Beyond The Masque Part II

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Chapter 7

“Well, I hope my wife’s outburst didn’t cause you to rescind my invite too,” Victor says to Spence after a long awkward silence between the six of us.

“Nobodies invitation has been rescinded just yet, but let’s just move on,” Spence replies dryly.

Nadia stands and silently walks out of the room, pouting. When her husband tells her to shut it, she won’t listen, but when Spence does it, apparently she listens. I think it’s because he’s usually so calm and controlled, that when he gets angry, you know he means it. Spence also stands and offers his hand to me.

“Anyway Vic, I think we’re going to take our leave now. I’ll see you on Wednesday at the golf tourney?”

Victor stands and reaches out to shake Spence’s hand.

“I’ll be there,” he says then turns to me, “and congratulations again, Roxanne. I am very happy for the two of you, and I hope you can forgive my wife’s rudeness. It gets the better of her sometimes.”

“No sweat Vic,” I smile at him, and he guffaws and waves a finger at me.

“Okay. I’ll see you later,” Victor says, sitting back down.

“See you next weekend,” Anya calls to us as we step out the door.

There is already a limo waiting for us when we get back to the parking lot.

“How’d they know to be here?” I ask curiously.

I hadn’t seen Spence call them. He holds up his cell phone.

“Text. Isn’t it so convenient sometimes?” Spence chuckles, “I sent a message while we had our little discussion in there.”

I nod in response just as the chauffeur opens the door for us to climb in.

“That was awful of Nadia to do that,” I comment as we drive away from the club.

“I agree. She doesn’t seem to know when to stop sometimes.”

“I’m sure Anya is just aching to know what we were all talking about. Do you think Nadia will tell her?” I ask him.

“She might. I don’t know. Though I think Victor will probably have a word with her later. I could tell that he was pissed at her. She should know better than to reveal peoples Masque secrets though. She’s got enough of her own.”

“Now I’m curious,” I say, hoping that he’ll share just a little.

“Now, I couldn’t very well turn around and tell you now could I, after I gave her shit for trying to do it to you?” he chuckles.

“Yeah, but she’s not your fiancée. You can trust me with your secrets,” I reason with him.

“Let’s just say that what you did last year, was nothing compared to what she did a few years back, and the two years prior. This was before she got together with Victor, of course. She’s settled down since then, but she would never want any of that information revealed to all of her new Country Club friends.”

“Did you ever fuck her?” I inquire, raising my eyebrows at him, and he smirks back at me, not saying anything.

“Oh, Spence! Ewe.”

I wrinkle my nose at him.

“What? It was years and years ago. Even Victor knows, it only happened one time, at one of the said masques.”

“Oh trust me, I’m not judging you. Who am I to judge you? If I were you, I don’t know what I would have thought of me that night. Seriously though, do you have something pumped through the vents in there?” I joke…kind of.

Spence laughs.

“That’s not the first time someone has asked me that question. I don’t know what it is exactly, but as soon as people cross that curtain to the other side, they leave all of their hang-ups in the lobby and just let go, which is really the point of the whole thing. I love all the erotic tension that flows through that place. You could almost cut it with a knife,” he explains.

“It was palpable,” I agree with his assessment.

“This is why we’re so careful about the press, but it’s proving more difficult sometimes now with camera phones. Press is becoming more creative, paying people who are invited, to snap photos. The masks really help with this though, making it hard to prove who’s really in the photo. I’ve got people hidden all over the place though looking out for anyone who pulls out their phone to do anything other than making a phone call. I like my guests to feel as though they are safe to do whatever they desire, just as long as nobody is being hurt.”

“Wow, I guess cameras are everywhere now, aren’t they?”

“It’s become a really irritating issue. I’ve considered having a new rule be brought upon the party, that no cell phones are allowed. It would sure help make my security teams job a lot easier.”

“Oh goodness, whatever would one do without their precious cell phone?” I muse.

I am able to handle a day without it, but I know it’s a growing problem amongst the masses.

“Anyway, it’s just an idea. Realistically I doubt that it would work,” Spence concludes and then changes the subject, “So are you coming home with me?”

“Actually, I need to go home. I have some important phone calls to make. I need to call my parents and let them know about our engagement before they find out on television.”

“You can do that from my place. You know that,” he tells me, “and it will be your place too very soon. Seriously, I want you out of your apartment by next week.”

Spence,” I begin, but he interrupts me.

“How about your house too?” he asks.

“Well, actually Chris said he finally has enough for the down payment so that he can buy it from me,” I tell him.

“Why would he want that place? He should buy your apartment instead. It’s closer to the hotel, which is the whole reason you bought it.”

“Yeah well, I don’t think he can afford it. The house is more in his price range,” I inform him.

Spence nods, considering this.

“Maybe I could help him out with that.”

“Oh Spence, that is very generous of you, but I doubt he’d go for that. Chris is pretty happy to have been able to save up and do this on his own.”

“You just let me deal with Chris on this one. I’m pretty sure I could convince him,” Spence smiles, looking smug.

“You do have a way with words sometimes,” I grin back at him, “but seriously what? You’re going to buy them an apartment?” I ask dubiously.

“No, I’d just give him a bonus or what have you, to make up the extra cost for the down payment, on top of what he has saved up already.”

“Why would you do that for him? It’s so generous,” I ask, Spence never ceases to amaze me.

“He’s your best friend, and I consider him a friend now, too. I want to help him out. I know it’s hard out there for young people just starting out in life. I’d like to see him succeed and not go into debt,” he explains.

I can’t help myself as I throw myself over the seat and wrap my arms around his neck, planting kisses all over his face. He starts to laugh as I kiss his mouth, his nose, his forehead, cheeks, and chin.

“I just love you so much, Spence. You are truly a good man,” I sigh.

“I’ll talk to him next weekend,” he adds, “after they tell us their good news. So, are you really wanting to go home tonight?”

“Yeah,” I nod.

“Alright,” he frowns slightly, “I guess I can relinquish you for this evening. I don’t like it, but soon I’ll have you with me every night.”

“You’re not going to come over?” I ask.

“No, I think I’ll let you have the night to yourself. I have some work I should catch up on myself. But tomorrow night, you’re coming home with me, and I’d also like to have lunch with you tomorrow,” he tells me.

I know he’s not asking, it’s an order, but I don’t mind.

“Thanks for understanding. I’m not sure how my mother is going to take the news about us. She’s still not fully approved of us being together at all yet.”

“I guess I’ll just have to work even harder at convincing her that you’re it for me,” he smiles and leans over and kisses my shoulder.

“Yeah, well part of the problem is that your relationships have always been in the public eye, so she has this media distorted image of you as some playboy extraordinaire.”

“I guess you should probably call her immediately after you get home. I’m sure somebody from that party has leaked the news to the press already,” Spence informs me.

“You’re probably right,” I agree.

It never takes very long for information to surface. I remember when Spence and I had come out as an official couple, and how it had been so bizarre to see my face all over the tabloids. There were pictures of me in those magazines where I had no idea of how they had gotten them. Photos of me at work, at the bar with Chris and Lena, various outings with Spence. There was even a silly article about how I keep my hair so healthy that I found hilarious. My life was under a microscope for a few weeks there that it had me always looking over my shoulder. I tried to ignore it the best I could, but it wasn’t without its challenges. It’s calmed down quite a bit, but I have a bad feeling it’s about to pick up again, turning into a wedding watch of sorts.

After a very long, very steamy kiss goodbye, I hop out of the limo and make my way up to my apartment. I’m still in my dress from last night, so I opt to shower and change before I make the dreaded phone call to my mother. I know she’s going to freak out a little bit over this. I tie my wet hair up into a bun on the top of my head and throw on my sweats and a tank top, and grab my phone. I plop down onto my new leather sofa and stare at the phone. Come on, Roxanne, don’t be a chicken. This is your mother here. You have to call her sooner than later. It won’t be that bad. I take a deep breath and dial her number. She picks up on the third ring.

“Roxanne sweetie, so good to hear from you,” she answers happily.

“Hi mom, how are you?”

“I’m just fine, your father has a terrible cold, but other than that, everything is pretty quiet over here. How are you doing honey? How’s work going?”

“Work is still great, and I’m doing really, really great,” I say happily.

“That’s wonderful darling. You sound very…excited. Any particular reason why?” She asks curiously, picking up on my enthusiasm.

This is it.

“Well, mom, I have some good news for you,” I start.

“Oh? What is it?” She asks cautiously now.

“Spence asked me to marry him, and I said yes!” I exclaim.

I’m met with dead silence.

“Hello? Mom? You still there?” I ask.

“I’m here,” she snips, “Engaged?”

She’s not happy about this piece of news.

“Yes.”

“Roxanne, this is going to be his third marriage. I never pictured the man you marry as being someone only a few years younger than myself and on his third marriage. I was hoping this was just a fling that you were having. I didn’t realize that it was so serious.”

“Mom, I don’t care about his age or his previous marriages. I love him, and he loves me, and we make each other happy. I was hoping you could be happy for me too,” I argue.

I hear her sigh loudly.

“This just worries me, Roxanne. What is so different this time that ensures that you won’t become former wife number three in the future?” She challenges me.

It’s a valid concern, but I don’t feel worried at all.

“Well, for one, I’m not with him for his money, and two, he knows what he wants now, he didn’t before.”

“Do you really know what you want, though? You’re only twenty-seven Roxanne.”

“I’m plenty old enough to know what I want. It’s not like I’m some naïve little twenty-one year old anymore.”

Aside from a pretty naive choice I made last year that rhymes with Lucas.

“I suppose you’re right about that. I know you are not naïve Rox. You’ve always had a pretty good head on your shoulders,” she consents, “I suppose then that I should try to be more welcoming with Spence.”

“I’d appreciate that mom, he really does try, but you always kind of give him the cold shoulder.”

“I know, I know. I’ll try to accept this, I really will. I just hope your father will do the same.”

“Dad’s already far nicer to him than you are mom, so I’m not as worried about him,” I laugh.

“Am I really so terrible?” she asks innocently.

“Kind of,” I say.

“Oh, dear.”

“Maybe we can come to visit you guys in a couple of weeks, and you can give him a fresh chance?” I suggest.

“That would be lovely dear.”

“Okay good.”

“So, have you two discussed when you want to do this?” she asks.

“In October,” I tell her.

“This coming October? That’s so soon.”

“Yeah, I want a fall wedding.”

“Is it going to be big?” she asks nervously, she’s already worrying about costs, I can tell.

“No, we just want family and close friends mom. We want to keep it intimate,” I assure her.

I hear her let out a sigh of relief.

“Well, we had better get together soon then and pick out your dress,” she states.

“I have lots of time,” I tell her.

“No honey, you don’t. Dresses can take months to come in. Then you’ll need alterations that could take even longer,” she contests.

“I have a funny feeling that finding a dress isn’t going to be an issue. Spence has connections all over the place. I could probably point to a picture in a book and have it done.”

Roxanne,” she chastises me, “you shouldn’t expect that sort of thing.”

“Oh mom, I know, and I don’t expect anything at all. But it’s the reality of being with Spence. People are always eager to please him.”

“I’ve just always pictured us doing the dress search together, darling. You’re my only daughter, and god willing that this is the only wedding you ever have, I want to be a part of that special time.”

I chuckle at her, I so love her guilt trips, and they are usually pretty effective.

“Don’t worry mom, no matter what, I’ll bring you along to anything dress related okay?”

“Okay, that’s all I ask, at the very least. I have a feeling I won’t get to do much else. I’m sure Spence will have all sorts of people hired to do everything else.”

“You’re probably right about that,” I agree.

Knowing Spence that is exactly what will happen. The perks of marrying a billionaire, I suppose. Wedding planning was never something that I fantasized about as a kid, I preferred my easy bake oven, so I could use all the help I can get. I’d probably be just as happy to run away and elope, only the two of us, but I know my parents would never let me hear the end of it if we did that. After another half hour of allowing my mother to ramble on about wedding ideas, she lets me go. I’m just happy that she has finally accepted this.

I decided to just tell Chris the news tomorrow at work. He’s always so animated that I’d love to see his reaction in person. I’m sure he’ll be shocked, and I really hope that he doesn’t feel like I’m stealing his thunder. No, Chris isn’t like that, he practically idolizes Spence. He’ll just be excited for us. I wish I could talk to Casey right now. I miss her so much. I wish I hadn’t been so stupid and selfish. She’s the person I’d like to talk to the most right now. Thinking about it makes me hate Lucas all the more. I had been so blind, so enchanted by his good looks and charm that I was completely blinded. I should have known that he was trouble from the very start.

Fucking Lucas!

Maybe I need to try and contact her again. Maybe she’ll finally be ready to talk to me. Though I still can’t blame her if she doesn’t. I’d have a hard time not hating me too. In fact, if I had been her in that situation, I would have punched me in the face rather than just slap. Maybe tomorrow I will try, I can’t give up on her yet. For now, though, I’m going to watch some television. I turn on my TV, and flip through the channels, landing on my guilty pleasure, gossip TV. They run through multiple stories, which star just had another baby, who’s pregnant, who’s breaking up, and who just got together.

‘Well, it’s official! Hotel Magnate Spence Manfredi is engaged to his girlfriend of seven months Roxanne Vice…’ the reporter opens the story.

So here it begins. Various pictures of us start to flicker as the woman continues her story.

‘Our sources report that they had announced their engagement last night during a party held by Houston businessman and close friend of Mr. Manfredi’s, Victor Clark. We’ll be looking out for that diamond, and listening in for more information on the couples' upcoming nuptials. We wonder what Jessica Green will think about this.’

Ugh! Good thing I called my mother when I did. Spence really called that one. I’m annoyed that they continuously compare me to Jessica Green. They dated over a year ago for only a couple of months, and yet they still like to bring her up when they talk about us. I know it’s purely to juice up the story, but even so, give it a rest already.

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