Chapter 1

His scent ... I can still smell it in the coffee. I thought this was over. Done and finished with to be no more once again. But these were his final words to me before I went far away from where he could follow and track me. With a staid and heavily serious expression, he looked into my vigilant and alert damn eyes to tell me the harsh and cruel-like words themselves:

"You think you can succeed to get away from me. The honest truth is that you can barely triumph to do anything like that. I will be there with you wherever it is that you run off to. I will haunt you always and without any slight bit of fail. You will not live to see the joy and happiness of life itself. I swear on this. You will not ever enjoy life and all the goodly qualities that it boasts and possesses!"

I am all alone. Everyone has already gone by this time. I am seated still and fixed frozen and motionless here, typing and resolving out a few things that Turner will want to see finished and carried through by the dawn of tomorrow coming, Tuesday--7 April 2020 that is. Well, I should finish this up quickly and get on going my way. I probably and definitely should. I am not dragging any helplessly tired foot out of this office up till I am through and ended with the present task at hand here.

It is sharply cold and chilly outside here. Midtown Las Vegas, Nevada State. Damn it! I forgot to carry and bring my coat with me here for work. And now I will have to suffer and pay for that silly damn mistake of mine. Crap it straight into the bin. I have no other alternative than to pull through the whole nasty and excruciating ordeal. As I make my way through the restless people, I wonder what it will be like if I were to meet Charles anew. He is the monster ... he has always been the monster, who won't rest until he has devoured and consumed me up into nothingness. Oh God! Does it have to turn out like this yet again? Huh?

I expect to find some cabs here at the Trill Manor Junction Square. Rather, I see and sight absolutely nothing at all. What does this have to mean then? It is either I take a tramcar or maybe a public train straight damn to my apartment. Schroeder must be waiting. Hard; restless; like a bee that has not yet come across that valuable and precious something that it is searching and scouring for. I wonder why she still hasn't called me up already ... I only wonder ... I ring her up instead.

"Hey. You have been expecting me to show up there, haven't you, sweet chocolate babe?"

"No. And I wouldn't miss you if you slept out there in the cold or in whatever damn shack it is that you feel like taking a nap in."

"Sorry to disappoint you. I am actually on my way there."


"Yes, I am all alone. I got from the office quite a little bit late than normal and acceptable. I thought you were supposed to process and read that on your own, or were not you, sweet babe?"

"No problem, Tori. I will be waiting for you. Safe journey on your part!"

I make it late to the rail station. I am expecting that they have closed by now. I will have no choice but to get on a public bus. Three hours of walking? I can't bear that anymore. I have gone on foot enough already this early morning. It is now night, and somebody with a sick and wicked mind that I don't know might attack and assault me for no any sound or sane reason at all. I have heard enough of such horror stories already. And I don't want to be on another episode of The Tragic Most Things That Might Happen To You At Night Time with Brody Cooper interviewing and interrogating me throughout the whole painful and agonizing recalling-up ordeal of mine. Duh—huh!

It is twenty minutes now since I have been last walking on the street alone there. I am perched and stooled down at some Rail Depot—I forgot to call up and even swat up its name. This shouldn't be terrible though. What matters is that I get home—straight into Courtney's loving and supportive arms and hug and tell her what the hell I've been exactly through and for what purposes precisely. Yeah ... yeah! Enough of this silly brain talk for now!

The tramcar is moving slowly and bit by bit. I feel like I should kick and smash its windows up for eating and chewing up my time very slowly and annoyingly before my very own face and eyes. Yeah! Even yell and shout out at the driver like I am the hornet of a big, awful train itself. What is he even thinking? Wait a second! Has not he been drinking too much liquor—huh?

There is a couple seated right there in front of me, chatting and smiling and laughing to themselves. How do I know they are apparently wed and jingled-the-bell-up? Well, the way the are postured and positioned in the face of the other ... it is all so obvious and evident. If that's not truthfully so, maybe one of them is preferably married, possibly the man who looks very much older and senior than the poor girl my own exact age. Hmnnnn. She is going out with my grandpa, right? Bad choice on her part! It is not that I envy and feel jealous for her. I just don't. I solely question if he really and to the fullest brim makes her intensely and incredibly happy.

What about you yourself, Tori? My conscious asks and conjectures me. Me? I am happy and very much free with the way I am presently. Okay. This is my plan for now. First work hard and diligently in life. Then after that find someone worth your whole attention to marry and settle down with. Maybe I should do the actual opposite. Like throw myself into the big pool of love before I get ugly and dispeacable and then seek my life and goals and desires later on? No way. It would be torture to me, I swear. I just what to get what I want to nab first, and then nab and hold on to other things later on.

Back in the Cape, so many people who knew me were every time wondering why I never became jealous at all if they happened to be paired into strings and groupings of two that romantic and affectionate way. My dreams come first just like my precious damn life itself. I don't want anything to get in my way. Unfortunately and very much sadly, a lot way more things than I thought possible have harassed and badgered me up. But this has not stopped me from fighting and contending to be where I want to get myself to. Love careless sometimes can ruin up your entire building of life and priceless wishes. Better keep it in watch and safeguard than regret it later on. Okay, I could have stayed with Charles or Pearly, and made them both wildly happy and in seventh heaven ... all at the expense of risking what I have long worked for and wanted to have in life? Hell no! I was faced with a choice. I had to choose between them and my coming self. And I went on for the later. Like they say, no sacrifice comes without any sort of painful cost. I had to suffer some things just to lose them and thereafter in the end score the ball into the goal post and triumph furiously. I hope I don't have to come to this scenario again.

Finally, I am a few bearable steps away from home. As I walk in the breezing and fanning cold, I am thinking of what else I have to do with my coming spare time. Yes. I can be sort of a careless and unthinking alcoholic most frequently of the times. But then there are those precise times that a thoroughly tired and to the inch dead beat exhausted lazy me do not do any sort of tad bit mite work. I am thinking. What better way than to fall in love now? Yes, it would be all wonderful and beautifully great indeed. I mean ... I am good-looking and socially standard and average in character and deeds. It would be not be that much hard to find love here and any goodly shoulder that I can lean and brace myself on. Stop it, Tori. Don't think about love ... it will just come to you on an unexpected moment, and you better just keep your heart open and highly willing to receive it.

At times I do feel that I am left out and lagging behind in this whole love thing. But then I hardly and barely am not. My heart and instincts tell me so. If I die young and beautiful without ever deeply and heavily falling in love then that will be it. If I do, the excellent and better still! Dying young again? It can easily happen ... it has taken place so many times with so many people after all.

When I push the door open, I see Courtney perched and seated down there on the mammoth brown couch where she is typing up and surfing something on the net on her laptop. What? A dating site? She is dating Gavin now and they both met on some dating website online. Of course! Things don't have to end online there. They have met and hanged out with each other a couple row times now.

"Chatting with Gavin?" I ask her coolly and steadily as I close the door behind me.

"Kind of," she replies calmly and sedately. "He is as of now in some night club with his guy friends. I wonder what manners and mentalities they are etching up into his proud mind. And I hope it doesn't affect and touch me afterwards on, or will it, Tori?"

"You know how guys are like. You can't restrain them from what they want to be—or can you?"

"You are right there, sweet buddy."

"Good. What is there to eat for supper if I may ask?"

"Am I your cook?" She gives me that go-find-out-in-the-kitchen-for-yourself look that is a bit impolite and bitter to some marginal extent. Fuck her for it! Jeez! This girl and her bossy behavior! It drives me nuts and crackers like I am going to choke and throttle her up direct on the throat. Seriously!

Our kitchen is sizeable but not so big again, neither is it that all inconsiderably and helplessly small either. No, it is perfectly not. It is well and nicely kept. And all so magically and beautifully clean. If you see it, you will be like, "This certainly has to be polished up for some perfect GO-SPOTLESS advert." Courtney and I always like it this trim and immaculate sort of.

What must I eat for tonight, huh? A cup of yoghurt will do, with boiled eggs and Italian Pane Siciliano bread and the Chinese Keanu Reaves chicken salads and a bit slice of Berwick—or is it Bacon sandwich? Whichever name is suitable. This is what I want to gobble and guzzle up for tonight. Seriously; dummy!

Once in the living room, I seat and entrench myself right next to Courtney. She is there on her laptop, busy typing and scribbling something up. "So what is going on here if I may ask—pardon me, girl, but I have to be snoopy and dowdy with you just this once more time around?"

Her eyes wander to me and then stray off back to her huge laptop screen. "It is just that ... I am telling him not to misbehave and annoy me up. If he does, I won't forgive or let him off for it."

My God! This woman here with her long flowing red hair is extremely beautiful. I, on the contrary, have long cascading chestnut brown hair and dark goldish skin and sparkling amber-like eyes. Yes. I am from Western Cape in South Africa and my name is Tori Wolf. Before I moved my way here, I was back there in the tip and farthest off south of Africa, trifling and messing around with Charles Berlusconi. The only thing I want right now is to have him kicked and booted mercilessly out of my heart and life itself. He has no rightful and deserving place here. Screw him for that!

"And you? You are still thinking about Charles Berlusconi right?"

My God! It is slightly a little bit painful to accept that I would devote my priceless and golden moments over just fantasizing and drooling about him. Well, this is not the actual and verifiable truth. I once loved him. So very much indeed; but not anymore! I can't escape him now. He is part of my history and gone life itself. And I have to live with him in my heart without loving him up till the day that I breathe my last in this small sick little world of ours. It is the same on his part too. The guy is this dazzlingly beautiful, and you don't always get around to see his drop-dead type anyhow, and he has lots and lots more of girls or even less or just one like he wants to. I have and Hollywood celeb gossip-up life myself. Yes. I am so much interested and absorbed in Hollywood and its glamorous celebrities. I do work for some Paparazzi agency here in Las Vegas part time. I lost Charles. He lost me. We both lost each other, but the beautiful truth is that I would never be more happier than I am now if I were with him.

He has got another totally different life from mine. He wants to be a Pastor, I dare hear. He wants to be The Ladies' Best Man, I dare unravel. I want to embrace and love Hollywood. There is no way we can fit in together like this. I will want to write and scrawl all latest celebrity articles, and he will be just there, telling me I should rather stop my nonsense and sing for him 'Amazing Grace' continually. I will want to fan and follow my favorite stars, and he will be ever looking upon them and their achievements to be nothing other than the works and master-crack-pieces and organizations of the Great Illuminati itself. I will be a wicked remediless devil before his very eyes and face. I just don't mean to say that I cannot be spiritual and very much godly focused. I can be! But we will and shall evermore be very different in deeds and tastes. I want to eat the Bologna sandwich. He wants hell-names-what inexistent sandwich.

"I am not thinking about Charles Berlusconi, Courtney. Or maybe you want me to start drooling and falling madly in love with him all over again?"

"No, Tori. I didn't say that."

"Then don't make me think about him another time. Or if you dare do, know that he is not the most important thing that matters to me in my life right now. You hear that, chocolate girl?"

"Sure, candy sexy Tori."

"Thanks by the way. Who told you I am hot damn candy sexy?"

"Don't talk as if I don't get around to see you strutting about naked on your way to the Jacuzzi. You have a so hot body just like mine that you should let it be enjoyed and relished by dudes."

"Not for now, silly intelligent girl. Drop the act—please, I add kindly."

"Fine." She has almost given up on me. Wow! This neighborhood is the most perfect and to some dimension not roughly noiseless. I have lived in places before that were noisy and drumming incessantly like a rock musical concert that starts without any sure and distinct ending. At least everyone here seems to be minding their own business. Or if they are not, they are not all that overly snoopy doggy type so as to make a living out of spying on other people's lives and advancements and downfalls. I know what I am describing here. I have met and seen it with my very own eyes before!

"So, girl, what do you think 'bout falling in love this time around again?" Courtney asks me noiselessly and gently calm. I am thinking ... Tori falling in love again? It would be wonderfully cool. But whom does this has to be this time 'round?

"I don't know. What about you?"

"You deserve to be in love, man! Go think it all over again."

I laugh out loud. "I have waited for this moment so long. To be twenty-five, and free, and to fall so deep in love thoughtlessly and without any tad bit of worries about it."

"As in what people will say and talk about you, right?"

"I don't care about that. People unfailingly talk. I see no reason why they should stop talking about me being in love. They must carry on with their truth and lie blended dirty talk, but I do not care or give any slightest mite damn as concerns it. I can be in love with whomever it is that I feel like. I cannot be in love if I don't want to be. This is not a forcing matter; and this is not a people-shying and shrinking away from matter."

"It is good to learn that you have grown this fast already, freaky girl."

"Thank you—I really appreciate it."

"So can I bring him over?"

Holy shit! Who now? Who has been eyeing and thinking of hearts and roses about me? Who is this one? I always feel very much uncomfortable being looked and espied at like ... crap! As a matter of fact, I am not able to look people in the eyes and face for that relatively long either. If I do, it will not be me but somebody else. That is just how I am. And some people find this to be seriously and terribly annoying of me. I don't just care. But I can be nagging and a pain in the ass most of the times. It is just that I have to work hard at concealing it. But this one, considering that he has been looking at me without my attention and awareness, I am not bothered or stressed up by it at all. No—I am not shy. I am just very much conscious and overreacting at times.

"Who is this WHO, Courtney?"

"I won't reveal his name to you, but I just want you to know that somebody has been observing and monitoring you seriously." Oooooh! I didn't know or expect that either. Who could he be? Do I know him or not? I can't tell this too soon. No way possible!

I have studied how I fall in love and came up with this discovery: If I fall in love with someone good and peacefully well at start, we will end up violently and dramatically and scandalously bad and ugly. But if I step into love with hatred and bitterness and non-peacefulness, then we will end up well and beautifully. This was so true with Charles himself. I started hating and despising him, and in the long run, we were both tender and affectionate and dearest and blah ... blah ... blah. But like they say, not every fairy tale is meant to last happily ever after. I could have been everything that he wanted me to be. I could have tallied and remained long in his presence so he can come and spend wonderful, glorious times with me. At first I was almost all this until it clicked into me from nowhere particularly that falling in love with him would change me and my gleeful visions and whole being and self into someone that I would not have wanted to be in the very first place. And that's what made me become so indifferent and negligent towards him. I deeply want someone that I can relate to and share the same or if not harmonizing then corresponding world with. And that someone is not Charles Berlusconi either.

"So who is this one, Courtney?" I ask eagerly and patiently. I can't wait to hear that valuable name. Not that I am in love with him already. No way possible. I just want to know who it is. I mean is he worth the sacrifice and everything else from me?

"You shall be meeting him on the rightful good time. That's all I can reveal, Tori. Goodnight for now." And off she goes straight to her bedroom, leaving me wondering and thinking about everything that she has actually said. Someone interested in me? It must be a total joke. I was not looking forward to anything like this, or was I? No way probable.

In my bed, I can't sleep. I close my eyes and truly I see him there. Charles Berlusconi. Why won't he leave me alone? I don't want to think about him or even see him any more. Enough has been enough of us. But he is just there in my reality and imaginary world. Whenever I notice and realize that I am starting to fall for him deeper and more deeper again, I do everything in my power and will to forget and erase him from my priceless feelings and heart. I can't go on like this ... I have to be with someone else in order to forget him. Only then will he stop harassing and badgering me up as he will be fully aware that I am no longer his but part and whole parcel of someone else. I find myself thinking back to this particular day. I am at Kaapstad Church with Ally, walking outside when a Charles-Berlusconi age mate says out raucously as if asking someone else, "Hey you, where is my woman, huh? Where is she?" Oh, he is meaning Mirth. Tori's natural rival. I am also wondering where she is too. Where are you, Mirth, please? Your guy man here wants you, dear!?

Before long, Charles appears from that other side. He is with his sibling brother, walking gracefully and assuredly. Then they stand still and begin to click-clack something on their phones. This is not the first time they are playing this kind of game on me! I don't know what their plans and intentions are, but whatever it is that they want from me, they are not going to get or win it eventually. No way will I let that ever happen. I am determined to slip away from his trap and catch on the other hand too. It may be painful; but then it is not any bit painful at all. I have to get away from him. Fast; hurriedly; and assuredly too. Even if they growl and snarl at me like gone-mad-dogs for solely that. I have to do it. I have done it before after all—and I can do it well and excellently again.

Mirth is the most beautiful girl that I have ever met. She lives in me, Tori. She is part of me. We are both different in nature and behavior and characteristics. She is just there inside me—my helpful conscious, the voice that always speaks in my mind and tells me what to do and what not to. She is a being and person of her own, and I know that one soon coming day, she will manifest herself to me in her own full beauty and glory and attractiveness. For now, her beauty is of gentle quietness as if it has never had being at all.

Charles. That is the name that rings in my mind like a bell when I wake up. I can see him. Right there before me. I know what he is. I know what he does, which no one else does not really know and are even not fully conscious of. Mirth made it all clear and apparent to me much to my own shock and mesmerism. Enough of this silly mentality now. Ah-ah! Life does not begin and end with him. I was born and raised up without him after all. I will die without him in the very end.

No wonder I must be in love any sooner from now. I don't want Charles' name echoing and pealing in my nasty damn quiet mind and his handsomely face bothering and tormenting me up. Some other name must be ringing in my mind like sweet music. My heart and whole naked self must belong to someone else. I have to be in love sooner than possible so that I can forget and be finally and triumphantly over Charles. Yes! Very quickly indeed! Whew! What a relief it shall be for me only then!

Courtney is up early. Las Vegas is a very busy town and place, I am aware. So preoccupied and active just like most towns here in the USA and the overall world itself. DUH-UH!

"Good morning, Tori," she whispers and hisses to me in between a seemingly crucial phone call. Of course! It is obvious that she is talking and shooting the breeze up with Garvin Wright. He is her man and protector after all. He has every right in the world to talk with his girl and learn what she is doing and what she is as well up to. And me myself? I have Hollywood to spare me the die with envy and jealousy phase. Fast to my online world. What's fresh and trending here in TINSELTOWN? Holy shit ... some newly celebrity has gotten her first big ever role in a $95 million budget action horror movie about zombies and the undead and I have that opportunity and chance to interview her about it. Yes. I shall work my way into it early this afternoon.

Celebrities are cool, fashionable people. I know. They are human, and not THE ALL SUPREME AND SOVEREIGN GOD. For that we must not worship and idolize them. Too sad this is not the case anymore. Many and so often a time, their fans revere and look up to them like they are really divine and worth the Godly status. I wonder. Are such fans merely jocular and fooling around or are they serious and kill-dame-hater state devoted and attached to them. I can't truly tell.

And I myself being a celebrity? Have I ever imagined that? Oh yes—we all have, in those relatively silly and unrealistic moments of ours in the blithe and glee of life. But you know what? Reality always has a nasty sweet little surprise for us in store, or does it not? Some of us come to be bigger or smaller celebrities themselves whether we like it or not, we plan it or not, we kill for it or not—and the rest of us will always have something valuably and far much important to do in our lives. That is just life. Don't envy a Hollywood star, Tori, they are much the same just like you, only that they are more loaded in their pockets ... and more importantly, famous and well-known than you. This—my most beautiful Mirth advices and counsels me frankly.

I don't want to be star, mama! I am tempted to wish and dream to be like one every passing minute, but I know that I will not be such either in this life or the one to come if opted-for by me.

Work is the usual. Enjoyable and interesting in the early hours of the morning, and then tedious and unbearably exhausting as the sun goes on. I work at The Young's by morning. Not as a full-time employee. I do part-time work here. They haven't shifted and crossed me over into their full-time category yet. Only after they have seen how good or worse I work and how worthy or not I am for the consummate employee sort of office and assignment. We are into advertising and marketing here. And I handle all the receptionist duties and obligations.

Mr. Logan Hamilton is my boss. I am under his charge and direction. His office is just a few breaths next to my small comfortable desk that has got a very expensive Mac computer and technological equipment displayed and accommodated on it. The building itself is all high and soaring and thirty-two floored up. But not so is my job title and wage scale itself. I make up to $35,000.00 per year, and I am very much happy and satisfied about it. When toiling in the afternoon at the Graham House of Paparazzi, I make a bit lot much more there depending on how successful and triumphant I have been in my endeavors and achievements. If I do well, I get paid well. If I do badly, even the pay and all the other allowances are bad as well. The highest thing I sold was about $15000.00, and I got a small tiny 1% of that. Seriously!

That is just life on my part, and I have come to learn to accept and embrace it. It be for better, for the worse still: for richer, for poorer: for beautiful, for uglier still. I don't know how 'Great' or 'small' I will be in this life. I just keep going and carrying on with everything that befalls me. I know that I do not have my life and destiny under my wish and control. If I did, I could be all the great-most things that I want to be in this life. But then I am not. Neither am I horribly awfully poor either. I am not high, but then again I am not any low. Thank God for it!

Courtney Schroeder. She comes from an agreeably wealthy and affluent background. Some rumors suppose that her father is a grand multimillionaire himself. On the phone, she is always like, "Hey daddy, you know what? My five old month car just broke up. I really need a new one. Will you do me a favor of getting me it?

Momma, can you believe I saw this beautiful Gucci dress at some shopping mall here in town. Even Tori here with me liked it. I want you to spoil your girl a little bit by buying her it. Will you do that please? It is just two thousand dollars, mother!

Cole. I need you to deposit XXXX dollars into my Barclays Bank account. That's an order from Dad and not me."

For all this, I do not envy or plot to kill her with my own two bloody hands. She is all rich because she is lucky. I wish her well even though I am not entitled to the very same privileges as she is. Yeah! For real...

Keyshawn Gibson is the freshest Hollywood big break trending now. Only time will prove how big she is to become. For now, she has appeared in over eight hit movies as a supporting cast and she is as of presently making her first ever film starring in 'Clawed' as Suey Eastwood, an Irish top most assassin who gets hired to kill the American president. In the movie, she has never ever failed with her former targets, but will she this time around?

Regardless, I am going to interview Key Gib in person this very present day and I must prepare and do my beforehand and earlier-on Internet research and survey about her. Will you come join me, huh?

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