By Courtney Cole
Copyright © 2011 Courtney Cole
All rights reserved.
Princess is a work of fiction, created entirely through the imagination of Courtney Cole. Any resemblance to any living person is strictly coincidental. This is an original work. Any copying without express written permission by the author herself is prohibited.
“You want me to wear what?”
Sydney’s slender fingers, which had been lightly twirling her dark blonde hair, abruptly stopped moving as her mouth gaped open. Late afternoon sunlight poured in through the floor-to-ceiling windows, illuminating her delicate features and shining into her eyes, but she ignored it. She was focused on the outrageous request that she had just heard from her boyfriend’s lips.
On the other end of the cell phone, Christian repeated himself even though he knew perfectly well that Sydney had heard him the first time. His voice was as velvety-smooth and assured as ever, a perfect reflection of the confident man behind it. It had never entered his mind that she might say no… because she never had.
“I want you to come over wearing only your coat. Come completely naked underneath.”
Sydney snapped her mouth closed and then closed her eyes for good measure, too.
“You’ve got to be kidding. My mother is home…” Her voice trailed off uncertainly as she absently twisted a sapphire ring round and round on her finger.
“Do I detect a note of fear in your voice, Syd? I know that can’t be right. The Sydney Ross that I know and love isn’t afraid of anything.”
She was completely aware that Christian was goading her because he knew that more than anything, she hated to be thought of as scared. She hated it even more than a week long juice fast. She had never turned down a dare and she was slightly annoyed that Christian was exploiting that weakness. That said, she still couldn’t ignore it. It wasn’t in her nature.
“I’m not afraid,” she insisted. “But May isn’t exactly long coat weather. Someone’s going to notice. Why don’t you come over here wearing only your football pads? That would be more entertaining…at least for me.”
She smiled and let herself relax, sinking into the softness of her damask chaise lounge. Laughing things off almost always worked when she didn’t want to do something. It wasn’t effective today, however. Christian was stubbornly persistent.
“Syd, I miss you. I haven’t seen you in days. Your mom is home. Mine’s not. I just want some alone time. After we leave for college, we’re not going to be able to see each much. And that’s only a few months away. It’s rainy out so just wear a rain coat.”
And that was it. Her heart melted into a pool around her toes. Christian was charming even when he begged. How could she say no? She couldn’t fault him for wanting to spend time with her. He was right. Pretty soon they would be going to separate colleges. And it always got her when Christian, the strong, self-assured guy that he was, got sentimental and told her how much he needed her.
“I want to see you, too,” she murmured softly, relenting. “I’ll be there in twenty.”
Tossing down her phone, she gazed around her bedroom. Designer clothing was draped over every piece of furniture. She wasn’t concerned. Their housekeeper, Stella, was deep-cleaning today and would hit her room at some point. And it wasn’t as though she needed to find something to wear. Instead, she began taking her clothing off, laying each item piece-by-piece on the plush white sofa in her sitting area until she stood naked in the center of the room.
She knew she didn’t have anything to be embarrassed of. Long, lean legs. Flat tummy. Golden-hued skin. Warm brownish-hazel eyes, sandy blonde hair, a light smattering of freckles on the nose that she inherited from her mother. She gave a long sigh. She would do. Although she did wish that her boobs were bigger. A healthy C cup instead of the small B that she currently sported would be nice.
With another sigh of resignation, she continued her nude jaunt into her walk-in closet to sift through the winter section. Her closet was the size of a normal person’s entire bedroom, crammed full with racks of expensive clothing and stacks of shoes, so finding the longest feasible coat took a few minutes. But she needed to find one that wouldn’t stand out in May. Obviously, she couldn’t wear an ankle-length parka, even though she wanted to.
She finally selected a mid-thigh length Burberry plaid rain coat, pulling it out and holding it up against her to judge its length. It was appropriate for the weather and was long enough to cover her naked butt. Good Lord. She couldn’t believe she was going to do this. But hell would have to freeze over before she backed down. She cinched the belt at her narrow waist and didn’t even glance behind her at the mirror again as she stuck her feet into a pair of heels, grabbed her purse and left the room.
As she descended the winding grand staircase, there wasn’t a sound, other than the low hum of the vacuum from a distant location in the house. She knew it was Stella. Her mother would rather die than do housework. As she neared the bottom step, she felt a brief moment of dizziness and chided herself silently. There was no reason to get worked up. She could totally do this. She paused to take a deep breath and the dizzy spell passed.
“Mom?” she called as she reached the bottom stair and stepped down onto the wide marble floor of the foyer. Her heels clacked loudly as she walked across the glossy stone.
No answer. Maybe she would luck out and her mother wouldn’t be home. Then she could just leave a note and her mother wouldn’t examine her appearance with the hawk-like eyes that missed nothing. Wearing only a coat was not the behavior of a senator’s daughter. Just as the thought crossed her mind, a draft suddenly blew up her coat and she shivered as the cool air brushed her naked flesh. She felt infinitely naughty. She had to admit… she liked the feeling. It definitely spiced up her day.
The smell of freshly baked cookies led her to the kitchen. She walked in just in time to find their black haired cook, Ben, pulling a tray of white chocolate macadamia cookies from the oven. His black hair, in combination with his ice blue eyes, made most people do a double-take when they saw him for the first time.
“Miss Ross, you’re just in time. Better get one while they’re hot!”
Ben beamed his ever-present cheerful grin at her and motioned to a rack of her favorite cookies cooling on the massive granite expanse of counter space. She smiled back at him and grabbed one as she walked by, burning her finger tips and once again feeling a brief wave of nausea and dizziness. She shook her head in annoyance. Sydney Ross didn’t get scared. She was being silly. “Thanks, Ben!” she called over her shoulder as she continued on through the library. She could hear him humming as she walked away and smiled to herself. She had never met someone so perpetually happy.
As she passed the sparkling glass wall of windows that framed their courtyard, she spotted her mother lounging on the stone-tiled veranda, holding an iced lemon tea in her hand and laughing wildly at something her new tennis instructor had apparently said. Sydney nibbled on her cookie as she observed them for a minute.
The guy couldn’t be more than twenty years old and was hanging over Jillian Ross’ shoulder, murmuring softly into her ear and rubbing her arms lightly as he spoke. Sydney rolled her eyes in disgust. Pathetic. As intimate as they appeared, her mother might as well sit in the guy’s lap. Why her dad put up with that kind of behavior, Sydney didn’t know. But then, in order for it to upset him, he would have to be home long enough to witness it. And he never was.
The two of them made her sick to her stomach, making it impossible to continue watching them if she wanted to keep the cookie that she had just eaten down in her stomach where it belonged. She pulled open the heavy glass doors and stuck her head out.
“Mom? I’m going over to Christian’s. I’ll be back later.”
Her mother barely spared her a glance.
“That’s fine, Sydney. Let Ben know you won’t be here for dinner.”
And that was it. Jillian flipped her blonde hair over her shoulder and returned her attention to the fawning boy. He was a new one. Sydney didn’t even know his name. But she did know that his white shorts were indecently short and tight. She could easily see the bulgy outline of his junk.
And he was so, so obviously flirting with her mother. But then again, her mother was eating it up so it was working out nicely for him. She shook her head. She shouldn’t have worried that her mother would notice her lack of clothing.
If she was honest, she would have to admit that Jillian rarely noticed her at all, except for times that she thought Sydney was doing something unseemly for a girl in her position. During those incidents, Jillian focused in on her with razor-sharp precision and an even sharper tongue. Most of their mother-daughter interactions were focused on ensuring that Sydney dressed correctly, spoke correctly and behaved correctly. At every minute of any given day. It was exhausting.
Sydney stepped into the garage and stared down the line of cars. Her father’s black Cadillac was gone, so he was at the office. No surprise there. He practically lived at his high-rise downtown Chicago office. She walked past his empty slot and her mother’s white Jag to stand next to her own car- a gleaming silver graduation gift. She had gotten the little Mercedes convertible two weeks ago and she had finally mastered the manual transmission, making her feel like an automotive queen.
Today she felt like a liberated automotive queen as she idled at red lights knowing full well that she was naked under her coat. It was surprisingly exhilarating and she slipped off her shoes so that she could drive barefoot. Even better! Enjoying the feel of her naked legs resting against the butter-soft leather of her seat, she smiled broadly at the guy in the next car, before gunning her engine when the light turned green. She smoothly cut him off so that she could make her exit.
As a result of her trademark aggressive driving, it only took her twenty minutes today to weave through Highland Park, just as she had promised. The sleek little car wound through the traffic effortlessly, purring like a jungle cat. Lucky for her, Christian lived in Highland Park as well. Chicago traffic was perpetually congested and would have taken much longer.
Christian opened the front doors just as she pulled into his drive and stood waiting for her on the top step. Sydney studied his handsome features as she got out and walked toward him, her heart thudding lightly with anticipation. As her pulse quickened, she fervently hoped that she seemed calm and cool, but she doubted that was the case.
She had a secret.
Deep down, no matter how perfectly her manicure and highlights were done or how well she filled out an outfit, she always felt a little… insufficient. She could look in the mirror and see that she was pretty and many might even say beautiful. But it was as though she couldn’t quite get her heart to understand that she was good enough. She didn’t know why and she would never be able to explain it to anyone, so she didn’t try. She could just hear the “poor little rich girl” jokes that would result in that kind of conversation.
Christian, on the other hand, certainly didn’t suffer from inadequacy issues. With his black slacks and slate gray v-neck, he was impeccably sleek and sophisticated today, which was usually the case. And he was always unflustered.
He was outrageously handsome and outlandishly cocky, two things that she loved about him. His dark hair was carefully tousled just-so and the smile he wore was perfect. His dark blue eyes were frozen on her, as if drawing her to him. When she got close enough, he reached for her, grabbing the end of the belt to her coat.
“Chris- not on the porch!” she giggled and slapped his hand away.
Undeterred, he laughed carelessly and scooped her up in his strong arms, ignoring her half-hearted protests. As the half-back on their football team, he spent quite a lot of time working out. The results were apparent. He was built like a lean brick house and would be playing ball for Princeton next year as a Legacy student. As he effortlessly carried her up the grand staircase to his room, he purposely moved one of his hands farther up on her leg and then farther still. She knew he was checking for clothing. She laughed and clutched his back, knowing what was to come as his hand kept moving. Her heart began thudding loudly again and she closed her eyes as Christian kicked the bedroom door closed behind them.
They didn’t emerge for two hours, only coming out for food. Bursting out of the bedroom when the doorbell rang, they laughed and shoved each other playfully, racing each other to get to the pizza first. They had used an abundance of calories and Sydney’s stomach was growling.
Christian beat her, of course. He made it down the long stairway in three seconds flat. He threw the front door open, paid for the pizza and they collapsed on the floor in the foyer with the pizza box, not even bothering to get plates from the kitchen.
Sydney grinned over a slice of pizza, catching the dripping cheese with her tongue.
“You’re right. We could never do this at my house. My mom would have a stroke.”
Holding a finger up in the air, she appeared to get into character for a performance. Christian watched in amusement as she stuck her nose into the air, pushed her eyebrows into her hairline and mimicked her mother’s haughty voice.
“Sydney, it is not appropriate for Randall Ross’ daughter to eat pizza on the floor.”
She rolled her eyes as she returned to her pizza, sucking the hot cheese into her mouth. If she had a dollar for every time she was referred to as “Randall Ross’ daughter,” she would be a millionaire in her own right.
“We couldn’t have done a lot of things at your house today, Syd. This is only the least of it. But since my parents are out of town…” His voice trailed off huskily as he reached over and slid his hand up the shirt she was wearing. It was his and hung on her like a baggy knee-length dress, giving him ample room to maneuver underneath it.
She pushed his hand away.
“Again? I think not. I have to replenish my energy. Just because you’re tireless, doesn’t mean everyone in this room is.”
She batted her eyes playfully at him as she inhaled her second slice of pizza, enjoying the forbidden grease and cheese combination. The carb count alone would be enough to give her mother a heart attack. But Sydney couldn’t help but love it. No one in their right mind could ever say that Chicago had bad pizza.
“You know,” Christian said thoughtfully as he watched her eat, “I think you’re the first girl I’ve ever dated that actually eats in front of me. And you eat a lot. I don’t know how you stay so skinny!” He leaned toward her. “Except for here. And here.” He brushed against her curves with his hand.
“Christian! Is that all you ever think about?” she demanded in mock exasperation, knocking his hand away.
He just laughed. They both knew full well that she was far from aggravated; that it was only a matter of time before her appetite was sated and she responded to him again.
“Why, yes. Yes, it is. But at least I’m honest.” Christian’s face was impish as his cobalt eyes twinkled at her. Those were eyes that a girl could get lost in. She sighed.
“Yes, at least you’re honest. Now calm yourself down and let me eat! Take a cold shower or something.”
They were both laughing until a third, unexpected voice startled them both.
The Price’s housekeeper was frozen in the arched doorway with a look of utter shock on her creased face. Sydney couldn’t help but giggle. And then she was promptly embarrassed as she remembered that she was only wearing Christian’s shirt. She immediately looked down to make sure that her rump was covered, tugging on the hem a little bit just to be on the safe side. This was one situation in which her long legs were not a blessing.
“Hi, Fran. Mi
ss Ross here couldn’t wait to get to the table, so we decided to eat right here. She’s got a very voracious appetite.”
He waggled his eyebrows at his double meaning and Sydney’s cheeks burned. Christian’s humor was apparent and Sydney just hoped that Fran hadn’t caught the entendre.
“Don’t stare, Fran. You don’t want to make her uncomfortable.”
He winked at the maid, who was still staring at them in cliché-like astonishment. Her mouth was even hanging open a little bit. Sydney hid another giggle. She couldn’t help it. She laughed when she was nervous. It had gotten her into trouble more than a few times in her life.
“And I don’t think my father needs to hear about this, don’t you agree? In fact, why don’t you take the rest of the evening off? You deserve it. You work too hard. And have I mentioned that you look beautiful today?”
Christian winked again and Fran shook her head, finally smiling at him, even though having a half-dressed girl in the house was clearly against the rules. Even if the girl was Sydney Ross. Actually, probably especially then. His parents wouldn’t want him involved in any kind of political scandal.
“Mr. Price, your shenanigans are going to get me fired yet!”
The disgruntled housekeeper turned on her heel and left the room, her gray curls still shaking and muttering under her breath, but leaving them alone. Christian turned to Sydney with a perfectly straight face.
“Is shenanigans a word?” he asked her and then grinned.
Sydney shook her head, even though she couldn’t help but smile at the same time. Christian’s humor was infectious.
“You know, this does put her in a tough spot. You really could get her fired one of these days and I’m sure she needs her job. I should go.” She started to get up.
He grabbed her arm. “No, don’t. You know she’s been with us forever. My parents would never fire her and she won’t bother us again tonight. Please? Stay a while longer?”