Before the party
Mikey nodded but moved slightly trying to see around her body, which was blocking the Plasma TV. “Yeah, it’s great.”
“Michael you can watch TV anytime.” She frowned realizing she did not have his attention.
“Hey we ain’t got one of those at home.” He pointed at the 42 inch screen.
Alicia rolled her eyes then walked over to the sofa where she unceremoniously plopped down next to him. “Hey, wanna go for a swim?”
“Maybe later.” He said his eyes never leaving the screen. The sci-fi movie had his complete attention.
“Fine.” Alicia said standing. “Maybe I’ll just go take a nap.” She started to walk towards the bedroom but as she did she pulled off her hoodie and let it fall to the floor. She smiled to herself when she heard her husband’s sharp intake of breath. Obviously not wearing a bra this morning had been a good idea. She unzipped her jeans and pushed them to the ground. This time she heard him moan. Oh yeah going commando had been a good idea too. Before she could peek around to see if he was watching he was off the sofa and at her side.
“I thought you were watching a movie?’ She said pretending to pout.
Mikey reached out and pulled her nude body into his arms. “Think maybe I’ll take a nap with you.”
Alicia squealed when he lifted her into his arms and carried her towards the bedroom. Once there he dumped her in the middle of the king size bed and quickly undressed.
“Sure you don’t wanna finish watching your movie?’ Alicia laughed as he joined her on the bed.
“Fuck the movie.” Mikey said lowering his head and capturing her nipple between his teeth.
“No, fuck me.” Alicia said breathlessly.
Frank and Jamia had decided to take a dip in their pool. Now they were laying on the chaise lounge chairs drying off.
“What’s wrong?” She asked noting how quiet he’d become since arriving at the hotel.
Frank rolled his head over to look at her. “Who said anything is wrong?”
Jamia laughed, “Frankie, I know you. What is it?”
“Do you ever get the feeling that something is to good to be true?”
“I don’t understand.” Jamia answered with a frown.
Frank thought a moment, “Well here we are in this fuckin’ amazing villa, right? And tonight we are gonna attend a party but not just any party. A party hosted by Hudson Evans.”
Frank sat up and reached for his cigarettes which were on the table between their chairs, “So why are we here?”
“Okay, I’ll play along.” Jamia said not understanding where he was going with this, “We are here because Hudson invited us?”
“Yeah, but why?”
“Why? Because you are in a band and he likes your music?” She guessed.
“Yeah well we’ve been around for years so why now? Why suddenly does he like our music and wanna hang with us?”
“Actually I think you are hanging with him.” Jamia said teasingly.
Frank took a deep drag and settled back down on the chair, “I think it’s because of Anna.”
“Because of Anna?”
He nodded, “Yeah I mean she knew him before he ever came to see our show.”
Jamia sighed, “Do you realize you are always finding something to worry about? Now you’re worried that Hudson only invited us because of Anna. So what it that’s true?”
Frank shot her a look, “It makes a difference if that’s true.”
Jamia leaned up on her elbow, “Why? So he and Anna knew each other from before and he wanted to see her. And because she’s with Gerard and you guys are on tour he invited all of us. I don’t see why that’s a problem. Look at this place, Frankie. I think the guys pretty nice to invite us to a party and rent this villa for us. I don’t see why you’re upset.”
“I’m not upset.” He lied. “Just wondering about shit. You heard what he said to Anna before our show.”
“About breaking his heart. I really think he was just kidding.” Jamia said shrugging. “Anna said there was never anything serious between her and Hudson.”
Frank’s eyes narrowed, “Do you believe her?”
“Why wouldn’t I believe her? Really Frank I just don’t get you sometimes. You say you like Anna but then you come up with something like this.”
Frank sighed, “I’m just worried about Gee. I wonder how much about Anna’s past he really knows.”
Jamia shook her head, “You gotta stop this. Gerard is a big boy and he can take care of himself. As far as I’m concerned he and Anna are in love. I know you’re afraid he’ll rush in and make the same mistake he did before but I’m just not seeing it. I like Anna a lot. I like this place a lot. I’m glad Hudson invited all of us for whatever reason. I really wish you could just relax and enjoy yourself.” She stood and looked down at him. “You know you spend so much time worrying about Gerard and his relationships maybe you should worry about your own.” With that she walked back inside leaving a very shocked Frank to ponder her words.
Bob looked over at Claire and couldn’t help but grin. Her hair was now a huge mass of red curls thanks to the heat of the sauna.
‘What?” she asked when she realized he was looking at her.
“Nothing.” Bob answered too quickly.
Claire got up off the wooden seat across from him and moved to sit by his side. “What were you grinning about?”
“Uh, well your hair sorta looks like Toro’s right now.”
Claire reached up and patted the top of her head. “Oh”
Bob reached over and touched her cheek, “It looks cute. The steam in here is making it all…” he searched for the right word, “bouncy.”
“No it is making my hair huge.” Claire laughed, “My mother had curly hair too.” She added suddenly losing her smile.
“Does remembering your mom always make you sad?” He asked gently.
Claire sighed, “Most of the time. There are more bad memories than good.” She whispered looking down.
Bob took his fingertip and carefully wiped a bit of sweat from just below her eye then titled her face up to met his. “Tell me a good memory so when you feel sad I can remind you.”
His tenderness touched her heart, “That is not necessary.”
“Sure it is. I hate when you’re sad and I wanna see you smile.”
Claire leaned over to brush his hot dry lips with hers. When she sat back she said, “I am not sure but I believe I was four or five.” She said becoming lost in the memory. “We lived in a dirty flat but I remember that it was a beautiful sunny day. I was sitting by the window looking out, not at the fifth of the street below but at the sky. Mum saw me and asked what I was doing. I remember saying something about wishing I could fly so that I would be up in the beautiful sky. She looked at me a moment and she looked so sad. Suddenly she took my hand and I wondered what she was doing. We left the flat and started walking. I remember to me it seemed we walked for such a long time. Finally we arrived at our destination. It was a beautiful park with trees and grass and swings.” Her voice trailed off.
Bob’s heart went out to the little girls she’s been. “She took you to a park to play?”
“Just like other kids.” Claire’s eyes filled with tears. “There were so many kids there with their mums and for once I felt like I was one of them. She pushed me on the swings and…” A tear rolled down her cheek.
“She smiled.” Claire whispered, “Really smiled. A real smile. It was a beautiful day and I wished so much it could always be like that.”
Bob took her hand in his and gave it a tight squeeze.
“But we never went back to that park again.” Claire’s voice was low and her head dropped, “She never took me back there.”
“Don’t think about that.” Bob urged, ‘Just remember that day and how it felt.”
Claire swiped at her tears. “It is so hot in here.” She said wanting to change the subject. She hated to think of her past.
“Claire.” Bob said softly, “We can never completely forget our past. It’s always with us. I think the trick is to make ourselves remember the good so that the bad doesn’t overwhelm us.” He was shocked when she broke into tears. “Honey?”
“Bob that night she died when we first got to that house I was so angry. I just wanted to go home. I told her…” She gulped for air, “I told her I hated her. That is the last thing I remember saying to her.”
Immediately he pulled her into his arms. “Claire don’t torture yourself with this. You were just a frightened kid. I’m sure she knew you didn’t mean it.”
“But I did.” Claire cried harder, “I really did. Why did she have me? She was always saying that I was just a burden to her. Always saying she should have aborted me.”
He hugged her tighter, “Honey you said your mom was an addict. I’m sure that’s what caused her to say those things.”
“She loved the drugs more than me.” Claire whispered through her tears.
“The sickness made her.” Bob said in a low soothing tone. “They blinded her to the truth. You have to remember that.”
“It is hard.” Claire said opening her heart and speaking words she’d never allowed to be spoken before. “I just wanted a mum who loved me."
Bob wished he could take away her pain. “I’m sure she did. And now you have someone who loves you with his whole heart and soul.”
Claire looked up at him. “Why?”
He realized she was opening herself up to him, letting him see her insecurities. “Because you are a beautiful person inside and out. Because you make me smile. Because you make me want to be the best person I can be just for you.”
“I love you.” Her voice shook, “And sometimes it scares me so much.”
“Me too.” He admitted. “Sometimes I think that maybe one day you’ll leave me and I don’t think I could handle that.”
She shook her head, “I will not leave you. No matter what.” The words hurt her to say but she knew they were true. As much as she loved Anna she now understood that if given the opportunity she would make a life with Bob.
He felt his heart skip a beat understanding the truth beneath her words. “I’ve been praying you’d say that.” He took a deep breath, “So I guess you know that means one day you’re gonna become Mrs. Bryar?”
For a moment her face went blank.
Bob held his breath.
“Yes.” She finally whispered. “I do know that.”
Hours later Christa stood looking at herself in the full-length mirror wondering about the dress she’d purchased for the party.
“It looks wonderful.” Ray said from his spot across the room.
Christa laughed, “How do you know what I’m thinking?”
He laughed, “You’ve turned and looked at it from every angle. I’ve been watching you and believe me you look hot.”
“Well thank you.” Christa beamed.
Ray stood and walked over to her. He nuzzled her neck, “Too bad we don’t have time for me to show you just how hot.”
She turned in his arms. “Who says we don’t have time? The party doesn’t start for an hour.”
Ray grinned and reached behind her to unzip the short satin gown. Suddenly a bell sounded at the front door of the villa.
“Fuck.” Ray muttered, “Who the hell is that?”
Christa sighed, “Don’t know but zip me back up.”
He did then left the bedroom to see who was at the door. Christa walked back over to the dresser to check her hair. She heard Ray speaking to someone and suddenly felt uneasy. Slowly she left the bedroom and walked into the main living room.
“Christa, how nice to see you again.” Hudson greeted her. “I see you’re ready for the party.”
Christa tried to regain her composure, “Hello Hudson, thanks for inviting us.”
He and Ray were standing by the bar. Christa saw that Ray was making them drinks. “Want one?” He asked his wife.
She shook her head, “No, thanks.”
“Oh please join us for just one.” Hudson said while taking a seat on one of the barstools, “I just came by while I had the chance to get Ray’s input on a music project.”
Slowly she walked across the room towards the men.
Hudson watched her closely. She was the reason he’d made this impromptu visit. Every since the first time he’d met her, even though it had been brief, there was something about the woman that interested him. She was different than other mortals and he intended on discovering what exactly made her unique.
Christa took a seat several stools down from him keeping her eyes on Ray who was now pouring the drinks. Hudson made her nervous and she could feel his eyes on her.
“So do you like the villa?” Hudson asked.
Ray answered, “Man, this place is great. Thanks so much.”
Hudson laughed, “Hey, no big deal. I know what it’s like to be on the road and I thought you all would appreciate a night off.”
Ray set Christa’s drink down on the granite top bar in front of her then laughed, “Pretty sure your idea of being on the road ain’t exactly like ours.”
Hudson shrugged, “Well I’ve been lucky.” He said brushing off the comment. It was true of course. He only stayed in the best hotels wherever he traveled. The idea of a tour bus was foreign to him.
Christa picked up her drink and took a small sip hoping it would calm her nerves. She knew Hudson was staring at her.
Ray gave Hudson his drink then took a swallow of his own. “So I heard you’re gonna play Whimbley?”
Hudson turned his attention to him, “Yeah but to be honest playing a stadium isn’t exactly my cup of tea. Too much noise.” He took a small sip of his drink and smiled, “Anyway I thought I’d take this chance to run an idea by you. See if you think it’s something your band would be interested in.”
Ray nodded excitedly. “Sure.”
Hudson was about to speak when Ray’s cell phone went off.
‘Shit, I’ll be right back.” He said moving from behind the bar. That’s probably my mom. My uncle’s been sick so I need to talk to her.”
Hudson smiled, “Of course. I’m sure you’re wife will keep me company until you get back.” He waited until Ray disappeared into the bedroom before turning his attention to Christa. “So are you going to continue to stare at your drink?”
Christa’s head shot up. “Oh sorry.” She muttered nervously.
Hudson studied her a moment, “She was wise.” He said softly.
He flashed her a smile, “You know whom I’m speaking of. She was wise to do what she did. She was thinking ahead.”
Christa felt trapped not knowing what to say.
“The moment I first met you I could sense you were different. I am assuming she could too. Of course not many would have handled the situation like she did but then our Annabelle is of course unique.”
Christa stared at him remaining silent.
They both heard Ray heading back from the bedroom.
Hudson lowered his voice so that only Christa could hear his words, “She has placed a great deal of trust in you. Make sure you continue to earn that trust.” There was a warning in his words.
“Sorry about that.” Ray said rejoining them.
“How’s Tony?” Christa asked forcing her eyes away from Hudson.
“He’s doing much better.” Ray answered with a smile. “Gonna be released from the hospital tomorrow.”
“That is good news.” Hudson said with a nod. “Now about my idea.”
“Excuse me.” Christa said softly slipping off her barstool, “I promised I’d help with makeup for the party.” She knew she wasn’t making sense but the desire to see Anna and tell her about Hudson was making it hard to think straight.
Ray didn’t even notice. “Sure.” He nodded turning his attention back to Hudson.
“See you at the party.” Hudson said looking over at her. “Oh and tell her I’m looking foreword to seeing her tonight.”
Christa blinked then nodded realizing she hadn’t even said who she was going to see. Ray never noticed a thing.