Par Jo Lee
Beneath her heavy, fearful steps, the stairs felt like a sea and her body, a drowning soul. Jennifer ached to find out what was going on behind the large doors of the room where her boyfriend was. You weren’t overreacting, her paranoia surged in uninvited, Ayara did hug Laurent tighter and longer. Her heart dropped into her stomach and she felt her bowels moving wildly at the anticipation. What was going on behind that door? Did she want to know? Could she afford not knowing? Was it worth ruining the amazing thing between her and Lau? Especially knowing what she knew about what happened between her and Larry? Questions were burning and blazing hot through the trails of her mind. She reached the top of the stairs and wasn’t sure whether her heart was burning because she was out of shape and had just climbed what seemed like a million stairs in brand-new toweresque Louboutins or if her heart was literally burning because of what she thought might be happening behind those fucking doors. She practically limped to the door, breathless and without the slightest grace, exhausted and feeling as if she was about to get on the highest, wildest rollercoaster after a full meal. The handle was there, no do-not-disturb sign or any indication of foul play, just a door — albeit a ridiculous huge one that probably hosted an equally ridiculously expensive room — stood in front of her. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.
Jen looked around her and from her proximity to the door, she couldn’t see anyone and no one could see her. This fucking bitch bought out the entire floor. She assumed Larry was probably still in the private lobby below but that was the least of her worries right now. She felt like she was stalking her own damn boyfriend, with eyes, ears and fists on alert mode. If today was to be her first girl fight, then so be it. She pressed her ears against the cold door and heard faint voices. How big is this room? She could swear she was hearing echoes of their conversation.
“I always get what I want.” Ayara’s voice was easily recognizable. After all, it was her “voice” that made her the celebrity she is now. “Come here” She seemed to be motioning someone over. Jen still hadn’t clearly heard the voice of the male recipient so she couldn’t just assume it was Laurent, even though her conscience tried to convince her otherwise.
“Come here baby, don’t be shy.” She continued. She heard some movement, maybe shuffling. “Sit down.” Was she talking to a mute? If she was with a man, he wasn’t being very responsive. A moment of silence went by with a bit of creaking on the bed. “Do you like what you see?” Ayara spoke again.
“Yeah, it’s very nice.” He spoke, loud and clear. It was Lau. Her Lau was in there with rich, seductive multi-platinum selling artist and temptress Ayara. Jennifer exhaled loudly and suddenly felt as if she had been holding her breath since she reached the top of the stairs. There was no denying it. The gig, the long practice hours, the VIP pass to the show Lau got her, the money, the overly attentive boyfriend bullshit, the embrace on the stage. The truth was right in front of her eyes, she felt stupid for not thinking anything at all of it until now. Why did she deserve a boyfriend as sweet and kind as Lau after she’d betrayed him in the worst way? Didn’t she know karma was a bitch? Disappointment rolled through every part of her body as she felt her nose get stuffy awaiting the arrival of tears. She was in an expensive couture gown and intolerably high heels on the verge of a nervous breakdown. This was not exactly how she’d envisaged her most glamorous night yet. It was painful, full of deceit and disappointment yet she couldn’t will herself to move from the doorstep. She was no longer listening in to their conversation but undoubtedly the part where the last part she heard was Ayara removing her clothes and asking Lau if he liked what he saw. And he said yes. That part killed her and she felt disgusted with herself, at the idea that she was jealous. Lau’s eyes belonged on her and her body — not on some over-hyped, artificial, crappy superstar. Yeah, she was never a fan of Ayara anyway and now she had good reason to hate her. And herself — her boyfriend was about to sleep with some other girl yet she was standing there, motionless like a statue. She truly wanted to believe that any moment now Lau would come back to his senses and come storming out of that door — and she’d be there, waiting. Or rather, standing. She was about to knock, to end this torture, confront Laurent when she felt a hand on her shoulder. Without even having to turn around, she knew who it was. The warmth of his hand on her shoulder, the electricity his fingers emitted directly onto her bare shoulders was recognizable. It was how she’d gotten into this dramatic mess in the first place. Still standing in the same spot, she closed her eyes letting a tear fall and whispered,
“Take me away.”
And Larry did just that.
Watching Jen climb those stairs, Larry felt a pang of guilt and a bit of relief at the same time. She deserved to know what was going on, regardless of what it was. Larry himself still wasn’t sure of the extent which Lau and Ayara were involved but he was certain they were. As if their frequent breaks together during dance practice wasn’t evident enough, Larry found out through a joke their manager made last week that Ayara may have had ulterior motives — which explained the hefty sum she was willing to pay them for just three tour dates. The manager had hinted that they were quickly becoming reputable on-stage paid escorts and once Larry saw the actual amount they’d be making after manager’s fees and other deductibles, it was hard to fathom that Ayara had hired them just for their talent alone. Also, all of the dancers, even the semi-famous and veteran ones that were participating in the tour had said to have been auditioned for the role. There was a casting and the twins were the only dancers to have been hired on the spot, without any sort of rules, regulations, auditions/casting call or pre-requisites. If that wasn’t odd enough, their manager spilled the beans to Larry telling him Lau was getting an additional bonus on top of the enormous pay they were already getting. The manager was suspicious but figured it was all good if money was rolling in legally. Larry also found it very odd but decided whatever Lau was doing to ensure this business deal, he could keep doing it — just for the access and exposure this tour was guaranteed to grant them. The agent that was supposed to come see them at the tournament was now a little futile since that agent represented Ayara as his biggest client and if they were already working with her, that agent would have to come to the show and impress them rather than the other way around. That alone removed a lot of pressure and eased Larry’s mind a bit. He was already losing what was left of his mind trying to deal with condescending, spoiled and downright crazy Lola and his thoughts of Jen.
With this tour, they were practically getting fed solid gold with a diamond-encrusted spoon. The deal was that monumental. So he had to put his ethical feelings aside and let Lau do his thing — whatever he was doing until the end of the tour. It absolutely had to go smoothly, they had to perform flawlessly — they had many eyes watching them, admiring them. This was what they’d worked so hard for the last six years. So he didn’t ask questions and pretended he didn’t even notice Ayara’s ceaseless flirting with Lau. And perhaps it was wrong to think that way but a small part of Larry truly hoped he was doing something worth getting caught. Perhaps then, all ends would be a little more even and he could have a chance with Jen. But watching her go up those stairs, not knowing what was awaiting her was killing Larry inside. He was torn between hoping she was would run back down after discovering his twin in bed with their boss into his arms and hoping she would leave well-enough alone. Sitting at the lobby bar, he pondered why he felt so hopeless with her. His feelings had turned so suddenly, from him having the upperhand, not caring remotely to not only wanting to repeat the night they had together but be with her. So he stopped blankly staring at his surroundings and ran back up the stairs. Whatever she was about to do, he wanted to be a part of it. If his brother really was cheating on her and she caught him, he wanted to be there if she needed him.
To Larry’s surprise once he’d mounted the mountain of stairs, Jen was standing in front of the door with a look of horror on her face. Had she seen something? Heard something? She wasn’t moving at all. To him, she looked like a disturbed goddess in her flowing gown and her elegant updo. He wanted to restore some serenity when he approached her quietly yet as always with her, words failed him so he chose to rest his hand on her shoulder as a sign of reassurance. He wanted her to know that he was there to comfort her if she needed, if she wanted a hand. Her shoulders dropped when his hand met her skin as if her entire body was sighing. He wasn’t sure if his hand was warm or if the heat was oozing from her smooth skin beneath it but he was tempted to explore. She interrupted his hormonal thought when she asked him to take her away. Larry and Lau had been each given a room in the hotel just like many other guests and dancers for the night. Ayara’s management team was very exuberant in their method of money preservation. They booked the entire hotel for the night to ensure that guests wouldn’t have to go too far after a night of fun and drinking. The rich went hard or went home. And tonight, Ayara’s management wanted them to go hard. A good night spent would result in positive reviews for Ayara’s upcoming tour and album in the near future — even if they hadn’t heard it. They’d go ahead and buy a few dozen to keep handy as decoration in the library of their boats, their mansions, condos, summer houses and get-away cottages. It was good publicity.
Larry moved his hand to her waist which he used to direct her toward the elevator. Jen hadn’t said anything else and he wasn’t sure of what to say either so he remained silent. The elevator doors ringed when they opened allowing them to step in before closing again. Larry didn’t waste a second to press the button to his floor which was on the last level of the building with a jaw-dropping view of the Eiffel tower. This room must’ve cost a fortune and he was gloriously basking in the obvious perks of being Laurent’s brother at that moment.