I stare at the computer screen finally finishing the major assignment due for class. Regret and uncertainty swirl together. It isn‘t anyone‘s fault but mine that I‘d chosen to give up the chance to go to a nationally accredited school for interior design for senior year of college and possibly pursue a Master‘s. I was the one who weighed the options and decided to stay. But the what ifs occasionally plague me.
What if I had gone?
Would we all still be as close, even hundreds of miles apart?
Would Nicholas have even noticed my absence?
Doesn‘t matter now anywaysâ€¦. What‘s done is done. I roll my shoulders trying to ease some of the tension. I love majoring in interior design. I intend to follow in my mother‘s best friend, Rowan‘s, footsteps. For as long as I can remember I‘ve always been drawn to color schemes, placement of furniture and objects, windows and lighting, minute details, and thought-out themes. I was the kind of little girl who focused more on her Barbie‘s dollhouse and the layout than the actual dolls and what they were wearing.
I close my laptop pleased with the final product. I love mastering concepts with the computer-aided design software used in classes. The days of sketchpads are slowly being replaced with software programs and design applications. I love both forms: by hand and by computer. I want to excel in every facet of interior design. Fortunately, I‘ve shadowed Rowan most of my life. Even before applying for college I had hands-on experience with bidding on new projects, sketching preliminary design plans, using computer applications, and overseeing design implementations. Yeah, that isn‘t everything involved in the process from start to finish but damn I know more than most even now as a college senior. Had I stayed in Chicago, I would‘ve had a guaranteed internship with Rowan. Hell, I could‘ve gone back home during the summer, but instead opted to stay and work at Scandalous with the girls. Rowan will always be there, but I‘ll probably never get another opportunity like the gig with the girls. It also doesn‘t hurt that Nicholas is the owner.
“Are you done yet?” Desirae bellows from the hallway. That girl is so impatient. It won‘t take her long to plow through the door. I put my things away. It‘s Thursday night which means we‘re going out to dinner. Carina‘s men, Valentino and Marco, own several nightclubs including the highly sought-after, Club 69. The line to get into that club always wraps around the building. We try to have dinner together once a week, typically Wednesday or Thursday night, since the weekends are so hectic. If the guys aren‘t working, we‘re performing at Scandalous, or completing school assignments. It‘s amazing we consistently find time to spend together with this size group.
“I‘m starving” Desirae whines the moment I exit the room.
“Keep your panties on” I roll my eyes at her. Carina, Desirae, Sati, and I all live in a four-bedroom apartment right on campus. It‘s near impossible to get any size apartment in this complex but thanks to our connection with Jaxon Wright, who so happens to be the nephew of the Deanâ€¦ well, life is good.
“You know on most days that‘s questionable” Desirae suggestively waggles her eyebrows.
“No, I don‘t want to find out” I cut her off knowing she‘d damn well show me too. “Where are we eating tonight?”
“Griffin insisted on some Hibachi place” she shrugs her shoulders while herding Sati and Carina. “He said he‘s still scarred from the last place we suggested.”
I snort with the memory of the overenthusiastic waiter who couldn‘t contain his excitement at so much eye candy in one room. And it wasn‘t the girls he was eyeing either. Marco ate it up, completely comfortable with his bisexuality while Jaxon and Griffin were on the edge of their seats ready to take off if the waiter made one wrong move.
“Did the guys make a reservation?”
“Yep” Carina replies, “Beatriz can‘t make it though.”
“Again?!” I‘ve accepted the fact that Ariel is no longer associating with us after the fallout from Carina‘s attack but as each day passes we wonder if Beatriz is following in her footsteps too.
“I think Bea was trying to visit Melissa” Sati quietly interjects. Unlike Ariel, Beatriz is trying to remain friends with everyone. Our core group used to contain eight girls PLUS the guys. Now it‘s all changed. The dynamics within the group have altered too. We‘ve gone from having Carina and Desirae as the nucleus with me, Beatriz, Sati, Ariel, Chelsea, and Melissa as part of the group to having Chelsea and Melissa getting kicked out and Ariel following them. It left Beatriz trying to balance a friendship between both groups while remaining impartial to all parties involved. It‘s not an easy thing to do considering that Chelsea had been intimately involved in a series of events that ended up getting Carina assaulted and her naked image plastered all over the internet. Melissa was a knowing accomplice which immediately got both girls banned. Ariel still believes they‘re incapable of something like that despite the damning evidence. And since she‘s known Chelsea longer than us she‘s chosen to disassociate herself. Beatriz on the other hand doesn‘t want to lose Ariel or Melissa as a friend and is trying her best to remain close with everyone.
“Did you hear that she was sent to a rehabilitation facility or something?” Sati questions. Melissa was the most susceptible to Chelsea‘s manipulations and unfortunately brunt most of the aftermath of everything that happened. She testified against Chelsea and Pete, the assailant involved in Carina‘s attack, with the stipulation that she had to seek help. No one‘s spoken to her since then.
“I wish her the best”
“I hope she rots in hell” Desirae scoffs, instantly disagreeing with me. “You‘re making me lose my appetite even thinking about those cunts. Let‘s go before I change my mind.”
Carina and Sati sigh but don‘t reply. Desirae has no qualms about letting her true feelings be known. Hell, if anything after the attack Desirae had gone after Chelsea and beat the shit out of her. I would never dream of crossing her.
“Still I don‘t want to lose Bea” I firmly state. Desirae may be intimidating as hell, but there‘s no way I‘m going to bite my tongue on this. Technically, Des and Carina came into our group and shook everything up. And although I‘ll gladly admit that it was for the better, they were technically the additions to the group.
“I for one am glad that we have Leticia” Desirae pipes up. The loss of Chelsea, Melissa, and Ariel were worth it with the addition of Leticia. “Beatriz isn‘t going anywhere Dreaâ€¦ I respect the fact that she‘s a loyal friend.”
Our eyes widen with surprise. Des isn‘t exactly known for her compassion and empathy. If she doesn‘t begrudge Beatriz, then it says a lot about her respect for the girl‘s loyalty towards her friends.