Friday, 31 July 2009

'get sexy? hell yeah!'

hello beautiful people :)
just wanted you all to know that the best girl band in the UK are back! yes, the sugababes are back from taking a hiatus earlier this year following their release of latest album 'catfights and spotlights.' after the singles 'girls' and 'no can do' were released, the trio decided to ditch promoting another single off the album and make a fresh new one instead over in the US! good job! i have all of their albums, and with their latest single and video, i think its time for girls aloud to step down so heidi, keisha and amelle can reclaim their places on all of our playlists!
Their latest single off their new forthcoming album 'Sexy is as Sexy Does' is 'get sexy' - lets just say that if the name and lyrics don't catch your eye then the video sure will!
i love the video, and everyone knows that an LBD is every woman's staple and a must have on a night out - [they look hot, boost your confidence, hides your curves if your bum is a bit more than booty-licious, and manages to hide all manner of sins - perfection!]
the song itself is a def booty shaker, i particularly love the cage scene with amelle - recently cages have become quite a trend in music vids, i wouldn't mind getting in one myself!
tell me what you think, and enjoy!
Click on the title to read an exclusive recent interview with the Sugababes for The Guardian.

mellow music...

what's everyone been up to? Lately, I've been listening to Siobhan Donaghy's second solo album, 'ghosts'. The ex sugababe explores her natural comfort zone with the songs on this album, which is left field commercial pop music, which really should have a wider following, in my opinion. Her first single off this album is 'don't give it up' which is a really cool, mellow song which is perfect background music to early evenings with friends, good company and a few glasses [actually, better make that bottles] of wine.
Siobhan works closely with songwriter and producer James Sanger who also worked with her previously as one third of the sugababes on their debut album 'one touch.' The video is really cool, very modern and kitsch, reminding me of Kate Bush as well as Florence and the Machine.

Click Here to visit the Official Siobhan Donaghy Website

Thursday, 30 July 2009

[4. the beautiful and the damned - continued]

Stacie Anderson, [Gramercy Park Hotel, Gramercy, New York City, NY]

i find myself in a world full of pain
locked, lonely and full of shame
words fail me, feelings shroud me
all alone with no-one to guide me
i want to sit here and write to you
but i don't know how to start
depths of despair continue to haunt my heart
i think of you always, even when i don't want to
and to be honest, i find myself a wreck without you
i have no choice but to walk away, and torn between holding you close and wanting you near each day
i go on alone, feelings of hope and happiness can no longer be found here
how long will it take for my heart to mend, to look back on this and play pretend
i'll find a way to escape, and i know later on, we'll smile and reminisce
about happy days and one special kiss,
and come to agree that despite everything, there's no more you, not without me.

Tuesday, 28 July 2009

[4. the beautiful and the damned - continued]


Darren Anderson, [Mount Sinai Hospital, West Manhattan, New York City, NY]

“I never thought we'd be here... right where we are... so quickly.”
“I know.”
“I hate to think I'm sounding selfish... I know everyone has their problems, dilemmas in their own lives, but right here, right now, I'm so unbelievably happy.”
I looked over at my wife, a few minutes of silence passing between us, before I looked down at our little daughter, asleep in my arms, and every part of her being completely perfect.
“I can't believe this is all happening.” I said, feeling as if I was part of a dreamworld instead of reality.
Although I was incredibly tired, I couldn't bear to be away from her, even for a second. I knew that I would miss her too much to even be out of the room, downstairs fixing myself a cup of coffee. Her little body shook as she moved slightly, my arms immediately adjusting themselves – catering to her every movement. As she lazily opened her eyes and looked around her sleepily, I knew that the last 52 hours had been the very best of my entire life, and whatever lay ahead, I didn't care, it had all been worth it.
We decided to name our daughter Autumn Selene, and as she peered up at me and looked into my eyes, I knew that she was perfect, and there wasn't a better name that we could have given her. Her skin was the colour of light caramel, and was offset by her eyes, which were midnight blue, and almost black in colour. Her eyes now closed again, Autumn's cheeks blushing angrily as she yawned, colouring them a deep shade of crimson. Her face was incredibly beautiful, and she had striking symmetrical features along with a rosebud mouth that opened and closed in a tiny 'o' shape as she blew little colostrum bubbles in her sleep. Her lips were bee-stung and a shade darker than her skin, and the little bronze coloured tuft of hair on her had was incredibly cute, and everytime I looked at her, Autumn managed to disarm me completely all over again. Thanks to Tasha, I was sure that she was going to inherit her mother's stunning looks, but I knew that she would have the personality to match too.
It's now early evening on Autumn's first day on earth, and her very first introductions to the world, having only seen her mother, me, and the inside of the delivery room, and a quick sneaky walk around the hospital, only taking her back when she started to cry gently.
For the past 3 hours, Natasha has been asleep and I've been with Autumn, talking to her gently, telling her all about our lives together, and the story of how she was born, and how she was the best thing both of us have ever achieved.
Now Tasha is lying in bed, still weak and tired, but propped up by countless pillows all around her. I slowly hand her over to Tasha, so she can cradle her in her arms almost as much as I have had the luxury of doing. Autumn gives Tasha a small smile, and as she nestles comfortably into her mother's arms, her head conveniently near her breast, she gives a small yawn and wraps her tiny fingers tightly around one of Natasha's fingers as she falls back to sleep. i lean my body forward slightly to kiss my beautiful wife, more happy than I have ever been before. The delivery room is still filled with balloons of every colour, the most being of blue and pink, not to mention several teddy bears and cuddly toys that vary – from as tiny as Autumn herself to practically life size.
i'm now sitting, legs crossed on the foot of the bed, recording videos and taking a few pictures of us for proud grandparents, the rest of the family, as well as Autumn when she gets older. I unload the camera slowly and put it carefully back into the hand luggage that accompanied Tasha to the hospital.
We both knew that our life as we knew it was over – that our current lives were about to drastically alter and change in ways we hadn't even imagine or prepare for. I looked over at Natasha cradling Autumn and smiled – all of a sudden, fatherhood felt like the most natural thing in the world to me, and because of the impact of this little perfect person, I wanted to be a better person, and I knew that because of her, I would be.
I looked up again to see Natasha sitting silently with Autumn in her arms, silently crying as she kept looking down at Autumn and shaking her head in frustration. I watched her arms tighten around Autumn as she held her closer to her, wrapped her up in her arms and her natural scent.
“I can't do it... I can't do this....” Tasha said, looking up at me, her eyes opening wide, her face entirely tear stained.
“What do you mean?” I said, holding out my arms towards her as I wrapped the two most important people in my life around me, making sure that Autumn had room to breathe, and not wanting to interrupt her sleep as I held Natasha in my arms tightly, letting her know I was here for exactly this – anything she needed, and more.
'What's wrong?” I said to her, as I looked into her eyes, holding her face in my hands as I kissed her slowly on the mouth.
Natasha's eyes told me she was scared – incredibly scared of everything that was happening, and although it was the good kind of scary and not the scary, she still remained incredibly overwhelmed and vulnerable.
“I can't feel it. Shouldn't I be able to feel it?” She said, looking up at me, tears in her eyes, her expression conveying frantic desperation.
I took a deep breath and looked at her, pulling her closer to me. 'baby – feel what? I can't imagine all the feelings you must have.. its just going to take some time...'
Tasha stiffened and looked at me, dead in the eye and straightened up again, her whole body tight. 'I don't know what I'm supposed to feel, I can't make sense of it. But I know there's supposed to be this overwhelming sense of love for her - ' she said, signalling to Autumn lying contentedly in her arms, “but its not there. I don't feel anything for her – that's crazy. I mean, I'm supposed to love her – to realise all in one second that she's the most important person in the world to me – the most important part of my life – but its not there.”
She continued to talk to me, whilst holding Autumn in her arms, and staring at her intently for a few minutes at various intervals – wanting, wishing, always needing to think that things would click into place and this overwhelming sense of love would consume her.
“Tash – you're putting way too much pressure on all of this. You've just done this immensely powerful thing – given birth to our child – and its bigger than me, than us, bigger than I could have possibly imagined – and you did it all on your own. Do you know how amazing that is – how amazing you are as a person? Nobody's expecting you to make sense of every single emotion you're having right now.'
“Darren – listen to me. I understand what you are saying, but I'm talking about basic emotions – instinctual emotions, even. Did you have any doubts about how much you loved Autumn when you first saw her? Its been just over two days now, and still I can't feel anything for her. Its as if she means nothing to me.” Tasha said, looking at me, unable to stop her tears from running down her cheeks once again. She stiffened as she looked down at Tasha.
“Take her away from me. I can't do any of this right now. I'm tired – I'm still so tired.'
I nodded silently, and wrapped Autumn carefully up in my arms again. She held out a tiny hand as she looked at me, and as I held her up in my arms, she pressed one tiny palm against my cheek, a curious look on her face, and just like her mother, she closed her eyes and fell back into sleep.
Darren Anderson, [Mount Sinai Hospital, West Manhattan, New York City, NY]
My mind had been like a rollercoaster of emotions for hours now – various things had passed me by in a complete blur, to the point where I had forgotten to think about anything else that was or might be happening outside of these four whitewashed walls.
I had been contained in what felt like a perfectly formed litle bubble all of my own, with the two people that mattered most in the world to me at my side. For the last 2 days, I had felt so unbelievably happy that I felt as if I’d explode.
When I looked at Autumn, even now, watching her as she slept soundly beside us, oblivious and without a care in the world, a smug smile on her face, even as she dreamt, I couldn’t help but gravitate towards her and love her unconditionally with every part of me – every part of my being and with every bone in my body.
It wasn’t logic that made me act this way, it was love. And, even with the unlikeliest and unseeming of soon to be parents, as soon as their child comes into their lives, all of their doubts melt away, and even though it leaves nothing but annoying impracticalites, we have to find a way to deal with it – not for us, not for our want of a better life, but for our children – the people we put before ourselves, the little people who we sacrifice and give up on all our dreams and ambitions we always had – so that our children can have one.
I always thought this was natural to parents – it was natural to me with my parents, and their recent troubles had been one of the first bumps to reality I had seen in lieu of my parents’ seemingly perfect partnership and marriage together. But, as I turned my back slightly away from Autumn, and back towards Natasha, the woman I loved more than life itself, It began to dawn on me that I could have no idea in the world exactly how she was feeling, unless she opened up and talked to me.
It had been 24 hours since Natasha had told me that she had felt no connection and no motherly bond to our beloved daughter. My first reaction wasn’t one of hurt or anger, or even sympathy. I simply wanted, and needed to hold her in my arms for however long it would take for her to bloom again and become the person that I married, the person I loved and would always continue to do so.
Autumn slept right through the night, and continued to do so, even now, having been contentedly full from her feed the day before, but even then, as much as it pained and terrified her to feel this way, she couldn’t will her mind to force something that seemed unnatural to her.
I had held her in my arms from the moment that Autumn had closed her eyes up until a few moments ago, when although still asleep, started to stir and move gently, her eyes remaining tightly shut, as her little chest moved up and down rhythmically. As Autumn lay asleep next to us, unaware of what was happening, Natasha had remained in my arms, but she had been stiff and unmoving, only allowing herself to be wrapped up in my arms because she couldn’t think of anything else to do, she didn’t have any access to do anything else, and she didn’t want to be left alone without my comfort or support with nothing but her thoughts and nightmares to distract and haunt her.
Dawn had arrived, and twilight came and went, and Natasha lay still and silent in my arms. Throughout the night her body had betrayed her thoughts and started to unconsciously unwind, weak to my touch, and wanting some small consolation of body comfort and heat. I stayed awake with her until she finally gave in and fell asleep, during which her body began to shiver and shake, courtesy of the effects that her bad dreams were having on both her physical and mental state of mind, no doubt leaving her emotionally distant and adrift.
“I don’t know what to say…. What to think, how to feel… my mind just can’t do it anymore…I’ve been through all of this a million times in my head and I….” Tasha said, before I brushed my fingers gently over her lips.
“I know… I know we can work this out… you trust me, right? Just like I trust you?”
Tasha closed her eyes and smiled, some of her warm radiant glow creeping slowly back into her cheeks, highlighting her natural beauty.
“You know I do.” She responded, looking at me, and holding my face in her hands, pulling me in closer and closer until her lips found mine and pressed down strongly, eager, not wanting to stop, as if some connection was going to break, becoming lost and broken forever.
We both looked over towards Autumn as a low, muffled noise came from her cot, a low whimper, and before we knew what was happening, I was over to her cot, bending over her and checking she was OK, that she was still alive, still breathing, still beautiful and healthy, and my gorgeous little girl.
Tasha remained behind reluctantly on the bed as I attended to Autumn, who was being slightly muffled by her tiny blanket, which she had now managed to entangle herself in, the light baby pink sheet finding its way up around her ears. I lifted her effortlessly and easily out of her cot as if she was as light as a feather, and to me, she was, as I brought her around carefully and walked back across the room towards the bed, where I sat down at the end of the bed, Autumn snugly in my arms, and looked across at Tash, watching, waiting, and hoping to see what her reaction to all of this would be. What would her head tell her? What would her heart commit her to do? And despite her best intentions, or seemingly cruel intentions, who would she listen to?
Tasha remained on the bed, a nervous wreck in front of me, my nervous beautiful wreck, her hands wringing in a horrible circle of tension, guilt and upset from the fact that she hadn’t been able to hold her daughter for more than a few hours, and this had been at the times when Autumn had been hungry, and crying out for her, and when she had no other option left. At first, for the first few days, Tasha wouldn’t let Autumn anywhere near her, she didn’t want to see her anymore than she had to, and allowed the nurse to freely take over and have her free reign, which she clearly indulged in with a baby as beautiful as ours, to the point where the nurse would feed her, bathe her, play with her, laugh with her – whenever she was not with me, which meant the nurse really had her for only 3 hours of the day, but Tasha would wake up in the morning and not see her daughter again until she stood over her at night, and talked to her while she slept, believing that this was the safest way that all of this could work, and therefore have a chance at succeeding.
“We’re OK, everything’s going to be great. I promise. I love you so much, Natasha Baila, I don’t want you to forget that – whatever happens, just know that, OK?”
Tasha looked at me and smiled, the first real genuine smile I had seen since Ava had been born. At that moment, Autumn started to struggle in my arms, her small little body began to pull at the points where my arms wrapped around her, acting like a shield. Her whimpers turned to moans, before moans turned to cries, and her constant crying began to turn to screams. Suddenly, Autumn gave one last push, and with a result, she had managed to poke one tiny fist out of my hold, and into the air. She worked on getting her other hand free before I gave up, exasperated by not being able to understand what she wanted, but at the same time it was impossible to take my eyes from her – this beautiful little person who was a part of me, who had the world at her feet, and it took my breath away each and every time I thought about what transition our daughter would go through next. Meanwhile, Autumn refused to give up and still struggled against my loose grip, almost to the point where if she pushed hard enough she would fall out of my arms. She reached up and held out her hands achingly, needingly towards Tasha and moaned and whimpered. Tasha looked confused as she looked at her daughter directly in the eye, and then immediately averted her eyes towards me, looking for a back up plan or an exit strategy.
Autumn wasn't aware of what was going on between us, the only thing she seemed to focus on was the fact that suddenly she was not the focal point for neither of us anymore for the past minute, and started to cry and moan until our attentions were steered back around to her.
I shook my head slowly as Autumn pushed against me, holding out for a fall or for something to happen before I would lose my focus.
Tasha looked at me beseechingly again as I looked at her and smiled, albeit a little too smugly. “Sorry Tash, but it’s not going to work. Much as she loves me, she’s officially had enough. She doesn’t want the nurse either, and she’s not hungry, and she’s been changed and looked after thoroughly, so don’t try and get out if it that way either. She wants someone new, someone different – the one person she hasn’t really seen properly for days and wants to spend all her time with so she can smile that perfect smile of hers….” I say, touching her nose lightly as she giggled infectiously as she played with the tips of my fingers, her memory briefly focused on something else before she followed the sound of my voice, and looked in my direction, and looked at Tash and smiled. “She wants her mummy – she just wants you.” I said, looking at Tasha while she closed her eyes in frustration, before she slowly opened them again and finally allowed herself to look at her daughter. I picked Autumn up out of my lap as she held her hands out towards Tash, who cradled her in her arms as she sat curled up in a ball with Tash’s hands placed around her. She started playing with curls and loose tendrils of Tasha’s long hair, as well as burying her head in between Tasha's long loose curls, sometimes pressing her palm and her tiny fingers up to Tash’s cheeks and leaving them there for a few minutes, becoming fascinated by the fact that when she let go, her fingers were shiny and wet, being continually covered with Tasha’s tears.
Although Autumn was just a few weeks old, she was acutely aware of everything that was happening, aware of the people that would sit for hours on end and stare at her, completely wrapped up and enamoured with her, always smiling and obedient, but well trained in perfecting exactly how to make her feelings well and truly clear.
All of a sudden I can hear something from outside – a quiet knock on the door and the sound of muffled voices as Tasha and I both look at each other and smile – giving each other the strength we need to face all of this. I look into Tasha’s eyes, trying desperately to reassure her that she can get through this, and she does the same, letting me know through her radiant, warm expression that everything will be OK. I nodded slowly – things were still a little bit raw between my father and me – but this was a new chapter, a new leaf, a new page, and in order to be a good father and take care of my own family, I had to learn to leave things in the past where they deserve to be – forgotten and alone, and without a care in the world being thrown their way.
“Come in!” I say towards the door, as it opens, and into the bright room walks in Tasha’s parents, Jennifer and Luis, as well as my own parents. Stacie walks in last, head held high and determined to remain strong and upbeat. Stacie gives me a playful smile and punches me on the shoulder, a warm, loving smile that for now, translates all that it needs to, and more. Right here, in this room, and in these moments, sometimes words aren’t needed, or just seem too basic and inadequate to express and show exactly the kind of intricate emotions that everybody goes through. Today, I know she doesn’t want to make it about her, about me, or about anybody else apart from the one person that matter – Autumn.
I’m still sitting on the end of Tasha’s bed, with Tasha propped up in bed, her arms still held awkwardly around Tash, waiting for the moment when someone takes Ava out of her arms and she can breathe again, dispelling her tension. Everybody is still crowded abruptly around the bed until I turn towards Dad, and get up slowly from the bed.
“You should sit down – all of you.” My Mum is carrying a huge bouquet of flowers, alongwith a truckload of cuddly teddy bears and toys that Autumn’s eyes are immediately attracted to. I know she must have cleaned out the local toystore with the amount of excess toys she has managed to bring, this time glad of the fact that she gets to indulge in one of the things she loves the most, and on top of it, is glad she has a good excuse to call upon whenever dad thinks enough is enough and tries to reign her in, although I know she has everybody’s best intentions at heart.
“She’s beautiful, and perfectly capable of taking absolutely anybody’s breath away!” My dad says, perching quietly next to my mother on the large chair at the side of the bed.
I nodded and smiled. “Thanks – for being here. It really means a lot.” I said, looking at him intently and smiling, as he returned my smile, giving me a wink afterwards.
“Of course, despite everything, I wouldn't have missed any of this for the world – I'm so incredibly proud of you – more than you know. I know I've been a terrible father, you deserve someone better than me, who....”
I held up my hand in frustration to silence him. “Dad, please. Let's not do this – not now. The truth is, I need you in my life, now perhaps more than ever, and I don't want to lose you. And for the record, you were an excellent dad – for the most part!” I said, and couldn't help myself as I started to laugh out loud at my dad's seemingly wounded expression.
“So, what do you think? Want to hold your grand-daughhter or what?” I ask, smiling at him. I take Autumn away from Tasha, and then carefully transfer her over to my dad. She is all too aware of the fact that this is someone new – someone unfamiliar. Autumn looks up at her grand-dad, her brown eyes open and wide, turning her face up towards his, and then her eyes finally settle on his shirt and chest in her never ending quest for a source of food. After a couple of moments pass, and she yawns, her eyelashes fluttering wildly like butterfly wings before she settles down and eventually falls asleep in my arms again.
“She's amazing – she's just like you – both of you. I see that in her already. Autumn's already incredibly lucky to have two people who will prove to be incredibly amazing parents, providing her with all the tools and equipment she needs to get through and succeed in her life.” My dad finished, looking at the both of us and delivering a large smile. I couldn't help but hazard a look at Tash, and as she caught my eyes, she quickly focused her attentions back towards Stacie, who was talking to Tash in low whispers that were barely audible above the general hum of chatter in the room.
A few hours later, everybody started to say their goodbyes, reluctantly leaving Autumn behind and back with us. Stacie was the first to leave, but now was not the time to start questioning her about it, and once again, myself, Tasha, and Autumn found ourselves alone. She is lying contentedly in my arms now, sucking her thumb, but I can see her eyelids are heavy, and despite her best intentions, I know she's about to fall asleep at any minute, and then she does.


Sunday, 26 July 2009

[4. the beautiful and the damned ]

Stacie Anderson, [Gramercy Park Hotel, Gramercy, New York City, NY]
The party showed no sign of slowing down or stopping. I walked back into the large room, filled with hundreds of people, familiar faces I recognised from hours before, and then countless others who I didn’t.
I quickened my steps now, in a frantic rush to look for Daniel, realising that it must be pretty late by now, and wanting to be with him and in his arms on my birthday. Music had been blaring from the DJ booth for what seemed like hours on end, and the atmosphere was so electric and fully charged that it was impossible for the party atmosphere to get any better than it already was. Even as I stepped forward into the room and walked around, trying to find one face – or a group of faces I recognised, it was impossible not to get drawn in to the happy vibe of the room – it was instant, almost like a drug.
I was happy – happy to be here, to have met the people I needed to, to have met Daniel’s best friend – somebody who was close to him, who was clearly more than a lingering associate or acquantaince. And furthermore, I was even happier because he was the one person- besides Daniel, who seeemed real and genuine to me, and despite the few hours we had known each other, I believed everything he had said to be true.
I walked past the thick velvet red drapes that hung down from every booth that was located around the room, located on the very edge of the room so as not to get in the way of the huge dancefloor located in the middle. The room was heaving, the air was hot and humid, and it would be all too easy for me to give up my search for Daniel, and head back to where Jude had said he would be. I looked down and fiddled with my clutch bag, pulling my mobile out hastily and punching in his number, knowing it would be useless. Although his phone had not gone straight to voicemail, it would have been simply impossible for Daniel to hear his phone, so I hung up, without leaving a message. I was determined to find him – he had to be here – where else would he be?
I had circulated the entire room without any luck. I pushed my hair back with my hands and grabbed another champagne flute quickly from a passing waiter. I sipped it slowly, before shifting my feet from right to left, all too aware that my stilettos were causing me to be in a great amount of pain. I smiled and charmed my way through a barrage of people until I got to the far exit, at the very furthest point of the room, next to the door, and finally in frustration, I flipped out my phone again. I scrolled down to find Daniel’s number, and as his phoen went through to voicemail again, this time I decided to leave a message. I couldn’t find him, and as I glanced down at my watch, I realised it was 11.00, and I wasn’t entirely sure if we would ever find each other through all of these hundreds of people. After leaving a message, I snapped my phone shut, slightly agitated, and ran my hands through my loose curls again before I decided to head back to where I had left Jude. I looked at my watch again – 11.02 – and realised that I hadn’t phoned not one of my friends to apologise about skipping out on my own birthday plans that they had spent time organising for me. Daniel had left it quite late to tell me about the party, and he had said it in such a way that I couldn’t say no, and guilt is underestimated as a strong emotion.
I walked slowly towards the last booth on the right hand side, and carefully towards the door, where the atmosphere and general chatter of the room had died right down to just a general whisper. I typed in Winona’s number quickly into my keypad, listening out for her sharp voice when answering the phone - once again, it was voicemail, and before I had time to leave a message, my train of thoughts were interrupted by raised voices and arguing coming from inside the last booth.
The thing that had alerted me to this wasn’t the volume of the voices – it was the fact that both of these voices were familiar – all too familiar to me, before I suddenly realised that there couldn’t be any other two people inside the booth apart from Daniel and his assistant Sonja Matthews, who I knew, and what she had recently admitted to me out of spite, that she had had a longtime and long suffering crush on her boss, and now that she had waited for all of this time, was keen to see her plans through, regardless of the results or the consequences that ensued afterward.
I couldn’t help but stand outside and try my best to listen. I don’t know what had come over me – the little voice inside of me was raging, my natural curiosity was killing me, I was trying to force my entire mind to listen and react, to will my limbs to move and interrupt whatever was going on, wanting to know why tonight, of all nights, I was not finishing the night with my boyfriend, and why he was not with me. It had been his thing – his party – his night – the one night where it felt like the entire spotlight was on him, created for him, and my birthday night.
Just as I was about to part the heavy drapes and go through into the large booth, the curtains suddenly parted in front of me, and Sonja emerged, looking distressed, angry and agitated. Her cheeks were flushed a deep crimson colour despite her brown skin, and she gave me a long, cold stare up and down, until she broke off her gaze and tucked a loose tendril of hair behind her ear, straightened her dress at its hem, and walked away from me, having regained her calm and composure as she made her way back towards the bustling throng and centre of the party.
I watched her walk away from me, trying to decipher what had happened, what had been said. Its not that I was jealous – there was nothing for me to be jealous of, but her position as Daniel’s assistant was starting to look more and more ominous every day.
Sonja and Daniel had mentioned my name during their argument – that much had been clear. I made my way through the red drapes to find Daniel standing beside the table, looking down at his feet, a brooding and pained expression on his face, before he turned to the glass flute next to him and suddenly downed the beige bubbly liquid all in one go.
He finally tore his eyes away from his glass to look at me, to let his eyes rest on my face, to look into my eyes without having to hide, without any distractions.
I looked into his face and saw a look so pained that it caused me to flinch – he couldn’t even bear to look at me for longer than a couple of seconds. His eyes were as beautiful as ever, but his pupils were dilated, the rims of his eyes slightly bloodshot, and he wore an expression that seemed to convey he was suffering a never ending amount of emotional torture. I moved closer to him – unsure of what would happen next. I don’t know if the alcohol he had had – as an added factor to all of this, contributed to how he was feeling now, in this minute, but he looked so small and distant that I was afraid that any physical touch from me would cause him to break down into a million little pieces.
Our faces were inches away from each others now – and although my hands remained firmly at my sides, my eyes searched for his, wanting to read his expression, wanting, needing to know what he was thinking – how we had gotten to this point, and what had just happened in the last five minutes that seemed to have changed and affected the dynamic of the entire evening, my eyes refusing to leave his face, as his eyes started to slowly betray what he was really feeling.
I looked up at him now, and spoke, my voice barely audible above a gentle whisper. “I heard my name.” I said to him.
He looked down at me, and despite his expression, he gave me a small, pinched smile. He shakes his head and presses a finger against my lips, to stop me from asking anymore questions. His inability to use his mouth all of a sudden causes me to try and read his body language, read between the lines. I want him to know he can tell me, he can always tell me anything, and now I want to know what is wrong, what has shaken him up this much as opposed to the happy, loving perfect man who was my boyfriend.
Despite my misgivings, I put my hand up to his face lovingly and caress his cheek, cradling his face in my hand. I feel his face tighten and tense at my touch, before I start to stroke it, wanting to tell him everything’s going to be OK. For a fraction of a second, he closes his eyes briefly and allows his face to relax, his facial muscles underneath his skin relaxing at my touch.
He opens his eyes again suddenly, and stiffens, before he grabs hold of my hand and pushes it away from his face, suddenl y becoming agitated and restless.
My mind starts to race – What did Sonja and Daniel say to each other that now left him like this? He looked at me, a pleading expression now all across his face, and all of a sudden he grabbed my hands, pulling me closer to him when he had already pushed me away, our hands locked together, our fingers intertwining. He pulled me close to him as he kissed the top of my forehead, his lips pressing gently on the top of my forehead. I looked into his face again, searching out for the truth in his eyes, and a sense of pervading dread started to wash all over me. As his lips pressed desperately against my skin, I couldn’t help but feel clammy and uneasy at all of this – I wanted him to tell me everything; anything – whatever it was – I couldn’t make any sense of this on my own. I wanted to be closer to him, nearer to him, to let him know I was here, and would listen, whenever he needed me to.
“Whatever it is – we can get through it together. I know you love me, you can tell me anything. I have many talents. One of them is listening, and you just have to let me do it.”
At the sound of my voice, as my words resonated with him, he closed my eyes and inhaled deeply . Daniel looked as if his entire body was in pain – as if he was being tortured, wanting it all to be over but not knowing quite how to get out of it.
He opened his eyes and looked at me, and took a step back away from me as he finally allowed himself to look at me for longer than a few seconds.
“I need to tell you something.” He said, looking at me, before he looked down at the floor, a brooding expression arising on his face once again.
“What – what is it? Baby – just tell me, whatever it is…. Please…”
“I can’t….” He breaks off, and looks at me, his eyes filled with tears. He looks so small and fragile, a complete depletion of the man that I saw charm every single person at the party tonight not more than 3 hours ago.
“Yes! Yes, you can. I’m right here. You can tell me – you can tell me anything.”
“I slept with Sonja.”
Those four words and five syllables felt like I had just taken a bullet straight to the heart. I could hear his words echoing in my ears, each decibel still ringing and reverberating around my ear drum, but somehow, my mind couldn’t register and make sense of the words. I wasn’t completely sure if my mind had simply failed to understand through the massive onset of shock, or if my mind had understood but had failed to make any sense of them and manage to link it to the reality – a sweet dream which had turned into a beautiful nightmare which I was now stuck in, and despite my best intentions, I didn’t want to believe. I didn’t want to believe and let go, and believe what he was telling me was the truth. I was convinced he was lying, convinced that it wasn’t exactly the truth. I was so consumed and overwhelmed with shock that if this was a dream, I disallowed myself to wake up and face the reality.
But it wasn’t a dream, and shock consumed me – utterly, entirely, and completely. Even though Daniel was standing right in front of me, waiting, hoping, needing, and praying me to say something, for some kind of response, he seemed more than a million miles away as I stood where I was, my feet frozen in place, but at the same time I felt as If I was about to collapse and my legs were about to give way at any minute.
Everything seems to be in slow motion and far away. I look up at Daniel and see him coming nearer, moving closer towards me, but, when a minute ago, I would have wanted him in my arms, now I couldn’t wait to get away from him. But a part of me didn’t want to leave. A part of me wanted to stay and demand to know why – why any of this had had to happen – why any of this had had to happen to me. I was starting to feel that bad luck was just one of those things in my life that was going to be inevitable.
I can see him getting closer and closer towards me – I can see his hands coming towards me – coming towards my body, my skin. I can’t bear to have him touching me – not now. I can’t bear to have his hands – those hands that have touched her, that have roamed all over Sonja’s body – they can’t be anywhere near me – I couldn’t have him anywhere near me. I stand there in shock, blinking back tears, unable to breathe, as if someone has just punched me in my stomach and stabbed me at the very epicentre of my heart, and watched as its broken and shattered into tiny pieces in front of us, pieces that have now become irrevocable to fix and to mend by him – even over time.
“Say something. Please – speak to me, Stacie. I need to know what you’re thinking.” Daniel says, looking at me.
My expression is blank – at this moment in time, I’m in shock. I thought I would be in extreme, consuming pain, but I feel empty – I feel nothing. I feel numb – and my eyes feel as if they have become glazed over, as if they have been drained of all my feelings and emotions – as if you can see right through me, right through me and into my empty soul. The fire inside me that had burned, that had been recently been stoked and brought back to life again by falling in love had once again died and burnt out, leaving my soul behind with nothing but cinder and ash. I looked at Daniel – into his face and into his eyes, and whereas before I always used to marvel at what his eyes used to tell me, how much I knew he loved me, now all that had gone – evaporated, vanished. Now I looked into his face, and saw straight through him. He had become transparent and empty – a clear void.
Despite all of this, I am unable to put my mind and my body back together and make them work together as one.
I can see him coming towards me now, and although every part of me is screaming loudly to get away from him, his presence, his touch, I allow myself to stand there, while he gets closer. I allow myself to stand still and silent, in shock, as his lips start to cover my face with quick, soft kisses, remaining still and unresponsive as he kisses me gently on the mouth, his lips brushing against mine. At that moment Sonja’s face, and all her other expressions of spite flash through my head, and I push Daniel away, weakly with both my hands. My body feels incredibly weak and sluggish that this doesn’t get him very far away from me. I don’t know how it is possible to feel this emotionally drained, so completely all so quickly, but it has happened to me. I flinch away from Daniel in disgust as silent trails of salty tears fall down my cheeks, and my defenses fall, and I’m overwhelmed and consumed by my tears – his betrayal.
The party seems all but alien to me now – to me, I feel there is nothing beyond those red drapes – nothing out there for me to look forward to, only my friends for me to go home to, the only silver lining to appear out of this entire surreal situation that I now find myself in – wishing I was anywhere but here.
“What are you thinking? Stacie – baby, please. I love you so much, and it’s destroyed me to have done this to you, but I just couldn’t lie to you. Isn’t that worth something? Talk to me, Stacie!”
“I….. I…..” I struggle to find the words, and all of a sudden my lungs start to constrict in my throat, and I struggle to breathe, and find myself gasping and gulping for air, taking deep breaths, but still finding myself unable to formulate a sentence to signify my thoughts and feelings – everything that I’m feeling.
“I can’t do this…. I can’t do this with you. Not now. Not ever.”
“WHAT? What do you mean? I know you don’t mean that… it was one silly, stupid mistake, and I never meant to hurt you. It meant nothing, absolutely nothing to me. You have to believe me. You are the only person – only woman for me. I love you.”
“I can’t do this… I can’t… I just can’t… you’re a different person to me now. I used to think you would never hurt me, never ever.”
“This can’t be it… this just can’t be…. I can’t lose you.” Daniel said, as he looked at me, tears in his eyes. “I can’t be without these arms, these legs, these hands, your smile... your heart, your beautiful heart...” He said, reaching up and stroking my arms, every part of my body, his hands intertwining with my own as our faces was inches away from each other now.
“Why? Why did you do this? Why Sonja?”
“I don’t know…. I wasn’t thinking…I was there, and needed someone to talk to… it only happened once.”
“Why couldn’t you have talked to me? Is that such a difficult concept for you to imagine that you’d rather be on top of someone else?” I asked, looking up at him, a fierce look in his eyes.
“I needed to talk to someone, and Sonja was there, and she forced herself on me. And before I knew what was happening, or even begin to make sense of anything….”
“I don’t want to hear your excuses. About any of it. I thought everything was OK between us. That we were OK.” I said, looking at him, tears staining my cheeks.
“How could you possibly think things were OK between us after what happened? I told you I loved you and I got nothing. I already felt like shit, and your attempts to try and make me feel better didn’t work.”
“So, I should have lied to you, and told you I was in love with you when I wasn’t.... to stop you from running into the arms of another woman?”
“No… I just… I don’t know how to make sense of what I’ve done… or even of my feelings.”
“I told you the truth. I loved you, I just needed a little bit more time to figure out what that love really means. But that’s gone now, you’ve destroyed it. You broke us – what we had – it’s broken. It’s gone. I can’t do this. “
I look at him and shake my head, as I start to walk past him. He grabs my arm softly but strongly, turning my arm and forcing my body to turn and meet his.
“This can’t be it… we need to talk about this… I can’t lose you…”
I couldn’t stop the tears from falling down my face now, and was all too suddenly aware of the fact that there was still an ongoing party happening just outside the red drapes hanging between the world in here, and the world outside, both separate to me now, and I found myself scared and unable to make sense of either of them or what had just happened.
“What do you want to talk about, Daniel? How bad it feels to stand here and hear this from you? From the man I was starting to fall in love with?”
“I don’t know what I can say to rectify the hurt and pain I’ve caused you, but you have to believe me when I say I’m sorry.”
“What’s wrong with me wanting one normal thing in my life? To have a boyfriend in my life that won’t hurt me, who won’t do this to me?” I said, speaking more to myself than to Daniel – trying to come to terms with everything that had happened in my own mind.
“Its over. This will be the last time you ever see me.” I said, letting go of his hand, turning and walking through the drapes and back into the main centrestage of the party, allowing myself to be drawn into the atmosphere, letting the music wash over me and attempt to block everything else out.


Hi Guys!
My Thanks continue to go out to all of you who keep up with me on this blog - thank you so much for reading, and please don't forget to let me know what you think!!
I just thought I would give you another little update of mine! As you all know, I currently work in Borders which means that I have the very best access and first looks to all of the new releases and publications across both hardback and paperback charts. I've been a bit of a homebody as of late, and so another favourite pastime of mine is to try my hand at cooking. For anybody who knows my mum, I have some tough, if not unbeatable competition on my hands, but I'm determined to cook some proper food!
I try to eat healthy and at the moment I'm playing with the idea of changing my diet to that of a vegetarian/vegan. This is quite a challenge and proving incredibly hard just a few weeks in, spoken from somebody who used to eat meat at least once a day!
I love to go to Farmers' Markets and particularly love the Whole Foods Market. When I'm in the right mood, the food halls at Selfridges and Harrods are also amazing - especially if you're just browsing!
My favourite cookbooks at the moment are:
Miss Dahl's Voluptuous Delights by Sophie Dahl - warm recipes by the ex-supermodel of that Opium Advert, and Roald Dahl's granddaughter who inspired his book The BFG - as well as this, Sophie also candidly draws upon her experiences as a model and her endearing love for food.
Nigella Express - Nigella Lawson - I love me some Nigella. Her books have the nicest recipes, and her TV show's not too bad either - not to mention Ronni Ancona's classic comedy send-ups!
Jamie's Ministry of Food - Jamie Oliver - Who doesn't love Jamie? This is a cookbook specially tailored to suit the most basic beginners when cooking food - just like me!
[My Favourite Restaurants / london]
Yo Sushi, Wagamama, Nobu Berkeley, and Itsu are perfect for sushi and light lunches.
Carluccio's - classic italian - they also do the most amazing take away boxes for two people, including wine and summer cakes too!
Bella Italia, Ask, and Pizza Express - awesome if you feel like doing good italian food on the cheap!
Safa - lovely local indian restaurant who do the best curries in camberwell - fact! [also named after a good friend of mine :)]
The Hummingbird Bakery - perfect american style baking - specialising in cupcakes, cakes, savoury muffins, sweet muffins, pies, and cookies. The chocolate and green tea cupcakes are amazing! The Cookbook is pretty awesome too - find their branches at Kensington or Portobello Road!
A recent favourite website of mine is Gwyneth Paltrow's own lifestyle website Goop. - Its a really cool site, and has lifestyle tips, cookery tips, fashion tips, and lots more from the award winning actress.

[4. the beautiful and the damned - continued]

Eight hours later, and as the sun goes down, the lights come out, lighting up all across the New York skyline. There are other parties, other nights to spend with your boyfriend, but this night was different - this night was bound to be big.
As our car raced across the streets of New York, I felt as though someone had placed me in a sweet dream, and I was still waiting for somebody to pinch me, to wake me up from all of this, and bring me back to the normal semblance of life I had always known. I had become overwhelmed because everything had happened so quickly, and out of the blue. I just hadn't seen any of it coming until it had been too late, my feelings unable to let me forge an exit strategy.
I had always been constantly reminded just how fickle the music and dance industry was, and so despite my romantic relationship with Daniel continuing to grow and blossom, I still had misgivings about attending endless parties for weeks on end where nothing was ever as it seemed. A part of me didn't want to get drawn into weaving a tangled web where I'd sacrifice losing who I was, and having worked especially hard over the last year to regain my spirit back, the last thing I wanted to do was to trust everything without thinking things through.
Sometimes I wished that life didn't have to be this complicated. As my doubts started to haunt me, I forced my mind to focus on something else. I looked over at Daniel - his hand in mine, his loving eyes looking into my face, his crooked smile - his eyes, intense and alluring like deep whirlpools.
I was living the dream. The Dream had become a reality. It was time to stop holding back and just relax and let go, I had to, the last thing I wanted to be was pre-occupied on my birthday. And despite everything that had happened, Daniel had done nothing to convince me so far that things were anything but perfect. Life was looking good, and tonight, on my birthday, I was determined to sit back and enjoy the ride. All my distracting thoughts would just have to wait until another day.
4 hours, 6 champagne flutes, and what felt like 100 conversations later, I was still at Daniel's side and enjoying the party. I was paraded as the centre of attention, with Daniel happily taking back seat so I could seemingly soak up the spotlight, something which I didn't have the heart to tell him that it wasn't exactly what I wanted. Whereas most people would have loved this kind of attention and courted it more unashamedly, I appreciated it, but I had trouble coming to grips with it. I was confident, secure, and dressed to perfection, but what lacked at the party was real personalities. Everybody I had met was literally a replica of the last person - and I found myself becoming bored and restless too easy, despite Daniel being a shining beacon of perfection and attending to my every need no matter how big or small, constantly whisking me away from our gathering of people to whisper sweet nothings into my ear and hold me close.
“Don’t let go of my hand.” Daniel said, as he looked at me, before he grabbed my hand as we walked towards the door, leading off the balcony.
I took hold of his and smiled at him, as he led the way and I followed closely behind him. It had been an endless parade of introductions, meeting people, and gathering contacts within the music industry for most. For Daniel, attending this party was simply a way to thank all the many music insiders and contacts in the business for helping him to get to the top.

My birthdays have always been memorable. Every year, something significant would always happen, and my birthday would feel complete. Usually it wasn't a big thing, or even that much of a big deal, but it felt poignant. Over the years, these small things varied from getting a new pair of ballet shoes, a new bag, a new purse, reunited with friends, reunited with long lost family. This year, I had no doubt in my mind that once again, my birthday would be something to remember. I was so happy, and was looking forward to having endless memories to reminisce over, countless photos to remind me of the day and the night, as well as sharing the whole experience with other people, everyone around me who mattered. I was right, this year as always, my birthday would be significant – but it was about to be memorable for all the wrong reasons.

I stood in the middle of the room with a drink in my hand, the stale liquid in the glass which had now surely gone flat and looked around as the strobe lights from the ceiling above continued to blind me, somewhat blurring my line of vision. For the first time, I found myself alone, and looked across the room to find painted faces of make up and perfection all around me, ones of laughter, excitement, desire, lust, as well as romantic faces of enrapture and love. My eyes scanned quickly around the room to try and find Daniel, but I couldn't see him. I had been the one to loosen my hand away from his, to stand further and further away from him in a subtle attempt to make a quick exit. I had needed to be alone – by myself for five minutes. The atmosphere was heady and things were starting to blur. Daniel had turned to me, wanting to know what was going on, as I whispered in his ear I needed to be by myself for a little while. He nodded swiftly, and let go of my hand quickly without looking back at me as I left the large group of people wrapped all around us, to go and try and find a moment of clarity for myself outside, although in this particular party atmosphere, it seemed an impossible feat.

I close my eyes and breathe in deeply, before exhaling quickly, and open my eyes, not knowing how long I have stood in what feels like the centre of the room, alone, my eyes closed with a flat drink in my hand. I clear my throat quickly, running a hand through my hair, and make my way carefully towards what I can only make out to be the nearest exit. I walk quicker, getting closer and closer towards the outside air, a nearby door open next to a large white pillar, with a small group of people randomly dispersed between the two pillars.
I keep my head down, keen on avoiding all the people who have successfully managed to follow Daniel around all night, and with Daniel keeping a firm hold of my hand and seeming almost in awe that he has me here with him, their interest cannot help but pique at my character.
Suddenly, out of nowhere, just as I'm five or ten metres past the pillar and about to step over the threshold into the cool, clean air, a voice arises over the general chatter of the party and stops me in my tracks. I look up to see a tall man, leaning on the side of the pillar, his body facing me, but his head is cocked to the side as he blows out a perfect smoke ring into the night air, finishing off the last of his cigarette, before he turns and looks at me full on, and greets me with a smile, one so cheeky and infectious I can't help but smile back in confusion as I shake my head at him.
“Skipping out so soon?” He said, calling out to me, looking at me intently. He smiled at me again, and I walked over to him, slowly, intrigued to know why he was interested in me all of a sudden.
“You look familiar.” I responded, as I walked up and stood in front of him, looking at him, able to see him clearly now. He had dark brown eyes, almost black in colour, with short rugged hair, that was as messy and dishevelled as humanely possible. As the light shone down on his face, I could see his pattern of stubble clearly on his face, and he was wearing ripped dark denim jeans, a lumberjack red and white checked shirt, and what could only be loafers on his feet as I surveyed him thoroughly before allowing my eyes to rest for a minute on his face again.
“I've seen you before. Earlier.” I said, looking at his face, closer to him now.
“You've seen me before.” He said, repeating my words back to me. “Earlier, just like you said.”
He looked at me and smiled before taking another drag of his cigarette and breathing out another cloud of smoke as he lowered his hand, his fingers loosely placed around the ebbing butt slowly dying out in his hand.
“You going to give me a little bit of that?” I said, looking directly at the dying cigarette butt in his hand. He looked down at it, before looking at me once again, raising one eyebrow in mock surprise, before he shrugged and handed it carefully to me. I took a couple of steps backwards away from him and leaned against the cool white marble of the opposite pillar, and as I took a drag of the cigarette, I leaned back, breathing in and sighing deeply.
I looked at him, and handed it back to him. He looked up and reached for it, and threw it on the ground, crushing it with the tip of his loafer.
“Daniel's obviously forgotten his manners. We talked for a few seconds earlier – I'm Jude Reynolds, art gallery owner and sometimes, Daniel's much overlooked best friend.”
I couldn't help but laugh as I examined the guy who stood in front of me. Obviously he was not as devastatingly handsome as Daniel – not to brag, but every woman standing in this room would agree Daniel was the perfect package – his best friend seemed to be the hardened, rugged version. I looked at him again, and realised that as much as me and Winona were the polar opposites of each other, as best friends, Daniel and Jude seemed to share the same trait.
It was clear to see that Jude worked on his bravado and swagger when it came to how he talked to women – or so I was assuming. Nevertheless, at this moment in time, it seemed somewhat of a welcome change and relief from the ever adoring people that surrounded Daniel all the time.
“Did you think I would be intimidated by the fact that you mentioned you owned an art gallery?”
Jude looked up at me and gave me a small smile. “Are you?”
I smiled, and couldn't help but laugh and shake my head at the man's nerve. “No – not at all.”
'Right. See, that's the thing. That's usually my pick up line.”
“Shame. You look like you could have done with a connection to something, besides your ego, that is.”
Jude looked up at me and laughed. Although we were engaging in small talk, I noticed more and more that he had a pained, tortured look about him, and every time he looked away from my face, a flicker of something else would appear over his face, just for a second, before disappearing just as quickly – he was obviously brooding and pre-occupied about something – there was a mystery to him that I had never encountered before.
“What about you?” I asked. I ran my eyes over his choice of clothing again. “From the look of things, you look like you really want to be here.Did Daniel forget to tell you it was black tie? Or did you just forget to read your invitation?”
“I couldn't really care less. Daniel knows how I am, and he knows who to talk to to make sure nobody bothers me about how I dress. I don't care about any of this really. I'm just here because apparently, according to my best friend himself, this party is a good chance for me to network, get some more promotion for the gallery, meet people. But, the trouble is, we all know what networking really means. Everybody here is so full of shit – most of the time. Daniel promised me a free bar too, and apparently, the chance to meet you.”
He looked at me again before directing my gaze towards his now empty hands. “Now, while his first promise has managed to fall well and truly short, Its nice to meet you. Different to how I thought it would be.'
I raise my eyebrows in mock alarm. “Different? How different? Did you think I'd be some sort of square?”
He smiled. “Almost – but I'm starting to reassess things. You're not Daniel's usual type – at all.”
I smiled as I looked at him. He breathed out, and shifted his feet slightly, standing on each one alternately for a few minutes before placing them both firmly on the ground.
“So, why are you out here? You should be in there, being paraded around as Daniel's girlfriend.”
I laughed, not knowing what to think. I breathed out again slowly. “Why is it all such a big deal? To them – even to Daniel?” I said, looking at him. I hadn't had the heart to be so candid to Daniel – not yet, not after what had happened, ever since I had been unable to say those three little words, those three simple words he had wanted to hear, I had kept any feelings of unease or tension all to myself – strictly under lock and key. He had assured me that despite everything, things were fine – we were fine, and for now, for this night, for these couple of hours, that had been all I had wanted to hear, and I had let myself believe in it completely, without thinking and wanting to move forward.
'I don't know... I guess... in a weird way... in this industry, its their way of showing you that you belong, that they seem to care about you.”
“What, and that's not true? Its all bullshit?” I said, my cynical side getting the better of me.
“No, no, not at all. If anything its the exact truth. Much as I hate to admit it – people here really do look after their own. I can't tell you how many times Daniel's watched my back during the years.” He said, looking up at me again.
“How long have you and Daniel been friends?” I said, as he was now staring intently outside towards the horizon, looking at the sun about to set and disappear behind the clouds.
He looked at me, his eyes big, wide, and vulnerable, as his eyes swept over my interested expression, looking at me as if he had just snapped out of a trance.
Jude looked at me and whistled, a long low whistle. “Man - a long time. He's like my brother. He'd do anything for me – and I know I'd do the same for him.”
I nodded and looked down. At that moment, I felt a twinge of guilt for spending all my time with Daniel, and wished Winona could have been at my side – this party would have been a lot more interesting had my best friend been here, and the volume twice as loud.
“So... what about you? It feels as though you've asked me a hell of a lot of questions, and yet I don't know that much about you.”
“What? Haven't you heard everything about me from Daniel?” I said, giving him a probing look as I raise my left eyebrow playfully at him, a smile pulling at the corners of my mouth.
Jude laughed, a low deep laugh. “Yeah... sorry to say that I have. He won't shut up about you. 24 hours a day, in my ear, completely non stop. Beautiful, brainy, and a dancer of incandescent talent.” Jude hesitated slightly, pausing for a few seconds. “His words – not mine.” He gave me a short smile before he paused again, looking up into my face, trying to read my reaction. As my eyes met his, his eyes diverted back to looking out towards the horizon, the conversation coming to a halt.
Looking at Jude, I didn't know how to make sense of him – or what I wanted to think about him. I knew that he probably tired of being compared to his best friend – the one who seemingly had his head on his shoulders, the best friend that was more driven, more charismatic, more headstrong than you seemed like a hard thing to shoulder. But it was something else that seemed to consume Jude. Something more than that. The more we talked, the more he started to reminisce about his younger days, when he was more of a drifter, getting by on wit and charm, no matter how big or how small the obstascles would become. Jude seemed to be the provocateur of the two best friends, as tonight's conversation certainly proved to me. Suddenly I looked around, not sure of how long I had been out here, talking to Jude, and not getting away to be by myself, as my original plan had always been. I had no idea if Daniel had made an effort to look for me, and for the first time that night, I suddenly found myself not in the mood to go back to him, to appear at his side and get caught up in the same tangled web of fake niceties and false small talk – looking around, I now knew why I had gotten so restless – this party lacked any genuine feel to it – and being in this atmosphere felt suffocating, and on my own, even with Daniel at my side, I wasn't sure if I felt like I belonged.
“Its my birthday today.” I said, looking over at Jude. During the time that our conversation had subsided, he had reached into his pocket for another cigarette, and offering me one, I took one, with Jude taking the liberty of carefully lighting it up for me. I inhaled deeply, and exhaled a huge cloud of smoke, as opposed to the small and perfectly small row of smoke rings that Jude was sending up and out into the night sky.
The stars were starting to twinkle now, looking up at them, almost as if they were winking at me.
“Happy Birthday.” Jude said to me as he looked at me before he breathed out another perfect ring.
“Is this what you wished for?” He said, a playful grin playing upon his face.
“Daniel – yes. But seeing as he's not here... and as for this party, it wasn't exactly what I'd had in mind.”
“Right. You should go and find him – spend the last few hours of your birthday together, and enjoy yourself, before its too late.”
I shrugged, and looked down at my satin heels, my dress. I didn't know what to do – for the most part of the night, I had felt like one of those trophy, stepford wives, being paraded and introduced from group to group – always the same mindless chatter. I was happy to talk passionately and fervently about my love for dance music, but I could tell that they really couldn't have cared less.
“I don't know if I'm ready to go back in there – it feels so claustrophobic... so fake.... I shouldn't have to compromise what I want on my birthday.” I said, looking at him.
“No, you shouldn't...” Jude said resignedly. So, do you wanna go to a real party?”
I looked down and laughed. “I don't know... I should probably go back inside and find Daniel. I want to see him anyway.”
“Well, if you change your mind... I'll be here...” Jude trailed off, and looked at me, giving me a playful wink. I smiled and turned my back on him, and started to walk away. I looked back quickly and met his eyes with my own.
“Thank You.” I mouthed to him silently as I moved away, walking back quickly through the crowds and back towards the central throng of the party.
As I turned and threw him one last look, Jude looked at me and smiled, his own smile incredibly infectious, and waved me away playfully with one hand as he laughed and shook his head as I edged further and further away from him, back towards Daniel.


Saturday, 18 July 2009

[beautiful awakenings: synopsis]

Stacie Anderson is 25 years old and has just graduated from The Julliard School of Dance. Upon graduating, she manages to secure the coveted female lead in the biggest dance production in New York City to date, and instantly appears on the radar of the dance industry’s most important and prolific figures.
The head choreographer and head of production Benjamin Conrad is known for his fantastic reputation, as each of his productions has opened to masses of success and critical acclaim.
However, he later divulges to Stacie that in order to ensure his success every single time, his creative vision has to be compromised and approved before he is allowed to take control and direct the production in the way that he would like. He then tells Stacie that he is leaving the production in the pre-production stages to pursue his own dreams of creative freedom with a low budget, independent production in Connecticut.
Stacie realizes in one swift moment that not only will she lose a close friend, but her dreams of furthering her career and a shining start as a reputable female lead could well be in jeopardy at this sudden departure.
Ben tries to do his best to reassure Stacie that this will not be the case, as Ben wastes no time in telling Stacie that she has a god given talent for dancing and what she does will be recognized and praised no matter what happens or where she ends up.
However, the atmosphere takes on a melancholy ambience as they both cannot predict the future, and both of them are immensely saddened and tense about what will happen next.
Stacie does her best to remain positive and happy for Ben, and she is happy that he will have the chance to fulfill his dreams and ambitions, but in the back of her mind, her head cannot stop being distracted by the possibility of everything being turned upside down.
Ben assures her that everything will be OK, and starts to tell her about his replacement – Daniel Thomas, who is a producer and choreographer, well known for his music videos that have elevated him to stardom and fame, being praised everywhere he goes, and with the media spotlight following his every move.
Stacie still remains dislllusioned to the fact that all of this is really happening, and confides in Ben that things will cease to be the same again now that he is leaving, without a return date in sight.
Stacie and Ben talk about everything that has happened, all the preparations, the planning, the constant rehearsals, in particular her grueling schedule of rigorous dance rehearsal and training for the past six months to ensure that Stacie is able to play the part to perfection.

Both are unsure of the time, and don’t know whether they have been sitting down talking and reminisicing for hours or minutes, but to Stacie it feels like mere seconds have gone by, her own mind still struggling to process what was happening and trying to understand and make sense of it all, her thoughts reeling desperately as all of this had come out of nowhere. Stacie and Benjamin eventually stand up to hug each other goodbye, Stacie unsure of when she will see Ben again, determined not to cry but failing as she feels sllent, salty tears run down her cheeks, staining her cheeks with long trails of mascara.
They hug goodbye, their arms wrapped around each other, feeling like they are holding each other for an eternity all wrapped up in one moment as the hug each other and say goodbye, Stacie pullng back from Benjamin as she stands opposite him and watches him as he walks out of the door, leaving her alone and upset, without much of a clue of what is going to happen next, her heart physically aching as once again she can’t stop herself from thinking her dreams are over.

Stacie is a perfectionist and finds catharsis with her dancing. She breaks up with her first boyfriend while stil at Julliard, but the result of that difficult break up still sometimes has an effect on her. As of late, she throws herself into dancing to escape and let herself go, whilst all the time striving to be the best dancer she can, allowing nothing and nobody to come in her way. She works better like this, but at times, even with her family and friends around her it can be isolating.
She reaches for her mobile phone and types in a number that she isn’t used to seeing on her screen. She waits for it to ring before she leaves the studio, and drives to her parents house, and knowing her best friend will be busy, longs to find the escapism she needs now more than ever within her seemily perfect family unit.

At her parents house, she finds her older brother Darren also waiting for her. She enquires about his life, as he has just told his family that he and his childhood sweetheart of 10 years, Natasha Baila, is pregnant, and they are getting married in the fall.
Stacie and Darren both engage in playful banter before turning their attentions quickly towards their parents. When previously speaking to her mother on the phone as Stacie was driving towards her childhood home, her mother had requested that she be here anyway, and pressed upon its importance. Stacie and Darren are both surprised by the fact that this event turns out to be such a formal kind of family dinner and gathering, their mother Gail reasoning with them that she doesn’t get to spend much time with her children. Gail tries to act normal, but Darren and Stacie cannot deny that the atmosphere is weird and the room is filled with tension, the silence suddenly overwhelming and awkward.
Their father, Simon, has been acting erratically for the entire evening, and suddenly apologies and starts to get up to leave the table. Gail grabs him and tells him he has to stay and confess everything. Simon is unable to do this to the point that he remains unable to say anything before Gail confesses to their children that Simon has a drug problem and that he has been taking cocaine for the past year.
Darren challenges his father to look at him and start talking, whilst Stacie remains in shock and anger at what has managed to unfold in the space of 24 hours.
Darren gets up from the table, unable to listen to anymore, and before he leaves the house, punches his father in the face as he tries to soothe his rising chagrin, and Darren swears that he will never see his grandchild.
Stacie rushes out of the house after him to find Darren gone, and phones Natasha to ask if she has heard from Darren. She tells her that she hasn’t and Stacie spends the night worried, and unable to sleep at all over everything that has happened.

The story then switches over to Darren’s narrative voice, where we pick up the story with him and his fiancé Natasha at his favourite place in New York City, on a hill that overlooks the rest of the city. Natasha is about 6 months pregnant now, and she suspects Darren’s intense vulnerability and distant manner, and how much all this confession from his father has actually affected him. She tries to be his voice of reason and logic, but Darren seems unable at this point to get past and recover from his father’s mistake.
Sensing his distant manner, she assures him things are going to be OK, and they go home, and make love to each other that evening, wanting to be closer to one another, and achieving this through showing their love for one another when words won’t work.

Darren is woken up by a phonecall from Stacie the next morning, asking that he attend a family meeting at a restaurant later on that evening. He Says he doesn’t want to talk about it, but is later persuaded by Natasha to attend once she tells him honestly that he has to be the bigger person when dealing with all of this.
He agrees and goes along to the dinner. He sees the rest of his family at the table in the restaurant, laughing and joking like nothing has happened, as if they are all blissfully oblivious to what is going on.
He tells his dad reluctantly that he has his support in trying to overcome his addiction, but Darren tells his family that it is too much for him to see them all act like nothing has happened, and hastily starts to get up to leave. His father once again tries to persuade him to sit down, and then confesses that he talked to Tasha who assured him that he would be able to see his grandchild.

This upsets Darren who goes home to find Tasha upstairs, and confronts her about her conversation with his father, telling her that he doesn’t want her involved, and all of this is none of her business. She quickly reminds him that she is part of his family now, and it is her business If it affects the man she loves. They are unable to agree, so Natasha asks Darren to leave.

The narrative voice then switches back to Stacie, and within a week she is back in the dance studio, and meets Daniel Thomas, who is the replacement for Benjamin. She is drawn to him through their mutual love of dance, and confides in him almost immediately, her own feelings catching her off guard and throwing her completely.
Daniel suggests that the choreography for her main lead showcase needs to change, and Stacie, puzzled by this, agrees, and they start to spend more and more time together, and start to develop real intense feelings for one another. Finally Daniel persuades Stacie to go for dinner with him, and then he confesses that he is falling for her. She is all to aware of her own feelings for Daniel and although they match his own, she is well aware of who he is and refuses to succumb and be another woman in a long list of affairs and brief relationships of his. At the end of the night, she firmly assures him that things aren’t going to work out between them, and they should just concentrate on their professional relationship instead of a personal one. Daniel reluctantly agrees, for Stacie, and they agree to just remain friends.
More weeks pass, and they spend more and more time in each other’s company, and Stacie finds herself blissfully happy more and more every day, but at night she is tore apart by her feelings – she wants to take things further, but refuses to let anyone or anything develop the potential to damage her career, even the possibility of love.
Darren and Stacie are back around at their parents home a few days later, agreeing to keep in close contact for the sake of getting their family back on track. Simon tells Darren that he has decided to go to a rehabilitation centre to ensure he gets the professional help he needs. Darren approves of this but can’t help but notice that there is something wrong with Stacie. He confronts his younger sister and despite her best attempts of rebuffing him, they start to talk about her feelings for Daniel.
The next day at the studio, Stacie’s dancing becomes affected and she finds herself unable to concentrate and losing her focus completely. She hates to admit to her own feelings but finally allows herself to meet up with Daniel, and telling him how she really feels, they kiss for the first time.

The next few weeks they spend together, Stacie and Daniel become more and more wrapped up in each other, and Stacie’s best friend Winona starts to tease her about her new relationship.
Daniel tells her he loves her when they are together at his apartment, and Stacie is unable to believe her ears. She doesn’t know what to say, and tells him that she loves him but she isn’t in love with him – not yet.
Daniel is hurt and upset by this, but hides it from Stacie completely, and instead offers her a dress to wear as he wants her by his side for the biggest party of the year within the music and dance industry.
Meanwhile, Stacie is all too aware of Daniel’s assistant, Sonja Matthews, and her constant infatuation with him, who unbenowst to both Stacie and Daniel is about to spiral wildly out of control.
Stacie is reluctant to accompany Daniel to the party as she is still unsure of his true feelings about being rejected by her, but also because it is her birthday on the date of the party.
She accompanies Daniel regardless, and after a couple of hours, leaves Daniel’s side to get some air on her own and gather her thoughts, leaving Daniel drinking and socializing, surrounded by a crowd of people. Sonja sees this and stays by Daniel’s side until the crowd slowly starts to disperse once again and talk amongst themselves in small clusters. By this point, Daniel is quite drunk and she escorts him upstairs to somewhere more private. Sonja then uses vulnerability against him until he confides in her he was rebuffed by Stacie, and they share a kiss together before Daniel pulls away quickly and tells her he is in love with Stacie and he won’t cheat on her.
Sonja nods, seemingly full of understanding, and gives a small smile before going back downstairs. Inside she is full of pain and torture, as she goes and find Stacie sitting down outside. She tells Stacie all about her history with Daniel as his assistant, most notably all his women, his past relationships, his personality, and the fact that he will never change. She then tells her that she and Daniel slept together upstairs, telling Stacie that she knows from Daniel that she couldn’t tell him that she loved him.
Stacie upset and enraged, goes upstairs to find Daniel and confront him, leaving Sonja smling wickedly on the bench behind her.
Stacie shouts at him and leaves, asking Daniel what really happened, and Daniel confides to her that he is really upset at the fact that she couldn’t say she loved him.
Not wanting to hear anymore, and assuming Sonja’s accusations must be true, Stacie storms out, not giving Daniel a chance to explain.
She goes home, and gets drunk, and cries herself to sleep, ignoring all of Daniel’s phonecalls. She stays away from the dance studio for two weeks, and during that time, Stacie discovers she is pregnant with Daniel’s baby.

She schedules in an abortion, and asks that Winona pick her up from the clinic afterwards. Winona cannot help but try and tell Stacie her own opinion, but Stacie refuses to listen, still consumed by a rage of feelings – shock, anger, disbelief and upset all affecting her mind and body. On the way back from the clinic, Winona ends up driving by the dance studio, and sees Daniel walking out of the studio, and he looks up and notices, and starts running after the car, wanting the car to stop so he can talk to Stacie. Winona pulls up at a traffic light, and Daniel bangs on the car window door, wanting Stacie to get out of the car.
Stacie gets out of the car, her expression glassy and numb, and tells him that its too late, and she turns away from him, but he grabs her arm, turning her body back towards his, and demands to know why they can’t be together. Stacie tells him about the baby, before he lets go in shock, and she walks away from him and gets back into the car.

A couple of weeks pass, and Daniel visits Stacie at her home, where she assures him they can’t ever be together again, and that nothing either of them can do can change that. Unbenowst to either of them, Sonja has been stalking Daniel ever since he said he wanted her to leave her job, and that he never has or never will have any feelings for her. She pulls up outside Stacie’s house, following Daniel’s each and every move, and from a distance she sees someone come out of the house, and in her rage, she stops and doesn’t think, quickly coming to the conclusion that it is Stacie, and drives straight towards them in her car, driving into them and knocking them down from behind. Daniel’s body crashes and falls down on top of the windscreen, crashing it completely. Sonja suffers a fatal blow to the neck, breaking it and killing her immediately but not before, to her horror, her last image is seeing Daniel’s bloody face and the man she loves on the ground. Daniel crashes to the floor, and hearing the commotion and crash, both Stacie and Winona rush outside. Stacie screams and rushes over to Daniel, holding his hand, as Daniel tries to desperately apologises for all the hurt he has caused her. Stacie dismisses this and tells him she never stopped loving him, and the ambulance arrives to take him to the hospital.
After 2 days of waiting, and in a critical conditon, the doctors finally tell Stacie that Daniel is in a coma and is unconscious. The doctor then tells Stacie that he will wake up, but is unsure as to when this will be, and will remain comatose until his brain can heal on his own, after suffering a cardiac arrest.

Stacie is distraught and convinces herself that Daniel will not wake up from all of this, but cannot bear to tell the doctors to turn off his life support machine.
In the midst of all of this, Stacie is overcome with grief and starts to exist on Oxycontin to help her through her grief as well as stimulants and barbiturates.

Stacie goes round to Daniel’s apartment to start to clear his things out, but finds herself unable to do this, finding solace in Daniel’s best friend Jude Reynolds.
Stacie seeks refuge and solace in Jude and they sleep together one night, however Stacie is still overcome by grief and exhaustion, while Jude realizes Stacie’s intense vulnerability.

Jude starts to admit his feelings for Stacie, and for the next year and a half, Stacie cannot find it in her heart to allow herself to fall in love and be with Jude after her heartbreak over Daniel.
Finally one night, Stacie confides to Jude that she needs to let go of Daniel, and understand that he won’t wake up – she needs, and wants to find closure.

Stacie and Jude find themselves falling in love with each other, and Jude finally confesses that he has a little daughter of his own, Simone.

Stacie feels adrift and is not sure how to react to this news. Later on that year, Stacie discovers that she is pregnant again, but this time she miscarries the baby.
Later on, after another year and one miscarriage and one cot death, Stacie is unable to deal with this grief, and relapses into her previous drug dependance. When she goes to see the doctor, he tells her it is now impossible for Stacie to have children due to the state of her womb and the physical effect that the drugs have had on her body.

In the meantime, the narrative switches back to Darren’s own narrative voice, and Darren and Natasha get married and shortly after they have a son of their own, named Cameron.
Natasha develops bipolar disorder, which causes he r to act erratically. Natasha starts to behave out of character, her mood swings become violent, explosive and out of control, and this unleashes a constant need to have sex with her husband everywhere and all the time.
Unable to take much more after this goes on for six months and finding himself solely looking after his son as Natasha proves an unfit mother for most of the time, Darren finds himself cheered up with a chance meeting with an old friend from School, Maria Watson, and he finds out that she is now a singer in a bar whilst looking for a record company to sign her. He offers his help and expertise in trying to land her a record deal and they start to reminisce about old times, and more siginificantly their time together.
Maria is not surprised to hear about Darren’s marriage to Natasha, but sooner or later Darren starts to confess to her about the true state of his marriage to the woman he loves so much.
In a moment of weakness, they share a kiss, before Darren leaves hastily and goes back home. In the next few weeks, Natasha starts to return back to herself and apologises whole heartedly to Darren before they make love to each other passionately again, holding each other in their arms. Darren reassures Natasha that everything is going to be OK.
The next day, he gets a phonecall from Maria who says it was good to see him, and that she has just been signed to a local record label on his own recommendation, and as a result has to move to somewhere within their own neighbourhood.
Maria shows up the next day, and Darren hastily introduces her to his wife, and slowly but surely, the two women becomes friends, and sooner or later find themselves to be each other’s best friend.
Maria confides in Natasha that she is jealous of the love between Natasha and Darren, and confesses that she is thinking about saying yes to an offer of marriage from a guy who has fallen in love with her. She tells Natasha that she isn’t in love with him, but someday she could be, but she wants a piece of married life to find out who she really is, and whether it will determine who she will become.
Maria gets married, and both Natasha and Darren attend the wedding. Although they are still in love with each other, the spark has gone out of their marriage, but both find themselves afraid to admit this to one another just in case this really is the end of their marriage altogether. As the two families live in close proximity, they become closer and closer and Darren cannot help but feel a sudden attraction towards Maria, and one day, afraid to hold it in any longer, they sleep together, and Darren feels the same spark he was missing.
Maria and Darren continue to have an illicit affair together, until they are found out. Maria’s husband, Jason, is distraught, and Natasha and Darren’s marriage falls apart, but Natasha finds herself unsure what to feel over the betrayal between her best friend and her husband.

Natasha and Darren divorce, but she later confides in Stacie that maybe the divorce was a mistake. Stacie confesses to Natasha that Darren is a wreck without her, and they should try and make things work out between them.

The story turns back to the narrative voice of Stacie, and Jude tells her is in love with her and wants to marry her. Stacie is shocked and doesn’t know what to say, leaving him without an answer, and choosing to answer her mobile phone instead.
Stacie finds out from the hospital that Daniel has woken up from his coma and is asking for Stacie, the only person he will see or speak to. Stacie doesn’t know what to say or can even comprehend what is happening, and drops her mobile phone to the ground in shock.
She apologises to Jude and goes to the hospital to see Daniel, where she tells him he has been in a coma, before filling him on everything else that has happened during the two years he has been comatose.
Daniel dismisses all of this information, and asks her why she has left out everything about her own life and what has happened.
She tells him everything, and Jude turns up after a few weeks to tell her how much he loves her, and despite her love for Daniel, he is a changed man, and she has changed too much to go back, that however much she loves him, she can’t keep living her life in the past, and she has to move forward.

Stacie agrees with him but tells Jude she can’t leave him and chooses to spend her life with Daniel. Although Daniel wakes up from his coma, Stacie and Daniel spend a happy two years together, but Daniel eventually dies, leaving him brain dead.

Stacie attends the funeral, heartbroken, where Jude also attends, and she is comforted by her parents and her best friend Winona. She stays with Winona back at the flat and throws herself back into her dancing. She eventually goes back to Jude’s house to tell him how sorry she is and her true feelings about him, but he tells her that he is going to try and give his relationship with Rosalie another go for the sake of his daughter Simone, and that its too late, and they should be happy for each other in their respective lives.

Stacie agrees and leaves, and focuses on her dancing. She finishes the production and her contract as the female lead expires, before she gets offered another prestigious lead in another production that also opens up to critical success and rave reviews. She eventually learns that Benjamin has decided to return to oversee and direct as head of production from negotiating a new deal with the financiers of summit company, the company in charge.
Stacie is happy to have Benjamin back in her life, but Ben can see that the light in her has dulled and is about to die out. A month passes, and the story ends, with Stacie going into the dance studio, resuming her everyday routine to find Jude waiting for her. They wrap their arms around each other, embrace and hold each other tightly, and kiss.