Disguise

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Purr Like A Kitten

The bright sunlight made me pull the blanket over my head with a groan. I sighed in annoyance, wishing that there was a button to automatically close the curtains.

Deciding to start my day after fifteen minutes of rolling around I threw the covers off and reached for my phone.

Holy moly it’s 1p.m.?! How had I overslept so much?!

Vaguely, I tried to recall what I did yesterday.

I was still in the same clothes, how exhausted had I been?

Did I drink yesterday?

No, else I’d have a headache. I reasoned.

Did I- OH.

The man in the elevator.

The pain.

That explains the blackout.

And yet I couldn’t help feeling as if I was forgetting something. But what?

My stomach rumbled and I got out of bed.

Something was different. Something was wrong.

I was forgetting something.

I had missed two calls from my best friend. That never happens - I always woke up by the ringtone.

It almost felt as if I’d been knocked out.

I hit redial and Xena picked up in a beat.

“Where are you!” She shouted immediately into the speaker, making me hold the phone away from my ear.

“I’m at The Wolf.” My throat was thick from sleeping. I rubbed my eyes and blinked a few times, trying to get rid of the haze. “Did you just wake up? Isn’t that late for you?” She spoke a little softly now, my groggy voice was a giveaway.

“Yeah, I uh - I don’t know I must’ve been really exhausted or something.” I said lamely and I could almost imagine her gears turning.

“Exhausted? You landed yesterday evening..and went out for a simple dinner with the director. How could you possibly be exhausted?” She didn’t believe me.

Neither did I.

“I don’t know Xen. Maybe it was the travelling.” I offered and she scoffed but then decided to not pursue it anyway.

“So? How was he? Liked his work? Think he’ll do your script justice?” Her voice took an excited turn and I felt myself smile.

“Yeah. He really liked it. He seemed to be genuinely happy about it. I think he said they’ll start shooting in about six months. He even asked me if I had any casting suggestions!” I said happily, my sleep fading as I spoke more about my dinner meeting yesterday.

This was the fifth script I’d written and hopefully like the other four, this would turn out great as well.

I wrote movie scripts for a living, it had always been a dream job for me.

“Hahaha. Wow Flo, that’s amazing!” She cheered and I smiled. What would I do without her?

“So when are you getting here? My work is done and I’m ready for our vacation!”

“I should be there by tomorrow evening, don’t worry. Till then just find something to do!” She sang and I couldn’t help but grin.

I was excited now.

We’d been planning a vacation for so long and it had finally arrived.

Suddenly, from the other side of the phone I heard a scream and Xena yelled. Next thing I heard was glass shattering and Xena cursing even further.

“Oh god! What have you done! I spent an hour on this!” She began to shout at whoever it was but I had long since stopped paying attention.

What have I done?

What have I done?

Silently as ever, the phone slipped from my hand and clattered to the floor.

Sparks.

Reece.

Everyone.

Reece’s arms around me as he said, “what have I done?”

I was a statue, still and unmoving.

Was it a dream?

It had to be a dream.

He couldn’t actually be here.

They couldn’t have actually been here, could they?

I felt myself calm down a little.

It had to be a dream. Only a dream. Like always, nightmares.

But it had felt so real, so alive. I took a few deep breaths before I bent down and picked up my phone again, analyzing it for cracks.

It seemed fine, though the call had disconnected.

Almost immediately, the phone rang with a start and I yelped.

It was Xena again.

“Hello?” I spoke gingerly and her voice came through.

“There you are, you cut the call! I just had to make sure you were okay.” She spoke quickly and warmth inundated throughout. I was supposed to make sure that she was okay!

“What happened?” I asked her to direct her attention and she sighed.

“Julian came over and thought it’d be funny to scare me. I ended up dropping the salad bowl.” Her voice was laced with irritation.

Julian was her brother.

I let out a small laugh - he always did such things despite being several years elder to us, he was a complete child. “You spent an hour making a salad?” I couldn’t keep the smirk out of my voice. Xena was terrible in the kitchen, I suspected it was why she became my friend in the first place - because I could whip up almost anything.

“Shoosh, you! Go back to sleep.” I only laughed harder, knowing now that she was okay, and rather dramatic.

My nerves, however, were still on edge.

Only a dream. Only a dream.

“Anyways, I better get around to clearing this mess or someone will get hurt.” I could hear the resignation in her voice. One day, Julian was going to reach that last straw.

“Alright Xen. See you soon.”

The call disconnected and I made my way towards the living room.

I tried to calm down, but it didn’t work.

I had to make sure, I had to see for myself.

If they were here I had to get out.

With a wavering resolve I got up, brushed my teeth and changed into casual clothes - skipping on the bath - grabbed my phone and my bag and walked to the door.

Just as I was about to turn the handle, three sharp knocks resounded on it.

My breath hitched.

Who was it?

I hadn’t called for anything.

“W-who is it?”

“It’s house cleaning, ma’am.” Came a voice from the other side.

Flora you need to relax. There is nothing. And even if they are here you cannot be scared of them!

I opened the door and two young women stood with a cart. They gave me a friendly look, probably to assure me, and I let them in, stepping outside after them.

I made my way down to the hotel’s reception, calming myself the entire way when I bumped into someone.

“Ow-”

“I’m so sorry! Are you alright?” It was the elevator man!

I should really ask his name.

“Yeah, sorry. I wasn’t paying attention.” I admitted sheepishly.

He looked handsome today as well. His hair was still adorably messy. How old was he?

“You know you never actually told me your name.” I accused with a laugh and a slight blush came over him.

“I’m Atticus Wolf.” He supplied and I nodded.

Wolf? Was he related to the owner?

“So where are you off to, Miss Lori?”

“Call me Flora.” Was my immediate, automatic response.

“And I have some work at the reception.” I informed him lightly.

“You know, I meant to ask you, are you the same Flora Lori who wrote the script for ‘Hierarchy’?”

I was surprised he knew that. Script writers weren’t that famous.

“I-uh yeah! I’m shocked you know such a thing.” I admitted with a deep blush.

“Ah! I knew it! I was telling some of my friends yesterday and they were so excited to meet you! The youngest scriptwriter to have been so successful!”

I blushed deeper, “it’s not like that or anything..”

“Oh don’t be modest! Actually, I’m about to join them for lunch, perhaps you’d like to join them for lunch with me?” He asked me sincerely and I was taken aback.

I could..

Where was the harm?

The pain wouldn’t appear if it was just a friendly lunch.

“Um, I don’t know, are you sure?” I was still a little hesitant.

“Yeah yeah. It’s right here in the hotel. One of the private dining rooms.” He gestured to a certain direction.

Definitely related to the owner. Or the owner.

“Come on it’ll be fun. They don’t bite.” He was jocular and I felt myself ease up.

I had to stop being so paranoid about everybody now!

“Yeah, I just have to inquire about something and I’ll be right back.” I was about to move towards the desk where a pretty, young receptionist was answering a call when Atticus stepped in my way. “Is it urgent? Because I am very very late for lunch! Or can you come back later?” He did seem to be in a hurry, no wonder we crashed.

“Well, it’s not really...” Just a dream, Flo.

“Great then! Shall I lead the way?”

And so I found myself following the man from the elevator towards the dining room. We reached two double doors after a few turns. Even though it was on the same floor - this place was huge!

“Right here. They’re waiting for you.” Atticus moved to open the door.

“They’re waiting for me? How did they know I’m coming?” I asked, perplexed.

He began to sweat, figuratively so.

“Um, I just meant-”

“Who are these friends, sir?” I asked him quietly, stepping back a little.

Warning signs flashed before me at his hesitation. What was going on?

Only a dream..

“Ms. Lori! You’re worrying about nothing! I just meant that they are here, waiting for me!” He tried to laugh but something told me that I could not trust him. A gut feeling.

I took another step back.

This will be so embarrassing if it’s just his friends.

“Oh okay.” I put enthusiasm in my voice as I nodded.

He seemed to relax almost immediately.

“Sorry for scaring you.”

I let out a sheepish smile.

Most people would worry about how I’m not right in the head. How I’m so suspicious. He just seemed glad that I believed him.

Did he like me so much?

I needed to buy time.

“Actually you know, I have to make this call. How about I join you and your friends in ten minutes?” I suggested sweetly.

If I had any sense at all, I’d have stepped back by more than two steps. Out of his reach.

Because the very next moment his hand clamped around my shoulder and the color drained from my face.

“I’m so sorry, Luna.” He whispered.

And then before I could even say a word, the door was opened and I was hauled into the room with blinding speed.

“Hey what the -” I stumbled a little before someone caught me and I knew who held me immediately because of the sudden onset of sparks.

Tingles that made me want to purr like a kitten in contentment.

But I wasn’t content, I was terrified. I was livid.

A single thought came into my mind as I corrected myself and looked up to the face of the one who held me:

It wasn’t a dream.

Behind me, I heard the door click shut.

“Flora please liste-”

My loud scream interrupted whatever Reece was about to say.

“LET ME GO YOU ASSHOLE! THIS IS ILLEGAL! YOU CAN’T DO THIS!” I proceeded to struggle in his hold but he didn’t budge.

Stupid, unnecessarily strong, male model.

To be honest, I don’t know why I bothered. It’s not like he was magically going to become weaker or I, stronger. Apart from being physically out-muscled, any contact with the said man flipped my heart in ways I couldn’t control. His touch made me unstable and I hated it.

The power he had over me even after two years.

Pathetic.

“Flora calm down!” Reece tried again and it only served to make me struggle harder.

“Whatever you have to say, accuse, yell about, I don’t want to hear it! Let. Me. Go.” I seethed.

Every moment in his hands and I could feel my resolve weakening.

My resolve to hate them, to be absolutely invested in their downfall.

And then miraculously, I was free.

I stumbled back, away from him and my attention shifted to our surroundings.

It was a lavish dining room. The rectangular table was set with copious amounts of food and empty plates, shining bright.

Sienna, Grey, Daniella and Hank stood in the room, looking at me with the same expression they had yesterday night. It was a complete one-eighty. They almost looked, dare I say it, concerned. Well, I had dealt with too much of their drama to believe them for even a second.

Reece didn’t move any closer to me as I stared at them all cautiously. Smart man.

That Atticus was a backstabber! Did he work for them?!

Why was I even here?! After two years did they decide to come hunt me down?

“Flora-” Reece started to say something again but I didn’t waste a single moment.

I hurriedly spun around towards the door, yanking on it, hard.

Locked.

What a surprise there.

“Flora we just want to talk.” Grey said softly, almost soothingly.

I didn’t reply, still struggling with the stupid door.

“Flora please, hear us out.” Daniella spoke plaintively and for a second I stopped.

What was happening to my perfect world?

I’ve spent far too long working them out of my life for them to come back again. They can not get to me now! I will not let that happen.

But before I could control myself, I felt tears well up. Still facing the door, I refused to turn around. Refused to let them see what they’d done to me.

“Let me out of here.” I said with a thick voice, hating myself for giving away how I was feeling.

“Flora...” There was so much remorse in his voice, so much pain.

Well it would never match mine.

“I said let me out!”

A firm hand came around my arm and I didn’t bother to fight him.

I had no strength for this.

Reece spun me around softly, making me face them all.

They’d walked closer to me now.

They’re not attacking you like yesterday night.

But then what are they doing?

Is this another ploy?

“I am so, so sorry.”

My head whipped up to Reece in a nanosecond.

WHAT?!

“I am sorry.” He repeated again, his voice clear, the room dead silent.

HUH?!

“We all are.” Daniella added and they nodded. Although I knew that the rest didn’t really have anything to apologize for. I left them, when Reece went crazy.

They waited for a while, but no sound escaped me.

I stood there, frozen.

I don’t have the strength to deal with this.

And then I saw it, another door on the opposite side.

But this time instead of running, I walked slowly towards the center of the room. My eyes trained on them giving nothing away as they tried to figure out what I was thinking. They were quiet, analyzing. Their faces wore masks of pure guilt and concern.

Were they really...? Don’t, don’t do this to yourself. Don’t think about it. Get out.

I reached halfway, not looking at the opposite door lest I give away my escape plan.

“Flora?” Grey called out tentatively but none of them walked closer to me, maybe afraid of scaring me.

They’re not..they’re not stopping me. Could it be that after all this time I’m..I’m exonerated? Do they finally believe that I’m innocent?

And then I reached a suitable distance away from them. Hanks’s eyes narrowed the slightest bit before widening in realization - my time was up.

I ran like the wind, opening the door and shutting it behind me just as the truth descended on them. I made sure to lock it from the outside and then cleared the corridor with my best timing yet.

From behind me, from the room I had just exited, I heard a deafening howl.

And then the sound of a door being bashed in.

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