Chapter 1: I can blow a BUBBLEGUM
I stared at my reflection in the tall standing mirror. A little smile formed on my lips. I was definitely loving what I saw. My curves showed in the right places and my breast didn’t look too big. My long, flawless, wavy blonde hair rested on my shoulder and down my back to bra-length.
“Wow Harieth! You’ve got to get this dress.” Stacy stated and I could see her reflection from the mirror at the way she stared at me from behind. I noticed the tinge of enviousness in her eyes and so I raised my head slightly up a bit and chest out a little more. I needed to stand tall and proud. I wouldn’t deny the fact that my body was the best. Anything I tried on fitted so perfectly. I had broad hips, well-shaped butt and firm breasts. In summary, I had every woman’s dream body.
“Should I?” I asked pretending like I wasn’t interested in this flawlessly designer’s dress which costs a lot of money. Not that the price bothered me. Why should it? I had loads of money to spare.
“Uh duh! You definitely should or instead, I’ll get it.” Paris added as she stood up from her seat, placing a hand on her hip. My brows furrowed at the thought of her having this dress instead of me. I couldn’t let that happen. I always got the best designers dresses, shoes, bags, sunglasses, lipstick and many more. I was never late in getting the latest editions. It has always been my thing and will forever remain so. I couldn’t imagine living and dressed in last year’s seasons. Why should I when I can afford the best?
I turned to Stacy, Paris and then the shop attendant who was there to help out at my beck and call. I barely put up a smile as I took one last look at the long, metallic, off-the-shoulder dress. They were right. It was too beautiful to let go of.
“Just wait till Shantel sees you in that dress tonight. You’re definitely going to outshine her at her own party.” Stacy added as her eyes shifted somewhere else, a devious smile curled up at the corner of her lips. I hate to admit it but Stacy was right. Shantel Benson has been my rival way back from high school and this school wasn’t just any school. It was the best private school in the country. Only children of the rich and famous attended there. It was the sort of rivalry that was present but at the same time invisible to the naked eye. She was the only one that dared to compete with me with her shiny chocolate skin, slim long legs and body like that of a supermodel. God, I hate her!
Shantel was celebrating her birthday tonight and invited nearly all the A-listers of the society. The high-class fashion personalities ranging from models, designers to actors. Even the press was invited. At least she admitted the fact that I couldn’t be set out of that list. I hate her but I’ve got to be at that party.
The smile on my face broadened. I was definitely going to win this round.
“Fine. I’ll take it!” I exclaimed excitedly as I raised both my hands up in the air.
“Great!” Stacy and Paris exclaimed equally excited with me as they drew closer and we engulfed in a light group hug.
“Are you getting anything else Miss Gryffin?” The shop attendant that waited on standby asked with a smile.
“Getting anything else? Do you even know who Harieth Gryffin is? Do you know who we are?” Stacy asked the attendant with one hand on her hip. I had to admit. Stacy was right. Does this lady even know who I am? I’m like a regular V.I.P shopper at this mall. How could she ask me that question?
“Oh let it be Stacy. I’m quite sure she’s new here or I don’t know why else she would ask such a question.” Paris added as she walked up to the lady who still stared at us with confusion written across her face.
“Tsk. Tsk. I would fire you if you worked for me.” I told her as I walked up to her and stood in front of her. She eventually managed to lower eyes as well as head.
Yeah, she actually should.
“Come on girls. We have a lot of shopping to do.” I told them as I walked past the attendant and towards the rows of dresses, shoes and bags. We began to pick out whichever one we found fancy to our taste. Stacy and Paris actually called tow more attendants to hold their dresses on their behalf. I actually kind of pitied the attendant helping with my stuff. Notice the word, kind of.
I wasn’t going to stop just because her arms or hands were full. That was her business. She was the employee and I, the customer so I’m pretty sure that equals to the word, boss. My phone vibrated in my hand and I stopped what I was doing to have a look at the new text message I just got.
I’m putting on a green tuxedo. Just wanted to let you know.
“Green!? Double yuck!” I exclaimed a bit loud at the distaste of my supposed boyfriend. He was also my date to Shantel’s birthday party. Gosh, he’s such a fashion disaster. I specifically told him not to get anything that made him, us look so desperate. I didn’t want it to seem like we were trying too hard to upstage the celebrant. We needed to look beautiful, elegant and classy at the same time. I needed people to be envious of what I’ve got. I decided to text him back.
Don’t you dare show up at my door in a green tux. Get a black or a silver tux. White shirt will go with any of them.
Spencer was handsome and had a great body. He would look incredibly nice in anything he puts on. Really, He’s a swimsuit model so I kind of know what I’m talking about.
“Spencer?” Paris asked from across the room. I nodded to her.
“He’s having problem picking the right colour for a tux.” I explained as I continued with picking out shoes that caught my attention. I didn’t even bother about checking the prices. Like I said earlier…Why should I? My father, his fat accounts and companies can very well afford my expenses.
“He does know he looks like a demigod in anything he wears, right?” Stacy asked and I was about to answer that question when all of a sudden, it sounded like she was interested in him. My brows slightly furrowed as I turned to take a look at her. She was smiling from ear to ear as she continued with her selections. I shook my head at any strange thought.
She wouldn’t dare.
I sucked in a deep breath of fresh air as soon as I stood outside the airport. The air had become chillier than the last time I took it all in, quite reminding me of the fact that winter drew quite close. I was finally home after months of touring different countries and trying to find my solace. I was still in confusion as to if I did find it. I rolled my suitcase forward before hailing a cab. I neither informed Lucas nor Ema about my arrival date. I guess I just wanted to make it a surprise or perhaps, I just wasn’t ready to see them yet. I couldn’t quite tell my reason. Lately, I’ve been involved with doing stuffs without going through a great deal of thought. Actually, I stayed away from thinking too much. I didn’t want to reminisce the past or fill my heart with regrets.
“Where to sir?” The driver asked as he slightly turned to me. I thought for a second. There was someone I needed to pay a visit. Someone I hadn’t seen in months.
“Grimsby mental hospital.” I stated for him and he nodded after a second of thinking about the location. Sooner than later, I was on my way to the hospital. As I rested my head on the window, I stared outside. I realised the city hadn’t changed much. How could it when I was only gone a few months but to me, it felt like years. Years of worry and wallowing in sadness. I knew I wasn’t myself. I only hoped to be good at pretending.
The cab came to a halt in front of the traffic light. I couldn’t help noticing a lady in a jbdjdsbjd car by the side of the cab I sat in. She was seated in the driver’s seat and seemed quite busy staring at her reflection in the centre mirror as she continuously applied lipstick to her lips then smacked them together. She slightly pouted her lips for a few seconds, brushed her wavy blonde hair with her fingers showcasing her neatly trimmed and polished nails before repeating the same thing over again. I slightly furrowed my brows at how ridiculous her act was. How much more lipstick does she want her lips? To me, they were perfectly okay the way they were.
She slightly turned to her right before smiling which eventually turned to laughter. Apparently, someone else was in the car with her. Finally, the lights turned green and I looked away from the young woman and onto the road as the driver drove off.
Afterwards, I sat patiently in the visiting room of the hospital. For some strange reason, I was nervous as hell. My palms felt sweaty as I rubbed them together. A lot of thoughts ran through my mind on what to say, how to even start and worst of all; will she even want to see me. I kind of was the reason she was here in the first place. I betrayed her. I sided with her enemies but then again, she needed to be stopped. She was hurting herself and the people around her. Because of her, people died. They lost their lives. The last time I actually saw mum was at the court at her last precinct. Gratefully due to her mental situation, she wasn’t thrown in jail like any other criminal. She was sent to a mental asylum to get treatment and be watched over.
I heard the creaking sound of the door behind me and then footsteps. Eventually, she was made to have her seat in front of me. I looked away from the two men nurses that brought her in before they walked away leaving us to the solitude of the room.
I turned back to her but she sat there looking lifeless and staring at something behind me. She looked different. She seemed paler and leaner. Her hair fell right to her shoulder and she was dressed in the official patient’s uniform. She was a mirage of her opposite former self. She wasn’t supposed to look this way. She was supposed to get better. I gulped down as I struggled within me on how to start.
“Mum…It’s I, Christian. Your son.” I started, my own words sounding terribly in my own ears but she didn’t move. She said nothing and just sat still.
I sighed realising this wasn’t what I expected.
“I’m sorry.” I apologised as I felt the guilty washing over me once more. I fought hard to retain the tears.
“I’m sorry I put you in here… I know you didn’t want to stay here. You wanted none of this but you hadn’t realised just how much you were hurting yourself.” I continued, not quite being able to look up to her. Yet, she said nothing. I’m not used to this. I’m not used to having mum around me and not say anything. If any description would fit her, it would be the word ‘drama queen’. She always drew attention wherever she went but now, she was way too quiet.
“I know I should have visited you earlier. Heck I should have been here every day. I shouldn’t have left you all alone in your worst days… I’m so sorry.” I apologised as I leaned closer towards her. The tears now formed in my eyes and ready to roll down my cheek. Seeing her look so lifeless was taking more from me than I expected. Guilt was also killing me as I realised I was the cause of her present condition.
“Mum please say something… Anything… Please.” I pleaded as the tears now rolled down my cheek and more sobs escaped my lips. Yet, she remained the same. Have I truly lost her? Was she still in there somehow? I shouldn’t have run away. I shouldn’t have selfishly cared for myself regardless of what my own mother was feeling. Right now, I would do anything to hear her voice.
I stood beside the doctor as he spoke, explaining what was going wrong with mum. To be honest, my mind had wandered off right after he told me the bad news. The explanation that followed after truly meant nothing to me as I had blanked out. All I saw were his lips moving upwards and downwards.
“I’m sorry Christian but we’ll keep trying our best to help her.” The doctor stated with a warm smile as he placed a hand on my shoulder before walking away. I gulped down hard as I ran a hand through my hair before slowly releasing a sigh. Unfortunately, mum had suddenly gone into a state of shock after being sentenced. She had fought or said a single word to anyone since she arrived at the hospital. No one knew what was going on with her. What she was thinking and why she refused to speak up. The doctor believed her mind had isolated her from her surrounding to a secluded part of her mind that seemed more welcoming. In common sense, she was away from reality and stuck in her own imagination.
I couldn’t help blaming myself. Perhaps, if I had been there for her the moment she was brought to this hospital. If only I paid attention to her, she wouldn’t have felt all alone and dejected. Her mind wouldn’t have played tricks on her. It’s all my fault. Everything is my fault.
Just like I expected, Shantel Benson’s party was a blast right from outside hall it was being held. Red carpet was laid. Security was tight with bouncers positioned at the entrance. The press was around and took several shots of the celebrities as they arrived and gave their best pose for a good shot of their attires. It was so Shantel to throw a huge party. Why wouldn’t she when she knew nearly every celebrity in the country. The magazines talked about her and her pictures reigned on social networks such as Instagram. I still hated her.
“Wow, I didn’t expect it to be this big!” Spencer exclaimed as we drove upfront towards the entrance of the hall where the press was waiting.
I couldn’t help but turn to my head to him. A weird expression drawn across my face at his comment.
“Didn’t expect it to be this big!? What did you think this was? You did get the part of my message that said we are attending Shantel Benson’s birthday party, right?” I asked him venting out all the frustration rising as a result of nervousness. God, I’ll be damned if someone else happened to be putting on the same dress as mine. I made sure to buy the latest and best. I couldn’t afford to be seen in a replica of someone else’s shoes or even purse.
“Calm down Harieth.” Spencer stated as he lightly soothes my arm. A cocky smile formed at the corner of his lips. Perhaps, he believed that smile made women attracted to him but clearly it wasn’t working on me. Rather, it disgusted me. I looked away from his face and down to his hand on my arm. I gently took it away from my arm with my other hand.
“Just do as you were told and there will be no problem. Understand?” I told him referring to the agreement we had. He raised his hands in surrender as he looked away from me.
“Yes, I understand.” He finally stated before I looked away from him and unto the press eager for us to get down from the car. After a few seconds of waiting and seeing no one at my door trying to open it on my behalf, I turned back to Spencer.
“Well?” I asked him with raised brows as I also motioned the door to him with my eyes. For a moment there, he was lost which pissed me off. Eventually, he got the hang of it.
“Oh!” He exclaimed in realisation before finally opening the door and getting off the car. I sucked in a deep breath and practiced my smile several times as I watched him walk over to my side. Finally, he opened the door and the first thing that greeted me was the noise as a result of different people talking at once. I took hold of Spencer’s hand as I got off the car.
My best charming smile was up as all attention finally rested on us. Locking my arm with Spencer’s, we took careful steps down the laid out carpet and to upfront where we stood doing a few more poses. I stood proud of my get up. My dress, shoes, purse, hair, jewelleries, make-up and even nail polish was on fleek. These pictured were going to show up in the next tabloids. They were my steps up the fashion world. A celebrity reporter drew closer to ask a few questions regarding my get-up for the party. I talked with boldness and proudly stated I styled everything I wore tonight myself. She was impressed, very impressed as she took one more loom at my attire. I could see the marvel in her eyes. She wasn’t dressed badly herself. She was elegant and beautiful in a white sleeveless jumpsuit. Actually, we had gotten to know each other a bit away from the camera so she was more like an acquaintance. This wasn’t my first time of being in front of the camera. I had been doing this for years now. She ogled her eyes at me to introduce my date which I then did. Few more shots were taken. Eventually, Spencer and I were allowed to move on towards the entrance where we showed our invitation cards before we were let in.
Gratefully, I found Paris and Stacy. They had arrived with their dates before I did. As expected, Shantel had everything laid out at her party. A celebrity musician stood on the stage playing out his songs. The food was made by a celebrity chef and everywhere I looked, I could recognise a face. Honestly… her party was great which vexed me.
“Harieth.” I heard the familiar voice call out from behind. A had to shut my eyes for a second to prepare myself for a drama before eventually opening them and tuning to the owner of the voice.
“Shantel.” I called out with a broad smile definitely not from my heart and within a few seconds, I quickly analysed her attire. She was in a sleeveless long, gold flowing dress which had a slit starting from her thigh and down to her feet clearly exposing her long legs. On her feet, she wore a pair of black sandal-heels. Her long black hair was neatly brushed backwards to fall down her back. The only jewellery she had on was a set of black dangling earrings on which its length stopped at her collarbone and a little bracelet on her wrist. I hated admitting the fact that her make=up was beautiful. The touch of smoky eyeshadows with peach coloured lipstick made her look elegant and at the same time, sort of like a diva.
“Happy birthday!” I exclaimed in a fake excitement which I’m pretty sure she sensed. Nevertheless, I drew closer to engulf her in an awkward embrace. Only Paris and Stacy knew of my plight.
“oh, thank you.” She added as we let go of the hug.
“You… you look beautiful.” I stated trying to avoid the awkward silence we just got into from prolonging any further. Her smile broadened as she took one look at herself.
“Who’s the designer? Givenchy?” I asked trying to put words in her mouth. She gave a light chuckle.
“Well not this time. I got my own personal designer. She’s quite good. This is the first piece she made for me.” Shantel stated proudly. Personal designer?
“Ah… I see.” I added not quite expecting this side to the story. Shantel got her own designer and she’s good. God, I was loving her dress. Now, I’m envious.
Stacy and Paris noticed as we glanced at each other before turning back to Shantel who hasn’t stopped smiling. I wish I could rub off that smile off her face. I needed something to make her jealous. Her dress just made mine look like it was bought at a second-wear store.
“Here’s your drink Harieth.” Spencer stated as he intruded, handing me a glass of champagne. I collected it from him grateful for his intervention.
“And… who’s this?” Shantel asked taking a good look at Spencer. My eyes shifted from the glass in front of me and to her. I noticed the way she stared at him with… interest. No, it was definitely something else. Attraction, that’s the word I’ve been looking for. Shantel was attracted to him. Finally, I have something she wants. I quickly locked arms with Spencer.
“This is Spencer… he’s my boyfriend.” I added and watched as her eyes widened up for a moment. Yes, that’s right. Harieth Gryffin has a boyfriend.
“Oh… I see.” She remarked putting up a brief smile.
“Please excuse me. I have to attend to other guests.” She stated before walking away. My brows slowly furrowed as I watched her walk away. That was it? That’s the only reaction I got from her?
“Girls, is it me or did Shantel just leave without giving her usual throwback speech about something else she has that we don’t have.” Stacy asked as she turned and stared at Shantel just like I did.
“Oh it’s definitely not us. It’s her, alright.” Paris added as she folded her arms above her chest.
“She’s hot!” Spencer suddenly stated with a smile causing all three of us to instantly shift our eyes to give him a hard glare.