Brindleton Bay The Elysium
Sophie was engrossed in the task at hand, until she felt watched, then heard a male voice.
“You gotta be kidding me. World’s getting smaller and smaller.”
She turned to the speaker and agreed.
“Stryker?!” she exclaimed wide-eyed.
“What are you doing here?” he wondered, equally discombobulated.
Sophie gestured around the kitchen at different foods in various stages of preparation.
“Take a really wild guess.”
“You’re a caterer? I thought you were some fancy chef.”
“I am a chef, nothing fancy, just one of several station chefs at a restaurant in Windenburg. Hailey called me, their caterer had a kitchen fire and had to cancel at the last minute. Luckily it is my day off, so here I am, trying to save the day. Or rather, their party.”
“You know Hailey?” Stryker echoed surprised.
“No, I thought I’d just break into his home and randomly cook a bunch of meals in their kitchen while they are busy having a party. Of course, I know her. The last name didn’t give it away? Hailey Cameron, Sophie Cameron. I know it’s not the rarest last name but it might be a hint if you find them in the same house.”
“Your last name is Cameron?”
“There is a HUGE sign outside my home. It literally reads Cameron Lake House.”
“Right, I guess I just didn’t make the connection that the sign matches the contents. So, you are related to Chase? You actually personally know THE Chase Cameron of 2Dark 2C? The person I have been trying to meet ever since we started the band, and you just know him?”
“That’s the only Chase Cameron I know, yeah. I have known him since I was a little kid. His dad and my grandpa were cousins and pretty close, so Blaine brought and still brings his family to our family events and invites us to theirs.”
“Wait what?! You know Blaine Cameron?!”
She nodded, then averted her eyes, Stryker turned to find Chase approaching.
“Is this fool harassing you, Soph?” he asked, smirking.
“Kinda. Keeping me from doing my job.”
“I’ll get him out of your hair, even though he may be an up-and-coming celebrity. Want me to make him give you an autograph, while he’s at my mercy?”
Stryker just smirked, Sophie looked puzzled, so Chase explained.
“We’re taking his band on for a few of our shows, as opener, to see how it goes, then maybe we’ll add a few more later. They already opened a few shows for Vivien, and she was happy with them, she’s around here somewhere and was singing their praises earlier. Dad’s working with them on getting enough good material for an album and you know my dad, whatever he touches in the music world turns to gold. So this maniac here might well be a diamond in the rough.”
“Right. Is Uncle Blaine coming too? Tonight?” Sophie wondered.
“Possible. You know him. Technically, he shouldn’t be, per mom, cos he’s fully booked for appearances back in DSV, but that doesn’t always mean he will sit through them all. He might already be creeping around here somewhere. You’ll know. At the latest when you see my mom looking as if she is looking for someone, cos usually she is. And usually that someone would be my dad. Mercy him when she finds him.” Chase chuckled.
Sophie giggled, Chase pat Stryker on the back and the guys went towards Chase’s studio, into which they disappeared.
Sophie went about her business undisturbed for a while, until someone cleared their throat behind her to get her attention. She turned around and saw her cousin Christina and two other girls.
“Sophieeeee!” Christina chirped grabbed Sophie for a big hug.
Sophie couldn’t help instantly feeling the same love-hate she had always felt for Christina while being engulfed in a fragrance that smelled as good as Christina looked. She was her aunt Leonie’s daughter with a Spanish guy, Uncle Zeke, from whom she had the natural tan complexion, which offset the strawberry blonde flood of soft hair she had from her mom, while her eyes were the same crystal light green as their grandpa Jamie’s had been. The only other grandkids who had inherited those were Uncle Liam’s two kids, Nick and AG. Christina’s pretty face was completed by a perfect figure and worst of all, she had the same nice, sweet and most genuine personality you can imagine as both her parents had, making it impossible to hate her for being so perfect. The type of girl other girls loved to hate, but couldn’t because she was just too sweet.
“So, you remember Marciella Hanson, right? Hailey’s niece?” Christina asked, while pointing to her entourage.
“Oh .. yeah .. right. Hi!” Sophie lied, smiling at another perfect beauty in a red dress, who obviously had Italian heritage and was smiling back at her. She knew Hailey’s brother Grady was married to an Italian woman and they had three kids. This girl here was apparently the oldest of those. Last time Sophie remembered seeing the Hanson kids was when she and they were all in high school, so Marciella had to be around her age too, early twenties.
“And this is Alycia Brenner.” Christina introduced a super-skinny, super-pretty girl.
“Hi.” Sophie said uncomfortable, while Alycia only smiled. Christina now turned to them.
“Ladies, this is my awesome cousin Sophie, she’s a chef and makes the BEST cakes and pies – EVER. I mean it. Seriously addictive.”
“Yeah, obviously! I can see that.” Alycia said and Sophie wanted to crawl in a hole. OUCH! Zero point something seconds till the skinny pretty girl landed to first fat joke. Great.
“Aly!” Marciella instantly said, grimacing.
“What? I meant, look at all this food. How many people are invited to this party? There is enough food to feed all of United Simdonia and she’s still making more!” she said, but Sophie knew she was covering up the jab at her figure. Just like High School all over again. Mean girls never grew up.
“Guess what, Soph?” Christina chirped.
“So, the three of us are like super-best-friends, and we are each dating one of the guys from Stryke3. Isn’t that wild? We all live together now too, I mean in the same apartment building, of course, literally neighbors. Crazy cool. You HAVE to come to the housewarming party next week or I will personally drive out to your place and drag you there, Nick even said he’s coming. I mean it. I just moved to San Myshuno a month and change ago after my man PROPOSED! Squee! Sophie, I am engaged to a future rock star. Crazy, right?” Christina held some ring out, but Sophie only saw a blur.
She felt as if boiling water had been poured out over her, while trying to figure out which of them paired with which of the band members. Sophie had stalked the band after finding an envelope with two tickets to one of their shows and a handwritten note by Stryker a day after their last fight. The note read
“I didn’t mean it the way you took it, just wanted you to not feel stuck.
Your body, your choice, I support any decision.
Come to the show. Plz.
The more she read up about them, the more she liked Stryker, until she had developed a little crush. He was just so ultimately and effortlessly cool, the music the made wasn’t really her thing, but his voice, especially during the ballads, was like butter, when it usually was the raspy raw way in which he sometimes spoke. She had found a few fan-recorded videos of performances and just couldn’t help binge-watching them over and over. He just looked so incredible on that stage. But she knew he had a girlfriend and one of these three was it. Secretly Sophie wondered if it was her cousin, but Stryker hadn’t mentioned an engagement, and something just told her it was the bitch. Alycia Brenner.
She would be right. Stryker walked by and Alycia smiled at him, so he came over and they kissed, after which Alycia remained glued to his side.
Sophie turned away pretending to tend to the food preparation. Ouch ouch OUCH! And also: OUCH!
The party was big and loud, as the parties at the Elysium always were, even Sophie had been to a few as an invited guest. She stepped outside the door to the backyard right by the kitchen to peek over at the party pavilion where 2Dark 2C and Stryke 3 we’re giving a shared concert for the party guests. Sophie sighed. How cool would it be to date a musician? She knew quite a few personally. There was Blaine, Chase, Colton, Vivien, … The thing they all had in common was that their partners or spouses were flawless and gorgeous. Sophie looked at her reflection in the glass door. Nope. Not even with a ton of makeup and hairspray and designer clothes – if there were even any that would fit her. She’d never look like any of those girls.
She was just done washing dishes and putting things away, when Stryker showed up again.
“Did you see us? Perform, I mean.”
“No, I was busy. I am getting paid to be here, so work comes first.” Sophie lied.
“You didn’t come to the show at the Skyline either, did you?” he asked.
“I already had plans that day. Sorry.” she lied again.
“Okay, tell me when you’re free and I’ll get you tickets. How many you need?”
“I don’t want tickets. Honestly, I kinda want you to stay away from my home. Sounds like you’re gonna be really busy, so just focus on that.”
“Are you still upset with me? I am really sorry for what I said, I didn’t mean it like that.”
“Yeah, I read your note. Lucky for you, you don’t have to worry anymore. It was just false alarm. You know how drugstore pregnancy tests sometimes read false. Yeah, that happened, doctor confirmed it. So, you are free to be with your beautiful, skinny girlfriend and become famous.”
Stryker clearly didn’t buy it.
“Seriously? Do I look stupid enough to believe that swirled shit? Why are you doing this? You knew I had a girlfriend. If you are still pissed at my comment, I told you, what I said came out wrong. I wasn’t saying you should get rid of it. Just didn’t want you to feel trapped. I said I am gonna tell Alycia, and I will. You and I did something we shouldn’t have, now I have to face the consequences and fess up. Clean slate, before I … propose to Alycia. She wants it, and she deserves it. The shit she and I have been through … and we are getting ready to face some more by me having been the asshole that becomes another girl’s baby daddy.”
Sophie felt breathless.
There went her very last gleam of hope.
“Cool,” she croaked, “how romantic.”
“Never claimed to be the romantic type. This is Drake’s fault, my best friend, Christina’s fiancé. He is all over her and she is so into him, it’s physically sickening to watch. The day those two met, he told Nate and me that she was the woman he was gonna marry one day. And he meant it, he put a ring on it, I am sure she showed you. Nate’s already done the whole ‘meet the parents’ thing with Marciella. These guys both only met their girls this year. I have been with Alycia for several years now. So, I feel like I am trailing far behind and it’s not fair to Aly.”
“Yeah, you two sound like the ultimate relationship goal, cheating on each other left and right and then getting engaged because you feel like you are losing the race to the altar to your best friends. Just dreamy. I rather stay single forever.” Sophie huffed.
“We don’t cheat left and right. Not gonna say it hasn’t happened before, but we worked through it. Drake, Nate, Alycia and I we all have our demons and sometimes those get out of control. We had a really bad fight that day, Nate was missing Marciella, that was before she had moved in with him and probably the reason, he asked her to. Circumstances just lined up and we all did what we shouldn’t have. We all got over it. Time to move on.”
“Why are you telling me this? I am not your guidance counselor or therapist.”
“I don’t know. Just felt you should know. We both know you are lying about the baby. I don’t know why, I have been trying to do right by you, but this situation isn’t exactly easy on me either. I honestly don’t know what’s expected of me now. You keep saying you don’t want me to come see you, but I promised I wasn’t gonna flake, so what do I do? And do I offer to go to doctor appointments with you, even though that would probably be super-uncomfortable for both of us. I don’t have a car, just the bike, so there is that, too … “
“Don’t worry about any of that. I am gonna tell my family this Sunday at family dinner together about the pregnancy. I’ll claim it was some guy I met at work, like a customer, now they are gone and I don’t know who or where they are. Windenburg is a tourist trap, so they could be from anywhere and maybe he lied to me. It’s believable.”
“Yeah, THAT sounds a lot better than what actually happened.” Stryker grimaced.
“There is no way for this to not make me look like an idiot and a slut no matter what you say. I know what I would think if someone were to tell me this story, so I know what people will think of me. But my way keeps you out of it. I think it’s what both of us would prefer and what would be best. Especially if Chase is right and your band becomes famous.”
“Look, Sophie, that kid is MY kid too. My DNA. I don’t want to be cut out. I can’t say how involved I can be on a regular basis or how to work this, cos I really have no clue what my future hold, but I said I won’t flake and I meant it. I’ll make an effort and I’ll send money. And I am coming clean with Alycia either way. Just couldn’t do it before tonight, because of this party. I needed her to be here and be in a good mood. Once I tell her, she will be super-pissed, I know it and I deserve it. You’re not saving me from my actions by lying now, if that’s what you think. I know I screwed up. Not putting lipstick on a pig here and calling it beautiful. This is happening to both of us, for better or worse now. And come to a show or I’ll just keep dropping off tickets till you do. Call it future baby daddy research, so you know who the kid’s father really is. There is more to me than just a drunk, cheating asshole who makes terrible decisions at times.”