"Hey, could you hold on for a moment?" I pause in gathering my stuff together, rushing to leave the classroom, and get to the library to find a book I needed.
"Sure, Damien, what's up?" I glance up to acknowledge my friend. Damien and I had both earned our bachelor's in political science last year. Now I was working towards my Juris Doctor with a specialization in criminal law, and Damien was taking a couple of classes through the law school while he worked on preparing himself as a candidate for the next elections.
"Well, I've got an invitation to a friend's party that's coming up in a few weeks, and he requested that all guests bring a plus one. He's throwing some masquerade thing and wants a big crowd or something. Would you want to come with me?" This wasn't the first time Damien had asked me to be his plus one for a formal event, he said I made the stuffy events slightly bearable.
"Uh, is this the sort of big party that I'll be needing a special outfit for? Honestly, I'm not in the place to add that to my budget," it's always a bit embarrassing to admit my financial troubles to Damien. He was raised in money and had definitely never needed to choose between a new outfit and food for the week.
"If that's the only thing that would stop you from being able to come, I'll take you shopping," and there's the rich kid speaking.
"Damien, I can't ask you to buy me a formal outfit for a fancy party that I would only be going to because of you," I protest, but Damien casually waves my concerns away.
"The holidays are coming up, we'll take a shopping day and call it an early gift. So, will you come with me?" Damien turns to me, pouting slightly and staring deep into my eyes with his beautiful brown ones. I can't resist the puppy face and sigh deeply.
"Fine, just get me the details so I can put it on my calendar," I squeak as Damien suddenly pulls me into a hug, grinning brightly.
"I really owe you one!" He exclaims as he releases me. "Are you free this weekend? We should go shopping soon so that alterations can be made if necessary,"
I can't help but smile as Damien chatters. I'm not a big fan of the events he takes me to, but I know he invites me because he enjoys my company, and I enjoy making him happy, so it all balances out. We made plans for the weekend, he wrote down the date and time of the party so I could add it to my calendar, and then Damien was hurrying off to his next class while I continued towards the library. That book better still be there.
The rest of the week passed without much excitement, except for a professor announcing that he added an exam to the syllabus for next week, but that wasn't the good kind of excitement. Damien comes to pick me up that Saturday, holding the door open for me before going to the other side of the car. It was one of the latest models, an absolute technological marvel. Damien rattled off an address to the driver, I recognize the street name, it's well known for its high-end fashion shops, but I don't know the stores on the street well enough to guess where we're heading. We catch up, discussing some of the assignments from our mutual classes, as well as complaining about work from other things. Damien tells me about the process he's been going through to get his hat into the ring for the next mayoral election, and how he hopes that this party we're shopping for will help him network.
"I mean, it is one of Mark's parties, it'll be filled with people worth talking to,"
“Wait, Mark like the Mark? As in your childhood friend, Mark Iplier?" Mark Iplier, one of Damien's closest childhood friends, but also the brightest star of Hollywood. He was the lead of every movie worth watching, stealing the hearts of anyone who heard him speak.
"Oh, did I not tell you who was hosting? Yes, as in my childhood friend Mark Iplier," Damien grins when I bite back a squeal. Come on, everyone was in love with Mark Iplier. Even though I had an affection for Damien, I wouldn't deny that I was thrilled I would get the opportunity to meet the famous actor. "He's not all that exciting, just another rich guy with a pretty face,"
I'd think Damien was bitter if it wasn't for the teasing sparkle in his eyes. "Not all of us were raised surrounded by actors and politicians and rich people, Dames, don't you kill my excitement over this," I prod Damien in the side, he laughs as he smacks his hand away. The driver clears his throat then, getting Damien's attention.
"Ah, we're here! My outfit is already chosen, so I've got a couple ideas for you so that we can match," Damien explains as we climb out of the car. I gawk at the shop, this is where movie stars and other famous types shop for red carpet events, not where broke law school students go shopping for a party. Damien is halfway to the door when he realizes that I haven't moved from my spot, he pauses and calls to me to hurry up.
I shake out of my musing, hurrying to catch up to Damien as he approaches an attendant. I feel severely underdressed, and we're only shopping. I'm pretty sure a pair of socks from this place would be more expensive than my entire outfit. I half-listen as Damien tells the attendant his name, saying he has an appointment with a stylist and that they had already discussed some options. The attendant hurries off, not even glancing towards me. I can't help but shy away from the negative attention I'm getting from other patrons and attendants- I'd have to be wearing the outfit Damien got me for the last party we went to for me to even come close to looking like I belong in this store.
Damien seems unbothered, idly grabbing my hand and pulling me over to look at the accessories display nearby, excitedly pointing out various sparkly things that cost more than half of my tuition.
"Damien!" We both turn in response to Damien's name being called, Damien smiles brightly when he sees the woman walking towards us.
"Melissa, it's great to see you! Thank you for fitting us in, I know you prefer to book in advance,"
"That's for normal people, not for my favorite client! So, does the white suit work how you had hoped? That will be absolutely stunning for Christmas time," Damien and the woman eagerly discuss some outfits she had helped him with, apparently, before Damien puts his hand on my arm, turning to face me with an apologetic look.
"I'm so sorry, we're being terribly rude. Melissa, this is the friend accompanying me to Mark's party," Damien introduces me to the woman, I guess she's some sort of stylist.
"Damien, you have a great sense of style, the outfits you picked will look lovely on their figure! Come on dear, let's get you to our private fitting rooms, we've got a couple of options to work through," Melissa drags me through the store, to a roped-off area in the back. There are a few rooms, Melissa brings Damien and me into what appears to be a small sitting room, with an area curtained off in the back.
"Damien, you wait out here, and we'll show you when we like an outfit, alright?" Damien drops into one of the chairs as Melissa drags me behind the curtains, grabbing a garment bag before shutting us off from the outside. We try on three outfits, all absolutely stunning, but Melissa doesn't seem satisfied until the fourth. It's incredibly flattering, dark shades of reds, presumably to match whatever Damien is wearing, and there's just enough glitz to be a bit of a show-off without looking tacky. Then she layers me with shoes and accessories, and it's perfect.
"Now, this is worth showing off," Melissa nods after looking over the completed outfit, drawing back the curtain to let me show the outfit to Damien. His mouth nearly drops open in surprise, he claps his hands together in delight as Melissa encourages me to turn and show off the outfit.
"It's perfect, absolutely perfect. We'll take it unless there are any adjustments to be made?"
"It fits them perfectly. I'll just have to finish your mask and make a pairing one for this outfit, I'll have them sent to you by the end of next week," Melissa sends me back behind the curtain, helping me out of the ornate clothing and accessories. She packs them all in boxes and bags to keep them protected during transport as I put on my regular clothes back on.
Another staff member comes in to carry the boxes for us as we go to the front desk, Damien filling out a check to pay for the outfit. He doesn't let me see it, but I can guess it cost a pretty penny. The driver comes and takes the clothes to load in the car as we finish up, saying goodbye to Melissa and thanking her for the help.
"We'll have everyone's eyes on us, Melissa is an absolute genius when it comes to clothes," Damien excitedly talks about her other works as we head home. He soon switches to talk about how he'll have me come to his place to get ready for the party, so he would just keep the outfit instead of having to transport it multiple times.
"And, Melissa said something about masks?" I ask.
"Ah yes, the theme is Masquerade Ball, so masks are required. She'll make them so they'll match our outfits and clearly go as a pair," Damien goes off on a tangent about some other ridiculous themes Mark had done for his parties, and how Melissa had saved Damien for each of those parties as well.
The conversation lasts us until we reach my place, Damien walking me up to the door.
"We'll talk details of when I'll be picking you up and such as it gets closer to the party. I'll see you in class!"
I return the sentiment, watching as Damien gets back to his car before going inside to unwind from the day. I'm pretty sure I could pay for a house with the money those outfits were selling for. Rich people were insane.
With our outfits chosen, we didn't have much of a reason to talk about the upcoming party until the week of. Damien and I discussed our plan for the weekend.
"So, the party starts at five on Saturday, so I'll send my driver to bring you to my place around one. We won't be leaving until five, arriving fashionably late and all that. I talked to Mark, and we're good to stay the night, but if you want to leave I'll just call my driver to take you home," I nod along as Damien chatters, going over every detail of Saturday he can think of. "And we'll probably enjoy a late breakfast with Mark on Sunday before I take you home. Sound good?"
"Yup, sounds great," I agree with a smile. I'm excited but more nervous than anything else. I always worry that I'll mess something up and reflect negatively on Damien, but he always says those worries are unfounded.
"Don't worry about anything, alright? This is going to be fun!" Damien grabs my hand as he reassures me, eyes soft as he smiles. I can't help but feel a bit better.
"Yeah. It'll be fun,"
Saturday morning is very much not fun. I'm so anxious I can feel it like a vise on my chest, shortening my breath as I try and go about my day normally and get some work done, so I don't have to worry about it at the party. I only eat a light breakfast and an even lighter lunch, Damien will probably try to feed me when I come over anyway. I alternate between working on assignments and staring at the clock, I do more of the later though. The clock has just chimed one when there's a knock on my door, I find myself nearly sprinting to grab my stuff and leave the house, smiling politely at the driver as I lock my door.
"I apologize for the delay, a deer was crossing the road," the driver apologizes as he opens the car door, shutting it once I'm inside.
"Oh, it's no problem! I mean, the clock had barely finished chiming when you knocked, I wouldn't say you were delayed," the driver nods in acknowledgment but doesn't say anything else, so there's the end of that conversation I suppose. Car rides are boring with no one to talk to, it feels like ages that I'm staring out the window, but Damien only lives about twenty minutes away, still living in his parent's estate for now. He'd be moving once he got his first real position, but it wasn't like his parents lacked room, especially since his sister had already moved out. Oh, I wonder if she'll be at the party tonight, I've never gotten the chance to meet her. We're pulling up the long drive as I wonder what Damien's sister is like, still musing over it when the driver helps me out of the car. I snap out of my thoughts to thank him and then thank the butler who opens the door and takes my coat and other belongings.
He guides me to the sitting room, Damien is sitting on one of the chairs talking to his mother.
"Ah, there you are!" Damien rises to greet me, kissing my hand. He does that sometimes, but it still gets me flustered.
"Hello dear," Damien's mother greets me as well, not rising from her seat.
"Hello ma'am, it's lovely to see you again," I've come over before for dinner, so I've talked to Damien's mother a few times.
"Come on, there's a lot to get done," Damien drags me off, leading me upstairs to his room, where there's already a few members of staff waiting. My eyes widen as I look at them, then at the sheer volume of styling products and the stacks of boxes that must hold our clothes and accessories.
"This is… a lot," I say as Damien points out a folding screen for me to change into a dressing gown.
"Oh, it won't be too much. This is an extravagant party, so the staff are going to make sure we'll look our best for everything," Damien explains as I step behind the screen and change. He goes behind the screen when I come out; one of the staff members indicates that I should sit, so I do so. They get to work immediately, someone working on my hair before Damien has even returned in his dressing gown. I can't help but flush a bit when he comes from behind the folding screen, his dressing gown loose over his chest and exposing more of it than I had ever seen before. If Damien notices, he doesn't say anything.
We chat as usual as the servants bustle about, doing everything in their power to have us looking our absolute best. They even add a bit of pigment to both Damien and I's face around the eyes, since we'll be wearing a sort of costume look and not just normal formal wear. The bit of dark color around Damien's eyes draws out depths of his brown eyes that aren't typically noticeable. His eyes will be basically the only thing visible with a mask on, so it makes sense to draw attention to them.
It's already nearing five when the servants finish and start the process of getting us dressed. Damien goes behind the folding screen first, his outfit a bit simpler than mine. While he's changing, I recall the thought I had in the car and call to Damien.
"Hey, will your sister be at the party?"
"Celine? No, she isn't the party type, she's up at their lakehouse for the weekend," Damien responds. I frown a bit in disappointment, Damien talked about Celine often, but I had yet to meet her. She and Mark were pretty recently married, so I thought she would make a point to attend a large party her husband was throwing. "And they're keeping their relationship pretty quiet for now, Mark has the flirtatious bachelor image to uphold, having your wife around can mess that up a bit,"
Now that is definitely bitterness I hear in Damien’s voice. "What, is he not faithful?" I ask, belatedly realizing that that's an absolutely terrible thing to ask about someone's brother-in-law.
"No, no, he is. The media doesn't know he's married though, so he's expected to be the same flirt that he was before the wedding. Celine is okay with it, she knows it's just for now, to protect his image," I'm relieved that Damien isn't upset with the question. He comes out from behind the screen then, fiddling with his jacket cuffs. I openly gape, the outfit is just wow. It is mostly a plain black tuxedo, but with feathers adorning the collar of the jacket, along with lining the tail of the tux. The feathers are outlined in a deep red, matching his necktie and the red accents on his jacket and boots. Damien smiles at my face, puffing up a bit.
"So, do you like it?" he asks, modeling the outfit as he walks over to the stack of accessory boxes.
"You look stunning," I answer honestly. I understand the accessories for my outfit more now; they were all feathered to match Damien's outfit. I had just thought it was some interesting texture.
"Well, thank you. Now you go and get changed, the staff will help you with the laces," I stand up and go behind the screen, shedding my dressing gown to put on the complicated outfit. The staff does need to step in. Some of the fastenings on the clothes and accessories in weird places for me to reach. It takes a few minutes, but I'm finally stepping into my shoes and leaving the screened-off portion of the room.
Damien glances my direction, already smiling, but his face freezes when he looks at me. I'm about to begin apologizing for not looking good in the custom clothes Damien had gotten for me when he speaks, sounding almost in awe, "You look absolutely gorgeous,"
I flush at the compliment, studying my feet intently. "Do you think so?"
"Of course! Everything suits you perfectly, you're probably the most attractive thing I've ever seen," my heart flutters at that compliment, it's dancing past friendly compliment territory into something a bit more intense.
"I think you mean the clothes," I say with a small laugh, barely able to meet his eyes. Damien stands up, walking over to me and grabbing both of my hands in his.
"No, I mean you. I can't tell you how glad I am you decided to come with me to this party," I can hardly focus on what Damien is saying to me, distracted by his thumb idly stroking the back of my hand.
"Well, I'm glad you invited me. It means a lot to me that you think of me when you need a plus one," part of me wants to pull my hands away, break the intensity of the moment, but the other part of me never wants this moment to end. My breath stops when Damien leans in closer, pressing a soft kiss to my cheek.
"We should probably get our masks on and head to the car," Damien says as he pulls away, voice soft.
"Right," I agree, a bit absent-minded at the moment. Damien goes to the final boxes, opening one and handing me the mask inside it. It matches Damien's costume, black with feathers and the subtlest hint of red.
"Help me put it on?" Damien asks, taking it from my hands and holding it up to his face. I walk behind him, grabbing the ribbons from the ends of the mask, fingertips brushing against his stubbled cheek as I do so. I tie them, so it is snug to his head, tying a small bow and nestling it in his hair in a way that doesn't draw attention to the ribbon. He somehow looks even more handsome with the mask on, it really plays up a dark and mysterious sort of look.
Damien grabs the other box, opening it and showing me the mask inside it. It isn't anything too ornate, though it has more sparkle than Damien's. It suits me well, and I smile as I lift it out of the box.
"Will you help me with mine?" I ask, lifting the mask to my face.
"No, why would I help you after you helped me?" Damien jokes as he grabs the ribbons to secure the mask. My skin burns where he brushes against me; I think I need to calm down a bit before we get to the party, where we'll certainly share a few dances. My heart may not be able to take it at this rate. Damien steps away once he's finished tying the mask, offering his arm to me. "Are you ready for a masquerade?"
Regardless of how ready I felt when leaving Damien's house, nothing could prepare me for arriving at Iplier Manor. The house itself was gorgeous, absolutely massive, beautiful rock work and ornate decorations adorning the outside. The wood holding a single-window pane in place probably costs as much as a month of my rent does. I don't think I'll ever get used to rich people.
The driver opens the door for each of us, wishing us a pleasant evening as Damien offers me his arm. I cling a bit tighter than I usually would, but my nerves are catching up to me as we approach the door. It's about a quarter to six now, so there's a good amount of guests present already. The door opens from the inside as we approach, a butler smiling and holding a hand out for Damien's invitation. The man moves out of the way, letting us into the entryway. Damien doesn't need directions, quickly finding his way through multiple hallways to reach the ballroom. Because, of course, Mark Iplier has a whole damn ballroom in his mansion. I stare in awe at the sparkling chandelier, though the room is so polished that almost everything is glittering. A chamber orchestra plays from the far end of the room; the music fills the room with ease, and many couples are in the center of the room, gliding across the floor with the music guiding them.
"Damien!" I tense up when I hear that voice, it is unmistakably the gorgeously rich voice of Mark Iplier himself. Damien pulls his arm away as he turns to face Mark, and I feel like I've lost my emotional anchor. I force myself to turn around, smiling as I make eye contact with Mark.
"Mark, it's so good to see you! How have things been?" Damien clasps Mark's hand in an enthusiastic handshake, Mark returning it with just as much enthusiasm.
"Things have been wonderful, it's like a dream sometimes. I'm so glad you could make it, I invited William, but he couldn't get release for the weekend," Mark responds. The actor is wearing a dark red velvet suit, the trimmings done in black. His mask is interesting, pure white, and sculpted to only cover one side of his face instead of a traditional mask.
"Let me introduce you to my friend, we go to university together," Damien puts his hand on my arm, drawing me closer to the two men. Mark smiles, an absolutely charming grin as he takes my hand, bringing it to his lips and pressing a kiss to my knuckles.
"It's an absolute pleasure to make your acquaintance. Damien tells me wonderful things about you," Mark says, having pulled his lips away, but he hasn't released my hand yet.
"Really, the pleasure is mine," I insist, resisting the urge to pull my hand away. I don't want to do anything to upset the host, but the contact is starting to grow uncomfortable.
"Well, hopefully, I'll get the chance to see you again tonight, but I must continue greeting people. You enjoy your evening," Mark kisses my hand again as if to punctuate his sentence before finally releasing me, briefly clapping his hand on Damien's shoulder as he passes by him.
"See, it's like I said. Just your typical handsome, rich guy," Damien says, breaking the sudden silent tension that lingered when Mark left. I laugh a bit, trying to calm down. Something about Mark was just… intense, and I'm not sure it's a good kind of intensity.
"Well, do you want to socialize, or do you want to dance?" I ask, not really caring what we start with. We'll end up doing both before the night is over.
"Let's socialize a bit, I think I could use a drink," I nod in agreement, I could go for a drink myself.
Damien knows a good number of the people here, recognizing them even with the masks everyone wore. They were more for decoration than for actually hiding any identities, though. I'm introduced to so many people that I can't remember the names of any of them. Damien seems happy, and I have a couple of interesting conversations, so I'm content, especially with some top-shelf liquor in my glass to provide me with some liquid courage. It's probably nearing eight when Damien asks me to dance with him, the music of the orchestra catching his interest. I agree and am quickly dragged onto an empty spot on the dance floor, Damien's one hand on my waist and the other grabbing my hand. I rest my hand on Damien's shoulder, I've learned the basics of ballroom dancing from him, so it's easy to follow Damien's lead as we move across the floor in time with the music. Dancing with Damien always feels like a bit of a dream, especially now with the masks and ornate costumes. Everything feels a bit hazy, probably the drink catching up with me. Time passes quickly as I dance with Damien, multiple songs flying by almost in the blink of an eye. As the orchestra pauses to prepare for the next song, a familiar voice interrupts Damien and I's conversation.
"Damien, mind if I steal your friend for a few dances? I promise I'll give them back in one piece," Damien releases me slowly, smiling at me before facing Mark.
"I'm fine with it, but you should ask them," Damien points out, raising a brow at his friend.
"Well, darling? Care for a dance?" Mark smiles warmly at me, winking as he asks me for a dance.
"Sure, I don't see why not," I agree, though I immediately feel like I should regret it. Damien excuses himself, leaving the floor, and Mark offers me his hand as the first chords of a waltz begin. I take his hand, nearly flinching when he draws me close, much closer than I'm used to when dancing with Damien. His hand rests on the small of my back, keeping me so close that I'm nearly pressed against him. The waltz is a pretty quick paced one, a heavy beat, and quick flourishes of the strings leading us as we spin across the floor. Mark dances with much more complexity than the simple footwork I'm used to with Damien, I have to rely heavily on Mark's lead just to stay on my feet.
"So, you've known Damien for quite some time now," Mark comments as the music shifts a bit, sounding slightly calmer and more delicate.
"Well, not as long as you have, but we met when we started in undergrad," I reply, unsure as to why Mark would pick this topic.
"He's very fond of you, you know. I can't recall the last time we spoke without him mentioning you," I flinch slightly as Mark's grip tightens on my, the pressure of his hand causing me to shudder. "I couldn't imagine why, he could have the pick of just about anyone, but he's absolutely enamored with some broke student trying to become a lawyer. Now that we've met, I suppose I can understand it a bit, you are very attractive,"
Mark smiles like a shark, looking at me like I'm prey he's about to devour. Everything in me shouts to get away from him, but Mark's grip is too tight, holding me far too close as the music swells.
"Mark," I start to speak when the hand on my back moves a hair lower, coming dangerously close to touching me in a profoundly inappropriate manner. "I think I'd like to go back to Damien,"
"Would you?" Mark hums noncommittally, continuing to pull me along with the music until the orchestra hits the final chord. Mark pulls me closer, pressing a long kiss to my cheek, then releases me suddenly as someone pulls me away from him. I'm relieved that it's Damien, holding me protectively as he stares Mark down.
"That's enough, Mark," Damien's voice is low, it won't be audible to any of the guests around us. His face is tight with anger, his grip on me tighter.
"My apologies if I made you uncomfortable," Mark says, and for an actor, he's absolutely awful at sounding sincere. I shake my head slightly, just clinging to Damien's suit jacket as he leads me through the crowds to the outside of a balcony, guiding me through the halls until we're out on a large patio behind the house.
"Are you alright?" Damien asks softly, looking at me with concern.
"That was… a lot," I answer, not having any idea what else to say.
"I'm sorry about him, I didn't think he would treat you like that,"
"It's not your fault, Damien," I say, but Damien shakes his head, huffing in frustration.
“It is my fault, in a way at least. Last time we spoke before the party, he said that if I didn't step up, someone would come along to take you. I think he was just trying to prove a point," Damien seems incredibly irritated, but I don't really know what he's talking about.
"Take me?" I ask, trying to figure out what he means.
"Well, that's how he described it, but since you're a person with free will and not a possession it wouldn't be taking, it would be you choosing someone else. Which would be fine, of course, I just... I just want you to be happy," Damien runs his hand through his hair, fixing a stray piece that has fallen out of the style. "I guess that, what I'm trying to say, is that I love you, and I have for a while,"
I openly gape as Damien casts his gaze to the ground after his admission, shyly avoiding meeting my gaze.
"Really?" I ask incredulously. Damien has been a fantastic friend for years, and I've had an affection for him probably just as long, but I never entertained the idea that my romantic feelings would be mutual.
"Of course, really. This isn't the sort of thing I'd joke about," Damien mutters, sounding embarrassed.
"Well, now I kind of feel silly for telling myself you'd never feel anything romantic towards me," I answer, feeling a bit nervous that he wouldn't understand what I was trying to get it. But, saying "I love you" felt a bit too intimidating for right now.
Damien lights up, slowly raising his gaze to meet mine. "How could I not feel anything romantic for you? You've been the best friend I could ask for for years, you're kind and intelligent, and so attractive that I can't believe my luck when I look at you. I've spent the last few years telling myself you'd never feel anything romantic for me!"
I laugh at the absurdity of the fact that we've been in love for ages, convincing ourselves that the other wouldn't feel the same way. "God, we're a bunch of idiots, aren't we?"
Damien and I both laugh at ourselves, the laughter fading quickly into silence. Damien stares at me for a moment before quietly asking, "Could I kiss you?"
I find myself nodding, unable to make my voice work to respond. Damien's hand is gentle as he cups my cheek, drawing me closer. I move my hands to his hips as our lips meet, gently pressed together. I can feel his stubble brush my face as he moves slightly, changing the angle to deepen the kiss. His hand slides into my hair as we kiss his touches gentle under the moonlight. We draw away slowly, I blink a few times as if to reorientate myself because… wow.
"Wow," Damien echoes my thoughts out loud, smiling at me. "I think I could kiss you forever," The absolute adoration in Damien's voice as he looks at me like I'm the only thing in the world has me nearly shaking, absolutely overwhelmed by all the emotions.
"I love you too," I blurt out, face lighting up in embarrassment as Damien blinks in surprise, "I mean, uh, earlier. You said you love me, I didn't say I love you too. But I do, uh, love you, that is,"
Damien laughs a bit before pressing another kiss to my lips, effectively stopping my rambling. "I understood what you meant,"
I smile at him, I'm sure I look like a lovesick idiot, but I kind of am at the moment, so I don't really care.
"We should probably go back to the party," Damien mutters, pressing his forehead against mine.
"Probably," I agree, but neither of us move. The party will still be there when we get back.
The party is still there when we get back, plenty of people still dancing. Damien holds my hand the rest of the night, occasionally smiling at me for no reason while we're talking to someone else. We dance to a few more songs, but as the hour gets later, dancing becomes quite the challenge. I catch myself leaning on Damien when we leave the floor for a break, absolutely exhausted from the excitement of the day.
"Are you ready to call it a night?" Damien mutters near my ear, speaking so only I can hear him. I nod, I don't think my feet could handle another second of dancing even if I wanted to. Damien leads me out of the ballroom to a nearby staircase, familiar with the layout of the house. "So, Mark arranged that we'd each have our own room, but if you wanted to stay with me, I wouldn't mind. Only if you want to, of course,"
"I'd like to stay with you," I answer without really thinking, but I feel like I never want to leave Damien's side again. I can't believe how clingy I've gotten in just a few hours. Damien smiles, opening one of the doors, and letting me inside. The room actually seems like it could be Damien's, with a couple of portraits on the bedside table, some clothes hanging in the closet.
"They have enough rooms, and I stay here often enough that it made sense to just keep some stuff here," Damien explains, seeing my look of confusion. "You look like you're about to fall asleep any moment, how about you go and shower first? The bathroom is right through there, should be towels and a dressing gown inside,"
I go through the door that Damien had indicated, shedding the stylish accessories and clothing as quickly as I can. Washing all the products off of me and out of my hair feels heavenly like I'm lifting a weight off my shoulders as I scrub it all away. I towel off and slip into the dressing gown they have, belatedly realizing I don't have anything to sleep in.
"All done? You can borrow some of my pajamas, I have plenty of spares, they're in the bottom of the dresser," Damien points out the drawer he's talking about as he heads into the bathroom, apparently just as eager as I was to get all of the products off of him. I change into a set of silky pajamas, the pants hang loosely off my hips, the shirt just a loose even when I button all the way up. I mentally shrug, not really caring about my appearance at this point. I slide between the covers of the bed, already half asleep when Damien comes out of the shower, only wearing a pair of plain black pajama pants. If I were more awake, I'd be admiring the muscles of his smooth chest, but as it stands right now, I just smile up at him as he slides into bed next to me, immediately reaching to turn off the lamp on the bedside table. I fall asleep almost immediately, not even remembering to wish Damien a good night.
I wake up to what sounds like a knock on the door, slowly processing my surroundings, and then processing the warm body pressed against my back and the weight slung over my hip. I turn slightly, glancing over my shoulder to see a still sleeping Damien. I'm contemplating if I should nudge him awake or not when I hear the door open, I turn to see a butler poking his head in.
"Pardon me, sir, the master wanted-" the butler's eyes widen slightly when he sees me, I feel my face heating up somewhat as the butler clears his throat. "I apologize for the intrusion. The master wanted me to alert Master Damien that breakfast was ready in the parlor, but I'll leave you two be," the butler leaves the room quickly, leaving me to groan and bury my face in my hands. Damien stirs then, groaning low in his throat as he begins to wake up.
He smiles at me when he opens his eyes, but his smile falls when he sees my face.
"Is something the matter?" Damien's voice is deep and rough with sleep and certainly doesn't help me in trying to settle down from the embarrassment of the butler seeing us like this.
"The butler came in to wake you up for breakfast," I explain, and Damien groans a bit.
"Mark's never gonna let this go," he mutters, pouting slightly. He rolls over onto his back, stretching before sliding out of bed. "Well, we should probably get ready,"
I get up slowly, joints popping slightly as I move out of bed. Damien offers me a spare outfit, it isn't a perfect fit, but it is clothing that will keep me covered while we eat with Mark and return home, so it'll do. Damien leaves his hair unstyled, I don't think I've ever seen it without gel keeping it out of his face. It's very soft looking, it's incredibly tempting to run my hands through it. Maybe later.
We go downstairs once we're both dressed, finding Mark in the parlor. He looks incredibly smug as he sips some tea from a china cup, barely concealing his grin.
"So, I take it you two had a good evening?" Mark asks, eyeing my borrowed clothes. We didn't really do anything scandalous, but I can't help the blush that rises to my face at the implication.
"Wouldn't you like to know," Damien replies dryly, taking a seat beside Mark. I sit next to Damien, still not really wanting to be close to Mark after our dance. A butler comes in and pours Damien and me our own cups of tea, letting us add cream and sugar as we desire. Another staff member comes in with trays of pastries and finger sandwiches, setting a small plate in front of each of us. I dig in immediately while Mark and Damien catch up, talking about work and school and Celine.
"Speaking of Celine, I'm not sure she'll be thrilled when she hears about that stunt you pulled last night," Damien keeps his voice light, but it's easy to tell he's actually upset.
"I think she'll be fine, considering that she's the one who said you needed a kick in the rear for motivation," Mark answers, muffling his laugh at Damien's face in a pastry. Damien sighs dramatically.
"She would say something ridiculous like that. Well, that doesn't excuse your unsightly behavior,"
"Desperate times and all that. Though I am truly sorry for any discomfort I caused you, I hope that waltz hasn't clouded your opinion of me too terribly," Mark addresses me now, leaning around Damien to make eye contact. This apology actually feels sincere, which is a pleasant surprise. "Maybe I should treat you two to dinner sometime, clear the air a bit,"
"Sounds like a fair apology to me," I agree with a shrug. Who says no to free dinner?
Things are a lot less tense with Mark's apology, so the rest of the breakfast goes smoothly. Mark tells some funny stories about Damien from when they were growing up, while Damien denies all of Mark's tales with a red face. I'm near tears from laughing at one of the stories when Damien decides he's had enough and starts encouraging me to finish eating so he can take me back to my place. Mark has offered to loan his driver, so we won't even need to wait for Damien's driver to arrive.
"Come on, Damien, you just want to leave because you're embarrassed. I thought you wanted to wait for Celine to get back?" Mark slings his arm over Damien's shoulder, not letting Damien get up from his seat.
"Celine's my sister, I'll have plenty of chances to see her another time," Damien lift's Mark's arm off of him, standing and offering a hand to help me up. I take it, even though I would like to stay a little longer.
"Here, let me write my phone number down for you, call me anytime," Mark summons a butler to get him paper and a pen, quickly scribbling the digits down, along with an autograph, before handing the paper to me.
"Don't go selling that," Mark warns, teasingly.
"Hmm, no promises. It was very nice to meet you," I respond, starting the process of goodbyes before Damien and I are bundling into Mark's car.
"So, did you enjoy the party?" Damien asks as we start down the long driveway.
"You know what, I really did. Though I don't think I'll ever accept an invitation to dance from Mark again," Damien laughs, taking my hand. I won't ever recall that waltz with Mark fondly, but I certainly appreciate the aftermath, finally pushing Damien and I to confess.
I think I could get used to hanging around rich people, as long as I'm by Damien's side.