"Who the hell gave you permission to arrange a funeral?"
Dr. Tropic raised a cool eyebrow. "I assure you, Miss Venus, that I did not arrange this funeral. It was a Mr. Camel, I believe. Since no one who was related to Miss Light Auburn could be reached, we released the body into his custody a few days ago."
Venus choked back a sob. "Can you just stop calling her 'the body'? Please? She had a damn name." She flopped down into one of the chairs in the waiting room of Rosewood General Hospital.
Tropic paused slightly, then continued. "I've done all I can here. Mr. Camel is the one you need to speak to now. I believe he--"
"Oh, I'm going to..." the seated woman replied, cutting Tropic off. "If what you've told me is true, I have plenty to say to him..."
Misty adjusted her hat and turned to face Rum, who was lying on the end of her bed. "How do I look?"
Rum rolled his eyes. "You look as good as you could wearing all black. I still can't believe you're going to the funeral."
"Rum, she practically died in my arms..." she replied. She checked out her reflection once more. "And for a ditzy cokehead model she wasn't that bad."
"I guess we can cross speaking ill of the dead off our not to do list," Rum mumbled.
Misty rolled her eyes. "Was she a ditz? Yes. Was she a cokehead? Yes. She died snorting that shit, hello!" With a sigh, she scooped her purse up from her nightstand. "Are you coming or not?"
"Not. I don't do morbid stuff."
"Well then, I'll see you later." She paused at the door and looked back at him over her shoulder. "Don't wait up."
"Hey, Plum, long time no see. The art gallery sucking your life away again?'"
Plum glared at Blaze. "Did you invite me to lunch just to insult me? Because I have better things to do..."
"Chill out!" Blaze said, laughing. "I'm just joking. Besides, you're always invited to lunch, it's a standing invitation which, I might point out, you never take me up on."
"Well, I'm here now," Plum replied, sitting down. "Is Ruby coming?"
"Yeah, she and Copper are running a few minutes late."
Plum scowled. "They're always running late. I abhor lateness."
Blaze raised an eyebrow and tapped her fingers on the table thoughtfully. "So what's got your panties in a bunch?"
Plum took a deep breath. "Well, first of all, this bitch Midnight-she catered the gallery opening, is saying I never paid her, which I certainly did. Secondly, I'm losing two of my best artists to a gallery in New York. So, understandably, I'm a little pissed off. And then..."
Blaze's cell phone rang shrilly. "Damn. One sec, Plum." She fished it out of her purse. "Hello? What? Get one of the the other girls to do it...but, Espresso..." Blaze sighed. "All right, all right." She pushed the button to hang up and smiled at Plum apologetically. "I gotta go. Someone just came in with a case, and I'm apparently the only lawyer left in town to do it." She sighed. "Tell Ruby I'll see her next week?"
The priest intoned the last few words of the ceremony and closed his thick black bible sharply. "I'd like to thank you all for coming. There will be a brief reception in the green room back at the church for those who wish to attend."
He nodded to the younger priest who was standing next to him. As they stepped out from under the canopy, the younger man opened an umbrella against the slight drizzle.
As people walked sombrely to their cars, Miss Ember shook her head sadly. "I knew it was going to end like this."
Raven nodded. "It's still sad. Camel looked devastated."
"Hmmph," Ember grunted. "People like him...fucking parasites, just latching on and using girls who too naive to know better."
Camel sat on one of the folding chairs, staring vacantly down into the grave. Misty shook her head as she looked at him, then sat down next to him. "Hey Camel, come on."
He ran a hand over his face, blinking a few times before focusing on Misty. "Yeah," he said roughly. "Yeah, I'm coming."
As he stood, the quiet of the graveyard was broken by a piercing yell. "You fucking bastard! I should kill you!"
Everyone looked up to see Venus striding across the cemetery, the wet grass barely a hindrance in her anger.
Misty, noticing the two policeman who were trailing behind the redhead, began to back away.
Camel frowned at Venus and straightened angrily. "Who the hell are you?" he asked angrily.
Venus came up short, looking dumbfounded, then laughed bitterly. "We've talked on the phone," she said angrily. "I think you told my mother to fuck off and never try to contact Auburn again."
One of the policeman caught up to the pair. "Miss Venus, you should calm down."
"Oh, of course," she yelled. "He just killed my sister...It's nothing to get upset about!"
"Stop it!" Camel shouted. Venus stepped back at the force of Camel's outburst. "I didn't kill her!"
"You might as well have," Venus replied, her voice grim.
The policeman who had spoken glanced at his partner. "Look, I got a job to do. Camel, can you come with me? We have a few questions..."
Misty looked back at the grave, seeing Camel slowly walk away with the policemen, then sped up her walk. She turned towards her car, and came face to face with Spice. The curly haired girl smiled nastily. "Misty," she said quietly. "I need to talk to you."
Misty frowned. "This better be something good, Spice..."
"Oh, it is," Spice said coolly, pulling an airline ticket out of her bag. "Here," she handed the envelope to Misty. "Most of Rosewood, and I personally, want you to get the hell out of town."
Misty gave Spice a look, then started laughing. "A plane ticket? Oh, what an incentive." She threw the envelope on the ground. "You didn't actually think that'd work, did you?"
"Not by itself, no." Spice pulled another envelope out of her bag, holding it in front of Misty. "In this envelope is a card detailing your appointment with Molten Ginger, of The Molten Agency, plus hotel reservations for a week, and a few hundred dollars, just in case."
Misty smirked, taking the envelope. "Being funded by Gothic?"
"Makes things easier," Spice replied sharply.
Misty's smirk grew nastier as she flipped through the envelope. "Suppose I did agree to leave. How do I know that this appointment is for real? How would you be able to get me an appointment with the the most powerful model booker in the industry?"
"I'm friends with her assistant. I sent her some of your headshots and she showed them to Ginger. You can call if you like, the number's on the card. It's for real." Spice bent down and picked up the plane ticket. "And all you have to do is leave...and never come back."
Misty tucked the envelopes in her purse. "I'll call now. When's the flight?"
"This evening, late. Give you enough time to pack a few things." Spice paused for a second, pushing wet hair out of her eyes. "I don't hate you, Misty. You might find that hard to believe, but I don't." She paused again. "I just want you away from Gothic, away from Cola, and away from here. Cola doesn't deserve to have his life fucked up because of your personal issues."
"All of this is for Cola?" Misty said. She shook her head, chuckling as she got into her car. "It must be...nice to have such good friends..." she said sharply before speeding off.
Later that night...
Gothic pushed Cola up against the door of his apartment, nuzzling his neck and whispering softly into his lover's ear.
Cola flushed and wrapped his arms around Gothic's waist, slowly pushing him away. "I don't think that's physically possible, Gothic."
Gothic chuckled and leaned in again. "We could find out," he whispered against Cola's neck.
Cola closed his eyes, wrapping his arms around Gothic's body, then, slowly, pushed him away. "C'mon, Gothic...please...I've got to go to sleep....big day tomorrow...and stuff..."
Gothic pouted. "All right," he said with a long sigh. "Busy day tomorrow, right." He straightened up. "Oh, don't forget that we have to have lunch with my parents and sister tomorrow. "
Cola nodded. "I know, I know..." He gave Gothic one last kiss. "Bye."
"Bye." With a wave, Gothic turned to walk down the stairs.
Cola waved back, then turned to unlock his door. He heard giggling behind him and turned back around.
Raven was standing at her door, holding a hand over her mouth to stifle her laughter. "Don't mind me," she said, laughing as she put her keys in the door. "I thought I was usually the one with the pushy ex trying to get into my pants..."
Cola flushed. "He wasn't that pushy...."
With a chuckle, she locked her door. "It looked like he was trying pretty hard..."
"We did just get back together, so I guess he was feeling insecure..." Cola said, trailing off when Raven started laughing again.
"You so have no more room to talk about now!" she said between chuckles. "You're just--!"
He cut her off. "Raven, when Gothic and I get back together for the seventh time, than I'll have no room to talk."
"You're so mean, Cola!" she said teasingly. She turned to go, then looked back over her shoulder with a mischievous grin. "You know, if you call Gothic now, the sex will be twice as good. Take it from someone who knows."
"Get out of here, you slut!" Cola called after her departing figure, shaking his head ruefully.
He let himself into his apartment, where he pulled off his shirt and sprawled out on the couch. He eyed the phone speculatively. "Twice as good, huh?" he said to himself.
Suddenly, there was a loud crash from the kitchen. Cola jumped up, and a figure stumbled out into the main room. "You home, finally? Took long enough. You out fucking your boyfriend?" The figure laughed. "More likely the other way around, though."
"Jesus," Cola breathed. He straightened. "Rum," he said icily. "How'd you get in here?"
"Picked the lock," Rum mumbled.
"One of your many illegal skills. You haven't stolen anything, have you?" He pulled Rum over and sat him down on the couch.
"No..." Rum rubbed his eyes wearily, almost like a child. "She left."
"Misty. Something to do with modelling. Came home, packed up all her things, and just...left..."
Cola sat down next to his twin, searching for words. "I can't say I'm particularly unhappy about that."
"But I loved her!" Rum bawled.
"Rum," Cola said, shaking his head. "I don't think you're capable of loving anyone..."
"What do you know?!" Rum said angrily, before breaking down into frantic drunken sobs. "Why are you so mean to me? Why do you hate me, Cola? Why doesn't everyone love me, like they do you?"
Cola sighed. "Are you on something?"
"Of course I'm fucking on something. Do you think I'd come over here and cry if I wasn't completely wasted?! Stop avoiding my questions! Why do you hate me so much?"
Cola sighed again. "I don't hate you, Rum. But it might have to do with the fact that you stole two hundred dollars from me the last time you visited..."
"Oh," Rum said in a small voice. "That" He began to fumble in his pockets. "I can pay you back..."
"No, Rum, stop..." Cola reached over and grabbed his hands. "You don't have to pay me back." He sighed. "Look, why don't you stay here for the night...I can go over to Gothic's, and you can get some sleep."
"I'm not tired...I don't need..." Rum began, but he was cut off by a huge yawn. "Maybe just a little nap." He curled up on the couch, falling asleep almost immediately.
"I'll be back in the morning," Cola said softly. He watched his brother sleep for a moment, then grabbed his keys and left the apartment.