Title: The Perfect Distraction
Haley stood on the Scott’s front porch, staring impatiently at the front door. She bounced lightly on the balls of her feet; hands stuffed into her coat pockets, trying to keep up her circulation in the cold night air until someone came to her rescue and let her in. The anxiety caused by Lucas’s outburst over dinner coupled with the anticipation to get started on the night’s auctions skittered across her nerves, leaving her antsy and excited.
She let out a short sigh of relief as the door finally swung open, shooting a wide smile at her boyfriend’s mother. “Hey, Deb.”
“Haley?” Deb stepped back to let her pass. “Nathan didn’t tell me you were coming over this evening.”
Haley looked up at her in surprise. “Oh.” She paused. She had learned pretty quickly that Nathan never really felt the need to tell his parents these sorts of things, and as far as she had seen, they were alright with that arrangement as long as he didn’t get too out of hand. “I’m sorry. Is it… is it okay?”
“Oh, of course.” Deb tried to smile warmly at her, but the action felt unceremoniously fake; after an entire afternoon of her son avoiding her, the arrival of his girlfriend was now putting another barrier between them, and Deb just wanted to make things right. Noticing the obvious discomfort on Haley’s face, however, she felt a stab of guilt. The last thing she needed to do was put the blame for her and Nathan’s problems on Haley. “See, this is actually one of the downsides of not being at the café all the time. I hardly get to see you anymore.”
“Yeah, but I’m sure there’s an even greater upside to not having to get up before dawn every morning just to open up.”
Deb laughed, clasping her hands as she watched the girl. Haley began to fidget a bit beneath her stare as they dropped into an awkward silence. She had never felt uncomfortable with Nathan’s mom before, but there was just something about the way that she was looking at her that seemed off. If she were to wager a guess, she’d say the reunion between mother and son hadn’t gone too smoothly.
Plus, she was really excited about getting upstairs to start the bidding for those tickets.
“So…” Haley pointed toward the stairs. “Is Nathan just up-“
“Oh yes. Sorry.” Deb broke her stare and stepped back, gesturing to the second floor. “He’s up in his room.”
“Great.” Haley nodded, turned, and headed toward the stairs. “I’m just gonna go-“
“He’s been up there all afternoon. Hasn’t come out once since he got here.” Haley glanced over her shoulder at Deb’s short laugh to see the smile on her face waver as she wrung her fingers in her grasped hands. “Not even to get something to eat. I can’t imagine how he isn’t starving.”
Haley paused, not quite sure how to respond. “Do you want me to ask him, you know, if he wants something?”
There was hesitation written across her features once again, but she quickly hid it behind a quiet chuckle as she waved Haley away. “That’s alright. You go on up.”
Haley nodded, turned, and bounced up the stairs, trying to ignore the fact that she could feel Deb’s gaze following her the whole way. She headed through the maze of hallways that had taken her forever to memorize until she found herself at Nathan’s bedroom.
Like so many things about Nathan, his home had taken her quite a bit of getting used to. His bedroom alone was about twice the size of hers, and if she could pick one word with which to describe the surroundings that he was used to, it would be plush. The built in flat screen television, the leather recliner, the wall of window seats. It all screamed of a luxury she had never known. Really, what teenager had sconces lining their walls?
But the more she’d gotten to know him, the more she realized that all the luxuries in the world couldn’t buy a happy home, and he would have gladly traded in every last basketball trophy and DVD player to not be caught between his parents the way he was. And it was his desire for that normalcy that allowed her to feel so comfortable in his world.
Plus, there were definite perks to a boyfriend with a DSL connection, especially with the fierce bidding that would be going on that night over her precious tickets.
Sailing through his open door, Haley barely spared Nathan a glance when she spotted his laptop perched on the foot of his bed. She made a beeline for it as she shrugged off her coat and tossed it over the array of matching throw pillows at the head of the bed. “Have any of the auctions closed yet?” she asked, dropping down onto the mattress and crossing her legs Indian style.
Nathan glanced up from the video game he had used to whittle away the afternoon hours, watching for a moment as Haley busied herself signing into e-bay and searching for her specific auctions. “It’s great to see you, too.”
She finally looked up from the screen to see him perched on the footstool of his leather recliner. “I’m sorry, sweetie,” She started, extra sweetly. “Did you have a good day? Mine was decent, but nothing in this world could compare to the joy and happiness I feel at being in your mere presence. You make even the best days better and the worst days seem like a walk through heaven.”
Nathan took in her exaggerated smile and the flutter of her eyelashes before simply nodding and letting it go. “Right.” He put his game on pause and stood, raising his arms to stretch out the kinks that had developed from an afternoon spent huddled in front of the television. “There was one that closed about an hour ago. Some guy named beatpete got them.”
Haley shook her head; irritated that one opportunity had already passed her by, as she finally located the two remaining sales. Beatpete? “What an ass,” she muttered.
“Yeah, I get that a lot. I work out.” Nathan smiled down at her as he wandered over to stand beside the bed.
“Are you sure that’s what they’re referring to?”
His eyebrows shot up in surprise at the snap in her voice. Sitting down on the bed beside her, Nathan let his hand settle on the back of her neck, drawing her attention and kneading out some of the tension he found there. “Hey, are you alright? You seem kind of…“
Haley looked over at him; saw the concern written in his eyes, and immediately felt a shot of guilt. “I’m sorry, Nathan. I shouldn’t have said that. I just… there was this thing earlier with Lucas. He’s having a hard time right now, you know, with his shoulder and then the entire Peyton and Brooke drama. I guess I’m just worried about him and the whole thing kind of put me a little on edge.”
“Yeah, I’m guessing my dad didn’t do a whole lot to help the situation either. Lucas tell you about that?” At her nod, he continued, “He seemed to be going for maximum damage today.” Nathan leaned over and planted a kiss on her temple. “But don’t worry about it. I like a little bite in my woman. It’s hot.”
Haley laughed and rolled her eyes at him, but she couldn’t stop the red from coloring her cheeks. He was always able to get her with his little flirtiness, and he knew it, and he liked to see her squirm.
He shifted over on the bed then, positioning himself so that he was behind her and able to wrap his arms around her waist. “I think I know something that will make you feel better though. You know, take that edge off a little.”
Haley shivered at the brush of his breath against her cheek as his head dipped into the curve of her neck. He began trailing kisses across her skin, working his way up to her ear and then down along her jaw. She twisted her neck to look at him, letting him press one kiss to her mouth before pulling away. “What do you think you’re doing?”
He smirked, nuzzling his cheek against hers. “What do you think I’m doing?”
“Ah, I think you’re trying to distract me.” She pointed to the laptop in front of her. “E-bay snipers are sneaky, Nathan. I need to stay concentrated.”
Nathan leaned back so that he could look her in the eye. “Are you serious? You’re just gonna stay on the computer all night?”
“Well, yeah. That’s why I came over.” She laughed.
He was quiet for a moment, giving her a blank look. “But… I thought…”
She grinned at the confusion on his face. “Oh, I see how it is. That whole love me for my DSL thing, that was just a pick-up line? Trying to get me in your room late at night and all that. Kinda like a ‘your father must play the trumpet, because you sure make me horny’ thing.’”
He gave her a weird look. “A trumpet?”
She shrugged. “Lucas told me that one once.”
“Lucas,” he scoffed. “I will never understand how that guy has so many hot chicks throwing themselves at him.”
Her eyebrows rose. “What? Hot chicks?”
Nathan grinned sheepishly, resting his chin on her shoulder. “Not that I care. I mean, look at the hot chick I’ve got.”
Haley giggled at him, giving him one short kiss and then another long one. She could feel his grip on her waist tighten as he tugged her further back into his embrace and she leaned back into him for one short second before pulling away completely.
“You can throw all the sweet talk at me that you’d like, sweet talker, but you offered me your DSL and you’re going to have to stick to that. This is serious business. I can’t have you distracting me.”
He pouted. “But… I would be a good distraction.”
Haley pointed over to the discarded controller lying on his chair. “Go back to your video games,” she ordered. “Until I’ve got my tickets, this is my side of the room, and that’s yours.”
Haley pressed the refresh button on the screen for what must have been the hundredth time in the last fifteen minutes. She didn’t want to admit it to Nathan, but she could have really gone for that distraction right about then. The bidding was getting a tad tedious.
She had convinced him to stick in a Sheryl Crow CD, saying that listening to the person whose tickets she was trying to win could only bring about good luck, but other than the folk rock sounds coming from his stereo, the room was relatively silent. Haley had shifted to sprawl across his bed on her stomach, tapping a new bid away every few minutes while Nathan lounged in the recliner, legs hanging over one arm, as he concentrated on his video game.
A light knock on the open doorframe garnered Haley’s attention, and she looked up to see Deb standing in the doorway, a tray of food in her hands.
“Are those cookies?” Haley asked hopefully. In her rush to get out of the café and over to Nathan’s, she’d skipped desert, her most important meal of the day.
“They sure are.” Deb stepped into the room and placed the tray on the edge of the bed next to Haley. “I thought the two of you might be getting a little hungry. What do you say about chocolate chip cookies and a couple of double fudge brownies… both store bought?”
Haley pushed herself up into a sitting position and reached for a cookie and one of the glasses of milk. “Well, I say you’re my new very best friend.”
Deb laughed. Turning to her son, she gestured down at the array of food. “Nathan, I also brought you a turkey sandwich, seeing as how you didn’t come down for dinner.”
Nathan barely spared his mother a glance, opting to stay focused on his video game. “Whatever.”
A slight awkwardness settled in the room as Deb stood between the two kids, one completely disregarding her and the other looking as uncomfortable as possible. “So…” She looked down at Haley. “What are you two doing?”
Nathan shifted in his seat so that his legs were stretched out on the stool in front of him and shot Haley a quick glance. “She’s busy ignoring me.”
Haley rolled her eyes at him and laughed, easing the tension in the room a bit. “We’re trying to get tickets off of e-bay for the Sheryl Crow concert tomorrow night.”
“She’s not even that great,” he interrupted, grumbling beneath his breath.
Haley grabbed one of the napkins Deb had brought in, wadded it up, and tossed it over in his direction. “Nathan’s not being much of a team player, though. All he does is complain.”
Deb chuckled at the two. “And how’s the bidding going?”
“Well.” Haley tapped the refresh button again. “The first auction already finished. Some jerk got the tickets. The second one has already gone out of my price range, but that’s not too surprising because they were second row. But the third one? I’m feeling very confident about the third one. Those babies are mine.”
“Well, good luck.” Deb stood in the center of the room for a minute longer until that unease began to creep back between them. Nathan was being a little too pointed in his refusal to look up at his mom. “I’ll just… I’ll just leave you two to it.”
Nathan waited until her footsteps had disappeared down the stairs before standing up and closing the door.
“What did you do that for?” Haley asked, lying back down on her stomach before the laptop.
He shrugged. “I don’t know. I just think its kind of creepy that she can just peek in whenever. Don’t you?”
“Well, it’s not like we’re doing anything for her to see.”
“Yeah, but we should be.” Nathan dropped down on the bed beside her, his hands landing on the comforter on either side of her back as he bent over to kiss the juncture where her shoulder met her neck.
Haley giggled and twisted her head to look at him. His lips met hers in a light kiss, but she pulled back before he could deepen it and pointed to his chair. “Back to your side of the room, mister.”
Nathan buried his face in her neck and groaned before pushing himself off the bed. He grabbed the dinner his mother had brought him and dropped down into the recliner dramatically. “You’re mean when you’re e-baying.”
Haley watched him sulk for a moment, not even bothering to hide her smirk. He could be absolutely adorable when he didn’t get his way, all pouty lips and wrinkled brow. Glancing back down to the computer screen, she decided to finally ask him about the obvious tension in the house. “So, things with your mom are still…”
He scoffed. “You could say that.” Nathan took another bite of his sandwich, and it seemed to Haley as though he were rolling the words around in his head, trying to figure things out before he voiced them. “I don’t know. She’s just been hovering around me all afternoon, coming to the door and asking how I am or whatever. It’s like they’re both trying to guilt me into doing what they want, and I’m the only one who hasn’t done anything wrong.”
Haley’s heart broke for him just a little bit more, just like it did every time they talked about his parents. She wanted to be there for him, to help him through the problems, but she never knew what to say. She’d never dealt with anything like it.
“I don’t know how I would’ve made it through tonight if you hadn’t come over,” Nathan told her, his face softening as his thoughts switched from his parents to his girlfriend. “I swear, sometimes I think you’re the only good thing in my life, the only thing keeping me sane.”
Haley felt her cheeks redden, like they always did he said the sweet things he did. But this was different from the flirtiness. This twisted more than just her stomach. This twisted her stomach and her heart and her head until she was just a pile of mush before him.
Whoever knew that the great Nathan Scott, jackass extraordinaire, had such a smooth tongue?
She looked up at him just in time to see his sweet smile bend into his smarmy smirk as he got that glint in his eye. Placing the plate on the floor beside his chair, he started to stand, but her snap stopped him in his tracks.
“Don’t even think about it!”
“T minus five minutes and we are going to see Sheryl Crow tomorrow night,” Haley almost squealed. She was sitting up cross-legged before the computer, almost bouncing with excitement. Refreshing was taking on a whole new thrilling light as each second brought her closer to winning her tickets.
“You’re almost done?” At her nod, Nathan shut off his game, turned off the television, and made his way over to sit down beside her. “That means I’m about to get my loving, right? I mean, I did let you use my DSL and everything.”
Haley popped a quick peck on his cheek. “How’s that for loving?”
“Well, it’s a start.” Nathan scooted closer to her, dropping a return kiss on her cheek before brushing her hair away from her face and trailing down toward her neck. She giggled when he teasingly nipped at the corner of her jaw.
“Hey now, you’ve still got a couple of minutes to go.”
He didn’t seem to pay her words any mind as his mouth continued down to her collarbone. His finger came up to trace the neckline of her shirt before moving to cup her cheek and direct her mouth to his for a short kiss.
“You know, you look cute in this shirt. I like the pink.”
“Yeah.” He buried his face back in the crook of her shoulder as he fingered the strip of lace along the v-neck of her top. “I’m really starting to appreciate this whole new look thing.” His voice was teasing as he continued. “You’re beautiful in anything you wear, but it’s much easier to look down your shirt this way.”
Haley shrieked indignantly and pushed him away, slapping at his arm. However, she couldn’t help but laugh at his wide grin.
“Hey, you show me yours, I’ll show you mine.” He leered at her, waggling his eyebrows suggestively.
She snorted and rolled her eyes, but couldn’t stop herself from blushing. “Thanks for the offer, but I think I’m going to pass just now.”
“Alright.” Nathan shrugged. “But I’m going to go ahead and keep that offer on the table, should you change your mind anytime in the near future.”
Haley knew her cheeks were red as she turned back to the computer screen, but at the last second, the impulse became too great and she reached over, cupping his cheeks to pull his mouth toward hers. The kiss was short, just a quick preview of what else the night could bring. She giggled against his lips as his arms wrapped around her torso, tugging her closer as she tried to pull away.
“One minute,” she told him, kissing his chin. She pressed the refresh button to bring up the screen with the auction’s final results. “NO!”
Haley’s sudden screech surprised Nathan, pulling him away from where he had returned his attention to the small patch of skin just below her ear.
“How could this happen? I turned away for like one minute! How… how… dammit!”
Nathan watched her warily. He didn’t think that he had ever heard her voice quite so high-pitched. Running a hand down her back, he tried to soothe her away from the fit she was fast approaching.
“Those stupid snipers! I warned you about them, didn’t I?” she babbled. “They come in at the last minute, all stupid like and everything. Stealing from people who just wasted their whole evenings… those stupid, stupid, stu-” She cut off finally, her eyes narrowing as she looked at him. That wasn’t a good look.
“What?” he questioned, cautious.
Her voice was flat as she glared at him. “This is your fault.”
“You were distracting me!” She poked at his arm. “If you hadn’t been there all… with the lips and, and the hands and the lips, we would be going to that concert tomorrow. This is your fault!”
Nathan wasn’t quite sure what to say to her accusation. He wasn’t really used to a mood-swinging Haley. “Haley, come on…”
Her anger seemed to deflate at the imploring tone of his voice, and her scowl dropped into a pout. “Okay, so it’s not your fault. But it still sucks. We waited all night just to be outdone by some jackass at the end! This is a sucky night.”
“Baby, I’m sorry.” Nathan tried to sound comforting, but he couldn’t stop his lips from curving at the glower on her face. He’d never really seen her mope about anything before.
Haley could hear the smile in his voice. “Do you think this is funny or something? Because I don’t think it’s funny.”
“No, of course I don’t think it’s funny,” he answered quickly. “I am really sorry you didn’t get your tickets. It’s just…”
“What?” Haley watched as he closed the laptop, moving it off the bed, before leaning over toward her. He stopped just inches from her mouth.
“It’s just that, you have the most adorable pouty lips.” He took a quick nip at her lower lip before pulling back to smile at her.
Her eyes roamed over his face, taking in his clear blue eyes and the curve of his smile. Her mood, which had been bordering on dark all evening, began to lighten despite herself. “Are you trying to make me feel better? Because, you know, I really, really wanted those tickets. It’s going to be hard to get over.”
Nathan was happy to hear the playfulness creep back into her voice. He rose up onto his hands and knees, crawling forward and forcing her to scoot back and lie down at the head of his bed. Settling beside her, he balanced his weight on one arm as he leaned into her side. “Honey, by the time I’m finished with you, you won’t even remember your own name.”
Haley burst into giggles as his mouth pressed against hers. She sunk deeper into the cushion of his bed and let his touch and his kiss and his taste push away all the problems and the worries of her day.
She settled further into his embrace then, and he wrapped his arms around her torso, his hand sliding along the planes of her back. Everything else just faded away; over-compensating mothers, temper tantrum throwing friends, jackass e-bay snipers. None of that mattered as Haley tugged Nathan’s mouth back down to hers, shifting slightly so that she could turn towards him, tangling her legs with his. She could either remember this evening as the time she lost the Sheryl Crow tickets, or make this night stand out in some way; and with Nathan, she had the perfect distraction.