Perfect Illusion

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Chapter 23: Do You Trust Me?

Daniel leads me downstairs, where the guests have start to move aside and make space for dancing. The music starts to play, a soft melody that sings in my ears. I look around but see that no one has approached the dance floor yet. This makes me frown a little.

Daniel glances at me, a mischievous smile playing on the edge of his lips. “Let’s dance, sweetheart.”

I bite my lip. “But... I don’t know how to dance.”

It’s true. Reading and writing, I can do. With my eyes closed. But dancing? Hell to the no.

“Everyone can dance,” He urges me as the crowd part for us. I’m starting to get a bit nervous.

I force a laugh. “Not me. Please don’t make me do this.” “Come on, it’ll be fun,” He winks.

“You said the exact same thing when you made me drink tequila, and do you remember where that got me?” I hiss. “In your bed with a major hangover! I’m not falling for your ′come on, it’ll be fun’s again!”

He pulls me to him, closing the distance between us. I gasp slightly, suddenly aware of how close we are. He presses his forehead to mine, his breath leaving him fast and hot. “Yes, you are.”

“Excuse me?” I say, breathless.

Daniel grins again, and presses a light kiss on my cheek before turning away from me. I blink, confused as to what has just happened.

He steps forward, and raises his voice, catching everyone’s attention. “Ladies and gentlemen! May I have your attention please?”

What the hell is he doing?

Every single pair of eyes are trained on him. “I hope all of you have enjoyed yourselves immensely tonight.” He says, “My fiance, Alex and I would like to thank you for joining us in the celebration of our engagement.”

His eyes snap to mine, and nudge me to come forward. Reluctantly, I take a step. He takes me by my waist, and even though he’s not exactly touching my skin, I feel hot from his touch. “With that said, we would want everyone to join us by closing this lovely night... with a dance.” As if on cue, the music rises.

He’s now looking at me as he takes my hand. “Shall we?” “You son of a bitch,” I mutter.

“Don’t be hating on me now, sweetheart,” He whispers, “I’m about to rock your world.”

Then, he drags me to the dance floor. My heart slams against my chest, telling me that this isn’t a good idea at all. My mind’s telling me to abort mission, abort mission right now-

He slides his hand in mine and twirls me around as we proceed to the middle of the dance floor. I almost want to die of a heart attack.

Finally, we reach to the centre, with Daniel’s hands on my waist, and mine slowly making their way to his shoulders. I feel the gazes of a hundred guests burning at the back of my body. I gulp, and level my gaze with Daniel. He wears a smirk on his lips, watching me. Wondering what I’m going to do next.

“Please tell me you know how to dance,” I murmur, “Otherwise, everyone will be laughing their asses off when they watch us make a fool of ourselves.”

“That won’t happen,” He tells me, “I won’t. You just have to trust me.”

I nod, because I can’t say anything.

His eyes search mine. “Do you? Do you trust me?”

Somehow, I feel like there’s a double meaning to what he has just said.

“Y-yes,” I stammer.

The musicians begin, the chattering hushed, and Daniel begins to move. To my surprise, he is actually a good dancer. Not as skilled as a professional, but decent enough for me to know that we won’t fuck up. He sweeps me along the dance floor, guiding me about corners, flowing perfectly with the music.

Who knew Daniel can dance?

I definitely have to add that to my list of random facts I learnt about him.

Feeling the need to be closer to him, I press into him, my cheek on his collar and taking a few deep breaths. It smells of cologne and fresh linen. After a while, the dancing slows down, and I feel Daniel’s cheek pressing the top of my head. His lips touch my hair.

Well then.

Soon, other couples start to join us on the dance floor, swaying and moving to the beautiful tune. I feel sort of grateful now that it’s not just the both of us. My arms tighten around Daniel’s as he does the same on my waist. He looks down at me, grinning like a mad man.

“What?” I say.

“Say it, I’m an awesome dancer.” He tells me playfully.

“In your dreams, Kerrington.” I roll my eyes, and lean against his shoulder sighing.

There is something very comforting about this moment, something that I’ve never experienced before. The feeling wraps around me, consuming me, delighting me. My troubles and worries start to slip away

Away

Away

Into nothing.

Until it’s just Daniel and I.

He brushes a thin strand of hair away from my face, and his fingers linger on my cheek. As if on instinct, I lean into it, craving his touch. His touch lights up my entire body, sending a rush of adrenaline through me.

I can’t believe I admitted that.

“You’re not doing so bad,” He notes as he twirls me around again.

“You should see me in ballet class.” I laugh.

“You did ballet?” He prods, baffled. As if the thought of me being a ballerina is the weirdest thing ever.

“Yep.” I nod.

“Whoa. I never pictured you being a ballerina at all. With the whole tutu and ballet flats going on-”

“I agree,” I lift my shoulders, “I hated the tutus. Drove me crazy. That’s why I stopped.”

“Because of the tutu.” He smirks.

“Because of the fucking tutu.” I correct him.

The music starts to slow down, and suddenly, I don’t want to leave the dance floor. I want to be in that moment again, but Daniel’s grip on me as started to loosen. My waist feels empty without his arms around me.

“Sweetheart?”

“Hmm?”

“Your arms are still around me.”

Flushed with embarrassment, I recoil from him. “Oh.”

The guests start to clap as the music ends, filling my ears with cheers.

As the night progresses, guests slowly start to leave, congratulating Daniel and I once again for the engagement. I see the reporters checking their cameras for footage of tonight, and have this sickening feeling as I realise they’re most probably going to air it on television tomorrow. I search around for my parents, but they are nowhere to be found. They must have left already, without telling me goodbye.

Somehow, that hurts.

Mr. Kerrington is the last to leave, of course. He pulls me to the side and tells me I did a good job today.

“Thanks, I guess.” I mumble.

“Keep it up, Alexandria.” He slips his hands into his pockets, “And I’ll see to it that Woods & Co is back on top again.”

“Right. Of course.”

Then, he disappears.

A little after midnight, all the musicians and the caterers have packed up and gone, and now our place is empty once again. I stand in the living room, somehow loss for words. Tonight is definitely a handful.

Some memories are bad. Some are good.

“So tonight was a success,” Daniel’s voice echoes throughout the living room.

A warm smile appears on my face. “Definitely.”

“Did you enjoy the party?” He asks me as we plop ourselves unto the couch. I manage to get my heels out and now my feet are resting on top of the coffee table. “It was okay,” I pout.

“So it would have been great... if it weren’t for your parents?” He asks.

I freeze. How does he know about that?

“I overheard your conversation just now with them,” He says like he read my mind, “Sorry.”

“No it’s fine...” I lean against the pillows, “I... don’t know what to say.”

“I didn’t know you had troubles with your parents.”

“You don’t know a lot of things about me, Kerrington.” I heave a sigh.

“That doesn’t mean I don’t want to know. I’m curious about what happened with your parents.”

I prop my elbow on the pillow and face him, “There’s not much to say. My parents... they’re difficult people. They’ve had their heads wrapped up in the business world for so long that even I can’t connect with or even talk to them anymore.”

He sighs, and props his legs on the coffee table beside me too. “Yeah. My dad too.”

“I can tell. Your dad is one scary ass motherfucker when it comes to doing business.”

That earned a throaty laugh from Daniel. “You have no idea, Alex. No idea.”

I start to stand up, and Daniel casts me a curious look. “We need to have a toast.”

I come back from the kitchen with two bottles of beer. I hand him one bottle and he helps me open the cap.

He lifts his bottle up. “To the engagement party.”

“And to shitty parents!” I add.

Then, our bottles clink.

I tilt the bottle up, and cold beer rushes into my mouth.

The silence pours into the air.

I gulp down the beer. “We need music.”

Daniel gestures to the right side of the television. “I have some albums over there. You can go check them out.”

I walk over to the shelf, examining these albums. I roll my eyes when I see one of them. “Really? Destiny’s Child?” He doesn’t say anything.

“God, you’re such a girl.” I scan through the rest of the albums. Then I pick one up.

“Now that’s what I’m talking about,” I smile, “The Beatles. Classic.”

“Put it on.” He nods to the disc player. As soon as I place the disc in, ′Hey Jude′ starts to play, making me sway my hips a little.

“This song is awesome,” I gush.

“You know what?” Daniel tells me. “I’m taking out my guitar.”

He disappears into his room for a little while, and I hear rustling from his underneath his bed. He materialises a few seconds later, his jacket off, his sleeves rolled, and the guitar strapped over his body.

If there’s anything that beats Daniel looking hot as hell, is Daniel looking hot as hell with his guitar.

When he approaches me, his lips twitch with humour. Just as the song starts to hit the bridge, Daniel strums to it too.

"Na... na na na na na na! Na na na na... Hey Judeeee!” he sings. It’s terrible.

I bark out a laugh. “You’re a horrible singer!”

"Na na na na na na na! Don’t... Careeee!” He sings even louder now, off sync to the song.

My hands fly over to my ears, “Please stop!” I laugh so loud I’m starting to get a sore throat.

After a while, Daniel makes me turn the music off so he can play the guitar without the distraction.

“You just want your moment to shine,” I tease him.

“Let me serenade you, sweetheart!”

“In your fucking dreams, Kerrington. Go serenade your dick.” He chuckles, and then strums again.

This time, it’s a low, slower tune, something that calms the atmosphere around us.

I shift my position so my legs are propped beneath me, and I watch as Daniel leans against the edge of the couch, his eyes closed like he’s feeling the song within him.

“Is this a song... you wrote?” I prod.

His electric blue eyes find mine, and slowly, he nods.

I lie against the pillows again, his beautiful tune ringing in my ears. He now takes his place on the couch, his legs splayed open, his fingers moving against the head of the guitar.

“It’s nice,” I comment after he finishes the song. “It’s really good. Do you have any lyrics?”

“Yeap. But I’m not done with it yet.” He tells me as he sets his guitar down, “Still needs that extra oomph, you know?”

“I get you. Same goes for writing.” I tell him.

He sighs. “It’s been five years since I played that guitar.”

My ears shoot up. “What?”

I assumed he hasn’t played it in a while, but I didn’t think it would be five years.

“Yeah. After...” His voice trails off. “Nevermind.” “No. Tell me.” I nudge him. “After what?” “I haven’t played the guitar after my mom died.” Christ.

“I’m... I’m so sorry, Daniel.” I frown. “I didn’t know.”

“It’s fine. I’m over it,” He waves me off. “She didn’t die in pain, so I’m grateful for that.”

“Still, that’s something really huge to get over,” I say. “How was she like? Your mother?”

Daniel’s eyes light up. “She was beautiful. Kind. Loving. Told me that I should always pursue my dreams.” He smiles to himself when he says that, “you know she was a painter. She didn’t care if the pay was shit. She just kept on painting because she loved doing that and it made her happy. It... made me happy.”

I lay my head down, beside his. “She sounds wonderful.”

“She is,” He says, dry and hoarse. “Well, she was.”

“No don’t say that,” I lightly brush my hand against him, “She will always be alive. In your heart. Don’t ever forget that.”

I will never know what Daniel had gone through when he lost his mother. It must have been excruciating to lose someone you loved like that.

“Alright,” He lets out a shaky breath, and his eyes start to drift close.

“Tired?”

He answers, “Very.”

“Want to call it a night?” I start to get up from the couch but he pulls me back.

“No.” He brings me down, and I’m now leaning against his chest. I’m stunned by his gesture, but I don’t say anything. We’re now lying on the couch together, our legs tangled together in a mess. I hear the unsteady breathing from his chest, and my hands slightly touch his white button down shirt, tracing his arms.

“I’ll tell you more about her someday...” He murmurs softly.

“I’d like that.”

He smiles tiredly. “Good night, sweetheart.”

“Good night, Kerrington.”

And then we drift into darkness together.

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