Light Up Ch. 01byPunkiesidhe©
She was the laughing girl. The pretty chocolate skinned one with the big bright smile and polite eyes. Always a positive thing to say and a comforting shoulder or hand at the ready.
She was intelligent, engaging, and dependable. The friend you could count on and the daughter who was the apple of her parent's eye. At twenty-six years of age she had her Bachelor's Degree in mathematics as well as an MBA. She had left a well paying job she hated for an equally well paying job that she loved. She had her own one bedroom apartment in a nice neighborhood in the suburbs of Northern California. She was even writing a book, a science fiction novel to be exact. Zaria Mayfield had everything. She was young, determined and nothing in the world could stop her except for her own misery.
"You really need to get laid," her best friend Chelsea called from the couch. She was sprawled there, watching intently as Zaria put her make-up on in the living room mirror.
"Shut up. I'm on a break from men." Zaria replied.
"That's fine," Chelsea smiled. "Be on a break from men. Just don't be on a break from dick. We're on vacation. In London for shit's sake. Find one of these fancy talking boys and get your rocks off."
Zaria glared at Chelsea in the mirror. "I'm happy. I have my shit together. I know how to have a good time with my friends, whom I love, most of the time. Men are complications and I just don't want any complications right now."
Unconvinced Chelsea rolled her eyes. "It's been over a year since you and that dickwad broke up. I know you haven't been with any one since. If you don't use it soon your cooch is going to dry up and fall out."
Screwing her lips to the side Zaria chose not to comment.
She had tried to date since breaking up with her ex. There weren't many things that Zaria wasn't good at but relating to men was definitely at the top of the list. She had really only had two boyfriends in her life. With the first, she'd been 19 and desperately in love with the idea of love. He'd been older and keen on marriage. By the time she graduated from college she had outgrown the idea that being barefoot and pregnant for the next ten to fifteen years was romantic. After that she'd had a 3 year dry spell until she met Alvin. He worked with her. He was nice and he liked her. It was a train wreck. They hadn't even lasted 5 months before he broke up with her. "We used to have a lot more fun than we do now..." were his exact words. She found it incredibly ironic that he broke up with her for being boring. If Zaria told the complete truth she had always found Alvin to be incredibly average. He was average looking, he liked doing average things, watching average movies and he was average in the sack. He preferred one position. Her on top. He wasn't very imaginative and their sex life was far from satisfying. There were plenty of things she didn't like about him. She didn't like his homophobic friends, the fact that he wouldn't go out dancing with her, and she hated that he always bought rolls with cream cheese in them when they went out for sushi. She never mentioned any of these things because she had been grateful that someone wanted to be her boyfriend. She had preferred an average existence with someone to the prospect of being alone.
Breaking up with her was the kindest thing Alvin had ever done for her. They never fought. They never got angry with each other. There wasn't enough passion between them for any of that. They weren't in love. She cried when Alvin left her, but it was mostly hurt pride and relief. From that point on Zaria promised herself that if it wasn't real, if it wasn't love or crazed lust she wouldn't bother. She became consumed with the idea of desiring someone uncontrollably, of being desired. Consumed with the need to fuck. She went out. She dressed up, she danced, she got drunk. She surrounded herself with friends and men, dated and flirted up a storm. Not once did she meet someone who ignited the fire she wanted.
Hence the break.
"You ready for London-town ladies?!" Ruth came galloping down the stairs followed by her boyfriend Tom. Ruth was a high school friend of Chelsea, now studying in the UK and living with her boyfriend. The couple had been nice enough to offer Zaria and Chels a place to stay during their trip.
Zaria dropped her lip gloss into her clutch. "I'm ready!"
Chelsea stood, rolling her eyes. "All that effort just to waste it," she muttered "Whatever, who gives a fuck. Let's go get belligerently drunk!"
Zaria smiled and followed her friends out the front door. Finally, something her and Chels could agree on.
Rhys was not depressed. He was bored. Even so, he was disappointed in himself. As far as he was concerned he didn't have the right to be bored. His life was golden. He'd just finished wrapping up filming on the latest season of his TV show. 4 years running and he still wasn't tired of his character. Neither were viewers. He loved acting. If he were honest he fell into it accidentally, singing was his first love. He'd wanted to be in musicals, in order to do that he needed to learn to act.
It was like playing make believe. He got to go to work, put on someone else's clothes, someone else's life. It came easy to him, slipping on someone else's skin was almost second nature. Delving into the character, creating their back stories and home lives in his head, and bringing all of that to his performance in the form of subtle little ticks and pauses, he cherished his work. It made him feel alive. But filming was over and now it was time to go back to being himself.
He'd rather be acting.
"Hey man, what's happenin'!" His co-worker and friend Sean approached his booth and clapped him on the shoulder.
"Nothing much," Rhys smiled. "Thanks for coming out."
Sean sat next to him and ordered a beer. They liked this place. It was dark and cozy and the people were standoffish enough that no one interrupted them for pictures or autographs. Rhys really liked his fans. They were enthusiastic, but there were times when he just wanted to chill in public without having to be "on".
"So, where's the lovely Candace?" Sean asked.
Rhys pursed his lips. "We broke up."
"What? Again?" Sean laughed.
Rhys sipped his beer and nodded. "Just this morning."
"Whatever man, you'll be back together tomorrow. In the mean time you should treat yourself to a nice guilt free shaggin'. Maybe one of these tourists who doesn't know who the fuck you are." Sean wiggled his eyebrows and gave Rhys a crazy grin.
Rhys laughed and shook his head. Sean was always trying to get him in trouble. Rhys cared deeply about Candace. She was annoying as all hell, but they had history. Their biggest problem was that neither of them knew where their relationship was headed. If they could figure that out he was sure they'd be fine.
"I'm fine with spending the night with my beer thanks."
Sean blew a raspberry at him. "Whatever man. I'm going to go try to get laid."
Rhys watched, amused as Sean made his way to the bar. No doubt his friend would get laid. He was the star of their show.
Rhys finished his beer, then Sean's beer came and he finished that one too. He wasn't depressed. He knew that for sure. If he were honest with himself he probably did need to get laid. Him and Candace were in a bit of a rut. They hadn't had sex in weeks, good sex in much longer than that. He hadn't wanted to stay home at his empty apartment tonight. At least if he was out he could pretend he was being social and normal, even if he wasn't talking to anyone.
Rhys had ordered yet another beer and was halfway through the bottle when he spotted them on the dance floor. They were Americans, he could tell. It was something in the way they were completely drunk and carefree on the dance floor singing to some electronica-fied pop song all crazy like. Just shy of being really annoying.
One of them, the brunette with the feathers in her hair, had an empty bottle of vodka that it looked like she had lifted from the bar rubbish bin. She was holding it upside down above some poor blokes head while her friend, a mixed girl with tons of hair and a gold dress, took pictures.
Rhys cracked a smile but it froze on his face when he saw the last American turn around. She was beautiful. Her head was thrown back and she was laughing uncontrollably. She had a hand raised to steady herself on a column as she looked at her friends through her lashes, her huge grin taking up half of her face. Her hair was a little wild, all over the place from dancing. He wondered if that's how it looked after she'd been fucked. He chastised himself. That wasn't a very proper thought. A bit rude probably.
He liked her dress. It was structured and purple. It looked tight and a little hard to walk in. Constricting. It couldn't hide her curves though. She was built like a goddess. The Goddess of Sex. Full breasts, small waist, full hips. He wished she would turn around so he could see if she had an ass to match. More improper thoughts.
She's black, his mind registered. Not that it mattered. He'd never dated a black woman before, but not for any particular reason.
He hadn't realized he was walking until he found himself on the dance floor a few feet away from her.
Her laughter was ending and she was gasping for air, that beautiful smile still stretched across her lips. Rhys closed the gap between them.
He waited until she looked at him, watched as her eyes went wide and she bit her bottom lip. He tried to smile. Tried to act, be cool. He couldn't.
"Can I buy you a drink?" He asked.