Road Less Traveled
“The city, no matter how small, is corrupt and unrepentant, while the sun shines brighter in the country, making people more wholesome.”
There’s almost always one in every family- the outcast. The outcast in some way, shape, or form. Whether it’s because they do something their family doesn’t approve of or because they don’t listen well or because they aren’t the angel child like their other siblings. For me, I was all of the above.
My name is Riley Davenport. I’m twenty-two, fresh out of college, and expected to become a politician like my father, and if not a politician, then a wife to a politician. I’m supposed to do charity work to gain empathy from potential voters, meet and greet current supporters to make sure they continue their support, and find information to weaken my fathers’ competitors in elections. I didn’t mind doing charity work or meeting people or researching information. What I did mind was doing it for the sole purpose of making sure my dad had a perfect campaign and making his adversaries appear untrustworthy and deplorable. This was his campaign. Not mine, not my mother’s, and not my sister’s. His. I understood we needed to behave to give him the best image possible, but the truth was, I was tired of it all.
I began coping in bad ways. It started in college with underage drinking, which, considering everything was within walking distance, never got me into trouble. That is until the paparazzi grew tired of following my perfect sister around. Not to mention, the kids at my college started taking pictures of me drinking and selling them to the magazines for pocket money. I appeared in almost every issue of every magazine. Always just a small blurb about my out of control drinking, and what a disgrace I was- am- to my family.
I was typically on E! News with the hosts criticizing every little thing I did. They criticized me for over-drinking (which I actually didn’t, believe it or not), they scrutinized me for wearing jeans and a hoodie to my classes while my sister wore cute little skirts and tops which were simultaneously fashionable yet tasteful for a politician’s daughter, and they ridiculed me for not having as good of grades as my sister. Having the constant stress of trying to be the perfect daughter for my parents, trying to be like my perfect older sister, trying to be the perfect celebrity, I became exhausted. I was done with it. So I decided to be the opposite. I behaved at any event I was forced to go to, but otherwise, I went wild. Partying, drinking, clubbing, whenever I could.
Each morning I’d have a hangover, endure my parent’s disdainful glances at me, my sister’s pitiful stares, and repeat the process.
Tonight would be no different.
I picked out a dress from my closet when someone knocked on my door.
“Who is it?” I called out.
“It’s Casey,” my sister replied, poking her head in.
“I was coming to see if I could convince you to skip the party tonight and hang out with Mark and me,” she said, fully entering my room and shutting the door. She sat on my bed, staring at me. I faced her.
Casey Davenport. The perfect daughter. Average height, blonde hair, brown eyes, pale but beautiful complexion, kind, sweet, caring. She had a fantastic job working for our dad, she had the most incredible fiancé, and she had her life on track. Somehow, she could handle having our every move analyzed and watched and monitored.
I wanted to hate her for being the way she was, but I couldn’t. She was my sister, and out of everyone in my family, she tried to understand what I was going through. She couldn’t, but she tried, which was more than either of my parents ever did.
“Case, thank you for the invitation, but when I weigh the options of going to a party and being the awkward third wheel,
I will go for the party any day,” I laughed. “Nice try.”
“You wouldn’t be the awkward third wheel! Mark’s friend is coming!”
“Is he a politician’s son?”
“Not interested. I don’t want anything to do with politics. I’ll vote and whatnot, but other than that, I like to avoid it as much as possible. It’s all corruption and bribery and all the same damn families competing against one another.”
“We’re not corrupted,” Casey argued.
“Yes, we are. We’re also screwed up. Mostly because of me.”
“You can change that, you know.”
“And you know I tried that, and all it got me was more negative comments from mother and father. I’d rather them not speak to me at all than have them say nasty remarks to me.”
“They compliment you!” Casey argued.
I snorted. “Sarcastically, yes. Like when I get up before eight or when I show up without a hangover to an event. Those are really nice compliments.”
“My answer’s no. Thank you for the invitation, though.”
“Please don’t go out tonight. This will be the fifth time this week.”
“Fifth time too little. I’ll be fine.”
Casey sighed. “Fine. Be that way. Just be careful.”
She left my room, and I finally chose a dress and got ready. Within an hour, I headed downstairs to go to the party only to be greeted by Casey, Mark, and some guy I didn’t know. I assumed it was Mark’s friend. My parents were down there as well, chatting amiably with everyone.
“- a charity fundraiser this weekend. You should come with your parents,” my father told the stranger. He was about to say more when he saw me. “Ah, Riley, glad you’re finally down here. I’d like to introduce you to Neil Hardy. He’s the son of-”
“Patrick Hardy,” I finished. “You must be Mark’s friend.”
“I am,” Neil answered. “It’s a pleasure to meet you.”
“You’ll hang out with Neil, Casey, and Mark tonight,” my father stated, giving me a glare that said any other outing would not be permissible.
“Well, then I hope they’re going to the club because that’s where I’m going,” I said.
“We’re actually going to dinner,” Casey quipped. “You’re dressed perfectly for it.”
“I don’t want to-”
“You’re going tonight, or else you don’t go out at all,” my father warned.
“Fine. Lead the way you three,” I said, motioning towards the door. Little did my father know I planned on sneaking away from the dinner at some point. No way in hell was I sitting through their boring-ass conversations.
We said goodbye to my parents as we got into the limo. It pulled away from the curb, heading towards the restaurant. Casey, Mark, and Neil all tried to get me to talk. I’d give short, curt answers, alerting them I did not want to be there. In the end, they gave up.
About thirty minutes into dinner itself, when we were working on our appetizers, Casey excused herself to go to the bathroom, asking me to go with her. I reluctantly obliged. Upon the door shutting behind us, she demanded in exasperation, “Okay, seriously, get the stick out of your ass and give the guy a chance. What is so bad about him?!”
“He’s a politician’s son and a future politician. I’ve had enough of politics in my life, thank you very much. The food’s delicious, I like your company, don’t mind Mark and Neil’s company, but I’m not interested in the latter the way you and our parents want me to be, and I don’t want to be here in the first place.”
“Just suck it up for one dinner? Please?”
“The moment that check is paid, I’m out of here.”
“Let’s get this dinner over with.”
The two of us went back to the table where our dinner was waiting for us. I sent a silent prayer for the dinner to go by quickly. Our meals did come out quickly, which meant I could scarf it down and be out of there as soon as possible. However, I forgot how slow of an eater my sister was. A quick, ten-minute meal turned into another hour before she finished. Then, of course, she decided to get some dessert.
I excused myself to go to the bathroom.
I managed to avoid having Casey come with me, which made sneaking out through the kitchen a lot easier than I thought it’d be. I leisurely walked to the club, knowing my sister wouldn’t notice my absence for a while. I showed my ID to the bouncer who let me in without second thoughts and handed my purse to the coat check person after taking out a few twenties to pay for drinks. I went straight for the bar, ordering some shots. A few club regulars, ones I hung out with whenever I saw them, bought me drinks as well.
I was downing my second shot when someone grabbed my hand. I turned around to find Neil staring at me.
“You didn’t ask me to come to the club with you,” he said.
“I didn’t think you’d want to,” I replied.
He downed the last two of my shots. “Of course I do. I’ll pay you back for those. Come on!”
Neil dragged me to the middle of the club, where we began to dance. It was really crowded. Bodies of people I didn’t know pushed up against me. The only one I did know was Neil, and I had to admit, he was a decent dancer. We danced for hours until he whispered in my ear, “It’s getting hot in here. Do you want to head outside for some air?”
I agreed, feeling the swear damn-near dripping off my skin. The two of us ended up in the alley behind the building. The cool, night air felt good against my skin.
“So, this is what you do every night?” Neil asked. I nodded. “How long do you stay?”
“A lot longer than what you lasted.”
He smiled at me. “I’m not done, I just thought I’d melt if I didn’t get out of there for a few minutes.”
“I’ll give you some credit. You at least you have some moves.”
“Only some?” Neil grinned at me, walking up to me. I knew what was on his mind right now, and if he made a move, I wouldn’t stop him.
“Only some,” I repeated, looking up at him. He leaned in.
I met him halfway. The kiss started out slowly but became passionate quickly, especially when he pinned me against a wall. I didn’t mind being kissed that way. He wasn’t the first guy to kiss me like this. He was the first guy to slip his hands underneath my dress and touching an area of me that no man was welcome to until I gave him my permission. I shoved his hands away, but he fought against me, one hand grabbing my neck and squeezing. His other hand made his way back underneath my underwear.