'To bare your soul is to tell the truth,
once you have bared your soul,
only then are you truly set free.'
'I'm a broken soul, I'm an open book with many torn out pages,
and as I walk through fire, I thirst for truth for what I've never tasted.'
"Ugh! " Teddy thought as she pulled her drapes open and looked outside, the cold, wet and miserable weather was typically Melbourne. She was beginning to wonder whether she should move to a warmer climate or not when stepping in under the hot water in the shower. The heat warming her chilled skin and bones.
Theodora, or Teddy, preferably, kept pretty much the same routine every week, up early, go to work, come home, go for a run or a workout, have dinner, do more work or watch TV, then off to bed to start the next day again. Though today, somehow, she felt it was going to be different, and for the better.
After showering and drying herself off, Teddy wandered through to her walk-in-closet; in search of something warm to wear with the miserable weather outside. Her job as a graduate architect at Bricks and Mortar Architecture didn't seem to require formal wear, thanks to her boss, Spencer Hughes. He ran the business in a casual setting, making Teddy’s life a whole lot easier when it came to choosing an outfit each day.
Slipping on a matching set of Victoria's Secret bra, panties and thigh high stockings, she scans the rack and grabs a black, long sleeve fitted jersey dress off its hanger, and tugs it over her head before selecting a pair of black knee length boots to wear on her feet. The leather boots guaranteed to keep her feet dry from the rain and give the extra warmth needed on the ridiculously cold day. Teddy grabs a denim jacket, and a grey wool scarf, wrapping it around her long slender neck as she heads back to the ensuite bathroom to do her hair and makeup.
Entering the stylish kitchen, with its marble bench tops and stainless steel appliances, Teddy quietly prepares her usual breakfast; a cup of earl grey tea and a bowl of oats drizzled with honey before her roommates make their appearance to do the same. In that moment, they do so, not long after as she is eating herself at the table, and greets them, smiling brightly, "Good morning, peeps."
"Tell me what is so cheerful about a cold rainy Monday morning?'' Scarlett groans making herself a cup of coffee.
Teddy's younger sister, Scarlett and one of her three roommates, only moved in to escape their domineering parents, she's sure of it. Scarlett was like any twenty-two-year-old, she wanted to party. But because she was still at university, their parents, Evan and Therese, were constantly fighting over the choices she made or didn’t; and in the end, Scarlett had enough, consequently moving out and in with her sister.
"It is going to be a fantastic day. I can feel it in my bones." Teddy proclaims.
Scarlett rolls her eyes mockingly, "always the optimist still sis?"
"Well someone has to be miss misery guts," Teddy says raising a brow sardonically.
"Who's miserable now?" Dominique asks sauntering into the kitchen, "no, let me guess. It’s a certain little miss sunshine with red hair, blue eyes?" She said, her eyes averting in Scarlett's direction.
"Ha-ha, hilarious little miss wise arse." Scarlett scolds glaring at her.
Teddy laughs as she bends placing her dishes into the dishwasher. "Any case ladies, I am off to work, and I shall see you all later." She says planting a quick kiss on her sister's head, "have a good day, Miss Grumpy."
Teddy wondered why she even bothered with her makeup that morning, as she ran to her car, a Holden Captiva, and jumped in barely avoiding the sudden downpour. Her face, now having the appearance of a panda, instead of the fresh face she had initially done. With the rain coming down in buckets, it was filling the gutters quickly, overflowing, making the simple task of getting to work hazardous for any driver.
Bricks & Mortar Architecture sat on the fifth floor of 101 Collins, a postmodern building situated centrally in the fashionable business district of Collins Street. Little cafés and stylish boutiques surrounded the building, making it perfect for unique lunchtime shopping or a simple catch up with friends.
The office space, takes up an entire floor and is light, airy and modern, making it a joy to work in. All work spaces were large cubicles, placed around the outside of a large common area, perfect for collaborating or just to relax.
Entering the office, Teddy was already exhausted and was on her way to repair her makeup when her boss, Spencer calls her into his office. Sighing, she throws her bags onto her desk, and wanders over to his office, lightly tapping on the door frame, "you asked to see me, Mr Hughes?"
Standing well over six feet tall, with broad muscular shoulders, and warm chocolate brown eyes, Spencer Hughes was every woman's dream and another man’s worst nightmare. His presence alone was captivating. Looking up from the folder on his desk, Spencer brushes his chestnut brown hair off his forehead, and greets Teddy with a smile where most women would fall over. It was broad, and dashing, as was the person wearing it. "Please come in and take a seat." He gestures toward the brown leather chair adjacent to him.
Teddy peers over and soon realises the folder in front of him was in fact her portfolio and is curious as to why he has it, “is everything alright?” She asks expecting the worst.
"Yes, everything is more than alright, actually.” Spencer assures her grinning, “now, Theodora, I've been glancing over your latest work, and I must say, I'm impressed. You have talent, and initiative. You've also got quite the instinct when it comes to the client's needs. By that, I mean, you listen, and follow the brief to a tea - even if you do disagree with them.” Spencer chuckles when Teddy grimaces at him, “you are also extremely persuasive, by showing them what does and doesn't work without compromising on their style. And furthermore, you are very thorough with your research. You ensure the whole development runs smoothly, and to me, as such, it shows you have passion. It’s a must in this business, and you certainly have it. You have become quite the asset to this firm." He tells her resting his elbows on the desk.
Teddy’s mouth gapes, surprised by Spencer's overly generous review, "I don't know what to say, Mr Hughes. I am truly flattered."
Spencer gives another beaming smile, "please, call me Spencer. You've been here long enough. We're casual here."
"I've only been here about two years." She corrects him, and feels the blush rising in her cheeks, "but it does feel distinctly longer. I enjoy working here and have learned such a lot in a short time."
Spencer nods continuing his review, "I feel it's safe to say you can become a fully registered architect, I will be giving high recommendations to do so." He rose from his chair and leans across the desk shaking Teddy's small hand, his large hand enveloping hers. "Congratulations, Teddy."
"Thank you, Spencer, I wouldn't have made it this far without you as my mentor." Teddy beams shaking his hand excitedly.
"No, no way. I assure you." Spencer disagrees modestly, "it was all you. You worked extremely hard and showed dedication; that's what got you here. I only guided you along the way. Now get back to work!" He jokes chuckling.
Teddy skips back to her desk where her co-worker Emily Smith sits behind her desk, wry amusement dancing through her dark eyes. "What? I'm just euphoric."
"You got the 'fully registered' speech I see." Emily grins jumping out of her chair hugging her tightly. "Congratulations."
Teddy and Emily became fast friends from the time they both started working together at the firm. Emily began not long after Teddy, and had only been promoted to a fully qualified architect herself.
Remaining in high spirits and not wanting it to end, Teddy’s day flies by and decides a night of celebration is in order with the girls. She sets a plan in motion for a night out in the city with dinner and dancing, the next question was where? Melbourne was a city well known for never sleeping, even this early in the week.
Even though the sun had finally come out, as Teddy left work behind for the day, she found herself pulling the denim jacket tighter around her body, trying to keep warm from the cold chill still lingering in the air. As she reached her car, she stops, hearing the clang of a glass bottle being knocked over and rolling over the concrete floor. The loud nose reverberating around the near empty car park. Teddy’s heart pounds, and her head swivels, trying to peer around the dimly lit garage, with her eyes darting to the darkened corners, “hello, is anyone there?”
The bottle clangs again, from the same corner, scaring Teddy, “whoever you are, there are cameras in here.” She yells hoping to scare the loiterer away, “I’m calling the police, now.” Teddy bluffs shakily pulling her phone from her black tote and quickly jumps into her car, locking the door behind her. Looking in the rear-view mirror, Teddy gets a glimpse of a shadowy figure lurking, and watches as they move back behind the concrete pole, hiding again from her vision. It was enough to frighten her further, and she sped out of the garage, ignoring the protests of oncoming vehicles. Their horns beeping loudly showing their displeasure as she cut in front of them.
Her nerves shattered, and her heart still pounding by the close encounter with the stranger, Teddy heads straight for the fridge needing a glass of wine to hopefully calm her nerves. She glances at the clock over the glass as she sculls the wine, the time telling her everyone should be home shortly, giving the opportunity to ask them about dinner. Now feeling a little calmer than when she arrived home, Teddy dashes to her bedroom and has her shower before they do, and use all the hot water.
After a long luxurious shower, Teddy smiles and giggles when she can hear loud, rambunctious laughter coming from the kitchen, a dead give-away her roommates are now home. Her sister Scarlett being the loudest of course. Picking up her silk nightgown and slipping it on, Teddy wanders out greeting them all cheerfully, "hello there, girls. How was your day? But, before you answer, I have some exciting news I am bursting at the seams to share, and I was hoping we could go out to celebrate if you're all up for it?"
"Well, what's the news?" Scarlett huffs impatiently.
Laughing at her sister's impatience, Teddy's smile grows wider, "today, was the best day ever, just like I predicted this morning miss grumbles! Spencer Hughes, my boss, finally informed me that I am to become a fully registered architect!"
“That's fantastic news, Teddy!” Poppy squeals embracing her best friend, immensely pleased for her, "what you have worked so hard for all these years, has finally paid off."
"Well done sissy." Scarlett grins proudly, throwing her arms around Teddy's neck.
"So where are we going for dinner then, girls?" Poppy queries looking at each of them.
"What about the Rockpool Bar and Grill at Southbank? It has fabulous food there." Dominique suggests.
"The food is to die for, Teddy." Poppy agrees. "But you decide. It's about you tonight after all."
"Okay, Rockpool it is. Let's go and get all dolled up girls." Teddy replies grinning.
They all arrive at Rockpool in high spirits and are immediately seated without a reservation, surprising them all. The five-star restaurant, owned by renowned chef Neil Perry, was rather busy, even for a Monday night. As they settle into their seats, one of the waiters brings them menus and queries about their choice of drinks.
"We will have a carafe of Domaine de l'Arlot Clos des Forêts Saint Georges 1er Cru please." Teddy rattles off in perfect French before handing the drinks menu back to the waiter, "and don't panic girls; I'm paying." She muses to the stunned girls, their mouths gaping. "Close your mouths, you all look like codfish."
"Oh god, I am so stuffed and feel very tipsy," Scarlett moans rubbing her belly. "I'm going to have to work out twice as hard tomorrow."
"Whatever, Scarlett, you're as thin as a rake. I'm surprised you didn't blow away with the wind today." Teddy chirps, teasing her sister about her narcissistic personality.
Scarlett McGovern didn't need telling she was beautiful. She already knew it. With her fair skin, lightly freckled, she had her father's bright blue eyes, and was petite and slender, a figure most people envied.
"Hahaha! Very funny sis. But I know. You don't have to remind me of how gorgeous I am." Scarlett retorts flicking her glossy red hair over her shoulder.
“Love yourself much Scars?” Teddy laughs lifting the glass to her lips.
“Hm, I do, a lot.”
Teddy yawns softly and crawls into bed feeling exhausted from the excitement of the day. She cuddles into the pillow with heavy eyes closing quickly, the red wine her sedative. Her sleep wasn't as restful as she had hoped it would be after falling asleep so fast. She spends the night tossing and turning, the images of the dark, shadowy figure invades her dreams, calling out, and taunting her.
Giving up from the restlessness, Teddy glances over at the clock and sighs, leaning over to hit the off button on her alarm clock an hour before its scheduled time. She growls and throws back the covers, deciding an early morning run was the only way to be rid of this building anxiety.
Pushing buds into her ears, Teddy leans against the fence stretching her long limbs, her paranoia has eyes scanning the dark and empty street. The only comfort felt at this point and time was the upbeat sound of The Frays, Love Don't Die blaring in her ears, and the overhead street lamps around the darkened streets. Concentrating on the music and where she's running too, Teddy sprints off down the street until coming to a stop at Gardiner Reserve. Apart from the birds chirping in the trees waking the neighbourhood, it was eerily quiet. The sun was beginning to slowly peek through the bare branches of the oversize elms, indicating it was going to be a beautiful, and bright sunny day ahead of them. She stops for a breather, stretching some more before heading back home to get ready for work.
Puffing and walking into the house, Teddy comes down the hallway to the smell of toast and coffee, the aromatic smells arousing her senses and waking her empty stomach. “Morning all.” She says getting the pineapple juice from the fridge, and turns around to all three of her housemates staring at her, "what, do I have another head on my shoulders?" She frowns grabbing a glass from the overhead cupboard, pouring juice into it.
"Are you ill?" Scarlett asks perplexed, "who goes running this early in the morning?"
"I do." Teddy frowns drinking her juice, enjoying the tangy freshness when it hits her mouth.
"You're either mad or stupid."
"Well maybe if you did a bit of exercise instead of using the shops for fitness, you would feel even better about yourself. Oh, but hang on, you don't need to feel any better about yourself, your heads fat enough as it is!" Teddy laughs running from the kitchen, with a piece of Vegemite toast skimming past her head and landing on the polished floorboards behind her.
Dominique and Poppy snicker quietly behind her. Not impressed by their laughing either, she throws the other piece at them and stalks off towards her bedroom. "Go fuck yourselves!"
"Oh, come on, Scars, take a joke. Teddy was only stirring you because she knows how much you loathe exercise." Dominique shouts, only to be flipped off by an angry Scarlett. “That’s so childish.” She murmurs before going back to her breakfast.
Teddy stops by a café near Bricks and Mortar where she picks up a vanilla latte and fruit salad to take into work for an early start, and needing to keep her mind busy after her weird encounter. Sitting down at one of the tables in the common area, and eating her breakfast while going over some house plans, Teddy is so engrossed in what she's doing, she doesn't notice Spencer entering the office. "Good Morning, Teddy."
"Oh Jesus, Spencer!” Teddy shouts, and flying out of her chair, she feels the tears pricking the backs of her eyes, “you scared the hell out of me!"
"I'm sorry, Teddy. I didn't mean to frighten you." He stammers apologetically, rubbing the back of his neck, "and here I thought I came in being quite noisy too." Spencer jokes feeling awkward, but hastily retreats to his office after Teddy glares at him, not seeing the funny side.
Teddy utterly mortified by her sudden outburst runs to the bathroom slamming the door against the wall. "What the hell is wrong with me?" She leans against the sink and stares back at her reflection in the mirror, grimacing at the now smudged makeup. “Great, just great.” Not wanting to look like a panda all day, Teddy opens the bathroom door and peers around the office to see who’s there, and as luck would have it, it was empty. Even still, not wanting to risk anyone seeing her, she rushes back to her desk and snatches up the tote, sprinting back to the bathroom. The last thing she needed was people asking questions. Questions meant answers, and they were answers Teddy wasn’t prepared to give.
After calming down and fixing her ruined makeup, Teddy knew she had to apologise to Spencer for her outburst. Taking in deep breath, she musters up the courage, and standing at his door, she timidly knocks, "Spencer, may I speak with you…please?"
"Come in, Theodora." Spencer says, his voice clipped and sharp. His gaze kept on his computer screen, with his fingers still tapping away at the keyboard. "Take a seat please, Theodora."
Her shoulder's tense, shocked by Spencer's use of her actual name, considering he's been calling her Teddy of late. "I... I have come in here to apologise for my outburst earlier, Mr Hughes." Teddy stammers slowly taking a seat in the same place she did the day before, but for a different reason. "I honestly don't know what came over me." She sniffles and looks heavenward trying to hide the unbidden tears.
"Look I'll let you off the hook for your outburst - and it was entirely my fault for sneaking up on you." His expression softens when he notices how upset Teddy is with herself. "Are you okay? You seemed on top of the world yesterday?"
Relieved, Teddy sags against the back of the chair, "I didn't sleep overly well last night, so maybe I'm just tired, or it's because the girls and I went out to celebrate my promotion." She shrugs not knowing how to explain things. "Again, I apologise."
"It's okay we all have the occasional bad day," Spencer smiles warmly, his chocolate brown eyes reminding her of someone she knows, relaxing her even more. "It's all good - and I'll be sure to make more noise next time." He notes chuckling.
"Thank you. I won't hold you up anymore, Spencer, and I'll get back to work." She softly smiles, and walks back to her desk, her mind now at ease.
Teddy tries to spend the rest of the day focusing on her work, but to no avail. The harder she tried the worse it became. As soon as the clock hit five, she was running out of the office and to her car, going to the one place she can truly vent her frustrations. The gym.
"Hey, I'm home," Poppy hollers sauntering into the kitchen where Teddy was chopping vegetables for a salad at the island bench. "Hi, Poppy, how was your day?"
"You're home earlier than normal, Teddy, is everything okay?" She asks hanging her bag on the back of a chair. "You seem a little distracted." Poppy says recognising the signs of a time before.
"No, nothing's wrong." She replies shaking her head as she tips the sliced cucumber into a glass bowl before picking up the packet of cherry tomatoes and tipping them out onto the board.
Poppy can’t help but notice the shaking hands while she attempts to slice the tiny tomatoes in half. "What's going on, Teddy, talk to me please?" Walking around the bench and placing a hand over Teddy's, she takes the knife, putting it down on the chopping board.
"I don't know what's wrong, Poppy. Yesterday I felt like I was someone was watching me in the garage at work. Maybe I'm just being paranoid." She sniffs wiping her eyes with the tea towel.
"I know what happened was terrible," aware of the horrors of Teddy's past, she rubs her shoulder sympathetically, "but I thought you were doing alright?"
Poppy was the only person Teddy had opened to about what had happened to her. Through their friendship, she helped her come to terms with it all, sealing the bond they shared. A bond so much stronger than sisterhood, lasting right through their school years and into adulthood.
"I'm sorry. Maybe I'm just silly, and that it was nothing." Teddy says as she is wiping her nose with the tissue Poppy offers and sniffles, "but you are right - I have been doing well, and I'm determined to keep doing well. I have a wonderful life, a wonderful job that I love and I have the most amazing friends." She wraps her arms around Poppy shoulders and hugs her tightly. "Thank you for always being there for me. I love you and, I would be incredibly lost without you."
"I'm always here if you need me, but next time - don't hide things from me, okay?" Poppy chides sternly.
"Okay, but I won't say I promise too."
"Mm I'm starving, what are we having?" Dominique asks rubbing her hands together and eyeing the food spread over the table, the delicious smells making her stomach growl loudly.
Teddy chuckles in amusement, "it's only spinach and ricotta tortellini in a mushroom sauce, with garlic bread and a simple salad. Nothing too spectacular. I picked it up from the deli on the way home from the gym." She tells them sheepishly, placing a bottle of wine on the table and pulling out the chair before taking her seat with the others.
"Who cares where it came from, it's dinner, and it smells amazing. Let's eat." Poppy says shovelling a forkful of the pasta into her mouth.
"So, girls, are we all set for Saturday night for mum’s fabulous party?" Dominique asks, through mouthfuls of food. "I am sooo excited. Mum throws the best parties. The food, the people, the booze, and the hot guys in amazing tuxes'!"
Scarlett picks up a serviette and begins wiping Dominique's chin. "For the drool." She utters dryly, "you'll ruin your dinner with it."
Dominique swats the serviette away giggling. "You're an idiot."
"Have you got your dresses organised?" Poppy asks pulling apart her garlic bread, "because I have."
"I have too." Adds Teddy, pouring more wine into each glass, "what time are we expected at your mother's soiree, Dom?" She quizzes, her eyes twinkling.
"Seven - I think." She answers scrunching up her nose. "It doesn't matter if we get there a little late, my mother would never expect us on time anyway."
“Your mother knows us well,” Teddy chuckles and rolls her eyes thinking of Audrina; she was fun, but loving, and it was that simple.
"And you know… Ari will be there." Dominique tells her casually, lifting her glass to her lips.
"So?" Teddy remarks flippantly and starts gathering up the dishes, taking them over to the kitchen, and rinsing them off in the sink trying to hide the delighted expression on her face.
"So?" Scarlett intones rolling her eyes, "is that all you've got to say about the man you've been lusting after your whole life? You two have it bad for one another." She enunciates. "The sexual tension is so bad, you should be walking around naked just in case!"
Teddy shoots her a deathly glare, "we do not!" She growls defensively, her voice becoming high pitched, "and we are just friends. We grew up together, so, of course, we are bound to have some feelings, you know like a brother and sister." She argues nonchalantly.
"That's crap, and you know it, Teddy. What you and Ari share is not like a brother and a sister. I totally agree with Scarlett. Ari looks like a lost puppy whenever he sees you." Dominique giggles, shoving a finger in her mouth, "it's so cute, it's sickening."
Teddy starts stacking the dishwasher, ignoring the constants digs about Ari, even though deep down she knew they were right.
Scarlett bounces around the bench and grabs her waist, "come on sissy, you know ya wanna!" She said, her eyebrows jiggling up and down in excitement.
"Yes, alright, I do like him – a lot!" She finally admits hiding her flaming face behind her hands. "There I said it, are you happy now?" Teddy asks wagging a long finger at them.
"Of course, we are. Why wouldn't we be?" Dominique giggles siding up to Teddy, "why don't you try when you attend mums party? You may find my brother will be more than happy to reciprocate those same feelings." She hints cheekily.
"Okay, okay." Teddy concedes giggling, "I will take this weekend – but only after a few Dutch courage’s! Right who's finishing the cleaning up, because I most certainly am not?" She asks throwing down the dishcloth and picks up the bottle of wine along with a glass, taking them both over to the sofa.
"We will." Scarlett groans loudly picking up the tea towel.
Teddy's long slender fingers caress the stem of her glass, as she listens to a soulful male voice off her iPod singing about love. She smiles softly, envisioning Ari's handsome face through her thoughts. His dark eyes, his unruly thick jet black hair and his voice; his raspy British accent has her swooning every time he speaks.
Poppy smirks over at Teddy's glazed expression, "you're thinking about a particularly hot, handsome young man, aren't you? And don't try to lie, I know that look!"
Teddy shrugs dismissively. "You were, weren't you?" Poppy presses grinning at her.
"You're as bad as the other two. Is this gang up on Teddy night?" She groans rolling her head back against the sofa. "I just hope I don't lose my nerve on the evening…and I'm hoping my dress or what little there is of it, will be enough to encourage him too. We've known each other our whole lives, so I am also hoping it won't be awkward either."
"Maybe take him somewhere quiet where you won't be disturbed," Poppy suggests.
Teddy nods contemplating the idea. "Good thinking 99, I may just do that." She says emptying her glass and placing it down on the coffee table, "I will grab him by the tie and drag him upstairs into his old bedroom and then ravage him with all this ‘sexual tension’ you girls think we have harboured."
"If I were you, I would even go butt naked underneath - just to save time," Poppy comments dryly.
"Poppy Fleming, I am shocked!" She gapes, slapping a hand over her mouth. "And here I thought you were little miss prude." She says in a fit of giggles.
"I'm a closet kink." She whispers holding a finger up to her lips, "but sh, don't tell anyone."
"Your secret is safe with me. Anyway, I am off to bed," Teddy's legs wobble when she tries to pry herself off the sofa, "so I can go and dream of one of the most handsome men in all of Melbourne. Goodnight lovely."
"Goodnight Teddy bear. Don't dream too much of him, though. You will only frustrate yourself. Then you'll be pulling out that friend in the drawer I know you have," Poppy snickers watching Teddy's face turn bright red, "then all that tension will be evaporated - poof, gone!"
Teddy picks up one of the overstuffed cushions and throws it at a hysterical Poppy. "Goodnight popsicle."
'Act without expectation.'
With the end of the working week finally arriving, and needing to let their hair down, the girls head out for a night of clubbing at Club Retro. A fashionable nightclub in Lonsdale Street, with three levels and two bars, the club was brimming with other young clubbers, all wanting the same, to forget the pressures of their daily lives.
The dance floor was packed with bodies back to back, trying to move to the thumping music, under the bright strobe lights as the upbeat sound reverberated throughout the club.
Teddy revelled in the feeling of letting loose, and wanting to forget everything, she drank copious amounts, the lethal cocktails adding fuel to the fire. She was far too drunk and absorbed in the music to notice the lurking stranger observing her from the floor above.
He licks his lips as his darkened gaze hungrily stares, watching Teddy, her provocative moves making him want her more.
Nursing severe hangovers, Poppy, Dominique and Scarlett stumble into the kitchen searching for that much-needed cure while Teddy finds hers in Panadol and fresh orange juice. "How about we do brunch? I could go for a salmon bagel and some strong coffee from the Pocket Café around the corner."
"Sounds like a plan." Poppy squints, nursing her pounding head in between her hands. "The fresh air might be nice too."
“Sunglasses will be a must.” Scarlett adds, wincing as she peers out the window, the bright sun blinding her. “Why do we put ourselves through this?”
“And we’re doing it all over again tonight at my mothers.” Dominique groans following Teddy and popping two Panadol into her mouth and downing a large glass of orange juice.
“Come on girls, let’s go eat, so we are refuelled and ready to kill our livers again later.” Teddy sighs pushing away from the bench and meandering back to her bedroom, really wishing she could just go back to bed instead of going out.
After their hangover brunch, the house becomes a hive of activity as Dominique starts to expertly style Teddy's hair for Audrina’s party, "thanks for doing this, Dom. It's a godsend having our hairdresser living with us."
"Yeah, it is…for you." She snorts. "But I am the best, so I expect you would only go with me."
"Tell me, why exactly is your mum throwing this cocktail party?" She asks, "not that your mother ever needs any excuse."
"Apparently, it's for dad's law firm. Dad and Uncle Garrett have a new junior they want to introduce. Mum even showed me a photo of him, and he's rather cute." She giggles nervously.
"What's the new guy's name?" Scarlett asks. "Dom?"
"What?" Dominique blinks and stares blankly at her.
"A…name… please." She repeats slowly, "and we need other details too. You know, what he looks like, age, star sign, etc."
"Oh. Yeah, right. His name is Damien Rivers, and his eyes are the same colour as one too." She says describing this new infatuation while curling Teddy's hair.
"What a yucky brown like the Yarra?" Teddy teased laughing.
"Nooo, they are a stunning blue, like the ocean on a bright day. He has light brown hair, and he's tallish but not tall like dad. His body, from what I could tell going by the cut of his suit didn't seem too shabby either. His smile,” She gushes, “made him look - dashing."
"Dom's in love." Scarlett teases battering her eyelids.
"No, not love, its lust, just pure unadulterated lust. Teddy might not be the only one who could get lucky tonight!" She giggles wiggling her eyebrows.
"Isn't the party a bit much and over the top just for one guy? Won't he feel - overwhelmed?" Teddy frowns.
"Hopefully not. I think mum felt this party would be a good way to introduce Damien to everyone all at once. Me personally, I would have thrown a dinner party. But we all know how Audrina Jaeger has never settled for a small dinner party. My mother is way too much of a party animal." Dominique says picking up another mirror to show Teddy the back of her hair, and double checks the carefully styled curls, making sure they were securely pinned in place, "there all done, Miss Teddy, what do you think?"
"Wow, it's stylish, with a hint of sexiness." She praises admiring her handy work in the mirror, loving how her long hair was all pulled back to one side, showing off her delicate features, with a mass of curls all pinned at her nape, it left her slender neck exposed. “Ready for Ari’s sweet kisses,” she mused silently.
"Thank you. Ari will hopefully love it just as much." Dominique grins, as if she could read Teddy’s mind, and taps the top of the chair with the hairbrush, "now who's next?"
"You should wear your eye makeup heavier tonight, Teddy," Scarlett says occupying the seat Teddy had just vacated, "they should look seductive."
"I don't want to seem like a high-class hooker either." Teddy snorts as she starts applying foundation to her face and rubbing it over her skin.
"You don't want to look like a nun either. Otherwise, you will get none!" She laughs slapping her knee.
"You crack yourself up, don't you?" Teddy growls impatiently, "you are an idiot."
"I think I have a beautiful bright red lipstick here you can borrow." Scarlett offers, "I heard Ari has a real fetish for clowns." She giggles. "Ow, what was that for?" She says when Dominique jerks her head backwards.
"That's for being nasty to your sister. She's nervous enough as it is." She scolds. "Keep it up, and I will make you look like a circus freak, good luck getting a man then!" Dominique threatens, waving the comb at her.
Scarlett slinks down in her seat defeated, "Okay I'll stop. I'm sorry, Teddy."
"You're forgiven for now. But please stop nagging. I will only put a bit more on than normal, but just a little bit more." She says appeasing them, and continues applying her eye makeup, the darker grey making her hazel eyes pop even more.
"Well, what do you all think?" She hesitantly asks.
"You look stunning, Teddy." Remarks Poppy.
"You look beautiful, and if that doesn't blow Ari away, I don't know what will." Dominique compliments.
"I hope so," standing and placing a hand on her stomach; Teddy blows out her cheeks. "I'm terrified that tonight's proposition will go wrong. What if Ari laughs at me?"
"You'll be okay. I'm sure Ari is just as nervous. In fact, I know he is, just secretly." Dominique whispers reassuringly.
"Oh, that makes me feel better…I think." Teddy grimaced, "Regardless of what happens, I am now going to go and finish getting myself ready, so I look hot enough for Ari, not to turn me down." She tells them walking off to her bedroom and jumping in for a quick shower to freshen up, being careful not to wet her carefully made up hair or face. After her shower, she pats her body dry and applies moisturiser all over her body, inhaling the luxurious floral scent. Spraying her favourite perfume, Marc Jacobs, Daisy, she places it around the pulse points on her throat and her wrists. Making herself alluring enough for Ari not to refuse.
Teddy steps into a pair of black lacy Victoria Secret panties, shimming them up her legs, followed by the matching strapless bra. The see-through lace giving a slight hint to the wandering eye as to what treasures lie underneath. Taking her dress off its hanger, she slides it up her body, feeling the softness of the silk against her freshly moisturised skin. Turning around and zipping the dress up, Teddy stares, wide-eyed at her reflection in the full-length mirror, and glides her hands down the figure hugging red silk draped around her body. Her fingers toy with the diamanté embellishment sitting at her left shoulder, leaving one arm completely bare. Teddy spins and looks back over her shoulder, wondering if maybe the dress was too short, the hem stopping mid-thigh showing off her toned and shapely legs. “I suppose it’s not too bad,” she mutters before perching at her dresser and slipping a pair of black strappy diamanté heels over her feet, hoping the four-inch heels don't hurt by the end of the night. Opening her jewellery box, Teddy takes out the square cut 18ct gold diamond earrings she received from her grandfather, Barrett McGovern on her twenty-first birthday, and pushes them into her ears.
Taking one last look in the mirror and grabbing an evening jacket from her closet, she heads out to the kitchen where she waits patiently for her housemates. Teddy takes the chilled Moet Chandon champagne from the fridge, popping its cork, and pours the bubbling champagne into the long-stemmed flutes set out on the bench. "Looking spectacular ladies.” She smiles handing them each a glass as they make their appearance, “now a toast," she says raising her glass, "to a successful evening and to hopefully getting laid." Giggling, they raise their glasses to their lips downing them quickly and having another before the town car arrives to take them to the Jaeger's.
Dominique squeals loudly at the discovery of a bottle of Moet Chandon champagne chilling for them in the car also, with a note attached from Audrina. "Enjoy girls! Love Audrina xx."
"My mummzy is sooo thoughtful, isn't she?" She slurs holding up the bottle and pops the cork, spilling the bubbly champagne over the floor. By the time the car arrives at the Jaeger family home situated in the leafy upper-class suburb of Toorak, between the alcohol and the excitement, they’re all on a high.
"Oh god, I think I'm totally buzzed, Teddy." Poppy slurs, trying to climb from the car and stumbles out onto the driveway. She stands to straighten out her short cocktail dress wanting to at least maintain her dignity.
"I know what you mean." A drunken Teddy giggles, falling out behind her, also trying not fall over.
Teetering on high heels, all four ladies amble up the footpath to the front door where Jaxson and Audrina greet each of their guests as they arrive, directing them to the backyard. Teddy thought the midnight blue cocktail dress Audrina wore was beautiful, the slim fit accentuating her curvaceous body, and her fair skin, stood out against the jet-black hair draping down her bare shoulders.
"Oh, my goodness girls, are you all sloshed already?" She asks smiling mischievously and embraces each of them.
"That would suggest we drank copious amounts of champagne." Asserts a giggling Teddy, returning her embrace, "which I might add – you also supplied."
"In my defence, I only provided the one bottle. But by the looks of you four already, you had a bottle before you left home." She chuckles, her dark brown eyes narrowing suspiciously.
"A whole bottle between four doesn't go far, does it, daddy?" Dominique insists giving her father a hug.
"No, it doesn't. But then your mother wouldn't know because she doesn't like sharing – even with me." Jaxson agrees, earning a deathly glare from her. "You all look positively stunning." His blue eyes were twinkling as he bent down kissing the girl's cheeks. "You will be spending the night trying to run away from all those handsome suitors we have here. How in those shoes I don't know, but I can give you a cricket bat each to swat them away?"
"No bats will be needed, dad. Now promise the girls and me here, you won't go chasing them off?" She requests grabbing both of his jacket lapels.
"Now, Dom, why would I need to do that? They all know that I own several guns." Jaxson expresses dryly, his mouth twitching in amusement. Dressed in his black dinner suit, and with only a few specks of grey in his black hair, Jaxson's Irish heritage had aged him gracefully. His handsome and rugged good looks just added to his charm, turning many heads his way, even at sixty.
"Alrighty then. It's time to go and join the party. If my parents are planning on embarrassing me, I need more to drink." Dominique grumbles turning to the girls, "are you coming, girls?"
Making their way through the house and the French doors to the expansive backyard, Dominique stands on the bottom step, "that's him over there." She gushes pointing him out amongst the throng of people.
Scarlett nods impressed, "Wow, you were right, he is very cute."
"Who's cute? I hope you are talking about me?" They all spin around to see Dominique's mischievous older brother, Bryson, beaming at them, a dashing smile plastered across his face. "Bryson, it's so good to see you." She squeals throwing her arms around his neck nearly knocking him over. "Yeah happy to see you too sis.... I think." He snorts pulling away, "and ladies, how are you all tonight? You're all looking as lovely as always."
He turns to the petite blonde standing next to him, her large blue eyes scanning each of them, "you all remember my long-time girlfriend, Olivia Gilbert?"
"We do," Teddy ushers forward holding out a hand, "it's good to see you again."
Olivia takes her hand softly shaking it. "Same, enjoy the party."
Dominique squeezes her brothers arm affectionately, "Lovely to see you, bro, but we are going to the bar so that we can grab more alcohol and party hard."
"You all look like had an early start as it is. Let me guess; mother threw a bottle of champagne in the town car for you?" He asks, the same vivid blue eyes as his father's twinkling down at them.
"Perhaps…" Dominique giggles walking off towards the bar. "Bye, Bryson." She grabs her drink from the bar and veers away in search of Damien, eventually finding him speaking law with her Uncle Garrett.
Teddy peers around the yard noticing Scarlett had latched onto Dominique's cousin Caleb, fawning all over him. Not that she blamed her, he was as handsome as the rest of the Jaeger men. Rolling her eyes and not looking where she was walking, she bumps into someone spilling her drink, "Oh, I am so sorry." She looks up apologising and can see Ari smirking at her, his hands in his trouser pockets, "oh, Ari...um how...hi, oh god."
"No, I'm not God, but if you see me that way then… I say thank you." He says cocking his head, his dark eyes raking down her body taking in the sight standing before him, "how are you, Teddy. You look beautiful, as always."
"Um, excuse me, Ari." Embarrassed and clearly not drunk enough to deal with Ari yet, Teddy brushes past him and storms off into the house finding refuge in Dominique's old room upstairs and closes the door behind her. Leaning against the back of the door, she slaps a hand to her forehead, "what an idiot." She chastises herself harshly before bouncing off the door and walks around the room smiling at photos on the walls and the dresser. She picks up the frame containing a picture of the four of them from their gold coast trip, where they let off some much-needed steam, having a blast doing it too. Going to all the parks and bars, they drank and partied until they dropped. Chuckling at the memories, she sets the photo back down on the white wooden dresser.
"I bet none of you will ever forget that week - well what you probably remember of it."
Teddy pivots around to see Ari leaning against the door frame staring at her, his arms crossed over his broad chest.
"It was an amazing week and we all share the same sentiment. My liver and my kidneys probably didn't thank me for it at the time, though." She smiles scrunching up her nose. "Are you in here to make more fun of me, Ari?" She scoffs coyly peeking up from under her lashes.
Ari strolls further into the room stalking towards her, "no, I'm not and I wasn't making fun of you earlier, I was only trying to make a joke, but I failed miserably. Jokes were never my strong suit.”
“Clearly,” Teddy utters stepping backwards and banging into the wall behind her, his darkened eyes gazing into hers, electrifying her. She inhales deeply, as he moves closer to her, the scent of his expensive cologne wafts under her nose leaves her feeling dizzy and weak at the knees.
Leaning in closer, he leans in next to her ear, his breath warm on the side of her face.
"You know how much I like you, Teddy? I always have." He murmurs, his lips tenderly brushing hers.
“Yes, as do I.” Teddy's tongue darts out licking his bottom lip, tantalising him.
Ari caresses her cheek; his hand slowly slides down her neck and bare shoulder sending shivers throughout her body. His fingers brush against her bare thigh and move under her dress, slowly making their way into her soaked lace panties. "I'd say you feel the same way." He whispers hoarsely, moving a finger and rubbing along her silken folds, her moisture soaking his fingers.
Her mouth falls open at the sensations rippling through her, a small moan escaping her as the tip of his finger applied pressure to her clitoris, "Ari…"
Their sexually charged embrace is quickly interrupted by a noise in the doorway. Ari glances sideways to his sister, Dominique, stumbling through the door.
"Oh, here you BOTH are! Well fuck me sideways, can you feel the sexual tension in here, and it's hot!" She intones fanning her face. "Will you two go ahead and just do it already guys? You know you want too. Put yourselves, and us out of our misery for goodness sake!"
Much to his annoyance, Ari steps away from Teddy, whose face was now turning a bright red, and is clearly mortified. "Are you quite finished my darling sister? You're embarrassing not only Teddy, but yourself. Now go have some food and some water while you're at it." He scolds. "I also think you've had enough alcohol for one night."
"Are you coming, Teddy?" He asks holding out a hand, with Teddy gladly accepting it needing to be alone with Ari elsewhere, and away from prying eyes.
Dominique begins to giggle uncontrollably in the doorway, "I'm sure she wants too."
Fed up with his sister's drunken rant, he drops his hand and shoves her towards the stairs, "GO, NOW!" He shouts sending her scampering back downstairs and out the doors back to the backyard.
"Right, now my annoying little sister has left both of us feeling totally embarrassed, shall we go back to the party?" He asks taking hold of Teddy's hand again and becomes confused when she snatches it away, holding it close to her body. "Have I done something wrong, Teddy?"
Looking away from Ari, she blinks away the pooling tears, and swallows the lump forming in her throat, "It's ... I also like you and was hoping..." she sighs loudly, "hoping that tonight was going to go differently."
Ari tugs at her chin, "Look at me – please." He whispers and cups her face, gazing intently. Wiping her falling tears away with his thumbs, he moves in closer, their bodies touching, "believe it or not I also had the same notion. With my family, constantly on my case - well you know how they are. They all seem to know how I feel and how I have felt for some time now." Not wanting to wait another moment he launches at Teddy, his mouth plunders hers, and their breaths mingle, a heady mixture of bourbon and champagne. Ari's hand slides down to the small of her back and pushes her closer to his body, his straining bulge was pressing against her stomach, indicating exactly how he felt about her.
Teddy's long fingers twist through his thick hair pulling him closer, her body sizzled from his kiss and his touch. She stops kissing him suddenly, and steps away from him, "no, I can't do this."
Ari's brows knit together in confusion, "why not?" He breathes heavily.
"It's…I just can't. Excuse me, Ari." She runs out of the bedroom leaving him behind and perplexed -again.
Adjusting the bulge in his trousers, Ari walks out of the room and back downstairs to the party not knowing what to think. As much as it will kill him, he makes the decision to maintain some distance from Teddy for the rest of the evening. After the little tryst in Dominique’s bedroom, it's left him with an erection he desperately needs to be rid of, and wonders if ice cubes down his pants will do the trick. Ari glances over to where Teddy is seated, her skin now flushed, and speaking with Poppy, he decides to visit her house tomorrow, hoping they can clear the air and start afresh.
"Bourbon. Straight and no ice!" Ari requests from the barman and throws it down quickly, feeling the warmth spread throughout his body. He slams the glass down on the bar indicating to the barman for another and throws it down as fast as he received it. Averting his gaze across the yard, he glances over at Teddy again, smiling beatifically as she animatedly chats with his mother's sister, Eve.
Eve Whittemore, a model in her younger days, had as much beauty as her younger sister, Audrina. Her long dark hair, hung down her back, and her dark brown eyes could seduce someone by purely looking at them. Eve oozed sexual dominance, because she's that confident. Everyone in the family wondered how her husband Nicholas snagged her; he was quite the marshmallow compared to his gregarious wife.
Teddy attempts not to look Ari's way fails miserably and sneaks a peek over at him from under her lashes, and can feel her cheeks flame when they make eye contact.
Ari smiles raising his empty glass to her, knowing she is as affected as he is. Unable to take the torture anymore and his pants straining, Ari turns back to the bar, "more bourbon please."
"I'll have one of those too please." Turning his head, he observes his Aunt Eve sliding up beside him at the bar. Leaning back, he gawks back at Teddy to see his cousin Gabriel practically drooling over her.
"I thought you and Teddy would've sorted yourselves out by now, Ari. You both have it bad."
He raises a brow at Eve and ignoring the jab, he lifts his drink to his lips taking a swig, “don’t nag.”
"Yeah I have been watching you two all night. If it were any hotter, we would all be on fire by now." She smirks popping some cashews into her mouth.
"Well, it hasn't exactly gone to plan tonight for either of us, Eve. Believe you me; we have both tried but....,"Ari trails off looking over at Teddy again. He narrows his eyes at Gabriel fawning over her. "Your son seems quite enamoured with her. I might have to go and get a bucket for his chin."
Eve chuckled at his words, "she's a beautiful woman, what's not to love. Besides Gabriel doesn't like Teddy the way you do, plus I think he is seeing someone right now – and it's not a woman, trust me I asked."
Everyone in the family and social circle knows it's no secret that Gabriel is bi-sexual. Ari often wonders how many people amongst them all he has had in his bed. He looked like he belonged on a surfboard out in the middle of the ocean, not in a tuxedo amongst a crowd of money. His hair was a messy, dirty blonde, and his eyes were as grey as the ocean on a dull day. Tall, and reasonably well built, His charisma was what had most people hanging off his every word.
Eve observes her nephew as he watched Teddy from afar. Her dark brown eyes, darting to the bulge in the front of Ari's black pants, "just go and grab her, take her to your bedroom and get rid of that pole you've had in your pants all evening."
Ari throws his head back laughing, "as much as I would love too, I'm more of a gentleman than you are." He winks.
"That's true." Eve laughs heartily at him.
"No," he says shaking his head despairingly, "I'll go and see Teddy tomorrow when we're both sober."
"Be sure to let me know if you are successful, or if you fall flat on your face!" Eve shouts over her shoulder as she walks off.
"I've deleted your number." he retorts chuckling. Having met his father's new pet project, he decides he's had enough and finishes his drink in one single gulp. Ari takes one last longing look at the one woman he so desperately wants, and runs a hand through his hair, sighing, "tomorrow." He whispers and heads towards his parents to say goodnight. "I'm leaving now, mother. Lovely party, but I have a busy day tomorrow."
"A new acquisition, is it?" Audrina teases lovingly.
"Something like that." Ari smiles affectionately and bends down kissing her on the proffered cheek.
"Goodnight son, I trust you had an enjoyable evening?"
"Of course, I always do at mother's soirees." He tells his father, shaking his hand.
"Be sure to join us for dinner one night this week darling and hopefully with a date," Audrina suggests with a glimmer of hope.
"Yes, mother. Keep your fingers crossed on that one."
With Teddy, still on his mind, Ari saunters casually to his Imperial Blue BMW M6 Gran Coupe and presses the button unlocking it. Sliding into the driver's seat, he starts the car with the eight cylinders roaring to life and takes off spinning the wheels in his parent's driveway. Ed Sheeran's soft voice sings over the speakers about kissing, and Ari's fingers automatically trace over his lips. Thinking about the kiss he and Teddy shared earlier, he recalls how soft her lips felt against his and how her body felt underneath his fingertips. By the time, Ari had pulled into his garage in Beaumaris, he knew a cold shower was in order.
Tugging at his jacket and tie, he pulls them off, leaving them behind on a chair in the living room for his housekeeper to find the next day. He picks up the bourbon off the buffet, not even bothering with a glass, he swills straight from the bottle, taking it upstairs to his bedroom. He rips the rest of his clothes off, and his throbbing erection springs free. “Oh, wow. I must handle you tonight, fella, sorry about that.”
Ari steps into the shower and leans on the wall under the shower head, and strokes his erection thinking of Teddy, wishing she was there to ease him, instead of his hand. Standing under the cascading water, he couldn't understand why Teddy had pulled away from him. The maths was simple; she wanted him and he wanted her, they always had. The problem was, they had spent far too much time dithering with their feelings, instead of acting on them.
They had known each other their entire life, since they were little, and even played together, getting down and dirty in the mud. Their parents and grandparents all travelled in the same social circles. Ari had watched Theodora McGovern grow from this awkward little girl and blossom into this beautiful, luscious young woman right before his eyes. Ari had really begun to sit up and take notice once he finished high school, he of course before her, or if she did, Teddy wasn't as obvious about it. It was her twenty-first birthday when he noticed how beautiful she had become; with her pale pink flawless skin, beautiful full pink kissable lips and her long wavy auburn hair, she was stunning. Her body had also blossomed by becoming longer and leaner, especially her legs. He wondered where they ended.
The thought of having those wrapped around him, was enough for Ari to come, his seed spurting all over his stomach and onto the shower wall. Washing his body down, Ari turns the water off and steps out onto the bathmat, roughly drying off. He throws the towel into the cane hamper and flicking the lights off, he falls into bed, hoping and praying the next day will promise to lead to he and Teddy having a future together.