Remembering the Steps


peyton2_icon.gif smedley_icon.gif

Scene Title Remembering the Steps
Synopsis While both are rusty when it comes to the 'hook-up,' Peyton finds the companionship she needs after a rough day with Smedley.
Date August 9, 2010

Upper East Side

The plan was to contact Peyton and give her copies of photos Wes Smedley took of the strange device inside the lunchbox. He didn't expect to get her voicemail.

Peyton? This is Wes Smedley. We talked last night - I'm a friend'uh Cardinals? Anyway, I wanted to bring by what we talked about, but…you're not pickin' up. So just gimme a call back, when you get the chance. Y'can reach me at 555-6139. See you soon.

Short. To the point. But there's undoubtedly a smile in Smedley's recorded voice.

Leaving the meeting at Redbird, Peyton pulled her cell phone from her purse, listened to the message and called Smedley back. He may or may not have been able to hear the slight tremor in her voice as they quipped and bantered, and soon enough, she invited him to meet her at the bar at the corner of her building on Park Avenue. If he'd thought about scamming her, she's quite the score, it'd seem.

Now she sits at a corner booth of the upscale bar waiting for him. She'd changed from the casual pink sundress and flip flops and instead wears a "little black dress" that shows off her lean curves and long legs, feet in red heels. She drinks another of her fruity cocktails, sipping from a straw as she watches the door.

Smedley, on the other hand, is dressed much like he was last night. The shirt might even be the same shirt. It's at least a similar color. But he has a jacket, and that's enough to make him fit in to some degree. The standard business size envelope in his hand is slightly odd at this time of night. It takes him a moment of scanning the bar before he notices Peyton. A grin cracks his features as he walks over, using the time to drink her in.

"Hello there, pretty lady," he drawls as he approaches the booth. "Mind if I join you on this fine, fine evening?"

The clairvoyant looks up from where she'd been staring into space — but not any one else's space. Her power is off for the night, and until she has to use it again, which will be far, far sooner than she wants it to be. She smiles and gives a nod, taking another sip from her jolly-rancher-flavored drink.

"I'd have ordered you something but I wasn't sure what you were drinking. You probably mentioned it or I heard it but I've kinda forgotten most of what we said yesterday," she admits, her eyes dropping down the length of his tall form before moving back to his face.

He slips onto the bench across from her, his grin as wide as ever. "Ain't nobody gonna blame you for that, Peyton," he says in a conspiratorial whisper. When the waitress makes her way around, now that the man has seated himself, he places an order for a Scotch on the rocks. No Jameson tonight, it would seem.

"I wouldn't'uh pegged you for a lush, though," he adds in an attempt at humor. He places the envelope on the table and slides it across. "But what'dya say we get the business overwith before we start in on the pleasure." Smedley's fingers stay on the edge of the white paper, pinning it every so lightly to the wood.

"You wouldn't have pegged me for a lush?" Peyton says, amusement riding in her dark eyes. Mostly because she'd only been a party girl known locally until she got in a car accident with a nationally-reknowned celebrity, taking the blame and the DUI and hitting the national tabloid scene at the age of 17. Most people who know her name assume she's a lush. "I'm not exactly innocent, but I'm not an alcoholic. Just cutting loose, yesterday. And I guess tonight, too. But it's not a habit. Not these days, anyway."

She puts a hand on the paper to slide it toward herself if he'll let go of it. "You just want me to bring these t Cardinal tomorrow? I mean, I'm just the secretary. And one of the investors."

Lucky for Smedley, he hasn't put two and two together yet. Society columns and tabloids aren't exactly his cup of tea. He holds the envelope a bit longer, his grin slipping to one side of his face. "Well, as an investor, you could say y'have the right to look at 'em." Cardinal's trust in Peyton goes far with Smedley. There is some honor among thieves, despite the saying. "Up to you, though."

He lets go of the envelope in time to accept the quickly delivered Scotch. It's not exactly a hard drink to put together, after all. Smedley sips it, making an appreciative expression. "How the hell did a gal like you get mixed up with a guy like Cardinal anyway?"

She raises a brow, opening the envelope to look at the pictures, shrugging and slipping them back inside, then tucking the envelope in her purse. "I'll pass 'em on. I've never seen anything like that, but then, I wouldn't know what the hell a lot of things look like," she says with a grin.

Peyton takes a long swallow of the fruity but strong drink — it's already her second, as she's hoping it will help her forget what she saw earlier that night. The quicker, the better. "Some mutual friends. They thought I could help out with something he was working on. After that, he did me a huge favor. I owe him a lot," she murmurs. The favor was helping to rescue Wendy, but then, Cardinal did the world a favor, and she smiles a little at the unintended double meaning. "Now we're business partners. He knows about security. I know how to cash checks. Works out, right?"

Taking his drink with him, Wes leans back into the booth's cushions. He watches Peyton talk as much as he listens to the words she says. The Scotch is his first drink of the evening, so he lacks the raw confidence he had last night. His gray-blue eyes move from her lips to her cheek, her cheek to her eyelid, her eyelid back to her neck, then on down to her hands as they frame her glass.

The way she talks about Cardinal isn't very comforting, but still - Cardinal isn't here. She didn't ask him along, even though she knew Smedley wanted to pass along the photographs. That's promising. "You've gotta stop doin' that," he says with a shake of his head. "Sellin' yourself short. M'sure you got plenty uh'talent that doesn't involve answering phones and doin' the books. Case in point - you wouldn'tuh made that decision to become a business partner if you didn't think Cardinal could hold up his end of the deal. Same with lettin' him do this sideline shit with me. You got brains for the game, girl. That ain't no small thing."

"I have money, Wes. Money and a power that is useful to people like Cardinal. Luckily I happen to agree with Cardinal on a lot of things, so it works out, and good thing it's not for someone else against my will," she says in a low voice, trusting him a little more than she probably should, but Cardinal seemed to trust him well enough which is good enough for her. She puts too much faith in Cardinal at times — it'd be easy enough for her to be manipulated on his word alone. That much is clear from her tone.

"But thank you. I do appreciate it. It's nice to be thought of as something other than a party girl," she adds, smiling. "I'm sure when it gets out that I co-own a company, I will have plenty of doubters."

Gets out? Smedley arches an eyebrow at this, and his grin shifts into a smirk, but he lets the comment slide. People with too much money have their own problems. "Any day'uh th'week, darlin'," he says with a wink, resurrecting the grin before he takes another sip of his drink.

Still, the question nags at the back of his mind, and it's probably that only a ridiculous amount of alcohol with shake it. "But you and Card. Just friends? I ain't gonna get a nasty visit if he finds out I'm out with you? That man's got a mean hook on 'im, and I'd rather not scuff up my pretty face with his dirty-ass knuckles."

There's a mix of emotion at that question. Peyton's lips curve into a tight-mouthed smile and she dips her gaze, lashes veiling her eyes before she shakes her head, turning the drink in her hands. Wes is hot, if rugged and probably too old for her, but that hasn't stopped her, well, ever. She's pleased at the flirtation, and just a little saddened by the honest of her answer:

"We're just friends. Business partners. He's got someone else," she says, surprised a little at the third bit of information that feels like an admission that if there wasn't… well. She doesn't know what would happen if there wasn't. She might or might not be here with Smedley. She shrugs. "Can't think of why he'd wanna punch you, anyway."

"Good," Smedley says with a nod, his eyes off in some middle distance above Peyton's right shoulder. "S'probably a good idea to keep it that way." He winks again, her bashfulness tugging a less lecherous smile out of him. Being in a corner booth would normal offer so many opportunities for a man like Wes, but getting around the table proves to be quite the awkward endeavor.

He sits still for a moment, then leans forward and slides around so that he's 90 degrees away from Peyton rather than 180. "'Cause maybe it's nice not t'be thought of as a guy who attracts that sort of reaction." He looks around the books, as if some invisible someone might call him out on the little white lie.

The waitress stops by to see if they want refills, then trots off to retrieve them from the bar. "You don't seem like the type to need to be punched," Peyton says, with a smirk. "Much, anyway."

She turns a little more toward him, her knee grazing his beneath the table. "But if you think you usually are, I don't have to think of you that way. You don't seem to think of me like most people do — if you think I'm smart and have a head for the game or whatever you said? It's nice to be thought of as different than everyone expects." Her hand reaches out to touch his arm lightly, then retreats, just as new drinks are dropped off.

He didn't really need a refill, but with some money still to burn, he doesn't mind it. Neither does he mind the subtle touches. Smedley arches his eyebrows a tad. "Sounds like a fair trade, then." He lifts his newly refilled drink then, taking the liberty to lean a little closer for his silent toast before downing a good half of it.

"But this understanding can't be a two-way street on ev'rything," he warns, suddenly serious. "Cause you're damned good lookin', and we don't wanna ruin that by you makin' up compliments for me." There's a smile at the end of the remark, but it's more tight-lipped, more teasing than his grin.

She clinks her glass against his and laughs, a low throaty sound that might reveal she's not entirely innocent, despite her youth. She knows she has charms, and she knows how to use them. "Well, thank you," Peyton says softly, glancing up at him, now that they're closer. "Though I would be lying if I said you weren't a handsome man, Cowboy. I wouldn't be making up anything. It's the truth, and I think you know it." She is enjoying being able to slip into this other persona — a girl flirting with a man in a bar, a girl with confidence and charm. It's a paradox — she likes that he doesn't think she's the girl everyone else does, and yet she's acting more like that girl from a year ago than she has in a long time.

It's been awhile since Smedley went after the affections of a real girl, a girl who wasn't on the clock. It's a different sort of dance, full of suggestion and indirect steps. And the last thing a man his age wants is to appear rusty.

He shakes his head even as a breathy chuckle escapes that crack of a grin. "That's just the point," Smedley admits with a shake of his head that brings his face just that much closer to Peyton. Close enough to barely brush his nose against the corona of her hair. "All it'll serve is bolsterin' an already dangerous ego. No good end t'that."

"As long," Peyton murmurs, tipping her head slightly, soft hair grazing his face before it becomes soft skin, and she is nose to nose, eye to eye with him, "as you can make good on the promises your ego makes on your behalf, it's a chance I'm willing to take." Her dark eyes seek his, before dropping to his lips and back up, her own slightly parted, her body language all but screaming for him to kiss her. All she needs is a singing Jamaican crab accompanied by a quartet of frogs to make it more obvious.

The fish were the ones that really carried the tune, though.

Smedley exhales quite a bit of tension when he looks down at Peyton, his own eyes nearly half-lidded. She's young. So young. But not…too young. His mouth twitches once before he moves that fraction of an inch to tentatively brush his lips against hers.

But it's not a schoolboy's kiss. Just a brief, tentative one, given Peyton's obvious class and dubious willingness. That being said, it takes one inhalation of woman - real woman, not tarted up with too much scent to cover up the booze and squallor - before Wes clears that mental barrier.

Desire blooms on many levels — the desire for this man, the desire to be held, the desire to be desired. Most of all, the desire not to be alone on this night. Wes is warm, alive, colorful — the antithesis to everything that she sees in her mind's eye when she is alone at night, trying to find rest but only finding death and fear and shadows. She can't be alone tonight. Cardinal had said to let him know if she needed anything, after she saw what she had through Gregor's eyes, but the one thing she needs, she can't ask him for. And here is Wesley, offering it so easily.

"I live in this building," she murmurs, when the kiss breaks off, though her lips are still close enough to graze his jaw as she speaks.

"Ain't that convenient," is his own hushed answer not more than a beat behind. Wes brings his free hand up to frame one side of Peyton's face, holding it steady so he can steal just one more kiss before he pulls away.

The look he gives her is, for lack of a better word, smoldering. She's effectively invited him up with that phrase alone, and he knows it. "Why don't you head on up. I'll take care of things down here, and y'can buzz me up if y'want?" It's a risk, giving her the chance to change her mind, but it seems right to take it with a girl like Peyton.

With a sharp intake of breath at that last kiss, Peyton's eyes dip and she gives a nod. Her dark eyes lift again and she smiles a bit impishly. "Oh, I want," she says, sliding out of the booth slowly, tugging her purse over her shoulder. "The lobby's next door. I'm 505." She smoothes her dress and glances over her shoulder. "Don't be long." Her words are punctuated by the staccato of her heels on the tile steps as she makes her way to the exit.

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