She couldn't look like me.
Coincidence, much? Dallas pondered. She was lost in deep thought when Eli disrupted her thoughts. "What's wrong?"
Dallas looked at him and flung her hands high in the air. "You don't notice that she looks just like me!"
He grabbed hold of her from behind and encircled her. She frowned, "Eli. This is not making me happy." She felt him squeeze her into a tight cuddle. He whispered into her ear softly, "How about now?" She shook her head, grinning at the thought of what was to come.
He slid his fingers to her waist and began tickling her hard. She immediately burst into laughter. His fingers clumsily fumbled across the sequin like material on her dress, and her laughter began to fade away. He was still trying to amuse her, but when her laughter was discontinued, he stopped. "I don't feel any tickling there," she remarked patting the sequins on her dress.
They were surprisingly close now, and it seemed neither of them seemed to mind. She slightly titled her head behind and her eyes met those of Eli's. "Do you know her?"
He let go her waist and allowed her to turn completely. "She's Bridge, Zed's girlfriend."
Her eyebrows rose in unison. "Wow, really. I know I should've figured out, but..." She allowed for it process in her mind. "Wow..." She stared at him as he began to laugh. She tapped his chest twice and declared loudly, "There's more from where that came from."
A woman cleared her throat forcefully and noisily for them to hear.
A fierce-looking woman stood facing Eli and Dallas. She walked toward Eli and Dallas with extreme poise, reminding Dallas of a swan, so stunning yet so erratic. Eli quickly whispered into Dallas' ear, "Don't tell her you're Jeanette King... Mom! Hey, how are you?"
Veronica smiled fearlessly and extended her hand to Dallas. "Hello, darling. You must be Ms. Fletcher."
Dallas glanced at Eli and back at Veronica. She smiled and shook her hand. "And you must be Mrs. Griffin. Please call me Dallas."
Veronica beamed at her, and continued, "So, Dallas, are you from here?"
Dallas shook her head meekly. "I'm actually from the Grove."
"Oh, we have an Olive Grove resident here." She raised her plucked eyebrows and looked at Eli. "And how did you meet this beautiful young woman, Eli?"
Eli gazed at Dallas and replied, his gaze still on her, "I met her at this diner across town." He looked back at Veronica. "I knew I had to meet her." Veronica's smile faded away and said to Dallas, "I hope my son isn't torturing you with his incessant talking and loud chewing."
"No, Mrs. Griffin," she looked at Eli and smiled, "He's great, but we're not exactly together."
Eli smiled too, "Yeah, Mom, we're just friends."
Veronica leered and stepped back. "It didn't seem like that a few minutes ago." Eli and Dallas exchanged a look.
"It always starts out like that." She walked away when the music resumed its deafening nature. This time, the deejay was playing a few slower songs. He was playing Alicia Keys' 'If I Ain't Got You' and Dallas badly wanted to sing it, but something wasn't allowing her to.
She turned to Eli, who was meddling with his cell phone. "You know I love this song so much, but I can't sing to it."
Eli shrugged, "Why's that?" Oh, Dallas thought. He's acting all innocent now. Okay, well too bad for him, she was not.
"Eli, why am I lying to everybody about my name?" She asked him, her face agape in horror.
Eli flipped his phone close and watched a couple dancing to a slow song, swaying to and fro to the beats. "Eli! I was asking you something!" There was no response. "Eli!"
"Dallas! Trust me, it's better if it remains like that."
"Why? Why should I lie about my identity? Do they hate my parents or me?"
He hated himself for this. He was on the brim of regretting bringing her here. He couldn't wait till Parker told her what was really going on. She had to get used to the whole Ashford clique and understand how things worked out here. He was awfully sure that she had forgotten all about Ashford.
"You know what, fine. I'll just leave you like this. I'm here lying my butt off to people I'm not sure to trust, and you're the only person I am sure of at this moment." She looked at him, but he was fiddling with his phone. "I can't stand to lose you."
Eli looked up and said to her in a low voice, "It's for your welfare. Trust me."
Dallas sighed, "Fine. I'll trust you. But, you have to tell me later."
He slipped his phone into his pocket and glanced at Dallas. He stood up and held his hand out. "I'll tell you why before the end of this week. I promise." She placed her hand in his and stood up. "What's going on?" She asked him, looking around.
"Oh.." She heard the deejay, who introduced himself as Jay Cooper; announce that it was karaoke time and that pairs of people could step on the high platform and sing karaoke. The stage was simply an elevated platform that was decorated with Confetti, glittery translucent fabric and flowers.
"Okay guys!" Jay yelled out through the microphone. He pulled out two other microphones and raised them high. "Anybody up for the first karaoke challenge? Anybody?"
Everybody looked at one another. Suddenly, two brunette heads became apparent and surfaced from the several other heads. Jay smiled and announced to everybody, "Yo! Give it up for Verity and Lorelei!" They stepped onto the platform and waved at the crowd.
"That's Verity Griffin, right?" Dallas asked Eli, who was cheering Verity. Eli nodded, "That's my sister!" He screamed loudly.
Many of the young men and women hooted and cheered on the two attractive young women. Jay calmed them down, "Okay guys," he spoke to Verity and Lorelei, "This is different karaoke, so you guys haven't signed up for anything, so it's basically on the spot."
He pointed at the screen to his right. It was simply a gigantic projector that shone one a side of the pole tent. "Let's see what song you get." He pressed a button and everybody watched intently. The screen flashed and the name of the song appeared on the screen: Taylor Swift - 'Back To December'. Several young girls cheered from the other side of the tent. "Taylor! Taylor!"
Jay frowned, "Shush, guys!" He looked back at the screen and then at Lorelei and Verity. "Are you sure you guys wanna sing this song?"
Verity and Lorelei looked at each other and shook their heads. "I think it's a little too sad for a wedding reception. We're supposed to be celebrating, not moping." Lorelei nodded, "I'm with V."
Jay looked at the crowd and it immediately went wild. "Yeah! Change that song! Change that song!" Dallas ordered Jay. Jay shrugged and pressed the button again: Spice Girls - 'Wannabe'.
The group of people howled and whistled. "Okay!" "Bring it on!" "We love you Spice Girls!" "You rock!"
"I love you Victoria!" All the attention turned to Eli, who was now hiding behind Dallas. Dallas smiled weakly and pushed him aside. She giggled nervously and pointed at Verity and Lorelei. Verity and Lorelei pursed their lips and readied themselves facing away from the screen.
The music began to play with the lyrics in huge blue letters on the screen. Dallas and Eli stood up and began to dance with a few other pals.
"If you wanna be my lover," Dallas mouthed to Eli, shaking her hips flirtatiously.
"You gotta get with my friends!" He sang back to her. She closed her eyes; she had forgotten how lovely his voice sounded. It sounded Jesse McCartney-ish, the perfect mixture of manliness and cuteness. He had always seemed like the musical one, singing his heart out at any party.
And it wasn't like she had forgotten his lingering crush on Victoria Beckham; that had always tortured her. Dallas looked a bit like Victoria, didn't she? The resemblance was not that prominent, but Dallas convinced herself that there was one.
It was the last chorus in the song. Eli twirled her around and grabbed her hands, pulling her near him. Dallas felt like a school girl all of a sudden. She opened her eyes and saw Eli singing, "You gotta, you gotta," and waiting for her to sing the next.
"You gotta, you gotta! Make it last forever!" She stomped her feet with him for the stomping part. She looked around and everybody had their partners and were stamping their feet on the ground.
The song was over. Finally, Eli let go of her hands and hugged her using his left arm. They looked at Verity and Lorelei who were satisfied with their performance, and they hugged and got off the stage after Jay cheered for them. "Wow! That was rad! Who's up next?"
A spotlight suddenly shone on Eli and Dallas. Jay called out to them, seeing them in horror, "So you young couple wanna crack some beats and sing a love song together?"
Without waiting for any response, a few guys from behind pushed them onto the stage and now, Dallas crept behind Eli on the stage. Eli was waving at the crowd, Dallas nudged him. "I'm scared."
Eli gently stepped behind her and that moment; she had her hands on her head curled into a ball and was the center of attention. When Dallas noticed this, she shrugged and cried out with not many options left, "Okay, so what's the song?"
She quickly whispered to Eli when the screen began to flash, "I hope it's not a love song, then I'm dead."
She gnawed on her top lip and replied staring at the screen, "I'm just going to become too emotional and all."
He interlocked his arm with hers and leaned close to her. "That's what I am afraid of too." For a minute there, she felt like she was not alone. She held his arm and looked back at the screen.
After a second of flashing, the song appeared in large shimmering letters, Lady Antebellum - Just A Kiss...
The piano chord began to play from the live band and the lyrics began to drift across the screen.
Dallas opened her mouth and began to sing:
"Lying here with you so close to me
It's hard to fight these feelings when it feels so hard to breathe
Caught up in this moment
Caught up in your smile"
She gripped the microphone tighter and tucked a lock of hair under her ear. She didn't have the courage to look at Eli. How did it have to be this song? Out of all the billions of love songs, it had to be something that she could relate to.
Eli then sang the next verse, stepping closer to her.
"I've never opened up to anyone
So hard to hold back when I'm holding you in my arms."
He took her hand and pulled her closer. He could hear and feel her breathing. They breathed together till both breaths coincided in harmony.
They continued holding hands.
"We don't need to rush this
Let's just take it slow"
Only a few inches separated them, and they began in unison:
"Just a kiss on your lips in the moonlight
Just a touch of the fire burning so bright
No, I don't wanna mess this thing up
I don't wanna push too far
Just a shot in the dark that you just might
Be the one I've been waiting for my whole life
So baby I'm alright
With just a kiss goodnight"
They reached the end of the song. They were being drawn closer and closer to each other every second. Eli bent his head down and pursed his lips. Dallas was on her toes trying to reach his height. They were about to kiss! She knew she was sure about this, but she wasn't sure about Eli.
What if he didn't talk to her after this, what if their long-term friendship was going to be ruined?
Eli dropped the microphone and his hands were entwined with her chocolaty hair. He pulled her face closer to his. Dallas inhaled his scent; why did he have to smell so good? Now he smelt his fresh coffee beans and she loved her cappuccino more than she loved her chocolates.
She unintentionally placed her hands on his firm chest and were about to kiss. Her lips were pouted and when their lips touched...
"Mom! Dad!" Justice burst in, interrupting everything.
Dallas backed away from Eli and looked at Justice in alarm. "What's wrong?" She asked Eli, who was already on his way to Justice. Dallas followed him as Veronica and Gabriel Griffin joined them too.
Justice burst into tears and collapsed in Gabriel's arms. Her white dress drenched in blood. "Dad! Felix is unconscious and he's bleeding! He's behind the villa!"
Thank you for the views. Please keep reading. The action is going to take place in the next chapter. Felix's attacker is also revealed, so stay tuned for more suspense and drama in Ashford.