Saturday, September 29, 2012

One Year Later

Enjoy! I am so tired right now. I'll talk about the Festival later. xx
One Year Later
Claire sighed as she sat in her own car. She was sixteen and a half. It had been one year since she left New York. England was great but there was nothing like New York. Her first official boyfriend, Stanley, had promised to keep in touch through Skype. She was leaving her new friends but she was coming back to the people who had never left her. English people moved on fast, faster than New Yorkers. She wished that he didn’t think about Ryan ever. Even Stanley was nothing compared to Ryan. All her luggage had been shipped and her father was already in the old house. She was moving in to Vanessa’s dormitory, Sasha’s floor. Claire never really found out what happened to Sasha. She just sort of faded away once the money dripped low. The apartment floor was being completely remolded to fit the “O’Shea standard”. Claire was getting used to being a socialite. She parked her car in the near full parking lot. There was always an empty spot next to Vanessa’s dormitory. She walked straight towards the dean’s office. It was almost like her first day here. The buildings hadn’t changed and his office still smelt like pine. The dean looked ecstatic to see her. She wondered why. Claire was already wearing the uniform and looked like just any other Le Cordon Bleu student. 
“My, my, hello,” the dean said cheerily. He even waited to shake her hand. “I see we’re all moved in?” 
“Yes sir,” she said. All the paperwork was filled out and there was really no reason for her to be here. “You wanted to see me, I believe.”
“Of course, we have that restaurant deal to finish.” 
“Oh!” Claire said bubbling with happiness. She had truly missed that restaurant the minute she was at her new private school all the way in England. “I will be running it again, right?”
“Definitely Miss O’Shea, the restaurant has been under the considerate care of Miss Kiana Kendrick. I don’t know if you recognize that name.” Claire smiled politely. It was so nice of that girl to take responsibility of the restaurant. She probably wasn’t dating Ryan anymore either. 
“I’ll have to go thank Kiana,” Claire said standing up.
“Mr. Berne wanted to show you around,” the dean watched her leave. She was disgusted to see Henry.  He was the same guy he was then. He wore his sweater vests and smug grin. 
“Hi Claire, remember me? So this is the fountain,” he said pointing at it. 
“Henry, you are a repulsive, sickening person,” she said and left. She had to greet more important people anyway. 
 “Claire!” Vanessa excitedly yelled. Claire had never seen Vanessa run, anywhere. She hugged Claire tightly and Claire couldn’t breathe. 
“Vanessa!” She screamed back. Claire had missed the smell of home and Vanessa’s fancy perfume. 
“You have been the biggest news since I dunno this dormitory was built! Everyone has been gossiping about you, and me. The remodeling is a huge success.” Vanessa seemed to be the only person that hadn’t changed. Olivia had moved away. Culinary school just wasn’t  right for her. 
“Where are Jessie and Mara?”
“They’re not my friends anymore. They ditched me after I didn’t get a boyfriend. Do you know how empowering it is being single?” Vanessa was single? Maybe things had changed. 
“I’m glad you feel that way,” Claire said. “So who did you hang out with?”
“Ugh, you’ll never believe it. The only choice I had was Kiana Kendrick.” Claire smiled nonchalantly.  
“She’s a really nice person, Nessa. I mean who else would take care of my restaurant? You just don’t know her,” Claire said. Even if Kiana was dating Ryan, Ryan deserved more than Claire.  Wasn’t that what he was always saying?
“Claire, I’m so glad you’re back, even if you can’t can your optimism. I can totally ditch her now. She’s a total bitch,” Vanessa said clicking her tongue. “
“Nessa, don’t call people that! I’m telling you! Kiana is a great person to be around. We should all be friends! It can be like your old three person group.”  
”Kill me now, no. I will not tolerate that girl. Glad you haven’t changed,” she absently said. They went inside the dormitory and Claire marveled at her new home. It looked just like her restaurant. All the furniture was here too. She took off her jacket. It was almost September but her mother was always worried about her safety. 
“I’m late, I have to meet Lillian, okay? If you see Kiana, tell her how grateful I am for everything!!” Claire ran through the metro station and grabbed her subway ticket. New Yorkers weren’t as nice as the English. She sat down and waited for the doors to close. It was a miracle that she had even found a seat. 
“Hi,” someone randomly said to her. She stared up after sending a text to Lillian. It was Ryan. Claire saw the doors closing. She wanted to go. She needed to leave. “Claire?”
“Yeah, I’m Claire. Who are you? I don’t think we’ve met,” Claire said. She wanted a completely fresh start. 
“Ah I knew you looked like a Claire. I’m Ryan,” he said cheerfully. He seemed different, a good different. She smiled. Wasn’t this close to a fresh start anyway? Who said they couldn’t be friends?
“Do you want to grab lunch later? I’m sort of in a rush to meet someone but maybe tomorrow or the week after that.” Did she sound totally desperate?
“Sure, what’s your number?” Claire took out her brand new phone. It was one of her many birthday gifts. He took out his own phone casually, sliding it out of his jeans pocket. Claire felt giddy, that was never a good sign. She didn’t actually know how to work it. The subway abruptly stopped and the door opened. Was this already her stop? She slid into Ryan and felt her phone slip out of her hand. Two seconds later, she heard two phones crashing to the floor. What were the odds that they had the same phone? The doors were already slowly closing.
“Someone please! Hold that door open!” Claire grabbed one of the phones on the floor. It had to be hers. Claire knew another one of Lillian’s speeches about timeliness. 
“Sorry,” she said apologetically to Ryan outside. She wasn’t able to gauge his reaction. Was she doing the right thing by appearing out of nowhere?  He seemed happy enough to see her. She really wanted to see him again that was for sure.
“Claire!” He yelled but the subway had already whizzed past her. Hmmm?
Lillian hated her life at home. In just a short year, her father had moved to New York. He was on a lot of business trips but he was living in a penthouse here, in Lillian’s territory. Her father had gotten married to Mrs. Kendrick and her daughter had moved in too. Her boyfriend of one year, Andrew Foster, visited every month or so. Her mother had moved to Hong Kong permanently. What were the odds of that? 
Lillian brushed her teeth quickly. Claire was back in New York and Lillian wouldn’t have missed it for the world. Kiana was applying makeup. It was a daily ritual. She would put on bronzer first and then a neat layer of foundation. Lillian rolled her eyes. Kiana was hard to hate but Lillian managed to somehow. 
“Hi Lilly,” Kiana said with a big smile.
“Kiana,” Lillian said. She learned to tolerate the name Lilly. 
“You know Ryan well,” Kiana said. “Do you think he likes ruby red or salmon pink?” Kiana was actually asking a serious question. Sometimes she was very intelligent but other times, she was like this. She was holding two different lipsticks with an eager expression. 
“He likes the color blue,” Lillian said. “You should try it. It goes great with your personality.” She knew her father liked her over Kiana. Well that was after Lillian became an actress. It wasn’t so much as her father’s advice as it was Andrew’s goading. It was true that she could now date Andrew without the whole female population hating her. She knew Andrew was slightly irked at her popularity with guys. He hadn’t expected that one. 
“Good morning sunshine,” he said cheerily with a cup of coffee. 
“Bye daddy, I need to meet one of my old friends. I’ll see you later,” she said giving him a peck on the cheek. The place she wanted to meet Claire at was close enough to her house. She didn’t have to take the metro. It was a short walk. A lot could change in a year. 
“Lillian,” Claire said. Claire looked extremely happy. Lillian wondered why. 
“Claire,” Lillian said running towards her. Claire was wearing a pinkish dress and she looked different, a good different. “Did something good happen to you?”
“Oh, I just love being back in New York,” Claire said. Lillian wondered what she was hiding. 
“So I have the worst sister ever now,” Lillian moaned. Claire looked worried. “Do you remember Kiana Kendrick?”
“That name’s just popping up everywhere. Kiana is a great person. I just finished telling Vanessa that.” Lillian looked at her in disbelief. Of all people, how could Claire like, let alone tolerate, Kiana?
“You must really like Stanley, huh,” Lillian said. He must have called her this morning or something. 
“Stanley?” Claire asked as if she had no idea who Stanley was. “Right! Right! Stanley.” Claire said his name slowly and in an almost painful manner. What was going on with this girl today? 
“C’mon spill,” Lillian said suddenly interested.
“Okay, okay, I saw Ryan today.” Lillian grew pale. Claire must not have found out. 
“Claire,” Lillian started to say. Claire stared at her phone for a while before deciding to pick up. 
Ryan was dazed at the sight of Claire. How could someone already so beautiful become even prettier? It was his good luck that allowed him to sit next to her. That was a total accident. He hadn’t even expected her to return to the Big Apple. He was on his way to meet Kiana now. Kiana wasn’t at all like Claire. She was witty and clever in a way that innocent Claire wasn’t. Kiana never cried either. They had a very straightforward relationship. He had missed Claire, unbearably. He didn’t have her email and no one, not even Lillian, wanted to help him find her. Ryan knew that Vanessa and Lillian were keeping in touch with Claire. He didn’t know why they wouldn’t lift a finger for him. Whenever he had tried to call her, the line was busy or it went straight to voicemail. 
“Hi,” he suddenly said. “Claire?” He spent a couple minutes bantering with her. This was exactly the kind of thing he needed. They were about to exchange numbers when she suddenly got up. He actually had to leave too. She grabbed one of the phones that fell to the floor. Ryan picked up the other phone. Claire had already left and he felt sort of empty inside. Ryan sat back down. He had missed his stop already. Ryan clicked the center button on the iPhone. He put in his passcode but saw the red warning. Ryan tried again but the sudden realization came to him. He had picked up the wrong phone. He was curious to what was stored inside Claire’s phone. He tried to guess the password. As a joke, he input his name in digits, 7926. It unlocked. Ryan wondered what to make of this situation. She wasn’t over him and he still liked her too. She had his phone. This meant another opportunity to see her. Her phone was rather empty and it was a disappointment. He didn’t know Lillian’s number and his number wasn’t in her phone either. It stung him just a little. There were only a bunch of messages from someone named Stanley. Ryan got off at the next stop and waited for the subway again. He dialed his own number with her phone. 
“Ryan, I’m so sorry,” she said right after the second ring. “Where can I meet you to return your phone?”
“I’m not available today,” he said with a smile. He could have some fun with this.
“Kiana called,” Claire said quietly. “I’m glad you have a girlfriend that you doesn’t get you into all sorts of trouble. I told her not to misunderstand the fact that I had your phone. She was really nice about it. You’re lucky to have a girl like her. I’ll give your phone to Lillian so that Kiana can return it to you. Um you should give my phone to Kiana too since I go to school with her.” Her tone was audibly deflated. He wanted to ask her about her situation but couldn’t bring himself to ask her. 
The subway was finally back at his stop. He got off and wondered what exactly Kiana would think. Kiana was still at the restaurant. He saw her outline from the front window.
“Kiana,” he yelled.
“Ryan,” she said running outside. She kissed him and he couldn’t help but also feel grateful that he had a girl like Kiana. 
“How could you miss that stop?” He swore that she was bipolar. 
“I was talking to an old friend. Anyways, can you give this back to Claire? I would’ve called, but no phone,” he said shrugging. Kiana didn’t seem too mad and grabbed it without any persuasion.  “You’re the best.”
“I am the best,” she repeated. “I am the best.” Ryan didn’t know what she was feeling. 
“Wait, isn’t that Claire there?” He was already running away from her. Kiana sighed but knew she had a secret weapon now. 
“Ryan?” He was already gone.
Kiana couldn’t believe that Claire was back in the picture. Claire O’Shea was still being talked about but she was hardly any sort of threat. The one thing that she had going was her beauty. Ryan was too caught up in Claire’s prettiness. Ryan had always been a shallow person. No one needed to tell her that much. He didn’t know just how stupid she was. Claire O’Shea didn’t know a thing about the world. They had been holding hands a second ago. She looked to her left and found no one there. Ryan had left her on the crowded street. He had vanished within the crowd and wasn’t coming back. She had resolved this problem a week earlier. It was resurfacing again. Claire wasn’t someone she could completely eradicate. 
“Ryan!” Kiana yelled. He was an hour late already and hadn’t called her. She had called his number but it was picked up by Claire. Claire was a bumbling na├»ve girl. She had everything handed down to her on a silver platter but had no idea how to use any of these treasures. Lillian was meeting up with that girl. There was another person she couldn’t stand. Lillian was too smart for her own good. She was dating a world renowned movie star and Kiana couldn’t lay a finger on her. Vanessa was another person Kiana despised. Kiana brushed her straight mousy brown hair before walking back into the lobby. All of her plans were ruined now that Claire was back. Taking over Le Cordon Bleu one club, one activity at a time would have to wait. 
Ryan had almost walked right past her. He casually said some sort excuse and handed her Claire’s phone with a kiss. She smiled. Here was her first treasure handed to her. She clung on to his arm in the way she knew he liked. Kiana was about to say something else but Ryan was already gone. The phone was still in her hands. 
She had painstakingly stolen Jessie and Mara away from Vanessa. It had taken coaxing and bribing since direct action wasn’t in the playbook. It had almost been time to showcase her arrival, her true arrival, but now that too was gone. The school year had just started and anyone knew that that was the perfect time to leave an impression. All she had were two dimwitted friends with rather low popularity. Their popularity source stemmed from Vanessa and solely Vanessa. Vanessa was too big a figure to replace in one round. Now that Claire was back, she was practically untouchable too. Ryan was still dearly in love with Claire. He never really wanted to spend time with Kiana. He had even left her in the middle of street to go find Claire. She knew all about his past with Vanessa. She wouldn’t be such a softie like Vanessa. Ryan would come around, everything came around. Kiana was disgusted to find pictures of Claire still hanging on his wall. They had never formally dated or broken up. It was a long interminable thing that couldn’t be hacked to pieces. Kiana thought that if Claire left, Ryan would become enamored with her. Absence made his heart grow fonder. He even started studying for her. Instead of going to parties, he would stay at home and study until he slept. He was really in love with Claire and sadly there wasn’t much Kiana could do. She needed a new plan, a new form of action. Kiana walked back to her apartment. 
Kiana wouldn’t let Claire win this, or anything. The Sunshine Bistro was practically hers. After Claire left, the dean needed someone to replace her. It wasn’t in its former glory but it was producing enough revenue not to get cut. There weren’t any lines and Noah Harrington refused to give any loyalty to her. There was another person who would be happy that Claire was back.
“Hi Kiana,” a happy little voice said. Kiana turned around slowly. She knew that voice. Lillian was sighing and sat down on one of the couches. Claire was a bright spiffy little girl who needed to be taken care of. Was that how she stole Ryan from Vanessa? Kiana smiled in her own radiating light. She would fight Claire fairly; she wouldn’t have Ryan any other way. Kiana slid the phone into Claire’s warm hands. Claire looked immensely relieved. Wasn’t Claire running around on the sidewalk outside the subway? Had Ryan run after the wrong girl?
“Can you hand this to Ryan? I can’t believe that mix up happened. You’re the best, Kiana.” 

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