We walk the short distance and stop right outside the building. Time to answer questions. There's so much noise, I can't understand what they're saying.
"Miss. Grengali you look wonderful tonight," I hear one reporter yells at me.
"Thank you," I reply noticing that it's a female reporter with whom I'm suspecting is her photographer in tow. I focus my attention on her.
"How does it feel to be back?"
"It's great, I missed home," I lie, I would have happily stayed in Europe. But they don't have to know that.
"Are you going to get involved in the family business?"
"Of course, she will, it's where she belongs," my father answers for me, if I'd been a little quicker, the reporters would be getting a different story.
"What about your betrothal to David Tori?" She asks and I know that it is the only thing they want to know. Well, they won't be finding anything out tonight.
"I think that's enough questions," I say and turn away from them, ready to go inside.
"What was with avoiding that question? I thought, we agreed that you'll honor that arrangement," my dad questions in a whisper.
"You should be glad, I didn't outright deny it," I say, "And don't we have guests waiting?" I ask squashing any further questions from him.
We enter the building and I see a couple of people getting into a room where I assume the party is going to be. I can hear soft jazz playing from the room and distant chatter.
When there are less people idling by the door, my father starts to lead me towards the door. My aunt had promised me that there will be no formal announcement when my father and I get in and I'm grateful for her consideration. I would hate the attention right now. I take in a deep breath and straighten my posture.
We don't have to give a name at the door, they obviously know who we are. We are let through and we step inside the huge hall. I notice people noticing us, but I take in the decor, the jazz band, the communal tables and thankfully the lack of stairs. I sweep a glance at all the glamorously dressed men and women, some faces register and some are absolutely new.
My father leads us straight to a slightly elevated stage that I'm only now noticing. He starts to lead me to the stage and I hesitate. I knew, I'd have to give a speech at some point of this party, but I didn't think it'd be as soon as we arrived. My father nudges me subtly and gives me a look screaming, don't embarrass me. I sigh inwardly and let him take me to the stage.
The band stops playing as we stand there and everyone's attention turns to us. I see that my aunt is right in front row and I thank her for being so supportive. I scan the crowd and finally find Becky standing close next to her husband Martin holding a glass of champagne.
"Good evening and thank you all for coming tonight. It is a special night for me and my precious daughter as we celebrate our reunion and we are happy to share this moment with our friends and family. I don't really want to bore you with a long speech," my father says to the crowd then turns to me, "Katia darling, I know you've been back for a few days now, but let me just formally say, welcome back."
The crowd claps after that speech and I give my father a quick hug. He hands me the mic "Thank you daddy," I say to him then turn toward the crowd, "it's good to be back," I lie again, at the rate I'm going, I'll start believing it too.
"I'm incredibly thankful for this warm welcome. It just shows that even after so many years, I still have family," this I say while looking at Aunt Sophie, "and friends, I can count on," this I aim at Becky who is really the only loyal friend in this room.
"Thank you all for coming and enjoy your night," I say to the people in general and get off the stage with the help of my father.
I am immediately bombarded with a ton of people greeting me and hugging me and telling me how much they've missed me. I smile and answer all of them politely as I'd been raised to do although I don't know them and I probably won't even remember by the end of the night. The faces I do manage to remember are either way to obnoxious and others are so fake with their sweet remarks, I might have well just gotten diabetes.
When it seems like a hundred years have passed, I finally find myself alone and I'm grateful for it. Feeling parched from all that talking, I grab a glass of champagne from a passing waiter and take a large gulp, manners be damned.
"You're finally alone, it's a miracle!" Becky jokes as she makes her way towards me, Martin right behind her. I fully take in her outfit, a form fitting floor-length lace black dress and a pair of sky high red heels with a gold clutch and earrings to match, she looked breathtaking.
"Yeah it is," I say, "You look wonderful," I compliment.
"And I agree," Martin joins in as he snakes his arm around her waist.
"Hey Martin," I greet him and he lets go of Becky just long enough to give me a peck on the cheek.
"Hello Katia, you look lovely too," he says.
"Thank you, I have your wife to thank."
We talk for a while before Martin excuses himself to go greet someone. We are finally alone and she pulls me aside away from the attention of people.
"Have you talked to him?" She asks and I sigh, I should have guessed that she'd want to know. I love Becky, but she can be a real gossip sometimes.
"I haven't even seen him yet."
"Well, I saw him earlier, so he's definitely here probably just avoiding you."
"Let's hope he keeps at it then, at least, he'd be avoiding trouble."
"Speaking of trouble here comes your cousin," she warns and scoots off to the side just far enough to give us privacy and still eavesdrop. There she goes again with the gossiping.
"Well, hello cuz," my thoughts are interrupted by my cousin's voice.
"Hello Kina," I greet coldly, she's not one of my favorite people.
"Been awhile, hasn't it?" She asks, but I have a feeling that's rhetorical. I try to figure out what she's about when I sense something like a pull and I raise my eyes past her.
It's kind of hard to miss it with the way he's tall and huge. And I'd come to sense his presence even without looking. It was unnerving how that sense hadn't faded one bit. I see it, David and the woman from the boutique standing precariously close to each other, a little too close for propriety whispering God knows what to each other. Although if I'm to be honest, I have an idea. My expression must have changed because when Kina notices this, she sees it as an opportunity to strike.
"How does it feel to see him with her?" She asks with a smile knowing she's struck a chord. Well, I know where to strike too.
"I don't know, you could ask your father though, I hear he's experienced at that sort of thing."
The shock and obvious pain in her eyes tell me that I've hit my mark, but instead of feeling satisfied, I feel only guilt and regret. She stalks off and Becky says from behind, "that was low."
"I know, but I just couldn't stop myself, she brings out the worst in me," I say in defense, but feeling ashamed all the same.
I guess that's just the way it is when you know someone so well, so deeply, you can either heal them or destroy them, I think to myself as my eyes lift up to David once more. And this time our eyes meet. 'Heal them or harm them,' the words ring in my mind as I think of my situation with him.
Bribri - Thanks for commenting. Yeah, I was actually listening to the song when I thought of the name.
So another chapter is up, what do you guys think? What is the deal with David? And Kina? Comment please and share your thoughts.