First Time, Part 3

Previously: Part 2, Friends with Benefits [AA]

Now that I’m back from my holidays, an update!

Rated: U.

* * * * *

Part 3: Under My Skin

They didn’t really talk about it, but Spencer had never really expected that they would. It just wasn’t who they were. That wasn’t how they were with each other. The morning after their abortive dalliance, she and Ashley had a stilted conversation over breakfast, in which Spencer repeatedly reassured Ashley that everything was going to be okay, and then they parted ways.

On the day of her flight, she somehow expected that Ashley might make an appearance at the airport. She checked for her time and again, but there was no sign. As she reached her gate, she received a text saying, Call me as soon as you land. I miss you already. So, she called. It was short but awkward. She was missing Ashley with an almost physical pain, despite everything that had happened, and didn’t want to admit it, while Ashley felt abandoned, so her side of the conversation bristled with hurt and raised defences, which didn’t really help matters.

Once in New York, Spencer found that she wanted to tell Ashley everything, every little detail that occurred in her daily existence, but the time difference never seemed to work for them. Spencer developed a close relationship with Ashley’s voicemail and answering machine, while Ashley constantly forgot about the time zones altogether and called late at night – her time – when Spencer was already asleep. It wasn’t that they stopped talking so much; it was more that they had fewer opportunities to talk.

The part that Spencer had thought would change – how deeply in love she was with Ashley – actually got worse at first. Absence, it seemed, did make the heart grow fonder. Without the real Ashley there, it was easier to maintain a ‘good parts’ version in her mind. Her better qualities became enhanced in Spencer’s memory and the flaws seemed smaller, less important.

For a while, she constantly reappraised her decision not to have sex with Ashley. She obsessed over whether it might turn out to be her only chance and that she would forever regret turning down. But her heart told her that the loss would have been even greater if it had happened. It would have been a regret of a different kind, one that they would possibly never have been able to get past. That didn’t mean, however, that she was beyond wishful thinking or that there wasn’t a part of her that didn’t think that maybe – just maybe – it would have been worth it.

The more time that passed, though, the more she became convinced that they had done the right thing. It was proving hard enough for her to get over Ashley as it was. No matter how hard she tried, other women seemed less beautiful, less outspoken, less interesting, just… less. She could only imagine how even more difficult life would have been if she’d had that particular standard to compare potential girlfriends to.

Ashley came to visit a few times during her first year, but it wasn’t the same. She seemed ill-at-ease out of her natural environment: the winter was too harsh; she hated staying with Kyla; Spencer never wanted to party; she didn’t get on with Spencer’s roommates or friends. Spencer suspected that the real issue was that Ashley wanted Spencer all to herself, just as she had been used to back in LA, and fate always seemed to conspire against that.

When Spencer didn’t go back home that first summer, Ashley was hurt. She didn’t say it outright – God forbid she should ever reveal her weaknesses out loud – but it was obvious. Under the circumstances, further drifting apart was inevitable. The calls and texts became less frequent. They occasionally caught up via instant messaging, but the impulse to talk just grew weaker. Days became weeks and then months.

So, when Kyla called her to invite her to her engagement party, it had been six months since she’d seen Ashley in person and over two months since they’d talked on the phone. Kyla had warned her that Ashley would be there – she and Spencer talked often enough that Kyla knew how things stood with them – and said she would understand if Spencer didn’t want to attend, especially as it was being held at her fiancé’s parents’ house in Bridgeport, Connecticut, and guests would all be staying under one roof. Spencer had reassured Kyla that she wouldn’t miss it for the world and that there was no issue with Ashley at all. She had even agreed to attend a day before the main party for a considerably smaller gathering of what Kyla called her ‘bestest friends’.

She cranked up the paltry air conditioning in the borrowed Pontiac. Hardly anyone she knew in New York had a car, but Lisa, one of her roommates, had finally come through via some kind of friend of a friend. She had jumped at the chance, but now she was wishing that she had sprung either for a rental car with working aircon or for the speed and convenience of the Long Island ferry. Those options would have set her back at least a hundred bucks, though, and she had hardly thought it would have been necessary in late April.

She could see the Tappen-Zee Bridge that would take her into Connecticut to her right. She had been able to see it for three long hours, but it seemed to be getting no nearer. The slow, hot crawl out of the city had given her too much time to think about Ashley. It had also heated her drink to the point that she grimaced as she sucked on its straw. She would willingly have paid five hundred dollars to be standing on the deck of the ferry, the cool wind in her hair and a cold drink in her hand.

She idly fantasised that at some point she might pass an ice-cream truck heading in the other direction and could vault the median like an Olympic hurdler, buy a Slushie or a Snow-cone and bask in its icy goodness. Her happy thoughts were interrupted by her cellphone’s insistent buzz. She didn’t usually answer it while driving, but she reasoned that moving at three miles per hour barely counted as driving. She didn’t recognise the number, but the area code pointed to it being from Connecticut. Kyla, she assumed.

“Hello,” she answered breezily.

“Where are you?” The warm tones on the other end of the line did not being to Kyla and they did nothing to help with her present state of over-heating.

“The wrong side of the state line,” she sighed, leaning her elbow against the window and propping her head against her hand.

“It’s hell here without you. How much longer do you think you’ll be?”

“At least another couple of hours, maybe more. Then I’ll need a long, cold shower for about a week.”

“Hot out there?” Ashley chuckled.

That throaty laugh was still pure sex and Spencer couldn’t stop a grin from spreading across her face. She looked at the display on the dashboard, as if it might have changed in the three minutes since she’d last checked. “92 and rising.”

“Well, you’ll love it here. Old Mrs Huntingdon keeps this place at only a couple of degrees above death.”

“Surely she’s not that old?” Mrs Huntingdon was Kyla’s soon-to-be mother-in-law.

“Not Shea’s mother. Shea’s grandmother. She’s, like, 102 but dresses as if she was still 25. She had a black lace choker on at lunchtime and a dress that even Christine would think showed too much cleavage.”

Spencer laughed. Ashley’s scorn for her own mother was obviously undiminished by time and distance. “Is your mother there?”

“Christ, no! I mean, under normal circumstances, she can’t be seen during daylight hours for obvious reasons, but she’s away somewhere anyway. I have no idea where, but the guy taking her was really fat and really rich. This party is just for the so-called ‘young people’ anyway. I heard Shea’s dad saying that they were having some dinner thing for the families at the hotel, whatever that means. They probably own the Waldorf-Astoria or something.” Even by the standards of the Davies family, Kyla was marrying into serious money. Spencer knew that Shea was something on Wall Street, but she was a bit hazy on the detail. He and Kyla had met at a charity function at which Shea’s family had been the major benefactor.

There was a pause for a few moments, during which Spencer reflected that Ashley seemed more like herself than in their more recent conversations, several months back. It was almost as if they had never been apart.

“So, are you bringing a date?”

If Spencer hadn’t known better, she could have sworn that the question was asked fearfully. Ashley’s tone was more guarded than her usual bare-faced affrontery.

“No. You?’

“Nah.”

Another pause.

“Seeing anyone?” Spencer didn’t really want to know the answer, but she figured that Ashley had opened the door to this line of enquiry. She stared out of the window at the stationary traffic.

“No, not for a while. You still with what’s-her-name?’

“Paige,” Spencer offered. Ashley had met Paige only once and had immediately tagged her as being interested in Spencer. She had, as she had with all of Spencer’s friends, hated her on sight. Spencer had refuted the suggestion at the time, but Paige had, in fact, asked her out and they’d dated for a short while. “That didn’t work out,” she admitted.

“Shame.” There was no sympathy in her voice. “She seemed nice.” Ashley wasn’t being genuine, but Paige had been nice. She probably still was nice. They were all nice. They were all not Ashley, though. “Look, about everything…” Ashley obviously meant their relatively long estrangement.

“It’s okay. Honestly. These things happen. You’re busy, I’m busy. We’re on opposite sides of the country.”

“Yeah, but that sort of thing shouldn’t happen to us.”

“No, it shouldn’t,” she agreed softly.

There was another pause and Spencer swore that she could actually hear Ashley smiling that little self-satisfied smirk she gave whenever she got her own way.

“I’ll leave you to get back to driving.”

“You don’t have to. It’s not like I’m going anywhere in a hurry.”

Ashley snorted. “I flew into Boston. Only an idiot tries to drive out of New York on a Friday afternoon.”

“So I’m finding out.” She ran her hand over the back of her neck, feeling sticky and clammy and uncomfortable.

“Anyway, hurry up. It really, honestly sucks here without you.”

“I’ll do my best.”

* * *

The estate was a good ten or fifteen miles out of the city and the nearest house was probably a mile and a half back. She couldn’t even see the main house from the gates she was looking up at. All she could make out was a long, winding driveway that snaked up and around the hill into which the property was set. She looked around for an intercom or a buzzer of some description, but she could see nothing.

“Hello?” a voice asked from what seemed like a nearby bush.

Frowning, Spencer looked around some more. She couldn’t even see a speaker, but she supposed one could be mounted into the gates somehow. The apparent lack of a camera was a bit perplexing, though.

“Over here!” the bush called out again. The voice seemed amused.

Feeling like a complete idiot, Spencer felt that she had no choice but to speak in the general direction of the voice. She kept looking up at the gates, however, simply to avoid the appearance of talking to the shrubbery.

“Uh, hi.”

“May I help you?”

“Yeah. I mean, maybe. I hope so.” She heard a faint chuckle. “My name’s Spencer Carlin and I’m here to see Kyla Woods.”

“Is she expecting you?”

“I think so,” she replied with what she hoped was conviction. “I’m here for the engagement party.”

“Oh, well, you’d better come on up then.”

And, with that, the gates opened. She opened her mouth to say thank you, but thought better of continuing to embarrass herself by conversing with plant life. Getting back into her borrowed car, she put it in drive and headed up the hill.

It was a few minutes before she finally saw the house itself. She hadn’t even known that there were mansions that size in real life. The property appeared to have sprung from the pages of an F. Scott Fitzgerald novel. It was exactly the sort of sprawling baronial manor that she could imagine a Kennedy or a Rockefeller or a Getty owning. She was picturing summer parties on the considerable lawns with jazz bands and women in impeccable white dresses and men wearing vaguely nautical attire. She pulled around to the far side of a fountain adorned with a quartet of cherubs and parked her meagre borrowed vehicle behind a considerably more impressive silver Lexus.

She wiped her palms on the front of her shorts and wished that she had stopped at a gas station and changed into something better than her sticky travelling clothes. She felt very small-town and out of place as she looked up at the imposing house. As she approached, she noticed that the door was ajar already.

Knocking twice, she called out, “Hello?”

Pushing open the giant wooden door, she let herself into a kind of entrance vestibule, which had another door beyond. She closed the one behind her and knocked on this second door.

“It’s not locked. Come on in,” a familiar voice replied.

She stepped inside the house itself and looked around for the owner of the voice, but saw no-one. The interior was no less impressive than the exterior had been. She had never seen so much marble in one place in her life. The edges of the hallway were lined with sculptures and vases standing on plinths.

“Spencer Carlin, I presume?”

She spun around to find her favourite petite brunette leaning against a doorway to her left. Ashley’s arms were folded across her chest, her ankles were crossed and her feet were bare. Spencer felt her heart quicken and her breath catch in her throat.

“Funny,” she finally replied, unsure what else to say and unsure whether she was capable of saying anything else. She cleared her throat a couple of times. It was funny how being away from Ashley for a while made her forget what a visceral impact the brunette had on her libido and respiratory system.

“I enjoyed watching you talk to that tree,” Ashley smirked.

“That was you?”

“No, but I was in the kitchen with Maria when she was talking to you. Maria, by the way, is the one you want to get on the right side of. Old Mrs Huntingdon keeps everything here under lock-and-key, including the booze, and Maria has the special key.” She pushed herself off of the door frame and made a motion with her hand for Spencer to follow her up the staircase. “I take it you still want that long, cold shower?”

Spencer sighed. “I would love nothing more.”

“Then I’ll show you to your room. It’s conveniently next to mine if you need someone to wash your back for you.” She winked for emphasis.

It had been a while since they had been flirty with each other. It was one of the things that Spencer had missed the most during the previous months.

Ashley started up the stairs, giving a running commentary on what rooms were where and who else was going to be there for the bigger party the following day. She deposited Spencer at her room and said that everyone who was staying the night would be meeting in the drawing room at 8pm, which gave Spencer about two hours to get ready. She knew that she needed every minute of it to wipe the heat and grime away.

“If I forget to tell you later, I am really glad you’re here,” Ashley commented sincerely.

“Me, too.”

As they smiled at each other, Spencer reflected that she had missed her best friend even more than she had realised. Their short interactions thus far reminded her of when they were teenagers and there was nothing in their lives but each other. She hoped they could get back to that footing permanently.

* * *

At about 7.45pm (Spencer was never late), she walked into what she hoped was the drawing room. She wasn’t actually sure what a drawing room really was, but she had a faint notion from Agatha Christie novels that it was the sort of room where one met guests on a semi-formal basis. This room seemed to fit that bill.

She looked down at her simple summer dress and hoped again that she wouldn’t be under-dressed. Over by a set of French doors leading out to the grounds, she noticed a young man, probably about her own age, smoking a coloured cigarette in a manner that was sort of fussily elegant. With his artfully floppy blond hair, white linen pants and deep crimson polo shirt, he looked exactly like the sort of yachting set dandy that Spencer had imagined living there. He was missing a captain’s hat to complete the look, though.

“Thank God someone else is early!” he exclaimed. “Please, have a seat,” her host insisted, flicking his cigarette away and closing the French doors. He padded over to a table which held an old-fashioned telephone, the kind with a rotary dial, and picked up the receiver. Cradling it under his neck and resting his finger over the switch, he asked, “Can I get you something while we wait? White, red, champagne, something a little stronger?”

Spencer perched herself on the edge of one of the fabric couches and smiled pleasantly. “No, thank you. I’m fine.”

“Oh, don’t be polite on my account.” The man turned his back and dialled a number. “Maria?” he said. “We have a guest in the drawing room already. Could you bring Long Island Teas for two? I’ll love you forever.”

Spencer smiled to herself at the mention of the phrase ‘drawing room’.

He replaced the receiver in its cradle and walked over to the other couch, sitting down facing a bemused Spencer. The man had not bothered to introduce himself and, as a guest, Spencer did not feel as if it was her place to demand to know who he was: that would be impolite and Spencer was nothing if not well-mannered. It certainly seemed from his general manner that he either lived there or was a regular enough houseguest that he had the run of the place.

“So, bride or groom? I’m assuming bride, as we’ve never met before.” The question was both casual and open, intended as a conversational gambit and not an accusation. They were interrupted by an older woman, clearly a member of staff, entering the room with a tray of drinks. She gave a brief nod in Spencer’s direction as she set the tray down on the table between the two couches.

Straightening up, she asked the young man, “Will there be anything else, Mr Cutter?”

“Oh, my sweet, you don’t have to call me Mister just because we have people here. It’s always just Cutter when we’re alone in that special way.” The boy flashed the older woman a dazzling smile that was all teeth and sparkle. Maria, in turn, only nodded brusquely before retreating without further comment. Spencer imagined that she put up with similar comments on a regular basis. Turning back to Spencer, the young man extending his hand. “Where are my manners? I am Cutter Huntingdon, younger son and constant disappointment of the house. And you are?”

“Spencer Carlin,” she replied with a chuckle. “Friend of Kyla’s from LA.”

“Ah, Spencer. Delighted.” He shook her hand slowly, a wolfish grin at the corner of his mouth. He was good looking in a moneyed way. His features were a little too perfect, his skin a little too flawless for Spencer’s taste, but she imagined that he was considered handsome by almost anyone who saw him. From the sensual way he was shaking her hand, almost like a caress, she suspected that he used those looks to his advantage whenever possible.

“Am I interrupting something?” a voice interjected. Spencer’s head shot up and she saw Ashley standing in the doorway, hands on hips. She was smirking, but Spencer could see that the smile hadn’t reached her eyes. Cutter let Spencer’s hand go reluctantly, his other hand coming up to slide across the back of her fingers as he withdrew. The gesture was unmistakeably intimate and she tried not to blush.

“Ashley! How unlike you to be on time,” he answered smoothly, sidestepping her question. “And looking radiant, I might add.”

The brunette was, indeed, looking incredible. The dress that she had selected was deceptively simple, a long, silver sheath that hinted at what it hid without showing too much. She moved to Spencer’s side and sat down next to her. She picked up Spencer’s drink and took a mouthful. Simultaneously, she reached across and placed Cutter’s untouched glass in front of Spencer.

“Long Island Iced Tea, Cutter?” she asked mockingly. “Are you trying to get her drunk?”

“Oh, I think we both know that I’ve never had to get anyone drunk.” There was an edge to his voice and an insinuation behind the comment.

Spencer’s eyes darted between the two of them. They had obviously met before and, if she was any judge of Ashley (and she liked to think there was no-one who knew Ashley better), there was no great love lost between them. It was both intriguing and amusing. She doubted that Ashley had visited Connecticut recently without Kyla mentioning it to her, so she wondered how they knew each other and how closely. She had no immediate chance to explore the dynamic between Cutter and Ashley further, though, as Kyla rushed in, greeting Spencer as if they hadn’t seen each other in years, rather than weeks, shortly followed by the remainder of the guests for the small party.

There were about a dozen people that Spencer hadn’t met before, including Shea, Cutter’s older brother and Kyla’s fiancé. He was not exactly what Spencer had expected. For a stockbroker, he was quiet, almost introverted, but with a very arch sense of humour. She liked him instantly. Most of the others seemed like they were Shea’s friends, rather than Kyla’s, but they were all pleasant enough. The party itself was more of a cocktail party than the sort of parties that Kyla used to throw in her Manhattan apartment. There was a lot of mingling and conversation, and not so much drinking, until Cutter decided that they needed to liven proceedings up with a game of ‘three truths and a lie’.

“What are we, twelve?” Ashley muttered, low enough for just Spencer to hear. “Next, we’ll be playing Spin the Bottle.”

“All right,” Cutter started. waving his drink above his head as a way of capturing everyone’s attention. “I’ll go first, seeing as you’re not all rushing forward. I’ve been arrested for lewd behaviour with a woman. I have been arrested for lewd behaviour with a man. I have slept with three people in this house.” Spencer couldn’t stop herself from staring at the back of Ashley’s head and wondering if she was among the three. “I will have slept with four people in this house by the end of the weekend.” There was much muttering and staring among the gathered throng as people tried to work out who the three people might be.

“Are you sure it’s three truths and a lie and not three lies and a truth?” someone called out. It was met with a smattering of laughter.

“Who’s the latest target?” someone else asked.

“If I tell you that, you might turn that one into a second lie,” Cutter retorted. Ashley looked over her shoulder at Spencer and gave her a pointed look.

“What?”

“I bet he means you,” the brunette accused.

“He’s hardly my type.”

“So, you wouldn’t?”

Spencer snorted, her attention still mostly on Cutter, who was fending off questions about the identity of his secret lovers. “No matter what my grandma hopes, I promise you this is not a phase.”

“Girls?” It was asked in such a quiet voice that Spencer didn’t have to look at the brunette to know that there was a second, hidden, more specific question there.

“Sure,” she answered equally as softly, allowing Ashley to infer whatever she wanted from it.

The brunette nodded and the corner of her mouth curled up in a tiny smile. “It’s not me, you know.”

“What’s not you?”

“I’m not one of the three.”

“I never -” She was cut off by Ashley giving her a disbelieving look. There was no point in trying to deny it. “So, how d’you know him?”

“He was in LA for a while, playing polo. Kyla told him I’d be happy to put him up for a few days. She was wrong.”

“He plays polo for a living?”

“No, he lives off Mommy and Daddy for a living. He plays polo as a way of meeting rich, older, deluded women who can help when Mommy and Daddy’s money runs out.” Her voice was dripping with contempt.

Light dawned on Spencer. “Noooo!” she exclaimed, pulling Ashley away from the group and off to the side. “Christine?” she hissed. Ashley nodded and shot another look of hatred in Cutter’s direction. “That is gross. Does Kyla know?”

“No. There seemed no point telling her. I mean, the bitch isn’t her mother, after all. And she doesn’t need to know that her brother-in-law is a scumbag who sleeps with geriatric skanks.”

They both looked towards Cutter, who was still holding court, regaling the company with his tale of being arrested for lewdness with one of his prep school buddies because of a bet that they wouldn’t streak across the field of a local high school during a big game. He apparently wouldn’t be drawn on who the three people he had slept with were, though.

“So, you’re not his biggest fan, then?”

“No matter how loathsome Christine can be, she still doesn’t deserve to be treated like shit by a gold-digging dick like Cutter.” Ashley paused and grinned. “After all, that’s my job.”

Spencer nudged her playfully with her shoulder. “You must be softening in your old age if you’re defending your mother’s honour.”

“Old age? I’m just a child.”

Spencer chuckled. “Twenty-five is not a child, no matter how much you act like one.”

“Oh, that’s rich! First, I’m ancient. Now, I’m childish?”

“No, you’re just Ashley.”

Ashley’s voice dropped to barely a whisper. “And is that a bad thing?”

“That’s never been a bad thing.”

“Never?”

Ashley was fishing, just as she always had. Spencer shook her head. “No, never.”

They smiled. And the way they smiled at each other made Spencer hope that they were on the same page. In the good way.

All it had taken was hearing Ashley’s voice in the sweltering heat of her borrowed car and Spencer had known that she would never really get over Ashley. Seeing Ashley waiting for her in the Huntingdon’s hallway had confirmed that she didn’t even really want to try. She had lost her heart as a teenager before she had even realised it was happening and it would always be Ashley’s.

“Ash! Ash! Come on, you next.” Kyla had walked over to join them and linked her arm through her sister’s.

“No,” Ashley scowled, obviously frustrated at being interrupted. She wrestled her arm free of Kyla’s and folded both of them across her chest in a classic pose of defiance and irritation.

“How about you, Spencer?”

The blonde shook her head. “You should go next, Ky. It’s your party, after all.”

“I don’t have any secrets,” Kyla scoffed.

“And I do?” her sister asked. Kyla gave her a knowing look and Spencer nodded at her. “Hey, that’s not fair! I’m like an open book.”

“An open dirty book,” Kyla shot back.

“You’re a laugh riot. Remind me why I even tolerate you?”

“Because you only have one sister and you love me.”

“Not right now, I don’t.” She turned to Spencer. “And I notice that you’re not exactly leaping to my defence.”

“You’re a big girl. You can look after yourself,” Spencer answered with a wry smile.

“Really? You think?” Ashley gave her a very strange look which she found particularly hard to read.

“All right, all right, all right!” Shea’s voice rang out across the room. “I give! Okay, um, three truths and a lie, huh?”

“Looks like my future husband has taken the pressure off of you,” Kyla noted, lifting her champagne flute in salute to her fiancé and smiling at him in a way that easily betrayed how deeply in love with him she was.

“I wasn’t ever going to play Cutter’s stupid little game anyway.”

“Mmm.” Kyla sauntered back towards the people surrounding Shea.

“He seems like a good man. Shea, I mean,” Spencer commented, for lack of anything else to say.

“Yeah. He’s kind and he takes good care of her. That’s the most important thing.”

Spencer looked at Ashley with interest. “You think?”

“Yeah, I really do.” She shook her head and laughed with embarrassment, as if she realised that it was a very un-Ashley thing to say. “Maybe you’re right. Maybe I am getting old.”

Spencer sipped thoughtfully at her drink. “So, what would you have said?”

“About what?”

“Your three truths and a lie.”

“Oh, no.” Ashley shook her head. “You first.”

“Oh, I think you know all my truths and my lies.” She didn’t look at Ashley. She kept her focus on the raucous group of people across the room.

“I’m pretty sure you know mine, too.” Their voices had dropped again, regaining the easy intimacy they had just started to enjoy when Kyla interrupted them.

“No, I really don’t think I do.” She glanced sideways and saw Ashley’s eyes widen a little.

“Are you sure?”

Spencer gave a shrug. “How can I be sure if I know what you think I know until you tell me what it is you think I already know?”

“I don’t even know if I know what that question means,” Ashley joked.

“Then tell me your three truths and a lie and I’ll let you know what I know.”

“Or, you could tell me what you think my three truths are.”

“If you don’t want to play, you don’t have to.” They were moving subtly to face each other, turning slowly in a dance that they each knew so well. “We can always let it drop.”

“Or, we could trade.”

“Trade?” Spencer tried to appear calm, but her pulse was racing. She could see the challenge in Ashley’s eyes, but she still wasn’t completely convinced that the conversation was going where she thought it might be.

“Trade a truth for a truth. No lies.”

“Interesting.”

“Mmm, isn’t it?” Ashley was definitely flirting. Spencer had seen it too many times to mistake the signs.

“It could be.”

“Okay, so on you go.”

“Why should I go first?”

“I already told you a truth.”

“When was this, exactly?”

“I told you about Cutter and Christine.”

“That’s cheating. That wasn’t about you.”

“Yes, it was. It was part of me telling you that I didn’t sleep with Cutter.”

Spencer grinned. “Okay. In that case, I didn’t sleep with Cutter, either.”

Ashley threw back her head and laughed. “Nicely played. Very nicely done indeed.”

“Thank you. Your turn.”

“Um, okay, but I sense we need some ground rules. This isn’t a game of ‘I never’, so no more negative admissions, otherwise we could spend a very long time discussing all the things we haven’t done.”

“Agreed, but I think you’re just stalling,” she teased.

“Of course I’m stalling.” Ashley took a few deep breaths. She bounced on her heels and shook her arms out.

“Stalling,” Spencer chided once more.

“Uh-huh. This is harder than I thought it would be.”

“The truth always is.”

“Okay, okay. I can so do this.” She nodded to herself in affirmation.

“Try starting with something easy.”

“Um, okay, so I, um, lied earlier when I said that Paige seemed nice. I hated her with a passion. Because I was jealous.”

“Yeah, I know.”

“You think?” Ashley challenged.

“You weren’t exactly subtle with any of my friends.”

“That’s different. I mean I was jealous jealous. Of Paige. Of Paige being your -”

“Ladies,” Cutter interjected, slipping his arm around Spencer’s shoulder while ignoring Ashley’s hateful stare and her muttered cursing at his appearance.

“Don’t you have any rich widows to play with?”

He clutched his free hand over his heart. “Oh, I am so wounded, Sister Dearest.”

“Never, ever call me that again,” Ashley spat, but Cutter merely laughed imperiously at her and turned his attention to Spencer.

“We never did get a chance to talk properly, Spencer, did we?” He used the arm around her shoulder to start steering her in the direction of the couches they’d been sitting on much earlier. “And I am deeply interested in hearing everything about you.”

Spencer gave Ashley a grimace of apology over her shoulder and could hear her friend muttering ‘Fucker’ under her breath as she was led away.

* * * * *

Next up: Part 4, Truth or Dare [U]

13 Comments

  1. Posted 27 July 2011 at 7.36pm | Permalink

    I think the grin on my face during most of the chapter, gives testimony of how much I loved this.
    I love their flirtyness… More please.

  2. Sasha
    Posted 27 July 2011 at 8.59pm | Permalink

    I love this story. Thanks for keeping it going.

  3. Posted 27 July 2011 at 10.04pm | Permalink

    Where the hell is spencer going? if you’re in love with someone for years and your hear ‘jealous jealous’ come out of there mouth. im fairly sure you would be all ears.

  4. lol
    Posted 28 July 2011 at 11.35am | Permalink

    You’re back *claps hands and cheers*

    Now for my angry rants at Cutter to begin…
    @&^&$**&£@^%$^!%$%£!@*$*^^(%&)%…
    He has a detestful name too, tsk.
    Sorry I tend to get really carried away when I read fics.

    The interaction between Spencer and Ashley was really sweet and I can’t wait for it to develop further!

    Thanks for updating!
    Update soon~

  5. cosmic
    Posted 28 July 2011 at 8.33pm | Permalink

    Cutter! really.. what a name. LOL

    Glad your back and glad that this fic didn’t sorta end in the last installment. Thank you

  6. ClomOnTheRun
    Posted 29 July 2011 at 7.13am | Permalink

    Best. Friday. Present. Ever.

    Awesome in a bucket, is all I can say. And I giggled at the drawing room comment :)

  7. tee452
    Posted 30 July 2011 at 3.36am | Permalink

    Love this one, Dev. Ashley is irresistible and Spencer is devine, as always. Cutter will get his comeuppance.

    We have a Cutter who is…connected to my work, if you get me? He’s Such N. Such II, but he’s not a Junior so his nickname is Cutter. I think Skip is used the same way. Those crazy rich folks. Anyway, seems appropriate for your peeps in this story.

    Thanks for writing.

  8. Dev on the iPhone
    Posted 30 July 2011 at 12.02pm | Permalink

    I get what you’re getting at. I actually knew a guy, a friend of a friend’s fiancé – similar thing, younger son of an East Coast banking family – and he was called Cutter. So, I appropriated it. RealLifeCutter was a really nice guy, though.

  9. yeahbutno
    Posted 31 July 2011 at 1.50pm | Permalink

    O_o I so wish you had someone called Bunnie in there, in my head all matriach’s of those types of family are all called Bunnie, and not with a “y”

    Ashley needs to give Cutter a good *stoat* to the ballsack. Or more likely, a verbal put-down from Spencer.

    *hugs* Ashley, that low self esteem needs to be shagged out of you, huh, by someobody that loves you for who you are.

    So, step up to the plate Spence and make sure you set the ground rules. We don’t want any crap from Ashley.

    Ta, Dev

  10. Stacey
    Posted 3 October 2011 at 2.43pm | Permalink

    Please.. O please post on this one.. It was really starting to get good!!

  11. dev0347
    Posted 3 October 2011 at 2.52pm | Permalink

    I’m working on it. Honest.

  12. waki
    Posted 4 October 2011 at 11.54pm | Permalink

    My favourite among favourites so far.

  13. Maxine Lynne
    Posted 16 November 2011 at 5.51pm | Permalink

    My first read more please. I wont sleep soundly until Spencer and Ashley consummate their friendship.

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