So it’s the day of my birthday, I wake up this morning feeling the same as the day before. Sam seems more excited than I am today. “It’s going to be so cool tonight, magical like a fairy tale” she goes on. I think perhaps she and Dash have been planning something behind my back. “Happy birthday babe!” Dash screams when I answer my phone. “Just wanted to wish you a great day today”. “Thanks Dash” I reply grateful. When I get back to my desk after making a cup of coffee in the kitchen, I notice a little package on my desk. It’s wrapped with a bow, and a card that reads:
Happy birthday Alexis! You are definitely one of a kind, so you’ll be spoiled with a one of a kind gift. Hope you like it – V.
I look up to see if Vincent is in his office, but sadly he’s not there. So I open the gift and in it is a jewelry set which is a pair of gold lightning shaped diamond encrusted earrings with hearts at the end and a matching gold diamond bracelet. I wasn’t sure whether Vincent was going to come into the office today but I continue to wait and see whether he does, so that I can thank him for the beautiful gift. I even ask Sam whether he said anything to anyone but she doesn’t know either. Perhaps things are more serious than we imagined. During lunch time I am surprised by Dash who meets me at the café nearby, he bought me a box of my favourite chocolates and says that, it’s just the beginning and that the special gift I will get later tonight.
I try to figure out what it is but he won’t budge. Since Vincent didn’t return to work, I decide to send him a text to thank him.
Just wanted to say thank you for the great gift, I love it!
I wait for him to reply but no answer. So I give him a call but his phone just goes straight to voicemail. I ask Sally whether Vincent confirmed with her whether he will be at the ball and she says that he said that if all goes well he would be there but might not make it, so she’s not sure. That doesn’t help. So I decide not to let that get me down, my birthday is just another day anyway.
I’m so nervous when Dash calls to say that he’s around the corner, since I am not sure whether I look right. I tell him that, the door is open and that he can just come in when he gets here. My body shivers as I walk down the stairs, it feels like prom night all over again. I come down to meet Dash. He looks really debonair in his black tux. He gazes at me speechless. “Please say something Dash, do I look weird?” I ask nervously. “On the contrary, you look like a goddess” he replies modestly. “Ready for your surprise?” He leads me out the door and parked in my driveway is a limousine. “Is that our ride?” I ask my eyes shining with astonishment. “Yes, told you I had a surprise.” He replies and kisses my hand. It’s definitely starting to feel like a fairy tale. We get into the limo and I feel my nerves subside a bit. “So what you think?” Dash asks, pleased with himself. “I love it” I reply. “But the night’s not over yet” he continues with a sly grin on his face.
“Those are really cool earrings you’re wearing” he compliments. “Thank you, it’s a gift” I reply touching the earrings and bracelet, hoping that Vincent will be there so I can thank him, after all he promised he would be. Dash opens a bottle of champagne which he found in the minibar of the limo. “Here’s to a milestone birthday you’ll never forget” he cheers and we clink our glasses. He leans over and gives me a lingering kiss. I have to stop him eventually otherwise he will mess up my makeup that I worked so hard to get perfect.
We arrive at the venue, which is lit up like a Christmas celebration. I wait at the top of the stairway looking down, when I swear I see Dash downstairs staring up at me. I think what the heck! How the heck did he manage to get down there without me seeing him, since he was busy in the reception area talking to someone he ran into whom he knew. I’m trying to see where Sam is when I get a tap on my shoulder. It’s Dash, I am puzzled. “Were you just downstairs?” I ask him confused. “No, why if you’re up here?” he replies. Dah! I think. It’s a masked ball, someone is bound to have a similar mask. “Never mind’ I reply. “Shall we?” he continues and holds his arm for me to hook in mine. We walk down the stairway to the ballroom hall below. I feel like royalty, like Cinderella entering the Prince’s ball. It feels as though people are staring at me and it makes butterflies form in my stomach.
We finally meet up with Sam and she looks amazing, “Happy birthday” Julian wishes me and kisses me on the cheek. “Careful there” Dash says protectively. “Don’t worry Dash he’s all mine” Sam jumps in pulling Julian towards her. “Shall we grab a table?” she continues. We stand at a table since it’s more of a cocktail table, when they decide to go get some drinks. I stand there waiting, watching John and his wife do some funny moves on the dance floor. When I hear a voice from behind me. “Happy birthday.” I turn around and look baffled at the person in front of me, since he’s wearing a full mask just like Dash. He must have realized this because he quickly removes it. “Vincent!” I shriek and nearly jump him over. He laughs and hugs me back. “Where the heck have you been? I texted; I called; but nothing.” I chide.
“Never mind that now, I told you I would be here for your birthday. I see you got my gift” he replies smoothly. “Yes thank you, I love them” I reply as I touch them. “They’re custom made you know, did you recognize the symbols?” he says pointing to the earrings. I raise my eyebrows in confusion, but then realize it’s a symbol of the static electricity between us. “Oh I get it now, cool” I reply with a chuckle. “Anyway I’m glad you like it” he continues. He looks over my shoulder. “I will chat to you later, can’t leave my date hanging” he says as he turns away. “Chat later!” I reply. Just then Dash and the others return. “Hey who was that? Sam asks. “It’s Vincent” I reply with a smile. ”I wonder who he is with?” Sam continue.
After all the speeches are made, the party starts and so does the drinking. I start feeling a bit tipsy. I don’t see Vincent again for a while, to be honest I can’t see where he’s disappeared to anyway since most of the guys have similar masks on. I decide to go to the restrooms to freshen up and get some fresh air and tell Dash he can stay with Sam and Julian. When I come out of the restroom, I think it’s him standing at the stairway. “Hey you didn’t have to wait for me” I say as I approach him. But then he turns around and it’s Vincent – I hate masquerade balls – “Hi Alexis what’s up?” Vincent replies. “Sorry Vincent I thought you were Dash” I say casually. “I was just about to get some fresh air, you want to join me?” he asks offering me his arm. “Sure was on my way to the balcony anyway.” I reply and I hook my arm in. We walk up the stairs, it feels magical. He looks incredible in a tux.
We stand outside in the cool night air, so I decide to ask where he has been. “It felt like you were not going to come back” I say with a sad expression. “But I did come back . . . for you” he replies. “What do you mean you came back for me?” I ask puzzled. “I didn’t want to say anything to you just yet Alexis, especially not on your birthday, but . . . “he says then pauses. “Out with it Vincent” I beg him. “I won’t be here for very long soon.” He says turning away. “I don’t understand, are you leaving?” I ask. “More like leaving the country actually” he replies softly. “What!” I chide. “Alexis. I have to sort some family issues out overseas so I need to leave soon” he replies. “For how long?” I ask my burning heart. “At this stage, I don’t know” he answers. I won’t get to see you anymore I think to myself. I feel like I want to start crying. “I don’t want to go, but I don’t have a choice.” He says as he takes my hand. He must have seen my face and he scoops me up and holds me. I can’t say anything for fear, I might burst into tears. “I want to be with you Alexis, I wanted that from the start, but I know that you are with Dash now, and I don’t want to mess that up for you. I know you guys have history and all. And yes, I can’t stand seeing you with him but I want you to be happy, that’s why I’m going” he continues, now holding my face in his hands.
I am just about to say something when he leans forward and kisses me. I feel my heart break into a million pieces as I think that this could be the last time I experience this with him, the last time I get to kiss him, to be alone with him – so I make it count. I don’t want to let go of him and keep him tighter as my heart burns and it starts to hurt. He finally breaks free from my embrace and pulls away, then he says that I should get back to Dash since he might be worried where I was. I tell him I don’t care right now and that I need to be with him now. His eyes pierce deep into mine, imprinting them in my memory. “You need to head back Alexis.” He finally says breaking my hypnotic stare. We walk back in; down the stairway, and he disappears into the crowd. Dash sees me and comes over. “Where have you been? I’ve been looking for you, I really want to dance with you” he mutters. “Wait. I need a drink first” I respond, heading towards the bar, I’m so angry. “Fine, are you okay?” he asks confused at what I just said. “I’m fine, just want to forget” I reply. Sam sees me heading to the bar and signals to Dash, what was going on. He just shrugs his shoulders and asks them to join us.
We order a couple of hard liquor shots before we end up on the dance floor. We party up a storm. The DJ even dedicates a song to me for my birthday. Then the night starts to calm down and the DJ starts to play slow music. Dash pulls me closer and spins me around which makes it hard to focus since everything is already in a blurred state for me. I dance with him but not sure whether I am talking to him or not, everything is spinning in my head. All I know is that he kisses me and says that we should call it a night. The next thing I’m in the limo lying in Dash’s arms. We get home I remember, Dash opens the door and helps me up the stairs. “Hope you enjoyed your birthday?’ he says softly. “it was fun clearly, apart from other things” I reply trying to undress, not even realizing that he’s still in the room – he tries turning the other way – “Alexis . . . Uhm . . . Alexis” he stutters as he clears his throat awkwardly. “Vincent help me!” I shout – I must have had Vincent on my mind – realizing what I just said, I turn to face him. “I mean Dash” I murmur softly but it’s too late. “Vincent?” he chides, with a puzzled expression. “Dash, I’m sorry” I apologize. “Why did you call me Vincent? Are you seeing him behind my back?” he glowers harshly. I can’t speak. “I knew it. I saw the way he looked at you that night.” He continues. “Dash nothing happened between us, not while I was with you anyway” I justify. “What is that supposed to mean? Did something happen before? Don’t tell me you were with him already?” he reads between the lines. “You guys did, didn’t you? He asks disappointedly and I nod. Why did I drink so much – I think to myself – I was not thinking . . .?
“Lexi, I . . . why didn’t you tell me? So much for my special surprise” he continues. “What special surprise!” I ask as he keeps on referring to it. “I wanted to be with you tonight Lex, I wanted us to share in that special moment – but it’s not going to happen” he grunts angrily and turns around to walk out my bedroom door. “Dash wait!” I call stumbling over the dress. “Dash!” I call down the stair case as he goes down. “I’m sorry Lex, I know where I stand now. I know why you didn’t want to get serious” he croaks before he storms out the front door. I stand half way down the stairs ashamed and mad that I’ve hurt Dash, but I know his temper and let him go without a fight.
I can’t sleep. I just lay in bed crying about Dash, that I hurt him. That he doesn’t deserve it. Definitely a birthday to remember . . .