Chapter 00- Prologue
“Cheers!” My friends and I chanted for probably the hundredth time tonight before we all took a shot. In our circle, we believe that the whole world spinning after drinks is the ideal way to end a night. I mean, if your world ain’t spinning after a night a of fun, did you even party at all?
It’s Thursday, and I’m out and about with my girls. Don’t get me wrong, party days are usually Friday nights and Saturdays. But today’s a special night for our cousin Maddie, who’s celebrating her 24th. She’s my cousin and bff in one, so what kind of person would I be if I didn’t take the time of day, slash that, night for the person who always stood by me?
“Hey, Megan! That guy has been hitting on you since we got here. If I were you, I’d strut myself down to their table and have a loooot more fun than we’re having.” Maddie told me when she noticed how the guy in black from across the room never let his eyes off me.
If it were any other day, I would have gone to their table and have free drinks and kisses. “Pass. Today is your day, not mine. So ignore the guy who’s eyeing me, and let’s get you a guy on the dance floor. C’mon!” I said as I took her hand and my sisters to lead then towards the middle of the bar. “Woohoo! New York City, you’re the best!” Maddie screamed at the top of her lungs, obviously as high as I am.
Drinking and dancing, it’s what we do to have fun. It’s our way of relaxing after a week of work. It has always been this way: Weekdays we work and weekends we twerk. Not that I’m good at it, but hey, it’s all about the looks anyway.
“Hey ladies.” Well, it looks like the guy in black had some balls after all. “Girl, he’s got great moves. I want him.” Maddie whispered then continued to dance as if she was 18- twisting and gyrating to the rhythm, sometimes grinding on a random guy who went near her. As expected from a former cheerdance captain. She could have him for all I care, she should be happy tonight.
My sister, Taegan, elbowed me and pushed me towards the guy, but I resisted and gave her a stern look.
“Don’t be a bitch, Taegan, I don’t want any boys tonight. It’s a girls night, hoes over boys.” I said.
“Can I have fun with him then?” Maddie instantly said. All I did was nod and told her “Have fun!”
That was the last thing I remembered when I woke up the next morning. It’s past seven, I sighed and stood up. Realizing that I was in my parent’s house, I wondered how we got home after all the drinks that we had. I’m still a bit dizzy and nauseous but this is way better than the way I felt last night. I start my day by brushing my teeth and washing my face, right before I go to my sanctuary- the kitchen.
Insouciant is what I always am when I’m in the kitchen. Perhaps it’s the scent of whatever it is that has been cooking on the stove that makes you wanna grab the nearest chair and stop for a while to eat, or maybe it’s just the fond memories of hustle made in the kitchen from when you only had one tooth and up until the most recent Christmas. During mornings, I usually confine myself in the comfort of our kitchen, making breakfast before the day starts. In an overly large shirt that goes all the way to my knees, a messy bun, and fuzzy bedroom slippers, I wished I could just stay in bed all day, or at least spend a longer time at home.
“Shit” I said as I remembered to flip over the pancake that has been bubbling for the last three minutes. Well, there’s that for being insouciant. At least I have already made enough before this one.
“I’ve always wondered what happened to that shirt,” my father said as he kissed the top of my head and his hand crept around my waist. It was the same way he greeted mom in the morning. “Oh hey, pops, you’re awake. I made your favorite tea and pancakes for breakfast.” Ignoring his comment about his shirt that I stole from his closet.
Just so we’re clear, he’s my biological father, not a sugar daddy.
“Is your sister here, too? Or were you the only one wasted last night?” He asked me, and I just laughed at him. I couldn’t remember how I ended up going here actually. I have my own place a few blocks down, Taegan has one too. But it’s always me who magically ends up here during weekends. “I don’t know, pops. Do you have anything planned for today?” I asked him curiously. He’s in his 60s, yet in my eyes he still looks nothing beyond 40. Brown hair, amber eyes, and full pink lips. It doesn’t help that he’s 6 foot 2. If he was my age I would have wanted him to be my boyfriend. That and if I wasn’t his splitting image.
“Just some golfing with your uncles this afternoon. Would you stay here tonight? Or will you leave your old man alone with little miss Julie there?” He said pointing to Julie who apparently woke up late, and is ready to do the chores for today.
“Sorry, dad. But I didn’t buy my own place to just keep staying here, you know?“ and he gave me a hearty laugh.
“Hey, Julie! Do you know how I got here last night?”
“No, sorry. I must have been fast asleep by the time you arrived.” Julie replied. She’s just a few years older than me, and I see her as a big sister. Her mother was my mother’s maid and we’ve always considered them like family. But they always insist on serving us, even when we don’t require it. And I quote “I’m sorry, but I see it as an abuse if you just give me money that I didn’t work for. Mom may have died a bit early, but I’m not a charity case. This is my way of giving back to your family for all the help you’ve given us.” She was actually given a chance to pursue higher education, but she passed it up, because she said what we’ve done to help them is more than enough. She’s been through so much, I always looked up to her for her simplicity and nobility.
See, our family does not meet the norm of families here in New York. In this fast paced city, our father strived to achieve a functional family. One thing he grew up wanting. So we may be busier than average, but we grew up recognizing the importance of family and time and love- life in general.
I went to the chair where Pops was drinking his tea while reading this morning’s paper to give him a kiss before I head upstairs for a bath. He hugged me, and I feel him inhale my scent, before he said “What’s an old man gonna do to see his kids these days?”
“Dad, I think you’re forgetting that you gave us a company to run, remember?” I said.
“I wish Taegan stays here as often as you. I rarely get to see her. But I saw how both of you boss around at work. Never would’ve thought that my little tiger-tay and meg-pie could run the family’s business. Almost as if you could run the world.” He said. As if he could forget that we’re running the empire passed on in the family for years.
El Valentino, is New York City’s top fashion brand, selling high-end shoes and clothes for women. It started out as a small venture selling handmade leather heels of different colors, shapes, and sizes. Now, it has become world-renowned, thanks to our grandparents who were strong supporters of feminism. It was dad who introduced the clothing line and it became a hit because of its inclusivity.
“I must admit, Dad. You’ve had it coming. Have you seen how bossy you were during your days at work? I’m just glad you haven’t rubbed those bossy genes on me that much. I’m nothing compared to Taegan.” He answered with a belly laugh. “Off you go now. You smell so bad, haven’t you showered for weeks?” He pretended to cover his nose.
“Whatever, Dad. We both know for a fact that I don’t smell. And even if I did, you’d still love me.” I said before making my way to the staircase.
I stood in front of the mirror as I put on my accessories for today- a huge heart shaped dangling earrings and 90s skinny sunglasses that go well with my outfit. Pink low cut blazer top and high waisted cigarette cut slacks that’s cut right above my ankles. I wore my fuzzy white heels to match my coat and bag that were both white. I spritzed on my perfume, and now I’m off to work.
“Good morning, Ms. Alexandria,” the doorman in our company building greeted me with a smile and a bow. Everybody in our office calls me by Alexandria, a name which I never really use outside the doors of this building. But there are exceptions, of course. Megan Alexandria Valentine is my name. Alexandria in the office and the media, but Megan to everybody else.
“Miss, your sister called to tell you that she’s expecting you in her office.” My secretary told me as she pressed the elevator button. “Did she say what it’s about?” Usually, when Taegan asks to meet with me, it’s very serious.
I passed by Taegan’s secretary and went inside her office, not even bothering with a knock. If she expects me, she’ll know it’s me. “What is this about?” I started.
Taegan says “Well, I’ve been thinking, if we want to double our revenue, we should give the market something they’ve never seen from our haute couture.”
“So, have you thought of something yet?”
“Unfortunately, I can’t think of something we could offer aside from what we already have. Well, not yet.” Well, looks like I’d have something to ponder upon this weekend. “Oh, and Zac called me. He said he couldn’t reach your number. He told me to inform you that he wanted to grab a bite tonight. I quote- ‘It’s not a request. It’s a command.’”
Zac is my best friend from middle school. He works a game software developer, and also works for our company when I need him to. “Tell him to text the time and place, I’ll be there. Did he say anything else?”
“Goodness, Megan. I am not your messenger,” Taegan said as she rolled her eyes. “Well, sorry to bother you, but I forgot to charge my phone last night. It’s probably drained after all the drunk videos I took of you and Maddie.”
I’m a memory hoarder. I take thousands of photos and videos- of things I love and find adorable, of friends, family, of everything I never want to forget. It’s a proof that I once inhabited this world. If I had a choice, my phone’s memory would’ve been a terabyte. So I stick with simply using an external drive for everything, and developing the photos into books. Sometimes creating scrapbooks and art.
Zac: 7PM at our fav bar. See you.
It’s half past five, I have enough time to prepare. I should probably wear something slutty, since Zac’s gonna be there anyway. I decided to go for a red satin cowl neck bodycon dress from our Christmas line.
Zac: PS: don’t show too much skin.
Each time we go out, he always reminds me to dress appropriately. That he’s always having a hard time fending off every guy that looks or even dares to come close. Well, too late for that, Zac. I’m already dressed. I wore gold accessories and black heels.
“There. Now I’m ready.” I said as I finished applying my ruby red lipstick.
Unknowing of what’s bound to happen that fateful night. One moment I was off to get a few drinks, and probably a dance with my best friend. But I got way more than what I expected.
I always thought I was safe. But I guess even the toughest walls could come crashing down.