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Chapter 4 — Alexandra

  • There were a couple of specific reasons I didn't do pool parties.
  • For one, water and electrical appliances didn't mix.
  • Secondly, after everything I was supposed to hang out in the pool with everyone because that was the best place to hunt for future gigs. Someone swimming in there would have a birthday party the next day or have a friend who had a friend that would love the famous DJ Butterfly to play at their party or club.
  • Reason one although valid was more easily solved than reason two.
  • Reason two was the reason I dreaded pool parties. It required me to put on a bikini and you wouldn't catch me dead in one of those skimpy little things. I wasn't really that comfortable with my body so putting out there for everyone to see was a no-no. Besides no one would be comfortable seeing my big old scar.
  • As I packed my laptop reason two filled me with so much apprehension I could feel the sweet pooling under my arms.
  • My stand was a few meters away from the gigantic pool which had humans laughing and enjoying themselves, glow sticks adorning every part of them.
  • If I had a choice I wouldn't come three feet near one of these gatherings, but that was the problem. I didn't have a choice. Pool parties paid well and I was in desperate need of cash. My due date for the rent was coming up and the bill from the hospital arrived yesterday. Even with my day job and my mother taking extra shifts at the hospital it was a constant battle to keep our heads above the murky, unpleasant waters of debt.
  • It'll be fine Lex. You've got this.
  • The words of encouragement didn't help as my heart pounded away in my chest, no end in sight.
  • I really didn't know why I was nervous. I didn't pack a bikini and I could leave any time since I'd already been paid. I guess it's the fact that my manager was lurking somewhere, probably drunk as a bat, waiting for me to make a move toward home.
  • I scanned the crowd but there was no sign of his crew cut or tattoo-covered black skin. I released a breath and tugged down my black feathered mask.
  • My mask was an essential part of my night job as DJ Butterfly. I wore it because it not only gave me some form of anonymity, it allowed me to pretend that I was someone else, at least for a while. Behind the turntable and the mask I was Butterfly, confident, sexy, not-at-all-in-debt-with-a-technically-dead-sister-in-the-hospital. As Butterfly I could pretend to love my too-sharp curves and my big mouth that didn't mind spewing whatever I was thinking when provoked.
  • In short, other people took vacations, and while I technically couldn't, I made myself a new identity and took my vacation every day when the last light drained from the sky.
  • I lifted my turntable from the stand. It was big and I couldn't see my feet, which was bad since they tended to trip on air. As I took a step forward I felt a piece of wire curl around my ankle and I fell forward. I closed my eyes expecting the hard ground but it never came. Instead I felt a pair of muscular arms wrap around my torso and gently set me on the floor.
  • "Are you ok?" came a gentle voice in my ear.
  • I wanted to answer but the smoke from the barbecue flew into my face making my eyes water and producing a sputtering cough from my throat.
  • "I'm fine," I managed to answer when the cough finally passed. "Thank you for . . ."
  • I didn't get to finish my statement because I was blown away by the face of my rescuer.
  • It might have been my anxiousness about going into the pool or the dread that very soon Bill would appear and force me into said pool but I could've sworn that crouching next to me on the fake grass was Carson Miller. As in my boss Carson Miller.
  • The thought was so ridiculous that I burst out laughing. In my peripheral vision I saw him staring at me like I'd suddenly sprouted another head.
  • "Are you ok? Should I call an ambulance?"
  • As my laughter slowly died, I wiped the tears that had collected at the corners of my eyes. I used the same motion to rub my eyes hoping that once I opened them he would transform to someone else. Anyone else. Even Bill.
  • I had no such luck. When I opened my eyes I still meet the same narrow grey eyes, the same slight stubble surrounding his jaw and the same messy dark hair that was characteristic of my boss.
  • As soon as that registered I felt a bolt of pure panic shoot through me. In the three years that I'd been Butterfly I was careful to keep my two lives separate. I made sure not to run in the same circles that Alexandra Holdman, EA extraordinaire would. Until last night. I'd met a quite inquisitive man at the bar I was playing at the night before. Despite my relative fear of the opposite sex I'd struck up a conversation and despite my better judgment I'd enjoyed every minute of it. Until the light crossed his face and I found out I'd been flirting with my boss. Instinct took over and I got up outta there. I thought that'd be the last time I'd ever have to do that but of course I was wrong.
  • "You!" was all I could say before hurriedly uncurling the wire. I lifted the turntable and jumped up. The weight of the thing caused me to sway a little and he reached out to steady me but I brushed him off. "Are you stalking me or something?" I asked in a huff hoping he didn't recognize my voice.
  • "A little," when he was sure I didn't need help he tucked his hands into the pocket of his pants and gave me a look like a little boy that'd been caught with his hand in the candy jar.
  • It was a little strange to imagine that my stuck up boss could even produce such a look like that but I covered my confusion with a scoff. "What's that supposed to mean? A little?"
  • "Well, you see ..."
  • I stopped listening and froze with dread. Behind Carson was the form of my manager, Bill, making his way purposefully over to me. He didn't look half as drunk as I'd expected and that only meant one thing: it was pool time for me.
  • Not if I have anything to say about it.
  • "... Oh and my name is Carson, by the way."
  • "Yeah yeah, great talk, Carson," I hurriedly swung my pink backpack with my laptop in it around my shoulder and before I could think it through, grabbed Carson by the sleeve and raced us out of the house.
  • I pulled Carson behind a tree across the street and put my hand to my lip as a signal to be quiet.
  • I heard the crunch of leaves and saw a shadow form beside me. My heart hammered in my chest as I silently pleaded with Bill to leave me alone.
  • Finally the shadow moved on and I released the breath I was holding.
  • So yeah, if you had any doubts before, I really hate pools.
  • "What was that about?" Carson had one of his amused looks on and strangely that annoyed me. Did he not have any idea how his presence here was ruining the natural order of my life?
  • I ignored him and started the short trek to where I'd parked my car.
  • "Hey! I'm sorry, I was told you're super private and ... Wait up would ya?"
  • I continued ignoring him, intent on getting to my car and escaping.
  • "Fine, I won't ask any questions but would you please just talk to me?"
  • "Talk to you!" I exploded, stopping so abruptly he almost crashed into my back. "Now just who do you think you are to warrant a single word from me? You shouldn't even be here!"
  • He looked taken aback by my outburst which I considered a good thing. It was better for him to know right now that provoking me unleashed a dragon that destroyed everything in its path.
  • "You're right, I don't even know why I'm here. Parties aren't my thing anymore. I guess I figured we'd finish the conversation we were having the other night, you know. You ran off in such a hurry and I guess part of me wanted to know if you were OK, now that I do, I'll just leave. Sorry, for everything." He turned and started back the way he'd come.
  • I suddenly felt like such an asshole. I yelled at him for something that wasn't even his fault. But he shouldn't evenbe here!
  • "Tonight!" I called out and rubbed my forehead above my mask. He stopped and stared at me in confusion. "We can talk tonight and then I don't want you anywhere near me afterward."
  • I almost patted myself on the back for thinking of that. That way we both were satisfied. He got his conversation and I never have to worry about bumping into my boss.
  • "Oh come on. That's an unfair deal."
  • I shrugged one shoulder. "Take it or leave it pal. That's the deal."
  • I could tell he was thinking it over. His eyes got even narrower as it did when he thought over a decision in the office and for a moment I was glad that he remained the same even when the sun went down. I didn't have that luxury.
  • "Fine, you win. But you're not gonna bail on me again, are you?"
  • I shrugged one shoulder. "Once it's midnight I gotta bounce."
  • I started on my journey to my car.
  • "That gives me approximately four hours. Is four hours enough for you?"
  • Since I'd slowed my pace we were now walking side by side. "How should I know? Conversations that last more than thirty minutes get boring or awkward for me."
  • It was a clear night and I could see the light of the moon reflecting off the body of my pink minivan.
  • "Hey Baby!" I greeted before I opened her door and dumped my backpack and turntable. When I popped my head back out I found Carson trying and failing to hold back his laughter. "What?" I spat.
  • "Oh nothing. Nothing at all."
  • "Just say it!"
  • "You named your car ..." he let out a laugh. "Baby?"
  • "I'll have you know that I consider Baby as more than a car. You can go ahead and laugh, I'll bet you rich people think that you're above the rest of us just cos we enjoy the simple things such as giving our car names and eating sandwiches."
  • Silence reigned for a while as we both stood regarding each other.
  • God, I've blown my cover. He's going to recognize me right away.
  • "Gee, I didn't mean to upset you." Carson finally said. "I laughed because you seemed like someone to give an exotic name. Like Pedro or something. Baby just seems too ... I don't know, regular."
  • "Well, she's my car. Not yours, so you can kiss my backside." I closed the door and leant my back on my car.
  • "So what now?" I asked.
  • He was looking at my face but not exactly my face. His eyes were trained on my mask and I could practically see the question float in a cloud over his head.Why in God's name do you find the need to wear that?
  • When I proposed a night of talking I didn't take into consideration the fact that he'd have a million questions about my work and why I wore a mask and generally, my life.
  • All topics I dreaded talking to anyone about.
  • I groaned inwardly. This was going to be a very long night.