Out Of The Frying Pan

By K.T. Chambers

After three years together, Alex is starting to realize that her fiancé, Brad, is kind of a tool. But apparently, one does not simply BREAK UP with a McCoulough. Between her ex-future-in-laws trying to shove etiquette down her throat, and her smoking hot boss’s increasing flirtation, how is Alex supposed to enjoy her Halloween?

Chapter 1

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“What on earth are you wearing?” Bradley hissed at his fiancé, Alexandria, dragging her to an isolated corner. The Pecan Grove Country Club was pretty crowded – it was their annual Halloween party – so an isolated corner wasn’t easy to find. Bradley ignored the people nearby craning their necks in interest, instead glaring at his ‘bride to be’, distinctly purple in the face.

Alex frowned. “Uh, a costume? Didn’t you say this was a costume party?” She grinned and spread her hands. “I’m Daisy Duke. Well, except blonde. So I guess Jessica Simpson’s version…only cooler…” She trailed off, shrugging.

Bradley shook his head sharply. “Yes, I said this was a costume party. At my family’s country club.” He said slowly, as though he wasn’t sure she’d understand. “Not a hoe down at a strip club!” He finished in a harsh whisper.

Alex’s eyes flashed, and she crossed her arms. “What would you rather I had come as? Jackie O? You’ve never complained about me showing some leg or midriff before, why is your dick in a knot all of a sudden?”

Before-” Bradley sputtered, his face shifting between purple and red. “Bef-Before you where never around these people!” He said, gesturing toward the open floor behind him. Older people stood around in groups, holding drinks and wrinkling their noses at things. As far as Alex could tell, no one was in a costume. Unless they were dressed as authentic princesses or those people from My Fair Lady. “I work with these people, I’m friends with them! You could at least make an effort to-to-to-“

Alex glanced from a group of amused looking old ladies that were watching them, back to Bradley. “To what, Brad?” She growled, knowing how much he hated the shortened version of his name. It was extremely satisfying to watch him flinch. “Fit in? Because I’ve always been so open to that before? Because that’s why you fell in love with me?” She brandished her left hand, on which sat a remarkably large diamond.

Bradley grimaced, shaking his head. “Honey, this…this is different, ok? I have to see these people on a regular basis, and you know I don’t mind the way you act, but they-“

Alex cut him off. “They, mister trust fund, can all go fuck themselves if they don’t like how I act. And if you want me to act differently, for any reason, you can go fuck yourself too.”

Bradley looked genuinely taken aback. “Honey-”

Oh, don’t you ‘Honey’ me.” Alex growled, tugging at her engagement ring. “I’m tired of this. Either you love me the way I am, or you don’t. If what these people think of your fiancé is such a big deal to you, you’re obviously with the wrong person.” She grabbed his hand and slapped the ring down into his palm. “Have fun finding someone your parents will approve of, and good luck finding one that is also any good in bed.”

Alex turned on her heel and stalked out of the room, drawing quite a few looks after her. 

Chapter 2

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“So, you just dumped him? Just like that?” Helen pulled a Witch costume off the rack, holding it up for Alex to see.

She grimaced. “Tacky.” She muttered, and Helen put it back. “Yeah, I just dumped him. You would have too. You should have seen him, it was like I was a dog he’d caught humping people’s legs at a business meeting.”

“Well, if he’s so bad, why did you agree to marry him in the first place?” Helen asked, as she held up a Queen of Hearts costume in one hand and a Gypsy costume in the other.

“Both tacky.” Alex said. “And he wasn’t like that before he asked me to marry him. It’s like he did a total one-eighty the second the ring reached my finger! Suddenly it wasn’t about us anymore, and I was meeting his family and coworkers for the first time, and suddenly all that ‘Loving my free spirit’ crap went right out the window. That’s horrifically tacky.” She muttered sidelong, as Helen went to grab an ‘I Dream of Jeanie’ costume.

“You’ve been saying that about everything.” Helen whined.

“Well, that’s because everything is tacky.” Alex said, her eyes wide. “Why are we even here? I hate these stores, and I loathe these tacky, crappy mass-produced costumes!” She wrinkled her nose, flipping through the ‘sexy’ Halloween costume section. “It’s all that cheap, shiny, far-too-flammable material, half assed into some semblance of an un-original character that’s been done a million times before.”

Helen rolled her eyes. “You’re on a rampage today, aren’t you? It’s not like anyone is gonna see it, anyway, underneath the coat.”

Alex paused, looking over at Helen, her expression incredulous. “Underneath the coat?” She repeated.

Helen raised her eyebrows. “Well, yeah. This thing is happening at six flags, right? It’s outdoors.”

Alex shook her head, grinning. “Helen, honey, I appreciate that you grew up in Canada, or where ever-“

“Illinois.” Helen interjected dryly.

“But you seem to keep forgetting that you’re in the south now. This is Texas. It’s gonna be around eighty degrees at Astroworld, even by midnight.”

Helen narrowed her eyes skeptically. “Yeah, ok, is this the same as when you were telling me there was no such thing as ‘pop’? And there is and you’re just picking on me? Because this is October. Everyone knows this is when it starts getting really cold.”

“There is no such thing as ‘Pop’, it’s called Soda, and every time I hear you say ‘pop’ I think you’re saying ‘pot’, and it freaks me out.” Alex said, hunching her shoulders with a grin. “And secondly, why do you have to take my word for it? You have internet on your phone, just google it.”

“I accept that challenge. “Helen muttered, digging her phone out of her back pocket. “So I don’t get how you can love Halloween so much but hate Halloween costumes so much…” She said, as she fiddled with her phone.

Alex snorted. “I hate these Halloween costumes. I miss it when a Halloween costume involved some type of creativity or ingenuity. Like in Karate Kid, the first one? Where he’s dressed as a shower? That was awesome!” She shook her head. “You don’t see creative costumes like that anymore. It’s all just cheesy Disney princesses, or witches, or gypsies. Or you get trampy women in lingerie with ears on a headband and a tail safety pinned to their butt, who claim to be some kind of animal. ‘Oh, well, obviously I’m a rabbit.’” Alex pitched her voice, gesturing toward imaginary ears. “No you’re not, you’re a whore.”

Helen was still fiddling with her phone, and when her smile started to droop at something on the screen. Alex snickered, and Helen wrinkled her nose at her. “This coming from a woman who crashed a country club party in a Daisy Duke costume?” She asked, arching an eyebrow.

Oh, whatever.” Alex said, rolling her eyes. “I only wore it because Bradley,” she drawled his name with venom. “Claimed it was the sexiest thing he’d ever seen me wear. I thought he’d like seeing me in it and being able to show me off. That was always his favorite past time, particularly after we got engaged.”

Helen shrugged. “Ok, so, fine. What do you think I should go as?”

Well, I don’t know. But something that requires more thought than picking what color princess you wanna be, or which type of animal.” Her sneer gave way to excitement. “You could go as a Rorschach ink blot. All you’d need is a couple of huge poster boards and some black paint. And of course, like, a black body suit.” Alex said, grinning. “Oh, you know, hey, I actually went as a shower, like Karate Kid. It was a few years ago, but I think I still have it in my garage. Or you could go as a giant cat toy, cause’ you know those bitches in HR are all gonna be ‘cats’.” Alex rolled her eyes, hooking her fingers in quotes. “And by cats, of course I mean ‘Sluts with a tail taped to their butt’.”

Yes, you’ve made your opinion about slutty animals known.” Helen grumbled, suddenly grumpy as she tucked her phone back into her pocket.

Low is 75, isn’t it?”

I don’t understand the south.”

Chapter 3

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“A pillow fight?” Helen sputtered. “How does someone dress up as a pillow fight?” She had given Alex control of her costume in an effort to cheer her up, and was seriously regretting it. “And why are you in pajamas? Please tell me we’re not going to be hitting each other with pillows all night!”

They were at Alex’s apartment, in her bedroom not long after work. They were due at Astroworld in about an hour, so she was pretty much stuck with whatever her psychotic best friend had come up with.

“Oh, relax, it’s nothing like that. And you’re the one who didn’t want to go as a shower.” Alex muttered, leaning over to grab something from the side of her bed.

“I didn’t want to go as a shower because I’d like to actually be able to ride some of the rides th-what is that?” She cut herself off, pointing at the feathery mass Alex was lifting up for her to see.

“It’s two pillows attached with some ribbon I had handy, and some feathers on wires so no one will mistake you for a boring old pillow. Cause’ you’re a pillow fight!” Alex’s expression was gleeful. “The best part is, you can just slip it on over what you’re already wearing. So if it gets too hot or itchy or something later on, you can just ditch it.”

She handed it to Helen, who stared at it blankly. Alex rolled her eyes, taking it back. “Put your hands over your head.” She said, stepping up onto her bed so she could help her friend get the costume on.

Helen raised her arms obediently. “And what is it you’re going as?” She asked, eyeing Alex as she threaded her arms through what seemed like a tangle of ribbons and wires.

Alex grinned. “I’m your victim.” She said, striking a pose. She was wearing an over-sized pajama set, with monster-feet shaped slippers and pigtails in her hair. She’d covered her face with a greenish white costume makeup to look like face cream, and feathers were pinned in her hair and glued all over her clothes.

Helen snickered. “Well, it looks like you’re having fun, but it seems to me like you’ve kind of gone out of your way to look unattractive.” she said, her voice muffled by the pillows.

Alex tsked, tugging Helen’s costume in place and adjusting the wires. “It’s Halloween, not a beauty pageant.” she grumbled. “It’s supposed to be fun, not a competition over who can out-slut the rest of the office.”

Sure it’s a competition.” Helen snorted, fidgeting. “It’s just that you’d win too easy for it to be any fun for you.”

Alex made a face, but before she could respond she was distracted by a loud tinkling sound coming from her purse. She narrowed her eyes and dropped down from her bed to dig around inside of it, pulling out her phone.

“Did you get a text?” Helen asked, tugging at one of the wires that seemed determined to poke her right in the ribs.

“Goddamn Brad.” Alex answered with a growl, sneering at the screen on her phone. “He’s been texting me all day. I’m about ready to throw this thing in the toilet.”

Helen winced. “Oh, god. What’s he saying?” She asked, moving closer to try and see the screen.

“You’d never freaking believe it.” She muttered, but handed her friend the phone anyway.

“Alexandria, it’s ok, I forgive you. Weddings are stressful, and brides-to-be are allowed to be unreasonable every once and a while.” Helen read out loud and nearly choked, her mouth hanging open.

“Oh, no, there’s more.” Alex said, nodding toward the phone. She was gathering her things so they could leave while Helen continued to read through her texts.

“‘I’ll meet you at Vesuvios for lunch so you can take back your ring.'; ‘You’re running late, honey, so I’ve ordered for you.'; ‘Where are you, your food is getting cold.'; ‘Alexandria, why aren’t you answering me? Don’t you think this silent treatment is a little childish?'” She glanced up at Alex, her eyes wide. “These were all in one hour, don’t tell me it gets worse?”

“Oh, yes. He goes on to tell me about how I don’t realize how tolerant his family really is, considering how the dress I picked makes me look like a stripper.” Alex said blandly.

Helen stopped reading, shoving the phone toward Alex. “You cannot be serious. And you were going to marry this douche bag??”

“Well, he didn’t act like that at first!” Alex said, her voice pitched defensively. “Things were completely different during the courtship phase.” She tossed her phone on her bed, frowning.

Helen tugged at her costume again. “It’s too bad the company Halloween party is at Astroworld and not a bar, cause’ I know I’d want a stiff drink in your shoes.”

Alex grinned. “You can get a stiff drink at Astroworld. Who says we can’t do both?”

Chapter 4

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“I think the milkshake may have been a bad idea…” Alex chortled from the walkway, holding Helen’s costume while she ralphed up about three mai tais and half a chocolate shake behind the bushes.

“I think coming here was a bad idea.” Helen grumbled brokenly.

“What, are you kidding?” Alex squeaked. “Tonight’s been EPIC! We went on the Cyclone, like, FIVE TIMES!”

“I didn’t WANT to ride the cyclone five times, Alex!” Helen moaned. “But you kept flashing the roller coaster guy so he wouldn’t make you get off for the other people in line, and you wouldn’t let me leave!”

“That was so awesome…” Alex drawled, still thinking fondly of the Texas Cyclone. “And Dungeon Drop? How fun was THAT?”

Helen whimpered before heaving again.

“It’s ok, get it all out.” Alex mumbled soothingly.

Helen growled in frustration. “Why aren’t you puking? You had at least twice as much alcohol as I did!” she said, coughing.

“Woman, I’m a Texan. It’d take a shitload more than beer to get me on my back.”

“I’ll take that challenge.” A deep, amused voice said from behind her.

Alex turned to see a tall, remarkably buff man dressed as Zorro approaching them. He was dressed all in black with a mask, whatever you call those flat hat things, and what looked like an actual foil at his hip. And Alex must have been drunker than she thought, because despite how familiar he seemed, she could not for the life of her think of who he was.

“Why, hello, Slumber party girl.” He greeted her with a grin once he’d reached her.

Alex raised an eyebrow. “Why, hello, generic masked sword fighter.” She said. She tried to ignore the way everything seemed to tilt when she turned her head so suddenly. There was no good reason for the world to be tilting, she was not that drunk.

Zorro eyed the mass of pillow and feathers in her hands. “What happened to your pillow fight?”

Helen answered for her with another vicious heave.

He winced.

“I’m pretty sure it was the milkshake.” Alex stage whispered.

“Sure it wasn’t the six-pack of beer I saw you shotgunning a little while ago?” He asked with a smirk. The way he talked to her was ringing loads of bells in her head. He was obviously a coworker, maybe even a friend, and it was really starting to irritate her that she couldn’t place who he was. A mask couldn’t possibly make that much of a damned difference.

Or maybe the ringing was just from all the beer.

“Of course not, I’m not vomiting. She had the mai tais, not beer.” Alex mumbled with a frown. The smell was starting to reach her and she didn’t like how her stomach was responding. She tried to focus instead on the masked man in front of her. Surely she would remember shoulders that broad. One of the things she hated about Brad was how droopy his stupid shoulders were.

“You have nice shoulders.” She mumbled to him without thinking. “Are you a lumberjack?”

Zorro frowned. She couldn’t see his eyebrows, but he seemed confused. “Alex, I don’t think I’ve ever seen you this wasted before. Are you ok?”

And Alex was suddenly absolutely certain that she was drunker than she had originally thought, because in seemed perfectly reasonable to her that her response to that question was to step closer and kiss him full on the mouth.

And just as she was absolutely certain she was drunk, she was sure that his extremely eager response to her kiss was purely a figment of her imagination.

Because the next second he had her by the shoulders, pushing her away. “Alex, you’re engaged.” He said, his voice flat.

Alex grabbed on to his arms as she swayed from his push. “No.” she growled. “I dumped that asshole.” The world had started to spin, and she was having a hard time regaining her balance.

“Why else do you think she’s so wasted?” Helen asked, finally emerging from behind the bushes, and looking distinctly green.

Alex turned to glare at Helen, and almost fell over. “I’m not wasted, jesus, it was just beer.”

Zorro looked back and forth between them, and sighed. “Alright, the park closes in about half an hour, and there’s no way I’m letting you two drive. Do ya’ll have anyone you can call to come pick you up?”

Alex shook her head slowly, still leaning heavily into his arms. “Can’t call anyone. Left my phone.”

He looked toward the sky briefly, as if asking for strength. “Why would you do that?” he asked.

“Her douche bag ex wouldn’t stop texting her.” Helen answered for her. Alex was busy concentrating on remaining upright.

He shook his head, pulling Alex closer and wrapping one of her arms around his neck. “Alright, you two, I’m driving you home, come on.”

“Oh, generic masked swordsman, you’re my hero.” Alex crooned.

Chapter 5

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“Good morning, Alex-my-love.”

Alex groaned, burying her head under her arms. “Chris, I will fucking kill you.”

Chris smirked, leaning against the edge of her desk. “That hurts, my love, that hurts me right in my heart.”

“I’ll hurt you right in your heart…” Alex growled, her fingers curling around one of her pens.

Helen came up behind her and thumped her on her ear. Alex jumped up violently and glared at her. She raised her eyebrows. “Don’t snap at Chris just because you’re hung over. It’s your fault for getting sloshed.”

Alex wrinkled her nose. “Well, pardon, Miss upchuck-everything-in-my-body-save-my-soul. If I recall, it was your idea for me to get sloshed.” She turned back to her computer, pouting. “And I don’t think it’s fair that you’re not hung over, too. Didn’t you drink?”

Helen rolled her eyes. “Why do you think I was puking?”

Chris was watching Alex, his eyebrows furrowed. “Exactly how much of last night do you remember?”

Alex stared off into space for a second. “Um…the Cyclone? Definitely remember the Cyclone, that was awesome.”

Chris was frowning, an expression she rarely ever saw on him. Whatever he was about to say, though, if he was going to say anything at all, was interrupted by their resident HR bitch from hell’s shrill frigging voice.

“Chris, there you are!” Barbara White, the self-proclaimed Queen of Human Resources, called from across the room.

Alex’s lip curled despite herself as Barbara made a beeline for her cubicle. Alex got the impression that all (or, at least, most) HR reps were obnoxious and condescending, but for some reason Barbara rankled her far worse than she had any right to. Really, she was just some squirrely little bimbo, there was no good reason for her to want to stab the woman in the throat every time she laid eyes on her.

And then Barbara reached them, wrapping her arm around Chris’s waist and pressing her breasts firmly against his arm, and Alex was reminded of one huge reason why she wanted to disembowel the HR tramp.

Seriously, after all her sanctimonious, bullshit seminars about sexual harassment? Every time this woman got within three feet of Chris she was brandishing her boobs at him like they were quarterly reports for him to sign.

To Chris’s credit, though, he always shrugged off her advances. Now he took a step back from her, glancing down at a stack of files she was carrying as an excuse to distance himself. “Sup’, Barb? What do you have for me?”

Barbara smiled at him, her expression chiding. “Now, Chris-honey, you know I hate that nickname.” She handed over the files. “Just a new set of requests from Marketing, I was down there and they knew I was headed here and sent them with me.”

“Well, I’ll just add that to my list. Thanks.” Chris said, taking the substantial stack of paper from her and setting it on the edge of Alex’s desk.

“So, did you hear?” Barbara asked, clearly not taking Chris’s hint. Alex wondered if it was a job requirement, or just an unfortunate side effect of being a frigid bitch that made this woman appear utterly oblivious to how unwanted she was. Always.

Chris’s jaw twitched, but he was friendly when he answered. “Heard about what?”

“Well, Sheila couldn’t make it to Astroworld last night, since her daughter was sick, so she’s decided to throw an office party for just the creative department this weekend.” The woman had to have the most noxiously saccharine sweet voice Alex had ever fucking heard.

Chris laughed. “Well, everyone loves Sheila, and parties in our department usually turn out pretty epic.”

Barbara sniggered. “It’s so cute how you lump yourself in with the artist people.” she said, glancing over at Helen who gave her an ironic smile. “But I’m sure everyone is welcome, anyway.” She eyed Chris sidelong. “I might even stop by. I don’t think I saw you at six flags, you never got to see my Kitty costume.”

Alex instantly glanced over at Helen, who was fighting hard against laughter, and made a gagging noise.

Barbara’s eyes shot to Alex. “Is something the matter?” She asked, her sugary tone dissipating.

Chris cut in before Alex could snark, as she was so wont to do. “She’s just not feeling that well today.”

Barbara lifted her nose priggishly. “Well, I should think not, after that display last night.”

“Display?” Alex said sharply. She looked at Helen, her eyes wide. “What display?”

Barbara answered instead. “You were sitting at a bar chugging down beer from the bottom of the cans.”

“I was shotgunning beers?” she asked, looking between Helen and Chris. “I thought we’d agreed on mai tais and shots of tequila?”

Helen was still fighting hard against laughter. “You had those, too.”

Alex frowned and glared off into space. “Well no wonder it feels like an angry monkey is trying to claw its way out of my skull…”


Alex flinched and groaned as Brad emerged from the elevators and stomped toward her cubicle. “Well, look at that, the angry monkey escaped. You’d think I’d have felt it.” She muttered.

Chris laughed out loud, but Helen looked concerned. “Alex, do you want me to call security?” She asked.

Alex snorted. “Are you kidding me? I’d need to be a whole hell of a lot more hung over than this before I couldn’t deal with his pansy ass.”

“Alexandria, you missed lunch yesterday, and breakfast today.” Brad said when he reached her. He took no notice of the other three people crowded around her desk. “Do you mind telling me why you’re avoiding me all of a sudden?”

Alex raised her eyebrows. “Uh, probably because I broke up with you.” She shrugged. “Can’t think of a good reason to spend time with my douche bag ex-boyfriend.”

Fiancé, Alexandria. I was your fiancé.” It was incredible how he could look so hurt and yet so obnoxious at the same time. “We’ve been together two and a half years, are you willing to throw that all away because of one argument?”

Barbara was leaning forward, practically drooling as what was bound to be the juiciest piece of gossip for the entire month unfolded right in front of her. Helen was glaring as if she’d like to rip Brad’s throat out, and Chris was frowning, confused.

“Of course not.” Alex said, her eyes wide. “That would be unreasonable.” Brad started to smile, but Alex continued. “I’m breaking up with you because for the past three months you’ve done nothing but try to change everything about me. You snap at me about what I wear, how I talk, how I act, who I spend time with and the places I like to go. If so much about me bothers you, why did you ever ask me to marry you?”

Brad shook his head, a condescending expression briefly crossing his face, as though she were an obstinate child. “It’s not me!” He said earnestly, his tone slightly chiding. Then his face twisted into a put-upon-little boy expression that had always gotten him what he wanted in the past. Alex was extremely familiar with it, and was realizing now more than ever that she had always hated.

“It’s them who have a problem!” He continued, his voice taking on a whiney, nasal quality. “When you’re around my family or my coworkers, you just need to withdraw a little bit. You know I love you and think you’re a great person, it’s just that I don’t want them thinking you’re not because you tend to act or dress a certain way.”

Alex’s eyes flashed dangerously. “There’s the part you still don’t get. You care. I don’t. I’m not withdrawing shit.”

Brad twitched as she spat the last word at him, and his face started to turn red. “Honey, if you love someone, you have to love everything about them, and that includes my family. You could at least try to censor yourself when you’re around them.”

Helen choked. “You have to be kidding me.” she muttered.

“Do you even hear yourself?” Alex glanced over, incredulously, surprised by Chris interjecting .

“Yeah, it goes both ways, jackass.” Helen added.

Brad looked between the two of them, his face turning redder by the second. Alex sat up straighter to draw his attention back to her. “Ya’ll can all go suck a lemon, I’m not changing shit for anyone. For any reason.” she said, jutting out her chin obstinately. “Besides, it doesn’t matter, because I don’t love you anymore. Maybe I did to begin with, but that was before I had to deal with your stuffy, snotty bitch of a mother or the rest of your family and friends.”

Brad’s face was starting to turn an unruly shade of purple. “My mother’s never been anything but polite to you-“

“Your mother’s never been anything but snide, snotty and rude to me.” Alex cut him off, her voice resonant. “She never once looked at me from any angle besides down her nose! And I could have been the Queen of goddamn Sheba and I wouldn’t have been good enough for her ‘Little Prince Punkin’, and she can suck my metaphorical cock if she thinks for a second-

Brad exploded, cutting her off. “Damn it, Alexandria, I don’t think it’s too much to ask for you to control yourself when you’re around certain people. For Christ’s sake, it’s just common fucking sense.”

Alex leapt from her seat, startling Brad. He stumbled back a step, but before anyone could react, she drew her arm back and slapped him hard in the face.

“How’s that for controlled?” she barked.

The next second, Helen had her arms around Alex’s waist, and Chris had Brad by both arms. Barbara was backing up to the wall, her eyes wide with shock, and across the rest of the office heads where appearing over the walls of their cubicles to see what the commotion was.

And Alex didn’t give a tin shit.

“Let me go, Helen.” She growled.

“Homicide is still a crime, Alex.” Helen answered calmly.

Chris was backing up, dragging Brad with him. “I think it’s time for you to go now, Bradley.”

Barbara’s voice could suddenly be heard above the commotion. “For goodness sake, Alex, this is a work place!” She said, sounding slightly hysterical. “This sort of thing should be happening in private, not at your office!

Alex was still struggling against Helen; Chris had nearly reached the elevators, Brad in tow. She paused to snarl at Barbara. “You weren’t complaining when he first got here, you hypocr-“

Helen slapped a hand over Alex’s mouth, cutting her off. “It won’t happen again.” She said brokenly, trying to keep Alex restrained with only one arm as her struggling got even more frantic.

See that it doesn’t.” Barbara said priggishly, turning toward the elevators. “As it is, I’ll still have to issue you a warning.”

At that, Alex’s feet came off the floor she was thrashing so hard to get loose. “Jeez, Alex, would you calm down?” Helen said, dropping both hands to let her fly forward and crash into her desk.

Alex turned to glare murderously at Helen. “I can’t believe you just let them get away!”

It was that or let you lose your job.” Helen said blandly, her arms crossed over her chest. “And seeing as how you’re not marrying a trust fund baby anymore, I figure your income is more important.”

Chapter 6

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Alex stepped out of her shower, her hangover finally starting to ebb. Between her pounding head, her obnoxious ex, and the snotty email ‘citation’ she’d received from Barbara following the confrontation earlier that day, she was looking forward to spending the next eight hours curled up on her couch watching cheesy old black and white movies.

But when she reached her bedroom, her cell phone was blinking. She grimaced.

She was shocked when she picked it up and found, along with a voicemail from her ex-future mother-in-law (which she was expecting) a text from Chris

Chris: Sorry about earlier today. Are you feeling better?

The voicemail, however, wasn’t nearly so heartwarming.

Alexandria, this is your future mother-in-law, Grammy. This tantrum of yours has gone on long enough. Just the concept of someone throwing away three years of a relationship a mere two months before her wedding is preposterous. I cannot begin to fathom why my son is so fascinated with you, in my personal opinion you’re about as cultured as a hillbilly who was raised in a swamp by the alligators. But nevertheless he is, and I promise you, you will never do better than my son. Now, you are to stop this nonsense immediately. You have a fitting scheduled for this Friday evening at seven pm, well after you’ve left work, so you will have no excuse to miss this one. I’ve also invited Miss. Henrietta Coux, the proprietress of a finishing school in New York City, to come down and meet with you during your fitting. The woman is a miracle worker, I’m certain she will manage to teach you how to behave in polite society. I will be expecting you by six forty-five at the latest, and then we can start to put his whole messy business behind us.”

Without a second thought, Alex winged the phone across the room where it shattered against the far wall.

Then, forgetting entirely about pajamas (or any other kind of covering), she walked stark naked toward her living room to start her Fred Astaire-athon.

Chapter 7

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Alex used her neighbor’s phone to call in sick the next day. Kiki grinned at her as she pleaded at her door. “Will you be telling me why your phone suddenly isn’t working?” she asked, snickering.

Alex frowned. “…no. No I will not.”

Kiki smirked. “I bet I can guess…” She said in a sing-song voice.

“I don’t need to hear an ‘I-Told-You-So’, Kiki…” Alex grumbled. She was starting to feel queasy.

“Don’t care if you need to hear it, I’m gonna say it anyway.” But she stepped to the side to let Alex in.

Alex muttered something as she crossed the threshold, but grinned when she caught sight of Kiki’s daughter, Dawn, peeking from around a corner in the hall. Dawn was the only reason she was friendly with Kiki in the first place; she babysat the three year old at least once a week.

“Well, in any case, I’ve already dumped the guy you’re ‘I-told-you-so’-ing about.” Alex finally grumbled, before picking up the receiver to Kiki’s house phone. (For some reason, Kiki insisted on a land line, which Alex found both quaint and primitive.)

Kiki’s eyebrows shot up. As Alex dialed. “Well, took you long enough.” She muttered finally. She wrapped an arm around her shoulders. “I’m sorry though, I know you cared for him, even if I never could fathom why.”

Alex sighed as the phone started to ring. “I think I had myself convinced that the way he acted around other people wasn’t who he really was.” She shook her head. “I’m an idiot.”

“Well, I won’t argue that.”

Alex smacked her in the shoulder.

“Hello?” Chris answered his phone, sounding a little impatient.

“Hey, Chris, it’s me.”

“Alex? Hey, you never answered my text, how are you doing?” Impatience disappeared, replaced by a false cheerfulness and a lot of worry.

“Yeah, sorry. My phone…uh…broke.” Kiki bit back a smile and Alex elbowed her in the ribs. “I’m fine, but I’m gonna need to take a sick day today.”

“You’re fine, but you’re sick? What’s wrong, Alex, really?”

Alex fidgeted. “I don’t know, it’s probably just the hangover. Or lack of sleep. Or stress.”

She hadn’t reassured him. “Alex, do you need anything? Do you want me to come over?”

She ignored the twinge in her stomach. “No, its ok, Chris. I don’t want to keep you from anything.” Like Barbara. “I’m just gonna try and sleep it off.”

“Did you want me to call Helen for you?”

“No she’ll just worry. I’ll see ya’ll tomorrow, ok?”

Chapter 8

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“Alex! What the fuck??”

Alex groaned and buried her head under her pillow. Why, oh why had she given Helen a key to her place?

Helen didn’t even pause when she came into her bedroom, making straight for the empty side of the bed and flopping down beside her. “First of all, I can’t believe you didn’t call me, I was worried sick.”

Alex lazily flapped a hand toward the wall where her phone was still on the floor in pieces.

Helen snorted. “Was it really that bad?”

“Grammy left me a message commanding my presence at a fitting on Friday. And, apparently she is going to turn me into a proper lady.”

“Ooh…” Helen hissed in sympathy. “I was afraid this was because of Barbara’s bullshit ‘disciplinary suspension’ thing.”

“Disciplinary what now?” Alex squeaked, lifting her head slightly to frown at her friend.

Helen grimaced. “Um, yeah, Barbara had you suspended for the rest of the week for yesterday and being ‘tardy’ today. You should have seen Chris get down her throat about it.”

Alex groaned and buried her head again.

Helen shook her head and hurried to change the subject. “Anyway, second of all, what happened to all that gung-ho, girl power, ‘he’s an asshole and I’m not going to waste my time mourning our stupid relationship’ attitude you were thundering about two days ago?”

Alex rolled over and glared. “You got me drunk, that’s what happened.” She grumbled. “It doesn’t help that my ex-future-in-laws are treating me like a petulant child rather than taking me seriously.”

“So, what, that gives you clearance to sit here and wallow in self-pity? Come on, Alex, you’re the badass, not me. I dunno if I could fill your shoes if you’re suddenly gonna reverse roles on me.”

“Two years!” Alex whined, covering her face with her hands. “Two years I wasted on that asshole. How did I not see what a worthless jackass he was?”

“Because he was charming when he was with you. And if you’ve already wasted two years on the clown, why are you wasting even more, wallowing?”

Alex dropped her hands in defeat, and then rolled over to snuggle into Helen, who started to laugh. “What should I do then?”

“Well, first you need to figure out what you’re going to wear to the Halloween party this Friday.”

Alex groaned. “Give me one good reason why I should go to that stupid party.”

“I’ll give you three.” Helen held up her hand and started counting. “You need the get the hell out of bed, you need to get back at that uppity bitch, Barbara, and also, your ex-future-mother-in-law knows where you live.”

Alex sat bolt upright at the last one. “Damn it, Helen, really? You had to go there?”

Helen snickered. “Got you up, didn’t it?” She nodded toward the opposite wall. “We might want to replace that phone while we’re at it.”

Alex ignored her, yanking at her blankets. “Gonna have nightmares now…” She muttered.

“Of what, your mother-in-law bursting out of your closet with a tape measure and a back board?”

“You think you’re joking!” Alex said, her eyes wide. Helen laughed.

Chapter 9

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Alex marched into the cell phone store, struggling with a large bag overflowing with five bolts of green mesh fabric. Helen trailed behind her, struggling to keep a straight face.

The clerk, whose name tag said ‘Sexy’ for some reason, raised both eyebrows as she set her bag on the ground and slapped the remains of her cell phone on the counter. “Wow, you own a steamroller? That is so cool!” He said. Alex rolled her eyes, and Sexy leaned around her to eye the bag on the floor. “Must have been a wild night…” He muttered.

“Heh, heh.” Alex muttered, frowning. “So what is it gonna take for me to replace this stupid thing?” She gestured to the phone.

“Well, uh, whatever happened to this…” He glanced at her meaningfully, but she just stared him down. He shrugged. “Chances are good it’s not covered under your warranty.”

Helen leaned against the counter next to her. “Right, so what will it cost her? Her first born child, or just her right leg?”

Sexy grinned. “Well, you have to pay for the replacement, so it’s really up to you how much it’ll cost when you choose what to replace it with. But, uh, before I show you anything, I have to ask…” He gestured toward the shrapnel littering the counter. “Can this cell phone be implicated in a murder?”

“Of course not.” Alex said, her face completely straight. “The cell phone didn’t kill anyone.”

Sexy laughed, but he looked a little uncomfortable. “Also,” Helen cut in. “She wants to get the number changed, while were here.” She smiled sweetly.

Sexy cleared his throat. “Ok, that’s not creepy at all, right this way.”

Alex turned to grin at Helen before following the clerk to the phone display.

Chapter 10

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Alex had been absolutely certain that, lacking a phone number to call, Bradley and his mother would immediately come rapping at her door.

So she was kind of irritated when they didn’t.

“I got all worked up for nothing!” She said to Helen, who had come over for an early dinner before they headed to the office party.

“They didn’t, like, send someone else to check up on you or anything?” Helen asked, as she rolled her slice of pizza into a tube so she could eat it like a burrito. (A habit of hers Alex still could not understand.)

“No one!” Alex said. She had already finished her pizza and was working on her makeup. Four days cooped up in her house fearing an attack from the mother-in-law from hell had left her pretty lax on her usual beauty regime. “No drive by’s, no surveillance, bitch didn’t even pop out of my closet like my reoccurring nightmare.” She glared at Helen, who grinned sheepishly.

“Well, maybe they didn’t need to.” Helen said, her eyebrows raised. “Maybe they have cameras and stuff planted all over your house or something.”

Alex cringed. “What?” she squeaked, and Helen started laughing. Alex turned and threw her napkin at her friend. “You cow, why would you even say that?”

Helen ducked, still laughing. “You’re the one thinking the old lady is gonna pop out of your closet like the boogie man!”

Alex huffed, jumped out of her seat and stomped out of the room. “I’m changing into my costume.” She called over her shoulder. “And you’re still a cow.”

Helen was still laughing, but she hauled herself out of her chair. “I’ll go get mine from my car, then.” She called back.

She’d barely walked three steps when Alex poked her head out of her room. She had already taken off her shirt and she was clutching a lacy, bright emerald-green strapless bra. She looked both horrified and confused. “You’ll get what out of your car?”

Helen blinked. “Uh, my costume?”

“Costume? What costume?” Her voice was sharp but high pitched, and Helen had to bite her lip to keep from exploding into another fit of giggles.

“The pillow fight costume?” The stress of keeping in her laughter, plus her actual confusion at Alex turned her answer into a question.

Alex looked relieved. “Oh, good. I was afraid you’d gotten a whole new costume. Then I would have felt super guilty about making you wear something else.” She stepped out of her room, revealing that she had also taken off her pants, and marched toward her garage. “If you wear that costume, we won’t match.” She explained as she went. Helen followed meekly behind, both hands clutched over her mouth.

Chapter 11

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“This is ridiculous.” Helen muttered as she shuffled through the door that Alex was holding open for her.

“That’s not how you pronounce ‘awesome’.” Alex said, grinning. “And now we totally match!!”

Helen slapped away the shower curtain so she could glare at Alex. “You don’t think it’s a little suggestive for two best friends, female best friends, to arrive at a Halloween party dressed as a shower and a bath scrubby?” She asked, gesturing sharply toward Alex, who had sewn her green mesh fabric into a giant poofy ball. “Slightly homo-erotic, maybe?” Helen continued.

Alex smirked and raised an eyebrow. “Homo-erotic?” she asked, glancing between the two of them. “On what planet can either of these costumes be considered any kind of erotic?”

“You’re showing leg up to your hip, don’t give me that.” Helen muttered darkly, shuffling past her.

“Yeah, and the rest of me looks like a koosh ball!” Alex said, laughing.

“Koosh ball?” Alex cringed at the voice drifting from behind her. Barbara appeared seemingly out of nowhere, emerging from the horde of people that filled the hallway. “You look more like a loofah to me.” Barbara circled her, looking smug. As far as ‘erotic’ went, Barbara had them both beat. She looked like a cross between catwoman and a porn star. She was sporting a PVC bustier, spandex hot pants, and knee-high leather boots. All black. Between the outrageous outfit, the pancake makeup and the glitter sparkling from her cleavage, Alex had to squint to see the cat ears and tail. She shot Helen a meaningful look, and Helen had to stuff her fist in her mouth to keep from bursting out laughing. The choking, strangled sound that she made instead wasn’t much better, but she’d gotten the shower curtain closed by the time Barbara turned to look.

“I’m a bath scrubby, actually.” Alex said, her eyes narrowed.

“Same thing.” Barbara muttered in response, waving her hand dismissively.

Alex almost choked, herself. A loofah is not the same thing. It’s a shapeless, useless tan tube with three holes that collects mold and grime and filth like a magnet.

Not all that unlike Barbara.

Alex mentally slapped herself as soon as she thought it, and before she could say any of that out loud. What was up with her? It had never been this difficult to control the blind homicidal rage that flared up whenever she was around this woman.

“Anyway, have you seen Chris? I’ve been looking for him all night.”

Alex had to brace herself against the wholly unexpected urge to punch her in the face. It was Helen who answered. “Uh, no, we just got here. We haven’t seen anyone.”

Barbara shrugged, glancing behind her. The entire floor was swarming with their coworkers, dressed in some of the most ridiculous costumes Alex had ever seen. “Well, there’s plenty to see now that you’re here.” She said, gesturing. “Just let me know if you run into him, I don’t want to miss him again.”

Helen had to get between the two of them as Barbara walked away. “I know I may be unaccustomed to the south, but I’m pretty sure it’s universally unacceptable to attempt murder on someone who can get you fired.” She said drily.

“Ugh.” Alex shook her head sharply. “I don’t know what it is about her, but it’s just, like, whenever-“

“Whenever she mentions Chris?” Helen cut in, looking ever so slightly smug.

Alex frowned. “What?”

“Whenever that snotty little Chihuahua woman says something about Chris, you always look like you want to rip out her throat.”

Alex crossed her arms, with difficulty, over her costume. “I don’t know what you’re talking about. I wanted to rip out her throat to begin with. When she called me a loofah.”

“Maybe, but your nostrils didn’t flare until she mentioned Chris.”

“My nostrils do not flare!” Alex squeaked.

“They’re doing it again.”

“Yeah, well, maybe you should take that as a warning.”

Chapter 12

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The costumes at the office party were a lot more interesting than they were at Six flags. It seems a lot of people felt like Helen had – that the awesome, but bulky costumes would prevent them from riding the rides they wanted to. Without that restriction, they went hog-wild. Within the first fifteen minutes Alex had spotted a guy dressed as a Horn of Plenty, a woman as a bag of jellybeans (the jellybeans were balloons) and another woman as a bowl of candy (actual Halloween candies that anyone could take).

Her favorite so far, though, was the married couple dressed in Portal themed costumes. They had taken hula hoops, suspended them so they hovered around their waists, equipped them with red and blue lights, and switched their bottom halves. The woman was wearing a lacey shirt and cargo pants with huge work boots, and the man had on a plaid shirt with a long, slinky black skirt.

It wasn’t until she’d reached the snack table that she noticed a fairly unoriginal costume. Dressed in all black with a flat hat and a mask, ‘Zorro’ was headed toward the snack table as well, from the other side of the room. The only thing that seemed interesting about his costume was how real the sword at his hip looked. But really? A masked swordsman? He may as well have dressed as Spiderman for all the originality it took him.

And yet, it was funny. Alex was sure she didn’t recognize him, but he seemed so familiar. And not in a good way, either. In a way that left her nauseous and embarrassed. For one horrifying second she was afraid that it was Brad behind the mask, but she shrugged the idea off as soon as it popped into her head. Brad wasn’t that tall. Or that built. She was suddenly grateful that the punch was alcoholic, despite the lingering memory of her hangover. She turned away and tried to shake off the feeling that she was forgetting something extremely important.

“I never knew a bath scrubby could be so arousing.” Zorro said, coming up behind her. He reached around her for a cup at the same time that Alex snorted her punch, caught between laughter and horror.

Laughter because she could never keep a straight face when Chris – who it obviously was – quipped in that dry tone of voice. Horror because as soon as he had spoken her memory came rushing back, and she remembered exactly why she should be feeling mortified. “Chris?” She choked, still recovering from snorting her punch. She covered her face with her hands, nearly dropping her cup. “Oh, god, that was you?”

“Me what?” Chris said, raising an eyebrow.

Alex grimaced. She really didn’t want to say it. “At…at six flags?”

Chris grinned. “You mean, outside the Texas Cyclone?”

Alex’s expression crumbled. “That actually happened?” She muttered, partially to herself. She had been sure it was a dream.

“You getting utterly trashed and making out with a dashing masked stranger while Helen was puking her guts up in the bushes?” Alex groaned, and Chris laughed. “Nah, must have been some other generic masked swordsman.”

But Alex was still moaning in agony, so Chris wrapped an arm around her shoulder, fighting down his laughter. “So, I guess you weren’t blackout drunk? More like, temporary amnesia drunk?”

“God, Chris, I’m so sorry.” Alex moaned. Her shoulders were bare for her costume, and her skin started to feel hot and tingly where he was touching her. She tried to ignore it.

“Don’t be, I’m certainly not complaining.”

Alex looked up at him, frowning. “But you pushed me away, didn’t you?” she asked, sounding confused. She remembered that part of her dream. That lame, crappy part of her dream.

Chris shrugged. “I thought you were still engaged.”

“But I’m not engaged.”

“I know that now.” Chris said, frowning. “If I’d have met him at all before Monday, I wouldn’t have found you breaking up with him so hard to believe. But all I’ve heard is you boasting about how great your boyfriend is for two years now.” He ground out the word ‘boyfriend’ as though it left a bad taste in his mouth. “Now that I’ve met him, I can’t imagine what you ever saw in him.”

“I’ve been asking myself the same thing all week.” Alex muttered, and then shook her head. “Wait, it sounds like you’re saying that you wouldn’t have pushed me away if you’d known.” Her heart started to speed up, which was an utterly ridiculous thing for her heart to do. Seconds later her cheeks started to flush, and she wanted to slap her body for behaving like a twelve-year-old with a crush.

Chris didn’t flinch, but watched her carefully for a few moments. “I might have. Eventually.” He said finally. Was his voice always that deep? “You were still pretty drunk, you know.”

“Might have.” Alex repeated quietly. “Eventually.”

Chris leaned in closer, and it was impossible to ignore the fire rippling across her skin. “I just wish I wouldn’t have to get you dunk for you to kiss me again.” He murmured.

This wasn’t harmless flirting anymore, he was serious now. But was it really ever harmless flirting? Alex tried to think. (Why was it so hard to think?) They’d always flirted, her and Chris. (She wasn’t drunk, she’d barely had even one swallow of punch.) Ever since she first met him, when she’s first started working with him. (Then why did she feel so drunk??) She’d liked him immediately, she remembered.

But she was already dating Brad by the time she had met Chris. And as slutty as Grammy might think she was, she would never cheat.

But she’d always been insanely attracted to him, it was easy for her to admit that now. That’s why she hated Barbara’s squirrely ass clinging to him like a goddamn barnacle.

She never answered him. She didn’t need to. He was already moving closer, and she was only too happy to let him.

A moment later, his lips were sealed over hers. In an instant her entire body felt tingly and twitchy, as though she were full of electricity. The hand he had around her shoulder shifted to pull her closer, and his free hand came up to press against her back. She could hardly feel it through all the mesh, and yet her heart still felt as though it would jump out of her chest.

Her hands trailed up his chest until she could grip his collar, pulling him closer so she could deepen their kiss. She was suddenly very annoyed with her costume choice – the excessive amount of mesh fabric was keeping her from pressing into him the way she so desperately wanted to. She’d been smothering her feelings for him for two years now (Two years! What had she been thinking??) And now all she wanted was his hands all over her body.

She could feel the hand he had pressed into her back start to curl into the fabric, as though he wanted to rip it off of her as badly as she wanted to rip it off herself. She whimpered softly, silently willing him to do it. For a few seconds, all she could think about was his hands, his mouth, his bare chest, and the fact that there was far too much fabric coming between them.

Chris must have been feeling the same way, because as his mouth and tongue were doing wicked, wicked things to her – things that left her breathless and weak in the knees – the hand he had on her shoulder dragged down her back to grip at the fabric next to his other hand.

Alex heard a few tiny pops, the sound of the mesh starting to tear, when shrill laughter jolted her out of her passion fueled trance.

“Oh, Martha, you’re hilarious!” Barbara giggled. She was standing barely five feet away from them. And once Alex noticed her, she started to notice the rest of the people in the room, and then the noise started to register. Funny, she never noticed any of that awareness seeping away before. And she never thought she’d be grateful to Barbara for anything.

The woman Barbara was talking to, who was dressed as a jack o’ lantern with the symbol for Pi lit up instead of a face, frowned at her. “My name is Mary.” The woman muttered.

Chris tugged at her arm, and she turned back to him. He was pulling her toward the hallway. “Let’s get out of here before she notices me.” He whispered, when she’d gotten close enough. He looked over his shoulder with a grimace.

Alex grinned. “Aw, you don’t wanna see Barbie’s ‘Kitty costume’?” she cooed softly, fighting down laughter. She felt so giddy!

Chris rolled his eyes. “She’s not dressed as a ‘kitty’, she’s dressed as a whore with a tail.”

Alex slapped a hand over her mouth to stifle the bark of laughter. She knew she liked him for a reason.

The crowd started to thin as they headed further down the hall. They were almost to where her and Helen’s cubicles where before he stopped in front of a closed, dark office. A moment later he produced a key from his pocket, unlocked the door and held it open for her.

“What’s this?” she asked as she stepped past him.

“My office.” He answered, following her in and closing the door behind them.

“Oh, really? You know, I’ve never been in your office?” Alex tried to look around, but it was nearly pitch black. If it weren’t for a faint glow coming from the far window, she’d have walked right into his desk. All she could tell was that it was a decent sized office, and that it smelled incredible. It smelled like Chris, books, and leather.

“I do know.” Chris said. He was still standing by the door. “I don’t think I’d have been able to handle being near you in an enclosed space. It would have driven me insane, trying to keep my hands off of you.”

Alex heard the quiet click of the lock, and her arousal (which had vanished with Barbara’s laughter) revived so forcefully it nearly knocked her off of her feet.

Seconds later Chris was behind her, his arms wrapped around her waist, and his mouth buried in her neck. “Chris!” she gasped, pressing herself back against him. Even through the layers of fabric in her costume, she could feel his erection. “Oh, god, Chris…”

His hands had tangled themselves in the folds of mesh at her stomach. “What were you thinking, dressing in this ridiculous costume?” Chris growled in frustration.

“Well, I certainly wasn’t thinking about sex.” Alex tried to say in a sarcastic tone of voice, but it just came out as a breathless moan.

Her costume didn’t last much longer underneath Chris’s hands. She wasn’t sure – it was so hard to see in the dim lighting – but it sounded as though he’d utterly shredded it before it was finally all off of her. She’d turned to face him while he was still ripping at the fabric, and now she wrapped her arms around his neck, pressing herself into him. In just a strapless bra and panties she was finally able to feel him pressed against her. It was a fantastic sensation.

His hands pressed against her bare back, and he groaned just as she purred in satisfaction. “Alex…” he murmured, dipping his head to press his lips against her collarbone. “You have no idea…” one hand reached up to tug at her bra clasp.

“I might.” Alex responded breathlessly. Her hands were at his belt, but she was having trouble finding the buckle. Dammit, at least her costume was easy to rip. What the hell??

And then her bra was gone and his mouth was on her breast, circling until he reached her nipple, licking, nibbling, sucking…

Alex threw her head back, her hands tangled in his hair. She forgot entirely that there were crowds of people just on the other side of the door, and a loud moan tore its way out of her throat.

She didn’t even notice him backing her up until the backs of her thighs hit his desk. Something that was on it jabbed her right in the ass, but before she had a chance to complain his hand was slipping under her drenched, drenched panties, his fingers delving into her folds. All thought evaporated as she arched in his arms, crying out brokenly. She was caught between screaming and sobbing, and she couldn’t seem to get enough air. “God, Chris, please…” she whimpered.

His mouth left her breast and his hand pulled away from her center, and Alex had to fight to keep from screaming. “No,” she gasped, her hands clawing at his neck. “No, don’t stop! Please Chris, don’t stop,” But her pleading was cut off by his lips. He kissed her passionately, one arm wrapped tightly around her waist while the other moved behind her, shoving things on his desk out of the way. She heard something hit the floor and felt a sudden urge to giggle, but the next second he had lifted her up to sit in front of him on his desk. The wood of the desk was cold against her fevered skin; she barely even noticed, too preoccupied tugging desperately at his clothes. He was still fully dressed. Why was he still fully dressed??

“Did Brad ever make you feel this way?” Chris growled into her ear, his voice impossibly deep and possessive. It made her shake and her stomach clench.

“No.” She gasped after a moment. “Never.” She was still tearing at his clothes, and he put his hands over hers to still them.

“Tell me what you want, Alex.” He whispered.

She shuddered violently, her arousal so intense she could barely think. She moved her hands up to his neck, pulling herself closer. “I want you inside me.” She whispered finally. “I need you inside of me.”

Whatever secret fucking handshake his belt needed in order to unlatch, Chris had it off in seconds, his pants following instantly. She had her legs wrapped around his waist (god, he felt so good between her legs) by the time the sword clattered to the ground.

He entered her easily; she was so slick he met absolutely no resistance. And she came immediately, only his passionate kiss keeping her from shrieking in her release.

He didn’t stop, and she couldn’t think. “Say my name, Alex.” His voice rumbled in her ear, a dark, primal sound that left her quivering.

“Chris!” His name dragged across her lips in a weak moan. She clutched his shoulders as she fought to breath against the onslaught of sensation. “Oh, yes, Chris. Yes!”

He groaned wordlessly, leaning into her and bracing his hands on the desk. It began to shake with the strength of his thrusts, thumping against the floor. Completely overwhelmed, Alex fell back across his desk, her head hanging over the far edge. She heard more things falling, and she didn’t care, because she was about to cum again.

And when she did a moment later, she didn’t scream this time. She didn’t have the breath to. But she shook with the force of it, gasping his name and writhing.

Chris’s rythm faltered, and he moaned. “Fuck, Alex, do you have any idea what it does to me when you do that?”

Alex whimpered, unable to answer. He was still moving, and she still hadn’t recovered. She was about to lose her mind. “Chris, please.” She whispered, her hands grasping onto his arms for dear life.

“I want you to be mine, Alex.” He ground out, his thrusts bordering on violent. “Tell me you’re mine.”

“Yes! Oh, god, yes!”

“Yes what?” Chris grunted. He pulled his hands from the desk, moving one to clutch at her hip, and the other to support her back. The angle let him deeper inside of her, and Alex choked back a scream.

“I’m yours!” She gasped when she had the air. “Yours, Chris, I’m yours.”

As the words left her mouth, he came, shuddering and groaning brokenly. The sound and sensation of his orgasm sent her spiraling into another, impossible climax.

She collapsed, utterly spent. Her entire body felt like jello. Chris sank down onto his elbows, covering her with his body.

They were still for a while after that, both too weak and breathless to do or say anything else. Not that Alex had any idea what to say. She was starting to feel a little anxious when Chris turned his head to nuzzle her neck.

She giggled and wrapped her arms around his shoulders. “So, was this a trick or a treat?” She whispered, her voice hoarse.

Chris chuckled into her shoulder. “Definitely a treat.”

Chapter 13

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Her costume was destroyed. Utterly.

Alex lifted a few pieces of the shredded green mesh from the floor, grinning openly. Chris rubbed his neck, looking sheepish.

“I think the others might get an idea of what went down.” Alex muttered drily, collecting the scraps of her costume and piling them on the desk chair.

Chris rolled his eyes, going back to replacing the contents of his desk. They’d found the lamp already, it was the only way Alex was able to find what few clothes she had on. Her bra had traveled clear across the room, perching proudly on one of his bookshelves. “Please, as if they don’t already, with how loud you were screaming.”

Alex squeaked, and shoved him. “That was your fault.” She said, pouting.

Chris grinned, and turned to take her into his arms. “I have no problem admitting that.” He said, and pulled her closer for a kiss.

She was still barely dressed, and despite the residual throbbing from their earlier coupling Alex was starting to feel a little overheated before a loud crash from the other room startled them apart.

“What the hell?” Alex mumbled.

Chris frowned. “I dunno.” He answered, and moved toward the door. “Wait here, I’ll go see.” He glanced back at her and grinned. “I’ll see if I can get you something to wear while I’m at it.”

Alex pouted, putting her hands on her hips as he walked out the door. She wasn’t about to just cool her heels waiting for him to come back for her.

Chapter 14

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Whatever Chris expected to find in the center of the mayhem in the hallway, it was certainly not the tiny, severe looking old lady he saw glowering at Barbara.

“If she’s working with people like you, it’s no wonder she always looks like such a goddamn whore.” The old lady announced shrilly. Behind her he could see a number of people in large, bulky costumes trying to get back up without looking like a turtle struggling to get off its back. That would account for the crash, and after hearing the rather imposing granny speak, Chris wouldn’t be the least bit surprised to find she was the one who knocked them over. (Although he had said the same thing about Barbara’s costume not half an hour ago.)

“Ma’am, this is private property, you can’t just come rampaging in here-” Barbara said, trying to control the situation and failing miserable. The old lady was just as snotty and entitled as she was, and she’d been at it a lot longer.

“I demand to see Alexandria!” The old woman shouted over Barbara’s frantic rambling, her nose in the air. “This idiocy of hers has got to stop, I’m done being polite about this!”

Chris nearly choked when he realized who she was. He pushed his way forward through the crowd, but the old lady was still shouting. “She will cease this nonsense and meet with Henrietta if I have to drag her by her hair, kicking and screaming. I am done being polite.

“Ma’am!” Chris had finally reached her, and when she turned to look at him her mouth snapped shut. As commanding as she might be, he was an extremely intimidating person to have in close proximity. But she glared nonetheless. “Can I help you with something?” He asked, meaning quite clearly ‘Can I help you out the door?’

Granny bitchface ignored his implication. “I demand to see my future daughter in law, Alexandria.” She said haughtily. “I’m not leaving without her. I’ve indulged her foolish whims for long enough.”

“I think there’s a very good chance that you will be leaving without her.” Chris said, frowning. “If I have to drag you by your hair.”

For a moment the old lady looked shocked and possibly the most offended she’d ever been in her life. But the next moment she was looking past him and sneering. “Why am I not surprised? Of course your ‘costume’ would make you look like an oversexed trollop.”

Chris turned to see Alex emerging from the crowd. She had taken the scraps that were all that was left of her costume and wrapped them around her hips and chest in a type of ragged shirt and skirt. Her skin was still noticeably flushed, her lips swollen and her hair messy. It was all he could do to keep from lunging at her and ripping her clothes off all over again.

Alex placed her hands on her hips, glaring lazily at Granny. “I’m a ‘Sexy Tinkerbell’, I’ll have you know.” A small smile ghosting across her lips. Chis bit his lip to keep from laughing, but Helen, who he couldn’t see but could easily hear, was laughing openly.

Barbara cut in, her lips curled back in a sneer that was almost identical to the old lady’s. “Where are your wings?” She asked snottily.

“Where is your dignity?” Alex shot back.

“Enough of this.” The woman said, stepping forward and reaching for Alex. “You’ve kept Henrietta waiting long enough. Come on.”

Chris moved between them the same time that Alex yanked her arm away. “I’m not going shit for anywhere with you, you psychotic elitist cow.”

Granny gasped, looking genuinely taken aback. “I don’t understand this behavior!” her commanding tone replaced with a pathetic kind of whimpering. “After everything I’ve done for you, how could you speak to me like that?”

Alex rolled her eyes. “Oh, don’t try and pull that shit with me you old biddy. You can whine until the cows come home, I’m not marrying your son.” She leaned forward. “I’m done being polite.”

Chris leaned over. “What exactly has she done for you?” he asked quietly.

“Hell if I know.” Alex whispered back, shrugging.

The old lady was in hysterics now. “I don’t know what’s wrong with you.” She whimpered, as though she thought Alex was actually missing some vital piece of machinery. “My son is a good man-“

“Your son is an ass.” Alex cut her off. “And you’re a bitch. And I’m not about to stand idly by and let you turn me into some trussed up Stepford wife.” She leaned closer. “The wedding is off, Grammy. You tell Henrietta from me that she can take her etiquette and shove it straight up her ass, alongside that silver spoon and the enormous stick.”

Granny’s whining ceased immediately, and she stomped her foot. Chris was amused to notice that she didn’t have a single tear on her face. “Well, that’s just fine you crude, uncivilized hick. My son is better off without you.” She said, her voice reaching all new levels of shrill.

Alex crossed her arms, looking thoroughly bored. “Well, there you have it. I guess you can leave now.”

Without another word, Grammy turned on her heel and stomped out of the room. The instant the elevator doors closed, the entire room erupted in cheers.

Alex felt like cheering along with them, but Grammy was almost immediately replaced by Barbara, who was scowling. “I am appalled.” She said, her hands on her hips. She had to nearly shout to be heard over the cheering. “This is the second scene you’ve caused in less than a week-“

Her vindictive glee evaporated when Chris moved closer, his jaw clenched angrily, towering over her. “That’s enough.” He growled. “You think I can’t see what you’re doing? Alex is not your competition, Barbara. You were never in the race. And I swear to god, if you do not shut up and get the hell away from her, I will do everything in my power to get your skanky ass fired.”

The cheering surged even louder as Barbara, looking flustered, backed away.

Alex pounced on him, her arms latching onto his neck and her legs wrapping around his waist. “You’re underdressed, knight. Where’s your shining armor?”

Chris laughed. “I left it with my other noble steed.”

“Did you know Halloween was my favorite holiday?”

“Yes, and it’s on its way to being mine, too.”

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