Chapter 1: The White Horse
It was cold. The trees in front of me looked depressed. There was not a single leaf left on their branches. They were as dark as the clouds that danced above them.
It had been four weeks since the days and nights had been the same. Four weeks since those big grey clouds had replaced the beautiful rays of sunshine that used to make me so happy, when they caressed my skin in the morning. I missed them, missed waking up and saying good morning to them. I would open the white glass window of my room and stick my head through. Then I would feel. I would feel these beautiful, soft, caressing rays on my face. It was as if they were trying to greet me too.
How good it was ! But how far away it was now.
The white glass window was now closed. Everything was so dark. And so cold. It was the first time that Glimberg had experienced such a cold period. A messenger must have left the wrong envelope at malam Nehara's window. I couldn't explain it, but I had a strong feeling that something bad was hovering over our heads and that it was only a matter of time before it came down on us. At that very moment, with my buttocks on the window sill, I would have given everything I had for a single ray of sunshine to pierce the pile of grey clouds and bring a little warmth to Glimberg.
The streets were empty and poorly lit. It was raining like crazy and there was not a cat in sight. I was all wet and almost shivering with fever. All this just because the idiot I was had decided to cycle to visit Auntie Ava in this weather. It was my first time but I wasn't scared, even with the 40 km round trip. I love sport and will always try everything at least once. I had already tried tennis, boxing, rowing, running and even bungee jumping and rallying, but I was not a thrill-seeker at all. I tried everything but my only passion was and still horse riding. From the time I was five I have been riding until today. It was above all a family sport. I remember when Grandpa Henri was still alive, we often met for lunch on Sundays and when lunch was over, we all went to his ranch, the Camargo, to ride. What beautiful memories!
The sky was getting more and more stormy. I started to look around, but there was no shelter around.
- If only I had listened to her !
Yes, if only I had listened to grandma Antonia who had insisted so much that I go there by car.
- I am going grandma, do you have any message for Auntie Ava ?
- Yes, ask Avalonne when she is sending me my grandsons to spend the weekend. They visit us so little.
- Okay, I will ask her. I am gone, kisses.
- Kristof must be somewhere in the garden. Wait, I will call him.
- No grandma, that's not necessary. I will go by bike, so I can exercise too.
I got the bike from my uncle for my birthday and until now it had been stored in a corner of the garage.
- But my dear, it is so far and this weather is not very reassuring, it could rain at any moment. Then when you come back it will certainly be dark already. It doesn't seem very safe to me. You should let Kristof drive you.
- You worry too much grandma. Nothing will happen to me. I'll try not to be long. I'll be back safe before you know it. And I'll have to try that bike sometime.
- I know your uncle meant well. But I still think he could have given you something better than this... bike.
- I think it's a great gift.
- If it makes you happy. But I'd still have more peace of mind if you go with Kristof.
- I know, but I'll still go by bike and everything will be fine.
- Please darling.
- I promise I'll be very careful (I kissed grandma's forehead and to reassure her, I slipped one last 'everything will be fine' into her ear before I left).
Everything will be fine? That's it! What a stubborn girl I had been!
It was getting harder and harder to move forward on my bike, which was practically riding against the wind. A real ordeal! So I decided to get off and walk, without hurrying. I was already soaked and the way to the house was still long, so I might as well enjoy the landscape.
St Bell Street was a real delight for the eyes. Its old buildings, most of them made of stone, were famous. And all the facades of the houses were decorated with animal forms, which I found a bit strange. Not that I hated animals, but as a facade decoration I was sure that one could do better. I didn't know this street very well. I had never had the opportunity to walk there, but Kristof had often passed by on his way to the girls' school. And each time, I had pressed my face against the windows of my carriage - which always had to remain closed, order of grandma - to be able to admire the little landscape that was offered to me. What I would have liked was to be able to put my head through those windows to feel the morning air of this beautiful street that I thought different from the one where I lived. And how sad I was every time we passed it. I sat upright in my seat, languidly, my eyes looking at the ground like a beaten dog. Kristof must have noticed my disappointment because for the umpteenth time we passed it, he finally announced:
- It is the street St Bell.
- St. Bell Street ! I repeated, with a big smile on my face as I was so happy to learn a little bit about this place.
- Yes miss.
- Like my name? Do you think it has something to do with my family?
- I think so miss. If I'm not mistaken, this street is named after a Bell ancestor.
- Is that true ? Wow !
So this street and I had something in common ? I was thrilled.
- All these houses, they are so pretty !
- It's true that they are pretty, but they are not all houses. Sometimes they are restaurants, cafes, stores or whatever. What you have to remember is that everything here is luxurious. Look just to your left, where it says MODALISA. That, my dear, is a luxury clothing store.
We were both used to being so familiar. On the other hand I had to insist a lot because he was afraid of the reaction of grandma. So when she was there, we pretended. But in general we avoided as much as possible the mannered attitudes.
I looked at the store he was showing me. I couldn't see much except for the red Modalisa marked in capital letters at the top of the store.
- Luxury clothing ? I asked thoughtfully.
- Only haute couture, my dear. This is where the elite of Glimberg dress.
- Kristof, would it be possible to take a walk there one evening on your way home from school?
- You'll have to ask your grandmother about that.
- But you know as well as I do that she will never agree.
- Maybe, but I am not allowed to drive you anywhere else than home after school.
- I promise, I would not say anything.
- Sorry miss.
Several times I had tried to convince him, without success. For a long time I had hoped and finally it happened. In the rain, yes, but at least I had it. I had my walk in St Bell Street. I savoured it. My eyes still wanted more. I looked from left to right, from right to left, all excited. Then I started to hum, I was so happy. Finally I could enjoy the charm of this street. Nothing could stop me anymore. The rain, the chills, not even the little voice in my head that kept reminding me that later I would have to be stuck in bed drinking herbal tea... No, nothing.
I swung my bike onto the pavement and spun around in the rain, singing. Smiling, then laughing, I spun faster, head backwards. Big drops of rain were now lashing my face, but it was as if I couldn't feel anything, immune to any pain. I kept going faster and faster until I started to feel dizzy. The next minute my ass was on the floor. This time I felt it.
With one hand I massaged one buttock and then the other, grimacing. I then leaned on my arms to get up when suddenly one of the buildings caught my eye.
- What a sight !
It was confusing because it was identical in every way to all those I had seen so far... Or almost, on this facade there was nothing at all, no animal form or other decoration. I couldn't tell, but there was something special about it. I couldn't think of anything else, as if it had absorbed my mind. Intrigued, I walked hastily towards it. And in a few steps I found myself in front of an old wooden door, double doors. On each of the doors there were wrought iron details. I stood still for five or six minutes, looking at it. There were not thousand of such doors in Glimberg and yet... And yet, this door, I tried to remember it, I had the impression that I had seen it before. It was a very strange feeling because I had never been to this place. And even weirder, at one point I had the impression that I saw four small shapes - a circle, two very thin rectangles and a triangle, I think - appear on the left-hand side of the door, which then moved towards the right-hand side before joining together to form a symbol and then disappearing. Perhaps I just dreamed with my eyes open because I was so entranced by the charm of this building. There was only one thing on my mind at that moment: to find out what was behind that door. I was both excited and anxious. I hesitated for a moment, but my curiosity was far too great. So I began to knock. If anyone asked me, I would say that I just wanted to shelter for a moment from the rain. But the door remained closed. I knocked several more times and no one came. Disappointed, I finally stuck my head against the door and knocked one last time. Then I began to stroke it with one hand. After a while I felt electricity at my fingertips and the next second, as if by magic, it opened slowly. I was very surprised ! I had thought of everything but this... Stunned and lost, I stood in the doorway.
- A bar ! A bar in a building like this ? If grandma saw that, she'd cry scandal for sure.
All eyes were on me. All those people, they looked so... so elegant. I had been curious and now I was obviously in the middle of Glimberg's famous elite, still soaking wet and shivering. Great Mahu ! I must not have looked like much. I was about to run away as I always do in this kind of situation when I heard the little voice in my head "you're in, you're staying in". I walked forward with false confidence. Each step I took, my shoes filled with water would just make a strange noise. I was at rock bottom but there was no way I was running away this time.
I walked fast to get closer to the bar - the perfect shelter - which I had seen from a distance. But halfway there I had to slow down because I was hallucinating, I was seeing horse heads. Humans with horse heads. I closed my eyes and took a breath.
- Calm down, this is not real.
I opened my eyes and they were still there, those supernatural beings. I couldn't think anymore. Frightened by this vision, I closed them again.
- No, no, no.
I was now walking with my eyes closed, my head in my hands, I had to imagine that it was channelling my imagination because what I saw was only the fruit of it. It could not be otherwise.
- It could not be otherwise. This isn't real, I repeated to myself.
- Watch your step ! said a voice that sounded quite close to me, but to which I paid no attention.
I kept moving. And I ended up in his arms. I breathed in, pressed my palms against my eyelids and finally opened my eyes again. And how relieved I was ! It was a real head. A human with a human head. A tall, breathtakingly handsome male. I was so happy to have bumped into him, because as soon as I saw him, I forgot all those ugly images I had in my head. He had his arms spread out, they were shaking a little and liquid was dripping from them.
- Oh what a gourd, I spilled your drinks.
He had a beer bottle in one hand and a clear funnel-shaped glass with a stem in the other. The glass was filled with a neutral coloured drink. I did not try to guess what it was. I was far from being an expert anyway.
- It's nothing. Are you all right ? You seem a bit upset.
- I'm fine, thanks.
I wasn't lying, I felt much better. They were gone. They were all gone.
- I'm sorry. Did I get you wet ?
He took a quick look at his clothes.
- It's all right.
- I'm really sorry, I didn't see you coming.
- I didn't know I was invisible. You're breaking my heart.
- That's not quite what I meant," I stammered.
- Are you sure you're okay? You seem far away.
- Rather lost," I said quietly to myself.
- And you're shaking a bit, I can lend you my jacket if you like.
- No thanks, I'm fine.
- I insist.
- You're kind, but I assure you there's no need. I'll soon catch a chill in the midst of all these people.
- If you say so.
- Sorry again about earlier. I was so busy thinking about that bar that...
It wasn't quite the truth, but he would have thought I was crazy if I had ever told him what had really disturbed me.
- You must be very thirsty.
- Not really.
- Not really ? Are you a friend of Danny maybe ?
- Who is Danny ?
- Danny, the barman !
- No. You've got it all wrong. I don't know your Danny.
- Oh, I see. You're not thirsty, you're not a friend of Danny. So... ?
- So... ?
- So I guess you were meeting someone there ?
- No, I didn't. I came alone.
- Now you're starting to make me curious. I know this bar is quite attractive but you must have a better reason to show so much interest.
- Yes, I do. Not a reason but reasons.
- And may I ask what they are, if it's not intrusive ?
- No, I don't think so.
- Then I won't insist, not this time anyway.
As he just said, he did not insist. And for a brief moment we were both silent. An awkward moment during which I studied him quickly. He was really very handsome and also very elegant. His features were fine and regular, and like most of the residents of this city, he had platinum blond hair, very shiny. It's clear, clear as crystal as my cousin would say, blond was always in fashion. What I liked best were his eyes. Big, bright green eyes, sparkling, that just made you want to drown in them.
- How lucky she must be !
- Who ?
I was so mesmerized by his beauty that I thought aloud. His question surprised me and I began to stammer, not knowing what to say.
- Is everything ok ?
Yes, yes, I was just thinking about something. Don't mind me.
- I'm definitely not going to get through to you. I almost feel like I have to rip the words out of your mouth every time.
- I won't go that far (I pouted) but you did not expect me to tell you my whole life story right away. We hardly know each other.
- So let's get to know each other better. I am Black.
- Nice to meet you Lani ! Beautiful name, it suits you.
- Thank you.
- I would have kissed your hand if I could, as you can see mine are full. Tell me Lani, it's your first time here, isn't it ?
- You guess it. It's true that I don't fit in with my Nico Mbarga shoes and my large blouse. Everyone here is dressed to the nines.
- Let me tell you, you're as much a part of the décor as anyone else in this room.
- You, you know how to talk to women, a perfect gentleman. She must be very lucky, this time I say it loud enough for him to hear.
- If you say so. And he's lucky to have such a beautiful rose in his secret garden.
- You flatter me.
- I'm only telling the truth.
- Then I accept the compliment. But he doesn't know.
- What a jerk ! " he hurried on.
His face seemed to light up, which completely confused me because I didn't know what it meant. Maybe he was secretly laughing at me, thinking that a girl like me could only attract jerks. But he had been so nice all this time. I didn't know what to think anymore. I wanted to understand so I started to study that smiling face, looking for an answer that would reassure me but in vain.
- Sorry, maybe I was a bit rude ?
- No, not at all.
- Then why were you looking at me like a little boy who has just done something stupid ?
- Did I ? Forgive me, but you've completely baffled me.
- But I really mean it, that he's just a big jerk if he doesn't know how lucky he is.
This time I finally burst out laughing.
- Sorry, I couldn't resist.
- Did I say something funny ?
- No. What I find funny is you getting angry at someone who doesn't even exist. He doesn't know simply because there is no 'him'.
I thought I saw him blush.
- And now I'm the one who looks like an idiot.
- Don't worry, I'll never think you're an idiot. I found you cute.
- Phew ! That puts my mind at rest. So you don't have a boyfriend ?
- No boyfriend. I haven't found the right one yet, or I just haven't looked for one, and then there aren't many 'like you' around.
- You just imply that I could be the one for you ? Interesting. Now I'm the one who's flattered.
- I told you, she's very lucky.
- Unfortunately she doesn't know it either.
- She doesn't ! You ? No...
- What ? You want me to believe that you don't have a girlfriend ? No way.
- And yet it is true. I haven't found my perfect match yet either.
- You are really single ? I can't believe it.
- And why is that?
- Well, because... Because you seem... Don't bother.
- Come on, you're not gonna start this again. I think we know each other better now. So tell me, how do I look ?
- Okay. Well, you look like the perfect boyfriend. Handsome, gentleman, funny...
- Please continue," he said with a smile.
- You have understand what I mean," I replied with my cheeks on fire.
- Yes, but I like listening to you.
He looked at me out of the corner of his eye and we both started laughing.
- Let me tell you Lani, even if you're not dressed to the nines you're beautiful. The only reason I guessed you were new is because your face is unfamiliar.
- Because you know everyone here?
- Let's say I do. It's easy. Almost everyone here is a friend or an acquaintance.
- I see. Well, I was passing by and I wanted to find out about this place.
- What do you think then ?
- That all your friends and acquaintances must be very rich.
- You know what they say, don't always trust appearances. And, by the way, I apologise. I've been forcing you to confide in me all this time without even offering you a drink. What do you usually take ? I'll ask Danny to serve you.
- I'll have a beer.
I used to have water. I'd never had a drop of alcohol in my life, but tonight I was avoiding being the good girl at all costs. He drank beer too, at least he had one in his hand. Maybe it would help me blend in, I thought. And even if I wanted to, I couldn't order anything else.
He walked back to the bar and asked Danny to serve me whatever I wanted.
- You can put that on my tab.
- You got it man.
- And Lani, don't be embarrassed, let's just say it's my way of welcoming you.
- Well, thank you for that warm welcome.
- Unfortunately, I'm going to have to leave you for a while but I'll be back soon. Will you wait for me here ?
- I'm here, I'm staying," I said quietly to myself.
- You promise me, you won't move from here ?
- I promise. Now go, I'm going to try to make friends with Danny.
- Ok. I'll be back, wait for me," he said, trying to make his way through the crowd.
As I watched him walk away, I realised that there really were a lot of people there, and my gaze unintentionally sought the ground. I watched their feet, but I saw none. It was hooves that carried the bodies scattered in this place. In my mind. No sooner he disappeared those damn hallucinations came back.
- No, it won't happen again.
If she were here, she would have reassured me. I thought of grandma Antonia who always had the right word, who always knew what to do, she must be worried by now. Ever since Mum and Dad died, she was the one who looked after me, very protective. I was only nine years old. Without any form of consultation, I was put under her care, and both auntie Ava and uncle Baarsi had no objections. For some reason, no one dared to say no to her, as if they were all afraid of having their tongues cut out the minute they thought of replying. The two of us lived in the maanstraat villa surrounded by maids and I must admit that sometimes I was a little bored. At home it was like a convent, or even worse. There were only women, or almost only women. It was grandma's wish. She thought that for my good education I should not be around men. The only male presence that was tolerated was that of my uncle, my cousins Brams and Breti, auntie Ava's twins, and Kristof, my driver. He was a tall, bearded man, probably in his forties. He had no wife or children which suited grandma perfectly. She had put him up in one of the many guest rooms so he could be at my disposal 24 hours a day. Sometimes grandma's friends would come to visit her. She received them in her private flats, which were detached from the main house. Everything was arranged so that I was as isolated as possible from the outside world. This was actually the reason why I was so determined to cycle tonight.
Leaning against the bar, I tried to erase these visions by letting myself be carried away by the dizzying atmosphere of this place. Inwardly, I kept telling myself that it was only my imagination and that I had to forget about it. Gradually my heart rate returned to normal. I even began to feel strangely at ease. Alive. Alive as ever. That feeling of "déjà vu" came back, stronger. I closed my eyes, searched in my memory.
No, it couldn't be. How could I have memories of a place I had never been to or even heard of. This was hardly the kind of ceremony grandma had planned for my entry "into the world" as she liked to say. But make no mistake, the world for her was limited to glimbergian society. Just getting out of the fortress of Maanstraat without a leash was already a real challenge so going out into the world was not an option. In the meantime, I was going to enjoy my little nocturnal escapade. The subdued light transported me and the bodies swaying delicately to the tune of Cysoul made me dance too, in my mind. Not surprisingly, I noticed that there were quite a few platinum heads. Real heads - clearly it was my imagination. Normally, in Glimberg as elsewhere, I think, trends come and go, except this one. It's a nice colour but why half the town wanted to wear it, I couldn't understand. But I stopped trying to understand when my grandmother told me: "That's the way it's always been, the platinum heads since the beginning, they are".
My mind was still racing when the barman tapped my hand on the counter. Turning my head towards him, I looked directly into his eyes and was dumbfounded. His eyes were on fire. Two fiery yellow flames glowed in his eyes.
- Lani ? Tell me my dear what kind of beer can I get you ? Halo... Are you all right ?
He had crossed his arms on the counter holding his elbows and leaned on them to bring his face as close to mine as possible so that I almost felt his lips brush mine.
- What are you doing ?
- I'm sorry. I just wanted to check that you were still breathing.
I could see and hear him, but I couldn't get any sound out of my previously half-open mouth.
- Yes, I'm fine. I didn't hear you, "I lied.
He slipped away and went straight back behind the bar.
- Well, tell me, sweetheart !
- A beer," I said, my voice trembling.
- I understood that. Which beer ?
- Because there's not just one kind ?
- No. But don't worry, we've got everything you need to enjoy yourself. White, brown, blond, red, amber, fruity... Everything.
- That much ? I wouldn't even know how to choose. I must admit that this is the first time I'm going to taste beer.
- Generally women prefer fruity beers, so I think you'll like it. We have some with cherries and lemon.
- I don't care about the taste, I just want a strong beer.
- If I may say so, as this is your first time I would recommend a light beer to cushion your introduction.
- No, give me a strong one. Tonight I want to party.
I knew I was embarking on something that might end with regrets but at that moment I was desperate to avoid anyone finding out that behind this bold mask was actually a shy, totally insecure girl, and I needed something strong enough to get me over the idea that I was crazy too. How did they all keep their cool ? Every time I opened my mouth I was afraid I would let out a scream and of course I now avoided looking him in the eyes.
- As you wish. You know what they say, the customer is king. I think a Kasteel rouge will be good, but (he raised his index finger), to drink with moderation.
- Then I'll go for the Kasteel rouge.
- Danny (he held out his hand).
- Yes I know. Black has already introduced you.
I hesitated for a moment before shaking his hand. But as soon as I did, I pulled my hand away because my palm was on fire, as if I had just received an electrical charge. I gritted my teeth and surreptitiously checked for marks. Nothing. Across the way he smiled, as if he was aware of my discomfort. This disarmed me. What had I fallen into ? For a brief moment I thought of running away, but before I could even think about it, he continued.
- And you're a friend of Black, right ? I'm sorry, but your face doesn't tell me much.
- I see that you really do attach a lot of importance to faces here. Everyone knows everyone.
- What do you want ? It's the white horse, we're all the same here so we can let ourselves go, be ourselves. It's a bit of a friends club so like you say, everyone knows everyone here.
- The White Horse ?
- Yes, that's the name of the bar. You still haven't answered me.
- Oh yes, Black and I ? Friend is a big word. We just met. I bumped into him on my way in and we had a little chat, that's all.
- I see. Although he's nice, this little Black.
- Yes, I admit, he's charming.
He would be even more charming if he could appear there, right now, to save me from Danny's flames because I didn't know how much longer I could hold out.
- Come here !
- I beg your pardon ?
- Come here, pretty heart ! Don't worry, I won't bite.
I didn't understand and immediately thought of saying no, but the thought of upsetting him terrified me more so I obeyed after a brief hesitation.
He brought his hand forward, wrapped it around my neck and forced me to bend my head as if he was going to wring my neck or suck me dry. The darkest thoughts went through my mind. I did not resist him and when he brought his mouth to my neck, I remained motionless as if paralyzed by the venom of a snake. He merely pressed his nose against the back of my neck and sniffed for a long time before releasing me.
- Lani ? Is that Lani ? Are you sure that's how your parents named you ? You'll excuse my frankness but I think it doesn't suit you at all.
He was relaxed as if what had just happened was normal and I felt him stare at me, probably waiting for me to react to his remark but I chose to ignore him while trying to remain as calm as possible.
- Is it always this crowded here ?
- Yes, every night we fill up but we don't really have any contenders.
- And have you been working here for long ?
- Always my dear, this is my home. I'm the owner and all the customers are friends of the house and now you're also one of them," he says, patting me on the shoulder.
- I'm a friend of the house now," I replied, forcing a smile.
- That's right. And friends can even get warm clothes if needed. I noticed you were a bit wet. And you're shivering ? I live just upstairs, if you want I can get you something dry and warm.
No, I wasn't shivering, I was shaking all over. I was trembling of fear and already regretted having set foot in this place. The atmosphere was less pleasant now, as I was afraid that vampires with fangs that could pierce ebony, or witches with hooked noses, or flaming dragons, or... would appear in front of me at any moment.
- That's very kind, but I'll be fine. A good strong beer to start will already help.
- Then it'll be a kasteel and nothing else. Would you like a glass ?
- No, thank you.
He disappeared briefly then returned with a nice, dark, small round one.
- Here you go my dear friend. I'm sorry but I'm going to have to leave you, I have to go and look after my other friends.
- Of course, go ahead.
I sighed inwardly.
Before walking away, he waved to me, again, and then whispered in my ear:
- Welcome home Azalia, I hope to see you often. Try to enjoy the evening and don't be shy, I'm sure there are many who would be happy to share your company. And one last thing, my eyes glow but don't burn, you'll get used to it.
His words caught me off guard. How did he know ? So he knew I was a Bell too ? And soon no one will want to talk to me again. Black. I didn't want him to tell Black. And get used to it ? I didn't really see how. Since when having burning eyes became normal ? And all those people who were talking, laughing, smiling, looking him straight in the eyes without seeming to be disturbed. Of course, as I grew up I realised that Glimberg was not quite the quiet little town I had imagined it to be all my childhood, where white was white and black black, but between the constant feeling of 'déjà vu', the hallucinations, his eyes... The evening had barely begun and I was already worried about its promises. Who knows ? Maybe one of them was hiding a tide of jellyfish and I was in the middle of it, that at midnight I would have to leave my shoe behind - far from resembling the glass sandal, of course - when their blond heads had turned into snake heads.
- Come on Azalia, get a grip.
I slapped myself in the face to get rid of these dark thoughts and refocused my thoughts on him. He had beautiful green eyes that I could have lost myself in without fear. I had hoped, I hoped, that he would really come back to see me, even if it was taking a long time. Danny was right, this name didn't suit me at all. I wasn't as brave as my cousin. She wouldn't have waited for him and would have already gone and talked to everyone. She wouldn't have been intimidated by these girls, each one as beautiful as the next and looking like they knew what they were doing.
They looked so free, so independent and their every move was graceful. I definitely felt out of place. Yet I was surrounded by graceful women: grandma Antonia and auntie Ava. For a long time I had tried to look just like them, but I was far too clumsy so I gave up. Anyway, I was always tied up between my books and my music lessons, and when grandma gave parties for her friends, I was never invited. She used to say to me:
- One day you too will be part of this little world, but it's still far too early.
But I doubted whether that day would come.
I sipped my Kasteel. I had already been waiting for half an hour. I wondered what was taking him so long. What if he had lied to me ? Everything was getting mixed up in my head now. What if he wasn't really single ? There was no evidence of that. Perhaps he had spoken to me just to be nice like any good gentleman. I certainly wasn't the kind of girl he should be dating. I only had to look around me to realise that hope was an illusion. I knew it and yet my thoughts kept returning to him. I kept wondering what he was doing. Probably chatting with his friend and enjoying her company. She must have been very beautiful, and elegant, and graceful...
What the hell ! I was tired of being good, tired of waiting, tired of hoping.
- No more convenience, let's move.
I drank my remaining beer in one gulp and ordered a second one to give me some courage.
"It's not that difficult, just go for it," said the little voice in my head.
- And tonight you're not Azalia but Lani. Feisty, extravert, fun...
I grabbed my bottle from the counter and started to walk, occasionally bumping into people as I moved.
Malam: wise man
Mahu: God, lord
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