“What do you want?” Amber asked when she saw me heading over, a mix of annoyance and relief on her face. There was some spite back in her voice, but still not as much as usual.
“You looked a little lonely. Also guys might leave you be if you're talking to me,” I said with a small laugh. She frowned before nodding.
“I don't know why you'd do that for me but fine. Though they can probably tell you're gay from a mile off,” she replied. Already she was being more of her mean self. I couldn't help but smile at it. She saw my face and raised an eyebrow.
“Most don't enjoy insults,” she said. She took another sip of whatever was in her glass. I imagined it was some brand of atrociously overpriced champagne.
“Nah, but nice to see you being you again. You've been a little...different since yesterday,” I said and she sighed. I waited patiently for her to talk, wondering if I was prepared to hear her problems or not.
“I was an idiot, and now Lily hates me,” she finally said. I almost blurted out a dozen inappropriate questions regarding what on earth was going on with them. But I reigned myself in.
“Here if you need to talk I guess. And I doubt she hates you. Lily's a little overemotional is all. Give it some time and try apologising for whatever happened,” I said. Amber studied me carefully, as if she was trying to figure out if was playing some game, trying to make her look dumb.
“You're probably right...” she trailed off, turning back to the window. She chewed on her lower lip then faced me again.
“I don't know why you're being nice, but don't think it'll change anything,” she said, craning her neck away from me with suspicious eyes. I laughed, which she didn't seem to appreciate much.
“It'd be a little weird if you weren't you Amber,” I simply said as an explanation. I walked away, satisfied I'd at least cheered her up a little.
I scanned the crowd for Zack and that Jaz girl but couldn't spot either. I considered going back to Amber but had a feeling she'd become her old self fast and make me leave her alone. I wondered around, glad that all people gave me was an occasional glance. Then I heard a booming laugh, one I'd heard countless times before through the TV screen. I looked towards its source and there he was. He was joking with some guy I didn't know. What on earth he was doing here I had no clue. Zack had said something about people who pretended to know business, which - with all this guy's arrogance - didn't really surprise me.
“Jeremy, we should go and say hello to the host,” a women by him said. The best way to describe her was frosty. Pale blond hair that was pinned up in a complicated bun and near white pale blue eyes. A permanent disapproving frown puckered on her face. Completely different to him. On the screen it was easier to ignore similarities. But in person I could see where I got my messy, muddy-coloured hair, why I had brown eyes rather than mum's grey ones.
“In a minute honey, I’m catching up with an old friend,” he replied, not even bothering to look at her as he spoke. Annoyance quirking his lip a little before he resumed his attention on the other man.
“You can catch up after we properly greet Mr Alden,” she pushed, her voice cool with a harsh edge. Now he did turn to look at her, irritation clear in his whole demeanour. He muttered something under his breath before turning to face the man.
“I'll talk to you later, you know how it is. Listen to the wife or lose something important,” he said with a loud laugh that the man echoed. His wife didn't look especially happy about the comment and grabbed his wrist to lead him towards Zack's dad. Then the women paused and pulled out a slim mobile phone.
“Evan isn't late, he isn't coming,” she said with an exhausted sigh. I could see tired lines on her face now and felt a little sorry for her. It couldn't be easy being married to the guy. The complication of her not knowing he cheated notwithstanding. This time I heard the curse word he muttered.
“I'll find him this time. Behave,” was her last demand before she quickly left. She did it so swiftly and softly that no one but me noticed the thing.
“Can I help you?” I jumped and realised he was looking right at me with cold, calculated eyes. I had no clue what to say, though I was grateful he didn't recognize me in the slightest.
“You were watching me and my wife, I don't appreciate that sort of thing. So speak or leave,” He continued, taking a threatening step towards me. I returned his glare quite openly, glad no one seemed to have noticed what was going on yet. I don't even know why I said it, but I felt I had too, had to make him feel some guilt.
“How's Janine been? Not that you bother to ask when you call. Just harass,” I saw his expression the moment the words left, surprise and worry almost instantly. He grabbed me by the shoulders and led me to the nearest wall that was empty of possibly eavesdroppers.
“How much,” he said, once he'd assured himself no one was listening to us. I raised an eyebrow in confusion and he made an exasperated sound through gritted teeth.
“Just name your price to keep the story quiet. It's the easy option kid, because trust me. My influence can get your unknown ass in jail and fired pretty fast. Find a new story to make your big break,” he ranted, the threat clear. I blinked as I realised he thought I was some kind of journalist.
“I don't want your money. And why would I tell? I haven't in sixteen years and don't plan too. I have no interest in being affiliated with someone like you.” I had to fight myself to not shout the last part. I turned to leave but his pulled me back.
“Michael?” he asked, disbelief in his voice as he studied me. I yanked my wrist from his grip.
“Just leave us the hell alone,” I said before he could stutter out anything else. I stormed off, well aware his eyes were burning into my back. I eventually found Zack, he was with Jaz still and watching me curiously.
“He wasn't giving you trouble was he? I know he has strong opinions, but he usually leave individuals alone...” Zack trailed off. He thought he'd been giving me trouble because I was gay. I couldn't give Zack the truth, it was too complicated. Plus I didn't know if Jaz would keep it quiet. Jaz herself made a small snort at Zacks words.
“The guy belongs in another century, the way he thinks,” she muttered. I sent her a questioning look because she seemed over familiar with him.
“You didn't figure it out already? He's my dad. I'm the “good” one. Because Evan just gets drunk and high in low places,” Jaz explained, her voice softening a little at the mention of her brother. Of course, I did recognize her now. I'd seen a photo of them four in a magazine. She was a few years younger then but the facial features matched. Evan even had dark circles under his eyes then despite make-up. It was strange to know the reason why. Now I definitely couldn't tell Zack. Not when he knew the guy's daughter. I wouldn't think of her as my half-sister. It'd be too weird.