Summary: AU. Some days he doubted her disappearance and his days off were a coincidence, but others they were too busy fighting each other. He had forgiven her because she just handed him the best puzzles to entertain him during his vacation. Who expected him, a CIA agent, to sit still for a second anyway?
Word Count: 4,370
Disclaimer: I own nothing but my ideas. Besides that, I know little to nothing about the CIA, being a PI or anything really, so all this is fiction (in case you had forgotten)
AN: Sorry about las week, but I was house-sitting. Hope you like this one.
They arrived to Lima the day after he commented about the new plans and work. She was not happy about them, but what else could she do? She was not going to do time in jail after refusing a free invitation to Paris; he had clarified that from then on, everything would be paid by him, which probably meant the CIA or the government.
In the meantime, she had to make calls and arrange things so she would not be missed. Talking to Kurt had been a pain in her behind the first time, since he tried time and time again to make her admit she had eloped with some older man and she refused to tell him. He was certainly obsessed with her love life, which was stupid considering her relationships were scarce and destined to doom from the beginning.
Given that her fathers and friends were also talkative, each call took approximately forty-five minutes. Noah let her know he was going out to do some shopping. She just waved him off as her nosy neighbor drone on and on about the people in the building; she had only called to ask about her apartment and the landlord collecting the rent, but she quickly realized that had been a big mistake.
In Lima, Peru, they were staying at a gorgeous and glamorous hotel in the most cosmopolitan area of the city, a big difference from where they had stayed before their trip to Cusco and Machu Picchu. In fact, the bed felt like surely clouds would, which was why she was falling asleep as Kurt narrated the newest boy drama in his life.
“Are you listening to me, Rachel?”
“Mhmm,” she mumbled noncommittally as her body was swallowed by the comforter.
“So, as I was telling you, this Elijah guy…” Kurt continued, which made her remember Noah and think about what he could be possibly buying now that they were going to Paris. He had told her he had packed light, believing they would be back to the US quickly enough so he would not need more. But men were not supposed to be obsessed with shopping; well, Noah certainly did not look like that. He was a man’s man.
Just as she was saying her goodbyes to her best friend, and advising him about not getting his hopes up or throwing himself into a relationship too quickly, the door was clicking open.
“I have to go, Kurt.”
“Is he there? Your new sugar daddy you won’t tell me about? I bet he is old and boring, but if he is, you could get a nice profit with the divorce.”
“Kurt,” Rachel grunted irritably. “I’m not dating anyone.”
“Sure, sure.” Rachel could hear the evil giggling from the other side and limited herself to roll her eyes.
“Bye!” Rachel hung up before Kurt could keep trying to get more information. It was enough he knew that she was not in New York. He did not need to get involved in CIA business, even if he would never believe it.
She stood up from that sinfully wonderful bed and smoothed her baggy shirt. That day it was all about comfort, so she was donning some yoga pants and a huge shirt that almost reached her knees… it was actually her pajamas but she was not about to admit that.
Noah stopped right by the couch in front of the TV and blinked at her in surprise. He was probably expecting to see her fully dressed and not in her nightwear with a new stain of ketchup right above her left breast.
“I, uhm, ordered lunch,” she mumbled, shrugging a shoulder and pulling her hair to cover the incriminatory stain.
He just chuckled and finally let go of the many bags he was carrying in both of his hands, laying them on the couch.
“What-“ Rachel was about to ask when a bellboy entered the room holding even more bags. Her eyes widened as she recognized some of the brands printed on them.
Noah gave the bellboy some bills and soon turned to her.
“Mind explaining this… waste of money?”
“Waste?” Noah pondered, amused by her tone and even more by the hypocritical way in which she was peeking into the bags as he found the right words to give her a response. “Well, since we are going to Paris, and I had to find an in with Anatoli Peeters, we cannot look like a couple of middle class buffoons from Oregon.”
She glared at him. She liked Natalie quite a lot, and Elijah was certainly a sweetheart.
“So, we are now a new couple? Are we brother and sister this time?”
“What?” he screeched as if the only idea of being related to her was outrageous. “No! That means proximity to each other and reasons to speak in hushed voices is suspicious. Secrets are rude, but for couples are just flirting and being obnoxiously attracted to each other.”
“Okay, so we are a couple.”
She snorted a laugh and shook her head. Soon Noah was handing her a passport. Rachel scowled at him but opened it quickly. There was a picture of her in it, but the information was all wrong. The name was Vivien Garland from New York. She was twenty-five, younger than she actually was.
Her eyebrow quirked at him.
“Hello, my name is Robin Goodwin,” Noah replied, outstretching his left hand and grabbing hers. It was all so quick she only had time to widen her eyes and get on her tiptoes, almost losing her balance when with his right hand he swiftly slipped a ring on the ring finger of her left. The rock was of a pink hue and huge embedded in a beautiful platinum ring in the form of vines that gave it an antique feel. “And I’m your fiancé,” he finished as the ring reached the base of her finger.
Rachel’s eyes could not be wider as they traveled from her finger to his face when he graciously kissed the back of her hand.
She had never been engaged. Real or fake.
Perhaps he felt the weight of her staring because he looked seriously uncomfortable. Noah scratched the back of his neck and cleared his throat before looking away and rummaging through the bags.
She just could not look away.
“Stop it, okay? It’s just pretending,” he barked like a stubborn child.
Blinking at him for what felt the first time of the day, she pouted. “You just proposed while I’m wearing my sloppiest pajamas.”
“I’m sure we can come up with a better story in case someone asks.” He was laughing of course, but she was not quite happy with his response. “Meanwhile, what about trying these on?” He handed her a glossy black bag and Rachel peeked inside with glee dancing in her eyes.
He only smirked when she narrowed her eyes at him.
“You bought me lingerie?”
Noah shrugged his shoulder as he sat in between an Izod bag and an Armani Exchange one. “I know your size.”
“You’ve been snooping around my things!” She exclaimed, clenching her fists. “Panty sniffer,” she grumbled.
“Hey!” He leaned forward and jumped onto his feet. “Watch it or I will not give you those designer’s bags I bought you.”
“I don’t care.”
“What about the dresses or the ketchup-free blouses?” he teased, earning himself a punch in the arm.
“Ass.” Rachel glowered at him. They stayed in silence for a minute or two, until she gave in. “Can I look now?” Her right arm rubbed her left and she looked at him through her lashes, in an unspoken apology, because she was acutely aware of the unnecessary words since he had basically gone through all her wardrobe without asking for permission; Noah kind of deserved being treated like a delinquent at the moment.
He just laughed. “Go get them, Tiger.”
Robin Goodwin apparently was the owner of some various clubs around Manhattan and a couple on the West Coast, as well as a few partnerships with people in Mexico, Spain and Russia. With that identity, Noah had been able to attract the attention of Anatoli Peeters and earn himself an invitation to one of his epic parties in Paris.
“Too close to Robin Goodfellow. Don’t you think he’ll make the connection?” Rachel asked him as they had breakfast.
She smiled, but evilly as if she was suddenly smarter than him. “Robin Goodfellow is Puck in Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Puckerman.”
“Merely a coincidence, Princess.”
“Is that your codename?”
“No.” He shook the newspaper to straighten the pages and sipped from his coffee, noticing her irritation when she huffed. But did he look like a good fellow?
Since Robin was a rich entrepreneur with an exquisite taste, he happened to be engaged to Vivien Garland, a young hot actress that had not reached success yet but had snatched herself a rich man that would do for the meantime. She was basically a toy for him and he was her bottomless wallet and unlimited credit card.
Rachel loved the idea.
They had little time to make everything up, which was why Mike was helping them by preparing things in Paris. He had booked hotels and bought plane tickets, he had made a few calls to contacts and people they knew, which was probably the best asset a spy could have. Money could be traced one way or another, but favors did not have a bar code to track.
“Tell me again, why do I have to look like I’m going to a brunch with the editor of Vogue instead of taking an over twelve hour flight?” Rachel asked from the room while he finished dressing and shaving in the bathroom.
A spray of perfume and aftershave here and there, and he felt ready to go.
“Because we must travel in style. Never look like a hobo, babe. That’s your new motto.”
“Vivien’s, you mean,” she grumbled.
Noah could imagine her struggling with the Chanel dress she had chosen for the trip, since it looked like the most comfortable one.
“Do you need help?” he offered through the door as he watched himself in the mirror and straightened the collar of his shirt.
“Please!” Rachel moaned.
He laughed as he made his way out of the bathroom. The sight of her struggling with the zipper and jumping barefoot around the bed made him smile.
“Let me,” he muttered.
It wasn’t as if the dress was too tight, but the zipper was new and a bit stuck. Noah pulled it up with no problem, though.
“Thank you,” Rachel breathed out as she slipped her feet into her also new Manolo Blahniks. Her calves looked exquisite in those heels, and her legs were too tempting to be safe for him but he only licked his lips and cleared his throat, hoping that his ogling went unnoticed one more time. By the time she turned around, she was the one doing the once-over.
Apparently, people who said a man had to dress right to impress were right. He was wearing a pair of dark jeans of some fancy designer’s brand that cost a leg and an arm, plus a light gray suit jacket with a cream-colored shirt.
“Yes?” he teased her with a smirk on his lips, only to see a delicious pink tone rising up Rachel’s neck.
But as the lady she was, Rachel only straightened her back and gave him a soft smile in return. “You look good.”
Was that woman made of steel? She obviously thought he was attractive, but apparently had no desire to act on it. Since the day they had met, she had not tried to flirt with him once. Sure, there was a lot of teasing, but it was all good-natured and friendly, even as he tried to steal touches and glances. The most Rachel did was look at him. Just look.
“Thanks,” he sighed and then swiveled around to finish packing his things, including a few that would not pass through security were not for the fact he knew how to get away with it. “Are you ready to go?”
“Aren’t we supposed to make some huge show of our arrival?” She giggled. “I just need to fix my hair and give my makeup some last touches. I’ll be right back.”
He was about to retort and complain but the sway of her hips in that dress made him tongue-tied.
Twenty minutes later she made it out of the bathroom with her hair in big curls cascading around her shoulders, while the contrast of her shimmery eye shadow and the sinful lip gloss on her lips made her look like a goddess taken out of some fashion magazine. She was Vivien right then.
“Baby,” she whined softly, drawing the words as a kittenish smile took over her lips. “We are going to be late. And you know I can’t wait for our reservation at Le Jules Verne. It’s so romantic you’re taking me to Paris.”
Noah chuckled and let her slip her fingers through his, noting how her engagement ring sparkled under the sunlight.
It would be a long trip.
“Oh, Vivien,” he quipped. “J’adore, mon mimi.”
Scrunching up her nose, Rachel asked, “You speak French, too?”
She huffed and rolled her eyes. “I hate you.”
Noah grinned innocently at her. Luckily for him, she did not realize he had called her pussycat again.
People looked at them, men almost drooling and women melting.
Rachel was not completely comfortable with the stares, but she understood quite well that it was all part of the plan, of their characters. They were rich people who while not openly flaunting their fortune, they lived at large. And while Noah played Robin as the cool and collected guy who owned the world, she had to be the vixen who had captivated him; not clingy but alluring, enough to keep him interested.
And so they sat waiting to board the plane, she was leafing through the last issue of Vogue with disinterest while Noah read the newspaper. Meanwhile, she idly traced the shell of Noah’s ear and rubbed that soft patch of skin behind his ear. Everything seemed okay, until Noah grumbled.
She turned to face him only to see him pouting like a child.
“What?” she whispered.
“Don’t do that.”
“Why? It shows intimacy and is sweet, is it not? Don’t you like it? Did I scratch you?” She looked at her hand, checking if she had accidently broken a nail or something. She had just gotten them done the previous day at the hotel’s spa.
“No. It just, it relaxes me and I have to be aware of everything,” he confessed begrudgingly, making her smile and lean against him, so she could press a tender kiss to the hinge of his jaw.
She smiled wickedly at her magazine and did not bother when he covertly rested his arm in the back of her chair.
Some time, between the moment she had to go to the restroom and when they called them to board the plane, Noah had managed to procure himself a book. She rolled her eyes when after buckling up he opened the book, allowing her to read the title. Pursuit of Honor by Vince Flynn. Was he serious?
“Are you kidding?”
He smirked, without ungluing his eyes from the page he was reading. “People tend to ignore the obvious. In fact, we are so invested in finding other’s secrets that we completely overlook what’s right in front of us.”
Rachel smiled, reaching for his hand and liking their hands together for his surprise. She chuckled when Noah’s eyes widened while staring at the ring in her finger. “The obvious right now is that we are an engaged couple, going to Paris, so we should be all over each other.”
There was something quite… enticing, and borderline sexual, about the way his lips curved upward and his eyes narrowed, the corners of his eyes crinkling a bit.
“Mile High Club?” he hissed, just loud enough so the man in the seat across from them choked with a candy offered by the flight attendant.
She crossed her arms and shot him a look that took a while to finally wipe off his smirk. “How cheap do you think I am?” He just blinked at her. According to the profiles they had created, Vivien was adventurous regarding her private life, so she replied accordingly. “It depends on how well you treat me while in Paris.”
Noah grinned and opened his legs to use all the space available in his first class seat. He was just being the smug bastard he naturally was. “I think someone should start printing those credentials right now. We are joining that club.”
The trip was uneventful, or as uneventful as it could be considering they were traveling first class in uncomfortable outfits only because they were looking fabulous, as Kurt would say. Rachel had to admit that of all things she was carrying what she loved the most was her new handbag. And of all things Noah was wearing… well, he looked great so there was nothing she hated about that.
“Only an hour until we land in Paris,” Noah said as he casually crossed his legs.
“Ugh,” Rachel huffed, which earned her his amused smile. “What? I can’t stay still for too long. I’m feeling slightly claustrophobic, if I have to be honest. And even if these shoes are expensive and absolutely gorgeous, let me say that my feet couldn’t care less at this point.”
He breathed out a laugh, low and short, that echoed in his chest. It made her shiver.
She had never considered herself to have a type of man when it came to the ones she felt attracted to. She definitely never considered herself a fan of the macho stereotype, with most of her exes being less than strong-willed, or if so being too self-centered to even care about respecting the rules of an alpha male. Her relationships had always been loaded with drama thanks to all the ups and downs that trying to mold herself to her partner had brought; she had never been herself with them. In her immature nature, Rachel had believed she had to please her boyfriend in order to keep him and have a good relationship; since the discovery she had not to do that, she had given up on men. And so, she no longer gave a crap about being flirtatious or overly sweet around them. Noah was the first man who happened to enjoy her blunt nature and laugh about her eccentricities.
“You’ll move enough when we go shopping.”
“Shopping?” Her eyes opened wide and met his warm hazels, sparkling as if he was about to do mischief. “You went shopping yesterday. We’ve spent-“ He shushed her by placing a finger to her lips. She glared at him.
“Vivien, mon mimi,” he called sweetly. “You can have anything you want. You know how much I enjoy seeing the happiness in your face when you shower yourself in gifts. I’m just happy to oblige.”
She wanted to hate his patronizing tone but instead decided to play the game and throw him off his.
Opening her mouth just enough, Noah’s index finger slipped in her mouth. She bit the tip and narrowed her eyes at him in a silent threat, noticing how his pupils dilated. She proceeded with a sound kiss to the pad of his finger and a little purring sound.
“Oh, baby,” she cooed. Slipping out of her seat and into his lap, she made a show that would perhaps put him in the uncomfortable position he had tried to put her since the day they met.
Her hand slipped into his jacket and brushed a hand over the clear shape of abs and chest so softly she could feel him swallowing hard, making a squeaking sound when she happened to feel his nipple. To make him suffer a little more, she leaned closer and buried her face in the crook of his neck, placing a kiss there before taking his earlobe between her teeth, giving it a gentle tug.
His hand had dangerously escalated to be placed on her hip, with the fingers almost brushing her backside.
“Don’t be an asshole,” she whispered into his ear and he choked on a laugh since she decided to brush her thumb over his lips and lick at his ear once more. “Or you will embarrass yourself.”
Rachel lifted her head to meet the flustered flight attendant.
“I’m going to have to ask you to take your seat and fasten your seatbelt since we are about to land. Safety precautions.” She chuckled nervously.
Rachel smiled brightly. “Of course! So sorry, but since he put a rock on my finger, we cannot seem to keep our hands off each other,” she explained as she wiggled her fingers to show off her ring. “But we’ll get a lot of fun once we are in our hotel, if you know what I mean,” Rachel said lowly, as her hand glided effortlessly between Noah’s legs, high enough over his thigh to make him squirm but low enough not to be considered indecent exposure. “He’s a tiger.”
For the first time since she had met him, Noah could only nod with a tight smile on his face.
Point for her.
In general circumstances, Noah was like most men and hated shopping. Sure, he liked the usual as it was when he needed something specific like a shirt or a new pair of pants, but he never liked to try things on or just look around.
Current problem was that Robin and Vivien had been invited to one of Anatoli Peeters luxurious cocktail parties, which purpose was to make business acquaintances and seal deals. Without a doubt, they also were to make sumptuous show of their possessions and partners as well.
They had to look the part and dress in all the money they could spend.
Rachel was holding his hand as they both walked around the 8th Arrondissement of Paris. They had just left Champs-Élysées, much to Rachel’s regret.
“It’s a shame we do not have time to do the tourist-y part of a trip to Paris,” she sighed.
It was a shame, but they had a job to do and outfits to purchase.
The hand-holding was a little unsettling. It came too easy and she seemed too comfortable with it. He felt too comfortable with it. But they had to pretend in case anyone saw them. And after the show in the plane, he was starting to convince himself that Rachel was not the woman he had pictured back when her fathers kept telling him how lovely she was. But what kind of parents knew everything about their children? He was sure the only reason why his mother knew about his crazy sex life was because more than once she caught girls jumping into her gardenias… right under his window.
“So, what stores should we visit?” Rachel wondered.
“Stores?” He quipped, laughing a bit. “We are billionaires, mon mimi.”
“Stop calling me that. I googled it.” She waved her new phone in front of him.
“And as such we do not shop with the rest. We get special treatment.” He motioned towards a blonde, slim woman who was walking towards them. She was donning a black Burberry trench coat over a fitting orange dress. She was stunning, with a pair of legs that he had once explored with great dedication. “So you’ll have a personal shopper with you.”
“This is Laura,” Noah introduced, motioning to the tall woman who had at least six inches on Rachel. “She will help you create a look for tonight while I go to my appointment with my tailor.”
“Puck,” Laura greeted with a thick Italian accent and a once-over as she smirked at him.
Suddenly, Rachel tugged at his arms. “You could have told me!”
“You’re in good hands,” he replied but the snort she made forced him to interrupt whatever she was about to say. “Please, don’t do this. She’s helping us as a friend, so do not insult her.”
“I’m not going to insult her.”
“You could not,” Laura chimed in with self-sufficiency.
Rachel whipped her head around and glared at the woman. “You could have the same courtesy.”
Noah blew a breath and then smiled at the women. “It seems to me we have not started with the right foot.” Both women narrowed their eyes at him. “But I do not care if you have issues as long as Rachel looks her best tonight. Without a scratch,” he stressed while looking at Laura.
“You did not mind scratches last time I saw you,” she retorted seductively.
Rachel folded her arms over her chest, lips pursed in anger.
“Look, I like catfights as much as the next guy, but I don’t have time for this today so you will have to look past all your differences right now. I’m not about to play mediator because you two somehow think you have some claim on me,” he scolded them in a clipped voice but to his surprise, Rachel and Laura only arched an eyebrow at him in such similar fashion he felt a little crept out.
“Of course we don’t have a claim on you. You have commitment issues,” Rachel pointed out.
“And he likes to make that abundantly clear,” Laura complemented.
“Yes, he is a charmer who likes to play but not clean up the mess afterwards,” Rachel prompted.
Noah started to frown as soon Laura and Rachel started to discuss all his issues animatedly, bonding over their mutual reservations about him, and all their opinions on his emotional problems.
By the time they started to walk away, they were laughing together with arms linked.
He hated to be the joke.
“I need her back at nine!” Noah yelled and Laura waved him off.
“Au revoire, mon nounours,” Rachel shouted as Laura laughed once more. (Goodbye, my teddy bear.)