The Trade

By: Elizabeth Knox

CHAPTER 1





When they can’t find anything wrong with you, they create it. -Anonymous





Natasha





A shrill noise hits my ears, pulling me out of my deep slumber. I take off the sleep mask from my face and sit up in bed, before reaching my hand over to pop the button that will shut this fucking thing up. No matter where you go; luxury splendor or a cheap motel, the alarm clocks always sound like banshees rising from the darkness.





Blinking my eyes, I am pleased to find there is little light to adjust to. Just how I wanted it to be. I didn’t want to wake up until it was at least seven p.m. after the morning we had, getting straight off the plane to go shopping, but what else should a girl do when she is on a trip in Miami? If I am going to be here, I am going to look the part. That is exactly how my best friend, Bethany felt as soon as she arrived as well. It just so happened that we were wiped out when we got back to the hotel and needed a cat nap before we continued our day, or night rather.





Looking to the bed that sat next to me, I realize that Bethany isn’t there. My first thought is that she woke up early and went down to flirt with the cute bellboy. She was always like that, and they flirted right back. It didn’t help that she looked like she just stepped out of Baywatch or something with her flat stomach and long blonde hair. Not that I don’t have my good looks as well, but they just aren’t that kind.





When I hear retching in the bathroom, I am acutely aware that flirting, is not where Bethany ended up. Instead, I go to the edge of the large bathroom to find her worshipping the toilet like a shrine, trying to keep those blonde locks I described, out of the muck that is filling the toilet bowl. “What’s the matter, Beth?” I ask her with concern, keeping my distance as much as possible. I won’t lie, I am one of those girls who vomit from the mere sight of anyone else completing the act. I am not in the mood to puke my guts out on our girl’s trip to Miami. Nope. Not happening. Though, I feel terrible for my friend.





“I’m thinking sushi at lunch was a bad idea… maybe I have food poisoning,” she commented, looking up with her miserable, beady, ice blue eyes.





I frown at her. “No, don’t tell me you can’t do tonight. We have been planning this trip for ages, and tonight we were finally going to check out the club everyone’s been raving about. We have to go,” I beg her, knowing it’s useless. I can’t force her to go to the club with me. It's just not right, but the disappointment is heavy.





I watch as she tries to get up off the floor and make her way to the sink to clean up her face and teeth, flushing the toilet behind her. She looks pretty pale, come to think of it, and I seriously worry that she needs to see a doctor. “I think I need to take you to the hospital or something. You’re pretty pale, and food poisoning can be bad news,” I tell her.





“Hah!” she scoffs. “Natasha, food poisoning of all things is not going to kill me, especially at the beginning of our Miami trip. No. It will be gone by tomorrow. I’ll just stay here and puke it all out, and you go to Riske without me,” she urges. I don’t like it one bit. It doesn’t feel right for her to wallow in her pain while I get to check out the hottest club in Miami. It feels selfish. “Stop overanalyzing and just go. I go clubbing all the time, plus, those upscale places aren’t for me. I like to get down with the low lives,” she jokes before gagging again.





I shake my head and go over to the small wardrobe where our dresses are. I made sure to carry them in garment bags from the shop and hang them up as soon as I got here. Part of the perfect trip is looking perfectly hot.





I thumb through the options and go for the one that stands out most, the one I was almost hesitant to wear. It has this black mesh that covers the back of it, showing off so much skin, it should be illegal. The only saving grace is the fact that it has this pattern of black covering up the front. It lends itself to some kick-ass cleavage though, my greatest asset.





“Can I borrow your black dress?” I ask Bethany. I have to admit that it’s gorgeous.





“Go for it!” she calls back to me.





I drop my clothes to the ground and carefully pull the dress over my body. It is fitting me like a second skin just like it is meant to. I place my hair at the front of my body and walk over to where Beth is now on her bed, looking like she might pass out. I have to have her zip the thing up. “Damn, you are going to get hit on by everyone who sees you tonight,” she tells me as I feel the cool glide of the zipper along my spine.





I laugh. “That's kind of the point, I think.” I top it off with a little makeup; black eyes and red lips. That’s all I need. My complexion is too nice to gunk up with anything else. I slip on a pair of strappy silver heels; a pair of shoes I know will garner attention but also that I will be able to dance in. There is no point in going to a club unless I can dance half the night away.





I give one last sympathetic look to my best friend who now has her eyes closed before I leave the room, heading downstairs to the lobby where there will be a shuttle waiting for me. Being rich sometimes comes with issues, politics, and judgment from the outside world, but it also means I get free shit like this from time to time. Perks we call it.

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