River’s mirror was grime speckled, in need of wet wiping. He stood in-front of it, his black balenciaga shirt unbuttoned, staring. At himself. His fingers found themselves on the tail of his shirt. One by one, he buttoned. His gaze left his reflection and found his fists. His knuckles, particularly. It’d been a few months since ... everything happened. He remembered his hands covered red. He shut his eyes -
His fist pummeled down, slamming against the guy’s jaw. He then lifted it high in the air, only to bring it down once more. Twice more. A girl’s arms wrapped around him, telling him to stop it.
“You’re going to kill him!”
He was back in his room. Back by his spotted mirror. He stretched out a fist, examining it quickly, before running it through his styled back hair. His lips curved, forming a smile. He watched himself smile in the reflection for a moment, before it disappeared. Gone.
The door to Norah’s room was shut, as per. Faint music coming from behind it. He banged on it, loud enough to drown out the noise. “Nor. Ri. I’m gonna be leavin’ in like two secs, alright? If you’re catching a ride with me and Z, then hurry up.”
He heard their voices combating the music. “Just a minute.” One of them called to him through the mahogany. He couldn’t tell which sister it was saying it.
He said, before leaving. Jogging through the long upstairs hallway, his hand wrapping around the stairwell bannister as he got to it. He ran down the stairs. Only stopping when he saw her standing in the foyer. The ends of her blonde hair slightly curled. Her dress - tight. “You ready?” He asked her,
Taking her into a warm embrace as he approached.
He almost towered over Zia.
Something he always liked.
Something he knew she liked as well.
“Jennifer’s got him, don’t worry about it.” A voice, not belonging to Zia, said. River let loose of his girlfriend and turned around to see his father standing in a doorway. An untouched cigar in his mouth. A matchbook in his hand. Slowly,
He lit it. The spark made River’s heart pound a little harder. He remembered the heat. The chaos. A roof collapsing in on itself in a flurry of fire.
“So you’re leaving our kid with the fuckin’ babysitter club?” River said, taking a breath. His chest felt tense. He stretched out his shoulders, in a hope to ease his aching.
“She’s a grown woman, River. Unlike the child’s parents.”
“Do not start with this shit.”
“I’m just saying ...”
“Stop saying. Can you go look after your grandson for fuckin’ once?”
River stood. Robert puffed on his cigar, staring. Before he made himself scarce, “Don’t drink too much.” His parting words before he disappeared into the next room. Leaving them. Thankfully. River looked at Zia and shook his head slowly...
“Sorry ‘bout that.”
He let out a long sigh. “He’s a fuckin’ asshole. But fuck it. It’s fucking Saturday night.” River pulled Zia into him again. “Last Saturday night of break. No little buddy to watch over. Just you and me and a lot ... of drink. Like ... wild amounts.”
A genuine one.
“You look, uh, really good by the way.” He looked down into her eyes. “Forgot to say that to ya earlier.” His hand was locked in hers for a brief few seconds, before he let her go again.
“Excited to see how much the palace gets trashed tonight.” He said as he walked back over to the first step of the stairwell.
He clutched the bannister, “Norah!”
He called. “Ri!”
His voice echoed up the stairs. Up into the upper foyer. He could hear their voices, and the music still lightly humming,
“Come on! We’re leaving in five.” River bellowed. Shaking his head at the lack of an instant response. He put his hand into his pocket and took hold of his smartphone -
Checking the time.
“Can’t believe we’re late to a party at your own place.” He rolled his eyes, talking to Zia. He looked back at her as she checked her own phone. The device’s blue glow projecting its shine onto her face in the darkly lit foyer. He smiled at her, as she was so entranced in her social media. Finally -
And all he heard next was the pitter patter of high heels. “Fuckin’ finally.” He let go of the bannister and then grabbed a school bag that was placed against the door to the broom closet. As he picked it up, it clinked. The bag was full of bottles of vodka and whiskey.
He slid it over his shoulder,
And shoved his hand into the pocket of his jeans. Fishing out his car keys.
Back to regular life, as it were, and Norah had half a mind to ditch the whole thing, purely out of spite. Two, maybe three months, after the fire. Westbrook, burnt, with nary a student not scarred (literally and mentally). Something out of fucking Carrie, if you asked Norah. She liked to pretend that it didn't bother her, that she hadn't been emotionally crippled from the barbarism that was public school. That, or the actual arson that nearly took everyone's lives. She was lucky, her siblings her lucky, to make it out alive.
And now, it was back to normal. Back at Black Mill. Back to... everything.
She was a tad excited, if the small smirk on her face was any inclination, to see familiar faces. People on the same level as her, or at least somewhat (if you discounted the pathetic scholarship students, but woo to them for making it into the halls anyway). Being back in her bedroom, rather than the mockery that'd been set up when they were living out of state for the time, she felt comfortable. Her room had all the photographs, all the memories, and all the trinkets from her mother that she kept closely.
If only she hadn't spent so many evenings of her summer crawling back to her bed, drunker than a sailor, and sobbing into her pillow before a quick trip to the bathroom.
But at least she cried rather silently, and kept her angry face just as angry as anyone remembered.
It was time to resume appearances, and keep face, just as life had been prior to the small hiccup that lasted a school year. The Windrifts, ever reliable, were throwing an end of summer party. One last hurrah, and a chance to reconnect with people new and old from Black Mill Academy. As much as Norah wanted to not go, since parties had a bad taste in her mouth as of late, she reasoned that she may as well pretend things were really okay. Fake it til you make it, right?
She sat in her room, lazy music playing from the speakers. Pump up jams, something she made a couple years ago, spilled out and made her bob her head. She had offered, how kind, to do her sister's makeup. It was a black theme, the Windrifts meant it, and she had wanted to make sure the Walsh girls made a statement. First proper trip out, anyway. Edgy, gripping. Although she would be watching the girl like a hawk. If any liquor made it to Riona's lips, Norah'd grab her right by the manicured finger and swing her right out the doors.
Norah had already become a walking contradiction, after spending so long against drinking, and she was determined to make sure her foolish sister didn't end up in the same ditch as River and Norah.
"Crazy going back to everything, right?" Norah said, making talk. She'd been mean to Riona in the past, as an older sister should, but she knew this random act of kindness was probably sort of suspicious. Norah didn't give too many fucks, anyway. "Just have fun, and keep your fucking phone on you."
A knock at the door, nearly making her jump. At least she'd finished doing the intricate details. "Just a minute... ASSHOLE," Norah seethed, barking at the door. She turned back, resuming her work. River said two seconds, five minutes, whatever-- asshole would wait.
Norah looked at herself in the reflection, touching her red lips with a gentle pinky, then fiddling with her leather jacket, and then looked back at her sister. A swelling of pride came within her, and she broke the bravado she normally held for that single moment.
"You look gorgeous, Ri." She didn't let the moment last too long, however, and swiftly made her way downstairs. Primped, curled and swathed in black leather and heels, Norah was ready to reclaim her status. Too long was spent fighting the ambivalence and aggression of the public school system, and the students within it. So self-contained, so selfish. They barely even looked at her! Now, of course, all eyes would be.
It's simply what it means to be a Walsh in Black Mill.
Making her way down, she ignored the comment from her brother, but smiled at Zia, and made an even harder attempt to ignore the glare from their father as he passed through a hallway. If he had his say, he'd probably make a comment about her appearance. He was probably thinking it, anyway, but clearly could give less of a fuck about his children going off and getting plastered.
A gentle pain was all that accompanied the loud crashing from the center of the room, the harsh thud of man against floor mercifully muffled by the plush velvet rug that was laid out under the table, likely placed there before anyone in the current group of attendees was even born, and like to stay in place long after all of them had died. A refined and regal setting that was in harsh juxtaposition to the scene that was unfolding within.
Although a small crowd has gathered to watch their beleaguered host make a fool of himself, few of them were eager to do anything more than snap a few pictures on their phones, and offer unconcealed laughter at his expense, eyes watching the figure that lay spread-eagled upon the floor as a stream of clear liquid dripped down from the upturned red-cup that rested upon his chest, now covered almost from head to toe.
Has it not been for the distinctive stench of liquor, one might have been convinced that it was water.
This might have been the first opportunity that Gus Windrift had to embarrass himself for an audience in the new school year, but it was most certainly not going to be the last, and although most people might have been greatly upset to make a fool of themselves in such a way, Gus merely revelled in the attention.
He was back in his element.
Feeling a gentle smirk rise up upon his lips, reaching from the edge of one ear, all the way to the other, the Windrift looked up in a bit of a haze, his eyes attempting to focus upon the dancing lights above, as they watched the swinging chandelier shine from the ceiling. It was gold, a symbol of status for the Windrift clan, though at the moment the only purpose it served was as a piece of set dressing as two seniors dressed in nothing but a pair of black slacks each attempted to skim against it, as they tossed a little white ball across to each other from either end of the grand dining room table.
It was only half-eight.
The night had barely begun.
‘I’m alright! I’m alright! Not dead yet.’
Despite a mild dizzying sensation, Gus was able to pull himself back to his feet, dusting himself off with a little flourish, as his grin only grew wider upon his face, sharing the laughter of those around him. It was a hard task, to maintain a respectable composure when a gentle stream of vodka was still dripping from the tips of your hair and onto the creases of your shirt, though Gus was more than up for the challenge.
The whole thing served him right.
He was not steady enough on his feet.
A few months on the slopes of Switzerland for the summer, was certainly what the doctor ordered, in terms of recuperating from the traumatic experience of the previous school year, however spending so much time without even a single whiff of anything stronger than a glass of chardonnay, had certainly done a lot to weaken Gus’ tolerance for booze. Whilst he had thought himself more than capable of maintaining his balance as he leapt up onto the table, to start a beautiful chorus of some nondescript song that was far too out of tune for anyone to recognise, it turned out that he was perhaps a little less dexterous than he had thought.
He was going to have to rectify all of that tonight.
You couldn’t have the best party planner in all of Massachusetts be beaten by a few bottles of the weak stuff.
It was common knowledge that the first party of the school year always had to be a spectacle, and for the past few years the burden of organising that spectacle had always fallen onto the shoulders of one Gus Windrift (given that he always made sure his invited went out first, and that he could blow any rivals out of the water).
Gus might have not been a King at Black Mill, nor was he even much more than a groupie when it came to the royal court but when it came to hosting a killed blow-out, only one man wore the crown, and right now, he could feel it nestled between the gentle curls of his vodka stained hair.
‘Consider that a cautionary tale in health and safety. Don’t, uh… Well, don't do that!’ He took another swig of vodka as the crowd laughed, rubbing the small of his back to feel a light bruising that was likely going to hurt like hell tomorrow.
But that seemed like a problem for the Gus of the future.
It wasn’t long before he was able to fade back into the crowd, leaving his first mishap behind him, though likely trapasing quickly towards another, as he made small talk with a few of the current party guests, the sort of no-name low-lifes that had the audacity to show up ‘at the advertised time’ as if they had nothing better to do.
That was mean.
He certainly wouldn’t have wanted to be late to a Windrift party.
Already quite a few of his classmates had started to trickle in, though the vast and spacious floorplan of Windrift Manor made the event seem much less crowded than it was, people split off into various little groups and cliques that Gus started to move himself between to introduce himself into the different conversations.
The invite he’d sent out had advised everyone to wear black in honour of the reopening of the academy, and thus far, pretty much everyone had complied, a whole dark sea of shadowy figures.
Like a strange wake full of cheery alcoholics.
A good theme was important.
After mingling with most of the people who had already arrived, and making sure that he properly performed his duties as host by making everyone feel as comfortable as possible, (such is to say, that everyone was properly buzzed, with a drink in hand), Gus took his position of prominence in hovering around the door, greeting anyone that entered with a sly smile, and handing out bottles of various liquids to whoever’s grip was lapse enough to take them from him. He wasn’t quite sure what exactly everything was, but it was expensive, and it would certainly get you drunk.
One coat of mascara, maybe a second if she was going a bit sultrier. Fox eyes were a trend right now, weren’t they? Would she need to do that with her already Asian eyes? Were eyes enough? From her head to her toes: an immigrant, an adoptee. But she was rich. That was all that mattered. She sighed as she leaned back on the chair of her vanity. Rotating her neck to feel the pops and crack to decrease the already rising tension. It was just one party, that was all. She wanted to drink until she ached, drink away worries and mistakes. She wanted food too, a month of dieting had her hangrier than she would regularly be. Maybe she’d indulge a little bit today, she was going to puke it out anyway.
She stood up before looking herself up and down. What was she doing? A whole school just fucking burnt down and here they were throwing a party almost a mock tribute to those who lost their lives. She sighed before turning to the side to view her side profile. Stomach, still as flat as ever. Thank god. She then propped her camera up before clicking record and walking away from said camera before returning back and hitting the record button to turn it off. She then went through the footage to look at her back profile. She wanted to look good from all angles – was that a crime? She then proceeded to look into the mirror, brown twinkling eyes staring back at her. Black, twinkling and hollow eyes.
There is an idea of a Jasmine Mahalia, some kind of generalisation people came up with to classify people into tags and into files so that life could be easier. A bitch, glossy lips, cold and heartless. Malicious and would do whatever she wants to get where she wants. A flirt, a hypersexual. But there was no real Jasmine. A body, maybe. Something unreal. She could hide her cold gaze behind beguiling smiles and ways to pass the time. She could even allow you to shake her hand, to feel the flesh of her palms gliding across the flesh of yours – maybe in that way you could probably see how her and your lives were comparable. But that much wasn’t true. None of it was.
After all, she was the token immigrant. The model minority. The token adoption child, the excuse to do good in the world from the Van Houston family – following in the footsteps of Angelina and Brad Pitt. Picked like a cherry from its’ stem for dark brown skin and brown eyes. An accent and no mother. Raised from a young age so there wouldn’t be a shortage of discipline. No worry of her going back to her country’s tendencies and old ways. Jasmine was the model minority.
The model minority with the inferiority complex.
Soon she left the house, no word or questions from her parents as to where she was going or who she was going to be with. They sold her soul a long time ago. She called for the chauffer and as he pulled up, she checked her reflection one last time. One last chance to back out and go into a completely different outfit, ditch the party all together, to be by herself and collect her thoughts.
Who was she kidding? None of those were her options.
She got in the car and was soon off to the Windrift estate and as she pulled up she could already lowlifes, junkies, social climbers drunk and high and out of their minds. She rolled her eyes before getting out the car and walking into the manor. On her way, she quickly noticed Augustus before towards him. Her nose scrunching slightly at the smell of booze permeating from him.
“Are you really wearing that?” she said, a hint of disgust lacing her voice as she looked the other up and down. Truth be told, he didn’t look that bad – for a farmer’s son who got invited to his first ball and wanted to look like he had a semblance of money. But he didn’t look Jasmine Mahalia standards of what was good. She crossed her arms and squinted her eyes. “Well?” she questioned as she looked him up and down. Oh well, he'd need something to vomit onto anyway. She sighed before rolling her eyes. “If you’re going to act like a fuck boy you should at least dress the part. And take that wipe that smile off of your face you look like a clown sweetheart.” she said before walking over to where the alcohol was and pouring herself a glass of rosé. God forbid she reached for a beer – she wasn’t a heathen.
The notifications from his phone never truly stopped. The private messages he received in addition to all of the people he followed, more out of necessity than desire, contributed to the constant barrage alerts he received. Will reached over the center console of his Bentley and put his phone on -silent-, placing it back on the empty passenger seat. Noticing that the battery life on his phone was at 30%, he eyed the road to make sure he wasn't going to crash into anything. Feeling safe, he quickly took his eyes from the road and plugged his phone into his vehicle's charging adapter.
Will rolled down his window and looked out at the nightlife in Massachusetts. Not so different from California really. Beautiful women dressed for regret and equally starry-eyed men dressed to disappoint. It was a fairly short drive from Westshore to the Windrift Manor, but Will embraced his temporary solitude. It was unlike him to be so anxious, but he found himself nervous all the same. He had spent most of the summer inside of the house his mother had set up for him in Westshore, locked in the studio he made for himself getting high and making music. Speaking of which:
With one eye on the road, Will reached into his jacket and felt around until he found one of the three vials filled with liquid LSD. The purest kind. He removed a stick of gum from the pack, removed the wrapper, and placed two drops onto the gum itself. He let the LSD soak into the gum before putting it into his mouth and began chewing. It wasn't enough to get him into that euphoric place where he made his music, but it was enough for the night lights to become sharper, sounds to have a deeper meaning, and his anxiety to go away for the most part.
Will turned on his XM radio, navigated to the "Funk 360" station, and kicked up the volume. Will never listened to his own music. Aside from it being an incredibly arrogant thing to enjoy, he more enjoyed listening to other musicians and thinking about how they gleaned their inspiration. Rocking his head back and forth to the beat, Will smiled and applied more pressure to the gas pedal as his Bentley roared in response.
Will arrived at Windrift Manor and was approached by staff offering to park his car for him. Will politely declined and instead asked where he could park himself. Despite him feeling better he still wanted immediate access to his keys so he could leave if he needed to. *ding* Before exiting his car Will's phone sounded again. Wasn't it on silent? Will reached over and clicked his phone out of sleep mode, the battery now at 45%. It was his Mother.
Will looked at the notification a few seconds longer and then swiped it away without reading it. It was the first time anyone from his immediate family had tried to reach out to him since he was forcibly moved here 3 months ago. He didn't have time to deal with that now. He put his phone inside his pocket and stepped out of his car. Will adjusted his bowtie, straightened his jacket, and focused his eyes at the manor. He was a long way from home, but his homesickness had long since passed. He was here now and ready to forge his own path, away from his Father.
The very first party of the year was a momentous occasion, and Zia had planned for it; she'd got every sort of non-surgical extension possible performed, from her hair to her eyelashes. It was all going to be perfect. Of course it was: it was to be held ad her perfect house, with all of her perfect friends invited, and she'd be escorted by her perfect boyfriend. She would be perfect, too. Everything would be perfect.
That was what she told herself as she stood before her full-length mirror, scrutinising her outfit. Too much tit. Plus, she looked huge.
Maybe she didn't, thought, to other people. Some people said she was pretty much blind in terms of herself.
She'd have to believe them; the party was soon, and she still had a taxi service to provide, and she didn't have time to source and tailor a whole new dress. This was it.
"We're seeing your Grandaddy soon," Zia cooed to William, peering into the rearview mirror to see her baby. Her beautiful son, everything she'd ever wanted; she'd wanted to be a pediatrician as a kid, and now she took her baby to one every few months.
Her baby, River's baby. They were so happy.
Happy, happy, happy.
Zia was always happy.
Before she opened the car door, she pulled the cork out of her first bottle of champagne and lapped up the bubbles before pulling the glass to her lips and drinking deeply, until the liquid fell just short of the top of the label.
Stripped of her baby, Zia waited in the foyer, and felt awful for enjoying the freedom-- the thing was, it was good to not be responsible. To have an identity outside of motherhood. When River came to her, she felt like his girlfriend again, not like the mother of his child. But there was something between them, something she couldn't shake.
She did her best to forget about it.
Instead she simpered and smiled, fueled by the buzz of alcohol, as she engaged in an interaction she'd suffered through dozens of times before. Only when she and River were finally alone did she smile properly, and reach out a hand to run a thumb across his freshly-shaved jaw.
"So do you, but I bet you already knew that," Zia teased. River always looked good-- perfect, even.
Zia wondered if she'd ever attain that: perfect.
"Now, don't get all soft on me: we've got a lot of drinking to do, yeah?"
They reached the house -- Zia's home -- and she paused to fire off a few quick messages. Nothing major, more just confirmations of her attendance. Like she'd miss a big party, let alone one thrown at her own house. She glanced up to see River retrieving his bag and his sisters already in varying stages of disappearance, and smiled.
"You don't have to babysit me if you don't want, Walshy," she grinned, dropping the classic nickname. "Go and have a good time, and find me later. Lord knows you deserve that, at the very least."
She didn't mean it.
But God knew, she had to say it.
It was somewhat ironic, perhaps, that after spending so much time fussing over making sure that everyone else kept to the theme, and policing the outfits of so many others, that Gus had himself been incredibly lazy when it came to his own attire. His polo shirt might have been black, a tribute to his number two position in the Black Mill Barebacks, but beneath that he was wearing blue jeans, and the whole ensemble was still soaked in a healthy layer of spilled drink. It seemed crass to disappear upstairs to change so early into his own party’s life span, though he couldn’t imagine the whole thing smelled too great.
The blessing of being able to be so callous with his dressing was one of the benefits of playing host, and Gus was mostly able to maintain his cheery demeanour, stupid grin never faltering, even if he could feel himself self-conciously start to straighten his shirt under Jasmine’s scrupulously critical gaze.
‘It’s nice to see you again too, Jas. Looks like you had a good summer.’ He wasn’t even entirely sure that she was listening to him, but Gus tried to keep things on-brandedly light. She might not have been the preppiest, but she was still here at the party. She couldn’t hate him that much.
‘You’re looking great by the way.’ As always.
If she was going to call him a clown, then who was he to stop himself from acting like one?
He tried his best to suppress the goofy grin as he watched her help herself to a bottle of red; one of many that had been laid out for the evening, alongside a veritable rainbow of other assorted varieties of booze. The Windrift wine cellar was almost as deep as the family bank account, and it would take more than a few dozen drunken teens to make any kind of significant dent in the supply chain tonight.
For his part, Gus himself took another swig of his own drink, chugging from the bottle at this point, as he held the bottle of vodka to his lips, neck downwards, which he couldn’t imagine was helping the fact that Jasmine thought he was an idiot.
To be fair Gus also thought that Gus was an idiot.
‘I can’t remember if you came to our Halloween party the year before last?’ Gus narrowed his eyes into a squint. ‘I’d offer to give you the grand tour, but it doesn’t look like you’re too fond of the circus.’
The Windrift smiled at her again, despite himself.
Cassiel looked at himself in the mirror before patting his clothes down, thoroughly examining his clothes for items like lint or dust to take them off himself. He quickly looked away from the mirror to not get too fond of his expression. God forbid he let the devil into his home. Technically the devil was already in his home though. Siobhan Ó Cinnéde was a scary woman and if you didn't believe in religion before entering the Ó Cinnéide home, you'd certainly leave with an expectation to become a martyr to the religion. Because if Siobhan was anything - she was a fucking catholic.
Cassiel had been living what would be considered the ‘high life’ for quite a while but old habits die hard. Especially working-class habits. Especially, Irish-Catholic and working-class habits. There were just certain things you did, certain superstitions. You couldn't just go around and disturb the order of the world. Especially when it comes to things like the fae and the demons. That's why Juliet always swore that Augustus was cursed. She believed that the family had built their house on fae grounds. And whenever Cassiel would ask her why she would always respond 'it's in the eyes' whilst stroking their cat - Luna. Their black cat Luna. What a joke.
There were times when Cassiel could see the questioning in his friends’ eyes or maybe he was just imagining it - when he would go for the more money conscious option. The eco-friendlier option. The more Cassiel option. The part of life and the part of him that wealth, glitter and glamour couldn’t take away no matter how hard they tried. But that part of him also made him a tad bit more grateful that he met River's family. River and his dad. Oh how Cassiel grew up admiring River's dad. Yeah, Cassiel's father was living the dream, but at the end of the day that was still Cassiel's dad. Silly old man who could barely hold his own drink and got rich thanks to his curious kids. But in Cassiel's eyes, River's dad was living the Irish American dream. Sometimes it made Cassiel wonder, wonder to if in an alternate dimension he and Juliet didn't find the mine or if uncle Darragh didn't pass away. Did uncle Darragh know before he passed away that there was a diamond mine on his property.
Cassiel wonders if he would still be a little boy in Galway. Even if he was, he would still wish for the American dream. What a fucking joke. As he was walking across the landing before the reaching the stairs, he found himself tripping over one of Luna's toys. He sighed to himself, bending down to reach it before seeing the light to Juliet's room flickering on and seeing the girl come out of her room. Out of all the room's of the house, the light to Juliet's was the most dim.
“ Where are you going?” Juliet asked, rubbing her tired eyes slowly. Her fiery, ginger hair flailing wildly and night gown bunched up from just being awaken. Cassiel looked at his younger sister with a look of an apology for waking her up.
“I’m going to Gus’s house – he’s throwing a party. Don’t suppose you’d be up for it?” he asked jokingly, silent giggles turning into full blown laughter when he saw the deadpan expression paint his younger sisters face before quickly turning sour at the mention of the other male.
“ I’d rather not. I'm telling you that their manor is cursed. The fae aren't happy with them.” She said, her voice still a little hoarse from being freshly woken up. Her grip on her pillow became tighter when she came to realisation of what going to Gus’s house meant. She walked up to her brother before inspecting him head to toe, checking him for any and everything.
“ If you’re not going to make use of the cleaning lady that we have now, make sure you’re sober enough for your sweep tomorrow. Sweep everything, your clothes, your room. Don't miss a spot.” she spoke gently as she sorted out his collar. “ Do it Sunday, you know what will happen if you do it on Monday." she sighed before walking back to her room before pausing at the doorstep. "It's not like I have any friends there anyway." she spoke quietly before returning to her room.
Cassiel snorted before silently leaving his own home, breathing in the cold air of the night before shaking his head and silently whispering to himself, “besides. Windrift Manor is no place for a Galway girl.” The Windrift's weren't too far from Cassiel's house, just a short walk. He found himself there pretty quickly, smiling upon arrival after spotting River, Norah and Zia. He walked towards them with a tip of his head in acknowledgement.
"Looking forward to it?" he questioned with an eyebrow raised.
Location: Black Mill Dorms - Windrift Manor Interaction: Open Mentioned: N/A Outfit/Shoes: X1X2
Red and black always looked well together. Dark, matte, standing out against the fairer tome of her skin, Noya was almost ready. Having only been back in the states for a week, getting invited to Gus's party was a surprise. Parties weren't really her thing anyway, at least parties like this. There were no contacts to be made, no possible allies to impress, no threats to be made. It was all celebrity children running wild. It was a disgusting display of no self-discipline and trying to prove you're relevant. Yet Noya found herself getting ready for it regardless. Her mother had taught her to never underestimate the people around you. Connections and worthy allies could come from anywhere. While Noya believed her, it hard to find those potential gems in a crowd like this.
Noya leaned forward, her reflection looking back as she judged her lipstick. Her pinky finger came up, wiping away a small smudge in her cupid's bow. Her dress was hanging on the back of her door, gray eyes occasionally flickering to her choice of outfit. A part of her worried about it, body con and spaghetti strap was not her typical choice. But her first day back in the company of her peers should make an impression, shouldn't it? Noya probably wouldn't be around for too long, enough to say hi, and see what she had missed before she left to avoid a majority of drunken shenanigans.
Slowly, after another minute or two of making her make up was done, particularly making sure her cat-eye was sharp enough to kill a man, she stood. Her dorm room had been put together two days ago when she moved in, the led light strips around the top border of it switching slowly between purples and pinks. Her bed was made, all clothing either folded neatly in her dresser or hanging up in the closet, a tidy room made for a tidy mind.
A delicate hand closed around her dress for the night, Noya taking it off the hanger to slip on. It was short than she expected, but after a few test laps around her room, it didn't seem to be riding up at all. Satisfied, she looped her index and middle finger under the back of her shows. A strappy pair of red stilettos brand new. They were a gift from a boy back and Paris. He had a crush on her, Noya knew it, and tried to win her affection with gifts. It didn't work, but he had impeccable taste. The perfume he got her as a miss, but everything else was fine.
Speaking of perfume, her favorite, Maison Francis Kurkdjian Baccarat Rouge 540 Eau de Parfum, was almost empty. A quick message to her father would secure her another bottle, so the last little bit would have to last. She spritzed herself, giving it a few moments to settle on her skin before Noya reached for the black Gucci GG Marmont bag, making sure her phone, wallet, and lipstick were inside before she grabbed her keys and headed outside.
Her car was nearby in the parking lot, a red 2019 124 Spider Abarth. It was new, her pervious car had been stolen in Paris so her parents replaced it after her previous car was found. On fire. In an abandoned parking lot. If not for the culprits being nearby, her parents might have thought she did it on purpose. If Noya actually did that kind of thing. It was a convertible as well, but given her hair was supposed to look messy but not actually be messy, she decided to keep the roof up. Windrift Manor was in a reasonable walking distance, but heels would make that difficult.
Noya drove in mostly silence, Spotify connected to the blue tooth, the chill playlist coming through the speakers to keep her company. The drive was short, too short for her to count the minutes, but long enough for a song or two to play, but she parked with the other cars. Noya suddenly found herself frozen. Parties always sparked her paranoia. Too many people, too many possible "accidents", too many easy targets. It was why she didn't drink to excess, didn't do drugs, nothing to compromise her ability to think clearly. She watched a few figures, familiar faces yet none she associated with directly, chat outside of the manor. With a sigh to steady an odd bury of nerves, the girl turned and grabbed her bag from the passenger seat and stepped out of her car.
It beeped twice to show she had locked it, Noya began making her way to the front door. Her shoulders back, walking with purpose just like she was trained to, an aura of sophisticated grace resonating from her body language. Noya was...Noya was ready for the night to begin.
Jasmine glanced sideways as she noticed Augustus talk to her, commenting on her summer and her looks. Why was he speaking to her? Not that it wasn’t welcomed. Deep down, Jasmine needed to come to the realisation that amongst her ‘social circle’ she truly had no friends. Was she really this desperate and needy? Preening under the attention of someone who had paid her a single compliment. It was one more than she’d ever received from her ‘father’ to be completely honest to herself.
But if she was this desperate – what was he?
This is Jasmine at her worst. Snarky, hungry, underfed, slightly buzzed on alcohol and insecure. She wouldn’t wish herself upon her worst enemy, yet here someone was. Someone who was directly in her line of sight, someone who was a victim of her switching moods. She looked down upon the rim of her glass of rosé, swirling the drink before taking another sip of the drink. Deep down she wanted to cough, hack even. Jasmine always hated the taste of alcohol. But that was a good girl thing to do.
Jasmine wasn’t a good girl though. She was a cool girl, she was a bitch. She had late nights, she drank like it was fucking game and made no contest when it came to prove that she was better than others. Because she was better than others, or at least that’s what she wanted to believe mentally.
“Summer was okay, went with my father and mother on a trip to Europe.” she replied. A trip to Europe. Such a farce. She was her parents token brown child to show off to when they were fishing for compliments on their kindness. When they were giving grants to charities and trust funds. When they would share stories on how adopting their own daughter from a third world country ‘changed’ them and made them realise that they ‘needed to do better’.
“Thank you.” she said simply, trying to hold off any comments on the tip of her tongue. She was still having flashbacks and memories of table top classes on proper society and how she needed to correct her p’s and pronounce her t’s. “If you had called me earlier I would have gladly dressed you.” she said, slowly feeling her stomach churning before the next couple of words came out – the next compliment, “It would have been nice to have such an easy canvas to work with.”
After hearing his offer, she froze in her tracks. Of course, this was it. How could she have been such an idiot? He was complimenting her, he was willing to give her a tour, talking to her with such smooth and charming words. He must have heard the rumour. The rumour that she slept with the head of her fashion house. That she’s easy after a glass or two. She felt like an idiot, but mostly she felt ashamed. Ashamed to think that someone wanted to talk to her for her.
He wanted her for sex. He wanted the sex addict that everyone was talking about.
She slowly blinked away the tears forming in her eyes before fanning her face lightly as she stood with her back to him. She turned to him with a smile, one which didn’t reach her eyes. If it was that girl he wanted then it was that girl that she was going to get. “I didn’t actually.” she replied before slowly stepping forwards towards him. Pushing her hair from her shoulders to her back in a way that she saw as sultry before looking up at him with her brown eyes. Big brown hollow eyes.
“But I would love to see the rest of the circus.” she proceeded before raising a glass.
James needed the party, he needed to let loose. He was on another break up with Camilla. He had binged on so much Jim Beam that night he didn't even remember much of anything of that night. That memory fazed out though as the traffic light turned green, his foot mashed the gas pedal with a vengeance. The tires on his 74 Nova squealed almost as if in agony. James loved classic muscle cars, that raw power was what called to him. Solid black with an orange racing stripe.
Smoke breathed into the air as the car roared forward, the cardboard box rattled and chimed as glass bottles bounced against each other in the backseat. His hands gripped the hearing wheel hard enough to leave marks as the engine roared louder. Getting his adrenaline fix as he sped through the outskirts
Seventy in a forty was a big no-no but he didn't care as he sped through. Just as the speedometer hit seventy-five blue sirens flashed in the distance. Gritting his teeth as he pushed the car to its limits to avoid being caught. If he could just get over the tracks his escape would be assured.
The train was getting closer and there was no stopping either for James or the train. Tracks just ahead as he shot through, the trains massive headlight almost blinding his right eye. Two seconds later and he would've been like a bug on his windshield. The lucky streak of James Rook continued on as he sped on towards Ellie's place. The cop forcing to abandon his chase before it really got started.
Sometime later he pulled up to Ellie's place. Putting the car in park but had left the engine bubbling. He honked once but then he whipped out his phone and was gonna shoot Ellie a text. Scrolling through his contacts he pulled up her info and proceeded to type.
<<Hey, hurry up Ellie we are running late. J.>>
After he sent that messaged he scrolled down his contacts, looking at one in particular. His ongoing fling since the breakup with Camillia, he fixated on that number. Recalling several well intense sessions with the girl. Deciding to use his better judgment and not call her, it was one headache he decided to spare himself from.
Sliding the phone back into his pocket. Reaching for the radio and had turned it up, AC/DC's Highway to Hell had been playing. Letting the old school rock fill the inside of the car.
"Nice for you to grace me with your presence finally president." James signature smirk from out as her heard the car door open. When Ellie shut the door James had shifted gears and burned rubber in her driveway. Speeding away towards the party. "Now you gotta let loose tonight. Have some fun it won't hurt to drop everything for a while." TheFool
Norah's head turned, seeing Cassiel O-however-the-fuck-it's-pronounced (the Walsh girl was Irish-American, but with a strong emphasis on the American). A small smile found her ruby red lips and she nodded to the boy, letting a hand slip to her hip as she gazed up at the Windrift manor. It hadn't changed, much, in the year since she'd last been there. Still with a lawn as big as JFK Airport, and still with tower walls that solidified the Windrift's place as rich in Black Mill. She knew it, she ignored it, and it never stopped her from belittling the boys (a fun pastime, less so a direct insult).
The three families were close, as competitive paternal figures in living vicinity could be, but Norah regarded all with a ten foot pole. She wasn't one to look past handsome, and Cassiel sure was that, but his sister was fucking weird-- and Norah wasn't sure if that was someone she'd like to try and 'get to know' for the brownie points. Better to stay afar, hold them as allies, and march along.
Nevertheless, she treasured the presence of people who didn't actively hate her. Something could be said for that.
"Cass, honey, great to see you," Norah purred. "And well, excited? More like back to routines. This is the standard, and we shall abide."
She flicked her hair, sighing, keeping that front. "Though, I am looking most forward to seeing how many shit-faced, shit-stained drunks we'll have on the Windrift lawn by morning. Nothing like a summer full of anticipation to the final hurrah to really cement the alcoholism in us."
Twiddling with her hair, she pondered on what the night's events would hold. How much would she let up, perhaps finally sending the goose loose and showing off her newfound drinking skills. Beer pong had become her bitch in a short time-- giving Norah the vague hope that she'd have a hope in sports one day (aside from golf, treasure her favourite past time).
Eleanor sat on the side of cream satin sheets, freshly cleaned and strawberry scented.
She was in the middle of strangling her ankle. Five thin manicured fingers throttled with a flimsy heel strap that would not - for the life of her - stick. It would eventually though. Stick, that is. She would make sure of it. “Come on…” The blonde muttered under her breath, not nearly ready to give up this battle. These were her good shoes. Her louboutin’s. Varnished black, with a red underbelly. She wasn’t losing these shoes. No sir. With a whip like crack, she pulled the strap fully off... “Shoot.”
Her tongue rolling on the ‘shh’ sound, saving her from a swear. That was it. A broken heel. She slid the shoe off and threw it aside. It landed by her vanity with a desk. She let out a sigh and fell back on the bed. Her head slowly sinking into one of her fluffiest pillows. Her bed vibrated with the buzz of her mobile. She stayed still, though. Resting. Exhausted, almost. Her hand slithered amongst the sheets, searching for the smartphone. It buzzed again… and again.
When she finally found it, she picked it up and brought it closer to her face. She read the notification. “Oh shit.” Escaped her rose-coloured glossy upped lips. She sat up and then she stood up. Barefoot. She scanned her room, hoping to see a good alternative to the heels.
Her phone buzzed once more.
And she felt it fall over her. The pressure. The anxiety... beginning to fester. Her survey finished, dim blue eyes settling on her half opened closet. And, more specifically, the pair of clean black sneakers peaking out. “I hate this already.”
She bit her lip, holding down tightly. Before letting loose.
It seemed like sneakers - it was.
Ellie got into the car, slamming the door behind her. She was wearing a short black dress, parts silk and parts frill. A melon yellow clutch accompanying her. She strapped in her seatbelt - a more successful strapping in than the louboutin shoe.
Her chauffeur stepped on his pedal just as the seatbelt clicked. Jesus. “Christ, James.” She let out. Her hands gripping the sides of her seat. He had his radio blaring some sort of noise. Guitars and drums and other headache inducing instruments. Regret was flooding her heart. Ugh.
‘Why am I doing this?’ She asked herself as the car sped down the road. Her ears close to bleeding. She could barely hear what he was saying over the booming of the music, so she allowed one hand to let go of the seat… only to reach out towards the radio and lower down the volume.
“Maybe I would loosen up if it was the end of term, James. You know... with summer break just around the corner. That’s when you let go and be care free or whatever. But we start back in less than forty eight hours. Actually, no. Let me rephrase that a bit - we start back for senior year in less than forty eight hours!”
She drolled on.
“Senior year.” Emphasization.
“You know what that is right, James? That’s the one where we graduate and move on with our lives. It’s… very important.”
She felt her eyes roll. She knew she was being annoying. James just wanted her to have a bit of fun and already she was lecturing him. Ellie bit her lip again. Basking in the lingering awkwardness that filled the car. The music was still playing, but a lot quieter.
Because of her.
Her chest tightened slightly. Anxiety a flutter, as per. “I’m sorry.” She said as James stopped the car at a blinking orange traffic light teetering on red.
“I sound like such a…” She stopped. “You know.” He knew.
She looked out the window. Large houses with large driveways. The more the car traveled, the larger the houses and the larger the driveways got.
“I will try to have a good time, promise. And that’s a presidential promise. But... I’m not drinking. I’m not smoking. I’m not putting anything up my nose, just so we’re clear. Call me a buzzkill but that stuff just... isn’t me. I’m sure all of you guys know that.”
She smiled faintly.
The red light glaring at them.
Emitting a devilish glow.
“I’m just going to walk in and have some fruit punch and just… have a good time. A great time even. And then on Monday it will be back to business.”
She looked at James.
The red light turned green. The glow changed its enchantment.
“Thanks, by the way. For doing this. I owe you one, but obviously... don’t let anyone know that. I don’t owe any favours on the record.” Her smile widened. She was attempting to make small talk. Throw a bit of humour in as well, but she wasn’t sure if it was coming across the way she wanted it to.
If he was being perfectly honest with himself, Gus hadn’t expected the girl in front of him to shift demeanour so quickly, switching down a few notches from a harsh, and burning intensity, all the way to what might be described as an almost casual, if a little reserved, friendliness. It was certainly a relief.
Perhaps the Windrift had merely grown better at cracking away at harsh exteriors than he had initially thought, though Gus didn’t have either the skill, nor the insight to read any of the subtle indicators on a person’s face, so he was really shooting in the dark here, in regards to how she truly felt. That wasn’t much of an issue however: she had asked for the tour, and the tour she was going to get.
‘Oh? Where in Europe did you go? Me and Fitz spent a few months skiing in Switzerland, which was, uh, well it was Switzerland.’ Gus finished his sentence by washing out his mouth with another chug of alcohol, certainly not slowing down on Jasmine’s account, though he did hope that she didn’t think that he was a raging alcoholic.
Not that the assessment would be too far off the mark.
He couldn’t help but grin even wider as she offered him a compliment, resisting all of his urges to start teasing about that little comment, though he was just about able to keep his tongue in check. Was it vain to enjoy being told you were a ‘good canvas’ by a pretty girl? Perhaps a little, but Gus wouldn’t deny that it certainly felt good.
‘You’re too kind. Maybe next time I’ll have to take you up on that offer, it looks like this clown is in desperate need of a new pair of threads.’ He glanced pointedly down at his wet clothes.
‘But I won't hold you for too long.’ Gus pointed out at the foyer, a stately old room which had been built at some point during the Regency, with furniture old and plush enough that it might have all been considered antique, though it didn’t seem that many of the party-goers were eager to appreciate the history of the place, given how careless they seemed to be with spilled drinks, and coasterless glasses. A mess for another time.
‘Well this is the Manor. It was built at some point in time. It was expanded at another, and that just about brings us up to the present.’ A little crash course in Windrift history to keep things light.
With bottle still in hand, he moved himself away from the door, hoping that Jasmine would follow and that he wouldn’t simply be talking to himself, though he didn’t glance back to check.
‘We have beer-pong set up in the dining room, and snacks laid out in the kitchen.’ Though of course they were Windrift snacks, so much like the family itself, they were overindulgent, and likely trying to compensate for something. ‘There’s bathrooms on the left and one the right,’ he used the tip of his drink-bottle to point out various doors and corridors that led off from the main room, ‘and it somehow all of those are full, the master bathroom is upstairs, two doors on the left, though I wouldn’t go snooping around up there, because one of those rooms is Fitz’s, and I’m not sure he even knows there’s a party going on right now.’ Gus’ brother had been little more than a spectre since they returned back to Black Mill, perhaps taking the events of the previous year a little harder than those around him.
‘Sarah Zeigler said that she wanted to get some drinking games going in the lounge in a few, if you wanted to do that, and someone said something earlier about finding enough champagne to to fill up the courtyards fountain, but I’ll be real with you dude, I wouldn’t drink any of that, because it sounds fucking vile.’
‘There’s also the pool out back, the yard, the parlour and the gallery. Though I’m not sure you’ll find any canvas’ as good as me in there.’ Gus cracked, letting out a gentle chuckle as he reached for another gulp. In his defence, it was a nice complement, and he was still buzzing from it, though he wasn’t sure Jasmine was the sort to appreciate the joke.
Initially, a gentle walk along the river Nauset, and down the winding paths and side-roads of Black Mill City had seemed like the most economical way to arrive at the party, especially when considering the idea that the return journey might be somewhat marred by a certain level of intoxication, making driving an impossibility if Josie Longstaff intended to return home independently when the whole evening came to an end.
Which was absolutely her plan.
Unfortunately, it seemed that the whole ordeal was not proving to be as gentle as she might have hoped, and Josie was already regretting the decision to walk the streets in heels.
Despite a somewhat tepid morning, the breeze of the early autumn evening was starting to veer towards a more chilly temperature, and without any sleeves on her black cocktail dress, the blonde was starting to resent herself for neglecting to pick up a jacket. Thank God it was only a little while further.
In the dark, Josie found herself a little jumpy, eyes scanning out for any sorts of unsavoury characters that might be prowling the city at this time of evening. Black Mill might have been fairly economically prosperous, though it still suffered from a colourful nightlife, and one never could be too careful, which is why she always carried a tiny canister of mace inside her purse, though it was hopeful that she wouldn’t have any cause to use it.
As she walked, she could see a whole fleet of cars passing by, blaring out the sorts of music that told her very clearly that they belonged to fellow teens also heading off to the Windrift party. Classmates smart enough to drive.
For a few moments, she thought about embarrassing herself by hailing one of them down, and asking for a lift, given they were all going to the same place, but ultimately she thought better of it, not wanting to make the awkward conversation that came with riding with strangers, nor wanting to listen to the general taunts and jeerings that were all too common from those who knew her. She had made her bed, and now it was time to lie in it.
The whole ordeal brought into question why she even wanted to attend the party at all. The Windrifts weren’t exactly friends of hers: Gus was a jackass, and whilst Fitz was nice enough, they weren’t especially close. Zia was the worst of them all, the perfect Queen Bee, who had somehow managed to get herself pregnant last year, whilst the school was shut down due to asbestos. Josie didn’t like to consider herself the judgemental sort, but she couldn’t deny that she felt a little thrill hearing all of the rumours that circulated the school about the extracurricular activities engaged in by all of her classmates. At least those rumours that did not concern herself or her family.
It felt good to stay informed and stay in the loop.
And that was the name of the game: staying in the loop.
If she missed the Windrift party at the beginning of term, then she wouldn’t be privy to all of the little inside jokes and stories that spawned from it, if she missed that, then she could hardly be expected to be invited to the next big blow-out, whenever that might be, and at that point, she might as well write herself off as completely irrelevant to the school’s entire social ecosystem.
Josie hated feeling irrelevant.
She wanted to feel important.
Shivering slightly as she clutched her purse close to her chest, by this point, Josie could see the bright lights at the end of the off-road that told her that Windrift Manor was just on the horizon. The Windrifts were old money, old enough that their estate was so large as to remove any chance of noise complaints no matter how loud the party might be, with the nearest neighbors already far off in the distance. Josie wondered for a moment what the Windrift’s parents must be like, given the family seemed prone to hosting these sorts of huge parties more regularly than seemed normal, though she quickly brushed that thought from her mind. She didn’t really care.
Finishing the last legs of her journey with a little huffing, Josie’s feet were aching somewhat from the heels, though she had mostly managed to arrive completely unscathed, just in time to see a few of Black Mill’s more colourful perched outside the door for a little chat. She avoided eye-contact for the most part, as uncomfortable with the Walsh family as she was with the Windrifts, though at least she knew Norah Walsh a little better, given that they both served together on the student government, though she wasn’t under the assumption that the other girl would give her so much as the time of day.
Josie headed off inside, brushing past for a few seconds the local school celebrity DJ Dapper himself. She had to admit, she was a bit of a fan, but she didn’t want to hold either of them up with that sort of gushing.
Once inside, she quickly made her way over to the drinks table, picking herself up something that looked especially fruity, though the label was in French, so she didn’t have a clue what was inside the bottle, taking a quick sip to get herself accustomed to the taste.
Mira stepped outside at the Logan Airport. Her sunglasses perched on her head. She had spent her summer in Italy with her family and she had the summer tan to prove it. She may have spent too much time on Tik Tok but hey it was entertaining. Luckily she had her cheer background to help with some of the dances. There's limited vacation spots when your father is wanted by multiple international governments but Italy was home as it had always been. Her father had been too busy teaching her brother the ropes of the family business to really pay attention to her not that Mira minded....that much. But she knew how much her brother struggled to live up to their father's expectations.
Her driver came to pick her up at the airport. Mira HATED driving and she would never be caught in a ride-share. One it was tedious and two people here had serious road rage. Mira was one of those people with road rage when she was driving so it was for the greater good that she's not on the road. Patience may be a virtue but it's not one that Mira has. He dropped her off to her off-campus apartments. Mira didn't mind her dorm on campus but it was nice to have the apartment as well especially for all her extra belongings. She checked her twitter and saw there was going to be a party at the Windrift Manor. She was going of course after she took a nap. Mira loved her naps. But also naps let Mira escape the world for at least ten minutes.
Mira got dressed for the party. She was probably going to be late but when wasn't she late. It was fashionably late in her opinion. Her family crest peeking on her right shoulder blade. She stared at it. She found it ironic that her father preached loyalty and blood above all but he only ever really acknowledged her when he needed her to do something for him. If it was gathering information or whatnot. Or he needed a pretty face to sweeten up some people he sent Mira but other than that Mira's brother,Luca, was the light of her father's life.
Mira checked her mascare in the car. Mira stepped out of the car towards the Windrift's manner. She was so glad to be back. If anything the Windrift's threw spectular parties. And Mira could hold her alcohol except she preferred the ones in Italy more.
She sent a text to Zia asking where she was. Mira was looking down at her phone when she bumped into a wall. No not a wall another human. She didn't think he had gone to Black Will previously. Mira knew a lot of the student body. She arched her eyebrow, "You dress well. I'll never quite understand the hoodies and sweatshirts that Americans love."
She finally recognized him. He was the famous DJ Dapper. She spotted the gum packet in his jacket. She reached over taking a piece of gum and chewing on it."See you in there DJ Dapper." She headed in towards the party.
The tires squealed again as he roared out of Ellie's driveway. He had forgotten that most of the group hadn't rods with James. It hadn't been that he didn't like the company but most of the group had their own rides or didn't like how he drove. He figured it was the latter with her on how she clutched the seat as he sped off.
"Relax Ellie, I wouldn't go too fast with you in the car."
James was a bit disheartened when Ellie had turned down the radio. She was way too uptight, she always had been, but he was determined to see her have a good time. Lecturing him like a mother would a child for lying, didn't help either though. He didn't like the attitude but being a friend he took it knowing that she meant well.
The rest of the ride to the traffic light was a bit awkward. Sitting there as he waited for the light to green. He let Ellie keep talking, figuring that she needed to.
"Just don't be all work and no play. I might have to spike the punch then." The threat was hollow by the tone of his voice. James might be an ass but he wasn't that big of an ass.
As the light turned green he eased the gas this time. Being this close to the party there was no need for full throttle again.
James held up his right, while his left was still on the steering wheel. "I solemnly swear not to tell anyone that Eleanor Van Der Hide owes one favor to James Rook." He joked around with her saying she owed him one. James wasn't one to call favors, it wasn't his style.
"Don't worry about it. You don't owe me anything, just have some fun tonight. If you do that we are even. If you do need help in the future though, let me know." He said pulling up to the party. Parking to what he presumed was Noya's car. "Now get out of the car and go have some fun. I will be in there in a bit. Gotta grab the party favors." Offering a sly smile in return. It could be taken the wrong way but that was just way he was.
As he got out James slid his seat forward. Grabbing the box of liquor with both hands, setting it on the roof of his ride. As he closed the door he saw her. Just staring for a moment before he lugged the box of liquor on his left shoulder and made his approach.
"Norah, you have a good summer?" An answer he already knew considering the whole ordeal with her brother.
"Cass long time man." Offering his free hand towards him.
"Guys ready to turn this thing up now that I'm here." His party grin spreading across his face. James was obviously ready to get tore up. TheFool
Suffice it to say, her perfume hit him before her body did
Will was about to step off towards the entrance to the manor, the darkness of the sweetbay magnolia trees lined along the parking lot still masking his approach, when the easily identifiable feminine fragrance of perfume overcame him. It was a light and pleasant scent, though also rich and lasting. Before he could search for where the fragrance was originating from, it lightly nudged him from behind causing him to step forward to maintain his balance. Despite being the recipient of the collision, Will felt the need to turn and apologize and instead met eyes with a stunning girl.
And stunning she was, as Will found himself frozen in place as he looked her up and down. Long brunette hair that matched her olive skin, parting at both shoulders making way for a white cold-shoulder top that made her sharp features stand out even more. Various necklaces rested against her chest and Will took note of the Judea-Christian cross on one of them. Her clothes hugged the curves on her body snuggly and she permeated confidence and authority. She immediately grabbed Will's interest.
Eyeing the gum in his pocket, she reached inside and took a piece for herself. Will momentarily panicked and resisted the urge to grab her hand as the vials of LSD were in the same pocket as the gum. Luckily, she didn't seem to notice as she complimented his outfit, turned her back to him, and continued towards the manor. As she walked away Will couldn't help but smile at the whole encounter. He had to say something to her. Anything.
"Call me Will," he called after her hoping to stop her for a moment. When his eyes met hers again he casually approached her. "Common people call me by my online name and something tells me..." He looked her up and down again. "...there's nothing common about you." He smiled and offered his arm to her as he motioned to the entrance of the manor. "Shall we?"
River couldn’t help but grin. ‘Walshy’.
His legacy. A name that he originally hated out of trivial annoyance. But it grew on him over the years at Black Mill, like a bruise that would not heal. Like a crooked little grin across the lips, even. He removed the grey schoolbag that had been slung around his shoulder - like a thatched sack full of presents. He had always been the Father Christmas of costly vodka. Opening the bag,
He took out a bottle. Quickly handing the bag to his girlfriend, so she could procure her own gift from it. His girlfriend. The mother of his child. It was still so weird to think about it...
At least for him.
“I ain’t gonna just up and leave, Z.” He told her as they stood right outside her house. He twisted the cap off of the bottle of vodka and then put the thing to his lips. Swigging it. No mixer. Nothing to try and sweeten the taste. That was pussy shit.
“Unless I mean… you want some time with whoever.”
He said, wiping his lips with the sleeve of his black shirt. “Like I can go and find some of the guys and act like an asshole if ya want but…” He stopped. His eyes looking down into hers.
“This is the first night we’ve had in forever, where it’s just the two of us. No Will. I wanna enjoy it together... as gay as that sounds.”
He chuckled, lightly.
Before taking another swig from the bottle.
The liquor burned immensely as it slid down his throat. It tasted like petrol. Gas. It was that, in a way. It kept his body moving. It kept him functioning.
His attention was drawn away from his blonde girl and aptly placed on the boy who had made his appearance. Cass. With another quick sip of liver corrosion, River raised the bottle in his friend’s honour. “Cassie!”
Loud, but inviting.
He could feel the drink collecting inside him quickly. It’s effect - lightning fast. He had three cans of beer beforehand through-out the evening. And the only thing he had eaten all day was a plastic wrapped tuna sandwich he’d bought from the gas station.
“Of course we’re looking forward to it. Been too fuckin’ long since the last Windrift party. This-” He stopped and took another swig.
Finishing it, he smiled. “- has been a long time comin’.” His grin shined brightly at Cass. One of his oldest friends. They didn’t have much in common, but... they had grown up with one another. They were less so besties, and more brothers.
He had been one of the people that he missed the most when he was in Maine. At...
He turned back to Zia,
“You wanna head inside and do some shots?” Before she could respond, he extended the invitation to everyone else that had been gathered around.
“Y'all are invited as well, don’t worry. Except Ri, of course.”
His grip on the bottle of vodka tightening.
Ellie tried to relax as the car pulled up to the mansion grounds. But -
That was easier said than done. She had forgotten how big the house was. How rich The Windrifts actually were. She felt her stomach knot, slightly. And she didn’t know if that was just the general anxiety she was currently suffering with… or something else? Jealousy? No. Eleanor was not the type to be green with envy, or at least she told herself she wasn’t the type.
James stopped, parking. And she unbuckled her seatbelt. “God…” She muttered before taking a breath. She opened the car door, letting herself out. The night air was electric and chilly. Vibrating with booming music and the thrill of underage drinking. ‘God’,
She was regretting everything in that first moment.
James told her to go on, but a part of her did not want to leave his side. She wasn’t the boy’s biggest fan but he wasn’t as intimidating as this party. Not right now, anyway. She began walking. Her sneakers squishing against the driveway’s pavement.
Her stomach churning - still. She took another breath. In through the mouth and then out through the nostrils. She relaxed her shoulders and continued her walk. Spotting a group of familiar faces at the manor’s porch. She didn’t necessarily like all of these people but...
And even more desperate measures.
“Hey guys.” She greeted them as she walked towards them. Sneakers still squishing, which she loathed. She clutched her yellow clutch tightly. Her red lips formed a warm smile. As warm as an Eleanor smile could be. They looked at her. Norah. Cassiel. Zia. River Walsh. His and Norah’s little sister was there too.
“Well if it isn’t the motherfuckin’ Rook!”
River beamed, ignoring Ellie completely. She looked back to see James approaching from his car, finally. She was thankful for that. He wasn’t no knight in shining armour, but he had saved her from a degree of awkwardness at the least.
“You look really nice.”
Ellie mentioned to Norah. She glanced at the other girls. Zia. Ugh. “So do you two.”
It was genuine. Sort of.
She looked nice for a girl like her.
“All over really…” she stated absentmindedly. “We started in England, then made our way to Belgium, France, Spain and Italy.” Even if their journey to Europe was a charity tour, Jasmine was allowed to go out to different places during the brief times and split days in which they had nothing to do. Sure, she had to do it by herself. Her parent’s not really caring much for sightseeing but it was still great nonetheless.
“We did the typical things.” she started, he didn’t need to know the whole truth now did he? “Westminster Abbey, Parc du Cinquantenaire, Versailles, the Eiffel Tower, Sagrada Familia, Montjuïc…” she stopped shortly before her description of Italy. Italy. The Vatican, The Sistine Chapel, St Peter’s Basilica. It was strange. Jasmine could have sworn on her own life, crossed her heart and hoped to die that she didn’t believe in God. Not because she was invested in science, of course not. But if God was real, if he was out there… Why did he do what he did to her mother? Her biological mother. Why were some worthy of suffering yet others weren’t?
But when she arrived, when she stepped in, dressed in long, loose, modest clothing as sign of respect – she couldn’t help what came over her. A feeling of warmth, a feeling like she was home, like God was welcoming her with open arms. Through the years, Jasmine had cried enough tears to see her own reflection within the formed puddle yet nothing was clearer than cleansing herself with the water at the Vatican – to see her reflection and seeing who was truly on the other side.
“Have you ever been to the Sistine Chapel? Have you ever experienced what it smells like in the Sistine Chapel? Standing there and looking up at that beautiful ceiling-” she quickly stopped herself before clearing her throat. She giving too much of herself away. The girl who gave too much to the boy who probably only wanted one part of her. She turned to him and flashed a quick smile. “It was a good holiday, all in all. Far better than going to some of the hotter and more humid third world countries father had us going to.” she said as she shuddered in memory, “I only say this because I was dying without an AC by my side.”
She looked on at the foyer as she was listening to Augustus’s short description. These really were strange times they were living in, and it seemed Jasmine had tucked herself in with strange bedfellows. Some of the homes here were living testaments to the times they were made in. Some from the 1700’s, 1800’s and so on. If Jasmine was honest about one thing, her love for the grandiose architecture from the 1920’s was surely her favourite. A testament to this being the fact that she made her parents buy said home built in the 1920’s. They had their heart on a home like this, but they also needed to please their young token child too. Give a little but not too much.
But going Jasmine’s was like going to a Gatsby party – and who didn’t love one of those?
She looked up at him with an eyebrow raised in questioning after the second part of the tour. “All this noise and you’re telling me your brother wouldn’t have a semblance of an idea what’s going on?” she said with amusement in her voice. “I do admire him though, opting to stay in his room than to rather go out and see the travesty of junkies, alcoholics and lowlifes.” she stated, gazing upwards towards where the other was pointing with his bottle. She actually hadn’t known much of his brother, the other Windrift male was a lot quieter in comparison to his brotherly counterpart.
“I wouldn’t trust Sarah Zeigler to save my life…” she replied before chuckling, “She talks so much shit that I’m sure her ass is pretty much jealous.” she continued before taking a swig of the rosé in her hand to finish it off. She kept the glass in her hand out of respect. This was a party but she wasn’t a heathen, she wouldn’t just leave junk lying around. Impolite and poor taste if you asked her.
“Vile indeed, but I’m sure your parents keep the really good stuff a bit further down the line, right?" she asked before continuing, “Certain bottles of Louis Roederer?” she questioned. Cristal, 2008. She hated alcohol but she had good taste. At least Louis Roederer created palatable champagne unlike a lot of other companies.
She found herself rolling her eyes at his comment before turning to him fully. Back against the wall as she looked up at him. She wished that she’d worn heels at a time like this, but that would have clashed with her outfit so looking up would have to do. “You’re going to milk that comment for all it was worth, aren’t you?” she replied, joking half-heartedly. “I take back my comment, you’re not a clown. You’re the entire circus.” She deadpanned as she gave mini fake clap to award him with his new title.
“Take me to your room.” she spoke, rather straightforward and blasé. “Let's get you redressed - your clothes are all wet. You’ve probably got a few nice pieces in your closet – you’re a Windrift after all."
Location: Windrift Manor : Kitchen Interaction: Open Mentioned: Hypnos
(Jasmine) Outfit/Shoes: X1X2
Heels clicked on the path as she approached the front door, the rhythmic sound being drowned out by the music as Noya got closer. Gus's choice of music hadn't surprised her, but the volume was annoying. Like a nightclub but without the red and blue lights. Not that it mattered, once again, Noya didn't plan on staying too long. Two hours...maybe three was her plan. Both to avoid the embarrassment that would come tomorrow and the drunken antics of her peers that was bound to cause problems. And not all of them would be laughable.
As she entered the manor, she paused in the door. There had been a small crowd gathered around a table. The smell of liquor hit her nose, someone had already done something stupid. The question was, who? And what did they do? Noya stepped out of the doorframe and started making her way to the kitchen. She didn't drink beer, or most liquors. Wine was more her speed. Red wine, a little on the sweeter side but one that would still have a good body. Her father, Jean de Leon, had spoiled her taste in wine. A glass a few nights a week at dinner, he wanted her to be able to actually taste it. Not chug some boxed crap they had here in America.
As she walked, weaving her way through other guests, she noticed Gus, their host, and a girl Noya wasn't sure she recognized. Regardless, she resisted greeting their host seeing as how he looked busy, and continued on into the kitchen. The snacks were a sight for sore eyes, Noya had forgotten to eat today. Subconsciously, her hand moved to gently rub the Star of David that hung from her neck. The chances all of those were kosher was slim but...given she didn't actually follow every rule of her mother's religion, she grabbed one of them randomly and took a bit. Her search for a drink continued.
And thankfully Noya found them after another minute or two of wandering. The drink table had been surrounded by her peers when she first entered. But not it was her turn. Quickly popping the rest of the snack she picked in her mouth, and wiping her hands on a napkin, she picked up a red solo cup. There was, luckily, a red wine sitting out. It looked mostly untouched, which didn't surprise her. Opening the bottle, she poured herself a few ounces and was about to put it down when she remembered that, it had been untouched before her. So she just put the lid back and took it with her back to the kitchen.
It was a small bottle anyway, nobody would miss it. As she walked back to the kitchen, she gently swirled the drink in her hand, aerating the wine before she took a sip. And the reason for the kitchen? That one snack she had grabbed only reminded her how hungry she was. So she grabbed a napkin after sitting the bottle and cup of wine down so she could pick up a few more before stepping out of the way. Leaning on the counter as she ate, Noya began to observe the party from where she stood.
"Great to see you too Norah, you’re looking great as always.” He said flashing a smile as he bent down to give her a kiss at both of her cheeks. “Maybe for some, I think I’m going to chill a little more this year.” He announced as he placed his hands inside his pockets. He looked over at her. Norah, she was River’s younger sister. To some she might look grown, mature – even too mature for her age. But to Cassiel, Norah was still that little girl he spotted every once in a while, when he and River would cause rampant chaos across the house. The one to tell over them to their parents and the one who would result in Cassiel getting his arse whooped by his dad. But she’d matured. And she was of course a beautiful young girl.
“But you, you’re still a junior – this is your standard.” He smiled as he tapped Norah on the nose. “It’s also going to be funny to see Gus get his arse whooped for the 100th time this year.” He chuckled before leaning in close to Norah. “Want to make a bet on which lass he gets with by the end of the night?[/COLOR][/B]” he questioned with a smirk.
He looked up at the mention of his name to see James and shook his hand back with a huge grin plastering his face. “James, of course you’d be the most excited out of everyone here.” He joked around, a joyous grin plastering his features. “A summer of blue balls would do that to you.” He joked before quickly walking away to where River was calling him with a smirk on his face.
He leaned in for a short and brief hug with River before pulling away. But truthfully that was all they needed. “Definitely a very long time coming, but don’t forget if your arse isn’t in shape come Monday, Captain and Vale will have you by the balls.” He said to River, both jokingly and seriously. Black Mill was in a lot of major leagues when it came to their plethora of sports – swimming being one of them. That being said though, he didn’t really doubt River’s ability to recover. He might have been an American kid from the heart but he was still Irish from the stomach. Of course, if anyone else on the team happened to get hammered or wasted, he probably wouldn’t give a dogshite – just meant a way for him to get higher up on the team. But if Mr. Walsh learned that Cass was at this party and allowed River to get a bit too off the walls… well, River’s balls weren’t going to be only ones on the market.
“How was Maine?” He asked as he folded his arms and took in some of the cold air. They remained in contact but it was pretty hard being up at the same time. Cassiel’s dad decided it would be the perfect time to go take a trip to Dublin, something which still annoyed Cassiel because after all the wearing and tearing he did of trying to wear down his mother’s strict Catholic beliefs, one trip to Dublin set them right up again.
As Jasmine described her summer, Gus bobbed his head up and down in a rhythmic fashion, an attentive little nodding dog, doing his best to listen to everything that she had to say, though given the severe volume of the music, and the not so gentle screeching and chanting of those around them, it was a harder task than it might appear. The Windrift took another chug from his vodka, this time leaving the bottle completely drained and empty, allowing it to fall from his fingers and onto the floor below.
It might have shattered had it not been for the thick carpeting, the second time that the house had reached out it’s metaphorical hands to save Gus from the consequences of himself this evening.
Maybe his tolerance had grown even lower than he had thought.
It was pathetic.
‘England, huh? My ma’s from across the pond. You didn’t go up to Alnwick, did you?’ It was a stupid question. She almost certainly hadn’t travelled far enough North to say hi to Gus’ mother, but it was a fun little connection nonetheless, and given the fact that the alcohol had inhibited his already short attention span, he just wanted to prove that he was listening well enough to engage with the conversation.
‘I think we went to Rome once. When I was a kid. But I must have been like, six or seven at the time, I honestly can’t remember much of it. Sounds really cool though.’
In his defence, even at his sober-ist, Gus was not self-aware enough in his speaking pattern to notice how dismissive he was being, nor was he vigilant enough to pick up the clear indicators in Jasmine’s voice that implied that the topic might have been important enough to the girl to warrant something a little more meaningful than really cool, though as it stood, the Windrift was blissful in his ignorance.
‘I’m sure Fitz will slink down once the night is almost over to grab something from the rack, before crawling back into his abode. He’s not big on parties.’ He never had been. But at least before, Fitz had been engaged enough to at least stick his head through the door to say hi to their guests, every time Gus threw something like this together. Nowadays Gus was lucky if he saw his brother twice a week. Maine had really gotten to him.
Gus’ tone soured ever so slightly, though he only allowed himself to think about it for a moment, continuing the long standing tradition of what all Windrift’s did best: wrapping their problems tight in a nice big box, before burying them so far down in their psyche that even the most skilled archaeologist wouldn’t be able to find them.
A few seconds later, and that dumb smile was back upon his lips.
‘To be fair to Sarah, she’s boring as a bag of bolts. I’d lie through my ass too if the best story I had to tell was the one she always goes on about, about her in Ibiza.’ It was a little cruel. Gus and Sarah were actually moderately good friends, though even he had to admit that she was more than a little prone to embellishing the truth upon occasion.
‘I’m sure if you excavated deep enough, you could find all sorts of exotic things in our wine cellar. It’s like a labyrinth down there. My dad isn’t exactly big on drinking wine, but he still likes to collect the stuff. Says it’s good to have.’ It was a similar philosophy to how the Senior Windrift treated most things in his life, children included, but Gus didn’t exactly want to think much about his father right now.
If there was one man that could really sour the mood of any party it was James Windrift.
Gus didn’t even know where his father was right now. He just certainly wasn’t here.
‘I’ve got to admit, no one has ever called me a canvas before, and I could definitely get used to it.’ He chucked at her comments regarding the circus, watching as she turned to face him for a moment, looking him up and down much like she had the moment she’d walked in.
‘I assure you, I’m not sure you want to see my room at the moment. It’s a real, uh, it’s a real mess.’ Despite his words, Gus was willing to continue the tour regardless, enjoying the conversation too much to give it up, any implications in Jasmine’s words going straight over the Windrift’s head, no matter how lacking in subtlety they might have been.
He took her up the stairs, making a few comments along the way about the various paintings and such that decorated the stairwell, though he didn’t have much of an artist's insight.
There were fewer people up here, and most of the party had managed to contain itself in the downstairs wing, though if you listened closely enough, you could definitely make out the definitive sounds of a couple, loudly making out in the master bathroom, something which Gus chose to ignore as he marched his way down to his own childhood bedroom.
Much as it had been advertised, the place was a real tip.
Loose clothes were strewn across the floor almost as if it were a second carpet, and the four-poster bed in the centre of the room was about as far from being made as any bed could be. A few empty water-bottles decorated the nightstand, accompanied by a collage of photos that appeared to have been taken over the course of the past few years, a few of which Gus had promised to frame, though he had never gotten around to it.
‘I did warn you about this place.’ He walked over to the closet, turning his back to Jasmine for a moment as he opened up the large oaken doors, looking for a few moments inside. ‘I’m not gonna lie. It’s real embarrassing to have a real fashion designer snooping around at my shitty old t-shirts.’
Only when River handed over the bag did Zia realise she'd left half a bottle of perfectly good champagne in the backseat of her car. Not that it mattered; it just meant she'd be pissing away just over $100 worth of booze figuratively, rather than literally. She grinned, both at her own joke and at River's declaration that they were going to spend the night together. Even a twinge of guilt at the fact she'd assumed he'd be desperate to detach himself from her couldn't spoil her fun, for once. The night wasn't about guilt or worry, it was supposed to be fun, and Zia planned to squeeze every last drop out of it.
Ever the princess, when she produced her own bottle from River's bag, Zia wrinkled her nose and nudged her boyfriend. "Veuve? I'm finally going to drink for the first time in months, and you've bought me Veuve Clicquot?"
A laugh bubbled out of her the same way the drink fizzed from the glass as she popped the cork. Just to make sure her knew she was joking, she leaned up to press a kiss to his jaw.
"Thankyou," Zia murmured.
Her hand found River's free arm as his attention turned, and her smile only grew. It was so good to see familiar faces after what felt like an eternity of being apart, and it felt even better to be reclaiming her position. Zia Windrift and River Walsh: reigning Queen and King of Black Mill Academy, surrounded by their adoring court. Being deprived of her rightful rule had been tougher than she'd ever anticipated, but it didn't matter-- she was home.
"Maine was awful," she cut in, lapping a few extra droplets from the neck of her bottle before finally looking up. "Come on, if we stand around talking and don't get to the shots soon, I think River here might combust."
She took control, then, grabbing River by the hand to pull him deeper into the house. The rest of them would follow, just like they always had. As the little group walked, she glanced back. "What have you all been up to, then? James, anything wild?"
For a tense few moments, it seemed she'd blanked Ellie altogether. Mercifully, she whirled on her heel to walk backwards, still holding onto River's arm as a guide, and thrust the open bottle towards the girl with that beauty-pageant smile.
"Thankyou so much. You look fab. Drink? It's a whole lot nicer than the shots we're about to choke down, and it's always nice to have a warmup."
Her own voice grated on her, and Zia feared, not for the first time, that being away from her natural habitat had made her rusty in some ways. But she'd be better soon; the party was the perfect place to get back into character.
It was going to be a night to remember.
Whatever it took, she'd make sure of that.