EVEN FROM OUTSIDE of the ballroom, I could feel the music pulsating and smashing into my skull, even if it wasn’t very loud and nerves built in my chest because I knew if I even put a toe out of line my parents would be very angry with me and with shaking hands I pull at the layers of my dress before putting on a bright smile that would dazzle the crowd and hide my anxiety.
Pushing open the wooden door I let my sea-green dress fall to the floor as I gracefully step into the ballroom and onto a balcony that has two spiralling staircases going down each side. I lean on the bannister as I walk down the spiralling set of staircases on the right trying to gather myself together before I get bombarded with the press and photo opportunities that make me out to be some kind of golden girl.
I hated the term, but that’s what I was New York’s Golden Girl.
Bright lights flash in my eyes but I just smile and try not to close my eyes from the camera flashes that threaten to blind me until I reached the end step and my parents came to meet me, a cold stoic smile was plastered on my mother’s immaculate face as she took my arm and my father took my other arm his scowl was barely noticeable because of his expensive taste of clothing, it was clearly doing its job of showing his wealth and power. Not to mention taking the attention off his face
When the flashes of the camera’s died down and they began to disperse and moved further into the ballroom, my mother turned to face me. Her cold smile was melting away and dropping just as quickly as it had come and she turned to face me her voice was sweet like honey but I knew it was fake “Now listen, Melanie, this is mine and your fathers big night and I don’t want anything to ruin it so you and your friends must be on your best behaviour”
She was talking to me like a child who couldn’t take orders and I resit the urge to roll my eyes as that would just make everything worse. Instead, I just nodded my head and smiled a tight lip smile.
“Of course,” I tell her
My mother lips turned up in disgust but I just shrugged it off I was used to seeing facial expressions like this and I know they just wanted this night to go perfect and they didn’t want anything to get in the way of getting the funding money. I smile and nod at them just to reassure them that I was going to be on my best behaviour
Satisfied my mother nodded her head before looking at her husband and looping her arm through his and just like that they were gone, no goodbyes have a nice time, and they gracefully crossed the ballroom a fake smile back on her face turning up my mothers immaculately made-up face and a cold (that almost seemed warm) smile graced my father’s face and I was in shock -- my father rarely smiled and when he did it was usually so he could get something out of it -- like the charity ball that we’re having, it was only so my parents could look good in front of the press and then when they did the oblivious public would pull open their wallets and oh so kindly fund their project
Of course, I had to act like I was the perfect daughter and pretend I didn’t know anything about what they were doing. It was draining and tiring having to be perfect all the time and I don’t know how long I could pretend anymore
I hated it, but hey they paid me in gracious amounts.
After a moment and when I was sure my parents were out of sight, I walked across the wooden floor of the ballroom and posed a couple of times for the ever waiting press knowing by morning that mine and my parent’s faces would be plastered onto every magazine cover and newspaper front cover nationwide.
Yes, my parents had that kind of influence on the town probably even the state.
“Hey!” My best friend Lacey chirped beckoning me over with the wave of her hand to where she sat on one of the posh plush red sofa’s that were dotted around the place and I guided myself over to her, my movements slow and calculating and I slid in next to her, a small smile tugging my lips upwards
“Hey Lace, how’s life treating you?” I ask
“Like shit,” Lacey stated, her curly dark brown hair bouncing as she runs her hands through it and I raised a subtle eyebrow to remind her to keep her language in check and she gives me a sorry look before correcting her wording and folding her hands out in front of her drawing my attention to the pink satin dress I had given her as a bribe to come here so I wouldn’t feel so alone “I mean horribly”
If my parents or one of the press caught her using that language while in the presence of who the basically worship or who could quite possibly be mistaken for royalty, Lacey would be out of there faster than I could even blink
I subtly roll my eyes so only Lacy could see what I was doing because like before if my parents ever caught my acting in such an informal way they would kick me out of the ball -- it didn’t matter if I was their daughter or not -- I would get kicked out just the same as anyone else “What has he done now?” I sigh
“The same” Lacy shrugged with a defeated sigh “He spends all of Mom’s hard-worked money that she left for me to go to college with on booze and gambling with his a-holes of mates and then comes home drunken into a stupor and passes out on the sofa and then wakes up twenty-four hours later and uses the money he won from gambling to pay for his weed”
I didn’t care about being a proper lady at that moment and pulled my best friend into a side hug and patted her back. While she sobbed on my shoulder and I felt my heart break for her, Lacey Gregory was one of my best friends, she had battled through her own demons of losing her mother to suicide when she was just a little kid and having an abusive stepfather.
Gregory Johnson, Lacy’s stepfather, wasn’t the best man in the world, in fact, he was probably the worst, my parents were a step up from that man at least I could get used to the fake smiles and the constant avoidance but Lacy couldn’t get used to the fact that the man who was supposed to take care of her after her mother died from taking her own life was a complete alcoholic and junkie who didn’t care about her one little bit.
“Oh Lace I’m so sorry you know I could probably convince my parent to let you stay with me,” I say and for a second her eyes light up and the spark that had dimmed down to nothing over the years was finally back but then it went again and she shook her head.
“No that’s fine I mean I only have a year until I go off to college anyway so I will probably just stick it out until then” She nods like she was trying to convince herself that this plan she had formed in her head was what she was going to do and then she stands up “I better go before he wakes up again and decides to wreck the house”
I nod and stand up with her giving her one last quick hug and watching as she disappeared amongst the other girls in the room each looking as equally as fake as the next one and I admit I too look fake like I didn’t belong there and I was made out of delicate porcelain. I sigh and shake my head walking over to the bar where the bartender was taking a break and smoking a cigar on the patio steps and probably wouldn’t even notice if some of his most expensive shot glasses and tequila went missing.
My head buzzed like I was at a rave and my whole body was in overdrive, electricity spiked in my veins and I was sure my vision was a bit blurry to match my slightly cloudy head. I wasn’t sure how many shots I had but I knew I was starting to feel that little bit unsteady on my feet. I just hoped my parents were too far gone with their ‘talks for the future’ to notice that their daughter was just a little bit too tipsy but that involved avoiding the camera’s and the press who swarmed around me like I was honey and the were bees, to be honest, I have absolutely no idea as to why I have managed to avoid them for as long as I have.
Suddenly I felt my back collide with something and it jolted my forward making me stumble a little in my drunken state and the fact that I had on high heels and it was a miracle that I hadn’t fallen over yet.
Strong muscular arms wrap around my waist holding me steady and I stood up straighter at his touch, my nerve ending tingling at his touch as his sweet minty breath that I inhaled as he whispered to me “What’s your name, pretty darlin’”
“Melanie” I slurred as I struggled to stand upright even in the man’s arms
He chuckled like it was the funniest thing in the universe and I lamely raised an eyebrow as if to challenge this bloke “Well Melly can I call you that? You’re obviously drunk and in no fit state to stay around this ball when there is a high possibility that the media or even your parents might find you and then you’ll be in trouble, what’s say I get you out of here?”
His words didn’t even register in my drunken mind and soon I find myself in one of the many empty bedrooms with the music still pulsing through the walls of the room, I gasp in surprise as I felt my neck being nipped and try to pull away but I was too drunk or he was too strong it was probably an even mixture of both.
In the next couple of moments before my intoxicated brain even caught up with what was going on, the guy had torn my dress off of my body and I was standing nearly stark naked in front of a man I had just met
And as soon as I felt the fabric of my knickers rip I knew this night wasn’t going to end well