8. L.A. by night
“That was so amazing!” I screamed, as I skidded out of the club. I had no idea what time it was and frankly, I didn’t care. I had just had one of the best nights of my life. Most of my nights with my best friends couldn’t match this.
“Agreed,” Justin chuckled, drunkenly putting his arm around my shoulders, steading both me and himself. My arm curled around his waist and we walked out of the street together. Justin typed on his iPhone while I was enjoying L.A. by night.
I discovered that Los Angeles never slept. When it got dark, the city really came to life. Gorgeous city lights and shimmering roads created an unmistakable atmosphere of glamour and romance. A cold breeze passed us and I shivered.
“Are you cold?” Justin pulled off his jacket and threw it at me. With difficulty, I found the sleeves, after which he put his arm around my shoulders again, “our cab should be here in a moment.”
Suddenly, for a moment, I understood why I had been a fan of this boy when I was younger. When he started as an artist, he had shown himself to the world as a gentleman, which changed pretty quickly, off course, but still. There might be a little bit of that gentleman left in this boy.
I yawned and nodded, then lowered my head against his shoulder. Through his sweater, I felt the warmth of his muscular body. The smell of his perfume filled my nose and I closed my eyes. His arm pressed me closer to him as he accompanied me to the cab.
“How can you be this sober?” I muttered frustrated after he helped me in the car and climbed in himself. My brain seemed to be playing leapfrog in my head.
“Who says I’m sober?” he smiled broadly and his eyes twinkled mischievously. I giggled and leaned my forehead against the cool window. The city flashed by and I stared outside, hypnotized.
I had come to know Justin as an absent boy today. If I got him to talk to me, it would usually be short conversation, with a lot of one-way traffic on my part. I felt that he didn’t feel good, but I didn’t understand why. These last couple of hours I had discovered another side of him. He had taken me to a fantastic club, where he had behaved like a true gentleman. During the show, he had entertained me with jokes and quick remarks and I had told him about my life in Belgium. Unlike before, he had seemed genuinely interested, which took me by surprise.
Then we had hit the dancefloor and we dance like Ragnarok was going to start tomorrow. If went without saying, dancing with Justin. It felt like I had known this boy all my life and we had danced together from an early age. Our movements flowed into each other, as if we were part of the same body. It had been an extremely satisfying evening and it was terrible that it had already ended.
I glanced at Justin, who sat with his eyes closed. I smiled at his peaceful face. Right now, he didn’t look at all like the Justin I’d seen in the restaurant.
As if he felt that I was looking at him, he opened his eyes and smiled at me. I grinned back an dropped back against the window.
“You want to come in?” the moment I asked, I noticed how strange that sounded. In Belgium, it was general politeness to offer someone a drink when they payed for the whole night and brought you home safely. I never stopped to think that Justin might misunderstand that comment.
I saw the twinkle in his eyes and laughed. “I’m offering you a drink, man, not some wild one nightstand.”
“Too bad,” he grinned and gave the chauffeur some dollars, “don’t wait for me. I’ll call another cab.”
We stumbled out of the car and somehow made our way into the hotel. Giggling and laughing, we toppled through the corridors. We rustled to each other to stay quiet and somehow ended up make even more noise. I died with laughter when Justin tried to grab the banister and fell, taking a very expensive-looking vase with him to the ground.
“Be quiet!” he chuckled as he straightened again, “I think there’s a piece of glass in my hand.”
That comment made me laugh even more, which made me let go off the banister and falling too. I thought Justin would have a fit. Eventually we got to my room, where it took me a lot of effort to get the key in the hole.
“Let me do it,” Justin grabbed the key from my hands and tried it himself. After a few minutes of cursing and laughter, he managed to open the door. We stumbled into the room and I threw the door shut. Justin fell down on my bed and stared at the ceiling.
“The lights are moving,” he said, “is that normal?”
“I guess,” I stared at the lights, which indeed moved in all directions and shrugged, “I don’t know. Whiskey or cognac?" I rummaged in the minibar, emptied the contents of an expensive-looking bottle into two glasses and turned to him.
Justin had fallen asleep on my bed, his mouth slightly open. On his face was the same peaceful look as in the uber and I had to smile. I took off his shoes and socks, put his cap and his cell phone on the bedside table and made sure that he was no longer lying diagonally on my bed.
I took my glass of brandy, opened the windows to the balcony and sat on the outside terrace to enjoy the city. I emptied my glass at ease. It was a long time since I had felt this way. The last time was in Venice, when I had rented a gondola with some friends to get us around the city. The gentle sound of the water and the singing of the gondola in Venice had the same calming effect on me as the roaring engines of the cars on the street and the buzz of people on their way home here in Los Angeles.
Eventually I became too tired to sit around any longer. I put my glass aside, changed into the only pajamas I had with me (normally I slept without, but that didn’t seem like a good idea at the moment) and lay down on the bed next to Justin. He murmured something in his sleep and turned to me. I looked at his face for a little while, seeing a whole different side to him, smiled and turned on my side. With a smile on my face, I fell asleep.
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