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Twenty Eight: Lady In Red

Taylor
Two weeks later -- Halloween


Some people will tell you that, in the overall scheme of things, two weeks is not a long time. Compared to the human life expectancy average of around 70 years, two weeks is nothing. A mere speck on the line of time.

Those people are idiots.

I’d just endured two of the most grueling, excruciatingly lengthy weeks of my life. Each day dragged on, seeming to last eons,  as if it had never heard of the Roman Calendar. Fourteen days with Allison angry at me felt more like fourteen years.

As I’d discovered, it wasn’t a wise idea to make her angry. I mean really angry, not just irritated. She wasn’t one to let her temper easily flare, but once it did, you were in for it. She’d barely spoken to me since our last little conversation, and the frosty look on her face indicated that she didn’t expect to be speaking to me again anytime soon.

Which made my life a living hell. She was my only source of communication, and well, entertainment, as she had so bluntly put it. She provided, protected, and helped me. I needed her.

Of course, if I would just apologize, that would really probably help mend things between us. HA. I certainly wasn’t going to apologize for what I’d said. It was the truth. Well, kind of. It was the truth, in the sense that I really meant it…. but then again she had misconstrued my reasons for doing it. She didn’t realize that I was jealous of this Jay fellow and not of her.

And she was still planning to go to that damn party. Dressed as a gypsy, no less, in a costume that showed off her toned arms and shoulders. It wasn’t risqué by all means, but for Allison, it was definitely unusual. She liked to keep herself covered up. I figured it was just another way she was trying to spite me. Although, if she knew how much I enjoyed observing her sculpted upper body…. she probably would have settled on something else.

“Mrrrr?”

I looked down from a chair in the kitchen to see Chester staring up at me plaintively. Poor guy. He’d been getting ignored lately, too, and thus we’d actually bonded somewhat. However much a man and a cat can bond, that is.

“You want a treat, boy?”

He meowed shrilly.

“I’ll take that as a yes. Come on.”

I shuffled into the kitchen, taking out the pack of treats and dropping him a few. He devoured them, then looked up, purring, and began rubbing his furry face against my leg. Awww.  I didn’t worry about Alley or Louise coming in or hearing anything; they were both upstairs finishing up Allison’s gypsy look. Louise was doing the hair and makeup. Sighing deeply and running my hands over my lightly greasy hair, I debated on whether or not to go check on them.

Well, it wasn’t like I was doing anything else of utter importance. I left the kitchen and headed up the stairs quietly, listening for their voices.

“OUCH! What are you trying to do, kill me?! Pull every thin hair out of my head?!” Definitely Allison.

“I can’t help it that you’re a baby. Just hold still for a minute while I pin it up…OK, there. Now, it looks good, doesn’t it? Stop your whining.” Louise.

“Alright, alright…. do you think this makeup’s alright? It doesn’t look all… whorish or anything, does it?”

Louise laughed loudly. “No, no. It looks good,  hon. Here, let’s just put on a little more mascara…”

Silence for a moment.

“Hold still, Allison!!!!! You don’t want this shit all over your face, do you? Jeez!”

“I can’t help it!”

“Don’t scrunch your face like that!”

“But I have to sneeze!”

I snuck into the room, gently sitting down on Louise’s bed to watch. Allison faced the mirror, already decked out in her costume. Louise leaned over from the side, a mascara wand in her hand. I could see their reflections clearly.

She looked gorgeous, I grudgingly admitted. Even the most picky of men would have a hard time passing her up. She might not have been considered your typical “knockout” blonde in her everyday life, but tonight…. she was that and much more.

Her gypsy costume consisted of a tight white bodice (which appeared to be made of a sort of plastic-y type of material, how odd) with thin white straps. It was outlined with sparkly blue gems. The skirt was red, lightweight, and full. A red feather boa snaked its way between her elbows and back, and a sparkly red bandana covered her light blond hair. Her makeup was thick and dark, but tasteful. She opened her eyes wider so Louise could reach her lower lashes, and I caught a sparkle from her hazel eyes. I swallowed hard, trying vainly to ignore the lump in my throat.

“There we are… you are good to go, my dear,” Louise remarked, stepping back to admire her creation. Allison smiled and turned her face back to the mirror. Her eyes caught mine, and the smile faded. Ouch.

“Are you sure it looks alright?” she asked Louise apprehensively, refusing to look at me again.

“Alley Kat..... it’s fine. Trust me. Now if you’re going to eat something, you better hurry up because he’s going to be here any minute.”

“OK...” she murmured, fixing the boa as she stood up. Before she walked away, she gave my reflection another icy stare. I cringed inwardly, but remained stonefaced. No way was I backing down this time. She waltzed from the room, the red feathers on her costume ruffling gently in her wake. Louise followed her, heading into the bathroom.

The mirror?

Wait a minute.

She’d seen my reflection. I didn’t have a reflection... did I?

I walked over to the mirror and inspected. Sure enough, a slightly ragged version of Taylor stood before me. Then I remembered.... just two weeks ago, before we’d had that fight, hadn’t I admired Alley and I in the mirror? Thinking that we looked like we should be together? And she’d seen me then, too... We hadn’t even noticed. Hadn’t noticed that there should only be one person in the mirror, not two.

I nervously rubbed my left elbow, wondering. What was happening? Why was my world falling apart all at once? Everything was changing so fast. I didn’t like it one bit.

I left the room quietly, heading down the hall and stairs, then into the kitchen. She stood in the middle, hands on hips, teeth gently gnawing on her lower lip, a faraway look on her face. I hated to disturb her, for one, she basically hated me right now, and two, she looked like she was deep in thought, but I knew I had to. This mirror thing was creeping me out.

“Hey,” I said softly.

She turned slowly and met my eyes. “Yeah?”

“Um... I, uh..” Dammit. Those harsh eyes always cut down any bravado I had.

She sighed impatiently. “Listen, if you’ve got something to say, say it. I’m getting ready to leave, as soon as he gets here.”

“Aren’t you going to eat something?” Way to go, Taylor. Lose track of the point of this conversation!

“No. I’m not really hungry.”

Allison, not hungry? What was wrong with this picture?

“Oh...” I studied my feet carefully. I was barefoot, as usual, and my pale bony foot looked awkward against the bright yellow and blue kitchen tile. For once, my toenails weren’t painted -- usually Allison found it delightful to paint them pink, purple, or any other prissy color she could drum up. As I wiggled them, I found myself wishing that they were painted. Because if they were, then that meant that we weren’t fighting, and this nightmare could be over.

I cleared my throat and looked up. “Well, Allison, when we were upstairs, I was noticing that--”

I was cut off by the doorbell. She shrieked and ran out of the kitchen.

“Louise! Answer the door!”

I rolled my eyes. Well, there went my moment.

I walked over and stood next to the bar, so I would have a clear look at the door when this fellow walked in. I leaned against the wall, crossing my arms tightly across my chest.

Louise slowly walked over to the door. She looked a little irritated, also, I thought. Hmmm...

The doorbell rang again. “I’m coming, I’m coming, damn,” she mumbled before she grasped the handle. The door opened and her voice immediately took on a fake cheerful tone. “Hi! Come on in!”

“Hey, Louise,” a smooth deep voice answered. The owner of the voice stepped onto the threshold. He took a few steps in towards the kitchen, taking sweeping glances of the house, and for just a millisecond, his eyes were in line with my own, and I felt my heart and jaw hit the floor.

Oh...... My........ God......


It’s not often that I forget a face. Fans are amazed, a lot of the time, that I remember them from previous concerts or meet and greets. Call it talent, call it a sixth sense, call it me having too much time on my hands. Whatever the case was, I recognized this man standing in our living room. Jay. Jason Edward Blanding, Jr. Whatever the hell his name was, it didn’t matter. I suddenly realized why his nickname had been bouncing around in my head for the past few weeks.

“I GOT HIM! I GOT HIM!” screamed one of the boys as a cold hand clamped down on my shoulder. He shoved me and I tumbled headfirst into the snow. I sputtered and coughed, trying to get the dirty snow out of my mouth. He rolled me over, and suddenly, they were all there, all five of them, standing around me in a circle, as if they were about to perform a sacrifice. They looked like they were a few years older than me.

“Well, hello there, pretty boy,” the leader said smoothly. I couldn’t make out his features because they were in shadow. “What brings you to Maxwell Street?”


The leader... the leader of that group.... his name was--

“Get him Jay!!!!” one of the other boys hooted. Jay turned to them with a wicked smile on his face.

His name was JAY, and he was standing right in front of me, once again.  Oh, dear God. As I gaped at him with horror, speechless, Allison flitted down the stairs and into the living room.

“Hey,” she said shyly, smoothing down the front of her costume. “How are ya?”

“I’m fine. You ready to go?”

What was she doing?!!??! Why in the world was she dating a guy who had practically tried to kill me? A guy that she had saved me from, for heaven’s sake!! Was she doing this on purpose? Did she think this was funny?!

Unless... she didn’t know. Or remember. Or recognize him. It was pretty dark that night.... oh, man. Surely she didn’t know what she was getting into, that was the only excuse I could think of. No wonder she’d had all those apprehensions and uneasiness about this party. She was dating a monster.

“Yeah, I think I’m ready to go,” she replied, reaching for her purse. No. I had to stop her.

“NO!” I screamed, startling her. Jay and Louise both eyed her curiously, but said nothing. I continued my speech. “Don’t go, Allison, PLEASE, in the name of all that is holy, DON’T GO.”

She tried to ignore me. “So, um, are you driving?”

“ALLISON!!! I’M SERIOUS! PLEASE!!!” I waved my arms up and down maniacally.

“Oh, wait a minute, I think I forgot something upstairs. Will you excuse me?” She smiled superficially at her roommate and company, and marched back up the stairs. I followed her. Once we reached the top, she grabbed me roughly by the arm and yanked me into her room, shutting the door.

“What in the hell do you think you’re doing?” she hissed, her words low and even. “Taylor, you’re not stopping me. I don’t care what you say.”

“Allison.... please.... just listen.... to me,” I panted, slightly out of breath from screaming and running up the stairs. “You can’t go--”

“YOU CAN’T TELL ME WHAT TO DO!!!!” She let go of my arm and straightened up. “Taylor, we need to have a little talk. However, NOW is not the time for it. We can discuss your insecurities when I get back tonight. I’ll be back around one or two. However, right now, I’m leaving.

With that, she jerked open the door and stomped back down the stairs.

“Wait!!!!! WAIT!” I ran down the stairs after her, but it was too late. She already had her coat on and was walking out the door. I stopped in the hallway, still out of breath, holding the sides of my head with my palms. She was gone. Gone, with that... that ogre who would do no telling what to her when he got the chance. I leaned against the wall and groaned. Louise stood by the door, peeking out, watching them go to the car. She sighed deeply, worriedly.

I smiled sadly at her. Apparently I wasn’t the only one with doubts. Although I wondered where hers were coming from.

“I hope you know what you’re getting into, Alley Kat,” she murmured to herself before walking back into the kitchen.

My thoughts exactly, Louise. My thoughts exactly.