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A Change of the Same
Frank Sinatra was playing in the background. The floors were so polished you could see your reflection in them. The lights on the mammoth sized chandelier were dimmed, setting an even more romantic mood. People everywhere were dressed in beyond beautiful ball gowns and dripping from head to toe with pearls and diamonds. It was the event of the year. A gala so spectacular it was planned a year in advance. Everything was perfect. The seating chart was organized then reorganized. The menu tasted before-hand by the most prestigious food critics from around the world.
As she stepped in the door from the reception area to the main ballroom Amelia knew one thing. At a glance this was the event of the year, but glances just gave you surface of an idea. Under the surface this party was just like the others. Sarah Samuels would be crying at the end because Benjamin Rockwell broke her heart, for the hundredth time. Dalton West would be here with some new girl he’d brought from somewhere foreign, looking for some argument or just looking to start a fight. Mia Vanderbilt would be showing of her goods, not just the latest fashion statement, but her body as well. What a tramp. Speaking of the rather raunchy, assumedly Richard Bosworth would be here, looking to feel up any willing girl. God, she’d been down that road before, and she wasn’t looking to go back there anytime soon. Ironically, everyone called him Dick. Not just because it was his nick name, mostly because he was one. Oh and of course there would be William Cunningham. William was and old, old, but yet still current admirer of Amelia’s. She really did feel bad for the guy, but what could she do?
Amelia shed her silk wrap she’d been wearing, and handed it to the cloakroom clerk. She walked carefully in her four inch heals over to open bar. If she was going to get through this thing she needed a drink. Champagne. Walking delicately over to her table she picked up her name plate before dropping it back down on the table. She sighed. When she was younger she loved to come to these things. Taking hours upon hours she would get dolled up to impress no one in particular. Then she would seize the occasion to gab about everyone in the room.
Now things were just boring. Same old story, same old tale. Taking in the room now, Amelia saw Sarah Samuels and Benjamin Rockwell spinning around the dance floor. In a tight embrace they looked completely and absolutely in love. It wouldn’t last long. She kept scanning the room. Oh crap, it was too late. William looked away from the person he was talking to, smiled at her, and was walking this way towards her. S***. She turned around maybe if she could pretend she had to use the ladies room maybe she could avoid him. Nope, double s***. Richard Bosworth was right there. Literally in her face.
“Hey baby,” he said sliding an arm around her waist.
“Hello Dick,” she said curtly. “F.y.i Dick, I’m not a baby.”
“Oh I can see that,” he said looking her up and down. He was such a pig. “Would you be kind enough to dance with me?” He said flashing a grin.
Amelia glanced to her left. William was standing there hovering. She was trapped. “Sure Dick,” she said giving him a fake smile.
He led her to the dance floor arm still around her waist. Then he pushed her so close to him she could hardly breathe. Oh what she wouldn’t give to not be there. Then she felt it. His hands slowly inch closer to her a**. Oh God please help me, she pleaded silently. She was silently praying and thinking of ways to get out of this situation when she noticed someone walk in the door, Dalton West. No big entrance. No big bimbos. Silently he slid off his coat and handed it to the cloakroom clerk. He headed toward the bar and ordered… champagne. Walking over to the group of tables he found his place. He picked up his name card and dropped it before sighing. Shaking her head she forced herself to look away and figure her way out of this mess. Fortunately the song ended then. Before Richard could say anything she smiled and slipped away, headed straight for the ladies room.
Ten minutes later I walked out of the bathroom. Man I needed another drink. Before anyone could stop me I rocketed myself towards the bar. Champagne. Downing the first one in a few seconds I ordered a second one. “Long night?”
My head snapped to the right, Dalton West. “Isn’t it always?”
“Very true,” he said nodding his head. There was a pause of silence.
“Amelia,” a different male voice came from behind me, William. I closed my eyes slowly breathing out before turning around.
“William, it’s so nice to see you,” I said putting on another fake smile.
“Yes, and it is nice to see you as well. How did your eco awareness case end up turning out?” he said. As much as I hated being here, the thing I hated more was talking about work during one of these gatherings.
“Fine,” I said through my teeth. There was an uncomfortable silence.
“Would you like to dance?” William asked hopefully.
“Actually…” I wasn’t sure what to say; I couldn’t just say no. Thankfully I was saved, from the last person I would have suspected.
“…Actually, she promised the next one to me,” Dalton said out of nowhere. “Better luck next time Cunningham,” he said playfully punching William on the shoulder. Leading me gently towards the dance floor, he barely touched my elbow. When we got on the dance floor he placed his hand gently on my waist and his other hand taking mine, making my heart flutter. Come on, this was Dalton West. Sure you’ve know him since you were both in diapers, but what the hell! His motto is use ‘em and leave ‘em. You don’t need another messed up relationship. I made myself loose the thought.
“So how have you been Emmy?” he asked. God, he hadn’t called me that name in years.
I cleared my throat, “You know just the usual.” He laughed a low chuckle. “What?” I asked defensively, eyebrows furrowing.
“Being molested by Dick Bosworth and stalked by Willy Cunningham is a usual for you?”
My faced burned, how embarrassing. “You… uh… saw that?” I winced.
“No I didn’t see Bosworth feeling you up on the dance floor, and I didn’t catch the longing gazes Cunningham throws at you from across the room,” he said in a sarcastic tone.
“Yeah well are you surprised, really?” I asked my voice tight.
He nodded. “You know what you’re totally right. The same thing always happens doesn’t it? Dick always is trying to suck some girl’s face off and William is always chasing your skirt,” he said it in such a tone it stung. I pursed my lips.
“Speaking of which, no foreign girls tonight West?” He looked at me surprised.
“Look, I didn’t mean it like that…”
“Yeah I know…” There was a break of silence. “Is he still staring,” I asked.
“Which one?” My face burned.
The music flowed around us. For some reason I didn’t want it to end.
“When the song ends follow me”
“Just do it”
The song ended and he took me by the hand and led me to stairs in the corner of the room. We climbed them and ended up on the top of the building. It was a great view, a perfect skyline of New York City.
“Here take this,” Dalton said shrugging off his tuxedo jacket and handing it to me. I hadn’t even noticed I was shivering.
“Thanks” I said flatly.
Dalton sat down on a low brick wall jutting out from the building. We were both quiet a minute until he took out a matchbox and struck a match against the bottom of his shoe before lighting a cigarette.
“Want one?” he asked casually. I shook my head declining the offer. I didn’t smoke. The habit didn’t bother me much but it never really appealed to me either.
I felt the awkwardness sink in. “So I don’t mean to bring up anything too personal, but what is with you not bringing anyone tonight?”
He took a long drag from his cigarette. “A couple of reasons”
“Care to elaborate?” Why was I itching to know so much about Dalton’s situation?
“What? You want to know the latest gossip about Dalton West?” he asked seriously, almost like he was afraid of whatever the reasons were he didn’t want them to get out.
“No!” I said offended, crossing my arms across my chest. Turning away from him my face burned. Why was I getting so touchy around him?
“Then why?” I whipped my head around taken aback. His eyes held a steady gaze upon mine. I thought a moment.
Taking a swift step towards him I said, “Maybe because I want to know, maybe because I’m afraid of this normalcy, maybe because I miss how the days were when things were still new and fresh and exciting, maybe because its seems like there’s something going on with you and maybe at one point we were friends, and maybe I care about my friends.” Some time in my unbroken monologue he stood up and was looking at me intently. I let out a frustrated sigh and crossed the roof to the opposite half wall. Stretching my arms out on the wall I worked on keeping my breath steady as I stared down upon New York City.
Seconds later Dalton walked over to where I was standing and leant up against the half wall staring across the roof, obviously uninterested in the view down below. “Talk about getting something off your chest.” He threw down his cigarette and stomped it out. I didn’t answer his loaded comment, letting him think whatever the hell he wanted to.
He turned his head to look at me. He studied me a second, like he was trying to decide what to do.
“Do you remember the Macy’s day parade in ’06?” he said. I slowly turned my head around to face him, at first I thought he was crazy to bring it up but then I remember what had happened…
It was around five in the morning when he had called me. He asked if we could go for a walk. I was half awake, but being such close friends that we were I agreed to meet him in front of my apartment in fifteen minutes. When he had gotten there he looked terrible like he’d been up all night, dark circles under his eyes and his eyes were blood shot. I immediately started to worry, but I wasn’t the person to straight away start pumping him for information. We had walked halfway down the block before he started talking. He told me about how at one in the morning his father had come home, drunk as a skunk. When his mother had questioned him as to where he had been he had told her, a gentlemen’s club. Basically a glorified bar with strippers and w****s. His parents had fought for four hours straight. He was in his bedroom and could hear every word through the walls. Before that night he had never heard about his mother and father’s issues. After that night he had heard about everything, down to the last detail. After that he couldn’t possibly stay around the house anymore, so he had called me. Listening intently to his story I gave him the only thing I could offer, my company. For the next couple of hours we watched them blow up the huge balloons for the parade. After that day he decided to go on a trip (out of the country). A couple weeks later though he had given me a call to tell me his parents were working it out, and that’s the last time I’d heard from him for a while. I had always wondered though. Is that why we had become less of friends? Or why he always had a foreign girl on his arm? Either way he always seemed to be running away from his troubles.
“Yes,” I said now wondering why he was bringing this up.
He looked down at his shoes. “You know how ‘things ended well’ last time?”
“Yes,” I replied remembering the phrase he used when he called me letting me know what had happened. I had a sinking feeling in my gut almost knowing what he was going to say.
“Well, my parents have split up,” he said directly getting to the point. Then he was a quiet for a minute. I turned to look at him better. His eyes had pain in them. “The b******s had the nerve to tell me after the divorce was over,” he said clearing his voice, almost like he was trying not to cry.
I took him by the elbow, but he enveloped me in his arms. It was almost like he was trying to comfort me, instead though the comfort was all for him. Again just like before I was there to offer him the only thing I could, my company. I held him close entwining my fingers in his hair, and rubbing his back with my other hand.
Suddenly he broke the embrace. In his eyes I could tell he still had something to say. “Emmy, I know that before I’ve been so caught up in blocking my fears by running away, trying to ignore them by having the company of foreign women. I know that, that wasn’t right thing to do. In the past and now the only person who I’ve wanted company from was you. In fact you were the only reason I came tonight. Otherwise I would probably be holed up in some crappy bar drinking away my troubles.” He paused getting his bearings again.
He rubbed the back of his neck, finally getting up the guts to say what he needed to say. “I finally figured out that I was wrong. I was wrong to have wished away my troubles with shallow women. I was wrong to have gone away with hardly a word, and ignoring the responsibilities of our relationship. Finally I was wrong to have waited so long to ask you this…” He looked ne straight in the eyes, making sure I knew all of this was very serious and very real.
“I love you Amelia, and I want to be with you forever. I know that we’ve never had this kind of relationship but I want to try it. I know I’ve messed up and done so many things that were stupid and unkind, but I’m asking to at least try. Because right now I know one thing, I love you.”
I had never thought that this would have happened. I never thought that Dalton West would be serious about some girl. I never thought that girl would be me. Some things I knew would happen. I knew Sarah Samuels would be crying by now and Benjamin Rockwell would be dirty dancing with some wanna be it-girl. Mia Vanderbilt would have three to five guys around her looking at her boobs not her thousand dollar dress, and not her face. Richard Bosworth would be sucking off someone’s face in a secluded corner. And presumably William would be searching the room for me, for the hundredth time.
Even thought I knew all of this was most likely happening, I now thought that maybe it wasn’t. Because of this one little change between Dalton and I gave me a glimmer of hope that maybe, just maybe, people, and certain situations, could change. I knew that deep down I really did love Dalton. I knew that maybe our simple of simplest of changes could lead to something good, for everyone we knew.
It was then that I took Dalton closer sharing with him the sweetest, most passionate of kisses that I have ever known. I knew then that we would be together forever and we would be happy. I knew that change could lead to happiness, especially if you were in a rut.