Comforting Lie
Chapter Thirty
Chapter One
Chapter Two
Chapter Three
Chapter Four
Chapter Five
Chapter Six
Chapter Seven
Chapter Eight
Chapter Nine
Chapter Ten
Chapter Eleven
Chapter Twelve
Chapter Thirteen
Chapter Fourteen
Chapter Fifteen
Chapter Sixteen
Chapter Seventeen
Chapter Eighteen
Chapter Nineteen
Chapter Twenty
Chapter Twenty-One
Chapter Twenty-Two
Chapter Twenty-Three
Chapter Twenty-Four
Chapter Twenty-Five
Chapter Twenty-Six
Chapter Twenty-Seven
Chapter Twenty-Eight
Chapter Twenty-Nine
Chapter Thirty
Chapter Thirty-One
Chapter Thirty-Two
Chapter Thirty-Three
Chapter Thirty-Four
Chapter Thirty-Five
Chapter Thirty-Six
Chapter Thirty-Seven
Chapter Thirty-Eight
Chapter Thirty-Nine
Chapter Forty
Chapter Forty-One
Chapter Forty-Two
Chapter Forty-Three
Chapter Forty-Four
Chapter Forty-Five
Chapter Forty-Six
Chapter Forty-Seven
Chapter Forty-Eight
Chapter Forty-Nine
Chapter Fifty
Chapter Fifty-One
Chapter Fifty-Two

Cara stretched her body out to its full length and groaned as the loud, monotone beep of the alarm clock filtered through her sleep-foggy consciousness. With a sigh, she reached out a hand to smack the snooze button. One more deep breath, and she released her contracted limbs and allowed herself a groan.

No matter how many times she woke up for rehearsal, it always seemed too early. No matter how much sleep she got that night, morning always seemed to come too soon. Her longing for a sleep-filled Sunday was bordering on lust.

Unfortunately, Sunday was five days away.

With that thought in mind, she rolled her eyes and moved to plant her feet on the floor. If they were late, they'd catch hell from Cal. For that reason, she always set her alarm at least fifteen minutes ahead of Aaron and Theresa. She wasn't exactly a morning person, but the alarm woke her up quickly. Theresa and Aaron, on the other hand, could sleep through a small earthquake without even flinching.

She tugged on a bra, a sweatshirt, and a pair of jeans and padded barefoot out of the room to start the coffee machine. Her trek to the kitchen was quickly halted, however, when she caught sight of a snoring Nick sprawled out on the couch.

She was surprised to see him drooling on the overstuffed leather. She was even more surprised to see David Hasselhoff's interpretation of Jekyll & Hyde dancing across the television screen. She winced as Hasselhoff's Hyde proceeded to rush through the set of "Dangerous Game."

"God, I hope we don't look like that," she muttered with a groan. "At least Aaron can count..."

She moved her gaze back to the sleeping Nick on her sofa and furrowed her brow. His mouth was partly open, and the few locks of his hair that had managed to escape the hair band in his sleep were stuck to his forehead and neck.

Upon Cara's encounter with Aaron's older brother, the hair had been the first indication that something was drastically different. It seemed to grow with his problems.

Nick was sleeping deeply if not peacefully, and she felt terrible about waking him, but she knew that, if she didn't, Aaron would wake him in a much ruder fashion. She brushed the stray locks out of his eyes and shook his shoulder gently.

"Nick? Nick, you need to wake up, hon. You fell asleep on the couch."

He jolted awake almost immediately, eyes snapping open in fear as he yanked his legs to his chest. Cara pulled her hand away in surprise, but both figures relaxed when they made eye contact. Nick released the breath he'd been holding and stretched.


Had Cara not been so worried about him, she would've smiled at his sleep-thick tone. "Hey. We need to get you to your room before Aaron wakes up."

Nick rolled his eyes and nodded his agreement. "Yeah, good idea." He planted both feet on the floor and padded towards his room. Cara followed. As soon as the door closed behind them, she frowned.

"Why were you watching the show?"

Nick blinked at her a few times before the question registered, and his eyes widened knowingly. "Oh! The musical. I found that song and wanted to see the show."

Cara frowned. "That song?"

His excitement quickly faded as the previous evening's events came rushing back. "Yeah, that song. The one about nobody knowing you."

"Lucy's song?"

"Yeah. Found it on the counter," he muttered absently. He reached up a hand and began massaging his temples. "Shit."


He laughed hollowly. "No. God, no. I wish."

"What time did you get in?"

He closed his eyes and sighed. "I don't know. Four-something? It was pretty late."

"How was the flight back?"

He squinted at the ceiling. God, did I even take a flight back? Was that yesterday? It seems like forever ago. "I think it was long. Couldn't sleep."

Cara arched an eyebrow skeptically. "You think? Did you get drunk on the plane?"

He opened an eye to glare at her. "No, dammit. Give me a little credit. It was just a long night."

She was relentless, though. "You look hung over."

"I probably should be," he agreed, "but I'm not."

"How much did you drink last night?"

"Enough." He paused to yank his hair into a more decent ponytail. "Hey, Cara?"


"Could you teach me that song that Lucy sings?"

"No One Knows Who I Am?"

He sighed heavily at the memory of the lyrics. "Yeah, that one."

Cara frowned deeply at the soft tone of his voice. "Why do you want to know Lucy's song, Nick?"

He groaned and smoothed a hand over his hair. "Honestly? Last night sucked, Cara. More than any other night has ever sucked before. It was like I finally hit rock-fucking-bottom, and now I get what you guys have been telling me, and it hit me that I spent so fucking much time running from who I was that I don't know who I am." He shook his head in amazement as his chest constricted. "That's a fucking awful feeling, you know that?"

Cara closed her eyes, and for a moment, all she could see was a worn and withered Theresa in a hospital gown, glancing up at her with hooded, teary eyes. When she finally spoke, her voice was quiet and pensive. "Yeah. Yeah, I know."

"You're seeing Theresa."

It wasn't a question, but Cara nodded her affirmation anyway.

"That must've been hard for you."

Cara looked up expectantly. "About as hard as it is for Aaron?"

Nick dropped his head into his hands. "Shit."

"Nick, why are you just now realizing all this? What happened last night?"

Nick opened his mouth to offer an explanation, but before he could begin, Aaron's voice echoed through the apartment.

"CARA! We're gonna be late, girl! Where the hell are you?"

Cara flinched. "Shit." She turned her gaze immediately back to Nick. "I still want to hear this story."

Nick nodded. "I know you do, and I wouldn't mind telling it."

She sighed. "Aaron can't hear, though."


"So how are we going to do this?"

Nick shrugged. "Are you free for dinner tonight?"

"Sure," Cara replied. "Tony's?"

"At ten," Nick agreed. "So you guys can finish rehearsal and shit."

"Great. I'll be there."

With that, Cara hurried out of the bedroom and Nick fell back against the pillows, closing his eyes as the cotton surrounded him. He was finally getting his life together.

*     *     *     *     *

Love is worth forgiving for
Now I realize
Everything worth living for
Is there in his eyes *

The music ended abruptly as Cal shut off the tape player.

"Great. Wonderful. That only took what, thirteen tries?"

Both girls heaved heavy sighs and shared an annoyed glance.

Cal groaned. "Don't look at me like that. That last time went well, and you know it. You guys are finally PERFECTLY on pitch. Don't lose that, and this song will be the show-stopper that it's supposed to be." He paused for a moment and focused on Theresa. "Theresa, darling, do NOT forget that you're supposed to be lovesick for this scene. I know that the thought disgusts you, and Lord knows you've never given a guy enough of a chance to even have an inkling as to what lovesick feels like, but keep that crushed expression on your face throughout this song. Understood?"

Theresa nodded solemnly. She'd been the focus of rehearsal all morning, and at this point, she just wanted to get off the stage so she could get something to eat.

"Great. You're free to go." Theresa gladly vaulted into the orchestra pit and headed down the aisles of the auditorium. Cal, on the other hand, arched an eyebrow in Cara's direction. "You,'re a little too good at this lovesick thing. Need I remind you that Lucy's a bit of a cynical bitch? You can't be too into the song, Cara, because Lucy's not PROUD of her love for Jekyll. She knows it's not going to go anywhere. She knows she doesn't stand a chance with it. She knows Jekyll won't ever love her back. For that reason, she's trying to remain apathetic. You need to show that resistance."

Cara nodded her agreement. What I really need is to stop thinking about Nick...

"Aaron! Get up here!"

Aaron heaved a sigh and appeared from the wing on stage left. His dirty-blonde hair stuck out in tufts on his head, and his eyes were noticeably sunken. The sleep had helped him a bit, but his head cold had definitely taken its toll.

Cal frowned deeply at the sight of his star in such bad shape. "Kid, you feeling up to running a few lines with Cara?"

Aaron coughed, cleared his throat, and shrugged. "Sure."

"You up to singing 'Dangerous Game'?"

Aaron managed to muster a small smile. "It's SO not going to be in top form..."

"Then are you up to getting harassed about it?"

Aaron sighed. "Man, when it comes to you, do I even have a choice?"

Cara chuckled. Only Aaron would have enough guts to mouth off to the director. She suspected that it might have something to do with the mass amounts of DayQuil Aaron had ingested earlier.

If Cal was amused, he didn't show it. "Funny, kid. Just for that, I'm going to MAKE you do the number. Go get your trench coat."

Aaron jogged offstage again, and Cara looked expectantly at their director.

"I take it we're going from the beginning of the 'Dangerous Game' scene?"

Cal nodded. "Yeah, from the dialogue. Just go easy on him with the vocals, okay? As much shit as I give him, I don't want him to blow his voice out before the performances."

Cara laughed. "Understood."

With that, Aaron returned from the wings, and Cal cued the music. Cara, resuming the role of Lucy, looked to Aaron's Hyde in surprise and gasped.

"For a moment, I thought it was somebody else."

He chuckled ironically, lowering his voice. "For a moment, it almost was." He moved closer to her, placing a hand on her shoulder and examining her like a predator would examine its prey. "I have some rather sad news, Lucy. I must go away for awhile. A friend and I have a little...dispute to settle."

Cara looked disinterested, but Larkin's Nellie called to her just in time. "Be nice to him, Lucy! Be nice."

Hyde closed in with a sneer. "What? Are you glad to see me go?"

Lucy's eyes widened in fear, and she shook her head quickly from side to side. "Oh, no sir..."

He grabbed her wrist forcefully, gritting his teeth as he bit out the next line. "I can always tell when you are lying, Lucy."

Lucy took a deep breath to regain composure. When she spoke, her voice was shaky. "When do you come back?"

Hyde's grimace faded to the usual evil smile. "Oh, it shouldn't take long. And I'll know exactly where you are every minute I'm away." He paused to grab her more tightly, running his other hand pointedly down her body. "And God help you if you're not here waiting for me when I return."

In a very Hyde-like fashion, Aaron yanked the collar of Cara's sweatshirt over her shoulder and caressed the tender flesh there. She sucked in a breath, closed her eyes, and began to sing as she tried to ignore the feelings Aaron's fingers were inspiring.

I feel your fingers brushing my shoulder
Your temping touch as it tingles my spine
Watching your eyes, as they invade my soul
Forbidden pleasures I'm afraid to make mine...

Her eyes flew open as she felt Aaron's lips on her shoulder blade. Granted, he loved to play with her during the more intimate scenes, but something about the gentle way in which he approached her seemed different than the times before. Damn, and he has great timing. He chooses to make a move right when I'm going behind his back to set his brother straight. Shit.

His teeth grazed the bone atop her shoulder, and she shivered. Whether she wanted to admit it or not, his actions were arousing her. She just hoped that it wasn't apparent to the entire cast.

At the touch of your hand
At the sound of your voice
At the moment your eyes meet mine
I am out of my mind
I am out of control
Full of feelings I can't define

Aaron's hand moved from her shoulder to her breast, and he began to roughly massage the area as he took a breath, preparing for his lines. When he sang, his voice was rough-edged and painful.

It's a sin with no name

Cara glanced away from him, trying to fight the pins-and-needles feeling that was rendering her helpless.

Like a tiger to tame

Aaron grinned wickedly.

And the angels proclaim

She chanced a glance over her shoulder, and he pulled her roughly to him as they sang the line together.

It's a dangerous game

Aaron closed his eyes for a moment before righting himself and pulling Cara so that she was facing him. He cleared his throat ever so softly and began to sing, hoping that his voice wouldn't fail him as his eyes bore into those of his best friend.

A darker dream that has no ending
That's so unreal, you believe that it's true

Cara cocked her head to one side and gazed at him curiously, taking the line with the higher notes to save him the trouble.

A strange romance, out of a mystery tale

Aaron winked at her and brushed his lips against her cheek.

The frightened princess doesn't know what to do

He bent his chin to her level and raised his eyebrows expectantly, allowing himself a small smirk as one of his hands gripped her backside. He grabbed her hand with his other hand, and they began to sway from side to side in a demented dance as he threatened her with questions, thoroughly enjoying the effect the scene was having on her.

Does she just run away?
Does she risk it and stay?
Either way
There's no way to win...

Cara broke away from his captivity, but he was quicker, grabbing her around the middle and pulling her back to his chest as she struggled against his hold. God, please don't let him do this. Not now. Not when I'm so close to breaking his brother...

All I know is I'm lost
And I'm counting the cost
My emotions are in a spin
And though no one's to blame

Aaron threw his head back, closed his eyes, and slid one hand directly between Cara's legs as the other gripped her shoulder.

It's a crime and a shame

Cara dropped her head to her shoulder and closed her own eyes, trying to block out his obvious advances.

But it's true all the same

Their voices mingled, his deep and hers strong, as they acknowledged their situation.

It's a dangerous game

Suddenly, Cara couldn't take it anymore. She whirled around and began to back away from him, praying to God that Aaron wouldn't come any closer. She wasn't sure how much more she could handle. Something about the music and his actions was making her dizzy.

He advanced at the same pace, as intimidating as she was frightened as they sang the lines in perfect harmony.

No one speaks
Not one word
All the words
Are in our eyes

He took one more step and grabbed her again, clutching her tightly as he spun her back towards the middle of the stage, echoing every line as his confidence grew.

Silence speaks
Loud and clear
All the words
We want to hear

She placed both of her hands firmly on his chest, pushing him as hard as she could. She couldn't help it. She felt trapped, and his declarations of primal attraction weren't helping. Damn this stupid song...

He held her tightly regardless of her strength. For a sick man, he was suddenly way too strong--but he knew he couldn't let her go. The moment he released her, the tension and the sexuality and the power of the song were lost to him.

At the touch of your hand
At the sound of your voice
At the moment your eyes meet mine
I am out of my mind
I am out of control
Full of feelings I can't define

Years before, she'd been attracted to Aaron. She'd thought him marvelously attractive. Then she'd met him, and they'd gotten close, and she'd forgotten all about her lust for the younger Carter.

She hated how one scene with him could remind her how much she used to want him. She hated how the slight hoarseness in his voice made him that much more appealing as his brown eyes shot daggers into hers.

It's a sin with no name
Like a tiger to tame

He smiled wickedly when he caught sight of the fear in her eyes, and he knew he had her. Maybe it'd been wrong to use Hyde's character as an excuse to make his attraction known, but he was enjoying it now. He loved knowing that he was responsible for the slight tremble in her lovely alto.

And though no one's to blame
It's a crime and a shame

They finally locked gazes, chests heaving in time to the music as they belted the last lines.

And the angels proclaim
It's a dangerous game
It's a dangerous game

And then he did it. He bent down to Cara's height and kissed her firmly, forcefully, passionately. He bit her lower lip ever so slightly before brushing his tongue with hers. Just as she started to kiss him back, he pulled away, nearly whispering the song's last line.

Such a dangerous game **

* "In His Eyes"
performed by Linda Eder and Carolee Carmello
music by Frank Wildhorn
lyrics by Leslie Bricusse
** "Dangerous Game
performed by Anthony Warlow and Linda Eder
music by Frank Wildhorn
lyrics by Leslie Bricusse