Britland walked into the club beside Felix feeling somewhat conspicuous and ill at ease.
“Smile” Felix growled in his ear “pretend like you belong here or are at least having fun.”
He rolled his eyes shrugging off his friend’s hand on his shoulder. How had he let himself get talked into coming to a club? Any moment he was positive one of the bouncers were going to tap him on the shoulder and demand to see his ID. “I think I should leave” he shouted to be heard over the loud music.
“You can’t back out on me now” Felix protested taking a firm grasp on his friend’s arm and moving him towards a table near the dance floor. “What you need is a drink” he announced pushing Brit into a chair. “Wait here and I’ll get you something.”
He walked away before Britland could refuse. A few minutes later he was staring dubiously at the drink Felix got him. Sliding it towards his friend “you drink it.”
“No can do” Felix shook his head “I’ve got my own to drink.”
“It’s pink” the way he said it made Felix smile with mischievious glee.
“What’s wrong with pink? Drink. It’ll make you feel better” Felix assured him.
The glimmer of mischief in his friend’s eyes made Britland frown even more. Lifting the glass he held it up to the poor light inspecting it. With a sigh he brought it to his lips. “I wouldn’t do that if I were you” a voice said from behind him.
Looking up Britland found himself meeting the steady gaze of a good-looking young man. “Why?” he asked setting the glass down to the consternation of his best friend.
“Despite it’s frivolous color it has a kick like a mule” the stranger said “if you want to spend the night talking gibberish, dancing on tables and possibly going home with anyone who asks than by all means drink it.”
Britland gave Felix a cold hard stare “you wanted to get me drunk.”
Shrugging Felix scowled up at the interloper “you spoiled some perfectly harmless fun. Go away.”
Ignoring him the man smiled a Britland “when you get tired of Bozo here. Come join me at my table.”
“Thanks” Britland stammered unsure what else to say or do. A sharp pain in his calf had him scowling over at his companion. “What was that for?” he demanded reaching under the table to rub his leg.
“You’re an idiot” Felix shook his head “that guy was coming on to you.”
“He was?” he asked twisting around in his seat until he found the guy. The guy smiled raising his drink in his direction. Averting his gaze, cheeks burning Britland’s eyes darted around the room searching for the nearest exit or bathroom.
“Geez calm down” Felix laughed pushing the pink drink towards him “why do you think I got you this drink? You’re too up tight.”
Grabbing the glass, he took a large gulp. It felt like liquid fire going down. Choking, half of it came up shooting from his mouth, splashing to the smooth table top. Gasping for air Britland felt his head begin to spin or was it the room? His arms and legs felt disconnected from his body. Hazily he was aware of someone laughing at him. It sound suspiciously like Felix. He staggered to his feet. “I’m going to be sick” he wasn’t sure if he said it out loud or not.
Someone came up behind him putting an arm around him keeping him from falling on his face. “You’re friend is a jerk” a familiar voice spoke close to his ear.
“That’s Felix for ya” Britland said loudly unsure where the jerk was. “Said I needed to relax” his knees buckled giving him the impression they were made of super heated rubber. The room spun around him “I’m going to be sick.”
“Not on me you’re not” his benefactor said having gotten him into the bathroom and shoved him into a stall.
Collapsing to his knees he wrapped his arms around the dirty toilet and emptied his stomach contents into.
Moaning Britland opened his eyes. Looking wildly around at the vaguely familiar room. Breathing somewhat easier, recognizing his own things he brought with him to furnish his room in the apartment he was sharing with Felix. He had no clear recollection of how he had gotten home the night before. He had a vague hazy memory of events after he drank that pink toxic drink. Squinting he brought a hand up to cover his face from the sunlight shining brightly into his room. No wonder Felix had taken the other room. It faced away from the rising sun. Every movement he made had his head pounding in protest. He sat up, head spinning. For a moment he thought he was going to be sick again.
Dragging himself from the bed, head throbbing, he staggered to the bathroom. He stood beneath the hot water of the shower head letting it soothe his head. After his shower he leaned against the counter staring at his reflection. “So this is what a hangover feels like” he mumbled observing his bloodshot eyes, the fuzzy cotton ball taste of the inside of his mouth with a hint of vomit after taste. This was not the way he had wanted to start his first day as a model.
Grabbing a towel, he wrapped it around his waist to shuffle into the kitchen. The apartment was quiet which could only mean one of two things: Felix was either still asleep or he hadn’t made it home the night before. Both were plausible outcomes considering how silent the apartment was. It was a blessing in disguise as far as Britland was concerned. If Felix had been there the stereo or the TV or maybe both would have been blasting. Felix hated silence where Britland much preferred it over constant noise.
The tile floor was cool to his barefeet but oddly soothing. He inspected the coffee maker wondering how much coffee he would need to consume before he felt remotely human again. While he waited for his morning elixir he shuffled through the mail that had arrived the day before. Frowning he found his name written neatly on an envelope. There was no return address. Opening it, he took out the handwritten note. There were three words written neatly on it “You’ve been warned.”
He let the note and envelope slip from his numb and trembling fingers. How had the mystery writer known where he lived? It was the same handwriting as the first mystery letter he received. It had to be a joke. Felix must have written it to scare him. That had to be it. Britland’s lips twitched. Felix had to have written both letters. The idiot. Britland retrieved the letter, shoving it into the envelope. There was no way he was going to mention its existence to Felix. He wouldn’t give his soon to be ex-best friend the satisfaction.
Calmly he sat down to drink his morning go juice. It was dark and tasted like burnt mud but if it got him through the day then that’s all he would ask for. Glancing at the time he reluctantly placed his cup in the dishwasher, made sure the coffee pot was off before making his way to his room. It was time he got ready for work. His stomach twisted into knots. Anxiety, nerves and anticipation were making the coffee slosh around his empty stomach. For a moment he thought he was going to throw up again. Maybe he wasn’t cut out for this lifestyle. A model had to look his best at a moments notice. He had to be willing to meet new people. Be the center of attention. All the things he wasn’t comfortable with. Maybe this was more about his unique alien features than his ability. What if his parents had been right?
All his self-doubts descended upon him like a tidal wave on his transit to work. By the time he walked into the studio he was almost convince he should go crawling home with his tail between his legs. “Here take this” a gruff voice said as someone pressed a small bottle into his hand.
Looking down, he found a bottle of eye drops. Frowning “what’s this?”
“Your eyes” the same voice said “they’re bright red. You can’t be in pictures looking like that.”
“Oh” his mouth formed the simple word soundlessly as he carefully opened the bottle and applied the cooling drops to his rough, gritty eyes. Blinking several times he handed the bottle back “thanks.”
“Welcome” the voice said “you might want to hang on to that if you go out again with that so-called friend of yours.”
Britland’s chin jerked up. Seeing the guy who helped him the night before. His cheeks flushed with heat again as he was overcome with how attractive the guy was/is. Glancing over his shoulder he wondered if he could just skip the photo shoot altogether. Anything to escape this moment.
“I wouldn’t do that if I were you” his companion and apparent fellow model advised “the client is notorious for throwing tantrums. If you fail to make a good impression today you may never work again. At least not in the modeling field again.” Britland swallowed feeling his blood drain from his face. “Geez kid you’re not going to throw up again are you?”
Before he could respond they were ushered into the dressing room for fittings, makeup and styling. It was an all new experience for Britland who had up until that moment just worked for various catalogs. It was odd to dress and undress in front of so many critical eyes. He knew he was in reasonably good shape but to have so many eyes on him made him feel small and vulnerable.
Dazed and overwhelmed he was pushed into an area under bright lights and cameras. His forehead beaded with sweat as he tried to comprehend what he was supposed to do next.
“Breathe kid” his acquaintance from earlier said close to his ear. “Follow my lead and you’ll be golden.” The guy winked at him before walking towards the set.
Taking a moment to take several deep breaths to calm his frayed nerves Britland followed in the guys wake uncomfortably aware of being watched.
A new booming voice made Britland jump as it yelled “you, over there.” Britland moved towards the spot the stiff jabbing finger pointed in. “No not you” the man scowled “you.” Britland’s acquaintance moved towards the indicated spot. Shaking his head the high-strung man heaved an aggrieved sigh “that’s not it either.” Rubbing his chin he motioned for Britland to join him at the spot. “On the floor” the man ordered. Surveying the scene his lips twitched in approval “better, better.” Snapping a few pictures he took a few steps back analyzing the effect with a critical eye. “Goldie Locks grab his leg like your pleading for him to stay.”
Hesitating a fraction of a second as his brain processed who Goldie Locks was. His acquaintance hissed “do it you idiot or we’re both out of a job.” He moved to comply before the photographer had a chance to scowl at him for not complying fast enough.
This went on for several hours. When they were finally finished Britland moved from the set jumping as someone’s hand-made contact with his ass. Turning he met the gaze of the photographer who winked at him. His cheeks flushed as he moved away uncomfortably aware of the man’s eyes challenging him.
“He likes you” his acquaintance whispered close to him.
“How can you tell?” Britland asked walking towards the dressing room.
“Besides the wink and grabby hands?” his companion’s voice was full of amusement.
Groaning Britland slapped a hand across his face “don’t remind me.”
“Don’t worry that won’t happen again” the guy laughed “that was a test and you passed with flying colors.”
“What test?” Britland demanded feeling confused.
“One you didn’t overreact to his groping. You wouldn’t believe how many new guys either try to hit him or make a pass at him. Since you reacted with confusion and embarrassment. He know’s you’re ok and not likely to want to sleep with him to garner favors from him in the future. Plus you never complained about that awful nickname he gave you, which by the way, is here to stay.”
“That’s a relief I guess” Britland sighed as he pulled the too warm sweater over his head. “I had no idea what I’d do if he was actually coming on to me.”
“You straight?” his companion asked sounding surprised.
“Um” Britland mumbled “does it matter?”
“Yeah well….” the guy shrugged smiling sheepishly at him “I was kind of hoping you’d go out with me sometime.”
“I might consider it” he smiled coyly at him watching the apprehension drain from the guys eyes “if I knew your name.”
Tossing his shirt aside his acquaintance flashed him a mega watt smile “I’m Carson.”
“It’s nice to finally put a name to the face” Britland shook his hand before shrugging into his pants “give me a call sometime.”
“Hey” Carson called after him “what’s your name? Unless you want me to call you Goldie Locks.”
Turning halfway through the door “Britland Olivia” he smiled as he slipped through the door closing it behind him.
Felix rolled over with a groan. The rumpled blanket fell to the floor. The sudden cool air flowing through the open window raised goose-flesh on his bare skin. He reached across the bed shaking…the girl next to him until she moaned in protest. “You’ve got to get up” he said shaking her until she lifted her head from the pillow. Her red hair framed her face. Last night’s makeup left streaks and circles around her eyes
He should have insisted they go to her place. It’s so much easier to disentangle himself from his one night stands if he was the one doing the leaving. He had made it an art form to rise early, slipping from the bed, dressing without waking the girl asleep in the room with him. It was his specialty. It was always harder when he brought the girl home with him. This time was going to be no different. “Come on get up” he shook her despite her moans of protest. “You’re the one who said she had to leave early for work.”
“Alright I’m up” she yawned stretching “Can I at least clean up first?”
“Yeah yeah” he pointed towards the bathroom door “it’s in there.” He felt the bed shift as she got up. He grabbed her pillow covering his face blocking out the sunlight.
“Aren’t you going to join me?” she asked from the doorway.
He peeked at from beneath the pillow. She wasn’t at all appealing in the harsh light of the early morning sun. “Nope I’m good” he mumbled without moving from the bed. He heard her huff in displeasure at the way she was being treated. A moment later the shower turned on. Felix lay with his face covered until she left forestalling any attempt she might have made at getting him to promise he’d call her later.
When he was sure she was gone he tossed the pillow aside. Standing he stretched the kinks from his back giving his neighbors a full frontal view of all his glory. He rather hoped someone was watching him from their window and getting off on the sight. He pulled on his boxers looking at the time. He had just enough time to shower and dress before his neighbor came home from work. He wanted to meet her at the mail slots. He knew, given enough time he would erode her walls down.
A half hour later he was sifting through his mail when his neighbor came through the lobby doors, her arms full of grocery bags. Rushing to her aid he took several bags from her.
“Thank you” she gushed “I thought I could make it without making two trips. I guess I was wrong.” She laughed at herself filling the lobby with her merriment.
Hitting the elevator button he gave her his best chivalrous grin. “I don’t mind helping a lady in need.”
They fell into an uncomfortable silence once they were inside the elevator. Felix selected the floor number without bothering to ask her which floor she needed. He realized a moment later his mistake when he saw the wary look in her eyes. “Sorry. Habit I guess. I selected my floor. What floor do you need?”
Her full mouth formed an oh before turning into a relieved smile. “We must be on the same floor” she said before lapsing into silence again.
The elevator doors opened. Felix waited for her to exit first. Nodding towards his door he said “that’s my place.”
She nodded but kept on walking. Stopping in front of a door she said “you can put the bags down here. I’ll get them later.”
“I can carry them inside for you” he offered.
“No there’s fine” she indicated the space on the floor. She stood stiffly making no attempt to open her door while he stood there.
Reluctantly he complied with her wishes. “I’ll see you around then” he said moving past her.
“Yes thank you” she murmured as he left.
A moment later there was a knock on his door. Smiling expectantly he let his smile droop and fade upon seeing the middle-aged woman who lived across the hall.
“Aren’t you going to invite me in?” she asked pushing herself into him.
He stepped aside allowing her to come inside. As soon as the door was closed she grabbed him pulling him close to her ample bosom. Her mouth hungrily devouring his. “You need a real woman” she breathed huskily reaching for his shirt pulling it over his head “not that little girl down the hall.”
His pulsed raced as her nails left a trail down his back. He helped her remove her flimsy barely there dress. “Have you been watching me?” he asked following her down to the floor.
“Just enough to know when your little tart from last night left” her deft fingers unbuttoned his jeans pulling them down. “I figured after that dismal failure with the resident nun you’d need some relief.”
His groan was the only reply he was capable of making as he lost himself in the moment.
Britland yawned as he walked out of the elevator. He could hear his bed calling his name. He fumbled for his keys. Dropping them he bumped his head into the door handle. It opened slowly having not been latched. Cautiously he entered the apartment mentally preparing himself to seeing his new home vandalized.
He gasped in shock as his eyes widened in horror at what he did see. His gasp was lost to the moans of pleasure emanating from his roommate. Taking a step back he bumped into something or someone behind him. Turning he found the pretty girl from down the hall staring at him.
“Felix dropped these….” her eyes widened as she noticed the scene behind Britland’s back. Grabbing the mail he tossed it inside hastily pushing the girl outside into the hall. Closing the door he hoped he’d be able to burn the image of his roommate having sex from his mind.
“Sorry” he mumbled mortified on behalf of the young girl.
Anger flashed in her eyes “you can tell your friend he can look elsewhere for his booty call.” She turned on her heels and stormed off towards her apartment door.
Leaning against the door feeling drained. Britland wasn’t sure what he should do. Follow the girl and try to apologize. Go back inside and hope Felix was finished. Hot tears of frustration rose up inside him. All he wanted to do was go to bed. He could already feel the way his pillow would cradle his head. He was so tired. He kicked off the door heading for the elevator in sudden need of some air.