“Daniel…stop,” I blushed.
“Don’t worry he can’t see,” he whispered closely into my ear.
His hand was running up my thigh, up my dress, in the cab. I was receiving shock waves of tingles and they left me inebriated at his touch. The amount of energy I put into keeping my eyes from closing and keeping myself from passing out at the back of this cab on our way to the charity event is unprecedented.
“I don’t want to arrive at the charity event wet and horny, Daniel,” I breathed.
His kisses dripped my neck; his jaw and lips fitting into me with perfection. “You want me to stop?”
I could feel his grin on my skin. Mine grew wider. “I never want you to stop.”
“Ehh, miss and mister?” the cab driver said, grabbing our attention. We both straightened up. “You off to da party?” his R’s rolling on his tongue and his English detached.
“The party? Yes,” Daniel responded politely.
“The charity have big names.”
“Big names?” I asked.
He nodded vehemently. “Yees, Yees! Lotta big stars to charity. Bring big money,” he laughed. “They buy their spot and wonder why da world poor,” he snickered again. “Is joke, no?”
Daniel and I caught each other’s glances and chortled with the man. I don’t know if he could see or not, but we were definitely all on the same page.
“Yeah,” Daniel said, “it’s definitely one big joke.”
“Is joke and no one laughing,” the driver said. “Is joke on us, is joke on you, and is joke on da poor. Funny, no? Ha-ha.” His sarcasm travelling through us with ease. Daniel and I laughed nervously, feeling somewhat more self-aware now that this man held a genuine legit perspective. “So why you two going, eh?”
“It’s an occasion for my boss,” Daniel replied, resting back and fixing his suit jacket. “It’s an obligation.”
“Obligation? What dat mean?”
“It means, having to do something you don’t really want to do.”
“Ah! Obligation, like driving you two kids to da big joke!”
The charity event is in honour of the Wilcox foundation that caters to the underprivileged. They apparently have departments that focus on different poor sectors of the world where building water facilities, housing, medical care, education, among other things, is their main mission. I have never heard about it, let alone seen it, so being here was a little surreal.
I was expecting to drop some money towards the charity, which was why I was wearing the simplest of cocktail dresses, so Daniel and I made a beeline towards the managers in charge of donations first, before we made our round around the party.
The cab driver was right, talk about big stars! Akita Brix, the Danish supermodel, was prowling the bar; Tony ‘Sick’ Samuels, the director who made a name (and a nickname) for himself for creating the most gruesome movies, chattered with what I figured out to be were film executives with the way they grovelled all over him like he had the best jokes and ideas man had ever heard of and were of a seasoned age.
“There’s Jeff Carmichael!” I pointed.
Daniel followed my stream of eye sight. “Oh yeah, the actor on the cop show. What was it?”
I shrugged. “I don’t know but I know he’s an actor.” Daniel laughed. My eyes continued scanning the room. “Gosh this place is booked out! How are we even here?”
Daniel gestured towards his boss with his chin. “Beats me.”
Daniel didn’t seem like he was looking forward to seeing his boss. I didn’t know what it was, but I was feeling a certain tense unease. An obligation, indeed.
“Daniel, my boy!” his boss called.
Daniel straightened and curled his arm around my waist as we walked. “Henry Davis, this is my girlfriend, Anna.”
“Anna,” he beamed, giving me his hand. “How are you?”
I nodded. “Fine, and you?”
“Marvellous now that DANNY-BOY is here!” he laughed with his comrades.
Daniel just smiled. He seemed used to the banter. Henry Davis looked like one of those old men that used to do a lot of weight lifting and body building, and then teetered off with the upkeep of his routine as he gradually got older. Pasty white, with a light pink neck, and lines across his face. Salt and pepper hair, the salt more prominent near his ears, and big brown eyes. His grin was wide and his teeth straight and pearly; I hadn’t seen him unamused at absolutely anything yet. The man blinked a lot too, I’m not sure if it was a nervous tick, since the man rarely seemed nervous, but it was fast acting; eyelashes batting heavily and quickly, in frequent intervals. His nose even twitched at one point.
“What do you do, Anna?”
I cleared my throat. “I’m an editorial assistant.”
“Ah, books and all. Dying business, I hear. What a waste. What deals are you making now, may I ask?”
I smiled politely. “You may.” I saw a dark flicker of him narrowing his eyes and loved it. Don’t insult me and then expect sugar back. “Currently we’re working with Bradley Gordon on his new novel—”
“Brad Gordon? Of the Gordon estate? You’re working with him?” I nodded, silently. His concentration snapped and he smiled. “Marvellous. So it looked like you guys put in a donation.”
Daniel nodded. “Yeah we did.”
I stared at him confusedly. “This is a charity.”
His eyes turned off the slip lane and hit me. Full collision, and I felt dead centre in the middle of a conversation that clearly I was uninvited to. The phrase, ‘speak when spoken to’, sounded in my head. He quickly changed the subject that I figured I was still in the conversation anyway. “I thought everyone was here for the party.”
“You didn’t donate?” I asked. Just stop talking. Stop. Talking.
Henry and friends roared out in laughter as if I were Gabriel Iglesias. “No need to donate, dear. Oh, Daniel, your girl is so funny. Who gives to charity these days?”
Daniel sighed lowly. “It’s a good idea, Henry. Considering we work in the money business.”
Henry narrowed his eyes. “So it was a business decision? Now that is genius!”
“No, I—” Daniel started.
“—That’s who I hired!”
Henry and friends sifted off into the crowd and I was obviously agitated, crossing my arms and putting all my weight onto one leg.
“Don’t grind your teeth so hard, I can smell the smoke,” Daniel said.
“Your boss seems like such a jerk,” I muttered.
Daniel shoved his hands into his pockets. “Yeah, well…”
“Why would you even want to work with him?”
“He has his moments.”
I turned to Daniel, incredulous at his words, smiling yet testing. “He has his moments?”
Daniel chuckled. “He’s an alright guy once you get to know him better.”
“I guess,” I mumbled. “I just don’t see why he has to be such a jerk about things. About not giving to charity at a charity event? What’s up with that? How arrogant do you have to be, honestly? Just seems odd, I guess, that the approval of this man is what you’re vying for to get promoted.”
“Look,” Daniel stared at me intensely, “Henry doesn’t give a shit about anybody but himself. Everybody loves making money, it represents a lot of good to come with it, sometimes, and I just know that if I get promoted, I’ll be more of an asset than him. It’s not like I don’t like the man, I do, in my own weird way. I just feel like I can really make a difference when I get where I want to be. With more responsibilities. We wouldn’t be going to charity events that ironically sell a $1000 a plate; we’d actually be making a real difference, and I want to be a part of that. Make the change and all.”
“Wow,” I said.
“I know, sounds cheesy.”
I stood on my tiptoes and landed a kiss on his cheek. “How did I end up with such an amazing boyfriend? How come you never told me this?”
He shrugged. “I don’t know, just…I don’t know. When it comes to work, I don’t ever want to feel like I’m passionate about it because then it’ll prove my father, right.” He rolled his eyes. “I know, I know, he shouldn’t even be dictating my life. But still. I bet he didn’t see this coming, though. That I’d want to make a good positive difference than a money-hungry world-stopping difference. Besides, I thought my passion always lied in writing. Makes me feel like a liar sometimes; like a fake.”
“You’re not,” I quickly said, sternly. “You’re allowed more than one passion in your life.”
Daniel smiled. “Yeah, I guess.” He took my hand. “I know we just got here, but, you want to…” he nudged his head towards the exit and jutted his brows up and down.
I giggled. “Should we be leaving this early?”
“It’s not that early. But, not really.”
“Alright, let’s go.”
We started towards the door when we were blocked by Henry. I wasn’t even paying attention to where he was in the room to notice he had gotten behind us in a flash.
“Danny-boy,” he said, and I groaned inwardly. This ‘Danny-boy’ thing was annoying me; but I wondered how Daniel felt, since it was him who had to hear it every day. Besides, Danny. We know who Danny is elsewhere, and that’s just weird. “Bobby is there and he’s been asking for you since the dawn of time. He’s about to suck my dick for your number, I mean, really.” He burst out laughing. “Why don’t you go to say ‘hi’, make a connection, Danny-boy. I’m sure he’ll come in handy with future prospects.”
Daniel turned to me. “Want to go say ‘hi’?” he grinned.
“Why don’t you go,” Henry said, “and I’ll stay here with your beautiful girlfriend. Get to know each other.”
Daniel looked at me, and wordlessly, we nodded slightly. Then he was off.
“So Brad Gordon, huh?” Henry asked.
I nodded. “Yeah, we only just—”
“Yeah, yeah, fascinating. Listen, I need a meeting with him. I’ve been trying to get in a meeting with him and his father for a long time now. They’re hard to catch, it seems.”
I smiled. “Fascinating story.”
Henry’s eyes narrowed a fraction. I’m guessing he wasn’t anticipating this much of a bite to me, but if this guy wasn’t getting on my nerves, he would’ve been experiencing the sweet side of me instead.
“I would like to ask that you get me a meeting with him,” he said. It sounded more like a command and I could easily imagine him talking like that to his co-workers.
I scrunched my nose in feigned disappointment. “Sorry, I don’t think that’s possible.”
“I’ll make it worth your while.”
I turned red. “Excuse me?”
Henry chuckled and then spoke low. “Daniel is hoping to get promoted. I’m one of the people on the board that decides his fate and influences others’ decisions. I can get him in—” he snapped his fingers “—like that.”
I stared at Daniel, chatting cordially to what I assumed to be Bobby and a couple of his associates. “You’re telling me—”
“If you get me that meeting with Brad Gordon, then Daniel will be promoted.” I took a while to register his words, never thinking in a million years that Daniel’s future would fall on me. Daniel began walking over to us, and Henry took a step back. “It’s all on you, Anna.”
I rolled my eyes, evidently displeased. If I didn’t like the guy before, I definitely hated him now.