It's Friday, the beginning of my birthday weekend. Jenna has already been talking my head off all day at the gallery about tonight. I'm pretty sure she's more excited about all of this than I am. I could go without the reminder that I'm turning thirty. I called and spoke with my mom this morning, she seems to be doing a lot better. They'll have her on a heart monitor for a couple of more days to see if there are any episodes they can record. After doing an echo test, they didn't find any problems that should be causing the complications she was having.
Jenna walks into the display room and comes back out with a bored look on her face. “I so wish the Triple R's were over and done with already. What a drag knowing those are next week. I know you're still on edge with that weighing on your mind.”
“It's not bothering me as much as it used to in the past years.”
“Wow, really? Huh. He must be giving it to you good if he has the power to take away the nerves of the Triple R's.” She chuckles.
I toss a rag at her. “Shut up.” I laugh. “It's not that. If he's done anything though, he's taught me not to dwell on things that we can't control. To just let it be, so to speak. It is what it is. I can't control everything.”
“Ronni, admit it, the dick is just that good.” She laughs and throws the rag back at me. “You know it is!”
“There's no talking to you, Playmate.” I shake my head and grin.
The front door opens and an older lady walks in. Her silver hair matches her jewelry and she's dressed like she comes from a prestigious background. She walks up to the front desk and looks over at us.
“I'm looking for a Mrs. Veronica Thorne.” She properly states.
I step forward. “It's Ms., and that would be me. Can I help you?”
“Ms. Thorne, I have been sent to request of you a piece to have considered by the Art Institute of France. The head of the institution has asked that you choose one of your finest masterpieces to be submitted. If you should be accepted, this will grant you an extension of your gallery, to display your work in the city of the finest arts, Paris. The gallery would be under your ownership, funded by AIF. You would keep most royalties, minus a small percentage donated to the institution for the upkeep of your gallery. If you accept the offer should it be presented, you would be required to attend a meeting with the leaders of the grant. Also, you would need to be there through the entire set up of the gallery as well as the grand opening. After that, you will have the option to return home and allow one of our interns to daily run the gallery for you or stay and operate it yourself. Does this sound like an opportunity you would be interested in?”
I'm sure that I've lost all of the color in my face. I feel like I may pass out. This has to be a joke, a dream, something! There's no way there's a messenger standing in my gallery, that I built from nothing on my own, telling me that I now have a chance to be showcased in Paris, France. A true artist's dream come true. Most could only hope for such an opportunity. Some fight to get there, not all of them succeeding. This is crazy.
“Ms. Thorne?” She catches my attention.
“Forgive me, I'm taken by the incredible chance I've been given. How did this happen? Somebody must have put in a word for me to even be considered.”
“There was an anonymous entry submitted to the institution, the leaders were so impressed, they wanted to present you with the offer to officially enter and be reviewed by the panel.”
Mom. I know it was her. She's always known that I'm willing to go the distance to spread my work all over the world and share my passion with as many as possible. I've never attempted to get my work displayed in Paris, doubting it would even be suitable for such high standards.
“I would be honored.” I tell the silver-haired lady and look over at Jenna who has her jaw wide open.
“Fantastic. All I need is for you to gather the piece you want reviewed and to sign a permission form by this coming Wednesday. I will then return for pick up, please have the form and the piece ready by noon that day. It was a pleasure meeting you.” She tilts her head down slightly and reaches out to shake my hand.
“The pleasure is all mine, thank you so much for coming.” I tell her and she turns to leave.
“What just happened?” Jenna finally speaks.
“I don't know how, but I just earned a way to possibly have my own gallery in Paris, France!” I exclaim to make myself feel that's it's real.
“That's absolutely huge for you!” Jenna comes up to tightly hug me.
“I'll have to create something special for this. There's nothing I've done that I would send in, it has to be made just for this occasion.” I give Jenna a wide smile.
“Now this definitely calls for celebration. What a birthday gift!”
“Well, let's not get ahead of ourselves, I haven't actually been accepted yet.”
“Yet!” She exclaims. “Trust, you will be accepted. So we're celebrating!”
“Champagne and strip club it is!” I shout and throw my hands into the air.
We both giggle and run around the gallery. I couldn't be happier, this is the best thing to ever happen to me. We leave work early and go back to Jenna's to get dressed for the night. Our excitement is plastered on our faces. Once we make it to the club, we order three bottles of their finest Champagne and make a toast to my future.
“Just don't leave me forever, Ronni. I'd miss your hardworking-self too much. You have to come back to keep me straight.” She laughs.
“I could never leave you forever. If I could, I'd have you come with me.”
“This is your dream, I don't contribute enough to go with you. You go and handle your business, just come back!” She smiles.
“I would miss you too, Playmate.” I smile back at her.
The lights dim and the music changes to a seductive R&B song. A stud with an army uniform comes out to the stage and begins showing off his muscles as he takes off his shirt. He sways to the music and grinds as he slowly lowers to the floor. The ladies are screaming and hollering obscenities. This is amusing to me. Don't get me wrong, I love the eye candy, it's the savageness of the women in the club that ruin it for me. I've always been a conservative person in public, I don't like to show my inner freak. Jenna's having a blast, I'm just happy to be here with her watching her so giddy. I can't get over what happened this morning, it still hasn't fully sunk in yet. I down my glass of Champagne and pour another. Then Jenna does what only my worst fears could have imagined, she screams that it's my birthday and the spotlight is all of a sudden pointing directly at me.
“Jen!” I yell. “No.” I shake my head.
“Yes. Go – get up there, get your birthday strip!” She grins.
The stripper comes down to me and grabs me by the hand to pull me to the stage. He sits me on a chair in the center of the light. He's covered in oil, with only a black leather speedo on. His thick dick is outlined almost too perfectly in his bottom piece. He comes up to me and grinds on my lap while facing me. He takes my hand and makes me rub down his oily chest and stomach. I'm not so thrilled, this is not a turn on by any means. He continues on far too long and finally finishes, allowing me to get up and step off the stage. My lord, so glad that's over.
“If he had flipped me over and shoved his face in my crotch, I may have hurt him.” I tell Jenna when I make it to her. “That was ridiculous.”
“You're welcome.” She snickers.
“Thanks, bitch.” I sarcastically smile. “You know better.” I playingly smack her arm.
“Yes I do, but I don't care tonight.” She grabs my shoulders and shakes me. “We have to let loose, who knows how many more times we'll have like this.”
The night comes to an end, we take a taxi back home since we're both too drunk to drive. My car gets left at the club, we had rode there together, not thinking about getting wasted. I decide to crash at her place, make the most of spending time with her. I figure we can grab breakfast in the morning. Hopefully our hangovers won't be too harsh since we still have another day of partying to go.
I wake up to my phone ringing. Shit, shut the hell up. I reach over and hit it with my hand. I'm not ready to start this day just yet. It rings again. Fine. Whatever. I sit up and look at the screen, it's Adrian.
“Hello.” My voice cracks.
“Hey sexy, good morning and happy birthday!” His upbeat greeting brings a smile to my face.
“Good morning and thank you very much.”
“You had a good time last night?”
“Yeah . . . it was all right.”
“Just all right? I would think you would've had a really good time considering . . .”
“Oh, nothing really, just that as I'm driving through town this morning I notice your car parked . . . looks to me like it's at a strip club of sorts. Where are you now?”
Fuck. Shit. Damn. Well . . . no point in trying to justify. Plus, like Jen said, what's the big deal? It's not like I owe him any explanations, we're not in a relationship or anything.
“I'm at Jenna's. We ended up pretty drunk so we took a cab.”
“Want me to come pick you up to take you to get your car? I wouldn't want anything to happen to it sitting there.”
“Yeah, that's fine. Let me freshen up some and let Jen know before I go. I need to pick up some food while I'm out, I promised her we'd have breakfast together.”
“Be there in about thirty minutes.”
He took that better than I thought. I think. I get up from the guest bed I slept in last night and go to the bathroom to shower and get ready to go. Jenna's already up, surprisingly. I come out of the bathroom and meet her in the kitchen.
“You're up early.” I say to her.
“Yeah, I tried to sleep in but my head was pounding, so I got up to take some medicine and get some water.”
“Aw, sorry your head is hurting hon. Maybe we over did it, we're getting older now.” I chuckle.
“Yeah, yeah.” She brushes off the statement.
“I'm going with Adrian to get my car, I'll be back with breakfast.”
“Sounds good. He called already this morning?”
“Yeah, he spotted my car.” I chuckle and shrug.
She laughs. “Oops. Sorry.”
“Not a big deal.” I go over to the end table and grab my purse when I hear Adrian honking outside. “Be back soon.” I tell her on my way to the door and she nods at me.
I get outside and the sight of him takes my breath away. I climb in the car and he leans over to kiss my lips. So soft, the taste rises my temperature.
“Don't get me started.” I wink at him.
“I'm guessing you're still worked up from last night, I wouldn't have to do much.”
“Please. Nothing from last night got me worked up in any type of way.”
“I'll try to believe that.” He smirks. I can tell he's just trying to mess with me.
“Jealous much?” I ask him with a playful smile.
“Not at all. I have no reason to be, right?” He backs out of the driveway.
Either he means he has no reason because we're not a couple or he's trying to insinuate that he should have no reason, in assumption that nothing happened between me and anyone else last night. Regardless, he's quite the smart ass this morning. It's kind of cute. On the way to the club, he tells me about his night and how the show went. When we arrive, I remember that I haven't told him about my big news yet.
“I don't know what I was thinking, I almost forgot to tell you something.”
“You want to get married?” He looks at me wide-eyed and plays shocked, then starts to laugh.
“Funny. You're a natural comedian this morning, huh?” I chuckle.
“You like it. So what did you want to tell me?” He impatiently asks.
I tell him everything that happened the day before, what the lady with silver hair told me, and how excited I am to have this chance. His face holds mixed expressions, at first he seems happy for me but it quickly turns sour.
“So . . . you're telling me that you plan on leaving the country?” He asks.
“It wouldn't have to be forever, I have the decision to stay there or come back.”
“This is big. It doesn't seem like you were too worried about letting me know, though.”
“Wait a minute now, I just told you, of course I wanted you to know.”
“You found this out yesterday morning, but you're just now talking with me about it. I don't know, I would've thought I'd be one of the first you'd call.”
“It's not like that, Adrian.”
“Please, amuse me, what's it like then?”
“I'm not comfortable with your tone of attitude right now. What's wrong with you?”
“I'm not the one with the problem. Seems like I am the problem. Maybe I'm not your man, but damn. The least you can do is let me in on your life more. I mean, we've been going hard for almost a month now, then suddenly you want to leave for who knows how long.”
“It's not even a sure thing yet. For all I know, it may not even happen.”
“That's not the point. If it does happen, then what?”
“Adrian.” I sigh.
“You know what, I won't bother you with my concerns. I'll stay out of the way so you can do what you do.”
“I don't want you to leave me alone.”
“I've got some things to handle, I'll catch you later.” He cuts me off and looks away.
“See you at your show tonight?” I ask before getting out of the car.
“If you think you can make it.” He puts the car in reverse and waits for me.
“I'll be there.” I close the door and watch as he drives off with nothing else to say.