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Lights // Ellie Goulding
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FRIDAY, AUGUST 23 
Free day to do what you want
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Badly written story, but oh well :P 
Oh, and Nathan's model is Joe Collier, just because I love him :)
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I woke up to find my dorm empty of souls. I took a look at the alarm clock: eleven thirty. I rubbed my eyes drowsily, trying hard not to fall back asleep again. The night at La Fleche d’ Or had completely worn me out, and had left me yearning for a terrible need for mental repose. I was glad today was a free day, because I could finally take a day off to relax.

Alayna was, of course, nowhere to be found. I figured she might have spent the night somewhere else, knowing that there was no way she had woken up before me. At least /someone/ had fun at the party. In addition, I wouldn’t have to tolerate her constant noisiness, which drove me crazy. Okay, it wasn’t as if I didn’t like her, but she could get a bit tiring at times. 

I grabbed a bar of Belgian milk chocolate and sat in front of the TV, where I decided to spend the rest of my day. Seeing the lives of others somehow always managed to ease my suffocating existence. I liked that. Let me count how many times I used the word “I” in the previous sentences: 12. My whole life had been about me, and about what /I/ did, and about what /I/ thought, and about how /I/ felt. I’d never let myself care about anyone but myself. A break from my ego was, hence, something I desperately required. 

I hadn’t even realized how much time had passed, when my Blackberry started ringing madly. I sighed.
“What you can’t reach, you don’t need”, I told myself, but the sound was more than deafening, so I was obliged to pick up.

“Bonjour, Ophelia!”, Coralie’s melodious voice echoed from the microphone.
“Salut, Coralie!”, I tried to sound enthusiastic, only for the fact that I didn’t want to offend her.
“Care to join me for a cup of tea? I’m free right now”.
However tempting the suggestion sounded, I wasn’t in position to partake in any form of social interaction.
“Milles merci for the invitation, but I’m not feeling very well”, I said.
“Oh, okay then. I hope it’s not anything too serious”. Her voice was brimming with genuine interest, so I guessed she wasn’t saying this just because she had to. Coralie was literally the illustration of perfection. Everything she did seemed so perfect, so untouchable… and yet authentic and straightforward, without coming across as forced. I certainly wanted to befriend people like these, especially since they were so rarely found in this den of sharks. 
“No, it’s not, fortunately. Thanks again, though”.
“Get better soon! I can only guess you don't want to miss the concert tomorrow. Are you coming?”
“Are you kidding? I wouldn’t miss it for the world”.
“Good. I don’t want to bother you, so au revoir!”
“Thank you again, Coralie. A tout a l’ heure!”, I said and hung up. 

Coralie’s kindness, regardless of how frank and candid it was, woke up a feeling of guilt inside my guts. She reminded me of how Jacki had treated me – she was friendly, supportive, kind above all, and I how did I behave towards her in response? That’s right, I’d gone and made out with her sort-of boyfriend right under her nose and had ruined our friendship. So much for being a good person.

And as if this wasn’t enough, I’d gone and made out with yet /another/ guy who happened to also be taken. Prior to this incident, I’d bent over backwards to convince myself that, in reality, I wasn’t some kind of prostitute, that everything I’d done was only because of gossip.net threatening to reveal my secret. Looking back, I reached the conclusion that I really /was/ a homewrecker. I messed up the lives of everyone I liked since I’d been here. I could only wait for /my/ life to be destroyed by someone I liked. This was supposed to be the way karma worked, right?

And with that last thought in my mind, my phone rang once again. It was Sage.
Oh mon Dieu, I didn’t know if I /wanted/ to get this. He’d probably go on to yell about how what happened at the party was wrong and how he wanted nothing to do with me and how I was a little sl*t who couldn’t keep her hands off boys she wasn’t intended to date.
 
But again, if I didn’t respond, he’d think of me as just a random girl who was looking for a one-night-stand. And that was certainly not the case. I liked Sage, I really did, even though he was awfully problematic and couldn’t handle himself. An answer was the least he deserved.

“Allo?”
“Hey, Ophelia, is that you?”
“How’d you get my number?”
“Miguel gave it to me. He said you two are close”.
“Oh”. I gulped at sound of Miguel’s name. After what had happened between us, I didn’t even want to think about him. Or, rather, about how he made me feel. It was a tricky situation I had inserted myself into.
“The point is, I’m sorry about, you know…”
“Actually”, I cut him off. “I think /I’m/ the one who’s meant be sorry here. I was the one who threw herself on you”.
“Look”. I heard him sigh. “Don’t… Don’t do this. It’s not just your fault. It's both of us. It’s /ours/”.
Ours. I liked the sound of it.
“If you called to let me know that whatever we had – if we ever had something – is over, I understand”, I caught myself say. “You don’t have to apologize, or comfort me about it or anything”.
“Can you just let me talk for a minute?”
“It’s not like I’m keeping you from it”.
“I /like/ you, Ophelia. I like you more than a friend, or… therapist, for that matter.” I giggled. “I really think you and I had something. And I know you think so too”.
I didn’t know what to say. “So… What now?”
“Maybe we could try it out. See where it’ll get us”.
“Are we really having this conversation by phone?”
“I could come by, if you want to”.
“NO!”, I shouted desperately, but then regretted it. “I-I mean… Not now. I’, sort of busy at this moment”.
“Fine. Perhaps we could talk… later?”. His question hid a hint of hope.
“I guess we could do that. See you”, I replied and quickly ended the connection, without waiting for him to tell me the final goodbyes. 

For some reason, I felt numb inside. I knew I was supposed to be happy – which I was, to some degree – but the memory of Jacki’s reaction was enough to spoil it. All I had inside was guilt – guilt about the kiss with Sage, guilt about the relationship with Miguel, guilt about Coralie’s kindness, guilt about not reaching my expectations. I couldn’t do it anymore. 

My gaze fell at my Louis Vuitton wallet, thicker by 100.000 euros since Tuesday. It was an extraordinary amount of money, but it was not enough. I could use them and win double. I didn’t have anything to lose, did I? I grabbed my phone and rapidly texted Yekaterina.

>> Hey, U up 4 a casino trip 2nite? I’ve got a pass 4 sth special.

The answer came almost right away.

>> Sure! Say 11.30?
>> Done.
____

“I must warn you, though, this is hardcore poker we’re talking about. Bluffs, cheating, anything goes. You can’t control something that’s underground”, I advised her as we walked into the cramped nightclub. It was so awfully dark that I could barely discern Yekaterina’s figure, but fortunately not very noisy. Smoke, sweat, and the heavy smell of whiskey were suffusing the room.
“Don’t sell me short, Lia”, she said and winked. “I’ve got some experience of my own”.

I led her to the back of the club, where we found a locked door. I knocked rhythmically, indicating the signal. A bouncer opened, shot me a look of recognition and afterwards glared at Yekaterina.
“She’s clear”, I reassured him, and he finally let us enter the room, very small compared to the rest of the bar. The walls were painted blood red, dust invaded from all corners, and cheap fluorescent lamps conveyed a yellow, dusky light. 
“I like it here”, Yekaterina said and chuckled.

There were nine tables, all occupied by some of the most legendary poker players worldwide. No amateur was allowed – or even expected – to enter the back room of ‘Claire de Lune’. This was undoubtedly the most rigid poker league of Europe.

After I’d greeted some of my acquaintances, Yekaterina and I sat at table 6, where I found my usual opponents embarked upon a new round of Texas Hold’em. We patiently waited until they were finished, then inserted ourselves into the next round.
/Let the game begin/.
____

It seemed as if the weather matched my mood. Sitting at the steps of ‘Claire de Lune’s entrance, I felt drops of rain drizzling down my nose and into my clothes, mingled with salty tears. Could this night possibly get any worse?

And that was when a black Rolls Royce stopped abruptly in front of the entrance, sending a splash of water straight upon me. I grimaced at the wet flavor of rain mixed with dirt, and a wrenched utterance reached my mouth. 

The door of the car unbolted, revealing an attractive young man who moved towards me with a confident gait and a cocky smile. He held his umbrella above me, giving me his palm in order for me to stand up.

“No offense, Ophelia, but you look like a bloody mess”, his British accent rang inside my ears. Apparently, my luck kept getting worse and worse as the night progressed.
“What are you doing here, Nathan? I thought you were in Vegas”, I replied reluctantly and fixed my mini-skirt. 
“I was, actually, until I heard about your little trip to Paris”, he retorted, his words thick with contempt. He jumped right next to me and observed me from head to toe. I was wet to the skin. “Tch-tch, poor little thing. Don’t you know that this isn’t a place for darling ladies like you?”.
My nostrils grew wide open at the sound of his remark. He somehow always managed to enrage me. I fixed my eyes at the pavement, desperately trying to avoid his jade green eyes. “F*ck you, Nathan”.

He let out a chuckle, then grabbed my chin and forced me to turn to him, his face millimeters away from mine. “I thought being civilized was a good idea, but apparently I need to get a bit /rougher/ to get my point across”. He fixed his stare upon me, and I couldn’t bear but feel intimidated by his sudden change of attitude. “I’m going to ask you only once, Lia. Where is my money?”, he told me steadily, pausing to stress every word of the last sentence.
“I-I-I’ll have your money, Nathan, I swear”.
He gave me his characteristic side smile. “That’s what you said last time. My patience is wearing thin”.
“I know! J-Just… Give me some more time and I’ll –”
He approached his lips to my ear, his hot breath upon my skin. “Your better hurry, Ophelia. Your time is already running out. Don’t make me resort to…”. He cackled lightly. “… /other/ means to make you understand I mean serious. I’m sure you wouldn’t like that, darling”.

He suddenly turned around and went back into his Rolls Royce, before shouting: “One week, Lia. One week”, and driving away.
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Included/mentioned: @welcomeaddiction // @castiles // @falling-upward // @dustofthestar
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Tag list: @leboutonderose // @expiredsunshine // @this-little-babydoll // @dustofthestar // @golnesaxox // @daisie-xo // @tennisgirl2696 // @cate-in-the-sky // @castiles // @dior-love // @maddykur // @falling-upward // @followyourbliss // @glittercupcake // @and-itsrachaelmichelle // @welcomeaddiction // @clairedear // @castiles // @funbunbun // @catherinethegreat // @gossip-net
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