Kiara was pottering around in the light airy kitchen, listening for sounds of her roommates. The night before when Alexia had gone off of the rails at her made Kiara feel like she had just been slapped in the face. She had been angry with Lexie and hoped not to see her before she left for the library. Glancing out of the living room window, she looked for Emily’s blue car but it wasn’t there and she hadn’t heard Caitlin nor Emily’s usual noisy return. Callie wasn’t in the living room and so Kiara assumed the girls had come home. But why had they been so quiet? As much as Kiara would not take responsibility for her roommates or friends, she did get concerned about them. They led crazy lives and Caitlin more than most seemed to have no sense of self awareness and the potential problems she could cause herself. More nights than Kiara cared to recall, Caitlin had come home with complete strangers and seemed to be fine about getting into their cars alone and coming back to their house. Kiara assumed Caitlin didn’t know them but the other girl often did know the drivers who brought her home or would hang out with her. Kiara just didn’t hang out with Caitlin enough to realise how self aware she truly was. Emily sometimes forgot how well Caitlin could take care of not only herself but Emily too. Many nights she had assisted Emily home and Em had had no recollection of leaving the club, let alone getting back to their house safely. As she read the morning paper, Kiara sighed heavily. She wished she could have as much fun as Em and Caitlin and even Lexie too. but something in her worked so hard to achieve the ultimate success which she wasn’t even sure she knew what that was yet.
The sun was high in the sky as Alexia unstrapped Blackmist’s reigns. He had just exercised for the first time that week and although he was exhausted, he seemed much better. Her red hair glowed in the mid morning sun as she led him back into the cool stable.
“I’ll come back later, boy,” She patted his black fur and he nuzzled her face with his nose as though to show his appreciation. She had stayed with him all night and kept a close eye on his well being. Leaving Blackmist to eat his breakfast, she headed to her green truck and hopped inside. The sun had already made the inside of the truck stifling hot and she opened a window as she lit a cigarette. Her eyes burned with tiredness and all she wanted was a few hours sleep before she returned to check on her patient.
Driving slowly into the driveway, Lexie saw that Emily’s curtains were still closed and she smiled to herself. It was twelve forty and obviously both Em and Caitlin had had a good night.
“Hi, Lex,” Caitlin called as she played with Callie on the living room floor clad in her blue P.J.s. “How’s Blackmist?”
“Better,” Alexia opened the fridge and took some water. “He even took some exercise this morning.” Caitlin looked up and smiled proudly.
“That’s awesome, lex,” She tickled Callie’s ears and hugged her close.
“Yeah, well he could have been doing so much better if Kiara wasn’t so fucking selfish!” Lexie took a seat at the breakfast bar as she sipped her water and ate a banana.
“Why?” Caitlin asked bemusedly, looking up to give her friend her undivided attention.
“Because,” Alexia took a deep breath before continuing her story. “She knew I had to take care of Blackmist right? And she probably saw my truck outside and it was obvious someone was at home because lights and the air conditioner were on, and yet she still didn’t come to see why I hadn’t left yet! It was gone midnight by the time i got to Blackmist, and I’m personally shocked he made it through the night.”
Caitlin patted Callie’s tummy as she listened and knew that the atmosphere between Lexie and Kiara would be bad over the next few weeks.
“Did she see your truck?” Caitlin asked diplomatically.
Alexia looked at her with contempt.
“Of course she must have!” She said defiantly and put down her glass. “You know what Kiara’s like? If it means she has to detour from her proper schedule, she won’t participate. Even if that means a horse would die!” Standing, Lexie took a fresh glass of water into her room and told Caitlin she would sleep. Sighing, Caitlin turned to her blonde companion and gave a wry smile.
“What are those two like, Callie?” Laughing gently, she suddenly heard footsteps and smiled as Emily walked into the living room, her hair tousled and her eyes sleepy. She hadn’t slept very good and even though it was one in the afternoon, she felt like it was the middle of the night.
“Hey, Caitlin,” She greeted, pouring herself some orange juice and putting the coffee machine on to heat. “How are you?”
“Good,” Caitlin responded. “And you?”
Caitlin had known something was bothering her best friend last night but she couldn’t guess what it might be.
“I’m OK,” Em took a long gulp of orange juice. “Got a little confused last night. I had the strangest thing happen to me. You’ll never guess who I thought I was attracted too?” she was laughing, trying to convince herself more than Caitlin that it was funny. The truth was that she still didn’t know what was going on with herself.
“Who?” Caitlin’s blue eyes wondered as her brain whirled with guys Emily could not possibly be attracted to. Em rarely displayed signs of attraction to most men but Caitlin often knew instinctively which men had gotten Emily’s attention.
“Cory,” Em said shyly and felt her heart thud inside her chest. Why was she feeling this way? Cory was her friend. He was her colleague so she could not possibly have feelings for him. could she? If she did, how would that change things between them?
Caitlin smiled and nodded gently.
“Cory’s a nice guy,” She told Em as she continued to pet Callie who was sprawled on her side, loving the attention.
“but he’s my friend?” Emily said frustratedly, stamping her foot in irritation. Caitlin was meant to laugh so they could both believe it was a big joke but she was taking it seriously. “Don’t you find it funny, Caitlin?”
“Why should I?” The other girl looked bemused again. Late nights did her brain no good. Why was Emily flipping out about this? so what? She had a crush on her work colleague. But he was more than that? He had been one of their friends at UCLA and Caitlin knew he had a big crush on Em; had done for years. So it only seemed right now that Emily had finally noticed him and wanted to know why she was feeling things for her long time friend.
“Caitlin?” Em questioned her friend as the blonde headed girl continued stroking her dog absent mindedly.
“Yeah?” Caitlin looked up at Emily and smiled.
“What am I going to do?”
“nothing,” Caitlin told her friend. “If you like him, then see what happens, if its just a hormonal stint where you feel like you need a man and Cory seems to fit the bill, then let that stint of overactive hormones ride its course and then get back to normal.” Em smiled at her friend, she somehow always knew how to make sense of even the craziest situation.
“Thanks,” Em grinned and wandered to the kitchen area to make some breakfast. “What about you and that guy last night? He seemed nice.”
Caitlin hadn’t managed to get JC out of her head for one moment. His smell, his laugh, his voice, they way he touched her, it was all so clear as though he was in the room next to her. She wanted to see him again but Caitlin being Caitlin, would never admit that to anyone.
“He was OK,” Caitlin lied and Em grinned knowing her best friend so well.
“Just OK?” Emily giggled as she toasted some bagels. “Please girl, you were all over him all last night. And physically, he’s everything you want. Personality isn’t bad either. So what’s your problem?”
“I don’t have one,” Caitlin smiled, laying on the floor as Callie ran around her with a pink bear in her mouth, wildly wagging her tail. “He’s cute, yeah, he’s sweet and funny. And OK, I wanna get to know him.”
“Did you kiss him?” Em asked as she put some cream cheese on her toasted cinnamon raisin bagels.
“yeah,” Caitlin replied casually. Em spun and spied the satisfactory grin on her best friend’s face.
“Good then?” Em laughed heartily.
“Yeah, it was good,” Caitlin admitted smirking as both girls fitted into gales of giggles.
kiara was sitting in the cool library taking in some information on a very detailed case study about conformity. Her eyes scanned each page of the huge text book as she watched the computer screen before her dim to a screen saver. Turning the page, the sounds in the library a mere whirr around her, she resumed her intense study. She had to pass these finals, no matter what anyone said.
“Kiara?” A voice inquired behind her. Turning her long braided head, she saw Jasmine, a girl from her course. “Hey, thought it was you. Do you fancy a study buddy?” Kiara smiled and Jasmine took the seat beside her. She was around 5,6 with long straight black hair and her almond coloured eyes danced with life. She was serious like kiara but seemed to have the ability to relax. Kiara was always studying or researching something while most of the people in her class were studying hard but relaxing too.
“What are you doing here on a Sunday?” Kiara asked Jasmine gently as they both stared at the pages of the worn text book.
“Well, I figured I better pass these finals,” She smiled happily. Her family were from New York and her accent was thick with an East coast twang. Her father was a successful lawyer in Boston and her mother a very well respected teacher. They had paid for Jasmine to attend Yale for her undergraduate program but she had wanted to go to UCLA to study her PHD. Kiara and her were as close as two busy women could be in such a hectic schedule as a psychology PHD Program. Kiara turned the page again and both girls wrote notes. Their heads close together, their eyes fixed upon the paper, Kiara felt grateful that at least one of her friends understood her determination and drive to succeed.
Lying on her bed, Caitlin typed away on her mac book, adjusting some of the plans she had for the up and coming weeks with her job. Her diary was up to date and she was just emailing a few people to confirm certain things when her phone bleeped beside her. Lifting it from her table, she slid the phone up and pressed the select key.
‘Hey Caitlin. Had a gr8 time last night. wanna meet for dinner 2night?’
It was from JC. Smiling, she hit reply and wrote.
‘Yes. love too. let’s go to Dennys. lol. don’t fancy anything too big so fast food OK with you?’
Several minutes past while her heart thudded in her chest. She couldn’t believe he’d text her and wanted to see her again. This meant business!
Lying on her bed, Emily ran over the past six years she had known Cory in her head, attempting to depict the exact moment she had begun to like him more than just a friend. Tossing her head back onto her pillow, she let out a huge sigh. Why were things so complicated when it came to boys? they never really made sense! Turning her head to peer out of her window, she decided a drive might clear her head a little. Standing, she took some clean clothes from her chair that she hadn’t yet put away and dressed. Brushing her hair, she felt an unusual hope that Cory would call or text her. He sometimes did but why would he today? Even he must have noticed Em’s mood the night before.
“You’re so stupid!” She scolded herself, grabbing her purse and car keys and heading out of the house.
In her Mustang, she turned up her favourite radio station to full blast and drove toward Santa Monica.
“hi,” He was standing there, as real as day and she could barely believe it. He smelt of Insignia and wore a black t-shirt with some baggy jeans and a pair of chuck Taylors. “You look good!” He commented shyly as Callie bounded toward them both. Her ears curled and JC smiled down at the dog. “Is she yours?”
“Yeah, my guide dog, Callie,” She introduced. “You don’t mind if she comes do you?”
“No, of course not,” He patted the dog and smiled at Caitlin. In the light of day and sobriety, she was still as beautiful and sexy. He was attracted to her and nothing he did could prevent that.
Caitlin harnessed up Callie and they left in his chivy truck.
“Where do you wanna go?” He asked, expertly steering the truck down the street and coming to the freeway.
“I don’t mind,” She stroked Callie’s head as they drove. The air was hot and he had all of the windows down. A Californian summer’s day always made Caitlin love the state more and more. She leaned back in the seat, her hair tied back in a blue schrunchie with her capri jeans on with a white camersol, she felt good. JC kept glancing at her every few seconds, unable to believe that this beauty was riding shotgun in his car.
He had had butterflies when he first text her that afternoon. Waking in his sunlit room around two O’clock, he had remembered her in an instant. Alcohol hadn’t clouded his mind at all the previous night and all he wanted to do was see her again. He had passed his grandmother on his way out of the house they lived in on Rosewood Street and she had commented on a glow he seemed to be emitting.
“Had a good night?” She had inquired as he poured a coffee, already showered and changed ready to pick her up around four thirty.
“Yeah,” He told her smiling. “It was great.” Her old brown eyes had told him she knew he had had a better night than he’d anticipated and she had smiled with pride. He was her youngest grandson and her most precious having had raised him since he was a child. His mother, her eldest daughter had been very troubled and as try as she might, rose was determined to not let Jay go down the same slippery slope.
“What big mama?” he asked as he flicked through the newspaper.
“You look handsome. Off anywhere nice?” Leaning back in her old arm chair, Rose Carter looked old for a second.
“Yeah, meeting a girl,” He smiled confidently. “I met her last night and she’s cool. I better go!” And Rose watched her grandson leave with a determined air in his stride.
Back in his car, he smiled at Caitlin and took a right. “Let’s go to the beach first.” He suggested authoritatively and she nodded her agreement, enjoying the tunes he was playing. They were seemingly into the same kind of music and Caitlin clapped her hands in excitement as a new hip hop track came on.
“I love this song!” She exclaimed happily.
“Yeah, it’s tight. loved his last album,” JC was turning onto Santa Monica Boulevard and pulling into a multi storey parking lot.
Em was sitting mournfully in the starbucks on Wilshire and kept peering at her phone, hoping for a text message. She had no idea why she kept glancing at it like some love sick teenager and she was beginning to annoy the hell out of herself. Finally she picked up her phone and searched for Cory’s number. Pressing the green button, she waited with baited breath to hear him answer it.
“You’ve reached Cory, leave a message and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can. Have a good day!” Beep. She hung up looking crestfallen. Ordering a frapochino to go, she wandered out onto Wilshire and decided she was going to the mall. If she couldn’t cheer herself up by buying some new nice things, then there was no hope for Emily.
An alarm clock rang in Lexie’s room and the red head bobbed up and turned it off while allowing her eyes to adjust to the bright afternoon outside. It was five o’clock and even though she had only four hours of sleep, Lexie had to go and check on Blackmist.
walking out into the living room, she saw Kiara sitting with another girl. Glaring at her roommate, Lexie made a sandwich, had some water and headed for the door without speaking a word. Why should she? Kiara was nothing but a selfish bitch.
Several minutes later, Lexie was pulling into the yard and getting out of her truck, having been so pissed off with kiara on her way there. She didn’t know why Caitlin and Emily put up with her snobbish, book wormish ways and her constant need to be so perfect. Opening Blackmist’s stable door, she found Dan, the old man’s youngest son, patting him.
“O hey, Lexie,” His eyes were blue as sapphires and his blonde hair was flat to his head. standing up he walked over to her as she smiled at Blackmist who seemed even better. “He’s doing well, isn’t he?” Dan inquired as he held out some oats for the horse who took them gratefully.
“Better than he was, yeah,” Alexia told him. “I’m surprised to see you here, Dan.” She wiped Blackmist with a damp cloth and Dan grinned a boyish grin at her.
“Dad couldn’t be bothered tearing himself away from his bar and pool to see how the old boy was,” He patted Blackmist to confirm his point of subject. “So I drove out to see how he was doing. You took good care of him Lexie. Thank you!” His eyes were sincere and kind and Alexia felt a slight blush begin in her cheeks. Turning quickly, she bundled up some hay and reigned Blackmist to go outside while she cleaned the stable.
“I’ll take him,” Dan offered and easily guided the young horse out to the paddock for some light exercise while Lexie cleaned the stable.
On the beach, Caitlin walked, linking JC while Callie bounced alongside her happily. JC carried callie’s harness and they chatted at ease while they walked between groups of teenagers listening to music, children playing and young couples talking. The sun was hot on their faces and the ocean lapped gently in the distance.
“So, you lived here all your life?” He asked as they took a seat on the sand, Callie happily digging with her paws.
“I was born in England actually,” She told him, turning her head to converse with him. “Dad moved us here when I was fourteen. we lived in carson and when I attended UCLA, I moved to LA. Em and i met there along with my two other roomies. I love California and I never want to leave.” They laughed gently as he watched her in amazement. Carson! That was the next city from Compton.
“What about you?” She asked him, picking up sand with her fingers and feeling it as she let it flow through them.
“I grew up in Compton. I’ve lived with my grandmother for my entire life. She raised me when my mom passed from an overdose.” Caitlin smiled sadly at him as he told his story. “Pops in the pen for bank robbery and I joined a gang when I was seventeen. Big mama, keeps telling me I’m better than all that shit, but i gots to survive the only way I know how.” Taking his hand with her sandy one, she smiled at him.
“I want to thank you for being honest with me, Jay,” her eyes were so pretty. “I know when we first met you must have thought I was some spoilt Beverly hills bitch that had it all.” He smiled bashfully and she nodded with a small laugh. “It’s cool. I know. But I’ve worked for what i have and no matter where you come from, there’s always a way. even if it’s not always apparent. I came from a small working class town in England and now I’m organising some of the biggest events in Hollywood.”
Smiling proudly, he gave her hand a squeeze. “I know you’re right,” He said, having an urge to hug her. “I just, guess I don’t know what that is for me right now. But, even now you know all that stuff, you still wanted to hang with me?” insecurity was not something JC did often but this girl made him feel so unsure and yet sure at the same time.
“Yeah of course,” She raised her eyebrows in surprise. “What, just because you come from where you do and do what you have to do to survive, I’m supposed to categorise you on that?” Laughing gently, she put her arms around his neck and smiled warmly. Callie’s lead was tied around her foot and the dog was laying happily on the sand at her feet. “I want to get to know you because so far, I like what I see.”
“Is that right?” His low, rumbling, melodic tones sprinted across the air between them and made contact with her ears. Her stomach somersaulted with excitement at the seductive tone in his voice and a smile of ultimate curiosity passed on her lips.
“That’s right!” She cooed with an equal seductive tone. “So, let’s go and grab some dinner.” The skies were a beautiful golden colour and as JC stood and helped Caitlin to her feet, he saw the oncoming sunset from the Santa Monica hills. Over the immense landscape, the skies were a pinkish gold and looking at the side of him, he saw the beautiful golden headed girl that he was liking more and more each moment spent with her. Taking her hand, they walked up the steps and onto the pier where he was going to buy her dinner.