-1Chapter 4

"Kate!"

Standing on my front porch - looking every bit like a pompous, arrogant businessman who currently had on a dark, navy blue Dolce suit and the red-stripped tie that vaguely reminded me of a candy cane - was my father.

Perhaps a recap? Or how about a description of the fairy tale father?

Now, picture the perfect father. You know what I'm talking about, the whole American Dream, the blonde mother who was an extremely well tempered house wife, the ever bright smile on the father's face as he came home with a cherry hello. This man was absolutely faithful to his wife, who somehow happened to be an ex-marine (the wife, not the husband). So if the man did end up hurting his woman, not to mention their daughters, he would be found the next day in some gutter most likely dead and dismembered. The said daughters were always cherished and neither would have felt that he favored one over the other. He would be remembered in his community as a good man who always had a word about...erm... I don't know... gardening and baseball? He'd come home, kiss his wife and politely ask for dinner that he himself had cooked the night before.

My dad was anything but that Perfect Father. Oh, no, he was a ruthless shark. He smelled an opportunity to become more successful, and by all means he was getting that opportunity. In a way, he was like me (trust me, it totally bit me to say this – no pun intended). When he wanted something, he wouldn't give two shits about what was in his way and just ruthlessly (sometimes amorally) continued hunting down his vulnerable, innocent little prey.

Not to mention that he was disappointed when I was no boy after birth. Still, as the oldest Rowell, I was entitled to own his company, female or not. The question was whether I wanted that life or not.

When I was barely two years old, Dad had begun brainwashing me into owning his business, which was called Rowell's Enterprises. After a bit of self-revelation, I realized business just wasn't my thing. (Insert a tragic story of me somehow managing to loose twenty thousand dollars out of the air). So I had disappointed him twice. Once, for not having a penis (I think he was just jealous that I had a uterus) and the second, for throwing away my inheritance, changing my name from exotic Katrina Rowell to ordinary Kate Turner.

Complex much? Well it hadn't ended there. Now my little sister Anne, who was every bit of the perfect daughter, was inheriting about thirty three million dollars including the fifty stockholdings that my father had.

My mother was exactly the opposite. She was from Texas, (I can't even remember what city…town) where everything was backward. My mother knew that it was her place to serve and please her husband while her husband had numerous scandals involving very young models, actresses among other… let's not get into it. Although their marriage wasn't rock solid, my mother refused to see anything beyond the fact that he supposedly loved her.

I still had no idea if Dad ever had affairs. There were rumors going around, but I'd like to think that Dad was at least a little decent. He never hurt her physically and had always cherished her. It was just that…I never got along with my godfather of a father.

Oh wait; there was one affair that he had… that my mother just looked away from. My half brother, Johnny was proof of that. Johnny was a decent guy, for a brother, and was currently wanted by the FBI on the basis that he was an assassin of some sort. Which was kind of funny, because he was my brother and I was an FBI agent, Agent Turner (gasp, doesn't that sound so cool?) Not that I know much about it...

Except that I was done with hypocrisy! I packed up my bags, used university as an excuse to leave and was gone with the wind.

My parents, of course, would not leave me in merciful peace.

So, when I had left, my parents found other ways to pop into my life (literally) and try to weave me back into the world of backstabbing monsters. Last time, it had been trying to convert my atheist ways to good ol' Lord. Of course that completely backfired and left me with a little less self confidence. Now, their new plan involved marriage. My sister Anne, short for Ana Maria, was already on her way to the altar and she's only nineteen.

That looked bad on me. According to my parents, what man could resist a woman who was young (somewhat, my jackass of a father added), was a daughter of a millionaire, and was drop dead gorgeous (though I could loose a few pounds, according to my blind critical mother)? I'll tell you who, a man with brains the size of his nuts, which would have to be pretty damn small. And considering the times I've actually been asked out, which is close to nil, that pretty much included a lot of guys out there.

Whatever. Just because I happened to punch an occasional guy who leered at me or flirted with me the wrong way, it didn't mean that I was an ogre or anything. I've kissed a lot of frogs, but I'm still waiting for my prince charming.

Eww, tell me that sounded cheesy.

Let's get back to the present. So there I was, glaring at Stanton, and demanding him how I smiled at him to apparently get him turned on when my father, aka the ruthless shark was standing on my porch looking every bit like the rich and sophisticated. Need I add that he was also within hearing range?

"Dad?" I asked, my voice dripping with fake niceness. As pleasant as I sounded, I couldn't hide my blush from spreading. Instantly, I felt like the five year old trying to get attention from her busy daddy, who wouldn't give her the time of the day. I saw my father take in Stanton in a stride and I wondered if he approved of him.

Wait, why did I care if Dad liked Stanton or not? We were only neighbors for crying out loud!

Stanton courteously nodded back at my father but neither spoke and I felt the air rippling with tension.

What to do? What to do?

When I saw my mother's tired smile behind my father, I smiled back genuinely, "Mom! How are you?"

Before I got to even finish my sentence, my mother raced across the porch and suffocated me by her motherly embrace. There was an instant when I breathed in her powdery motherly smell before I started seeing stars. I was being slowly suffocated...lack of oxygen...oh, was that the North Star?

I gasped, "Must…breathe…dying…"

She must have realized that she was killing me slowly ( I don't doubt my theory that my mother could possibly be an ex-marine) because the next second I felt air enter my lungs as Mom released me. She turned to amused Stanton.

"Oh, hello!" My mother greeted Stanton before turning to me and whispering, "You told me that you didn't have a boyfriend, Katrina!"

Of course I didn't, I wanted to say, just because I'm standing next to a guy whose priceless jewels I've seen hadn't automatically mean that he was my boyfriend, friend or anything for that matter. Stanton McGraw was just some guy from the street.

Trying to stand straight, my voice still slightly raspy, I said, "Mother, Father. May I have the utmost pleasure," Here I had to spit out the word pleasure, "of introducing to you, Stanton McGraw, the man who lives next door."

I should have gone into acting. I was too damn good.

"With no interest in you, I would hope," Dad said, his voice cutting the frigid air.

"Of course not," I said.

No, it wasn't a lie. Of course I wasn't interested in Stanton.

At that moment, I suddenly remembered Stanton's bare…um…

Okay, so it was a lie. But who discussed their sex lives with their parents?

No, don't answer that.

Besides, he had asked if Stanton was interested in me. I honestly didn't think so. Beneath all that teasing and humor...I mean, he was just playing with me. Trying to get me frustrated just so that he could get a laugh at the end of the day.

Stanton stared at my father in thoughtful silence before asking, "You look familiar. Are you by any chance Ian Rowell? Owner of Rowell Enterprises?"

Dad looked pleased that someone had recognized him. Nothing in his stony expression had changed, which I bet had intimidated a lot of clients when needs be, but I could tell by the sudden interest that I saw spark in his eyes. "Yes, I am."

Stanton had to go and ruin his good impression by saying, "You're also the same man who's ruined thousands of lives because you wanted to dominate the world? The very same man who is rumored to have been involved in illegal activites?"

Oh, boy. If I thought the tension earlier was thick, this was like being thrust into volcano.

"Dear me, we're freezing out here. Come, come," Mom said, gaily stopping the staring contest between two very different men. She was hustling Dad into my home, "It was wonderful to meet you, Stanton. Hopefully we'll see you in the future. Say goodbye to this nice chap, Katrina. We need to discuss something of utter importance."

"Goodnight," was all Stanton said. The ever present amused glint was still there when he turned to me. I glared back at him, hating him for embarrassing me like that.

He was about to say something when I interrupted, "Well, I need to go in now," and because I knew somehow that he would get irritated, I said in a British accent, "Good night, love!"

"By the way, Kate," Stanton murmured when my parents were safely in the house and out of hearing range, "Just because I'm British I don't go around saying 'Jolly good' or 'You don't say…'"

"Whatever gave you the impression that I thought you would say that," I sounded sort of bewildered. Then, just as he was about to walk into his home and as I was about to walk into mine, I yelled, "Good day, Jolly ol' chap!"

I heard him muttering something under his breath but I slammed the door closed.

As soon as I walked in my sister, Anne stood there, examining her perfect cuticles before saying, "Very impressive place, sis."

For a second there, I actually thought she had complimented me. That was, until I caught sight of my living room.

My bra was on the sofa, and other clothing items all over the floor. The coffee mug was by the table, various papers all over the floor. On my notice board was a map with red pins, telling me where I suspected missing person were and yellow for where the evidence was found. To my family, it probably looked like that dart game. Rushing in quickly, I tried to atone for my mistakes but that never happened. The worst did actually.

"Hello, baby," a cool, suave, HIGH pitched voice said, "We've been waiting for you."

I turned around slowly and faced my nightmare. Ricky.

Time for another recap.

Ricky was actually my dad's pet. No really. A human pet. Whatever Dad said, he would have it done. If Dad said "Bark!", he barked without a thought that my father probably wasn't even ordering him. Obviously, he's paid high stuff and probably knew all of my family's secrets. So, my parents thought very highly of Ricky, which they should, considering how many times Ricky saved my Dad's ass in his personal and business life.

So, while my parents popped into my life with various suitors, Dad had an epiphany. If he couldn't get me into business, he could at least have me involved, and hopefully marry, someone from his business. That someone could later on control the company on my behalf. It would be like the family was back in action, baby.

Except, I just had to disappoint him.

Ricky was my parent's fifth attempt. I never thought much of him. He's just the guy that's…there. In the shadows. He's a decent guy, but he just tries too hard to impress.

Plus, Ricky was also fifteen years my senior. Not that he was ugly for his age but I just didn't do old, you know?

So, I sighed for the millionth time, "Hello, Ricky. I'm not interested...Is that my bra in your hands?!"

It was! Oh my GOD!

Dad glanced at Ricky with a smirk, "Atta boy!"

"Dad!" I said, "Aren't you supposed to protect your daughter from...from foolish suitors?"

"You will be my daughter again once you get over this silly little local investigations. You belong in the Rowell's, it is your part of inheritance. It is who you are!"

I felt that familiar stab in my chest, the one I always had whenever I brought my old man down, "I don't belong there!"

"You know you do. Marry Ricky and he will take care of business."

"While I do what? Knitting? Cleaning? I don't want that. Why can't you just accept me?"

"Whine, whine, whine," Anne said, crossing her legs as she sat down, "This is boring. Do you have any drinks?"

"Yeah," I gratefully pointed to the door leading to the basement, "Wine is in there."

"Thanks," she popped out. Dad wasn't done though.

"I will only accept you as Katrina Rowell. Not as Kate Turner."

I felt the room vibrate with Dad's declaration. I had heard this a billion times before, so I don't know why it still irked me. I couldn't say anything for a full minute or two before Ricky, who had been privy to this argument before, sank on his knees in front of me, "Kate, Katrina, whoever you want to be. I'm willing to accept you as you are. I know you don't love me..."

Oh, for crying out loud.

"But I think my love would be enough for both of us. Would you be my wife?"

I took a deep breath as I tugged my hand back, "No, Ricky. I'm sorry, but no."

He looked so crestfallen…but then, he always had. Honestly, he had asked me a dozen million times in the same cheesy way and my answer had always been the same. And then he would always ask, "But…why?"

Anne took a sip of her drink, "She's a lesbian. I knew it."

"What?" The rest of the occupants in the room yelled. I shook my head frantically, "Whatever made you think that?!"

Honestly, where had that come from?

Then damn her, she answered, "You're a feminist."

That's it?

"That's it?" I all but screeched, "Feminist aren't lesbians!"

Ricky rolled his eyes, "They should just get laid."

That just dropped him a whole lot of points. Now all my respect for Ricky was gone, secrets of the family or not!

My mother hesitantly added, "Well, you've never had a boyfriend since high school…"

Dad looked vaguely sick, "Now she's lesbian? Can't you at least like both? What do you call them? Transvestites?"

Must calm down before saying anything irrationally…5…4…3…

"Actually, I do have a boyfriend!"

"Really," Anne raised her eyebrow, "Who?"

I paused, thinking quickly. Then I had a sudden flash of blue eyes before I answered, "Stanton."

"What?" Again my parents and the would-be suitor said. My sister just gaped at me.

"Yeah," And quickly I thought of the FBI squad-meeting thing, said a little more confidently, "Yeah, I'm married."

"Married?" they all but squealed and yelled, "WHEN? Where?"

"Los Vegas, baby," I crooned, "Anything is possible."

"Well, who is he? What does he do?" My mother asked, before my father started pacing around the room. "Where is he from? Why isn't he here?"

Um….

"You were married by a real-life priest, no?" Ricky asked.

"Who is this Stanton?" Dad asked, "Is he someone I introduced you to?"

Dad was starting to relax a little, thinking that he knew who his people were, etc, etc. I hated to disappoint him.

"Uh, no. he's a…an FBI agent." I said, "He's the guy from next door."

All of them gasped. Literally. There was also a moment of silence before they screamed, "HIM?!"

Anne just grinned, "Great! I have a hot brother-in-law!"

"My daughter, married to that SCUM!" that was Dad.

"The world's coming to an END!" Mommy, dear.

"AHHHHHH!" That was definitely Ricky. No one screamed like a little girl but him…and little girls.

I was getting a headache.

"I was going to tell you, soon. Right after we went to our…honeymoon. To," think where I had to go, um…Mexico?

"Italy!" Right, the Italian accent. "I had to go to Italy."

"How romantic," Mom said, and then asked, "Venice?"

"I guess."

Ricky still seemed dazed because he sputtered, "But…but…that doesn't make ay sense! Why isn't he here?"

That seemed to bring everyone out of their la la land and for a minute I was stupefied. I had no idea how to answer until Anne rolled her eyes and replied for me, "Don't you understand English? She just said that she went and got married in L.A."

"So?" Mom asked.

I cued in, grateful to my sister, "So, we haven't decided which home to sell and which one to keep. I think he's moving in here, but we'll see. We haven't thought that far ahead."

If my eyes could be believed, my father had turned even more white for a moment. Then, because I could read the furious glint in his eyes, his whole face went red. He looked like a tomato, which was kind of funny since he had a candy cane tie.

Mom sighed before turning to my father, "You never take me anywhere!"

I applauded Mom for being so brave; my dad looked like he was going to loose his cool. He turned angrily to my mother, "Our daughter is MARRIED!"

"I know, hon. That's what I've just heard! Oh, it had to be romantic. Eloping."

Sure. Okay. I would have enjoyed seeing Dad burst like a volcano had I not been the cause of that little natural disaster.

"Hey guys." I said, before stretching and showing my tired face, "I'm busted. I'm going to hit the sack."

Smiling, my mother hugged me again, this time less fiercely, while my dad kept muttering, "Eloped? My daughter. A Rowell."

As soon as they left, I ran to Stanton's. If I knew my Dad, he would be coming back the next morning to have a few words with his 'son-in-law'.

Before I rang the doorbell, the door whipped open. Stanton stood there, clad only in boxers. I made sure that my eyes didn't drift down and saw him looking at my driveway.

"Coast is clear?"

"Yup," I said, feeling awkward. "Look, I need to tell you…"

"I know. You told your parents that you were suddenly into me and we ran off and got married."

Now he was a mind reader?

"How did you guess that?" I asked, suddenly awestruck.

He stared at me surprised, "That's what you did? I was being sarcastic."

"Er…"

"You're joking, right?"

There was a moment of silence while Stanton tried to decipher if I was kidding or not. He must have saw something akin to the truth because the tip of his ears were slowly getting redder and his eyes were dilated.

"Bloody hell!" He roared, and then before I uttered another word he continued, "Now your father is going to wring my neck!"

"Actually, Dad isn't that bad of a person. And…"

He interrupted, "I don't bloody care that he's Albert Einstein or…or one of the members of Spice Girls! Fathers are absolutely normal about every damn thing unless the subject is their daughter! Then they become a part of a different species of humans known as sodding Neanderthals! FUCK!"

"Just calm down," I tried placating him. I didn't realize that my hands were messaging the back of his neck, but I kept repeating myself.

He must have heard me because he pushed himself away, "No, you calm down!"

That was the point I was about to loose my cool. I took a deep breath, but slowly, all I saw was red.

"I am calm!" I yelled back, "You're such a…a pansy!"

"Don't call me a pansy. You're a ninny! For making me go through this shit!"

What the freaking hell?

Am I supposed to be sorry?

Yeah, and Collin Farrell was into me.

"Can your neck get even redder? I did it because of the whole investigation thing! You know when I suddenly pack up my things and go to Italy!"

"Italy! Who the hell said we were going to Italy! We're going to Mexico!"

"Says who?!"

"Says the boss! And oh, such a surprise, that's me!"

We both glared at each other. Both trying to control our anger. I saw the sudden softening in his eyes, and found myself smiling reluctantly back. Then, I recalled what he had just said.

We're going to Mexico!

"Really? So then why did I need to learn to speak with an Italian accent?" I pondered.

"Good question… probably because our target gets high off of exotic accent," Stanton asked rubbing his chin, all anger evaporated. He just grinned down at me, "Sort of like you. You love the way I talk."

I rolled my eyes, just barely blushing. "Don't compare me to a sexist terrorist who jacks of innocent girls."

"When you think of it that way, yeah, that's disgusting." Stanton said.

I yawned. "Well, anyhow, I'm really tired."

"You're welcome to sleep here," he wiggled his eyebrows. I smacked his arm.

Stanton smirked, before whispering, "Later, 'gator."

"In a while, crocodile," then giving him a wink I skipped across his front lawn to my room.

Wow, what a day.

AN:

I'm BACK in action, baby! Anyway, chapter updates will be bi-weekly as I am editing these chapters all over again. Anyway, I'm going to put up pics on my website for Stanton and Kate. I was thinking these possibilities, let me know what you think:

Kate:

1. Eva Longoria

Okay, Kate does not look like her. But Eva has that "Look at me!" attitude and she's really confident. Also, Eva Longoria kind of gives the vibes that she does as she pleases, and after reading this chapter, you can see Kate has that as well.

2. Monica Belluci

Famous for her role as Persephone, the girl with that French guy in Matrix, I sort of imagine Kate to look like her. She's gorgeous and she knows it. Plus the fact that she plays dirty to get what she wants is a bonus.

3. Cerina Vincent

4. Julia Roberts

Alright, you may have predicted this one. Every movie of hers that I've seen, she's that confident, loud person and she's an attention grabber. You just can't your eyes of off Ms. Roberts, which is exactly how Kate is. Plus in chapter 2, she mentioned her mega watt smile, which is what Julia Roberts is known for.

Stanton:

Josh Duhamel

I don't remember seeing a movie of his, but I saw a picture and I was like, Whoa! So, maybe...

Brad Pitt

Another predictable choice, many would say. But he's hot, and he's got arrogance down to art. He can be a considerate guy, which Stanton is. Brad Pitt is an awesome actor, so I sort of imagine Stanton as him...with darker hair.

Timothy Olyphant

This guy was the first one I thought of as Stanton, except I didn't know his name. He's Kelly in The Girl Next Door, if you guys have seen that movie. Awesome actor, and though he's not that good looking, he's a got a great physique and he's an attention grabber. Also, I personally think he could pull of smirking at his neighbor when caught naked.

Father:

Robert DeNiro: God, I don't know why. Maybe it's the whole Italian thing, the whole family business. DeNiro is the man of 'mobs' which is sort of like Rowell's enterprises.

Adonis/Jeff