lost \lȯst\ adj. 1 : not used, won, or claimed 2 : no longer possessed or known 3 : ruined or destroyed physically or morally 4 : DENIED, also : HARDENED 5 : unable to find the way; also : HELPLESS 6 : ABSORBED, RAPT 7 : not appreciated or understood (his jokes were ~ on me)
Merriam-Webster and Garfield Dictionary (1999)
“Coming?” Richard asked Callie and she looked at him, shaking her head repeatedly. She was already made up, already dressed—well, nearly—and she had already psyched herself that she was going to this one despite being hesitant thirty minutes ago. Richard walked towards her and zipped up her cocktail dress, his hand brushing her bare back, and then he kissed her on the neck at the base of her throat.
“I don’t know about this, Richard,” she said as she leaned against him, and Richard hugged her from behind. He was always Richard to Callie, always Richard and never just ‘Rich’ or just ‘Chard.’
“You’ve been out of the party circle for two years, Cal,” he whispered, reminding her, his breath tickling her ear, and Callie nodded, feeling all the weird energies that Richard transfers to her when she touches her.
“Yeah, which is not weird for someone you just drag into your parties,” Callie shot back. “And you of all people know why I skipped parties for two years, Richard.”
Richard grinned. He twirled her in his arms so she would be facing him. They looked into each other’s eyes and Callie just ended up sighing.
Lost in his eyes again. Lost in his freaking eyes. Those same damn jet black eyes that read her, that penetrate through the hundreds and even thousands of walls she put up around her, that just saw her through it all. She reached up (he’s about five and three-fourths inches taller than her 5″5′ frame) and held his face in her tiny hands, that face she saw in the past seven years of her life and even more frequently in the past two. His thin lashes that frame his almond-shaped eyes, his pointed nose, or his thin lips that were in a straight line, or his mustache and goatee that made him look so gruff, his stubby chin or the barely discernible dimple on his left cheek, or the mole just on the corner of his left eye.
All of those, in the past two years. The first face she sees when she wakes up and the last face she sees before she sleeps.
Richard’s grin didn’t waver. He looked deeply into Callie’s eyes, eyes which held so much more now than the emptiness they had two years ago. Now her life has a meaning, and slowly more and more emotions are present in those eyes.
Love was one of those emotions.
Not for Richard, he was partly sure of that. But there is love.
Two years and a life-changing event was all it took.
“Alec would be there,” Richard reminded her, releasing her. It was, after all, the 25th wedding anniversary of Patty and Arnold, the owners of the talent agency that manages both Richard and Alec.
Richard sat on the edge of the bed and watched Callie as she slid her phone and her lipstick into her purse. He saw the slight shake of her head when she looked up to face him.
“Let’s go, Richard,” she said instead. He rolled his eyes, wondering why after telling him about Alec and what happened a couple of years back Callie had shut up about Alec. Well, he knows one of the main reasons why, but—
“Richard!” Callie called out as she was already down the hall.
“Coming!” Richard shouted, grabbing his phone and keys from the nightstand and following Callie.
Alec didn’t know why but his eyes darted towards the entrance of the ballroom at that moment. Something—or someone—was there.
And true enough, there was.
He watched as Richard beamed at Callie, a weird déjà vu of that same night two years ago. He was carrying what looked like a black coat on his arm, and he held it up and Callie slid into the coat. Her aquamarine cocktail dress shimmered under the ballroom lights, but it was sleeveless and the air-conditioning in the venue was in full blast.
The entire time that Richard was putting the coat on her, Callie was scanning the crowd. Bosa nova music crooned in the background, and he saw Callie wrinkle her nose. Not a fan, Alec thought. Richard gently pulled Callie’s hair out of the coat, letting it fall in waves just over her shoulder, and then she faced him, a small smile on her face. He leaned in to give her a kiss on the forehead. He whispered something in her ear and she shook her head, and Richard stroked her back and she finally relented. He gave her one quick kiss on the lips before he sauntered over to his group of friends over at one table.
Callie looked at her and Richard’s invite and saw that they are assigned to the Caramoan table. The theme of the anniversary party was travel—all tables were named after tourist destinations Arnold and Patty have already been to, and they must have been to a lot of places as there are about forty tables in this ballroom. At her table was a girl she knew as Tricia (of course, because aside from being one of Richard’s (many) exes (and pseudo-exes), Callie worked with her for an ad for a sanitary napkin), who was seated next to her boyfriend, Azkals player Nate (yes, that same guy with a solo traffic hazard billboard). Richard better get back here to their table ASAP because she didn’t want to be a third wheel.
Without thinking any further, Alec walked over to them. He was assigned to the Paris table, a couple of tables down from Caramoan. Tricia stood to welcome him and gave him a peck on the cheek. They had been, after all, in a relationship, and their breakup had been one of those of Alec’s that was amicable.
Callie, settling down on her seat, gave him a small smile.
Tricia, having known Alec for years already, knows that tone, that deep, husky vibe that Alec uses only on women he hits on. She shook her head, amused that Richard and Alec are liking the same woman all over again (It’s me Part 2, she thought), and discreetly pulled her boyfriend to stand, leaving Callie and Alec to themselves.
“Hey,” Callie greeted back casually. A waiter came by and offered them red wine, which Callie declined, asking for iced tea instead. She has yet to pick up on her drinking after laying off alcohol for more than a year.
“Not a drinker? The last time I saw you, you only downed one Cosmo,” Alec said, pulling the chair that was intended for Richard.
“That was a rare occasion,” Callie returned, “and that was two years ago.” She smiled, shaking her head.
“So you’re going to tell me that things changed so much in the past two years?” he asked her, a frown on his face, his voice coming out as confrontational.
“Things change so much over a course of twelve months, what more in two years?” Callie replied calmly. She faced him, and Alec finally saw her eyes. He saw what changed, what Callie was pertaining to.
She wasn’t soulless anymore.
She wasn’t lifeless.
Alec considered braving through it. Callie appeared so much more open that she was when he first talked to her two years ago, and he remembered his promise to her that he won’t let her pass a second time around.
Callie smiled a mysterious smile, her eyes landing on Richard. “Everything.”