Perfect Illusion

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Chapter 18: Pass Me The Brothel!

The next two days are spent making tons of phone calls, emailing guests to check their RSVPs, and running around town to get the supplies we need for the engagement party.

All that plus balancing my school work (two new assignments, are you kidding me right now?) and a sad social life. It’s definitely not a good week for me.

When I finally come back from campus after she spends three hours typing out a ten page essay in the library, I am exhausted. The lack of sleep has been eating me up these past two days and I do intend to make up for lost time tonight.

But of course, I can never catch a break. Because I’m Daniel fucking Kerrington’s fiancé.

“Oh, finally you decide to show up,” Daniel’s voice echoes throughout the living room. “Why aren’t you answering your phone? I called you a bunch of times.”

He is on his laptop by the kitchen table, his face peering out to see me. I set my keys down and plop myself on the couch.

“I was doing my work in the library,” my eyelids already start to close, “unlike you, I actually care about passing this class.”

He chuckles. “I don’t intend on flunking, sweetheart. I’ve got all my assignments done way ahead of time.”

“You’re lying.” I accuse. “You don’t have all your assignments done. I live with you. I’ve never once seen you do them.”

He nods over to the direction of the stack of papers beside him. I walk over there and examine it. Sure enough, two fully written essays ready to be handed up.

I sneer at Daniel. He winks at me.

I guess I can add ‘not a procrastinator’ to my list of facts that surprises me about Daniel. It’s been a habit of mine lately.

Here’s what I have so far:

1. Loves the environment.

I think we have already established that ever since the first time he practically forced me to carpool with him.

Plays the guitar.

Never thought I’d depict Daniel as the musical type. I sort of accidentally-onpurpose went to his room yesterday and saw his guitar tucked underneath his bed. It’s covered with a fine sheet of dust, so I’m guessing he hasn’t used it in a really long time. But still, I assume he does know how to play it.

Makes killer pancakes in the morning.

I got to admit, they’re pretty good. He made some for me this morning and practically blackmailed me into taking a bite out of it (in exchange for him not telling everyone he knows that I thought a brothel was a pot. It was definitely not one of my good days. He laughed so hard when I yelled “pass me the brothel!” to him during my dish washing duty night.)

4. Has a weird obsession with Desperate Housewives.

[conversation with Daniel and I as I wrestle him for the TV remote]

Me: give me the fucking remote so we can watch something other than this trash.

Daniel: What’s better than this? Gilmore girls? Please.

Me: *grunts in frustration* why do you even like DH so much? You’re a pervert if it’s because of the hot middle-aged women in that TV series.

Daniel: DH is amazing, okay? It has the perfect blend of mystery, drama, and sexytime. Plus an added bonus: Eva fucking Longoria. Me: ....

And the recently added fact:

4. Does all his homework. Not a procrastinator.

..

..

I can’t believe he’s more hardworking than me.

“Whatever,” I murmur and my eyelids flutter close.

“Whoa, don’t you dare fall asleep on me.” I hear his voice clearer now as if he’s standing right in front of me.

I open my eyes.

He is.

“I’m tired, Daniel. I need sleep.”

“Not today you do. We don’t have time. We gotta do this today,” He sits down beside me and places a huge binder on the coffee table. My eyes widen in confusion.

“What is that?” I eye the binder.

“Every record of all of our relatives, close friends, as well as business associates of my father.”

I start to sit up. “These are the amount of people coming to our party tomorrow?” He lifts his shoulder. “Well, about 85% of it.” Jesus.

“Okay,” I cross my arms over my chest. “So... what are you trying to say?”

“You and me are going to run through every single one of these names and know about their background, their likes and their dislikes, and etc.”

“What?” I shriek. “No way. Absolutely no way. I’m so tired.”

“Come on, sweetheart. It’ll only be for a little while.”

“No!” I say firmly. “I don’t even understand why we have to do this.”

“Look, I don’t know anyone of your family and friends, and you don’t know mine either. And we’re engaged. We have to know all these things, Alex. When the guests start pouring in tomorrow, we’ll be ready and we can make a good impression. Especially on my dad and your parents.”

My parents. Shit. I totally forgot they were coming.

They haven’t tried to contact me ever since the last time I saw them. I think they’re trying to give me some space, and I’m grateful to them for that. But now, I have to face them again tomorrow, and there’s no way I can escape it. A little part of me is afraid that I’ll just forgive them for what they did to me.

I shake my head.

No. I won’t.

I wonder what they think of me right now. How I managed to uphold the end of their deal and be engaged to Daniel. I wonder if they had seen the interview. I wonder how they’re business is doing now that Harry Kerrington had pumped in money into it.

I wonder if they’re okay.

I guess I will know when I see them tomorrow.

“You okay?” Daniel asks. “Your face just went pale.”

“It’s fine,” I say a little too harshly. “I’m fine.”

He recoils from me. “Jeez. I was just trying to be nice. You don’t have to give me the attitude.”

“I don’t have an attitude!” I say, exasperated.

Okay maybe I do. But I swear it’s because of my lack of sleep.

He shakes his head. “Whatever. Let’s just focus on important matters like this one over here.” He pats on the binder. “Shall we?”

I really want to tell him no, but I know that won’t do anything. Daniel does not take no for an answer.

“Fine. Let’s just get this over with.” “Excellent.” He says.

He opens the binder. We get cracking.

Seconds turn to minutes... minutes turn to hours. Daniel and I are flipping over the pages of the binder, trying to remember every single one of each other’s relatives and friends, recalling almost every detail about them. He passes me added information about his side, I do the same about mine. We go back and forth like that, asking each other questions, testing and remembering as we go.

Outside, the sun begins to set, the sky flaming orange like a bruised mango. The clouds ignite with sunset colours, and I’m almost afraid that something might catch on fire. Sighing, I return my gaze to the person in front of me.

The both of are are now sitting cross legged on the couch, facing each other. Somehow the papers had gotten out of the binder and are now flying all around us, mimicking our frustration.

“Aunt Freeda.” I sigh.

“My side of the family.” He adds quickly.

“She’s in her sixties, had two husbands- one died and the other one ran away with all her money.” I tried to recall. “But now she has her five children and your father supporting her. She has been in cardiac arrest and she owns like three cats-Louis, Petra and Momo-”

“Mimi.” He corrects me. I glare at him.

“Mimi.” I echo. “And she’s coming to the party with her new boyfriend who’s thirty years her junior.”

“Not bad,” he compliments me. “Okay my turn.”

I show Daniel a picture of one of my distant cousins. His eyes flash of familiarity and he starts.

“That’s your cousin Sean, son of Julia and Robert Hastings. He’s twenty and in the NYC getting a degree in architecture.” Daniel narrates my cousin’s life. “He has a girlfriend named Tatiana- brown eyes, dark hair- smoking hot-”

I snap my fingers in front of him. “Focus, Kerrington. Focus!”

“And they live together in a loft with their pet iguana named Max.” He finishes off.

“Yeah that’s good.” I smile, and we high five.

“Holy shit, we’re on a high roll here, Alex!” He grins.

“Okay okay. How about this?” I flash him another picture of one of my relatives. He snaps his fingers as if he’s trying to remember. “Uh... That’s your uncle Burt?” “Go on.” I nudge him.

“He’s in his early thirties, but from tons of work stress, he looks like he’s eighty.” Daniel says, “he has a wife named Carrie-”

“No. Try again.”

“Sydney?”

“Nu-UH.”

“Mary!” Daniel shrieks. “And he has three children, all of which are now studying in Finland.”

We continue like that for another hour, until the sky turns dark and the stars blink at us, signalling for me to call it a night. But I can’t.

I don’t think that’s a good thing.

“Kerrington and Co employees (under tech) names, go!”

I take a deep breath. “Finn, Bradley, Ginny, Ming, Damien, Luca, Ashley, Peter-”

Daniel takes over for me. “Jones, Lov, Quentin, Grant, Amy, Zachary, Chase, Laden, Lee and... West!”

The both of us take a deep breath.

“We did it!” I cry out of happiness. “We fucking did it! We memorized every single name that is in that stupid binder.”

“That was... amazing.” He slumps against the couch. “And very fun.”

I laugh. “Never again.”

“Never again.” He laughs along with me.

After a while, he closes the binder and flashes his stupid cheeky grin at me. “We should celebrate.” “Totally.”

“With... Tequila!”

I shake my head. “Hell no! Tequila and I don’t go very well. I think I’ll pass.” “Oh come on, Alex!” He jumps out of the couch, “Live a little! It will be fine!” “No!” I try to say that with all seriousness but fail.

“Come on.” He pinches his fingers together. “Just a tiny bit.” Oh what the hell.

“Fine.” I get up from the couch and follow him to the kitchen. “One shot.”

He grabs the tequila bottle out of the kitchen cabinet and grins at me. “One shot.” He promises.

Then he slides the glass at me. I stare at it.

“You afraid, sweetheart?” He teases. My eyes challenge him.

Without another thought, I take the glass and pour all of its contents into my mouth. I feel the liquid burn down my throat. “Damn. That’s some strong stuff.”

“When was the last time you drank tequila?” He asks as he finishes the glass.

“Probably on my eighteenth birthday,” I slump to the chair. I’m already starting to feel lightheaded. “Had the worst hungover ever. I swore from then on I was never going to drink again.”

“And here you are.” He laughs.

“Here I am.” I say, “what about you? When did u last drank?”

He doesn’t even pause a while to think of his answer. “The weekend when I found out I was going to be engaged to you.”

“I guess I was not the only one who had it bad that weekend.” I frown.

He sighs. “Yeah. I didn’t take the news well. End up stealing a bottle of vodka from my dad’s office and drowning all my sorrows in it. Wasn’t my finest moment.” Then, he pours the tequila into my glass and pushes it to me. “Drink?”

“I said I was only going to drink one shot.” I push the glass back. “One is enough for me.”

“Aw, come on.” He nudges the glass at me. “You need it. I need it. The both of us can be bat shit drunk tonight and puke our guts out tomorrow.”

I eye the glass.

Daniel leans forward. “Look, sweetheart. The past few weeks hasn’t been easy for the both of us. Adjusting to this new life? It’s still a little bit weird to me. And I’m guessing for you too. Won’t it be great to just... Forget?”

His words did make sense. It’s either that or the tequila talking.

Forget. I will do anything to forget just for one night about everything: Nate, my parents, the whole engagement.

Without much hesitation, I take the glass and drink every last drop of it.

Huge mistake. Because that glass leads me to another then to another and another and another. My vision soon becomes very hazy, allowing me only to see bits and fragments.

Then as the night progresses...

My vision goes dark. Then, I see nothing at all.

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