***Had to post early. Enjoy!***
“You can’t be serious,” Chloe said, rolling her eyes.
I nodded. “Maybe we should stay, you know, help you and stuff. You only just got back. We should be here for you. I should be.”
“If you’d prefer, I could stay with Chloe and you could go instead,” Daniel suggested.
I nodded and smiled. “Yeah, we could do that instead.”
Chloe held her hands up palms forward. “Just stop guys. I’m fine. Promise. Just because something bad happened to me doesn’t mean you should be missing the awards ceremony. It’s ridiculous. Your boss would go apeshit.”
It was true but I didn’t want to admit it. “He’ll understand,” I tried.
Chloe tilted her head and raised an eyebrow. “Would he? Really?”
I shrugged. “Maybe.”
Daniel sighed. “He doesn’t have to understand, Chloe. This is your health we’re talking about.”
“You know what,” Chloe smiled, “I read up on miscarriages. And guess what, I can take care of myself.”
“Go,” Chloe said finally. “Please, let’s just have everything go back to the way it was.”
I realised then that it wasn’t just for me, but it was for her too.
I nodded in agreement. “Okay.”
This time her smile grew brightly and she clapped her hands in excitement. “Yay! Have you figured out what you’re going to wear?”
I nodded. “Somewhat.”
“Maybe we should go shopping!”
I turned to Daniel. “Have you got something?”
Daniel put his arm on my shoulders, grinned 80s movies style and said in a Danny Zuko\Kenickie tone of voice. “Babe, just ‘cause I dress this way, don’t mean I ain’t got no surprises.” Then he winked.
I didn’t know if it was my cheesy love for Grease or those gorgeous dimples that shone bright the entire time he spoke, but my heart and stomach definitely did back flips together. Chloe burst out laughing, back to her usual self, at least it seemed. Daniel saw her reaction, turned to me and winked. I smiled a ‘thank you’ back.
I’m more in love after Daniel helped Chloe. And he’s still helping her. I just don’t know if I should tell him or not. What would he think? I mean, if he didn’t feel the same way about me, then is that it? Are finished? I shoved the thought out of my mind when I found Daniel’s lips on mine and Chloe suddenly disappeared out of the room. I need to stop zoning out. I need my dilemmas to stop pulling me out.
“What was that for?” I asked, surprised. “I should be the one kissing you, and more. You’ve just been so wonderful to me and Chloe.”
Daniel smiled. “Well, whatever it takes to make you happy, makes me happy.”
I grinned mischievously. “Whatever it takes?”
He grinned as well, this time kissing me more passionately, more urgently than before, and rising his hand up my thigh. He squeezed my thigh and it tickled. It made me laugh as he kissed me, and because I couldn’t kiss him back because I was giggling, he moved down to my neck.
“Wait, Daniel,” I breathed.
“We can’t do it on the couch, Chloe could come out any minute.”
He sighed. “You’re right.”
I blinked. “You gave in pretty quick.”
“Well it is a little insensitive isn’t it?”
I nodded and was about to say something when. “No, it’s not,” was heard from the other room.
Chloe walked out sheepishly, suddenly she couldn’t contain her laughter. “I’m sorry. I swear I’m not a creeper. I was just about to come out when you guys started and I didn’t know what to do.”
Daniel and I laughed with her. “Well, at least I know what you’re into now,” I said.
Chloe’s mouth turned into an O-shape. Pretending to be offended she lifted up a cushion and hit me with it. Daniel steered clear of the dangerous territory, and as soon as he saw us laughing, plummeting over each other (I held back just a little because I was afraid I’d hurt her too much, even though she was super strong!), and then suddenly quieting down to have a conversation, he gave me a kiss and left.
Our legs overlapped one another as we spoke, and it really was just as if we always were. Even though I saw reflections of her loss in her eyes, I felt like Chloe was at home again, and so did I. I’m so lucky to have her as my friend.
“Chill out,” Daniel said as we took a cab to the event. “You look beautiful, stop stressing.”
I was trying to meditate but my breathing exercise ended up turning into Lamaze. Daniel put a hand on my back and motioned in circles.
“Relax,” he said, moving closer into the crook of my neck. When I felt his breath on my neck my body started raging in tingles all around. I closed my eyes. “Relax, baby,” he whispered, kissing the hollow at the base of my neck.
I hadn’t realised I was leaning forward until Daniel pulled me closer into him, and he let me rest on his shoulder. My back straightened and relaxed.
“Feeling better?” he asked.
I nodded. He did have that effect on me. It was insane. “You look really good too, by the way.”
“Thank you.” I couldn’t see the smile but I could hear it in his reply.
The room was extravagant, to say the least. I’ve never seen so much crystal chandeliers and flowing champagne in one room before. It was all so crazy. Though I assumed the interns weren’t privileged to such decadence. I was right. At every event, there’s always a loser table, and we sure as hell got it. All the way at the back of the room, unnoticed, was our seating arrangements. Are we paying homage to White Chicks that I don’t know about?
“Annie Parker?” I said, lifting up the piece of paper and showing it to Daniel. “They called me Annie.”
“Hey,” he lifted his own, “at least you’re not ‘and guest’.”
He pretended to be offended but I could tell he was just lightening the mood. I pouted and he squeezed my waist. “Don’t worry about it. One day, they’re going to regret the day they misspelled your name.”
I rolled my eyes and smiled. “Such the charmer.”
Daniel stroked his collar and tie. “Yup, well, what can I say, I’m adorable.”
I nudged him with my elbow and we laughed together. “Come on, let’s mingle with the crowd.”
“Yes ma’am,” Daniel said, sliding his hand to my butt, and squeezing it for a split second before walking. And since we were all the way at the back at the loser table, no one noticed. Yet I couldn’t help but go pink.
“I don’t know, like, ninety-five per cent of these people. Probably ninety-eight. I wonder where—”
And just on cue, I heard that familiar voice. “Anna!”
Nikki looked amazing. She was wearing a strapless shimmering gold dress with her once blonde and spiked hair, now slicked back and puffed ever so slightly. To give it a more feminine twist to the hair-do, she added a headband with a bow on it, the same colour as her dress.
“Hi,” I said, going in for a hug.
She squeezed me so tightly. “You look amazing. Black is always the best choice, I must say. I think I’ve gotten a lot of weird looks already with what I’m wearing.”
“They’re probably only weird because they’re wishing they had the balls to wear that very same outfit.”
“Isn’t it cute,” she beamed, twirling.
“Indeed! I absolutely love it!” it was no lie.
Derek followed behind her. He went in for a hug and I returned the gesture, thinking it rude if I didn’t.
“You look beautiful, as always,” he said.
Daniel cleared his throat and pulled me closer into him at the waist.
“Oh, Nikki, Derek, this—“ I put a hand on Daniel’s chest “—is Daniel.”
Daniel shook Nikki’s hand and smiled at her. His smile lost its meaning when he shook Derek’s hand.
“Pleasure,” Daniel said.
“Can you believe it?” Nikki said, pulling me out of Daniel’s embrace and into her arm. “This place is huge. And apparently, the party hasn’t even started yet. I mean, the ceremony.”
“Are we early?” I asked.
“No way,” Derek came in, hooking his arm over my shoulder. “Everyone to the must haves down to must against their will—” he winked at me “—is here already. Hey Daniel,” he said, turning his attention to him and removing his arm, “what do you think of this place?”
I could tell Daniel was a little irritated by Derek, but he did the best he could to be nice, I’m guessing for my sake.
Daniel sighed and forced a smile. “It’s wonderful.”
“Everything’s so shiny,” Nikki said. “I’m going to get some more bubbly, anyone want some?”
Daniel and I both nodded and said, “Sure.”
“I’ll help you,” Derek offered.
Daniel wrapped his arm around my waist. “Does he have to be so handsy?” he asked when they were out of hearing range.
I shrugged. “He’s an acquired taste.”
Daniel scrunched his face at my words. “I really don’t want to picture that.”
I smacked his chest playfully. “I mean his personality.”
Daniel chuckled. “Thank God!”
“We’re back!” Nikki said.
I took a sip from my champagne and damn it tasted good. A strawberry floated in it. Everything was just so posh. Not exactly what I’m used to. I’m usually the girl behind the bar serving these, for lack of a better word, pretentious people.
I saw Eddie in the distance talking to someone but the line of people in my view was blocking who it was. I could see Eddie deeply engaged in conversation, his face excited, and his hands moving in exaggeration left, right and centre. He looked just the same; slicked black hair pushed back, freckled in greys, clean shaven, and another suit. A metallic navy blue suit that glistened in the crystal light. He didn’t look old, but the lines of experience and life gave him away, especially when he was smiling.
Nikki was speaking to Daniel and Daniel politely nodded and spoke back as much as he could. Derek interceded here and there, though neither were as talkative as Nikki. Eddie spotted me in what I assume to be mid-conversation with his buddy. He gave me a smile and nodded my way. Eddie said something to his friend, and I don’t know if it was my chronic paranoia speaking or not, but I felt like he was talking about me. Then the two suits started pacing my way. My nerves picked up with each step closer towards me as I slowly realised who the other man was.
“Oh shit!” I gasped, catching the attention of Daniel, Nikki and Derek.
“What’s wrong?” Nikki asked.
I scanned the room, looking for some sort of idea of how to get through this, but all I could see were the EXIT signs and crystal. People were laughing and being all posh-y. I desperately needed to get my breathing in check, slow it down. Relax. Calm yourself. When I looked back at Eddie and his friend, now incredibly close, I rose to a panic quickly.
“Are you alright?” Derek asked. I noticed Daniel was trying to ignore the concern in Derek’s voice.
“Hey,” Daniel squeezed my waist, trying to get my attention, “what’s the matter?”
I turned to him clearly with worried lines embedded into my skin. “An inconvenience.”