• Sheila & Swede

The Hills Have Lies - Ep. 14


The Hills Have Lies © 2018 Lili Grouse

“What on earth happened to you?” Lauren gasps when Cole and I find her on the dance floor at Flashdance – hands unlinked and dripping wet.


“Sudden thunderstorm as we were walking over here,” I say by way of explanation. It’s mostly true, after all. No need to mention that we were swapping spit on the boardwalk when the sky opened.


“When it rains, it pours,” Cole says with a casual shrug. “I’m gonna go get a drink.”


“Mm-hm,” Lauren nods at Cole and then, the second he’s walked away, she grabs my hand, dragging me behind her over to the ladies’ room.


“What are you doing?” I gasp as she drags me into one of the stalls, cutting in line. She locks the door, rolls off a wad of toilet paper and shoves it at me.


“Wipe your face.” She digs through her clutch for something. It’s not that big, so it really shouldn’t require much digging around. She comes up with three tiny tubes – mascara, concealer and lip-gloss.


“Do we need to be crammed in a stall for this?” I question, but she ignores me.


“You look like you’ve just hooked up in a shower. Do you really want the others to see you right now?” Lauren raises her perfectly sculpted eyebrows in a ‘I dare you to question me’ look while she gets to work with the mascara and concealer. “There’s not much to do about these swollen lips, so we’ll just put on a lot of gloss and say you used a plumper,” she frowns, studying me before she continues, “and maybe had an allergic reaction.”


Just when I think she’s finished, she shrugs out of her short, black leather jacket and hands it over. “Just so you don’t look like you’ve just been in a wet T-shirt contest,” she explains when I hesitate to take it from her. I look down and realize she’s right. You can clearly see the outline of my bra under the white tank, and a pair of really perky nips. Just swell.


“Lauren-“


“I’m just looking out for you. You know that, right?” Lauren says, dropping the angrily efficient look she’s been wearing since she first grabbed my hand.


“I do.”


“Okay. Good. Let’s go dance,” she smiles and unlocks the door. We get a number of looks from the other girls in the bathroom, waiting in line, but they don’t seem to bother Lauren one bit.


“What is it with girls and bathrooms?” Derek asks as we run into him and Tom just outside the restrooms.


“Looks to me like you boys like to go in pairs, too,” Lauren remarks and plants a quick kiss on Tom’s lips.


“Just a coincidence,” Tom says when Lauren steps back.


“Sure, sure,” Lauren mocks him. “Come on, Han, let’s go dance like girls do,” she winks at me and makes for the dance floor.


“I have no idea what that means,” I say to Derek, cringing.


“Hey, save one for me, okay?” he says as I walk away. I turn mid-step and give him a thumbs-up, which makes him grin.

“Where did you learn those moves?” I ask Derek, laughing as we practically stumble across the threshold.


“Dance camp.”


“You did not go to dance camp,” I sputter with laughter. Okay, so I might have had a drink or two tonight, but I can still think clearly. I’m just… not so inhibited.


“Did too,” Derek insists, tripping over himself to get his shoes off and landing butt first on the couch. “When I was three,” he continues, holding up four fingers.


“Okay, okay, I believe you,” I laugh and head to the bathroom to get ready for bed.


As I remove my makeup and wash my face, I think about how Cole made sure to avoid any contact whatsoever with me once Lauren and I returned to the dance floor. I can’t pretend it didn’t hurt seeing him dancing with Crystal, Lauren and even Sally when he wouldn’t so much as brush past me.


With Cole avoiding me all night, it was easier to just dance with Derek, even if that might look bad. I just don’t feel anything when I’m with Derek, nothing but friendship, and I think we’re on the same page. As much as he jokes around and flirts, there’s no real spark between us, and we both know it. Maybe that’s why his remarks never make me uncomfortable – I just don’t take him seriously.


When I leave the bathroom, Derek is sprawled on the couch, snoring loudly. I shrug and climb into bed. I’m not making up the pull-out bed for him and I’m definitely not getting him out of his jeans. There are limits to our friendship, after all.


After several minutes of tossing and turning, I give up and get back up. I check the closet and, as I suspected, there’s an extra blanket in there. I spread it over Derek’s sleeping form and then I crawl back into bed. I’ve almost dozed off when my phone lights up and I quickly grab it off the nightstand so the artificial light won’t wake Derek. New text. From Cole.


U up?


Seriously? He couldn’t do any better than that? Against my better judgment, I reply.


In bed


U went home w D


Wow. Is this Cole Parker drunk texting? I’m so not impressed. Too tired to enjoy the blatant jealousy he’s exposing. I’m also feeling pretty cranky, which means I should probably just turn off my phone for the night. Or maybe it’s exactly the right time to be texting Cole. He can’t kiss me, then ignore me, then text me in the middle of the night. He’s being a jerk, and I don’t deserve that.


Why shouldn’t I? At least he acts like I exist


His reply is swift. Don’t


My body hears his plea and my core tightens in response. I could end it right here – I could lie to him and make him think I slept with Derek, or at least say I’m planning to. Instead, I put my phone away, upside down on the nightstand so I can’t see it light up with his texts. For good measure, I turn over so I’m facing away from the phone, but now I’m wide awake. I’m hyper-aware of my surroundings – the hum from the air conditioner, Derek’s snores, water rushing through the pipes as someone flushes the toilet. And the knock on the door.


My heart starts to pound as loudly as anything else. Who would be knocking on my door in the middle of the night when it’s just us on this estate, and I’m pretty sure they lock the main entrance at night so only those staying at the inn can get in.


It’s Cole, a voice in my head whispers. Or is it coming from some other part of my body?

Either way, when there’s another knock on the door, I climb out of bed and tiptoe over to the window so I can see outside.


Cole.


His hair is mussed, and he looks as if he’s swaying on his feet. I shouldn’t open the door to him. But I don’t want him to wake everyone else up, either. Carefully, I unlock the door and open it a crack to peer outside.


“You didn’t answer my text. I got worried,” he says, his voice slightly slurred and gruff.


“Shh,” I hiss and put my finger to my lips. “You’ll wake everyone.”


As if on cue, Derek gives a loud snort and I flinch.


“Let me in, Miller,” Cole says, leaning against the doorframe.


“No,” I whisper. “You’re drunk.”


“No, I’m just… I can’t sleep. I keep thinking about kissing you… how good that felt. How right.”


“Go back to bed, Cole.” I’ve had my share of drinks tonight, too, which might explain why I’m turning him away. I’m annoyed that he ignored me all night after our kiss, and I’m too tired to be polite about it.


“Just… give me a chance to explain,” he pleads.


I’m about to tell him to save it for morning, but then Derek abruptly starts snoring, and I freeze. Cole takes the opportunity to pull me outside.


“What are you doing? It’s freezing,” I object as quietly as I can.


Cole shrugs out of his jacket and wraps it around me. “Come on,” he says, tugging on my hand in the direction of Reception.


“Cole, I can’t-“


“Shh,” he whispers, “don’t wake the others.”


It’s a cheap shot, but he’s right. We’ll have an interrogation on our hands if anyone wakes up and hears us sneaking around outside.


Reception is softly lit and unmanned, and Cole leads me over to the seating area, where there are blankets and pillows to curl up with on the couch or in the armchairs. I grab one of each and tuck myself into one corner of the couch. Cole claims the other end of the couch after making himself a cup of coffee.


“I’m sorry,” he says after a few minutes of studying me. “I acted like a brute earlier, and again just now.”


“You’re drunk,” I mutter.


“Not that drunk. And even if I was, that wouldn’t be an excuse for bad behavior. I tried to keep my distance at the club because I worried everyone would be able to tell how much I wanted you, but I was constantly aware of you. Seeing you dance with Derek…” he runs a hand through his already mussed hair and sighs, “I got jealous. And combined with alcohol, that didn’t go over too well.”


“What would happen if the others saw us together?” I ask after a while, having thought about it more rationally. “I mean, what does it matter if our co-stars know you’re not really dating Crystal?”


“I’m not worried about our co-stars, I’m worried about you,” he says, reaching over to cover my bare foot with his hand.


I pull my foot away. “What do you mean?”


“Well, for one, Crystal won’t be happy, and she’ll make sure you know it. And if any of the crew members pick up on what’s going on, it might leak to the press and those mean tweets you’ve gotten thus far will be nothing in comparison to what will come your way. I’ve seen it happen before. Besides, I won’t help your reputation any,” he adds with a sad, wry smile.


My heart pinches and I reach out to cover his hand with mine. “You’re a good guy, Cole. I’ve seen it. If you let your fans see it, too-“


He shakes his head and intertwines his fingers with mine. “I’m the Hollywood Bad Boy, Han. That’ll keep me working for years to come. The real stuff… I want to save that for someone real.”


“So, what, you’re just going to keep faking relationships and having random hookups until you retire?” I ask, devoid of anger. I just want to understand him, but it all sounds so sad.


“If that’s what it takes.”


I start to pull away again, but he tightens his hold on my hand.


“Minus the hookups. It’s been a long time since I did that sort of thing.”


I swallow upon seeing the intensity in his eyes. “It has?”


Darn it, why do I sound so breathless and hopeful? It’s not like it’s because of me, or anything. He’s been busy with the show, and with pretending to be seeing Crystal.


He strokes my pulse point with the pad of his thumb and my gaze drops to my hand in his.


“I like you, Hannah. I like you a lot,” he says softly, pensively. “And I really liked kissing you.”


My heart is doing some kind of pitter-patter dance and I can’t think of what to say to him. I’ve already exposed that I have feelings for him, and that I’m attracted to him.


“I liked kissing you, too,” I say, matching his soft tone.


I slowly raise my head to look at him and he leans in until there’s only a few inches between us. “I’d like to kiss you again,” he says, and I feel the air stir between us.


“I think,” I say, pausing just for a moment to gather my wits. “I think I’d like that, too.”



To be continued...

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