Best Kiss

01. The Chocolate Candies.

Frank Sinatra was playing in the background. Quite a number of couples were in the middle of the room on the dance floor, swirling around to the sound of New York, New York. All the women wore fancy dresses and had their hair in exquisite styles as one tried to look better than the other. Most of the men wore nice suits and belts that matched both their shoes and tie as they talked about politics, trying to seem to be smarter or more successful than the other. The hired help completed the scene as the waiters were sure to keep everyone's glasses filled with expensive champagne or whatever other drink they preferred. The food was still intact on the main table.

Thirty minutes had already passed by the time Frederick Turner arrived at the location. He walked inside hand in hand with his new wife. Their wedding was the reason for that party. Well, not exactly. Thirty-nine-year-old Frederick had surprised everyone when he started dating a woman that was nearly ten years older than him, although she only seemed to be in her early thirties. It took him only a month to introduce the woman to the family. He claimed it had been love at first sight.

Even though nobody thought the relationship would last, only three months after the first family meeting, Frederick had shocked his relatives with the announcement that the two had gotten married during a trip to Las Vegas to visit the woman's step-sister. It had been the sort of ceremony in which the minister was usually dressed up as Elvis or maybe a famous cartoon character. The entire society was flabbergasted. Being one of the most wanted bachelors in town; people had thought Frederick would be wise enough not to fall in the traps of gold diggers. But, then again, those people never wanted to believe in the odds that Frederick and his new wife could actually be in love and happy.

The wedding news had made Frederick's son throw a fit. Nineteen-year-old Jarrett had never accepted the fact that his parents had divorced or that his parents would date other people, so he did his best to ruin all of his mother and father's relationships with the hope that the two would one day get back together. However, there was no chance of that happening. Even though Frederick and Jarrett's mother had a lot of respect for one another, they had never been in love with each other and both wanted to feel the thrills of such an amazing feeling.

Most of the guests actually wondered why Jarrett was even attending the event, since the purpose of that party was to present the new Mrs. Frederick Turner to the upper class society of Raleigh. It was a vastly known fact that the teenager had insisted on claiming that Chantal couldn't possibly have fallen in love with his father in a period of less than six months. His father couldn't possibly know her well enough to get married. Father and son were now even more distant than before the marriage, although Frederick had hopes that his son would come around and at least accept the fact that his parents would never be together, if he couldn't accept his new wife.

The happy couple took hundreds of pictures – pictures for the family album, pictures for some magazines and pictures for a few newspapers. After the photographers were finally satisfied, it was time to face the guests. Everyone wanted to offer their compliments and congratulations. The women complimented Chantal's dress of choice, but talked about how improper she looked in it behind her back. Her long red hair had been straightened and reached down to her small breasts. The blood red lipstick made her lips stand out. There wasn't much more makeup than eyeliner and body glitter on her face. Her cheeks became round and dimples appeared when she smiled, but there were no visible wrinkles and that probably made the other women jealous.

At the same time, Frederick had never looked happier. His smiles actually reached his light blue eyes, making them shine like they hadn't in such a long time. He had a strong jaw and masculine features that made most of the women in the room fawn over him just as much as the men drooled over his new wife. Yet, it was obvious that the couple only had eyes for each other. Maybe that was why most people felt so jealous, although they hid it pretty well behind fake smiles of sympathy and layers of makeup. It was something quite obvious that most people there had only come to see the new Mrs. Turner, who had kept a low profile on the social scene before that night. They had also come for the drinks, of course, and the chance of having their picture published in one of those obnoxious magazines about rich people's lifestyle.

Davin Turner sighed as he watched the hypocrisy festival. He looked away from the married couple to face his own image on the huge mirror that covered one of the walls of the ballroom. He was one of the few people in the room that wasn't wearing a tux. He had taken it off and only had a formal shirt on and pants, not to mention those horrible shoes; his grandmother had been offended with his desire of wearing converses to the party. His tie was thrown over the table. It suffocated him. His black hair was the same usual mess and it fell over his dark brown eyes because he liked to keep it somewhat long.

The young man scanned the room searching for his sister, but spotted his cousin first, standing by the bar. Jarrett's dark blonde hair was spiked up and he was all smiles to the small group of girls standing just a few feet away, but his blue eyes were cold. As soon as the girls stopped flirting with him, all of his face changed to a cold expression as well. Anyone could tell that the young man would rather tackle an untamed lion in a small cage than be there. His tuxedo was black with a navy blue tie that was loosely tied around his neck.

Jarrett was drinking. Davin saw when the bartender took the empty glass of whiskey from the counter and then handed another one to his cousin, this time with some ice in it. He had never been able to hold his alcohol, so Davin hoped Jarrett would know when to stop, but doubted such thing would happen. He had a guess of how his cousin was feeling and alcohol would only give him more courage to do something to embarrass his father and new wife.

Davin felt someone tug at his sleeve and looked down to see his younger sister, Beatrice. The little girl looked beautiful in a fancy party dress that was probably too uncomfortable for a child her age. At least their mother had allowed her to wear jeans underneath the dress so she could run around freely if she wanted. Beatrice's dark brown hair fell around her face, framing it like a delicate portrait, although it had been tied into a French braid when they left their house, and her bangs reached her eyebrows, almost covering her shiny green eyes.

"Did you see Jarrett? He looks grumpy," she remarked with the typical sweet and naive voice of a six-year-old.

"Yeah, I guess he didn't want to come, but had to anyway."

"I think grandma made him come, right?"

"Yep, you really know her."

"So, what did you think of Chantal? Mommy said she's our new aunt," Beatrice changed the subject.

"She seems nice."

"She's pretty," the little girl said, surveying the woman with a critical eye. Davin thought his sister looked simply hilarious with such a serious expression on her face. He picked her up from the floor, so she could have a better view of the red-haired woman.


"Yes. I like her hair. Do you think mommy would let me get the same color?"

"Maybe when you're old enough, Bee."

"I asked mommy and she said that Chantal only has a step-sister," Beatrice told him. "She's coming too. Do you think she'll be pretty like Chantal, D?"

"We'll have to wait to see," he replied, setting his sister down. "Are you bored already?"

"Not much. Uncle Fred said I could go to the kitchen and eat ice cream if I wanted. And I did! They have lots of flavors. I can ask some for you if you want."

"Maybe later, Bee, but thanks for the offer."

"No problem," she smiled to him before leaving.

Davin watched his sister walk away before turning to check himself on the mirror again. His grandmother would surely reprimand him for not wearing a tux or a tie. The oldest Mrs. Turner liked to follow the rules as strictly as possible and her favorite activity seemed to be picking on her children and grandchildren about the things they did wrong. Unfortunately, breaking the dressing code was something she would easily notice once she saw the young man. Through the mirror, Davin could see his mother approaching him with a genuine smile on her face.

Evelyn Turner hugged him and planted a light kiss on his cheek before smoothing her son's shirt, complaining about the absence of a tie with a mocking glint in her brown eyes, which Davin had inherited. Not that she really cared about the tie itself, she just liked teasing both her son and husband since her mother-in-law could do much worse when the old lady put her mind to it. Davin just shrugged it off when his mother complimented him for always taking care of his sister when they were around each other.

The young man's eyes turned to the bar and he sighed when he noticed that his cousin had a new glass with a different kind of drink in his hands. That time it wasn't whiskey, but Davin wasn't sure about what it could be. Evelyn's smile fell slightly when she, too, spotted Jarrett close to the tablet. She hesitated for a moment before asking Davin to keep an eye on his cousin, to what he ended up agreeing. It had always been like that anyway.

Even though both Davin and Jarrett were nineteen, he had always been the more responsible one. Jarrett had always been too busy hanging around girls, trying to impress them, to actually mind his responsibilities. Actually, it was a miracle that he had actually wanted to go to a university. He was enrolled in Berkeley and attended enough classes to pass. Davin went to Harvard's Business School and he really liked it. It wasn't so close to home, but he tried to visit his family as frequently as he could.

Chantal walked up to Evelyn and Davin and, behind her amiable smile, they could see how apprehensive she felt. It was almost as if she was a deer and the other guests were hunters after her. That was why Davin's mother was so sympathetic towards her, given that Evelyn had felt almost the exact same way when she first became part of the Turner family. The difference was that Chantal didn't have as much money as her.


"Yes!" Chantal nodded for emphasis. "I heard some of the women talking about how improper my dress seems to be."

"Don't worry about it, Chantal. Most of them are jealous. Frederick was one of the most wanted bachelors and you swept him off his feet in a heartbeat."

The red-haired woman blushed a bit, but still managed to smile. Davin offered her a small smile before he excused himself to go after his cousin. Before he left, he caught a piece of the conversation that followed. Apparently, his mother and him weren't the only ones worried about Jarrett. Chantal was afraid that the boy would end up drinking too much and do something to hurt Frederick, since the two weren't in speaking terms.

"Davin, cus!" the blonde boy said when he saw his cousin walk up to him. "Come drink with me!" he was talking rather loudly, but not enough to sound over the music that the hired band was playing. Before Davin could accept or decline the invitation, the bartender shoved a drink in his hands. He guessed it was the same thing his cousin was drinking and took a sip of it. With some effort, he managed to swallow the liquid, which was a bit strong in his opinion.

"Don't you think you've had enough for now, Jarrett?"

"There's no such thing as enough alcohol, Davin. Have you learned nothing from the times we've met?"

"I've learned that you pass out when you have too much. How about you take a break?" he suggested and saw his cousin open his mouth to protest. "Stop drinking now, sober up and then start again, so you'll be able to enjoy more of the party and drink twice the liquor."

"There's nothing to enjoy, Davin."

"Of course there is. Grandma invited more people than she actually knows and made a point of inviting plenty of young girls for us to meet. She doesn't want her handsome grandsons to be single anymore. Didn't you see any of them, Jarrett?" he asked.

If there was something, other than alcohol, that Jarrett Turner happened to like that was pretty girls. Davin watched his cousin look around the room, searching for evidence that his words were true and that he wasn't lying. Jarrett smiled broadly when he spotted a tall and skinny blonde girl in a strapless red dress with a side cut that went up to the middle of her thigh. She was talking to another pretty blonde, though this one's hair color was most certainly false.

"I could talk to some of the lovely ladies here," he waved in the general direction of the room. "Who's that one?" he asked, pointing to the first blonde.

"Annabella von der Grade."

"Are you serious? That girl is Mrs. von der Grade's daughter?" the young man asked in disbelief and his face changed to an expression of horror when he saw Davin nod. "I guess genetics isn't invincible after all."

Davin didn't reply to the comment, although he partly agreed with it. Mrs. von der Grade was one of his grandmother's closest friends and also one of the ugliest. Mr. von der Grade wasn't a handsome man either, but, somehow, Annabella had managed to be a beautiful young woman. Of course, the rather frequent visits to day-spas probably had something to do with it. And, according to his grandmother, a plastic surgery had helped a lot too. But he wasn't about to mention that to his cousin.

Jarrett quickly forgot about his half-empty glass and made a bee line over to the blonde, who seemed to be extremely pleased with the boy's approach. Many people agreed on the fact that Jarrett looked like a younger version of Brad Pitt. Davin guessed that that made the girls happy, especially because Jarrett was always going out on dates. He didn't do serious relationships, but that didn't mean he was alone. He simply preferred to sleep around. There were too many girls available for him to pick only one.

Davin sighed as he watched his cousin interact with Annabella von der Grade. Jarrett said something in her ear, probably about the dress she wore or her appearance, and she threw her head back, laughing in a rather exaggerated manner. Maybe that was part of her charm, he wouldn't know. Finally, he got fed up and left after telling the bartender not to give any more drinks to his cousin. Not like he was going to listen to Davin anyway. If he knew his cousin well, and he did, Jarrett had probably mentioned the fact that his father was paying for the party.

He decided to go look for his sister, but was intercepted by his father, who wanted to introduce him to one of his many boring friends. After the usual introduction, which included a not so brief mention about Davin being a Harvard student and comparing it to Yale, where Mr. Turner's friend had studied, they moved on to talk about politics and laws, since Mr. Turner's friend was a lawyer. Davin took little part in the conversation, allowing the two older men to speak as much as they wanted and only occasionally nodding his head in agreement. When they started talking about someone else's business going bankrupt, Davin quickly excused himself and left to finally go find his sister.

There weren't many children at the party. Most people preferred to hire babysitters to watch over their younger kids so they wouldn't have to worry about people talking about how their children couldn't behave in public. Beatrice was sitting around a table, all by herself, drawing as her grandmother stood nearby with a few of her friends. Davin took the seat next to her and helped the little girl color some of the drawings as their grandmother bragged about her grandchildren whenever the conversation allowed her to do so.

Davin didn't mind to be seen sitting with his little sister, flipping through coloring books. In reality, he thought it was much more entertaining to stay there with the infantile girl than to talk to most of the people attending the party. Despite their huge age difference, the young man and Beatrice were very close to each other. Davin would do anything his sister wanted him to do, even if it meant playing with dolls or getting dressed up for fake concerts at their house. Their mother had caught him dressed up as a backup dancer for Britney Spears once. She had the pictures to prove it.

After some minutes, Frederick approached his mother, putting an end to the conversation between her and her guests. The people motioned to leave and give mother and son some privacy, but a few of them lingered around, trying to listen to what was being said.

"Chantal's sister..."

"I thought it was a step-sister only," Mrs. Turner arrogantly interrupted him.

"They are very close, mother," he replied in a warning voice. "She's just arrived and Chantal and I would like it if you met her and her daughter before the other guests."

"Daughter? You never mentioned the woman had a daughter."

"It must've slipped my mind."

"Alright," she finally agreed, after eying her son critically, and then turned to her grandchildren. "Come with us, Beatrice. You too, Davin."

The siblings nodded to their grandmother, showing that they had understood her request, but exchanged annoyed looks before standing up to follow her and their uncle. Beatrice slipped her tiny hand with chirped nail polish into her big brother's, as if to offer him some sort of support. The siblings had never really liked attending those oh-so-fancy parties that their grandparents loved much.

Chantal was waiting by the ballroom's entrance. There was a quite long hall between the main entrance and the ballroom where the party was happening. The four of them didn't walk much before a small commotion started. The guests all gathered around the newest member of the Turner family, probably to see how the meeting would go. From what Davin knew, Chantal's step-sister had already met Frederick in a few occasions and she had even been one of the witnesses during their Vegas wedding ceremony. His grandmother actually believed the woman had suggested everything and was a bigger gold digger than Chantal.

They finally reached the spot where the red-haired stood. Frederick took his place beside her, circled her waist with one of his arms and gave it a light squeeze, as if to assure her that everything would be just fine. Chantal replied to it by offering him a loving smile, though an unsure one. Mrs. Turner stood stiffly beside her son. Beatrice was next to her and in front of her brother, anxiously waiting to see how Chantal's step-sister looked like. Every now and then she stretched her short neck as much as she could, trying to peek outside to see if the woman was coming or not, but it only took her a few moments to appear.

Renee Engels was just as pretty as her step-sister. From the neck down, she had the body of a woman half her age with toned muscles and nice legs, which were only half hidden under her strapless green dress because of the side cut that went up a little above her knees. Around her shoulders was a sort of red scarf made of fake fur. Her makeup was simple and her bright blonde hair was free, falling down around her face in soft curls. She hugged Chantal; both women had bright smiles on their faces.

"Mrs. Turner, this is my sister, Renee Engels," the red-haired introduced them after a few moments. The old lady accepted Renee's hand in a cold handshake.

"It's nice to meet you, Mrs. Engels."

"I can say the same, Mrs. Turner," she politely replied before leaning in slightly, as if to tell the old lady a secret, "but it's actually Miss Engels. I'm not married; it's hard to find a man like Fred." The blonde greeted Frederick with a quick hug and a smile played on her red lips when she turned to face the Turner siblings. "And who's this young man? And this beautiful lady?"

"I'm Beatrice," the little girl smiled shyly and was pleasantly surprised when Renee wrapped her in an embrace. "And this is my brother, Davin," she proceeded to introduce him and Renee did the same with the boy, hugging him as if they were old friends. The young man was caught off guard by this action and simply offered her a smile.

"Where's Peaches?" Chantal asked.

"She was trying to fix her hair a bit. She was working and they ran late, so she didn't have enough time to get ready. I wanted to drive back to the hotel, but she didn't want to make you wait even longer."

"Poor Peaches," Chantal said with a sympathetic voice, but then her face suddenly lit up and her lips curved into another one of her warm smiles. "Here she comes!"

Davin had half-expected to see a girl that would be around his sister's age. That was why he was speechless when he saw a girl that should be at least eighteen walk inside the room and head straight over to Chantal. He didn't think people would use a nickname such as 'Peaches' to a girl like that. She was just beautiful; there wasn't a better word to describe her. And he hadn't been the only one to notice it, most of the guests had turned their heads to see who she was, but now they all admired her.

Beatrice's eyes were fixed on the dress that the girl nicknamed Peaches was wearing. Their grandmother obviously disapproved it, given the stern look on her face. The outfit surely wasn't what the old Mrs. Turner would consider as a proper party dress, it looked more like a fancy costume or something to be worn while out at a mall. The mini-dress had puffed sleeves and a scoop neck with an accented short skirt that left most of the girl's legs bare and made them look incredibly long and lean. The dress was printed with colorful polka dots in a very big size, making it a fun update to the classic dot. On her feet were black pumps with red heels, which the girl had gotten as a gift from a friend that worked with designer Christian Louboutin. The dress didn't show a lot of cleavage, but it emphasized her curves and went along with the girl as she moved.

Peaches had dark, almost black, hair, which was straight and went all the way down to the middle of her back in slight layers. Thick bangs covered her forehead and her perfectly plucked eyebrows, almost reaching her eyes. Her features were soft and nice, completed by the pouty look that her thin upper lip and big lower lip gave to her. Her eyes were of an enchanting blue that seemed to turn to green when they moved around. There was nearly no noticeable makeup on her face and she looked better than most of the girls in that place.

"I can't believe you, Peaches!" Frederick said with a mocking smile as he took the girl in his arms. "You've been in town for two days and already got work to do?"

"I brought work to do, Freddie. I told the agency I had to come to Raleigh and they liked the idea of photographing here," she explained and hugged him back. Her voice wasn't beautiful, it sounded a bit odd, kind of hoarse, as if she had just woken up, but it seemed to fit her anyway. "I wanted to do everything as quickly as possible so I would be able to go city sighting and spend lots of time with my new uncle and my favorite aunt."

"Your only aunt, you mean," Chantal corrected the girl vigorously, though she smiled.

"Don't be a spoiled brat, auntie!"

"Mom, this is Renee's daughter, Noelle Engels."

"It's a pleasure to meet you, Mrs. Turner."

The elegant old lady simply shook hands with the young girl and then excused herself saying she had other guests to entertain, but that both Renee and Noelle should make themselves comfortable and enjoy the party. Beatrice furrowed her eyebrows for a moment, wondering if her grandmother hadn't liked the new additions to their family. The others watched the old lady walk away and only spoke again when they were sure that she was out of earshot.

"That went better than I had imagined it," Chantal muttered under her breath. "Oh, Peaches, this is Frederick's niece, Beatrice, and her brother, Davin."

"Your dress is really pretty," Beatrice said, obviously mesmerized.

"Thanks, but it's not really my dress. I'll give it back to the designer that made it later."

"Oh. Well, it's still pretty. Are you a model?"

"Yeah. I like yours too. Orange is my favorite color," she said and winked to the girl.

"Davin's nineteen, Peaches. He goes to Harvard's Business School," his uncle said. "It was his first option."

That made the girl direct her gaze to him and she offered a breathtaking smile at the same time she looked impressed. He just shrugged it off and replied with a half-smile of his own. Davin wasn't one to gloat about the stuff he did and he could tell he had blushed faintly, it always happened when his relatives bragged about the fact he went to Harvard and was one of the best students in his class. Renee spoke before her daughter could do so.

"That's wonderful! Noelle's just turned eighteen. She applied to four universities and got into all of them. Now she's trying to decide if she'll go to Harvard, Princeton, Yale or Brown."

It was Davin's turn to look impressed. He couldn't believe Noelle was that smart, even though he had to tell himself they hadn't even talked yet. He was judging her by her looks and the fact that she worked as a model. Davin himself had actually applied to five different universities, but had only made it into three – Harvard, Cornell and Berkeley. He could only imagine what Noelle's GPA was and how her curriculum looked like to achieve such thing, but he wouldn't ask about it.

He noticed that the girl actually looked embarrassed. She still smiled, but not as much as before the whole subject had been brought up and she was avoiding his gaze. Before Davin could even attempt to start a conversation with her, his parents and other guests approached the small group, nearly demanding to meet Chantal's relatives. Noticing that she wouldn't get much or hardly any attention from Noelle, Beatrice took her brother away with her. She said they could talk to them later and should eat ice cream while they waited. He agreed with her.

By then, the six-year-old had already captivated every waiter, waitress, and cook with her sympathy and innocent face. The chef actually allowed her to prepare her own ice cream and her brother's. She decided to make a banana split for herself and a sundae for Davin. He didn't complain about it. They decided to eat right there in the kitchen, sitting on tall stools in a corner, out of everybody's way as the employees walked around preparing the food and then taking it outside to be served.

Beatrice talked about Noelle. Apparently, the young woman was already his sister's new hero and role model. The red of Chantal's hair had already been forgotten, now she wanted to keep her natural color, which happened to be almost the same as Noelle's. The little girl did most of the talking; she didn't mind it because her brother was usually quiet and she usually talked a lot anyway. Davin would only nod or hum his agreement to whatever she was saying every once in a while, like he usually did.

"Do you think Jarrett will like her?"

"What?" the brunette almost choked with his sundae.

"Jarrett. Do you think he'll like her? She's very pretty."

"I don't know. I guess so."

Actually, he was sure his cousin would like Noelle. She really was pretty and Jarrett Turner wouldn't miss any chance he got to talk to her, unlike Davin, who was sitting in a kitchen, eating ice cream with his little sister. He didn't mind the fact that he was with his sister, that was the good part of it if anything, but it would be nice to get more attention than his cousin for once in a while. Davin didn't say anything else as they kept eating their goods.

When they were finally done, the chef told them to go back any time they wanted more ice cream, but that if they felt like eating something else, he wouldn't mind cooking it for them. Beatrice thanked him like a proper lady, as their grandmother had taught her to do, and then they left. The little girl giggled, making some fun of the chef because she thought that his accent was funny. It wasn't French, but she didn't know what it was exactly.

The siblings went back to the table where Beatrice had left her drawings. Davin watched her for a few minutes before a little girl asked if Beatrice would like to play with her. The Turner girl gladly accepted it and followed the other one after making sure her brother didn't wish to join them. Davin had to smile at that. His sister was always thinking about him, just the same way he was always thinking about her.

Scanning the room, he spotted Chantal, Frederick and Renee happily talking to his parents, probably the only relatives that actually welcomed and accepted the red-haired and her family. Then, he noticed a group of girls standing in one corner of the ballroom, close to where the band was playing. They gossiped amongst themselves and threw looks every now and then to a certain direction. Noelle was getting all those glares, but she didn't seem to actually notice it given that she wasn't alone. Jarrett Turner and probably half of the young men that had gone to the party were with her. They didn't give the girl many chances to speak, since all of them were trying to get her attention at the same time. The beautiful girl looked like as if she wanted to run away from them.

He stopped watching the scene unfold when he heard his name being called out. It was his grandmother, who waved and requested him to join her and the classy woman she was talking to. Davin offered them a fake smile as he recognized the woman as Mrs. von der Grade. In no time, Annabella was already standing with them as well. Even though the two teenagers had already been introduced just a few hours earlier, they felt necessary to introduce them once more. Mrs. Turner hadn't mentioned Davin being a Harvard student, so she took the opportunity to do it on that moment.

That made Annabella talk about how she had decided to take a break from college life for some time, claiming that the Raleigh University was too boring. She was going to try to start an acting career; the girl had always wanted to be an actress anyway. Mrs. von der Grade and Mrs. Turner took that as their cue to leave, excusing themselves and leaving the teenagers alone. Davin mostly listened as the beautiful blonde rambled about herself and the things she liked doing, not many interested him: shopping, reading magazines, watching sappy movies, reading trashy novels and all that.

One of Annabella's friends, the one he had seen talking to her before, approached the two. The blonde introduced herself to Davin, who didn't catch her name, before turning to the other girl. The fake blonde had a high-pitched voice and didn't actually worry about keeping her voice low as she spoke.

"Can you, like, believe that?" she pointed to the boys surrounding Noelle. "They're all over her just because she's, like, a model. I bet she loves the attention. She's not even famous. I mean, I've never heard of her and I know a lot about fashion!"

"You're totally right. Oh, they're so stupid," Annabella agreed, but then sighed as she looked at the group again. "Even Jarrett wants to talk to her."

Davin looked over there in time to see his cousin ask Noelle for a dance. She accepted the invitation with a small smile and a nod of her head. He took her hand and led her to the dance floor, where he started whispering things in her ear as they softly moved around to the sound of yet another slow song. By then, Annabella, her friend and mostly every other girl in the room had turned green with jealousy – same thing for the single guys.

As the two blondes kept making unflattering remarks about the couple dancing, Davin excused himself. They didn't even reply, too busy drooling over Jarrett and cursing Noelle for monopolizing his attention. All the girls wanted Jarrett; it had always been like that. Davin sighed as he decided to find a place where he could be alone. The hired help threw weird glances on his direction. He was trying to hide whereas everyone else in that party was trying to show off as much as they could. It had always been like that too. Davin had never liked attending the parties his grandmother offered or invited him to. Jarrett had always been the more social of the two when it came down to girls and parties. He liked going through all those formalities of pretending to like the guests and giving false compliments. Davin reached the big doors that led to a flower garden outside and decided to stay there for a while.

It was late May already, the next month was just around the corner, and the garden looked beautiful. There were colorful flowers all around. Davin didn't know which flowers those were, but it didn't matter a lot; the mix of so many colors resulted in a beautiful scenery. It was a dark night, but the lamps illuminated pieces of the garden every few feet. He was the only person there and he especially liked that fact.

The music being played at the party could still be heard outside, but it sounded as if it was distant and not just a few walls away. He sat on one of the benches and watched the fireflies that were around there in a dark spot of the garden. Davin didn't know how long he sat there; he didn't check his watch once. It wasn't like anyone was going to miss him in the party. Well, maybe his sister would, but Beatrice would eventually find him. She always did. It was like she had a radar just for that.

"Running away from the hypocrites?" a voice suddenly broke the silence.

Davin recognized it as Noelle's and turned around to face the girl. She hesitantly smiled at him from a few feet away, where she stood. He thought for a moment.

"You could say so."

"Am I interrupting any momentary reveries? I can leave, if you want," she said, looking uncertain about approaching the bench on which he sat.

"No, it's okay. You can stay," he said and there was a pause. "Uh, you want to sit?"

This time her smile was warm and she walked over to sit next to him. Only a few inches separated them, it wasn't a long bench. The two fell in a silence that was somewhat awkward. None was sure of what to say or what to talk about. So far, their only common ground was Chantal and Frederick's marriage and the fact that Noelle would probably attend an Ivy League university, like Davin did. Certainly, talking about their academic careers wasn't something they wished to do on that moment.

Finally, the young man decided to ask the girl if that was her first time in Raleigh. It was a lame attempt at making some small talk and he regretted asking it a moment later, cursing himself for not being able to think of anything more interesting or the least bit original. Knowing the crowd that usually went to the kind of party that his grandmother organized, everyone had most likely asked that already and it would probably be the hundredth time Noelle would have to repeat the same answer.

Davin noticed that she didn't seem to be annoyed or bored by the question. She even offered him a smirk, though he couldn't be sure if it was a real one or if it was just the girl being polite. She confirmed it was her first visit to the city, to the state actually, and said something about it being very different from Las Vegas, which was the place where she had lived during most of her life.

"Have you ever been there?" she then asked.

"Fred said he'll take me on my twenty-first birthday."

"It's a nice plan," she said and then giggled slightly. "On mine, my mom, Chantal and I will go on a shopping spree of twenty-one things we don't really need, eat take-out food from twenty-one places and drink twenty-one different alcoholic drinks."

"That's a lot of stuff to do."

"That's the fun of it." She giggled again and that made him smile. "My birthdays are number-coordinated. I bought the albums of my sixteen favorite bands, watched my ten favorite movies, bought nail polish in my nine favorite colors, and had two parties for my second birthday."

"What did you do for the number eighteen? Your mother said you had just turned eighteen," he asked, remembering what Renee had told him earlier.

"Yeah, it was a few days ago, on the thirteenth. I went to DC and took pictures with eighteen big politicians because it's an election year and I'm now able to vote. But my ideal candidate even isn't on the run."

"Who's it?"

"Homer Simpson."

Davin laughed as Noelle smiled, watching him. If only he could be as interesting or as charming as his cousin was, maybe they would keep the conversation going steadily instead of falling in silence once more. A new song started to play and they could listen to it from the small garden. It was something slow once more. People would probably start to feel sleepy listening to classical music and slow songs all night long, but that was the kind of music Davin's grandmother liked to listen to, what meant that that was going to be the only kind of music the band would play.

Noelle stood up and the young man frowned slightly, thinking that the girl would just give some excuse and leave. That was why Davin was so surprised when the brunette offered him a hand and asked if he wanted to dance. He was confused for a moment. She said that they should dance or else they would probably fall asleep listening to slow songs all night long. Davin wondered for a second if he had said anything out loud, but didn't ask about it as she hurried him to make a decision. Finally, he took her hand and stood up again.

Davin motioned to lead her back to the ballroom, but Noelle stopped him by saying they could dance in the gardens. It wasn't like people would mind and they didn't need everyone staring at them just because they were related to Frederick and Chantal. Besides, she had added, why should they dance in a crowded floor when they had the garden just for themselves? Noelle and him stood in the middle of the patch. One of Davin's hands rested on her waist as the other one held one of Noelle's hands. There was a good distance between the two. The brunette asked if Davin didn't know how to dance and he felt himself blush faintly. She made him nervous, that was why he was hardly moving.

"I'm just, uh, not used to dancing much."

"It's not like I'm a pro or anything," she offered him a sweet smile. "It's not about being a perfect dancer, Davin. It's about having fun."

Without leaving her spot, Noelle started to swiftly move her knees and tapping her toes to the beat. Davin was still standing stiff, just looking at her and mentally thanking the fact that she was giving him time to feel the song and get comfortable enough with the situation to start dancing as well. Finally, he started moving too and they danced around the garden. Davin felt himself blush slightly when Noelle complimented him by saying that he was quite a good dancer for someone that judged himself to be so awful. The young man managed to thank her with a small smile of his own.

It was the third song they were dancing to when Noelle slipped and almost fell to the ground. Luckily, Davin had fast reflexes and caught the beautiful girl right before she hit the floor. As she tried to steady herself, Noelle's hands circled the young man's neck while his hands stayed around her waist. Suddenly, both realized that there was no more space separating the two. They were as close as they could possibly be. Their eyes locked into each other's, both unsure of what to do next, but certain that they didn't want the moment to end. The young woman seemed to take the lead as she ever so slowly leaned in towards him.

The inevitable kiss never happened. It was on that moment that the two heard the cheerful voice of Beatrice and immediately broke apart. An instant later, the little girl was standing in front of them with a smile on her face and another little girl standing next to her. Evelyn had sent her out to find Davin and Noelle because Frederick and Chantal were posing for photographs with the family members and wanted the two to be there as well. Davin nodded to his sister's explanation and the little girl grabbed Noelle's hand, hurrying the brunette inside as she babbled a mile a minute about whatever popped into her mind.

Davin smiled as he noticed that Noelle talked to Beatrice and her friend as if the two girls were old friends of hers. At no moment she appeared to be bored or annoyed by the presence of the girls and their million questions. Actually, she seemed to rather enjoy it and just laughed it off when a guy asked her to dance with him and the toddlers told him that she was busy, if he couldn't see that. He seemed to feel embarrassed to have two six-year-olds telling him to leave. Finally, they reached the table where the cake and the drinks were set with bouquets of white, red and yellow roses around. That was where the photographer wanted to take the pictures.

Frederick and Chantal stood right behind the layered cake that the buffet had made. Renee stood by her sister's side and Noelle took the place behind them for being the tallest one. Davin stood next to his uncle and was almost shocked when even Jarrett joined them to be photographed. For the following picture, he made a point to have Noelle by his side. Davin didn't like it when his cousin circled the girl's waist with his arm. She caught him staring and the young man quickly looked ahead once more, as if his eyes had never left the camera's direction.

After taking about a hundred pictures with nearly all family members and even a few of Frederick's closest friends, the photographer finally allowed them to go back to whatever they were doing before the photo shoot. Davin wished he could have gone back outside with Noelle and dance some more, but that wasn't possible because Renee and Chantal requested the girl's presence to talk. According to the newest Turner, her sister and niece had arrived a long time before, but had spent most of it talking to the people there while Chantal was forced to play host for strangers.

Jarrett and him watched the three women walk off to the bathroom before they sat down to eat something. The blonde boy had his eyes on Noelle all the time. Once he was sure that they were out of earshot, he turned to Davin, who immediately knew that his cousin wasn't going to say anything flattering or nice.

"She's hot."

"Who?" Davin asked, but he had a guess of whose name Jarrett was going to say.

"Noelle. Well, her mom's pretty hot too, but she's better," he replied. "C'mon, cus, I'm sure even you noticed it. She's a model. I'm gonna ask her out and I doubt she'll say no."

"I don't know... She's almost like Chantal's daughter."


"That would make her your almost step-sister."

"Davin, that's bullshit. I'll ask her out and she'll say yes. I know it."

The brunette didn't have to reply. Right on that moment, one of Jarrett's friends called his name out and the guy walked away, but not without assuring his cousin that, by the end of the night, he would have asked Noelle out and she would have said yes to his invitation. Davin sighed. Sometimes he envied how confident Jarrett could be.

Finally, a few minutes later, the band stopped playing and it was announced that it was time for the toasts. Davin was especially glad about such thing; it meant the party was closer to its end. Quickly, Frederick, Chantal, Renee, Noelle and Jarrett were sitting around a table and listening to people as they wished all the happiness in the world to the newlyweds. Beatrice, who was sitting next to Davin at their parents' table, complained about not being able to sit next to the model. They had a lot to talk about according to the toddler.

The toasts seemed to take forever. One speech was more boring than the other. No one there actually knew Chantal, so they mostly talked about Frederick or how wonderful the atmosphere was. Davin didn't think there was a way for them to be any more impersonal. The only toast that had the minimum bit of sincerity in it was Noelle's few words about her aunt and uncle being the nicest couple she had ever met. Jarrett rolled his eyes at her short speech, but she didn't notice it.

After everyone had had their chance to speak, the dinner was served. As per usual, the food was simply amazing. Everything tasted ten times better than it normally did. Not a single guest expected anything less than that from an event planned by Mrs. Turner. Sure, Chantal had supposedly help her plan the whole thing, but mostly everyone knew that the old Mrs. Turner liked things to be done her way and only like that. Beatrice wrinkled her nose when one of the waiters offered her caviar. As it turned out, the exquisite dish didn't please everyone in the end.

Davin and his parents listened to Beatrice talking about Noelle and what they had talked about. Evelyn Turner was glad to realize that the young model hadn't put any ideas in her daughter's head, such as becoming a model herself or anything of the sort. She didn't have anything against it, but Evelyn thought her daughter was still too young to be worried about the way she looked or dressed. It was one of the differences between most of the other socialite and her: Evelyn made a point not to let her daughter and son be affected by the society's pressure of being and looking a certain way while most mothers tried their hardest to make their offspring simply fit in.

"She asked me what I liked doing," the toddler continued, "and I said I liked playing sports. Noelle said she used to play basketball and volley, but she doesn't know a lot about soccer and asked me to teach her because I told her that I was in the school's soccer team."

"That's great, darling," Mr. Turner smiled to the little girl with evident pride in his face. He was a sports fan and had been one of the best soccer players in his school. He supported Beatrice a lot into making a career as a soccer player if she wished to do so, especially because all his attempts of getting Davin into sports had failed. His son was too much of a bookworm to do more than play the occasional soccer match.

"She said she's going to come visit me whenever she can after her classes start. I said she should go to the same school as Davin, at least Noelle would already know someone there."

"Speaking of schools, have you talked to her about Harvard?" Mr. Turner asked. "It's impressive that she had the time to study to get into four of the best universities of the country, being in her line of work."

"Jarrett seems intent on convincing her to go to Berkeley with him," Evelyn remarked and looked over to the table where her brother-in-law and her nephew were. Jarrett was sitting very close to Noelle and whispered things in her ear that made her laugh. "Obviously, she's sparked his interest."

The conversation died there as Mrs. Turner approached the table and requested to talk to her son. Both left the table as the old lady spoke to him in a hushed voice. Davin was still looking at the interaction between Noelle and his cousin when his mother's voice suddenly interrupted his thoughts of how he wanted to be the one sitting next to the brunette beauty. The young man blushed when his mother suggested him to go ask Noelle for a dance. Had she noticed his interest?

Fortunately, Evelyn didn't say anything else because it was on that moment that Beatrice decided to magically produce a pack of candies. She said the cook had given them to her hours before, but asked the girl not to tell anyone because those were the candies people would get after having dinner. They were made of brown chocolate with a heart-shaped detail made of pink cream on top of it. All of them were wrapped with metallic paper in blue, pink, red and gold foil.

It took Davin a moment to understand his mother's remark about those candies being a good way of sending messages. They could just write something on the wrapping paper and send it to a certain person of their choice if they didn't have enough opportunities to talk because of all the attention they got being new at parties like that one. The only thing left would be the messenger. And that was when Beatrice volunteered, saying she wouldn't mind being a messenger for a night. She was just a little confused as to whose message she would send.

The young man smiled. His mother could definitely read minds. Or maybe she just knew him too well. It wouldn't surprise the boy; after all she had given birth to him and watched him go from being a chubby baby, to a skinny toddler to a grown man. He smiled to her, silently thanking the woman for the idea and turned to his sister, asking if he could have one of the candies and borrow one of her coloring pens.

"Do I get to play messenger?" she asked, excitedly, as she handed him a black pen and a chocolate candy wrapped with pink paper.

"Actually, you do," Davin said as he wrote something on the paper's smooth surface, "but only if you promise me not to read what I write on the candy."

"Oh," Beatrice seemed to consider it for a moment and then smiled. "Okay!"

Evelyn smiled as she watched the scene between her children disclose. It should seem odd to most people that a nineteen-year-old boy could be as close to a six-year-old girl as Davin and Beatrice were. The age difference didn't seem to affect the two and their relationship and they were closer than many siblings Evelyn knew. Davin finished writing the short message on the candy's surface and handed it to his sister, carefully enough not to let anyone see what he had written exactly. Then, he whispered something in the girl's ear.

Beatrice smiled and chuckled for a moment before nodding to her brother's instructions. She put all the other candies back in the napkin in which they had been wrapped up until a few moments before and carefully placed it on the table, asking Davin to keep an eye on them and not let anyone eat the sweets. The little girl took the candy from her brother's hands and skipped away to Noelle's table, both her hands hidden behind her back to make sure no one would see the candy and figure out her secret mission, as the girl had called it.

Before she could ask what her son had written on the candy paper, Beatrice ran back to their table, grabbed the rest of her candies plus a coloring pen and went back to Noelle's table. Davin didn't dare looking over there, knowing that the model was probably looking at him. Evelyn almost laughed at the scene. She knew how shy Davin usually was with girls. Her son had never been the kind of guy that dated randomly. He was the opposite of Jarrett in so many aspects; it was even a little peculiar that they could be cousins as well as good friends.

What happened next surprised Davin; Beatrice appeared by his side once more and took her empty seat before handing him a candy that was wrapped in metallic green paper. She had a giant smile on her face as she told him to look at the chocolate good. He looked at the small thing in his hand. There was nothing on that side of the candy. He then turned it around and there it was: a short message; five simple words.

Meet me in the garden.

The corners of his lips curled up in a small smile as he glanced over to Noelle's table just enough to see that she was looking at him. He nodded curtly and quickly, not to let anyone around notice what was going one; anyone other than his mother and sister that was. The brunette beauty smiled a small smile to him and nodded as well. A minute or two later, Beatrice announced that Noelle was heading outside to the garden. Before the little girl could even think of going outside as well, Evelyn asked if the little girl could play messenger again and take a message to her father. She agreed to do it as long as she could read the message and excitedly jumped on her mother's lap when she agreed to the girl's request.

Davin stood up after saying he would be right back. As he left the table, he saw his mother wink to him and he had to laugh at it, despite the mild red on his cheeks. The young man walked to the flower garden, where Noelle and he had danced to the slow songs before. She was sitting on the bench, slowly shaking her head to one side and then to the other. The band wasn't playing anymore, but there was still music around; it was one of the albums Frederick had picked out to play during the band's break. It wasn't an instrumental or classical song; it was one of the slow songs of U2, one of his favorite bands. Frederick had wanted to play Rolling Stones, but Mrs. Turner had been vehemently against such idea.

"Hey," he said as he approached the bench and stood next to her.

"Hey," she repeated and didn't say anything else.

They fell in silence. Instead of motioning for him to sit beside her or saying anything else, Noelle simply smiled at him. It was one of those smiles that showed all her pearly white teeth and made people think the world could really be a better place. It was such a cheesy thought that Davin had to mentally laugh at himself for thinking it. He was just glad she couldn't read minds or anything of the sort.

"Do you know this song?" he asked when it changed to With Or Without You.

"Of course, it's U2. Who doesn't know that song?" she chuckled. "I'm surprised your grandmother actually allowed Freddie to play this. She could get a recommendation from the Royal Family and even then she wouldn't play U2 on free will."

"That's true. She's not that bad, in fact. Grandma is just too strict. She's used to having things done her way and people always accepting her orders. I suppose she's going to have a hard time with Chantal and Fred."

"I suppose. Chantal is... too free-spirited for all of this," Noelle quickly glanced around and shrugged. "You know, acting like a socialite and hosting parties. But Freddie makes her happy, so it's all good in the end. And she makes Freddie happy. That's what matters."

"If I didn't know it, I wouldn't think you're a model," Davin said without thinking and Noelle threw him a curious and confused glance. "I mean that as a compliment, of course. It's just that most girls that become models are so obsessed with the way they look or act or about makeup and fashion… And you're nothing like that."

"Oh," she chuckled. "I don't take modeling as serious as I should. That's what my agent is always telling me, anyway. She's mad because I say I'm in this for the fun of it. I don't see myself modeling at age thirty, like Cindy Crawford. I'm actually thinking about taking a break during the first months of classes."

"Speaking of classes, have you decided where you're headed to?"

"I'm thinking Harvard would be a good choice," she said and smiled again.

"It's a nice place and they have good professors," he replied with a shrug.

"Maybe you could give me a tour of the city and the campus when I get there."

"Sure. We can set it up."

Noelle was about to say something else when they heard her name being called out. It was her mother. Renee walked over to the two with a smile on her face, although it was obvious that she felt rather sleepy by then. The blonde woman said she wasn't feeling that great and asked about the possibility of her daughter and her going back to their hotel. She had probably eaten something that didn't sit well in her stomach or maybe drunk a little bit too much. Renee was a lightweight, reason why she usually avoided drinking alcoholic beverages.

The young model looked at Davin for a moment before looking over at her mother and finally agreeing to Renee's request, saying that they had to find Chantal and Frederick to say goodbye before they could leave. The blonde woman nodded and turned to leave, stating that she would find her sister and her brother-in-law as quickly as she could. Renee really wasn't feeling too great about herself on that moment. Noelle shook her head, watching her mother walk back inside the ballroom. A moment after her mother was out of sight; Noelle stood up and smoothed her dress, complaining about how easily that sort of fabric could wrinkle.

Davin noticed that she stopped smoothing the dress for a second, as if thinking if she had actually made that comment and then she blushed. He thought it was adorable. He hadn't seen her blushing before, Noelle didn't seem to be the kind of girl that blushed easily and she probably wasn't. After the moment of silence, both laughed at the same time. After they had calmed down, she walked up to him and stopped immediately in front of the young man. They were only a few inches apart and she slowly leaned in, as if she were going to kiss him. Much to Davin's disappointment, she only hugged him.

He hugged her back and couldn't hold himself from smelling her soft hair. It didn't smell like strawberries and cream, nor did it smell like vanilla. He actually felt the faint scent of flowers and cigarettes. The faded smell of smoke was probably because she had spent time with people that smoked. Davin felt Noelle move around a little bit and put something in one of his pockets before telling him to look at it only after she had left the garden. He agreed and they parted the hug. She said goodbye and kissed his cheek; her lips landing dangerously close to his mouth. He said goodbye as well and watched her walk inside the ballroom the same way her mother had done a few minutes earlier.

As soon as she was gone, Davin felt his pocket and put his hand in it to pull out one of the chocolate candies he recognized as Beatrice's. The pink wrapping paper was shiny and perfectly smooth. It looked as though it had just been wrapped up. The young man then turned it around and smiled at the two words that were written on its surface in cursive handwriting.

Kiss Me.

It took Davin only a moment to register them in his mind and decide what to do next. He put the candy back in his pocket and hurried inside the ballroom. He ignored his cousin's shout out as he scanned the room, looking for Noelle. The girl and her mother were nowhere to be seen and he didn't spot Frederick and Chantal either. Did that mean they had already left? He didn't think it had taken him that long to make his decision. Davin sighed; he couldn't believe he was going to miss the chance of making his move. He was surprised when someone tugged on his pants and looked down to find a smiling Beatrice looking up at him. She said Renee and Noelle were outside with their uncle and Chantal. They had said their goodbyes to the guests before heading out. Beatrice even added that they could still get them if they hurried.

Davin smiled down to his sister; she was such a sweet kid. For a moment, he wondered if the toddler knew what was written on the candy that was securely inside his pocket, but didn't worry about it anymore as Beatrice took his hand and guided him through the dance floor and halls that led outside. No one seemed to pay attention to them, for what he was also thankful. The last thing he needed was an audience, although they wouldn't be exactly alone in the first place with his uncle, Chantal, his sister and Renee there.

They reached the main entrance just in time to see a car arriving. Noelle gave her aunt and uncle one last hug before motioning to get inside the vehicle. They all turned around in surprise to look to the place where Davin and his sister stood after the little girl shouted the model's name at the top of her lungs. They all chuckled. Davin and Noelle were strangely silent as the siblings approached them. No one said a thing, so Beatrice took it up on herself to break the silence like only kids could do.

"Davin came to kiss Noelle goodbye."

The adults chuckled. Noelle blushed a bit, but smiled all the same. Davin's cheeks were completely red. Frederick raised Beatrice from the floor and carried her inside, saying something about making an ice-cream-eating contest in which the girl immediately agreed to take part. As if by magic, Chantal seemed to remember to show something to her sister before Renee left and they walked back inside.

"Could they be anymore obvious?" Noelle asked when Davin and she were left alone.

"I don't think so," he nervously chuckled. "I read the message."

"Which message?" she asked with a smile, although she obviously knew what he was talking about.

He didn't say anything and neither did she. What he did next was kiss her like he had wanted to do all night long. It was a nice kiss. It started out smoothly and rather chastely, before turning into one of those breath-taking kisses people saw in the movies or something equally stupid as that. Noelle smiled at Davin when they broke the kiss apart.

"I was expecting you to do that."

"I'm glad I did it."

"So, do you think we can go now?" they heard Renee asked and saw the blonde woman and Chantal walking back outside. They had obviously been listening – and probably watching – the whole exchange between the two teenagers. Noelle and Davin blushed one more time.

Renee hugged her sister and Davin before hopping into the car's passenger seat. Noelle kissed her aunt's cheek and then planted a quick kiss on Davin's lips as she slipped another candy in his pocket. Without giving him time to say anything, she walked around the car and took the driver's seat. Chantal watched the two leave before walking back inside to the party, wishing she could have gone with the two girls.

Davin laughed, mentally wishing they hadn't left at all. He put his hand inside his pocket as he followed Chantal back in and pulled out its content, a chocolate wrapped in golden paper. There was a sequence of seven numbers on one side of the wrapping paper. Apparently, he hadn't been the only one to like his mother's suggestion of messaging through candies. He smiled at the two simple words written on the other side with cursive handwriting; it even matched Noelle's personality to have handwriting like that.

Call Me.