Kristie, my very best friend, and I are sitting in the airport bar sipping Cosmos while we wait for our flight. We’re finally heading off to Boston to start our residency at a hospital my father owns. It took years and years of pre-med and med school to finally get to this point.
I’ll be moving away from my parents for the first time in my life. Well, I lived five hours away from them for several years while in med school, but somehow it didn’t feel the same as this. I’m excited and scared all at the same time. On one hand, it will be a blessing to get away from my mother and all her ridiculous expectations for me. On the other, I will miss my dad dearly. Though his expectations are no less than my mother’s, they aren’t the same. He expects me to do well in school, to graduate with honors, and to carry on the family tradition of being a doctor. I can handle all that, it’s what I want for myself.
My mother’s expectations align with my father’s as much as they collide. If it was up to her, I would marry wealthy, as is expected of me anyway, and become a trophy wife like she is. I have to be prim and proper at all times. She’d flip out if she saw what I was wearing right now. And in public, no less!
Instead of the business casual peach dress I was wearing when I left the house this morning to be driven to LAX, I’m wearing black yoga pants, a teal racerback tank top, tennis shoes, and my red hair is in a messy knot on the top of my head. I changed in the back of the town car that drove Kristie and me here as soon as we left the premises of our family’s mansions.
Kristie’s parents are not nearly as hard on her. She had the same expectations of doing well in school, but she was supposed to become a lawyer like her dad. When she told Mr. Cleaston, she wanted to be a doctor instead he allowed it with no problems. He wants Kristie to be happy in her life above all else. I wish my parents were the same.
Kristie sits next to me in some tight black skinny jeans and an equally tight silver sparkly tank top showcasing her perfect body. She’s got ankle-high boots and her dark brown hair flows down her back in soft curls. Her pale green eyes are accented in dark makeup and she looks gorgeous and put together. Everything I am not.
“What are you staring at, babe?” she asks, glancing over the rim of her drink.
“Nothing. Just admiring how pretty you look today,” I answer honestly. She does look pretty, and she’s my sister. The only one I have since I’m an only child.
Kristie gives me a brilliant smile. She loves compliments, and she gets them often because she’s beautiful in a very sophisticated way. She’s a partier, and she’s crazy, but she can also fit into the society we were born into just as easily as she can fit into the party scene. I’m in awe of my best friend as much as I’m a little jealous of her. She’s unapologetic about who she is and what she wants. She does what makes her happy and ‘fuck everyone else’, as she so eloquently says.
“How’s Willa?” I ask. Kristie pauses and puts her drink down with a sigh.
There are four of us that grew up close together. Our dads are the four richest men in America. They were close, thus their children are close. Evan Van Holsten, Noah Whittier, Kristie Cleaston, and me, Allie Stinfield, have been best friends for as long as we’ve been alive.
About two years ago, we visited our friends at Noah’s parent’s place in Florida to see Evan and his high school sweetheart/arranged wife for their honeymoon. I know that sounds complicated. And it was. Welcome to our lives.
Anyway, they visited Noah for their honeymoon, and Kristie and I decided to crash because we hadn’t seen Noah or Evan in years since we were so God damn busy with school. It was summer vacation, so perfect timing. When Brooke, Evan’s wife, found all of us there, she decided to invite her best friend, Willa, too. Kristie and Willa sort of hit it off and started some kind of fling. It has been on-again, off-again ever since.
As you can see, our lives are filled with drama. Don’t even get me started on Noah’s drama with his ex-girlfriend Kendra and his now fiancée/baby momma, Avery.
“We stopped seeing each other,” Kristie says, not looking at me. Why hadn’t she told me?
“It wasn’t that big of a deal. It’s not like we were together, really. We were just messing around. Willa is fun, but I don’t think I want to be in a serious relationship with a woman or maybe not anyone right now. And anyway, she’s kinda seeing Abel,” Kristie explains. I’m surprised. I didn’t know she was with Abel. He’s Noah’s little brother.
“Abel, really? Huh. Who knows, maybe you’ll meet your prince or princess charming in Boston. They could be a doctor or something. It’s not like your parents are expecting you to marry wealthy like mine are. You’re lucky you have a choice,” I say wistfully.
“You don’t have to marry Chet or any other rich dick they try to put you with. Maybe you’ll find your forever in Boston. You want that. I don’t,” Kristie says, downing the rest of her Cosmo.
“Besides Evan and Noah, I think all the ‘appropriate’ men are garbage. Since Evan and Brooke are married and Noah’s engaged to Avery, I’m stuck with the likes of Chet,” I say cringing when I say his name. Even the name is pretentious as hell. “Besides, even I know nothing lasts forever, so what’s the point?”
“Fuck what anyone else wants and stop being so fucking mopey. What’s gotten into you, anyway? You’re usually all about true love and shit,” Kristie says.
“I don’t know. The more I think about it, the more fleeting it all seems. Look how much shit Brooke and Evan and Noah and Avery went through just to be together. It shouldn’t be that hard, should it?”
“You think anything worth a damn is easy? I’m down with the pointlessness of relationships. You know I am, babe, but it’s so unlike you. You’re one of the few people in this world that still sees the good in it. I need you to keep going or else I’m fucked. But hey, even if nothing lasts forever, the ride’s still gotta be fun, right?”
“I guess that’s true,” I concede.
“Hold your head up high and take what you want. Be greedy. It works out for the best sometimes,” Kristie says, getting up from her stool. I sigh and down the rest of my drink. First-class will board any minute now.
“I wish I could be more like you,” I mumble, but I don’t think Kristie hears me.
According to Kristie, Noah, and Evan, I am the soft-spoken, sweet girl in our group of friends. I mean, they’re right, but what if I don’t want to be that person anymore? It’s not like I’ve had a lot of opportunities to speak up for myself. My mother keeps a tight lid on my opinions. I’m not allowed any because they might make me undesirable to possible future husbands.
Kristie is who she is with zeros craps given while I feel like I can’t be who I am. Hell, do I even know who I am? Maybe this time away from my mom and dad will give me a chance to figure out who that is. Maybe I can be someone different, someone new.
First-class just started boarding when we walk up to the departure gate. We hand our tickets to the woman at the door and enter the plane. We’re seated on the spacious seats next to each other. I sit next to the window. Kristie wanted an aisle seat for easy access to the flight attendants and the alcohol they serve. I rolled my eyes at her explanation earlier, but I’m fine with the arrangement. I know she hates flying.
I gaze out at the sunny weather I’m leaving behind. I don’t know what the weather is like in Boston during the fall and winter, but I guess it can’t be any worse than a New York winter. The problem is, it’s been almost ten years since I lived in New York or anywhere besides California.
Kristie already has some sort of amber drink on the rocks. I’m trying to pull out my laptop so we can watch a movie as the plane fills. Business-class has already filled up, and I think they’re going to close the doors soon.
I hear running and fast words to the flight attendant at the door. I look up from my laptop just as two men come walking down the aisle. The first is a very large man, one that nearly rivals Noah in height and muscles. His skin is beautifully brown, and he has close-cropped hair and brown eyes. He’s got a few tattoos on his arms, but nothing like Noah’s sleeves.
The second man, the one that catches my attention, is shorter than the first by a few inches, but he’s still tall. He’s got sandy blonde hair. It’s close-cropped on the sides and a little longer on top. It looks like it probably requires a product to style it, but today it’s hanging down his forehead and he has to flip it out of his eyes every once in a while. Maybe he woke up late, and that’s why they’re just now walking into the plane.
The shorter guy looks over and his eyes capture mine in a gaze I can’t break. His eyes are like emeralds, bright and sparkly. He’s looking at me intently and I can’t look away, but neither can he. He flashes me a dimpled smile, and it’s just as genuine as it is sweet. My breath rushes out of me when our eye contact is finally broken as he makes his way further down the aisle and into business class.
“What the fuck was that?” Kristie asks.
“I—I don’t know,” I answer honestly. I can’t really think. I’m still flustered. But seriously, what was that?
“Did you see that hunk of a man?” Kristie questions.
“Huh?” I reply, lamely. I still can’t think.
“The giant in front of the green-eyed beauty you ogled,” she says with a laugh.
“I did not ogle,” I say defensively.
“You so ogled.”
“I thought you didn’t want to be in a relationship with anyone right now,” I say to get the scrutiny off me.
“We’re on a plane. I probably won’t ever see him again. Maybe I could persuade him to join the Mile High Club with me, though,” Kristie replies with a lascivious smile.
“You’re so gross,” I say. Kristie just shrugs with a light laugh.
I go back to my laptop, but suddenly I’m not interested in watching a movie. Instead, I stick my headphones in and listen to some music as the plane begins its ascent in the air. All the while emeralds for eyes flit through my mind.