the wrong impression. After everything that had happened today, between Sunny scolding her and Jason’s sexy, sexy smile, she was starting to have serious reservations about carrying on with Ben.

She chose one of her simplest dresses, just a nice, dark blue cotton dress that fell about to her knees. The neckline was a little low, but a sweater would take care of that.

She was so preoccupied with her thoughts, however, that it took her a full minute to realize that the reason she couldn’t seem to find the zipper to her dress was because she’d put it on backwards.

She sighed, pulling the straps down her arms so she could twist it around. She had just never broken up with anyone before! Her first and only other boyfriend had broken up with her, so he could get busy with some slut waitress who was probably riddled with STDsShe zipped up her dress roughly, frowning into the mirror at the reflection of her bedside table. One of the reasons her ex had spouted for dumping her was her insistence on using protection every time they had sex.

“Why can’t you just take the pill, like everyone else?”

“You know how many times I’ve tried that, Kevin! The hormones mess me up!”

“There are plenty of other kinds of birth control out there. Maybe if you had tried harder I wouldn’t have gone looking for something else.”

Jen flinched at the memory, smearing the lipstick she was trying to apply. The worst part was him making her feel like it was her fault. She forced herself to be glad she’d made him wear condoms. It’s probably all that protected her from the diseases he was picking up from sleeping around.

She took a deep breath and shook her head sharply. It was a bitter thought, and very unlike her. She didn’t want to become jaded. She didn’t want to be hurtful to others just because she’d been hurt herself.

Jen had just slipped on her shoes – a pair of heels that she only ever wore on special occasions because of her propensity to trip and fall – and was on her way out the door when Jason called her.

“Jen, hey!” He said when she answered. “I hope I didn’t get you at a bad time?”

Jen shook her head, forgetting she was on the phone. When she realized what she was doing she giggled, feeling ridiculous. “Oh, no, this is a great time. Hi!”

“Ok, good. I just wanted to let you know I got the paperwork all straightened out. It doesn’t usually take me this long, but I got sidetracked by some other stuff.”

Jen glanced at her clock. Six-thirty. “You didn’t have to stay late just because of me.” She protested.

“It was no trouble,” he said, stifling her disapproval. “I would have stayed late, anyway. But I just need you to sign a few things now; I thought I could meet you somewhere. The office is kind of closed now.” He added the last after a short pause.

Jen hesitated, not really wanting to tell him she had a date. “Or you could just come by the office on Monday, if that’s, um, easier.” Jason added after a few moments.

Jen gasped. “Oh, no that’s not it, I just…um…Ben asked me to meet him at JD’s for dinner.” There was absolutely no reason for her to feel so guilty saying that, but she did.

“Oh…” Jason paused. “Listen, Jen, please don’t be upset with me about this…but parts of Ben’s story didn’t sound quite right to me, so I, uh…I looked him up.”

“You googled him?” Jen asked, her head jerking back in surprise.

“Ah…no. I looked him up in our database.”

Jen frowned. “That doesn’t sound quite legal.” She muttered.

“Oh, it’s completely legal, just probably a bit unethical. But what do you expect from the source of all evil?”

Despite her growing dread, Jen couldn’t help giggling. “I have a feeling I’m not going to like what you found out.” She said when the laughter passed.

To his credit, Jason sounded genuinely sorry. “There are about six Ben Doylers living in Austin and surrounding cities, of them only three have ever been married, and the only one with kids is in his sixties.” He said quietly.

Jen dropped down onto the edge of her bed. “Well…that sucks.”

“Jen, I am so sorry.” He said.

Jen shook her head. “It’s not your fault, Jason, it’s fine. I’ll talk to you later, ok?”

“What are you going to do?” He sounded worried.

“Same thing I was going to do before. Only now it’ll be a lot easier.” She said quietly, her voice dark. She hung up before he could answer.

Chapter 5

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“So, how are your daughters?”

Ben blinked at her, probably shocked. Reasonable, since they had only just sat down. “I, uh…I don’t really know. I haven’t seen them in a while and I haven’t talked to my ex wife in weeks.”

“Oh, that’s too bad.” Jen said, trying very hard to looking concerned. “I’m really looking forward to meeting them.”

She barely caught the panic, he rebounded almost instantly. “Well, that might be a while, you know. My ex won’t even let me see them, after all.”

“How does that work, anyway?” Jen asked, leaning forward. “I would think someone who cares so much for his kids would at least have gotten joint custody.”

Ben shrugged, staring at his menu. “She had a better lawyer.”

Jen was still watching him intently. “Didn’t you pay for the lawyers?”

“Uh, yes.” Ben answered haltingly, not looking up.

“Well, if you were paying for both why didn’t you take the better lawyer?”

Ben shook his head, waving his hand dismissively. “I think I’m going to have the grilled chicken with red sauce.” He said.

“Well, wait, if she got sole custody, doesn’t that absolve you from paying child support?” Jen knew for a fact that this wasn’t true, due to an extremely unpleasant misunderstanding between one of her old bosses (William, who hosted a support group for homosexual livestock) and the Austin police, but she doubted Ben was as well informed.

Once again the struggle was visible for only a moment. Jen would never have caught it if she hadn’t been watching for it. “No, uh, I’m still required to pay. They’re still my children, my name is still on their birth certificate.” Apparently, Ben had finally decided to go on the offensive.

Jen took in the sadness and sincerity he had on his face and almost got reeled right back in. It was so easy for her to believe that he truly had two wonderful daughters, and that he desperately wanted to be their father. It made her sick to know that not only did men like this exist, but that she could fall for their tricks so easily.

She took a deep breath and mentally slapped herself. He didn’t want to admit that he’d lied, well, he wasn’t the only one who could trick people. “You think you would at least get to see them!” she exclaimed, doing her best to fake astonishment. “Poor little Sara and Michelle, having to live with the type of mother who won’t even let their father see them!” For good measure she leaned forward and touched his arm, showing a good amount of cleavage through the part in her sweater.

Ben fell right into her poorly constructed trap. Like the dumb shit he truly was, he was too hypnotized by her boobs and the possibility of pity sex to realize what she’d said. “Yeah,” He sighed, his face twisted into the most heart wrenchingly sad expression she’d ever seen. “It just breaks my heart that I can’t give my babies the father figure they deserve.”

“Huh…” Jen pulled away and crossed her arms.

Ben blinked rapidly and visibly shook himself, coming out of his boob-induced trance. “What’s wrong?” he asked, noticing that the expression on her face was anything but the pity he’d been expecting.

“You never told me their names, Ben.” Jen fairly growled.

“Uh,” Ben floundered, his eyes widening in panic as he realized what he’d done. “You, uh…you made a good guess…?” He practically squeaked. Apparently he thought he could salvage whatever chances he had left to get into her pants.

Jen just glared, more furious by the second. After a couple of seconds, Ben deflated. “Alright, so I don’t have daughters, but I really do have an ex wi-”

“No you don’t.” Jen cut him off, her tone bland.

Ben threw his hands up into the air. “Fine, I lied. Is that what this interrogation has been about, huh? Ever since we sat down? You’re just so smart, you figured me out, eh?” His face was turning red, and it appeared Jen wasn’t the only one who was furious.

Bens voice had risen to the point that people at nearby tables were turning to look. Next to them the waitress had stopped her recital of the nights specials and was staring at him. Apparently he wasn’t used to people turning the tables on him, and he was pissed.

“You wanna be mad at me now? Go ahead. But you know the one you should really be mad at is yourself!” He jabbed his finger at her, and Jen jumped. “I may have lied, but you’re the one who fell for it. Maybe I’m a liar, but what does that make you? How fast did you jump in the sack with me after I told you that sob story?” Ben stood and moved around the table, still facing her. “I may be a liar, sweetheart, but you’re a s-

“Sir!” The nearby waitress came to her rescue, stepping over from her table to stand in front of Ben. “I’m going to have to ask you to leave,” She squeaked. The girl didn’t have a very commanding presence; as a matter of fact, she looked a little terrified. “You’re disturbing… well… just everyone!” She finished in spite of her obvious discomfort.

Thankfully Ben made it easy on her. “Yeah, yeah, I was on my way out, don’t worry.” He grumbled, sliding past her and heading for the door.

The girl turned back to Jen, who was staring, glassy eyed, at a spot on the table. “Don’t listen to him, sweetie.” She said quietly, her voice still a little squeaky from her nerves. “Assholes always have to blame someone else for them being an asshole.”

Jen didn’t seem to hear. When the waitress touched her on the shoulder, she jumped.

“Oh, I’m sorry about that.” Jen said breathlessly. She sounded as if she had just run a mile and was still trying to catch her breath. Her eyes were over bright as she glanced around frantically. She looked like she was on the verge of a nervous breakdown. “I should go.” she practically gasped.

The waitress caught her by her shoulders as she tried to stand. “No, no,” She said. “Please, sit. Let me get you something.” She seemed to be a lot better at being soothing than she was at being forceful.

Jen shook her head rapidly. “No, I, uh…I don’t have money.” She said, still trying to stand.

The waitress pushed her back into her seat once more. “Don’t worry about it, honey, it’s on the house.” She said.

Jen stared up at her for a second, then sank down in her seat, dropping her head into her hands. She didn’t look as though she were crying, but she was visibly shaking.

An older man at the next table, the one the girl had originally been waiting on, flagged her down and nodded toward Jen. “You better make it a double.” He said quietly, and tucked a twenty into her hand.

She smiled and nodded before heading toward the bar.

Chapter 6

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“Good evening, sir. Table for one?”

Jason shook his head, glancing around the restaurant. “No, I’m, um, meeting someone.” He looked back at the hostess, his eyebrows furrowed. “At least, I meant to be, she may have already left.”

“Well, maybe I can help,” the hostess said, smiling. “What does she look like?”

“Gorgeous.” Jason answered without hesitation. “In an adorable, innocent sort of way.”

The hostess giggled, and Jason realized what he had said. He shook his head, blushing. “Sorry. She’s, um, about five foot four or so, brown hair, kind of long. She probably came in with another guy. I don’t know what he looks like, but he works at a used car lot if that helps at all.”

There was a flash of recognition in the woman’s eyes, and she raised an eyebrow. “Oh, yeah. I know who you’re talking about. He left a little while ago; we only just finished cleaning up the trail of slime.” Jason laughed. “You’re not friends with him or anything, are you?” she asked. “That poor girl has been humiliated enough for one night, thank you, and I’d sooner dump a plate of hot spaghetti on your head than-”

Jason held up a hand, shaking his head. “No, no, I’m a friend of Jennifer’s.”

The hostess smirked, and gestured for him to follow her. “Right, her friend. Who thinks she’s gorgeous, in an adorable, innocent sort of way, right?”

Jason’s blush returned full force. “Please don’t tell her I said that…”

“I don’t know, I think she could use the compliment right now about.” She held out her arm toward Jen’s table.

“I just don’t think it would be appropriate, I just met her…” Jason trailed off as he caught sight of Jen.

He wasn’t sure what he’d been expecting, but it certainly wasn’t what he got. Jen looked very prim, sitting in her chair with her back straight and her hands folded in her lap. Her eyes were lidded and her cheeks looked slightly flushed, and her chest jerked twice before he realized that she must have the hiccups. What shocked him, though, was the four empty martini glasses sitting on the table in front of her. He would never have pegged her for a drinker.

It was then that he realized that the seat opposite of her was glaringly empty. He felt intrusive and extremely guilty all of a sudden. He should never have told her what he’d found out about that ass she was dating, he should have waited and confronted the idiot himself! Now this wonderful girl was disillusioned and heartbroken. And drunk. And it was all his fault.

He was fighting a strong urge to turn tail and run when Jen caught sight of him. Her face lit up, and he felt a surge a relief as she waved him over. Maybe everything was ok. Maybe she wasn’t as drunk as those empty glasses implied, or maybe they didn’t all belong to her.

“Jason!” she cooed, her voice lilting. Any hope that some of the empty glasses belonged to her now-ex-boyfriend died at the sound of her voice. The poor girl was utterly trashed. “What’re you doing here? Are you here to have dinner?” She sounded so sweet in spite of her intoxication, Jason had to smile.

“Yes, actually, I am.” He answered. “Do you mind if I join you?”

“Yes!” Jen said enthusiastically, confusing him. “Yes, please, have a seat.” she held out her hand to the chair across from her.

Jason smiled and sat down, setting his briefcase on the floor beside him. “I, uh…I see that Ben’s not here.” He said quietly. He didn’t want to upset her, but he needed too badly to know what happened.

“Nope-nope.” Jen said, shaking her head. “Ben left. Very quickly.” She looked up at Jason, her eyes narrowed. “Because that…is what Ben do.” she said very seriously. She blinked and then shook her head. “No, men. That is what men do. Men like Ben. Ben men.”

Jason reached across the table to touch her hand, interrupting her sudden rhyming. “Jen, are you ok?”

She looked back up at him, her eyes brimming with tears, and he suddenly felt as though someone had punched him in the stomach.

“No, Jason.” she said, in a tiny voice. “I’m not. There’s something wrong with me.”

“No!” Jason said, reaching over to grab both her hands and squeeze them. “Jen, there’s nothing wrong with you,”

She didn’t let him finish, which was probably just as well. “There is,” she said. “I always thought it was better to trust people, because everyone is basically good. If I trusted them, they would be trustworthy because I’d never given them a reason to be anything else.” She shook her head and looked down. “But all that philisif…phil…all that idea has ever gotten me was hurt.”

Jason wanted to say something, anything to try and comfort her, but he was at a total loss. All he could do was squeeze her hand, and shake his head pointedly at the waitress bringing her a fifth martini.

“Is it better?” She asked abruptly. He blinked. Had he missed something? “I mean, trusting people’s made me an easy target, but is it really better to not trust anyone?” Her eyes were wide as she stared him down. He honestly didn’t know what to say.

Was it better? Working at the IRS had only solidified his long-held belief that everyone lied. It had gotten to the point that no matter what anyone said, he assumed they were lying. Most of the time he was right, and that did feel good, in a vindictive sort of way. It made him feel like he had beaten them.

But Jen wasn’t like that. And it had never occurred to him to think she was lying. It’s just not who she was. That’s probably what he found so irresistibly attractive about her.

“No.” He answered finally. “I don’t think it’s really better, but I do think it’s inevitable for most people. And I think it’s amazing you’ve resisted it for so long.”

Jen visibly relaxed. She looked confused, but happier.

“Can I get you anything, sir?” The waitress seemed to pop out of nowhere. Jason jumped in surprise, but valiantly managed to stifle the scream. The waitress was glancing between them, a suspicious look for him and a concerned one for her.

“Um, yes,” he said after a moment, drawing her attention. “I’ll…I’ll have a water, and I think an order of lasagna.” He nodded to Jen, who blinked obliviously. “What would you like, Jen?” he asked her when she remained silent.

“I don’t have any money.” she answered, her tone almost sad.

“Don’t worry about it, Jen, I’ll take care of it.” The waitress, finally seeming to approve of him, pulled her pad out of her apron and started scribbling.

“You don’t have to do that,” Jen was shaking her head hard, before she stopped abruptly with a hand pressed to her forehead.

“I want to.” Jason said. “It’s my fault your date ended so badly, I want to make it up to you.” And there was no way he was letting her go to bed with only four martinis on her stomach, but he kept that to himself.

“It wasn’t your fault…” Jen protested, but before he could disagree she turned to the waitress. “Spaghetti and meatballs, please, and an order of garlic bread.”

As the waitress skipped off, Jen looked back at Jason sheepishly. “I’m sorry, I’d have fought you more, but I’m feeling dizzy, and the only food at my house is leftover pumpkin seed pizza…”

Jason grinned “I’m afraid to ask.”

“I’d rather eat my mattress…” Jen muttered.

“Why did you get it, then?”

“My best friend is a vegan.” She said softly, as though they were talking about a terminal disease.

“I think there’s a shot for that.” Jason said, smirking.

“That’s what I keep telling him!”

Chapter 7

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“I’m ok, you know.”

“Right, even though you can’t walk two steps without falling over?” Jason had his arm wrapped tightly around Jen’s waist as he walked her into her apartment building.

“Right, but that’s not me. That’s my legs. I’m ok.” She insisted. All things considered, she was doing pretty good. He’d only had to catch her twice since helping her out of his car.

“Well, that’s good to hear. What floor are you on?” He asked, as they stepped into the elevator. It was hard for him to concentrate on anything other than the way she felt pressed against him. He kept having to look around to remind himself of what he was doing. Car? Right, driving, taking her home. Parking lot? Right, she can’t walk straight, have to get her to her apartment. Odd metal door? Right, it’s an elevator, don’t be a dumbass.

“Three.” She said, as she pressed her face into his neck. It was easy for her to do because she was so small and adorable, she barely came up to his chin-three of what?? Right, three, third floor. Press the button, dumbass!

He’d had high hopes toward the end of dinner. She had seemed to sober up quite a bit. But then she stood, and almost immediately toppled over. If he hadn’t already been standing, and been able to catch her in time, she’d have fallen right into the table beside theirs. As he was apologizing to the couple she’d almost landed on, she was mumbling something about a defective floor, and he knew he couldn’t leave her at the restaurant. He had to make sure she got home alright.

And that’s how he’d wound up in the elevator of her apartment building, with her pressing her face against his neck and an arm wrapped around his back so her tiny hand was splayed against his ribs… and she was muttering something, making her lips move against his skin… and all he could think about was the things he wanted to do to those lips-

The elevator dinged loudly, jerking him out of his reverie. Third floor? Right, he needed to get her home. And stop being a dumbass.

“What’s your apartment number?” he asked as they stepped off the elevator.

“Hmm?” She hummed against his neck is an all-too-distracting way.

Jason swallowed hard. “Your apartment number. The number of the place you live?”

“Three-NO, four. Does the bathroom count?”

Jason laughed in spite of himself. “What’s your address, Jen?” He asked, trying a different approach.

“Twenty-one thirteen San Marcos street, apartment three-seventeen.” She answered without hesitation. She continued with her city, state and zip code as Jason started leading her down the hall. He already had her keys; he’d gotten them from her at the restaurant, before he knew she didn’t have a car.

After letting them into her apartment, and dropping her keys on the nearest available surface (what looked like a folding card table that she was using as a makeshift dining room table, if the empty bowls were any indication) he started leading her down the small hall nearby.

“Which one is your bedroom?”

“Wouldn’t you like to know?” Jen chortled, swaying against him.

“Come on, Jen, I need to get you into bed.” Jason said, pulling her up and tighter against him so she wouldn’t fall over.

Jen stared up at him, her eyes wide and a grin spreading across her face. “Really?” she squeaked.

Jason wasn’t sure what he’d said to make her look so excited, and he was afraid to answer her. But Jen cleared up his confusion rather quickly. “I think I still have condoms in my bedside table.” she said as she tugged him toward a door near the end of the hall.

Yes! Wait, no!

Jason fought with himself as what felt like every drop of blood in his body rushed directly to his groin. There was nothing he’d like more than to, um, get her into bed…but she was drunk!

And sexy as shit! a less noble part of him responded as she dragged him into her room. And horny!

Jason mentally slapped himself. Jen was sweet, trusting and optimistic. And he couldn’t take advantage of the exact things that he found so incredibly attractive. She’d already been hurt tonight; did he really want to do anything that would make it worse?

She shoved him onto her bed, and his penis answered him with a resounding YES. YES HE DID.

Chapter 8

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When Jason woke the next morning, Jen’s face was inches from his own. Her eyes were wide with shock and confusion. “Did we have sex last night?” she asked, as soon as she saw his eyes were open.

Jason blinked rapidly, and shook his head. “No.” He said, his voice rough with sleep.

“Then why are you naked?” Jen squeaked.

Jason’s eyes flew open and he sat up. “What?” He lifted the covers. His shirt was gone, but his pants were still buttoned securely around his waist. “Jen, I’m not naked.”

But she wasn’t looking at him anymore. She’d crawled to the foot of her bed and was staring at the floor in distress. Jason nearly choked when he realized she was now wearing his shirt. And she looked adorable.

“There are condoms all over the floor.” She told him, her voice dropping to a harsh whisper.

Jason shook his head and reached for her arm. “That’s because you threw the box across the room. Listen, Jen, I can explain.”

“Why can’t I remember anything?” She moaned in despair as she turned back toward him.

“Well, if I had to guess, I’d say it had something to do with the four martinis.” Jason said, his expression caught somewhere between concerned and amused.

“Four?” Jen squeaked. “You bought me four martinis? What were you thinking?”

“Oh, hey, it wasn’t me!” Jason reared up defensively. “You’d already had them by the time I got there! I’m the one who cut you off!”

Jen crossed her arms and frowned. “Where would I have gotten four martinis from? I didn’t have any money.”

“I don’t know, Jen, please just calm down, ok?” Jason placed his hands on both of her shoulders and leaned forward, catching her eyes. “You were still at the restaurant when I got there, and I bought you dinner and then took you home? Ok? You didn’t do anything wrong.”

Jen hesitated for a moment, watching him. “Then why am I in my underwear?” she asked finally.

Jason glanced down, and back up. “…well, I’m not saying you didn’t try.” he said, his eyes wide.

“Why didn’t you stop me?!” Jen cried, throwing her hands up.

“I did!” Jason said, grabbing her hands and pulling them back down. “Jen, I swear to you, we did not have sex last night. I mean, I wavered for a second when you shoved me on the bed, and then when I got back up and turned around, you were already stripped down to your underwear. It was amazing, like something out of a movie.”

Jen’s cheeks flushed. “Yeah, that…that sounds about right actually.” She cleared her throat. “I got pretty good at that sort of thing working at this magic show a couple of years back.”

Jason chuckled. She seemed to have calmed down, so he released her hands. “Then you’d pulled this giant box of condoms out of nowhere before I had collected my thoughts well enough to tell you no.”

Jen glanced over at the dozens of condoms strewn across her floor, grimacing. “I have a really nasty feeling I’m not gonna like what comes next.”

“Well, you got really upset.” He winced as her face fell. “You seemed to think I was saying no because you wanted me to wear a condom, which struck me as utterly ludicrous. From what little I understood, I’m just going to have to assume your ex-boyfriend was a colossal dick.”

“Which one?” Jen muttered sullenly.

“Hey.” Jason shook his head slightly, ignored his common sense and reached out to pull her closer. “Both, I guess. You have a point.” He said. She didn’t pull away as he hugged her, easing her into his lap. “After that you were crying, and I didn’t want to leave you like that. So I stayed. I didn’t mean to fall asleep, and I have no idea how you ended up in my shirt.”

Jan laughed softly. “I think I might have gotten cold in the middle of the night.”

“That doesn’t make any sense.” Jason said, chuckling.

“Do you have a better idea?”

He shook his head. “No, not really.”

She was quiet after that, and after a minute Jason noticed her tracing random patterns with her fingers across his collarbone. It was wholly distracting, and far too pleasant, considering how little they were wearing. He really needed to stop her…

“You know…” she murmured as he struggled with his propriety. “That’s an awful lot of really nice things to do for a girl you just met…”

He didn’t manage to speak until she paused in her tracing. She was looking up at him in concern when he cleared his throat. “Well, I may work for the source of all evil, but I was raised to be a gentleman.” He said, and Jen laughed quietly. “I also felt really guilty about what I told you about Ben.”

“Why? He was a jerk.” Jen grumbled.

“Yeah, but you didn’t need to find out that way.”

Jen growled, and pressed her face into his shoulder. “Yeah, I guess you’re right,” sarcastically. “I should have just let him use me for a few more weeks, then dump me with no explanation at all.”

“That’s not what I meant.” Jason said, his tone bland.

Jen sighed and sat up, pulling away from him. “Yeah, I know. But, really, it’s fine. It’s not like there’s any good way to deliver news like that.”

Jason watched her crawl out of the bed, unsure what to say. “I should let you get going.” Jen said, oblivious to his struggle. “You probably have work or something, right?” She turned back toward him as she talked, and her mouth formed an O as she again caught sight of his naked chest.

Jason followed her out of the bed. “Oh, well, it’s Saturday.” He said as he stood. Or at least, that’s what he meant to say. What came out was more like “Oh, well, it’s Sat-ah-haaaaaaa…” Because about when he started talking Jen had started to remove her shirt. Or rather, his.

“You’ll probably need this.” She said, smiling. Until she caught sight of his expression, which could only be described as desperately aroused. Her cheeks flushed as she realized she was standing in front of him in her underwear. Again.

“I should-” Jason said, his voice breaking. He was having a lot of trouble getting his tongue to cooperate. “You’ve-you’ve been through a lot…” he continued, his voice getting quieter. He reached out to take the shirt, but froze as Jen stepped closer.

“You’re really very chivalrous.” She said, nodding. Jason was shocked to see that her expression was starting to mirror his own.

“I should go.” He murmured, but didn’t move. “Jen, if I don’t go now, I’m not going to be able to at all.”

She was barely a foot away from him now. She finally released his shirt and pressed her hand against his chest. “Then stay.” She breathed, meeting his eyes.

With those two words, he came unraveled.

He was kissing her almost instantly. His shirt fell to the floor, completely forgotten, as his arms wrapped around her in a crushing embrace.

She responded easily, latching her arms around his neck and pulling herself closer. Her hand twisted into his hair as his splayed across her bare lower back. Her lips parted and he deepened their kiss with a drawn out groan.

He was kissing her so passionately, so sinfully, it felt as though her bones were turning to goo. She held on for dear life as his hand drifted further down, cupping her ass and squeezing. She squealed softly into his kiss and he began to lift her higher against him. Her toes were barely grazing the floor.

And then suddenly, he stopped. He pulled his lips away and pressed his forehead against hers, his expression almost pained. “This is wrong.” He gasped. “I shouldn’t…you…”

“I’m not drunk anymore.” Jen whispered, her voice deep and dripping with arousal. “I promise.” She added before ducking her head to capture his lips.

“After everything you’ve been through-” Jason gasped, breaking away again. He was clearly grimacing now, and his grip on her began to loosen. “I don’t want to hurt you.”

“You’re not hurting me. Trust me.” Jen pressed herself closer, in defiance of his slackening hold. “Ben only got to me because I was still reeling from what Kevin had done.”

“Aren’t I doing the same thing?” he asked, looking back up at her. “Taking advantage of what happened between you and Ben? Hell, I even orchestrated it!”

Jen frowned. “You aren’t the one who made Ben an ass, and you aren’t taking advantage of me.”

“You can’t be sure of that.”

“Yes, I can.” Jen said. She reached behind her to unsnap her bra. “Because for one thing,” she yanked the bra off and tossed it to the side. “I’m having to seduce you.”

His breath left him in a rush, and he pulled her back into his arms, dipping his head to press against her naked breasts as though they were a magnet. He could barely breathe as he drew her nipple into his mouth, could barely think as the sounds she was making reached his ears.

“Oh, yes, Jason!” She gasped, and lifted her legs to wrap around his waist. He groaned as she pressed her center into the increasingly painful bulge in his pants. Any reservations he had left evaporated, along with all other thought. His mind became saturated with only her scent, the way she felt pressed up against him, the way she tasted as he moved back to her mouth and kissed her as though he meant to devour her.

He turned and spread them across the foot of her bed, pinning her beneath him, never once breaking their kiss. He dragged one hand over her rib cage to knead her breast, while the other one groped the floor for one of the fallen condoms.

“Jason!” Jen whimpered, and arched hard against him. He nearly choked at the sensation. Fire was dancing across every inch of his skin, as painful as it was pleasurable, and the girl undulating beneath him was both the source and the only way to quench it. He abandoned her breast and brought his hand between them to caress her folds through her panties. She was already utterly drenched.

“Oh, GOD, yes!” Jen cried out. Her legs began to spasm and she let out a broken sob. She squirmed away from his hand and began to desperately claw at his jeans.

Jason grunted, finally snagging a condom, and reared up to stand on his knees. Jen gasped, looking horrified, until she saw him unbuttoning his pants. She grinned, and eagerly started to shimmy out of her underwear.

Moments later, he was inside her. It felt as though his entire body was reverberating with the hallelujah chorus.

“Oh, Jason, yes!” Jen cried, writhing against him. “God, just like that!”

Jason thrust into her hard, groaning. She was so tight, so wet. The feeling of her legs around his waist and her fingers clawing into his hair left him breathless. He was thrusting too hard, his rhythm was way too fast, but he couldn’t stop. She was so, impossibly luscious. It was too good, too much.

“Jen,” He choked. “I…I can’t-”

But he didn’t finish – he didn’t need to, because she was screaming his name in her climax, arching so hard it nearly knocked them off the bed.

He came undone at the sensation of her inner muscles clenching and contracting around him. His vision went white as he came, crying out her name brokenly.

Jason collapsed on top of her, completely spent. They were both breathing heavily, both trembling. It took him almost a full minute before he found the strength to push himself off of her.

Jen made an odd cooing noise as he dropped to her side. “I liked the way you felt there.” She said quietly. The roughness in her voice sent an aftershock through his body, and he had to stifle a moan.

“I’ll remember that. It’ll be a while before I can move again.” He answered her quietly.

Jen laughed softly, and sighed. “So,” she murmured after a moment. “That’s what good sex is like.”

Jason laughed. “I’m glad you enjoyed it.”

“So, are you still feeling guilty?” Jen asked, easing onto her side to look at him.

He smiled. “No. I feel too good to feel guilty.” He raised his eyebrows. “Of course, if it turns out that you regret this…”

Jen raised an eyebrow. “Not gonna happen.” she said drily.

“I certainly hope not.” Jason answered just as drily.

Jen rolled her eyes, then looked back over at him, grinning wickedly. “So…It’s Saturday?”

His eyebrows drew together in confusion. “Yeah. So?”

She drew herself closer. “So…there’s an awful lot of condoms on the floor.” She hummed, nuzzling his chest.

Jason groaned.

Chapter 9

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Medusahead42: Are you ok? You missed lunch.

JenThomas85: That’s ok, I got a package in the mail, so I have plenty of cardboard right here.

Medusahead42: Ha. Ah-ha. Ha. Anyway, did Ben take the breakup ok?

JenThomas85: Yeah, went fine.

Medusahead42: So you didn’t chicken out? Like you are WONT TO DO?

Medusahead42: Jen?

Medusahead42: Oh, god, please tell me you’re not sleeping with that guy right now.

JenThomas85: WHAT? NO!

Medusahead42: Well, then who are you having sex with?

Medusahead42: Jen?

Medusahead42: Is it that IRS guy?

JenThomas85: What makes you think I’m having sex with anyone???

Medusahead42: Because you have nowhere to be and the delays in your responses are around 15 min each.

Medusahead42: So who are you fucking?

JenThomas85: None of your business.

Medusahead42: Slut.

JenThomas85: Hippie.

Medusahead42: It’s the IRS guy, isn’t it?

Medusahead42: Jen?

Medusahead42: Well, tell him to get his pants on, cause he’s about to meet your bff.

JenThomas85: What?

JenThomas85: Sunny, don’t you dare!

JenThomas85: Sunny?

JenThomas85: GODDAMN IT SUNNY!!!

 

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