Status: Finished.

More Than Just Baser Instincts.

Just this Once

“That must be quite the revelation! When was your last relationship?” Anne asked, placing a steaming cup of coffee in front of me as we sat in front room of the inn.

I thanked her quietly and sipped delicately at the hot beverage. “It was a week ago, actually. He wanted to get married, and he was a sweetheart... But he just wasn't the one.”

Funny, a week ago I hadn't even thought there was a "one."

“Wait... A week ago?” She raised an eyebrow. “Seems a bit soon, huh?”

“I suppose a rebound is in order,” I admitted, shrugging. “Any hunky bachelors around here? Some eye candy?”

“A rebound,” she repeated incredulously, shaking her head. “To be young and insane.”

“I am older than you, Anne!”

She laughed louder this time, reaching over the table to pat my shoulder.

“Good luck with your rebound hunk, Elaine. I hope you get this craziness out of your system; maybe then you'll find a nice local with whom you can settle down, and then you can move here regardless of the job!” She blushed suddenly, coughing on her coffee. “I'm not usually this transparent, I promise. It's just... I really like having you around. It adds spice to this place.”

Anne went on to tell me that there was a bar a few blocks over, and if I was truly looking for a one-time thing, that was the place to look. She even loaned me a dress from her “days of young.” Unfortunately, she had to return home and watch over Cameron, so she could not take me for another tour of the town today. She did tell me one last thing, however: she had called her friend and asked if we could all meet at a local shop to talk over tea. The date was set, and tomorrow at three o'clock I would meet an important contact whom I hoped would help me win over the board.

I found myself staring at my web page for hours, my nerves on end at the fact that there had still been no more information about the job here. My hands gripped my hair, ready to tear it right from my head. That settled it for me: this stress had to go.

So, at ten, I threw on Anne's dress and moved to look in the mirror as I tugged at the material that clung to me like a second skin.

The dress was teal, which helped to downplay my white skin and hair. Unfortunately, the dress wasn't a miracle-worker and couldn't make my silver eyes look less striking; those damnable eyes were almost like a permanent brand (then again, I was told my mother had these same eyes, as did my father). Unlike Anne, I actually had hips, so the dress hugged my body and accentuated my curves more than anything I had ever owned. I usually went for empire-waist dresses to downplay my shape. It wasn't that I was out-of-shape or portly; call me crazy, but I had just always preferred the straight shape to the hourglass one I actually had.

I played with my curls absently for a moment, flipping it about my shoulders to see which style would frame my heart-shaped face better. Then my finger tapped my somewhat crooked nose, which had never been correctly set after a childhood incident (i.e. taking a baseball to the face and, as a result, deciding baseball just wasn't my "thing"). Of course, there were also the freckles that covered my cheeks and nose. I had tried tanning to hide them, but my skin just refused to be anything less than white.

Convinced that this was as good as it would get, I hurried out the door. Mr. Burgess raised an eyebrow at me before determining that this was his daughter's handiwork and asked me to just be “smart” tonight. It made me remember all the days I spent as a child wishing I had a father to worry over me like that.

I pushed the nostalgia from my thoughts and started on the path that had been recited to me by Anne as she bid me farewell this morning. It took me through a few alleys and past a few shops (that had tempted me to do some impromptu window shopping), but I eventually found The Lion's Tavern.

With a chuckle, I thought that the only way the name could be any more corny would be if it was "The Lion's Den."

Unfortunately for me, all eyes turned to me the second I had stepped foot inside the bar. All of those people did double-takes, and all the smiles in the world couldn't have dismissed them. It was probably the eyes. Or the hair. A sigh wracked through my body as I hurried to the counter to ask for something to make this horrible spotlight-feeling disappear.

My eyes scanned the room, but I avoided making any eye-contact with anyone. They all looked like really sweet guys, not men who should be rotting with alcohol.

“This is something my mother told me I'd never live to see.”

His voice reminded me of molasses, not sugar and honey like everyone else here. Good sign.

I whipped my head to the left and stared at the man sitting beside me, questioning me with every part of his olive gaze. His lips held a jovial smile, one that made me think twice about if he was a man that belonged here. But then my eyes traveled across him, taking in every inch of his face and body. Those olive eyes twinkled with a mischievous glint, and that smile of his was actually a haughty smirk. His shirt clung to his form, suggesting that this otherwise lean-looking man was actually quite muscular in his own right and possessed broad shoulders. The strawberry-blond hair on his head was obviously spiked with hair-gel. His skin was darker, like Anne and everyone else here, and his face was surely chiseled from a rock. My eyes lingered on his strong jawline before moving back up to his eyes.

“What's that?” I asked, swirling the glass of wine before me.

“That hair. Those eyes. You're from the Northern Sector, aren't you?” I groaned. “What are you doing all the way down here?”

“I'm not from Oregon, okay? Everyone keeps saying that. Look, my whole life has been spent in Illinois up until now, and this is the first step I've ever taken onto this soil, get it? Never have I ever been to northern Oregon.”

“Your parents must be, then. Who are your parents?”

“Christine,” I told him through clenched teeth, annoyed, “and I don't know my father. Why are you asking me about my parents? That isn't what I came here for, you...”

“Quince,” he offered, holding out a large, tan hand. I took it reluctantly. “Quince Baum, just another local, I guess.”

“Elaine Porter,” I muttered, hardly sure that I wanted him to know my name. “There seems to be a lot of 'just more locals' around here.”

“Everyone except you.”

I smiled uneasily. “It would seem that way.”

“Honestly, what are you doing here? You're going to turn heads all over this town, Elaine. Why do this to yourself? Go home.”

I stood quickly, shaking my head at this stupid man. That rebound would have to wait.

“Oh, did I hit a nerve?”

“Shut your mouth, pretty boy,” I hissed, heading back the way I had come.

“I guess that means you're bent on proving me wrong, huh?”

I whirled around quickly, glowering at Lord Quince. He just wouldn't quit! I jabbed my finger into his chest, and he stumbled backward only one step before he backed into the wall.

“My existence is not for you,” I growled, getting in his face while he was trapped. “And I certainly won't be thinking about you for even a second.”

“Kitty's got claws,” he teased, snatching my hand out of the air. “But pointing isn't nice, Elaine.”

“Like I care!”

I cried out when he managed to twirl us around using my one arm as leverage, and my back collided with the wall hard enough to make me wince. Quince slammed my hand to the brick, our fingers now tangled together.

“You should be a good girl, but I already know that's not what you are,” he breathed, his face only inches from mine as I glowered at him. “I know why you came here, what you want. I am, if nothing else, someone who likes to give the ladies what they want. Go ahead, tell me I'm wrong about you.”

“It certainly wasn't going to be with you,” I spat, bringing up my other hand to slap him across the face.

Then that cheeky bastard laughed at me!

“What is so damn funny!”

He just kept laughing, releasing my arm and removing himself from me entirely as he turned his back to me. His shoulders were still shaking with his laughter, only adding to my humiliation.

“I asked what it is that you find so hilarious!” I demanded, grabbing his shoulder and whirling him around. “Why is my slapping you amusing?”

“Oh, little princess, your slap is amusing because it was so weak! I expected more from you!”

Then he turned from me again and just started walking away, a bounce in his step and his hands stuffed into the pockets of his jeans. I muttered unflattering comments under my breath before running after him. I tried to get him to stop, to look at me so I could berate him, but he ignored me as if I wasn't even there! He strolled onward, so proud of himself no matter if I grabbed his arm or if I tried to step in front of him.

“Damn it, just look at me!”

He stopped suddenly, turning around after five minutes of tricking himself into believing he was alone.

Then Quince stepped closer to me, staring down at me from his immense height. His head cocked slightly to the side, and he leaned down so his face was right in front of mine.

“I'd love to,” he breathed, a seductive smile forming on his lips.

“You...” I shook my head. “You can't do that! We were fighting!”

“But I've no need to fight with you anymore.”

“What the hell does that even mean?”

His palm suddenly caressed my cheek, and his soft laughter filled my ears. “It means that I got you back to my place.”

How had I not noticed when the public buildings faded and residences overtook the sidewalk?

“Hardly,” I growled, smacking his hand away. “Goodnight, Quince.”

I turned quickly, grumbling to myself as I walked back down the sidewalk. So much for relaxation; I was more strung-up than I had ever been!

But he caught my wrist and twirled me around. I all but fell, but that loon caught me in his arms and my chin in between his thumb and finger.

“I'm not ready to hear you say that yet,” he whispered, his eyes flickering to my lips.

“Oh, hell no—"

But then his lips crashed to mine. My eyes shot into perfect circles. Unbelievable! I brought my hands to his chest, pushing against him furiously. How dare he? No! That was not okay! But... But then his arms pulled me closer to him, and his lips began moving fluidly against mine. My heart pounded against my chest, and my fists uncurled; instead of pushing him, my arms reached around his neck to pull him closer as one hand continued upward to twist itself in his strawberry-blond locks of pure silk. He smiled into the kiss; but before I could protest his amusement, his tongue plunged past my lips and effectively scrambled my thoughts again.

He tore himself from me suddenly, though he had somehow captured my hand. I gawked at him, my head absolutely blank, and followed him silently as he led me up the sidewalk and down the hall of his cabin.

The second his bedroom door came into view, he pushed me to the wall and attacked me with feverish kisses that nearly gave me a heart attack! He only broke his lips from my skin to remove the shirt at which I had been tugging. My eyes fell to the sculpted artwork, ogling him for as long as I could before he moved back to me and continued the dance that our tongues had started.

I heard a door swing open, smashing into the wall, but Quince guided me inside without breaking the kiss for even one second. When he finally did break it, however, he pressed his forehead against mine and stared into my eyes with enough intensity to make my face burn bright red.

“This is what you were after?” he whispered, pressing a soft kiss to my lips that lasted only a second.

I sat upright, pushing on his chest to get him to move back and allow me to finish the motion.

“You,” I told him, gripping the zipper of my dress, “are just a one-night-stand, okay, Quince? My revolting rebound. We'll never see each other again.”

He leaned down and caught my hand, whispering into my ear, “Whatever you say, Elaine.”

Then he pulled my hand and the zipper down, that stupid smirk on his face.

“This is going to be the best rebound you'll ever have,” he breathed, peppering kisses from my jaw to my bellybutton while his hands gingerly trailed to my knees. A shiver ran up my spine, taking hold of my hands and burying them in his delightfully soft hair. “And the best you'll ever have, period. Any man after me will be nothing to you.”

It sounded almost like a direct order, not an ego-filled observation.

“We'll see about that,” I muttered, glancing down to his jeans. “Lose those pants, Romeo.”
♠ ♠ ♠
Disclaimer!!!: I do not encourage/condone/approve of one-night stands! We're not bunnies, so let's not multiply like them! /liabilityrant

Aaaaand update-palooza ends for the night. Hopefully things are starting to pick up by now, and, as always, thanks for reading!