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Gabriella Montez

"Please don't tempt me."

0 · 133 views · located in New York

a character in “the last of the real ones”, as played by leisurelyatwar

Description

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So begins...

Gabriella Montez's Story

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Robyn Miller Character Portrait: Damien Wolfe Character Portrait: Erin Monaghan Character Portrait: Jade Davies Character Portrait: Lauren Clark Character Portrait: Soren Bowers Character Portrait: Dylan Knight Character Portrait: Evie Addams Character Portrait: Gabriella Montez Character Portrait: Olivia Eriksen Character Portrait: Dean Sun Character Portrait: Adonis Galante Character Portrait: Julian Davies Character Portrait: Camilla Rhodes Character Portrait: Declan Sun Character Portrait: Simon Rizzo
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soren bowers.
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outfit. #4d5676.
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xxx I've been staying up all night
xxx Shaking needles out my spine
xxx But the doctor says I'm fine
xxx Feels good to be alive, but I hate my life

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The concept of the party had started as yet another one of their deep, meaningful conversations on the balcony. They got talking about all the people they’d been friends with once upon a time and where they’d all ended up. Some, Soren had managed to stay in contact with over the years. Others, not so much. He and Erin had begun talking about the parties they’d found themselves at and the ones they’d thrown in high school. Quite often, it had ended in everyone screaming at each other, with the same few members of the group sometimes even throwing punches, before they’d all stormed off home. They wouldn’t talk for maybe a day, and then it would be like nothing ever happened. Rinse and repeat, over and over again. But oh, when things were good, they were really good.

Erin and Soren had looked at each other, and it seemed they’d had the same idea at the same time. A party, just like the good old days, but with everyone in a slightly better place, and without the ringmistress that could spark a fight in seconds with just a smirk and a well-timed comment. Almost immediately, they began digging through their contacts to find people.

More or less everyone that had been invited had agreed to attend. Camilla’s reply had been rather blunt; an ambiguous “k” in response to his Instagram message, and then leaving the follow up messages entirely on read. Ever since the whole debacle where an unreleased Beautiful Strangers demo had somehow ended up being sampled on a Sophie’s valentine track, the relationship between the two bands had been… frosty. Beautiful Strangers had made the PR decision to attempt to end rumours of a feud, with band members tweeting about Sophie’s Valentine whenever they released new music, and Soren covering one of their songs on an Instagram live. The efforts weren’t reciprocated, but Beautiful Strangers’ management and the band themselves were at least content that Beautiful Strangers didn’t look like the asshole in this situation, which is all they really needed from it. So, to be honest, Soren would have been more surprised had she replied positively to his message but he still had no idea whether or not she was going to show up. He and Erin had a bet running; him betting that Cam would, Erin betting that she wouldn’t.

The thought of seeing everyone again was a little bit strange. They hadn’t been in a room together in years, and they had no idea how they were all going to interact. Perhaps they were being a little naive in hoping they’d all be able to have a good time and forget everything that had gone down between them; but it was worth trying. They were hoping that the copious amounts of alcohol would help and not make things any worse, but they knew that they were also possibly taking a risk and that things might go to hell. They told themselves that the important thing was, that they’d acknowledged that things might go to shit and that there was nothing they could do about it.

Despite that acceptance, the pre-party nerves were worse than ever. He’d taken as many painkillers as he could without risking getting drowsy or overly spacey to make sure he wouldn’t be sore and grouchy at the party. He told himself that was fine, that it was a one time thing for a special event, that it didn’t count, and tried to put everything out of his mind. But the reality of what exactly was involved was starting to kick in, and he was beginning to question if this was a good idea at all. He never would have admitted this to Erin (because saying it out loud might just result in her materialising in front of them like Voldemort), but at the back of his mind, he was afraid that Lauren would show up. He had no reason to believe she would; but she always had a way of knowing about things she shouldn’t. She always found out about these things, and she would seize any opportunity to start drama. In some strange ways, it was reassuring to know that she really hadn’t changed in the slightest. When she’d shown up backstage in Vancouver, of all places, it was like stepping back six years into a conversation in high school. She was sickly sweet, charming, flattering, pretending to have changed. And then when it had become apparent that she wasn’t going to get what she wanted by being nice… the claws had come out. She’d been somewhat shocked when he’d still told her that he didn’t care, he didn’t want her in his life; and that had been one of the most satisfying moments of his life. But he still didn’t want her showing up and starting shit; and he knew that if she heard it was him and Erin throwing it, she’d be even more determined to wreak havoc.

He spent most of that day in his room, working on music in an attempt to try and distract himself. It was all rough, demos of demos, just playing around on his old keyboard and the guitar to try and get melodies in his head, but it was enough to serve as a distraction. When he realised that he needed to start to get ready, he instinctively saved everything he’d recorded and backed it all up to an external hard drive. As an afterthought, he hid the hard drive in a drawer, made sure his laptop was shut down entirely, and then locked his bedroom door as he headed out to the kitchen. Paranoia? Perhaps, but he wasn’t risking having anyone getting their hands on something they shouldn’t. He didn’t trust anyone not to go snooping around their rooms; and, well, if Cam showed up, he definitely didn’t want to risk leaving any Beautiful Strangers material lying around. Just in case. He didn’t think that any of Sophie’s Valentine had been directly involved the first time, but he wasn’t going to risk it happening again.

Once out in the kitchen, he and Erin had a few drinks and scrolled through instagram together, liking everyone’s pre-party posts and gossiping about everyone. The things they’d heard people had been up to since they last saw them, how they thought people must have changed… it was exactly what they both needed to try and chill some of the pre-party apprehension. They were both nervous. How could they not be? But neither of them wanted to acknowledge that, and so, they settled for just distracting themselves for a while.

He was almost surprised at how happy everyone seemed to be to see each other. The bad blood seemed to have vanished, or at least be put to the side while everyone was still sober. Camilla even showed up (Soren had shot Erin a triumphant grin at that point) and was somewhat civil to the both of them. The party was beginning to really kick off now, with a few people dancing and chatting in the living room, a few chatting out on the balcony, and others grabbing drinks and snacks in the kitchen. Soren excused himself from the group he had been talking to and headed towards the kitchen to get another drin




evie addams.
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outfit. #b59eab.
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xxx I don't feel sorry for you
xxx Cause now the tables turning
xxx And now the bridge is burning
xxx It's coming crashing down

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The thought of seeing everyone again after this long was strange. Evie had only spoken to most of them through DMs and texts over the past few months, and she knew there were a few people likely to be there that she hadn’t spoken to at all since she’d graduated. But everyone she longed to see and longed to have fun with were going to be there, and that was what mattered to her at the end of the day. She was determined to focus on the good things of this party and not worry about the bad. This would be different, she told herself. She was different now, everyone else had changed, and things would be better. She kept repeating that reassurance to herself as she got ready for the party. It would be fine. She was going to have fun

Once upon a time, getting dressed for these types of events had been an absolute nightmare for her. Everything she’d worn had always felt wrong, especially when she was standing beside people like Lauren, Camilla, and Jade, who always seemed to be so effortlessly stylish and who could pull off anything… and who wouldn’t hesitate to make derogatory comments on what people were wearing and whether or not they thought they looked good. Lauren had usually helped with planning her outfit, and Evie had been so grateful for that. It guaranteed the group’s approval and her exemption from those harsh, mean comments that they would make about everyone else. But now, she could see that for what it had been; another opportunity to manipulate and control her, usually to make sure that she didn’t look as good as Lauren. Those comments had probably still been made behind her back instead of to her face. Now, she didn’t need to impress anyone. She could dress for herself and wore what made her happy; not what she thought would get the approval she needed.

Now, Evie’s only dilemma as to what to wear was because she had no idea how dressy this party was supposed to be, if she should show up dolled up to the nines, or if she should show up in something a bit more casual. Erin hadn’t really helped when Evie had asked her, saying she should just wear whatever she liked, they didn’t mind too much. Soren’s answer of “i mean i guess similar to the parties we had in high school?” had been slightly more helpful, but she was still stuck between two choices. She’d texted Gabriella for help, and the decision they’d come to was something along the lines of “fuck it, being overdressed is better than being underdressed.”

The dress was something she never would have dared wear around Lauren. Lauren would have made some comment about how she really just didn’t have the figure for it, that black made her look pale, that she was too short to pull off a leg split, and then just claimed she was trying to help and be supportive. But Evie had fallen in love with it the minute she saw it, and had been dying for an opportunity to wear it. Was it possibly still a little dressy for this type of party? Probably. Did she care? Absolutely not.

She had been shocked when her taxi had dropped outside Erin’s apartment. She knew that The Golden Owl was doing well, but she hadn’t expected the apartment to be quite so grand. Clearly, Erin was doing well for herself. Evie was glad for that. Erin had been somewhat troubled in high school (hadn’t they all?), but she’d still tried to be a good friend to Evie, even as Evie had stuck close to Erin’s sworn enemy. She was excited to see everyone again; but for some reason, she was especially excited to see Erin.

She’d greeted both Erin and Soren with hugs. They’d both changed so much, and yet somehow not all. Truth be told, she’d only ever really known Soren through Lauren, which meant she hadn’t really known him at all, and after the breakup, it wasn’t like she could have been friends with him. At first, Lauren had played the heartbroken girlfriend who just hadn’t been able to cope with the thoughts of her boyfriend being in pain, so it was easier to just not to have to look at that. And then, as time gone on, her story changed, and Lauren confided the truth to Evie. How she’d only ever really liked him because he was fun and for the whole tormented artist thing he had going for him, and how she’d cheated on him multiple times during the relationship, including while Soren was recovering from surgery. At the time, Evie had sided with Lauren entirely, believing that Lauren’s reasons were justified. Now she knew the truth and had gotten to know Soren a little better over the past couple of months, it just further drove home the point of how terrible a person Lauren truly was.

She found herself wandering around the party, constantly finding and losing people as she tried to say hi to everyone. But now, her gaze was set firmly on the dance floor, as she searched the room for someone to grab and drag to come dance with her.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Robyn Miller Character Portrait: Damien Wolfe Character Portrait: Erin Monaghan Character Portrait: Jade Davies Character Portrait: Lauren Clark Character Portrait: Soren Bowers Character Portrait: Dylan Knight Character Portrait: Evie Addams Character Portrait: Gabriella Montez Character Portrait: Olivia Eriksen Character Portrait: Dean Sun Character Portrait: Adonis Galante Character Portrait: Julian Davies Character Portrait: Camilla Rhodes Character Portrait: Declan Sun Character Portrait: Simon Rizzo Character Portrait: Jeremy Williams
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Olivia Eriksen
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Art Conservator/Starving Artist | outfit. | Song |#8B8000.
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xxx I wanna paint your face
xxx Like you're my Mona Lisa
xxx I wanna be a champion
xxx I wanna be a loser

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Livvy was shooting a wedding in Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts when she received a text from one of her favorite people. Erin. Apparently, her gorgeous bar-owner friend and her rock star bestie decided it was time to get the gang back together. And, since Livvy had a job waiting for her at the Institute in New York anyway, she was more than happy to attend. And, of course, so did Simon.

She hadn't seen much of her best friend these days outside of the various video chats they tended to use. It'll be nice to get back to their roots, so to speak. In fact, she hadn't seen many of her friends since she left New York in her bus outside of video chat and social media. She's stopped in every now and then. Grab a cup of coffee and peruse the photography and art books in the reference section of the Cozy Book Nook, knockback shots at The Golden Owl, bump fuzzies with ye old fuck buddies in various homes. But it had been at least a year and she couldn't stop thinking about what faces she might see again.

It was Erin's party so of course, she would be seeing her. And obviously Simon. A few messages revealed Gabriella was going to be there too, much to Livvy's delight. She wasn't sure who else was going to be there, but she knew who wasn't going to be there. Lauren. Livvy hoped her henchmen wouldn't be there either. Though, from what she heard, they had renounced the fire-breathing bitch queen and found their own lives without her.

Good for them.

Then again. Maybe Lauren should come. It would give her a chance to finally shoot her shot and check her off her fuck list she had made in high school on a dare.

Speaking of fuck lists... her fingers began to tingle, her pulse keeping time against her ribcage. Would Dean be there? They hadn't spoken much since high school. Their breakup was... tough. Livvy was just as addicted to him as she was the high and staying away after they split was easier said than done. She saw that he was starting to clean himself up a bit, much like herself. Maybe... it would be time to start again?

She found a place to park her bus--the secure parking garage of the Institute--and tore through her closet. After a few failed attempts and a near panic attack, she had decided on a black strapless crop top and a flowing high-low black skirt with a pair of nude pumps. She knew she'd be kicking them off as soon as she got in the door but it was part of the look and wearing flats with this length of skirt in New York was just asking for trouble.

While she waited for the taxi to pull up, she stood outside the Institute and scrolled through social media. She paused a photo of Adonis slid into view. She rubbed at the strange weight in her chest at the sight of him. She had been meaning to text him. Ask him how Flur was. To just... talk like they once had, but, obviously, she hadn't. She double tapped his photo, wondering if he would be there tonight. Which made her wonder about someone else. Her mentor, Julian. She figured he'd be in attendance as last she heard he was working for Erin. She hadn't seen him since before he was locked up. They sent a few letters, but it hurt too much. It was like losing a brother. Or she guessed that's how it would feel. She was--thankfully--an only child. She couldn't imaging sharing her past with other children. Her's was rough enough.

There was a splash as the taxi rounded the corner. She waved it over and waited for it to come to a complete stop before climbing in and giving the driver the address to Erin's apartment.

--

No matter how many times she saw it, she was impressed by the size of Erin's apartment. It was much bigger than her bus, that was for sure. She watched the taxi drive away before she stared up at the door, a mix of anticipation and dread churning through her. Maybe she should go home. She hadn't thought this through. What if the goon squad was in attendance? What if she lost the control she had been working so hard to maintain? And maybe so what if she did? One night wouldn't hurt anyone. She squared her shoulders, lifted her chin, and strolled inside.

The first person she nearly tackled to the ground was, in fact, Julian. When she saw him, she couldn't help it. It had been so long since she saw the man that inspired a great deal of her art. Who taught her nearly everything she knew about color theory and lighting. Who was just as much a part of her little family she made as Simon. After him, she wandered through the crowd, spying a few faces that were familiar, but she couldn't guess their names.

She spotted Erin and Evie dancing together and rubbed at the weird feeling in her chest.

Maybe she should see a cardiologist.

At a momentary loss at what to do, she did what she usually did.

She pulled out her small pouch of pencils from her satchel she brought with her everywhere and her travel-size sketchbook. She poured herself a drink, stood at the island in the kitchen, and sketched.







Simon Rizzo
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Barista | outfit | Song |#489A4A.
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xxx I'm always screaming my lungs out
xxx till my head starts spinning
xxx Playing my songs is the way I cope with life
xxx Won't keep my voice down
xxx Know the words I speak are the thoughts I think out loud

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Simon checked his watch every few minutes as he pretended to flip through a magazine while he stood behind the counter of The Cozy Book Nook. When Livvy texted about Erin's party he was, hesitant to say the least. While there were certain people in their circle that he enjoyed spending time with like Erin and Julian, there were others he wasn't super fond of. Like Dean. And Adonis. and Jade. And, he shuddered to think about her, Lauren. Or the "fire-breathing bitch queen" as Livvy calls her.

But, hopefully, given the history, she wouldn't be there tonight.

He was waiting for Jennifer and Shaundra to get there to switch shifts so he could make it back to his apartment in time to change and meet Robyn at her place so they could go to Erin's together. Being Livvy's best friend meant knowing where Erin's apartment was. Plus... It was Robyn. He was honestly surprised she said yes. I mean... it's Robyn.

Anyway, he was reading the same article for the fifth time when he was literally saved by the bell on the door as the night crew came to take over. He nearly darted out the door with a salute and well wishes for a good night before he practically jogged to his home. He was definitely going to need a shower.

--

Pomade in his hair, a light cologne misting around him, and a clean shaved face. He was dressed in his bootcut jeans, a pair of polished black boots, a skeleton t-shirt, and his favorite jean jacket. On his way out the door, he made sure he had his wallet and his keys and grabbed his guitar.

The taxi was already waiting by the time the soles of his boots hit the concrete of the sidewalk. He dove inside and provided the address for Robyn's home which she had written on a piece of a napkin the last time she was in the Nook. Being a man of music, he had memorized it. He had done the same for Erin's apartment, Livvy's license plate (just in case something happened to her bus), and his Mom's, Livvy's, and Julian's cell numbers.

He stood outside the door as he waited for her to join him. And when she did, all words let his mind. All he could hear was music as she smiled shyly at him. "Wow, Robyn," He breathed, "You look amazing." He held the door open for her before climbing inside behind her.

Once they had arrived at Erin's, he exited with his guitar and gently placed it on the ground before offering a hand to her to assist in her own exit. He could've sworn he felt a zinging in his hands where she held onto his. Once she was safely on the sidewalk, he laughed self-consciously and rubbed at the back of his neck, letting go of her hand. "Sorry." He gestured for her to go up the stairs first saying, "After you."

He could feel the music in his chest as soon as the door opened and only intensified as he got closer to the sound system in the living room. Erin and Evie were dancing to some EDM song pumping through the speakers. Others were just joining conversations. He spotted Livvy sketching at the island but decided against going right up to her for now. They were close as siblings, but one conversation they had was giving each other space. They tended to crowd each other in... well... crowded situations and often times it overwhelmed them.

She gave him a smile and raised her glass to him and that was a greeting enough for him. They would talk later. He noticed her fingers were already smudged with graphite. You can take the artist out of her studio, but you can't take the art out of the artist.

Instead, he turned to Robyn, held his hand out to her, palm up, and asked, "May I have this dance, M'Lady?"

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Erin Monaghan Character Portrait: Soren Bowers Character Portrait: Evie Addams Character Portrait: Gabriella Montez Character Portrait: Olivia Eriksen Character Portrait: Declan Sun
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“Don’t fuck up, kid.” Taylor called out after Gabriella as she headed out the door. “Just one more week for that six month chip.”

“Yeah, yeah.” Gabriella rolled her eyes, but her smile made it evident that she had every intention of getting that chip.

“Call me!” They yelled through the door as Gabriella closed it behind her. They didn’t need to specify when, Gabriella knew they meant whenever. Though her friends had been supportive throughout her recovery, she needed someone who’d been in her position to tell her when she was being a whiny little bitch.

In fact Taylor was the one who convinced Gabriella to go to the party, or rather had been the one to tip her over the fence. Obviously Gabriella wanted to go and she trusted her friends to help her stay drug free, but it was scary. She obsessed over every reason she shouldn’t go despite very obviously wanting to. There were too many temptations, too much bad blood, too many ghosts.Taylor had told her to just shut up and make up her mind already and stop letting fear make her into a blubbering baby. In Gabriella’s opinion that was a bit of an exaggeration but point made. Gabriella just had promised to check in before and after, not that it was mandatory but it didn’t do her any good to piss off her sponsor.

Admittedly Gabriella wasn’t wholly honest with them. Sure when it came to drugs and her work she told Taylor - but lately those things had been the least of Gabriella’s problems. She couldn’t shake this feeling of dread, like soon her whole world would come tumbling down. It felt like things had only begun to stabilize for her and if she was being honest it wasn’t for noble reasons. All she’d done was change her drug, and his name was Damien Wolfe.

Gabriella could tell herself it wasn’t that big a deal as many times as she wanted, didn’t mean she believed it. Even if he and Dylan were in an open marriage she knew the secrecy was wrong, and of course that’s what made it so intoxicating. Secrets ruled Gabriella, had been her demise - for once to have one that gave her such pleasure it felt like reclaiming that power that others had once wielded over her. The weight of a new secret was enough to distract from the burden of older ones, but that little voice never stopped reminding her: the truth will always come out.

When she arrived at the party there were already enough people there that she could somewhat blend into the crowd. Deciding to put on her highest heels so that she could tower over anyone who might try confronting her tonight, she was just under 6’2”. No one was going to make her feel small tonight. Plus she looked hot as hell.

Erin was busy doing host duties but Gabriella had managed to give her a weak wave from across the room when the two were both engaged with other’s. She probably should have gone over but whatever ease existed between them was long gone. Doing her best to find a life ring she floated room to room for a while. Erin seemed to have done well for themselves.

Good, Gabriella thought to herself. She deserves this.

There were some people she remembered but none she was ever really close with but Gabriella kept her eyes open for Evie, Declan or Robyn. While it would be nice to use this party to catch up with the others she needed one of them around to keep her on her best behavior. She knew Jade was bound to show her face and even though it’d been over a year since they’d seen each other, Gabriella knew Jade could still play her like a fiddle. It was nearly an hour in before she found Declan, Gabriella still nursing her first beer.

“Where the fuck have you been.” She clutched his arm, desperation apparent in her voice. Whatever his answer was she didn’t listen, waving his words away. “It doesn’t even matter. You’re here now. Don’t you dare leave me alone.”

Linking arms with Declan, Gabriella immediately launched into a detailed account of all the gossip she learned so far navigating their way to the kitchen. Immediately she felt exponentially more at ease. Declan had that effect on her. Others had to navigate this unspoken agreement that didn’t point the finger at Jade for what happened, but Declan knew better. It’s why she needed him.

Gabriella caught sight of Evie, going towards her before realizing she was dancing beside Erin. Pausing for a moment debating if she should approach them or not, she forgot for a moment that Declan was beside her. She shook her head, tugging them back towards their kitchen.

“They look like they’re out of some gay ass coming of age movie.” Gabriella joked. As they entered the kitchen she recognized a familiar head of white blonde hair. Coming up behind Livvy, Gabriella wrapped her arms around the girl. “Hey bb!”

Gabriella threw back the last of her beer, walking around the island to toss her bottle in the recycling bin. Now that Declan was here she wasn’t so scared to loosen her inhibitions a little. Opening the fridge she grabbed herself another beer, handing one off to anyone who seemed to reach for one nearby.

“Soren!” Gabriella called out as he entered the kitchen, still handing out beers to empty reaching hands around her. “You want a beer?”

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Robyn Miller Character Portrait: Erin Monaghan Character Portrait: Jade Davies Character Portrait: Lauren Clark Character Portrait: Soren Bowers Character Portrait: Dylan Knight Character Portrait: Evie Addams Character Portrait: Gabriella Montez Character Portrait: Olivia Eriksen Character Portrait: Dean Sun Character Portrait: Adonis Galante Character Portrait: Julian Davies Character Portrait: Declan Sun Character Portrait: Simon Rizzo
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#, as written by TushoKa
Julian Davies.
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outfit. #8744ab.song.
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xxx And I'm a million different people
xxx From one day to the next
xxx I can't change my mold
xxx No, no, no, no, no

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Julian had been nervous all day. He was looking forward to the party, but at the same time it freaked him out. The last time he saw most of these people had been way before he ever went to prison. And although they might not say it to his face, he knew he was now known as ‘that guy that went to prison’. Whatever reason there had been for him going, he still had a hard time dealing with the stereotype that came with it.

Thankfully there had been his host for this evening. He wished there were more people like Erin, putting some faith in people that did their time. He had been working his ass off for months now in order to prove her right. And although he had never seen himself as a barman, it suited him well enough. He always made sure to split his tip with his colleagues and kept an eye on the regulars. Most of the people he had seen after his sentence was because of the Golden Owl. It was the new leaf he had been waiting to turn over for quite some time. And he had no interest in going back into any unsavoury business.

”So what time will you be ready?” he shouted at the bathroom door. His sister didn’t respond. Julian had been quick and efficient. In all honesty, he did not have a huge wardrobe to choose from. So he had settled on a simple polo and just prayed it would be anywhere near what the others would be wearing.

Julian had aimlessly walked through the living room, glancing at his phone, browsing through pictures he saw of people gearing up for the party. He always hated being late, and it wasn’t the first time his sister had been delaying him.

”Come on, Jay-jay. We’re gonna be late. I don’t want to get there when the party is basically over…” He was talking while leaning and knocking on the door. He almost dropped in when the door was suddenly opened.

”Julian, if you can’t wait, just go already.” The look on her face was one of anger. He recognised it easily as she looked at him with the same frown more than once a day. ”It’s only a short cab ride, so I can make my own way, and I don’t need you to take care of me. As you can see, I’m busy.”

He could see how she’d been busy with her hair. Just like it did with their mom, hair always took forever. Jade had started as soon as she got home and had kicked him off the couch in the process. ”Well…, you might be faster if you wouldn’t be listening to music while getting ready…” he said, grasping at straws.

”This music is a medical report podcast about anesthesiology in paediatrics and is a whole lot more interesting than your whining. So go the party, and I’ll meet you there.” With that she slammed the door in his face, barely leaving him the second it took to make sure it didn’t actually hit his face.




Julian paid with the change in his pocket. He already felt guilty on how he had been to his little sister. She’s trying so hard to better her life, and others as well by studying medicine, it was not right for him to give her a hard time. As he got out of the cab, he stared at the huge apartment. Jade’s apartment was surely good enough, and he could only thank her for letting him sleep on the couch on such a regular basis. But this apartment was something else all together.

As he got in he spotted the familiar faces quickly. He saw Erin first, in the middle of the dance floor with Evie. He made his way over to them first.
”Hey boss, thanks again for the invite. Nice to have one of our old school parties.” He smiled at her genuinely.
”Hey Evie, nice to see you again. She’s not here yet, but my sister should be here soon, I’m sure she’ll be happy to see you again.”
With that he let them be and walked on. He almost had the feeling like he walked in on something he shouldn’t have.

Before he made his way over to the next group, he was attacked. Livvy gave him a big hug.
”Hey Liv, it’s good to see you. I’ve missed you.” Missing her was an understatement. It was always nice to find someone who can speak your language, and Livvy was one of the few in the group who did. He didn’t know what else to say. Of all people he had expected Livvy to visit him, but she had been very distant. Of course her work didn’t give her the chance, but he couldn’t fully rationalise she had not even sought contact through phone or letter.
They let go of each other, as they were each still making their way through the room.

His next stop was the kitchen, where he picked up three beers, before he made his way over to the billiards. He had already spotted Dylan and Adonis. ”Good evening, people of the good life. Dylan, how are you?” As he asked Dylan, he gave a quick hug to Adonis.
”You guys looked like you could use some refreshments.” He handed each of them a fresh beer, before he clinked his bottle against theirs. ”Well, this is all a bit overwhelming. Cheers!”

As he looked up, he saw Simon and Robyn on the dance floor. Not sure if Simon could see it, he just held up his beer as a greeting. From his face he could see his friend was enjoying himself.






Jade Davies.
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outfit. #cb0e36.song.
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xxx No one on the corner has swagger like us
xxx Hit me on my burner prepaid wireless
xxx We pack and deliver like UPS trucks
xxx Already going hell, just pumping that gas

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Jade was tired the moment her shift was over. But she had been looking forward to this evening ever since Julian told her about it. So she had already picked out her outfit, but after a week of eleven hour shifts, she needed to do her hair first. With part of her hair tightened to the side, she was fighting with the straightener to iron out the other. She was listening to a podcast her senior physician had recommended. They hadn’t said it in those specific words, but Jade didn’t need a lot to get the hint.

That unlike her brother who annoyed the living daylights out of her. She had said it was okay for him to sleep on the couch, but he took that suggestion with more liberty than she liked. With the comb between her teeth and the straightener on the side of the sink, she changed sides to tackle the other part of her hair. The process had been going on for hours, but usually she would last a while before she had to do this again. She would rather kill herself than to appear at this party looking disheveled.

After talking of her brother she heard the door slam, indicating he’d finally left. She wouldn’t give him much credit, but at least she knew about the party through him. Jade doubted she would have received her own invitation. She had posted some pics throughout the week, already referencing the party. She knew Lauren would at least see those. Jade wanted to see her, wanted to confront her with her accomplishments. She wanted to show Lauren, she had outgrown her. This party was the perfect opportunity for that.

Finally ready with her hair she could see the absolute mess she had made. The whole floor was wet, as if there had been a flood. With her feet she wiped a towel over the floor to fix the worst of it. Then she put on her make up and got dressed. She wondered if Gabriella would be there too. She hoped so, her ex might be able to dodge her calls, but that would be a lot harder to do in person. She missed her, there was no doubt about that. But things weren’t lost, she just needed to get in contact with her again.

Lastly Jade put on the skirt and top she had already prepared. The top matched her bright red lipstick and looking into the mirror she was happy. This will be a night to remember. She grabbed her bag and 3 small bottles from her dresser. They were all filled with a selection of pills, pretty much a party mix.
She left the apartment for the cab stand. With a wink and a smile she said hi to the driver, who had been expecting her. Getting into the back, she leaned forward and handed the driver one of the bottles. ”All there. Now, do me a favour and drop me off at this address.”
She showed the address on her phone to the driver who just thanked her and started driving.




Jade left the cab and got to the apartment she had been looking for. Okay…just gonna assume most of this is Soren’s money…
As she climbed the stairs, she could feel a tingling in her stomach. She had been looking forward to this.

Inside it was already rather busy. But fashionably late was kind of her style in any case. She walked across the dance floor towards the kitchen. She saw her brother and some others near the billiards. She waved quickly and gave a small, almost non-perceivable wink to Adonis. Something about the look on his face told her that he’d seen her post. She had been out to lunch with Adonis’ mother 2 weeks ago, and she had learned the baby that was there was in fact Adonis’.
With her aim towards paediatrics she certainly had a professional interest, but even she had to admit that she posted the selfie of Adonis’ child with herself purely to rile him up.

The kitchen had been her best guess, and when she got in, she wasn’t disappointed. She gulped when she saw Gabriella, after a whole year. The last time she had seen her had been at the hospital. Jade had come by later, some time after the overdose. Ella had been asleep when she entered. Jade had looked at the chart and had figured out quickly that Ella was going to be fine. The relief she had felt then was overwhelming, and she had left before Gabriella would have had the chance of waking up.
She looked relaxed, full on in party mode.

Doing her best not to look at Gabriella or ‘homewrecker Declan’ for that matter, she walked over to Dean. She very nearly pushed Robyn out of the way in order to get to Dean. ”Hey babez, sorry for being late.” loud enough for all of them to hear.
She leaned forward to plant her lips on his, even just for a bit. Then she leaned back and looked at Robyn. ”Oh, hi sweetie. How are you holding up? I heard about Nate. I was so sorry to hear about his accident.” she put her hand on Robyn’s upper arm in an effort to show some empathy. With her smile and friendly eyes some people might even be convinced of her concern.
”If we can do anything to help, you just need to shout, all right?”

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Robyn Miller Character Portrait: Jade Davies Character Portrait: Gabriella Montez Character Portrait: Dean Sun Character Portrait: Declan Sun
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xxxx

xDean SunDeclan Sunx
xxxx
xxtroublemakerfuture surgeonxx
xx#A3333D#4A6670xx
xxoutfitoutfitxx

xxwith a guest appearance by gabriella montez
keepthese
linesfor


Declan might not have attended the party had Gabriela not said she was thinking about going, and Dean said he was certainly attending. Dec was pretty sure they’d only invited Dean because it felt wrong not to invite them both in the first place. Declan understood that, but sometimes they wished things weren’t like that. In his opinion, Dean was a good, but deeply flawed, person. Underneath all his issues he cared a lot.

The night of the party, Dean had swung by Declan’s place ahead of time because, well, it was on the way and Dean was trying to repair their relationship, and he wouldn’t be as well received if Dec wasn’t there with him. So he was there, sifting through Declan’s refrigerator while he waited for his sibling to get ready. Dean made a face as he pulled some rotting spinach out and tossed it in the garbage. Declan bought fresh food, but from the looks of the kitchen they never ate any of it. Dean couldn’t blame them, they were honestly too busy.

“Are you almost ready?” He called, long since tired of waiting around, “If we don’t hurry up people are going to think you won’t show.”

Declan had been so busy. Classes, studying, hospital rotations. It was dizzying and exhausting and left them little time for the small pleasures of life like taking their goddamn time getting ready for a party. “Yeah, I’m just-” He sighed, “It’s been so long, you know?” All their old friends were going to be there. Soren was going to be there. Maybe Simon. Dec wasn’t sure how to behave, or what kind of impression to make. Their social life had suffered for their excellent grades, and sometimes Declan wondered if he’d ever be normal again.

They left the cramped bathroom and came face-to-face with Dean, “Okay, I-” A pause, and a look around the room, “Were you going through my food?”

“Half of your shit was molding in the fridge,” Dean offered as an explanation, before turning to grab Declan’s keys and toss them at his brother, “Come on, parties are no fun if you’re the only sober ones there, and if we don’t hurry we will be.”

A subway ride and a couple blocks of walking later, and they were very nearly there.

“Dean,” Declan started, intending to ask Dean not to get Gabriella mixed up in whatever trouble he might concoct while at the party, but Dean waved them off before they got off the chance.

“I know this is my last fucking chance with most of these people,” He said, looking ahead, eyes not even glancing towards his brother, “Past it, even. I’ll be on my best behavior.”

Declan felt a little guilty. That was basically the gist of it, but they probably wouldn’t have been too harsh. “I just don’t want anyone to get hurt tonight, is all.”

There was a pregnant pause between the two of them.

“I know.” Dean finally replied. And after that, neither of them said much.

As they neared the building, Dean looked across the street and saw a squirrel behaving really erratically, and Dean pointed it out. “The fuck is that squirrel doing?”

Declan turned their head, eyebrow raised, “Let’s just get inside and leave it alone. Might be diseased or something.”

“Gross,” Dean mumbled as they entered the building.




They hadn't been there long before Dean vanished from Declan’s side and someone else found him, “Where the fuck have you been.”

Declan quickly tried to explain, tone apologetic, “My rotation this afternoon ran a little long and-”

“It doesn’t even matter. You’re here now. Don’t you dare leave me alone.”

Declan nodded at the interruption, “I wouldn’t dream of it.” He nodded along as she started detailing the gossip of the night, occasionally puncturing her comments with little interjections of “oh?”, or “no,” or even, “I knew it!”

Declan raised an eyebrow at Gabriella’s comment about Erin and Evie. They smirked, “Right down to the outfits.”

Dean had made it to the kitchen, and Declan shot him an awkward smile as they both reached out for Gabriella to hand them a beer. Then Robyn Miller, of all people, was greeting Dean like they were the best of friends. What the fuck.

There hadn’t been much for Dean to do besides ditch Declan once the two of them got to the party, and then they were quickly reunited in the kitchen. Dean shot a beaming grin at Dec and went on to his business. The goal for the evening was to get drunk, get laid, and have fun. He ran into someone on his way out of the kitchen, and was a little pissed off until he noticed it was Robyn. He smiled at her greeting, “Hey! It’s great to see you.”

“How have you been? How’s the restaurant?”

Dean nodded, “Busy,” He offered, as explanation for how both he and the restaurant were doing, “How about you? How’s-”

Then Jade showed up, blowing through the room like a whirlwind. He swallowed down his annoyance of being interrupted to put on the act of a kind and caring boyfriend, shrugging off her apology for being late. “Not my party.” He neglected to mention that he, himself, had also been a bit late. He returned Jade’s kiss, and had to fight the urge to roll his eyes when Jade went on talking to Robyn about Nate’s passing. The conversation was suddenly about Nate, and he wasn’t the center of it anymore, so he was very quickly growing bored. But he kept a polite, neutral smile glued to his face.

Gabriella, who had turned to face Declan when Jade entered the kitchen, still couldn’t resist glancing out her periphery as she heard Jade call another by the endearment once reserved for her. Doing her best not to react she took a drink from her beer, looking back to Declan to see his reaction. It was evident it was just as much of a surprise to him as it was Gabriella.

“I’m going to go to the bathroom,” Gabriella mumbled to Declan, slipping past him and out the kitchen.

Dec had no idea that Jade and Dean were… Together? He shook his head when Gabriella looked at him, trying to wordlessly convey that he would have told her had he known. He sighed, softly, to himself as she slipped past. She needed a minute, so he let her go.

Declan walked up to Dean and, with a smile, said, “Excuse me ladies,” They cut a sharp look at Jade, it only lasted a second, but it was long enough to convey their distaste for her. “Can I borrow my brother for just a minute?” With their normally-gentle hand on Dean’s shoulder, Declan led Dean out of the kitchen and to the first empty corner they could find and shoved him into it.

“What the hell, Dean?!”

“What?” Dean’s expression was incredulous, he hadn’t done anything. Of course, he didn’t know the truth about what had happened between Jade and Gabriella, but for fuck’s sake.

“Jade? Out of everyone in the world?”

Dean shrugged, but he was angry at Declan for pushing him. Dec could see it on his face, they knew Dean better than anyone. “I really don’t think it's any of your business.” Dean smiled; all teeth and no warmth, “Is it?”

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Damien Wolfe Character Portrait: Dylan Knight Character Portrait: Gabriella Montez
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damien wolfe.
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outfit. soul. mental. #a77769.
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xxx insane, inside the danger gets me high
xxx can't help myself got secrets I can't tell
xxx i love the smell of gasoline
xxx i light the match to taste the heat
xxx i've always liked to play with fire

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outfit. james valdez. underboss.
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Damien was late for the party. This much was true. He received the invitation some days ago from a contact he much less had talked to in years. Not only did he have little interest in festivities tonight, but he did not know how he felt about being in a room filled with strangers. He hasn’t seen most of them since his high school days, but he decided to leave his past behind him. It was the only way he had any intentions to grow into who he has become today; a multi-billionaire with a successful tech business. But, that was the role he used as a distraction to keep others from discovering his truth. Beneath the surface, he was a notorious capo of the most dangerous drug cartel harboring connections overseas. His covert operation included managing the production, management, and promotion of drug trafficking, establishing alliances, and waging war with adjacent cartels. Today was his two-and-a-half-year anniversary in business, and each day wasn't getting any easier, particularly because his cartel was gaining traction across the board. The more well-known the cartel, the more sought they were by law enforcement. The strategy was straightforward: go in, get out, omertà. Even though Damien's name was kept hidden from the public, he still had some who put him to the test; they wanted what he had; they wanted power. Damien was always cautious not to allow anybody close to him, shutting his emotions off against things that might be used as leverage at some time, which is why he chose to remove people from his life. He nearly got murdered for being irresponsible, particularly since Damien did not discover the perpetrator until today. He set his eyes on anybody who represented a danger to him or his business.

The lengthy corridor appeared to go on indefinitely. The overhead lights that flanked the walkway were dimly illuminated and did not provide enough illumination. Still, it was dark and silent. The only noises heard were Damien's oxford cushioning the concrete surface and his lieutenants, James Valdez and Dwight Johnson, echoing his footsteps from behind him. They were doing business at Damien's corporate office in Manhattan when they heard from one of Damien's falcons that the guy responsible for Damien's assassination attempt had emerged from hiding two years earlier. That was an hour ago, but Damien directed the falcon to keep a tight watch on their target until one of the sicarios could abduct him. The victim was taken to one of the Wolfe cartel's warehouses on the outskirts of New York, in the middle of nowhere.

The three in charge were marching down the hall, referring to their authority. They were getting closer to the distant screams of someone being tortured; the noises reverberated as they rebounded off the walls. Finally, the three guys came to a halt in front of the rolling steel door and faced each other. “Are you sure that you want to do this, boss?" Dwight inquired, his face furrowed and his hands buried deep inside his tan business suit. Damien understood what Dwight meant. It was unusual for him to do the dirty job of sitting in on one of their prisoners being tortured, and no one ever saw Damien's face in their business unless they were about to die. Damien grabbed James' black vinyl gloves from his grasp and nodded, his jaw clenching as he slid his hands inside the gloves. Dwight took a breather, shifting his gaze from Damien to James, then back to Damien. He finally reached down to grasp the handle and pulled it over his head, causing the door to crash open. Three of their sicarios surrounded the man of the hour who sat on a chair slumped in the center of the room. His hands were tied, a cloth was around his mouth, and blood ran down the side of his head. His clothes were spattered with dried blood and filth. The prisoner squinted his eyes towards the direction of the light that peered through the stockroom's door. His gaze swept the three towering bodies before settling on Damien Wolfe. Damien was the proudest of them all; his hands clasped in front of him as he looked blankly at the prisoner. His eyes were dark and menacing, causing the guy to move in his chair and shake his head as he screamed a succession of 'no's.

"Hello, there." Damien's voice was scornful and evil as he said, “We meet again.” Damien entered the room with such elegance and assurance that two of his sicarios backed away hesitantly. He walked over to a corner and grabbed a chair, dragging it along the concrete floor towards his new friend. “Only this time,” he continued. “I'm the hunter,” he said as he sat in the chair in front of the prisoner, adjusting it so that the back post faced him. As the two guys sat face to face, examining each other, there was quiet. Damien saw that he had been severely battered, that his right eye was swollen, and that the sicarios busted his lip. However, he expressed no remorse for the guy who almost murdered him outside the restaurant if James hadn't intervened. He would have died because of the obnoxious jerk in front of him. Damien moved forward and snatched the handkerchief from his lips before resuming his seat.

“Now,” Damien snapped his fingers at one of his sicarios, who quickly turned over the silencer in his hands. “I trust I need no introduction. But who exactly are you?” Damien shifted his gaze away from the hefty metal in his palms, hoping for a response. When he never got one, Damien raised the gun above his head, pulling the trigger. The bullet bounced off the metal steel ceiling panels and rattled on the floor. Damien lowered his pistol and cocked his head to the side, aiming the barrel between the captive's eyes. “The next bullet is going through your head,” Damien said sternly. He dropped the pistol, even more, letting the weight of it lie freely in his hands as he leaned on the chair's upper rail.

“What is your name?" His voice was suddenly more audible. The prisoner scowled at Damien before bending forward towards the infamous boss and spatting on the ground. “Scarface,” he said, a wicked smile on his face, some of his teeth missing. “And I recognize you. Damien Wolfe, a pretty white boy who inherited most of his father's fortune, new to the drug business, and now has all this money he doesn't know what to do with-" His speech was cut short by the sound of Damien shooting the pistol. When he realized the bullet had gone through his foot, the guy shouted in pain. The sicarios and lieutenants gathered about, seeing the brutal questioning. Nobody ventured to enter the lion's den.

“Let's try this again,” Damien said calmly as he tightened the barrel on the pistol. “Who sent you?"

“F-fuck you,” the guy huffed, holding back the agony of his gunshot wound.

Damien jumped up from his chair, knocking it on the floor. He drew closer to the guy, resting his hands on the chair's armrest. "Who sent you!?" He yelled, spewing droplets of saliva into the man's face with the venom of each word. His face was flushed, and he was losing patience. But the guy refused to budge. He didn't react as Damien threw the chair across the room and waved the pistol in his face, threatening to kill him. When he was centimeters away from Damien's face, the grin on his face grew. “You already know who sent me.”

Damien wrinkled his brows in response to the man's remarks. He wasn't sure who could've sent Scarface to murder him since he had more enemies than he could count, all with the same objective. But whoever was responsible for this was unyielding, and he knew that if he didn't solve it right now, it would turn into an even larger issue. Damien pulled himself away from Scarface, exasperated. He walked about the room, squeezing his nose as his mind wandered. Many individuals wanted Damien dead, but no one has ever succeeded or even attempted to do so. They largely stayed away; therefore, the issue is, who is it? He came to a halt in his pacing and faced Scarface once more. He looked at him as if he knew the answers to all of his inquiries, but it was irritating when Scarface didn't participate. He was finally rendered ineffective when Damien pointed the pistol towards Scarface’s head and squeezed the trigger. He stood still as Scar's corpse fell on the chair. “Get rid of the body,” he said to the sicarios before turning on one heel, handing Dwight his pistol, and exiting the room.

After Damien's encounter with Scarface, minutes stretched into hours. ‘You know who sent me,' Damien let the words play back in his mind as he sat in the back of his Maserati with James, who sensed his boss was tense. They were sitting outside the party, and the booming bass of the music matched the fast pounding of his heart in his chest. When Damien and James got out of the vehicle, he fought down his apprehension and said, "Let's go." The two attractive, well-dressed guys approached the party but were halted by the sight of a squirrel writhing on the ground, white foam coming from its lips.

“The hell,” James said as he moved away from it. They watched as the squirrel ran off into the distance. Then, they walked inside, making a big entrance that drew a few heads in their way.

“I need to go the restroom,” Damien said above the music to James. James gave him a thumbs up before making his way through the crowds of people dancing in the direction of the kitchen for drinks. Damien made his way through the throng to the restroom, taking out his phone to send a series of texts to Dylan.

To Wifey Dyl:
where are you?
are you still mad at me?
come home.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Robyn Miller Character Portrait: Damien Wolfe Character Portrait: Erin Monaghan Character Portrait: Jade Davies Character Portrait: Lauren Clark Character Portrait: Soren Bowers Character Portrait: Dylan Knight Character Portrait: Evie Addams Character Portrait: Gabriella Montez Character Portrait: Olivia Eriksen Character Portrait: Dean Sun Character Portrait: Adonis Galante Character Portrait: Julian Davies Character Portrait: Camilla Rhodes Character Portrait: Declan Sun Character Portrait: Simon Rizzo
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evie addams.
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outfit. #b59eab.
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xxx I don't feel sorry for you
xxx Cause now the tables turning
xxx And now the bridge is burning
xxx It's coming crashing down

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In some ways, Evie didn’t realise that she was searching for someone in particular until that someone materialised beside her, with a wry comment and that charming smirk. Evie grinned and returned Erin’s side hug. She laughed and shrugged a little at the comment. “Never really know what to do with myself,” she admitted with an honest laugh. For years, she’d just followed Lauren around and followed her example. Figuring out what to do with her own agency, as her own person, took a little bit of time. Erin’s comment about not being a party animal herself made her chuckle a little. Evie wasn’t quite sure that she believed Erin on that, but she appreciated the comfort nonetheless.

Evie wasn’t quite sure how to react when Erin declared that she had to go with her, gently taking Evie’s drink from her and setting it down. She had to fight back a blush as Erin took her hand, but felt that her huge, cheesy smile had to give her away, as she nodded at Erin’s request for a dance. “Sure,” she managed to get out, before tugging Erin towards the dance floor.

Evie had never really gotten to spend much time with Erin before. Erin and Lauren had hated each other, and Evie had always just stuck with Lauren, no matter the horrible things that she was saying. But now, Evie wanted to make up for that, and get to know the real Erin, not the version that Lauren painted of her. And if that started with dancing and having fun together, well, who was she to turn it down?

For once, Evie wasn’t worried about how she looked or what people thought of her. As a teenager, her mind had always been on whether or not she looked “hot”, how she compared to Lauren and Jade and Camilla, what they thought of her, what everyone else thought of her. But no more. Now, she was focused on the moment and on having fun. Because that’s what she was doing; having fun. She was laughing and dancing with Erin, not worrying about whether people were staring or what they could possibly be thinking. She spotted Gabriella and gave an excited, albeit brief wave, that she wasn’t sure whether or not the other girl saw.

She grinned as Julian approached them, almost a little awkwardly, to say hello to Erin. The once or twice that Evie had swung by the Golden Owl, she’d seen Julian behind the bar, and while they hadn’t necessarily talked much, it was good to see him doing well. Her smile faltered a little bit at the mention of Jade, but she nodded. “Good to see you, mate.”

They got back to dancing and enjoying themselves for another little while. And then, as Evie turned, she caught a glimpse of a familiar figure, one that sent chills down her spine, and she froze.




lauren clark.
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outfit. #540000.
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xxx Honey, I rose up from the dead,
xxx I do it all the time
xxx I've got a list of names
xxx and yours is in red, underlined

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Getting back in contact with Camilla might just have been the best decision Lauren had made. If she hadn’t, she probably wouldn’t have heard about this little party. Jade had been making vague posts about it all week on instagram as well, probably with the intention of catching Lauren’s interest. It was a cute attempt, really, but Camilla had already spoiled that surprise for Jade. Lauren had liked the posts, of course, but hadn’t particularly engaged with them beyond that. She knew that Jade was likely to try and impress her, or show her that she had somehow surpassed Lauren in terms of being the Queen Bee, a thought that made Lauren genuinely laugh.

She already knew all of her old favourite toys would be there. Lauren smiled at the thought as she leaned in to add the finishing touches to her eyeliner. It was Erin’s apartment, which meant that Soren was also guaranteed to be there. He thought he’d called her bluff when she’d threatened to tell the world about all of his little secrets. And truth be told, she’d been tempted to post the pictures she had, just to spite him. But when she’d heard about the party, she figured that she’d have the opportunity to get even more dirt on him. Being with a rockstar was exactly the angle her reputation needed right now, even one that was known to be the opposite of the stereotype. The aesthetics were all that mattered. She had her ways of getting everything else she wanted. She always had; her relationship with him had always been about the aesthetics and the fun of it all.

And then, of course, there was Erin herself. Oh, the things that Lauren had on Erin. Erin had gotten bold around the time that Evie had gotten herself sent to hospital and had blamed it all on Lauren. But a twisted smile and a reminder of the information that Lauren had, and Erin had dropped it. That sort of power over one of her most notorious critics was the most intoxicating kind.

She’d also heard through a reliable source that Dean was going to be there, which meant that his shadow of a brother was also likely to be there. At least she knew that there was likely to be a bit of fun if Dean was there. Declan was a little bit of a complication, having taken the sides of those such as Evie and Gabriella over the years, but as far as she was concerned, he wasn’t likely to be a problem or a barrier to her being able to have a little bit of fun.

Showing up to a party on time was overrated, and not her style. She wanted to make sure that all eyes would be on her when she arrived. And so, she waited, booking her taxi for an hour after the time that Camilla had told her. Camilla had been oh so generous in telling Lauren all of the details, acting as the perfect little minion. She’d fallen right back into Lauren’s clutches and all it had taken was a few friendly texts, comments hyping her up on instagram, and some juicy gossip, and it was like nothing had ever happened between them. Of course, it had, and Lauren wasn’t going to forget their little conversation in the hospital any time soon. But being friends with Camilla was in Lauren’s interests at the minute, and so, she’d make sure to stay on her good side for as long as was required.

She stepped out of the taxi and scanned the building in front of her. She shook her head, smiling to herself as she imagined how the hell Erin explained how she could afford this apartment to people. Everyone knew that the Golden Owl couldn’t be making that much money to be able to afford a nice place like this. There were one or two stragglers outside, who saw her and froze. She didn’t recognise them; which meant they either feared her by reputation, or her appearance was enough to strike fear into them. Lauren’s wicked smile grew a little. Either of those things were good. She took her time making her way into the apartment. If anyone recognised her, she wanted them to be sure that it was her. She wanted everyone to know that she was there, and that she meant business.

The dance floor was right in front of her as she finally stepped into the apartment itself. She could already see a few familiar faces. Those familiar faces began to do double takes as they noticed her. Evie and Erin were out dancing on the floor together, laughing and apparently oblivious to the looks and the comments that were being made about them. It was cute, really, but Lauren knew that with a few well placed revelations, she could change the way they looked at each other forever.

But it was probably a bit early in the party to begin plotting anyone’s downfall just yet.

As Evie twirled, she spotted Lauren and froze, the smile falling from her face in an instant and her expression turning to one of horror. That was Lauren’s cue, it seemed. She spotted Camilla and strode towards her. As she walked, all conversation seemed to die, save for whispers that were barely heard over the music; some emo shit that Soren had presumably chosen.

“Hello, darling,” Lauren called, leaning in to kiss Camilla on the cheek. “Thank you so much for inviting me to this… wonderful little party,” she said. “I’m so psyched to be able to see all my old… friends again,” she said, turning and scanning the room. Her smile widened as she realised that practically all of their old group was there. All of her favourite toys. All of the people whose secrets she still knew, who she still held in the palm of her hand.

All of the people she could, and would ruin.




soren bowers.
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outfit. #4d5676.
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xxx I've been staying up all night
xxx Shaking needles out my spine
xxx But the doctor says I'm fine
xxx Feels good to be alive, but I hate my life

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Soren grinned at Erin as she passed. As he got into the kitchen, he heard a familiar voice calling out to him, offering him a beer. He grinned and held out his hand. “You’re a mind reader, Gabriella,” he called, accepting the drink. But before he could properly greet Gabriella, she turned to Declan (who Soren only realised was there as she did so), said something he couldn’t quite hear and left. Soren recovered, taking a mouthful of his beer, and took a moment to compose his thoughts.

And then Declan also left, apparently having not noticed Soren’s arrival either. Soren just took another drink, sighing a little. He felt vaguely deflated by the fact that the only person that seemed to have really paid any heed to him was Camilla and her comment about his shirt. But he didn’t have time to dwell on it. Because as he looked back out towards the dance floor, he saw something that sent shivers down his spine.

Lauren was there. She kissed Cam on the cheek, before turning to scan the room. Lauren’s eyes landed on Soren, and her smile became even more wicked. He made his way towards her, unsmiling as he approached.

“Soren, darling, how wonderful to see you as well. You look fantastic, and what a wonderful party,” she said. He didn’t smile, and that just seemed to make hers widen.
“What the fuck are you doing here?” He asked.
“My darling friend Camilla here invited me,” she said. Soren instinctively shot a glare at Cam, before turning his attention back to Lauren. She bet him to the punch however.

“Come on then, Sor, darling, be the gracious host we all know you are,” she said, taking a step towards him and cupping his face. He froze for a second, conscious of everyone watching them. He pushed her hand away, as calmly but as insistently as he could.
“Leave,” he said, loudly enough for everyone to hear. Her eyes shone with a dangerous energy, a warning, her whole demeanour like a trickster goddess, waiting for someone to fall in her trap. And it seemed like somebody just had.
“Are you going to make me?” She asked. There was nothing playful in her tone, even if it was light. He braced himself, knowing that the sting was coming. “Do you really think you’d be able to do that? What with your bad hip and all of your… other problems?” She asked, her tone cold and harsh, and somehow still light. She made sure that everyone would hear, and that they’d be hanging on to her every word. She really hadn’t changed. And then she smiled, her demeanour changing back to friendly and open. “I really can’t wait to catch up with all of you again,” she said, turning to address the party, and choosing another target to go talk to. Soren went to follow her or to say something, but somebody grabbed his arm to hold him back.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Robyn Miller Character Portrait: Damien Wolfe Character Portrait: Erin Monaghan Character Portrait: Jade Davies Character Portrait: Lauren Clark Character Portrait: Soren Bowers Character Portrait: Dylan Knight Character Portrait: Evie Addams Character Portrait: Gabriella Montez Character Portrait: Olivia Eriksen Character Portrait: Dean Sun Character Portrait: Adonis Galante Character Portrait: Julian Davies Character Portrait: Camilla Rhodes Character Portrait: Declan Sun Character Portrait: Simon Rizzo Character Portrait: Jeremy Williams
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Olivia Eriksen
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Art Conservator/Starving Artist | outfit. | Song |#8B8000.
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xxx I wanna paint your face
xxx Like you're my Mona Lisa
xxx I wanna be a champion
xxx I wanna be a loser

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Livvy should've picked a better place to sketch she decided. Part of her was scolding herself for not interacting more, but her travel had made it hard to keep in touch with a lot of people. Many reconnected with old friends and some... made new friends. She always had Simon, of course, but they couldn't cling to one another like Rose and Jack in the Titanic. The scene with the door still upset her. There was plenty of room on that damn door for Jack! She shook her head sharply, getting lost in her thoughts. She took another sip as someone grabbed her in a hug from behind and she squeaked--actually squeaked--as Gabriella embraced her. "Hello to you too," she said with a laugh. Gabriella, one of those new friends/old friends who found new friends with old friends (she should make a mind map to follow all the friendships around here), turned her attention to Soren. Livvy gave him a small nod and went back to sketching. She saw Soren every now and then, but he was more Simon's kind of guy. They shared a love of music.

Only Julian shared Livvy's love of art.

She had half a thought to go find him when more faces filled the kitchen and she started to feel a bit crowded. With a grunt, she tossed her things in her little bag and moved around the island to try to find a different space to exist in. She heard a familiar voice--Robyn's--greet someone that made Livvy stop in her tracks. Dean.

There he was. Just as attractive as he was in high school. More so with that swagger and his hair. She felt her palms get sweaty and realized she was staring. Thankfully he didn't seem to notice. In fact, he didn't seem t see her at all. She moved to join in the conversation with Simon's new love interest and her old flame with she walked in. Livvy was never a fan of Jade. She never liked the way she treated her brother. She wouldn't be surprised if she had anything to do with Julian getting locked up. It wasn't long before Dean made his relationship clear.

And just like that, Livvy found herself leaving the room altogether... and snagging a bottle of strawberry liqueur and made her way into another room. She low-key hoped Simon didn't see. She knew she'd get an ear full of it later.

While she found Julian, much to her dismay, she had also run into someone else she wasn't entirely sure how to respond to. Adonis. Guilt swept through her again as she hadn't reached out lately. She had been busy with paintings and weddings. And he had been busy with Fleur and... if she was reading the room right, Dylan maybe? Livvy didn't know much about Dylan. She was a gorgeous woman with the kind of curves Livvy would kill for. She subconsciously ran a hand over her chest, bound in her black tube top. She took a swig from the bottle and walked over.

"Hey, guys! What's uh... what's up?" She lifted a hand to run her fingers through her hair like she usually did when she was nervous, but she spent a good amount of product trying to keep the volume in her hair so she let it drop. "Are we playing pool? Could do guys vs. ladies?"

Livvy, she thought, Shut the hell up.







Simon Rizzo
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Barista | outfit | Song |#489A4A.
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xxx I'm always screaming my lungs out
xxx till my head starts spinning
xxx Playing my songs is the way I cope with life
xxx Won't keep my voice down
xxx Know the words I speak are the thoughts I think out loud

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As Simon danced with Robyn, he noticed movement behind her and glanced over to find Julian. He gave a small wave with the promise to catch up with him later. They haven't talked as much as they used with their work schedules but they found time where they could. Robyn was gorgeous tonight, with her curls and her adorable smile. He wanted to tell her what, exactly, he felt for her, but he still wasn't sure if she was ready after Nate. They hadn't ever talked about it.

So instead, he just enjoyed the time he had with her.

Once they finished dancing, she went to get a drink, and he moved off to the side to give others room to dance. He noticed Livvy slink off, but missed the bottle she had snatched. He did however notice Declan in the kitchen with Gabriella. It had been a while since they connected and while things ended fine between them, he did miss the friendship that had at one time. He made a move to join them...And that's when Cam walked up. He barely recognized her with the way her hair was styled, her lack of bright red lipstick. It was like, she dropped the Camilla she was on stage and became a different Camilla. Interesting.

Sputtering like a high school boy, he replied, "H-Hey, Cam-Camilla-Cam." He cleared his throat and rubbed the back of his neck. "It has, in fact, been a while. You look great. Did you do something with your hair?" She asked him about his "comic shop" and he instantly knew she hadn't changed a ton since high school. It helped him mellow a bit. "Just a book store. And a coffee shop. And it's not mine I just work there. Well, I manage it." He gave an uncomfortable chuckle.

Then, he could almost hear a record scratch. Could almost feel the ice that filled the room (or was it heat?) as the fire-breathing bitch queen appeared. All sly smiles and cocky attitude. She kissed Cam on the cheek, thanking her for inviting her. His eyes snapped to his ex, filled with what he could only describe as betrayal. Not that he could say he was entirely surprised. He was just thankful Livvy wasn't in the room. She wasn't sure if she'd try to claw the woman's eyes out or jump her to complete her stupid list.

Lauren's eyes roved the room and landed on poor Soren. The energy in the room turned electric, crackling with aggression as he confronted her. She revealed something about a bad hip of his, but Simon dismissed it. The woman liked to play games. And even if she wasn't playing, it was none of Simon's business. She breezed by him, a wraith with no real substance, and he moved to go after her, but Simon reached out to grab his arm. "Let her go, man. It's not worth it." He watched her go and continued, "She likes a chase."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Robyn Miller Character Portrait: Jade Davies Character Portrait: Gabriella Montez
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#, as written by TushoKa
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co-written by leisurelyatwar


Before Robyn could even say anything back to Jade, Declan made his way over. He seemed to push in between them harder than Jade had done just a hot minute ago.
”Excuse me ladies, can I borrow my brother for just a minute?”
Jade could see the hate in his eyes, but answered with a smile on her face.
”Oh hey Deckie, didn’t see you there.” she said feigning surprise.
”Sure you can borrow him. He’s your brother after all. My word…, those bags under your eyes are getting bigger by the day. Do you get enough rest between shifts?”

Declan did not stick around to answer, but grabbed Dean by the shoulder and let him out of the kitchen. Jade smiled and waved after them.

Looking back at Robyn, the widow had a puzzled smile on her face.
”So Jade? How long have you and Dean been together? I don’t recall him mentioning anything, my bad.”

It’s not like they were anything exclusive, so Jade would have been very surprised if Dean had told anyone. ”We've been exploring each other’s pants for a while now, but I'm not keeping count. What about you, where do you get your ... uhmm.. excitement now?” She wondered if Miss Goody Two Shoes ever had any real excitement. Going with the same guy since high school wasn’t particularly experimental.

“Oh, uh. Nothing really. Don’t feel ready to get back out there, you know?” Robyn answered as if she had ever been ‘out there’.

Jade pushed out her lip and shook her head a bit. If there was any time to get back into the game for Robyn, it would be now. "Well, don't wait too long. I mean... it's not like he's gonna come back. Now, if you excuse me, if you see Dean, just tell him I'm off to the ladies room." Jade stepped away from Robyn and moved into the direction of the bathroom, where she had just seen Gabriella go as well.

Suddenly the party felt too crowded, the music too loud. Gabriella kept a hand along the walls of the hall as she worked towards the bathroom, her gaze lowered. She hadn’t expected Jade to stay single, Gabriella sure hadn’t been chaste since their break. That Gabriella had been prepared for. However, seeing Jade’s lips lock with Dean’s made her stomach turn. It wasn’t jealousy - no it was more visceral than that. She felt dirty, disgusted. As much as she wanted to be angry with Dean she knew that he was just a toy in Jade’s manipulations. Her bar for him was already so low it was impossible for Dean to surprise her anymore with a new low. Jade however met new levels of deception every day.

There was a line outside the bathroom, Gabriella leaning against the wall and crossing her arms. Her eyes were narrowed in a way she only did when deep in thought, staring blankly at the wall across from her. She probably should have just gone home but she didn’t want Jade knowing that she’d been able to have that effect on her.

Jade had expected a line at the bathroom and she wasn’t disappointed. She stared from a distance, eyeing the girl she had been with for quite some time. She looked good, but not nearly as good as when Ella’s head would be laying in her lap. So high on whatever she was given she could not make sense of the world anymore. [color=#cboe36]God, how I miss those days.[/color]

She walked over, and although her high heels should have made clicking noises with every step, somehow she was silent. She saw how deep in thought Ella was. She could not even have noticed how Jade had been walking up close to her, standing behind her in line.
“Oh Ella, here you are” again faking her surprise.
“And here I was, thinking you were avoiding me somehow.”

Gabriella could feel Jade’s presence before she heard her, the hairs on the back of her neck standing up. Jade always had that effect on her. Her therapist said it was the result of prolonged psychological manipulation, that Jade wanted Gabriella a little afraid of her. As much as Gabriella agreed with her it was hard to accept that that’s all their relationship had been.

Jade’s mock surprise was convincing but Gabriella knew that Jade was too intelligent to leave anything to chance. Though Gabriella had long committed the lines and curves of Jade’s face to memory, seeing her again this close Gabriella had to catch her breath. Of course her lips were painted red, Gabriella’s gaze glancing down at them instinctually. They were even more inviting than she remembered. Looking away suddenly to break the spell Jade had over her, it took a few seconds to regain her faculties.

“What do you want, Jade?” Gabriella asked flatly, keeping her gaze fixed on the wall across them. She was tired of these games.
Jade moved sideways, getting directly in Gabriella’s eyeline. “What do I want? You seriously have to ask me what I want? Why do you think I’ve been trying to call you and message you?

Jade took a step closer, they nearly touched each other now. They were of very similar height, so Jade tried her best to stare deep into Gabriella’s eyes.
“Please babez, don’t look so sad, it does nothing for you. I miss your smile.”

Gabriella pushed herself from the wall, grateful for the extra height her heels had given to be able to look down at Jade. She seemed so small from this angle, almost harmless. Like the blossom of a poisonous plant trying to lure in its prey. Gabriella had been preparing for the moment when she saw Jade again well over a year. She had convinced herself if she knew what was coming she would be able to deflect it. Unfortunately no amount of intellectualizing could outwit Jade’s natural effect on others, Gabriella struggling not to become reactive.

“Will you please just say whatever it is that you need to say so I can go back to my life and you can go be with Dean.” Gabriella knew she sounded jealous, and maybe she was a little. It stung to see Jade with another, regardless of whatever messiness they had unresolved between them.

Jade enjoyed every bit of it. She still had her influence over Gabriella. She had always told Jade everything with her mouth shut. Her face, her movement, the moments when she blinked, all of it was telling Jade what she already knew. She still had a hold over her.
“Aawwe babez, you’re not jealous are you? Me and Dean have a very different kind of… connection.”

Jade looked compassionately at Gabriella. “Shame babez, you look stressed.” She put her hand on her bag, leaned in close and changed to a whisper. “I have something to calm you down if you like. Nothing heavy, I swear, just something to take the edge off and make sure you can enjoy your night.”

“Are you fucking serious?” A response that Gabriella had said in a very different tone once upon a time, now delight replaced with malice. Any bit of control that Gabriella had over her reactions was out the window. She clenched her fists, her nails digging into her palms.

“You are poison, Jade.” Gabriella seethed.
Jade leaned back, a bit surprised at the hard reaction. She wasn’t used to Gabriella talking this way to her, but it didn’t mean this was over.

“No need to get hostile, sweetie. I’m only poison to those that choose to see me like that.” Jade saw how they were up next for the bathroom. The line had moved slowly during their conversation. In a quick move Jade softly put her hand on Gabriella’s.
“You know what. I’ll go to the bathroom first. I’ll just leave the pill there for you. And you can decide to flush it, or take it, no harm done. You don’t owe me a thing, and I wouldn’t even know.”

Jade pulled her hand from Gabriella’s and held the door open as the previous person just came out. “Won’t be a minute.” she smiled warmly at her ex, as if they just had a friendly conversation.

Gabriella felt frozen in place, still feeling the shadow of Jade’s hand around hers. The worst part was that no matter what, Jade would always leave Gabriella wishing she could get high. It wasn’t just the association she made with her ex. Jade made her feel out of control. When she was using she convinced herself she liked not having to make any decisions for herself but look where it got her. Staring ahead at the door Jade disappeared behind, Gabriella held her breath waiting for it to open again.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Damien Wolfe Character Portrait: Jade Davies Character Portrait: Gabriella Montez
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Image

ImageImageOnce inside Jade redid her make up a bit and washed her hands. Making Gabriella stew in her own thoughts for a bit. From her bag, she took one of the pill bottles and took the cap off. She shook out a few pills on her hand and picked the one she was looking for. It wasn’t the heaviest, but it was more the temptation than the actual effect in any case.

She put the pill on the side of the sink. There was a jar of crystals as decoration, and Jade picked out the green ones, knowing it was Gabriella’s favorite color. She placed them in the shape of a heart around the pill, making it stand out. All finished she opened the door again to let Gabriella in.

After sending the texts to Dylan, Damien slipped effortlessly through the throng of inebriated individuals towards the direction of the bathroom. Out of office, Damien retained his authoritarian image, compelling people to get out of his way. In contrast, others stood in awe of the sumptuous grandeur of what was Mr. Wolfe casually walking by. He was aware that they were watching him, and he desired that they do so. He wasn't an attention seeker, yet he exuded the kind of assurance that goes unnoticed. Damien worked hard to have his name plastered on billboards all around New York City. He was in charge of the room, and he looked fantastic doing it.

When he turned into the corridor, he wasn't shocked to find many individuals waiting in line for the toilet, whether they needed to use it or whether they planned to snort lines privately. Damien was a little irritated by the latter's notion since it reminded of his mother who died of an overdose when he was just four years old. He didn't recall much of what happened that night since his thinking process was still forming. Damien did, however, recall the neglect he felt days before they were found, as well as cops taking him away from the terrible sight. So, knowing that some of them were just there to take heavy drugs, he was not happy. Damien was well aware of how it typically ended; he was also aware of how it could destroy someone. Similarly, because Damien was the source provider, it started to ruin him, but business is business. Nothing mattered as long as Damien remained in power.

He was ready to turn around to avoid standing in line when he spotted a familiar face in the crowd. It was Gabriella Montez, his wife's close friend and the woman he was having an affair with. He watched her from afar, awestruck by the sensuous way her clothing embraced each curve of her flawless figure. There was no denying she was incredibly sexy; Damien was drawn to her like a mosquito to a flame, but he didn't mind the burn.

Having her in his company was risky since Dylan was unaware of their sexual connection. He was free to kiss and fuck whoever he pleased, but with Gabriella, things were different, and he didn't want Dylan to know he had feelings for her best friend. Thus, he was prepared to take the risk when he started approaching her. “Ms. Gabriella Montez,” he greeted her, the sound of her name lingering on his tongue with delight, “you look good as always.” She seemed to be more than attractive, as shown by the provocative grin that stretched over his face, the same smile that had brought them together in the first place. He leaned towards her ear, placing his palm on the wall next to her head, and said, "Really good."

This is the part when they would simultaneously pull each other's clothing off; she would reiterate that it was a terrible idea, but they would go ahead and do it anyway. He moved his head away from hers and examined her from the side, paying special attention to her cleavage. He was about to continue speaking when the restroom door opened in front of them, prompting Damien to pull away slightly from Gabriella. He stood there watching as Jade Davies, the troublemaker, walked out, holding the door open.

The expression on her face told Damien she was up to something, and having grown up with Jade, he knew nothing good could come of it. “Ah, there she is,” he said sarcastically, “still getting into trouble I see.” It wasn't a question. He was well aware that certain things never changed, and this was true for Jade. Damien grew up in Brooklyn alongside her and her brother, Julian, when he was in foster care. He attempted to keep her from bad habits, but she was just as obstinate as he was. Finally, seeing her after all these years gave Damien faith that she was in a better place.

Standing now in between Jade and Damien, there was little time for Gabriella to process her situation. Damien had swooped in while she was still recovering from the wake of Jade’s presence, his voice snapping her back to reality. Where Jade had left Gabriella feeling cold and hollow, Damien’s devilish smile and familiar expression was enough to fill her with fire. She had every intention of indulging him, admittedly because she wanted Jade to see Gabriella had other much more powerful people looking out for her now. Before Gabriella could step in towards him the door opened again, prompting Damien to move back.

As Jade opened the door she saw a familiar face. She got a big smile on her face as if she hadn’t seen him in years. “Damien! My Brooklyn brother!”
She stepped past Gabriella giving him a quick hug with her arms around his neck. As she let go she stepped back a bit and put her hand on his wrist. “How have you been? Looking mischievously into his eyes, she paid no attention to Gabriella.

Gabriella looked down to Jade’s hand over Damien’s wrist. She wasn’t sure why but it made her ill at ease. There was a part of Gabriella that would never be able to stop herself from over analyzing every little thing Jade said or did. She did it for so long it was innate even after having avoided her for over a year.

“I’ll let you two catch up.” Gabriella said as she went into the bathroom, only glancing over Jade to give Damien a look implying she hoped to see him the next time she opened the door - alone.

Gabriella had been so distracted by Damien's sudden appearance she almost forgot why she had been angry in the first place. He had that effect on her. In truth she was addicted; to the thrill, to the sex, to him. It was the same thing with Jade. Before she thought it was just the drugs but it was more than that. The danger of never knowing what comes next was exhilarating . . . until it wasn't.

Staring up at her were little green things arranged in the shape of a heart around a single pill. Gabriella's initial instinct was to flush them but every time she tried to reach for them she froze. She didn't trust herself to let go of it. It wasn't that she wanted to do drugs, it's just that it was difficult to just get rid of them. Once they were gone they were gone - but if she could hold onto them then she could just know where they were.

Something in this scenario surfaced a memory from the recesses of her mind. It was common with her recovery to have random things trigger memories from when she was using. It had been during one of her relapses, trying to play off that she was sober to Evie. She became paranoid they might search her for drugs she had hidden them. Thinking about it now she never came back for them, she wondered if they were in the same spot . . .

Jade had given Gabriella a side glance when the latter turned into the bathroom. She didn’t know what was going on between her and Damien, but she didn’t need Damien to mess up her plan. She thought her ex might be more inclined to take the pill if she could hear Jade having a great time with Damien. Anything and everything to work on her nerves, to have her need that relaxation only one of those pills could give her.

Damien was taken aback in the hallway outside the restroom when Jade rushed into his arms for an embrace. He let his hands hang at his sides, unsure what to do with them, before eventually hugging her back. When she referred to him as a "Brooklyn brother," he grinned to himself, recalling the wonderful times he had with her and Julian before he went upstate.

Damien's lips curled into a grin when Jade drew away from him and smiled. He'd always had a soft spot for Jade, even as children, but it was never romantic. He treated her as though she were the little sister he never had and protected her accordingly. Damien even sends money to her bank account anonymously to assist her in paying for her medical school education.

Damien was so absorbed in Jade's presence that he missed Gabriella entering the bathroom. “I'm doing well,” he said, “I took over my father's business after graduating from Harvard... you remember? Wolfe Enterprises on Wall Street? You should come by someday. I'd be happy to give you a tour.”

Jade smiled broadly at his suggestion. “Oh my, you’re going to be sorry for that offer. You know I still don’t let any chances get by me.” she added a subtle wink.
“You ever go back to the old neighborhood? They will be surprised the scruffy kid turned out like this.”

She thought back on their run ins as kids. Damian had been at their house a few times. And although Julian could do no good for her mom, Damian could do no wrong. He had this kind of charm about him. Jade pulled her phone from her pocket. “Give me your number, so I can give you a call when I come by. I’ll bring you a coffee, promise.” She unlocked it and put it in his hands to put his number in.

“I really hadn’t expected to see you here. Isn’t this party a bit minor for Mr. Big shot?” She laughed as she said it. Not cause it was funny, but because she was sure Gabriella would be able to hear it.

The sound of Jade's laughter broke Gabriella's train of thought. She should have called her sponsor but she was weakened. Gabriella scooped the pill up, slipping them into a secret inner pocket of her jacket. She made sure to flush in case Jade was listening so that she could cast some idea of doubt that she kept the pill. Funny that she had come to the bathroom to try to escape Jade, just to be cornered and slipped drugs and virtually trapped with the two drug dealers she's fucked standing outside the door. Gabriella leaned against the door listening intently to see if Jade was still out there.

Jade heard the flush inside the bathroom. Of course that didn’t say anything. Gabriella had been there to specifically go to the bathroom, but somehow Jade had the idea her plan worked. She took her phone back from Damian.
“Well, I’m sure I haven’t seen all of the ol’ gang just yet. Will you excuse me?!”

She looked up at him with big eyes, just like she had done so many times when they were still kids and she leaned up to kiss his cheek. Letting him go she walked to the end of the hallway before turning around. “Oh, Damien? Don’t forget to say hi to Ju, I’m sure he’s looking forward to seeing you.”

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Robyn Miller Character Portrait: Damien Wolfe Character Portrait: Erin Monaghan Character Portrait: Jade Davies Character Portrait: Lauren Clark Character Portrait: Soren Bowers Character Portrait: Dylan Knight Character Portrait: Evie Addams Character Portrait: Gabriella Montez Character Portrait: Olivia Eriksen Character Portrait: Dean Sun Character Portrait: Adonis Galante Character Portrait: Julian Davies Character Portrait: Camilla Rhodes Character Portrait: Declan Sun Character Portrait: Simon Rizzo Character Portrait: Jeremy Williams
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Lauren Clark
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Chaos | Attire | hex: #540000
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Olivia Eriksen
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Starving Artist | Attire | hex:#8B8000
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It was a good thing that Livvy had kicked her heels off when she had arrived. Otherwise, she might’ve tripped over her own feet. She wasn’t drunk but she definitely wasn’t sober anymore. I took a lot to get her to the slur-your-words-and-lose-all-sense phase, but she was definitely in the unsteady-flushed-cheeks-overly-confident phase She padded out of the den, walking tall with her shoulders back and head high. Lauren was a predator, any sign of weakness would have her pouncing. If Livvy was going to pull this off, she couldn’t be a lamb. She had to be a wolf.

As she made her way towards Lauren, she spotted Adonis coming in from the front of the house. His clothes were more ruffled than when he had been in the den with her. Jumping to conclusions, she narrowed her eyes, flipped her blonde hair over a shoulder, and pretended she didn’t see him. Half of it was an act in case Lauren was watching. The other half… she rubbed at her chest absently.

She strode up to Lauren and ran a finger up her arm. ”Well, Well,” Livvy purred, ”Miss Lauren Clark. I would ask what brings you here, but I think it’s safe to assume the lemming invited you.” Her blue eyes snapped to Camilla a moment before returning to Lauren. She gave a sultry smile. ”I take it not much has changed. Still like causing chaos?”

Lauren was pleased to see Livvy making her way over to her. She’d missed seeing Livvy around; another one of her beloved toys, even though she hadn’t played with her quite as much as some of the others. And, well, it seemed like Livvy hadn’t changed much, if at all. Her demeanor as she made her way up to Lauren, followed by her opening gesture, confirmed that one thing had at least hadn’t changed. Which, of course, meant that Lauren could play her games.

She smiled, laughing a little at Livvy’s comment about Camilla. “Livvy, darling, don’t be so mean,” she said, in a tone that indicated that she actually loved Livvy being so mean. At her question about whether or not she was still causing chaos, she feigned shock and hurt. “I am shocked at that accusation,” she said, before laughing. “Of course I do. That’s why I’m here,” she said. “So come on, tell me, sweetheart, tell me everything that’s going on with you. I want to know all of the gossip and the scandal of your life.”

Livvy shrugged her pale shoulders. ”Not much to tell, I’m afraid. Just been traveling the country.” She feigned a sigh of disappointment. ”Sadly high school was the most exciting time of my life.” She linked arms with her, ignoring Camilla altogether, all a part of the act--though she still wasn’t a fan of Camilla after her break up with Simon. ”What about you?” She cooed, ”What has the great Lauren Clark been doing in her spare time since the whirlwind of high school?”

She started to tug her into a walk, heading in the direction of the hallway.

Lauren wasn’t sure that she believed Livvy’s act of disappointment, but she played along anyway. She let Livvy link her arm, even resting a hand on Livvy’s arm as she did so. She had to hold back a laugh as Livvy almost began to drag her towards the hall, out of sight of everyone else. She was curious to see how she was going to play it, though, and so Lauren let her.

“Oh, you know. Working. Mom and Dad gave me a job in marketing. It’s mundane from time to time, and I work with some of the dumbest and most boring people I have ever met, but they do what I tell them, and the money isn’t bad either. And of course, I do a little bit of influencing on the side. I was posting all of those pictures anyway, so why not get paid for including one teensy little brand in them?” She asked with a laugh. “I should get you on my Instagram. Everyone would fall in love with you right away,” she said, raising an eyebrow at Livvy.

"I'll definitely think about it", She replied, and it wasn’t a lie. It’s the kind of exposure people kill for. However, knowing who Lauren was, she was sure it was too good to be true.”It would be a great opportunity.”

She stopped at the bar, plucking a bottle of rose and pouring them each a glass. She tucked the bottle beneath her arm and held a glass out to Lauren. ”Why don’t you tell me more about it?” She offered, leading them back towards the hallway. ”Or, you could share some gossip with me. Sadly, my travels keep me fairly isolated so I don’t hear much.” Or not anything I’d share with you, she thought. For a moment, she thought about sharing Adonis’s attraction to Dylan but ultimately decided against it. He might’ve deserved some trouble, but getting Lauren involved was asking for catastrophe and she could never do that to him.

”Although, She paused, taking a sip of her wine. ”The best I’ve got is that apparently Dean and Jade are a thing!” She tried to sound surprised and a little disappointed. He was her hot ex after all. And… she did miss him every now and then. She still followed him on social media, but they didn’t talk often. At least his relationship with Jade was less scandalous but just as juicy of a story.

Lauren accepted the glass of rose and took a small sip from it. She loved a party as much as the next person and was no stranger to getting wasted; but she felt that, at least for this one, it was probably better to stay sober and in control. She raised an eyebrow at Livvy’s request for gossip. It seemed like the girl’s motives were somewhat mixed here, or else she was trying to play into everything she knew that Lauren enjoyed in the hope of impressing her. Lauren decided to give Livvy the benefit of the doubt and play along.

As Livvy mentioned that she had gossip, Lauren gasped, before grinning in vicious delight and leaning in. Her act almost shattered as Livvy told her what it was, having to resist the temptation to laugh. “Oh, I’m sure that won’t end badly at all,” she said, the only outward indication of her reaction as she took another sip of her wine. “I give them a month,” she said.

“So, you’ve given me some good gossip. Let me see if I can share anything… do you want to know something about someone we went to school with… or about someone here at the party?” She asked, her grin sharp with the realization that she could cause a little bit of chaos here, with either a well-placed truth or an even better-placed lie.

Livvy tipped her head back in a laugh. ”I’ll bet $20 it’ll be two weeks.” She took another sip of her wine. She hummed in thought and replied, with a giggle, ”From the looks of it, I don’t think those are as different as one would think.” She nibbled a little at the tip of her tongue as she thought. There were two things influencing her decision: the first--and her original reason for asking--was to see what Lauren knew compared to the things she knew and the second was that she was curious about the people she used to go to school with.

However… if she allowed herself to open that door, she could potentially find out something about someone she wasn’t supposed to know. So, in the end, she chose to play it safe. ”About someone here at the party,” she replied. There were plenty of people here who hadn't gone to school with them with that the odds were in her favor. Unless Lauren knew just where to strike.

Lauren had known that Livvy wouldn’t be able to resist the temptation to find out some gossip about the people they’d gone to school with. And now, of course, she needed to decide what exactly she wanted to spill. She could begin her campaign to ruin Soren’s life here and now; but from memory, Soren and Livvy had only ever been passing friends, so she wasn’t quite sure that that would have enough of an effect. Lauren took a moment to evaluate the situation. As far as she was concerned, she had three options for the highest amount of drama.

Number one. Erin. Lauren was aware of their past together and got the impression that there was still some unfinished business there. Some of Erin’s secrets could completely change Livvy’s impression of her, and might just touch a sore spot.

Number two. Evie. Would Livvy sink to Lauren’s level and use that information against Evie though, to win back Erin? Probably not, but she loved the idea of dangling that temptation in front of Livvy.

Number three. Adonis. Adonis and Livvy had some strange little dynamic going for them. Admittedly, Lauren didn’t know the details of what was going on, but she knew that she could cause some true mayhem there. And so she took a long sip of her wine and rifled through her mental list of secrets, looking for the juiciest of them all.

“Well. I heard that Adonis has gotten himself into some trouble. Working with some… dangerous people, on what is very definitely the wrong side of the law, if you catch my drift,” she said, raising an eyebrow suggestively and taking a step closer to Livvy, lowering her voice to a low murmur.

That wasn't what Livvy was expecting. "Adonis?" She frowned. Her mask, the entire act, shattered. She couldn’t pretend she didn’t care. Not if it was about Erin, Julian, or Simon. Not when it was about Adonis.

Not your business, she thought to herself. She led them down the hall, testing doorknobs as she went. If they were going to talk about this, they needed a more private space. Besides, that was her original plan anyway. She wondered if it had to do with Dylan. She knew the young woman was married now, though, she had to admit, she didn’t know to whom. Dylan didn’t really run in her circle in high school so she didn’t know much about her now. Besides, what did it matter who her friend slept with anyway?

She knew she had just been thinking he deserved some trouble, but the way Lauren was describing it… it was more trouble than she would’ve liked. The words were out of her mouth before she could think. ”What kind of trouble?”

The words had the desired effect, as Livvy’s cute little act shattered before Lauren’s eyes, and Lauren smiled, raising her glass to her lips as she did so. But if Livvy’s mask was shattered, that only made her intentions even clearer as she began trying doors. It was as they reached the last one that Livvy stopped again, to ask her what kind of trouble. “Well,” Lauren started, before reaching past Livvy and opening the door. This one opened. Lauren grabbed Livvy’s free hand and pulled her into the room, closing it behind them. By the looks of it, it was Erin’s bedroom. Lauren sat down on the bed, pulling Livvy along to sit beside her.

[color=#540000]“I don’t know the *exact* details,”
she said. “But I heard that he’s involved with some very dangerous people. Involving drugs, and possibly weapons,” she said, managing to feign some level of horror at it as if she also didn’t have her ties to some of the people involved. “God only knows what kind of trouble he’s gotten himself into now.”

Livvy knew she was in deep shit as Lauren dragged her into the final room. She was too intoxicated and curious to realize just what she was doing. Being here often enough she knew who's room it was. Erin. They were going into Erin's room.

She wanted to backpedal, to pull Lauren from the room before she found anything that would cause more trouble for her friend. More trouble than apparently what she was already causing just by walking this path.

It was too late. She could tell by the hungry look in Lauren's eye. She opened the wrong door and found herself tumbling into trouble. The room spun as Lauren whirled her around to sit beside her on the bed. Erin's bed.

This was a mistake, She thought. She couldn't handle the girl in high school. What made her think she could handle things now? Before she could find a way out of the situation, Lauren was spilling Adonis's secrets.

And it was worse than she feared. She squeezed her eyes shut a moment. What did you get yourself into, Nis? She thought. She took a deep breath and pushed it all down, down, down. She knew Lauren likely saw through her act now, but she had to change the subject. If she was sharing this with Livvy who else knew?

Then, she realized, she should stop acting. "Well that's not what I was expecting," she said with an awkward chuckle. "That's a lot to process." She waved a hand dismissively, tucking her hair behind her ear. "But I can always process later."

She downed the rest of the wine and placed it on a nearby surface. When she looked back at Lauren, the room shifted with her. She gave a startled laugh. "Whoops. Too much."

Then she reached up to trace Lauren's cheekbone and said, "I just realized. I've never drawn you before." She felt herself shift into artist mode, noticing the many colors that make up a person. She curled a lock of Lauren's hair around her finger. And said something she knew she'd likely regret later. "You're beautiful."

Lauren smiled with satisfaction that her words had had the intended effect as Livvy attempted to recover from the news, but managed to make it look something like a sympathetic smile instead. As Livvy downed the rest of her glass of wine, Lauren just took a delicate sip from hers, putting her still mostly full glass down beside Livvy’s empty one.

Livvy being that drunk made it so much easier. She finally had the guts to actually reach out to Lauren, revealing the real intentions she’d had all along. Lauren played along, leaning in towards Livvy a little.

“I know,” she said as Livvy said that she’d never drawn her. “You know, I’ve always hoped you’d ask. Any excuse to be around you,” she said softly. At Livvy’s compliment, Lauren just smiled, reaching out to tuck some of Livvy’s hair behind her ear, her hand lingering by Livvy’s face a little longer than it needed to.

Livvy’s blue eyes widened with surprise. She searched Lauren’s eyes for a lie, but couldn’t see through the alcohol-induced fog in her brain. Instead, she saw the light reflecting off Lauren’s irises, painting them gold. She admired the flawlessness of her skin, without a scar, mark, or pore. She studied the lighter strands among the dark of her hair. Then found herself leaning forward, investigating the red of her lips.

Her heart hammered in her chest. Her cheek was warm where Lauren’s hand lingered a little too long. Was this actually happening? Or was she passed out on the couch imagining the whole thing? Was she actually about to cross Lauren Clark off her high school “Fuck” list. The “coolest girl” in school?

She was close enough now that their noses were touching. She could smell the wine on Lauren’s breath, light and lingering. She released the strand of Lauren’s hair and lifted it until it rested against the warm curve of her neck. She swept a thumb across Lauren’s jawline. ”I’ve been wanting to ask since high school.” She finally said. Then, when she couldn’t take the tension anymore, she closed the distance between them, brushing her lips softly against Lauren’s.

Lauren smiled, right up until the moment that Livvy leaned in and pressed her lips against Lauren’s. Lauren let the kiss linger for a second or two, before she pulled away, her smile becoming wicked. “Oh, that’s adorable,” she said, her tone dripping in venom. “Did you really think that I would want you? Someone as… plain as you? Your stepfather may have had a point, you know. Who could want someone so plain?” She asked, cruelly tracing a finger along Livvy’s face.

It was at that point that her phone buzzed, and she very deliberately swiveled away from Livvy to pick up her bag and fish out her phone. And then she smiled, a smile that said whoever was on the other side of the text was far more interesting than Livvy. She kept her attention on the phone as she replied to the text, an unspoken dismissal.

Livvy blinked. First in confusion. And then in disbelief. She sat back, tilting a little further than she meant to. ”You literally said-” and then she stopped. Lauren had never actually said ”I want you”. She had only said she had been waiting for her to ask.

No one would want you,” her stepfather’s voice murmured in her mind. ”No one, but me.” And then she could feel him. Where Lauren’s hands had been. Where her exposed skin was at her waist.

She was going to be sick.

She rose and hurried from the room. There was a line for the bathroom, of course. Where else? The balcony. Air. Air would help.

She padded through the kitchen, not noticing anyone she passed, though she heard Dean’s distinct tenor. She could see the light on the ground though she wasn’t looking up. At least, not until she opened the door to step out… and Evie and Adonis were standing there. He looked like he was ready to unleash hell on her at first. She knew he hadn’t known it was her. Adonis has gotten himself into some trouble. Lauren’s voice purred.

”Sorry to interrupt” She found herself mumbling before she quickly shut the doors, whirling around and heading back in the direction she came. She ran her fingers through her long hair repeatedly. No doubt making it look wilder. No air. That only left… distraction. And she knew just who would be able to help. She stepped back towards the kitchen area in search of Dean.




Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Lauren Clark Character Portrait: Gabriella Montez Character Portrait: Dean Sun Character Portrait: Declan Sun
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”Why are you the way that you are?” When Dean just shrugged, uninterested, Declan sighed. ”God, you’re like a sociopath or something. I wish you could just be normal. Maybe then you could have some fucking empathy and not go through life hurting everyone you look at.” It wasn’t totally fair, considering Dean didn’t know why Declan was so upset about him seeing Jade, but Dec was so over Dean’s bad behavior. They’d been dealing with it since the two of them were four years old, and it had only gotten more and more played out with every passing year.

”Gee, Dec,” Dean replied, sounding nothing less than completely and utterly bored, ”Why don’t you tell me how you really feel?”

Declan rolled their eyes, ”Just don’t fuck anything up,” He turned too quickly to catch Dean’s icy glare, not interested in fighting with his brother at that moment. What he really wanted was to have a few drinks, maybe find someone to talk to. Everyone seemed pretty busy, though. Where was Gabriella? They wanted to check in with her, make sure she was doing okay. Declan finished that first drink quickly enough, and decided to swing by the kitchen to grab another before looking for one of their friends in earnest. They grabbed the drink, but instead of a friend, Declan found Lauren.

”Declan!” She said, as if she were an old friend he would want to catch up with, and not a demon in disguise. ”Look at you,” She said, taking in his appearance, ”Brave as ever.”

”Hi Lauren,” Declan said, his tone was measured, careful. There was no such thing as too careful when it came to Lauren. ”What can I do for you?”

”Just catching up with old friends,” She said, looping her arm through Dec’s, so she could lead them someone a bit more private to talk, ”I’ve heard the most interesting developments in some of our mutual acquaintances' lives.”

”Have you?” Declan mused, careful not to sound too interested or take too much of Lauren’s bait, though they did let her guide them off to a more desolate area in the apartment. She’d never been overly interested in them in the past, never come their way to share gossip. She wanted something. Declan didn’t know what, but he knew he wasn’t going to give it to her.

”It got me thinking of you,” Lauren said, tone sounding more wistful than anything, as if she were simply reminiscing. That couldn’t be good, ”And how you helped me back in high school. Do you remember that?”

Declan’s blood ran cold. ”Of course.” He said slowly, unsure. He hadn’t thought of helping Lauren cheat on the SATs in ages, but he knew immediately that was what she was referring to.

”Well,” She said with a sigh that Declan had no doubt was fake, ”I’ve got a great career and life now, and the whole thing’s left me feeling a little guilty, you know?”

Of course that’s what this was about. She’d gone out and gotten the life she wanted, and now she wanted to ruin his. She couldn’t report that, it may have been years later but Declan would almost certainly be kicked from his program if it came to light, and she knew it. ”Lauren,” He said slowly, trying not to give his panic away. It was hard, but giving her the pleasure of a reaction was the worst choice you could make, ”That’s not really necessary, is it? After all, we were only cheating a rigged system and-”

Lauren cut them off would a short, but blunt, sound of pure disgust, ”Declan. I’m going to report it. I thought you were more principled than that,”

”This is my life we’re talking about Lauren, my future I-”

”Oh, who gives a shit.” Declan didn’t know what to say to that, and just stared at Lauren, mouth agape and eyes wide. Lauren stared him down with an expression that reminded Declan of an angry housecat. It struck Declan that this might be more about Lauren than it was just messing with him. ”If your brother wasn’t such a low achiever, I wouldn’t have to stoop this low.”

”What did Dean-”

”He’s spreading lies is what he’s doing,” Lauren spat, reaching to put a hand on Declan’s shoulder, ”But you and I both know he won’t listen to reason. Maybe he can find you a job, though.”

Dec reached up to move Lauren’s hand and she flinched, dramatically, as if he’d ever hurt a fly. ”Lauren, you don’t have to do it.”

”No, but if you can’t talk some sense into your idiot brother, it would make me feel better.” She patted Declan’s shoulder gently, and then turned to leave.

God fucking dammit. Why’d Declan have to go off on Dean. He’d never listen now.

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Characters Present

Character Portrait: Damien Wolfe Character Portrait: Gabriella Montez
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Jade’s voice sounded fainter the second time through the door. Gabriella took her first breath in a while, realizing she’d been holding her breath while listening. Her hand naturally brushed over where the inner pocket would be had it been exposed, almost protective in nature. She hated how comforting she found it just to know they were there. There was almost a sense of pride that she could just hold onto them and not take them, her addiction trying to convince herself that she was practicing willpower. The only thing that was keeping her from taking those pills here and now was spite, but that wouldn’t last long. Self-restraint had never been Gabriella’s strong suit. She much preferred the help of others to do the restraining.

Gabriella opened the door slowly, scanning for Jade as she stepped out. When her gaze landed on Damien she paused, any worry she might have been showing melting away. She didn’t have a chance to even say hi to him earlier, let alone notice the way his suit fit his frame. He was dressed in all black, not that it surprised her. He and his wolves often did.

Anyone who had been lingering around before had moved into either the kitchen or living room, leaving Gabriella and Damien alone in the dimly lit hallway. On a better day, Gabriella would go and find Declan or Evie, maybe go home. However right now the only thing keeping her from popping the little pill in her pocket was the thoughts Damien’s intense stare provoked.

“I didn’t realize you and Jade were so chummy.” Gabriella leaned against the wall beside Damien, one of her legs sliding over the other to brush against his.

Damien waited for Gabriella to emerge from the washroom after Jade had gone. He eyed her warily as she rested against the wall near him, crossing her long legs in front of her. Damien made an effort to ignore the fact that her leg had come into contact with his, which was now exposed due to the slit in her skirt. He was well aware of what she was up to. But he wasn't going to let her take him that easily.

Then Gabriella commented about Damien knowing Jade, which made him lift his eyes and smile at her. “I didn't think it mattered,” he said as he took a step closer to her, his hands stuffed into his pockets. “You aren't jealous, are you?” When he mentioned being jealous, his grin faded immediately, and he became solemn. He didn't believe there was any cause for her to feel jealous. Damien made sure that they were just fuck friends.

As he stepped in towards her, Gabriella bit back a smirk. Even his proximity was intoxicating. She rolled her eyes as if the notion amused her, ignoring the little voice that said he was right. Jealous of who, she wasn’t sure. She never felt she had any claim to Damien, nor wanted any claim of Jade - so what was there to be jealous of? Waving a hand dismissively, she crossed one arm across her torso.

“Hardly,” Gabriella coyly tilted her head, her lips resting in a natural pout. “I mean, I knew you had friends in low places - I just didn’t realize that included actual demons.”

Gabriella hadn’t sought opportunities to foul mouth Jade. In fact, only Declan knew about the circumstances of their split. However, the very thing that drove Gabriella into Damien’s arms had been that she was running from Jade. It’s not like she thought they were strangers, they all knew each other somehow - but Jade’s familiarity just put Gabriella ill at ease. Damien drew a breath, simultaneously bringing a hand to his chest.


“Ouch,” he drawled, his chest clenched, “Friends in low places? You can’t be so cruel, Gabs.”

It was a simple tease for dramatic effects. Whether or not she actually meant what she had said about him and his associations, he didn’t pay any attention. He knew he had a long list of people who were considered criminals; however, they made for great allies when he needed a certain job done and “messes” to clean. They became the same friends that Damien knew he could count on to be there armed and ready to fire whenever he needed them to be. Still, Damien couldn’t hide his amusement at hearing Gabriella compare his allies to literal demons.

The mafia boss pressed both hands on the wall behind Gabriella on either side and leaned in towards her. She inhaled sharply, holding her breath. “And what does that make you to me?” He whispered, keeping his voice in a tone that was loud enough to hear, but low enough for Gabriella’s ears only. Damien eyed her lips, clenching his jaw while dubiously fighting back the urge to taste them.

It was difficult to think when he was this close, the rest of the party fading away for a moment. She looked up at him, his gaze transfixed on her pout. Usually, at this point, they’d already been tearing each other’s clothes off. Admittedly she preferred it that way. Damien had made it very clear to Gabriella where his priorities lie. She knew it was only setting herself up for failure when she began their affair. He and Dylan were endgame.

It wasn’t even that she wanted or needed Damien to herself. In fact, it was better that he wasn’t an option for the long run - that just meant there was more room to use him as a means of self-destruction. He seemed to use her for the same reason, though she imagined he framed it differently in his mind. There was a reason he came over more when he and Dylan were fighting.

“I think you’ve made it clear exactly what I am to you.” Gabriella smiled sweetly as her leg slid between Damien’s, her hips naturally lifting towards his. She tilted her head back to rest it against the wall behind her looking up at Damien. “As for what that makes me to you, I’m much more interested in all the ways and positions you can show me that.”

Damien's plans to keep Gabriella within arms reach had all but vanished the moment he felt her leg slip between his. He was battling each feeling one by one. First, she was sultry, staring him in the face with her beautiful figure. Then, just when he seemed to have triumphed, his next fight was her perfume's lovely fragrance. Finally, he had to deal with the uncomfortable sensation of skin-to-skin contact. After this epic struggle of his senses – which, of fact, lasted just a few seconds but seemed to last an eternity in his mind - he had to "adjust" himself by shifting his legs. She glanced down between them, smirking suggestively. He couldn't deny that she was driving him insane. With Gabriella, he was willing to violate any rules. He was already flirting with fire by keeping her so near to him when his wife might be anywhere. Nonetheless, he went on to accomplish what he did next.

Damien dropped his head toward Gabriella's luscious lips, licking them seductively with the tip of his tongue. “Why don't I show you exactly what you mean to me?” He groaned, his gaze fixed on her. He intended to leave her begging while selfishly taking what he wanted.

Gabriella inhaled sharply as his tongue ran across her lips, lifting her face towards his. She knew that she should have pushed him away; should have walked away instead of lingering. The truth was it was a bit exciting to know that they were one corner away from being entirely exposed. A part of her wanted Jade to see her, to see that Gabriella had moved on as well. The other part was completely powerless when Damien stood over her like this, leaving her without any choice but to stay there helpless under his stare.

“Damien,” Gabriella rested her hand on his chest, sighing with measured restraint as she felt his firm muscles beneath her fingers. She looked down as she spread her fingers across the fine fibers of his button-down. After a moment, she glanced back to Damien, her lips now upturned in a devilish smirk. “Don’t start something you can’t finish.”

Damien couldn't stand it any longer when Gabriella uttered those words. He smirked, a dare he was ready to accept. The sexual tension was overwhelming for him; usually, he could keep his guard up but Gabriella was someone he knew he shouldn't have, which only made him want to pursue her even more.

Pushing himself away from the wall he slipped his hand into Gabriella’s without saying so much as another word. He led her along the corridor past the bodies of inebriated strangers. Even holding Gabriella's hand was dangerous when someone they knew could see them and inform Dylan, or worse, Dylan would catch them. However, he was prepared to accept the chance. Gabriella was lethal. She fueled Damien's need to make poor choices, regardless of whether they would kill him. Still, he kept his eyes peeled for any recognizable faces and blended seamlessly with the crowd.

Damien pushed the bedroom door on his left, closest to the bathroom, open. It was unlocked, much to his astonishment. He peered inside to make sure it was empty. Then he glanced behind him to make sure no one they knew saw them entering the bedroom together. Finally, he took a step inside, gently dragging Gabriella along with him, and closed the door behind her. As the bedroom door slammed shut, he pressed himself against her and kissed her passionately. At that moment, Damien controlled Gabriella, leaving her with nothing but the pleasure of their connection.

She inhaled sharply as Damien leaned in, her breath cut short by his kiss. Her head was spinning so fast, all she could do was react. Arching her back, Gabriella slid off her jacket tilting her hips toward Damien. That little green pill was a distant memory, only Damien consuming her thoughts now. It was wrong, but it was the only thing keeping her from spiraling.

A part of her thought Damien wanted to get caught. He was getting riskier and riskier. They’d both be lying if they said the prospect wasn’t a bit exciting, as shameful as it might be. She knew that this was a way for him to get back at his wife when they were fighting, or at least that’s how it started. Now it was a craving, a hunger - she could taste it on his lips.

“Please,” Gabriella moaned against his lips, already begging.

Damien would normally tease her a bit longer just to watch her plead, but he was already aroused. He wanted Gabriella as much as she craved him, as shown by the gentle moans that escaped her lips. So, like any gentleman, he pulled her off her feet and carried her to the bed to fulfill her wish.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Damien Wolfe Character Portrait: Erin Monaghan Character Portrait: Lauren Clark Character Portrait: Gabriella Montez
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Gabriella was adjusting her skirt when the door to Erin's room opened. Instinctually she glared at Damien, having thought he had locked the door behind them. Immediately Gabriella felt her chest clench, her mind going to worst case scenario and expecting to see Dylan. When she saw Erin, her panic faded to shame. Color rushed to her cheeks, her face suddenly very hot. She caught a glimpse of her reflection, make up and hair mussed.

“My skirt broke,” Gabriella practically barked the excuse. She looked over to Damien who was equally disheveled. “Damien was just helping me.”

It was obvious Erin wasn’t buying it, not that Gabriella was selling it all that well. Gabriella knew she probably should have let Damien handle it. He was always much smoother than she ever was. It wasn’t that Gabriella couldn’t lie, though ‘sober’ Gabriella wasn’t nearly as good as Gabriella when she was using.

“Sorry,” was all Gabriella could manage to mumble, pushing past Erin and back into the party.

Suddenly Gabriella felt she should leave. Though she didn’t think Erin would drop the bomb on Dylan tonight, she didn’t know if she could stay here knowing that Erin knew about her and Damien’s affair. Her hand went back to the fabric over the inner pocket, comforted by the shape of the little green pill. She was reminded of the ketamine she had forgotten she’d hidden in Erin’s place last time she relapsed. The last thing she wanted to do now was piss Erin off, Gabriella needed to get those drugs before it blew back in her face.

People were distracted and drunk enough that Gabriella felt no one would notice her. She went into the den moving into the corner where the vent was. Looking around to make sure no one was looking, she pretended to spill the contents of her purse, kneeling down to pick them up looking into the vent to see her baggie still there from when she hid it. Luckily Gabriella had a knack for fishing out drugs she had to hide in a hurry. She had a paperclip in her wallet, manipulating it into a hook. Manipulating the clip into the vent to hook around the baggie she pulled it out, the bag piercing and spilling a bit of the powder as it slipped through. Moving too quickly to pay attention to who might be watching, she shoved the baggie into her purse along with her lip gloss.

Straightening herself, Gabriella slid her bag back over her shoulder as she dusted off her skirt doing her best to appear nonchalant. Not that it really mattered - the worst that would happen is that she’d have to admit to more bad behavior and hope that her friends trusted her intention. But Gabriella was tired of letting her friends down, of forcing them to give her the benefit of the doubt when she didn’t deserve it. Her hand went to her chest, fingers brushing over the fabric that covered the inner pocket of her jacket. She couldn’t feel the pill but knowing it was there was oddly comforting.

Lauren was scanning the room for her next victim when she spotted Gabriella on her hands and her knees, apparently picking up what she’d dropped out of her handbag. But Lauren also saw her fishing something out of the vent, a telltale little packet from Gabriella’s past; or so she’d have everyone believe. Lauren grinned and sauntered over to her.

“Hello, Gabriella, darling. Do you need any help or did you get everything?” She asked, her trademark wicked smile in place. “That fell out of your bag, I mean,” she added, the clarification entirely false, of course.

Gabriella stiffened at the sound of Lauren’s voice. Of course she would manage to be the one to find Gabriella in this moment. She didn’t even have to question if Lauren saw what Gabriella fished out of the vent, her expression of wicked delight a tell-tale sign. She wasn’t sure how she missed the arrival of the woman, though Jade and Damien had done well at distracting Gabriella from the rest of the party. It wasn’t that much of a surprise she ended up here, Lauren always managed to find a way to ruin things.

“I don’t think anyone needs nor wants help from you, Lauren.” Gabriella’s tone was casual, void of emotion. “Did you need something, or did you just want to insert yourself somewhere you’re not wanted?”

The two were no strangers to arguments, they always would end up in one, one way or another. Gabriella was different now though, Lauren wasn’t going to get a rise out of her. That’s all she wanted, a reaction. Gabriella crossed her arms, looking Lauren over.

Lauren pouted as Gabriella told her that she didn’t need her help, and asked if she needed something. “Come on, Gabriella, can’t I say hello to an old friend? Can’t we say that the past is in the past and move on?” She asked. She knew that Gabriella was unlikely to take her up on that offer; but at least Lauren could say that she’d tried the nice card; and, most importantly, everyone around her had heard her at least trying to be nice.

“Would love to leave the past in the past but she keeps showing up where she’s not invited.” Gabriella rolled her eyes, she knew Lauren’s game. “No one’s falling for your bullshit anymore, Lauren.”

Lauren loved to play a victim. It’s what would lead to everyone yelling at Gabriella asking why she was starting stuff with Lauren. Gabriella never cared what Lauren thought about her, at least not in the same way the others did. She knew Lauren was easier to manage if you just played along. That’s why she hadn’t been thrown out on her ass yet, or at least that’s what Gabriella guessed. However the others already knew she was a piece of shit, and that she was at least trying. What could Lauren have to hold over Gabriella to manipulate her that the other’s didn’t know already. She had nothing to lose, or so she thought..

Well, if Gabriella wasn’t going to play nice, then Lauren wasn’t going to either. She smiled again, taking a step closer to Gabriella and lowering her voice. “Oh, come on now. There’s no need to be like that. We don’t want to have everyone finding out about what you just stashed back in your bag now, do we?” She asked. “How do you think Erin would feel, knowing you stashed drugs in her apartment and left them here, all this time? And after you’ve come this far, I’m sure everyone would be… really sad to hear that you’ve relapsed again. Especially Evie, seeing how you cling to her for support,” she said, her voice just loud enough for Gabriella to hear. “And Jade… well, I’m sure she’d be heartbroken to find out that you’re not getting your supply from her any more.”

“Oh no - what will I do?” Gabriella’s voice dripped with sarcasm. “Everyone will know I have a drug problem, how will I manage?”

People would sooner be pissed at Lauren for outing Gabriella than they would be at the prospect of Gabriella relapsing, at least the people that mattered. Besides, Lauren didn’t want to spill secrets - she wanted to lord it over others head to keep them under their control. Gabriella hadn’t done any drugs and while it didn’t look good to be busted with some on her, she didn’t deserve this bullshit Lauren was trying to spin it into.

Stepping in towards Lauren, Gabriella’s voice dropped an octave denoting the seriousness of her sentiments. “I’m the first person to admit I’ve fucked up, Lauren. You can’t hold my mistakes against me anymore, I own them and I’m trying to make myself a better person - which is more than you can say for yourself.”

It seemed that Gabriella was no longer as easily manipulated as she had been. The frustration was beginning to build inside Lauren, but she was determined not to let it show externally. She just needed to change her tact and approach this from a different angle. She had plenty up her sleeve; she just needed to decide how to use it.

“A better person, you say?” She asked, one eyebrow arching a little bit. “I mean, that’s one way of putting it. What would Mommy and Daddy say if they knew that their precious little darling girl was… well, selling herself?” She asked, increasing the venom in her tone. She needed Gabriella to know that if she so much as dared to try and cross Lauren, she would regret it. “I found out about those little streams of yours. Do you think they’d like to know about that? Have you sold them your lie that you’re a better person now?” She asked, raising an eyebrow ever so slightly.

Gabriella felt a clench in her chest. It’s not like she hadn’t been preparing for this moment. These days people loved to out sex workers just because, sending their family screenshots and links. She knew one day somehow she would face this moment, though for whatever reason she never saw Lauren being the one using it against her. Obviously Gabriella had struck a nerve and now Lauren was lashing out.

“What is your endgame here, Lauren? Do you just want everyone else as miserable as you?” Gabriella’s insult came out as more of a plea. She knew there was no reasoning with Lauren, she would do whatever she wanted regardless of any kind of begging Gabriella could offer. “I don’t know what you even want from me. If you’re just trying to scare me, honestly go ahead and tell them. I’d rather just get this all over with than keep playing these games with you.”

Gabriella’s response reassured Lauren that she still had something of the upper hand over the other woman. It was enough for Lauren to feel like she was, at least, still in control of the situation, and so she allowed her smile to widen a little.

“Oh, darling, I’m not trying to scare you. I’m just making sure that…you don’t try anything. I’ve heard how you’ve already turned Evie, and Soren, and god knows who else, against me. Just consider this… protection. So we can be friends again,” she said, her smile brightening. Her goal, of course, wasn’t to be friends, but to maintain control. Gabriella had always been one of the hardest to keep wrapped around her finger; so if she could keep a hold on her, she stood a better chance of regaining her position at the top of the food chain.

“Turned against you?!” Gabriella laughed, folding her arms as she shook her head. “Lauren, I didn’t have to do anything for people to realize you’re a shitty person. You showed them that all on your own.”

Lauren was tired of trying to play nice. Gabriella was being deliberately difficult, and she wasn’t afraid of Lauren any more. But Lauren knew things about Gabriella that she shouldn’t have known, and it seemed they were going to be the weapons she needed to use to bring the other girl in line and back into Lauren’s control.

“And what about all of those drugs you stole from Erin and her crew, hmmm? I hear that all of those drugs going missing got them in a little bit of trouble. Even got somebody killed,” she said. She had dropped the nice act, and now her voice was low and dangerous; a warning. This was no empty threat. Not any more. Gabriella either needed to be brought in line, or else she needed to be removed as a threat to Lauren. They were the only two solutions left to Lauren now.

It felt like the room went quiet for a moment, a sinking sensation settling in the pit of Gabriella’s stomach that made it difficult to swallow. There was no amount of preparation that could have equipped Gabriella for this bomb. She wanted to deny it, to pretend she didn’t know what Lauren was talking about but she couldn’t. In a way Gabriella felt she deserved this, that she should be called out - that everyone should know what she’d done. Disoriented, she lost her balance for a moment, reaching out for the wall beside her to steady herself.

Immediately her mind asked the question how did she know? The only person who Gabriella had ever admitted her secret to was Jade, and only after excessive amounts of coercion and Jade’s own personal drug cocktail put Gabriella in the most compliant state. She couldn’t imagine Jade would have told Lauren, it gave her too much of an upper hand over Gabriella to share.

“I -” Gabriella opened her mouth to speak, the words immediately faltering. There was nothing she could say, her reaction already gave her away. Denying at this point would just make Lauren angrier.

Suddenly Gabriella felt very alone, shrinking in Lauren’s shadow. It didn’t matter how hard she tried, her past would always come back to haunt her. Lauren was right, Gabriella was a bad person - she just fucked her best friend’s husband in the next room for Christ’s sake! Gabriella might have been able to fool Evie, Soren, Declan and even Dylan - but Lauren saw right through her. Birds of a feather and all that.

Lauren smiled triumphantly as Gabriella stumbled, clinging to the wall. She could see the cogs turning in Gabriella’s head, trying to figure out what had happened, trying to figure out how to react. But she made the right decision by not reacting. Her triumph just soared as Gabriella seemed to consider denying it or rebutting it, and then fell silent.

“I knew you’d see my side of things,” Lauren said. She took a step closer to Gabriella so she could whisper in her ear. “This can be our secret. Nobody else needs to know about it, do they?” She said, before kissing Gabriella on the cheek and walking away, confident in her victory.

Dazed, Gabriella watched as Lauren let herself out onto the balcony. There was nothing left for her to say. As usual, Lauren held all of the cards. Suddenly remembering there was still a party around them, Gabriella looked around to see if anyone was staring. As if the world was working against her, the first familiar face she locked eyes with was Julian - Jade’s older brother.

Gabriella tensed her jaw. She knew exactly how Julian felt about her, that Jade told him it was Gabriella’s drugs that he was busted with. The last thing she needed was his flawed judgement. Gabriella looked away quickly, heading out the front door and onto the street. She turned in a random direction, sending Declan a quick text: suddenly have urge to smoke. going to buy cigs. brb.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Robyn Miller Character Portrait: Jade Davies Character Portrait: Lauren Clark Character Portrait: Soren Bowers Character Portrait: Gabriella Montez Character Portrait: Olivia Eriksen Character Portrait: Julian Davies Character Portrait: Simon Rizzo
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#, as written by TushoKa
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xSimon RizzoJulian Daviesx
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"Best of Bros"

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xxoutfit.outfit.xx



Once Simon was sure Soren wasn’t going to go after Lauren (at least for now), Simon headed to a different room. Cam, Robyn, and Livvy had all vanished into the crowd of the party. So, it was time for him to go in search of his other best friend. Julian.

He found him in a den of sorts, a pool table in front of him. It seemed a game had already been started though there was no one else in the room with him. ”I heard playing with yourself could make you go blind.” He said jokingly as he walked up to his friend. He saw a strawberry liquor bottle on the side of the table and he picked it up, quivering an eyebrow. ”Dude, since when do you drink strawberry liquor?”

Julian lifted his shoulders. ”First of all.., don’t knock it till you try it. Second, desperate times…” he pointed out the empty beer bottles on the side.

Simon shook his head and picked up a cue stick. ”If you want, we can finish this game out. I could hit solids. Or we could just start over.”

Julian threw the white ball he had picked from the floor up and caught it again, just playing with it. ”Fine you can be solids. The wonder twin picking up where the other left off.” Julian put the white ball back on the table and lined up his shot again, making sure not to make it bounce like before. ”But since you have a head start, I’ll make the first move.”
He made his attempt, but it didn’t hit right, and he was left with the same amount as when he started. ”Are these damned cues skew or something?”

Simon paused at the “wonder twin” comment. ”Livvy was here? Where’d she go?” He smirked slightly when Julian didn’t quite make the shot he was hoping for. ”Sure, Sure, Sure,” he said, ”It’s the cue. Not the buzzed guy holding it.” He bent over the table, aiming for the solid red to the left, hoping he could hit it just right that it would slide into the corner pocket.

It did not. He swore under his breath and examined his own cue. ”Though… you may be onto something.”

”I tell you, it’s these cues, man” Julian used his own to point in the direction in which Livvy had disappeared, chasing Lauren. Then he finally made his first successful hit of the night, smiling with pride.
”Don’t blame me for letting her go, but she was looking at Lauren with hazy eyes.” He missed the next one, but actually knocked in one of the solids.
”Jeez, I’m on the wrong team here. So yeah, Livvy.. Lauren… I guess steering into the skid can be a tactic too?”

Simon frowned. ”Livvy and Lauren?” He lined up another shot, nearly knocking in a striped, but totally missed the hole. Concern started to rise in him and he thought about going after Livvy, but he promised her space. Besides, she was a grown woman. She could take care of herself… right? He did add, ”You didn’t stop her? Anything involving Lauren is likely to end in chaos.”

”Look, don’t give me that. Livvy is as grown as you and me, probably more now I think of it. If she wants to go looking for trouble, she can find it in more ways than one at this party.”

”Good point.” Simon rubbed some chalk on the end of the cue, waiting for his next turn. Changing the subject a little he said, ”Robyn and I came together.” He wanted to know what his friend thought. He wasn’t sure how to broach the subject. He’s been with other girls since high school but they never lasted and he wasn’t with Robyn. They were just friends. And he’d never put her in a position she wasn’t ready for after Nate.

Julian smiled at his friend as he had this unsure look in his eyes. ”So, am I supposed to read something into this?” To be honest, Julian was not sure what answer he was hoping for. Robyn was someone he always liked, and one of the people in his life that was a little bit more together than most, even with the passing away of Nate. He had to be an asshole though, to be anything less than happy for both if Simon and Robyn would end up together.

Simon rubbed the back of his neck. ”I don’t know, man. I guess… I like her a lot. She’s smart, funny, gorgeous… but since Nate passed so recently, I’m giving her the space to process it all, you know?” He glanced at the table. ”Your turn by the way.” He placed the chalk on the side of the table before continuing. ”But I do want to tell her I like her.” He laughed uncomfortably. ”Yikes. I sound like I’m in high school again talking about Cam.” He ran a hand through his hair. All fidgets. A quirk he picked up from hanging around with Livvy too much.

Julian looked at Simon, sizing him up on his plans with Robyn. ”Maybe you can ask her to hold hands with you on the cab ride home.” a big smile on Julian’s face, happily teasing his friend. He walked around the table looking for his next shot, finally finding one that seemed doable. He bent over in concentration, hit the ball and missed it by a hair. ”Oh crap..”

Simon let out a laugh. ”Tough luck, man.”

Julian went to stand next to his friend and poked him in the ribs. ”Look man, if you’re going to wait for her to get over Nate before making a move you can prepare for a dry spell of a decade. I tell you, not everyone is going to wait for that, not in Robyn’s case.” He waited for Simon to make his next move. There were a few options, so Julian did not expect to get to his turn again soon.

”Don’t just tell her you like her. She will say it’s too early, and you’re going to be friend-zoned for life. You already have Livvy, you don’t need a second.” Julian loved his friend, but a little more action would not be the worst idea.

Simon puzzled over the table for a minute, noting the remaining balls in play. There was one that would be a straight shot to the corner, but only if he hit it from the right angle. He made his way around the table, lining up the shot. He took a deep breath, nudged the cue forward into the ball, and watched as the ball slowly rolled forward…and landed in the pocket.

He let out a Whoop! before turning to his friend with a big grin. And responded to his earlier comment now that he sunk his shot. He pointed a finger at him. ”Livvy doesn’t count. She’s practically my sister.” He had once thought of her that way back when he was just starting to like girls, but then he realized she could be quite the brat when she wanted to be and decided they weren’t the right fit for one another. Besides… he didn’t want to lose his best friend.

“Finally, I was beginning to lose hope for us in this game.” Julian actually sighed with relief. “I’m not saying you want anything more from Livvy, but no action would put Robyn in the same position.”

His eye was caught by Gabriella who apparently dropped her bag. He noticed Lauren walking away from her and by the look in Gabriella’s eyes, she had gotten the full load. However, he had a difficult time to feel sorry for the girl. She had always been a bad influence on Jade and it’s because of her he was busted with drugs in his car. He saw the anger and shock in her eyes, but broke eye contact. If she used her stare to reach out for help, she was barking up the wrong tree. His friend pulled his attention back to the game.

Simon looked around the table for his next shot. ”You make a good point though,” He saw another that could work, but he’d run the risk of sinking the 8 ball. ”So you’re saying I shouldn’t just tell her I like her, but put some action behind it.” It wasn’t a question. He just wanted to make sure he understood what his friend was saying. There was this party hosted by the shop’s book club that was supposed to happen in a few weeks. Maybe he’d ask her to go with him. It wouldn’t be as wild as this, but he was told it would be a good time.

Julian shook his head. His friend needed some pressure otherwise he would still wait months before doing something. ”I tell you what, let me give you a goal post. If you don’t ask out Robyn on a date to actually happen in the next 2 weeks, I will.” Julian was surprised at how serious his suggestion was. He had always liked Robyn and the thought of asking her out had crossed his mind before. But he did not want to cockblock his best friend intentionally.
”Do we have a deal?”

Simon raised his eyebrows in surprise. He hadn’t expected Julian to give up such an ultimatum. If his friend liked Robyn, it would be fair to give him a shot, too. But… He didn’t want to miss his chance. He reached out a hand to his friend for a shake. ”Deal.”
Julian had a big smile on his face, as he definitely enjoyed a bit of competition. Especially if it would help out his friend.

He found his next move and went to strike. That’s when he noticed Lauren leaving a stunned and pained looking Gabriella. He missed. He frowned, but couldn’t bring himself to say anything other than a soft swear at scratching.
Gabriella and Simon had always been like passing ships. She was friends with Livvy, he was friends with Livvy, but neither really interacted. Though he did have some short, choice words for her once he found out she helped Livvy down a darker path in high school. Even if Livvy said it was more Jade’s fault Gabriella was on the path. Or… is that what she said? He shook his head, going back to the game. Lauren was on a warpath tonight and it seemed Gabriella had somehow stepped on a landmine. He didn’t want to be in the blast zone unless he had to.

”Your turn,” He muttered, eyes following Lauren. Livvy wasn’t with her which wasn’t a good sign. He’d have to find his friend later… or confront Lauren about it. Right now, he wanted to finish a game with his friend that he’s been missing. ”I’d go for the green one.”

Julian looked around the table. There were some options, but since his skill was so deplorable this particular evening he was unsure about any of it.
”Really? You don’t think that one is in the way?” Julian pointed out the orange one in the middle.
”Oh..okay, I see. So via the long rail. You have that faith in me, to make that shot?”
Julia walked around to where Simon was standing and put the cue over his thumb and index finger. He took his shot and the cue ball bounced off the long rail, past the green ball, bounced off the short rail and hit the striped red into the pocket.
Julian raised his eyebrows, stunned by what happened. ”Well… Would you look at that.”

With a triumphant step he got ready for the next shot. His short moment of luck made him cocky. ”Okay, here we go. Green ball, right corner pocket.” He concentrated, planning his shot to hit one rail before knocking in the green ball easily. He pulled back and knocked the cue ball hard. Being the expert he was, he did hit the rail he planned on. And he did hit the green ball perfectly. However, the green ball then hit the 8-ball, tilting it into the side pocket.
”Wait..shit! No, no,no, that doesn’t count!”

Simon let out a laugh. ”Man, isn’t that game?” He thought a moment. ”I could give you the out but I…” he trailed off, looking back towards Lauren. ”I should probably find out what happened to Livvy.” He placed the cue onto the table and gave his friend a quick hug. ”We need to hang out more, man. You should come by the shop. Or I guess maybe I should come by the bar.”

Julian looked a bit defeated, still looking at the corner pocket. ”I...yeah, I guess that’s game.” When Simon mentioned Livvy, Julian finally looked up at him. ”Uhm.. Yeah, sure. You go find Livvy, I’m just gonna go and get some air. It’s really hot in here.”
He put the cue on the table. ”Hey, if you want to take Robyn home later, just let me know, I’ll make sure Livvy gets home safe.” Then he leaned in closer and whispered to his friend. ”And if things get ehm… frisky, safety first. Let me know if you need the talk.

Simon watched his friend, concern wrinkling his brow. He opened his mouth to ask if his friend was alright when he spoke again. Simon found himself laughing again. ”I think I’m good on the talk, but thanks.” He gave his friend a pat on the shoulder, then gave it a good squeeze. ”I’m here if you need anything ok?”

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Gabriella Montez
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!!CW!! There are heavy themes of drug use, substance abuse and addiction in this post. Anything related to plot will be later referred to in less detail, if these subjects bother you please allow yourself to skip to next post. x


Gabriella didn’t really smoke, at least not cigarettes. It had become a habit during her recovery, an errand to occupy her mind and hopefully prolong the inevitable bad decisions. She wasn’t sure where she’d get some, but in New York there was always a bodega nearby. When she exited Erin’s, Gabriella turned in a random direction and just started walking.She wasn’t sure how long it was until she found a bodega, buying the first pack of cigarettes she pointed to and a lighter.

“Can I use your bathroom?” She asked, the cashier giving her a once over. “I have to change my menstrual cup, I don’t want to bleed out onto the sidewalk.”

Obviously not wanting any more details, they handed over the key to her. Gabriella took it a little more forcefully than she intended, her jacket swinging out as she turned swishing like a cape. Immediately locking the door behind her, fishing around her purse for the little baggie. Some of the contents had spilled on the inside of her bag. She dumped the contents of her purse into the sink, batting at the fabric to get out the powder to the best of her ability.

The baggie sat near the faucet, staring back at Gabriella as she placed her things back into her purse. Her hand ran over the fabric that covered her inner pocket again, causing Gabriella to pause. She sighed roughly, that knot tangling in her chest. Her fingers twitched, be it towards her phone or towards the pill she couldn’t tell.

If she did what she was supposed to, Gabriella would dial her sponsor now or at the very least Declan, Evie or Robyn. Gabriella had left the party telling herself she just needed to get some fresh air, but if she was being honest she knew she’d end up here. This was the plan, to get herself alone in a room with her greatest temptation - the rest had just been distractions or delayment of this moment.

Some of the graffiti had spilled onto the mirror, only part of Gabriella reflecting back at her. She brought a hand to her face. Her fingers ran over her smudged lipstick before pausing over her neck, still hot from Damien’s touch. Sliding her hand into her jacket, she withdrew the pill from Jade then grabbing the baggie with the other.

Dark eyes staring back at her, taunting - telling her all the things she knew to be true. At the end of the day Gabriella had never been strong enough. She looked down at the drugs in her hands. If she had a bump of ketamine it might fade by the time she got back to the party - but ketamine was a hell of a drug. Gabriella couldn’t have herself going down another K-hole. It was never ‘just a bump’ with ketamine.

Bringing the little green pill at eye level, she inspected it closely. It was only inches from her lips. She resisted the compulsion to just toss it into her mouth, instead rotating it to read the identifying number imprinted on the side. She pulled out her phone, looking up the pill and its effects.

Of course Jade had given her the perfect cocktail. Pocketing the baggie to focus on the capsule in her fingers, she was weighing the pros and cons when there was a pounding on the door making her jump. The pill slipped from her fingers, nose diving down the sink Gabriella grasping at the air after it.

“Aye - you cooking up some meth in there?” Shouted the cashier through the door.

“Do I look like a fucking meth head to you?” Gabriella shouted back, obviously distraught enough to make him quiet down. She swore under her breath, shining her flashlight down the drain to see if she could spy the pill. With some gum and a bobby pin, if she could see it she might be able to fish it out, but the green capsule was nowhere in sight. She pulled the baggie out once more, looking down at it with desperation - she was stranded in the desert and it her oasis.

Just one bump - she could do just one bump? Right?

Gabriella looked back to her partial reflection, not recognizing which part was staring back. She had to decide who she was going to be.

Emerging a few moments later Gabriella went right to the cashier and bought the first pack of cigarettes she pointed to. She packed the cigarettes as she walked back onto the street, the bodega cat sitting on a stack of crates by the door. Scratching the long haired feline behind the ear, it pushed it’s face into her touch purring at her affections. Gabriella smiled softly. She stayed there a little while, finding comfort in petting the small animal. It was therapeutic. As much as Gabriella wanted to stay there longer, she’d have to face her friends again some time tonight. Going home now wasn’t an option, the only way out was through.

“See ya, ya stinker.” Gabriella said to the cat, giving it a final rub down before shaking it’s fur off her hand.

Erin’s place wasn’t that far so Gabriella took the long way back, sparking up a cigarette as she walked. She didn’t hit it that often, just enough to keep it lit. It helped just to have something to do with her hands. By the time she reached Erin’s she had calmed down enough, taking deep breaths as she approached the party.

She stood outside as she finished her cigarette, giving herself a pep talk. More than anyone they would understand the need for some space after coming face to face with Lauren, no one would question her absence. All she had to tell was the truth, minus one or two important details.

There was an empty can of beer on the stoop, Gabriella dropping her cigarette butt inside. She felt sorry for the poor drunk sucker that later would mistake it for their own beer and get a mouthful of backwash and ash, but the thought amused her too much to do anything to throw away or move the can. Pushing through those who lingered by the door, Gabriella made her way back into the party bracing herself for the worst.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Robyn Miller Character Portrait: Lauren Clark Character Portrait: Gabriella Montez Character Portrait: Adonis Galante Character Portrait: Julian Davies Character Portrait: Camilla Rhodes
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ImageCamilla had insisted that Adonis leave Erin’s room first, though he doubted anyone would even notice them. He wasn’t in that pristine a state before him and Camilla hooked up, so he didn’t appear any more roughed up than before - though the same couldn’t be said for Camilla. Giving her a once over as he slipped out the door, Adonis gave her a wink.

It had been a blast from the plast, that much was sure. Though he and Camilla never dated, they always got along. Unfortunately Adonis was drawn to the types others labelled as bitches. It was what got him in this situation in the first place. He closed the door, forgetting to lock it behind him. Looking around to see if anyone noticed him, as if summoned by the smell of a clandestine affair Lauren was staring right back at him with a wicked smile.

He did his best not to react but Lauren could read him better than most, all he did was dull his reaction. Resisting to take the bait and engage with her, he let her walk right past him and into Erin’s bedroom where Camilla was. He considered following but stayed put. Camilla was more than capable of handling Lauren on her own, and honestly Adonis would just be a liability. There wasn’t much else he could do except walk away. He went to turn into the living room when a pretty figure stepped in his path.

“Adonis, hey.” Robyn said, obviously annoyed - though seemingly not at him. “Have you seen Lauren?”

Adonis furrowed his brow in thought, considering at first just telling Robyn but deciding against it. Robyn was sweet but soft. If she were to be around while Camilla was tearing Lauren a new one, Lauren would somehow manage a way to manipulate Robyn to come to her aid. It was her savior complex, always having to tend to the victim something that Lauren would surely play to her favor.

“I think I just saw her on the balcony.” Adonis lied, pointing in the opposite direction. “I dunno though, I’m trying to avoid her.”

“Okay, thanks.” Robyn huffed off in the direction of the balcony, leaving Adonis scratching the back of his neck with a sheepish expression of guilt.

He wasn’t really sure what he should do at this point, it seemed he was out of options. As much as he’d enjoyed his time with Cam, now that the moment was over he was still left in the same situation. Even if it was out of his hands, he couldn’t help but to feel like he should be doing something about it. There had to be another way, and it had to be tonight. Who knew when he’d see Lauren in person with witnesses who’d believe his side of the story?

As he walked to the main entrance, a rogue hand grabbed ahold of him pulling him back. Expecting the worst Adonis turned with a hostile expression, softening when Gabriella’s face was staring back. She put up her hands defensively, laughing under her breath.

“Woah there, was calling your name you didn’t hear me.” Gabriella joked, playfully punching his arm.

“My bad,” Adonis shook his head, stuffing his hands in his pockets. “What’s up?”

“You seen Evie?” Gabriella asked, knowing Adonis was bound to be keeping tabs on her.

Adonis looked around, Evie nowhere in sight. It had been a while since he last seen her. Hopefully she had managed to avoid Lauren but he should probably check in on her soon. He shook his head, turning back to Gabriella.

“Not for a while, I bet she’s in the kitchen or the bathroom or something. . .” He said absently, his mind still on the call he needed to make. “Do you mind finding her? I gotta step out.”

Gabriella nodded, motioning for Adonis to go ahead and turning back into the house as Adonis stepped out. He took a few paces from the door, dialing his lawyer as he lit a cigarette. Surely he had smoked nearly half a pack tonight alone. The shots he took before his encounter with Lauren were already wearing off, and his high was definitely starting to crash. He was scarily sober, adrenaline continuing to burn up any substance he consumed.

“Hello?” Said the gruff voice from the other end of the line.

“Hey, it’s Nis.” Adonis mumbled, looking around to see if anyone was watching him.

“What’s up kid? It’s the middle of the night.”

“I spoke to the mom,” Adonis answered quickly, taking a long drag from his cigarette. He could hear his lawyer move on the other end of the phone, presumably somewhere she could talk to Adonis in private.

“What happened? We need to send a clean up crew?” She asked.

“Nah, nah - nothing like that.” Adonis almost laughed, ashing his cigarette onto the sidewalk. “Though maybe, night’s still young.”

“Well don’t hold out, tell me what happened. Strike that, tell me only what I need to know about what happened.”

“I mean, long story short - she’s not talking.” Adonis looked back to the party, as if he could still see Lauren. “She said she’s got some relationship with the boss.”

There was a loud silence for a beat, he could hear his lawyer thinking what to say next. The thing that made them such a great lawyer is that they knew what questions not to ask, better to have deniability. If Adonis’ was dealing with one of the bosses’ play things, they’d need to tread carefully.

“Here’s what you’re going to do - you’ve already shown your hand so we’ll have to do some damage control.” She started, Adonis nodding along. “Stick around, maybe you can get her to let her guard down. A few drinks, maybe she finds something like a pill or something that gets her feeling loose. Not too much, we need her to appear lucid. Get her on video admitting everything, maybe then we can make it work.”

Adonis sighed, running a hand through his hair. He didn’t like the idea of having to hang around Lauren any longer but he was desperate at this point. To be honest, he rarely saw Lauren drunk enough to lose control like that - but maybe he could help with that.

“I might have to slip something in her drink, but I can make it happen.” Adonis said, his lawyer immediately talking over him.

“Woah, woah - I don’t need to know the details. I just need the video.”

“Got it - video.” Adonis said, noticing that Julian was standing nearby. Unsure how long his friend had been there and what he’d heard, he gave a nod of acknowledgement doing his best to play it off. He added to his lawyer, turning from Julian momentarily. “I gotta go, I’ll call you tomorrow.”

Turning back to Julian, Adonis slipped his phone back into his pocket pretending that he hadn’t just talked about slipping something in someone’s drink. Even with context, it didn’t make Adonis look all that good. He offered Julian a cigarette, taking a hit of his own.

“What you doing out here?” Adonis asked. “Only the fuck ups and exiles hang out by the stoop.”

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Character Portrait: Gabriella Montez Character Portrait: Dean Sun
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ImageImageGabriella looked around as she walked back into the party, giving awkward stiff smiles to unfamiliar faces. She wondered if Lauren had already chased off the rest of her friends, checking her phone for any texts and seeing none. It wasn’t like any of them to disappear without warning so they had to be around here somewhere. If she could just find Declan or Robyn, maybe tonight wouldn’t be so bad. She wanted a drink but didn’t trust herself with one right now. The only way she was going to make it through tonight was by convincing herself that she had some measure of self-restraint.

Then of course there was Dean. It was like he had an innate ability to show up when Gabriella was at a breaking point. The image of Jade’s lips against his flashed in her mind, sending a shudder down her spine. It wasn’t just jealousy, though she’d be lying if she said that wasn’t a part of it. Something about it was just wrong.

“Hey.” She grabbed ahold of his shoulder, turning Dean to face her. “You seen Dec?”

Her tone was obviously annoyed, giving Dean a look that she clearly did not want to be talking to him. Truthfully she didn’t have much to say to him, it’s not like he knew any better. That’s just how he was, how he always was. Really she was just mad at herself for not seeing it coming, Jade always would find a way to fuck up every thing in Gabriella’s life.

Dean had run away from Declan with his tail between his legs. There were very few people on planet earth that made him feel vulnerable, and Declan was one of them. Why couldn’t they seem to see that he was trying? He didn’t try to hide the sullen, frustrated expression on his face as he skulked about the room. He saw Gabriella, and initially was going to let her go about her evening, but she grabbed onto his shoulder, so it would only be polite to hear her out.

He audibly sighed when she asked about Declan. Why was he all anyone cared about? ”No,” Dean lied, despite how he could easily tell Gabriella exactly where Declan was. Dean was upset with Declan, and intended not to do anything to help them or anyone looking for them, ”I haven’t seen them since we got here.”

Usually, Dean tried to at least fake a pleasant face for people, but he didn’t bother with Gabriella. He wasn’t in the mood. ”Look for Soren, he’s bound to be there making googly eyes.” Dean rolled his eyes, clearly disgusted by the very thought.

“Jesus fucking christ, don’t be a child.” Gabriella rolled her eyes, crossing her arms. “Like you’re one to talk.”

Dean shook his head, “Dec deserves someone who has time for him, and won’t drag him down with their own issues.” And who Dean didn’t so deeply and personally hate. As some sort of cover up for that all too real admission, he added “You look like shit.”

Gabriella couldn’t help but laugh. One at the idea of Dean micromanaging Dec’s love life, two at his weak jab at her appearance. She ran her hand through her hair, nodding her head in agreement with him. “You got me there, I’ll give you that.”

As annoyed as she still was with Dean, it was more like one would be with a child or a pet. You can’t really stay mad because they don’t really know better. Their friendship was rooted in encouraging one another’s worst impulses, chaos was just a byproduct of it all. Despite it all, Gabriella did believe Dean had a soft spot for others - though he had a funny way of showing it. Regardless, she wasn’t going to just let him make himself into the victim or the good guy just looking out for his brother.

“I think you need to care a little bit less about who Declan fucks, Dean.” Gabriella pointed towards Dean to emphasize her words, then clasping them together to keep herself from gesticulating wildly as she spoke. “If it doesn’t affect your life then you need to leave it be. You know, unlike you fucking my ex without telling me for god knows how long. You know, like how that could affect me - you know from like contact fucking my ex.

Dean crossed his arms as Gabriella said he needed to care less. He didn’t care, so long as it wasn’t Soren. He wouldn’t pretend to internalize her point, though. He knew she wouldn’t expect him to, either.

But when she brought up Jade, he winced, just barely, but likely enough for her to notice. ”Yeah, that…” That broke some major codes, he knew it wasn’t cool. ”She came to me, you know.” He shrugged, ”Who was I to say no?” He offered Gabriella a weak smile; he knew she’d understand it. Jade offered a lot. Well, she offered some of what he needed, anyway.

”That’s over, anyway. I’ve got… Bigger things lining up for me.” He wouldn’t apologize for what he’d done, because, really, he’d not done anything so bad that it warranted an apology. ”You can do whatever,”

“Yeah, I know that.” Gabriella’s head bobbed with each word, her smile tense. “Could have her with or without your grace, she was literally throwing herself at me earlier tonight. She was just using you to make me jealous, or mess with Lauren - or whatever fucked up shit she has planned.”

Gabriella made no attempt to censor the truth, Dean wasn’t someone who was going to get his feelings hurt - and obviously he wasn’t very invested in the relationship anyways. Still, the fact that he used her coming to him as an excuse as if that made it any better knowing damn well that’s exactly how Jade operates. He might be emotionally stunted but he wasn’t dumb.

“I don’t even care, because I don’t even want her.” Gabriella added, be it to reassure herself or Dean she wasn’t sure. “Are you going to dump her publicly though, and if yes can I film it?”

”She knows I’m just Lauren’s little pet,” He said, with a shrug. He knew it was true, and so did everyone else. There was no point in hiding it. ”You shouldn’t let her get to you. It’s all mind games around here,” He tapped his temple to drive his point forward, ”The best thing to do is learn to play along, or finally block her number like Declan keeps telling you to do.”

Dean cared about her. He did. He was shit at expressing it, but he was shit at just about anything that involved emotions.

He laughed when she asked if he was going to dump her publicly, ”We aren’t even dating. I’m just gonna text her. I’ll let you know before I do if you really wanna film her reaction though. She won’t care that much.”

Gabriella rolled her eyes again at the implication she should just block Jade. If even Dean was saying it now, what the hell did that mean? He was right about one thing at least, it was all mind games around here. Before she could just check out, playing her role of pawn very well. Dean knew how to make the game work for him, always had. As much as anyone would hate to admit it, he was smarter than he let on.

“Ugh, that’s no fun.” She pouted at the idea of him just dumping her over text. The prospect of Jade being publicly humiliated was enough to get her salivating, though Dean wouldn’t want to piss of Jade that much. He had to make sure to cover his bases and she understood that, she had to start doing the same. She thought about mentioning Lauren but figured Dean had already ran into her, then remembered his earlier statement. The gears turned in her mind, a look of realization dawning on her face as she put it together.

“So I take that to mean you already ran into Lauren?” Gabriella asked, her expression a mix of amusement and bewilderment.

Dean shrugged apologetically when Gabriella said texting Jade to break things off wasn’t any fun. If things went south with Lauren, and he knew they eventually would, he would need someone else around that could fund his bad habits. Having a rich spouse was the goal, one way or the other.

When Gabriella asked if he’d run into Lauren already, Dean tapped the side of his nose. “Dig deep enough, you’ll eventually find treasure.” He smiled, some pride showing in his face, “Don't expect wedding bells or anything. We all know it’ll end badly, but I have to leverage the dirt I’ve got while I’ve got it.”

Gabriella raised a brow, mildly impressed. Of course anyone who wanted to keep up with Lauren had to play her game but it was rare anyone got the leg up on her. The part of her that wanted to watch Lauren fail was itching for more information but she knew Dean wouldn’t hand over his leverage.

“Wouldn’t be Dean Sun if you didn’t, I guess.” She joked, shaking her head. “Pretty satisfying to know that Lauren is getting a dose of her own medicine, though.”

“I learned from the best.” Dean hadn’t spent years following Lauren around like a lost puppy for nothing. To her he was just a pawn, but he picked up a few tricks along the way.

Then it struck him that Gabriella may have had a less than excellent interaction with Lauren over the course of the evening. “I know she’s sometimes, uhh, less than pleasant but…” Dean was fond of Lauren for reasons he couldn’t really explain, and even if he could there was no way most anyone at this party would understand. He shrugged, mumbled a quick, “Oh, hold still,” As he picked some cat hair stuck to Gabriella’s top, and then said, “We all have our vices, huh?”

He winked at her, then. He knew something about the way he was living life was going to kill him one day, and it would probably be Lauren. Gabriella belatedly swatted at Dean’s hand as he picked the cat hair from her top, then batting at the fabric of her clothes when noticing other hairs had stuck to her. It didn’t matter that he was helping her, or that he had touched her many times before - even though she wouldn’t hold anything against him she was still annoyed.

“At least my vices get you high while they ruin your life.” She said absently, looking around the room once more. “I’m going to grab a drink - do you need one?” Dean snorted, as if he didn’t share some of those vices as well. He waved off her offer to get him a drink with a noncommittal grunt. He was a big boy, he could get his own when he wanted one.

”Catch you later,” He said, maybe a little too confidently. Gabriella gave him a weak wave, making her way back towards the kitchen.