“Are you sure this isn’t flashy?” I ask again, I turn in the mirror the glittery pink and red dress sparkling in the light.
“Flashy? Says the girl who wore a diamond studded dress to Oscars,” Alec says.
“This is just a Fireman’s ball, do you think I’m out doing it,”
“Will you stop asking that?” Zahara says, walking into the room carrying a tray of coffee. “You look amazing!”
“Beautiful,” May says from my bed, where she sat with Lorelei who begged to watch me get ready. Alec insisted on a fiery red dress thinking it paired well with Firefighters. I hadn’t actually met Raphael yet, I had only saw his Instagram which were filled with shirtless pictures and pictures of him in his uniform.
“When did he say he was getting here again?” I ask.
“You still have thirty minutes, now sit down and take a breath,” Zahara says, handing me a cup. “Herbal tea,”
“You look like a princess mama!” Lorelei says
“Thank you, baby girl,” I say.
“Now security should be fine, and it’s up north so I doubt there will be a lot of paparazzi,” Zahara says.
“I can see it now, boyfriend speculations out the wazoo,” I say.
“Your date has arrived!” Alec says excitedly skipping into the room. “Are you ready?” he asks.
“As ready as I’ll ever be,” I say. Only Alec comes with me to answer the door, figuring a whole group of people greeting you wouldn’t be so nice on a first date. When I open the door, I’m surprised that Raphael looks better than his pictures, he holes a bouquet of white lilies.
“My favorite, how did you know?” I ask, taking them from him.
“I had a little bit of help,” he admits, with a small smile. “You look astonishing,” he says.
“Thank you,” I say, my stomach warming up. “I’m going to put these away and then we can go,” I say, turning and walking into the kitchen, Alec follows me grabbing the flowers out of my hand.
“So?” he whispers.
“He’s cute,” I admit.
“You two are going to look so cute together, have fun” he says, pushing me towards the door. “And remember, be open,” he whispers, as I walk back to the front door.
“Are you ready?” Raphael asks, holding open the door.
“Yes,” I say, he walks me up to his jeep wrangler, opening the door and even helping me inside. He climbs inside himself, and we pull from the space.
“I will say, when Alec said you agreed to come to this, I was a bit surprised,” Raphael starts. “I knew it was a long shot asking a superstar out on a date,”
“I’m glad you did,” I say. “I will admit, this is my first date in a very long time,”
“Sorry if I find that hard to believe,” he says, I can’t help but laugh.
“Well it’s true, despite what you might have read in magazines,” I say. “What about you?” I ask.
“Dating?” he asks, and I nod. “It’s pretty hard, with my schedule, I guess that’s something we have in common,” he says.
“Yes, you might never see me,” I joke, and we both laugh together.
“I guess some people don’t understand,” he shrugs.
“It’s an adjustment, and some people don’t like adjusting,” I say. “Can I be honest with you?”
“I’m really nervous,” I admit.
“Nervous? Really?” he laughs.
“Is that hard to believe,” I look over at him and he nods.
“You’ve walked red carpeted events with movie stars, a small little community center ball with a bunch of fire fighters” he says. “You don’t have anything to worry about, I think they’ll all love you,” he says.
“Okay, I trust you,” I nudge him, earning a small smile. When we arrive to the venue Raphael helps me out of the car, and we walk in together. I remind me of a high school dance, poorly made decorations and tables littered with plates and cups. Raphael leads me up to a table where people were taking names and handing out seating arrangement.
“Good evening Raphey, oh my god,” the girl at the table says, looking at me with wide eyes. “You’re Adeya Waterson” she says.
“Hello, it’s nice to meet you,” she doesn’t say much else, just stares at me in shocked silence until Raphael clears his throat. The girl clears her throat.
“I’m sorry,” she mutters, grabbing a place card. “You’re at Table one, with the Chief,” she says.
“Great,” Raphael mutters under his breath.
“Special request,” the girl says, before standing up from the table. “I’m sorry, but I’m going to die if I don’t get a picture,” she says.
“Angela,” Raphael hisses.
“No, it’s fine” I say, with a smile before stepping at her side getting into her selfie.
“You look amazing, I love you so much,” she says.
“Thank you,” I say, hugging her. Raphael hooks his arm with mine pulling me away.
“See you later Angela,” he says, leading me towards the table. “Sorry about that,” he says.
“It comes with the job,” we make it to a table where an older man with a white beard, and an older lady sits at a table. Along with a young girl, who stared down at her phone.
“Chief,” Raphael says.
“Raphael, I was waiting for you to make it son,” the man says standing up, and pulling Raphael hug. “And your beautiful guest?”
“This is my date, Adeya,” Raphael says, the little girl at the table immediately looks up and her jaw drops to the floor.
“Oh my god! Adeya!” she screams jumping out of her seat and running over to me.
“Oh Emily,” the older lady says, but the young girl was already in my arms. I have to kneel down to be eye level with her, pulling her into a hug.
“Hi beautiful,” I say.
“You’re so pretty in person,” she gushes, pulling out her phone. “My friends will never believe this! My cousin is dating Adeya!” the girl squeals.
“Emily,” Both Raphael and Chief say sternly, forcing the girl to pull away. I stand up returning to Raphael side.
“I apologize for that, my daughter is a little eccentric,” The chief says.
“It’s okay,” I say.
“Adeya is actually a performing artist,” Raphael says.
“A two-time Grammy winner performing artist!” Emily adds.
“Oh,” the Chief says. “Well please sit, I’m glad you can come to our little party,” he says, Raphael leads me down to the sit, and I sit down. “My name is Anthony Palmer, and this is my wife Patricia and, you’ve met my daughter Emily,”
“You have a beautiful family, sir,” I say.
“I bet little Raphael didn’t tell you his uncle is the chief of that station,” he says. “His father and I worked together,”
“Chief,” Raphael says, cutting the conversation short. “This is actually Adeya and I’s first date, she’s actually friends with Mark’s boyfriend,”
“Oh well isn’t that very nice of Mark!” Patricia says. The first course arrives, and Emily immediately goes into all of the songs she knows by me and asking questions about other celebrities. By the second course, I can see Raphael is ready to explode, so I push my way out of the seat.
“Want to have a dance?” I ask, holding out my hand.
“I would love to,” he says, taking my hand. We leave to the dance floor, where there are only two other couples dancing. Mark pulls me into his chest, as he begins to lead me. “I’m sorry about that,” he starts.
“Don’t be, I love my fans,” I say. “Is your father, not around anymore?” I ask.
“Both of my parents died in a fire when I was 15,” he says.
“Oh, I am so sorry,” I say.
“No, it’s fine,” he says. “I’ve dealt with it, and of course I just had to become a fire fighter,” he says, with a lifeless chuckle.
“It’s fitting,” I say.
“I want to really thank you for coming tonight Adeya, and if you’re willing, I would love to take you out on another date,” he says. “Something more private next time,”
“I would love that,” I say, with a soft smile. “This was really fun,”
“I’m glad you enjoyed it,” he says.
By the end of the night, my feet hurt from the dancing, and my mouth hurt from smiling. I had taken so many pictures, it felt like a photoshoot. Raphael drives me home, and even walks me to my front door. “I’ll call you later,” he says.
“And I’ll answer,” I say.
“Would it be bad if wanted to kiss you?” he asks, my face begins heating up. “I’m sorry, I know that’s weird,” I lean forward pecking him on the cheek.
“Thank you for the great night,” I say, before turning and opening the front door. I close the door behind me, resting my back on the door catching my breath.
“So how was it!” Alec shouts, jumping from the living room and running in my direction. “So?”
“It was pretty great,” I admit, Alec squeals scooping me in his arms and spinning me around. “I want to hear all about it!” he says, dragging me upstairs. Alec helps me get undressed and we call in Zahara and Laila.
“Details, I want all the details!” Laila shouts, clapping her hands together.
“It was just, nothing I’ve ever experienced before,” I admit, and all their faces light out. “We danced, and a laughed, it was just new,”
“So, are you going on another date?” Zahara asks.
“Yes,” I say, and they erupt in screams. “Guys! Guys calm down, Lorelei is sleeping!” I hiss.
“It’s just so sweet!” Laila gushes. “Does he know about Lorelei?”
“Everyone does,” I say.
“Adeya,” Both Laila and Zahara say.
“I’m sure we’ll talk about it, I just want to enjoy this for as long as possible,” I say, and they all nod in agreement. After I finish washing off, getting in bed, it feels like barely a minute before my home phone is ringing, which only means someone is at my gate. “Hello?”
“I’m extremely sorry to disturb you so late Ms. Waterson, but we have a guest here who is demanding he see you?” the guard says.
“Who?” I say sitting up.
“His name is Abraham Clifford? He was here early but you didn’t give him full visitor clearance,” the guard says.
“What is he doing here?” I ask, climbing out of bed.
“He’s highly intoxicated, I can barely understand him ma’am,” he says.
“Alright, I’ll be right there,” I say.
“What’s happening?” Alec asks tiredly, standing in the guest room doorway.
“Braum is at the gates,” I say, making my way downstairs.
“Why?” he asks, following me towards the front door. “What’s happening?”
“I’ll be right back,” I say, slipping on my sandals before moving outside, getting into my car. I drive down to the security gates where Braum sits, mumbling to himself. I climb out of the car, walking up to him.
“Braum? What’s happening?” I ask, he looks over at me and shoots out of his seat.
“Adeya!” he squeals, the security guard jumps in front of me, but I stop him.
“It’s fine, I’m fine,” I insist. “Come on Braum,” I say, grabbing his hand and pulling him towards the car. I open the passenger door helping him inside, I climb back into the car pulling away from the security guard station. “What is going on B? why are you soaked in liquor and why don’t you have a car? Where’s Demetra and Bo?”
“Probably somewhere fucking,” Braum says, leaning back in his seat. I grip the wheel to my car tightly. Pulling into my driveway, I look over at him. “2 long years, and for what?” he whispers, dropping his head on the window.