Chapter 1 – From Piddle to Parties

"No, no, no, no, NO!" Cleo yelled furiously at the scampering cocker-spaniel, Joey, "Aw, come here widdle puppy, I didn't mean to frighten you."

With a groan, Cleo lowered herself down to her knees and bent her head to see two picture perfect puppy eyes staring out at her from under the sofa. The sofa, in its cracked leather and coffee stained glory, was covered in clothes ranging from an immaculately preserved bride's-maid dress to a leather micro-mini, with suede tassels and "Hooker" written on the back in glitter. Despite the appearance that the clothes were just thrown there for want of another place, the mass of sleeves and pant legs actually presented clarity to Cleo, enabling her to see her options for what they were, and more importantly, what they didn't match with. It was at hectic times such as this that Cleo simply sat herself down on the bare wooden floor of her poky loft and stared at the sofa, sending her mind into a peaceful solitude, day dreams of dancing and just looking good.

Today, such a silent reverie was painfully disrupted, as Joey emerged from his basket, bleary eyed and vague from a serene snoring session, he stumbled over to the seemingly tree like sofa (for a dog anyway) and let his first instinct take over. Unfortunately for Joey, the sofa was not a tree, and even worse, the soft patch of green he was standing on was not grass, but a $1200 Gucci shawl.

"Joey, what am I going to do with you?" Cleo sighed, "Now I have pee all over what would've been the perfect outfit finisher for tonight, not to mention a $300 dry cleaning bill coming my way." Cleo pulled the petrified pooch out from under the sofa and caressed its head. Masking her despair, she cradled the dog until he was safely placed in his basket. Wandering back to the sofa, she cleaned up the mess and flung the shawl into her "Pile of Despair" (unfashionable, non-fitting, grotesquely unusable garments which would look better on Joey then on her). She was just about to reassume the carefully thought out process that was out-fit choosing, when her cell began to vibrate.

"Where the hell are ya?" A thick Boston accent bellowed through the speaker, making Cleo cringe.

"At home boss, the benefit doesn't start for another 2 hours right?" If you start badgering me about being late now

"Yeah, doll, but you are supposed to be here making sure the caterers aren't making a mess-up of this gig, just like last time eh?"

"Look boss, it wasn't my fault for the screw up last time! If you hadn't been attending to your precious cigars then maybe you would've taken time to realise the caviar was green (A/N caviar's usually orange right?)! I on the other hand was trying to make sure all the guests ended up in the right spot, SINCE YOU DECIDED TO PUT THE WRONG ADDRESSES ON THE INVITATIONS!"

"Whoa! Calm down doll, this ain't the time, or the rhyme!"

"Or the rhyme?! WHAT THE HELL IS THAT SUPPOSED TO BE? SOME SORT OF MAFIYA CODE FOR 'I NEED TO LOOK COOL RIGHT NOW SO I'LL JUST MAKE SOMETHING UP!?"

"Look-it here doll, I've had it about up to HERE with your crap right now. You either get your ass down here within ½ an hour-"

BEEP BEEP BEEP

"- OR DON'T EXPECT A PAY-CHECK ON MON-…"

BEEP BEEP

"- DAY MORNING! DIDJA HEAR THA-.."

BEEP

Be calm. Be rational. You need this job more than anything, especially if you're going to get that Gucci shawl fixed up, "Righto boss, I'll be there. Gotta go..uh.. call waiting." Cleo could almost imagine her employer's enraged expression as he hung up the phone. She contemplated her doom, and the thought of that missing pay-check made her shudder, almost enough to miss the incoming message.

1 New Message

*Click*

Wasaaa hip-hopper? Make sho you getcho booty going down at 59th n 9th on the East Side for tonight's dig. The party popper's called "Shade House", newest joint in town so b fly. Fashion time: 10:30. Luv D-Rocker. P.S. It's polite to pick up your phone when someone calls you.

Ah. Diego…

"Thanks heaps, buddy I owe ya!" Handing the unconcerned driver a $20, Cleo scrambled out of the cab, and made her way up the majestic steps of the Waldorf Astoria. The Boss had really gone all out at this party, making sure that nobody missed the prominent sign:

Gallagher Room

Reserved for Involve! Function

Charity Benefit

Cleo's designer stilettos click clacked across the marble floors, and various gentlemen eyed her with guarded yet interested looks. Cleo's choice of outfit, that being a sexy butterfly-hemmed black dress up to her knees, flattered her slender figure, and her fringe fell elegantly across her forehead, making her appear both appealing and official at the same time. Cleo was used to the wolf whistles and sometimes she felt discriminated against, Why don't they get to know me first?, but other times she let the, "If you got it, flaunt it!", morale take over. She hastily applied her lip-liner, and threw her Morrissey trench-coat to the door-man, who simply winked and opened the grand doors to the Gallagher room. Once inside she heard the familiar laughter and small-talk occurring, and almost sensed the Boss sneak up to her as he hissed.

"You're late. But whatever. We need to get this show on the road. First up are the Fieldmans, just make them think that they're important and that Involve! Really needs them, they tend to respond to desperation. Then there are the Zoufmeis-.."

Cleo's attention began to slip. Come-on, concentrate diva! You need to kiss-ass and promote this stupid company to all these people in the space of 2 ½ hrs if you wanna be outta here by 10:30. There should be plenty of action going on at this new place, and Diego should be able to get me in for free…

Cleo scanned the crowd anxiously, hoping for a familiar face, most importantly Diego's. She had managed to get herself in, after establishing herself as "Betty Lou-Lou" from Texiana, Florida who was just dying to see how a real club worked! (And was even willing to flash a bit of thigh to do so). The music was loud and angry, just how Cleo liked it, and the accumulation of dancing clubbers on the fresh dance-floor made her feel relaxed. Finally home. From first sight, she could tell that this place had room for development, number one, not stocking any Bacardi, but it was new ground - a place where she could make herself known. It had the essentials, good music, DJ, tequila, and plenty of hot, young college guys to perv on - so with her initial thoughts aside, she let her hips sway to the beat of Xhibit (A/N- rapper right?) and pulled her hands out of her trench coat pocket up above her head. She wasn't even two songs in when she felt familiar hands around her waist.

"You're not hard to miss, are ya doll?" Diego's rough voice echoed in Cleo's ears.

"Oh Diego- why does everyone in this city call me DOLL?!"

"Cos you're blonde-haired, blue eyed, and simply gorgeous. Well you used to blonde, until you put that heinous hazel rinse in, now you're just a mix."

"Hey! I was experimenting! I don't think it looks half bad anyway," Cleo pouted as Diego grabbed her by the wrist and pulled her across the dance floor. Cleo stared desperately in the direction she was being dragged, knowing she was about to be introduced to someone. Then she spotted them, a group of obviously friends, hanging out in one of the booths. The 3 girls looked alright, 1 seemed downright bored, another lively and waiting to get moving, and the last absolutely petrified of the horrifically grotesque idea of dancing with people you've never met! Shock! Horror! Cleo hardly had time to examine the fine, male specimens before once again Diego was talking.

"Hey guys. This is my 1st lady, Cle Cle…*cringe* everyone say 'Hi! Cle Cle!" Diego beamed at his semi-interested onlookers, as mumblings of "Hey", "Wassup" & "Howzit going?" were uttered.

"It's Cleo actua-.."

"So Cle, you gotta school?" Miss. Bored asked mischievously.

"Yeah, I'm doing a business course at NYU.."

"Nice, I'm going there too, psychology though. I saw you busting your moves out there, you can be pretty fly when you want to!"

Diego butted in, "Yeah a lil' too fly! Where did you scam this D&G dress from?"

"I bought it thank-you very much!" How rude! I make more money than you Diego, and you're the one wearing Burberry loafers!

"I think it looks sexy… I mean, nice…looking!" A husky voice emerged from one of the guys lips. With his spiked hair and baby blue eyes, he almost looked like he was 17, until you got a glimpse of his masculine, muscular body. The guy was now blushing, so Cleo winked just to make herself feel a little more on top of things, she didn't like being oogled, flirted with and flattered all at once. This way, she was giving the commands, not taking the orders. She noticed Diego slip away out of the corner of her eye, so she grabbed a glass of water from the bar and sat herself down next to Miss. Bored. The conversation did not start how she anticipated.

"What's the deal with you and Diego?" Miss. Bored almost scowled

"We're just good buddies. We go to these joints together, we've been in this scene for quite a while." Make sure she knows it's platonic love

"Ah…right…"

Cleo followed the direction of Miss. Bored's eyes. She had never watched Diego dancing before, but as she did, she realised, this was going to be an interesting night.