Episode 15

Episode 15
Buds of Romance

As the sun began to dip in the west, and the sapphire blue sky gradually turned to a dusty blue, people began to head out and enjoy their social lives. The stars lit up both on the ground and in the sky while all around Los Angeles the lights grew brighter. A warm day had been enjoyed by most so now the air was cooling and from the Santa Monica beaches, the wind blew a gentle breeze inland.

Caitlin walked arm in arm with JC down Sunset Boulevard. Her long, wavy, blonde hair was tied in a baby pink scrunchie and she wore a white and pink cotton dress. The straps lay on her light shoulders as the dress flowed easily over her curvaceous body. JC wore black jeans, tanned timberlands and a white short sleeved shirt. As they stopped outside a red bricked building with chairs and tables on the pavement, he pulled her toward him and kissed her lips gently. His eyes of a light cinnamon colour and tonight they shone with pride. Jay Carter was a different man when he was with Caitlin. He was still a gangster at heart but he felt as though his life didn’t start and end in Compton. He was able to dream again, something he hadn’t done since he was a child and he’d dreamed of his mother coming home for him. As he kissed the girl who had changed so much about his outlook on life, his heart fluttered with a renewed anticipation. Looking down at her, his eyes concentrating on her soft features, a sigh of allure escaped his lips.

“What’s Up?” She asked, stroking his wrist with one finger.
“Nothing,” He said continuing to watch her intently. “Tu es muy bonita!” A smile of pure surprise crossed her pink lips as she listened to his expert tones of the language she loved to hear.
“Muchos gracias, senor, tu es muy caliente!” She giggled gently. “My Spanish isn’t the greatest,” She said quietly embarrassed. Taking her hands gently and kissing her cheek again warmly, he whispered in husky tones.
“Es Ballet! Yo cuero encenar te Espanol.!” Her eyes widened and his low rumbling laughed filled the air. “It’s OK, I will teach you Spanish!” Kissing her lips again, he wondered what life had ever been like without her because as he looked around the bustling streets, she was all he could see.

Emily parked in the multi-storey parking lot and slamming her door shut, she locked the car and headed in small kitten heels toward the familiar street she spent most of her social life on. As she walked, checking her reflection casually in car mirrors as she passed, a smile crept onto her lips. Cory was meeting them at a bar and she was unbelievably excited about it. Cory and her had been friends for six years and to think that something else may happen now was both surprising and comforting. Emily felt comfortable with Cory and yet since she realised she had more feelings for him than she had ever suspected before, now it seemed inevitable for them to get together. As she crossed the busy street and looked up into the dusk light, she felt alive. It was an amazing sensation of suddenly realising your existence is everything that matters. Things around you rely on your existence to function. Smiling, she walked toward a restaurant slash bar they had all arranged to meet at. Turning into the outdoor patio, Emily spotted JC and Caitlin sitting at a table in the corner. He had an arm around her shoulders and she had her hand on his leg. Something about seeing them together brought even more joy to Emily’s already elated mood.

“Hey you two,” She pulled out a metal chair and took her seat. “Cory here yet?”
“No, hey Em,” Caitlin beamed across at her friend. “But it’s only eight fifteen.” Emily nodded agreeably. They had all seemed to arrive early.
“I’ll go and grab a drink,” She stood up. “You guys want another?”
“No, I’m OK, thanks, Em,” JC stretched comfortably in his chair.
“I’ll wait until we order,” Caitlin smiled at her friend as Emily nodded and headed to the bar. a glow emitted from her and it was clear something had changed in Emily. As she approached the bar, a tall guy with chiselled features smiled warmly at her.
“Can I buy you a drink?” He asked and her eyes sparkled even though she shook her head.
“It’s OK, I have it,” Cory was there and Emily looked up into his calming green eyes and smiled warmly. “Malibu and coke, right?” The smile upon his face told her how much he had been looking forward to this very moment. she nodded gratefully and he took her hand. The tall chiselled looking man turned away respectfully. Cory was with Emily, or at least he would be soon enough in his opinion. No other man was going to wreck these chances for him.

Returning to the table, Emily took her seat across from Caitlin and beamed. Cory was certainly acting like a gentleman and she was liking it incredibly.
“Hey, jC,” Cory shook JC’s hand as he placed Emily’s drink in front of her. “You guys OK for drinks?”
“Yeah, we’ll get another when we order food,” Caitlin said warmly. “You guys thought whether you want to eat here or some place else?”
“Here’s fine with me,” Emily picked up a glossy menu and shivered slightly in the cooling breeze. The sun had set almost an hour before and the dusk light was slowly fading to black as they sat beneath the bright outdoor lights. “What about everyone else?” Emily asked, looking at the salad page of the menu.
“Yeah, here works,” JC picked up a menu and stroking Caitlin’s arm grinned seductively. “What you feeling, ma?” He asked her to which she beamed flirtatiously.
“Are you on the menu?” He laughed a low rumbling laugh that she giggled at.
“Maybe later, senurita,” his lips touched her neck seductively and she leaned back in her chair happily.
“I was thinking maybe a pasta dish,” She said then frowned. “But, the sandwiches are great here too. What you going to get?” She turned her face to look at him and he smiled with pride.
“I’m not sure,” He looked down at the menu. His money was running out fast and he knew he would have to do another big job in the next few days to keep up this life style.

Lexie was grumpily flicking through channels as she waited for Caitlin or Emily to return her phone calls. She had tried Caitlin several times to no avail and Emily’s phone just kept ringing. Lexie looked down at her phone and glowered angrily at it. Why were they not answering? And where had they got too? And most importantly, why hadn’t she been invited? The slithers of white scar tissue were glistening in the soft light of the darkening living room. The television presented the only source of light as she sat there in such a fowl temper not even she wanted to be around herself at that moment. The house phone rang then and she snatched the cordless phone from its cradle and clicked the green button.
“Hello?” She hoped it was someone of interest but slamming down the phone in sheer irritation at the telemarketer, Alexia realised that her roommates were out for the night and she had not been invited.

Glancing down at her phone, she scrolled through her contacts, searching for someone to talk to in order to ease her boredom. She knew she would only be using that person until she could get a hold of Caitlin or Emily but Alexia really didn’t care. People used her all of the time. Reaching the D list of contacts, she smirked quite maliciously. Scrolling down to Dan, she hesitated for just a moment, a sly grin crossing her pale lips. Pressing the green button with no further hesitation, the ringing tone sounded in her ear. A satisfied grin crossed her lips and his voice answered in hushed tones after a few rings.

“Why are you ringing me? at home?” He asked, clearly sounding flustered at her surprise call. Alexia was not normally a malicious type of person but as she sat, grinning malevolently at the TV screen, no one would believe that there was not a vengeful bone in her body.
“I just wanna see you!” She mused sweetly down the phone attempting her most alluring voice. “I miss you Danny!” She giggled sickly at him. “Please come over and spend some time with Alexia!” Referring to herself in the third person was just about as much candied sickness even Alexia could stand.
“All right! I’ll come, sweet cheeks, give me thirty minutes, OK?” He whispered hurriedly as she giggled one last time. regardless how much an idiot Dan was, at least he’d be company for her that evening.

by ten PM, Caitlin, JC, Emily and Cory were in line outside of Club Tropica. It was a Latin Club, playing everything Latino. Caitlin knew on a Sunday evening they had Salsa music on and she hoped the boys would enjoy it as much as she and Emily would. Caitlin and Emily had been to Club Tropica a few times on a Sunday evening before and they had loved it. The club was rare in its design. The dance floor was glass, positioned above a water feature that had many coloured lights around the edges. The lights shimmered and glowed beneath the glassy surface on which dancers glided and enjoyed themselves. The DJ booth was strewn in multicoloured beads and all the furniture was made of wicker. the cushions placed upon the seats were varying in bright collars and the only dark quality to the club was the dark wood panelled walls and the black carpeted floor. Spotlights with miniature chandeliers hung all over the ceiling and those surrounding the dance floor glinted with silver and gold lights. Emily had spent a long time describing the interior of this building to Caitlin because she thought it was so beautiful.

As the two couples entered, each girl was presented with a single stem red rose. Smiling gratefully, taking the boys arms, each girl braced herself for a great night.

JC admired the interior of the club as many new comers before him had. The interior was something out of a fairy tale and he looked at the dance floor surreptitiously as Caitlin insisted on dancing.

“It’s glass?” He sounded a little concerned. Caitlin smiled up at him, knowing that it would have been a concern to her too if she had not done a risk assessment on this very building less than two months previously.
“it’s very safe, trust me, I know!” She kissed his cheek as they ascended the glass blocked steps to the rectangular, glass dance floor. JC watched as the hundreds of tiny multi-coloured lights danced hypnotically below his feet as he guided Caitlin to a space by the huge DJ booth. “It’s very, well,” he searched for the words. “Both different and beautiful!” He finally decided on, taking her hand and waist into his own hands. He knew how to salsa dance. His grandmother had taught him years before. Rose had been married to a Mexican man after his grandfather had died from lung cancer, not long after he had gone to live with her. Gabriel had died when JC was barely thirteen from pneumonia and Rose had vowed never to marry again. Gabriel had been a kind man in his sixties with much time for Rose’s grand children. He had never married before and had no children of his own to speak of so Rose’s children and grand children made for a good substitute. JC had got along with Gabriel for a while, he had come to live with them when JC was only five years old. However, as he grew, Gabriel became stricter, wanting the boy to not “run the streets” as he had seen many before him do. As a result, JC resented the man. He had missed out on his own father and mother’s presence and any other authority would never replace the firm hand he should have received from his own parents. Gabriel tried to steer the boy in the right direction to no avail and when Gabriel died, it hit JC harder than he even suspected it would. The man had died three days after JC’s thirteenth birthday and by the time JC was fourteen, he was doing everything Gabriel had hoped he wouldn’t.

“Are you OK?” Caitlin asked, pleased with his ability to glide expertly across the dance floor but concerned by his seemingly absent mind. “You’ve gone quiet,” She pointed out gently touching him on the arm. Her eyes, although clouded by blindness demonstrated the concern she felt. He knew how to dance and she felt like that was the reason he had gone quiet.
“I’m fine,” He told her abruptly and then smiled, regretting his sheer gruffness toward her. She had no idea of his past and he was unwilling to share it with her just yet. She was his girl now, and eventually he’d tell her of his hurts and feelings of abandonments in due course, just not yet! “Sorry, I’m good, just amazed how well you dance.”
“I could say the same about you!” She ignored his pathetic cover up, knowing that whatever it was that had bothered him, he was unwilling to share the subject with her at that moment in time. Pulling her toward him, he kissed the top of her golden head and breathed in the sweet coconut scent she shampooed with.
“I was taught,” he released a snippet of the information. “What about you?”
“I danced as a child but not Salsa. Salsa I’ve learnt just by coming here and moving my body to the music.”
“So you’re a natural?” he asked, flirtatiously stroking the lower part of her spine. He allowed his fingers to trace the skin that lay just above the curve of her butt and up toward where the spine curved upward again. She beamed at the soft attention he was paying to her body and rested her cheek on his shoulder.
“I guess you could say that,” She sighed heavily as he swung her around and as she stood facing him, waiting for another rhythmic beat to engulf her, she felt those familiar butterflies that she had recently become accustomed to feeling whenever he was around.
“Tu es muy bonita, me senurita!” he mused in silken, perfectly spoken tones.
“Gracias, senor!” She replied graciously, tracing a finger along his muscular forearm. “Tu es muy magnífico y muy bueno!” He grinned at her bashfully and leaned forward to caress her soft and inviting lips. This was a truly romantic evening and if any of his boys knew where he was and what he was doing, they’d think him to be crazy! But JC didn’t care! This was where he wanted to be and what he wanted to be doing with who he wanted to be with. Nothing and no one could take that away from him.

Cory and Emily experienced a slightly different night at Club Tropica. Emily was no expert in the dancing department and she quickly realised that neither was Cory. After stepping on each other’s feet several times, unsuccessfully replicating the intimate movements of salsa, Emily and Cory resigned themselves to some wicker chairs and a glass table by the bar.
“You look lovely,” Cory complimented, rather shyly. He was scolding himself for only just giving her this compliment which in truth he had been thinking since he’d seen her standing by the bar. She was so petite and yet womanly, and her eyes danced with gratitude as his words penetrated her ears. She was sweet, funny, sexy and yet all in a shy kind of way. He liked that about her. He was quieter than most boys his age in Hollywood and he liked it like that. extravert girls like Caitlin never attached themselves to him in fear of having to teach him to do everything both intimately and emotionally. It was a common assumption that Cory was A, Still a virgin, and B, had no experiences with women! Neither were true! Cory had been in a long term relationship for a while but he was unhappy with the slow progress of it and so got out before he got frustrated and she got terminally bored. Emily was a lot more forward than his previous girl friend had been but Cory liked her abrupt and straight to the point nature. He always knew where he stood with Emily. although now, it was seemingly different as she had suddenly become shy and unable to stop grinning at him.

“Thanks,” She smiled, unable to contain her appreciation of his comment. She had gone out of her way to look nice for him that night. He was cute and smart and funny in a dry humorous sort of way. Cory didn’t tell jokes, he was often sarcastic, and rarely followed the crowd. Emily liked that about him. He had a lot of good qualities she had previously only noticed as a friend but now, she was seeing potential in him that even she couldn’t comprehend.
“You’re so welcome,” He stood and placed a hand on her shoulder. His strength was remarkable considering his slight structure. He was not muscular like JC, or fat like some guys; he simply had no fat or muscle on his bones. Primarily, Emily did not find those types of guys attractive but Cory somehow pulled it off well.

“Would you like a drink, Miss Andrews?” He asked in a gentleman like voice. She laughed gently and nodded.
“Tequila please,” She said contentedly. As he walked away, she leaned back in the chair, enjoying the bright colours of Club Tropica. It was well named. she would give it that. The colours that strewn the place were bright and cheery and reminded her of tropical islands and drinks. She glanced toward the packed dance floor and spotted Caitlin and JC straight away. He was tall and dark, she was fair and small, it was hard to miss them. Caitlin was dancing almost expertly and as Emily watched, she realised that JC was dancing almost perfectly too. Smiling to herself, Emily felt a surge of happiness that she had previously thought to be impossible. Just a week ago, she was sad, desolate and heading for depression; while now, she was sitting, waiting for a really nice guy to return with a drink for her, for her!; while watching her best friend enjoying the company of a guy who seemed to make her happy. This was almost perfect to Emily. She smiled at Caitlin and JC as they headed toward the table where Emily sat.

“I’ll go and grab us some drinks,” JC kissed Caitlin’s cheek as he placed her hand on the back of a chair, identifying where she was. smiling happily, she pulled the chair out and sat down, grinning at Emily.
“So?” Emily asked as JC sauntered toward the bar and Cory.
“So what?” Caitlin giggled feeling like a high school girl again and as though they were both at prom with the hottest two guys in school. Leaning back and exhaling a breath of complete happiness, Caitlin wondered what it had been like before JC had come into her life.
“You and JC,” Emily laughed gently, seeing the pure elation in Caitlin’s ocean blue eyes. They sparkled like diamonds in the young girl’s face and her blond waves of hair hung vibrantly down her back, gathered and held only by the pink hair clip. She looked as though the world was filled with nothing but happiness and freedom. The glow from Caitlin was reflected in her best friend although Emily did not see that. She felt happy but she had no idea how good and pretty she looked with the added glow of happiness caused by her new found feelings for Cory.

“Hey, dude,” Cory smiled as JC approached the bar. “You been sent for drinks too?” JC laughed a low rumbling laugh as his cinnamon coloured eyes danced with pride. “Em’s having a tequila, what about miss Thang?” Cory always called Caitlin “Miss Thang” and JC smirked understandingly.
“She’s going with a mojito. I’m going to grab a hypnotic I think. What you drinking?” JC knew he had about as much in common with Cory as he did the governor of California which was probably the fact he was a man; but he made time for the guy anyways. After all, he was potentially Emily’s new boyfriend and Emily was Caitlin’s best friend, he concluded it made sense to get along with him even if they had nothing much to talk about. JC suspected that Cory did not like sports, probably read the financial times and commented frequently on the political issues that were gracing the news circuit daily. Although JC was interested in what happened in the world and was a very smart and intellectual kind of guy, he somehow felt that Cory was much more than just a guy who liked to talk about current affairs every now and then. He seemed passionate and probably came from a Republican background whereas JC hated anything to do with the Republicans. He had little time for what was considered the establishment but if he was to side with any of them, it would have to be the democrats. Ordering the drinks, JC waited to hear Cory’s response.

Cory smiled at JC’s attempts to be pleasant. He knew normally, JC would never even bother to pay Cory a second glance let alone engage in a conversation with him. At that, Cory appreciated JC for being so respectable.

“Just a plain old beer for me, dude,” Cory responded pleasantly as they leaned against the dark wooden bar that was adorned with colourful coasters. JC took the drinks as Cory headed back to the table, he realised that JC was much more than he had first thought. He wasn’t just a guy that he suspected was bad news, he was a guy who knew how to act and when to be a particular kind of person. Cory wasn’t sure he trusted him but it really wasn’t his place to trust him anyway. Caitlin had to know what she was doing and if she didn’t, he and Emily would be there to pick up the pieces as always.

Dan and Alexia were sitting on Alexia’s bed, both smoking a cigarette. She wore her robe and he, as usual was wearing nothing. The sex was good, not even Lexie could deny that but something about him made her skin crawl. She couldn’t put her finger on why he made her feel that way and in truth, she had only begun to feel that way since they had started their sordid affair. That was what it was, plain and simple, an affair. Dan couldn’t deny it any longer. He would much rather be with Lexie than his wife Beth anymore and you’d have to be an idiot not to realise that was a sure sign the end of a marriage was near. Lexie was fun! She was vibrant and you never knew what to expect from her. Some days she’d be moody, others, she’d be playful and cute. Today was different though. he knew she was manipulating him and yet he didn’t care. Alexia could get whatever she liked and Dan would not stand in her way. He daren’t! If he was honest with himself, not something he often dabbled in, honesty; he would admit that Alexia had him wrapped around her little finger so tightly an chain saw would struggle to release him from her grasp.

Blowing out a smoke ring, he watched the flecks of red in her hair dance in the lamp light. The room was dark and the house was quiet as they both sat simmering after their hectic session. Lexie’s room was always darkened, even during the day time. She preferred the dark and it made sense when he had seen the type of clubs she went too. Normally, Dan hated punk music but he would do anything to impress this girl. It was true, he was smitten and he didn’t really care any more who knew! She was perfect to him and yet filled with flaws all the same. Her sculptured face was elegant and her green/blue eyes glimmered with mysteries no one could know! When she was sad, Lexie acted like a damsel in distress but when she was being independent, she was feisty and no one should mess with her. Dan inexplicably could not say what specifically attracted Lexie to him but it was the cold hard fact of the matter that she did.

“Want a grill cheese sandwich?” Lexie asked, standing up, ditching her cigarette butt out of the open window. He nodded, copying her action and closing the window to ensure the air conditioner cooled the room down again soon.

Walking to the kitchen, Dan noticed the house was still quiet.
“where are your friends?” He asked curiously, taking a seat at the breakfast bar. The kitchen was tidy and it looked like none of the girls had been home in hours.
“I have no idea,” She said, preparing the griddle and getting the bread, butter and cheese ready. “I haven’t heard from them all night.” She didn’t turn to look at him as she spoke and a sense of dread entered his stomach. What if she only called him over because she was bored? Shaking that moment of doubt from his mind, Dan painted a smile upon his lips. is blonde hair a mess from the gel he used that had flattened during their pleasures. His blue eyes watching her intently as she worked. What was it about her that was so hypnotising?

Caitlin and JC walked steadily toward his car. His hand kept touching her leg suggestively as they walked. She giggled every now and then, wondering what would happen next?

A little way behind them, Emily and Cory were saying good night. He offered to walk her to her car but she insisted she was fine. It was one thirty in the morning and the streets were still so busy.
“thanks for tonight,” She thanked him gratefully for his company. Smiling, he bent down and kissed her lips gently. She smiled as he pulled away from a passion she had never suspected could come from him.
“We’ll have to do it again some time,” He said gently. “See you at work?” She nodded as he turned and began to walk toward the multiplex car lot he had parked in. She stood watching him for a long time and finally let out a sigh of ecstasy, turning toward her car and home.

At the door of the house, Caitlin kissed JC with a hunger she didn’t know existed inside of her. His hands were tracing up and down her body with electrifying pulses that made her weak.
“I better go, take Callie out and get to bed, got a majorly busy day tomorrow,” she panted with the intensity of the kiss. Smiling and kissing her one last time, he nodded.
“Good night then baby girl,” He kissed her cheek and retreated up the path toward his car. “Sleep well!” He called as he stepped into the driver’s seat.
“You too!” She called, fighting the butterflies that danced vigourously inside of her. “I’ll call you tomorrow!” She offered, waving as he started the engine.
“Good, talk then, ma!” he drove off, leaving her feeling like the world just got a million times better. Caitlin knew it wouldn’t be long before she was completely under his spell for good.

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