Guarded Hearts-Part 1

Summary: The night before Liam’s bachelor party, MC (Alice) meets someone else from Cordonia.

Notes: This is a new series I’m working on that poses the question of what if the MC had met Bastien before Liam? I hope you enjoy it!

“Sir, I really have to insist–”

“Bastien, stop!” Liam protested with a laugh as he pushed him towards the cab. “Seriously, we’ll be fine. We have other members of the guard here who can take over for tonight, and besides–knowing Maxwell and whatever he has planned for the bachelor party tomorrow, we’ll need you then.”

Liam led Bastien to the waiting cab and opened the door. Bastien sighed, resigned, and climbed in.

“Excuse me,” Liam said to the cab driver. “Please take this man somewhere he can get a good dinner and a drink. He needs a night off.”

“Will do,” the driver said. Liam patted the hood of the car and the driver pulled away from the curb, melding into the nighttime New York traffic

Alice sighed and surveyed the nearly empty restaurant. It was unusually dead for a Thursday, but the following night would be better. Fridays always were.

However, there was one patron at the bar who’d caught her eye, and not just because he was one of her two open tabs. He’d come in alone and had dinner but, two hours later, was still sipping scotch and keeping her company.

“You sure you don’t mind me taking off?” her co-worker, Daniel, asked as he shrugged on his jacket.

“No, it’s fine, I’ve got it,” Alice said. “It’s so dead in here I’ll probably close up once this guy’s done,” she added, nodding her head at the man at the bar. “Enjoy your date.”

“Thanks, Al,” Daniel said with a grin. “See you tomorrow.”

Alice said goodbye before heading back down the bar. The man looked up from his drink and smiled at her.

“So, Bastien,” Alice said, leaning on the bar. “How long are you in town for?”

“Just a few days,” he said. “I’m here for work.”

“What do you do?”

He hesitated for a moment. “Security.”

“Yes, and that pause doesn’t make it sound at all like you just made that up.”

Bastien laughed. “I’m telling the truth, I swear. I just have someone high profile that I protect, so I’m cautious about going into too many details. Besides,” he added. “I’d rather talk about you.”

Alice smirked. “Trust me, bartending isn’t as exciting as guarding someone’s life.”

As if on cue, the front door opened and several men stumbled through the door. Alice straightened up and sighed, already exhausted by this group of Chads. They were clearly intoxicated and she didn’t want to deal with them. Bastien glanced over his shoulder, following his gaze.

“Need a hand?” he asked, looking back at her. She shook her head.

“No, I’ve got it,” Alice said. “Comes with the territory.”

Two of the men managed to make their way to the bar, nearly tripping as they did so. They were laughing uproariously at something one of them had said while their friends slid into a booth.

“We need shots!” one of the guys practically shouted in Alice’s face. He wore a khakis and a polo shirt beneath his puffy Northface jacket; trust fund baby, Alice was sure of it. She didn’t flinch.

“Guys, I’m sorry, but you’re too intoxicated, I can’t serve you,” she said. “You’re gonna have to go.”

“No!” Northface protested, the “o” stretching out into a petulant whine that reminded Alice of a cranky toddler. “It’s my buddy’s bachelor party, we’re celebrating.” Northface clapped his friend on the shoulder, nearly knocking over the very drunk man of the hour. “If you’re cool about it, maybe we’ll let you party with us…”

Alice rolled her eyes so hard she thought they might fall out of her head.

“As tempting as that is, I’m not serving you. You guys have to go,” Alice said. “And that’s the last time I ask nicely. If I have to do it again, I’m calling the cops on you for trespassing.”

Northface’s eyes narrowed and Alice felt her pulse quicken, but she kept her face impassive. “Nicely? You didn’t say ‘please’, you dumb bitch,” he growled. Before Alice could react, his arm shot across the bar and grabbed her wrist. His fingers dug into her skin. “I think you owe me an apology.”

She wasn’t sure how he moved so fast, but suddenly her wrist was free and Bastien had Northface’s cheek pressed against the polished wood of the bar, his arm twisted behind him.

“I think you have that backwards,” Bastien said as calmly as if he was commenting on the weather.

“Hey,” the bachelor said, slowly realizing what had happened. “You can’t–”

Before he could finish, Bastien swept the bachelor’s legs out from beneath him and knocked him down on the ground while still keeping Northface pinned. The bachelor groaned, but didn’t attempt to get up.

“Let me go, asshole!” Northface yelled as he struggled, but to no avail. Bastien didn’t even seem to be exerting any effort.

“I believe you owe the lady an apology,” Bastien said.

“Fuck you!”

By now, the other members of the bachelor party had joined the group at the bar.

“Hey, man, we’ll take him out of here,” one of the guys said, clearly one of the more sober ones. “Sorry,” he added, turning to Alice.

“It’s fine,” Alice said, rubbing the aching skin on her wrist. “Just get him out of here.”

Bastien glanced at Alice and when she nodded, he released Northface. The bachelor party left, but not before Northface slammed the front door behind him with a loud crack. The silence in their wake was deafening. Alice walked quickly from behind the bar and turned the deadbolt on the front door before flipping the open sign.

“Are you all right?”

Alice jumped, not expecting Bastien to be right behind her.

“I’m fine,” she said, adrenaline still coursing through her. “One of the hazards of the job.”

“This happens to you a lot?” he asked. He gestured for her wrist and she held out her arm to him. Bastien took it gently in his hands, inspecting the dim bruises already forming beneath her skin.

“Not this part,” she said, nodding to her wrist. “Usually they just call me a bitch and move on.”

“That’s not okay either.”

“Thanks, by the way,” she said, changing the subject. “I’m lucky you were here.”

“Happy to help,” he said.

“Would you…” Alice hesitated, then forged ahead. “I know it’s your night off, but would you mind staying while I close up the bar? In case those guys come back.”

“Of course.”

When they finished closing the bar, Alice insisted they go around the corner to another place where she could buy him a thank you drink.

“You already took care of my tab back there,” Bastien said as they settled onto stools at the end of the bar. “But I’d love to buy one for you.”

“Uh-uh, that’s not how this whole ‘thank you drink’ thing works,” Alice said as the pretty, heavily tattooed bartender approached them.

“Hey, Alice,” Frankie said as she set down cocktail napkins in front of Alice and Bastien. “You’re not going to believe the Chads I just had to kick out of here.”

“Oh, I bet I am,” Alice said, holding up her bruised wrist. “We met.”

“Jesus Christ!” Frankie exclaimed, careful not to touch Alice’s bruises as she looked closer. “Well, they’re 86’d. Are you okay?”

“Yeah, I got lucky that I had a knight in shining armor sitting at my bar,” Alice said with a smile as she nudged Bastien’s arm with her elbow. “He pinned the guy in the white hat and Northface jacket to the bar.”

Frankie grinned. “Think you can get me the security footage?”

“Sure, it’s been a while since we had a good movie night.”

Frankie laughed. “First round’s on me, what do you want?”

Alice and Bastien both ordered whiskey and Frankie nodded, turning to go get their drinks.

“Does anyone pay for their own drinks in New York?” Bastien asked. Alice laughed.

“Not if you work in the service industry,” she said. “We take care of each other.”

Frankie returned with the drinks as Bastien’s phone chimed. He pulled it out of his pocket and as he looked down at the screen, Frankie caught Alice’s eye.

“He’s hot!” Frankie mouthed silently, pointing without any subtext of subtlety at Bastien. Alice was about to shush her when a couple more customers sidled up to the bar, claiming her attention. Alice looked back to Bastien to see if he’d noticed, but he was staring at the screen, brow furrowed.

“Everything okay?” she asked.

“Yeah,” Bastien said with a sigh as he tucked his phone into his pocket. “Just a small work issue.”

“Do you need to go?”

“No, nothing like that,” Bastien said, turning back to her. “I can’t go into a lot of details, but one of my colleagues just texted me. Apparently, one of our clients was detained by hotel security for streaking around the pool and shouting, ‘Release the kraken!’”

Alice nearly snorted whiskey out of her nose. She squeezed her eyes shut, willing the burn to leave her nostrils as she laughed.

“Are you serious?” she managed to ask between giggles.

“I wish I wasn’t,” Bastien said, allowing himself a smile. “But yes, I am. Although,” he said, lightly tapping his knee against hers. “I’d much rather talk about you than my clients.”

For the next couple hours, Bastien and Alice fell into easy conversation. Eventually, they left the bar and began to walk through the city streets before ending up on the Brooklyn Bridge. He learned that she’d graduated with an art history degree from NYU, was a voracious reader, and had never traveled outside the US before although she desperately wanted to. She, in turn, learned that he spoke eight languages, had traveled everywhere, and had the same favorite book as her.

“I can’t believe your favorite book is The Picture of Dorian Gray,” Alice said. She narrowed her eyes with suspicion. “Seriously, are you just saying that because I said that’s my favorite?”

“No!” Bastien protested, leaning on the railing to look out at the dark water below. “I read a lot, but I always go back to that one. Everything in my life is so practical and factual; it’s part of my job. But I love the magical realism of Dorian Gray. There’s no explanation as to why the painting is magic–it just is.”

“Maybe that means you need more magic in your life,” Alice said. Bastien smiled and looked over at her. The lights of the bridge illuminated her face and made her blonde hair seem to glow. He reached over for a lock of her hair, turning it over in this fingers. She stepped closer to him, nearly touching him but not quite. With his free hand, Bastien traced along her jawline with her fingertips. She could feel the warmth of his breath on her lips in the moment before he kissed her. Alice closed her eyes, sinking into the kiss. She couldn’t have said why, but even knowing they’d just met, even knowing he was leaving, she felt something click.

Back at her studio apartment, Alice could barely focus on getting the key into her front door as Bastien’s lips grazed the curve of her neck, his hands on her hips, his chest pressed against her back. Finally, she got the door unlocked and practically fell inside, pulling Bastien with her. He kicked the door shut behind them and reached for her, pulling her into a searing kiss. She pushed at his jacket, sliding it off his shoulders and letting it fall to the floor before she set to work on the buttons of his shirt. Her fingers fumbled but she finally got it undone, pulling it away to reveal the hard muscles of his stomach. Bastien scooped her up in his arms and carried her over to the bed, setting her down gently before he joined her, sliding his hand up the front of her shirt. Alice arched into his touch as he ran his thumb over her hardening nipple through the lace of her bra. He pushed up her shirt and knelt down, pulling down at the lace to give himself better access. Bastien mouthed one nipple, then the other, before letting his fingers drift down over her stomach to the top of her jeans. He sat up for a moment, taking in the sight of her lying before him, clothing in disarray, pupils blown wide with lust. Alice sat up, tugging off her shirt and tossing it to the side, her bra quickly following. She got up onto her knees, bringing her face to his.

“Is something wrong?” she asked softly, cupping his face in her hands. He kissed her deeply, tangling one hand in her hair as the other pulled her waist closer to him.

“Quite the opposite,” he murmured as his lips brushed over her ear, making her shiver. Bastien nudged her backward until she was lying down before he reached down to unzip her jeans. He tugged them off, pulling her panties off with them before he knelt down, trailing a line of fiery kisses across her abdomen as he made his way lower. He didn’t hesitate when he reached her apex, running his flat tongue along her wet folds, feeling his own excitement growing when he tasted how we she already was. Bastien lapped at her, caressing her with his tongue, his eyes trained up on her face. He watched as the pleasure ebbed and flowed across her face, noting each time her breath hitched. He slipped a finger inside of her, then two, and she moaned softly, her hips bucking as he began to slide them in and out, curling them just right. When she couldn’t stay still any longer and he knew she was close, Bastien ran his free hand up to her breast, caressing it as he pinned her in place with his tongue, pushing her closer and closer to the edge until she came, crying out as she tugged at his hair, begging for more. When she finally began to come down from her orgasm, Bastien released her, kissing his way up her body until he was even with her, kissing her throat, her cheek, her forehead until she pulled his lips to hers.

Suddenly, she surprised him by rolling him onto his back and straddling him. Alice leaned over and grabbed a condom from her nightstand and Bastien took it from her, ripping it open and tossing away the wrapper before rolling it on. Alice positioned herself over him, teasing the tip of his cock against her wet entrance, still pulsing slightly with the aftershocks of her orgasm. Bastien tried to lift his hips, to push inside, but she kept him at bay, teasing him by only letting him in a little before pulling away. He groaned in desperation, fingers digging into her hips. Finally, she slid down onto him. Her head dropped back at the sensation of his large cock filling her and after a moment, she began to move and up and down, up and down. Bastien watched as she rode him, his hands roaming her body, pulling her to him again and again. He’d been with a lot of women, but none that were quite like her. Bastien wasn’t sure what it was, but there was just something about her.

Bastien sat up, wrapping his arms around Alice. She was close again, he could feel her tightening around him, and he slid a hand between them, his thumb circling her clit. She moaned and rode him harder, hips bucking towards a release. Bastien thrust up into her, his own climax quickly approaching. When she came again, he let himself come, groaning as he felt her nails dig into his back, marking him as she pulled him closer.

They finally stopped moving, still entwined and breathing hard. Bastien cupped her face in his hands and kissed her softly as the cool air settled on their sweaty skin.

“You’re right, I did need more magic in my life,” he said with a grin. She laughed.

“That’s really cheesy, Dorian,” Alice said. Bastian shrugged.

“I can’t be cool all the time, Gray.”

The sun hadn’t quite risen when Bastien awoke the next morning. He hated to leave, but he needed to get back. Bastien guessed Liam and his friends’ hangovers would keep them asleep for several more hours, but you never could tell. Despite Maxwell’s antics the night before, Bastien knew there was a strong chance Maxwell would have everyone up and at breakfast bright and early.

He sat up in bed and rubbed away the sleep from his eyes. Beside him, Alice slept peacefully. Bastien carefully climbed out of bed and dressed quickly. He looked around for a piece of paper and a pen, finally locating them on the kitchen counter. Bastien hesitated, the pen hovering over the paper. He never gave out his number to women; there was never much of a point. And yet, he felt he couldn’t just leave Alice even if he couldn’t have said why. He wrote down his name and number and set the piece of paper on the nightstand. He was about to leave, but hesitated when he looked at her. Instead, he sat down, brushing her blonde hair back from her face.

“Alice,” he said quietly. She shifted slightly but didn’t open her eyes. “Alice.”

Her eyes fluttered open and focused on him. “Taking off?”

“I have to get back. Work.”

She nodded sleepily and reached for him. He lay down beside her and she kissed him softly, closing her eyes again.

“Thanks for saying goodbye,” she said, nuzzling against him. He wrapped an arm around her, pulling her to him.

“I left my number for you,” he said, kissing her temple. “If you want it.”

“Thanks,” she murmured. “I do.” She sighed, already drifting back to sleep. “Bye, Dorian.”

“Bye, Gray.”

“Did you text him?” Daniel asked.

“Not yet,” Alice admitted as she tossed the bag of trash into the dumpster. Daniel gaped at her.

Why not?” he demanded. “A gorgeous guy wandered into the bar, saved you from a drunk bachelor party, and gave you mind blowing sex. Yeah, I see why you wouldn’t text him back,” Daniel said, rolling his eyes.

“He’s only in town for a couple days and he said he’s working today anyway,” Alice said, the excuse sounding feeble to her as she said it. “I just don’t see the point, it couldn’t ever be anything.”

“The point?” Daniel exclaimed. “The point is mind blowing sex!”

At that moment, their manager opened the back door, scowling at them.

“If you two are done slacking off, we just got a bachelor party that could use some service if you feel like doing your job,” he snapped. The manager didn’t wait for a reply before he turned on his heel and went back inside.

“Another bachelor party?” Alice asked with a groan.

“Let’s hope it’s a different party,” Daniel said. “And hey, I’ll be your backup today.”

Alice eyed his thin frame and smiled. “If you say so.”

“Hey, I’m tough!” Daniel protested with a laugh as they headed back inside.

“Waitress, there you are!” an expensive-looking man shouted as Alice re-entered the restaurant. “We need your best table!”

“Forget the table. Just bring us whiskey, and lots of it,” interjected a surly but handsome man in a blue shirt.

Alice suppressed an eyeroll with everything she had. “Why don’t you guys head over to that booth over there and I’ll be back with some menus?” she said. As they headed away, she turned to grab some menus only to find Daniel standing behind her with a stack already in hand.

“They’re going to throw so much money at you,” Daniel said as he handed her the menus and glanced over her shoulder.

Or they’re not going to tip at all. You know what rich guys are like; either they pay your rent or you pay for the privilege of waiting on them,” Alice countered. She took the menus and brought them to the table. “Gentlemen, my name is Alice and I’ll be taking care of you this evening. Can I start you off with something to drink?”

“Steaks for the table!” an energetic young man in a black button up shirt exclaimed.

“How about some filet mignon, medium rare and prepared with a bearnaise sauce?” the expensive man asked.

“Neither one of those are drinks, but the closest thing we have to filet mignon is the deluxe burger,” Alice said.

“Dare I ask for your wine list?” the expensive man asked apprehensively.

“It’d be faster if you flipped a coin between the house red and the house white,” Alice replied. She heard a laugh and glanced over to see an extremely handsome man with dark hair chuckling at her comment.

“We’ll take four deluxe burgers,” the man with the dark hair said. “Sorry, they’re a little high maintenance.”

“And whiskey,” added the man in the blue shirt.

“This is a bar, you’re going to have to be more specific about what kind of whiskey you want. We have a lot,” Alice said. Out of the corner of her eye, she could see the man with the dark hair suppress a smile.

“What do you drink?” asked the expensive man.

“Middleton,” Alice said, which was a complete and utter lie. Her tastes usually ran far less expensive than Middleton, but she had little patience for customers who didn’t know what they wanted.

“Perfect, thank you,” the man with the dark hair said with a smile. Alice returned his smile and headed back behind the bar to enter their order.

“Oh my god, they’re hot!” Daniel hissed in her ear as she stood over the POS terminal.

“They’re also annoying,” Alice said as she tapped in the burgers on the screen.

“That one seemed nice,” Daniel pointed out. “At the very least, he seems to be aware of his friends’ behavior.”

Alice glanced up over the terminal to see the man with the dark hair watching her. He smiled when her eyes met his and she smiled briefly before turning back to the screen.

“Remember, this is a bachelor party,” Alice said. “That means they’re out celebrating an engagement.”

“Yes, but which one is engaged?”

Alice shrugged. “Who knows? Probably the only tolerable one.” She looked up again and when she caught the man with the dark hair still looking at her, he blushed and looked away.

“He sure doesn’t look engaged,” Daniel said, poking her in the side before he left to attend to a new table that had just sat down. Alice finished entering in the order and turned to pour four Middletons. As she grabbed the whiskey, she couldn’t stop thinking about the number she’d programmed into her phone. After she dropped off the drinks at the table, Alice ducked into the liquor room and pulled out her phone to send a text.

Another bachelor party, but this one seems better behaved than the one last night. Hope you’re having a good night and no one has released the kraken x

Outside the bar, Bastien’s phone buzzed in his pocket. He pulled it out and read the text message from Alice and smiled. He looked back up and through the window in time to see Alice return to her spot behind the bar. Thankfully, there seemed little chance of Maxwell repeating the prior night’s stunt in the bar. Bastien looked over at Liam and his friends; they seemed fine, if a bit rowdy. No rowdier than usual, anyway. However, even from his vantage point, Bastien couldn’t help but notice the way Liam looked at Alice. He certainly couldn’t blame Liam, or anyone else for that matter. Bastien raised his phone and was about to text Alice back when he saw Liam stand up and walk to the bar. He watched as Liam leaned on the bar, waiting for Alice. Bastien thought he might be ordering another round, but then he saw Liam sit on a barstool. He said something that made Alice laugh and Bastien didn’t like the way his stomach twinged at the sight of them.

Bastien put his phone back in his pocket.

Part 2

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