Once inside the music is blasting and mysteriously masked party goers are all around. It’s a rush that you may not know who is behind what mask. I pass by people and a few guys eye me. Thank God, I’m behind a mask. Without it, I’d surely curl up from all the attention.
Mya and Christopher branch off someone and Robert is talking to some girl at the bar. Todd slides his hand down my arm. “Do you want to dance?”
I nod and he leads me onto the dance floor. We dance through 3 songs before I am in desperate need of a drink. Taking my hand firmly in his, we head over to the bar and Todd orders two Peach Cirocs.
I take a sip then another when I realize how yummy it is. “Are you trying to get me drunk, Todd?” I joke as he chuckles. Standing at the bar, we partake in some people watching as we drink. Mya makes her way up to the stage with a few of her sorority sisters. She thanks the President and the Dean for attending then goes on thanking the alumni who fund these events, generously.
I feel Todd’s hand on my lower back, but don’t fret it, he is my date. Plus the alcohol is lowering my guard a lot. I turn to face him and give him a warm, slightly tipsy smirk. Todd leans in and whispers in my ear “You look very sexy right now. It’s hard to keep my hands off you, I hope you don’t mind my hand”
“No, I don’t mind as long as you keep control of it.” His attention is nice, but I didn’t want him to catch the wrong idea.
Robert, Mya, and Christopher make their way over to the bar. They are the only people I can actually recognize. We all take a few shots and loosen up some more. I feel the alcohol take effect as we all dance together, dishing out some of my best moves.
A slow song comes on and everyone pairs up. I smile when I see that Robert is even dancing with a girl. I am happy that this didn’t turn out to be awkward from him being dateless. As Todd and I dance, I run my eyes around the crowd and they stop on a guy at the bar. He has on a black tux with a burgundy vest and tie. His mask is burgundy too. A woman walks up to him and asks for a dance, but he turns her down.
He seems very composed and mysterious. When he sees my eyes on him I look away, but I can’t fight the urge to look again just to further observe. This time when I look, he is still eyeing me. My breath hitches, but I have the feeling that Todd thinks he is the cause of it. I feel his hands on my back, caressing my bare skin. He whispers something in my ear, but I’m not exactly listening.
Todd pulls me in tighter and I begin to feel uncomfortably too close to him. I look over at Mya and she looks happy in Christopher’s arms. The tighter Todd’s hold becomes, the more anxious I become. Pulling away, I tell him that I need to use the restroom. He nods, courtly and I walk off.
Once in the bathroom is pull my mask up and look in the mirror at myself. My makeup was still on point. I pull a small roll on bottle of perfume and touch up my wrists and neck. I shouldn’t feel awkward about Todd. He’s my date. He’s handsome and kind, but I can’t help but feel like he is too much for me. Brushing it off, I take a deep breath and make my way back out only to be pulled into a dark corner when I exit.
Yelping, I push away from the figure. “Todd?” I squint.
“Yeah, I want to show you something.” He opens a door, leading me up a flight of stairs.
“I...I think we should go back to the ball. I try to pull my hand, but he fails to loosen his grip. I look back at everyone, but no one that I see is looking in this direction. I stumble up the stairs wondering where we were going.
“Todd, I really want to go back to the ball” I start getting nervous. This is what people warn girls about, going in dark secluded places with guys.
We finally get to the top and he opens a door. When we walk through, we are on a balcony overlooking the ball. I looked down at everyone having fun. “Everyone looks so beautiful” I mumble, slightly out of breath from all the stairs in heels. It’s not a good combination at all.
Discomfort seeps over me as I feel Todd behind me. He wraps his hands around my waist and we look down at the party. I feel unsure about what’s happening, but I chuck it up to the fact that I haven’t been involved with anyone in a long time.
“You smell amazing” He moans in my ear. I feel a shiver run down my spine. Todd begins to kiss my shoulder and I allow, even though I have an urge to stop him. Suddenly, I feel one of his hands under my breast and the other hand on my zipper. I can’t take it anymore.
I turn around “Todd stop. I think I’m going to go back down to the party”
I start to walk away, but he pulls me back “Come on Krystal. No one is watching” He tries to kiss me, but I turn my head, pressing my hands against his chest. “Come on Krystal, I’m not going to hurt you” His lips slam into mine.
“Stop, Let me go!” I push away from him and walk to the door. He grabs for me again, but this time I slap him hard.
Breathing hard, adrenaline pumps through me as I turn to run back down the stairs.
“Krystal come back. I’m sorry!” I hear him yell, but I don’t stop. I run down the stairs as I feel the sting of tears forming in my eyes. I hold them back so I won’t join the ball with streaks running down my face. When I get to the bottom step I run right into someone. They catch me in their arms and I try to pull away, frantically.
“Hey, it’s okay I’m not going to hurt you,” The guy says, letting my arms go so I can step back. I catch my breath and look up the stairs. Todd wasn’t behind me. I take a deep breath and pull myself together.
“Are you okay?” The stranger asks, sincerely.
I nod “Yeah. My date wasn’t really taking no for an answer so...yeah” I see him frown and look up the stairs as if he wants to go up there after Todd.
“Come on lets go get you some water” He holds his arm out and I pause for a moment before I loop my arm in his. He leads me back out to where the party is going on. I get a good look at the man and realize it’s the guy I was staring at earlier. Did he follow me? Maybe he sensed the danger that I was too naïve to realize.
When we get to the bar he pays for a bottle of water and hands it to. I take a sip, which turns into a gulp when I realize how dry my mouth is from breathing with my mouth open.
I put the cap back on. “Thank you. Um, what’s your name?” I say over the music.
“Jay. You?” I think back to when Mya told me that she wasn’t going to tell anyone her real name here. For all I know this guy could be lying about his name too. So I go with my middle name.
“Audrey” I smile.
“You look very beautiful tonight, Audrey” His brown eyes look deep into mine. I feel like he can read my thoughts.
I look away and turn to the party. Everyone is slow dancing with the one they love or lust. I look back up to Jay and he is looking down at me. Heat begins creeping up my neck and cheeks under his gaze. Then out of the corner of my eye, I see Todd come from the stairwell. I frown and Jay turns around to see what I’m looking at. “He’s an asshole and didn’t deserve you as a date”
I nod and brush off the situation. “Thank you. I’m so dumb for thinking he was a good guy. I guess I just wanted to have a good night.”
Ignoring my confession, Jay, smirks, “Would you do me the honor of dancing with me, Audrey” He holds his hand out and I lay mines in his. “Sure.”
On the dance floor, Jay pulls me in gently. I inhale his Cologne and close my eyes. As he leads, I feel as if I’m floating on the dance floor. His hand never leaves the middle of my back unlike Todd’s, who kept dipping further down to my backside to cop a feel.
I hear him humming in my ear as the song plays and it’s soothing. I open my eyes and see Todd taking to Mya. I doubt he is telling the truth. He points at me and Mya starts marching to me, an angry expression plastered on her face. I close my eyes and try to wish her away so I can enjoy this. It doesn’t work.
She taps Jay on the shoulder. “Excuse me, can I have a word with my friend for a moment?”
I save her the questions and tell her what happened. My flips the script and I watch as she storms off and tells Christopher, resulting in Todd being kicked out. Good ridden.
Around 2am the ball is starting to end and people are beginning to leave. Everyone else is in the limo waiting on me as I’m standing in the shadows of the building talking to Jay. He wraps his tux jacket around my arms since my coat is in the limo. A small smile stays on my lips as he talks about enjoying my time. A small gust of wind blows and I grip the jacket, pulling it around me and inhale his scent on it.
“It was very nice dancing with you tonight, Jay” I smile and look down at my feet. I feel his hand lift my chin and he cautiously leans in to kiss me. Meeting him half way, I kiss him eagerly. His lips are so soft and gentle, it sends a hard shudder through me. I step forward, closing off space between us, deepening the kiss. I place my hand on the side of his face. I can’t remember when a kiss made me feel like this. I feel chill bumps grow on my arms and shoulders. I don’t blame it on the cold air.
My trance is broken when a car horn honks. I jump back and my costume ring pulls the string on his mask. The mask falls to the ground and my heart stops.
Jay is Professor Ingram.
“Oh, God” I gasp, covering my lips in shock. Professor Ingram looks bewildered as I stand there, completely overwhelmed. Turning away, I run off without saying anything. I hear him calling my name, but there is no way I can go back. I get into the limo without saying a word. I just kissed my Professor.