Hidden 3 mos ago Post by Aewin
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Aewin Chomp!

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Willow was doing great! She had her rum and coke, as well as peace of mind when it was just herself and Rudy the bartender. Things were pleasant, and Willow believed she could handle tonight. All is well, after all.

The first (not staff) face Willow saw was Allison, wearing a gorgeous pink number suiting her light skin. Willow suddenly felt like her dark dress couldn't compare. Willow gave Allison a smile, waving at her from across the bar in greeting. Just as she was ready to stand up and greet her old bridesmaid properly, her eyes caught a bright green shape approaching the bar.

'Holy Jesus disco-dancing-' Willow was stunned. Tara blew everyone away with her green cocktail dress, including Willow who least expected it. The last time she saw Tara in so much colour was at her wedding, forcing poor Rocky to wear light blue at the altar beside her and--

Focus, Willow.

"Rocky! You- Wow, clearly you've won the glow up of the reunion!" Willow peered at Allison, wondering if she thought the same. "Unfortunately I doubt these girls are suitable for laps," Willow pointed at her heels, a lame attempt at a joke cracked. "But I'm not complaining. The torture of heels is worth doing no more laps."

First joke of the night, good job Wills.

She then proceeded to squeeze Allison and Tara in a warm hug. Despite it being years since she'd seen their faces, Willow didn't feel as uncomfortable as she was expected. Truly, was luck really on her side tonight? "I haven't seen you guys in so long, how have you been?" The more she could avoid talking about her own life, the better. She directed the question towards both the girls, but it wasn't long before Lady Luck laughed.

Willow stiffened at the sound of Grayson's voice. She whirled around, realising that while she had been distracted with internally gloating at her success, he had taken the third and final seat at the bar. He left a respectable distance between himself and the girls, which Willow realised was for the best. That man had somehow managed to wrong every girl standing in front of him in some way.

Where're your balls now, Wills?

"Ah..-" Willow made a strange noise as she considered Grayson's offer. It was tempting to ignore him for the rest of the evening, but what good would it be? Willow glanced briefly at the girls beside her, almost as if hoping someone would speak up first... But... Nobody did.

"There's... there's no need for hostility..." Willow finally let out, hesitantly as if she were testing the waters. "We're grown adults, it's... it's time to move on from the past." The words felt sour on her tongue, insincere, like she was anticipating things to go wrong very quickly.

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Hidden 3 mos ago Post by Melo
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Melo I am a hedgehog!

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Alexander Shields woke up with a start from his phone’s alarm ululating throughout his room. There was little doubt in his mind that his neighbour would’ve heard his wake-up call just as well. He just had to hope Allison hadn’t been sleeping. (sorry)
Alex felt so rejuvenated. He couldn’t even recall the last time he had the luxury of a common nap. If there was one thing children liked to devour more than sweets, it was daddy’s free time. There was never a minute without Rosie after he picked her up from day care, until he tucked her into bed. Usually around this time he would be cooking- no wait, it was Friday. On Fridays he usually got her some take-away. Rosie had a particular taste for Chinese food. He wondered what his parents were going to feed her in his absence. Knowing them, they’d spoil her rotten.

As if on cue, his stomach rumbled. Considering there was a party starting in barely two hours, it was prudent to apply old student wisdom: No drinking on an empty stomach. With a sigh he got up from his bed and he ordered room service. Today was a day for fish. Yes, tuna should be fine. Alex couldn’t even remember the last time he had eaten tuna that didn’t come from a can. The fresh pepper-crusted tuna steak, with a modest side salad, he received barely 30 minutes later delivered spectacularly, however.

The following hour was filled with frantic preparation. Luckily the dress code matched quite well with what the single dad wore to work every day anyway. His closet was filled with neat button-up shirts and jeans. Dress shoes weren’t part of his usual repertoire, but those had been easily bought. Nobody would have to know how he had spent an hour at home picking which tie to bring, only to realise that ties weren’t exactly part of a smart casual outfit. Oh well. Tonight he settled on a stark white button-up shirt with jeans and brown leather dress shoes.

There was only one more preparation to do before he was ready to leave. He reached for his cellphone and dialled his parents’ home number. The phone rung many a times, making Alex wonder if maybe they had taken Rosie out for dinner. But his wonders were cut short quickly. ”Hi daddy!” Number recognition was a wonderful invention, wasn’t it?

Alex’s mouth formed into a small smile when he heard her voice, accompanied by a flicker of joy in his chest. It had only been a few hours, but already he longed to see his little girl again. ”Rosie, sweetheart. Are you enjoying yourself with grandma and grandpa?”

”Yes, dad.” She answered simply. ”Grandma told me so! She says she’ll take me to Taco Bell tomorrow!” She exclaimed happily. One compliment could make Rosie’s entire week, he knew. Her mother had been like that as well.

”Taco bell? Daddy is jealous already!” He laughed. ”Daddy is proud of you. Don’t forget your bedtime, you hear?” Alex had been quite strict with Rosie’s bedtime, and he had requested his parents send her to bed at the same times. He didn’t quite feel like arguing with his child about bedtimes just yet. Selfishly, he enjoyed the peace he had when she slept. Luckily for him, Rosie told him what he wanted to hear. Their call then ended with a sweet goodnight kiss.

Then he got dressed, he got his hair in check and put on his best cologne. And so he was ready.



Alexander entered the poolside bar area nonchalantly. He appreciated the fantastically lit area for a second from the entrance. Indeed, he would have to compliment whoever had designed this particular décor. The warm light drew him in invitingly, like a warm embrace. The salsa music guided him along, getting his mood up. He looked around the area, scanning the familiar faces. He wasn’t looking for anyone in particular. Alexander Shields had no ulterior motives in attending this reunion. None in particular, anyway. His aim was to simply have a few good days with old friends.

Then he saw Willow, and was reminded that maybe he had one objective in coming here. Yes, they had to talk at least once during this reunion. If there was one thing Alex had regretted from his high school days, it was that their friendship had evaporated so suddenly before their high school days were over. He wondered if she had resented him, and whether or not she still did. After ten years, that had certainly changed, right?

And then there were a few others already present. It was remarkable how many people he still recognized despite the many years. He still easily recognized Allison and Jace. Naturally, he still recognized Brent. It hadn’t been that long since they had last spoke. Then there was one person he had to scan for a longer time before finally putting a name to the face, sitting with Willow. Was that really Tara? He honestly wasn’t sure. But he decided to move on before he was staring too long trying to ascertain that assumption.

There was only one place where Alex could naturally go from here. And as such he took a seat with Jace and Brent. ”Gentlemen!” He started as he sat down. ”You’ve both made it, great! Let’s hope the rest of the guys join us soon.” He smiled. Certainly the king’s men would have a lot to catch up on. But before that, he remembered he had forgotten something important. ”Actually, I’m going to get a drink. Can I get you two something from the bar?”

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Hidden 3 mos ago 3 mos ago Post by NeoAJ
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NeoAJ Fine. I'll High Five Myself.

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It seemed like old times. At least for that brief shining moment at the bar when Willow was... well, Willow. Perky, positive, probably pretty stoked that some of her old fashion tips had finally taken root. She was effusive in her praise of Tara's outfit, and even cracking jokes off of Tara's opening line. It was like she hadn't changed at all since the wedding. Guess that was a sign of things going well.

Allison was there too. She had snuck up alongside for a second. Tara almost didn't recognize her, but she still had her mother's face. She felt bad being more friendly with Tsunami then her, but that was natural given her work. Tara didn't have time to remark on her presence before Willow had pulled the both of them into a hug. Again, it felt like a throwback, and it was something that was as warm as could be expected. It always seemed like Willow hugged with the force of a woman ten-times her size, and while Tara was usually sturdy enough to catch all of it, it did feel like there was a lot of effort in this one.

"This... this is nice! All right then!"

Unfortunately the opportunity to build on these fuzzy feelings was quickly lost as another person emerged looking for drinks. Or for more trouble. Yes, he may have also added some hair to his look, but even under that goatee, it wasn't hard to see the leering face of Grayson Chambers. Of course, the last time Tara saw it, his eyes were closed. And the face was way redder. And her knuckles hurt. Yes, he was the reason she didn't get a big high school graduation send off. Sure, she was at the after-party, but there was still something lacking to the festivities given the way her grade-school career ended. There was a lot of resentment for Grayson after that. Still was, if she was being honest. Graduations at Quinnipiac and Sacred Heart were great, but they didn't have the chance to be family moments like high school. Shoot, maybe it would have been one more happy memory before Brendan ran off.

There was a lot of overthinking going on as Grayson started trying to butter up the three women at the bar. Like nothing had ever happened. But then he launched into an apology. An unexpected detour, for sure. It felt a little lacking though. Like Grayson didn't really know what he was apologizing for. He just knew that Allison, Tara and Willow all had reasons to be upset with him, and was trying to throw out a blanket statement. He even laughed, looking directly at her, when referencing the T.K.O. Punch. Inviting another one as penance for what he had done 10 years ago.

She thought about it. She briefly looked down at her right hand, now clenching at the glass that held her mojito. Tara was liable to break the glass if she wasn't careful. That would be a pretty cool show of strength, actually. But she didn't want to start shit this early. No need to be known as the woman who turned the reunion into an MMA fight too.

But Willow. Willow was the driving force behind the initial punch. The hurt she showed in the bathroom. A complete 180 of her usual self. The heinous act that could do such a thing. Tara looked to Willow to see if there was any indication how she felt about the current situation. Willow was instead looking back at her and Allison. Tara really didn't have anything to say to Grayson at this moment. It looked like Willow didn't either. However, eventually she did speak. It was tentative, but it was a call for peace. At least for now. A call for moving forward. A call for moving away from the past.

It was pretty clear which side of that fence Tara was on. As if her outfit wasn't a sign enough that the days of bare-knuckle boxing people were long past. And if Willow wanted to bury the hatchet, at least in the face of the man who caused her all that pain all those years ago, then for now, Tara would honor that wish.

"My days of punching faces are over, Grayson," Tara finally added to Willow's request for calm. She breathed a heavy sigh as she took a long sip of her drink and set it back down on the bar. "These hands are made to heal, not to hurt. At least not anymore." She did her best to sound zen about everything, but she wasn't sure if it just came out as melancholic. "Just don't be expecting sunshine from this corner."


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Hidden 3 mos ago 3 mos ago Post by Bee
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Seeing the rather minty and bubbly drink placed on the counter, Allison flashed a quick smile to the bartender, thanking him for his services. Allison was eyeing the tip jar and was about to stuff a five in there, before she saw something out of the corner of her eye. Blinking twice, Allison turned her head to see just who could be waving at her. The face struck something inside her no doubt. She knew that voice almost immediately, and the identification came just a short bit later. Her blue eyes locked onto a rather familiar face, and Allison remembered that face almost immediately. It was none other than Willow Nicholson. One of the only people in the world who had the audacity to make Dr. Allison Bentley-Song their bridesmaid, let alone invite them to their wedding.

Willow was still quite the risk-taker, based on that really, really nice blue outfit she had going on. God, she was so fond of this girl. She loved being her bridesmaid. Allison honestly wondered how her and her husband were doing right now, she didn't really have the chance to keep up with her friend since then. Hopefully, things were well. Her face turned into a smile as soon as everything registered. But, just before Allison could go over and greet Willow, a green figure also appeared in her peripheral vision. Turning her head slightly, Allison knew just who exactly that was. It was just as hard to not know who that person was, considering her connection to her family as well. No, it wasn't like they hooked up or anything. Tara Kathleen O'Leary was one of the only few people to meet her mother, and still maintain contact with her today. She had the privilege of being her mother's physical therapist, helping her recuperate from injuries whenever they happened (and they happened a lot.)

But damn, did she look good.


"Guys, oh my god! You guys look great! It's so good to see you all again!" Being pulled into a hug with Willow and Tara, Allison had a smile so cheesy that the stomachs of the lactose intolerant were starting to churn. At least the first faces she interacted with were faces that she was actually fond of. Not like she had to interact with someone like Grayson. That guy had inflicted some of the worst wounds that Allison had ever experienced in her life, and it was only just a couple of sentences that poor excuse of a man had said to hurt Allison. Insinuating that she was dependent on adderall was one of the worst insults that Allison had ever encountered. The Doctor didn't pour in nights of hard work and tears just to be condensed into something like that. Absolutely not. She was smarter than that, and for Grayson to insinuate something like that was insulting.

But perhaps, Allison thought too soon. The hairs on the back of her neck stood up as soon as she heard that voice. That voice.The voice she despised with intense fervor. Glancing downward, she glanced at her cup as Grayson started to speak. She couldn't have given any less of a fuck about this man right now. The words were going in through one ear, and flying straight out of the other. On one hand, this was over ten year ago, but on the other, everything she'd done since then was in spite of this comment. In a sick, twisted way, Grayson had only fueled Allison's desire even more. However, she still couldn't bring herself to express anything but disdain for this man. The words still stung, despite how long ago they were uttered.

Willow did have a point though. It was ten years ago. It was unhealthy to hold onto something like that for so long. Allison knew she was better than that. But, it didn't mean that she was obligated to give him the light of day. Allison didn't feel such a man deserved such a privilege. This wasn't high school anymore. Allison was under no obligation to give Grayson anything anymore. Apparently, Tara had the same idea as well, which was reassuring and validated her choice. Putting her cup up to her lips, she took a long sip of her mojito, mulling over her response once Tara finished speaking.


"No sunshine here either." Allison added, raising an eyebrow, "Though, I suppose that doesn't mean much coming from an adderall addict, yeah?"

So much for being the bigger, better person.
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Hidden 3 mos ago 3 mos ago Post by HaleyTheRandom
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HaleyTheRandom ☣ Hurricane Eyes ☣

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Arriving a few hours before the cocktail party, Tessa had the time to properly get ready. After taking plenty of pictures of the ocean and posting them online with a few witty captions, the woman decided to scroll through the TV channels. With nothing of any interest on, she finally switched the channel to the local news and left it there. The weatherman enthusiastically informed her that tonight was going to be "Yet another warm one, folks!" Such was life in Florida.

Wanting to relax before tonight's festivities, Tessa decided to run herself a relaxing bubble bath and call up room service for a nice glass of Pinot Noir. Once everything was in place, she stepped into the bath and allowed the warm water to relax her muscles. While the news drowned on in the background, Tessa took small sips of her whine here and there - though it didn't do that much for her. Sighed, she quietly laughed to herself. She really was just drinking the whine for the taste. All of those days in high school drinking herself into a coma and doing the same any time she got a chance as an adult had built up a pretty high alcohol tolerance.

After staying in the bath for what she felt was long enough, Tessa climbed out of the tub and began getting ready.

For most females, the longest part of their routine is their makeup. For Tessa it had always been her incredibly thick hair. Sometimes she wondered why she insisted on keeping it so long all the time. At the end of the day, all that mattered was that when she looked in the mirror, she liked what she saw - and she did. After her hair was blow dried, brushed and lightly sprayed, Tessa slipped into her chosen dress for the night. The little black number was tight and form fitting, showing off all her curves. Between the plunging neckline and how short it was, she could here her mother scolding her in the back of her mind - a thought that brought a smile to her face. One thing Tessa didn't think her mother would have a problem with was her choice of reasonably sized hoop earnings and black stiletto pumps. With a hopeful feeling and her makeup finished, Tessa turned the TV off before exiting her room.

Getting closer and closer to her destination, she had to fight the rhythm of the salsa music as to not dance all the way there. Coming around the corner she was greeted with the sight of some of the Kings Men talking together. Jace and Brent she knew. The third man it took her a second to identify, though she was almost certain it was Alexander. Much to her surprise, she didn't feel hate when she looked at him anymore. Maybe her anger towards him had been bottled up like a few other of her childish things. Only time could tell.

Like most of the others it seemed, Tessa made her way to the bar first. Positioning herself between Tara and one of the other women, she was doing her best to remember the rest of their names. If Tessa wasn't mistaken, Allison was the one in the pink, and Willow the one in the blue. She could see that Grayson had also made his way over. While Tessa had no hard feelings towards the man, she did have a good feeling that some of the others standing around her might. Pleased to see how well the dress she had chosen for Tara looked on her, she couldn't help but beam as she threw her arms around her friends neck.

"You look fabulous," Tessa exclaimed. "You all do, really," she said, placing a fifty in the tip jar and motioning at the bar tender to come over with a motion of her finger. "I'll take three tequila shots to start, please." While he gave her a questionable look, the bartender fulfilled her request promptly. She downed one as soon as they were within her reach.

"No need for hostility," said the one she thought was Willow.

"My days of punching are over," Tara stated matter-of-factly.

Another shot down the hatch.

"... coming from an adderall addict." Oh yeah. The one in pink was definitely Allison.

"I mean, it's not his fault you popped pills every day before class, Allison. But yeah, sure. Dude was just hoping to play nice for at least the first event."

Taking the last shot glass in her hand, Tessa downed the last drink after she was done speaking.
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Hidden 3 mos ago Post by spooner
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spooner 100% Gross

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A long sigh escaped Grace as she sat in front of the huge mirror trying to get her hair to cooperate. After a while of struggling she put down her brush and just looked at herself. Was this a mistake? Was anyone going to be happy that she was here? Was he going to be happy that she was here? A frown crept on to the young woman’s face and she stood up shaking her head slightly.

“Stop it Grace” she muttered to herself as she paced around the room. “Who cares? You are here for you...ok” she kept going, trying to pump herself up. Grace turned to once again look at her reflection. But this time her expression was that of determination. She’s a bad bitch no one can tell her different! Quickly she gathered her stuff and stuffed it in the small black purse she had matched to her outfit.

Grace did one last mirror check before she walked out the door of her suite. Just as the door clicked behind her the feelings of insecurity bubbled up inside of her again. What if someone saw her as she stood here looking like a weirdo who has forgotten how to walk. A few deep breaths brought he confidence back and Grace straightened up and stomped down the hallway in her high heels. But as she got closer to the crossway of the hallways she slowed down before turning towards the elevators. What if she runs into him? It’s too early! He needs to see her looking bomb and not a queasy mess.

Still there she stood slowly peeking around the corner to make sure the person she wanted to see more than anything in the world wasn’t standing there. Her breath was slow as her head slowly turned to face the elevators suddenly a loud melody sounded from her purse and made her yelp in fright. Clutching her chest she dug through her purse for her phone.

“Hello?” she answered breathlessly.

“Bailey Grace!” Her mother’s voice rang out from the receiver. “You thought you could avoid your mother huh?! Bribing your brother to come pick you up? You really though he wouldn’t spill?”

“Mom! No… yes.” Grace rolled her eyes as she slowly gave into her mother's accusations. “I just wanted to get here as quickly as I could and Jeri offered...kind of.” she offered.

“Mmmhmm…” her mother wasn’t buying it, she never did. “Well ok, but if you think that you get to leave Florida without coming home first you are absolutely wrong baby. So help me Jesus I will come up to Atlanta and embarrass you in front of your whole office!”

“Fine! I’ll see you sunday for dinner.” Grace conceded with a sigh.

There was a pause from the other side of the phone “So have you talked to A-”

Grace hastily cut her mother of “Oh mom I’m super late to this party I need to go! Bye I love you!” she sputtered and hung up tossing her phone back into her purse.



Stepping out from the hotel building the party scene sprawled in front of her. Grace eyes widened and a small gasp escaped her. It was all very beautiful and very expensive looking. Then again it was King’s Academy the budget for their senior prom was 250,000 dollars.

Her first instinct was to head over to the bar because she was sure that where she would find Willow. But as she came closer she stopped dead in her tracks when she saw the group that had surrounded said bar. She was right that Willow was seated there with a look of concern plastered on her facing Grayson Chambers. Who in turn was surrounded by all of the girls that had beef with him. The only one missing was… well her. Grace locked eyes with her best friend giving her a panicked look shaking her head letting Willow know ”There is no way I’m getting into that mess”.

Instead she took a seat at one of the nearby tables so that Willow could have an exit plan if she needed one. Soon enough a waiter was at her side with a glass of ice water and a “What can I get you miss?”

“A gin and tonic thanks… oh and make it a double!” she smiled as the waiter took the order down and walked away, returning with her drink momentarily. Sipping her drink Grace looked around seeing faces she had forgotten over the last ten years. Raising her glass momentarily as she caught the eye of Alex Shields or as she usually knew him Astroman123 before going back to looking around the cocktail party going on in front of her.

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Hidden 3 mos ago 3 mos ago Post by Dirty Pretty Lies
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When she’d set foot on the plane that would take her from New York to the Florida Keys, Amanda Woodall had promised herself to completely disconnect from everything and just focus on the weekend ahead. But in the end, the workaholic in her had prevailed, and she'd found herself checking her work inbox while waiting for her makeup to set. She scrolled through the emails of the usual people, but suddenly stopped when her eyes found a name that was not on her contact list. Her thumb hovered over the email of the unknown sender, torn between opening or deleting it. But that familiar feeling in her gut was urging her to click it open, that it would be wise for her to do so. And when Amanda followed her gut and read the email’s contents, she knew she’d made the right choice.

It took a few long, good reads for the woman to make sense of what had been sent to her. Surely this was all a big joke, right? Someone looking to play a nasty prank on her. But the more she read it, the more Amanda realized the person’s claim could be legitimate. Of course, there was one quick way to put her mind at ease: contact the subject in question.

It took all but two rings before the person on the other line answered Amanda’s FaceTime call. And in typical Amanda fashion, she wasted no time on small talk and went straight for it.

"Benjamin… Do you know of a Nathan Montgomery?" the blonde asked sternly, her observant hazel eyes locked on her phone screen while she studied her husband's face for any telltale expressions.

His confusion about the suddenness of her question was quickly matched with the confusion the man had about the name and it showed in the blank stare he had towards his wife during their FaceTime video call. “I can’t say that I do, but it sounds like a nice name though. Like one that has many nickname potential. With a name like that, he could have a future in the acting business.” Benjamin mused in one of his usual rambles that Amanda has come to know as a regular thing. “Why do you ask?”

"What about a Gretchen Montgomery?" Amanda immediately pressed on in her brisk prosecutor manner, purposely avoiding her husband's question in her quest for the truth.

A moment or two of silence passed and Benji was doing his best to try and remember the face to that name. “Sounds vaguely familiar.” That was only partially true. It was more than familiar, but it was clear in Benji’s facial expressions that he was struggling with this particular recollection. “What’s with all these questions?” He asked her as suspicion about Amanda’s motive was starting to set in.

Once again, the blonde didn't answer the older man's question right away. Instead, her eyes focused on his telling expression. The name obviously rang familiar to Benjamin, and she wanted to know why he was choosing to avoid her questions instead of coming clean. "You do realize I prosecute people for a living, right? At this point, it's second nature to me to know when an individual is lying or hiding something," Amanda said, with the thinnest suggestion of a threat lingering at the end of her statement. She rose to her full height and regarded her husband with a cold stare before continuing. "So I'll ask you again: do you know a Gretchen Montgomery?"

He took in a deep sigh, doing everything his therapist told him to do so he would remain calm in tense situations. Usually Amanda was pretty calm towards him. They rarely had any fights and if they did, it was caused by such an idiotic reason that they would laugh it off and call it a day. But bringing up someone he hadn’t thought about in years -- decades even -- was such an out of the blue action and her stubborn attitude towards it was starting to piss Benji off.

“I don’t understand why it’s even important, but yes, I know of a woman by that name whom I haven’t thought about since I was seventeen years old.” He inhaled again. Whatever crawled up his wife’s butt, he really wish it would exit stage left as soon as humanly possible.

Amanda could tell her husband was starting to get annoyed with the conversation: the tell-tale sign that she’d clearly hit a nerve she wasn’t going to stop pushing. "And is there any reason why her son, Nathan Montgomery, would have any credibility in his claim that you might be his father?" she finally asked point-blank, visibly furious now.

“You’re really going to make me say it, huh?” He rubbed his temples, his frustration growing to a point where therapeutic breathing exercises were proving to be useless. “We were involved once back in the day,” Benji calmly admitted. Unlike his wife, he didn’t think of it as a big deal.

Amanda couldn't help but roll her eyes and scoff in disbelief. For a man who could potentially have a long-lost son, Benji certainly seemed to be cool about it. "Did you not hear me the first time, Benjamin? This man has contacted me with evidence that suggests he's your son! Do you not care about that?!" she asked him, her voice rising along with her anger.

“If this -- what you said his name was Nathan?” He scratched his head. “If this Nathan thinks he’s my son, then okay. Cool. Always wanted to have a son, but I’m not going to overreact or be angry about it,” he openly admitted with nothing but a lax attitude. “You’re the only one making this into a big deal, dear.”

Amanda had to close her eyes for a moment and take a few deep breaths to stop herself from pulling her hair out and screaming. "So you're saying that if any of the countless whores and sluts you've fucked throughout the years come to you out of the blue and say you're the sperm donor of their bastard children and you owe them child support money, you're just going to be fine with it?! Just like that?!" she cried out, color rising to her fair-skinned face. "How is this not a big deal to you?! Have you lost your fucking mind?!"

“If the DNA tests match up and say that I’m the father, I’m not going to turn my back on any potential child I have,” Benji told her, remaining as calm as he could given his wife was in the middle of blowing this all out of proportion. “It took me a long time to understand what values my father instilled into Wesley and Cassie. Sylvester died long before he could see it but I’m not going to be a deadbeat father, Amanda. So if this young man ends up being mine, I will do whatever I can to make sure he has a father.”

"And it hasn't occurred to you that this… person… might only be after a fat paycheck?" she retorted, her voice dangerously dropping an octave. "You seriously think their intentions are honest? Because, why come out of the woodwork now and not when you were a broke has-been back in Arizona, huh? You don't think it has to do with that Forbes article of Hollywood composer Benjamin Cross and his ADA wife and vineyard heiress Amanda Woodall currently having a combined net valued in the millions? We have worked hard to earn what we have, and I am not letting some broke bastard try to scam us out of it!"

Benji didn’t know why but he laughed at her last comment. “Funny. You always say how it’s your money whenever I might want to buy something or might see an investment in something, but the second something that might even be a mild discomfort, suddenly it’s an ‘us’ thing.” Benji rolled his eyes. “I’ve had to deal with a lot of shit from your family, your fucking passive-aggressive comments when we’re at your galas and whatever fucking meetings you drag me to-- but honestly, Amanda? I’m not in the mood for this. Whether or not this Nathan is mine is, quite frankly, none of your fucking concern.” Taking calm breaths were out the window now, so Benji decided to throw all caution into the wind. “Given he is claiming to be my son, it’s my problem and I will handle it however I want to!” Benji clicked off in anger before Amanda would get another word in.

For the longest time, Amanda simply stared at the device in her hand in utter disbelief, her eyes wide and her mouth hanging open. She could feel tears starting to burn in her eyes, but she furiously blinked them away before they even had a chance to attempt an escape. She’d never been a crier, and she sure as hell wasn't about to start now. Once she felt like she’d gotten some sort of control over the fury bubbling up in her stomach, Amanda unlocked her phone and sent Benjamin a voice message containing a piece of her mind.

"You have until Sunday to get your shit out of my house. I don't want to see any trace of you when I get back next weekend, and I'm throwing away anything you leave behind. I don't care where you go or what you do, but I’ll make sure the divorce papers reach you even if you’re sleeping on the subway. Go to hell, Benjamin, and never come back. I want nothing to do you in my life ever again.”


Once she was sure the message had been received and heard, Amanda locked her phone and threw it onto the bed before aggressively slipping the wedding bands from her finger and flinging them in the direction of her open suitcase. She didn’t care about where they landed or what happened to them-- it’s not like she’d be wearing them again, and they were probably cheap and from some dingy pawn shop anyway. Starting tonight, Benjamin Cross would be completely cut off from her life, and her marriage to him would soon be dissolved. He could handle all his life’s problems by himself forever now.



Fifteen minutes after the fateful conversation with her soon to be ex-husband, Amanda was making her entrance to the outdoor venue where the cocktail party was taking place. Dressed in a light peach, long bell sleeve, Prada mini dress that hugged her thin waist and hit mid-thigh, a pair of gold, ankle strap Louboutin heels, thin gold hoop earrings and a few gold rings, the hostess of the weekend carefully walked down the steps leading towards the poolside tables. Her long, blond waves cascaded down her back, lightly bouncing with every step she took. Before she could busy herself embark in any reminiscing, the young attorney wanted to be polite enough to acknowledge her guests and thank them for their presence. Even though she didn’t care for most of them back in the day, she was still truly thankful that they’d taken the time out of their busy lives to attend an event with her name on it.

The first person Amanda noticed in her welcoming path was none other than Grace Pruett, currently sitting alone by one of the tables. Their eyes met for the briefest uncomfortable moment, broken only by the blonde giving the brunette her a curt nod before continuing on her trek. Amanda knew she needed to get with Grace and sort things out before the weekend ended, but that was a can of worms that would be best open when she wasn’t so prone to lashing out in anger.

Next up were a handful of the King’s Men, who were already busy catching up from what the blonde could tell. Frankly, Amanda was pleasantly surprised to see that Tessa hadn’t been wrong when she’d said their old male classmates had certainly glowed up. Fatherhood and the beard had turned Alexander Shields into someone she wouldn’t mind having an indiscretion with, and even the insufferable Brent Santiago could hit it if she was five shots into tequila. Of course, neither of them would ever come close to the stunner that was Sebastain Jace Russo.

It had been ten years since the last time she’d been face to face with Jace, but even now he still had that power to leave her breathless from the second their eyes met. Ten years apart had done nothing to quell the butterflies that were wildly going off in a frenzy in her stomach, or to dull the pain of the heartbreak when their relationship had ended. Maybe now that they were both back home and available they could get another chance… But it was much too soon to think like that. For all she knew, Jace was seeing someone, or he’d been the bigger person and gotten over their old feelings for each other. Either way, this was not the time to dwell on the subject.

Just say hello, thank them for coming and move on. If anything is meant to happen, destiny will have it so.


Taking in a deep breath, Amanda finally approached their table. “Hello, gentlemen,” their old classmate greeted them with a polite smile, taking up position between Alexander and Brent. “Glad to see you could all make it. Do enjoy yourselves, okay? That’s what we’re here for,” she told them, her gaze resting a second longer on Jace’s face than any of the others before walking away in the direction of the bar.

It was on this last part of her welcoming trek that she sensed things were not going well. Amanda couldn’t help but roll her eyes and let out a sigh of resignation. The tension in the air was obvious, and there was no mistaking the way the group of females around the bar was looking at the lone male in their midst. She knew via others that each of the women there had a bone to pick with the man, because he’d somehow managed to hurt their soft little feelings at some point during high school. But was it really necessary for them to ruin the event so soon because they weren’t capable of moving past someone calling them ‘ugly’ ten years ago? In all honesty, it was disappointing, and she hoped she’d arrived on time to put an end to whatever petty drama was starting to bubble up before anything serious happened.

“Good evening, ladies,” Amanda called out to the group in more of a warning than a greeting, her shoulders straight and her face with the usual authoritarian expression she wore so well. “We didn’t come all the way down here to stir up some stale, decade-old drama up, did we? I’d like to think we’re all mature enough to move past that,” she said sternly, taking a moment to peer at each female face in front of her before shifting her attention to the lone male in the group, closing the distance between them.

“Are any of these women bothering you, Grayson? I know some of them can be a little… intense,” she added as an afterthought, shooting a quick glance towards Tara and Tessa before fixing her softened expression back on the man.
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Hidden 3 mos ago Post by TootsiePop
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Why... why was he wasting his time?

The time spent here was going to be three days. Nothing more, nothing less. Why was he acting out of character for people who would try to forget his face the second they leave the island? This wasn't him. Ten years ago, he was young, dumb, and dealt with demons that none of these self-adsorbed women could ever fathom. If they wanted to forever remember him as that asshole, that's on them. They have a choice on how they were going to enjoy this reunion and if this is how they wanted things, sulking over the past, that's on them.

Not him.

But this cowardice and pathetic plea for forgiveness? This poor attempt to pretend he cared, when he left his highschool days behind, the moment his parents were brutally murdered? Who the fuck was he trying to be? Not someone his old man would be proud about. Grayson could already imagine his father throwing him across the room, while his sister watched and his mother did nothing, telling him that 'no son of mine would be such a goddamn pussy'.

All for what? So they can get over their petty bullshit for someone they didn't even know? Someone they supposedly could careless about? Someone they barely even knew back then?

Honestly...

Fuck them.

He couldn't even appreciate the fact that Amanda was now standing next to him and what she was wearing. He couldn't take in the scent of her perfume or feel the threatening, silent menace protruding from her very presence. For as long as it has been and as much as he was known to be so incredibly infatuated by this immaculate creature, he found himself staring at his booze, gritting his teeth. That obsession that was such a problem years ago seemed non-existent while he internalized his feelings of being the most hated person at this reunion. There was no doubt in his mind that she, out of all people, would not tolerate these kind unpleasantries. Especially at her event.

Lifting his finger up in the air, to motion to Amanda that he would handle this in the most forward way possible, he glanced up from his glass and admitted with no remorse, "No, not at all."

"You are right though." He affirmed both Amanda's and Willow's words, all in one statement. His brown eyes gradually going from one face to the other. One clearly meant what she said, the other he could feel her spite a mile away. His gaze lingered on Amanda, whose attention and eyes were on him. "We are grown adults. At least some of us." He purposely referenced what Willow expressed, before darting his focus right back to the women he tried to extend an olive branch to.

Tapping the bar with his hand, he gestured to Rudy, "I'll have what she's having." he nodded his head toward Tessa, before continuing, "To be frank, I don’t give a damn if any of you give me ‘sunshine’. I have that already, with my daughter." His life didn't revolve around them and this mini vacation that Amanda worked hard to put together so her class could get away from the stresses of their daily lives — why would he act like it did?

If they wanted sincerity, he was going to give it to them.

Right now.

Originally, he thought a peace treaty could help, but it's been so long that no matter what he said or did, it would never feel sincere because to him, they were nothing. Where were they during the trial? The longest year of his life that may be the only year he chose to forget. They didn't support him when Jason and Elizabeth died, they didn't cheer him on when he battled the urge to quit his job on numerous occasions, and they sure as hell weren't there when he had to tell Millie her parents were dead.

They were nothing.

"Allison, you might've been one of the few I could act semi-normal with, up until you reminded me of something that hit a little close to home," The bartender with swift ease and absolute silence, ignoring the tension, placed the glasses in front of the detective and poured his order. "And Tara, I'm glad you've gained a calmer spirit. I hope you've also learned to not pick your friend up after every fall." First shot. Grayson rolled his eyes, relieved he came to terms with this now rather than the end of the reunion. He would've spent all his time chasing women that didn't want to be chased. For what?

All eyes were on him because for some reason they weren't over him, like highschool was only yesterday and they were sixteen going on seventeen. "I fucked up." Shrugging, his dark stare decided to rest on Willow's soft face for the remainder of his spiel. "The end. You're doing yourself a disservice by allowing this image you have of me affect your day." And her once-upon-a-time friendship with Alex.

After exasperatedly sighing, he smiled with no malicious intent. His smile was one of happiness growing and realizing he didn't need to bother with individuals that didn't escape their childhood. Women that lacked the guile and complexity of those that deserved his time, attention, and energy. Another shot. Down it went. Grayson decided this conversation was over: "I didn’t travel all this way to pretend to have a good time."

With harsh weather in his eyes and a strong resolution, Grayson grabbed the last shot and lifted it up, as if he was going to give a cheer but instead, he simply decreed, "I’m going to." Once he shot it down his throat, he slammed it on the counter and dismissed himself, grabbing his whiskey with him, "Enjoy the rest of your evening, ladies.”

Before he walked away, he offered his arm for Amanda to grab, ready to have his first real conversation with his highschool crush, "Care to join me?"

To his surprise, the blonde's face lit up with a warm smile. “"Oh, absolutely," she responded without hesitation, taking the arm that was so graciously offered to her.

No more words left to say, he shook his head in disappointment, baffled at the obvious truth that he felt sorry for his classmates. With whiskey at one side, and Amanda on the other, he strode off, deciding to take the hostess closer to the deep blue waters, where they both could stare out at the scenic view and get to know one another.

Something he wouldn't have had the courage to do, a decade ago.
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Hidden 3 mos ago Post by Ejected
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Ejected Pretty Killer

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Andre Martin woke up in a dimly lit bedroom to the dreaded sound of his cell phone alarm. "God... five more minutes, please..." the young man muttered as he pressed snooze and began to drift back off to sleep. He was almost instantly jolted back awake, however, when his phone began to ring once more; this time, instead of it being his phone alarm, it was a Facetime from none other than his younger sister. He almost declined her call, but ultimately decided against it after remembering what happened the last time he tried to do that. "What do you want?" Andre asked, his voice muffled as his face was buried deep in his pillow.

"I don't think that's the proper way to greet someone who's calling to check up on yo ass," Chanel's voice pierced through the silence. "And it's a good thing I did... don't you have a whole ass reunion event to attend right now? It's almost eight o'clock. And don't even try to lie and say that you don't, cause I already see people posting pictures all over my timeline. Why the fuck are you still in bed, Dre? Get up! Now!"

"Okay, fine. I'm up," Dre said, rolling his eyes and reaching over to turn on the lights. "You start to sound more and more like mom every time I talk to you." As the siblings continued to banter, Andre decided to use that time to pick out what he was going to wear to the cocktail party. Of course, he had to listen to his sister's input; he wasn't surprised in the slightest when he found that he actually agreed with her suggestion. Soon, Andre was ready to go; his outfit was clean, his hair was freshly brushed, and head was in the zone. It was only after Chanel had said her last few words to him that the nerves finally began to creep in.

"Oh, and don't forget to say hi to Grace for me," She'd said before ending the call. "I really miss her."
After spending the majority of his teen years attending a school that spent tens of thousands of dollars on prom, Andre wasn't surprised in the slightest to see that the cocktail party setup for their reunion was just as fancy and expensive looking. Part of him wondered how Amanda even found the time to piece together something so extravagant. As he strolled out of the back doors and down the stairs with his hands tucked in his pockets, Andre donned his usual, wide grin. While letting his eyes scan the scene for his boys, he also stopped here and there to greet a few people he recognized from school. Everything seemed to be going smoothly. That is, until he took a few more steps and spotted an all too familiar face sitting at a table next to the pool.

Grace Pruett looked just as beautiful as she did back in high school. Hell, she looked even better. Andre didn't even realize he'd been staring until someone bumped into his shoulder, quickly knocking him out of his trance. "Yo, my bad man," he said instinctively to whoever it was who continued walking, before glancing back up at Grace. It was only a split second after his eyes had nearly found hers that he turned and begun to speed away in the opposite direction. He didn't stop walking until he found three of the guys he'd been searching for in the first place.

”Can I get you two something from the bar?” Andre had arrived just in time to hear none other than Astroman himself ask if Jace and Brent if they wanted something from the bar.

"Man, I'll take the strongest shit they got over there at this point," Andre said half-jokingly as he went around the table and greeted each of his friends. "Fellas. It's been too damn long."
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Hidden 3 mos ago Post by Bee
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Bee moooooooooo

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Oof. This was off to one of the worst starts in recent memory. The sheer bringing up of her former adderall habit had struck a nerve with her, and it was very evident that she wanted nothing to do with it. Of course, she did bring it upon herself as she very well could've just kept her mouth shut. But nope, she had decided it was worth the time and effort to be petty about it instead. All she had to do was to just follow the damn train, and go along with Willow and Tara. Instead, all she received in return of her being petty was some shots taken at her. Amanda, the organizer of this whole thing, wasn't entirely too happy with this whole thing. But with how comfy she was with Grayson, she had the feeling she was more on his side anyway.

However, she also felt that Grayson's apology was about as genuine as Kim Kardashian's ass. Something about it just felt ingenuous, like he just wanted to get it out of the way not because he genuinely felt bad, but because he wanted to absolve himself of the guilt and pain. Getting it out of the way so that he could enjoy himself thinking those girls would forgive him and let things go. Honestly? She couldn't have given any less of a fuck about what she reminded him of. Not while he reminded her of things that hit a little closer to home. At least he was out and away. Allison sneered briefly, before putting the cup back onto her lips and taking a large sip of her mojito. She couldn't believe the audacity of that man. To think he could just walk up and apologize. It didn't work like that. At least, not anymore.

It was very disheartening to hear that she was still known as that girl who popped adderalls like they were skittles. Just forget the fact that she made it all the way past medical school and that she was known as Doctor Bentley Song. No. Apparently, she was still that tweaker who just so happened to graduate second in her class. Allison never realized how much contempt she had for certain people until just now. Maybe it was all the years diluting her feelings, or maybe it was her zealot-like focus on her schoolwork, but she was suddenly starting to remember why she didn't really associate with many of these people. Maybe it was Tessa, Amanda, and Grayson's comments bothering her more than they really should've. She was here now. Allison wasn't going to waste hundreds of dollars and let a weekend be ruined a crummy moment. Tara and Willow were here. At least they could potentially salvage the event.

It wasn't going so hot for Allison so far.

Looking around for any more figures, Allison took another giant sip of her mojito, the ice touching her lips as more of the liquid escaped from her cup. More liquid courage for Allison. Putting the cup down, she turned toward Willow. At least Willow and Tara hadn't decided to dunk on her just yet, which was nice. The mysterious disappearance of Willow's social media was something she had just remembered. Out of the blue, out of nowhere, Willow's social media suddenly stopped existing. She was wondering how her and her husband were doing at this point, and the lack of a ring on her finger was rather odd. However, there was the off chance they were just one of those couples who decided to do things differently. Now was as good of a time as any to ask, right?


"So, Willow... how are things with you and your husband?" Allison asked curiously, not aware of the minefield she had just stepped in.
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Hidden 3 mos ago 3 mos ago Post by NeoAJ
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Well, that escalated quickly.

Tara usually liked that meme, but now it just seemed like a cruel joke. The way things went were just not how they were supposed to go.

It was clear Willow wanted calm. It was something Tara wanted too. Hence the willingness to let Grayson have his peace and be done with it.

But Allison. Oh Allison. Maybe it was the lack of social interactions in high school. Tara did remember Allison as being somewhat on the nerdy side. But wow, she went right for the pills. Honestly, Tara didn't even remember about the pills. It was so long ago. But clearly Allison did, and she went for Grayson right off the bat on it.

Tessa was right. It was just an effort to play nice. Allison didn't need to go there. Not within the first line.

But there it went, and of course, if there is any sign of imperfections in her paper kingdom, then Amanda had to come running over to smooth out the creases. She even had the nerve to think it was on the women at the bar that caused this? Grayson came over first. Grayson made this situation happen. Yes, Allison fucked up, but the fact that Amanda so quickly lept to his defense without having heard anything, Tara wondered if Amanda tore a calf muscle with that maneuver. At least Tessa had the whole puzzle before commenting.

And the look. It was a quick look, but it was a look. It was clear Amanda still thought Tara was Mike freaking Tyson or something. Still looking down on her. Still unwilling to get her hands dirty to actually accomplish something, and expecting everything to just run on her own clock. Some things never change.

Speaking of things that never changed, it was clear from Grayson's reaction to Allison's shot that the apology was just lip service intended to just smooth things over enough to move on and enjoy the time. For someone who wanted to move on, he definitely did nothing of the sort once he decided to really open up. The self-righteous bullshit that was coming out of his mouth, it could have been fed straight from Amanda, but this appeared to be all goatee. Like he had a Bible out lecturing the women on their silly squabbles. Blanketing them all with that brush when only one of them really spoke like they wanted to fight.

But no, not only did he try and clap back at Allison, he had to go dragging her and Willow into this. Again, talking with an unearned sense of smug satisfaction, as if dressing down the women was going to make him sound any less pretentious. The smile creeping over his face as he said this just made it worse. If he truly wanted peace, he definitely prepared them for war.

And then the kicker, the absolute cherry on the shit sundae that all this created, the proof that Grayson was still Grayson. Not two minutes after addressing Willow and trying to make things better, he goes skipping off with Amanda! Again! Prom 2: Electric Boogaloo! Grayson didn't learn a goddamn thing after 10 years to sit on it. Unfreakingbelievable.

So what was Tara going to do about all this?

There was nothing she could do. If she got up and decked him, it would be proving both members of the snoot squad correct. That is if she even could deck him anymore. She'd probably fail and look even worse and just have the violent streak without the ability to back it up anymore. She'd be a laughingstock, which was worse than being feared or just being a shell of herself. And she didn't have the mental faculties to come up with a quick barb to disarm him. Heck, it took her time just to work up the nerve to even talk to Willow again. The quick wit was sorely lacking at this time.

So Tara sat there and did nothing. Grayson and Amanda walked away. Probably to go have sex in the beach house or something like that. They were clearly done warming up with that performance.

There was silence over the four women remaining at the bar for the moment. The awkward had been ratcheted up to such high levels it was hard to imagine how things could possibly get any more awkward.

At least Allison had enough awareness to break the pause with a subject change. "So, Willow... how are things with you and your husband?"

"Yeah!" Tara seconded as she was just as eager to move on from what had happened as she assumed the rest of the party was. She also had no clue how things were going since the deletion of Willow's social media accounts, so this would be a better catch-up then explaining what she was doing in Oviedo. "I mean, you were the last person before Tessa to be able to get me into a dress this fancy, it had better have resulted in a lot happier times than this, right?" As Rudy came back to check on his customers, Tara polished off the rest of her mojito and motioned to the bartender. "Rudy, you just want to grab that bottle of Jameson on the shelf there and leave it in front of me until it's empty? Thanks a bunch, doll."
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Hidden 3 mos ago Post by Aewin
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Aewin Chomp!

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Was it too soon for Willow to feel exhaustion? The night had barely begun, but all she wanted to do was go home to her bed. Let the rest of the class enjoy while she wallows in misery. She thought Grace could save her, but even she couldn't blame the beauty for opting out of the drama and keeping a safe distance away from the explosion zone.

It all began with Allison. She physically winced when Allison, despite her offering peace to the grovelling man, quipped bitterly about Adderall. Willow wanted to stop her, but it was too late. With Tessa joining the group shortly after it was obvious that there was no going back.

"I mean, it's not his fault you popped pills every day before class, Allison."

She made a pathetic sound of disbelief as Tessa was quick to pick up on Allison's hostility. It took a moment to realise the significance behind the comment, but Willow didn't make it a habit to remember every reason that the girls had to be hurt by Grayson. Ever the pacifist, Willow meekly tried to interject before Allison and Tessa would say things they regret. "Hey, let's not go that fa...-"

Her voice quietened as the woman of the hour joined the volatile group. She looked stunning, of course, and she couldn't help but notice that she looked pissed. Understandably, of course. Part of Willow was glad for some authoritative backup, while the other was wholly unprepared to see Amanda completely wrap Grayson around her fingers as she had done ten years ago. Willow was certain that while Amanda's presence would work best to quell any rising tensions, she just wasn't ready to see Grayson fall for the married woman's charms.

Instead, Amanda stunned the once hopeful Willow with a scathing comment about being mature. It hurt even more as her eyes landed on Willow, before commenting coldly “Are any of these women bothering you, Grayson?” It was a slap to the face when Amanda had the gall to accuse Willow and her friends of bothering Grayson. She didn't want that drama, all she wanted to do was talk to old friends and maybe have a good time. She caught the look Amanda gave her and the rest of the girls before she nearly attached herself to Grayson's side. Had she missed something? Perhaps sometime during the ten years, Grayson got his dream girl.

When Grayson spoke up, she suddenly found herself in a different setting altogether. She felt like she was eighteen, experiencing her first heartbreak as her crush ogled the star of Kings Academy. She felt like utter shit. Her voice escaped her as he shot her own words right back at her. The slap continued to burn as all she could do was watch in silent horror as Grayson utterly ruin any small hope she had for reconciliation. Willow, despite the insincerity, had some hope to keep things pleasant. She was open to forgiveness, had Grayson not completely blindsided her with such a rushed, blanket apology that meant as much as she did to him at prom ten years ago.

Like the doormat she is, she let Grayson continue his spiel. Any security she'd built for herself in the last ten years came crashing down, and she felt sick. By the end of it all, she couldn't even look him in the eye. Instead, she watched the space between his and Amanda's head, staring away as if that could somehow save her from utterly losing her mind. She couldn't return his gaze, she knew it would hurt.

It was no surprise to her when, finally, Grayson had enough. Luckily, he was taking Amanda with him, and she still couldn't watch him just whisk away with Amanda as he won. She was quick to turn her back on him, staring intently down at her glass as if it held all the answers. For all she knew, it did.

Just one more hour of this, Wills. Then you can go.

Surely that was an appropriate time to stick around. Any longer and she would drive herself mad watching Grayson prance around with his happy ending. Not long now... not long now. It was a mantra she chanted in her head, counting down the seconds until she could excuse herself from the group and hide away in her room. It couldn't get any worse now.

Except, it could.

Tara and Allison, both well-meaning, enquired about her husb- ex husband, reminding her once again that it wouldn't matter where she'd go to hide, she'd just be alone. She couldn't blame them for their question either. They had no possible way of knowing that it was a question that would hurt, but somehow she wished they did know. At least it would save her the embarrassment of being the Failure of Kings Academy.

"Lucas... he's doing great." She responded finally after a long, awkward pause. "He's still in love. Granted, not with me, but he's happy." Suddenly her throat was parched and not even the gulp of her drink could save the word vomit threatening to escape. "We divorced. He's with the love of his life now. I think." Willow truly didn't know the outcome of Lucas and Luisa's relationship. The gloating messages sent by Luisa through Facebook was enough to tell her that they were happy without her.

She needed to get away and do it fast. She felt horror washing over her, realising that now they'd pity her. Distractedly, Willow dropped her glass at the bar (a little too forcefully, but thankfully Rudy didn't comment). "I- I should go say hi to Grace," Willow, like with Grayson, didn't look at the three girls in the eye. Her primary objective was to just escape. She didn't want to hear their condolences, she just couldn't hear it now. "I-it was great seeing you two- three, shit, the drink is getting to me, ha," Her laugh was filled with panic as if getting them to laugh with her was better than them laughing at her. "I'll see you girls around."

Willow escaped quickly, keeping her head down and making a beeline towards Grace. She bumped into many people, but she ignored their calls as she joined Grace at her table. "I can't do this anymore, Gracie." Her voice shook as Willow finally hid her face in her hands. "I should have never come. Do you think I can still get a partial refund if I check out now?" Willow kept talking, anything that was on her mind spilling like a tipped-over glass of misery. She was aware she looked pathetic, but at this point everyone knew that that was exactly what she was.
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Hidden 3 mos ago Post by HaleyTheRandom
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HaleyTheRandom ☣ Hurricane Eyes ☣

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Grayson Chambers was probably the last person Jace wanted to see at the reunion. Instead he was the first. Listening to what the man had to say, it was clear that he was on the path to make amends. How that was going to work, Jace didn’t really know. Grayson hadn’t really ever done anything to him except be a whole lot on the creepy side. Lost for words, Jace simply nodded at what Grayson had to say before turning to his food as Grayson headed to the bar. While Jace didn’t know everything that happened at prom, he had a fairly good idea that Grayson decision to head over to the bar with a group full of women whose lives he had supposedly ruined in one way or another was not a good idea.

By the time Jaces burger, fries, and coke had arrived, so had Brent just as Grayson was walking away. Jace welcomed the sight of one of his best friends with a smile. Of course the other mans outburst upon arriving would signal Jaces attention to him before Brent had ever made his way over to the table.

Drive was fine, man. Was definitely ready to get out of the car by the time I got here though. Talk about a long drive.” He took another bite of his burger. ”Want some of my fries or something?”

Shortly after their brief exchange, Alexander Shields had made his way over. While Jace was planning to decline his offer of something to drink, Dre had made his grand entrance as well. It was nice to see that all of the Kings Men had - as the cool kids call it - glow ups. Brent had managed to keep off the extra weight after all this time. Jace would bet money that if he placed a picture from ten years ago beside one from present day, it would prove that Andre looked exactly the same as he had back then. Fatherhood had worked wonders for Alex too. Jace couldn’t really say the same.

Doing his best to keep up his conversation with the Kings Men and pay attention to what was happening at the bar, Jace couldn’t really tell what was happening. All he knew was that Tara had actually appeared in a dress, and Allison looked absolutely pissed. Turning back to his food, Jace had just taken a sip of his Coke when he saw her.

Amanda.

Another person that looked the same now as they did back then, Amanda Woodall came into the venue like a hurricane, walking with the same confidence that she always had. If Jace still knew her like he had back then, judging by the way she held her chin at that particular angel and her shoulders back like that - Jace would also bet money that someone had just made the woman very, very pissed off.

As their eyes met, Jace’s brain decided to do him the courtesy of playing a movie of all of their favorite memories. Laughing on the beach. The time he bought her the giant teddy bear for Christmas. Their kiss under the fireworks on the fourth of July. Every time she ran out to the field after King's Academy won a football game - and even on the ones they lost. It was sounded cliche to say that Amanda was the highlight of his high school years - but he was right. Seeing her here tonight was like a kick in the gut. Why had he been so stupid to force her away?

Because of her career. Amanda Cross wanted the greatest life had to offer her. While Jace had loved her (and judging by his sweaty palms and current thoughts he still did) he didn’t think that he was the greatest that life had to offer a girl that was just a great as Amanda.

Lost in his train of thought, Amanda made her way over to the table he was sitting at as well. Before he could speak, she was gone over to the bar. Turning back to his conversation with his buddies, Jace added the occasional yeah, fist bump, laugh, and nod when need be. Seeing Amanda after all this time still had him out of whack. What threw him even more off guard was seeing her on Graysons arm.

A whirlwind of emotions ran through Jace's body at the sight. Anger, shock, and hurt. Mainly anger. Jace had a good feeling that Amanda wouldn’t like it if he caused a scene during her festivities. But Jace also knew that he didn’t fight for her all those years ago. Should he now? Did she still have feelings for him? Was there anything worth fighting for? She was married. With his head about to explode from the rush of thoughts Jace excused himself from the group of Kings Men and made his way over to Grayson and Amanda.

”Hey guys. Mind if I join you,” he asked hopefully. His question was aimed more towards Amanda, but he didn’t want to start anything with Grayson right off hand.This weekend was supposed to be fun after all.

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Hidden 3 mos ago Post by spooner
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Sitting alone wasn’t as bad as one could think, especially with a bangin’ G&T in your hand. The table that Grace had chosen proved to be one of the better ones for people watching. It had a good vantage point to see people as they entered the party area so she could see everyone as they first entered. Though this made her realize that she really didn’t socialize at all as a teenager. Most of the people milling out of the hotel Grace couldn’t name for the life of her. As much as she tried to place them in her mind she kept drawing blanks. That was until of course the Queen of King’s stepped out in her signature Prada. Grace braced herself for impact as they caught each other’s eye.

To Grace’s great surprise Amanda’s face for a split second softened before returning to its original determined hardness as she offered a short nod. The beautiful blonde then turned on her heel and headed of in the other direction.

Feeling somewhat relieved that the no doubt tense interaction was shelved for later, Grace blew out the air that she had collected in her lungs in anticipation and returned her attention to her drink. Swirling the last of the liquid in her glass as she continued people watching.

It almost felt like time froze when she saw him step out of the glass doors. He looked just like she remembered him. It was like a tsunami of warmth washed over her and memories that had been pushed to the deepest crevices of her mind came tumbling back. Grace almost had to remind herself to take a breath as to not pass out. Her face lit up in a smile when he finally looked in her direction. Her chestnut eyes searching for his. Finally they connected and Andre turned away.

Again the wind was knocked out of her. This time for a whole different reason. So he didn’t want to see her after all. First she felt like throwing up, but then the nausea turned into something else a huge ball of anger in the pit of her stomach. “Oh that’s your game huh?” she whispered into her almost empty glass. In that moment she steadied her trembling lip and decided “To hell with him! Men are scum and always will be.”.

Grace folded her arms in front of her and leaned back staring at Andre’s back as he bro’ed out with his stupid ‘King’s Men’ poison almost oozing out of her. She needed a distraction and she needed it fast. As usual her savior came in the form of her best friend Willow.

"I can't do this anymore, Gracie. I should have never come. Do you think I can still get a partial refund if I check out now?"

It took a few seconds before Grace could peel her eyes from Andre’s laughing back but she took a sharp breath and turned to face her distressed friend. “Girl…” she said curtly looking at Willow with a raised eyebrow. “It is way to early into this party for you to already be this close to tears. What happened at the bar?” she queried as she looked over Willow’s shoulder. “Oh..” she said as she saw Grayson and Amanda disappear into the crowd arms linked.

Scoffing she sat back down arms folded “Get a grip Willie! I can’t believe you are still let freaking Grayson “no spine” Chambers crush you like this. You had one bad date 10 years ago! I seriously do not get what you see in that dickweed. Never have and never will!” she spat.

As soon as she got it out of her system Grace bit her lip, she had once again gone too far. She let out a soft sigh before putting a calming hand on Willow’s. “Babe… I’m just saying that you have to get your priorities straight” she lifted her hand to pat her friend gently on the cheek. “Look let’s forget about… all these jerks and just and make this weekend about us and us alone!” she smiled warmly grabbing Willow’s hands in both of her own.

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Hidden 3 mos ago Post by Altered Tundra
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“Not even ten minutes in and already she’s causing trouble.”

Brent was usually the laidback, chilled-out, ultimate nice guy when it came to just about everyone. And ask any of his friends, whether it was the King’s Men around him or anyone he had befriended back in Palm Beach, Brent was the most easy-going guy out there. He rarely found himself prone to negative thoughts or anger, but like anyone out there, there’s always a kryptonite that even gets under Superman’s skin.

And make no mistake about it. Amanda Cross was the one person that Brent could not and would not stand. He didn’t come to this reunion to relive the horrors that was the senior prom and how two of his friends were ripped away from the group because they felt betrayed by the other. Brent didn’t drive all this way just to see the horrible Keywest remake of the worst moment of Brent’s life.

He wore his heart on his sleeve and though Jace and Grayson weren’t currently on the best of terms right now (even less so after Amanda showed up), Brent loved the two of them to death. Jace and Brent had bonded incredibly so since high school. With Jace being one of his few high school friends who had stayed in the area, he was able to get closer and Grayson -- well, Grayson and Brent have a special relationship due to him being the first ones to show Brent kindness. That would be something he’d never forget and how does Brent repay the favor? By letting this...this--

No, don’t say it. She’s horrible but no woman should ever-- Brent bit his tongue, an act every bit of his father’s anger was cursing up a storm about. BRent wanted to think the worst. Well, he already was but he didn’t want to act upon these instincts of rage. It not only wasn’t the kind of man that he was, but at the core of it, Brent wasn’t mad -- he just didn’t understand how one person could have such a pull on two of the most strong-willed friends that he had.

Brent sighed out just as heavily as he did when he took this breath in. If Carlos were here, he’d know what to say to get Brent’s mind off of everything, but he wasn’t so he had to find his center himself. “I really didn’t come here to relive the past,” Brent spoke aloud, looking to both Alex and Andre. “Sorry guys. I just ...I can’t stand that woman.” Brent glared at Amanda, seeing her, yet again, between the two men whose friendship she destroyed. And there wasn’t even an ounce of remorse on her face, either. “If this reunion is going to be anything like tonight, I might as well just take this time to repack my stuff and get out of here.”

The scary thing was that Brent had half a foot out but he also didn’t want to leave them alone with her.

Yeah, now who is letting go of what? If Carlos saw him right now, Brent knew he’d think his twin brother was pathetic.
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Hidden 3 mos ago 3 mos ago Post by TootsiePop
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Standing in front of her body mirror, Reina gazed at her thin frame. Turning herself to the side, her earthy hued eyes fell on her statement, emerald colored heels. These were one of her more expensive items that she decided to bring with her — Badgley Mischka, green satin, 'Kiara' crystal back open toe pump. Truly, eye catching. With them, her ensemble was given both a hint of femininity and a hint of class. Under her white jacket peeked a lace bralette, and for someone who was known for sex, booze, & rock 'n' roll, she had the sensual sophistication look down pat.

The last time she wore these shoes were at a Q&A at StokerCon UK, this past April. Other than that? She rarely wore these pumps. She didn't know why she felt inclined to bring them to a reunion with mostly strangers, but something told her to pack them. Maybe, inadvertently, she wanted to make a good impression on the hostess, who never did like her, even if they shared a best friend, or maybe, she aimed to show her peers how much she changed over the years. Mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. A statement that displayed a renewal within her, that encourages growth, reflection, and healing.

Checking her wrist watch, Reina Stein Barracano, the only known filmmaker of her year, heavily sighed to herself. It's show time. Walking to her dresser, she peered down at her left hand with her wedding band on her ring finger. Hesitant, she reached for her phone and checked her messages and notifications. None from him. The last message that was sent was when she told him she arrived in FL. Licking the bottom of her lip, she opened up her Instagram and checked the first couple stories, one being his. Momentarily, her dark eyes reflected that of charcoal clouds. Cold, dark, and fierce. With the sight she saw, she rolled her eyes. She should've expected that. Once she clicked her phone off, Rei placed it face down on her dresser and made a conscious decision to forget about it.

Part of her charm was her full transparency and that included the fact that she was married. Unconventional and open, still married. Keeping her ring on, she turned to the chair by her bed that held a large bag and a photo album. Ah, yes. Gifts. She spent the past week going through her old memory card, finding photos of her class that didn't make the yearbook but were still worth seeing and perhaps, they'd appreciate the moments she captured of them. The good she saw in each individual including those that she disagreed with.

On top of her going out of her way to print her favorite, candid shots, she took the time to utilize her friend back in LA to help her make wood carved picture frames. They didn't have a picture in them yet, since she wanted to feel out the atmosphere and consider what picture would be best for each of them. Ideally, by the end of this reunion, they would all be given a picture and a frame from her. Until then, it was her job to get re-acquainted with the class of 2009.

After strolling to the chair, she pulled out the photo album and sat on the side of her bed. With intention, she opened the book and flipped through pages, having seen these pictures countless times. When she came to a full stop, she rested her eyes on the single photo of her and her ex. Just them. A selfie she took with her big ass canon camera. Somehow, she made it work but it was the least professional and least appealing picture of the lot. Most likely because it was completely authentic and she was smiling.

Resting her french manicure nails on the image, her gaze softened. She didn't know how she'd react when she'd see him and she'd be lying if she said she wasn't nervous... but, it's been a long time since she's seen his face. She was intrigued. Anxious and curious all at the same time. Though, her stomach was doing somersaults and her headache from her hangover was finally gone, she believed this would be the change of pace she needed. A place for her to slow down and take a break.

For the most part, she considers herself sociable, especially during networking events and film screenings. That being said, it's been awhile since she was involved in an environment that could bring up emotions of her past. It's been awhile since she looked at her mirrored image and considered her reflection. It's been awhile since she thought about... King's Academy and the people that came with it. It's been awhile.

At least right now, she believed she was ready for it and that she could handle it.

Of course, she had no idea.
~

The party was in full swing and because she got distracted, with the photo album, as if she didn't look at these pictures all week, Reina was fashionably late. Not making much of a grand entrance, aside form looking elegantly welcoming, unlike her younger self which was more 'fun' and 'wild', Rei was quick to find Tessa and shortly after, Allison. Both right next to each other. Her best friend and her close friend, since forever.

As she stood by the back entrance, from a distance, she saw a muscular man and Amanda walking off together. It looked kind of awkward around the bar. Feeling the tension of whatever-just-happened a mile away, she decided to slowly make her way to her girl, in hopes by the time she reached Tessa, whatever that transpired, no longer lingered in the air.

Not shortly after the hostess walked off with someone that looked familiar to her but, unfortunately, she couldn't put a name to the face, her eyes went from Willow scurrying to Grace to Jace walking with prideful strides to those that seemed like lovebirds. One being his ex, the class prez. It made sense Amanda was drawing attention. She usually did.

With her own, stylized swagger, a sort of free-style motion that showcased how comfortable she was in her own skin, and the fact that there was music in her soul, Reina sauntered to the party, trying to decide who she should say hi to first.

“If this reunion is going to be anything like tonight, I might as well just take this time to repack my stuff and get out of here.”

Gingerly parking herself by the King's Men table, or well some of them, she recognized that voice as Brent Walsh's. One person she'd definitely need to give closure to, later or now. She hadn't decided yet. One regret she had was taking out her damage on him, many years ago. She didn't know how much of it still resonated with him and honestly, she hoped he had forgotten. But, she would never know unless she talked to him and tried to mend the bridge she tried to hastily burn down.

Taking a step beside... Dre, wow. He didn't age, at all. Her eyes went from him, to... Adam? Alan? Alex? Aaron? Who she barely knew honestly, then to Brent, who... definitely grew into himself. It's impressive what puberty could do. Coolly, she rested her hand on Brent's chair, definitely within his personal space, and smiled, "Aw, lighten up. There's free booze, salsa music, and a pool waiting to be jumped in. Don't waste a good time because you can't have a picture perfect reunion with your boys."

Pausing, she turned to face him, that radiant confidence glowing right off of her like it did many years ago, "You look good, Brent. I'm impressed." Blissfully outgoing, her nerves buried behind her focus on brightening up the party, she turned to the other nearby King's Men and laughed, "You all do. Goddamn heartbreakers over here."

Retracting her hand from his chair, she crossed her arms and eyed them, "Alright, so... here's an idea. Here me out, okay? Why don't we stop people watching and have a good time? Those two girls over there could really use some of your... charms." Her eyes were fixated on Dre, which was her way of saying 'why are you wasting this opportunity when you can talk to Grace'. Her intense glare went from one man to another, Alex, who she signaled toward Willow. That one had less meaning since she wasn't close to either Alex or Willow. But hey, Willow seemed sad and he should do something about that. At least in her opinion. Why not? What else was he going to do? Stare?

"As for you, wanna' dance?" If there's one way she could explain her past trauma to someone she broke, while staying happy, it was through dancing. Who doesn't love dancing?

Reina offered her hand for Brent to grab.
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In the power rankings of Tara’s emotions at that moment, anger and resentment were quickly being pushed down in favor of horror and despair. As Willow struggled to get out the news that not only did the marriage not go well, it was over, she immediately was horrified at the way she flippantly referenced the wedding. As her high school bestie quickly finished her drink and beat a hasty retreat from the bar, Rocky tried to call out to her. “Willow, wait…” It was way too late for that though, as Willow followed through on her actions and headed over to who Tara believed was Grace Pruett. It was hard to remember, especially since there were bigger things to worry about.

It was enough to send Tara straight to her requested bottle of Jameson with reckless abandon. She screwed off the top of the bottle and took a big gulp to try and steady herself after what she had just done. She looked over at Allison and commented, “Fuck, I can’t believe we just did that…”

Yikes. Allison nearly choked on her drink as she heard Willow reveal what became of the wedding she attended. To hear such an unfortunate end to what was supposed to be cherished and happy event was rather tragic for Allison. She couldn’t help but feel secondhand embarrassment and shame for bringing up such a touchy subject. By the time Allison stopped coughing and drowning on mojito, Willow had ran off and it was just her and Tara.

Allison glanced over to Tara, and she felt what she was doing with the Jameson. If she didn’t still have mojito to drink, she honestly would’ve taken a large sip of it herself. Nothing could’ve made this situation any more disastrous. Allison shook her head, sighing. ”Tell me about it… Allison sipped on her mojito some more, ”I can’t believe that fucking clown tried to apologize to us. Can you imagine? Walk up after ten years like it’s nothing. Yeah, it’s been ten years, but holy shit…”

That comment was enough to bring the resentment back up to the surface as Tara took another swig of the water of life. “I… I don’t even know what that was supposed to be. At least I know what it attempted to be. It’s a shame it just didn’t work. And then completely turned to garbage. I mean, you would think, you would hope, that getting popped in the face would knock some sense into someone, but he still sounds like that same stupid kid who would chase Amanda’s tail to the end of the earth and then off it.” She shook her head. “He just added an undeserved heap of smug self-satisfaction on top of it.”

”All that… for what?” Allison mused, ”A drop of clout? Fuck, Tara, I wish you popped him. You might get kicked out but honestly? It’d be worth it. I’d do it myself, but I don’t know how to punch nearly as hard as you do.” Allison shrugged, sipping on more of her mojito, ”You’d think someone with parents like mine would be better at punching people.”

When Allison talked about Tara’s combat skills, the O’Leary woman knew exactly how Willow felt when Lucas came up. It was a punch to the gut, much like it was when Grayson brought it up in the first place. Or even when she brought it up a moment ago. The fact that nothing had come of it. The failed dream that she was reminded of basically every day at work. It was good work. Definitely funded this trip pretty well. But it was still that constant example of what she couldn’t be. Shit, even Tsunami was still going at it in her 50s and she couldn’t get a sniff at 27.

Another pull at the bottle of whiskey came quickly. It was not going to last very long at this rate. “Like I said, Allison, I don’t punch people anymore,” Tara glumly admitted. “Barely even fake punch people. I don’t have it in me. People don’t seem to think I have it in me. Except here apparently. Fucking Amanda. Fucking...everything. Fucking hell. I’m such a damn screw up, Ally. The only thing I can actually do anymore is fix it so your moms can keep punching people. And even that, I’m pretty sure can be done by someone else. I just… fuck, I knew this was gonna happen. I don’t know why I came here.”

Listening to Tara suddenly start spewing a whole lot of sad, Allison squinted. How much did she have to drink? It couldn’t be that much. Why was Tara already so sad? Allison didn’t like it. Allison felt that Tara really had no reason to whine at all, considering it was the first few hours into this event, but she was a little more sober than Tara was at the moment. Maybe with a few more drinks in her, that would change for Allison as well. ”You’re really going to let that asshole ruin the reunion for you?” Allison sighed, ”Don’t get in your feelings just because of what one dude caused. Fuck that. You’re better than this.”

“It’s not just him, Ally,” Tara confided in her drinking buddy. “It just seems like it’s everything, and I don’t know. I mean, shit, look at me. I’m so far from everything now. So far from what I fought for, I don’t even know myself anymore. Like shit, when did I start philosophizing this much about my own life? That’s the state of me now! It just, I don’t know. It makes me feel like I have nothing, and then there’s a shot at getting at least something back, and of course I wreck it. Because that’s what I do. I wreck stuff.” If Disney heard Tara’s speech, they might have sued her for copyright infringement, but they wouldn’t have had much of a case. Probably. This did seem to be a uniquely Tara problem.

Allison tilted her head in confusion. Where was this coming from? How did Tara’s mood tank so hard? Hell, a few minutes ago, she was happy and giddy as she can be. But now it was rather weird to witness. ”How much have you had to drink?” Allison asked, ”Because a few minutes ago you were just fine. There’s a reason why you’re the one working on my moms and not some jackass out of some other place. There’s a reason it’s you, and it ain’t me. You got more going for you than you think, Tara.”
At least Tara wasn’t crying. She had trained herself a long time ago to avoid tears whenever possible, and if nothing else, it was saving her from looking even more like a mess now. Of course, this was still another fine situation she had gotten herself into. Allison was pretty low on the list of people she thought she would be having this conversation with, through no fault of her own. It was just a lot of gut punches adding up and Ms. Bentley-Song happened to be the one in her corner. “I’m sorry, Ally. I shouldn’t be unloading all this on you. This isn’t your battle. Although I appreciate the pep talk.” Another sip of whiskey hit her tongue. “I just, I dunno. Maybe it is the booze. I did come out here pretty early.”

Allison put a hand on Tara’s shoulder and squeezed a bit, trying to comfort her. That was what people did to comfort people, right? Allison wasn’t good at that sort of thing, but she saw people do it. It must’ve worked, right? But it wasn’t like she was just going to let Tara be miserable by herself. It was like they always said. Misery loves company. ”Nah, it’s fine. It happens.” Allison said, before glancing at the bottle. ”Mind if I take a swig too? I’m not letting you drink all that by yourself.”

“Be my guest,” Tara replied as she handed Allison the bottle. “So anyway, how are you doing? I mean, Tsunami has been talking you up. I know you’re doing the doctor thing too. I mean, fancier than mine, but whatever. Shit, I should make people call me Dr. TKO. That’s a hell of a wrestling name…”

Allison smiled and took the bottle, ”Thanks!” The doctor took a large swig out of the bottle, before putting it back on the counter. She had to think about the answer to Tara’s question, because she wanted to word it in a way that didn’t make her come off as entirely arrogant. ”Me? I’m doing alright. I’m surprised my mom still talks about me though. I thought she’d be too busy throwing people off a cage or something. But yeah, yeah, I’m doing the doctor thing. They call me Dr. Bentley-Song now, actually.” Allison mused over the Dr. TKO name, smiling to herself, ”You should make them call you that. My mom would looove that. How are you doing in that avenue, or… just in general?”

Tara shrugged. “Can’t be throwing people of cages when you’re on the therapist’s table. So we talk.” The second Allison put the bottle back down on the table, Tara reclaimed it as her own. “Like I said, it hasn’t been great. I can’t even get looks at freaking NXT anymore. They haven’t even let me come to the ring as an acting therapist in months.” She tossed her flowing locks forward with her free hand. “I’m growing my freaking hair out for them, Ally! I didn’t even know it got this wavy all the way down! Just, I dunno. I think it’s done. Maybe I should find someone to pump a baby in me or something, I dunno.”

”Girl, what?! They’re not letting you outside? What?!” Allison was bewildered with this news, ”There’s no way that should be happening. My mom loves you! She should be getting you more involved… especially if they’re making you grow your hair out.” Allison grimaced, ”I should talk to her.”

“I mean… the hair thing might have been my idea,” Tara sheepishly admitted. “If they want fucking pretty girls, I can try to give them that. But yeah, I dunno. If you want to talk to her, that would be cool. Just, don’t tell her I got all mushy and shit, OK?”

”Why not? I’ve been mushy with my mom hella times. She doesn’t give a shit!” Allison mused, ”Does she even know you’re here?”

Tara shook her head no and added another sip to her tally. “I wasn’t even gonna come until Tessa told me she had dresses and shit and she talked me into it. I guess this chat makes it worth it though,” she told Allison as she waived her hand between the two of them to indicate it was this chat she was talking about. “Fuck, we should probably have done this more, Ally! When the fuck did you get good at talking and shit?”

The mention of Tessa was a rather sore subject at the moment, considering she’d just accused Allison of being an addy-head in high school. But, she needed to trek on. This was far better than standing in the corner and sipping on whatever. ”Me? I had to learn how to talk to people, being a doctor and all. You don’t really get anywhere by being all quiet and shit.” Allison shrugged, ”Believe me, I’m still awful at it, I just know what to say... Allison took another swig of whiskey once Tara was done with it, ”Have you kept in contact with anyone else after high school?”

Once again, Tara nodded in the negative, but she quickly amended herself as she nodded towards the reunited King’s Men. “Brent, a couple times. He’ll come up for like cardio and shit, so that’s a hang. But other than that, nothing. Most people dropped me off their radar after the prom punchout, and most other people after Wills’ wedding… including you, I guess. Sorry bout that, Ally.”

”Brent? I bought a car from him! So that’s why he looks… better” Allison laughed, before remembering that time Tara kicked Grayson’s ass. ”OH YEAH. I totally forgot you kicked that dude’s ass! Imagine that… being knocked out by TKO... couldn’t be me.”

Tara shrugged. “We all had our strengths, girl. You were smart as fuck, and I just… punched people. Should just put that on my Tinder bio, I guess. ‘My idea of a first date? Punching out your ex.’ I’d probably get some hits then, huh?”

”Nothing wrong with punching some people.” Allison sipped some more whiskey, totally oblivious to how much she was taking in, ”Some people are into that. Getting their ass kicked by a woman. I know I am…”

It was a good thing Tara wasn’t taking another shot of whiskey at that point because she was liable to have coated the bar floor with the spittake she would have done. Is fucking Ally into BDSM shit? Or is this just like, the wrestling family shit? There was a lot of alcohol coursing through her at this point. Both of them, it had to be. The Jameson bottle looked like it was going to be down for the count soon. I...is it the bullying thing? Fucking hell… You think you know a person...But what do I say to this? Tara thought for a second before measuring up, as best she could in her current state, what she was gonna say. “Um...I…” Apparently she needed a few more seconds. “I hope you can find someone to do that for you, Ally. I think, if that’s what you’re getting at. I just, I don’t do that anymore. Like I said.” Tara started looking around. Air was sounding like a good idea.

”I was kidding, Tara.” Allison laughed, ”You thought I was being serious? Damn, Tara! I can joke around too, y’know.” Allison wasn’t completely kidding, but that was something Tara didn’t need to know. ”I don’t have time to even think about those things… you think I have time for that with med school?”

Tara breathed out a sigh of relief as Allison admitted to the joke. “Fuck, you had me going for a sec, Ally!” she laughed. “I mean, I guess that makes sense.I know I barely had time for anyone during med school. But hey, if you still want it later, just wait until I forget that joke and insult my mother, you’ll totally get it!” She continued to laugh. Somehow, Allison had snapped Tara back into a somewhat blissful state of denial about all her current problems. “Fuck, OK, I might need to slow down. Back to the mojitos for me!”

”Why would I insult your mother? I’m sure she’s a very, very nice lady.” Allison smiled, glancing over at the bottle, which was somehow empty already, ”I think… that’s a good idea… we burned through that bottle… Jesus Christ, Tara.”

Tara shrugged as she motioned for Rudy to come over, and by pointing at Allison’s glass confirmed that she was back on the bar special.

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Hidden 3 mos ago Post by Prosaic
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───── ⋆⋅☆⋅⋆ ─────



Standing there waiting, quiet, contemplating. He didn't really have a plan for this, he didn't really have a clue where he was going once he left this room. His confidence had soared out the window because he'd given himself too much time to think. A yawning chasm stretched before him, quietly beckoning him to the edge and he was afraid of what slept within. It had been years since he had last felt this cowardly. It was frightening to imagine facing it all again, to imagine wandering back among those familiar faces. He didn't have beef with any of them, not that he could remember, and still he was scared.

He faced his reflection warily, not entirely impressed or convinced by it. He looked fine, he cleaned up nice enough but he was terribly uncomfortable. He had never been one for suits, not in his goth days and certainly not now. He adjusted his blazer, he turned this way and then he turned that way. It was a fitted black suit with deep red accents, it emphasized the lean muscle of his arms and chest. He adjusted his hair, mused it to look just careless enough that it didn't look like he had fussed over it but just neat enough that he didn't look like he'd rolled out of bed.

It was a display of very careful pretention but not one he could bother to feel bad about. He was idling and he knew it, trying to waste time staring at his reflection instead of moving forward. Caden had always had a habit of avoiding the things that scared him and he had always been good at it. A part of him was excited because it was a party, a party full of old friends. A part of him was ready to show them that he had changed over the years and to rekindle old friendships. A part of him was scared that he wasn't really ready for this. A part of him was terribly apprehensive, alight with nerves over the idea of seeing Reina again.

It was with a quiet sigh that he finally shook himself out of it. He put on his brave face and he walked.

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The plan had been simple enough but it had immediately backfired but perhaps that's what he deserved for being so meticulous. He had planned to find the King's Men and reacquaint himself with the guys but they were looking a little scattered by the time he arrived. Conflict of interests, he mused, watching Jace stroll to join Amanda and Grayson. I'm certainly not going anywhere near that. He took a deep breath and scanned the room, caught sight of where the remainders of the King's Men seemed to have gathered and he made his way towards them.

He hadn't spoke with Brent, Alex or Dre in forever and for a moment he was back to being kind of excited. He wasn't sure who they might have become over the years or if he'd even get along with them now but the idea of reconnecting with them was a nice one. Not only was it a nice idea, it was an idea that was bound to keep him from loitering around the bar all night. He got maybe two steps in that direction before he saw her and he froze in place. He was a deer in the headlights of a fast-approaching vehicle, staring as the world turned very slowly around him.

It wasn't a bad feeling, no, but it took his breath away. She took his breath away. He hadn't expected he'd recognize her so quickly but there she was and after all this time, she was still Reina. Nostalgia washed over him in waves, it tore into his skin and drug him through the sand. His tongue was heavy with things left unsaid and his feet were suddenly leaden. She was extending her hand to Brent, distracted by whatever she was asking.

It gave him the moment he needed to blink out of his daze and come crashing back to the earth. The car struck the deer but kept rolling, the wave of emotions hit him hard but he kept walking. She was Reina, yeah, but they hadn't been together in years, he knew that pining and avoiding was unhealthy. He would talk to her, he was sure of that, but he'd let her and Brent have their dance first. No sense in interrupting friends.

He drew in another breath and he made his way to the table, offering a grin to the remaining guys. "Hey, it's been too fucking long."
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Hidden 3 mos ago Post by Dirty Pretty Lies
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Taking a side glance to look at the woman holding onto him, Grayson observed how she held herself, filled with superior pride and displeasure, all at once. He brought her to the steps that led to the beach, which was the perfect position to look out at the view. The true beauty of this resort was when night fell and the blue haze of day revealed the stars in the sky. There was a promise of life in the darkness and the ocean reflected that welcoming sight. Truthfully, to those that took a moment to slow down and appreciate their surroundings, it was remarkable.

Letting out a sigh, revealing the level of tension he had reached, he tried to relax his shoulders and lighten up. It wasn’t every day he stood beside the woman of his childhood dreams. Subconsciously, he patted her hand that held onto his arm. This was his way of saying ‘you can let go if you want to’, and her response? She refused to do so. A comforting action on her part. Turning his head toward her, but keeping his body facing the beach, he broke the ice by apologizing, “Sorry about that.” A far more genuine apology than what he had given at the bar. Something he felt was more justified than his stunt to assist adults with their own burdensome and toxic damage.

He gave a gentle smile, which contrasted the storm in his gaze that emitted only emotional indifference. Shifting gears, choosing to focus on the present and not the unsettling feelings he felt, he buried any loving empathy he had deep inside him to protect himself from his classmates and from her. A precaution he felt inclined to take, just in case this conversation turned sour. As past events have proven, he wasn’t the luckiest guy in the world. “My baggage from our school days seems to have caught up with me.” If there was anything he had control over, it was how he handled this moment with his highschool crush — regardless of the direction it may go.

“Don’t apologize,” Amanda told him sternly, placing a gentle hand on his shoulder and shaking her head. “It’s not your fault some people keep living in denial and refuse to understand individuals can change in a decade. It reminds me of why I left in the first place, and why I would never consider coming back.”

Raising an eyebrow to her response, pleasantly surprised how understanding she was, since really, all his ideas of her were solely based on him watching her from a distance, Gray chuckled out loud (mostly to himself than at what she said), “I feel that. Where are you now, anyways? I’m in Chicago, working for the P.D.” Tired of talking about those at the bar, the charming and easily misunderstood detective diverted things toward common reunion topics, like work. Simple chit-chat to know Amanda better.

The mention of his career choice and his new home state definitely peaked Amanda’s interest, and it showed on the way she raised a curious eyebrow. From what she remembered of Grayson Chambers, he was the quiet, introverted kid that hung out with Jace and the other King’s Men. With that in mind, it was surprising that he’d chosen such a community-centered profession. Then again, it was always gentle souls like that who were the best people to look after others.

“A cop, huh? You’re one of my allies, then,” she told him with a small smile. “I’m an assistant district attorney in Manhattan. Homicide. You pick up the perps, I put them behind bars. Best partnership out there, if you ask me.”

Taking a sip of his whiskey as she answered his question, he carefully watched her in silence, studying her small gestures, cute mannerisms, and smile. Still enthralling as ever and still something he would never deserve. At least, she was intrigued by him. This was good. Better than good. This was great. “Homicide? Looks like we got another thing in common. That’s my unit.” The conversation was flowing better than he expected. Never in his twenty seven years would he have seen Amanda Woodall-Cross and himself talking about how similar they were. “And, I don’t just arrest, I help bring forth indictments and convictions to the criminal proceedings. So yeah, I’d be a great partner to you.” He teasingly admitted, even giving a playful wink for extra measure.

Really now? With credentials like that, I bet you would,” came Amanda’s reply in the same playful manner, followed by her suggestively wiggling her eyebrows at him before letting out an amused chuckle and briefly resting her head against his shoulder.

He didn’t immediately say anything in response. When was the last time he had a woman this close to him that wasn’t family? Let alone AMANDA? He never had her at arm's reach before this day. In contemplative silence, getting the hint but not wanting it to get to his head, he took another long swig of his drink, before clearing his throat, “Maybe later, I can show you exactly what I can do.”

Oh man.

He said it.

With courage of being a grown ass man, he finally made his attraction known and he wasn’t fucking it up.

There was no denying the way Amanda’s lips curled up into a smile at his suggestive words. A moment of silence transpired between them, in which Amanda and Grayson simply stood staring at each other: hazel eyes on hazel eyes, as if measuring each other up. It was a common and disappointing practice for the young woman to make the first move whenever she was interested in someone. To finally find a man with the guts to approach her- and so smoothly, at that- truly was refreshing… And an opportunity she wouldn’t pass up.

“I think that can be arranged…” she cooed softly, closing the distance between them by throwing her arms around his neck and never once breaking eye contact with Grayson.

While his nerves were going just the slightest bit crazy, Jace managed to make his way over to where Grayson and Amanda stood. Perhaps it wasn’t the best choice. While Grayson had offered a cease fire - for lack of a better term - Jace still wasn’t completely sure of how to go about talking to the guy. Amanda had never liked being interrupted. With his fingers metaphorically crossed, Jace took his chance.

Coming to a stop, a few feet away from them, it took a second to realize what was going on. Were Amanda and Grayson flirting? Was she really giving that creep her puppy dog eyes?

Dude. Chill. It’s been ten years. She probably forgot all about you. Grayson’s changed too. You all have. Grow a fucking pair.

Taking a deep breath and shoving any angry thought that he currently had out of his mind, he took his chance to speak.

“Hey guys. Mind if I join you?”

The sudden interruption pulled Grayson out of the trance that the class president had him in, and without changing any distance between him and his future quest, he brought his attention to, of course, her ex. Jace couldn’t let him have this moment with her. Not even three minutes, and he was already up her ass. He should’ve expected it. It felt like highschool all over again where he rarely had an opportunity to even approach Amanda because Jace had his tongue deep down her throat. But this time, Grayson had the advantage.

Yet, internally, he reprimanded himself for such childish thoughts. They were past this. No one had claim over Amanda. She could do whatever and whoever she wanted. He needed to be the better man and keep things civil. Not for her, not for Jace, but for himself. He had enough problems at this reunion.

After inhaling and exhaling, he calmly responded, “Yeah, sure man. We were just talking about how our jobs align. She with criminal justice, and me, law enforcement.”

The playfulness in Amanda’s expression vanished the second her ex-boyfriend’s face came into view, replaced with an overwhelming amount of bitterness laced with (dare she say it?) satisfaction. A decade previously, the perfect relationship she and Jace had shared for over a year had come to an end. He liked to say it was a mutual understanding, but the blonde didn't see it that way. The second Amanda had told Jace of her decision to follow her dreams to Cambridge, Massachusetts, he'd been quick to call it quits with the excuse of 'not wanting to hold her back'. This, of course, didn't sit well with her. She was of the belief that as long as two people really cared about each other, distance wouldn't be an obstacle for their love. Obviously, Jace seemed to disagree. And as petty as it sounded, it was nice to see her ex knew deep in his heart that setting her free to be in the arms of another man had been one of the biggest mistakes of his life.

“Will you look at that? Ten years later, and he’s still every bit as territorial as I remembered,” Amanda drawled, her scowl digging right into his soul. “What’s the matter, Jace? Can’t fathom to see me flirt with someone else?”

“I was honestly just looking for conversation, but okay. Don’t know why the sudden bitchiness, but if you’d rather me leave, I’d be more than happy to oblige, Your Highness.”

Jace really was puzzled. While there was a bit of an ulterior motive, was it so wrong of him to try and join the conversation? Amanda had organized a class reunion. Did she expect old friends and enemies to spend three days in the same place and not socialize?

The blonde couldn’t help but scoff and shake her head in disbelief. If there was anybody at this reunion that knew Amanda inside and out, it was Jace. The man knew all about her quirks, her likes, her dislikes, the things that made her smile, the things that made her happy, or sad, or mad… So why was he actively choosing to push all the wrong buttons already?

Excuse me?” she heard herself sharply saying, raising a challenging eyebrow in her ex-boyfriend’s direction while crossing her arms in front of her chest. It took all of her self-control to not go off on him with every bit of the venom her words could carry.

Okay.


Separating himself from Amanda now, Grayson looked between the two and came to terms that there were unresolved issues that needed to be discussed. He was trying to have a little fun, she played along, and it led to a Mexican standoff. “Do you guys need a minute?” Getting in Amanda’s underwear was not this pressing and he was fine with keeping it a fantasy if it meant these two didn’t kill each other.

He didn’t think he overstepped boundaries, but maybe he did. This reunion made him feel like around these individuals, faces of his past, he was not as smart as he thought he was — but in Chicago? Away from ALL this? He was at peace. And, he was well liked, making sacrifices and paying a price for his job, his family, and his mental health. No one knows how hard anyone has it, and they shouldn’t assume. Yet, like the days he was bullied by his father and those at school, he felt like by the end of the night he’d be ostracized and have no reason to stay.

Thirty seconds in to this conversation and Jace was already done. Amanda would yell and tell him that he was being childish. (It was one of her favorite go to’s.) Jace didn’t feel like he was being childish though. Maybe he should say everything that was on his mind, but how would that go? Would him and Grayson fight? Would Amanda laugh? Would there be rainbows and unicorns? He took another deep breath, allowing him to stop gritting his teeth.

“I don’t have time for whatever game that you’re already trying to play. Sorry I interrupted your foreplay. Grayson acted like he wanted to talk. I feel like me and you have some catching up to do. I figured two birds, one stone. Yada yada. But no: I get over here and you guys are halfway to Fuckville.”

That was uncalled-for. Not giving Amanda a chance to speak, even going out of his way to lift his hand to stop her, knowing she probably had choice words prepared, Grayson shook his head in aggravation, “You do have time if you went out of your way to interrupt us. I don’t care what you say to me, but don’t put your insecurities on her because you chose to let go of a good thing. If you have shit the say, say it. Stop acting like a child because you’re not. At least not the Jace I know.”

“That’s because the Jace you know was always too busy being balls deep in your fucking high school crush, dude. Wanna know what I have to say? Fine. First off, fuck you. You were always creepy. I’d bet money you had a freaking shrine built to her in your basement. If you’ve actually changed, I’m sorry, and we’ll deal with that later. I didn’t let go of any fucking thing. In the end it was a mutual understanding that long distance would be hard. I was destined to stay in Palms. Manda was going to inherit an empire. She was first in our class and you think I was honestly going to hold her back?” He looked at Amanda. “I’m sure you see it that way too though, right? All of the ‘why aren’t you fighting for me’ bullshit? I was too busy fighting myself trying to do what I thought was best for you to even be able to fight for you, Amanda. And while we’re busy getting it all out in the open… I still love your dumb ass. There. I said it. Is that the Jace you remember?”

“Glad you got that off your chest.” Turning to Amanda, he decided it was his time to dismiss himself. Grayson gave her a smile, “Thank you for showing me kindness tonight. I’m sure we’ll catch up later.” Taking a step toward Jace, who looked like he wanted to punch him in the face, Gray sighed and touched his shoulder, forfeiting fighting for the night and trying to show people that he was a changed man. “You too.” After he said his piece, he left his past behind him. His highschool crush and the guy she undoubtedly still loved. His grip tightened around his whiskey glass.

Maybe he shouldn’t have come. Maybe he was in over his head. Maybe… he was just unlucky. If there was anyone he wanted to see right now, it was his daughter. His shining light. His princess. His world.

Fuck this reunion.

The speechless, helpless Amanda watched the situation between the two men escalate from a spark to a raging wildfire. While Grayson had chosen to bravely stand up for her and tell Jace the blunt truths to his face, her ex-boyfriend had gone straight for the jugular like a saber tooth tiger. The words directed at his old friend had been sharp and cruel, clearly meant to hit where it hurts most. Then he brought up the supposed reason behind their breakup: using the same cowardly, age-old excuse of not wanting to hold her back and acting on her best interests instead. And to top it all off, there was the loud admission that his love for her had withstood the test of time, done at the worst possible time.

By the time the defeated Grayson left, furious, outraged tears were rolling down her cheeks. She didn’t know when it was that she did it, but the next thing she knew, the arm of the red-sighted Amanda was swinging backwards, then forwards, and eventually felt her open palm connecting hard and loudly with the right side of Jace’s face.

Have you lost your fucking mind?!” she said through gritted teeth for the second time that night, afraid that if she spoke any louder she’d follow the devil in her shoulder and start yelling and punching him. “When did you turn into such a heartless monster? Because the Jace I knew ten years ago might have been a smartass at times, but he would never say such cruel things to anyone.”

The slap stung potentially worse than anything Amanda could have said.

“Cruel?” he questioned her. “I wasn’t trying to be cruel. I was being brutally honest. I didn’t mean to drive off your new friend. I really did want a conversation. But then you started attacking me. I hadn’t even said anything yet!”

"Why the fuck are you blaming me for your shitty actions?!" Amanda retorted, the fury she was feeling very obvious in her raised tone of voice and the increased use of profanity. "That little jab I took at you didn't warrant you starting this whole thing by calling me a bitch, much less to go after Grayson like that! The truth of the matter is you're acting like a fucking asshole, Sebastain Russo: and that's nobody's fault but your own. Stop using me as an excuse for your appalling behavior!"

Jace sighed in resignation. “Jesus Christ, Amanda. I don’t even know why I came over here in the first place anymore. I felt like maybe I needed to look out for you. I don’t know. You’re a grown woman. Maybe it’s just best if I go back to the bar, get drunk, and pack my things. I know you always thought me and Gray were friends because we were both part of the glorious ‘King's Men’, but that wasn’t the case.”

“It doesn’t matter what I did or didn’t think! You’re behaving like an immature, bitter, childish bastard. Then again, it looks like not much has changed about you in the last ten years if that’s the case.”

Jace held up his right hand, a slight silent laugh escaping his lips. “I’m going to try and enjoy the rest of the reunion now. I hope you do the same,” he said, turning and walking away. He didn’t owe her any explanation, did he? Yeah, she had been aggressive at first, but he really was the one who overreacted.

Oh, well. Time to get black-out drunk.

"Oh yeah? Well I hope you fall into the pool and drown!" Amanda yelled at his retreating figure, grabbing a fistful of sand from the floor and angrily flinging it at his head. Jace knew how much she hated not having the last word in an argument, and how much it angered her when he walked away from her when she wasn’t done speaking. So, of course, the petty son of a bitch would use that against her. What a- "Fucking asshole!"

“I’m not that fucking lucky!”
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Why he kept staring at Amanda with the particular crowd that was gathering around her was beyond him, but Brent’s eyes were so fixated on her that if Alex and Dre had said anything to him or even if they said anything at all, he wouldn’t have heard them. He didn’t quite understand why he was overcome with rage whenever he thought about her with his friends. There was just something about her and how the memories came flooding back. Those memories of prom when his two closest friends first started to develop that deep dislike for each other. The fire she started that remained long after the first responders left and gave up.

That, to Brent, has never been something he could ever forget. He thought he would be able to forgive, but even now as he looked their way, there was something unmistakable about his ire. From the way he gritted his teeth and how his eyes narrowed as if he was on the precipice of jumping forward to a mistake he had to know was in the making. Honestly, the only thing that kept him from doing that was the illuminating light that came from Reina Barracano’s lips.

At the moment he felt his temper boiling and the pot almost tipping, a simple sequence of words calmed his nerves enough to smile her way (albeit one of surprise). As far as he could remember, the last time they spoke, she blew up at him just as he was going to blow up at Amanda, so maybe it was fate telling Brent that now wasn’t the time for him to lose his cool. It was the first day back and more than anything, Brent should be thankful that more than half of his boys were still on great terms with each other. No matter how irate he was about Amanda about to claim the same two as before, he took in a deep breath, practicing the breathing techniques he learned from his yoga classes.

In and out they came and at the moment Reina started to compliment him, a wave of peace passed through him. In some simultaneous moment, Brent gave the woman a once over and he would be inclined to agree that she also looked good. She always was outrageously pretty. Brent wouldn’t ever tell her mainly because of Caden and how so in love he was with Tessa, but she was always one of the more beautiful girls when they were in high school.

It seemed, in addition to her taking his attention off of Amanda and relaxing his nerves a bit, Brent was able to see more colors than just blinding red, but even then he was thrown for a loop when she extended her hand as she asked him to dance. “Wait seriously?” He was more asking to ensure he wasn’t hearing things. He shook his head slightly. “I mean, yeah sure. I could use the distraction in all honesty.” He admitted, taking the lead on her offer by taking her hand and by extension, her onto the dancefloor.

“Yeah, seriously. The energy of this place is bumming me out, and I just got here.” Reassuringly smiling, Reina tightened her grasp on his hand, allowing him to take charge, giving him full control of where this moment went, for better or for worse. “So, why not, you and me, two of the most approachable students of class 2009 break the ice for everyone? Or try to, at least.” To the salsa music, they started with a playful, kiddish twirl, which was rewarded by a gleam from Reina, who on the dancefloor flowed with vibrant sensuality and dazzling grace. “What have you been up to, anyway?” She inquired, her gaze momentarily leaving his face to look back at the table that the King’s Men claimed, resting on Caden’s physique, for a second or two, before retreating back to Brent’s eyes.

Brent wasn’t much of a dancer. All of the dancing he grew up enduring did not affect him, but he was able to match Reina’s movements well enough to not appear like he had no idea what he was doing. He just moved his hips and let Reina do her thing while acting as a guide when he needed. “Well, after high school, I did the college thing for a couple of years, but now I own Palm Beach Toyota off of South Congress Avenue,” he told her, swinging his hips as his eyes fell over to Allison and Tara briefly. “Actually, Allison over there got her Prius from my lot!” He proudly proclaim as his eyes returned to the sight of Reina. “What about you? Has life after high school treated you well?”

“Oh fuck yes it has.” Reina was quick to respond. To say how little she thought about Florida was a severe understatement. If it wasn’t for her brother, she would’ve forgotten this place the moment she drove across the USA to live on the west coast. “Who would’ve thought my dad going to prison and me cutting ties with my mother would’ve been so relieving?” She paused and gave a little chuckle, “Too real?”

Brent was uncharacteristically silent for a moment or two as he was uncertain what would be an appropriate response. She had a lot happen to her since high school ended -- at least, a lot more than Brent’s post-high school life was like -- so it stood to reason that he had no earthly idea what to say back. Pondering on it for a moment, he only smiled. “Despite all of that, you seem to be in high spirits. Says a lot about your inner-strength to endure even through the worst of times.”

Her soft lips stretched into a smile but didn’t reach her eyes. A force expression, simply thinking about those days. With humor, she shrugged it off and ‘joked’, “Those bastards deserve to go to hell.” The spite and malice oozed out of her. If only, if only, they did disappear. Died horrible terrible deaths...

Deciding to change the route of the conversation, and her thoughts, she excitedly announced, “— Anyways, near the end of the year, I’ll be working on my first Studio Picture. So that’s a plus!” Briefly, her gaze fell on Jace leaving the King’s Men and heading towards Amanda. Predictable. Before long, Rei was wondering if she was being too upfront and honest with Brent, especially after what went down between them. Truthfully, though, she didn’t feel like she had any reason to hide who she was and all the shit that made her ‘stronger’.

“What an amazing opportunity for you! You have to ecstatic for it!” Brent was honestly happy that she was happy. He always pulled for people to get what they deserve out of life and Reina had a bad one from the sounds of it, so when he smiled her way, it was a genuine reaction to the good news in her life.

The dancing skill level was vastly different between the two, since Reina constantly goes to events where it would benefit her to know how to do a little jig, but she was appreciative he was keeping up with her. Hell, he danced better than her husband, who no matter what she did, couldn’t get any of the steps down. Some people just didn’t have any rhythm. “Oh yeah absolutely. I’m thriving in Cali. And a lot of it is thanks to my brother and my soon-to-be ex-husband. No, don’t be sad about that either. It’s mutual. Our lives are pulling us in different directions, so when I get back I’ll have papers to sign.” Her eyes softened, definitely showing her maturity and assurance in her decisions in life. She’d be okay with or without lovers. Self-love is the best kind of love, after all.

“Jeez, I must be talking your ears off. Sorry… you should tell me more about yourself! We’ve never talked like this before.” The dark-haired beauty amusingly cheesed, as he gave her another twirl.

After the twirl, he brought her close to his chest with one arm around her waist, the heat of this particular moment overwhelmingly pleasant. “Don’t worry about it.[“ He quickly waved away her worry as the pace of their dancing chilled back to a casual hip-shaking. “As for me, I don’t know what else there is to say. I’ve lived a rather peaceful, boring life,” Brent admitted to Reina. He didn’t know if there was anything specific she wanted to know or what. Honestly, he didn’t have any tragic things happen to him or bad relationships. Just a quiet Palm Beach man who sells cars.

With their salsa dancing turning into a simple side-to-side sway, she wrapped her left arm around his upper torso, close to his neck, and rested her other hand on his chest. She kept her focus away from him, first starting at the bar, where the two ladies were getting wasted. Or they already were. The song shifted to something slower, and she thought about what she should inquire about. What was she curious about? “Do you still think about her?” There was only one her that Rei would ever bring up. The most cherished person to her, who this fellow dated years ago. Sure, it was out of the blue, but he left it open and Rei wasn’t one to dilly-dally. With ease and nonchalance, she slithered her way straight to the question that mattered the most. “Or do you have someone else that is special to you?”

Brent wasn’t so clueless that he wouldn’t know who Reina was asking about. Anyone who knew Brent, even in the slightest, knew exactly who he had loved for years. Whether they talked to him on the regular or went years in-between, get him going about her or, in the case for Reina, ask about her and Brent’s facial expressions said all they needed to, which was to say whatever words were about to exit from his mouth stopped. A literal example of him choking on his words.

He diverted his glance only for a moment as he looked towards Tessa’s way and sighed. “No, there hasn’t been anyone else.” He spoke with an unusually-low energy. “But yes, I still think about her. I’m thinking about her right now.”

There was no doubt Reina wanted to know more. Curiosity and intrigue sparked in her eyes, in an impish kind of way. Could she play matchmaker for her best friend? Could she bring happiness into Brent’s life? Could she—

CLAP!

A loud slap could be heard a mile away, over the music and the chatter, ripping both of the dancers away from whatever they were looking at and to the edge of the dancefloor, past the bar, and at the steps that led to the beach. One of the guys she still couldn’t put a name to was walking away, while Amanda and Jace spoke in hushed tones.

Suddenly, Jace started yelling, “...But then you started attacking me. I hadn’t even said anything yet!”

Which only set Amanda off: “Why the fuck are you blaming me for your shitty actions?!” Her voice only increased at that point, “That little jab I took at you didn't warrant you starting this whole thing by calling me a bitch, much less to go after Grayson like that!” Swiftly Reina brought her attention to Brent, who she knew was close to both of these men. After a million and one thoughts crossed her mind, she decided the best course of action to drone out the yelling was to —

“Sorry about this.”

With no hesitation, she forcefully pushed her weight onto Brent, tackling him into the pool.

SPLASH!

What the actual hell? Brent couldn’t understand this woman. One moment she blew up at him for almost no reason at all, then ten years later she asked him to dance. And after it seemed like they were finally at a place where he could get past that and be friendly with Reina once again, something happened and now he was a completely wet mess. He was just thankful that he left his phone back at the table where he left Alexander and Andre. But STILL, that did nothing to quell the overwhelming confusion the man felt.

He shook his head and, by extension, shook free of her grasp, Brent stood up and looked towards Reina with a mixed expression that consisted of mass confusion and just enough anger to motivate his next words. “What the actual hell, Reina? I thought we were finally getting along? Was any of that really necessary?” As he spoke, though, when he got past the initial annoyance, he started to laugh. “Jesus, you’re lucky that I planned on jumping into the water anyways.” Calmed down now, he sighed, though he still was puzzled by her actions.

“Lighten up, man.” She gently splashed water to his face. “I don’t want you to make this night about your friends. Take a load off and have fun.As eccentric as Rei was, she was attentive to her present and her past. The Brent she knew in high school made everything about everyone else but himself. She could see why he was attracted to Tessa. They were extremely different, which wasn’t a bad thing. Tessa simply sought to have the most pleasurable existence, Brent, however, found happiness through the happiness of others. Maybe, she could help him make this weekend about himself, even if it’s only a little push in the right direction. He deserved some sort of happiness, just like everyone else. Plus, his ‘King’s Men’ were grown-ass men, they could take care of their own shit.

“You’re a difficult woman to figure out, you know that right?” Brent laughed, shaking his head. He glanced towards Reina as he submerged the arm furthest from her and quickly brought it up, splashing her with a mini-wave of water right in her face. “That’s for splashing me in the face!” He smiled, then started to laugh uncontrollably.
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