As soon as I’m done for the day, I shower and change in double quick time, eager to see Casey. Just as I’m brushing on a little mascara, I hear my phone beep. I grab my phone and check to see who it’s from.
*Hey baby, good luck with your meeting with Casey. I hope it all goes the way you want it to. I love you, and I’ll see you later.
I smile to myself at his sweet message. He’s always very good at showing me his support, he knows that it’s something I value and appreciate. I quickly message him back before leaving the locker-room.
*Thank you, Spence, I hope it goes well also. I love you too! Xoxo.
I make my way out to the lobby and towards the lounge entrance when I spot Lucas with a woman, about to go into the lounge. Oh shit! That’s all I need. I half-jog towards him and call his name to get his attention.
“Lucas!” I call out, and he turns his head towards my voice.
The girl he’s with gives me a once over, and he whispers in her ear. She makes an annoyed face and then walks off towards the lobby seating. He smiles at me as I approach him.
“Hey Rox,” he says, smiling smoothly.
“Hey,” I answer him, but I get right to the point without any more preamble.
“Lucas, you can not go in there tonight, please,” I plead.
A confused look crosses his face.
“Why not?” he asks with a smirk.
“Because I’m meeting with Casey in there, like right now. If she sees you, it could ruin everything,” I tell him.
The smirk on his lips vanishes instantly.
“You two still haven’t made up?” he asks quietly, looking guilty.
“No. This is the first time Casey has agreed to see me since that night. So please, please don’t go in there.”
“Don’t worry, Rox, no problem. I’ll take off,” he assures me, his cheeks reddening slightly.
“Thank you,” I breathe, relieved that I caught him beforehand.
“No problem. I hope you two can work it out. I still feel terrible about all of that,” Lucas says, looking down at his feet.
“It takes two,” I say, shrugging. I don’t feel like dredging this conversation up with him again. “Anyway, I have to get going.”
“Okay, I’ll leave you to it,” Lucas says, straightening his posture, and flashing me a small smile before walking off towards his date again.
Phew! Crisis averted.
I walk into the lounge, and the hostess greets me. She recognizes me right away, a side effect of being the hotel owner’s girlfriend, now fiancée, I suppose.
“Good evening Miss Vice,” she smiles broadly at me.
“Good evening, I’m meeting someone,” I tell her, peeking around the room, and I think I spot Casey in the far corner.
“I think I see her,” I tell the hostess, and head over in that direction.
I examine Casey before she notices me. Her hair is longer, no longer cut in her usual style, but other than that, she still looks like Casey. I tentatively approach the table, just as she turns her head and sees me.
“Hi Case,” I greet her with a nervous smile.
“Hi Roxanne,” she replies with a brief smile.
Well, here it goes. I slide into the booth across from her, and we just stare at each other for a very long minute before we say anything else.
“You look good,” I start.
“Thanks, so do you,” she nods but doesn’t offer anything else.
So that must be my cue.
“I’m so glad you agreed to meet with me Case,” I tell her, “I’ve really missed you, and I hate not having you in my life.”
“Despite everything,” she sighs, “I’ve missed you too, Roxanne.”
My throat starts to feel tight, but I fight the feeling down.
“What have you been up to lately?” I ask her.
She stares at me for a few seconds before taking a deep breath and answering me.
“Well, I am now part-owner of the gym I work at, so that’s good.”
“What? Really? Case, that’s great to hear,” I smile at her.
“Yeah, it really is. I'm a little busier than I used to be, but other than that, nothing else is really any different,” she shrugs, looking down at her drink.
“So, no boyfriend or anything?” I ask, but then I feel like I could kick myself.
Her eyes dart up from her drink, and she frowns at me.
“No, no boyfriend or anything,” she scoffs, “I’ve taken a break from dating for a while. There are far too many assholes out there,” she adds, giving me a pointed look.
“I’m… I’m sorry,” I murmur, feeling ashamed, and in desperate need of a drink.
As if she read my mind, the waitress comes over and places a glass of my favorite wine down in front of me. They know now what I always order when I come in here, so I don’t even need to anymore.
The waitress walks away, and Casey looks at my glass.
“You don’t even need to ask I see? Perks of dating the boss I suppose,” she says dryly.
“It’s just what I order every time I come in here. They just know, that’s all,” I tell her, voice quiet.
“So, you’re engaged to Spence now, huh?” she states and gestures towards my ring.
I look down at it and twist it around my finger.
“So how’d that happen anyway?” she asks, and I meet her probing gaze.
“After what happened last year, he and I became friends, and it turned into more,” I tell her.
“I was surprised when I started seeing the stories about you two. I thought for sure you would have ended up with Seth. But I guess with you, things are never as they seem.”
“I deserve that,” I murmur, casting my eyes down again.
“How could you lie to me like that Roxanne? How? Tell me what happened? I’m ready to hear it; I need to hear it, because every time I replay it all in my mind, I can’t figure it out. Start from the beginning, the very first time you met Lucas because that’s where I’m the most confused. When you told me that you had been seeing him behind my back since the masque, what did that mean? Because I was there, the whole night, and you two were never alone…” she trails off, pressing her palms against the table.
Her eyes turn glossy, and I know she’s trying to control her growing anger. Casey has always had the tendency to cry when she's really angry. As much as I don’t want to give her all the gory details, I know that I have to. I have to tell her the thing I should have told her that very night in question once I found out who Lucas was. I take a deep breath and let it all come pouring out.
“When I first got to the masque, I met a man who said his name was John, and his friend Joe. We were all talking and flirting, and somehow, we ended up having a threesome,” I say, looking at Casey nervously, her eyebrows are pinched together, but she doesn’t say anything, so I continue.
“Anyway, I never thought I’d see them again when we parted ways, and that’s when I met up with you, and then you introduced me to your boyfriend… and he turned out to be John, and Seth was Joe.”
Casey starts shaking her head slowly, her jaw clenched.
“That fucker,” she whispers, and I fight the urge to smile, this is not funny, not even a little.
“I was too scared to tell you, and they begged me not to say anything.”
“You should have told me anyway, Roxanne,” Casey frowns.
“I know. I know I should have, but I got so caught up in it.”
“So I guess that explains how you and Seth got along so quickly. I thought the interaction between you two seemed too comfortable,” she informs me, “I just thought, wow! Those two have good chemistry; because I’ve never seen you warm up to a guy so quickly. It was because you two had already slept together.”
“I didn’t have sex with Seth yet at that point, just Lucas,” I blurt rather stupidly, but in the context of being absolutely honest, I might as well.
“So after that, what were the other times you slept with Lucas?”
“Not until after he told you that he didn’t want to be exclusive,” I admit, and Casey grabs her drink and chugs it.
I wave my hand in the air for another round; she’s going to need it.
“Oh, like that would have made it okay?” she gasps, looking appalled, and I nod weakly.
“I know, I used terrible judgment,” I mutter, a weak excuse, I know.
“Just because he wanted to see other people, it didn’t mean that he was free to see my best friend, Roxanne. I can understand the first time you two were together because you weren’t aware, but then after that? You broke the code Roxanne, you just don’t go there.”
“I know Casey, I know,” I squeak, and I can feel the tears straining behind my eyelids, ready to fall.
“Why couldn’t you just concentrate on Seth?” she then asks, and the tears spillover.
“I should have, and I tried, I really did. But Lucas just got into my head, and I couldn’t escape him. He had turned it into some sick competition with Seth, but I didn’t know. I was weak Case, and I regret everything that I did, and I always will,” I sob.
The waitress finally comes over with our drinks. She gives me one quick look of concern and then hurries off, giving us our privacy. Casey completely surprises me then when she reaches across the table, taking my hands in hers.
“I guess he was pretty hard to resist, wasn’t he? I don’t know what it was about him, his beauty, or his charisma, but I can see how he’d be hard to forget,” she says softly.
“Case, I never wanted to hurt you,” I sniff, “but I did, and I’ll do anything to make it up to you.”
“Lucas manipulated us both, and we were blinded. Maybe we can both take something away from this, and I hope you’ve learned your lesson… always hoes before bros,” Casey states, and this time I can’t fight the smile that forms on my lips.
Does this mean I’m forgiven? Casey releases my hands, and I quickly swipe my hands across my eyes, wiping away the tears.
“Does this mean we’re going to be okay?” I ask, hopefully.
“I think so. It’s going to take some time, but I want to get through this too,” Casey tells me with a kind smile.
I can’t stop myself, I hop up from my seat and rush around to her side of the table and wrap my arms around her, hugging her tightly, breathing her in.
“Oh Casey, I’m so glad,” I whisper, the tears begin afresh, but this time it’s from happiness.
I hear her sniff too. I pull back to look at her, and she’s crying as well.
“I promise, to never ever lie to you again, or let a guy come between us,” I proclaim.
“Good, and as for the guy part, well, you’re getting married, so I sure hope not.”
An hour later, we have both composed ourselves, and have a happy buzz on as we talk about everything we’ve been up to in the past year. It feels so good to catch up and reconnect; it almost feels like it did before.
“So when is the big day anyway? I still can’t believe you’re getting married,” Casey smiles.
“October Fourth,” I tell her, “I’m still having trouble believing it myself.”
“Who would have thought it, Roxanne Vice, marrying the one and only Spence Manfredi,” she muses.
“It’s a crazy world we live in,” I laugh.
“So what happened with Seth anyway?” she asks.
“After what happened last year… I took off with Spence, and Seth got the wrong idea. He thought I had gone home with Spence, when I hadn’t, and so he stopped talking to me altogether, no matter how often I tried to talk to him. So I gave up and moved on, and that’s when I became close with Spence. He really helped me through everything. But Seth has re-emerged into our lives recently…” I tell her, trailing off at the end.
“What?” she prods.
“Well, he told me he still has feelings for me, and that when this thing with Spence goes down the crapper, he’ll be there,” I tell her.
“Jerk!” she breathes.
“Well, he didn’t say it quite like that, but I knew that’s what he meant.”
“So what are you going to do?”
“Nothing, it doesn’t matter. I love Spence, and I’m marrying him.”
“Good, stick to that,” she nods in agreement.
“And remember Victor and Nadia?” I ask.
“Seth is dating Victor’s daughter Anya, who is twenty-one, and I tell you, she’s a trouble maker that one.”
“Oh, really? What makes you say that?”
“Well for one, she’s got it bad for Spence, apparently since she was a little girl. And two, I think she’s on a mission to sleep with me too, but I’m sure it’s just a ploy to get closer to Spence,” I admit.
I wonder if it’s too soon to be revealing this info to Casey.
“Oh man, so she’s really out there, huh?” Casey says, raising her eyebrows.
“A little. I need to keep one eye on her at all times,” I chuckle.
“Are you worried about Spence with her?” she asks.
“No, not at all,” I say honestly, “he did admit that he wouldn’t mind watching her and me together. Mind you, he was drunk as hell when he admitted that, but Spence said he’s not even a little interested. He’s known her since she was a kid.”
“I guess that’s good, except for the watching part,” Casey laughs, “but what guy doesn’t want to see that?”
“Exactly what I chalked it up to,” I giggle, and then sigh, looking at Casey.
“I’ve really missed this,” I say softly.
“So have I,” she replies.
“Casey, can I ask you something important? I know this may be too soon, but I can’t imagine asking anyone else…” I start.
“Okay,” she nods.
“Will you be my maid of honor?” I ask her, feeling nervous about her answer.
Her eyes go wide, seemingly surprised by my question.
“Really?” she asks breathlessly.
“Really. It’s always been you Case,” I implore her.
Her eyes go glassy, and then a few tears roll down her cheeks as a slow smile spreads across her face. This makes me start to cry again. Geez, I never cried this much.
“I’d love to Roxie,” she answers me, and the sound of my nickname coming from her lips makes my heart swell with happiness.
For the second time tonight, I hop up from my seat and run over to her, hugging her again. This night has turned out better than I thought possible.
“Thank you, Case, thank you,” I cry into her shoulder.
“I’m happy to be a part of this Rox and honored you asked me. I know we’ve been through a lot of ups and downs, but hopefully, we’ll be stronger because of it. You’re my best friend, and I hope it always stays that way,” she says, rubbing my back.
“Forever,” I say.
“My first order of business as your maid of honor, is to ensure that nothing ruins your special day, and that includes keeping Seth in line,” she says thoughtfully.
I pull back and look at her.
“What do you mean?” I ask her.
“Well, if I think he’s up to no good, I’m going to call him on it. I can’t have him getting in there and screwing with your head Roxie. It’s time to move on from last year and go forward in our lives. Seth needs to accept that.”
“You’re totally right,” I nod.
“Of course, I am. I’ve gained a lot of wisdom this past year, and I’m going to help you with this. We can’t have you making the same mistakes as before,” she adds.
I feel like the last sentence should sting, but it doesn’t, she has a good point, one that I know I need to focus on.
“This is why I need you,” I tell her, “I’ve needed you so much.”
“So, I heard the masque is this weekend. I think you’re going to need to get me an invite,” Casey then says.
“You want to go?” I ask dubiously, I assumed she’d want to steer clear.
“Yes, I want to go and ensure that everyone behaves him or herself,” she nods.
“That defeats the purpose of the party,” I laugh.
“Well, I wouldn’t want to stop all the fun, I could go for a little fun myself. It’s been a while, and as your maid of honor, I’ll make sure nobody messes with you.”
“You’re really taking this maid of honor stuff seriously, I don’t think the job description includes bodyguard,” I say, stifling a laugh.
“Okay, so maybe I just want to go then,” she laughs.
“Consider it done Case, I mean, I’ve got to have some pull don’t I?”
“I would hope so, if you’re to be Spence’s wife, then you should have some say in who gets invited to his little party.”
“Lucas will be there though,” I warn her, although I’m sure she’s already aware of that.
“I figured, but whatever, it shouldn’t be so hard to avoid him.”
“Do you only need one invite?”
“I don’t want to bring a date if that’s what you’re asking. I’m kind of hoping I’ll get swept off my feet by some mysterious stranger myself. It’s my turn,” she says, with a mischievous smile.
“Yeah, well, be careful what you wish for Case because that’s how I got into trouble in the first place.”