Autumn Leaves || A.I.

**PROLOGUE HAS BEEN CHANGED**

"You are one of a kind, love. You got into this mess on accident. But you can get out of it easily. All it takes is for you to think." --Ashton Irwin

Tatum Dawson was a 25-year-old who lived a great life. She had her own apartment, a job as graphic designer, and a fiancé who loved her unconditionally.

But at one point things went south. A day after she met a temporary neighbor named Ashton Irwin, a friend died, her fiancé disappeared, and her ill mother got worse. Then, to top it all off, Tatum got kidnapped. How would she deal with her great life being disturbed?

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9. 《Chapter 6》

After breakfast, I decided to not confront Mark about my stay here. I wasn't sure who I believed: Ashton and the girls or Mark. Was I really being hunted or was the entire story made up just to keep me here? The girls wouldn't lie. Would they?

"Tatum? Tatum!"

"Huh?" I was broken out of a trance of thoughts by Mona, who looked a little annoyed. She was probably calling me for a while. Oops. "I'm sorry. What did you say?"

"I said, there's gonna be a party tonight. Mark throws them once in a while. It'll be fun. Wanna join us?"

"Um..." I didn't know what to say. I was guessing it would be in the cabin. I haven't been to any parties for a long time. Should I go? Or should I stay in my room
? I didn't know.

"Oh, come on," Evie said. "You're not gonna stay in your room all night, are you? Come on, live a little! How long has it been since you last went to a party?"

A while. "I don't know," I said.

"Well, we want you to come," Mona stated. "A party on your second day here? If I were you, I'd be living my life to the fullest!"

"I totally agree," Valeria said. "You will have a blast, trust me. And I can help you with your outfit. I'm really good with putting them together. What do you say?"

"I don't know, girls," I replied. "I'll think about it and let you know."

"All right," Val said. "But I hope you decide to go. You'll have a blast."

I thanked them for the invite and went into my room while the girls went to the reck room. My walls were dried now and I decided to occupy myself by hanging my posters. I turned on the radio and went to finish my decoration. It didn't take long. I had about ten posters to hang and I managed it all in under fifteen minutes. While decorating, I sang along to the radio. I loved to sing, but I didn't like to do it around people. I was scared of people's opinions about me. Now I just realized that the only person I sang in front of was Ashton. Why? I did not know. I guess I never would, either.

When I was done I turned off the radio and took a book from the bookshelf that stood beside my bed. To Kill a Mockingbird. I always wanted to read this book. All the reviews I got from my friends were great, but I never got around to reading the classic. Now, that I had time on my hands, I could allow myself to sit back and flip through the pages.

Two chapters into the book, there was a knock at the door. Before I could say anything Ashton walked into my room, holding a Canon in his hands.

"Hey," he said. "Are you busy?"

"Two chapters into a book," I replied. "What's up?"

"I was wondering. Would you like to come with me into the forest to take some pictures?"

"That'd be cool," I said. What did I have to do, anyway? Sit around all day and read? I didn't have a computer at the moment so I couldn't do photoshop. All that was left was to hang out with the girls. Truly wasn't planning to do that every single day while I stayed here. Getting out into the open air was healthy.

I got up and grabbed a thin white cardigan and put it over my floral tee shirt. Yes, I did not only wear dark clothing. I liked having a wardrobe with different styles.

I followed Ashton down the spiral stairs and out into the cool morning air. It was eleven in the morning and the sun was almost completely overhead. It provided some warmth amongst the breeze and I was happy I wore a cardigan instead of my jacket. If I wore my jacket it would've been hot for me. Pink and yellow flowers blossomed on the trees and blue-eyed and purple eyed-grass dotted the ground. It was a pretty spring setting. A great place for a picnic.

Ashton put the eyepiece to his eye, closing the other one and tilted the lens up to a woodpecker in a nearby tree.

I stared up at the woodpecker and began to feel myself get lost in thought. Just yesterday I hated Ashton, even though we got along pretty well before I found out he was behind my kidnapping. Now, although I didn't believe him about me being a murder target, I didn't feel so angry at him. It was strange, yes. Even I myself couldn't understand why.

The girls which I met just yesterday and today told me that I was brought here for the same reason Ashton described to me. They even told me their own stories. Even though I believed them, it didn't mean they were telling the truth. This entire thing could've been a setup from the beginning. Mark could've been the only one telling the truth. The girls were the sole reason I believed Ashton, but not all the way. It seemed as if I couldn't bring myself to believe them entirely. This situation brought up another question: Who should I trust?

"Tatum," I heard Ashton call. His voice seemed farther away than it really was.

"Yeah?" I replied.

"You've been staring at that tree for a while. Is everything all right?"

He was right. I've been staring at the point where the woodpecker was for some time. Now the woodpecker was gone, leaving me staring at the blooming branch. "Yeah, sorry. Just lost in thought."

"Do you want me to teach you how to use the camera?" His request came as a slight surprise to me. He was nice enough to take me out last night for dessert and was now asking if I wanted to learn how to use his camera. Even after what he did to get me here. After what he told me, making me get lost in question if he was lying or not.

"Uh, sure," I agreed.

"Come here."

So I did. I walked over to him and he brought the strap the camera was hanging from over his head.

"Okay. This button right here is the button to take a photo. You first need to press down slightly to have the camera adjust to the image before the lens. The lens will turn to fix the focus on the image. When it is focused you will see a green rectangle on the screen and a click. Then you press it down all the way to take the shot. Take a look." He walked over to the base of a tree where purple flowers grew. He kneeled down and pointed the lens at the flowers. I heard the lens adjust the focus and a small sound short after that it finished adjusting. Then Ashton pressed the button down and I heard a click sound that indicated that the picture was taken. He showed me the photo and I saw the purple flowers on the screen. The flowers were vivid and well focused, but the background was blurred.

"That looks really pretty," I commented.

"I used the background blur function for this one. It works if you bring it close to something. But bring it too close and the camera won't be able to focus it. Here, you try."

Ashton handed over the camera to me and I took it, feeling its weight in my hands. I was scared of dropping it so I put the strap around my neck and looked around. I saw a monarch butterfly sitting on top of a blue flower and crept toward it carefully, scared to make a sound. I brought the camera up and slightly pressed down on the button Ash showed me. It began adjusting and I prayed that the butterfly wouldn't fly away. When I saw the green rectangle on the screen I pressed down on the button and heard the click. In less than a second the picture, I took appeared on the screen. It was amazing what a device like this camera could do. I showed the picture I took to Ashton and he smiled.

"Well done," he said, sounding like a mentor praising his apprentice. "In no time you could be taking professional shots and selling them to whoever would buy."

Ashton showed me more techniques besides background blur on taking pictures with his Canon. He showed me the leading lines technique and the framing technique. He showed me how to take a photo with all three techniques. I found it all truly wonderful. It was fun to learn something new, especially this. By the end of our walk, I learned how to take pictures as good as Ashton.

But when I thought about how fun of a time he was showing me I began to think that this was all a scam to make me gain his trust.

"So you didn't lie about you being a photographer," I said as we were making our way back to the cabin for lunch.

When he spoke his voice was clipped. "You don't believe me, do you?"

I didn't say anything. My silence was enough to make his suspicion true.

"Tatum," he began. "What I told you about your stay here is one-hundred percent true. Yes, I lied to you about my career when we first met and why I was in town, but the rest is true."

I didn't know what do say. So I stayed silent some more. "Otto Irwin really is my brother. I really was staying at his place. I really was in a band in the past. I really did play the drums. I really am twenty-seven. I may not be an actual photographer, but I am telling the truth about everything else."

Again, silence from me.

"Look," he said, stopping in his tracks. I go a little farther and stop too, turning to face him. "If you don't want to believe me, that's fine. But please don't do anything stupid. Don't try to escape from this place. You're here temporarily. In this case temporarily can vary from four weeks to four years. It is important that you stay here, in safety."

"Okay," I finally said. "I won't escape. But I will only believe you if the people who are looking for me will give chase. Then I will know that you are telling the truth."

"If they do give chase, let's hope they don't get to you."

¤¤¤¤

It was 11:47 at night and the party Mona told me about started about an hour ago. The music played so loud that the walls were practically shaking. I sat in my room on my bed, reading the book I started earlier. I was in the middle of the fifth chapter when I heard a knock at the door. Again, without waiting for an answer, Ashton walked in, wearing a white shirt and black ripped skin tight jeans, along with a black and white bandana wrapped around his head.

"Tatum?" he said. "What are you doing?"

"Reading a book," I stated.

"What the hell, the party is full blast. You should be there right now. Don't tell me you didn't know. The music is blasting so loud it is almost heard out in town."

"I don't know. I don't really feel I--"

"Come on, please?" He made puppy eyes and pouted his bottom lip. "Please come. I'll be really happy if you do. So will Valeria. You'll have a lot of fun! There's beer pong, Spin the Bottle, alcohol, music, dancing! You will have so much fun, I guarantee it!"

I didn't say anything and stared at Ashton's puppy face. It was clear he was tipsy. As much as I didn't want to go with him I got up from my bed and walked over to him.

"Fine, let's go," I said. I was about to walk past him, but he stopped me.

"No," Ashton said, pointing to my t-shirt and sweatpants. "There is no way you're going like that. You don't have to put makeup on, but at least wear something more slutty."

I sighed and rolled my eyes. "Fine. Close the door and wait for me." Ash closed the door and I went over to my closet. I remembered that I had a short black dress that showed some of my bosom. I put that on along with some black flats and opened the door again. Ashton looked at me wide-eyed.

"Hot," he said.

"I know," I replied. Maybe he was a little bit more than just tipsy.

I followed Ashton to the main room where I met Mark. As I walked I saw that the second and third floors were also occupied by partying people. I saw people making out and people playing Suck and Blow. The music reached to these two floors pretty well.

When we got to the first floor, Valeria was the first one to spot me.

"Tatum!" She exclaimed. "Thank god you decided to come!"

"Ashton made me come," I said. I doubt she heard me.

"What?" I was right.

"I said, I like your dress!" It was true. Her dress was a cute but simple pink thing going up to her mid thigh. It was sparkly. It looked good in her.

"Oh, thanks! It's my favorite."

"Do you want a drink?" Ashton suggested. He told me closer to my ear so he didn't have to yell. His warm breath tickled my ear.

"Sure," I said, also getting close to his ear. But in the process our faces almost collided. Great going, Tate. "Oops, sorry."

"It's okay. Come on, I'll get you something." Ashton took my hand in his gently and lead me through the crowd to the bar. His hand was big and soft. It was warm against my cold one. When we got there I told Ashton that a beer would be great. "Two beers, please," he said to the bartender.

The bartender walked away to get us beers and came back shortly with two bottles. He opened them for us and I took a swig.

"You look really pretty tonight," Ash mentioned.

"Thanks," I said. "You look... A bit drunk."

"Yeah." He laughed.

There was a small silence, but I broke it. "Thank you for the photography lesson earlier today. I really enjoyed it."

"No problem. If you want, we can go out again tomorrow. To a different part of the forest."

"That'd be great, thank you."

More silence. With each minute, there became less beer in our bottles. I scanned the crowd of people partying. I found Valeria amongst a bunch of girls I didn't know and Mona was over there with the guys, playing beer-pong. Evie was nowhere in sight. Maybe she was on a different floor.

Suddenly, the music stopped playing. Along with everyone else, I looked around in confusion. What happened?

"Sorry, guys!" I heard Mark yell. "The speakers broke. Carry on with the party, though!"

I laughed to myself and turned to the bartender. "Can I have another bottle, please?" He came back in no time and opened the drink. I thanked him for it and he went to serve someone else. When I turned back to the crowd I was startled by Valeria standing in front of me.

"We're playing Spin the Bottle," she said in her soft voice. "Wanna join?" It was evident by her slur and slightly red eyes that she was already drunk. To add to the image, she was wobbling on those high stilettos of hers. How had she not fallen yet?

I turned to Ashton and he shrugged.

"We're coming," I told Val. She squealed and we followed her to a circle of drunk people surrounding a beer bottle. I noticed Evie amongst the circle of people. She looked pretty wasted too. There were a bunch of unopened beer bottles standing to the side also. At least I didn't have to go far to get more alcohol.

Ashton and I sat down in the empty space made for us. Some guy began to tell us the rules. As if we didn't know how to play. "We're going to use a six-sided die as well," he explained. "One is to hug; two is a kiss on the cheek; three is a kiss on the lips; four is a make out; five is a grope-- boobs for girls and dick for guys; and six is Seven Seconds in Heaven."

Valeria volunteered to go first. She spinned the bottle and it pointed at some dude three spaces to the left of her. She rolled the die and it came face up with a three. She crawled over to him and began making out with him ferociously. Everyone oh-ed at them and laughed. A few seconds later she got off of him and went back to her spot. Now it was the dude's turn. This game went on for about an hour, causing laughter and other sounds to fill the room.

Soon it was Evie's turn to spin. She spun the bottle, and after making a few circles it finally stopped at me. Evie rolled the die and it landed on five. She got up and walked over to me. She got on her knees in front of me and began to grope my breasts. It felt good, I had to admit. I wouldn't remember anything tomorrow, though.

A moment later it was my turn to spin the bottle. When I did it spun quickly and for about half a minute. When it finally stopped, though, it landed on Ashton. Really? The person right next to me? I rolled the die and it landed on a six. What the hell? This was stupid. I reminded myself once more that we were all shitfaced and none of this will be in our heads in the morning. So Seven Seconds in Heaven won't kill us tomorrow. But our heads will.

Ashton got up and took me by the arm. I let him pull me up and I followed him to a bathroom on the second floor. A girl in a white and blue short dress, our escort, followed behind us slowly and carefully, doing her best to not fall. I had a hard time going up also. I almost planted my face on a stair, but Ashton managed to catch me. He took my hand and lead me to the bathroom and walked into a bathroom stall.

"You know, we don't have to do this," he whispered. His breath smelled of alcohol, but I didn't mind.

"We have to," I told him. "She's standing outside and if she doesn't hear anything she will tell everyone we cheated."

Ashton began kissing my neck softly. "We won't remember this tomorrow," he mumbled against my skin. "Unfortunately."

"Unfortunately."

He began to take off his pants and my underwear. He was already hard, and I felt a pleasant tingling downtown. I became really wet as he ran his fingers there. Then, he picked me up and put my back against a wall. My legs were wrapped around him. I felt a gasp of pleasure escape my mouth as he entered me.

¤¤¤¤

A/N
Enjoying the smut, mates?

In a week, I will be back home in New York! Where are ya'll from?

Sophie.

 

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