| THE BEST FRIEND |
Ten Years Ago
My name is Selena Stone.
I'm Billie's best friend.
And I hate her.
Sometimes, I wish she could disappear...
The last two years of being her best friend have been a complete nightmare. Sometimes I wish I never met her. I wish I never replied to that ** text that kickstarted our friendship.
The first few months of our friendship felt like a dream. Here was a famous singer at the peak of her career texting a struggling actress who only got minor roles. Of course, I wanted to be friends with her.
Billie has this way of making you feel special even when you feel like shìt - Especially when you feel like shìt. That's actually how she tricked me into being her best friend. Made me feel good about my minor role in a major movie that she watched and liked. She said I was outstanding and beat all the other main actors. I just had two lines in the movie but I believed her. My heart warmed at her sweet words. Two years with her and I wonder if she meant it.
"Of course I meant it!" Billie screams on the phone. "I want you here! You are my best friend! You should be at my party! Celebrating victory with me! That's what best friends do!"
"Best friends don't forget your birthday." I roll my eyes, sipping wine.
"It's your birthday?" She gasps in shock. "Ugh! I forgot! But can you blame me? My schedule is nuts! I don't expect you to understand. You're always free."
I roll my eyes again, chunking down the wine.
"What matters now is my party. I won my first f*****g Grammy! I need you to be at my party! This is a big deal for me! It won't look good on you when you don't show up! People will think there's bad blood between us and they will start making wild theories! You know how stupidly caring my fans can be!"
Yes, her stupid obsessive fans. They have always talked s**t about me and compared me to Billie. Saying that I'm only good at being best friends with Billie, not my acting career. That she's the bigger star and I'm just basking in the bright light of her success. That I don't have a career because I'm talentless. What has always bothered me is how Billie never came to my defense publicly. When I asked her about it, she said defending me publicly would add fuel to the furious fire. That her fans would eventually get tired and stop bullying me. But they never stopped. It actually got worse over the years.
"Please tell me you're coming." Billie squeals. "Please!"
"Fine." I gulp down the whole glass of wine.
"This will be good for you and your career." She adds. "Lots of actors and directors got invites. That's free networking. Thank me later. No, thank me now."
"I was joking." She was not. "I sent you a little something."
My heart leaps in excitement. She didn't forget my birthday like I thought. She must have sent me a birthday gift.
The "little something" is delivered and it's not a birthday gift.
It's a Grammy - party costume.
A black tuxedo.
The black tuxedo is baggy. Not my size. It boils my blood that Billie knows my size but she still sent the wrong size.
When I pull up to her house, I throw a glance at the rear view mirror in my car. My blonde hair is tucked in a tight bun. My lips look fuller with the red lipstick. The outfit might look ridiculous but atleast my hair and makeup look better.
I step out of my car in classy red heels and walk to the gorgeous glass house with an enormous pool outside. The guests are pouring in, with their lavish cars and designer tuxedos. I smile and wave at a few famous faces but they don't wave back. I already feel like I don't belong. I clench with claws on my purse as I walk into the house, looking lost and lonely.
Waiters are milling around the room with trays of cocktails. I grab an orange cocktail to feel less alone.
Golden balloons with Billie's beautiful face are hanging all around the ballroom. The huge dining table is already set with plenty of yellow napkins, white plates, wine glasses, and huge silver dishes sitting in the middle.
Dozens of gorgeous guests are waltzing around, cocktails clutched in their hands as they schmooze and flip their fake hair every ten seconds. Most of the guests are very successful men and women. Billie was right. This is free networking.
"Glad you could make it." Someone says behind me as I sip my cocktail.
I turn around to see Noah, Billie's childhood friend. A tall skinny man with dark ruffled hair and brown brooding eyes. I've always wondered why Billie kept him around for so long. She hates poor people. Noah looks poor. His faded jeans and old sweaters and cheap t-shirts. He never cares to dress up or get a nice shave. I've always wondered why that doesn't bother Billie. Why she doesn't try to change him. She hates it when the people around her don't look rich. Maybe that's one of the reasons she picked me as her best friend. A blonde girl who looks rich would be nice as a side-kick.
"Nice party," I say, darting my eyes around. "Good job."
I know that Noah plans all of Billie's parties. Her birthday parties. Her Christmas parties. Her New year's parties. Her tea parties. All her parties.
"Thanks, Lena." He smiles. "You look cute."
He always calls me Lena with that charming warm voice of his. He also showers me with compliments everytime he sees me. But I don't believe his compliment today. I look ridiculous in this hideous outfit that his childhood friend chose.
We turn to look when the room suddenly breaks into thunderous claps and cheers. Billie sashays down the spiral stairs, dressed in a yellow gown with a front slit and no sleeves. Her big brown eyes are darting around the room. Her long brown hair is tumbling on her back. She's waving at the guests as they gasp in awe and wonder at her beauty. Some have even pulled out their phones to record the glorious graceful catwalk of the Gorgeous Grammy winner. She's a big star and she knows it. She shines with bright light and she knows it.
I smile and blush when she walks over to me first, cameras flashing at us.
She smells like flesh flowers when she bends to hug me. For a moment, I think she will wish me a happy birthday. But she doesn't. She doesn't even mention it.
"You look laughable." That's the first thing she says. That's the only thing she says before turning to greet other guests.
A few guests just heard what she said to me. They size me up and laugh in low tones, covering their mouths. Now I've figured out why she intentionally picked a hideous over-size tuxedo for me. She wanted me to make a spectacle of myself. I'm not here to celebrate my friends' success or for free networking. No, I'm here to be laughed at. To make her snobby guests laugh at me.
"Dinner time!" Billie announces and the guests follow her to the perfectly set dinner table with white linen.
My throat is burning. I gulp down the cocktail but I don't feel better. I need a glass of water. I dash to the kitchen to get some cool water.
A muscular man in a yellow apron is standing against the kitchen counter, doing the dishes. He turns to look at me when I walk into the kitchen. I pause to stare at him. He's way taller than me and has the most gorgeous green eyes I've ever seen.
"Hi there." I say, walking to the fridge.
"Hi again." He stutters. "Uh... I meant... uh... hi there."
I grab a jug and pour the cool water into the glass, standing over the counter. A bit closer to him. He looks surprised and confused. I gulp down the water. He's still staring at me and I'm staring at him.
"Are you okay?"
"No, I'm Jack." He huffs. "No, I mean I'm okay. But I'm also Jack. Damn it."
He grits his teeth and collects himself. He exhales and smiles.
"My name is Jack."
I can't help but laugh as I stretch my hand to him. He wipes his wet hands on the yellow apron, grinning at me with his nice white teeth. He shakes my hand. His rough hand swallows my smooth hand.
"Nice to meet you, Jack." I smile. "My name is-"
"Selena." He finishes. "You are a good actor."