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Makes you want to give in.

She stayed below deck for a while and played chess with Sanders. “Play” was a generous term – he beat her every time, and the game only ever went on for as long as he wanted it to. But they would talk while they played. While he was lost in the intricacies of the game, his tongue would loosen.

“Sandy,” she started, glancing at him. His eyes were focused on the board while he set the pieces back up.

“Pay attention. I'm going to teach you the Alekhine Defense. It's very common and will help improve your game,” he told her. Tate nodded.

“I'm paying attention. But I wanted to ask you something,” she continued. His eyes flicked to her before going back to the board.

“Go ahead.”

“Do you think Jameson would ever marry me?” she asked.

Sanders stopped moving. He slowly lifted his eyes to hers, then leaned back from the board. They were sitting cross-legged in the middle of his bed, the chess board between them. He glanced around the room, then back at her.

“Why are you asking me this?” he asked back.

“Because it seems to me, and Jameson, that your whole goal in this little scheme is to get us together. Am I right?” Tate asked, picking up a Rook and toying with it.

“I ..., I just want things to be as they should,” Sanders replied.

“So, Jameson and I sleeping together is how things should be?” Tate laughed. He cleared his throat.

“You were happy being with him. He was happy. I don't understand what the confusion is. If you would like to be happy again, then I think you should be together,” Sanders tried to explain. Tate's laughter fell away. It was a very sweet sentiment.

“You have to know that he doesn't care about me. Whatever you're hoping for isn't going to happen. He wants to play a game, and I'm just trying to get out alive this time. I can't be with him, Sandy. Not after what he did to me,” she told him. His lips pressed together for a moment while he thought.

“He made a mistake,” Sanders' voice was soft. She opened her mouth to argue and he held up a hand. “A very large, very dangerous mistake. He wasn't thinking right. The fact that he got so upset, is a sign of how much he cares.”

“His 'sign' nearly broke me.”

“You can always go home. I will fly out with you, tonight, if that is what you wish. But it seemed to me that you were missing something. You haven't been yourself the past two months, but over the past two days, it has been like watching you come out of a coma. It's nice. I enjoy it. I had hoped that you realized it, too,” he told her.

Tate frowned and looked down, putting the Rook back in its place. She didn't like hearing things like that – Jameson always seemed to find a way to be responsible for all the good things in her life. She didn't appreciate it.

“I have,” she whispered, then cleared her throat. “But that doesn't mean I'm stupid enough to fall for the same trick twice. Sandy, if I ..., if by the end of all this, by some magical chance, Jameson actually cares about me, actually wants to be with me, but I don't want to be with him, are you going to be okay with that? Would you be okay if I broke his heart and left him?”

Sanders actually laughed.

“How funny. If Jameson could finally prove to you how much he cares, why would you leave?” he asked.

Poor, simple, sweet Sanders.

“I know you love him, but the world doesn't revolve around Jameson Kane, Sandy. Just because he might fall in love with me, does not mean I will fall in love with him,” Tate pointed out. Sanders cocked his head to the side.

“I've always wondered, how did you get so good at doing that?” he asked. She was thrown for a loop.”

“Good at what?”

“Lying to yourself.”

Before she could even process what he had just said to her, the bedroom door swung open. They both turned to see Jameson standing there. She hadn't seen him since their boat ride. She'd stuck mostly to her bedroom and he'd stayed above deck. Avoiding each other.

“Good evening, children. Just wondering if anyone had some suggestions for dinner,” he said, wandering into the room.

Tate watched him as he prowled around. He had changed into a polo shirt and a pair of jeans. No shoes. The first time she had ever gone to his house in Weston, she had been shocked to see him barefoot. She had quickly learned that Jameson preferred to be barefoot whenever he got the chance. It was almost cute in a way. Her eyes wandered over him while he moved. His thick, black hair hadn't been cut in a while, and was a little wild on top of his head. His dark tan set off his blue eyes, even in the dim light of the bedroom, and she felt her heart beat quicken.

You're losing, you're losing, you're losing.

“Dancing,” Tate practically shouted. Both men turned to look at her, and she licked her lips.

Note to self – SERIOUSLY, GET A FUCKING FILTER.

“Excuse me?” Jameson asked.

“I think we should go dancing. There's gotta be somewhere around here to dance. Let's do that,” she suggested quickly, staring at him.

“You want to dance?” he clarified.

“Yeah, why not?” she asked.

“Do you know how to dance?”

“Do you?”

“I was thinking more along the lines of dinner up top,” Jameson said. She groaned.

“I'm sorry, how is this any different than Boston? You never want to leave your little sanctuaries. How do you ever meet women?” Tate asked.

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