Bai waited by the mini island. She rested her head in her arms. I pulled the strands of squash onto her plate, adding leftover fish from the night before. “Head up,” I slid the plate to her. “Will you do my hair tonight?”
“Mn-yea,” She chewed, “You’ll rock an updo.” I sat beside her. Dinner was a silent one, she must have been upset with the decision still. Her lazy stance was her way of showing she didn’t want to engage in conversation. Bai has always been like that. Her mother ran a strict household. I got use to her cues for “Don’t talk to me right now,” and I couldn’t help but feel a little responsible. “Wanna get it done now?” she asked me. I shoved the last bit of food in my mouth.
“Yes please,” I responded. I watched her in the mirror. A simple tight bun took longer than the average messy bun. Her tongue slowly slipped out as her concentrated deepend. My thick brown hair was slowly tamed. While she worked her magic, I decorated the imperfections of my features with concealer, blush, gloss, eye shadow and mascara.
“Alright Barbie, it’s all set,” Bai took a step back to admire her work. It really is like painting on a doll. I examined the makeup-powder shine and used the mirror to search for imperfections at separate angles. I glanced to Bai’s reflection. Her eyes sulked but not her stature. She was trying to hide her unsettled emotions.
“Thank you Bai.” I turned to give her a gentle hug. Don’t be mad, please. A car horn caught our attention. Bai made her way to the window and peeked through the blinds.
“Uh, Ariel?” she looked at me through the mirror’s reflection. “I think it’s your ride.” I strode to the door. A white sedan limo was waiting in front of the gate. I turned back to Bai who was leaning against the door frame, “They sure know how to make a statement.” I waved to her. As I approached the shining vehicle, the door opened. Sirina greeted me inside.
“I knew it would look good on you!” I presumed she meant the dress. “Are you excited?” she asked.
“A bit nervous,” I laughed while taking a seat beside her. The interior was lined with purple LEDs that reflected well off the white silk seats and metallic mini furniture. A woman sat in a long luxurious gown. The silver sequins made each movement exaggerate glows to keep your attention from traveling. Her long straight hair was free of any whisps and imperfections. It frightened me how angular her face seemed.
“A friend,” Sirina said, catching my attention once more. I nodded to the woman politely, her brow raised. Sirina offered her glass to me, I waved it down. The last thing I need is to not remember where I am. I focused on her as she spoke to her friend. Her hair was smooth and braided, leaving it to hang by her waist. It led to the dresses open midriff, where bits of her tattoo poked out. Tiny diamonds interwoven into a larger diamond. I followed her figure, back up the seams. She looked as elegant as ever sporting a black semi-dress that lead to one shoulder. “And that is how I got Ariel to finally join me tonight.” She flashed me a smile.
“Tell me about yourself,” the other’s voice stated blandly. I looked to the woman, the neutrality in her expression sent chills down my spine.
“Well,” I cleared my throat. “I just transferred to the university. I study engineering.” Her brow raised again. Sirina laughed, placing her hand on my bouncing knee.
“Ariel has always been so smart! We met in high school and when she told me she was having trouble with students at her other college, I told her about our programs and she was hooked!” My nerves began to settle, I hadn’t known I was holding my breath. “But believe me when I say,she is a musical protege. Trained classically for, how long?”
“Since I was four.”
“She has the most remarkable talent,” Sirina began speaking about my past recitals and times I played for her parties at home.
The woman looked to me again,“You’ll have to play at a gathering of mine some time then.”
I nodded as the topic changed to some gossip about people I didn’t know about. I presumed they were other Night Dwellers. I focused my gaze out the window. We drove deeper and deeper into the city. I lost track of which street we were on. Turning into a dimly lit alley, the limo stopped the entrance of Brielle’s Cage, presumably our destination. A well dressed man opened the door beside me, I scooted out. The girls went ahead of me, speaking to others waiting for their dates. The woman’s dress was opened backed. Seated right between the dimples in her back was a tattoo matching Sirina’s. She must be the friend I’ve heard about. Her “partner in crime.”
I took a deep breath, holding it in the core of my chest before walking through the deep velvet curtains.
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