A week later Angelica was cleaning her room, meticulously selecting the books she no longer needed and placing them into boxes that she would later store downstairs. She wiped the freed bookshelf clean before adjusting a new pile of books on it. She liked to keep her tomes updated and well-ordered according to genre and authors. Years of investments in volumes, they were her secret treasure. They had kept her company for so many otherwise lonely afternoons and nights. She could fly anywhere with just the help of only written words and a bit of fantasy, from the hottest deserts of the Sahara to pleasure houses in the most squalid towns, jumping between worlds and ages.
Wiping her forehead with the back of her hand she placed the last book on and moved to the next shelf. All of them were made in dark wood and required routine cleaning, but today she enjoyed the housework. It kept her mind busy from unwanted thoughts at least. She removed the glass chessboard that she kept near the library as well, for fear it could accidentally break while she was busy cleaning. It was a present from her deceased grandmother and she held it dear.
Her younger brother had left earlier in the morning for summer school, he was 15 and still in high school but was taking extra classes to compensate his weaknesses. She was alone in the house and had nowhere in particular she was supposed to be. Thus she had chosen to stay into her room and tidy it up and maybe later go out for shopping since she needed a new set of clothes.
Her phone vibrated on her desk and it took her a full minute to locate it under all the clutter which covered the wooden table. A message illuminated the screen; it was from Helen. She swiped right to open up Messengers and typed in a reply, 'Hey'.
Seconds later the phone buzzed with her reply, 'What are you up to?'
'Nothing much, cleaning my room…you?' She resumed her activities trying not to be too conscious of the "typing" icon which fluttered onto the screen.
'Taking a bath'. There was a pause and then the screen lighted up again 'Danny contacted me, he is organising a party this week-end and wanted to know if we would like to join'
She stared at the phone, considering her busy schedule and the fact that she didn't have anything worth putting on at a party. 'Sure, where is it?'
This time it took her longer to reply and angelica waited, her feather duster suspended into the hair as she stared at the silent phone. Finally a message appeared. 'Don't know yet'.
'Ok' she quickly typed in and placed the phone back onto the table. The mobile buzzed a few more times after that, but she just ignored it or night would have fallen before she finished all of her planned cleaning. However, curiosity got the best of her again and she pecked at her phone quickly skimming through the texts.
'He says there's going to be music and alcohol. And guys, lots of guys. Not for me, eh…but I might find the right match for you ;)'.
'You don't need to bother'. Angelica typed back. Seriously, she is always trying to hook me up with some guy, she thought. 'I can find someone on my own'.
She lay on the bed, exhausted after finishing all of her chores. It was four in the afternoon and she was starving. Rolling onto her side, she forced herself to get up and head into the kitchen where she grabbed two eggs from the fridge. A pinch of salt and three minutes later she was eating a homemade omelette with bread. The doorbell resonated through the stairs and she got up again to open the door to her brother. He walked inside dragging his feet onto the floor and went straight to his room, probably to play videogames.
Angelica walked back into her room, lazily letting herself fall onto the soft mattress once again. She picked up her phone and checked for further messages, but the device was silent. Sighing, she carefully placed the phone on her bedside table and slid under the covers. The book she was reading was just a few centimetres away from the side of her bed, onto the floor. She reached out for it and lowering the lights she resumed reading the story.
The next day she took a trip to the local shopping mall intent on finding something decent to wear for the upcoming week-end. Despite her easy-going nature she was quite picky when it came to clothes and men. Unlike many girls she was friends with, she didn't have a standard place where she usually shopped. More often than not, she would need to visit many stores before she could find something to her liking, then it was only a matter of finding the right size.
That day she planned to buy a dress, for she had not acquired one since the red gown she wore for her friend Anita's hen night. She stalked through the busy hallways and corridors, occasionally glancing at the glassy screens sporting all sorts of clothing items. She methodically checked shop after shop, not skipping even one with the hope she would find something socially acceptable before dinnertime. Most of the designs she browsed through were either too classy or too daring for her tastes.
With a defeated look, she exited the last boutique where she had just spent a good hour of her life. Getting back through a side road, her eyes caught a glimpse of blue on her right and she abruptly stopped. Slowly turning around her eyes were met by a mildly illuminated showcase displaying a cobalt blue dress on a mannequin. Not a fan of shortcut outfits she hesitated, wavering between daring to enter the avant-garde boutique in front of her or not. The girl working inside looked at her through the glass with an enquiring expression. Cursing her own indecisiveness Angelica decided to enter. It was time for a change of style she told herself before going inside.
The shop was small, but the lack of customers made it easy to navigate. The same girl who had been staring at her a moment earlier approached her and offered to help. 'I'd like to take a closer look at that dress over there,' Angelica said gesturing towards the object of her interest.
'Sure, follow me'. She might have been 16 at most, but her tone and actions bore the confidence of a much older person. Angelica thought she must have been used to serving customers. 'Here,' the girl said presenting her the dress.
With her head tilted to the side, Angelica examined it. Once she had given the shop a good look, the dress she had picked almost stood out for its simplicity from that place's eccentrically designed clothes. The material was soft and smoothly slid through her fingers as she touched it. The upper part lacked any particular decorations save for the slight ruffle in the v-shaped collar. The fact that it was short sleeved served right for the purpose of dancing. She decided to try it on and walked into the fitting rooms.
The tight cut highlighted her waist shape and she liked the furbelow right at the end. She had been right about the length, however, it barely reached her knees. She swirled around admiring her figure in the mirror, it was not excessively provocative but it gave her a balanced sensuous look. Yes, it fit her perfectly; she had to buy it. Coming out of the dressing room she addressed the girl from before to attract her attention. 'I have decided I am going to buy this one'. The girl smiled and guided her to the cash desk. While she was paying, her phone buzzed from inside her purse.
As the shop assistant handed her the shopping bag, she reached for her mobile and checked the screen for messages. 'Still out buying clothes?' It was Helen.
'Yeah,' she quickly typed. 'Just found the right one'.
'It took less than expected'. With a smile on her lips, Angelica reached her car and turned the engine on. Now she only needed a pair of shoes.
It turned out that the party was at a private Villa on a nearby hill. Dave, Danny's friend was hosting them at his parents' house since they were gone. From what information Angelica could gather from Helen, he was a rich kid and his house was more like an estate. They even had a swimming pool and a small restaurant inside.
With a few calls round Angelica and Helen had managed to assemble quite a few people for the party. Two of their friends from Yoga days, Selina and Lizzie, had said they would come together with their respective boyfriends. Anita, however, had to turn the offer down since her pregnant body could not stand dancing and alcohol. Helen's gay friend Xenos would be coming as well and of course Marcus' buddies Luke and Frank wouldn't miss the chance to get wasted all together.
'You're going to be the only single babe there, dear'. Angelica listened to Helen speaking on the other hand of the phone while stirring the chicken soup she was meant to have for lunch. 'The guys are totally going to ogle at you'.
'Please, Helen, we all know who they are going to ogle at'. Angelica adjusted a strand of her hair behind her ear and leaned against the kitchen table.
'Ahaha, but I am not available'.
But you look like you are. Angelica thought, but kept it for herself. 'Well at least they are aware of Marcus' jealousy'.
'Yeah. But I am a faithful and innocent girl, I'd never hurt his feelings'. Her tone was sincere, albeit rather playful. Angelica knew she was telling the truth, an affair was out of question for her even considering her naturally flirting nature.
'I know. You are just a hot chick who wants attention, but doesn't give in to temptation'.
On the other side, Helen wined, 'But I am bounded, I cannot betray the love of my life'. Angelica sighed at those words.
'Love of your life at 25 years of age. I really cannot fathom how I got to befriend someone like you who could compete with a Victorian young lady from my novels'.
Her friend's laughter resonated through the phone and Angelica smiled as well, 'Maybe you have a thing for Victorian Ladies'.
'Maybe I watched Fingersmith one too many times'.
'Maybe…by the way, Frank asked lots of questions about you. He has never met you, but he said you look attractive' she said stressing each letter of the last word. Angelica felt her insides contract at the unexpected compliment.
'Well, I should thank him in person I guess…is he any good?'
'Yeah, I'd say so. He's got the looks at least'. Helen paused briefly before adding, 'I've got to go, food is screaming for my attention, I'll catch up with you later'.
'Okay,' Angelica replied turning to look at her own lunch, which had assumed a discouraging dark brown colour. As soon as her friend hung up, she flung herself towards the pot and removed it from the heat. Thankfully, it was not too late and her meal was saved. Sighing in relief, she sat at the table and slowly consumed the soup occasionally glancing at her phone, which remained silent.
After she had finished eating, Angelica got up and washed her plate into the sink. It wasn't a necessary action as they had a functional dishwasher at home, but she had picked the habit while studying at college since there she didn't have one. While the water flowed on her hands she examined her fingernails; she should have scheduled an appointment with her manicurist, Chiara, to fix them. She would have liked to add a bit of colour to them before the party, although that meant she needed to hurry up to book that appointment or else they wouldn't have any free spaces left at the salon.
With that thought in mind she dialled the number and put the speaker next to her ear. 'Hi love, it's me, Angelica'. A cheerful voice replied to her from the other end. 'I would like to come over this afternoon. You do have a free space for me, right?'
'Only if you slam your ass right here in less than 15mins, otherwise I am fully booked for the whole afternoon'.
'Understood, I am coming straight away. I really need your attentions now'.
'Don't be late!' she reminded her before hanging up.
Throwing a cape on her shoulders, Angelica did not even bother to get changed and went out in her sporty shorts and t-shirt. Nobody at the place where she was going would mind her attire too much and since it was summer, she was excused from wearing overly sophisticated clothing. The drive didn't last long and she soon was outside of her friend's parlour. 'Please take good care of me,' she said to the attendant who welcomed her through the doors and sat on the large creamy sofa at the centre of the room, waiting to be served.
Chiara arrived almost immediately to greet her, they kissed each other on the cheeks and Angelica asked, 'Did you get a new girl to help you welcome the clients?'
'Monica? Have you not seen her here before?'
'No, I don't think so…' Angelica's eyebrows furrowed as she tried to recall her face.
'It's good to refresh the personnel every now and then,' Chiara observed. She leaned in closer and took Angelica's hands into hers, 'So what do you want to do with these today?'
The other girl smiled, crossing her legs she said, 'Give them your usual treatment and then paint?' Her hazel eye glowed into the bright light of the chandelier hanging above their heads.
'Sheesh, I told you I am rather busy today'. Indeed, Angelica could hear a loud chatter coming from the room next to theirs and figured that it must have been full of customers.
'Pretty please,' the blonde girl cajoled. 'I need them for this week-end'.
'Going off somewhere cool?' Chiara asked while gesturing for her to follow inside the other room. The two girls walked through a pair of golden decorated doors and Angelica sat on a leather chair. Chiara mirrored her, grabbing a wheeled chair and positioning herself in front of the younger girl.
'Just a party at a friend's house,' Angelica replied to her earlier question making herself comfortable. The manicurist waved her hand into the hair and a cute younger girl immediately materialised near them, she had long straight brown hair with blonde highlights.
'Bring me the water and the tools,' she ordered her. The girl nodded and left in silence.
'You have been training them well,' Angelica reflected.
'Eh, yes. They need to know who the boss around here is. Otherwise, they would turn into disagreeable old hags, just like you'.
'I'm not old!' Angelica protested. The unnamed girl returned with the water and the utensils Chiara had requested.
'You are 21!' Chiara stressed placing the water on the small table in between them and motioning towards her to insert her hand into it. Behind her, the teen looked up in Angelica's direction.
'What's her name?' the blonde girl asked ignoring Chiara's remark on her age.
'What's your name?' Chiara asked in turn to the girl in question.
'Rachel,' she replied in a low voice. Angelica's eyes lit up, she liked the name.
'It's a good name,' she commented earning a smile from the teen who was then called to assist some other client. She rushed in their direction, her small feet flying through the floor covered in sparkling stones.
'So, who is going to be at this party?' Chiara asked removing Angelica's hand from the water in the finger bowl.
'I think most of Helen's and Marcus' friends…I know a couple of them'. She attentively observed as the other massaged her nails with the nail file. Occasionally she would pick up the cuticle nipper to get rid of the dead skin around the edges.
Angelica used her free hand to adjust her hair removing a few strands, which had fallen onto her tired eyes. Yawning, she covered her mouth and then massaged the corner of her right eye.
'You're so ready for this week-end party,' Chiara commented glancing at her.
'No, it's just…when you touch me like that I become sleepy,' Angelica replied letting her other hand fall into the water to ready it for treatment.
'Is that so?' the woman in front of her asked rubbing harshly against her fingertips.
'Ouch! You're hurting me, bitch,' she complained visibly annoyed.
'I am so sorry, I absolutely didn't mean to scratch you,' the other sarcastically said with a fake apologetic look.
'You left a scratch?!' Angelica almost jumped from her chair to examine her hand. There was no visible mark on it, except for a bit of reddened skin around her thumb. 'You better fulfil your role properly,' she declared threateningly.
'Otherwise?' the other one enquired raising an eyebrow.
'Otherwise I won't pay you'.
'And I won't give you priority above other customers anymore'.
'I won't even show up at your salon anymore, if you screw my hands up'.
'And I'll finally be relieved of your horrible personality'.
'Fine'. Angelica turned to the side, focusing on Rachel's careful movements around an elderly woman. 'I am glad we understand each other'.
'So am I,' Chiara remarked with a half-smile.
Angelica's eyes were trained on the teen's slender figure as she moved between the chairs carrying a tray with small cups on it. 'Would you like some coffee?' she asked once she was close enough to Angelica's table.
'I don't need it,' Chiara said. 'Otherwise, we'll need to call the coroner later. My nerves have already been put to test for the last half hour or so,' she sneered.
'Is my presence so irritating?' Angelica questioned with a fake hurt expression. The teen glanced at her, she was standing right behind Chiara.
'Eh, can't you tell?' she said looking at her from below her eyelashes.
'I love you too, sweetheart' Angelica mused causing Rachel to softly laughe. Upon hearing that, Chiara stuck her tongue out in an offensive manner and scratched harder. Angelica winched in pain, 'Hey!'
'Which colour do you want?' asked the manicurist nonchalantly.
'Mm blue?' She had a blue outfit, after all. Her nails better match her dress.
'Blue?' The other woman asked raising a questioning eyebrow.
'Yeah, do you not have that?' she enquired teasingly.
'Of course I do,' she said adjusting her hair, her face clearly stating that she was not one to be underestimated. 'It's a bit unusual'.
'I am an unconventional girl'.
'Indeed, you're a male disguised as a damsel'. This time it was Angelica's turn to feel hurt by her comment. She bit on her lips and held her tongue; Chiara was starting to manoeuvre with the nail paint.
And just like that, with laughs and chit-chat, time seemed to pass faster. Finally, the hour to pay came and Angelica approached the cash desk. Just as she was handing the money to Chiara, the door behind her opened and an unidentified figure smacked her buttocks. With a startled look, she turned around to face her aggressor, ready to bitch at them.
Her sore expression suddenly morphed into a smile as she exclaimed, 'Love of my life!' She then proceeded to hug her friend Florence. 'Look at what Chiara did for me,' she said showing her the painted nails.
'Oh my God! They are so cute!' She exclaimed. 'And the colour suits you perfectly'. Angelica smiled widely at her words.
'Anyway, I'll be leaving now. I am on a hurry, need to get my hair ready and all,' she rolled her eyes hoping the other would understand.
'Is this a certain someone's fault?' Florence said looking sideways towards Chiara, who was apparently deeply immersed into her work. Angelica rolled her eyes again, cracking a smile. 'Oh sure, I'll catch up with you another time'. Florence moved a bit to the side and let her pass. The blonde woman left he salon with a refreshed look on her face, ready to head home and relax after a long day.
'Hello,' she greeted her friend Helen as said girl walked through her door. 'I am almost ready to go, just need to get my jacket and wallet'.
'Dear Lord, you look gorgeous, Ange,' the dark-haired girl replied while taking a good look at her attire. 'You're dressed to kill tonight,' she added hugging her. Angelica let out a soft laugh and put on her jacket buttoning it tight.
'You don't look bad either. A ripe fruit ready to be eaten'. Angelica's pupils dilated as a lascivious look appeared on her face. Helen had a black furry cloak covering most of her body; only her high heels could be seen through the fold of the cloth. Her lips were covered in red lipstick making them appear more succulent while the black eyeliner gave a thrilling shadow to her features.
'The forbidden fruit'. Helen's eyes flashed a warning. A strand of her hair caressed her cheek as it loosely hung just above her neck. Her fingers subconsciously played with the fluffy garment she wore.
'Good evening'. Marcus appeared from behind Helen, gently but firmly placing his left hand on her shoulder as if to reaffirm his position as her boyfriend.
'Good evening, Marcus,' Angelica replied, her eyes a degree colder as they met his icy blue ones. He nodded in her direction and then turned around, grabbing Helen's hand. 'If you're ready we shouldn't make the others wait. We are picking up Luke and Frank as well'.
A surprised look showed up on Angelica's face as she heard that. 'You didn't tell me they were coming with our car,' she said as she locked the door to her house behind her. Her brother was home, but probably too busy playing video games, so she did not bother shouting at him that she was going out; a note was more than sufficient.
'I did not know either until half an hour ago,' Helen defended herself. 'It's alright. Luke can be an asshole sometimes but he is a simple man. If anything happens just tell me'. She smiled at her best friend trying to reassure her.
'Sure, not that I intend for anything to happen at all'.
'Ahahah…we'll see. Tonight's a big night'. Helen held open the car's door to let her friend in.
'Please stop trying to hook me up with guys already. I am too picky for you to succeed,' Angelica stated as she climbed into the vehicle.
'It's my duty as your chaperone,' she said closing the door and getting in.
'Who said you should be my chaperone? I though we were best friends…'
'We are, but as the older one I feel somewhat responsible for you. You do need an elderly woman figure to guide you through life making the right choices after all'. She fastened her seat-belt while Marcus started the engine.
Angelica inwardly sighed, 'Yeah, sure Mum'.
'I would have been more than happy to have such a cute girl as you,' Helen replied, eyes brimming with joy.
'Ugh, I don't know if I would have been able to put up with a mother like you, in all honesty'. The car was moving slowly, but their destination wasn't too far away.
Soon enough Marcus stopped and a young man wearing a blue tuxedo jumped inside. He waved his hand towards Helen who smiled at him and then he introduced himself to Angelica. 'I am Luke, this guy behind me is Frank'.
Frank's face appeared above Luke's shoulder, he was wearing a jet black jacket on a deep red shirt. His eyes were dark and his short hair was adjusted in a fringe which leaned towards the left side. A shiny necklace hanging around his neck caught the girl's eye. 'Like what you see?' Frank asked in a husky tone causing irritation in Angelica. She didn't like cliché sentences.
'Just wondering on you choice of…garments and of words,' she said with a measuring look. Luke, who was in between them, muffled a laugh behind his hand, faking a cough.
'What would you me rather have say, Miss…?'
'Angelica is just fine, we're among friends,' she said relaxing her back onto the seat. 'And I'd rather have you wreck your brain to think of sentences to discourse with me rather than recite cheesy pick-up lines like a parrot'. At this point, Luke couldn't refrain himself and broke into a laugh. Angelica glanced at her friend Helen who was pursing her lips together with a disapproving look into her eyes. She clearly had hoped for Frank and Angelica to hit it off right away, but her expectations had not been met. I'm sorry, her eyes silently told her friend. She wasn't sorry though for Frank, he had chosen the wrong pick-up line to use.
The man was trying to make Luke stop laughing while steadily getting more and more pissed. 'Shut the fuck up, Luke, or you'll be running home to your mum tonight with a broken nose and less teeth than when you came out of her'.
Angelica hoped the darkness was enough to cover up the disgust she felt for the guy. He was Marcus' friend, she told herself, she should have been prepared for worse. Did she ever talk to him? She wondered while staring out of the window.
The music was already high when the arrived. She got out of the car first, soon followed by Frank and Luke. The latter seemed to have totally removed the previous little chat from his memory and warmly smiled at Angelica. Her friend Helen took a bit longer to exit the car, blaming her dress. Angelica wondered what outfit she had chosen for the evening; she did not have to wait long to find out.
Helen looked stunning in her long velvet dress, the plum tonality matched her hair colour perfectly and the smoothness of the fabric complimented her curves. Angelica held her breath as her eyes studied her friend's figure from her feet to her head. Her dark hair fell graciously on her exposed shoulders and the décolleté allowed for a peek to her breasts. Angelica wondered how on heart she had managed to persuade Marcus to allow her to wear it. A glistering on her wrist attracted her eyes and she noticed that Helen was wearing a precious bracelet she had received from her years later. Her heart fluttered at the memory of the occasion on which she had given her such present.
It had been her 21st birthday and Angelica had not known her for la long time, unsure on what to give her she thought about gifting her with something which would fit in her routine dressing-code. Helen had liked it a lot and now it had become a sign of their friendship. 'Nice bracelet,' she whispered getting closer to her friend. Immediately, her sweet scent filled her nose and Angelica's sight blurred for a second.
Helen turned towards her, eyes shining with excitement. 'Thank you,' she said. She took her hand and guided her through the small crowd in the room. They had entered the building and were mixing with the other guests. The Master of the house had yet to appear to welcome them, so they were just looking for him. Several tables were already covered in glittering liquors and half empty glasses, bottles and dirty tissues. Some of the people were dancing at the centre of the room, but most just hung around talking or occasionally making out. Angelica frowned the abused garden outside. Remains from smoking cigars and cigarettes alike decorated the vast green pad. A woman with tattered clothes lied on the ground with a young man next to her. They both seemed happily asleep, maybe under the effect of drugs.
The pool was not in a much better condition, guests had decided to take the party to the next level by having a beach body contest among themselves and now Selina and Lizzie lied half-naked into the cold water, possibly under the effect of alcohol. Both their boyfriends didn't seem to mind, however, as they too were too busy showing off their well-defined abs.
Angelica averted her eyes from such unsightly behaviour, hoping the night would somehow get better. 'He-he-hey'. A tall man with dark hair appeared from behind them. 'How's life?' he asked as they turned to look at him.
'Hello there, Jack. Do you know where Dave is? We've been looking for him everywhere,' Marcus said.
'Uh, Dave is…busy right now, but he welcomes you all to his party. Please enjoy the food, the music the thrill of the night,' he said with shining eyes, 'And if you're not satisfied come and find me in the back room later'. He literally disappeared in a puff of smoke, leaving Angelica, Helen and Frank coughing behind.
'That jerk'. Angelica heard Marcus mutter to himself while grabbing Helen's waist and pulling her closer to him. 'Let's go somewhere less noisy'. The girl nodded, smoke still in her lungs preventing her from speaking.
'I'll go get some drinks,' Luke announced.
'Ok, we'll be sitting over there'.
A minute of two passed in silence while Luke was getting the drinks. Angelica had let herself fall onto a soft red mattress which served as sofa. On her right was Helen, who was actually sitting on Marcus. Frank had found place on her left and was dangerously a bit too close to her shoulder.
'We should at least have said hello to Selina and Lizzie before sitting down,' Angelica noted.
'I think they are too drunk to even distinguish us from a talking pole'.
'You've got a point,' Angelica agreed. 'Still, why is everyone shit drunk already?'
'We're late to the party, sweetie'.
'I though we were on time…?' Angelica didn't remember any delays.
'Yeah, except for the two, totally unplanned, hours it took me to get ready,' she giggled. 'I told you the wrong time just in case we were late, otherwise you'd start to panic'.
'I knew I shouldn't have trusted you, traitor'.
'Oh come on, baby, I-' she was interrupted in the middle of her speech by someone who placed his hands on her shoulders. She looked up and smiled at Xenos. He was wearing a lemony yellow shirt with fake green paint marks on it and tight-strapped matching trousers. His very tanned skin betrayed his origins from southern regions of the world, but it fit perfectly with the clothes he was wearing.
Marcus glanced at him, curtly nodding. Luke had just returned as well and he shook hands with the new comer who sat in front of Angelica. She had seen him on other occasions before and smiled at him. He returned her smile and then said, 'So, what are we up to tonight?'
'I'm getting wasted,' Luke said. 'That chick I was dating, Rosie, dumped me right before the party…'
Oh yes, the dumped boyfriend excuse to drink. Angelica thought, not believing a thing that left Luke's mouth. And if he really had been dumped she couldn't blame the girl, seeing what kind of man she was dating in the first place.
'I'm sorry to hear that, would you like me to help you forget the pain?' Xenos offered.
'Thanks mate, but all I need now is a bottle of clear dry Gin and it'll all be fine'. He poured himself a glass then said, 'Anyone wants some?'
'What have you got there?' Angelica asked out of interest. She wasn't planning on getting drunk but she could enjoy a glass or two.
'A bit of everything: Vodka, Martini, Prosecco, Rum…take your pick'.
'I guess the less bad is the rum,' she murmured. 'I'll take that'. Luke handed her a glass filled with golden liquid and she leaned back onto the sofa.
'I'll have the same thanks'. Frank had copied her drink, maybe trying to send a subtle message Angelica didn't want to get. Helen grinned and adjusted her position on Marcus who said he would pass the drinks for now; he was driving tonight. 'Want some coke then?' Luke offered. You'll need a drink'.
'Need?' Marcus asked.
'Yeah, 'cos we're gonna play "Never Have I Ever", you know, to get to know each other better'. He already sounded slurred and Angelica wondered if he had taken something previously.
'Uh sounds fun,' Helen repeatedly clapped her hands. Marcus rolled his eyes and said,
'So who starts?' Frank spoke for the first time since the incident in the car.
'Why don't you give it a go first?' Helen suggested.
'All right, Never Have I Ever…' he paused for a moment, eyes focusing in the distance.
At least he pretends he has a brain that he is using…Angelica thoughts were as sharp as her nails as she watched the guy really try hard to come up with something interesting yet not embarrassing which would allow him to find out what he wanted to know.
'Never Have I Ever sung Karaoke in front of people'. It was plain as a sentence, yet not too bad for a first attempt. Angelica and Helen both had to drink but the latter didn't have a glass so they shared the one Angelica had.
'That's an indirect kiss, you know,' Xenos commented.
Helen's ears turned lightly pink, but no one noticed except for Angelica who was looking at her directly. 'It's no big deal; we share food all the time'.
'Right, my turn,' Angelica said. 'Never Have I Ever had a physical fight with my best friend'. She met Helen's gaze and the two smiled at each other remembering the pillow fights they had on a three-day-trip two years earlier. Surely that didn't count?
This time Luke, Marcus and Frank all took a sip from their drinks. It was Helen's turn and the girl took her time coming up with a sentence. 'Never Have I Ever…kissed a girl'. Again, Luke, Marcus and Frank drank.
'Are you trying to get us drunk?' Luke argued, he stood up and declared, 'My turn now…shit, I suck so much at this game…Never Have I Ever…flirted my way out of a speeding ticket'. Nobody moved, except for Xenos. 'Really, dude?'
'Yes, it was one of the best nights of my life, the cop, the handcuffs…' he recalled with dreamy eyes.
'Ohh, things are getting hot and steamy,' Helen commented.
'Handcuffs aren't really my thing, but they do look hot,' Angelica added.
Marcus was silent, rolling his fingers inside Helen's hair. The more he knotted it, the more Angelica became somewhat annoyed at him. She was overprotective of her friend at times.
'Guess it's my turn now,' Xenos said. 'Never Have I Ever danced in an elevator, it'd be cool to try though'.
'Absolutely,' Helen echoed. She and Angelica drank again.
'It seems that we both did all sort of crazy things,' the blonde girl noted.
'Of course, we were always doing them together after all'. Helen blinked at her friend.
Marcus shifted his weight and cleared his throat. 'Never Have I Ever…cheated on my partner'. His eyes narrowed, fixing on Helen who hugged him and kissed him passionately.
'You're the best, my love'.
Luke and Xenos drank from their glasses, while Frank said, 'Seems like it's my turn again…Never Have I Ever kissed a man'.
'Oh that's a low blow,' Helen commented sipping from Angelica's drink. Xenos drank as well but Angelica made no attempt to drink any on the spirit.
'Does that mean that you have never even kissed someone?' Frank asked her with a note of interest in his voice.
Angelica hesitated, her cheeks slowly becoming redder. Indeed, she had never even kissed a boy. 'I-' She started but never got to finish her sentence because Helen turned around and placed a kiss onto her lips.
'There,' the dark-haired girl said, 'Now she has'.
'Ohh but that doesn't count!' Frank protested.
'I can give her a better kiss if you want,' Helen replied with glittering eyes and a sly smile. Meanwhile, Angelica had placed her middle and index fingers on her mouth and seemed deep in thought. She forgot about the party and about the others, the feeling of Helen's lips still lingering on hers. She had always thought she was straight, but now doubts started to surface.
Meanwhile the others were having a short but heated argument. 'That's not a real kiss, if it's between girl friends. Otherwise it means you just cheated on Marcus right in front of him'.
Nobody seemed to notice or bother about Marcus' feline eyes darting between the two girls. He was annoyed, but not so much as to start a scene. Angelica looked up at her friend and then at Xenos, wondering what he might be thinking right now. The man was grinning as if he enjoyed the sight very much.
'It's from a guy that she needs a kiss,' Frank's drunk breath reached her seconds before he closed in and Angelica was able to pull back just in time before he kissed her.
'Ahahaha…she literally rejected you. Sorry, Frank, you might just not be her type'.
'Whatever,' Frank snapped getting up. 'I'll go take a walk'. And he went away.
'Poor guy,' Helen said. 'That was the second time tonight'.
'It was sickening, he smelled so bad'. Angelica didn't even bother keeping her tone low enough so that Luke or Marcus wouldn't hear. 'I would never kiss him'.
'I know babe, it was written all over your face'. Helen laughed again, her body shaking as uncontrollable spasm took over. 'I think I need the rest room…are you coming with me?' Her eyes searched for her friend's, who nodded.
'We'll be right back'.
'Enjoy your time and kisses, Ladies'. Luke shouted at their backs as they disappeared through the crowd. Angelica's cheeks reddened as she heard his words, but she followed Helen, her hand tightly squeezed between her friend's fingers. I shouldn't be this flustered, it was just a kiss between girl friends. She thought. Yet, it was my first…
She looked up at her friend's shoulders as they passed through a pair of doors. Her majestic hair fell down in sleek curves on her back and Angelica could do nothing but admire it, wondering how it would feel to run her hand through it. Helen turned around and smiled at her. 'That was fun,' she said curving her index against her lips. 'And your reaction was the best'.
'You stole my first kiss!' The younger girl protested. Helen got closer, her thumb brushing Angelica's chin.
'Do you want it back?' she whispered in a low, provocative voice. Her eyes rested on her lips.
'No need to bother yourself; once is enough,' the blonde replied walking away from her friend and towards the sink. The bathroom was spacious enough for at least three people and it had two separate rooms. They currently were inside the first one, which had a pearly white sink towered by a large mirror on the left side and a towel hanger on the right.
'There's no need to feel so flustered'. Helen's dark eyes followed Angelica's movements with circumspection. 'Best friends can share an innocent kiss like that as a sign of affection'. Angelica opened the water but said nothing in reply. She focused on cleaning her hands and ignored the other. Every single drop of water which fell on her hands seemed to wash away part of her guilt and clear her conscience.
'You've got some lipstick on your lips now,' Helen told her. Angelica looked up into the mirror. It was true that a thin red line ran across her lips now, barely enough to be noticed from the distance. 'Do you want me to put some more on?' Helen asked. Angelica raised an eyebrow and eyed her. She held the lipstick into her hand as if that was all she had meant with that line.
'No thank you,' Angelica said.
'You're not leaving, right?' Helen asked approaching the door to the other room.
'No, I trust you won't attempt to sexually assault me again'.
'It wasn't an assault…' Helen objected. Her hand rested on the doorknob, her lips quivering.
'You didn't ask for permission,' Angelica remarked finally meeting her friend's eyes. Helen sighed and shrugged her shoulders.
'Sorry,' she said and then slipped through the door. Angelica closed the water and dried her hands with a towel. Looking at her reflection in the mirror she slowly passed her tongue on her lips. She had felt surprised and confused when Helen had kissed her and when the two had separated a wave of embarrassment mixed with an unsettling feeling had hit her. She was sure she liked guys, she had always dreamt of one day meeting someone who would make her fall head over the heels for him. A dark, sexy figure, with a cunning smile and mysterious eyes. His silver tongue would tempt her into sin and then she would be lost into his enchanted realms. Yes, she definitely had had enough time daydreaming of the perfect match for her; she just had not found him yet.
Helen returned from the other room and Angelica felt her heart skip a beat as she suddenly came back to reality.
Water running on her hands, the dark-haired girl looked at her in the mirror's reflection, her brown eyes showing concern. Angelica held her gaze, trying not to blush at the thought of what had happened before.
'It's alright, I'm not mad at you,' Angelica reassured her. 'It wasn't really anything special'. Helen smiled, turned off the sink and spun around to look at her. They shared a brief hug of reconciliation
'You look stunning in that dress, Angelica, the colour really suits you,' Helen commented releasing her friend.
'I think you said that already,' the blonde girl replied with a shy smile, her eyes examined the cloth while her hands instinctively went to trouble hem of the dress.
'And I'll say it again. I envy your butt,' the older girl stated without any shame. Angelica's cheeks reddened once more and she bit her lower lip in uneasiness.
'Let's just go back to the guys…'
'There you go, running away from me again'. Helen laughed.
What sort of sick twisted psycho enjoys embarrassing their best friend? Angelica thought before answering herself. Helen… 'I'm not running. I'm leading the way,' she said before jumping out into the crowd again.
The guys had been waiting for them on the same couch as they had left them. Luke grinned as he saw them coming back. 'Hey, I wanna go dancing,' Helen announced grabbing Angelica's wrist before she could sit down. The blonde girl looked at her friend. She wanted to dance too and so smiled at her. Marcus didn't move from his spot while Luke and Xenos both got up. Frank was still away from the group, possibly venting his frustration with some other girl at the party.
'I'll go look for more drinks,' Luke said leaving them.
'Let's go get crazy!' Xenos said hugging both Angelica and Helen.
'Yay,' Helen screamed.
The song which was playing at the moment they joined the dancing group in the middle of the room was a summer hit which had been on repeat on all radios for the past two months. Helen swung around, arms up into the air and Xenos soon followed her. Angelica shifted her weight from one feet to the other, testing her footing before joining them.
She had not felt so freed in a long time; music was really a miracle. She moved he shoulders and feet along the beats, seldom falling out of rhythm only to quickly catch up again. She glanced at Helen who smiled at her moving her head up and down with the music. The Spanish words filled their ears as they took sideways steps keeping their hands into loose fists to their sides.
Xenos enjoyed dancing as much as them, slowly bending his body at impossible angles and occasionally clearing the sweat from his forehead. He leaned forward, his back almost parallel to the floor while his hips were up in the air behind him. He came up at a slow pace, bringing his rib cage vertical again. Angelica looked in awe as he moved his abs and chest in perfect synchrony with the beats.
The music changed to a newer, yet still Spanish song. The faster pace led them into a quicker footing work. Angelica almost jumped on her tiptoes as the song reached its apex, eyes fixed on Helen's. Her friend looked breath-taking as she danced as if an otherworldly force pushed her into it, free from mortal's bonds. Their hands met and she made her turn, casually placing her palm onto the small of her back. Helen bent her back forward adapting to the changing music like water to the earth. She took a step forward and turned around letting her hands fall on Angelica's shoulders.
The younger girl held her by the waist, both slowly oscillating with the music. Their eyes locked into each other's, for a moment everything but Helen disappeared form Angelica's head. Then the music changed again and they parted. Raising their arms up they waved their hands into the dark. Xenos copied them before attempting some break dance tricks.
From far away Luke's eyes were trained on Helen's figure unbeknownst to Marcus who was too busy observing his girlfriend's moves as well. Finally he got up and approached the three. Placing his hands on Helen's hips he pulled her closed to his body from behind. The music had conveniently switched to a slow song and they just stood there, wavering into the dark. Angelica glanced at them and then moved a bit to the side to make some space. Xenos offered her a hand and she took it without hesitation, happy to have found a partner for this dance. He led her into a turn and then another one. His touches were firm yet delicate and he manoeuvred her body with expertise. She felt her weight shift to the side according to his will and before she realised he had her in a dip. The music halted and they left the floor.
Tired and sweaty the four returned to the couch. 'That was liberating,' Helen said drinking from a glass. Angelica nodded and took a sip as well. Marcus dragged his girlfriend along and pulled her into a kiss while sitting onto the couch.
'We should look for Frank'. Luke got up from his seat and looked at Angelica who didn't move an inch.
'I think you should go alone'. The tone of her voice was cold and detached.
'Ok…' A bit unsteady on his feet the guy left. Angelica sat down on the couch, considerably distant from the two lovers who were too taken by one another to notice her. She checked the time on her phone and frowned noticing that it was already past midnight. The music was still going on in the background but almost nobody had the strength left to dance. She saw Lizzie waving good-bye in the distance.
'Are we going home soon too?' she asked Helen who had just turned towards her, attracted by a glittering light to her left.
'Mmm I wouldn't mind that'. Her friend sounded sleepy. Marcus kissed her again and Angelica turned to Xenos who was serving himself a glass of martini. He offered her some, but she refused claiming it was hurt her stomach if she drank anymore. He sat in front of her and asked her about her studies.
'It's going well, I am expected to finish soon'. She clasped her hands together send crossed her legs. The air was getting colder as well.
'Are you throwing a party when that happens?' he asked taking another sip.
'Hell yeah! You can count on that. You are invited by the way'.
'I'd be glad to join you for a dance,' he replied. 'You have quite the talent'.
'Ahahah…I believe Helen is more the talented type, I have had to practice so many hours by myself'. Angelica remembered all those times she put on music in her room and danced in front of her mirror, correcting her steps.
'Still, your technique is good'.
'Thank you,' she murmured.
'With those skills and your nice looks it shouldn't be hard to find a soul mate'.
'Instead it is,' Angelica sighed. 'I am too picky'.
'Being picky is good, but you should also take chances sometimes'. His amber eyes glittered into the dark.
'Are you suggesting I should try dating Frank, by any chance?'
He broke into a laugh. 'No, I don't think I could persuade you to do that'. He cleared his throat, 'But I meant what I said. You should experiment before deciding for what you want to settle'.
'That's the sort of advice you should be giving to Helen not me'.
'Helen has had her experiences'. Angelica rolled her eyes. 'And you should have yours too. Or were you saving you virginity for someone special?' He winked at her and she blushed.
'I wasn't…I just can't go and have sex with someone who doesn't turn me on'.
'Oh and what exactly turns you on?'
She hesitated, not sure about what she was going to reply to that. 'A confident man with dark hair and blue or green eyes who likes to take risks and is also good at dancing. Someone with a silver tongue and a flirtatious attitude'.
'It sounds like a character straight form a romantic novella, but sure. Meanwhile you could sample the less ambitious but still appetising game that there's around here'.
'Like who?' Angelica was sceptical about that.
'What about Jack, for instance?'
'Jack? I have only seen him like two or three times at parties. Never really spoken to him. Besides, he is too flashy'.
'Fine. Then next time we hang out together I'll present you to some other friends who might be of your liking'.
'I don't understand, though,' she said. 'Why is everyone trying to hook me up?'
'Because seeing a friend without a partner makes you want to do that'.
'Are you in a relationship right now?'
'Yeah, his name is Luis. We have been dating for a while now, but he had a business trip this week so he couldn't come along. I'll introduce him to you sometime'.
'Angelica,' Helen called her from the side. She turned towards her friend with enquiring eyes. 'Do you want to head home?'
'Aren't we waiting for Luke and Frank?'
'Apparently they are getting back with someone else'.
'Ah'. For a moment Angelica wondered if it was her fault. 'By the way, what happened to Danny? I haven't seen him at all tonight'.
'I think he must have been inside the house, should we go investigate?' She proposed with renewed energy.
'Weren't we leaving?'
Helen looked at Marcus then back at Angelica. 'It won't take long and it sounds exciting, do you want to come along Xenos?'
'I think I might go have another the dance,' he said, his eyes focused on a figure in the dark.
'While we are at it we should say hello to Selina'. Angelica got up soon followed by Helen.
They plodded on the wet floor crossing the distance to the pool. Selina seemed happy to see them and she complimented both their dresses.
'Thank you,' Angelica and Helen replied at the same time.
The girl smiled and moved a wet strand of black hair away from her temple. 'Aren't you going to catch a cold?' Angelica asked.
'It's not that cold, it's still summer'.
'Mm,' Angelica nodded absentmindedly.
'We are going to look for Danny,' Helen said.
'I think he might be upstairs…' Selina said with a curious look on her face. 'You leaving soon?'
'Yeah'. She waved at them and Helen added, 'Enjoy your evening'.
They left the group of people and entered the house. Surrounding them was a mess of glass and furniture. Angelica pitied whoever was in charge of cleaning the next day. Following Selina's lead, they went upstairs, paying attention not to trip on anything.
'This looks like a scene in a horror movie when the fun is just about to turn into tragedy,' Angelica commented looking at some spilled blood onto the floor.
Helen followed her eyes and said, 'Who do you think lost their virginity on these stairs?' Angelica nervously laughed, a bit relived that her friend was at least as scared as she was if she was making such bad jokes.
The floor creaked under their feet. An eerie atmosphere settled onto the corridor as they walked past closed doors and old portraits. The sound of laughers and music from far away barely reached that area of the house and Angelica could feel Helen's breaths coming out faster than usual. She placed her hand on the doorknob of the last door, something inside her head told her that it was the right room. It took a few moments for their eyes to adjust to the dim light inside. A thin veil of smoke permeated the air and an unidentifiable mass of bodies tangled together was lying on the floor.
Angelica's eyes travelled along the red carpet up to the velvet sofa and the spilled drinks. She started when her sight fell onto the naked body of a man standing beside the window. He was facing outside, a glass of wine into his left hand, and had not noticed the two newcomers.
Helen took a step forward, careful not to walk onto anyone. She managed to get closer to the man and attract his attention.
A pair of blue eyes focused on her as she spoke, 'Danny, we have been looking for you'.
Yeah, this is totally normal. Angelica thought, the way you can talk to a naked guy in the middle of an orgy as if discussing the weather. Sighing she too walked closer to the two.
'I apologise. For you to find me in such a state, I am truly sorry,' he said quickly wrapping a towel around his waist. 'Would you like some wine?' He offered.
'No thank you, we were actually going to leave soon and thought we should at least pass by and greet you'.
'Ah I see, it is gotten quite late, besides…your house isn't that close. Anyway, I hope you had a pleasurable evening?'
'It was entertaining…' Helen said cocking her head to the side. Her eyes intercepted Angelica's stare and she smiled mischievously. The blonde girl rolled her eyes and chose to focus on the view outside instead.
'That's good then. Take care when getting home and excuse me if I cannot escort you outside right now,' he said glancing at the towel hanging from his hips which barely covered his body.
'It's fine, we will manage'. She turned around and took Angelica's hand between hers, smiling at her she guided the younger girl outside and then they rushed back. Marcus had been waiting for them and appeared to be tired, Angelica hoped he would not fall asleep while driving.
'Do you want to stay over at my place? This way we can be home sooner'. Helen was looking at her with hopeful eyes.
'I don't know…' Angelica said adjusting her dress as they walked towards the car. 'I don't want to bother you two'.
'You won't bother, we are both quite tired. There's enough space for you to sleep at my house too'.
'I know that'.
'Then it's decided,' Helen said with littering eyes. For some reason Angelica thought that she didn't appear to be tired at all.
'Ok, fine. I'll stay. But I need a pyjama,' she pointed out.
'I can lend you some clothes and I think you might have left a shirt or two last time you slept at my place'.
Angelica nodded, that was totally plausible.
It didn't take too long to reach her house and once inside they all got changed and went straight to bed. Angelica was sleeping in the guests' room, which was in fact right opposite to Helen's room where her friend and her boyfriend slept.
Helen had managed to find a pair of loose shorts which fit her and as she had said Angelica had left some of her shirts at her house. The weather was quite nice and it was warm enough to sleep with minimal clothing. She rolled into the bed adjusting her covers; despite the summer heat, she couldn't sleep without covers on. No sounds could be heard from the rest of the house except the cooling system but she kept her lights on just in case something unexpected happened. After inspecting the room one last time she tiredly yawned and finally closed her eyes allowing Morpheus to take her to the land of dreams.