“Good evening ladies.” The guy said to us as he reached the table where we were standing awkwardly. “I couldn’t help but notice how out of place you looked.”
It sounded like an insult, but his tone was gentle.
“Well this isn’t our usual scene.” I said to him in return.
“How is it that you came to be here tonight?” he asked as he grabbed a glass of wine from one of the passing waiters.
“We were invited by Chase Mathews.”
He showed no surprise at my words.
Midge stood close to me. I could feel how insecure she was. She didn’t do well around strangers.
“Kaiden.” The guy said to us, “And you are?”
“Sam.” Midge replied, not giving him her nickname.
“And I’m Genevieve.”
Kaiden removed his mask, and recognition shot through me. It was weird that I felt like I knew so many people here.
“Have we met before?” I asked him. I looked at his face, trying to think of where I’d seen him before, but strangely enough he just reminded me of my brother.
“I don’t think so.” He shook his head and took a sip of his wine.
It was an awkward exchange of words, and the hairs on the back of my neck were still standing on edge.
I turned to Midge and gave her a look that only she would understand. ‘Let’s get the hell out of here.’
I turned to Kaiden to tell him that we were leaving when Chase popped out of nowhere. He pulled my purse and my drink from my hand, gave it over to Midge, and then dragged me onto the dance floor.
I was too shocked to say anything.
He put his hand on my back and pulled me into dancing with him.
“What. The. Hell. Chase.”
I looked up at his face, and I could see his usually relaxed face marred by a myriad of emotions that I couldn’t place. He looked sad, angry, and excited, all at the same time. I had no idea what was going on.
“You do realise that that guy just embarrassed the hell out of me and Midge, right? What the hell is his problem?” I asked, talking about Tomas.
Chase finally looked at me, and his face softened, it almost broke my heart. I had never seen such vulnerability coming from him before.
“Gen. I am sorry. Genuinely and truly sorry.”
I could tell that he wasn’t just talking about what had happened. Something else was going on. It was too much. I heard a clap of thunder from outside, and suddenly wished I was standing in the rain. The coolness of it would probably do me some good.
I tried to get Chase to release me, but his grip was too strong. He wasn’t hurting me, but he wasn’t letting me go.
“Chase. Let me go. This is enough. You shouldn’t have brought us into your world. I don’t even think we’ve been here for more than thirty minutes, and it’s already turned into a crappy evening.”
He grabbed my hand and led me to a door to a covered patio outside. I was so angry and confused that even the rain through the beautiful fairy lights did nothing to change my mood.
I pulled my hand from Chase’s grasp. And almost stomped my foot to get his attention.
“Tell me what the fuck just happened! This is not you Chase. You don’t do this to us.”
He ran his hand through his hair, and for the first time ever, he looked overly tired.
“Gen…” He started saying then stopped to look at me. “I’m sorry. But I am not who you think I am. I never have been. But I am still someone who cares about you. I just can’t… Bringing you here wasn’t a mistake, but I just can’t tell you the truth. There are things that are happening, but they are happening for the good of everything else around us. A plan has been set in motion. And right now, I am throwing you straight into the thick of it. For that I am sorry, but I don’t deserve your forgiveness.”
“What are you talking about Chase?”
He looked so frazzled. Something bad must have happened between Tomas and him, for him to be talking like this. I had never, in all of our years being friends, seen him like this. I reached out for him, pulled him into a hug and he let me.
“I am very, very confused right now Chase.”
My head was spinning.
“I see everything Gen. Everything that has happened, that is happening, and everything that will happen.”
“Chase. What’s going on? Are you on some sort of drug or something?”
“I wish it was that simple, my Genevieve.” He softly placed his hand on my face.
My heart stopped.
His face moved closer to mine and my breath hitched. He lips touched mine ever so gently and I sighed without meaning to. The kiss grew hungrier, like it was something that both of us had always wanted but had never been able to have. I was breathless when he let me go. We stood there for a few seconds more, and just as I was about to ask, again, what was going on, he turned and left me standing there. And he just disappeared into the rain.
I had no idea what the fuck had just happened. I brought my fingers to my lips and I could still feel them throbbing from the kiss. It had been real. I wasn’t losing my mind. Then what the hell was going on?
After a few more dazed minutes I turned on my heel and went back inside. I found Midge chatting to a very dapper elderly gentleman, and when I joined her, I could see that she wasn’t as uncomfortable as she had been earlier.
Her smile fell when she saw me though. No doubt from the messed-up lipstick.
“This must be the friend you were telling me about Samantha.”
The gentleman turned to me, “My name is Frank. This young lady was just telling me about how wonderful you are.”
“Genevieve.” I said, not forgetting my manners, “It is lovely to meet you, but, and I hope I am not being rude here, may I please steal my best friend for a few seconds.”
Frank chuckled. He reminded me of my grandfather, with gentle eyes, and a happy demeanour.
“Of course. You two ladies must enjoy the rest of your evening.” He turned to Midge and handed her a business card that came out of nowhere. “Call me if you are ever in need of a job young lady, I think you would be perfect for our line of work.”
With that, he turned and walked away.
As soon as he was out of earshot, Midge turned to me with a horrified look on her face.
“I’m sorry I left you, I hope you weren’t too uncomfortable chatting to that guy.”
“Frank is great, but that is beside the point. What just happened Gen. One moment you were dancing and then the next you were gone. That weird guy Kaiden left me as soon as Chase grabbed you. And what’s up with your lipstick?”
She was worried.
I shook my head.
“Chase…” I started saying.
I heard her suck in a breath.
“Something funky in going on Midge. Chase went on this whole tirade of how he was so sorry, and he’s not the person we know him to be, and then he calls me ‘his Genevieve’ and straight up just kisses me. It was the best fucking kiss of my life. And then he just leaves.”
My best friend looked at me in shock and wonder.
“I’m sorry, what? He kissed you?”
“And then he just left.”
I nodded again.
“Is that boy on drugs or something?’
“That’s what I thought. But the weird thing is, I could tell he wasn’t lying. None of it made sense. But it felt like the truth.”
My head was reeling.
“I need a very stiff drink.”
Midge nodded, but before we went, she grabbed a wet wipe from her purse and fixed my lipstick. She gave me my purse back, and we hurriedly made our way to the bar.
I ordered a tequila and Midge just got a sprite. Weird drinks to have at a fancy ball I thought, but I didn’t question it. I knew nothing of this world after all.
“So, what now?” Midge asked.
She looked as lost as I felt.
“I’m confused Midge.”
“Let’s just go home.” She took my hand in hers and started leading me away, when we bumped into Tomas, literally.
He looked at us with a strange look on his face.
“Ladies. I’ve been looking for you. I wanted to apologise for earlier.”
I could feel Midge shake with anger. She’d had enough.
“Listen man. This has been one hell of a weird evening for us. We are just going to go home and forget everything that has happened tonight. You don’t have to worry about us ruining your lavish party.” Midge put sarcastic emphasis on the word lavish.
My head was beginning to hurt, so I looked up at Tomas to say almost the same thing, when my vision doubled again. The room changed around me, and Midge was no longer beside me. Tomas was in front of me, and he was talking to me like we were long lost friends. And then in the blink of an eye everything was normal again.
“I was wondering if I could have a quick word with Genevieve.” He said to Midge, and then turned to me, “Chase mentioned some things that I thought you should know.”
If I hadn’t been so bloody confused by the interaction with Chase, I would have told him where to shove it, but I needed to know what was going on, so I followed him. Midge nodded at me to tell me that it was okay. She was probably just as confused as I was, but as soon as I had heard what Tomas had to say, I was leaving.
We walked to one of the small tables.
A waiter came up to us and handed us two champagne flutes.
“This is from the gentleman standing by the bar. He says he hopes you enjoy the rest of your evening.” The waiter said to me and then left.
I looked towards the bar, and Kaiden lifted his glass to me in cheers. I nodded and turned back to Tomas.
“So can you please tell me what is going on?” I took a sip from my drink, which probably wasn’t a good idea considering how much I’d had to drink that night, and on an empty stomach, but at that moment I didn’t care.
“Has Chase told you anything of our world?” Tomas looked at me with concern in his eyes.
“Your world? What do you mean? The world of the wealthy?”
He exhaled. “I am going to take that as a no.”
I downed my drink. For some reason I was getting really thirsty, and I was starting to heat up. Tomas’ voice started sounding very far away, and the world started spinning around me. The next moment I was staring up at the ceiling as my vision was turning black.