AA-meetings – Chapter 11: All-Consuming Bliss

All-consuming bliss

2015


The sound of a ringtone reverberates through the luxurious living room. Since Amy is tangled up with brushing her teeth, Alex runs toward the couch to find the little device. Covered in a stylish jumpsuit, she starts to throw pillows around to orientate the sound. There it is.

When she sees the word ‘Mom’ appear on screen, a minor panic attack sneaks up on her and she drops it immediately, like it’ll bite her. Alex and Amy’s parents haven’t talked in forever. Chances are they don’t even know Amy’s with them. She sits down on the leather couch and hides the screen with the pillows. They must hate her as much as Amy hated her. They don’t know the complete story yet.

Something tells her not to answer, at all. Stay away from the little black electronic box until Amy reappears from the bathroom probably is the best thing to do. The ringing ends and her heart makes a little jump of joy. She puffs, clearly relieved. But suddenly, the pillow stars ringing again. Alex frowns. Maybe it’s urgent. Maybe something happened. She grabs the phone, presses the green telephone icon on the screen and holds it near her ear. Her heart stops beating.

“Hello, Amy’s phone,” she says in a strict voice, hoping the person on the other side of the line won’t recognize her.

It did sound kind of manly.

“Hi, this is Amy’s mother, Eleanor. Could I speak to my daughter, please?”

Alex bends over to glare into the bathroom and detects Amy, overly enthusiastic to brush her teeth in New York. The Latina ponders out loud and clicks her tongue.

“I’m sorry but Amy’s a bit occupied right now. Should I give her a message?” she replies while anxiously waiting to get recognized.

The response goes dead and for three whole seconds, there’s no sound to be heard.

“Alex?” the female voice suddenly wonders loudly. “Alex Ochoa?”

Shivers – up and down her spine like witnessing a dead sentence. The repressed concern still can be detected. A nervousness creeps up inside of the Latina and after a short inner discussion about lying, Alex gives in.

“Yes, this is Alex. How are you, Mrs. Wolfe?”

She tries to sound as genuine as possible. Somehow, it comes easy. This woman did a lot for her when she was younger. Unconsciously, some fingers start tapping the wood of the coffee table.

“Is Amy with you?” her mother asks, still shaken up.

Alex nods, though the woman can never see it, and starts explaining: “We’re in New York. I asked her to join me to a photoshoot. We – um – we ran into each other and one thing led to another.”

That’s as far as Alex is willing to go. Let Amy explain the rest to them. Eleanor gathers her senses and starts coughing slightly.

“Well, will you tell her that she needs to be back in time for the fundraiser?” she asks. “It’s in L.A., she knows where. Just tell her to be on time.”

“Okay, I’ll do that.”

But the woman’s not done yet: “Alex?”

That tone in her voice sounds really familiar. It’s the same one that used to lecture them whenever they did something wrong. Panic sweat starts to well up from under Alex’s skin.

“Yes, Mrs. Wolfe?” she politely utters.

“We will talk when you visit.”

Exactly short and stern enough to scare the living shit out of her. They say goodbye and the conversation ends. When Amy joyfully escapes the bathroom, she stumbles upon the pale face of her girlfriend. The girl hasn’t moved in over a minute and finally, the fright is starting to die down.

“What’s wrong?” Amy smilingly wonders.

“I feel so small and humble right now. If I were a man, I’d feel castrated.”

The look of terror on Alex’s face amuses her lover massively. She knows this is about a call, since the smartphone is still in her hands. Ultimately, Amy puts the pieces together.

“Oh,” she mumbles after twitching her mouth awkwardly. “That was my mom, wasn’t it?”

Alex turns her innocent face around and nods. There’s even a little bit of pouting to be seen.

“Anyway,” Alex unexpectedly cheers up, “why is there a picture of me in your photo roll?”

Amy frowns through the disorientation: “What?”

Her girlfriend holds the phone up.

“This picture,” she shows her the screen. “Here. I hate this one.”

It’s Alex, walking down the street in baggy clothes, holding a cup of coffee. Definitely not a professional photoshoot.

“Why are you going throughs my photos?” Amy suddenly questions the origin of the discovery.

A random, loud ‘ha’ downplays the obvious curiosity she just displayed: “That is so not the point right now.”

Nice dodge, Alex. Nice one. Amy blushes and laughs a bit tongue-tied.

“This is my favorite picture of you,” she admits. “Always carry it with me.”

In fact, she has had this picture on her phone for three years. After the mysterious black-out of the phenomenon Alex Ochoa, this was the first one to come up in over a year after her silent departure. She saved it and never deleted it again.

“This is a paparazzi pic,” Alex notices. “I’m wearing no makeup, I’m walking out of the store with a cup of coffee in my hand and I look like I’m having a fucking hangover. Probably was having a hangover, now that I think about it.”

Some flashes of a wild night resurface. She starts smiling to herself.

“No, look,” Amy clarifies, while putting a finger on the screen. “That’s my shirt you’re wearing. You were wearing my shirt, after all that time. So it’s my favorite picture.”

Alex feels a warmth rising inside of her that burns her like fire. The answer is so honest and pure that it dazzles her. No other explanation could’ve ever been this great – this epic.

“And it’s my favorite shirt,” she softly smiles back.


The photoshoot takes place in a massive loft downtown Soho. When the two women arrive, three people immediately run over to them. Two assistants take over their bags, while a third one leads them toward the stylists. Rick Spencer is standing in the corner of the room, talking to the photographer. He notices his girls and smiles welcoming. On top of the nearby makeup tables, there are flowers for Alex, and a goodie bag with all sorts of high profile gadgets. They get offered a glass of champagne and a sandwich, but they decline the last.

“Wow. This is impressive, Alex. Too bad they didn’t take a bow,” Amy admits while joking.

She’s glaring around the room and can’t help but think about how impressive this place is. This loft must be worth several millions dollars. It’s amazingly beautiful. It’s even prettier than Alex’s.

“Shut up. I’ll need to level up my game today. See that guy over there?” Alex points at some male model nearby. “That’s Jeffrey McFlee. He’s like twenty. Alexander loves him.”

“Who?”

Alex scrunches her eyebrows and turns the palms of her hands toward the sky: “Alexander Dubrov.”

But Amy doesn’t remember all the famous names that easily: “Oh.”

All she sees are the guy’s dark eyes. His long chestnut hair. His mysterious smirk as he floats through the area. That Jeffrey is hot.

“Rumor has it they are secretly dating. Though Jeffrey totally isn’t gay, if you ask me. He just plays along – for his career, you see.”

When Amy’s blue eyes glare at the model, slowly stripping down to his underwear, her heart starts beating a little bit faster. God, that’s nice. That’s like, photoshopped nice. Those muscles, those abs. Alex neglects to see the spark in Amy’s eyes and continues the rambling.

“Totally going to be all the girls aching to touch him today. Man gets adored by all the ladies campaign. You know, the usual.”

She sits down on the coziest chair around and sighs, really feeling compassionate about herself.

“It’s not easy being a lesbian in this industry,” she concludes.

Amy dreamingly remains focussed on the perfectly shaped figure of Jeffrey and smirks in between heartbeats: “Want me to do it for you?”

That’s when Alex realizes what’s going on and she slaps Amy against her shoulder all annoyed. The dreaming is over, now all there’s left is an upset growling. Amy shrugs, it’s not like she can help it.

One by one, the models start to gather in the room. Most of them are late. Next to the actual setup, there are five makeup chairs in the left corner. Three of them are already occupied. They finished up on Alex ten minutes ago, so she patiently sits on a windowsill, reading a magazine. The gorgeous model is wearing a sexy, black set of lingerie. It’s made of lace and when she showed it to Alex, the girl had a hard time controlling herself. But Alex has covered it up with a bathrobe, to fight the chilly temperature in here.

Amy is seated on the ground, right in front of her, covered in some casual outfit. There’s too much going on right now for her to even be bothered with reading. All these models, these photographers and assistants, it’s just overwhelming. No idea she had missed the sensation of it so much.

“Is it me, or is it gay in here?”

Alex looks up from her page and frowns her eyes. Did she just misheard what Amy said?

“What?”

But clearly, her girl isn’t joking: “Seriously, with how many of these models have you slept?”

After shortly prospecting the room and the present models, Alex turns her head back to Amy. She utters a displeased scoff.

“What? What are you talking about?”

Two soft hands pat her butt cheek.

Amy’s unimpressed with the level of contribution: “Alex. Come on! Tell me.”

But it’s more than just hiding her sexual encounters. Not everyone in this world is as open about things like their preferences under the sheets.

“I can’t! It’s private stuff,” Alex explains, keeping her voice down. “These girls are very careful about things like that.”

Amy’s jaw drops dramatically. Then she starts laughing. The fact that she just said that, proves that she was right.

“I knew it! You totally had sex with some of them,” she whispers way too loud.

Alex gestures her to take it down a notch. Someone might hear them.

“Oh, come on,” she silently admits. “It was just one … of the girls walking around here.”

She lifts her eyes to check if that’s true. Unlike what she expected, Amy’s not mad or intrigued. She’s full-blown curious.

“Which one? Tell me.”

She turns around to sit on her knees.

“I am begging you.”

Her hands are held together like a perfect angel. Alex chuckles and shakes her head. This is unbelievable.

“Pretty, pretty, pretty please. You can do anything you want with me if you tell me,” Amy promises with a naughty eyebrow wiggle.

Now that’s what one might call a great business deal. Alex smirks and bends over to whisper a name in her ear. Amy gasps for air and looks at her like one can only look up to an idol.

“Well done!” she congratulates her all impressed. “You should’ve invited me.”

She turns her head to stare at the entire group of models, but Alex quickly stops her.

“Don’t look! Besides, she wasn’t that special. In the plenty of fish in the sea, you are my Nemo, Amy. Always have been.”

She feels like making up for it, but honestly, it isn’t a big deal for Amy. It’d be unrealistic to think that they didn’t have sex while they spend their years apart. Some loud announcement happens at the entrance of the loft and the girls look up. It’s another gorgeous female model, Cara something. Alex nods kindly and welcomes her to the photoshoot. The blond girl walks over and gives her a warm kiss on the cheek. Then, she makes her way to the makeup stand, to join the others. Amy looks at her lover and notices the weird twitch in her behavior.

“Okay,” Alex subtly coughs, while flipping through the pages with flaming red cheeks, “maybe there are two.”

“You slut,” Amy giggles.

Secretly, she’s jealous. That girl was hot. She’d do her anytime.

The shoot unfolds wonderfully easy. The models all get along, the crew is motivated and fast, the photographer surprisingly quickly pleased. Seriously, this is about as good as it gets. The setup was as predictable as Alex guessed: Jeffrey’s the guy shaking off all the girls. Amy sees how Alex amusingly scrunches her nose in disgust after every intimate shot with him. She doesn’t like him, at all. But he’s hot. Not just in real life, but in the modeling industry as well. Everyone falls for his intriguing eyes; they stare into you and beyond. But according to Amy, he’s nothing compared to her girlfriend. When Alex smiles, the room lights up. When she laughs, the entire staff silences to hear the glorious sound of it. When she walks around the set, she isn’t just walking. She’s floating across the carpet floor, like her body is orchestrated by the wind. In between takes, the girls take five and have some drinks. Amy’s patience gets rewarded with soft kisses and longing looks. Everyone is staring at them all adoring.

“You walk amazing. Have I told you that?” she breathes in Alex’s neck with her arms wrapped around her gorgeous body.

She didn’t put the bathrobe on again, and Amy couldn’t be more thankful.

“You don’t know how many lessons I had to take before I knew how to walk like a model,” Alex clarifies, thinking back at the horrible Alexis Djokovic. “Let me tell you: normal people do not walk like models.”

She kisses the lips of her girlfriend and suddenly, loud protest reverberates. It’s the makeup artist, getting all worked up over the amount of times she had to touch up her lips by now. When Amy turns her eyes to the left, she notices how some of the girls are extremely skinny, yet they look unhappy as hell. Furthermore, she saw bruises getting covered up with foundation. She’s heard about the wild lifestyle of these successful youngsters. Her eyes glare at her famous girlfriend. Suddenly, she start to wonder.

“Did you ever do drugs?” she bluntly asks Alex.

The girl escapes from the embrace and expresses her surprise: “What? Oh, Amy, why would you ask me that?”

The blonde scoffs and raises one eyebrow.

“Because I know how that modeling world has its twisted ways of acting out. And I know you. You wouldn’t shy away from an experiment.”

“That’s true,” Alex realizes. “And I may have tried some speed once at a party. But it drove me insane, so I figured it’d be best to never repeat that really awkward and expensive night. Plus, blood tests every now and then with the doctor.”

She winks to turn the story into a joke. Amy’s glad she told her the truth.

“And what about your friends?”

Her eyes glare at some of the models that look really, really junkie-ish. Alex follows her movement.

“I don’t know them all very well, but it wouldn’t surprise me when I hear the stories. Rumor has it Silvie is popping pills, though. One time, right after my chemo, I had to take some medication and when she saw me taking them, she asked for some too. She thought they were something else. That’s when I told her the truth about my disease and we became friends.”

She talks about it like it’s the most random thing.

“And what was her excuse?” Amy wonders.

Her girlfriend shrugs and stares out of the window.

“I didn’t ask. I didn’t want to know.”

The less she knows, the less she’ll have to worry about it. It’s that simple. For now, anyway. The last couple of years, she’s been busy taking care of herself. There was no room for others.

“So, no drugs for you?”

Alex shakes her head. She did not just fight for her life to throw it all away with some hallucinating powder.

“Are you sure?”

Amy just needs to ask. Not that she’d find Alex capable of doing drugs. It’s just that life has surprised her a few times before.

The Latina goddess puts her hands on the blonde’s shoulders and looks at her very persistently: “I am morally outraged! Trust me, I am responsible of the things that go through my mouth and nose. I assure you: no drugs – except the pre-scripted ones.”

Her girlfriend believes her. Even apart from the joke, Alex came across very honest and serious. The photographer suddenly requests the crew back on set. He explains that the initial vision of the entire campaign was to lure people in, to enchant them with fairytale representations and promising prospects about life. Subtly, as a photographer, he suggests they take their tops off. They’re all in for the idea, until Amy pulls Alex aside and protests subtly.

“You can’t do nudes,” she insists. “You never did nudes.”

Amy sighs a loving smile and cups her hand: “Babe, it are classy pictures. You don’t see a nipple, you just see some flesh. It’s okay. I’d never do frontal-nude.”

But the expression coloring Amy’s face gives it away. Something about Alex roaming her ex girlfriends and the hottest male model in the world doesn’t soothe her at all. A couple of years ago, when the teenage capacity of completely dazzling one’s mind and the hypnotizing aspects of a fairytale true love seemed the most realistic goals in live this all would’ve appeared to be innocent. But now they have grown up. They have a certain life experience. They know what happens when you strip down in front of someone else.

“I’m not feeling really supported right now,” Alex notices.

Amy bites her teeth, but hisses through them rather quickly: “Well, I bet that’s what your boobs are thinking right now.”

“Amy!” the model silently utters in a way too objecting tone while putting both hands on each side of her slim body.

“I’m sorry. It’s just … they can’t see your boobs,” Amy utters while stuttering. “They see enough of you already. Your boobs are mine.”

Ooh! Alex laughs displeased – dishonored. She can’t believe how Amy thinks about all of this. It’s just a bareback picture. At most, she’ll be covering her boobs with her hands while facing the lens. Nothing else will ever be exposed in front of the camera. Like Amy said: from now on, it’s all exclusively preserved for the love of her life. Artistically nude does, in fact, exist. The photographer has great ideas, the pictures can’t be anything but amazing the way he’s describing them.

“They won’t see my boobs. I promise. I keep them for you,” she tells the blonde.

Her hands cups the slim hands. Her eyes express both semi-apologies and compassion.

Amy recognizes the look in her eyes and thinks about all the times that Alex got away with weird explanations.

“That’s oddly romantic,” she sighs.

Alex nods.


Eleanor and William Wolfe organized the fundraiser to raise awareness and money for the sick child of one of their employees. The kid suffers from a chronic kidney failure disease. Soon, he’ll need a new one and therefor, the parents are in desperate search to pay for the operation. Alex didn’t want to join her girlfriend. Not in a million years. The Wolfe’s and her reunion, she was willing to put that off for another twenty years or so. But in the end, Amy made her, partly by blackmailing her into caring for the sick child. Turns out Amy is the dominant one, this second time around.

It takes exactly one minute and fifteen seconds before the in-laws find them. The place isn’t crowded, which is unfortunate, so the entrance of the famous Alex Ochoa doesn’t go by unnoticed.

“Hi, honey,” William shrieks before hugging his little girl.

He’s notoriously happy to see his daughter. Eleanor follows her husband’s example and wraps her arms around Amy.

“Hi, mom. Hi, dad. Hope you don’t mind, I brought Alex,” she joyfully tells them.

But the parents’ glance says it all. Alex carefully takes a step back and she scrunches her mouth to fake a smile. Even her modeling experience can’t help her here. Her fingers nervously play with the hem of her mini dress. She dressed up extra nicely for this event, even though it’s just a simple fundraiser. Her prep team flew out to L.A. to make her look amazing, actually. Her hair is up in a tight ponytail, her eyeliner is dark and mysterious. Her outfit is strict and formal. Hopefully, nobody will ever ask where she’s keeping her phone hidden. Amy’s wearing a blue, strapless gown. She looks amazing. Her girlfriend is telling her that every five seconds.

At best, David will pop up in this room in a few minutes. He promised he’d make it as well. Alex promised him a hundred bucks if he did.

Eleanor and William keep a stern face and kindly ask her how she’s doing. It’s not sincere, anyone can tell. Their daughter picks up on the tension and coughs the awkwardness away.

“So, how is it going here? Expecting more people?”

The big hall is beautiful. You can find doctors and pamphlets regarding kidney diseases in every corner. There’s even an open bar. Sadly, few people made it to this event. Alex scans the room and counts about fifty business men and women. She sighs – just like this hadn’t gotten worse enough, this fundraiser will be a total failure and the parents will act out their frustration on her even more. Amy promised she’d talk to them today. Surprisingly, there doesn’t seem to be a rush.

“Not really. Most of them cancelled last minute. I feel really bad for Joe and his wife. They need the money,” Eleanor sighs, completely disappointed.

A waiter walks by, nonchalantly, and Alex quickly snatches a glass of champagne from his tray. She empties it half in matters of seconds. Afterward, she exhales her relief.

So much better now. Amy’s staring at her and suppresses an amused smile. When the model finds her former/renewed in-laws patiently observing her, she snaps out of her reserved attitude and turns around to chase the waiter.

“What the hell is she doing?” Eleanor asks her daughter.

A few hesitant gestures finally put some fingers against Amy’s lips. She chuckles to herself and rolls her eyes.

“Just wait and see.”

But daddy William isn’t in the most cheerful mood. He demands to know what’s going on.

“Why are you here with that girl? I thought that -”

Alex suddenly reappears, tightly holding on to the waiter’s sleeve.

“Sorry, that was rude,” she apologizes in a way to make up for it.

She points at the tray full of beverages and invites them to take one as well. Hiding behind her hand, Amy just can’t stop smiling. Alex didn’t even crawl like this for her. The parents must really frighten her.

Eleanor and William pick a glass of champagne as well. In order to completely exaggerate, Alex hands her girlfriend the same thing. Taking a submissive bow while letting go flashed through her mind for a second. Luckily, she didn’t. Her eyes order Amy to stop mocking her well-meant actions.

Eleanor and William straighten their nice clothes and share doubting looks. That’s when they decide to part for a while and greet the other guests.

“Well, that went well,” Amy says, not sure how much she believes it herself.

Alex frowns completely thrown off and throws her hands up in the air: “What the fuck, babe. If looks could kill, I’d be dead twice.”

She walks off to roam the room for a while. Paintings and art work decorate the place. Her father taught her a lot about that stuff and somewhere along the way, she started to appreciate it. Her own apartment is full of modern day artwork. George is very proud of that.

An hour later, she’s completely cornered by people who recognize her from advertisements and gossip tabloids. She’s handing out autographs and selfies like it’s money. Part of her normally gets tired of it after a while, but now it’s the ideal distraction from returning to the Wolfe’s. The pain in her cheeks, caused by her fake smile, on the other hand, is the worst she’s ever experienced. But hey, bring on the fans. When she suddenly notices David walking by, she grabs his collar and drags him over to her exclusive group of new friends.

“Oh, my God. David, where have you been? I’m on trial here!” she hisses.

His eyes express confusion. At the same time, he feels scared about her aggressive attitude. He has no idea what she’s talking about.


Amy goes searching for her after making her own circle of bidding welcome. She’s a big talker when it comes to fundraising. People’s feelings get crushed by baby pictures of the patient: little Luke. He has dark curls and a cute smile. A silent sigh and a heartfelt lost tear makes the guests swipe open their checkbooks immediately.

On her way to the other part of the room she stumbles upon her parents. They just wrapped up a conversation with colleagues when they ask their daughter for a private moment. She quickly realizes this must be about Alex. Her blood starts boiling immediately. They’ll be condemnatory from the first word that leaves their mouth. That’s how they’ve talked about her for the past four years. Sure, Amy talked along with them, but things have changed.

“What is it?” she asks with the defensiveness kicking in.

Eleanor wiggles her big hairdo and whispers after looking back – God forbid anyone might hear her.

“What is Alex doing here? Are you back together with this girl? Do I have to remind you of the devastating condition you were in when she left?”

Amy looks at them condemning. This girl? Really? The lecture is well prepared. She didn’t expect anything else. Truth is, her parents are just worried. As said before, they were the ones that picked her up when it happened. They saw their little girl crash and burn … and then jump off the cliff again. So she decides to soften up and sighs.

“It’s complicated. Alex left because she was sick. That’s why she’s here as well, because she feel connected to this little kid.”

And because Amy made her. But that’s not really relevant.

“Sick?” William asks, suddenly dropping the tough act. “What do you mean, sick?”

“Cancer sick,” Amy explains.

She closes her eyes for a second and still feels the shivers running down her spine every time she says the word.

“Blood cancer, actually. They treated it in Belgium. That’s why she left. She didn’t just …”

Dump me, she was going to say, but she holds it back. Her parents look flabbergasted. Amy can’t even catch them blink. Their stern faces vaporize.

“That’s horrible. Oh, honey,” Eleanor turns to her husband, “we’ve been horrible to her.”

But Amy calms them down quickly: “It’s okay. She knows you don’t know. And I told her I’d explain it to you guys when I found the time.”

Her parents remain really quiet. They are trying to recall all the events that took place with reference to the break up. It all makes sense now. They’ve been mad for all the wrong reasons.

“Why didn’t she just tell you?” her dad suddenly wonders.

Amy shrugs and thinks about her answer for a moment.

“I still don’t really understand it all. I’ve been trying to, but … I know she did it to protect me. She wanted me to go to Stanford. She thought that, if she told me, I wouldn’t have gone.”

She smiles to herself and realizes a simple thing by saying it out loud.

“She was right.”

Her girlfriend is across the room, chatting with her favorite man in the world: David. Of course, it’s about girls. Alex’s best friends, actually: the singers and the models and the actresses.

“These famous models, they don’t really bother me anymore,” Alex shrugs. “I mean, the fact that they’re famous. Even the fashion designers and the campaigns and stuff. It’s just … normal now. They’re just people, nice people. Funny and shy and talented. My friends. And I get paid a lot of money to stand in front of a camera and have the time of my life with those friends. They just happen to own some of the world’s most recognizable faces.”

David has known her for many years. She dragged him along to many, many photoshoots when she started the job. Still, he can’t get over the fact that his cousin knows so many influential people.

“Lucky you, getting rich over some hobby,” he sighs, dreamily staring into the distance.

Alex agrees, purely to mock him: “I know. It’s a tragedy.”

Then she takes a sip from her champagne glass and evokes her evil smile.

“And such a tragedy that I invited them all to be here …”


Amy is still in the middle of explaining the circumstances to her flabbergasted parents. Suddenly, a lot of excited voices and noises reverberate from the entrance. When they turn their heads, a couple of breathtakingly beautiful people walk in. There’s seven of them. One is Silvie Vermeer, the model Amy met on several occasions in the past. She recognizes the rest, though not by name. Amy’s jaw drops. She clasps the sleeve of her father’s very expensive vest.

“What?” he demands to know. “Who are they?”

How can he not recognize these faces? They are wallpapered against every billboard. Amy’s face lights up like a bundle of joy. She knows exactly why they are here.

“She brought the models,” she utters in complete shock.

Her parents can’t catch up, but she does. When the models arrive, the news will spread. When the news is out, the other guests will surprisingly show up. When the guests show up, they’ll donate a lot of money. It’s brilliant. Alex Ochoa is brilliant.

Amy storms through the crowd and jumps her girlfriend straight in the arms to kiss her. Alex is pleased: this is the ultimate way to thank her.

“Alex. This is … brilliant.”

“Well, I thought that, in exchange for a couple of bucks, people can take a picture of my friends or asks for signatures. I called the ones that are in town. Luckily, us models, we care about sick children,” she emphasizes the latter a bit to much.

Silvie recognizes Alex’s girlfriend from a long time ago and generously says hi.

“So, Alex got her girl back, I see. Good, now she can stop crying like a little baby,” she teases her good friend.

Amy twirls her head and fakes a self-assured smile, even though her girlfriend can’t seem to appreciate the painfully accurate description of her state of mind for the last couple of years. David, the cool, dreamy guy, stands frozen to the spot by the sight of so many gorgeous women. Poor blogger boy, still single. He missed Alex while she was gone, but not as much as roaming around the photoshoot sets with her colleagues.

She makes up for it when she introduces him to all her friends. They are all so lovely, so nice. The guy’s face is worth a million bucks. Models – Victoria’s Angels – are talking to him, treating him like he’s one of them. One of them kissed his cheek and he didn’t pass out.

“I can’t believe you brought them here,” he tells his cousin while refraining from jumping up and down like a little kid.

The girls have moved on to the part they came for: support Luke and his parents by raising money to pay for the treatment. They invite people to snap pictures of them, but on one condition: they’ll need to make a donation.

“They are the it girls. I’m living every man’s dream right now,” David utters, realizing just how lucky he is.

He grabs his phone to tweet about it. But Alex rolls her eyes over his typical male behavior. At the same time, she realizes that her plan seems to work. Put in online, David. Before you know it, this room will be crowded. Poor little Luke will benefit from it. That’s how the world works.

In between posing and chatting, the girls come over to Alex a few times. There’s Silvie, obviously. Also Cam Fields, a gorgeous brunette. Virginie Le Grand, the French girl with the intriguing eyes. Angelina Vanderwaelen, so recognizable people just call her Angelina. June Hastings, cute, tall lady with black curls. And the two gorgeous black sisters, Amy’s favorites Tamara and Maggie. The impression they leave behind when they resume their angelic stroll through the crowd is overwhelming. Before Alex turns her head back from leaving a signature at the wrist of a little boy, she makes him promise to never wash his arm again. He does, which makes his mother laugh doubtfully. But then her eyes find her girlfriend and even if she would try, she couldn’t stop the peaceful smile that takes over her entire face.

“What?” Amy wonders, as she’s close enough to pick up on the weird behavior.

Her lover leaves the crowd behind and turns her way: “What?”

Amy squeezes her eyes and points at her face.

“You’re smiling.”

“So?”

“So, why are you smiling?” she wants to know.

Alex entwines their fingers and shrugs. This feeling inside of her, it’s the most natural thing whenever she looks at Amy.

“I’m smiling because of you. Because you make me smile.”

Amy smirks and bumps her shoulder all enchanted.

“You romantic bastard.”

Suddenly, in between all of this overkill of models and gorgeous appearances, she feels loved and very, very pretty. Alex kisses her. She could do this forever. Eleanor and William stare at them, from across the room. They’ve noticed how the big donating box is starting to fill up. And now they notice how their little girl looks happier than ever. Even more than the first time around. They sigh and throw Alex a sweet smile. The Latina sees it and freaks out internally.

Win the parents back? Check. See, she always gets what she wants.


As the event is coming to its end, the music stars playing louder. Alex’s friends are actually having a blast as they entertain the guests. They’ve started dancing with them. The mood is care-free, the crowd is pleased. Most of all, Luke will get whatever he needs. Alex playfully drags Amy to the center of the dance floor and forces her to slow dance. After some hesitation, the blonde accepts.

“You were really impressive back there,” Amy whispers proudly in her ear.

Alex makes her twirl under her right arm and pulls her close to her chest soon after. Her eyes break past Amy’s – straight into her soul. If there was a symbol for love, it’d be the expression on Alex’s face right now.

“I don’t want to impress you, Amy,” she calmly clarifies. “I want to marry you.”

The dancing abruptly stops and Amy stares at her completely overwhelmed.

“What?”

Her girlfriend forces her to resume the romantic wiggling, because she’s enjoying it too much.

“Seriously,” she then stresses. “I mean, not tonight, but … one day.”

Her face lights up with a mysterious smile. Her lover would make a gorgeous bride.

“Well,” Amy suddenly informs her, “I’ve seen a curious trend in your family that sort of frightens me to marry you.”

The model starts laughing softly and shakes her head a bit thrown off: “What are you talking about?”

Amy shrugs while swaying the woman that she loves from left to right.

“All the women in your family die. Like, really early. They have kids and then they just … You know.”

“Drop dead?” Alex adds amusingly.

“Not my words,” the blonde growls.

But Alex has a perfectly reasonable explanation for that: ”Only those who married the men in our family die. It’s a fact.”

Amy heaves a fake relieved smile, like that just magically erases every doubt she’s ever had.

“So you mean the curse punishes the straight people?”

Alex keeps her face remarkably serious and nods: “Duh!”

“So,” Amy recalls the point of this entire conversation. “Basically, you’re asking me to marry you?”

She awaits the answer of her gorgeous girlfriend, who can’t be bothered with all the people around them. They are slow dancing together and it feels like they’re all alone in this place, enchanted by the magical dimension they get pulled into by staring into each other’s eyes. If they’d die right this second and went to heaven, it’d take them a week to realize they aren’t alive anymore.

“Yes, I guess I am. I’ll give you some time to think about it.”

Her voice sounds like a very disciplined high school teacher. Amy smiles softly and feels her heart racing. She puts her head on Alex’s shoulder and wonders whether she should pinch herself to get drawn back to reality. This is what they call ‘all-consuming bliss’. This is when your heart is about to explode with love. They continue the intimate dance and remain quiet for a while. Then, Alex thrusts her shoulder so the girl will look up.

“So, thought about it?” she asks, carrying a smile from ear to ear.

Amy amusingly objects: “It’ll have to be a bit more romantic, Alex. You could at least go down on one knee.”

See, that’s not the way Alex’s brains work.

“If I go down, there are certain expectations,” she explains in a naughty voice.

Sure, throw in a sexual comment. Amy’s face stiffens, so do her eyes.

“Totally ruining the moment here.”

Her girlfriend ignores the comment and stares dreamingly into the distance.

“Just wait,” she promises. “You got a fucking surprise coming.”


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