Perfect Illusion

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Chapter 49: Normal is Overrated

We got invited to Harry Kerrington’s annual Christmas Ball thingy. It’s all we’ve heard about for the past two weeks. So, naturally, we knew it was going to be a big thing. I bought a new dress because of it- and also because Daniel made me buy one. He also got himself a nice tux and a blood red tie to match with the colour of my dress.

Now, I’m putting on makeup in front of my mirror- or at least I’m trying to. The makeup tutorials I’ve seen on YouTube doesn’t actually help me. In fact, it makes me feel so much worse about my lack of ability to put on makeup.

“Alex!” Daniel calls from the living room.

“What!!?” I yell back.

“WE’RE LATEEEEE!”

“I’M COMINGGGGG!” I tell him and dab some lipstick on my lips. I press them together in a thin line and examine them in front of the mirror. Not that good. But not that bad either. I figured I might as well just screw it. I quickly grab my purse hanging from my cupboard and run down the stairs, my heels clicking against the hardwood.

I almost trip at the last few steps but Daniel manages to catch me.

“Fuck.” He swears as I fall into him. “You’re suicidal, you know that?”

“Sorry.” I mumble, adjusting the straps on my shoes, “Are we late?”

“Yeah,” He checks his watch and sighs. “Come on, we should get going. Better late than never.”

“I’m really sorry.” I say as we get to the parking lot. Daniel walks me to his car, and helps me into the front seat before taking his place in the driver’s seat. “I was trying to put on makeup.”

“I can see that.” He chuckles as he takes a look at me. He reaches over and wipes some lipstick off my cheek. “Couldn’t let you go to the ball with that on your face.” I turn as red as my lipstick.

“I just want everything to be perfect.” I sigh against the seat as Daniel starts the engine. “I don’t want to screw this up.”

He takes a good look at me, leans over to kiss me.

“You won’t.” He murmurs against my lips. “They’ll love you. My father will love you.”

I smile at him. “How do you think Harry’s going to react when you tell him that we’re legit dating now?”

He slowly backs out of the parking lot, his smile wavering. “He’d probably be pissed.”

“Why?”

“Because…” He pauses, then says, “for once in my life, I’m actually happier than him.”


We arrive at a mansion. Quite predictable, really. The black Porsche zooms through the long driveway with pine trees and glass garden stakes. Tall, stone towers loom in the distance, past a courtyard with a gazebo and a huge golden fountain. I gasp at the beauty of the house. I’ve only seen these sort of houses in movies, and upon staring up to admire the view, I actually feel like I’m in one.

Daniel catches me staring and he chuckles. “Yeah. Well, my dad loves to spend his money. A lot.”

“I can see that.” I snort.

We finally get out of the car, and I take in the glittering night lights draped over the archways and around the entire house. I notice the silhouettes of other guests, slowly fading in and out of the house. Tugging Daniel along, we stroll towards the house, me gasping at every single thing that interests me.

“Your dad owns like eight cars,” I point towards the long line parked near the entrance. “Suddenly, I don’t feel guilty about trashing your Lambo anymore.”

Daniel laughs and snakes his arm around my waist. “Come on. Let’s go in before my dad actually starts to notice that we’re not there.”

I can’t say I’m surprise that the house looks even better on the inside than the outside. Huge dangling chandeliers hover over us, the crystals reflecting the shimmering gold, red and white colours of the party themes. Butlers dressed in fine clothes walk around with a tray of gold-tipped champagne glasses and an array of mouth-watering desserts basically screaming ‘EAT ME EAT ME!’ to everyone in sight. The guests look elaborate in their mermaid dresses and tuxedos, the women decorated in pearls and diamonds while the men flaunt them to whomever they’re talking to.

This party makes out engagement party look like NOTHING.

“This is... wow.” I grab a chocolate eclair from one of the trays and pop it in my mouth. “Damn, that’s delicious.”

“Wait till you eat the mousse.” Daniel smirks as he hands me a small cup with different layers of cream. I take a spoonful of it, and close my eyes to relish the taste. “That’s heaven in my mouth, I swear.”

Daniel eyes the mousse. “Give me some of that.”

He reaches for the mousse but my hand retreats. “No fucking way. Get your own!”

He grumbles something about ′stubborn′ and ′sharing is caring′ before going off to find the butler. I stand alone by the stairs, eating my dessert, watching the guests flow in and out of the house. Some stand together in clusters, chatting and laughing, probably about something ‘business-y’ like oh I don’t know, the stock market or something.

I wouldn’t know.

I feel so out of place here. Most of the guests are old. Okay, maybe not like that old, but in their late thirties and and forties. What the hell am I suppose to talk to them about? I’m a college student. I read young adult novels and I sort of like Gossip Girl. I doubt their interested to hear about that.

I’m just here for only one reason. To be flaunted and paraded by Daniel.

My phone beeps in my purse and I almost squeal. Placing the glass on the table beside me, I fish out my phone and look at the screen. I’ve received a text from Cara.

Something bad’s going to happen! - Cara.

I roll my eyes and type back.

Go away! I don’t like your stupid predictions!

Less than five seconds later, I hear another beep.

My predictions are always right! Remember the last time I said that something bad was going to happen? Well it did! You got fake engaged to Daniel!

But... I type back. It didn’t turn out so bad, after all, didn’t it? He sort of became my boyfriend.

Awww. You called him your boyfriend! But that’s not the point. The point is, I think you should be careful. I just thought you should know.

Thanks for the warning, but I think I’m alright. I’m here with Daniel now. He’s getting some mousse.

LOL! And Mousse? Really?

Yes, really. It’s delicious.

So, I guess you’re enjoying yourself, then?

Not really. I feel unwelcomed here.

You always say that. Go and socialize, bitch!

No!

Yes!

No.

Yes.

Go away, Cara.

No!

Yes!

Daniel appears and grins at me, holding another two glasses of mousse. I quickly send Cara another text.

I gotta go. There’s nothing to worry about, okay? I’m fine!

STOP BEING SO STUBBORN AND ACCEPT IT ALEX. EVIL IS LOOMING UPON US.

Oh, go and snog Simon, and stop annoying me! BYE I HATE YOU. She replies me.

A smile creeps on my face. I LOVE YOU.

URGH.

URGH.

I slip my phone back into my purse and take the glass from Daniel.

“You’re my hero.” I fake gush and dip my spoon into the mousse.

“Who were you texting?” He asks.

“Cara. She says that something bad’s going to happen.”

Daniel narrows his eyes. “Huh. Really?”

“Don’t take her predictions seriously.” I tell him. “She could be wrong.” “So, she has been wrong before?” Daniel lifts a curious eyebrow.

“Tons of times.” I lick my spoon. “Damn. I’ll never get tired of this mousse. It’s fucking amazing.”

Daniel chuckles and places his empty glass on the table. He takes my glass away and does the same. Then, he extends his hand and bows slightly. “I think your hero deserves a dance.”

“What makes you think that?”

“Uh, because I’ve been hell of an awesome boyfriend these few weeks?” He winks at me. I laugh.

Well. He’s sort of right. These few weeks had been heaven with him. We’ve finally gone on an actual date in an actual restaurant. It was fun until the paparazzi showed up and we had to use the back door of the kitchen to escape. But most of the time, it’s pure bliss.

We kiss as much as we fight- and I guess that may be a bad thing, but to Daniel and I, it’s progress. One minute our hands are at each other’s necks and the next, we’re taking off our clothes and colliding in bed.

We’re far from normal.

But normal is overrated anyway.

I take his hand and he brings it to his lips to kiss it. His lips on my skin creates a light, tickling sensation to run through my body.

“I didn’t have a chance to say you look absolutely beautiful tonight.” He murmurs.

“You clean up nicely too.” I wink at him.

He guides me to the dancefloor where several middle-aged couples are dancing to the slow rhythm of the song. He snakes his arms around my waist and I place mine on his shoulder. Resting my forehead on his chest, the both of us move slowly, allowing us to truly appreciate the moment of comfortable silence.

I love moments like this with Daniel. The moments that you can truly appreciate and keep in your heart. Like this. Dancing in his arms. Goofing around with him. Wrapped in bed together. Lying on the couch glued to Netflix. Touching him. Him touching me.

I will truly treasure moments like these.

His fingers reach forward to tilt my chin up, so that my eyes lock with his. He looks at me like he’s just found what he’s searching for his entire life. He looks at me... He looks at me...

Like he loves me.

But he doesn’t say it. He doesn’t have to. I already know.

Daniel Kerrington loves me.

And I love him.

So damn much.

He came into my life like a raging storm, knocking away every single thing I perceived him to be. He’s arrogant. Cocky. Insufferable.

But he’s also caring. And hilarious. And smart. And beautiful.

I love his smiles and his laughs and I crave his touch like a drug. I love how he makes me feel and how he strengthens and boldens me, making me become a better person. I love everything about him.

Warts and all.

“Penny for your thoughts?” He leans down to whisper. I want to tell him that I love him. It’s on the very tip of my tongue.

Come on, Alex. Just say it!

I love you. Three words. Eight letters. Just say it.

I love you.

I love you I love you I love you-

Daniel’s eyes revert from me and away into the distance. The moment is lost. My heart sinks to the bottom, silently cursing at me.

“What’s the matter?” I ask him.

“My dad’s staring.” Daniel tenses beside me.

I follow his gaze and take a good look at the man. Harry Kerrington stands by the side, his eyes as hard as stone.

“He doesn’t seem too happy with us.” I gulp nervously.

“He obviously knows that we’re not faking it,” Daniel shakes his head. “Oh well, then.”

"Oh well, then? That’s what you have to say?” My eyes widen. “I think you should go talk to him.”

“What? That’s a horrible idea! And that’s an understatement, considering that you are the master of bad ideas.”

I give him a playful shove. “Just go talk to him. You said that you wanted to stand up to your father. Now’s the chance to do it!”

Daniel shrugs. “I don’t know...”

I cup his face and kiss him fast and hard. “You can do this. I know you can. You don’t have to be afraid like me. You can be better.”

Daniel smiles and he leans forward to touch his forehead with mine. Then, he sighs deeply. “I don’t know what I’ll do without you, sweetheart.”

“Go, Daniel.” I kiss him on the cheek quickly and the both of us walk away from the dancefloor. I guess I should give him some space to talk to his father. I reckon he will have a few things to discuss with him.

He gives me another smile before turning his back on me and making his way towards his father.

I cross my arms and watch silently as he approaches Harry, a look of determination crossing his face. He speaks something to Harry and Harry widens his eyes, his lips set into a grim line. Then, after a few more second, Harry replies and the both of them walk away, dissappearing from view.

I wonder if Harry would be mad at Daniel for what he has to say to him. I know Daniel wants to make it clear that he and I are dating and everything, and a little part of me his hopeful that Harry will give his blessing.

But then again... it’s Harry we’re talking about.

He scares the shit out of me.

Just then, my phone rings. I assume its Cara so I ignore the call and grab myself a glass of champage. Several people come up to me to congratulate me of my engagement to Daniel. I put on a smile and thank them. Luckily, they don’t mingle for long. So for the next half and hour, I keep to myself, humming to the music that fills the air.

The phone rings again and I start to get irritated. I fish out my phone again and look at the caller ID.

It’s my mother.

I suck in a sharp breath.

This is definitely not good.

I press answer and say, “Mom?”

“Oh thank god, Alex,” She sounds genuine relieved. Her voice sounds shaky, so I assume she must have been crying.

“What happened, mom?” I say, confused. My heart stammers wildly against my chest, wondering what the hell is happening.

“I’m so sorry, baby... I’m so sorry...” She chokes on her words, “It happened all so sudden... Oh god-” And then, she starts to sob.

“Mom, what is going on? Has there been an accident?” My voice trembles. “Is it dad?”

“Y-yes.” She stammers. “Alex, I’m so sorry- but I need you here right n-now...”

Now I’m crying. Tears leak down my eyes. “What happened to dad?”

“He...” She pauses, and I dread the next few words that come out of her mouth.

“Mom, you’re scaring me.” I choke on my own tears.

“Your dad had a heart attack, Alex. I’m so s-sorry but... he’s gone.”

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