When Alex opened her eyes the next morning, she found Oliver sitting beside her like a man carrying the weight of the world on his shoulders.
“Oliver….” She tried to sit up but ringing head had her clutching the sides in pain. The Hangover effects were fully activated.
“Are you going to keep calling me that?” Oliver asked whilst helping her sit properly as she continued wincing in pain. “Here,” he handed her some aspirin first that were ready in hand and then a glass of water from the bedside table. “For the hangover,” he added.
Alex gulped down the meds and handed him back the glass of water. “Thanks,” she said. “And yes, I will keep calling you Oliver and not Mr C from now on…until you get used to it and stop looking at me like a child.”
Oliver got up. “I don’t know if it makes me a bad person but, I was desperately wishing you would wake up with amnesia this morning.”
Alex laughed. “It never happens when you need it to.” She said. “I know that better than anyone.”
“Freshen up and come downstairs for lunch. The table is already set. I’ll be waiting-“
“Wait,” Alex stopped him. “Lunch not breakfast?”
“Look over there,” Oliver pointed to the wall clock in front of them.
Alex gasped when she saw the time. “Is that really the time!?” She started searching for her phone to confirm.
“It’s over there,” Oliver pointed to the bedside table on her right. “It kept ringing and ringing until it went off so I thought I should charge it for you-“
“Who was calling?” Alex picked it up and turned it on.
“Who else,” Oliver said with a grim expression on his face. “Sam called about eight times before he finally called me and Anton called a couple of times.”
“Sam called you?” Her eyes were about to burst out of their sockets. “What did he say?”
“Are you that excited to hear from him?” Oliver asked.
No it’s not that!” Alex answered a little too quickly. “I am just wondering why he would call you….”
“He knows you’re at my house.”
“Good.” He turned to leave.
“But why didn’t you answer my phone when you knew who it was and why he was calling?” Alex asked as she waited for the phone to fully come on.
“I didn’t think it was proper for me to answer your phone that early in the morning.” He answered.
A smile of satisfaction crept at the corners of Alex’s face. “You know that’s not something a father would worry about right?”
“Here we go again.” Oliver said. “Get up and come downstairs.” And he left the room quickly.
“I’m gonna make you fall for me till you can’t help it Mr.” Alex said to herself after Oliver and got out of bed.
The moment her phone came on, a call came through from Sam.
“Finally!” Sam exclaimed the moment she answered. “Are you okay? I’ve been trying to-“
“I just woke up Sam.” Alex said. “I’m okay, just a terrible hangover. I don’t drink that much…I don’t know what happened last night.”
“Can I see you today?” He asked.
“Aaah, today?” She asked.
“Yes, is that okay?”
“Ah…yes, sure. Of course it’s okay.” A million question where running through Alex’s mind as she answered. She couldn’t help wondering why Sam sounded desperate to see her or why he was so worried about her welfare. At first she took his care and concern as a celebrity paying fan service to a fan he liked and when he asked her out to the red carpeted event, she thought it was just him trying to batter himself up to the ‘almost’ daughter of his boss in order to be in good books with him.
However, there was something in the tone of his voice that gave Alex pause.
Could it be…no, it can’t be. That’s impossible. She quickly brushed off the ridiculous thoughts. Why would he? Why would a multi-award winning pop star be interested in her like that? He was surrounded by thousands and thousands of beautiful women every day and she had seen his starring ladies in his music videos, she was not anything close to them.
“Alex, are you there?” Sam’s voice jolted her back to reality.
Alex blinked profusely. “Yes, am here…sorry about that. What did you just say?”
“I was asking where I will find you?” Sam said. “I called Mr Cooper earlier and he said you where still at his place. Will you be there the whole day?”
“No, no, I’ll be going back to my apartment soon. You can come there. I’ll send you my address.” For some reason, she did not want Oliver knowing about Sam’s visit. That would only give him enough reason to push her away.
“Okay, cool. I’ll wait.” Sam said. “See you soon Alex.”
“See you.” She said and quickly cut the line.
On the other side of town, Anton was forced out of bed by thunderous and earth shuttering banging on his door. He could tell who was on the other side of it without asking because he had switched off his phone trying to ignore her calls.
he slowly dragged himself down the stairs.
“Why is your phone off!?” Cathy hissed the moment the door was opened for her. She flew right past him in a huff.
“I was trying to get some rest.” A half-awake Anton answered as he slowly walked back to his bed.
“Where are you going?” Cathy asked.
“I’m going back to bed.” He answered without stopping.
“Are you kidding me?”
“hm,” Anton answered half-heartedly, not even sure what exactly he was saying. He just didn’t want to bother opening his mouth any further lest he lost his sleep.
“It’s 3pm now, haven’t you slept enough?” Cathy was behind him.
Anton threw himself back into bed and pulled a cover on top of himself.
“What’s this supposed to mean?” Cathy continued backing from the side of the side. “I came all the way here to see you and this is what I get?”
No response came from Anton.
“Tony!?” Cathy yelled and pulled the cover off of him.
Anton came awake in frustration. Why would he even think he would get some sleep with her in the room? “I appreciate you coming all the way to see me but please Cathy, let me get some sleep, please.”
“How can you sleep so soundingly after sending me such a text message?” Cathy asked. “How do you expect me to act after I receive a message like that from my boyfriend?”
“I only said we need to talk.” Anton said. “What’s wrong with that?”
Cathy scoffed. “Are you being for real?” She asked. “Don’t you understand the meaning of those words? You can’t send me a message like that at 3 in the morning and expect me not to worry. That’s unfair. I couldn’t get any sleep from the moment I received that text. What’s worse is you even switched off your phone after sending it. What is it you want us to talk about that you couldn’t wait till morning to send a text?”
“Do you really want us to talk about this now?” Anton rubbed sleep from his eyes. He was now fully awake. Reality had come banging on his door and now he had to answer the call. He knew it wasn’t going to be easy.
“You should have thought about that before sending me that kind of text at 3.” Cathy sulked.
“Okay,” Anton said as he got out of bed. “Can I at least take a shower first?”
“No,” Cathy said. “I will die from a heart attack waiting for you to finish. Just tell me what is it you want us to talk about so we can get it out of the way.”
“Then let’s go into the living room.” Anton started moving in that direction but Cathy dropped herself onto the bed in protest.
“No, we will talk right here.” She said determinedly. “Since when do we move to the living room to chat?”
“Fine.” Anton said and turned. “Let’s break up.” He blurted the words out.
Cathy broke out in cachinnation, holding on to her stomach as she tried to bring her breath under control.
“What’s so funny?” Anton asked.
“You are funny!” She said, her face suddenly grim and straight. “I knew you were a son of a bitch when we started dating but this right here is bitcheology on another level. What did you just say to me? Break up?” She laughed again.
“You are the one who wanted to talk about this but it’s very clear you’re not ready.” He turned and walked out of the bedroom, taking the stairs down but Cathy was right behind him.
“It’s never going to happen!” She shouted from behind him.
“It’s happening!” Anton shouted back without stopping.
“You think you can just end things just because you feel like it?” Cathy asked as she rushed after him. Anton surprised her by suddenly coming to a stop and turning to look at her. She bumped right into his chest.
“Ouch!” She screamed, rubbing her forehead with her hand.
“I am sorry for doing this to you but that’s just how it is.” Anton said scathingly.
“Is this because of that girl Alex?” Cathy asked whilst rubbing her forehead.
Anton didn’t respond.
“It is her.” Cathy stated conclusively. “What did I tell you about that girl? And you said what, she is just a friend?”
“Yes she was just a friend…that was the truth then because I didn’t know my feelings for her where deep. I only realized recently-“
“Please save me the drama Tony.” Cathy spat. “No man has ever dumped me before and I won’t accept to be dumped by you. It just won’t happen. You and I are still dating until I decide it’s over. You hear me Anton Cooper?” And she violently brushed passed him.
“I will have your stuff delivered to your parent’s tomorrow!” Anton called after her but Cathy did not stop and neither did she respond.
The moment Cathy was out the door, Anton ran back upstairs and called Alex. She answered after the third ring.
“Tony?” She said.
“Lexy where are you?” He asked.
“At the mansion.” She answered.
“Are you planning on staying there the whole day?”
“No.” It was the second time she was being asked that question that day.
“Okay, am coming to pick you up. Wait for me there.”
“Tony, no.” She quickly said before he could cut the line, her eyes on Oliver who was sitting on the other end of the table.
“What, did my dad offer to take you?” Anton asked. “You can just tell him that am coming. I’m sure he had better things to do than to be dropping off my best friend. You’re my responsibility, not his.”
“Tony, are you okay?” Alex asked. “Where’s all this coming from? Your dad isn’t taking me home, Baron the driver is.”
“Oh, okay, that’s cool. I’ll see you at your place then. Send me your coordinates.”
She was about to turn him down when her eyes instinctively settled on Oliver again. he was not even trying to hide the fact that he was listening to the conversation. Alex was in a momentary state of confusion; if she told Anton not to come, she would have to explain why…and she didn’t want Oliver knowing who she would be meeting later on. And if she said yes, Oliver might get other ideas.
“I have plans Anton.” Alex finally managed. “I have ah…my research, remember? Can I see you tomorrow instead?”
“No, it can’t wait Lexy. It will just be for a bit, won’t take long I promise. Send me the location.” He cut the line before she could protest.
“Anton!” Alex checked her phone and sighed in disappointment. “What’s wrong with him?” She said to the phone, and looking up at Oliver she added; “He’s acting weird. I bet he had a fight with his girlfriend and wants to us use me to vent. He’ll never change that one.”
“Just see him,” Oliver said. “He might surprise you.”
“Do you know something I don’t?”
“What time is Sam coming over?”
“I see.” Oliver said.
It was only when she saw his reaction to her response that she realised the blunder she had just committed. He had tricked her.
“That’s not cool Oliver!” Alex said.
Oliver laughed. “I would say the same thing about lying.”
“Touché.” Alex said and got up from the table.
Oliver stood up as well. “So you and Sam,” he started.
“We are just friends!” She quipped. “Just a cool celeb hanging out with a fan.” She didn’t understand why her heart was beating so fast all of a sudden. She was desperately searching for what to say. The last thing she needed was giving Oliver licence to shove her straight into the arms of another man.
“Like you and me?” Oliver asked.
“Yes, no!” Alex fumbled.
“I am in-love with you as a man, not as a celebrity or anything,” Alex explained. “And I like Sam, only as a celebrity. Of course he’s a cool gentleman but I don’t like-like him like that.”
“Perhaps you should.” Oliver said as he helped her carry some dishes to the sink. “I think he really likes you.”
“That’s impossible!” She said. “He doesn’t even know me that well.”
“Isn’t that why he’s trying to get to know you better now?” Oliver asked. “Give him a chance.”
“I knew you would do this.” She said.
“Push me off to another guy.” She placed the plates into the sink and stood on the side to give him space to put his down.
“Alex,” Oliver said as he laid the plates in the sink.
“I don’t want to hear it.” Alex closed her ears. “Whatever you think is going to happen isn’t going to happen. I’m not going to change my mind and fall for some young stud or whatever. I’m gonna keep bothering you until you come to terms with the fact that I am a woman just like the ones you look at out there. I’m leaving now.” She walked over to the kitchen table, grabbed her bag and stormed out of the kitchen.
“Dear Lord.” Oliver said to himself, his hand placed over his forehead as he sighed like a helpless defeated man.
A surprise awaited Alex when Baron dropped her off outside her apartment. She found Anton waiting for her outside her apartment building, something she had not expected to happen considering she had forgotten to send him her address.
“How-“ She started to ask as she got out of the vehicle.
“I had a feeling you might not want to see me so I asked Cassey to give me your address.” He approached her by the car and took her bag from her.
Alex walked over to the driver’s side and Baron closed the door he had just opened ready to get the door for her but she had steped out before he could even set his foot outside the car. He rolled down the window instead.
“Miss Saunders.” The sixty-five year old said expectantly.
“Thank you Baron for bringing me home. Drive back safely.” Alex said.
“Thank you Miss.” Baron said, a smile on his face.
“Are you going to pretend that you didn’t see me Baron?” Oliver appeared next to Alex.
“Of course not Mr Anton.” The grey-haired man answered. “How are you?”
“I’m great old man.” Anton chirpily answered. “Pass my love to the old lady. Tell her that I terribly miss her pudding.”
The three of them laughed.They were all well-aware of Mrs Baron’s great skills in the kitchen. she always prepared something for the Cooper’s during the Christmas holidays.
“She will love hearing that that old fox!” Baron said. “Take care of yourselves you two.”
“Thanks Baron,” Alex said. “Take care too.”
Baron rolled up the window and drove off.
“What is so urgent that you had to see me right away?” Alex asked as she led the way into her apartment building.
“Can’t a guy visit his best friend whenever he likes?” Anton asked.
“Not you,” Alex said. “Well, at least not the new Anton you’ve become. I’m guessing that there’s trouble in paradise right?”
“You could say that.” Anton admitted.
Alex stopped walking and turned to look at him. “What did you do?”
Anton laughed. “Why do you assume am the one who did something?”
“Ah, because I know you.”
“Let’s get to your place first, I’ll explain.”
They took the lift and stopped on the forth floor. Alex’s apartment was the third on the left. She unlocked the door, stepped aside to let him through and followed him right behind.
“Wow,” Anton said as he did a quick take of the house from where he was standing. “It’s as exactly as I imagined it would be; beautiful and neat.”
There was a blue two seater couch and a yellow one well placed in her tiny living room and everything was well decorated and coordinated it gave the room an air of expensive taste.
Alex went straight to sit down on the blue couch. “Sit,” She offered Anton the other sofa.
“Aren’t you even going to offer me anything to drink?” Anton complained before he sat down.
“I told you I have work to do so I don’t want you to get all comfortable here. What’s up?”
he looked disappointed. he knew she might not be excited to see him but he realized too soon that knowing something and experiencing it where two different things. He was not used to being brushed off so quickly and easily by Alex. Was that how much their relationship had strained over the past weeks?
What have I done to us Alex? Anton asked himself as he looked at her.
“You sound cold, and dismissive.” He complained
“No I don’t.” Alex said.
“You do.” He insisted. “And I don’t blame you. I’ve been such a jerk over the past weeks. I don’t blame you for hating me the way you do.”
“I don’t hate you Tony.”
“Your mouth is saying something but your eyes are telling me something else. We might have drifted apart Lexy but I still know you.”
Alex sat up, one leg crossed over the other. “What do you want me to say Tony?” She asked him. “Or what did you expect; that we would still be cool after everything that’s happened? You turned your back on me when I needed you the most and you trusted a stranger over me. You didn’t even give me the benefit of a doubt. How do you think that made me feel?”
“I know, I know!” He ferociously brushed his hand through his hair. “That’s why am here, to apologise.”
“Why today of all days?” Alex asked.
Anton looked puzzled. “What do you mean why today?”
“I know you,” she said. “Something must have happened for you to think about coming to see me and apologize. Did you guys have a fight?”
“I broke up with her earlier today.” He blurted out.
“You did what?”
“I broke up with her,” he repeated. “We just couldn’t work out. I realized a little too late that I was not in-love with her….and that I…ah…you know, that I was… in-love, with someone else.”
“Dear Lord Tony, already!?” Alex shouted. “Who is the stupid girl this time? Gosh, I thought you finally matured…even if it was with someone like Cathy but c’mon, another girl? So soon? Who the hell is she?”
“It’s you.” Anton muttered.
“You? Who’s you? Is she, ooooh….” Her mouth was hanging open as realization sunk in.
“See….” Anton stated, his eyes fixed on her. “It’s not just some silly random girl.”
“Is this because you saw me with someone last night?” Alex asked once she recovered from the shock. “I know you’ve always hated the guys I’ve crushed on since we were young but c’mon Tony, we are not kids anymore.”
Anton got up from where he was and went to kneel in front of her. Alex flinched when she thought he was going to touch her but Anton rested his hand on the sofa, very close to her.
Looking her in the eyes he asked; “Why is it so hard for you to believe that I am in-love with you?”
“Wait, you’re serious?” She asked. She knew that look in his eyes very well.
“Of course am serious.” He said.
Alex suddenly stood up, almost sending Anton to the ground if not for the fact he used his hands to keep steady.
With her back turned to him, Anton first heard her chuckling, and then the chuckles slowly turned to laughter.
“You’re laughing?” Anton asked as he lifted himself up.
Alex stopped laughing after a few seconds and turned to face him. “You’re in-love with me?” She asked, pressing her finger over her chest.
Anton took a few steps towards her but she stretched out her hand. “Stop right there.” She said. “Don’t come any closer. Let’s talk from here and there.” She pointed to where he had stopped, about three more steps left between them. “Why do you think you’re in-love with me?”
“Why?” Anton asked, confused by the question.
“Yes why.” She answered. “You said you never considered me a woman, that I would always be your best buddy. You were even disgusted by the idea of us together! And now you are telling me that…that…look, I can’t even say the words.”
Anton tried to close the distance between them again but Alex’s hand quickly went up again. She didn’t want him coming closer to her. Not now. She didn’t want to see the sincerity in his eyes because it might shake her resolve. How many times had she longed to hear those words from his mouth and they never came? Why was life testing her in such a cruel manner? A father and his son…why was her life so complicated? It was like a twisted plot from a sick and perverted writer with a lot of time on his hands. How could this be real?
Or perhaps…. She looked up him, eyes wide open.
“Did your father ask you to do this?” Alex asked Anton.
“My father?” He asked. “What has my father got to do with this?”
She was about to say out loud the crazy thoughts running through her mind when she stopped herself. She had not yet told Anton about her feelings for Oliver. And this isn’t the right time to bring that up, she concluded.
“Nothing,” she lied, having surmised from the surprise look he had on his face that Oliver had nothing to do with his sudden confession. “I just thought that maybe…because I told him some stuff some time back that he still thought I still had feelings for you.”
“You told my dad you liked me?” Anton asked, both hope and trepidation glowing from his eyes.
“It was a long time ago Tony and things have changed since.” She said.
“You mean change as in…you being in-love with him?” Anton asked.
Alex’s jaw dropped to the floor. “What do you mean him?” She could barely hear her own voice from over the sound of her heart beating fast and loudly.
“I mean my dad.” Anton answered. “Why didn’t you tell me that-“
“How? Who told you-“ there were tears in her eyes as she started to ask the question. What if her fears were true? What if Oliver had told Anton about her feelings to get him to force her out of what he thought were delusions?
“Relax,” Anton said, reading the fear from all over her face. “I didn’t hear it from dad, not directly pe se…I just happened to overhear your conversation with him last night.”
“Wait,” Alex said. “Is that why you’re here telling me this?”
“What do you mean and why are you looking at me like that?”
“Do you think that telling me that you have feelings for me will change the way I feel for Oliver?”
“Are you serious about this?” Anton could not handle the seriousness on her face and in her tone of voice. “You’re even calling him by his first name. When did all this happen? He’s my father for Pete’s sake Alex! He has also been like a father to you.”
“I know that!” Alex cried, a part of her was embarrassed and ashamed to stand there and tell her best friend that she was in-love with his father. How did she expect him to handle such a thing when she herself could barely come to terms with it?
“If you know that then you know what you should do.” Anton said. “Forget about him and start looking at me again. And I am not saying this for some twisted reason you might think. I happen to genuinely love you, with or without my dad in the picture.”
“I am sorry Tony.” Alex cried. “I didn’t mean for this to happen…it just happened. I know it doesn’t make sense but I really love your dad.”
“He’s fifty Alex!” Anton yelled.
“I don’t care he’s still old and you might think you love him but you don’t. What you feel for him is just gratitude because he’s always been there for you. Think about it Lexy, please.”
“There’s nothing to think about Tony. I am in-love with him and it’s not gonna change.”
“Do you have any idea the type of scandal that will blow over when something like this gets out?”
“Scandals are always there whether we do something crazy or not.” Alex said.
“Okay,” Anton said. “Let’s say that you do actually love my dad, do you think that he would let anything happen between you two…especially that he knows my feelings for you?”
Alex turned hurt eyes at him. “You told him?” She asked.
“I had to.” He admitted. “I couldn’t just keep quite after listening to you two talk. I’m not gonna lose you to him or anyone else out there Alex. I know I don’t deserve you but am begging you to give me a chance. We can even pretend that this whole thing with my father didn’t happen.
“We can start all over again, you and me, forever. I don’t know why it took this long but I really can’t see myself with any other woman but you. I love you Alex.” He was standing right in front of her now. “Just think about it, please.”
Alex was slowly shaking her head. “I’m sorry T-“
There was a knock on the door. They both turned towards the door.
“Are you expecting anyone?” Anton asked.
“No, I mean, yes.” She looked at the wall clock ahead. “How did he get into the building?” She asked as she went to answer the door.
“Who is it?” Anton asked from behind her.
“Not sure, but I think it’s-“ She opened the door and there on the other side Sam stood, a huge smile on his face which quickly faded when he saw Anton appear behind Alex.
“You?” Anton said in disappointment. “What is he doing here?” He asked Alex.
“What sort of question is that?” Alex said as she pushed him aside to leave room for Sam to pass. “Come in,” she said.
Sam entered. “I thought the two of you don’t live together anymore.” He had not taken his eyes off of Anton from the moment his eyes set on him but he lowered his gaze slightly to look at Alex as he awaited her response.
“No we don’t-“ Alex had started to answer.
“I don’t think it’s any of your business who she lives with.” Anton retorted.
Sam turned his attention back to Anton, a clear disdainful look on his face when he said; “Shouldn’t you be out there with your girlfriend? She looked like she could sure use some help getting into the building. She’s acting like a mad-“
“What do you mean help getting into the building?” Alex asked.
Anton appeared at a loss for words.
“I left her fighting with the intercom downstairs.” Sam candidly informed them.
Alex turned to Anton, an accusing look on her face. “Cathy’s here?”
“Cathy is here.” Sam excitedly answered on his behalf.