***Cherrywood continues, going on what could technically be called their first date =0 It’s going to be a while before they ever have a life that’s considered ‘normal’ isn’t it? Kinda same for me here, going through some financial issues at the moment, but such is life sometimes. I will *eventually* get around to working on Seven Good Ending Continued, but there is a lot more research and prep involved with his character arc, so it may take some time. #accuracymatters In the meantime, please continue enjoying Tagged! ~Let’s Connect! FFC
Remember, this is a sequel to Vanderwood Backstory, and Cerise has a bio. Don’t forget to subscribe to the email list for access to R-Rated Scenes and my monthly newsletter. You can support my writing on patreon and get access to my VIP Discord Server or other goodies like early chapter releases and hidden scenes. Tagged Chapter Directory******
Cerise didn’t know when she finally fell asleep, but an annoying beeping was trying to interrupt that precious time. Grumbling, she pulled her covers over her head and tried to ignore the sound, drifting back off to sleep. In the other room Vanderwood was getting up, doing his morning exercises. God, why wasn’t she turning off her alarm? He grumbled and put his earbuds in as he continued his routine. As long as it wasn’t Secret Agent Man…
The sound didn’t bother Cerise again, and she ended up waking up from sleep on her own, stretching under the hotel covers. They were nowhere near as fluffy or cute as her covers at her apartment, and she didn’t have as many pillows, but it wasn’t so bad. Maybe she could convince Vanderwood to get her a cute shaped pillow for while they were still at the hotel. She grabbed for her phone, sleepily checking the time. The time! Oh crap… She hadn’t meant to sleep in this late! Cerise ran around her hotel room, finding the clothes she wanted to wear and then quickly brushing her teeth and hair. She was hoping that he was running a little behind too as she threw off her pajamas, just tossing them anywhere for now. At the time, she didn’t have time to care.
Vanderwood already had everything in the car, other than the one gun he carried in his go bag. He tucked that one into the back of his pants so that it pressed against the small of his back before grabbing his bag and slinging it over his shoulder. It was well hidden there, thanks in part to his jacket and his penchant for loose fabric shirts. The thought of spending more time taking Cerise somewhere had him blushing like crazy. He was definitely infatuated. Now he made his way back up to the rooms, spending a few more minutes in his and wondering what she was doing. It seemed like she was taking her sweet time getting ready, and he couldn’t hear anything from her room.
He raised an eyebrow and opened the door between their rooms, just wanting to check, thinking that she was sleeping since he didn’t hear much of anything. “Cerise? Are you…ready….” His voice trailed off as he took in the sight in front of him, completely frozen, rooted to the spot. Cerise was hooking her bra, in a bra and panty set that he had technically purchased for her. Something about that was incredibly erotic. Vanderwood couldn’t move. His mind wandered, and he internally slapped himself, heat rising fast in his face but still unable to do anything but stare.
She hadn’t noticed the door opening at first, fighting with the clasp of her bra, and it took her a moment to notice the voice. When she turned her head towards the voice, her brain took a moment to catch up with the situation at hand. At first, she was frozen, and then her brain started to work again, causing her face to turn completely red. Was he staring at her? He was definitely staring at her. “NO I’M NOT READY YET! GET OUT!” Her first instinct was to chuck pillows at him, so that’s what she did before grabbing her remaining clothes from the bed and disappearing into the bathroom.
“I didn’t mean to!” He didn’t even bother to knock the pillows away, letting them hit him as he fled back to his room. Was it even possible for him to get any redder at this point? Now he was banging his head against the wall in an attempt to get the image of her out of his mind. God I’m the worst. Think about something else… He looked around the room trying to think of anything to distract him, but not really finding much. Guns. You’re going to shoot guns. Think about shooting guns. Finally…something worked. Vanderwood sighed in relief before gently knocking on the door, this time waiting for an answer. “Hey…Let me know when you’re ready…”
It felt like she was getting dressed more quickly than she ever had in her entire life. She was trying to block out of her brain that he had seen her in her underwear. The fact that they had kissed only made it worse. Wait. Didn’t he…buy these for her? Oh God. Oh God. That thought hadn’t crossed her mind until just now. Vanderwood had picked out and bought her underwear. Cerise felt like she could die right then and there. She walked out of the bathroom and jumped when she heard a knock, the sound of his voice making her face even more red. “I’m…I’m ready now.” At this point, she was trying really hard to keep calm, but her voice was betraying her, coming out in a higher pitch than usual. She really needed to pull herself together.
After a deep breath to get his own blush under control, Vanderwood opened the door. Even clothed, she had his mind slipping to the image from earlier and the raging blush was back. Nope. You will be decent. He internally slapped himself for what felt like the tenth time that day. “I uh…I didn’t mean to…walk in on you like that.” He rubbed the back of his head awkwardly, biting his tongue before he went to open the door for her and lead her towards the car. “Let’s get going then?”
Their walk to the car had been quiet, and now the drive to wherever they were going was quiet. What could you even say after that? Vanderwood was attempting to figure that out himself, and he finally figured he should tell her what they were doing. “I’m going to teach you how to shoot a gun.” Oh good, his words were actually working pretty well. “Just in case…I’m not around when something happens. I want you to be able to protect yourself. I’m not letting the best thing that ever happened to me get hurt.” Okay, so his words were working too well. He hadn’t meant to say it quite like that. Too late now.
Cerise was honestly oddly excited when he said he was teaching her to shoot a gun. A scary gun in the hands of cute her? It was sure to be an instant hit with her followers when she posted the inevitable selfie. The next part of his explanation just made her blush. She was the best thing to ever happen to him? It seemed that he really knew what to say to make her heart melt, though she hoped she’d never have to use a gun due to him not being around. That thought was scary, but she pushed it to the back of her mind, grinning at him with her obvious blush and putting a hand on his shoulder, her sing-song voice very much in evidence. “I’m ready to learn, Mister Secret Agent Vanderwood.”
He had been watching her reaction from the corner of his eye, seeing the little bit of excitement coupled with a bit of fear. She really should be afraid, and he felt like shit for doing that to her, since it was his fault she’d gotten kidnapped and shoved into his life. Her flirting just had him biting his tongue and nodding his head, not trusting his words when he felt like he was dying of cute. At least by the time he reached the empty wooded area outside of town, he felt like he was in control of himself. Enough to handle a gun anyway.
He went around to help her out of the car, not that she really needed it, but Cerise wasn’t complaining. As he grabbed a few empty cans from the back of the vehicle, PHD Pepper from that idiot redhead, Cerise looked around the woods looking back to him to see him pull a gun from the small of his back. So, that was where he hid it? Vanderwood checked it over, ensuring it was properly loaded. This one would probably be easier for her to work with since it was the smallest out of the two he had with him, not nearly as heavy, the only drawback would be the recoil.
She watched curiously as he set the three cans on a fallen log. “Right, so…” He walked back to her, holding out some earplugs towards her. “You’re going to want these. Obviously, you wouldn’t have time in a real situation, but might as well not blow out your eardrums when you’re practicing.” That earned him a snarky remark from her, a snort escaping him as she talked. “Oh, right. Best to blow them out later. Gotcha.” Damn, she was something. Vanderwood almost wanted to kiss her. He was really out of his element with this whole…romance type thing.
Right, he was supposed to be teaching her to shoot. First, he showed her how to turn the safety on and off before going over everything else, coming back to the safety feature once more. “If you remember nothing else, remember the safety. Alright, pop those ear plugs in for me, and I’ll show you how to do this.”
Vanderwood placed his own ear plugs in. Sure, his ears were beyond damaged by now, but why make it worse when he had the opportunity not to? Cerise had listened intently and now placed her ear plugs in, watching as he positioned himself and shot one of the cans off the log, deciding to leave the other two for her. She jumped a little when the gun went off, amazed at how effortless he made it seem. It was pretty cool, though. Now that Vanderwood was turning towards her and pulling his own ear plugs out, she did the same.
He held the gun out to her, so she could grab it handle first. “So, ready to give it a try?” This earned him a wink that made his heart stop completely for a full two seconds. “Ready as I’ll ever be.” Once more he found himself biting his tongue to make his head work. “Alright, shortcake.” Okay, so, he just called her a pet name. Vanderwood was internally dying, heat filling his face. Romance was not his forte’, not at all. It didn’t help that she was giggling at him now as she took the gun. “Shortcake, huh?” It felt weird to actually be holding a gun. This small thing could do so much damage, even take a life. “You don’t like being my shortcake?” His own comment had him so confused. Why did words just keep falling out of his mouth? Cerise was blushing hard too, and for once in her life, she had no comeback.
He realized that he needed to keep going, get this done before he said anything else ridiculous. “You’re going to want to put both hands on the gun.” Vanderwood leaned down, wrapping his arms around her, his head just above her shoulder as he positioned her hands, feeling the warmth of her against his chest. That wasn’t helping his blush at all, and with Vanderwood’s close proximity, Cerise couldn’t help but to blush too.
“It’s going to have quite a bit of recoil, since it’s not very heavy, so make sure you hold it tight so it doesn’t buck back in your face. Be ready for it.” At the moment, it was a miracle that he could actually talk. “Now, show me how you stand, and I’ll correct you.” Hopefully that would be easier, except…Oh God, she’s wearing a skirt. Cue the extreme blush again. Shit, he hoped he wouldn’t have to fix her position too much.
Cerise wasn’t thinking about her skirt. It seemed easy enough to shoot a gun, but she was rather worried about the recoil he mentioned. A busted-up face wasn’t good for selfies. She did her best to mimic his stance though. “This…doesn’t feel quite right.” Then she changed her stance a little more to something she thought felt a little more comfortable. “Like this?” Vanderwood realized almost as soon as she had moved again that her stance needed correcting. Damn it. Her hips weren’t quite right, and thank God he didn’t have to touch her skin to skin thanks to his gloves. “Here.”
Vanderwood was gentle as he put his hands on her hips, guiding her as his face slowly turned more red. Now he carefully touched her inner thigh, to get her to spread her legs properly. Jesus. He had to bite his tongue to keep from bringing up an image from earlier. It had been too long for him, even just a couple of weeks, but he could surely behave better than this. At this point, Cerise felt she was probably as stiff as a robot, as she struggled to keep her eyes forward on the can that were her targets. Anything to keep her brain from completely shutting down when she had a gun in her hands and his hands on her. He was touching the inside of her thigh now. Oh God. She tried to tell herself to calm down and loosen up.
His heart was slamming against his rib cage as he pulled away, rubbing the back of his head awkwardly. Thank God that was over. How could she mess with him so much when she wasn’t even his type? Or maybe the thing was she was the only woman who was his type. He certainly loved her, felt about her like he’d never felt for anyone else, and she didn’t want anything from him. It felt so good to be around someone who didn’t want anything from him except his presence. Vanderwood shook his head at himself. It wasn’t the time to be thinking about that. “Alright, so try to hit those two cans for me. You have seven shots left in this gun.” He noticed the way she seemed so tense and lightly touched her shoulders. “And relax.”
Carefully, he moved her wealth of hair to the side to place her earplugs for her, putting in his own after and standing back to give her a questioning look with a thumbs-up. Cerise had let herself relax a little in response to his gentle touch. With her ear plugs in now, she took a deep breath, whispering to herself, although she couldn’t really hear it. “You can do this.” He had given her a thumbs-up, but it took her a minute to gather up the nerve to actually shoot the thing. She was able to successfully shoot the gun the first time, but the recoil did scare her, causing a yelp in surprise.
Vanderwood was watching her, a chuckle escaping him at the yelp. That was to be expected. Honestly, she looked really fucking good with a gun in her hands. Stop that. He had to reprimand himself, watching her next shot miss. Thanks to the ear plugs, he wasn’t able to hear her mumbling to herself. “Third time’s the charm.” She took another deep breath and tried to focus, her third shot finally hitting a can. Vanderwood was impressed, watching her relax and lower the gun, putting the safety back on before she turned to look at him with a big smile and a thumbs-up of her own.
That simple action made his heart swell a little, and Jesus, he really wanted to give her a kiss right then, gun and all. Even with the safety on, it was best to get his hands on the weapon too. His hand closed over the top of the gun, lowering her hands so that it was pointed to the ground as his other hand took her chin gently. Vanderwood bent his head to hers, not quite kissing her yet, by some miracle letting her close the gap if she wanted to. He was going to have to work on his self-control, clearly, but at least he had the clear thinking to let her make the final decision. Was he actually holding his breath as he waited?
Cerise had been searching for his approval, and she guessed this meant she had earned it. She could feel her heart in her throat, the fact that her ear plugs were still in only making it more obvious to her how hard and quickly her heart was beating. It was like he was waiting for an answer from her. He acted totally different now than what he had previously described himself to be. She might have been able to imagine it at first, but it was kind of hard to now. Cerise closed the gap between them, bringing her free hand up to touch his face. Now she was wondering how much it would take for her heart to actually beat out of her chest, because she was pretty sure that it was close to doing so.
His heart was pounding in his ears as she kissed him, partly because of the earplugs, but mostly because of the way he reacted to Cerise. Nothing in his life had prepared him for what it felt like to be with her. Vanderwood took his time in the kiss, removing the gun from her hand completely before he broke away, bumping her nose softly with his. She grinned and nuzzled him. Kissing him felt nice, and besides the first time, it always had so far.
He snorted softly. Vanderwood didn’t want to pull away from her at first, enjoying the feeling of her hand against his cheek, wanting to kiss her more, but she would still need time. In fact, he still needed time, to be sure he wasn’t going to hurt her. If he ever did something like what he’d done the first time they’d kissed, Vanderwood didn’t think he’d be able to forgive himself. He tucked the gun back in its place at the small of his back. “I guess I’ll have to get you your own gun. But for now, I believe I owe you a trip out somewhere you want to go.” Where would she want to go? All in all, he didn’t know too much about her, other than that she loved social media, Spanish dramas, and phones. She was definitely a phone nut. An adorable one at that.
She was realizing that she had completely forgotten to take a selfie with the gun, which probably would have annoyed him, now that she thought about it. Cerise could almost hear him scolding her, something like ‘Guns are not props!’ Oh well, she’d have another chance one day, especially… ”My own gun? Do you think they have they have them in pink? Oh! Or maybe even ones with cute designs on them?” She had seen such guns on aesthetic blogs, but she didn’t know if they were real or if it was possible to buy them like that if they were.
The second part of what he’d said only processed now. Somewhere she wanted to go? Right…”You did say I could pick out any accessories I wanted for my phone, so…” She latched herself to his arm and attempted to drag him to the car. “Let’s go and get some!” Cerise was always excited for anything that had to do with her phone, especially when it came to decorating it. A boring phone was not a happy phone. Besides, her phone needed to look as good in a mirror as she did.
Vanderwood hadn’t expected her to be so excited about a gun, and he honestly had no idea whether they came in pink. His had always been agency issue, but if she wanted a pink one or one with designs, he would find it for her. That was a little weird to him still, wanting to do something like that for her just because it would bring a smile to her face, even though he thought it was somewhat ridiculous. To see her excited like this warmed him in ways he’d never known were possible. From anyone else, her attempt to drag him would have been met with harsh resistance, but instead he feigned like she was dragging him along towards the car, all the time chuckling at how incredibly adorable she was.
It was obvious to him that she loved her phone and aesthetics. She was a beautiful woman, so it only made sense for her to have beautiful things. He furrowed his brows a little. Well, he sure as Hell wasn’t beautiful, but he’d get her whatever cute shit she wanted…As long as she didn’t try to put it anywhere near him, other than herself. He wanted her near him all the time. As they got in the car he nodded towards her as he pulled the car back out onto the road. “Find your phone store then.”
Cerise was quick to comply with his request. That was one thing she loved about Korea, it was so much easier to find stores like this than in France where she had to do online shopping to get what she wanted. By the looks of the pictures in the description on the website, it had everything she would be looking for. She couldn’t wait to get her hands on some cute new accessories. As attached as she was to her old ones, they were pretty dated. After giving Vanderwood the address, she busied herself with her cellphone. A short while went by before she stared at the screen perplexed. “Uh…what does it mean when someone says they want to ‘eat you like a cannoli’ and then ‘take you to Pound Town’? Where even is Pound Town?”
Everything was fine, going well, the world seemed beautiful, and then Cerise asked that. Vanderwood went through a surprising range of emotions in just a matter of a second: surprise, laughter, and then finally landing on anger. Obviously, that wasn’t directed at her, but whoever the Hell was sending her messages like that. “That’s not a place.” His eyebrow twitched. Already he was pulling over and holding out his hand. “Phone.” Whoever this was, he was in for a world of hurt. Why was he even so angry? It didn’t really matter. Vanderwood wanted this creep taken care of.
“Sounds like some sort of amusement park to me, but…honestly I’d rather not get eaten.” Cerise looked around confused as he pulled over. Her initial thought was that something was wrong, but when he held out his hand and requested that she hand over her phone, she placed it in his hand, trusting him not to throw it out the window. Why would he hurt it if he was taking her to get accessories for it, anyways? “Just, try not to hurt it or anything, okay?”
Vanderwood sighed heavily as he took her phone, trying to go for bluntness was much more difficult with a subject like this for some reason. He should be able to talk about it, out of all people, but his tongue twisted, finally untwisting at her request. “Cerise…he’s talking about sex. Of course I won’t hurt your phone.” Almost as soon as Vanderwood was looking at her phone, a few more creepy messages popped up along with a picture of the stranger’s lower extremities followed by a ‘like wut u see?’ with a ton of eggplant emojis. Previous messages revealed that the conversation had started out rather pleasant, the guy seemed genuinely interested in what she liked and where she was from. She had explained that she had moved to Korea from France and all the places she wanted to visit, prompting the creepy messages about ‘Pound Town.’
His eyebrow was really twitching now. This piece of shit was going to get it. The text speak was a little hard to follow other than that he’d been dealing with it from Seven for years. The eggplants he didn’t understand at all, but that picture. Vanderwood removed the gun from its place at the small of his back, taking a photo and sending it back. `Do u like wat u see` Typing like that hurt his perfectionist mind, but he tried to type like Cerise simply for the added shock value. Of course, that wasn’t enough to just threaten him with a gun, so he was already sending the guy’s number to Seven as he messaged one handed on his own phone. Guys like this annoyed him incredibly, even more so since this person was messaging Cerise. At least when he wanted a hook up, he was up front about it. This kind of guy went from ‘I care about you’ to ‘I want you in bed’ without warning and would always be on his shitlist.
Cerise had made a noise of disgust to Vanderwood’s explanation. “What a creep.” Watching in confusion as Vanderwood took out his gun and sent a picture, prompting her to giggle. It was cute in a way. She never quite knew how to handle these types of people anyway. It wasn’t like that had been the first time she’d gotten that type of message; that was a given with popular accounts. She had just never heard of those terms before. Cerise wouldn’t even have responded, but the guy had seemed so nice at first.
Apparently, the guy had liked what he saw and responded with another picture of himself. `I got sumthin else 4 u 2 shoot.` Vanderwood had a feeling his eyebrow was going to remain in a state of twitching for a while. He dialed Seven’s number, thankful for how quickly the redhead picked up. “That info I just sent you, troll your heart out for me.” Seven was exactly the perfect guy for this kind of thing. This was really right up his alley. “Also, if you could send his pictures to his mother for me, or anyone in his family really.” Vanderwood listened as the redhead mentioned something about putting the guy’s information on public boards. “Yeah. Go for it.”
Now the redhead was laughing, so excited that he was probably loud enough for Cerise to hear now. “You’re not usually this angry. Ooooo! Is it the girl? Good old Mary Vanderwood has a crush!” Vanderwod clenched his jaw. He was getting more irritated, but also, maybe embarrassed was the word. Blushing like a maniac was a new thing to him, and he wasn’t particularly fond of how it was happening right now. “Tell me more, she doesn’t seem like your type.” Vanderwood’s voice went a little gruff. “Just shut up and do it.” He hung up before typing out another reply to the creepy guy. `Have fun.`
Cerise watched him and raised an eyebrow. The guy on the other end of the phone sounded excitable. She knew of the guy, but had never actually heard or seen him. She just knew they stopped by his house to switch cars that one time. Was Vanderwod blushing? He was totally blushing. Cerise felt heat rise to her own cheeks. Great, she was too. “Yeah…so…” She stared at him intently as he pulled back onto the road after handing her phone back to her, heading towards the cell phone store again. “Mary? Youre real name is Mary?” Now she snickered a little. It was such a feminine name for someone like him.
That redhead was annoying as Hell. “It’s Marion. Pretty sure my dad was high when he named me.” Cerise was trying to contain her giggles and mostly failing. His name was essentially Marie in French. There was something hilariously beautiful about that. The giggling faded as she thought about the rest that Seven had said. “Um…so…what is your type?” That phrase ‘his type’ she’d heard it a lot in the short time they’d been around each other, and apparently she wasn’t it, and it was plaguing at the back of her mind.
With her next question, he sighed heavily again as he drove before biting his tongue. This was the kind of thing that had him itching for a cigarette. Thankfully, it wasn’t enough to have him needing a different kind of fix. Even the thought of girls who were supposedly ‘his type’ made him sick now. “I’ve never really been with a woman romantically. It’s always been escorts and hookups…so tall with tons of curves, I guess.” That came out a little weird. “It’s always been emotionlessly getting my fix. I don’t actually have any interest in any of them.” If he hadn’t been driving, he would have been rubbing at the back of his head. It felt so odd to have these types of conversations, but maybe they were necessary. “You…make me feel completely different.”
His type was…pretty much the polar opposite of what she was. She wasn’t tall at all, and she definitely didn’t have any curves to speak of. All her friends back home had been that type. As cute as she was, guys seemed to go for the girls who were well endowed and blessed with legs for miles. Cerise seemed to have gotten the short end of the stick, literally. He said he didn’t have any interest, and she understood that there was addiction involved, but she still couldn’t help but to feel…insecure? Disappointed? It wasn’t a normal feeling for her, she was very confident in her looks…so why did this feel so different? “Oh, h-hey! I can see the store down there!” A change of subject was definitely needed, and being in the store would be a great help.
(Hidden Scene of Vanderwood and Cerise shopping at the cell-phone store available as a patron.)
After an extensive bout of shopping, Cerise had created what was likely her cutest phone yet, and Vanderwood had essentially gone on what was his first ever date, he figured. That was such a weird thought as old as he was and as many women as he’d been with. Really, he’d rather not think about it and just start over with Cerise. Maybe that was something he could actually do now, start over?
His thoughts were broken as they made it to the hotel, and he helped her out as usual, but something seemed…off? Vanderwood couldn’t quite put his finger on it. His eyes searched the parking lot. Nothing strange there. As they walked inside, he kept just a little closer to her than he even usually would, and then he knew why he was on edge. One of his least favorite redheads, Jessica, was leaning over the lobby table, probably showing off her cleavage to the guy there and trying to gather information. She and Drawl must have been sweeping the different hotels. This wasn’t good.
Cerise had watched him with a confused expression as he tensed up in the parking lot. Did he have some sort of weird secret agent sense or something? She couldn’t help but feel a little tense too as she walked beside him. Vanderwood stopped Cerise by putting his hand lightly on her shoulder, but she was still startled enough to jump. At least she hadn’t yelped. Fear was swamping him, a feeling he was starting to get used to dealing with when it came to Cerise. He took his bag off his shoulder and removed the gun from the small of his back, placing it in there. “Cerise, I need you to listen very carefully.”
He made eye contact with her to make sure she was listening, and she nodded, the serious tone he was taking with her telling her that the situation must have been bad. Vanderwood took out the two hotel cards and placed them both in her hands before handing her the bag. “Go up to the room, and stay inside. Keep the gun in your hands. You should have four bullets left. If anyone tries to enter the room without saying…” His voice trailed off for just a moment as he grabbed the first word that came to mind. “Caleb, do not let them in.” So, using his brother’s name, not a bad time for that information really. No one else knew anyway. “I’ll be up there soon. Remember the name.”
What he wanted right now was to kiss her deeply, tell her that everything would be alright, but it wasn’t the time. “Caleb.” Cerise repeated it to him, indicating that she understood before she was making her way up to the rooms, Vanderwood watching her go to make sure she wasn’t followed. Obviously, she would be scared, and if he was being honest, he was too. For the first time in a long time, he had something to live for other than the fear of death. He wanted this not to be their first and last day out.
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