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Chapter 1

It was their annual company summer party and the hall was packed with people from all walks of life. It was not supposed to be a formal party as the theme was Legends and Myths but white collar people could make things seem uptight all the time. The co-owners of Petals Cosmetics and Pharmaceuticals were the chief hosts of the get-together though the public face of the company, Mr Peter Torres, was more appreciated. His partner was barely known to any, as he spent most of his time on the road, traveling the world.

“Mr Torres, may I just say how lovely this party is? Everything looks well put together. You must give me the contacts of your event planner,” Lady Carletta praised, looking here and there.

“She probably wants everyone to notice her new diamond necklace,” Regina, Peter’s wife whispered to her eldest daughter, who tittered into her palm.

“Thank you, Carletta but it was my darling Gina who did all the planning. Maybe you should talk to her about it. I’ll give you ladies some room,” Peter gave her a little nod and exited gracefully. Regina mouthed ‘Coward’ at him and he winked, letting off his sexiest smile. She grumbled under her breath and gave Carletta her best fake smile.

Men walked in and out with their escorts on their arm, mistresses and wives alike. The theme enabled women to dress as skimpy as they liked: spilling cleavages, tanned laps and backs, bleached hair and excess makeup. The live band was delivering a soft tune, perfect for a slow waltz and enough to keep waists swaying.

Suddenly, the music stopped and everyone’s eyes were glued to the entrance where an enchanting man stood, a model at his elbow. Jealous female eyes ate the female alive where she clung innocently to him. The mysterious man had a lock of dark hair hanging over his right eye but his wicked smile charmed the whole room.

“Richard, it is so good to see you,” Peter exclaimed, moving in to enclose him in a hug though Richard was the bigger man. Richard chuckled in a sexy bass and patted Peter’s back in a brotherly manner.

“It’s good to be back, Pete. Oh, my manners! Pete, this is Lauren, my date and Lauren, this is …..”

“Mr Peter Torres. Everyone knows Mr Peter,” Lauren completed, going red in the cheeks.

“Ouch! I must be out of existence then. Where is dear Gina? I came here to see her, not you, you old bat.”

“She is right here,” Gina announced herself and turned her cheek left and right to receive French kisses from her husband’s best man. She punched him in the gut after the pleasantries and he faked doubling over in pain.

“Gina, what have I done now?” Richard asked, pouting his full, pink lips.

“That’s for missing all my baby showers, my kids’ birthdays, our 15th wedding anniversary, the company’s 15th anniversary….oh my God, you bastard!” She got ready to take another swing at him but he got out of it in time.

“Hey, hey! I’m here now, ain’t I? I will make up to you guys somehow, I promise. Now where are my pretties?” Richard asked, changing the subject. The reason behind his life on the road was best known to him and it was better that way.

¶ ¶ ¶ ¶

“This is Kristin, our first daughter,” Gina introduced, beaming proudly at Kristin, who was blushing furiously.

“Nice to finally meet you, Mr Rossi. I will be 18 next month and I am a honor student,” she explained, very prim and proper. She was her mother’s pride and had her father’s wisdom unlike…..

“Pretty and brilliant, a very irresistible combo,” Richard praised, kissing Kristin’s knuckles. She flipped her perfect blonde hair behind her and came to stand behind her mother. Gina was looking around afterwards, her eyes darting between people on the dancefloor.

“Where is she, Krissy?” Gina asked.

Kristin rolled her eyes in an irritated way. “I couldn’t keep a hold on her. You know how she is.”

Peter sighed and massaged his furrowed forehead with his fingers. This girl would be the death of him.

“I’m sorry, who are we looking for again?”

“My youngest daughter, Jacqueline or as we like to call her Trouble. Call her on her cell, Kris, please. Only God knows what she is up to now.” Peter was worried sincerely because Jacqueline was a very unusual child. She never acted her age, never dressed appropriately and her favourite form of fun was ditching her chauffeur to take the subway train. She had outgrown all her babysitters but none had any effect whatsoever on her. Peter would have sent her to her grandmother’s but for fear that her strange behaviour would send the aged woman to her early grave.

“I’m calling her. Let’s hope she didn’t switch it off like she does whenever she wants to do something stupid,” Kristin criticized, tapping at the screen of her phone. She giggled at her screen lightly: she had saved Jacqueline’s name as Little Imp. She dialed the number and the phone rang in Gina’s purse instead. Regina harrumped in frustration. Jacqueline was obviously off on another of her adventures. She pulled out the ringing phone and handed it over to Peter.

“She is at it again, Pete, after everything we said last time.”

“I don’t know where she gets this wildness from. She is a girl for goodness sake and just 16.”

Suddenly, Richard burst into laughter, shaking vigorously. “You don’t know where she gets it from? Pete, have you forgotten your crazy days? Oh, I mean your before-Gina says. You were a mad man then. The girl just needs to exercise her freedom a little. You can’t be sixteen twice, ya know.”

Peter snorted in disapproval. “Of course, you would defend such unruly behavior, being the rogue that you are.”

Everyone had a good laugh at Richard’s expense.

“Anyways, until you meet her in person, here’s a picture of her,” Gina shoved her phone in his face and he took it from her. Richard saw a pretty girl dressed in black leather from top to trousers. She had a pixie cut, her blonde-white hair curled behind her ears. She looked like a Gothic model, her shapely long legs well enhanced by the tight leather pants she had on. Her mascara brought attention to her almost transparent eyes. She was…..naturally magnificent, a total opposite of Kristin, who was elegant but looked unreal.

“Hmm, you have lovely daughters, Gina. I’m thankful that Pete’s bad genes didn’t rub off on any of them,” Richard joked and the laughter rang out again.

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