I don’t think I’ve ever been this jittery in my entire fucking life. I mean, proposing I was an anxious ball of nerves, but I’ve never been this worked up about going to a premiere before. And I think a lot of that comes from the fact, I have no fucking clue what Ryann is wearing, and I haven’t seen her or heard from her since this morning.
She and Val are getting ready at Xayla’s house, and I’m currently sitting in the limo, waiting for Andrew to get out here with his wife, Sasha. If I remember correctly, they’re high school sweethearts, which is kind of surprising with our line of work. High School sweethearts aren’t really all that common with celebrities. But Andrew seems to be the exception to a lot of Hollywood’s rules.
Pulling out my phone, I tap the screen to check the time and for any missed messages, and there is nothing. The only thing on my screen is a new photo of Ryann and me from the night on the beach. She’s wrapped in my arms and laughing. Probably because this photo was attempt number eight. The lighting was awful, and I kept dropping my phone. It took attempt number eight before Ryann was finally able to snap the photo.
But that night…..it was magical. And if that makes me sound corny, then I am.
We stayed up and watched the sunrise before heading back home. I drove as Ryann fought to stay awake, and I couldn’t help but have this stupid grin plastered across my face. Knowing that this is now my life….fuck, it feels good. It feels like I’m finally on top of the world, and I finally have everything I’ve ever wanted.
The key to my happiness was and will always be Ryann.
At the sound of the door opening, I watch Sasha slowly make her way into the limo. Her tan gown beaded in pink crystals and catching in the natural light making the gown sparkle in a light pink/goldish hue. Her light blonde hair has almost a silvery color and is pulled into a low elegant bun. Her skin tone and hair color have always made Sasha look exotic. But with her eyes and love only set on Andrew, Sasha tends to leave men ogling and drooling for what they can’t have.
Sasha has stayed with Andrew since the beginning. Through the good, bad, and straight-up ugly, she’s been by his side. To be honest, I’m a little envious that he has had someone for so long that understood when others didn’t. But good things come to those who wait….well, in my case, the saying is true.
“Hey, Thomas,” Sasha greets. “How are you?”
Smiling, “Good. You look beautiful.”
“Aw, thanks!” I watch her shy away as she pulls the train to her gown around her feet, allowing her husband to fall in next to her without stepping on the expensive garment. “You clean up pretty well yourself.”
“Where is Ryann? Still at Xayla’s?” Andrew asks as he closes his door behind him.
Looking down at my phone, there’s still no text messages from any of the girls. Which only makes my nerves more amped up. “Ya, I haven’t heard from her since this morning before she left.”
“Oh,” Sasha claps her hands together, “She’s surprising you!”
Frowning and twisting my lips off to the side, “Ya. I’m starting to get why she hates surprises.”
Andrew laughs as he unbuttons his jacket, “And you’re sure you’re still wanting to surprise her with the event?”
Well, now I’m not sure. Well, I am sure. I’m not telling Ryann until I get up to speak. All she’ll know is that we are invited to a benefit, and I was asked to speak. So, I mean, technically, it won’t be a surprise. Technically.
“She’ll know about the event…..”
“Awww, this is so romantic,” Sasha says before slapping Andrew in the chest, “Why don’t you do things like that anymore?”
Andrew mocks hurt before taking Sasha’s hand and placing a kiss to the top, “Baby, I romance you every single day.”
“Putting the toilet seat down is not romantic.”
I can’t help but a full-on belly laugh. I’ve always loved the back and forth between these two. It’s so lighthearted and good-natured. I can see us in these two. Hell, Ryann and I are already at this level.
“Baby, I can’t keep a secret from you. You’re too damn nosey. You found out about our project on like day two.”
Sasha shrugs a shoulder, “Eh, I’m with Ryann. I don’t like surprises. And how have you kept this from her?”
Ha, ya, and that is where things get a little tricky and creative. Thank God for Val. Because without her, Ryann would have found out long ago. Because when Ryann knows something is up, she’ll start nosing around and asking questions. She’s already suspicious that something is up, but she’s still somewhat distracted with meetings, appointments with her therapist, preparing to move, helping my grandparents pack up their home, and moving the boxes into shippable storage. I’ll stop by and help when I can, but it’s mostly been Ryann helping them out with my schedule.
“Not very easily. But this move has her distracted. That and we fly out to Tennessee in two days.” Then off to Indiana. Urgh, I’m not looking forward to that road trip. Eight hours in the damn car and worrying about what’s to come.
“Are you still meeting Alex out there?”
Nodding my head, “Ya and his family.”
Andrew’s brows rise into his hairline, “Including the….”
“No idea.” Shifting slightly in my seat, I find Sasha looking between Andrew and me with confusion. “Ryann claims she’ll be okay, but I’m not sure.”
“I have no idea what’s going, but can I add in?” Sasha suddenly asks.
“Baby, I don’t….”
I’m interested, “No. It’s okay.”
“I know Ryann has been through a lot, but sometimes for us to heal, we have to face the things that scare us the most. Things that may be painful can sometimes heal us.”
I’d rather not deal with the painful memories. But instead, hide from them. Well, I did that, and I guess it really didn’t work out well for me in the long run. Maybe Sasha is right. Hell, I know she’s right. I know Ryann is. She needs to close this chapter of her life for us to start a new one in ours. And I know Ryann dreams of being a mom. I can’t guarantee that there won’t be tears during our time with Alex’s family, but I’m on board if this will help Ryann heal.
Feeling the limo slow, I look out the window to the winding drive that will lead to Xayla’s house on the top of the hill. Large palm trees line the driveway, making her yard simple. Xayla was never one to have over-the-top gardens. Her reasoning, which is valid, she’s never home enough to enjoy them. So, it’s a lot of manicure grass with simple plants that won’t shrivel up and die in the California heat and draughts. And her backyard is essentially an over-the-top deck with glass railings and an infinity pool that looks out into the city.
The view at night is impressive. I’ve spent many late nights in her pool drunk off my ass, just staring at the broken and fragmented lights. Wondering what I was doing with my life and where everything went so wrong.
The car comes to a stop outside the front of the house. Taking a deep breath, I follow Andrew and Sasha out of the car, and Alice is waiting for us at the top of the white and grey stone steps. Xayla’s house is large, larger than mine, and is three stories tall. Made out of black, grey, and white stone, Xayla’s house is an eye-catcher for sure and can be seen from across town with how high it sits.
Like I’ve said, Xayla loves the attention. Her house is no exception.
Walking up the steps, the palms of my hands are suddenly sweaty and twitchy. Rubbing my hands down the front of my slacks, I catch Alice’s amused look. “How are you doing, Thomas?” I wished I could say that I’m annoyed with the amusement in Alice’s voice, but I can’t. Lord knows I’ve poked fun at her one-to-many times, and she somehow still talks to me.
“Good, are the girls ready?”
Alice gives me a broad smile, “Oh, they’re ready.”
I give her a leery look, “I’m not sure I like that tone.” Hearing Andrew laugh, he and Sasha take hold of an arm and practically drag me the rest of the way through the tall, glassed archway doors. “Okay, okay, I’m going. I’m going.”
Letting go of my arm, I feel Sasha give my back a soft pat, “Relax, Thomas.” She whispers before linking her arm with her husband’s.
Standing in the large open living room, I find myself staring at the random photos on Xayla’s mantel. They’ve changed since the last time I was here. These photos are all centered around her family. Mainly her mom and dad, and there are even a couple of Ryann and Val up here. Both look like they were taken at my place. I’m not sure what the three of them were doing, but one was taken the day after Ralph attacked Ryann. I can tell because her hair is up in the same messy bun, and she’s wearing the same clothes.
God, that incident seems like a lifetime ago. But here is a photo not in remembering that day, but I think solidifying a friendship. Val and Ryann were already close. Xayla and Ryann, well, they were friends, but I’d like to think after that party, they grew closer. Or maybe Xayla finally realized what true friendship looked like.
The sound of heels clicking behind causes me to suddenly spin widely. But it’s not Ryann standing in front of me. It’s Xayla, and she’s wearing everything red, her signature color. Her dress has a plunging neckline with a slit up the skirt that doesn’t leave much to the imagination. There is a fabric belt that goes around her waist and is coated in crystals. Instead of her hair being slick back, it’s braided in a fat fishtail braid that comes over her shoulder as small pieces are pulled and curled to frame her face.
“Well, hello, handsome. You look mighty dashing.” Looking around her, I see Val looks beautiful in her plum spaghetti dress with a v-neckline. The top layer of the skirt is sheer with a floral velvet design; the inside smooth layer has a high slit. Her hair is pulled into a high braided bun, and like Xayla’s, pieces are pulled out to frame her face.
“Thanks, erm….where is Ryann?”
Xayla’s red lips twist in a smile, reminding me of the Cheshire Cat. “You look a little nervous, Thomas.”
“What?” She suddenly links my arm with hers and walks me out onto her massive back patio. This is seriously the last place I want to be. “Now, isn’t this a sight? The view of the city, and you’re giving it up for woods. Are you sure you wanna move out to Tennessee?”
Eyeing her, “Yes. Aren’t you moving back to Canada for the time?” She shrugs her shoulders as she keeps her attention out on her view. “And why do I feel like you’re distracting me? Where is Ryann?” Every worst-case scenario is running through my head. Did she run? Maybe she decided this all too much and doesn’t want to come. But I feel like if that were the case, Val would be wherever Ryann is.
“I am. But still, I’m going to miss it out here and you.” Her voice starts to waver. Xayla arches her head back and breaths through her threatening tears. “No crying,” she says with a laugh. “Can’t ruin the makeup. But I’ll have a guest room when I visit? And you and Ryann will still visit me, right?”
Wrapping an arm around her, “Xayla, you’re seriously my best friend. We may have gotten ourselves into some shit a time or twenty, but you’re not getting rid of me that easily. Why do you think we’re building a guest suite in our basement? And you know we love Canada. I’ll make sure we wave from the plane.”
Xayla laughs out as she smacks my stomach, “Haha, so funny. Make sure he doesn’t quit his day job.” Pulling out of my hold, she walks behind me, and my eyesight follows her to find Ryann standing right outside of the sliding glass door. My mouth hits the fucking deck floor. She looks nervous, anxious, but my god, she is fucking breathtaking. “Five minutes, you guys.” Xayla warns before pointing a very stern red manicured finger my way, “Do not mess up her lipstick, Copeland.”
Xayla’s words are lost in a garbled mess as I’m gawking at Ryann and completely mesmerized by her beauty. The teal gown looks like it’s made of silk and lace. The bodice plunges into a low V and is made of lace along with the capped sleeves. There is a darker teal sash embellished with dark green and teal crystals. And as Ryann twirls around, she reveals an ornate lace back with clothed buttons going down and disappearing under the teal silk material of the skirt. Pieces of her hair are braided back in chunky braids and twisted into a low messy bun. Her makeup is natural and enhancing her beauty. If that is even possible.
I catch Ryann smiling as she slowly makes her way towards me. Her hand outstretched, and I quickly take it. “What?” Ryann suddenly asks, making me realize I’ve just been staring at Ryann this entire time. I’m not sure I’ve closed my mouth the moment my eyes landed on her. “Too much? This is too much, isn’t it? I erm….I had no idea what to wear, and Xayla and Val picked this out. I told them this was a little over the top.”
Snapping out my daze, my head begins to shake frantically. “No, God, no. You’re breathtaking, babydoll. You’re…..” Letting out a rush of air, “I really want to kiss you right now.”
Beaming up at me, Ryann takes a step closer. “You could, but I’m afraid for your safety.”
Stealing a glance over her shoulder, I see Xayla, Val, and Sasha standing near the tall glass windows. Xayla, of course, is stealing glances our way. Making sure I don’t smear the nearly pink nude glossy lipstick from Ryann’s lip.
“I think you’re right,” I say as I place a gentle kiss to Ryann’s forehead. “But I will kiss those gorgeous lips tonight.” I will kiss her. I will ravish her, and I will rip this dress off her tonight. Well….maybe not rip but help her out of it. This dress is probably on loan. Though, paying the fee would be like pocket change.
Smiling, Ryann heads back to the house but not before she suddenly stops and looks over her shoulder. Her smile was sultry and sending all kinds of kinky and naughty thoughts through my head. “I know what you’re thinking. You want to rip this dress off me.” Out of instinct, I look down at my crouch to make sure I’m not about to walk back into the house with a massive hard-on, which only causes Ryann to bust out laughing, “The dress is paid for.”
My eyes grow wide. “Please tell me you didn’t…..”
She shakes her head, “No, I didn’t.”
She shrugs a shoulder, avoiding my question, “Just think, Copeland, you’ll get to see me in this dress more than once.”
Smiling to myself, I follow Ryann back into the house. Unless she’s planning on turning the dress into a negligee….shit, just the thought is sending wild ideas through my head. I wonder if we can sneak off into the bathroom or closet for a quickie. I want to know the feeling of silk and her skin against mine.
For the first time in my career, this is a premiere I’m ready for. And I can’t wait to show the world, my future wife.