page 18

Bea emerged into the room in a short while, handing me a bag and looking at Sutton questioningly.

"Don't ask." I said quickly, handing her dress back.

She took it without batting an eye at its state, grabbing the stool and sitting down.

"So what happened?"

"I drank a lot and got hit by his car. I had to get my stomach pumped."

"His car?" she asked incredulously, "Now it's not just your subconscious telling you something, it's the universe!"

"Oh please," I scoffed, "We were in a rich area. It was a given he'd be around."

Bea looked at me cheekily.

"So you don't have any interest whatsoever in him?"

"No." I replied, cursing myself for almost hesitating.

"He's hot." she commented, "Maybe I'll take a swing at him when he wakes up."

"No!" I hissed, promptly spluttering an explanation, "He...probably has a girlfriend. And what happened to Alain?"

She sighed.

"His boss caught us in the bathroom. Kicked us out. He thinks he's lost his job, and he's not exactly in the mood to talk about it. And I'm hung over as hell."

Beatrice squeezed her temples, giving me an apologetic look.

"This was not what I expected at all for our night out. I'm sorry it all got so screwed up."

"It's not your fault," I managed, "It was stupid of me to get involved in a drinking game."

She perked up instantly.

"What? With who?"

"Vera Morrison," I said bitterly, "She badmouthed me and then threw down the gauntlet to see who would outlast the other."

"Did you win?" Bea asked breathlessly, clearly loving the gossip.

"I guess. It was more by default than anything. She had somewhere to be."

"Or so she says." Beatrice laughed, "You beat her! You beat the bitchiest bitch of them all!"

She patted me on the back, amazed.

"I'm telling you now," she said excitedly, "If there wasn't already a buzz around you, there will be after this! You beat her at her own game!"

I really did not understand where her enthusiasm was coming from.

"Yeah, and I got myself hospitalized for it."

Beatrice tutted, shaking her head.

"Girl, you did something worth a Nobel Peace Prize. Believe me when I say you're going to find friends in high places. Oh, and a couple enemies too."

Shit. I hadn't even thought about what my little show could mean to my career.

"I'm so stupid." I groaned, throwing my head in my hands.

"You are a blonde after all."

I looked up to see Raphael stirring from sleep, clearly just as rude as ever.

"Morning," he offered to Bea, "I don't believe I know you, and at this hour I don't believe I care to. My apologies."

She looked at me incredulously, and I nodded as if to confirm that his behavior was normal.

The nurse came in just then, smiling.

"Good news! You've been cleared to leave!"

She came over and unhooked me from the IV and heart rate monitor, handing me a clipboard.

"Please fill out these forms. And leave your gown in the bin over there."

As soon as she left Bea followed, telling me she would wait for me outside.

I sat up and let my feet dangle over the edge of the bed, standing carefully. I felt a little wobbly but I could tell the carbon had done its magic. Good as new.

Raphael was on the verge of dozing again, but I prodded him in the shoulder.

"I have to change, sunshine. Scram."

He stood up slowly, drinking me in with drowsy eyes before turning and walking out.

"Of all the cruelties in the world..." he muttered, rubbing the sleep out of his face.

I shut the door after him and pulled on the sweats and tank Bea had chosen, glad that she'd picked comfortable clothes. I dumped the gown and slung my purse over my shoulder, ducking into the bathroom to relieve myself and clean my face off.

My hair was still in its curls. That was a plus.

The last of the makeup washed off easily and I was glad it was gone. It made me feel a little strange.

When I headed out into the lobby I set about completing the forms, my handwriting getting more than a little sloppy towards the end. My hand hurt but I managed to finish, handing them in and heading out the main exit.

Bea waved at me from somewhere in the parking lot but before I could comprehend what she was doing she'd sped off.

I realized then that a familiar grey Ferrari was parked directly in front of me, with a familiar person leaning on the hood.

Sutton turned to look at me and smirked.

I swear, for that moment, with his short jet-black hair rippling in the wind and his indigo eyes boring into me, sitting in that careless way of his on his priceless car, he looked like a model from the two-page spread of a high-end automobile magazine.

The spitting image of a young, whirlwind tycoon rolling in the dough.

He got up and opened the door for me, and I walked over with a sigh.  

The End

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