One: So This Is Goldstone?
Neon City, where people are always busy. Working in the day, having fun at night. Goldstone is where business mixed with pleasure. The tall buildings in the city center was something Charlie never seen before, not in Bluebridge. Everyone traveled by motor vehicles, wide roads, street lights on every junctions and corners.
Giant billboards hung up in front and on top of buildings, showing familiar faces she'd seen in movies and televisions. The moment they arrived, they were greeted by the hustles and bustles of the city.
Everyone seemed busy with their own thing. Pedestrians on the sidewalks drinking coffee and having lunch on the go. Not caring what the other person was doing, not even looking at each other.
Her eyes twinkled, her face beamed, she was looking at something she longed to see for the longest time. Hope, opportunities, the kind of life she imagined she would have. A direct opposite of the life she had in Bluebridge and the kind she would have in Gastonburry.
"We'll drop our stuff at the flat first ... get settled and then we head out to town tonight ... sounds good?" Tommy was still driving.
"Can't we just go now and drop our stuff later when we get back?" she was too eager.
Tommy laughed, "No, baby, it's better if we go around without our baggage so we can leave the car later," he took a turn to a narrow street where the buildings looked older and dense. "Anyways, you'll have plenty of time to explore ... you'll be staying here the whole summer," he added.
She smiled and turned to hug him, "I'm so happy to be here!! I can't believe we're here already!!" she screamed.
"Okay ... calm down baby, we're almost there, you know I might not be able to go out later 'cause I'd be too tired carrying all your stuff to the seventh floor," he teased her.
"What? There's no elevator?"
"There is ... a very old one ... I don't trust it ... but maybe we can try and use it for the stuff," he had his eyes on the road as he parked the car at a reserved parking spot. "Here we are," he said.
Charlie kissed him deeply, "I love you ... thanks for driving me here."
"It's my pleasure, baby, I love you too."
"Sorry, Tom, there was a leak from the kitchen sink, so we had to do a little maintenance ... but it'll be ready in three days," the guy at the reception told him.
"We have to replace the pipe, so we had to break some parts of the walls ... it's kinda messy up there, but we'll clean it up for you within three days," he explained.
Charlie was looking at the small coffee shop on the ground floor. The interior of the building was old but well preserved. It looked like a 1920's building, wooden floor and vintage flowery wallpaper. It smelled like a place straight out of a mafia movie. The strong scent of coffee coming from the retro coffee shop complimented the whole scene.
"I love this place," she said.
Tommy raised his eyebrows, "Don't love it just yet ... we have to stay at Jeremy's for three days before we can go into our flat," he complained.
"Hmm ... I heard ... 'our' flat?" she caught him.
"Well ... technically ... this would be the first time I'm entering my own flat ... with you ... so ..." he stuttered.
She laughed softly, "I'm just kidding ... and where's Jeremy's flat?"
"Conveniently ... right next to ours," he said.
Tommy was right about the elevator. It was small, slow, old, it could only fit three people and they had to go back and forth to get the rest of their stuff. But she didn't mind, the whole experience was exhilarating for her. She just couldn't wait to get everything settled and explore the city with Tommy.
"Hey man! Glad you're back!" Jeremy greeted him on the 7th floor corridor, he was just about to leave. "I heard your flat won't be ready 'til Monday ... just put your stuff at my place, man, you can stay as long as you want."
They hugged and did the slap handshake and a shoulder bump. Jeremy's eyes gazed at Charlie for a split second and realized it was a face he recognized from the picture Tom used to stare at.
"You must be Charlie? You didn't tell me you were bringing company?" he offered a handshake.
"It was a last minute decision," Tommy said.
"Hi! Nice to meet you ... sorry to barge in, I hope we're not bothering you," Charlie said politely.
"Oh no ... no bother at all ... my pleasure ... it's a bit cramped though, but make yourselves at home, I kinda have to go now, I'd love to catch up with you guys later or maybe tomorrow?"
"Yeah, sure man, Charlie's staying for the whole summer ... we have time," Tommy replied.
"Great! I'll leave you guys to it then ... it's really nice to finally meet you, Charlie ... oh and don't forget to get a fake ID ... you'll need it! Welcome to Goldstone ... catch ya' later," he added before entering the elevator.
Tommy had a key to Jeremy's place. They were used to being flat mates and treated the place like they shared it. Tommy paid for half the rent whenever he can, but Jeremy didn't really cared for that. Their friendship meant more than a mere rent money. Now that Tommy can afford his own place, he gave Jeremy a set of his keys too, just in case.
As soon as they were done putting their stuff in Jeremy's flat, Charlie couldn't wait another minute before they were out the door and back in the car. She didn't even bother to unpack.
The day was turning grey, it was almost sundown. The city was about to lit up in neon and she wanted to experience it first hand. Those who were done working looked less tense than they did in the morning. She watched with glittery eyes as the city slowly revealing it's true colors. Music, dancing, entertainment, kept the city alive every single night. Locals blend with tourists who came to enjoy the Goldstone nightlife. The West End of the city was where they make the real magic. The movie studios. Where the stars lived, up in the hills, where celebrations and award shows were held, where imagination and reality merged.
She painted the town red with Tommy by her side. She fell in love with it as if it was the home she was longing for so long. She wanted to dive in to the Goldstone promise of the neon life, where everything was more colorful and alive than anything she had ever experienced.
The huge silver neon tongue was visible from half a mile away. A long queue of club goers went all the way two blocks down. She was finally seeing what she could only imagined before. The more she seen the city, the more she was mesmerized by how alive it was. Tommy parked the car out back and asked her to wait while he went inside.
"Can't I go with you?" she asked.
"I have to get an ID for you ... usually it'll take a day ... so tomorrow we'll go inside, Roy's not here, they'll never let you in without an ID," he said.
They strolled the city streets all night that day. Silver Tongue was the last stop before they go back to the flat and fell flat on their faces for being so tired. Tomorrow's another day, she can do it all over again.