𝗰𝗵𝗮𝗽𝘁𝗲𝗿 𝗼𝗻𝗲 | 𝘀𝘂𝗿𝗽𝗿𝗶𝘀𝗲!

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"This better be good" I announced as I approached the table Simone had chosen, a table for five where she already occupied a seat

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"This better be good" I announced as I approached the table Simone had chosen, a table for five where she already occupied a seat. Simone was busy scrolling through her phone as I walked in, her brows furrowed in confusion or maybe annoyance. She raised her head to meet my narrowed gaze as I settled into the seat I'd chosen, one directly opposite from her.

I wore a black soothe off-shoulder jumpsuit, earning an arched brow from Simone, whose eyes ran over my outfit like a disapproving mother.

"You know that this is a family dinner, right?" she asks, reaching for a champagne flute and refilling it with an almost drained bottle of champagne. Yikes. "You know how mum feels about you dressing like-"

"Like what?" I countered, reaching for a flute and filling my glass "I stopped caring about what mum and dad think about my fashion style"

"It's not just them-" she cuts herself short, biting at her bottom lip, contemplating how to say her next words. She slides her left hand across the table, enough for the diamond-encrusted ring on her wedding finger to convey what she couldn't quite say.

I tried but miserably failed to hide the shock that I felt as I took her hand in mine, observing the ring that I could sense from its intricate details cost a fortune. "You bought yourself a ring again? I thought mum warned that you can't possibly marry yourself, it just doesn't work that way" I smirk as she narrows her eyes in slits, my joke definitely pressing some buttons.

"Very funny" she yanks her hand from my grasp, taking her phone in it again, scrolling through it, her worried expression returned. "I'm engaged to a very prominent man, I'll have you know" she drains her flute in one gulp, attempting to refill it when I snag the bottle from her grasp. This is turning into a thing now.

"What's the problem?" I ask, relaxing as I mentally turn off my defense mechanisms. It may not seem like it but we subconsciously raised our defenses against each other because of the unbearable competition we felt we needed to keep up against ourselves. Our parents created a space where it seemed like we needed to compete for the most successful child, but deep down we just wanted to look out for each other and we did so at times like this.

She sighs, twirling the stem of the flute in her hand, she placed her phone on the table, "Things are a bit complicated" she says whilst her gaze is fixed on her phone as if she were waiting for something.

"Isn't everything?" I shrug, "Do you want to talk about it?"

She looks up then, "Maybe another time, I just want to focus on surprising mum and dad with his presence. I'm just worried that he'd turn up later than planned" she grabs her phone and moves to get up, "I need to make a call, and you can order another bottle of champagne or anything before I get back," she says and walks towards the restroom situated at the far end of the elegant restaurant.

Three more refills after, Simone was nowhere to be found. It seemed like she'd holed herself up in the restroom for more than an hour, hopefully, she wasn't having a breakdown.

I checked the time on my watch, sighing as I moved to leave the table, attempting to locate the hostess of the family dinner that was supposedly set to start in the next few minutes. Right before I could take a step away from the table, I heard a familiar high-pitched call from behind me.

"Paige dear" my mother drawled, her face stoic and passive as I turned to look at her. It wasn't her intention to seem as mean and unexpressive as she was. The amount of facial plastic surgery she'd undergone prevented her from being as expressive as she needed to be. I offered her a brief smile in response.

She walked in holding hands with my dad, his tight smile radiating what she couldn't. They were both dressed in mint green, she dressed in a gown while he wore a full suit.

"Hello baby girl," He said, placing a brief kiss on my forehead before moving to draw out my mother's chair for her to sit in.

I waited for them to settle in before sliding back into my seat as they both watched me, blatantly criticizing my ensemble as their eyes skimmed over my frame.

"Isn't it cold dear?" my mum began, "did you at least bring a jacket along with you?" she asked, arching her brow cockily, her undermined message being passed across.

"I didn't need one, so I didn't bother. The temperature in here is quite to my liking but thank you for your concern mum" I say, flashing my megawatt smile in spite of her disapproving glare.

"Just bring one out with you next time, to be safe" my dad jabbed, turning then to signal for a waiter to come by the table.

"Where's Simone?" my mum asks now, her eyes darting from my sister's bag residing beside her chair to her seat that's unoccupied.

"Restroom" is all I say before reaching for the bottle of champagne again. It is the only thing keeping me from running across the room and heading straight for the exit for the fear of my sanity.

It seemed like a decade had passed before Simone emerged from the restroom, a smile spread across her flawless face as she approached the table. She moved to sit down when she looked right past me, to probably something or someone behind. An unexpected squeal that I was sure I hadn't heard from Simone since we were kids, came from her as she rushed around the table throwing her arms around a man whose face was buried in the crook of her neck as I turned to sneak a peek.

Now fully alert, I turned a bit too excitedly in my seat, waiting as the man held Simone tight, running his hands over her back soothingly. When he finally let go though, I was sure that my eyes had inexplicably deceived me. I was sure I needed to get them checked out or something because the man that now had his hands wrapped around Simone's waist as they approached the table looked similar, too similar to the man I kn-

"Mum, Dad, Paige," Simone spoke, biting down on her lips excitedly, "This is Liam Gonzalez, my fiancée and the reason I invited you all to this dinner. I needed to make a formal introduction as the wedding plans have already been put in place to start soon," she said, lifting her left hand to showcase the back of her hand where the diamond engagement ring on her finger sat.

"Surprise!" she added as her smile beamed at the placid reaction of everyone sitting at the table, whilst I made eye contact with a pale-stricken Liam whose countenance now reflected mine as we probably both had the same thought running through our minds: What the actual fuck?

And with that, the champagne flute in my grasp slid out of my hand unintentionally, splattering shrivels of glass on the floor. The rage building up within me diverting my attention from the shattered flute, the weight of Simone's surprise baring down on me.



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