Play(4)By: Kylie Scott
Happily, Ev seemed delighted to see me. One potentially awkward moment negated. Mr. Ev, the rock star, gave me a chin tip in greeting while I did my best not to stare. I itched to ask him to sign something. My forehead would do.
“Help yourself to anything in the kitchen,” said Ev. “There are plenty of drinks and pizza should be here soon.”
“You live next to Lauren and Nate?” asked David, speaking for the first time. Good lord, his dark hair and sculpted face were breathtaking. People shouldn’t be so greedy; was it not enough that he was insanely talented?
“Yes,” I said. “I used to be Ev’s neighbor and I’m a regular at Ruby’s Café.”
“Every morning without fail,” said Ev with a wink. “Double shot skinny latte with a hit of caramel coming right up.”
David nodded and seemed to relax. He slipped an arm around his wife’s waist and she grinned up at him. Love looked good on her. I hoped they lasted.
I’d loved, really loved, four people in my lifetime. They weren’t all romantic love, of course. But I’d trusted my heart to all of them. Three had failed me. So I figured there was a twenty-five percent chance for success.
When David and Ev started sucking face, I took it as my cue to go explore.
I grabbed a beer from the kitchen (state of the art and beyond fancy) and faced the big living room with renewed determination. I could totally do this. Socializing and me were about to be best buds. A couple dozen people were scattered around the place. A huge flat screen blared out the game and Nate sat dead center in front of it, enraptured. There were a few faces amongst the crowd that I recognized; most belonged to people I’d never dare approach. I took a sip of beer to wet my parched throat. Being the odd one out at a party is a unique sort of torture. Given today’s events, I lacked the courage to start a conversation. With my talent for picking who to trust, I’d probably ask the only axe murderer in the room for his sign.
Lauren gestured to me to join her right when my cell starting buzzing in my back jeans pocket. My butt cheek vibrated, giving me a thrill. I waved to Lauren and pulled out my cell, walking quickly out onto the balcony to escape the noise and chatter. Reece’s name flashed on the screen as I shut the balcony doors.
“Hey,” I said, smiling.
“Date canceled on me.”
“That’s a shame.”
“What are you up to?”
Wind whipped up my hair, making me shiver. Typical weather for Portland at this time of year–October could definitely get cold, wet, dark, and miserable. I huddled down deeper into my blue woolen jacket. “I’m at a party. You’re going to have to entertain yourself. Sorry.”
“A party? What party?” he asked, the interest in his voice moving up a notch.
“One I wasn’t exactly invited to, so I can’t extend the offer to you.”
“Damn.” He yawned. “Never mind. Might get an early night for a change.”
“Good idea.” I wandered over to the railing. Cars rushed by on the street below. The Pearl District was a mecca of bars, cafés, and general coolness. Plenty of people were out and about braving the weather. All around me, the city lights broke up the darkness and the wind howled. It was lovely in a moody, existential-crisis sort of way. No matter the weather, I loved Portland. It was so different from back home in southern California, something I appreciated immensely. Here the houses were built for snow and ice instead of sunshine. The culture was weirder, more lenient in ways. Or maybe I just had a hard time remembering any of the good regarding my hometown. I’d escaped. That was all that mattered.
“I should go be social, Reece.”
“You sound off. What’s up?”
Groan. “Let’s talk tomorrow at work.”
“Let’s talk now.”
“Later, Reece. I need to put on my happy face and go make Lauren proud.”
“Anne, cut the shit. What’s going on?”
I screwed up my face and took another sip of beer before answering. We’d been working together for almost two years now. Apparently, plenty of time for him to figure out my tells. “Skye’s gone.”