“Hey,” I said when I opened the door.
Lisa smiled. “Hi.”
“Come in,” I opened the door wider and then closed it right after her.
We stood at the centre of the apartment, in the living room. I had my hands shoved in my pockets and she clutched her bag close to her body.
“So, how do we do this?”
Lisa shrugged. “It was your idea. I’m only along for the ride.”
I smiled, moving closer. “If this gets out—”
“It won’t,” she assured me. “She won’t find out.”
“Well, she doesn’t seem to have a clue.” I walked around her and plonked on the couch.
“See,” Lisa said, relaxing her shoulders and sitting next to me, “there’s nothing to worry about.”
“You’re right. I’m just paranoid,” I chuckled breathily.
“Just breathe.” I followed her instructions and sucked in a bowl of air. Releasing immediately after. “Feel better?”
I shook my head. “I really don’t want Anna to find out, Lisa.”
“She likes you a lot, you know.”
“All the better. I have her trust. There’s nowhere to go from there but up.”
I breathed in and out again. “Alright. Alright,” I nodded. “Let’s do this.”
Oh sweet, sweet California!
I had to keep myself from dropping down on my knees and kissing the ground as soon as we landed. It’s not only the fact that my nerves are still jittery from the plane ride—having taken the diazepam at the wrong time was probably the reason—but any elongated length of time sitting beside Brad was excruciating. The man couldn’t shut up, and when he did have mercy and slip in a moment of peace, it was awkward. Not just awkward. But awwwwwwwkwaaaaard!
I felt like I was in the shining awaiting a Jack Nicholson-esque explosion of emotions. Did he take something before we left? I think so. He was shaking his leg and scanning the plane every five seconds. I imagined him as a meerkat every time he peered up over the first class seats. Yes, we flew first class. Apparently coach doesn’t even exist to Brad or David. Not that I’m complaining. It’s all expenses paid, I’ll take first anything!
“Good to be back?” Brad nudged my elbow.
I grinned without meeting his gaze, pacing forward and out of the airport. Oh I’ve missed you California!
Of course David and Brad were so well set up—and with the (practically) unlimited supply of cha-ching!—we entered a shiny, black sedan. One for David, and one for Brad and I. I didn’t even feel cheated, I was so happy to be in California I’ve lost the will to roll my eyes at David’s self-induced over-indulgence.
Then, we were off. On another awkward ride. I was paying a lot of attention out the window as we passed the busy streets of L.A. Everyone leaving from work to go home. Traffic a shit-storm, when, in the middle of moving at three miles an hour, I noticed through my peripheral vision, Brad looking my way. Now I’ve had this bout before where I think someone is looking at me and then it turns out they were looking beyond me or to the slight left or right of me.
Sneaking a glimpse directly at Brad, I confirmed he was staring right freakin’ at me.
“What?” I furrowed my brows.
He grinned. “It’s really exciting seeing you like this.”
“You’re like a fat kid in a candy store. It’s like wonderland to you.”
I sighed, rolling my eyes. There it is! Back again. “It’s where I’m from.”
He shook his head and chuckled. “You are so not a New York girl.”
“And you are so not a man,” I muttered, turning my head to the window again.
When we reached the FOUR SEASONS HOTEL, I was gobsmacked with how massive it looked on the outside, that the inside took me by even greater surprise.
“…hey, hey, HEY!” a finger snapped before my eyes. I flinched and found David pulling his arm back. “Stay focused.”
“Sorry,” I mumbled.
“I thought you were from California,” Brad said. “Haven’t you ever seen a hotel before?”
I cocked my head and stared at him, unimpressed at his little joke. He snickered and David started snapping his fingers on speed.
“Focus, focus, FOCUS!” David said. “We’re going to spend about one percent of our time in this hotel. It’s really not all it’s cracked up to be.”
I shifted my weight between my feet, shaking my shoulders uncomfortably. I didn’t like how condescending David was being with me, especially in front of Brad. But I could only remain quiet, giving all of my attention to David. Brad not saying a word either. Frankly, David appeared confused as he flickered his eyes between me and Brad. The whole vibe changing and tensing.
“It’s—” David shook his arm out and then bent it inwards to read his watch— “6PM right now, take as much rest from now till tomorrow, because 7PM sharp we have a morning show interview. Then we’re making our way to an interview with the L.A Review. At 6PM we’re attending Cosmopolitan party, where you—” he pointed at Brad— “may often be approached by reporters and whomever so make sure you’re prepared.” Then he turned back to me. “You can prepare with him if you need be.”
“Who gets to decide if it’s needed?” I asked.
“I will,” Brad smiled.
I scrunched my nose. “I should.”
“I will,” David cut in. He handed us our keys from reception. “Here you go, see you both tomorrow.” He sighed, walking away. Probably glad he was rid of us.
Ugh, I hate how bad Brad is making me look in front of David. Am I going crazy; am I being unreasonable? Is it just me, or is Brad making me look bad?
“After you,” Brad finally said, gesturing forward.
I over-dramatically lifted the tip of my nose up in the air and swayed my hips off and into the hotel’s elevator.
I will not let Brad get to me. I will not let Brad get to me. I will not let Brad get to me!
I slapped my hands together and stood before everyone. I paced back and forth in silence, and everyone watched. First of all, I didn’t like that Valerie was here. I completely forgot in all my unshakeable nervousness that Rick was coming and he usually allows Valerie to come along anywhere she pleases. If he was going to the men’s bathroom to take a piss, sure enough, she’d follow along if there was a hidden agenda.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not hating on the girl. I just didn’t like the way she was talking to my girlfriend. As a matter of fact, after our little congregation dissipates, I may as well pull her aside and have a word with her. Then, Anna can come back stress-free…and I can go on worrying like a nut.
“Okay, okay, okay,” I said repeatedly, tracing lines on the floor with my eyes. “Okay, okay.” I’m a mad-man I tell you!
“Okay,” Lisa stood, coming to my aid. “Relax. Just relax.”
I ceased pacing back and forth and breathed in and let it out. “Okay. This is crucial. This has to be absolutely perfect. I don’t even know how to do this but it’s pretty big.”
“Did you kill someone?” Rick joked.
“Are you proposing, dude?” Ian asked.
I completely ignored his question because I knew how they really felt about a proposal at this stage. To be honest, and no offence to my friends, in regards to proposing to Anna, I don’t care what they think is a good time. A good time, is our time. Mine and Anna’s.
“I’m planning a trip,” I started. “I’ve saved up a good sum of money to take Anna to France or Italy. First, I need to know which one? Then, I need to know which hotel to stay at? It’s pretty much like our anniversary, except bigger. Fuck, I don’t even know when our anniversary is. And I’m pretty sure we made a date way back but when and I’ve forgotten that too—” I blabbered on and on and on, my words rushing out like bullets from an Uzi— “anyway, point is. This has to be special. Romantic. Or…”
“Or what?” Lisa asked.
“Or I go surprise her in California. I spend the money to go there, and we spend the day with friends and family, and I—” I cut short quickly, not wanting to tell them it’d be a great time to propose. In front of our loved ones, friends and family.
“And you what?” Rick asked.
I remained silent and unsure of myself as judgemental gazes watched me. I knew what they were thinking: bad time to propose. But I love Anna. And this may be the five millionth proposal, but I just know this time it’s different. This time, we’re moving in together. We’re making a life together. I feel us merging as one soul. I can practically feel her right now. Inside of me. It’s an inescapable feeling once I started loving her. But now it’s stronger than ever. I love Anna, so much. And I want to marry her. More than I want a job, more than I want a promotion, more than I want the $75 million my mother left me. I’d gladly give up my life for the love of my life. And that might sound like some petulant Romeo bullshit, but I don’t care. Even if Anna says we should still wait a while, I don’t mind. I’ll wait a year. Take her to another exotic place. Take her wherever she wants to go. And propose again.
But then, I started feeling a twist in my stomach. An unnerving feeling flushed through me and I felt queasy. Maybe this was the time for second opinions. But I definitely wasn’t going to ask for Rick’s or Ian’s opinion, and I’m currently blind to Valerie’s existence.
“Lisa,” I said, “can I speak to you for a second?”
We moved off to the side. “What’s up?” she asked.
“I’m not—I don’t know about this,” I whispered.
I didn’t want my worry to come off as hesitance or resistance. But I needed to ask her.
“Do you think this is the right decision? Do you think the timing is right for a proposal? For marriage?”
Anna’s POV. Later on in the evening…
I was getting ready for bed when I received a phone call.
“Why hello stranger,” I smiled.
“Hey, baby,” Daniel said, his voice plundering my heart. “How’s L.A so far?”
“It’s good.” I slid into the cool sheets. “My room is amazing. I wish you were here.”
“I know, baby,” he said. I could hear a faint smile through the calm, low tone. “It’s just a few more weeks.”
“And they’ll fly by, blah blah blah, yeah I know.”
Daniel chuckled. “So, excited to catch up with the girls?”
I moaned and turned over to my side. “I don’t know.”
“What do you mean you don’t know?”
I sighed. “Well, I mean,” I bit my lip, “I haven’t exactly told them I’m here yet.”
“Anna, why not?” he sounded disappointed.
“Wait, let me justify this. I don’t want to feel guilty about working a lot. What if I can’t see them? What then? I don’t want them to think I’m blowing them off.”
“Anna, you and I both know they’ll understand you’re busy with work. It’s the fact that you haven’t told them you’re there is what will bother them.”
I thought for a moment. “I guess you’re right.”
“Look, don’t you have a day off?”
“I guess I can make something work.” If I was sneaky about it, I could probably have a few hours to myself to duck out and see my parents and friends.
“Make it work. I know you can. No excuses?”
I smiled. “No excuses.”
“Good. Now, what are you wearing?”
“Daniel!” I don’t know why I sounded shocked but there it is.
“I’m in bed, under the covers, wearing only boxers, and I’ve been thinking of nothing but you.” He sighed. “I want you baby.”
I closed my eyes. “I want you, too.”
“Take off your clothes and only leave your underwear on.” I did as he said. “Now close your eyes, and feel my hands run over your body.”
“Mmm,” I moaned.
“Over your breasts, squeezing them, licking the finger of my other hand to push in inside your pussy.”
A smile twitched at the corner of my lips. Daniel and I never dirty talk, but this was turning me on beyond any control. Not to mention he knew how to talk!
“Are you touching yourself?” I asked. Dumb question.
“Of course,” he breathed.
“Tug on your cock baby. Let my fingers grip you and pull.”
“Mmm,” he sighed. I started rubbing myself, my legs pulling and pushing the bed.
“Watch me do a little dance for you, turn around, bend down and shake my ass for you.”
“Mmm, I want to make you come so hard.”
“You’re going to, trust me.” I was already fired up. “Now I slide down on my knees, with your legs open, and work my way up your shaft. From nibbling on your balls, to placing small licks as I move upwards. Until the tip.”
“Mmm,” he moaned.
“Oh I love how that tastes.”
He chuckled. I smiled. “Fuck, Anna.”
I heard a static noise but passed it off as random noise and continued so the mood didn’t break. Maybe it was the TV and I forgot to switch it off.
“I want to suck all that come out of your thick cock baby,” I heated up. Half-embarrassed, half-hot. “I want you to stroke my hair, pull me into you. Mmm, baby, you taste so good.”
I didn’t hear anything on the other end. Not even a peep.
“Please,” a deep voice jumped in, “continue. For the love of God, I want this to end.”
I furrowed my brows and opened my eyes, pulling my fingers out of me. “What the hell!? Who are you!?”
“I—I’m—talking with—and then—”
“Who—who is this?” I should’ve just hung up.
“Yeah,” he laughed, “what happened?”
Oh my God! With nothing but mortification driving me, I broke it to him. “I picked up another cell!”