When we arrived, I instantly felt myself gawking again. The invitation had said the party would be at Reginald Price’s estate, but it hadn’t mentioned that his house was more of a villa.
It was sleek and decorated with multiple huge, glinting windows that made it look futuristic, with a perfectly manicured lawn and a glittering pool stretching out beside it.
Bea parked somewhere that I wasn’t sure was a parking zone and ushered me to the entrance, walking effortlessly in her silver stilettos.
We were in a short moment later, and I couldn’t help but look around me in wonder. The ceilings were ridiculously high, with an exquisite crystal chandelier hanging above us, and two staircases branching out to the second floor. When we walked on we emerged into a spacious room, with one of those glass-paneled fireplaces burning and upscale furniture as far as the eye could see. It literally looked like it had popped out of one of those home decor magazines, and I had to say it was impressive.
There were already guests mingling over flutes of champagne, chatting about what sounded like extravagant trips. I walked with confidence, flicking open the fan every now and then to bat it softly.
It wasn’t hard to tell I was getting a lot of looks, from males and females alike. Most were curious, some annoyed and others appreciative.
I had to hand it to Bea; she had managed to make me, one of the aesthetically challenged, into someone who could blend into a smells-like-money soiree.
Beatrice and I stationed ourselves near one of the windows, covertly people-watching as we struck up a conversation.
“Kat, you are officially the woman of the night.” She said instantaneously, clearly basking in the attention I was getting.
“It’s only thanks to you.” I replied, “It...means a lot.”
She smiled, flicking her curls over a shoulder.
“Girl, what are friends for? And, I admit, I had a bit of an agenda of my own.”
I felt confused but, following her amused glance, felt my heart jump in my chest.
Raphael and Gus were talking about something as they walked in, laughing. I barely had time to take in his dark hair, the form-fitting black suit he was wearing and his perfect teeth before he looked up and met my eyes.
I didn’t know how I managed to stay standing, fanning myself calmly, as his inky gaze burrowed into my own. I also didn’t know how I managed to smile sweetly at him, even though the smirk playing on his lips was dizzying.
He looked away eventually, and I blinked, breathing a sigh of relief.
“Kat, did you see that?”
“What?” I asked absentmindedly, watching as Sutton went about greeting some of the people in the room.
“The way he looked at you. He’s head over heels!”
“No he’s not.” I insisted, “I’m just his little pet project-”
She cut me off, clearly sounding annoyed.
“Why do you keep underestimating him? Are you afraid that you’re more to him than that?”
I hesitated in my response.
“Bea, I’m an uneducated runaway chock full of problems. He’s rich, descended from the rich, and attractive. Why would he even bother to look at me when he has a thousand other, better girls lined up?”
“You admitted he’s attractive.” Bea said happily, promptly sobered by a glare, “Kat, the point is that the world doesn’t always run on logic. You’re from the opposite ends of the spectrum, from completely different walks of life. But feelings, feelings don’t care about class and money! Your heart and mind will always be two very separate things.”
“Bea,” I replied cheekily, “Technically the heart pumps blood to the brain, and they’re connected by a system of blood vessels. Not to mention that emotion is actually centered in the brain-”
She interrupted with a roll of her eyes.
“Kat, why don’t you just take the moral of the story and stop questioning the plot points! You’ll drive me crazy!”
“Fine.” I replied dramatically, looking up as a server offered us flutes of champagne.
Bea took one and handed me one too, swirling it in her glass and sniffing it.
“Cristal. You don’t get one of these that often. Oh, and don’t worry your makeup is all waterproof so you won’t be smudging the glass.”
I sipped at it cautiously, all too familiar with the feeling of drinking too much. I had to hand it to Bea, she thought of everything.
The stuff wasn’t all that bad. I wasn’t really big on drink, though, so it would be safe to say I was probably a little biased. I didn’t get the whole hype behind it, tasted kind of funky and served to do nothing other than draining your wallet and messing up your liver.
Bea’s words were floating around in my head, but I managed to push them away as Gus walked up to the two of us.
“Katarina! Congratulations on your multiple lead roles!”
“Thanks, Gus.” I replied, beaming, “This is Beatrice Green, a good friend of mine.”
Bea smiled and shook hands with him, offering some small talk.
Eventually a young couple joined the group and Talgus introduced them to be his daughter Nina and her husband Daniel. Nina was a pretty brunette with a prominent baby bump, and she proved to be as nice as her dad.
I noticed offhandedly that Bea was looking at Daniel with a hint of forlornness in her expression, but she smiled and talked with her usual pep. When they excused themselves to greet someone else Beatrice took a big gulp of her Cristal and discreetly grabbed another glass.
“Are you ok?” I asked uncertainly, watching as she bit her lip.
“Yeah.” She smiled, breathing sharply, “Fine.”