“Tess, wake up. We’re going to the beach,” said April’s sing-song voice from the door frame.
“Aren’t you supposed to be at school?” I replied groggily.
“I’m skipping, sue me.”I glanced at the alarm clock and it was eight in the morning. Didn’t this girl know how to skip school? I reluctantly gave in and sat up in bed. April passed by the bedroom and into the bathroom. I yawned and stretched and threw my suitcase on the bed and rifled through it to find a bikini. Finally it hit me. I unloaded my problems on a beautiful man who didn’t want to hear about it.
“Oh shit,” I hissed as I abandoned my task and bolted down the stairs and out the front door hoping I’d catch Ian before he left for work. Luckily, he was just putting his jacket in the back seat when he glanced up at me and smiled.
“Hey Tess,” he chirped. Damnit. Why was he always so chipper and why wasn’t he freaked out by me?
“Ian,” I started, “I’m so sorry about last night…I don’t normally cry in front of people nor do I talk about my relationships…or lack thereof.” His smile never left his eyes or face.
“You don’t have to apologize. I’m sure it felt nice to get it off your chest.” The corners of my mouth twitched. “I meant everything I said.” I bit down on my bottom lip. “Are you doing anything tonight?”
“My friend Leila took over her parent’s bar near the beach…I was planning on stopping by for a drink…would you want to come?”
“Sure, I know Leila. I’ll stop there after work, say six o’clock?” I nodded.
“See you then.” I turned to walk away.
“Hey Tess.” I turned back around. “The big shirts work for you.” I was a little confused until I realized what I was wearing. I gasped and threw my hands over my mouth. I was wearing a big shirt and nothing underneath. Dear God, please just take me out of my misery and shoot me now…He smiled and waved then got into the car. Blushing profusely, I hurried into the house before anyone else would see me.
“Good lord, Tess! Have some class!” April scolded as I closed the door behind me. Ignoring her, I trotted up the stairs and practically skipped into my room. I slipped out of my shirt and into the bikini. I slipped on a pair of denim shorts and a blue shirt. I opened the door and walked down the stairs and into the kitchen. “Oh good, you’re ready,” said April downing a glass of water.
“So how’s the modeling life?” We just set our towels down and lay on our stomachs. The heat was inviting and a welcome relief.
“Same old, same old,” I replied.
“I’d like it in detail, please.” I smiled and let my forehead hit the towel.
“Long days, even longer nights…you’ve got your impossible photographers and even more annoying agents…men who don’t get the fact that you’re still a human being, not just a model…douchey celebrities and the only bearable part is the nights they put you in a hotel.”
“What about the after parties?”
“I don’t touch those with a ten foot pole.”
“What are you talking about? You’ve never been to an after party?”
“I’ve been to one only because my agent said it would be a good way to meet people and so I get that dose of a social life that I don’t get outside of modeling. I don’t do parties…I hate seeing men and women practically having sex on the dance floor and sweaty drunk people.”
“It must be so glamorous to be a model…”
“Trust me, April. It’s not all it’s cracked up to be.”
“Yeah, but you didn’t have to go to college like mom and dad are pushing me to do…you were always naturally smart…everything was easy for you.” I sensed a tone of jealousy in her voice. I scrunched my nose in annoyance.
“Hey, I had to work for everything I ever got. I studied for every test did my homework as soon as I got home from school and mostly on weekends…I even pulled all nighters for when I studied for the SAT and ACT. Even in the modeling world I still can’t catch a break…I’m constantly counting my calories and going to the gym every day. Nothing came easy for me.” She stayed silent as she soaked up all of this information.
“So…what happened with Brian?” He asked cautiously. For whatever reason, talking about it didn’t bother me so much anymore. I ended up telling her everything. I had a feeling she’d run off and tell mom everything I told her, but at this point, I really didn’t care. I had a whole new perspective…it was freeing. “Do you miss him?”
“Kind of,” I answered truthfully. “You know, he really was good about making me laugh when I was down and even before we started dating, he was a really good friend Come to think about it…I don’t think we really knew each other…”
“Well, why not?”
“Remember what I told you? Long days and even longer nights…I was hardly home…he had a more flexible schedule being a photographer.”
“So it was inevitable?” I scrunched my nose. April always knew how to dig and make me uncomfortable. She’d be a great journalist. But was she right? Were me and Brian’s demise inevitable?
“I don’t know.”
“So what are you going to do about Hayley?”
“Well, hopefully she got the rest of her stuff today because then I won’t have to see her ever again. But for right now, I’m not going to worry about it. I’m going to enjoy the rest of my vacation.” I flipped onto my back. “Have you started applying to colleges?”
“Just a few…I applied to Columbia and Yale and a few state schools.”
“Have you given any thought to what you’ll be majoring in?”
“Journalism or English or something along those lines.” AHA!
Around noon, we walked to the café across the street and ate lunch. Following that, I treated her to a shopping spree…well; it was a controlled shopping spree. After shopping we headed home. I took a shower and a nap and I woke up around four. I pulled on a pair of blue jeans and a grey scoop necked shirt. Grabbing my purse and April’s keys, and headed out the door. April let me borrow her car since I bought her a few new outfits.
I drove in silence to the bar. The parking lot was pretty full for a Thursday night. I walked in a spotted a whole booth with people that I went to high school with…the popular crowd. Hoping that none of them caught a glimpse of me, I turned ever so slightly and sat at the bar. “Well, well, well! Tess! How’s it going?” Asked Nick the bartender as he placed a menu in front of me. I smiled and gave him a hug across the bar. Nick was Leila’s older brother who helped her run the bar.
“Not so bad! How about you?”
“I’m great! Anything you want for dinner is on the house. Let me go get Leila.” I thanked him and he left the bar into the office. Leila and I kept in close contact after high school…I still considered her as one of my best friends and she knew what was going on with Brian.
“You came!” She exclaimed as she appeared from the office. She threw her arms around me and then sat in the bar stool next to me.
“How about a homecoming shot?” Nick suggested as he brought out three shot glasses and poured tequila in all of them.
“Just one,” I warned.
“To the three amigos,” announced Nick.
“Cheers,” we chanted in unison. Down the hatch. Disgusting.
“You were always the lightweight.”
“Shut up, Nick,” I said with a giggle.
“Are you hungry? You need some comfort food. Nick, go tell Mike to make all the works for comfort food.” Nick once again disappeared from the bar.
“So I’m really early ‘cause I wanted to spend some time with you, but I’m kind of meeting someone.”
“Ian Carter,” I replied sheepishly.
“Oh he’s dreamy,” she gushed with excitement. “So are you guys like…seeing each other?”
“No…I don’t think so. It’s just a drink.”
“That’ll lead to much, much more,” she wriggled her eyebrows suggestively. I rolled my eyes and smiled.
Over the next hour, we ate and Nick offered me a few more drinks which I drank only a few, and since I was an extreme light weight, I was a little buzzed by the time Ian showed up. Nick brought out another plate of boneless Buffalo wings that we both shared. “Are you feeling adventurous?” Ian asked.
“What’s your idea of being adventurous?” I asked.
“Do three shots with me.”
“You realize I’m buzzed, right?” He chuckled and nodded.
“You don’t have to if you don’t want to. I at least want to get to your level.” I giggled.
“Challenge accepted.” The first shot of tequila warmed my entire body up. By the second, I could feel my heart racing. And the third, the entire room was spinning. He held out his hand and asked me to dance. And after that, everything went black.
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