I first met Gabriella Everett while waiting in line at a local club called Dark Whispers. Black jeans and a black mesh shirt coupled with my Doc Marten boots, I pretty much looked like the rest of the rabble awaiting entrance to the very exclusive club. A dozen people were in front of me and probably another two dozen behind me. I was alone. As usual. Just trying to remember why I didn't think a heavy jacket would have worked with my outfit. My skin was fairly white normally but it was positively blue-white under the crisp starry night along with the frosty breeze that was tormenting me.
A body flew from a nearby alley and careened into me while saying, "Thanks, Darling, for saving me a spot." I was stunned to see this petite elfin creature staring up at me attached to my side. She had hooked an arm lazily through mine and kissed my cheek.
Ok, so it's not like I had never been kissed before, but I didn't even know her.
Just as I was ready to bluster something to her about mistaken identity or the like, her pale thin fingers softly brushed my hair back from my cheek pausing to cover my lips preventing me from saying anything aloud. She stared at me with these huge sparkling light blue eyes -- heavily lined with black. In a sexy voice she purred to me, "I know, I'm sorry. I told you I wouldn't be late again. I'll make it up to you, Sweetie, I promise."
Still bewildered, since I didn't know her, I shook my head a little and then heard one of the two guys behind me mutter, "Dude, I would totally kill to watch that."
She turned to the vocal one saying, "You aren't even worthy enough of a mortal to get to watch anything I do!" Her voice was low and angry.
His silent buddy said, "Shut up, dude, we can't ask them to dance with us if you piss them off!" He yanked his friend a bit away from us saying, "Sorry, girls, he's a like a total loser but not like really bad."
With her still clinging to me, we moved up in the line. The bouncer, who had been selectively waving specific patrons that met some arbitrary set of standards inside the club, spotted us down the line and said, "Gabriella, what are you doing way back there? You and your girlfriend can come in." He unhooked the thick red velvet rope to allow us to enter while waving for us to hurry up. There was a bit of grousing from the folks still waiting that had been ahead of me, but they shut up at the glare the rather large man shot them. My new found companion felt my reluctance but dragged me forward and through the door while saying, "Thanks, Donnie -- I was totally running late and she didn't know if you would let her line cut without me."
He chuckled and said to me, "Girlfriend, you can always line cut now that Gabriella vouched for you." And like that I was sucked into the whirlwind of Gabriella's existence.
I had been in this club maybe twice before and never seen either Donnie or Gabriella. Within a blink of the eye my life had been changed. Gabriella started to pull me past the dark haired cashier who was holding out her white hand, with her appropriately black polished long nails, waiting for us to pay an entrance fee. My new friend said rather flippantly, "Donnie can vouch for us."
Disinterested in Gabriella's comment she shrugged at us then asked us to put our right hands out for the club's stamp. I looked at the heavily-black inked bat now decorating my wrist and nodded my approval. The cashier called out as we started to walk away, "Just wait a minute, I still need to see your ID's."
Gabriella pulled her driver's license out of a minuscule purse that dangled from a string over her shoulder. She shoved it at the girl with a snarl, "You don't recognize me yet?"
Bored, the girl looked at the pictured ID flipping it this way and that checking for something while replying drolly, "Sure I recognize you, Gabriella, but I can't believe you are still claiming to only weigh -- " Gabriella grabbed back her ID with utter disdain. I handed mine over; I had cleared twenty-one a few years ago and pretty much always got carded whenever I went anywhere. She took my license saying, "You haven't been here much," Slowly reading my name, her whole demeanor changed as she said, "Lilac Lake? Damn, you're shitting me -- your mom is like Petra Lake the actress -- right?"
I sighed. I hated being carded in this stupid city. I knew half the population watched my mom's career in her long-suffering role in an utterly too popular soap opera, and being her kid was not a perk. The last few times I had come here they had neglected to card me. I think she only did it to tweak Gabriella. I quietly put my hand out and waited for the awestruck fan to return ID to me.
The cashier gushed, "Damn, you look nothing like her!"
Gabriella pulled me away while snapping, "Shut your mouth, Jane. You look stupid."
Jane snapped her mouth closed and muttered, "Whatever."
So thus I was propelled into the club, seeing a side I never had a clue even existed. The cover charge waved, my new friend, and Donnie the bouncer offering me access. Definitely new.
"Lilac -- that's a gorgeous name," Gabriella said while still pulling me head first into the mass of people already inside. They reluctantly parted at her pushing firmly into the crowd by the door.
"Lil -- I'm called Lil." That was the first thing I said to Gabriella, and she smiled at me and said, "Yes, but I will only call you Lilac. It is a lovely scent that has always made me smile." She smiled softly and caressed my cheek yet again. I was still dumbfounded by this creature and I had no idea what she was then, but instinctively I knew she was something different.
"I don't want you," finally I spoke, not wanting to lead her on.
"No -- but I want you," she sketched a kiss to me with her free hand in an overbroad gesture.
"I like men," I added trying to clarify my point. I tried to pull away.
"Me too! But you belong to me now," she said almost too softly for me to hear.
Not really sure if I heard her right, I kept silent. The music piped through the club called me to the dance floor. Finally I walked away after shaking her hand off my wrist and went to dance. She allowed me to go with a slight wave and a secretive smile. I ignored both and let the music wash over my soul while I danced. Hours passed and at times Gabriella would dance near me, but she didn't speak or touch me, so I was content to just sway and move without comment. I was happy in my own world and never thought it had changed.
It was after midnight, closer to one, when I glanced around the normally full club to see the crowd had thinned somewhat. It was strange but I couldn't see anyone I recognized. Usually there were a few dancers that were here constantly. But the one or two I had seen earlier must have left for a different club. The crowd looked a bit older and more jaded. I saw Gabriella in a corner talking with a good-looking man. He was dressed somewhat formally in a vague gothic style. His hair was light brown and fell in large loose waves past his shoulders. She must have felt my eyes on her because she spun around and waved at me. I sketched a slight smile back and turned away and continued to dance. The moment was quickly forgotten in my mind. I jumped when Gabriella placed her hand firmly on my shoulder a little bit later.
"Come with me, Lilac," she commanded. I am not a tall girl, but Gabriella had this way of making me feel clumsy and overly large while standing next to her. I had spaced that in the hours we had been apart. At a mere five feet four inches, I am not considered large. With her delicate build and the fact that she was a few inches shorter than me, I was somehow made to think of a hummingbird. She flitted, further implanting the bird analogy in my mind, ahead of me while her hand was again firmly grasping my wrist in an iron grip of her own that defied her slight frame. I had tried unsuccessfully to stand firm against her, but she dismissed my reluctance, commanding me to follow. As I reluctantly stumbled behind her, I looked to see if my hand was still attached at the wrist. Her fingers were wrapped completely around my left wrist and I was losing feeling in my hand. She definitely not taking no for an answer, and whether I wanted to go with her or not, I was now going with her wherever she was headed.
I looked ahead of her to see we were headed towards the man I had noticed she had been talking with earlier. He was seated at the corner of the bar talking with a bartender who kept handing over paperwork for him to see. I figured he was probably the club manager or something from the way he was briskly handling the business and the insincere look of obedience on the bartender's face.
"That's Kenyon Huston, he owns Dark Whispers." She called over her shoulder to me as we were getting closer to the man in question. She flipped her head back towards the man and wrenched me hard enough to make me to stumble slightly. My boots were slowing me down and her grasp was unforgiving. I bounced off the nearby couples dancing leaving bruises and getting dirty looks from some. Suddenly in front of us there was this one big guy who was halfheartedly attempting to block Gabriella's path.
I could see that he was really drunk and caught that was the reason why he was in her way. He stupidly kept weaving in front of her, thinking it was cute as she tried unsuccessfully to get by him. Gabriella finally snarled at him to move.
"Blondie, I don't have to move for you and your little girlfriend if I don't wanna. Besides, doesn't your chick know that the Goth look is overrated?"
Now wasn't that uncalled-for critique -- from the drunken man wearing an ill-fitting cowboy shirt, blue jeans and red Tony Llama boots? All just because my hair was dyed jet black and I had the purple-lined eyes and deep red lipstick? I did the whole Goth look because it basically flipped out my mom and her agent. She literally cringed whenever I came over in my full club garb. But it worked for me, because she didn't make me go on any of her public appearances or go to the talk shows and say how lovely it was to have such a neat actress-slash-mom. I think I had been playing the cute daughter role all my life for her public and private performances and while I wore Gothic clothes she pretty much completely avoided me so I was happy. Gabriella was the blonde he'd mentioned, and she was the icy sort that tended to scare me.
"I said get out of my way." Gabriella was starting to get very angry. I noticed her eyes were huge and she looked like she was ready to tear apart this fool. He was entirely oblivious to the danger signs rolling off her while the people near us backed away, sensing bloodshed was eminent. We found out he was not alone when two equally large drunken men stood right behind him with their arms folded across their chests. They didn't say a word, but then he tossed them both grins and said to us, "You think you can make me move?" His laughter was disturbingly arrogant and he stepped closer to Gabriella.
I squirmed uncomfortably at her side, but she had yet to release my wrist. I tugged and to my surprise she let me free. To the man's utter astonishment, she took her hand and placed it in the middle of his chest. He didn't want to go anywhere, I could tell from the look on his face. She pushed. He stumbled back at her thrust and fell to the floor. His buddies were stunned by the force with which he hit the dance floor.
Gabriella took advantage of my frozen state of shock to reattach herself to my hand and pull me along towards her goal. The man she had pointed out to me as the owner was waiting for us. I glanced back to see the two guys helping up their friend. From the hushed comments as we passed, everyone thought there still would be a fight or some sort of confrontation, and I can't say that I disagreed with that assessment. Gabriella didn't seem to care or be worried about that, and since she wasn't, I figured it wasn't my place to buy trouble. As we got closer to the bar, I could see that Kenyon wasn't too much older than his club crowd but his eyes caught mine -- and there was the difference.
I have been around actors and actresses all my life, and there is a certain jaded aspect that reaches their eyes once they have been in the business too long. The fresh youthful look that is cute in an eighteen-year-old newly-minted actress is somehow transformed into this sharp, overly made up, tight-faced woman a mere four or five years later. It doesn't matter if they are successful or not, they nearly all share that look. Kenyon had that look in his eyes. World-weary, and bored with all that surrounded him was the best description I could come up with as I was presented to him by an eager Gabriella.
"Kenyon, meet my latest friend," I inwardly shuddered at that but could see no way to gracefully correct this woman's misconception, "Lilac Lake, this is Kenyon."
"Hello, Lilac," his voice was smooth and his manner smoother. He definitely had been around a while. He held his hand out gracefully, and I put mine in his, now that Gabriella had freed my wrist once we had reached her destination. He took my palm and flipped it over saying, "Your life line is very strong," all the while trailing a fingernail in my palm touching the lines in my hands, "your heart line is strong too, but you aren't as verbal as you wish to be."
None of what he said was news to me, it all was pretty much obvious stuff, nothing exceptional or unusual. Parlor tricks done at cocktail parties and for mild amusements, I knew how easy it was to read folks and this man obviously did too. I smiled a small smile and dragged my hand free from his saying, "Thanks, I guess."
Gabriella had gone to his side and kissed him on the cheek saying, "She is delicious! Reserved and yet there is another layer to her that is so absolutely perfect."
Great, apparently I was invisible as well as being an arm ornament for Gabriella. There was something peculiar with these people. I was ready to pull away when Kenyon said, "Don't go yet, Lilac. You are just getting to know us. I have seen you here before." That I found extremely hard to believe, since I had only been here twice before. I definitely would have remembered seeing him.
He smiled and pointed to the bar mirror saying, "One way glass, want to see?"
I couldn't resist. Growing up seeing the sets and props for television and some minor movie roles my mom had been in, I was always fascinated with peeks into how things worked. Kenyon tapped that part of my character with his question and I nodded. We all walked from the bar to a nearby archway. Some folks moved to let us pass and after a few twists and turns, we were in a small room that was behind the bar on the other side of the mirror. The lighting was dim to nonexistent but still I could see all the dancers clearly and the people lining the bar watching themselves in the mirror unaware of us. Kenyon handed Gabriella a drink and asked me if I would like anything. I looked over to see he was standing by a small makeshift bar. He had mixed something for himself and I asked for bottled water. I rarely drank, and never when I was going to drive. He pulled out a bottle of water from the fridge underneath the countertop.
I drank while watching the various people dancing and talking unknowingly being observed by us. Gabriella was whispering and talking with Kenyon while I was trying to figure out what songs were playing by watching the dancers' moves. It was interesting and strangely compelling.
I was not comfortable with this sudden interest of Kenyon in me, or Gabriella's somewhat odd attachment to me. I rarely got noticed, and liked it that way. It took me by surprise when Gabriella said, "You will always be noticed with that skin and those eyes."
That was it. I was out of there. I smiled and said, "Well, thanks for the hospitality but I must go now." With that, I fled as quickly as possible. I had enough of the strange vibes and the unusual introductions.
Gabriella tried to persuade me to stay a little longer ... I was happy to say I really had to go.
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