please enjoy another round of 'Falling' - teaser 3
I thanked people as they told me how beautiful I looked tonight, and how I’m so lucky to have caught such a good catch. Little did those idiots know I had caught a shark masquerading around as a calm, peaceful, little beta fish. You know the one every parent gives their kid as a “starter” pet? The ones with brightly colored flames of red and gold or swirls of blue and green masking the fighting fish’s real identity. Yeah, Ayden was kind of like that. He was wholesome and courteous, with just the right amount of cockiness that seems to be ideal for girls without brains. Yep, girls like me. The more I dazed off into another world while my “fake life” continued around me, I found myself opening my eyes for the first time to how my life was playing out.
I was pushed around by my overbearing mother, smothered by my overprotective father and was now being transferred over to Ayden’s custody. I was simply an item that had no value or significant meaning to anyone around me, including myself. I let this happen and I never once spoke up or attempted to stop it from happening. Even now as I stare out the window ‘people watching’ in downtown Austin, I am allowing people who don’t care about me to control my life. I’m not doing a damn thing to stop anyone who is pulling on the puppet strings attached to my world. Mom yanks one way, then Daddy pulls another, then Ayden gets a tug in, while I bounce around at their command for entertainment. Come one, come all! See the side show freak Rosalee Devereux as she performs absentmindedly and without a purpose in her screwed up, ridiculous excuse of a life! Learn the dangers of living a life without cause!
As I picture myself swinging through the air, dangling from strings controlled by my loved ones, I see something out of the corner of my eye that catches my attention. There is a man calmly standing outside in the sprinkling rain just staring at me. I can’t make out any of his features but he is most definitely staring at me because I can feel the burn of his gaze on my body. That eerie feeling that sweeps your entire body like a wildfire picking up strength from a swift gust of air is gaining ground on my skin. I can feel him watching me, I can sense him looking at me, but most of all I can see him dead-locked on my figure from across the busy street.
“Rosalee!” screams a high-pitched voice that breaks my eye contact with this intriguing stranger. As I turn my head I see Zoey bouncing towards me with way too much enthusiasm. “Rosalee, there you are!” she yells louder as if she isn’t already gaining ground on me as she's stumbling in my direction. Obviously, she is staggering drunk from one too many glasses of wine and, apparently high on Redbull because she has entirely too much energy for someone so wasted. “O-M-G Rosalee! We have a huge surprise for you so stop being a loner freak just watching the rain fall from the sky so we can go up to your room! And… I’m so over this lame party anyways. Seriously, are you only related to old rich creepers that think they would even have a chance with me?” she asks as she waves her hands around her curves emphasizing her stunning body. She is talking so fast that it’s almost hard to keep up with her and the slurring doesn’t help the matter. I smile brightly at her before turning my eyes back to the mysterious stranger, but when I do he is already gone. “Come on!” Zoey screeches as she yanks my arm and pulls my tiny body. “Giddy up little pony! Yaaaah! Yaaah!” she says between giggles as she yanks on my hair as if it were a set of reins and once again lovingly pats my butt. Everyone in the party is gawking at us for all the wrong reasons, and my cheeks burn with embarrassment. “What’s their problem” she asks as I now quickly drag her towards the opening for the hallway.
Sadly, we have to pass in front of my mother- who is giving Zoey the evil eye and my father, who is trying his best to stifle a grin. My father and I meet eyes and I disapprovingly shake my head while rolling my eyes. Daddy can no longer contain the chuckle begging to be released, and is quickly jabbed with an elbow by my uptight mother. My father grunts, while my nagging mother taps the toe of her high heel on the hard surface below it. Tap! Tap! Tap! She blows out an overly loud gasp of dramatic air then blatantly comments to the crowd, “Charles… I hope you don’t condone this type of behavior. It’s unbecoming of a lady! That friend of hers is nothing but trouble and her little show is anything but funny!”
As I look around at the on-lookers, I notice that Zoey was right; the only people here seem to be rich, upper-class older people who act as if they are far too good for everyone else. Just a bunch of snobs with noses that are stuck so far up in the air that they could probably smell the rain before it even fell from the comfort of the fluffy, dark storm clouds.
My father nods me along and starts the crowd control. “Just one too many sips of wine, that’s all folks, nothing to see…” His voice is deep and raspy and you can hear the slightest hint of humor just dying to be released. “Time to wrap up this shindig anyways. Hope you all enjoyed yourselves tonight and…” his words trail off as I drag Zoey out the entrance.
Like always, Zoey is a challenge because she can’t walk on her own and she keeps fighting me to go back in there and give those prudes a piece of her mind. “Zoey… please don’t, not tonight, okay?” I beg as she reluctantly accepts defeat and tries to right herself and attempt to walk normally. “Come on, didn’t you say you had a surprise for me?” I ask her, smoothly trying to change the subject without her noticing.
Her heels shriek on the stone tiles as she hobbles towards the elevators, “I can walk on my own you know!” Zoey does her best to walk in a straight line but even on a sober day I know that would be hard for her to do. “Click… Scrape… Click… Scrape” is all I hear as I watch her try not to fall. Each step, her heel gets caught in the grout and she has to try and catch herself before she plummets to the ground.
“So,” I say to her as we wait for the ride to the room. “What’s this surprise you speak of?” I push the button several times with hopes that it will make the elevator magically appear faster but it doesn't work.
I am desperately trying to get Zoey out of my mother’s hair before there is a cat fight. If you think I don’t like my mom then just imagine what Zoey thinks, and says out loud. On occasion, my father and I play referee between those two -just like tonight. He never takes my mom’s side, but never lets her see that. He plays along to keep the peace while sneaking a wink at me and Zoey. She says everything to my mother that I am too scared to say. Zoey comes in handy sometimes when she does that, but tonight probably wasn’t the best place for it. Thankfully the elevator doors ding that annoying chirp and open their doors just in time for me to shove Zoey inside. People are starting to exit the party room so I jump aboard and frantically press the button over and over. Wishing again that it will suddenly decide to listen to my pleas and close the doors faster.
Our ride up to my room is uneventful and when we open the hotel door it looks exactly like I knew it would. Zoey and the other bridesmaids have decorated my room with tacky penis bachelorette knickknacks and cheesy congratulation banners. “Ready to get this thing started or what?” asks Addyson as we close the hotel door behind us.
The room is overwhelmingly drenched in the smell of alcohol and girly perfumes all mixed together. They either took a bath in their smell good spray before they came in or they have decided to coat the walls with fruity undertones, splashes of vanilla and lavender with whiskey and vodka throw in just for shits and giggles. I hear several of the girls scream out a few excited phrases while they rush to me. A herd of drunken sorority girls crash into me, Zoey, and Addyson and send us back into the hard, unforgiving door behind us. Fits of laughter explode like fireworks on the Forth of July as we stagger back to our feet.
“I love it, thank you.” I respond with mock excitement as I crawl from under the pack of girls. “Oh, you really shouldn’t have gone to all the trouble,” I mutter as we make our way to the center of the room.
For the next few hours its drinking game after drinking game, and it doesn’t take me long to be knocked on my ass. Playing beer pong with vodka shots isn't recommend when cramped in an expensive hotel room with five other girls. My head is beating to an imaginary drummer that is playing inside my skull. I’ve already tripped going to the bathroom twice, stepped on three separate sets of fingers, and once, landed on top of Kady to help break my fall causing her to slam into Addyson like a set of dominoes toppling. One after another, girls went crashing into each other around the circle we had formed on the floor. We are all too intoxicated to feel the pain so we laugh it off as we unsuccessfully clean up the knocked over booze.
As girls begin to pass out randomly due to over indulgence at our redneck hotel party we all decide to call it a night. Kady, Addyson, and Harper are scattered on the floor, and I give Zoey my bed to share. It’s more than big enough for the two of us, and I sneak off to the bathroom for some privacy. The combination of drinking and thinking are never good together. Before long I am crying in the bathroom, hiding from my friends. The floor was freezing under my legs so I made a make-shift blanket with a hotel towel. It was oversized and unbelievably soft. It smelled like citrus and as I wiped the tears off my cheek I repeatedly sniffed the towel like a freak.
All I could think about as I sat there alone and depressed was Why. Why to everything going on in my pathetic excuse for a life. Why did I let myself get so drunk? Why didn’t I tell my best friends that I don’t want to get married or go to law school? Why didn’t I stop living all of these lies a long time ago? Why didn’t I realize I don’t really love Ayden like I should love my fiancé. Why hasn’t anyone even noticed how distant and detached I’ve become?
Not a single person has bothered to ask me if I was okay or if I was happy. Well, Zoey touched on the subject of me creepily looking out the window at the rain but she was too drunk to grasp that I wasn’t watching the rain. That shadow like figure kept popping up in my mind and for some reason a complete stranger who I haven’t even met was comforting me. Even though he never spoke a word to me, he was the only person to take note of me in a questioning manner. As if he was watching all along and knew I was holding something back; he just stared at me with uninhibited intrigue. Why was he so interested in me and what I was doing?
After my private pity party on the cold tiles of a hotel lavatory, I decided to act on what I was thinking now before I lost the nerve for it. I dried up my tears and made the decision I’ve been feeling within me for weeks. Ever since those puzzling dreams involving my grandmother began, I have been internally altered. Like I was blind my entire life, and suddenly I was capable of seeing. Everything that was hazy or faded became vivid and pronounced. Grandma was telling me to change things before it was too late. As overly intoxicated as I was, I could see the world around me for what it really was. A huge, giant, incredibly large lie that I was unknowingly ruining my future.
I pulled the pearls laced around my neck up to my lips and quickly kissed the necklace. I whispered against the beads, “I’m sorry it took me so long Grannie Anna. If only you were here to help me make sense of everything. I’m going to make it right and I’m going to change things. Thank you for being with me in spirit and helping me find the strength to face my fears.” I felt like a patient who escaped the looney bin without bothering to take my medications first. Grannie Anna was dead and I was sitting on the cold, hard floor of a strange bathroom sniffing a towel and kissing a necklace. I’ve officially lost my mind, but it’s the best I’ve felt in ages.
I jumped up with new found life and began my mission of self-discovery. I eased open the door and stopped dead in my tracks when it squeaked a retched squeal. I nervously peeked through the crack and saw Zoey move around in the bed, but couldn’t make out anyone on the floor. I started to push on the door again, but this time I went a little faster with my motions. Four bodies laid on the ground curled up in blissful sleep and I began to silently and carefully leapfrog my way to the exit. I accidentally kicked Harper with one foot and she stirred for a moment muttering in her sleep. I held my breath and froze in my tracks with the other foot dangling in the air over her body, waiting for her to stop moving. I prayed for her to not wake up because I was not prepared to give explanations. After what felt like an eternity, she rolled over and started to drool into the pillow. I gently placed my airborne foot back to the ground. It felt like I was juggling a twenty pound weight as my leg swayed back and forth over her limp body. Every time I would try to take a breath it would begin to dip down towards her and I had to rapidly jerk it back to safety.
The exit of the room was my savior and I only had a few more feet to clear. I had successfully conquered the drunken bridesmaid’s hopscotch and defeated the testy old door. The door knob cooled my palm as I wrapped my fingers around its handle. I pulled open the door and squeezed myself out of the smallest crack without making a sound. Now the tough part, closing the door; I pretended I was a spy from Mission Impossible or those James Bond movies to help ease the fear of waking anyone. I held the outside knob tightly and began to ease it back to closure. As soon as the door was about to connect with the frame I slowed to a snail’s pace. Click. The door made one loud signal of my escape before I ran down the hallway to hide from view just in case. Didn’t want to get caught by the enemy spies and tortured for information. No, I was a woman on a mission and I wasn’t going to stop and answer questions. I waited a few moments to make sure the coast was clear then started back down the hallway.
As I trailed down the hallway to the elevators, the room started spinning and I debate if this was a great idea after all. Then the elevator doors opened and I decided it was now or never. I jumped aboard the elevator with about as much grace as a peg-legged pirate. “Wooooh!” It took everything I had to try and stand up straight and find the buttons that would lead me down to Ayden.
Taking the five floors down to Ayden’s hotel suite is a very interesting experience when not sober. Mainly because in my inebriated state, I thought it best to push every other button just to watch them light up. The elevator went up and the elevator went down; I was in awe of the blinking buttons and chimes the doors made opening and closing at each floor. I might have also been stalling for a few extra minutes while I prepared my speech. Ten minutes later I arrived at the door to Ayden’s room; even with my detours the journey was not long enough for my liking. How I found it I don’t know, but I made it there in one piece and that’s all that mattered.
Earlier that night I had snagged his key card from his jacket pocket; I had been orchestrating this little rondez-vous for some time now. I didn't know if I would actually follow through with my plan or not, but it didn’t hurt to be prepared. I stood outside the door for a minute to gain my confidence, but didn’t hear the ruckus that I expected from the bachelor party supposed to be taking place inside. It was a relief to hear silence coming from his room because I did not want his friends knowing about my plans.
When I heard no sounds coming from his room, I whispered to myself, “Thank you oh heavenly Father!” I could only assume the boys had left after Ayden passed out. My daddy always told me that ‘assuming only makes an ass out of U and me’ but I never did understand what he was talking about. Well, I was about to find out that little life lesson the hard way. Assuming something is the fastest way to discovering something you had no intentions on stumbling across.
As I slowly opened the door to the room I tried my best to be sneaky; being stealth is not an easy task to accomplish when wobbling in five inch heels after one too many rounds of shots. My elite spy capabilities were not perfect yet, but after tonight I could probably master something simple like tailing a car or even hiding in the bushes to overhear a private conversation. Yep, I was getting good at this being bad thing and I was starting to like it. Maybe Zoey was right this whole time, living on the edge was pretty thrilling.
I could hear faint noises coming from inside the room but I just brushed it off as Ayden stirring in bed while dreaming. Coming around the bend in the wall I saw the unthinkable. Something was a-stirring in his bed, but it wasn’t dreams.
I stood there in utter disbelief and hoped my eyes were deceiving me. My father always did say, ‘you can hope in one hand and crap in the other and let me know which one fills up first.’ Another life lesson I was beginning to learn the hard way; I would have to thank my father later on for his little words of wisdom. But at this moment in time, screaming was about all I was capable of doing.