So, this took a REALLY unexpected turn as I was writing. Me, being me and getting too involved into details and tangents wanted to at least develop some character bio’s for the 4 people in the story. What I didn’t anticipate was the background stories that developed as well. But I thought rather than just ignore it, run with it and get all these ideas out. It might not necessarily answer the prompt as well as I would have liked, but hey, it’s something. And something is better than nothing. I know there’s some unresolved details in there, but when I get some more time I might work on it a bit more to develop the story further.
You’re set to play poker (or Scrabble or something else . . .) with a group of four. Write a story set during this game. Or, describe the ideal match: the players, the relationships — and the hidden rivalries.
BACKGROUND: Nick & Adrian
Both Nick and Adrian joined the same banking company roughly around the same time and have both worked their way up the corporate ladder to their current roles. At various points they had even applied for the same role, so although they’re work colleagues, they are also both fiercely competitive. Having both previously worked in sales, they both have a tendency to become quite ruthless, and have, on occasion, even sabotaged each other’s attempts in order to further their own achievement.
After working together for approximately two years when they first joined the company, they, along with the rest of their teams, were sent interstate for a national conference. On the very last night of the week-long conference, all the staff attended a gala dinner in support of a major charity their organisation sponsors. Nick and Adrian were sitting on opposite tables and had both had a few drinks and were enjoying their night. Both had won an award each during the night – Nick for Most Valuable Portfolio – Junior Team and Adrian for Junior Investor of the Year – Mid-Tier. Despite them both achieving such excellence in such a short time, they always maintained a healthy banter between each other.
After all the speeches, they decided to sneak off outside for some fresh air. Despite his award, Nick was still pining for his (then) ex-girlfriend who broke up with him a few months earlier. (He was too career-driven and she felt neglected and didn’t want to play second-fiddle to Nick’s career, so one day when he got home from a business trip, he found the apartment, minus all of Sarah’s belongings. He told her that he’d change but she told him it was over. He was devastated.)
Adrian tried to console and comfort Nick as friends do; delivering those standard lines like “It’s okay. You’ll be fine. You’ll meet somebody else and fall in love and forget Sarah ever existed”… blah blah blah. He hugged Nick and kissed him on the lips.
‘what the fuck are you doing?’ Nick said, pulling himself away from Adrian’s warm face, ‘I’m not a fucking fag!’
Adrian, wiped his mouth, his eyes wide open. Uncertain of what he’d just done. ‘I… ah… I…. I don’t know what happened. I’m so sorry. I didn’t mean it. I’m just used to kissing my gay mates like that’.
‘fucking, WHAT? you go around trying to pash all your mates? What the fuck is wrong with you?’
‘No, it’s just… it’s hard to explain. You wouldn’t understand. I’m really sorry. It’ll never happen again. I think I’ll just go. I’m sorry…’.
Adrian walked off feeling utterly humiliated. Why did he do that? He went back inside to his table and began chatting to others to distract his mind and ignore what just happened.
20 minutes later, a cold, wet Nick plonked himself down on the chair next to Adrian.
‘Shit! Nick, you’re fucking drenched…’
‘Yeah, it’s been raining.’
‘Well why didn’t you come inside? dickhead. Why would you stay out in the rain?’
‘Ads, can we talk for a sec?’. Nick was feeling really confused, and didn’t know what to make of what had happened between them.
‘Um, why don’t you just go upstairs and have a shower and go to bed. I’ll organise a wake-up call for you in the morning before we leave.’
‘But, Ads, mate, just for 5 minutes…?’
‘Nick, look, I’m sorry for what I did. We’ve both had too much to drink. I think it’s best if you just go up to your room and sleep it off. We can talk tomorrow if you still remember.’
Nick sat there for a moment staring at the back of Adrian’s jacket and then left the table. He got up to his room, and stood in the doorway. The sound of the water dripping off his clothes onto the tiled floor filled the silence. Without thinking, he walked into the double shower, turned on the water and slumped onto the floor. His mind was racing. Completely fixated on that kiss.
‘What does it mean? Does this make me gay? Surely not, I like chicks? I’ve fucked heaps of girls. No, I’m not gay. He had such soft lips! Kinda like a girl. It was just like kissing a girl. And he’s gay, so he’s pretty much a girl anyway, so it’s no big deal. No, it’s fine. Nick, stop being a dickhead. It’s not like you haven’t kissed a guy before! Remember last years Grand Final when Deano gave you a bear hug and planted one on ya? But he was doing that to everyone. Come to think of it, he kept smacking my arse? Actually, he smacks all boys on the arse? Fuck, maybe Deano’s gay? FUCK!! That cunt’s seen me naked and everything. Oh my god, what if he’s fully gay for me or something? Mental note: avoid Deano!! But I’ve seen him naked too… but that’s not gay, right? RIGHT? we all shower together after every game? That’s what guys do, don’t they? Nothing gay about it? Right? What if I am? What if I don’t like girls at all? Well, that’s stupid, you’ve had a number of girlfriends, so you can’t be gay! Remember Amber? Best fucking sex of your LIFE. She’s a chick. And that was almost every day. You’re not gay, you like girls. Stop being a dickhead.
Why the fuck are you wearing a suit in the shower?? WAKE UP TO YA SELF!! GO THE FUCK TO BED!!’
And with that, he turned off the water, took off his suit and left it on the floor of the shower, wrapped himself in a robe and walked out to his bed.
He looked at his phone. Half a dozen missed calls and a couple of text messages. Adrian.
12:49am: Nick, really sorry bout b4. r u ok?
12:51am: Hope ur ok. r u bk in ur room?
12:51am: I’ve ordered your wake up call 4 5:45am, and another one for 6:00 just in case
12:54am: Let’s just forget about it, and pretend it never happened. c u tomoz.
Nick layed down on the bed, staring at the ceiling.
R u awake?
Yeah. u ok?
u wnna tlk?
Within minutes there was a soft knock on Nicks door. There was Adrian, in a pair of trackpants and a t-shirt with some small rips around the collar. They both stood there in silence for what felt like hours, looking everywhere except at each other, before Adrian asked if he could come in.
‘Oh, sure, yeah, of course, sorry.’
As Adrian walked into Nicks hotel room, he could feel the tension building. It was already uncomfortable enough, but he and Nick needed to talk things out and get past this.
‘Do you want a tea, or coffee or something?’ offered Nick, as he began to fill the kettle. ‘I’m gonna have a coffee. I need something to wake me up’.
‘Oh, thanks, yeah, I’ll have a coffee as well. White. 1 sugar.’
They sat at the small table in an uncomfortable silence listening to the kettle boil. Just as Nick got up to make their coffees, Adrian excused himself to go to the bathroom. He walked back out with a puzzled expression on his face as he looked over at Nick, sitting at the table with two steaming cups of coffee in front of him.
‘Um, Nick… why… why is your suit on the floor in the shower?’
It was 5:45am. The phone was ringing.
‘ugh… hello’, Nick struggled to get the words out as he tried to clear his throat.
‘Yes, good morning, this is your wake up call…’. Nick groaned and squinted as he looked at the mess in his hotel room. He needed to be packed and ready to go in the lobby by 7:30.
‘Can you confirm if you still need your six a.m. wake up call as well?… Sir? Sir? Are you there?’
‘Um, err, no. No, I don’t think that will be necessary’, Nick replied. He slowly put the phone back on the hook and turned to see Adrian in the bed next to him. He lifted the sheet.
Just as he feared.
Both of them.
BACKGROUND: Jemma & Scott
it was 2003, and the uni semester had just finished. Jemma and Scott were both studying their Exercise Science degrees. Jemma had aspirations of becoming a physiotherapist and focusing on sports rehabilitation; whilst Scott was wanting to become a Personal Trainer and from there become a functional strength coach and work with some high-profile football teams.
Until this point they hadn’t exchanged any more than half a dozen words to each other in the three-and-a-half years they had been studying the same course. She always sat down the front with those who were eager to learn, whilst he sat down the back with all the other jocks, making fart noises and looking pornography on their iPhones.
They were both invited to an end of semester party at Brad Richardson’s parent’s beach house. They had already gone away and left Brad home by himself. Like any twenty-something, he lied to his parents about staying home, and instead, planned a big beach party instead. They weren’t home – they’ll never find out.
The party was a typical uni-student party. Loud music, alcohol, vomit. Except this was on the beach, so there was also a bonfire. Steve and a couple of his mates were sitting down by the fire chatting to a couple of girls from another uni. They were all really attractive, tall, slender. Steve and his mates found them to be rather intimidating. One of his friends, Ryan, was at this party with one goal in mind: taking home the hottest chick at the party. He wasn’t going to let these girls intimidate him, like they did the others. He quickly determined which one was the leader and went in to work his magic.
“Well, you’ve gotta be the ring leader of this lot, because you’re the most beautiful’, he said with an air of confidence in his voice.
‘you have GOT to be fucking kidding me. Is that the best you’ve got?’. Stacey was beside herself at his self-assurance.
‘No, not kidding, but we CAN be fucking later if you’re lucky. My name’s Ryan, but you can call me Ryno, y’know cause i’ve got giant hor...’
‘Wow. You’re disgusting. And I’m leaving. *ugh* pig!‘, Stacey interrupted as she stood up and brushed the sand off the back of her legs. ‘Girls, I’m going to get a drink. Coming?’, and off she walked towards the house. The other 2 girls looked nervously at each other and the other boys, and then stood up and quickly followed Stacey along the sand.
‘DUUUUUUDE, that was smooth. I can’t understand why she didn’t give you her number straight away. You’re SUCH a catch!!’, joked Steve. ‘Better luck next time, eh!’
‘Whaddya mean? She fucking WANTED me. It was written all over her face. She wanted the Ryno BAAAD!! Just wait, she’ll be back. They always come back!”
‘Sure. uh-huh.’ said Steven, turning to the boys and rolling his eyes, ‘she must want you so bad, hence why she ran off. Probably to go vomit because you’re such a charmer, hehehe’.
‘Oh, fuck off. More than I can say for you. Who are you fucking tonight? Your hand? At least I’ve got game. You just watch!!’
Ryan left the boys sitting at the fire to go find Stacey up at the house. Steve and the boys waited until he was out of earshot to start making fun of him, laughing and carrying on about his vulgar performance earlier. Their laughs were soon interrupted by an eerie silence.
‘SSHHH. Do you hear that?‘ Steve sounded concerned. ‘What happened to the music? I can’t hear anybody. I’m gonna go check it out. Anybody wanna come with me?‘ None of the others offered to join him, so he set off across the sand. As he approached the path through the bushes up to the house, the music started blaring into the darkness again. He felt a slight sense of relief, as he had started visioning all different possible scenarios of what he would find when he got to the house.
Would they all be dead? Would they have all disappeared? Maybe there’s a serial killer on the loose and he’s the only survivor? Maybe the house had been attacked by aliens? Maybe everybody had been arrested and taken away for being too loud and disruptive?
It was at this moment, Steve realised he had watched too many movies. He climbed the stairs leading to the outside deck and said hello to a couple of people he recognised from his class, and went to go find the drinks fridge. In a quiet corner, Steve could see Ryan leaning into a different attractive girl. He was mentally undressing her, and she was playing with her hair, ‘What’s the best she’s pregnant by tomorrow?’ chuckled Steve to himself as he kept walking.
He found the drinks fridge, grabbed a couple of bottles, and turned to go back to the beach. As he walked into the lounge room, four guys walked through the front door. These guys were big. I mean B-I-G. They were all at least six-foot five and completely solid build. They were all from the university rugby team. As soon as Steve saw them, he knew why those girls on the beach had looked familiar… they were the girlfriends of these guys.
Feeling quite nervous, he quickly left the room and went to go find Ryan. He’d gone. The girl he’d been talking to was now talking to Jemma and another friend of theirs. ‘‘Scuse me, but have you guys seen Ryan?’ Steve asked with an axious quiver in his tone.
‘Is he your friend? He’s fucking disgusting. Last I saw him, he was going to talk to Stacey’.
‘…fuck. Okay, ah, do you know where he went, I kinda need to talk to him!’. There was a sense of urgency in his voice. If he didn’t get Ryan away from Stacey, and Stacey’s boyfriend saw them, he’d be visiting Ryan in hospital. They just needed to leave the party and go home. Or go out. Just go ANYWHERE. Anywhere but here.
Steve left the girls and set off searching through the house in an attempt to find Ryan, whilst also trying to avoid bumping into the Rugby Boys. Room after room, door after door. Nothing. They can’t have gone far. Maybe they went back to the beach?? Of course, the beach!
Steve raced down the stairs, out across the back deck, and down the stairs to the beach path.
Steve went flying backwards onto the sand. As he opened his eyes, he looked up to see Brett Mossop and the Rugby Boys standing over him. “Whadda we got here, fellas? Look, it’s little Miss Stephanie. Didn’t recognise you without your tampon, fag.”
Steve winced as he tried to sit up, ‘ahhh, fuck Brett, that fucking hurt. What’s your problem?’
‘ooOOOOoohhhh, look out, Stephanie’s a bit cranky. Must be that time of the month. You on your rags, Stephanie? Got a bit of sand in your vagina?’
‘Fuck off Brett. Why don’t you go find Stacey’. Steve stood up to leave, but Brett grabbed the back of his shirt. ‘Not so fast, cunt rag. What do you know about Stacey? Where is she? She told me she’d be here, but I can’t see her. WHERE IS SHE?’
‘How would I know, I just went to get some drinks. The boys and I are just chilling out down on the beach. You’re welcome to join us, if you want?‘ he said, in some vain attempt to ease the situation and hopefully get Brett off his case.
‘Ya hear that boys, Stephanie wants to take me down to the beach. You wanna get me drunk, or something? Huh? Faggot! Fuck off. You see Stacey, you tell her I’m lookin’ for her!’
Steve quickly took off down the path. As he cleared the bushes and headed towards the fire. The boys were there, talking to the girls from earlier. He raced over to the group, ‘Holy shit. Brett’s here. And he’s pissed. And he’s looking for Stacey. Where is Stacey? And where the fuck is Ryan. If Ryan’s with Stacey and Brett see’s them, he’s gonna fucking kill him. We need to find them. NOW!! NOW!!‘
The conversation stopped and they all jumped on their phones. Jemma called Stacey whilst Steve called Ryan.
Down the beach, in the darkness, the sound of two phones could be heard ringing amidst the sound of the crashing waves on the beach.
‘oh. fuck.’ Steve slowly gasped.
‘I swear to god, if he and her… oh god, just the thought of it makes me want to vomit‘ added Jemma, full of disgust.
‘Do we go down there? Do we wait here? I don’t know…‘ questioned Steve.
Jemma, put her drink down and stormed past the boys. ‘I’m so sick of her BULLSHIT!! I’m gonna fucking kill the bitch, myself!‘
As Jemma stomped her way across the beach, she, and the others heard a scream that stopped her in her tracks.
And then another.
‘OH MY FUCKING GOD, STACEY?? STACEY, ARE YOU OKAY? STACEY?!! WHERE ARE YOU!?’ Jemma screamed into the darkness. Behind her, the rest of the group were running to catch up to her. Something was wrong.
All she heard were the waves on the shore.
Steve caught up to Jemma. She grabbed his arm as tight as she possibly could. She was terrified. She was shaking. So was he.
They heard a rumbling in the bushes and a dark figure emerged. Jemma let out a squeal and turned into Steve’s chest.
‘AAAAAAAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!! You should see the fucking look on your face right now!!’, chuckled Ryan as he walked down towards them. ‘Yeah, what a bunch of fucking girls. My cat’s got more balls than you do!!’ added Stacey, following behind.
They had planned this whole scenario.
‘Are you kidding me? ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME!??’, Jemma was fuming. ‘I’m gonna kill her. For real! Let me go, Steve.’
‘Jemma, just calm dow…’
‘I SAID LET ME GO!’. Jemma elbowed Steve in the ribs and marched up towards Stacey. SMACK! Jemma slapped Stacey right against the face. ‘WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH YOU? YOU THINK THAT’S FUNNY? I ALMOST HAD A FUCKING HEART ATTACK THINKING SOMETHING HAD HAPPENED TO YOU!! THINKING YOU’D BEEN RAPED OR WORSE, MURDERED, AND YOU THINK IT’S A FUCKING JOKE?!? ARE YOU KIDDING ME!?!?’
‘OW! You fucking BITCH! Fuck, it’s just a joke. We were just having some fun, no big deal.’ Stacey held her hand on her cheek. Even in the moonlight, you could make out the faint outline of Jemma’s hand on her face.
Steve interrupted, ‘Well done guys. Jokes over. It wasn’t funny. Ryan, mate, you need to leave. Brett’s here. Oh, and Stacey, Brett’s here. He’s looking for you. Have fun explaining that mark on your face when he finds you with Ryan! C’mon Jemma, let’s go back to the house’.
Steve, Jemma, and the others turned around to leave and go back to the house, just as Brett and co. were walking down towards them. Without saying a word, they walked right past Brett, and continued on to the house.
Steve took Jemma into the bathroom, ‘Are you okay? You really lost your shit back there. I thought you two were besties, or whatever’.
‘Well, we are, or were. I’m not sure. She pulls this kind of shit regularly. Typical. Mum and dad’s little angel is secretly the bad girl. Please. What a fucking cliche!’
‘So, then why are you friends with her, if she’s such a bitch?‘, queried Steve.
‘Why are you friends with Ryan who, lets be honest, is practically a rapist?‘
‘Point taken‘. Steve let out a small laugh at the irony of their friendships.
‘Hey Steve, thanks for before. I know that we’re not friends or anything, but, well, thanks. Nice to know you had my back.’
‘Well, kinda. You’re a bit of a crazy bitch when you wanna be. At least I know you’re not a complete nerd.
Jemma, playfully punched Steve in the arm, and they both looked at the floor of the bathroom. Slowly they both looked up and locked eyes.
KNOCK-KNOCK. ‘Is anybody in there?’, came a voice from behind the bathroom door.
‘OH FOR FUCK’S SAKE, I’LL BE OUT IN A MINUTE!!’, shouted Jemma at the door. ‘God, you’re so moody. You must really have a short fuse!’, giggled Steve.
‘No, I just have no patience for bullshit and wasting my time’, said Jemma just before she grabbed Steve by the collar and pulled him in for a kiss. Steve suddenly knew where this was going.
…back to his place!
Games Night in the Hudson-Holt household started the way it always had.
Nick Hudson (31) and his, now, fiancee Jemma Holt (30) had spent the afternoon making platters, cleaning the house and preparing a couple of tonight’s meals. The Hudson-Holt were The Entertainers. They always hosted Games Night, and when they weren’t, they were entertaining clients, or having business dinners. Their weeks were go, go, go from Monday to Friday, and yet there were two things that they always made time for that were not negotiable: Date Night, and Games Night.
This particular night, they had invited a new couple to join them for Games Night. Adrian Anderson (36) was an Investments Manager at the same bank as Nick. He was bringing his current boyfriend, Steve (29) who was a Person Trainer at the local gym.
‘Shit, I’m still drying myself’ whispered Nick. ‘Fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck!’
‘Nick, just don’t worry about it, just answer the door… I’ve still gotta fill these tart shells and get them in the oven, and THEN go and change… SHIT… um… you get the door while I go change. Just don’t go into the kitchen!’
Jemma, still in her pyjamas, raced across the hall to the bedroom.
‘NICK!! THE DOOR!’
‘Jemma, I’m still not dressed. I’m NOT answering the door in my jocks. I need to put a top on!‘
‘Stop being so precious!’, Jemma snarled. ‘Hurry up!! Don’t keep them waiting, it’s rude!!‘
KNOCK-KNOCK? ANYBODY HOME?
‘JUST A SECOND!!‘ shouted Nick, doing up the fly of his jeans as he ran down the hall, sliding across the floorboards in his socks as he reached the front door.
Nick unlocked the front door, and standing on the other side of the flyscreen was Adrian and Steve, both wearing jeans and well-fitted checkered shirts that showed off their muscle definition.
‘Guys! So glad you made it, welcome! Come on in. Jem’s just getting changed and will be out briefly‘. Nick extended his arm to shake Steve’s hand. ‘You must be Steve, Adrian’s told us nothing but great things about you‘. Nick led them down the hallway which opened up to their open-plan kitchen / dining / living area. They sat down on the couch whilst Nick went to the kitchen to get some drinks.
Jemma stumbled out of the bedroom whilst doing up the zip in her dress, walking straight past Adrian and Steve and into the kitchen. ‘I thought I told you not to be in here, I’ve got tarts to finish!‘
‘Babe, I’m just getting some drinks for our guests. Perhaps you might like to say hello?‘, Nick said is soft, but smug tone.
Jemma slowly turned around with a big grin on her face, ‘Sorry. Hi. Adrian, so nice to see you again.‘
Adrian Stood up and walked over to give her a hug and a kiss on the cheek. ‘Jemma, I’d like you to meet Steve. Steve, this is Jemma.‘
Steve leant forward to put his drink back on the table before he stood up and walked over to greet Jemma. As they locked eyes, a chill ran down their spines.
This wasn’t the first time they’d met.
‘Steve, so nice to finally, ah, meet you. I’ve heard so many great things about you… I feel as though I already know you.’
‘Jems, would you like a dri…‘, Nick called out.
Jemma interrupted, ‘YES PLEASE!!’
This was going to be a long night.