Alessia's mind was not exactly focused on the present. She fidgeted the entire time she was on her large, magenta couch. She was basically alone inside her private castle. Sure, the servants were here and there, and the exaggerated amount of guards were located outside, awaiting the arrival of their "masters". The frail, delicate figure decided to leave her room. Without hesitation, she rang her silver bell, loud and clear enough for one of the servants to scurry up to her room and help her in the wheelchair. As the maid wheeled her about the expanded, top carpet maroon floor, she stopped to ask Alessia where she wanted to go. Her answer came in three, distinct words; "to the bar." Shocked as the maid was, she conceded, and led Alessia to a room that was right next to her father's study. The maid opened the door and called for C.J, the handsome, Italian bartender. Alessia's smile vanished and sternly told the maid to leave. C.J helped Alessia out of her wheelchair and sat her on a bar stool. No words were spoken for a long while. Finally, C.J leaned on the bar counter and looked directly into Alessia's eyes.
"Tell me, ragazza," he spoke in his thick Italian accent, "why in the world do you feel the need to drink?"
"You wouldn't understand, C.J." She muttered. "Try me." He persisted. Alessia took a deep breath and turned the other way. Why do I feel pain whenever I take a deep breath?
"Look, you must have a reason for drinking." He interrupted her thoughts. "It is not natural for a girl your age to be drinking. You should be doing "girl" things, you know." "What do you mean, "girl" things?" she questioned. C.J poured her a Ginger ale. He seemed to be struggling to express himself. Alessia noticed.
"I guess I know what you meant by "girl" things. Going to the mall with my friends and stuff like that, right?"
C.J nodded. "Yes. That is what I meant. Forgive me if I appear to be somewhat rude, but a beautiful girl like you should not be moping around all day. I...I worry for you." He ended, taking a tone of concern. Alessia was touched.
"I know. You're not being rude at all, C.J. I appreciate your honesty, but look at me. I'm crippled. The few friends I had in school stopped talking to me. After the accident, they all turned their backs on me." She replied, staring at her drink. C.J didn't know what else to say. "Well...huh..." "What is it, C.J?" She asked. C.J, the kind person that he was, decided to cheer up his little friend.
"I was wondering. I have a free day off today, so would you like to go somewhere with me?" He asked, shyly. Alessia's face lit up momentarily. "I appreciate the offer, but..."
"We can go anywhere you want! I really don't want to keep seeing you stuck inside this house. You need to get a bit of fresh air and sun. It will do you good." He smiled broadly, like fresh air and sun were the greatest things in the world.
Alessia giggled at his enthusiasm. There was no use turning down his nice offer. Maybe I'll forget how depressed I am. Maybe. "We can go to the park and sit there for a while." she suggested. C.J was confused. "And eat gelatos," she added. C.J smiled. "If that is what you want to do, then we'll do it, then." Alessia nodded, as C.J gently placed her back on the wheelchair. Down the wide marble staircase they went, with the help of some of the other servants.
Bryan had been quiet throughout his entire date with Ruth. The bathroom scene had left him very perplexed. Ruth tried in vain to make some conversation, but all she got from Bryan were a few unenthusiastic responses like "yes", "no", "I guess" and "maybe." What is his problem? She wondered. Did I do something wrong? Maybe it's about last night! Yes, that's got to be it. I should have been more ready for something like that, but how was I supposed to know that he wanted to? The questions in Ruth's head only served to confuse and sadden her more. All she could do was hope that it wasn't that.
Miranda perused the message on her phone she had gotten from Bryan. I'm waiting outside Hotel Marriott's parking lot. She sighed and bit her bottom lip, debating in her mind if this was a good idea or not. Five sharp, I remember. I thought we were casually going to some less fancy place. This IS a date. Crap. I've decided, I'll go and tell him right off that I don't want to date him. I'll have to build up some sort of courage to tell him that during our date. God, if you really do exist, help me here.
But Miranda wasn't the only one in doubt. Mr. Lebowski sat patiently in his driver's seat, fumbling for a cigarette. He lit it and inhaled. She's too young for me. I wonder what in the hell took me so long to realize that. I'll have to tell her nicely that I don't want anything with her. Yeah. I don't.
Alessia sat on a park bench eating the chocolate frozen delicacy with C.J by her side. She watched families getting together for barbecues, a few kids tossing frisbees, and elderly couples walking by. It was truly a beautiful sight. C.J followed her gaze and smiled too. "Miss, are you glad you went out?" he wondered out loud, not expecting an answer.
She grinned in response, as a tear rolled down her cheek. That, however, did not escape C.J. He scrambled for a napkin and dried her cheek. "What happened, Miss? Did I say something wrong?" Alessia shook her head, realizing that she was ruining the outing. "I'm really, really, sorry, C.J. I'm just happy that...that you took me out."
"You don't look like you're happy, though." He said worriedly. "I assure you, I am." She beamed, as she ate her ice cream. Her eyes wandered about once more. This is such a nice park. I should come here more often. She suddenly caught sight of a beautiful, white husky with a bright pink bow laced around its furry neck. It seemed lost.
"C.J! There's a dog over there! Can we get a closer look?" She asked excitedly. C.J was also fascinated by the beautiful canine. "Of course! But we'll have to head back. I'm going to be scolded for sure." He carefully placed Alessia back in her wheelchair. As soon as he did, she wheeled away as fast as she could. "Wait for me!" He called.
The dog began to whine as it sat down. Alessia's fast wheeling slowed down. "Oh, my! You poor thing. You look lost." The dog lifted its head. Alessia looked at its bow more closely. "Your name's Blanche! So you belong to someone. Lets see if your owner has a phone number written on your bow." C.J drew closer and noticed Alessia's worried expression. "C.J, we have to call its owner! I think its lost!" C.J nodded approvingly and pulled out his phone. Within minutes, a tall, overdressed guy in his mid-twenties came towards them. His brownish blonde hair was short and spiky, and his eyes were hidden behind sunglasses. This guy's really stylish, Alessia thought, a blush threatening to tint her cheeks. He pulled out Blanche's pink leash in a hasty manner and hooked it to the bow collar.
"Thanks," he muttered, as he pulled out a few bucks from his wallet. " This little bi...I mean, lady drove me crazy."
Alessia raised a questioning eyebrow at him. Was he just gonna say bitch? C.J recognized the young man, and pushed back the few bucks offered to him.
"Oh, we don't need your money, but grazie, Terry." "Whatever." He replied coldly, as he strolled away, shortening the leash on Blanche's neck. "Don't ever do that to me again, you little bitch. I'll have to teach you a lesson you'll never forget," were the words that Alessia and C.J managed to hear. "Did you hear that, C.J?! This Terry guy mistreats her!" She panicked. C.J squeezed her shoulder. "Don't worry, Miss. I have is phone number," he said reasuringly, hoping to calm her down. Alessia gave a sigh of relief.
Bryan and Miranda sat across from each other at a nicely set table. They were inside Hotel Marriott's restaurant. Miranda fidgeted and smiled nervously. Her mind went completely blank. Oh no, you don't, she chided herself. You have to go through with this, remember? "Bryan?" she voiced. "Yes, Allison?" He asked, glancing up from his menu. "I...I...think your choice of location was excellent." She said instead. "Thanks." He answered. I am such a coward. She thought to herself. No, I have to. "Hey..." She began, but was interrupted by the waiter, asking for their orders. Bryan ordered the chicken filet, and Miranda mumbled something about a shrimp cocktail. The waiter nodded and walked away. It's now or never. "By the way, what was it you wanted to tell me before?" He blurted out. Miranda cleared her throat. "Doc...is this like a date?" She asked, in the nicest way possible, wondering all the while if she had expressed herself the right way. Bryan opened his mouth and shut it again. No, I have to be honest with her.
"Allison, this is merely my late birthday present to you." Miranda beamed, albeit confused. "Okay..." Bryan reached out and touched her hand. "I really do hope you stop having that bad dream, and I wish you the best, I really do." She smiled, touched by his warmth. In other words, he's not interested in me like I thought he was, but it could have also meant something else. They were soon busy talking about the weather, among other random things. They finally somehow got to the part about Bryan's private life. "So you were married, Doc?" Miranda asked curiously. "Yes, I was." He answered glumly. "I did something quite unforgivable though." Miranda's curiosity grew. "What did you do?" Bryan knew she was going to ask that. He fidgeted with the 14K gold wedding band on his lap, and smiled to himself momentarily.
Miranda felt a twinge of sympathy for her doctor. What could he have done that was so horrible? Before he could answer, the waiter walked towards them with their plates. Miranda could tell that Bryan had lost his appetite.
"I'm sorry," he apologized, "this was supposed to be special." Miranda shook her head understandingly.
"It's alright. Don't worry about it."
Bryan felt better by what Miranda had said, and smiled. Their early dinner was soon over, and they left the hotel. Miranda looked at her watch. I still have time to do whatever. Two hours to be exact. Bryan noticed that she was glancing at her watch.
"I can drive you back if you want, Allison." He said politely. "Thanks, I appreciate it." She returned.
Terry dragged his pet back to his roomy apartment, where loud music blared. The song "Mr. Saxobeat" by Alexandra Stan blared loudly, and his ton of friends were laughing, drinking and dancing. Some couples were making out in some of the corners of the darkened room. Brendan smiled when he saw him.
"Dude, where were you?" Brendan asked loudly over the noise.
"My stupid dog ran out on me again. Have to teach her a lesson," he said simply. Brendan shook his head.
"Why the hell not, man?! I had to chase after her little pampered ass for God knows how many hours."
"If you're so fed up with her, then why don't you put her up for adoption?" Brendan asked calmly. Upsetting Terry was the last thing he wanted to do.
"I could do that, you know." Terry replied, pondering on Brendan's suggestion. "But she's an excellent guard dog. She's bitten the hell out of some of my worst enemies. You know something, dude? She could do dog fights! I could earn a lot of sweet bucks. Imagine!" Terry was already visualizing the scene. Brendan thought Terry's plans for his dog were awful, but kept the words of conviction to himself. " Well, I think I'll be leaving now, Terrell. I have stuff I need to do." He lied through a warm smile. Terry nodded and waved.
"Bryan, we're here," Ruth informed him for the third time. Bryan nodded and followed her inside. Fang jumped up and greeted his owner lovingly. "Hey, boy!" Bryan smiled as he watched the exchange. "Ruth, I'm sorry..."
"It's okay," she interrupted, "Don't worry about it. I had a nice time today. I'm sorry if I did something wrong."
"Oh, no It's nothing you did. I'm sorry." He said once more, his eyes lowering. Ruth reached out and touched his face.
"Do you wanna stay one more night?" She offered. "No, it's fine. I have to go back and face reality. Goodnight, babe."
"Night," she said, as she gave him a peck on his lips and shut the door. That distracted Bryan for just a short while.
Bryan and Miranda stayed quiet throughout the whole ride. Miranda would occasionally look at her doctor worriedly. He was so lost in his own thoughts, that he forgot where he was headed.
"You can drop me off here," she told him. He nodded and stopped his car. She then reached out and hugged him.
"Thank you for dinner. You know, it was like I was eating with my dad." She confessed through tears. Bryan squeezed her shoulder and smiled. "I'm glad. Happy Birthday, Allison." She undid her embrace and stepped out of the car.
Mr. Lebowski's car was soon out of sight. Miranda wiped her tears and went towards the mansion. Yeah, he's like my dad. I hope he didn't find what I said weird. Now, to head back, change my fancy outfit and go with Julian's stupid plan. Upon arriving at the mansion, Miranda was surprised to see the black limousine parked near the large house.
Mr. Scarlett and his wife had returned very early. Weren't they supposed to be in Paris for another three days?
Alessia was in her room, alone yet again. Why would mom and dad come back so early? There was a knock at her door. Alessia nearly whispered the words "come in," and her mother walked in. She sat on her bed.
"I heard you went out for the day, Amore. Where did your outing take place?
"In the park. I had a gelato with C.J., and we saw the prettiest dog ever."
"Really? Describe it to me!" Her mother urged. She too, was a dog lover. Alessia excitedly went on to describe the beautiful and majestic canine. However, when she came to the part about her owner, her face turned into a scowl.
"Mama, it was horrible! He started dragging her away like she had done something terribly wrong. If she was mine, I would never treat her that way." She said sharply, balling her fists. Her mother gently touched her hands.
"I know, sweetheart. I know. But your father doesn't like dogs."
"But they're great protectors! Help me convince dad to get one." She pleaded. Helena smiled.
"I'll see what I can do, my dear." Goodnight."
Miranda changed into a black spaguetti strap sequin dress, and black, shiny matching flats. She was outside, awaiting Brendan's arrival. As in response, a red Alfa Romeo 4C arrived by the large, dark gate. Brendan stepped out and smiled. "Hey, Miranda! I'm here!" "So I see," she giggled, as she strolled rapidly towards the gate. She opened it, and walked out.
"Wow, you look gorgeous," Brendan complimented her. "Thanks," she replied.
He walked to the right of his car and opened the door for her. This guy's a real gentleman. She thought.
Bryan ate his dinner with his mom and grandfather in silence. He wasn't in the mood to argue or speak for that matter.
Mr. Beck knew that making the slightest bit of conversation was out of the question, so he remained silent too, for his grandson's sake. Jennifer grew tired of the silent treatment her son was giving her, so she got up, went to her room, and shut the door hard behind her. Mr. Beck wiped his mouth with a napkin and looked at Bryan straight in the eye.
"Are you not going to talk to me either?" The old man questioned. Bryan chuckled softly.
"No Pops, I'm not angry at you. I'm angry with mom for keeping this from me." He admitted. His grandfather didn't say a word. He got up, patted Bryan's shoulder and went to his room. Bryan was left alone. He was absolutely free to think and reflect about his mother's actions. I might never forgive her, but I'm sure in time I'll come to understand why she did what she did.
Brendan and Miranda danced like crazy to the loud music. Miranda knew that she was betraying her friend, but she didn't want to betray Julian either. She was what people would say stuck between a rock and a hard place. Brendan was enjoying himself, dancing and seeing Miranda's beautiful, slender body move to the booming music, although he was a bit lost in his own thoughts as well. I can't get that crippled beauty out of my head for some strange reason. Should I at least see how she's doing? He wondered. After another 15 minutes of dancing, he and Miranda went straight to the bar. Two Micheladas were served to them.
"First time you've had something like this?" He asked with a laugh. "Is it that obvious?" She chuckled.
"You dance very well." He drawled. Miranda was expecting a blush, but not one came. That's right. I'm not in love with this guy. Just doing what Julian asked of me. "Thanks." She replied somewhat curtly. Brendan didn't notice.
"Since you're an obviously good dancer, I don't suppose you would want to go for round two...?
"I guess I would. One condition. Join me." She suggested coyly. Brendan smiled and led her to the dance floor. Instead of the loud frenzy, soft music played on the background. Brendan held Miranda close, and they danced slowly. Miranda's guilt was building up by the second, and her partner's desire to see Alessia again grew considerably. They both stopped dancing simultaneously. "I'm sorry, Miranda...I..." "No, please. Don't apologize," she told him with with an understanding smile. "You want to see my friend Alessia again, don't you?" Brendan tilted his eyebrows as if to ask, "How did you know?" Miranda pulled him out of the disco.
Terry had thrown Blanche against the wall in a fit of uncontrollable rage. She whined and whimpered in pain, as blood trickled from her stomach and her head. Terry held his head in desperation. He knew he had gone too far with his cruelty. "God damn it, Blanche! It's your fault! You asked for it!" He bellowed, refusing to let the guilt sink in.
"Now I have to go to the vets' to make sure you're okay. It's going to cost me a hundred and something bucks to get you fixed up!" Blanche was not stupid. She knew what her pathetic excuse of an owner was talking about. If she ever tried running away from his abuse again, she would probably end up dead by his hands. Her saddened eyes looked into his for a long time. She was trying in her own way to communicate with Terry. He ignored her and picked up his phone. "Brendan? I need some money, man." What for, and how much? Came the answer.
"Blanche fell down the steps. We were going out for a walk," he conjured.
You sure you didn't beat the hell out of her? "Nah. She fell down. Now, are you gonna give me what I asked for?"
Brendan sighed. "Yeah. Hang tight, I'll be right there." Miranda was browsing through her phone.
"Your friend's dog got hurt?" She asked, without looking up. "You know, Miranda. I don't think it was an accident."
That remark made her look up at him. "What do you mean?"
"You see, Terry has this bad habit of hitting his dog whenever she "screws" up. I know Blanche since she was a puppy. She's always been really sweet and friendly with other people, but Terry's abuse made her grow skittish over the years. This is the fourth time she's tried running away from him." He explained, his eyes focused on the road. Miranda was very disgusted. "Why don't you tell him something?"
"You know, I've tried, but it goes in one ear and comes out the other. I'm also afraid that if I keep trying to defend Blanche, I'll end up becoming his punching bag." He confessed.
"You're a pretty tough looking guy, I'm sure you can get him pretty easily." She commented.
"You think? He's stronger than me and plus, he's got his buddies to back him up." That was understandable. Miranda suddenly thought of something else to say. "You know, Alessia likes guys who have a strong sense of justice."
Brendan turned his head towards her. "Really? She does?"
"Oh yeah. She actually told me that she saw Blanche in the park today. She got extremely upset when she told me about Terry, though. It was like she was ready to get up from her wheelchair and sock him one." She laughed. Brendan thought about it for a moment. "You know, Miranda, maybe I'll do something. It's high time for Terry to stop abusing her. He told me he has plans for her in the dog fights." Miranda tried hiding her visible contempt as they arrived at the luxurious apartment building. "I'm glad you're gonna do something about it, and no offense, but you should have butted in a long time ago, Brendan."She said. Brendan nodded. "I know."
As they waited patiently inside the vets', Miranda caught Terry looking at her with a strange gleam in his eyes. Brendan noticed, but kept his mouth shut. "So, Miranda. Why don't you come to a party? Tomorrow night, at nine sharp. What do you say?" Miranda pulled her phone out and surveyed through it.
"Sorry, my schedule's booked." Brendan was amused by her comment, but Terry wasn't about to give up.
"You sure? It's gonna be fun. If it's not fun, then you and I can leave and have our own fun."
Miranda turned reluctantly to face him. "Sorry, I don't have fun with egotistical psychos."
Terry's smile disappeared, and Brendan's silence dissolved into laughter.