Chapter One -- Older & Wiser
"Where are you taking me?" I reached up to my face to peek out of the black blind fold tied over my eyes minutes ago, but my hand was slapped away making me gasp.
"No peeking," Ethic told me.
I giggled. "C'mon, what is it?"
I knew I had asked this question five times, even though it never was answered.
"A surprise, Kaila," he said sarcastically.
I thought to myself, 'No shit', then loudly exhaled. I hate not knowing what's going on.
Ethic stopped leading me, letting my hand go. I came to a complete stop and reached my hand out only to feel the empty space of air.
"Ethic! Where the hell did you go?"
I stretched my hand out again, expecting to grab his hand or his body, but came up with nothing. I panicked a little bit. What if I took a step and I drop off a cliff or some shit? That would be tragic.
Why isn't he answering me! I frowned my face before snatching the black scarf from around my head.
My frown instantly turned into a smile. A genuine one.
About ninety pair eyes starred at me. Wine glasses raised and bright smiles filled the room.
"Happy Birthday!" they all said in union.
Gold and black balloons floated in the air. The popular DJ, DJ Kony had the room vibrating with the latest Hip-Hop hits. I quickly scanned the faces, looking for one particular one. When I didn't see him, my mood faded a little. Daddy could've at least said happy birthday this year.
I began to walk in the crowd, giving out hugs and a handful of cheek kisses. Compliment after compliment drowned me about how beautiful I am. About how beautiful my dress is, my hair, my shoes. Half of the people here, I know through somebody else.
They barely know me. I barely know them. But love was given both ways.
As I was making my way over to the bar, I felt a tap on my shoulder. I turned around to see Red, a good friend of mine, dressed in a figure hugging violet, bandage dress. Her natural, long, brown mane was escalating down her back in spiral curls. I smiled before reaching out to embrace her in a hug.
"Hey, Kaila. You looking good, girl! You know you gon' have to let me borrow those shoes, right?"
I looked down at the Christian Louboutin red bottom, open toe pumps, that complimented my peach colored toe nails. I admit, they're cute, but Red don't return borrowed items. She keeps it under lock and key. I'll never see these got-damn shoes again.
"So, you having fun?" I tried to throw her off. The music was so loud, we had to almost yell our conversation.
Red rolled her dark brown eyes. "Bitch, don't be changing the subject on me! I'll buy my own shoes. Shit." She laughed. "How does it feel to be twenty-four?"
I shrugged while getting the bartender's attention. "Feels the same," I told her honestly.
"Hey, Kaila. What would you like?" the middle aged bartender with curly hair and a muscled body asked.
"Vodka and Cranberry," I told him.
He smiled, deep dimples showing. "'A'ight."
As soon as he walked away, Red nudged my arm so hard if I would've had my drink it would've spilled all over the bar.
"Girrrrrrllll, he's so fine. Did you see how he smiled at you?"
I rolled my eyes to the ceiling. "The man just smiled, Red. He smiles at everybody. He's a bartender! Damn, stop being so thirsty."
She took a sip from her drink before turning her back to the bar. "Oh, shut the fuck up, Kaila."
I turned around too, giggling. I spotted Ethic talking to some of his boys, laughing and drinking.
Vegas, one of Ethic's friends was in the small huddle too.
Everybody seemed to be carefree except him. I noticed his eyes kept switching this way repeatably. What the hell is he looking at? I looked behind me, then around,then I looked next to me, landing my eyes on Red.
"Vodka with Cranberry Juice," the bartender said behind me. I turned around and grabbed the glass.
"Thanks," I told him with a smile.
He licked his full lips before winking, "my pleasure, Birthday Girl."
I threw another smile at him before turning around. Red was looking at me. "What?" I asked innocently, even though I knew what she was thinking.
I grinned and shook my head. She thinks she's right about everything and half of the time she is. I would never admit that to her though.
I looked back across the room at Vegas, who kept playing his eye game. Poor baby. I nudged Red's elbow with mine.
"Girl, Vegas can not keep his eyes off of you," I informed her.
Red sipped her drink, waving her hand dismissively. "Ain't nobody thinkin' 'bout his ugly-ass."