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A Prince by any Other Name

By Vindication All Rights Reserved ©

Drama / Romance

1

My best friend Jessica scorched me with her death glare.  I could remember every time she’d brought out her lethal weapon in my seventeen years and it’d never been against me.  “I’m sorry Jess, please listen to me,” I pleaded with her over screeching dubstep.  Jess finished her beer and dropped the bottle without breaking eye contact.

  “Get the fuck away from me Molly.  Don’t give me your drunken apologies,” she turned back to her circle of older college kids and left me with damp eyes. 

  Undeterred, I grabbed the shoulder of her black vest.  “Jess I was drunk then too, I didn’t mean to do that.  Please, I love you.” 

  Jess turned around and pressed her face inches from mine.  Dressed in black from tights and spiked boots to black hair and eye shadow she was absolutely gorgeous and yet terrifying.  She grabbed my shoulders and squeezed them until I winced.  “Let me hear it properly.  You didn’t mean to have sex with my boyfriend during winter ball and get caught by my little brother on camera.  You didn’t mean to humiliate me in front of the entire grade.”

  My throat had run dry, “I-I’m sorry.”

  Jess shoved me back.  I shook like she’d used tasers.  “Go away and don’t come back.”  My legs carried me backward on instinct until I slammed into the bar. 

  “C-can I get a drink?” I asked.

  “ID please” the bartender said.  I handed my fake and got two shots Vodka for the price of one; my new best friend.  They burned away my fear and pain.  I straightened up, adjusted my white jumper and silky tights, and marched back to Jess.  She was swaying on her feet with her hair flowing and her group applauding.  I was transfixed by her figure dancing there. 

  “What do you want?  You’re like a sick puppy who doesn’t leave anyone alone,” Jess said.  She was scorching me again.  Even with liquid courage in my belly it was too much.  I felt sick from knocking knees to churning stomach to burning eyes.

  “I’m sorry about everything.  I’m sorry about sleeping with your boyfriend and I’m sorry about your brother catching us.  Please I’ll do anything just to have you back.  You mean more to me.”  Every cliché in my library spilled out in one desperate reach.

  “If I meant so much you wouldn’t have done that.  And if I really meant so much to you then you’d listen to what I said and leave me alone!”  Her group burst into laughter to mock me.  I should’ve run away and given her the entire town worth of space.  I didn’t; my brain was racing too fast and too lubricated in carbon-hydroxyl-oh to listen to their shrill cries.  I held my ground.

  “I wasn’t drunk that day.”

  “I know you weren’t.  I had your bottle in my locker,” she was still glaring but hadn’t shoved me away again, so I was encouraged. 

  “I was having problems with my boyfriend you see.  I just didn’t mesh with him like we weren’t meant for each other.  I was sitting in the auditorium crying over it when your boyfriend walked in on me.  He was so nice that I just…I just had to try and see.”  I slap my hands over my face as my cheeks burn.  Jess shocks me by placing a hand on my shoulder.  Everything under her fingertips grows nice and warm and tingles. 

  “Oh Molly.  How do you get such good grades when you’re so stupid?  Like did you even think about what you were going to say?  I don’t just think you’re a backstabbing slut, I think you’re a greedy bitch too.  Don’t talk to me ever again, do you hear me?”  Her slap might as well have been a sledgehammer blow.  I reeled and covered my face.  Over the pounding beat I heard laughter cruel and mocking.  I stumbled away and bury myself deep in the tempestuous dance floor where no one recognizes me.  Eventually I crawled back to the bar.  I bought another two shots and worked on a new plan.  Backing out for the night never occurred to me.  Jess never betrayed friends but also held grudges.  She wouldn’t forget with time. 

  I spotted a gold-flecked red bottle sitting in the back of the bar and squinted for the label through the strobes.  It was Don Perignon: oh how lucky that’s Jess’ favorite.  It’s liquid gold reserved for the gilded and certainly doesn’t belong in this barn.  “What’s the price on that?”

  Bartender rumbled with more toxic laughter.  “Young lady if you have to ask the price then you can’t afford it.  That’s one solid grand for that bottle.”  Jess has expensive tastes.  I winced and withdrew, and he shook his head.  I sat at the bar and strained for glimpses of Jess dancing through the swirling figures blurred by my tears.  I have never seen another soul who can be so elegant and yet so powerful.  She’s in her element and instead of snuggling under her wing and joining in her glory I was there alone in the cold.

  The bartended hands the red bottle to a group who pay up.  My eyes caught on them and stuck as they walked off, passing my prize around.  I bought a beer and started after them.  I pushed through the crowd without regard.  Someone gave me a shove.  I was above caring; the good carbonyl-hydroxyl-oh had wormed its way in and done its magic.  My neurons were drowning.  I saw the group-two couples standing around a bar table laughing and happy.  My eyes followed Don Perignon from mouth to mouth to the table behind them.  Such a gem left by the wayside with so little care.

  The bottle was cold and still heavy in my fingers.  I didn’t look back as I cradled it back into the foliage.  Now to find Jess and present her with my appeasement.  I wasn’t thinking about how to do this without causing another scene but like I said my neurons were drowning.

  The bottle leapt away like it had a mind of its own.  My fingers dug in tight.  Suddenly I was falling to the ground, half my face numb and my fingers aching.  I grabbed that hand and looked up at four furious faces.  None were Jess.  “What are you doing you drunk bitch?” one of them said.

  “I’m not drunk,” I protested and scrabbled back on my aching wrists.  Someone planted a heavy boot on my stomach and I almost threw up.

  “This is pathetic.  She tried to make off with our bottle.  Give her a good beating and let’s go back to having fun.”  That was a woman’s voice.

  The boot stomps down on my chest.  A scream exploded from my lips and was whipped away in the music.  “Stop please!  I just wanted to help my friend Jessica!”  Everything spilled out in one panicked diarrhea. 

  A distinctively female face listened in confusion until my tirade dribbled off.  “Okay, now beat her up” she said and a glare spread across.

  Someone tall and clad in black stepped over me and shielded me with her arms.  “What are you doing?” Jess demanded.  She was a prince coming to the side of his helpless Disney bride.  “I said what are you doing?”

  “Girl stole our bottle.”

  “Your drink is in your hand.  Back off right now,” she had more anger than she did when addressing me. 

  “What is she a friend of yours?”

  “Just back off.  It’s not worth it,” Jess growled.  Four pairs of eyes went wide in unison.  They decamped in the face of adversity.  Jess knelt beside me.  She slid something slim and glinting into her purse.  Her big eyes embraced me.  “Oh Molly what did you do?”

  “That was Don Perginon.  I wanted you to have it because I love you,” I said, glad that I got the words off with the proper meaning.  Jess placed a hand over her heart.  Her face cycled through emotions faster than I could track.  Finally she got my hand. 

  “Molly you can’t stay here on the floor, get up.”  Her soothing mothering voice graced my ears.  It was such a relief to hear that I obeyed without thought.  I wasn’t so inebriated that my legs were jelly.  Jess took me by the shoulders and lead me to a back lounge.  In a corner I settled into a pink ez-chair.  She remained up to pace back and forth.  “Okay Molly, I’ve calmed down a little.  You have five minutes before I walk away.  Explain yesterday, and what were you thinking taking that bottle?”

  “That was a thousand dollar drink and your favorite brand.  I wanted you to know how sorry I am,” I said.  Jess shook her head and rolled her eyes. 

  “Well you got a black eye out of it.  And my misplaced sympathies.  I can’t stay mad at you forever Molly, you’re just so…innocent that you’re a danger to yourself.”

  “You drove them off, how are you so strong?” I asked.

  She shrugged and perched on a coffee table.  “I had to be in order to survive.  How are you so book smart and yet so clueless in real life?”

  “I just am, that’s why I stay around tough girls like you, so they can protect me” was my only excuse.  I needed her beside me like she needed me.  I’d be dead in gutter and she’d have failed out of school, jumped into the deep end of precincts and poison without me.  Jess wasn’t giving me the death glare so I seized the opportunity to continue my earlier apology.  “Jess, before when I was talking about our boyfriends, I was trying to say something else.”

“What?” she demanded. 

  “I don’t want either of them, I just don’t know any better I’m just so confused about what I want that, like I wasn’t thinking straight,” I said.  Jess opened her mouth to speak again but then something seized me by the heart and I blurted out “I know what I want now though, finally I do.  Jess I want you.”  Once more my hands were clamped on my mouth.  A wonderful warmth was spreading in my breast and caressing my entirety.  Jess’ eyes grew to dinner plates.

  “What do you mean?” she said and nearly fell off her table.

  “I mean that I am romantically attracted to you; I love you Jess” I said and it felt like I’d found the last piece in a million-piece jigsaw puzzle.  The only path left was to brace myself and await her reaction.

  My girl hopped over to sit on my armrest and regarded me.  Her brow was wrinkled in deep life-altering thought.  “You know, I was getting ready to break up with my boy anyways.  So I-I...  Let me try something Molly.”  Her eyes shut and with the elegance of a princess she dipped and pressed her lips to mine.  Soft lips and cherry taste, gentle touch, mind swirling, Jess trembling, me sobbing, pure ecstasy. 

  Jess withdrew.  Tears were in her eyes.  Her lips spread from their pucker into a smile that touched her ears.  “I’m still mad at you!” she said.  She went in for another.  I met her midway.

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