Trigger warning: strong(ish) language
I jump out of the taxi as soon as it gets to the airport.
Taking my wallet out of my pocket and turning my head to the driver who is staring at me with his lips pursed.
“Sorry, how much?” I ask him, staring at my wallet.
The taxi driver just stares at me, his eyebrow flat on his face. “50.”
I take 50 dollars out and hand him the money as he takes all of my suitcases out of the trunk.
“Thank you so much,” I say as he puts my suitcases onto the sidewalk.
The man rolls his eyes and says, “No problem, have a nice day.”
My bitten nails scratch my legs. That isn’t very attractive, and my father would faint if he saw my nails, but I’ve been horribly stressed.
Today, I’m going to take a private jet to a private mansion/beach house in Malibu.
Malibu is 4,361 kilometers from my hometown.
Everyone’s gonna be on that private jet, so they’re going to be judging me from every angle.
The clean, cold smell of the airport fills my system, and I look around. It’s 5 a.m., and I have eaten nothing. I buy a box of crackers and fresh slices of cheese for the trip, but as soon as I get to my gate, I open the cracker pack.
A girl plops down right next to me, but I ignore her, reading my book. The paper still smells crisp.
I set a slice of cheese on my cracker and nibble on the crispy ends.
I yawn, closing my eyes for a second.
God, I wish I was sleeping in a comfortable bed right now.
Airplanes have always made my eyes droop, no matter what time it is.
“Hey! Might you be Irie?” the girl next to me speaks.
“Name’s Irie Vaughan, yeah,” - I nod, placing my book on my lap and taking another cracker out of the pile - “what’s up?”
“Great!” the girl smiles at me, and I can tell she has an accent, she rolls her ‘r’s. “Mine is Aurélie, you can call me Élie!”
Élie flashes me a smile and her stomach rumbles.
“Gah, I’m so sorry!” Élie’s face fades bright red and she massages her stomach with her pointer and middle finger.
“Hungry?” I ask, although I already know the answer. “Don’t be embarrassed, it’s fine!” I reassure Élie, smiling at her.
She smiles back, “Thanks.”
“Want a cracker?”
“Sure!” she reaches out and snatches one of my crackers as if I’m going to change my mind.
“So, where’re you from? Not around here.” I ask, turning to Élie.
“I’m French, but I came here for a...” - Élie pauses for a second and stares at something behind me - “a job interview. Sorry, just dozed off for a second there.”
I needed to get away. I didn’t come to Jamaica for a job interview, but she doesn’t need to know that, does she?
I can feel her staring at me. I’ve always been a horrible liar, but if I can’t do this...
She sounds hesitant but quickly hides it as I make eye contact.
“So you’re from Jamaica? Which part?”
I already know which part, I snuck into the office and checked out her file. She’s the hottest girl I’ve ever seen in my damn life.
“I’m from Negril,” she tells me, munching on a piece of mozzarella.
“Yeah, I love it, it’s a beautiful place. There are so many good people, beaches, and wines.” Rie says, her eyes flickering and a grin forming on her face. She has a faraway dreamland look in her hazel eyes.
I smile, then flinch as my teeth scrape my cheek a bit too hard. Rie looks alarmed as she watches me, her eyebrows furrowed.
“Élie, are you okay?” she asks me, her fingers caressing my shoulder.
I nod and smile at Rie, biting my lip.
“Oh! I was supposed to get you to our plane, let’s go.”
“Wait-what?” Rie stares at me, her eyes wide as I grab her arm and drag her down the hallway.
“I’m on the same plane as you, forgot to tell ya.”
“You’re on Match Made too?”
“Yep, and Daven told me to go get you because you might not know how to get to it yourself. This is the wrong gate, idiot.”
Well, Daven didn't exactly tell me. He ordered me to, because he thinks since he's older than me by TWO MONTHS, he's the coolest guy on Earth.
Gosh, I warned my aunt about him, but she still pretends that I said nothing.
Rie stares at me with wide eyes. “It would’ve been more helpful if you’d just told me first thing.”
“Well, that’d be weird,” I say.
Behind me, Rie mutters her reply, but I can’t hear her.
“So,” - I turn to her and grab one of her suitcases from her hand and continue walking - “why’re ya here?”
“You know that there’s a cash prize involved, so...”
I stare at Élie in surprise.
What does she...?
“Oh! Um... I really want to be a fashion designer and start my own business, so I think this would really help, you know?” I say, smiling at her.
The steps to the plane are steep, and once I climb inside the plane, the doors slowly close behind me, mechanical whirring noises filling my ears.
My eyes widen as I see the inside. I thought it would be like a regular plane, but it isn’t even close to the itchy navy chairs and uncomfortable narrow ‘pathways’ that squeeze people ‘till their guts fly out.
Guess these people like to fly VIP, huh?
I glance back at Élie, who’s giving me a smile and a pat on the back.
“Hey, what’s up, guys?!” she says, grabbing my wrist and walking in front of me.
A man rolls his eyes and mutters, "Hey look it's Élie," then, turning to his friend, he mutters, "that annoying piece of shit."
His friend smiles at him and says, "Ugh, she brought a friend. We're in for a real treat.".
Mental note: beat his ass when I get the chance.
Before I can say anything though, Élie is already talking.
“Hey! You could at least ACT excited to see me. Ya don’t have to rub it in. Jeez.”
The guy stares at Élie and shakes his head, saying, “Gosh, you creepy little-“
I bend down, set my suitcase onto the floor, and stand up. “Shut the hell up, why don’t you?!”
I lunge at the guy. He stares at me, his eyes and mouth wide open-
Someone pulls at my arm, and I fall to the ground.
“Who-“ I turn to see Élie’s hand on my arm and glare up at her, my eyes narrow.
“You’re crazy!” the man yells, his eyes wide in terror and his skin pale, he repeats himself, “you’re crazy, woman!”
I shake my head and snatch my arm away from Élie’s grasp.
Running into the bathroom, right in my line of sight, I shut and lock the door behind me.
I close my eyes, my hands sliding down my face. “Crap.”
I need water. Something cold and refreshing to splash on my face. As I turn around, I notice that the bathroom is huge.
“God, I helped her, and she didn’t want me to,” I say to myself, leaning over the glass sink bowl and looking for a handle to turn the water on.
I rolled my eyes and put my hands under the faucet. The faucet gave a measly gurgle before water poured out of it.
I throw my arms up into the air and grab my elbow with my other arm.
“Rie?” a voice calls.
I ignore it, running into a stall.
Oh gosh, wait... what’d I eat today?!
I still have the salty taste from both the crackers and cheese together, and before that... nothing.
How many crackers did I have?! Dammit.
I kneel over the toilet, breathing in and out. My eyes are closed, and I have to calm myself down.
“Rie, are you okay?” Élie says from outside the door to the locked bathroom.
I don’t answer and keep my mouth shut, my breathing getting slower and calmer.
This is fine. It’s all gonna be fine. Everyone has different ways of coping with stress, it isn’t like mine is necessarily... bad.
My finger creeps down my tongue, and I gag as it gets closer to my throat.
I don’t think it’ll be THAT loud; I didn’t have many, did I?
A slow trickle of pale liquid with pale and orange chunks creeps down my tongue and out of my mouth.
“Yes!” I yell, my smile filling my whole mouth. My mouth and face already hurt, but I won’t stop. I am determined to win this.
The mansion is right in front of a beach, has a balcony, a bay window, and a patio.
“This is awesome as hell!” a boy behind me yells, and he shoves past with his elbow.
I glare at him, then realize that I haven’t heard from Rie ever since I stopped her from killing Daven.
“C’mon, girl! Let’s go have fun!” another girl yells, and I see that she and Rie are holding hands. The girl is pulling her towards a room and yelling, “This is our room, ‘kay?”
I shake my head.
So immature, why is Rie hanging out with her?! She could definitely do MUCH better.
I look around at the people who are left.
Daven’s running off into a room with some giggling, slinking girl.
Well... I know where that’s going, and I definitely don’t want ANY part of that.
I also do want a room with another girl, not a guy, because I don’t trust them at all. Especially not the ones here.
“I’ll be by myself,” I announce, dragging all my suitcases into my own room.
The rooms are all freaking huge, and as I set my suitcase down on the bed, I see that the closet’s slightly ajar. Something neon green catches the corner of my eye and I open the closet. I see a perfectly fitted high-leg frill triangle bottom piece paired with a black and neon green frill top piece placed right in the front of it.
“Ooh, God, you know me!” I say, hugging the two-piece.
A crackling noise comes from a corner of my room and I look up in surprise to hear a female voice say, “Hotties, please report to the patio outside immediately for rule evaluation.”
I’ll just skip it-
“Warning: if you don’t report to the patio, you will be automatically disqualified and get no cash at all.” the voice says.
Well, dang it, this girl’s psychic.
I walk downstairs and bump into Daven in the way. The giggling girl from before is hanging onto him, and he has his mouth all over her mouth and tongue.
This is your step-cousin, girl. He's a freaking asshole.
“Y’all are disgusting. Get a freakin’ room!” I say, shoving Daven out of the way.
I run to the table with Ross and we sit down, even though we’re dripping wet, we sit down on the burgundy couch and warm up with the firepit which is in the middle of the patio.
“Now that everyone’s here, I’m going to start with the basic rules.” the female voice from before says.
The voice is coming from a speaker in the middle of the couch. I stifle a laugh
“Ugh,” the guy from before groans, his hands sliding down his face.
“Shut up, Daven.” the robotic voice says, and my eyes widen at it, as does the guy who just spoke - I assume he’s Daven? - “anyway, so, the basic concept of all this is, you all have to form genuine relationships: friendship and love.”
“How much money do we win?” Daven asked, a grin forming on his face.
“Three million dollars.”
I watch as Élie’s jade green eyes light up, and she catches my eye.
As soon as the girl’s done talking, I tell Ross, “I’ll be right back, I have to go to the bathroom.”
I follow Élie into the bathroom, and she turns to me right away. “We have to get the money, we both need it, I can tell you do. C’mon,” she tells me, a small smile on her face.
“What do you mean by that?” I say, avoiding her eyes.
“I mean, I’ve only known you for two minutes - probably more - but I’ve already fallen in love with you, so... could you be my girlfriend?” she says, grinning and winking at me.