Magic

Lucy was kind enough to take me shopping for this outdoor party tonight, but as it turns out this small town had so few shops for clothing. Apparently frequenting bigger towns for any other or further needs or necessities was a common thing. I’m just glad ordering online was still a possibility otherwise I’d have withdrawals from buying makeup. On the other hand I need to cut back.

“What do you think of this one?” Lucy asked Katya, a friend of hers since they were babies.

“I don’t know,” Katya replied, scrunching her nose and twirling her long brown hair. She had likeness to Chloe except Chloe cut all her hair off. “It seems a bit poufy.”

“Anna?” Lucy turned her head.

“Uhh…” she was wearing her signature overalls over a crop top. “I thought you were going to pick out a dress or something.”

“Oh, it’s not that kind of party.”

“No?”

Katya laughed. “Definitely not. It’s super casual.”

“I can do casual.”

“You’re a city girl,” Katya said. I shrugged. “City girls don’t know how to do casual.”

“What are you talking about? It’s not like a skill.”

“It’s just the difference between casual and casual-sexy,” Lucy said. “Not that it’s bad.”

“Yeah,” Katya agreed, “it’s just…city.”

I couldn’t be that far off could I?

“Aren’t you going to pick out anything?” Lucy asked.

I shrugged. “I’m thinking of this playsuit I have that I could wear with ankle boots and some chains. I think I’ll be fine.”

“See,” Katya nodded, “city girl.”

I rolled my eyes playfully. This whole town knows me as this city girl and I was hoping that didn’t come with me appearing pompous. Michael always said I was pompous and I hear it now as a dig more than a joke. Oh, and Chloe is taking her own sweet time replying to me. I keep worrying that she’s mad at me and on top of the deadline I have with this new job, I’m beginning to feel like a ball of stress. I want to loosen up at the party but to be known as the drunk city girl would be the cherry on top of the cake.

***

When they said it was an outdoor party, I was picturing a rooftop bar under artificial twinkling lights with pumping Billboard Top 100 music. Instead, it was located in the middle of nowhere. I literally had no clue where we were. The twinkling lights were the stars (which was amazing, I’ll admit that!), and the music was a mix of songs like Magic by Olympic Ayres, What Once Was by Her’s, Everyone is Falling in Love by King Neptune and other various alternative grungy-type artists. It was nice, but it definitely was a change of scenery. Lucy and Katya were right about this being the type of low-key party. I was so dolled up it wasn’t even funny. I felt so out of place that I wrapped my arms around myself self-consciously, and I never do that.

“Relax,” Lucy leaned in to whisper and then pulled back, “the drinks have got to be the same, right?”

I smiled. She was so sweet trying to make me feel at home and everything. “They better be.”

“And hey, they’re free over here.”

I nodded, impressed. “Bonus.”

She laughed. “I’ll be back.”

Lucy and Katya drifted into the sea of flannel shirts and jeans (of course, not everyone was a clone of stereotypical country town) and I was left with myself desperate for some alcohol to calm my insides like an addict. At least I was wearing a jacket (?).

“Beer for you,” Lucy said, handing me a bottle I eagerly began drinking.

“Whoa,” Katya chuckled, “Slow down there.”

I laughed, nearly spilling out of my beer. “Sorry.”

“Are you nervous?” Katya asked, dumbfounded.

I reddened, of course. “A little.” Who the hell gets nervous at parties!?

“Don’t be,” Katya demanded. “You are hot. Hot girls don’t get nervous.”

“Umm, thanks?” I said, confusedly.

“I think Katya might have been drunk already,” Lucy said.

“Huh?”

“She’s a lightweight,” Lucy winked. “We better watch out for this one. Or better yet—” I chugged as she spoke— “I better watch out for the both of you.”

I was distracted by a buzz from my cell from Chloe: ‘What seems to be the problem?’

‘Omg Chloe, I thought you’d never text me back :’(‘

‘Lol why?’

‘Because I thought you’d be mad at me forever and ever.’

‘Nah, only for a bit. You’re still my best friend.’

Ugh, I could’ve just died right there and then. ‘I don’t know what I’m doing.’

‘Don’t be so mopey! You changed your whole life and now you’re having second thoughts?’

‘I changed it for this job and now I got nothing. Nothing’s happened; nothing’s happening.’

‘Make. Something. Happen. Make anything happen!’ She sent me a gif of Shia LaBeouf with the caption of ‘just do it’ flashing on the screen.

Her encouragement made my heart race in search for something—anything—to make a story out of. From across the field (?) I met eyes with a handsome blurred out man that came to be clear the closer I got to him. He turned around and grinned as I strode towards him, I flushed as his friends watched, and out of nowhere I threw my arms over him and pushed my lips up against his. I was confused at the gasps but I expected the laughter.

No Introduction Needed

Dear Anna Parker,

I hope you’ve settled in nicely in your new town. From your previous email description of the place it seems like we couldn’t have picked a better place. An actual town square (unfortunately no gazebo), minute speed limits, stores knowing other stores, neighbours knowing neighbours; it seems all we need is a story. No pressure but it’s been a while now and we were expecting at least a semblance of a story. Let us know if you need help but do get back to us shortly.

I look forward to hearing your ideas.

Regards,

David Baker

***

I was beginning to feel apprehensive about the whole move for this job in its entirety. I didn’t think I’d feel so far out of my element but I was. No family and no friends of my own to settle me in and introduce me to new things and new people. I had to do it all on my own and suddenly I felt like I was back in first grade with all the butterflies raging around in my stomach. It was much easier to meet new people in a big city than a small town. Albeit a super nice novelty-looking town, everyone knew everyone here. I can only hope that I wasn’t the talk of the town just yet. As I walked down the flat-levelled street, I didn’t think so. Though I did turn heads I assume because I wasn’t a familiar face.

I have no idea what the fuck I’m doing,’ I texted Chloe. Probably the last of my friends I should be texting all things considered, but I know she could get me out of this rut. Oh man, I’m already in a rut! ‘My editor needs something now and I have nothing. Nothing I tell you!

“Hey,” a girl said.

I looked up from my perch on a sidewalk bench at a woman wearing overalls and wispy, short, blonde hair. “Hi.”

She took the lollipop out of her mouth and it glistened red. “You’re the new girl, right? Annie?”

“Anna.”

She nodded and smiled. “Close enough. Half a point?”

“Uhh…”

“I’m Lucy. Not like diamonds in the sky.”

“Hey, I’m…Anna.” Oh, kill me now.

“You need a haircut.”

“What?” I fiddled with the ends of my raven hair.

“My shop is just here. Want to get a haircut?”

“Sure.” Why not. Not like I’m in the position to turn anything down.

“Everyone knows about you,” she said as she placed the cape over me, lollipop in mouth. I pray she doesn’t salivate and spit all over me.

“Oh, yeah?” Told ya.

“Talk of the town you are. Though I’m proud to say anyone who comes to my shop knows anything.”

Duly noted. “It’s like I’m intruding on a family.”

“Yes it is.” I was taken aback. I didn’t think she’d agree with me. “But we sure do love the intrusion. It’s exciting. So, what brings you here? Running from something?”

I chuckled. “What?”

She shrugged. “People normally go from small town to big city, not the other way around. It’s been my observation that the people who come here don’t stay for too long because they get forcibly removed if you know what I mean.” I gulped and she snickered. “Oh, sorry. I mean to say we’ve had a couple of run-ins with fugitives before. So exciting. So, you. Why are you here?”

“I’m a writer.”

“Ah, can’t get a job anywhere else?”

“No,” I laughed at her brutal honesty and forwardness, “my job requires me to be here.”

“Oh, how cool. So, what are you writing about?”

I shook my head and shrugged. “Maybe about the first person I met who offered to cut my hair.”

“Offered? Girl, you are crazy. You are definitely paying.” We both laughed. I think I laughed harder because I was enjoying her sass.

“It’s a good thing I didn’t leave the house without my purse.”

“Where do you live?”

“A small townhouse up the road. Pretty nice for what it’s worth.”

“Ain’t that surprising? Things just trickle down in pricing the further away from it all you get.”

“Yeah, that it is.”

“Well, you can write about me if all else fails. I inherited this salon from my mother when she passed. Been doing hair for as long as I can remember. It’s in my blood. Along with a stiff drink and a good sense of humour.”

The doorbell rang open. “Package for Lucy!”

“Oh, hey Ricky!” Lucy leaned down. “Ricky is our resident postman and he’s like 100-years-old.”

“And still kicking!” Ricky said, winking at me. “How are you, darling?”

“I’m fine.”

“Ya miss the Big Apple?”

“She’s from California, Ricky.”

“Oh,” he furrowed his brows, “now I gotta correct myself to the whole town.”

“That won’t be necessary,” I smiled.

“Oh, no, no, no, I’ve done wrong now I gotta fix it. You two ladies have a great day now.”

“Bye, Ricky!”

“See you later, Lucy!” 

“So, you want to come to a small outdoor party with me. Get to know some people. Maybe we’ll find you a story there.”

“Yeah, sure. Maybe some people could get to know me.”

“Honey, by the time postman Ricky gets through everyone the whole town will have gotten to know you. No introduction needed.”

Offers and Opportunities

***Sorry guys, didn’t know how better to transition after a month of no posts. Hope you still enjoy and like the new direction. Also, the new post for Samson&Delilah is up now. Soul***

You know how they say ‘all good things must come to an end’? Well when Michael and I ended our relationship, if you want to call it that, I started to wonder afterwards if it was even a good thing. Dwelling on the past is my least favourite pastime, but I couldn’t help but wonder when it was it all went downhill. Maybe when Michael’s friends said racially cloaked jokes? Or when Janet said I’d known nothing of what it felt like? I think the truest moment was when that girl at the party came up to me and told me Michael and his friends make bets on whose pants they could get into first and for how long…

***

I decided to confront Michael days later instead of being done with just hearing rumours from the grapevine. I approached him one night while we were out an about at another party, Michael sure does love his parties.

“Hey, I’ve been meaning to talk to you about something,” I said.

“Shoot.”

“Umm…” I chuckled, it was foreign territory, “well, I don’t know how else to say this but, I was talking to someone who said that you and your friends make certain kinds of bets.”

He rolled his eyes. “Is that why you’ve been iffy these past couple of days?”

I shrugged. “I wouldn’t say ‘iffy’.

“Did she go into detail?”

“Sort of.”

“What did she say?”

“I’m more interested in knowing what you think she said.”

“Aww come on, Anna. Don’t do that extra chromosome thing.”

It was always in jest when he joked like that. Now, though, when I was trying to have a serious conversation with him, it sounded more insulting than ever. Was I getting too sensitive?

“She said you and your friends make bets on who you can land, for how long, and how many at a certain given time.”

He smiled. “It’s…” he shook his head. “It’s whatever.”

“Is that true?”

“No, of course not.” He sounded way too shrill for it to not be true.

“Really though.”

He rolled his eyes. “Fucking relax and don’t be an idiot. Who even cares if it is true? It’s a bunch of girl gossip. I swear—” he shook his head— “all girls want to do is bring other girls down.” Then he mumbled, “Feminists my ass.”

***

After that he called less, we hung out less, spoke less, I even started to see him at work much less. He’d barely go into the building. Not that my presence would stop an obnoxious guy like that from being around me. But still, our so-called relations fizzled. I’m glad I only slept with him once. Too bad the sex was good. Janet was the only one over the moon about it. Everyone else seemed indifferent. I guess he didn’t leave a lasting impression on them.

Oh well, onto bigger and better things. One of them being that I got a new and exciting job offer. Super exciting. And unique. One that I’ve never received before. The way it happened was so out of the blue too. I was actually at a coffee shop talking to the girls about being dissatisfied with my job. It wasn’t entirely bad but it wasn’t exactly what invigorated me each day to not look for anything else. A guy listening in to my conversation and approached me afterwards. Said this opportunity was unlike any other and at first I thought he was trying to pick me up but when he gave me his card and explained the job a bit I decided to give it a chance, more so because I was intrigued. I called an interviewed with him and some HR chick, I don’t even remember I was too excited.

The only downside is I had to move away for a few months. The way they explained it to me was Sex and the City meets Gilmore Girls. The only person that wasn’t down for it was Chloe.

“I don’t see why you have to keep moving for your jobs. Why don’t you let the jobs come to you?”

“This just sounds too good, Chloe.”

“But what about us?”

“What about us?” Janet asked.

“She’s got a life here. You’ve always had a life here and we’re always here.”

“You can come with,” I smiled.

“Problem solved,” Jodie said. “We’ll all move away with Anna and claim it on her new job’s budget.”

We laughed, but Chloe was still sour about it. “It’s cool. It’s probably only temporary anyway. They want to see how I go after six months.”

“Why would you uproot for something so temporary?” Chloe asked, confusedly.

“Because it might not be,” Jodie muttered.

It gave Chloe pause. “Is that why? Are you honestly prepared to live the small town life and write about it?”

“Why can’t you be more supportive?” I asked.

She shrugged. “Whatever.”

“Well, I think this is cause for a celebration,” Jodie hugged me before sitting next to Chloe on the couch.

“Don’t be mad at Chloe,” Janet said. “She just misses you that’s all.”

“I guess after Daniel we thought you’d never want to move away again.”

I gulped. “It wasn’t just for Daniel.”

“Yeah, well, you know,” she shrugged.

I nudged her. “I’m going to miss you guys, too. I always do.”

“Then you should stay,” she joked. We both laughed.

Is it possible to be too clingy to your friends?

Desperado

“I’m getting ready to go out with Michael,” I quickly slipped out and looked down at our drinks.

Janet rolled her eyes. “Really?”

I shrugged. “Yeah.”

“I don’t see what you see in him,” she shook her head.

“Well obviously, otherwise you wouldn’t be with Stanley,” I joked.

It clearly landed on deaf ears. Or unforgiving ears. “He’s an ass.”

“He wasn’t, though, it was his friends.”

“They’re all dickheads.”

“They’re not all dickheads I’m sure—”

“—I literally cannot believe you’re defending them right now.”

“I’m not I’m just saying that maybe his friends went a little too far because it’s a force of habit or something.”

“Ugh I don’t care, you want to hang with them then you go and have fun.”

“Janet…”

“No, no, it’s totally fine. Hey, it’s your life, he’s your boyfriend.”

“He’s not my boyfriend.”

“Thank God then because I’d have thought you moved on from Daniel awfully quickly,” she snipped before closing the door behind her.

Okay…

That wasn’t ideal… It’s not like I’m moving on quickly. Our relationship was on the decline for a while. I don’t even know why I have to be defending my relationships right now, I’m the one that’s dating him not Janet.

Michael was going to pick me up and I wanted to be in a better mood than I was earlier on in the day so I had a couple of drinks in me before getting dressed. Fortunately, I wasn’t so blind drunk that I couldn’t see how hot Michael in his leather jacket and jeans. It’s pretty much the same combo all the time and all the time he was hot.

“Hey,” I smiled, staggering for a kiss.

He chuckled breathily through his nose as we kissed. “Hey, you’re in a good mood.”

“I am.”

He narrowed his eyes. “A really good mood.”

I ran my hand down his chest and breathed in. “I am.”

He threw his head back and laughed. “Oh?”

I nodded. “Mm-hmm.”

He watched me as I brought my hands down to his belt, quickly unbuckling him as he stroked my neck, kissing me at the hollow at the base and bringing his lips to my ear. My weak spot. Instantly a wet-inducing factor. It invigorated my desire even more but it was hard pushing through such an incapacitating feeling that I willingly welcomed.

“You sure you want this now?” he asked in between kisses.

“Are you?”

He laughed devilishly in response. I walked backwards, holding him at his erection to my bed. He lifted my dress in front of mirror and shook my ass before grabbing tightly and pulling me into him. I wish I can say we eased slowly into it, but more so we charged like bulls.

All I can say is, I’m glad that our libido didn’t burst at the party.

We took a few minutes washing up, I obviously took longer because, as he says, I have that extra chromosome, and then we were on our way. It was the same friends at the party and either they were on their best behaviour because they were told to, or because they couldn’t be bothered riling someone up tonight.

I was having such a great time when I wanted to get a refill for a drink. I was hoping to get drunk tonight. I rarely do and felt like tonight was the right occasion. It helped in blocking out Janet as well, so there was that.

At the bar I met a girl named Louise. Tall, skinny, model-like, the whole she-bang except with fake boobs. We girls can detect that from a mile away. And I honestly think it’s a girl thing. One time I was working with a guy that wanted to play a game of ‘guess the fake boobs on the women that we see’. Needless to say, he sucked. I think he was more hopeful than realistic.

So Louise and I got to talking about who we came here with when I mentioned Michael.

“Oh, thee, Michael,” she said when I pointed into the crowd.

“Yes, thee, Michael,” I repeated confusedly.

“Isn’t he just great?”

“Yeah,” I laughed, “I guess.”

“I mean, to have that much respect for a girl.”

“Yeah, right…” I wasn’t liking the sound of where this was going.

“So, what number are you then?”

“Umm….what?”

“You know,” she shrugged, “exclusivity, the gifts, the friends who do the same thing as a sort of game to outdo the other,” she snickered. “It’s so fun. A lot of them cheat, as you can tell by my example. So, what number are you?”

***I once commented to a reader on another blog suggesting a book called “13 Reasons Why” to read and that it was going to be a movie. I don’t know if that same reader reads my blogs but turns out it’s on Netflix. Just wanted that person to know. Soul xo***

Apologies

Michael and I hadn’t spoken for a long time. We didn’t see each other, we didn’t talk, and we didn’t even text. I’d been swamped at work to even think about him but when I did, I missed him. I went over and over our fight in my head and wondered if we were both wrong, one of us, or none of us. How do parents spend their whole lives worrying about the kind of crowd their children mix with if friends aren’t a factor in who we are? Maybe when we get older, it becomes clearer. I can’t count the number of times I hear we’re not supposed to generalise an entire people based on just a few people, couldn’t it be the same for the people we know?

I honestly didn’t know, what I did know was that I wasn’t fair to him. I should know better. It’s not like me to just judge a man’s character based on his friends’, or anyone’s for that matter.

Colour me surprise (I know, totally clichéd phrase) when I saw Michael entering the office with Ahly’s ex and friends. As per usual they were having a great time and laughing their asses off. Ahly was smiling because obviously it was infectious, but I was immune.

“When are they going to higher security so they can be shot on site,” Toby sighed.

“Oh pipe down party pooper,” Ahly said.

“This is a place of our work!” He said.

“Uh huh, is that why you keep texting your new girlfriend?”

“What new girlfriend?” I asked.

Toby turned red and kept his warning eyes on Ahly. “No one.”

“I thought the only person you’ve been seeing is…” I stopped short when I thought of the only person I knew he could be calling a girlfriend by this point. But they just met!

“Who?” Toby asked.

I shrugged and acted like I didn’t know. If Chloe didn’t tell me then she didn’t want me to know, and that was a separate issue altogether. My best friend didn’t want me to know she was dating someone I was working with. Like, for real dating. Like, this wasn’t just a fling dating. Why though?

I slipped a glance Michael’s way and he caught it. He half-smiled and looked down then back up at his friends. It was so unbelievably awkward. I guess he wasn’t ready to talk to me either, which is convenient for me considering I wasn’t entirely ready to admit I was wrong.

He ended up leaving and I got back to work to what felt like a long time until I had my break. I asked if they wanted anything before I left, and all I thought about was food. I was mentally calculating what I should get that when I exited the building my name being called out repeatedly sounded like it was from the distance coming closer.

There was Michael, leaning up against the building, smoking a cigarette. “You sure do take forever to go for lunch.”

I fixed my bag over my shoulder and walked over to him. “I’ve been busy.”

He blew a puff of smoke. “Yeah, me too. I think this wall and I have become one with ourselves.”

I smiled at his ridiculousness, trying and failing to keep it composed. “Mm-hmm.”

“So, we haven’t spoken in a while,” he said, matter-of-fact.

I shrugged and gazed on into the distant traffic. “I’ve been busy.”

“Thought you’d say that.”

I sighed. “Yeah, well, I wouldn’t say I liked the freeze.”

He took a swig and then nodded. “Yeah, I’m more of a settle-this-here-and-now type. But can you blame me?”

I looked up through my lashes and smiled. He tilted his head and I shook mine, giving a little huffed laugh. “No, of course not.” I mumbled under my breath, “You can blame me though.”

“I fucking missed you.”

I shrugged. “I maybe, kind of missed you, too,” I joked.

“Especially when I saw some guy named Mark and you on Facebook having a good time,” he said, suggestively.

I rolled my eyes. “Just a friend.”

“Mm-hmm.”

“Mm-hmm yourself.” He laughed and I cleared my throat. “I’m sorry about the fight. I was an asshole and should’ve known better.”

He lifted his brow impressed and brought the corners of his lips downwards. “Say what?”

“Come on, don’t make me say it again.”

He laughed and clutched my jaw to angle his lips down and press them on mine. “I missed that, too,” he said when he pulled away.

“Me too,” I breathed.

“Come on—” he grabbed my hand— “let’s get out of here.”

I shimmied back and out of his grasp. “I have work.”

“Ditch.”

I tilted my head. “What are we in high school?”

“I mean take a personal day, come on let’s go.”

“Why? Got something Valentine’s Day related planned?” I winked.

“Yeah, right, like I’d celebrate a bullshit holiday.”

“Oh. You don’t like it?”

He shrugged. “I just think it’s stupid.”

“Yeah, yeah, yeah…” I nodded.

“But…I’m gathering you like it?”

“It’s whatever,” I said, waving my hand forwards.

“You sure?”

I nodded. “Hey, I really do have to get back to work.”

“Thought you were going to lunch?”

“Right. Lunch then work.”

“How about we have lunch together then, since you won’t ditch?”

“Uhh, you know, it’s going to be a quick one for me. In and out, sort of thing. I’ll see you later.”

“Anna—”

I was already on the curb about to set foot to cross the street. “Bye!”

First Fight

***BONUS post! Enjoy! Soul xo***

Literally everyone wanted to forget the night. When Stanley took a swing at Brandon I knew all hell was going to break loose. Michael tried to break up the fight while Janet and I rushed over to the side. I can’t help but feel proud over one person only: Stanley. It might be a medieval concept, but Brandon deserved what he got. Barely that actually, he was asking for it. Who says that kind of stuff and doesn’t expect backlash back?

Anyway, the party pretty much broke up after that and the crowd dissipated until we were left going home. I asked Janet wanted me to come with her but she was totally fine. I think she wasn’t as bothered by the comments as Stanley was. Janet was a fighter; she’s experienced a lot of bullshit all her life and I knew she thought this was just another day in the life. Which is why Stanley was the one that appeared to need more consoling, funnily enough. Even though it seemed as though he was there for his woman, Janet was there just as much for her man. It was pretty cool.

Michael and I were quiet in the Uber ride back to my place. I guess you could say it was an uncomfortable silence. I was still fuming over Brandon and what happened that I wanted to vent with Michael as well. He didn’t seem as outraged and it kind of bothered me.

“Did you want to come up?” I asked Michael once we stopped outside my apartment building. “I can fix you some ice for that hand.”

Oh yeah, he got in a few punches as well. Mostly from his friends which is so beyond weird for me.

He sighed. “Yeah, sure.” His voice unstrained and loose. He sounded way too calm for the ruckus that happened. I started to think I was overreacting.

“Didn’t think you’d be in here for ice,” I joked.

Michael chuckled. “Yeah…” he clutched the sides of my face and pulled into a long French kiss.

I pushed at his chest. “Hey come on. Now’s not really the time.” I placed the ice over his hand.

“What do you mean?”

“I mean,” I shrugged, “shit did just go down back there.”

Michael shook his head and scoffed. “It’s just Brandon.”

I lifted my brows. “Oh. So that’s normal?”

“They just like to mess with people.”

“Ummm…I think that’s a little more than just messing with people.”

“It was a joke.”

“A joke!?”

“Yeah, if Stanley was an actual friend of ours he’d be playing along, too. And Janet would be laughing.”

“And if Brandon was our friend he’d know he shouldn’t be saying shit like that about my best friend, but I guess we’re not the type of people to make those kinds of friends.”

Michael’s nostrils flared and he stood up straight. “Oh, and I suppose I’m a piece of shit to be running around with other pieces of shit.”

“I can’t believe you’re defending this guy!”

“And I can’t believe you think my friends are a reflection of me!”

“Well, some people say you are who you hang with!”

“Fuck this,” he threw the ice pack onto the counter, “I don’t need this bullshit. Call me when you can learn to separate me from the people I know.”

“Are you seriously leaving?” I scoffed and rolled my eyes as soon as he closed the door behind him. “What a cheap move.”

I checked my cell to see if Janet messaged but found a message from Mark instead: ‘Hey, sorry, I was out. Are you still up for a good time?’

More Soup

***BONUS post. Enjoy!***

“How’s the soup?” Michael asked.

I winced. “It’s sort of burning my throat.”

He grinned and wriggled his brows. “Good. It’s killing all the bacteria.”

“Oh God…”

“What?”

I heated up quickly. “This is just so weird to me.”

“What is?”

“You seeing me like this, in all my sickness, cleaning up my apartment—”

“—which I did a great job I might add. Almost impossible,” he joked.

“Shut up. I’m way too vulnerable right now.”

“Stop being so self-conscious.”

“I’m not.”

“You are.”

“I’m not.”

He tilted his head and lifted a brow. “You are,” he warned.

“Okay, fine, whatever.”

He chuckled. “Look, if it’s making you that uncomfortable then I can go. But believe me when I say that I really, really, really, like taking care of you. And I really, really, really like you.”

I narrowed my eyes. “How come you never came up?”

He blinked confusedly. “What?”

I shrugged. “How come you never came inside with me? Every time we went out on a date or whatever, sometimes I’d ask you up, sometimes it was obvious I wanted you to come inside but you never did. Why?”

“Oh,” he smiled. He sat opposite me on the coffee table, and I dropped my legs from it.

“I thought you wanted…”

“I do, believe me, I do. It’s not like me to wait.”

“What are you waiting for?”

“I just…I just don’t want to ruin this. Argh…I fucking hate getting all sensitive and shit. Should be your department.”

I laughed. “We’re making jokes to avoid this are we?”

“Lucky for me I’m actually funny.”

“Maybe you don’t know this about me until now, but I have no energy to be annoyed when I’m sick.”

“Or no energy to fight back because you know you’ll lose?”

“Michael,” I tilted my head.

“Anna,” he mimicked me.

I laughed. “Wow you really can’t open up can you?”

He sighed, running a hand through his dark hair. “I want to see where this goes. I just don’t want to fuck everything up because I want to fuck you.”

“Ummm….”

He shook his head. “That’s not what I mean. I just mean, I have this on-to-the-next mentality and I don’t want to be on to the next.”

I smiled. “Does this mean we’re exclusive?”

“I don’t know,” he said. “Do you want to be?”

I feigned my sigh. “Guess that would mean I’m going to have to cancel all my booty calls.”

He narrowed his eyes and I laughed. “Oh you got jokes, huh?”

“Okay, serious question. What if we’re building this up and in the end it’s not going to be great.”

He shrugged. “Then we fuck up and try again. Easy.”

“Just like that?”

“Just like that. Oh now don’t tell me you’re one of those first time quitters. Because I’m not a quitter.”

“You sound like Rocky.”

He huffed a little laugh. “Stella!”

“It’s Adrienne.”

“Whatever.”

“Okay. We’re exclusive,” I nodded.

“Jeesh so demanding, okay fine, we’re exclusive,” he grinned.

I rolled my eyes. “Shut up.” I handed him my empty bowl. “Go make me more soup.”

“Like a vacuum, you are.”

“Fuck you.”

“Gladly.”

***The Alice in Wonderland reference in the previous post was in the title: Beautiful Soup. Soul***

An Edition

***So clearly I’m going to have to change at least the time in which I post. From now on it’s the same day; any time***

“Daniel,” I said, a little too cheerily. I hopped on my tiptoes and hugged him. “Hey. How are you?”

“Not bad,” he nodded, putting his hands back into his jean pocket. Then he eyed Michael.

“Oh, Michael this is Daniel, Daniel; Michael.”

“How’s it going, man,” Michael said, holding out his hand.

Daniel chuckled, shaking Michael’s hand. “Good, good.” For a split second he angled his brows downwards.

Mmkay, so this is weird. A gap in the conversation spilled over us and we were just giving polite glances to each other.

“So, how do you two know each other?” Michael asked.

“Oh, Daniel and I—”

“—We go way back,” Daniel cut in.

“Okay.” Michael nodded. “I guess I’ll leave you to catch up then.”

I smiled, trying to figure out if that was the way to go when it was too late. Michael had already left.

“What are you doing here?” I asked.

“Stanley invited me.”

“No, I mean, don’t you have anything going on in New York.”

He sighed. “So you think I’m that sad, huh?”

“No, of course not, I—”

“—Relax,” he laughed, “I’m kidding.”

“Oh, okay,” I breathed.

“Do you want to go for a walk?” he asked.

“Umm…” I looked down and then at Janet who was waving a hand from side to side mouthing ‘go, go’. Oh, Janet. “Sure.”

***

“It’s so much quieter outside,” I said after we were walking in silence for what seemed like a stupendous amount of time, “usually it’s the other way around.”

“Mmm. So, Michael, huh?”

“We’re just…” I shook my head. Here we go.

“No, I mean it’s good.”

I looked up, astounded. “Say what?”

He laughed. “I thought I’d be my usual angry self but, I don’t know, seeing you two together—”

“—We’re not together.”

“Just the same. Seeing you happy made me happy.” He shrugged. “This might be weird to say but he sort of reminded me of me back when we first met. God, I remember being so carefree, riding around with my bike.”

“Having a reputation with the ladies,” I added.

He laughed, nodding and blushing. “Yeah, that, too.” He sighed. “I don’t know. Suddenly, I just wasn’t angry.”

I smiled. “I’m genuinely glad.”

“Doesn’t mean I don’t love you.”

Argh, what a blow to the chest. “Daniel…”

“Janet said you still have feelings for me so I, of course, jumped on the first plane out of there. And of course that wasn’t true.”

“I’m so sorry.” I’m going to murder Janet. And Stanley! Guarantee he was an accomplice.

“Don’t worry about it. I’m not saying it for you to pity me I’m saying it because I know seriously have to move on, but I’m starting to realise I can’t.”

“What about the girl you’re dating?”

He shrugged. “What girl?”

Wow. Just like that, huh?

“This is me,” he pointed to a car on the curb. “I’ll drive you back.”

“That’s okay, I can use the walk back.”

“Oh come on, don’t do that nice thing we’re people do one thing but really want the other,” he eyed me.

I laughed, feeling put on the spot and my cheeks burning. “No, I’m being serious. I want to walk.”

“Okay,” he grinned, opening the door and pulling out a present. “This is for you.”

“Daniel…but I didn’t get you anything…”

“Who cares? Open it.”

It wasn’t in the usual colourful wrapping paper. He was gloved in cardboard paper, tied by a wiry piece of white string. My hands were shaking and I didn’t know if it was because of the weather, or just Daniel. He uncovered the paper back and held it as I inspected the present.

“It’s an early edition,” he said.

I looked up. “Oh my God. It’s Wuthering Heights.”

“I knew you’d like it.”

“Like it? I love it!” I gasped. “How did you even…?”

“I always knew you like that.”

I held the book against my chest. “Daniel…”

He leaned in and pecked a kiss atop my head. Then, he pressed his forehead against mine and whispered, “Merry Christmas, Anna.”

***Happy New Year! Soul xo***

Ghost of christmas past

Michael was busy imploring me to stay and I couldn’t help but enjoy watching. It was so rare to ever find this usually suave guy grovelling. That’s when a flash went off in the room and snickering started to break the tension.

“Oh my God,” a girl jumped out of the bathroom, “you should see your face, bro.” She turned to her friend, who was gnawing apologetically at her bottom lip and blushing like there was no tomorrow. “Do you think we got the picture?” Her friend nodded, avoiding everyone’s gazes and finally hopping into the bathroom. “I think we got it.”

Michael sighed, albeit half-relieved, half-frustrated. “What the hell, Maggie?”

“As soon as you texted me I just had to do it—”

“—and she made me do it!” the other girl yelled from the bathroom.

Maggie laughed and walked over to the tallboy. “I had to quickly talk Christina into it and open up all my jewellery boxes—” she eyed me and lowered her voice— “some of which are my mom’s so shh—” she returned to her attention to Michael whose eyes were so slanted from the mental exhaustion he looked like Droopy— “she’s cute by the way.”

“Well executed plan,” Christina popped out of the bathroom, “can we go now?”

“Yes,” Maggie nodded. She snapped another picture of Michael and the flash almost blinded the both of us. “One for the road.”

“Why would you do this to the only person helping you out?” Michael asked as she passed him. He didn’t seem that annoyed anymore.

Maggie laughed. “Payback for the chilli.”

“Oh,” Michael smiled. He looked at me and then looked down abashedly. “I’ll explain later.”

I giggled.

“Bye guys!” They said.

“Bye,” I waved before she shut the door behind her. “I really like your sister.”

“Well, that makes one of us.”

“Aww,” I walked closer to him, “sad or mad?”

“Shut up,” he smiled.

I laughed. “You’re cute when you’re angry,” I said, making sure he knew I was reiterating his exact sentiment one of the first times I met him.

“Funny.”

I shrugged. “I thought so.”

A lull entered the conversation and for what felt like a few minutes we didn’t do anything besides titling our heads from side to side as our smiles grew wider. The quiet play was silly enough to make him chuckle.

“Want something to eat or drink?” he asked, taking a step back.

“No, I better get going.”

He nodded. “Right, right…”

“So…thanks for the tour.”

“Yeah,” he breathed. “Sure.” I passed him heading to the door. “Hey—” I stopped and twirled back— “are you going to Ahly’s party?”

I nodded. “Yup.”

“Want me to pick you up?”

I smiled. He was getting his confidence back. “I can’t. After Ahly’s I’m going to a friend’s party.”

He lifted a brow. “Two in one night. How adventurous. I would never have guessed.”

I rolled my eyes. “Both Christmas parties happen to be on the same night, plus a work party. All in the same week.”

“Sounds tiring. Have fun.”

I turned half-way and stopped short. “Did you want to come with me?”

“Where?”

“I mean, to Ahly’s and then my friends’?”

He sighed dramatically. “If you insist.” I shook my head and walked out. He came to the door. “I’ll call you!”

***

The office party turned out to be more fun than I expected. No one got super drunk, but there was some twerking on tables that I couldn’t wait to show to the person who didn’t remember. Or pretended not to remember. Technology is so wonderful these days.

The office was going to be closed until about beginning to mid-January. Plenty of time to do our usual family visits. Speaking of family, my mom called and asked if I was coming around for Christmas. She’s never had to ask and I always came so it was a bit weird. When I acted like I’d have to fit her into my busy schedule, she asserted that I basically had no choice. I deserved her stone cold attitude; I mean, who am I to say that I’d have to check my schedule. I can be a real asshole sometimes; and to the wrong people too.

Tonight was the double-booked Ahly and Janet party. Ahly’s was first and then I was on my way to Janet’s. I opted for an all-over-sequinned shorts with sheer black panelling, a white cashmere top with a high-low hemline—to show off the shorts—with a split at the side the rose to the halfway mark; black booties went with it. I figured I wasn’t channelling the Christmas colours in my ensemble enough, if at all, so I wore ruby earrings. Green is nowhere to be found.

Michael was waiting for me downstairs so I quickly grabbed my black, leather clutch and rushed to the elevator where inevitable Eric was waiting.

“Oh, hey,” he said.

“Hi,” I smiled. The ride down used to be so short, now whenever I was near him it always felt longer than usual. Funny that.

“Hey, sorry I never called you. I’ve just been so busy.”

“Okay,” I said and then shrugged. “It’s fine.”

“Didn’t mean to leave you hanging like that.”

“I wasn’t waiting for a call, Eric.”

“Mmm,” he brushed off, nodding and appraising me with a deep though, “you look nice.”

“Thanks.”

The bell dinged me into freedom and out I went when I saw his date. She threw her arms all over him cheerfully. I strained so hard not to roll my eyes. This didn’t bother me; it was my first impressions about him being wrong that bothered me. So annoying when you’re wrong about a guy. Am I right?

“Oh, shit,” he patted himself from top to bottom, “I forgot my wallet. I’ll be right back.” He quickly scurried away.

“Isn’t he just the cutest?” the girl asked.

“Mm-hmm, super-duper. Can I…” I pointed to pass her at the entrance. Move bitch, get out of the way. Great song. Stuck in my head now.

“Never thought I’d meet a sexy lawyer in training. He’s going to do so much good one day. I can feel it.” I grinned, unable to help myself. I always want to warn a girl from my own experience but am afraid it’ll come off the wrong way. So I just remained quiet. “Oops,” she said, stepping aside, “sorry. Merry Christmas.”

“And to you!” I said, never so glad to see Michael’s face.

“Damn,” he frowned, looking me up and down.

I gasped. “What? Something ripped?”

“Just thought you’d be wearing sexy dress.”

“That is saved for New Year.”

He wriggled his brows. “Can’t wait.”

Is that foreshadowing I hear?

***

“That’s Chloe, Janet and her husband Stanley—”

“—husband?” Michael repeated.

I nodded. “Yeah, why?”

“They’re so young. I can’t imagine being strapped down so early on.”

I gulped and continued. “And over there is Jodie with her date.”

“Nice. Hey, I think I see Toby,” he said.

“Yeah, he and Chloe really hit it off.”

“Do I sense resentment?” Michael grinned.

I scrunched my face. “No!”

He laughed and held up a hand. “Alright. I’m going to grab another drink. You want?”

“Sure.” I handed in my cup and walked over to Janet when he went for a drink run.

“Hey, Janet!” I swooped her into a hug.

“Hey! Great party?”

I nodded. “Great party!”

“Okay, good. I was hoping people didn’t think I was a boring housewife now. On that note, feel free to get as drunk as humanly possible.”

“Duly noted.”

“So, who’s your plus one?”

“Oh, he’s getting refills.”

Her smile dropped. “It’s a ‘he’?”

“Umm…yeah?”

“Okay, don’t be mad, okay?”

I tilted my head. “What did you do?”

“Nothing! Not me,” she chuckled shakily. “Stanley.”

“Start with pointing the blame, always a good start,” I joked.

She laughed, still concerned. “What could I do? It’s his best friend.”

“Who?” Then, it started to slowly fade in. I quickly scanned the room. “Daniel’s here?”

“Well, no, not exactly. He said he might not be able to make it considering.”

“Considering what?”

“He lives in New York.”

“A little warning would’ve been nice.”

“Again. Stanley.”

I smiled a little. “Ugh, whatever. I’m not going to let it bother me.”

“Right.”

“I mean, for all I know, he might not even show.”

“Good,” Janet nodded.

“Who won’t show?” a voice intruded into the conversation.

“An old friend,” Janet said to Michael as he handed me my drink. “She might be sick with…ebola…”

I widened my eyes a split second and almost burst out laughing. Out of all the things she could’ve said she chose that. Michael furrowed his brows. “Right, well…that’s…

“Hey, I don’t think you guys have formally met. Michael; Janet, Janet; Michael.”

“And that’s Stanley,” Janet pointed. “My husband.”

“She loves to make a note of that,” I said.

“She’s right, I do.”

Michael laughed. “Well, it’s a great party you got going here. Great drinks too.”

“Please, get blind drunk tonight,” Janet said.

Michael paused. A smile still attached to his lips. “Okay.”

“Awesome,” Janet said. “I’m going to join my husband.”

“See you!” I said.

“She’s funny,” Michael said.

“Yeah, and crazy.”

“Mmm, ebola?”

“Ha! Ignore that.”

He grinned. “Got it.”

Michael caught the attention of one of the girls at the party and asked for a refill. He handed her a twenty and just like last time, she magically came back.

“And keep ‘em coming,” he said, handing her a fifty.

“How do you do that?” I narrowed my eyes.

He put his hand up the wall beside my head and leaned in. “Do what?”

“Get your own personal butler ten minutes into a party.”

“Money talks.”

“On that note, what do you do?”

“What?” he smiled.

“For a living. What do you do? You know what I do.”

“Ah, yes, you sit at your little desk and find little books. It’s cute.”

“Shut up.”

“Hey, I said it was cute,” he smiled, bringing his fingertips to play with a lock of my hair.

“Don’t avoid the question. How can you afford to throw money at people and live where you live?”

“Oh-ho…” he laughed, pretending to be offended.

I blushed. “Not what I meant. It’s just the contrast is a little opposite sides of the spectrum, you know?”

“I know.”

I narrowed my eyes again. “You really won’t tell me?”

“I prefer mysteries.”

“Is that why you’re so attracted to me?” I somehow managed to ask.

He grinned. “That and other reasons.”

I smiled, blushing deeper. “Oh.” I really wasn’t expecting a serious answer.

“I’m going to kiss you now.”

I looked up expectantly, but beyond he caught my eye. I pushed Michael away. “Daniel.”

“Daniel?” he furrowed his brows, straightening up. “Who’s Daniel?”

“I am.”

***Merry Christmas! Soul xo***

is this going to be a three-way thing?

“I knew I’d find you just where I left you,” I said, walking up to Michael.

He kicked off the wall and smiled. “Ooooh, someone has a newfound confidence.”

I held up the crumpled piece of paper between my fingertips. “Is this supposed to be a joke?”

He tried to hide his widened smile by biting on his bottom lip. “What is?”

I scoffed. “Don’t play coy.”

“Oh easy there, Mugsy!” he joked.

I rolled my eyes but couldn’t help the smile. “You want me to go skydiving?”

He shrugged. “Interesting proposition…” he thought as if it wasn’t his idea.

“You want me to go skydiving…with you?”

He sighed dramatically. “Alright, if you insist.”

“You are fucking crazy.”

“Hey, hey, hey, language, please.”

“Oh I’m sorry. You’re fucking crazy. Better?”

He laughed. “I take it you’re not into skydiving?”

“Bingo. Look at you, figuring things out and all.”

“Okay, alright. I tell ya, you’re missing out.”

“Hey, hey, hey, language, please.”

He narrowed his eyes. “You are.”

I squeezed my lips as tight as I could but I couldn’t it in. I didn’t think he would play along on that joke. “All this for a date?” He didn’t say anything. “You could just ask, you know. Dinner, movie; the clichéd type of stuff is a cliché for a reason.”

He breathed in, jutting out his chest. “Or we could just skip everything and I could bring you back to my place.” He grinned.

I paused, wondering if this guy was a joke or for real. He wants to play, fine, let’s play. “Okay. Taxi!” I hopped off the curb and hailed the first one I saw.

“W—what?”

“Let’s go. It’ll have the same thrill as skydiving, I’m sure.” We hopped in and immediately after he pulled out his phone. “Oh, no, no, no, don’t cheat.”

He chuckled. “I have to let my sister know we’re coming. She’s staying with me for a while.”

“Okay, fine.” Seems legit.

“Don’t judge too much,” he said before he unlocked the door.

“Ooooh, someone has a newfound vulnerability.”

“Shut up,” he said under his breath. “Next, we’re seeing your place.”

“It’s a good thing I cleaned then.”

“God damn it,” he muttered, opening the door.

The place wasn’t too shabby. It had a total industrial feel about it, especially the kitchen, but other than clothes on the floor and wires around the TV where every type of box sat, it didn’t look too bad.

“Maggie!?” Michael shouted. “Maggie!”

Sister, yeah, sure.

“I’m guessing this is the bedroom?” I grabbed the handle and turned.

“Honestly, Anna, all you had to do was ask,” he laughed.

“Shut up,” I rolled my eyes as I stumbled in over more clothes strewn on the floor. For a guy that basically wears the same three garments every day I’ve never seen so much clothes.

Then, a glimmer on the corner of my eyes caught my attention. Atop the tallboy was a line-up of opened boxes displaying dainty necklaces just like the one he gifted me.

“Holy shit,” I said. “What the fuck is this?”

He hopped in and turned wide-eyed and wild. “What the—? Oh, no, no, no, not me. Definitely not me!”

“Oh my God,” I grinned, unfathomable of the situation, “is this what you do?”

“No!” he laughed. “Definitely not me! That—I don’t know where that came from!” He flickered his eyes over the stash.

“Oh my God, it is isn’t it? This is how you get girls!”

He was shaking his head vehemently and before he could protest again, the door to his en suite bathroom opened and out popped a girl in a towel. “Oh, hey, Michael,” she stopped and smiled. Then, she registered me. “Oh, hey.”

“Hi,” I breathed, stunned.

“What. The. Fuck,” was all Michael could say.

“Is this going to be a three-way thing?” she asked.