September 5, 2013
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I have absolutely no idea what I'm done, and I absolutely hate Alayna for having me meet here here of all places. I haven't been to the city in almost two years, yet she picks the busiest shopping district possible. Bright lights in the setting sun, professionals with adequate social skills and the scintilous flash of gold or platinum credit cards, a plastic representation of the American Dream. High heels click around me, pursed lips and closed minds. I'm surrounded by a society I've never been part of. Paserbys cast wary glances at the girl by herself, dusty boots and discount t-shirt.

"Breathe, doll," I hear behind me, and I spin around with a sigh of relief. White smile and cascading blonde hair, she pulls me into a rib crushing hug and I'm a little more at ease with where I am.

"Sorry I'm late," she winces. "Traffic really sucks around here, if you haven't noticed." She swings her enormous designer purse in front of her and begins to rifle around, platinum stands falling into her face. Five seconds later she comes up for air looking victorious, brandishing a wallet and grinning ear to ear.

"We are going out tonight, just so you know. I know you just got here, but there's no time to waste," she warns, arching an eyebrow and winding her arm into mine. "And I know you didn't bring anything club-worthy, so let's do some shopping."

Instantly my stomach drops. I have thirty bucks in my pocket and less than three hundred in my bank account. My first intention was job hunting, not dress shopping. If I plan on eating, there's no room in the budget for watefulness.

"Oh sweets, I've got it covered," she fusses, reading my pained facial expression before dragging me to the main entrance of an enormous shopping center I was hovering in front of moments ago. Instantly I dig my heels in.

"Oh no, Alayna, you're not taking me shopping. No way. It's enough that you're letting me stay with you, the clubs are just gonna have to embrace my jeans and boots. I'll start a trend." Her and I had a hell of an argument about whether I would be paying rent before I arrived. She insists I will not. But I will. She'll see.

"Shay, don't argue with me. You don't know how happy I am to have you here, and it's not a burden. How could it be? You and I haven't gone out or done anything like this before, so please, let me savor it." She makes a pouty face, sticking out her glossed lips like it has an effect on me.

"Fine. But just one outfit."
"We'll see," she sneers, winking at me like an old school movie star.

Four hours and nine stores later, I'm standing in front of a floor length mirror, feeling like a fish in a tree, looking nothing like myself.
"Good God you're hot," she laughs, snaking an arm around my shoulders. She dressed me in a skin tight black number with trianges cut out of the sides to show almost everything and four inch cage heels that have already eroded the top layer of skin off my pinkie toes. She spent over an hour perfecting a 'smokey eye' on me and getting my hair to tumble in perfect, sleek curls.

"I look like a high-end stripper," I laugh, pouting out my own glossed lips for dramatic effect.

"No, you look like Angelina Jolie and Amber Heard's love child." I almost double over in a fit of laughter that makes my abs ache before I'm done at her analogy. Just to be clear - I do NOT look like a lesbian love chld.

"Can you do me a favor tonight?" she asks when I pull myself together.
"What?" I ask, dabbing at my mascara in the mirror.

"If some hot guy tries dancing with you, give him a chance. I'm not saying take him home or go crazy in the women's bathroom, but don't look at him like he has three eyes and a hoof. For me." She is all seriousness, and I try to bite back irritation and a smart remark. She always does this and she knows it gets to me.

"I'll do what I can," I shrug, hoping she gets the hint and backs off. She can be relentless.

"Come here," she grunts, all but humping me as she aims her cell phone at the mirror. I blow a kiss at our reflection and she plants her sticky lips on my cheek, releasing me after the camera clicks. I snatch the phone out of her hand to delete the evidence, but she Clay Matthews-style sacks me to get it back, so I let go.

"Sweet Jesus, Hulk Hogan," I huff, climbing back to my feet, half tempted to ditch the heels and go barefoot.

"You're not denying this happened. I have like, two pictures total of you all dolled up. So back off." I roll my eyes at her.

"We need to get going," she says, checking the time. Heels clicking on the cherry wood floor of her grandious apartment, I follow her into the living room.
"Hey, stop," I call before she grabs her keys and she turns to face me.

"Thank you, Alayna. Really." Her expression melts and she wraps me in another hug, all seriousness again.

"You're welcome, babe," she whispers. "This is your home now, for as long as you want." I nod and pick up my wallet, both of us filing out of the door and into the cool night air.

The inside of her glimmering Acura tL thrums with bass as she glides through city streets, past groups of kids and adults alike, all frosted and shining with the illusion of wealth. Of success.

"You're going to love this place," she purrs, pulling into a tightly packed parking lot. After a couple of times around the isles with no openings, passing every European car ever made, she slids in next to a loud red Ferrari.

We step out into the now brisk night, a slight breeze bringing goosebumps to all my exposed skin. I glance at Alayna who seems to be shivering with nothing but unbridled excitement, judging by the gleam in her eyes. That very same gleam has gotten us into a fair mess of trouble in years gone by.

The bouncer at the back door is a six foot six beast of a man with a full sleeve and lip ring who looks like a happy puppy at the sight of Alayna. Not anything new - ever since the demise of her engagement two years ago she's been tearing through men like toilet paper. I have a little moment of silence for the poor fellow.

"I didn't think I'd see you tonight," he beams, deep voice reverberating in the night.

"My best friend is staying with me. She just got here a few hours ago. I had to bring her here." She puts her arm around my waist like a proud parent. Bouncer looks me up and down, smile widening further.

"Stunning," he winks.
"Down, boy," she growls at him. "Call me when you get off." He nods and lays a kiss on her cheek before we shuffle into the darkness of the club.

"Latest victim?" I ask, eyeing her expression carefully. She shrugs like it's nothing, but I get the feeling there might be a little more to Bouncer than just raw pleasure.

"I met him here a few months ago. Nothing serious." I nod and drop it because I'll pry later. I have all the time in the world now that I'm here, safe and secure.

Despite everything inside me I've spent so long training, the kind of cap I've put over my emotions to prevent anything too acute, something deep inside me wants to have someone. A small animal within myself rears its head, not quite jealous, but something of that nature. It's been a very long time since I've fallen prey to any man. Maybe tonight I'll be the predator.

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