SORRY for not updating this for so long! I couldn't decide how I wanted this to play out. But I give you (finally) chapter 8! Please let me know how you feel! As always: Read. Devour. Enjoy.
Previously on Throne College Prep:
We walked back to the apartment in silence. Inside, I was in a really good mood; I had forgotten how much I loved music. Caleb's expression was unreadable; I don't think he was angry at me anymore, but that still didn't mean I was forgiven.
One less asshole in the world, I smiled to myself.
At least for now anyway.
When we finally entered the apartment, hand-in-hand I might add, there was Kieran, Megan and our favorite guy Amos. Kieran was leaning against the wall with his arms crossed, his eyes met mine warily. Amos was a stone statue. Megan was looking grim, her mouth set into a thin line, "This game is over."
"The game is over?" I said, trying to keep calm, but I felt my throat tighten in fear, "What game?"
"What are you talking about Megan?" Caleb frowned, his hand tightened in mine, I squeezed it reassuringly.
"Don't play coy Caleb," she all but snorted, "Mr. McCutcheon," she gestured to Kieran, "Has told me some very interesting things."
Caleb and I both snapped to look at Kieran, who stared blankly ahead, his harms still crossed-a defensive position. I hadn't really talked to Kieran since all this stuff started, he was usually running off being 'busy', like making breakfast or putting the hurdles away from track. Something must have happened, because he was so different from the usual Kieran, it was kind of frightening. I frowned, "Oh really, like what?"
"I think you know," Amos spoke gravely.
I find, that the worse way to get out of these situations is to play dumb...so that's exactly what I did, "I have no idea what you're talking about. Kieran hasn't exactly been communicating with us either. If you have done your job as a stalker, you would know that already."
Megan appraised my face for the longest time, "Stubborn little thing aren't you?"
I glared back at her.
"No matter," she reached into her Celine bag and pulled out four envelopes, "I came to give you these."
No one made a move to even retrieve them from her.
"They're invitations to the début of the new lipstick collection for Bourjois, I personally oversaw the preparations for the gala myself," she looked slightly annoyed at our lack of interest, "I expect the four of you there of course. On time and dressed appropriately; it is a formal gathering."
Caleb finally let of of my hand and walked over, he fingered them lightly before pushing them back towards her, "What makes you think, I'm going to go to this? Wouldn't that defeat the purpose of being hidden? I mean, how stupid do you think I am?"
She rolled her eyes, "Don't be silly, if you opened the bloody paper, you would see that it's a masquerade. Besides, the original socialite you're used to are back in England. No one here is expecting you to come a little lipstick gala. I think your new American accent will also add to the disguise."
She lit another cigarette, I really wish she'd stop doing that, "Think of this as your final test...If you can make it through the gala, then I will return home, unaware of the current location of Caleb Vanderbilt." The gleam in her eye-she was definitely planning something. She casually put out the cigarette, and stood up, "Amos, I need you with me tonight. I'll see the four of you tomorrow eight o'clock sharp."
None of us moved as we watched them leave. The door slammed on their way out; it always seemed like a storm passed through.
Not a second passed before Caleb charged towards Kieran. Before I could stop him, he grabbed his color and slammed him against the wall, I was certain that the entire building could hear the scuffle, "WHAT ARE YOU PLAYING AT!?"
"Caleb-" I tried to say.
"What the FUCK did you SAY?!" Caleb rammed him against the wall again, his eyes blazed with a fury I had never seen before. I could only compare it to when my mother found out I crashed her Mercedes when I took it out for a midnight spin, only ten times worse. Was there a mix of fear in there as well? Kieran was the complete opposite; immobile, hands not even raised to defend himself, a blank stare across his face, it was chilling.
Kieran finally responded, his eyes empty, "Nothing that you haven't revealed yourself."
"What's that suppose to mean?" I asked, before Caleb began to beat it out of him.
"I mean you two haven't been the most... copacetic couple I have seen to date," Kieran looked at me, showing some sign of acknowledgement.
"Newsflash," I feigned shock, "We aren't a real couple Kieran. It's all a farce to help Caleb-your friend. You knew that... What's gotten into you?"
The silence that followed it was ions long. I could hear the gears churning in both of their heads.
Kieran finally broke the silence, "I only told her that you two haven't been on a date for a while. What she told you...it was a bluff." Part of me just breathed a sigh of relief- wait, when had I become so emotionally invested in all this?
Caleb slowly let go and backed away from him, "Then what the hell was all the drama queen shit?"
Kieran shook his head, "Nothing, I'm a little tired today. Sleeping on the couch sucks."
By the time dinner rolled around, he had returned to his usual chirpy self and was getting ready to go out again. Nikki came home and was ecstatic about the invitations. Before I had the chance to ask what we were going to wear, she had charged into the back of closet and pulled out two white garment bags. The first was a one shoulder midnight blue satin floor length Vera Wang, Nikki quickly slipped it on and found that it hugged her curves perfectly.
Then, before I could protest, she wrapped me in her emperor waist, strapless, pearl white courtesy of Christian Bateau. I admit, Nikki had good taste, to this day, I don't know how she got her hands on those dresses. I suspect that they weren't the nicest things in her closet either.
Kieran swung his jacket over his shoulder. You know those designer suit commercials that always end in: "You're going to like the way you look, I guarantee it?" Kieran was that and more. The current trend, the slim pant look, fit his track body really well. Nikki stood a little off to the side on her phone, canceling her last minute plans with another jock, looking exceptionally gorgeous.
There was a soft door knock. I inwardly groaned, Amos.
But when Kieran opened the door, there was another less-intimidating butler at the door, he bowed slightly, "Under the orders of Miss Vanderbilt, I am to escort the four of you."
"Caleb! Ride's here," Kieran grinned, unfazed. Nikki also seemed unaffected by his... courtesy, she reapplied her lipstick. I didn't know much about Nikki's past, but I figured she was used to all this luxury after going on all these dates with trust-fund babies. I, however, was floored, rich people.
"I hope that fucker isn't here to pick us up-" Caleb swore as he exited his room, adjusting his cuff-links. Cuff-links! What seventeen year old got to wear cuff links?! My heart sank-he looked so good. Even with the makeup Nikki managed to wrestle on my face, I was still the pauper.
He flashed me a grin, "Wow Miss Pierce, you don't look half bad."
I felt my face burn red as I cooly replied, "You don't look so bad yourself Mr. Vanderbilt." Yeah, you look like a million bucks, bastard. When he and Kieran stood next to each other, they looked like models in front of GQ. I watched the three of them ready themselves to leave, three gorgeous movie stars and one awkward...mouse.
"Shall we?" Caleb offered his arm.
"Now you decide to be polite?" I raised my brows.
"Only for you baby," he winked.
We pulled up along side the W hotel. Already there seemed to be a parade of gaudy expensive cars and chalets running all over the place. The paparazzi stood off to the side, blocked by security. I didn't know why they were here, or who they expected to see, it was a masquerade for goodness sakes. The four of us found masks inside the car already. Megan had us wear specific ones so she could spot us later on.
"This is stupid," he muttered, flicking his Phantom of the Opera-esque mask.
"Well, on the bright side," I teased, "You look stupidly handsome."
He flashed me a small smile, that left me forgetting how to breathe. That was even rarer than his chivalry. For some reason, I wanted to hide it and keep it for myself. Luckily, Kieran was staring out the window and Nikki was adjusting her face looking in the mirror.
The minute we stepped outside, we were blinded with flashes. The butler who drove us here had to quickly escort us inside-good thing too, I was walking blind. I clung to Caleb to prevent myself from falling, he winced, "Retract the claws baby. You're going to rip my suit."
"Shut up," I looked at Kieran and Nikki, both looking completely at ease, side-by-side, "Not everyone has had a blue-blood upbringing."
"Relax, that's why I'm here," he straightened up. I glanced up at him, something was different about him; there wasn't a sign of that cocky Caleb he played at school. It was the first time, I had seen Caleb in setting like this. This was the world he was born in-a world of masks and butlers. In this place, he was Mr. Vanderbilt. I admit, he was quite dashing, and even masked, there was still an aura he held that turned heads. I stood a little taller next to him too, I didn't want to always be leaning on him either.
The woman at the entrance greeted us warmly, "Welcome to the gala for the Bourjois lipstick collection," she handed us a gold lip-stick tube, "I ask that the miss put this on for the remainder of the night and the sir tuck this.." a gold handkerchief, "...in his breast pocket."
Caleb's ill-disguised annoyance, as he switched out the white-cloth, unfazed the woman. I smiled apologetically, "Thank you."
Just off to the side, greeting guests, was Megan Vanderbilt, she saw the four of us and smiled, "Welcome, I'm glad the four of you could make it."
Caleb had fake grin plastered to his face, "My darling sister. It is wonderful to see you. We made an appearance, now are we permitted to leave?"
"You shouldn't ask such stupid questions, you know the answer to," Megan tsked, "I have a wonderful night planned. Are you not planning to stay and support your sister?"
Well when you put it like that...
She laughed at our tense faces, well, Caleb and I were tensed, Nikki looked in awe of the party that was going on around us and Kieran was cheerful as usual, "Relax! Enjoy the night my dears. I'll come find you later."
And she did find us later. We spent the evening, coming up with different excuses for being at the party. Luckily for us, no one recognized Caleb. Many thought we were guests of some designer here and didn't prod. Conversations were about the amazing sights of New York or the latest trend in Milan. I was surprised that Caleb actually paid attention to that stuff. When asked about it, he shrugged modestly, "Last minute Wikipedia session."
"Excuse me," I knew that we were missing our favorite body-guard, Amos had found us in the crowd, "Ms. Vanderbilt would like to see the two of you now."
We were dragged away from a woman with a white highland terrier tucked in her bag. Megan waited for us at the stage, "There you are. Your moment has come."
"Wha-" I was suddenly ripped from Caleb's arm and pushed on the stage, along with four other girls.
"Hey-" Caleb looked just as confused as he tried to grab my arm.
"No," Megan grinned devilishly and pulled him back, "You get to go eventually my dear."
"Fuck you Megan," Caleb hissed, restrained by Amos, there were some more curses that followed, but I was too distracted, because I was standing in front of hundreds of people at the gala. The eyes sparkled with curiosity through their Venetian masks. I saw Kieran and Nikki on looking in surprise.
What the hell was going on?
"Ladies and Gentleman! I hope you all are enjoying the festivities so far!"
There was a murmur in agreement.
"Excellent! We have some more evening entertainment for you all!" he gestured to the five girls, "Behind me are five lovely ladies, and-" Caleb was pushed on the stage, "ONE handsome gentleman!" There were a few whistles and calls, the other girls on stage looked at him, tall dark and handsome, in interest. I felt the air leave me in a great woosh, I suddenly knew this was going.
"The goal, ladies and gentleman, is for this young man to determine which of these is his beloved, just-" he whipped a blindfold over Caleb's eyes, luckily the Phantom mask was still on, "By KISS!"
"Ooooooooooooh," was the response.
My head snapped to look at Caleb, and I caught sight of Megan behind him, back stage, she gave me a wink. This was the test: if Caleb could identify me, then this would all be over. Simple! Yeah, then it occurred to me that Caleb and I have never actually kissed properly. There were brief exchanges, but no lip-locks, nothing that would help him through this. Caleb Vanderbilt has kissed many many women, but the only lips he was unfamiliar with? Me.
I felt hands on my shoulders as someone gently guided me, we were being reshuffled, to the end of the line. "NO ONE!" the announcer's voice shocked me out of my thoughts, "No one else! On this stage knows who the real lover is! I wonder if you all have a guess as to who it IS!?"
"The red one!"
"The one with the blue mask!"
"The one in white!"
I watched as Caleb was slowly guided to the first girl, she struggled to hold her giggle as he leaned in. Their kiss was brief, but somehow, I felt a twinge of... I don't know, jealousy? That was absolutely ridiculous, after all, Caleb Vanderbilt has kissed many women. I wasn't truly upset until the fourth girl began shoving her tongue down his throat-right next me. I pressed my hands closer together to stop them from reaching out. I burned crimson red-how dare she?! He smiled and licked his lips as he stepped back.
That bastard was enjoying this wasn't he?
He finally stood in front of me and leaned in, his lips still shining with the moisture from the whore from before. She looked extremely satisfied, the nerve of her. I grimaced before lightly pressed my lips to his, feeling cold and unyielding. There was no way I was going to kiss this creep after he nearly had a full make out session with that cow.
At least that's what I thought.
Caleb definitely knew what he was doing, I'll give him that. He coaxed and caressed my lips with his own,breaking my defenses, until my lips parted ever so slightly. He seized the opportunity and kissed me more ardently. I felt my eyes involuntarily flutter shut. I had to keep my hands pressed to my sides to keep me from tangling my hands in his hair. For a moment I forgot that we were in front of a crowd of people. For a moment I forgot how to stand. Or breathe.
I had never been kissed like this.
It was my first.
In front of a crowd of people.
A crowd of people.
I bit his lip angrily; my first kiss! He coiled back in surprise. I wiped my lips angrily- how dare he! In front of all these people, show or not! He had just kissed four other girls and he wanted to get fresh with me?! I swear, if we weren't in the middle of all this shit...
He grinned and suddenly brought his hands up to cup my face as he forced an even deeper kiss on me. The crowd gasped in shock. I tried to lean back to separate myself from him to no avail. My lips parted to say 'stop' but he used that opportunity to kiss me harder, I felt him nibble slightly on my lower lip, my pulse quickened. There was that funny feeling again. My hands broke control and reached up to touch his chest before remembering that I was not suppose to be enjoying it. I ended pushing at his chest as I tried to fight him off to no avail.
"Hey!" the announcer yelled in the microphone, "No hands!"
Caleb laughed, finally pulling away from me, and tore off his blindfold, "Please, I know my girl." He pulled me to his side. I saw the fourth girl's face sour instantly. The rest of them didn't look all that better either, I knew what they were thinking: Caleb Vanderbilt was damn good kisser. My lips still tingled.
I blushed. My face must have looked like a cherry in contrast to my white dress. The crowd cheered, I saw Kieran and Nikki in the crowd, they too clapped, despite themselves.
Could this be anymore humiliating?
The announcer laughed, he turned to Megan who gave him a nod in affirmation, "Well done lad! Looks like you know her lips really well! Tell me, who are you guys?"
Uh, shit. I had forgotten all of our aliases.
Caleb grinned good-naturedly, "Just your typical party crashers."
As we stepped off the stage, the fourth girl was there waiting for us. She smiled and flitted over to Caleb, "Hey," she smiled, "Just in case..." she handed him her handkerchief with a number written on it, "Call me."
She had guts man-It was bad enough that she was making out with him in front of me, even if I was a fake girlfriend. For some reason, this made me really pissed off, I snatched the piece of cloth from Caleb, "Aw, thank you," I said and shoved it down the space between her breasts, "Why don't you call your own whore-line."
The look on her face was epic.
And worth it, so totally worth.
"Have a wonderful evening my dear," I sniffed, as I whisked Caleb away. Acting like your rich wasn't so hard, I decided, just turn up your noise and pronounce every syllable.
Caleb looked at me with this new expression.
"What?" I asked.
"Bad ass Miss Pierce," he grinned.
I smiled back at him, "I'm here till Thursday Mr. Vanderbilt."
"Well, well you two," Megan clapped after we found her, "That was quite a show you put on for the rest of us. I thank you."
Suddenly I felt the back of my heels begin to hurt, I really wanted to go home, "Your welcome. Does this mean we finally get to go?"
Megan smiled, "I suppose I do have to release you. Any later and child services might arrest me."
I sighed. That was relief.
"But first, Caleb, be a dear and go get your prize for winning-it will be at the reception desk," Megan nodded behind him.
"Now darling," she said in a firmer tone.
I was left alone with her as Caleb unwillingly left. The minute we were clear of any ears, she said firmly, "I know you two aren't actually together."
Where the hell was Caleb?
"W-well," I began to stutter, "I..Uh...birthmark-"
"Yeah, you probably saw him naked, I mean, you two do live together," she crossed her arms, great, now she thought I was a peeping Tom or something.
"What gave you that idea?" I asked hesitantly.
"It's not that difficult, you are an awful liar," well I'm glad we established that, "It was quite embarrassing to watch you two fall over each other. I do appreciate the effort you two put in though."
"How long have you known?"
"That's not important," she waved her hands, "What matters is what's going to happen after I leave, everything will return to normal, no?"
I hesitated, before nodding slowly. What was the point of keeping all this up now? I began to thinking of a million ways to apologize to Caleb, I failed him. I'm sorry, I'm sorry but my shitty lying has bought you a one way ticket to England.
"That is why I wanted to talk to you," she paused as she glanced at some person who had walked behind me. Great, last minute words? I glanced warily at Caleb who seemed to be taking his time, she sighed, 'You see, my brother...Is very complicated."
Yeah, I got that.
"Our parents...our family, has not been very loving," I was beginning to wonder if that came with the territory of wealth, "I admit, that I too, obsessed over very shallow things in the past. It was too easy to ignore the fact that I had a younger brother because Caleb was so self-reliant. Our other siblings probably feel the same. He always had that habit of working things out on his own, and, being the youngest...it was the hardest on him. It is only know that I realize that Caleb became self-reliant because we ignored him."
I looked to see Caleb across the room, his back turned to us , as he was talking to the staff, were his shoulders always so broad?
"Why are you telling me this?" I murmured, my eyes still on him.
"Because," Megan was looking at him too, "You are now a part of his life too and you need to know the truth."
"Part of his life?" I turned back to look at her, "Are you letting him stay? After...after you found out that we're not...that he's not here for me?"
She smiled at me, like we shared a secret together, "Let's just say, that I have never seen him smile that way in England. I believe have this school...and you, to thank you for that."
I finally saw Caleb making is way over to us, two bags in hand, he really looked handsome in that tux. He caught my eye and smiled at me, I never noticed, mainly because he was always smirking, but when he did, one of the corners of his mouth was raised higher than the other. It was so goofy, and for some inexplicable reason, it warmed me up inside.
"Right," Megan said suddenly, my head snapped to look at her again, "I'll have Amos drive the four of you home. Tell the others to have a wonderful night. And Riley?"
I looked at her. For once, she seemed human, not some uptight intimidating British business woman, she looked like a sister, "Please take care of him...He will need you."
Before I could ask what she meant, she turned, walked to Caleb and touched his arm. The look of relief spread across his face with her words. I truly, truly felt sorry for him, this ordeal had really stressed him out. She then disappeared into the crowd. When Caleb reached me, the smile was gone, in its place was his usual smirk, "Let's get out of here."
"Agreed," I breathed.
I was so done with all this rich people crap.
On the ride back, I leaned against Caleb's arm as I felt myself getting groggy. The city lights passed through the window, it was a cool night. Nikki and Kieran murmured an indiscernible conversation while drinking the complimentary champagne. With my eyes closed, I remembered how Caleb looked, making his way through the crowd with our prizes in hand. That smile...part of me believed...and hoped...that it was mine alone.
I smiled and drifted to sleep.
I hope you enjoyed it! Again, I am so sorry for not updating this in a while. Writing became really difficult...it became really forced. But some reason, inspiration seemed to spark right around midterms (sensing a pattern here). I'm starting a new arc in the next chapter so please review!
Again, thank you for being so patient.