Once Upon A High School Reunion Ch. 02bySecretFantasy69©
Thank you for the great responses everyone! I'm glad that you're enjoying the characters. Here is the second installment of this story. Don't forget to comment and rate.
Brian navigated the car down a short block that would take him directly to his father's new house, and slowed when he noticed a silver Camry that bore resemblance to the one that Crystal had pulled off in, parked before a small, peach house with a short porch and a white picket fence enclosing it. Looking into his rearview mirror to make sure that there was no one behind him, Brian brought the car to a stop and stared at the house. One of the lights downstairs was on and he could see into the small living room. Small towns and their lack of privacy. It probably wasn't even Crystal's car, or her house. He was about to put his car into motion once more when a woman wearing a large gray t-shirt and short-shorts suddenly walked past the window with a large mug in her hands. He watched as she disappeared from his sight and willed his brain to work. Drive. He was but ten minutes away from his father's house. The sooner he got there, the sooner he could leave this town and head back to New York. Back to the loud city, back to the bustling and his numerous obligations to the game and to his sponsors. He placed his foot of the gas pedal and the car began to move once more.
"How was your reunion?" That was the voice of Daniel Hauser III, the man to whom she was engaged and the only man in six years who'd ever managed to help her forgot Brian. Daniel was the type of guy who wouldn't have gotten Crystal's time for anything: born with a silver spoon in his mouth, cocky and at times arrogant. But he could also be loving and tender and playful, which was what he was when he was around her. It helped that he looked like some sinful golden angel, with the natural tanned complexion that he'd received as a result of having an African mother and a European father, the curly hair that he usually wore short because it added a look of boyishness about him, and the tall, lean body of a man who liked to keep in shape.
She'd first met him at his family home in Richmond, at a gathering that his parents were hosting for the New Year. Her father had been invited and he had taken her as his guest. As she'd recently taken over the company, her father wanted her to mingle with the "big buyers" as he called them. She'd been doing her usual networking when Daniel had approached her, grinning and running his eyes over the length of her body. He'd introduced himself and had been quite snobbish about it. After conversing with him for a mere five minutes, during which he made a few indecent proposals, and handing him her business card, she'd excused herself and found her way back over to her father, thankful that she hadn't mouthed off to the son of their host.
She knew that he watched her for the remainder of the party and was happy when they left. Two weeks later, he showed up at her company with a bouquet of roses, and an apology for how he behaved at the party. She'd accepted and he'd asked her to lunch. She declined but he asked about dinner. She declined again but if she had to describe Daniel in word it would be "persistent." He'd refused to leave until she agreed to have dinner with him so she finally did. And from then on, Daniel had put on the charm, making her laugh, being everything that she could want in a man. He even sent flowers to her job randomly or called just to say, "I love you" in the midst of a hectic day.
His voice was an easy purr through the phone and Crystal relaxed into the soft cushions of the dark green couch.
Sighing, she fumbled with her hair as she answered, "You know, the usual. Pretty good...and tiring of course."
"I'm sorry I couldn't come," he told her, sounding apologetic and playful, at the same time. She smiled, remembering that she'd tried to convince him to escort her to no avail. "I know that you're not sorry in the least, Daniel, but its okay. It wasn't your reunion."
"That's what I was trying to tell you from the beginning, sweetheart," he replied and then added, "But if I didn't have this case coming up, I would have still come along, if only for moral support."
A chuckle greeted that announcement and he laughed as well. They continued to speak for a few more minutes, with Daniel promising to visit as soon as he had time. When the conversation ended, Crystal placed the phone on the center table and picked up her mug, filled almost to the brim with hot chocolate. It should have cooled by now. She took a large drink and sighed blissfully as the warm liquid slid down her throat. Tonight would be good for sleeping.
Staring at the blank television screen, she placed the mug back onto the server and attempted to find the remote. Where has she left it? She had moved around the living room and was seriously contemplating just pushing the power button on the television when her doorbell rang. She jumped and clutched her chest. Her eyes flew to the digital clock on her cable box. It was eleven thirty—at night! Who would come to visit her at this time? And who would come to visit her without calling at this time? She remembered Shonda immediately. Had she decided at the last minute that she wished to stay with her, instead of Roxie and Terrance?
Cautiously, she headed over to the door and peeked through the peephole. She drew back immediately, turning her back to the door and shaking her head. What was Brian doing on her porch and how had he known where she lived? Had he followed her? Rapid knocks against the doorframe made her squeal softly and Brian's deep voice said, "I know you're in there, Crystal. I just want to talk."
Feeling her patience give, she pulled open the door and stared up at him angrily, "Brian, it's after eleven—at night. What do you want?"
He took a step back and lifted his hands, as if in surrender. "I just wanted to talk to the girl who used to be my best friend."
Something twisted in her gut as she stared at him but she shook her head in refusal. There was a reason why she used to be his friend.
"Come on, Crystal. For old time's sake?" his voice was low, his eyes pleading. He looked lost. She sighed and turned her head slightly to the side, contemplating the request. "I don't have to come into your home. Just walk with me for a bit."
Feeling her resolve give and knowing that this would only lead to ridiculous complications, she found herself saying, "Wait here. I need a jacket and sneakers." She left the door slightly opened as she marched to the coat closet and pulled an old Georgetown U sweatshirt over her head. She easily stepped into her running sneakers. Grabbing her keys from her purse, she walked back to the door, and then stepped into the slight chill of the night air.
They walked in silence for many minutes and as they reached the end of her block and turned down to the walkway that would take them towards the beach, Brian said, "So tell me about yourself. What did you do after college?"
"I went into the real estate field in Washington for two years, and then I came back to Virginia to take over my father's company," her voice was calm and even. She stole a quick glance at him. He was staring ahead. "And you? What of your life outside of football?"
Brian shrugged his shoulders and replied, "My life is football, Crystal."
A chill swept over her body and she knew that they were getting closer to the beach. She hugged herself slightly and told herself that her next question would be asked all in the name of conversation. She didn't really care. She had no business caring.
"Someone mentioned that you were engaged...?" No one had mentioned it to her. She'd read it in one of those Gossip magazines that sold in the local grocery stores. She had even seen the woman to whom he was engaged. A tall, lanky blond with absolutely no curves and a face that was beautified by cosmetic surgery and makeup.
Brian looked down at her and replied honestly, "I was...about a year or so ago. It didn't work out. We wanted different things in life." She'd given him the opening for a question that he'd wanted to ask since Alex had mentioned the ring on her finger. "How long have you been engaged?"
Unconsciously, Crystal lifted her left hand to her face, staring at the sizeable rock on the platinum band. A wry smile twisted her lips as she remembered how Daniel had proposed to her. He showed up on her porch randomly one Saturday night and took in her puffy eyes and red tipped nose before smiling and getting down on one knee. She'd thought that she was hallucinating, with the amount of medication that she was on for the flu. "About six months now."
"And how long have you two been dating?" the question was asked politely, but Crystal wondered at his reasons for asking it. Hopefully, he was just making conversation.
"A little over a year."
"Have you planned anything yet?" Did you set the date? Buy the dress? Send out the invitations?
Crystal shook her head. Daniel had told her that whenever she was ready, he'd be ready too. She'd wanted a long engagement because he'd proposed after only six months of serious dating and at times, she felt unsure of their relationship. She liked Daniel...so very much, but she did not know if she loved him as he deserved. She wanted to...because Daniel should have nothing less but there were time when she looked at him and felt no spark, no passionate love. She just felt...content.
"Not yet. The wedding will probably be in the spring of next year," even as she said those words she recognized that this was the first time that she'd ever voiced them. A spring wedding. Well, that was the first step in planning it.
"That sounds great. Congratulations," he said evenly, and she thanked him. An awkward silence settled upon them again and they continued to walk in the direction of the beach. Although it was a Friday night, the town wasn't known for having wild parties consisting of boisterous teenagers and loud people. They went to other towns to do those things. Crystal and Brian were among few people who walked the stretch to the beach.
"You said that your father and stepmother are in France?" Crystal mentioned, feeling as if the silence was deafening her.
"Yes. They should be back in a few days," he replied easily. "They wanted an exotic vacation in a pretty French villa."
Crystal rolled her eyes even as she felt the makings of a smile on her face. Her parents were the same. They'd already booked a cruise that would take them to three Caribbean islands this summer. She felt her body relax even more, thinking of the times when she and Brian, and sometimes Brad and Roxie, had walked down this very same path and headed to the beach. Ten or more years had passed since then. Time really flew.
They finally stepped off the road and moved through the sand. The bright white lights that they'd recently placed by the beach, after a few teenagers had almost drown there, were on.
"So, what's it like to be famous?" she asked softly, turning to face him. He looked down at her and smiled slowly, a move that seemed to change him back to the boy she'd known and doted on.
"I'm not that famous," he replied demurely and she barely checked the urge to slam her fist playfully into his arm. He wasn't the Brian Greenwood she'd known, the angry boy she'd met in junior high school or the boy that she'd crushed on in high school; he was a different Brian and because of their shared past, she couldn't act as she would have around him anymore.
"Is that your attempt at humility?" she settled for saying instead.
He laughed softly and then replied, "It's amazing and frustrating all in one. The perks are great but it can get annoying very easily, especially when you can't go to a public bathroom without fearing that someone will try to shake your hand in there."
Crystal let out a loud laugh and then clasped her hand to her mouth to stifle it. "That's disturbing. Someone actually shook your hand...in the restroom? Did he at least wash his hands?"
Brian sent her a droll look and shook his head. "This was a guy's restroom, Crystal. No, he did not wash his hands." A soft giggle escaped her lips, making him smile as they continued along.
They finally stopped feet away from the water's edge, staring down at the waves as they sloshed against the sand before retreating, only to come in once again.
"Do you remember prom?" he asked, before he could think of the question and keep it to himself.
She didn't answer for a long moment and he was about to ask something else when she spoke, "Yea. Prom was great."
He agreed and turned to look down at her. She was still staring out at the water. "Prom was perfect."
Nodding, she suddenly hugged herself and said, "It's really chilly out here, Brian, and it's getting pretty late."
He agreed but found it hard to let her go just yet. He hadn't seen or spoken to her in six years. He'd barely seen her for an hour, if so much.
"Have a drink with me," he saw her mouth open on the no and said quickly, "One drink. Nothing strong."
Crystal stared at him like he'd grown another head before indicating her attire. Old sweatshirt, shorts and sneakers. "Brian, I'm not dressed for a bar."
"My father practically has bar in his kitchen," he told her quickly. They stared at each for a long moment, Crystal thinking of all the things that could go wrong if she were to accompany him, he thinking of all of the ways that he could persuade her.
"I don't think so—."
"Come on, Crystal. This is probably the last time we'll see each other," his voice was low, she heard a hint of sadness. "I just want a bit more time with you."
Although she glared at him, she heard herself say, "No more than half-an-hour, Brian. And nothing strong. I can't hold my alcohol like you and Brad, remember?"
Of course he remembered, although he was sure that she wished she didn't. It had been the end of junior year of high school and Brad had thrown a party while his parents were away. It wasn't anything massive, just his regular friends and some of their friends. Cool people who wouldn't trash his house. At the party, he and Brad had introduced Crystal to Tequila shots. After the third one, they'd cut her off completely, but it was too late. She serenaded Brian, Brad and Alex, all in public and then proceeded to search, very drunkenly, for more Tequila, before the look on her face notified everyone of what was about to happen. Brian had barely made it with her to the bathroom before she began to retch. After cleaning her up, and making her drink loads of water, he'd taken her back to his place, where he'd allowed her to sleep it off for a few hours while he watched TV. He'd woken her up before her curfew and taken her back home. Thankfully, her parents had been asleep. The next day she'd been highly embarrassed, especially as he and Brad mercilessly teased her about her inability to hold alcohol.
"It's pretty nice, isn't it?" Brian found himself saying as they approached the back of the large house from the beach.
Crystal agreed and even smiled as she replied, "Yes, it is. I picked it out especially for them."
Halting, Brian looked at her and then nodded, a sheepish smile forming on his face. "Of course. You sold them this house."
They entered through the backdoor and made their way into the kitchen.
"He did an amazing job at decorating," Crystal said, checking the urge to whistle as she took in the large kitchen with chestnut cabinets.
"I think they hired an interior decorator because my father doesn't have this kind of taste," Brian replied, moving behind the Island and pulling out crystal decanters filled with alcohol. He opened them and sniffed them, before replacing them all and taking out a bottle of red wine. "And neither does my stepmother."
A chuckle escaped her lips and she shook her head. Brian was probably right. Dave still enjoyed working as a surgeon so he didn't have time to decorate and his lovely wife wasn't the kind to lift a hand and do anything except fan herself or spend money.
Brian looked around for the wine glasses and found them in the glass case that stood to the left of the island.
He poured the red liquid into her glass first and then poured for himself. She lifted her glass and he did the same.
"To a bright future," she said and Brian repeated her toast before taking a drink of the wine. It was a bottle of 1982 Cabernet Sauvignon, aged to perfection. His eyes lowered to her lips as she brought them to the edge of the glass and remained there as she titled the glass to taste the contents. The glass lowered slightly and her tongue snaked out to capture the sweet remnants on her lips.
"It's really good. What is it?" she asked, and then felt her cheeks heat as she recognized where his eyes were. Upon hearing her question, she looked down at the bottle and then back up at her. She looked slightly flushed.
"A 1982 Sauvignon."
An eyebrow lifted at that and she asked one question, "Expensive?"
He smirked and lowered his brows. "Quite."
"How like you to drink your father's most expensive wine," she commented easily, lifting the glass to her lips once more even as she smiled at him.
"It's a bit warm in here," he said, wondering if he was the only one feeling the heat of the room. Grabbing the bottle of wine with his free hand, he looked at her and said, "Come on, we'll sit out on the deck."
She followed after him with her glass of wine, silently agreeing with his observation. It was pretty warm in the house.
"Brad was there? I didn't even see him!" A half-an-hour had turned into almost two hours and one glass of wine had turned into two and a half for Crystal and three for Brian. The bottle now lay somewhere at his feet—empty. The slight buzz of the alcohol had worked its usual magic and now they were talking about every and anything—well, almost anything. They still stayed clear of senior year of college.
"That's because you were on the other side of the room. He and Maria are staying at the Bed and Breakfast on Sycamore Ave. for the weekend. Maybe you'll see them at one of the other activities that the reunion committee planned."
Crystal relaxed against the soft lounge chairs once more and turned her head to look at Brian. He was staring at her.
"So they got married—Brad and Maria? What does he do? What does she do?"
Chuckling at the insistence of her questions, Brian told her. "They live in a pretty nice house in Miami. Brad is the head of advertising for a record company. Maria used to model and do a bit of acting until she had her first child, and then she decided to be a fulltime mom. They have two kids—a boy and a girl."
She nodded and sighed before taking another gulp of her wine. "High school sweethearts—that's nice to hear: marriage, kids...family, the works."
"Yea...the works," Brian echoed, staring into his empty wine glass and seriously contemplating walking back into the kitchen and pouring some of the strong stuff that had been in the decanter into his glass.
"Don't you want the works, Brian?" It was a soft question, one that she wouldn't have asked without the alcohol that was creating a feeling of fuzzy warmth in her body.
When he didn't answer quickly, she looked back to him. His eyes were on her yet again. She offered him a slight smile and lifted a brow.
"Yea, I want the works," he finally answered, knowing that she couldn't have any idea of the picture she made, curled so becomingly on a lounge chair, with the soft glow of the deck lights enhancing her every feature.
"You should get them. It's not as if we're getting any younger," she teased softly, chuckling at herself.
He nodded. "I know." Hopefully, she would ask another set of questions. He didn't like where this set was heading.