***Thanks Amber and Lauren for your interest in being featured! Hope you like your characters! Enjoy all! Soul xo***
“Hurry, Anna, we’re going to be late!” Daniel calls out from his living room.
I hastily swipe a light rose colour on my lips and fluff up my hair. My hair is not behaving tonight. I look at it in the reflection as it rests just below my shoulders and wince. It looks too messy. I put it all to the side and find it annoying even though I love the style; but the heat, on top of it all, is taking a toll on me and I just can’t stand the unwanted insulation right now.
“Anna!” I hear Daniel’s footsteps closing in on me; he leans in the doorway and pops his head into the bedroom where I stand. “What’s the hold up?” he asks.
“My hair,” I lift my brows up, lines collecting on my forehead.
Daniel smiles. “It looks beautiful any way you style it. Now let’s go, we’re going to be late to your own work party.”
I roll my eyes and cinch my nose. “Ugh, Brad’s own party. God, his ego is just going to skyrocket.”
“Why do I know that name?” Daniel muses.
I bite my lip. “Probably because I mentioned him once or twice.”
Daniel’s eyes widen and he tears them away from the floor. “Brad, the guy that asked you out, Brad? Brad Gordon?”
I smile sheepishly. “Uhh, yeah.”
Daniel stands on his own two feet and crosses his arms over his suited chest. “And why are we going to this guy’s party?”
“Because…” I shrug, struggling to find the answer. “It’ll look bad on me if I don’t go. You can stay if you feel so strongly about avoiding that guy.”
Daniel scoffs. “Like hell I will.”
“Relax,” I say, clutching his arm. “We’re just going to a party, with free catering, free drinks—”
“Open bar?” Daniel lifts a brow, lightening the mood.
I laugh. “I think so, since it’s a private party before all the other parties.”
“All the other parties that Brad will be?”
I nod. “I guess.”
“And I’m, of course, going to go to if he’s going to be there.”
“Daniel…” I begin to protest right before Daniel put up his hands.
“I don’t want to hear it, Anna. I know this guy. I was this guy. I know what’s on his mind and you being with me is not going to stop him from going after you persistently.”
I finally finish fixing my hair into a tight ponytail, turn my head this way and that to assess the situation, and sigh. It’ll do, I suppose. Wait—what did Daniel say?
“You were this guy?” I ask him. Daniel nods silently. I tilt my head. “As in…you went after girls even if they had a boyfriend?”
The corner of Daniel’s mouth twitches ever so slightly and I notice his throat waving as he gulps. “Let’s go,” he finally says, then clears his throat and offers up a smile for me to eat up. “Boy, am I glad I’m not wearing a cast for this. Aren’t you glad? I’m glad.”
“Yeah,” I say, absentmindedly and taking his hand, “so glad.”
The party wasn’t far from my building. In fact, it was only a couple blocks over, at a small venue with a roof top view. The only good thing to come of summer is the night time, especially instances like these when we’re gathered on the roof top of a building, below artificial starry lights hung by strings and criss-crossing over each other. The breeze blowing; the air thinning; this is the type of weather that would make me believe I could fly. (I know that sounds weird, but perhaps at least one of you will know what I mean!). Anyway, point being, despite it being Brad’s party, everything else is wonderful.
“Anna!” I hear someone call my name and turn around. Daniel turns with me. Noelle approaches with Leo. “Can you believe it?”
“Brad’s not here,” Leo says.
“What?” I almost burst into a laugh and try to contain myself.
Noelle nods and takes a sip of her drink. “Is he like this in the conference rooms?”
“Conference rooms?” Daniel asks.
Leo and Noelle both look at him. I cut the awkward tension (and simultaneously avoiding answering the awkward question) by introducing them.
“Sorry,” I say after they shake hands. “I don’t know if you guys met, but, yeah. HA!”
“Conference rooms?” Daniel mumbles into my ear as both Noelle and Leo scan the area, having their own little conversation.
“Purely professional,” I reply.
Daniel’s chest expands as he takes in a frustrated breath of air.
“Well, ha—has anyone called him?” I ask.
“I tried,” David jumps into the conversation, waving his phone and obviously annoyed. He sighs loudly. “This guy will be the death of me.”
I can tell he’s secretly going to be so happy once Brad leaves as his client. He’ll probably be sent off to someone else. Not to other companies considering his contracts, but someone else within the company. Won’t help the fact that I may still see him in the hallways from time to time as I do now.
I started hearing a commotion of voices coming closer and louder. We all turned our heads towards the entrance where a group of people, laughing raucously and skipping into the roof top area, with Brad leading.
“Alright people,” Brad yells out. “The king has arrived. Let’s party!”
“God, what a Neanderthal!” Noelle hisses, rolling her eyes and sucking down the whole of her drink, walking away.
Leo smiles and shakes his empty glass. “Time to top up. Should I get you guys anything?”
We both decline and watch as he follows after Noelle. Suddenly, soft music is replaced by a raging club banger that is sure to get us noise complaints and kicked off the roof. Hey, I’m all down for partying, just not waking up the neighbours. I either have the soul of a grandmother, or I happen to think about other people. A concept lost on Brad and friends.
“Whoooo-hooooo!” His DJ friend yells. “Yeah!” He pumps his fist in the air. If Cinemasins was watching this he’d be like, ‘Jersey Guido douche-bag and fist pumping…bing!’.
Brad starts making his way to where Daniel and I stand.
“Friends!” He grins, spreading out his arms. He begins leaning in and Daniel, with his hand suddenly digging into my waist, pulls me back to avoid landing a hug with Brad.
“Oww,” I mutter, clawing Daniel’s fingers from my waist. He seemingly unbothered and not even noticing or budging.
“Whoa, sorry dude,” Brad says. He drops his arms and narrows his eyes, studying Daniel. “Holy fuck bro!”
“Brad,” Daniel nods once, his voice low and knowing.
“Daniel, my man! How ya been?” Then he looks at me and points. “This your girl? Holy shit.” He turns to me. “You know what this guy and I used to do back in the day?”
“Cut it out, Brad,” Daniel warns.
“Aww man, you know I’m just messing. Guess you’re tied down or something now. Can’t speak of the past. Like Wayward Pines, eh?” he swings his hand, whacking Daniel on his arm.
“Brad!” David calls, waving him over.
“Oh—oh hold on guys,” Brad says, “I’ll be right back.”
As soon as Brad leaves, Daniel relaxes and his hand falls from my waist and to his side. I’ve never seen him so rigid. “You know Brad?” I ask.
“I know of him.”
I shake my head. “You know Brad.” Daniel remains silent. “How do you know him?”
I had a feeling I knew (at least ballpark), but I wanted to hear the actual words from Daniel’s lips. Especially just in case I was wrong.
“We were once friends, okay?” Daniel admits. “The name never registered to me before, but now I really know him. Of him,” he tries correcting.
“And what did you do with him, when you were friends?”
“A lot of stuff,” he looks down.
“Can you be any more vague?” I note agitatedly.
“Does it matter?” Daniel asks, almost as if I was being silly. “It’s all in the past.”
Brad started making his way back with a bunch of drinks and Daniel returned his hand to my waist. I quickly grabbed it and pushed it away, mumbling, “You really hurt me before. It’s probably bruised by now.”
No joke, I bruise hella-easily.
“Here you go,” Brad says, giving us his poison of choice. So not willing to try this. “So, where were we?”
“Well, well, well, if it ain’t Brad-motherfucking-Gordon,” a woman voice cuts in like ice.
The three of us look to find a tall, lightly tanned blonde with incredibly striking blue eyes and a shapely figure approaching us. If it weren’t for the fact that I had zero drinks since I got here, I’d have thought she was walking in slow motion. I envied her legs and the way her hair waved in the breeze. Her smile, as bright as day was terrifyingly beautiful at night; as if she were the Queen rather than Snow White.
Brad, turning back, tried taking a swig of his beer but his shaking hand refused to still. His eyes frantic, his breaths irregular and uncontrolled, fogging the cup. I’d never seen Brad so erratic and vulnerable. It was a startling scene to witness, and I truly wondered about the woman that invoked such a response from a self-proclaimed asshole.
“Lauren,” Brad’s voice streaks, his smile forceful. “Whatever could you be doing here?”
“I’m here with my sister,” she replies. She stands before him with her hands by her sides and most of her weight on one foot; her hip jutting out. Off the bat I peg her as a Californian supermodel for sure.
Brad lifts his brows in worry, turning to Daniel. Daniel avoids his gaze, gulping a nervousness of his own. What is going on?
“Amber is here?” Daniel asks, stopping short and avoiding my gaze when I look up quizzically.
“That’s right boys,” another woman says, a petite frame and big boobs approaching soon after Lauren. Her iPhone in one hand and what looks like the latest Versace clutch under the arm of the other. “Amber Dawn is here. Surprised?”
“A little,” Brad and Daniel both say. They steal each other’s glances.
“I’m sorry,” I finally say, shaking my head vehemently and holding up my hands, “who are you?”
“Oh, I’m Lauren, Brad’s ex.”
“And I’m Amber, corporate lawyer, which is why I’m here. Half-sister to Lauren and—” she turns to Brad— “this two-timers second girlfriend.” Then, she turns to Daniel. “Didn’t think we’d find out, did ya?”
“You’re handling the legal shit for my book?” Brad asks, gobsmacked, eyes drooping and jaw low.
Amber laughs. “Yup. It’s your lucky day.”
“Ah, Brad,” David comes in, smacking him on the back. “I see you’ve already met Amber. Between New York and Los Angeles, she’s the best lawyer we’ve got.”
“Why…why…why…” Brad stutters.
David tilts his head back and laughs. “She’s your armour for the press. You’ll need it!” he smacks Brad’s back once more.
“Oh my God,” Brad grumbles, “I think I’m gonna be—”
Before he finishes his sentence, Brad pukes all over my and Daniel’s shoes.
***Oh, and I know I haven’t posted in a long time for VANITY & VICE but here’s one now: Is Cadbury Racially Insensitive? Check it out! Soul xo***