Provocation (18+)

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15. Funhouse

“I swear it’s true,” Nate told her, nodding sagely.

“Absolutely impossible!”

“Not a bit,” Nate disagreed. “Didn’t you wonder how your security cameras didn’t pick up anything strange? We knew where your father placed them!”

“Yes, but TP’ing the fucking tree in the front of the house is awfully juvenile for the age of 18,” Leila said, arching her brow but grinning maniacally.

“Men take longer to mature. That’s a well-known fact,” Nate told her, nursing his fourth scotch. “Besides, it was Anthony’s idea. I was just going along for the ride. Peer pressure’s a bitch.”

“You do realize my neighbors’ kids got blamed for that,” Leila told him, giggling as she remembered the look on her father’s face when he was met with the sight of his monumental live oak covered in 2-ply Cottonelle.

“The Callow boys? Really?” Nate said, his own grin spreading across his face. “I can’t say I mind hearing that. They always were entitled little shits.”

“Oh, and you weren’t?” Leila snickered.

“Touche,” Nate said, grinning back at her.

“Another shot, kind Sir,” Leila called out to the bartender who was slowly losing patience with her. So far she had dubbed him Kojak, Michael Chiklis, Captain Picard and Vin Diesel along with some more unsavory names.

Chrome-dome. Cue ball. Billiard brain.

Baldie-locks was Nate’s favorite. He had almost snorted his expensive drink all over the man’s glistening five-head.

“Psssst... Nate,” Leila called loudly, drunkenly. “Do you think Bruce Willis here will give us an autograph if we ask nicely?”

If it was meant to be a whisper, her volume was too loud. Knowing Leila, though, he doubted she meant it to be between just the two of them.

Nate looked over at the bartender whose actual name was Joel. Poor Joel, prematurely balding at the age of 26 and now having to deal with an inebriated spitfire who refused to call him by his name.

Nate mouthed a ‘sorry’ at Joel and shrugged his shoulders.

“I think it’s time you put the shot glasses down,” Nate told her. “You’ll hate yourself in the morning if you don’t.”

Leila sighed, resigned.

“You’re right,” she told him. “I have to get home and do that thing where you close your eyes and sometimes dream.”


“That’s the one.”

“How are you getting home?” Nate asked, suddenly concerned. He obviously knew she didn’t live nearby anymore and he was a little tipsy himself, though not half as bad as Leila.

“Luber,” Leila told him, slurring. “No- Libber. No... that taxi type thing... with the app.”

“Uber? Lyft?”

“Yes, one of those,” she told him, waving her hand drunkenly around.

“How are you getting to the car? Flying? You can barely stand, much less walk,” he mentioned.

Leila slid slowly off the bar stool and let her feet settle on her heels before almost toppling over.

“I can roll if I have to,” she told him, grabbing her clutch purse from the bar top.

“Bullshit,” he told her softly. He looked over at Joel who handed over Leila’s credit card to Nate and heaved a relieved sigh. “You have a hotel room here for tomorrow night, right?”

“Yesh,” she told him. It was abbreviated with a small, cute hiccup. “I plan on getting gloriously drunk tomorrow and then sleeping it off until they physically force me from the building on Sunday.”

“Then why don’t you go see if you can check in a day early?” he asked. “That way you only have to roll yourself to the elevator and won’t sick up on some poor working man’s car upholstery.”

“Fabulous idea, Nathan,” she told him grandly, hitting a stool with her clutch. “How did this stool get here? Now just point me in the direction of the people who hand out the thingies to the rooms and I’ll be on my way.”

She started to walk off in the wrong direction until Nate grabbed her by the arm and directed her toward another empty bar stool.

“I’ll get the key,” he told her. “You sit here and drink two full glasses of water and I’ll be back in a few minutes.”

Joel placed some ice into a tall, clear glass and added spring water to it before handing it over to Leila.

“You’re a life saver, Dr. Phil,” she told Joel with a sigh.


“Make it stop,” Leila groaned out, awash with two glasses of water and feeling like she was floating down a river and not attempting to walk to her hotel room.

“Make what stop?” Nate asked, looking around the empty hallway in confusion.

“The walls,” she said, leaning into Nate’s firm chest. “They’re moving like crazy. Un-fucking-believable.”

“The only things that are moving in this hallway are me and you,” Nate told her, trying not to laugh at her.

“Why’d you make me drink so much water? I feel like I’m drifting down the hallway I’ve got so much H2O in me.”

“You’ll thank me in the morning when you’ve not vomiting throughout the ceremony,” he told her, eyeing the door that was Leila’s room.

Holding her up with one arm, he dug his free hand into his pocket to bring out the key to the room. Electronic, and he hoped the damned thing worked without any fuss or body contortions on his part.

A tiny beep sounded and the door sensor flashed green after a slight flicker to red. A click was heard and he pushed open the door, switching on the light before moving into the room with Leila at his side, all awkward angles, and rubbery legs.

Nate sat her down on the bed before removing her heels and chuckled when her back hit the soft mattress with a soft whooshing sound.

“I can’t move,” she said to the ceiling. “No... I can move. I just don’t wanna.”

“You’re going to sleep like that? Feet on the ground and sideways? You might get cold.”

“I don’t have anything to wear,” she said, addressing the ceiling still.

“I’ll see if they have a bathrobe in the linen cupboard,” Nate said, getting up from his kneeling position on the floor. “They usually- holy Hell Leila! What the fuck do you think you are doing?”

“I can’t wear this to bed!” Her voice came out muffled as she struggled to take off the light twinset she had on. “It’s not comfy enough to sleep in.”

“And your bra is?” Nate asked, all panicked voice and eyes averted from her.

“Good idea,” she said, giggling. “I gotta get rid of the bra too.”

Nate turned around and heard Leila laugh.

“Don’t be such a fucking prude, Nathaniel,” she told him, still obviously drunk enough to not care that she was bare breasted to her best friend’s older brother. “I know you’ve seen tits before. You had skin mags when you were in high school.”

“Wh- how the fuck did you know that?” he asked, attempting to turn back around before thinking better of it.

“Just because you close your bedroom door, it doesn’t mean that your sister and I didn’t sneak in there to explore while you were out,” she said, laughing hysterically now as she tried to skim her skirt down her legs. She was failing miserably at it, but Nate knew if he tried to help her, he’d be putting himself into an even more awkward position. A very erect and awkward position. Her bare breasts were speaking directly to his cock.

“Nice collection by the way,” Leila told him, laughing. “If I didn’t know any better, I would have thought you had a subscription to Juggs, Penthouse and Hustler along with Playboy.”

“I didn’t.” Nate’s Adam’s apple bobbed furiously, trying to swallow down the humiliation that was threatening to spill out in the form of verbal vomit. “Anthony’s dad did, though. He never even knew when one of his magazines went missing he had so many of them coming to the house.”

Leila giggled again and cried out as she came crashing to the floor.

“Help me!”

“Dammit,” Nate growled out and closed his eyes in preparation of helping the inebriated woman to her feet.

He walked over, determined not to catch sight of her chest. Of course, it was right there in front of him and his eyes quickly skimmed over the pale, rosy nipples before moving down to her legs. She had somehow gotten one leg out of her skirt and the other was entangled in the flimsy fabric of it, threatening to rip it apart with her incessant wiggling.

“Leila, hold still,” he ordered.

Nate placed all his focus on trying to disentangle her legs from the skirt. When she was finally free, he pulled her to standing before backing up and shifting a quarter turn away from her, his eyes locked on the windows on the far side of the room.

Nate could hear her moving the covers back from the bed and sighed when he heard her pull them over herself.

“Are you going to be okay here? Alone?” he asked. He was worried she might asphyxiate on her own vomit sometime in the middle of the night.

“I’m fine,” she murmured sleepily. “Just tired.”

“Lay on your side in case you get sick in the night,” he told her.

“So demanding,” she muttered into her pillow. “I can’t sleep on my side. It’s not comfy.”

“Then how do you spoon?” he asked, surely women loved to be spooned.

“I don’t,” she answered, her voice even becoming fainter as sleep tried to pull her under.

“You mean you never have, or you’re just one of those ladies that doesn’t like to snuggle?”

“Never have,” she replied. “When I sleep with a guy, there is no actual sleeping going on. Either I leave after the deed’s done, or he does.”

“Is this ‘no snuggling’ a policy of yours or do you just have shitty taste in men?”

“It’s just sex,” she told him. “I never take a man to my place and I make sure that before we seal the deal he knows it’s a one and done. No overnighters.”

“That’s...” Nate didn’t know a word to say that wouldn’t make him sound like an absolute shit.

“Pathetic, I know,” Violet mumbled, pulling the blankets around her tighter.

There were a few moments of silence as Nate tried to decide what to do. He didn’t want to leave her alone since he was concerned something might happen in the middle of the night, but he didn’t want to make her uncomfortable either. Would she care if he stayed? And where would he sleep? She had only booked a single bed, albeit a king-sized one.

“Go to sleep, Leila,” he told her softly, watching as her breathing regulated and her face smoothed out from one of worry to a gentle mask of the unconscious.


There was nothing to do in the hotel room except watch TV, read the Bible, or watch Leila sleep.

Nate wasn’t really into television, the Bible wasn’t his thing, so Leila-watching it was.

He watched as she took each breath, her head snuggled into a pillow as the air temperature was regulated. The air conditioning/heating unit struggled to keep the room at a moderate 72 degrees Fahrenheit.

The four scotches took its toll on Nate’s bladder and after emptying it, he realized he was still way too buzzed and tired to drive. He could have gotten an Uber or Lyft, but every time he went to open the app, he thought of Leila and became concerned once again.

Nate had once seen a 20/20 special on hazing in fraternities before heading off to college. The hazing part hadn’t rattled him, but the tales of drunken parties that ended up with young people suffering from alcohol poisoning or dying from inhaling their own sick had hit him hard. It was probably the reason he hadn’t drunk to excess in college. Or pledged one of those hardcore fraternities where it was keggers all weekend and hazing that was more like bootcamp and lasted several weeks at the beginning of each school year. He loved living and planned on doing a lot of it before dying many decades from now.

After emptying his bladder, he sat back down on the bed, picking up the edge of the quilt and sliding under the sheets in his clothing, as uncomfortable as that was. He hoped his new landlord didn’t mind bunking up with him in the king-sized accommodations he had obtained for her a day early.

Sliding down under the sheets, he laid on his back, his head resting on his hand over the pillow, pants riding up to bunch beneath his knees.

Nate wasn’t used to sleeping in much. Usually just boxers and a t-shirt, or- if it was cold- sleep pants and a long-sleeved shirt. Dress pants with a belt that dug into his trim waist was a fucking joke.

Trying to get comfortable, he rolled onto his side, facing Leila as he saw her chest slowly rise and fall with each exhale. He was hoping the gentle movement would somehow lull him into a deep sleep and he could wake up and be out the door before she knew he had stayed. They got along well enough now, but he was sure he would erase all forward progress if she found him in her bed while she was only wearing the flimsy panties she had on. He figured a small nap and he’d be good as new.

At least he hoped so and set his cell phone’s alarm for early in the morning.

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