Despite the stupid name, Brass Monkey was an upscale lounge that only catered to the crème de la crème of society. In other words, if you weren’t rich and famous, then your penniless behind was not welcomed here.
The lounge reeked of wealth and power with its palatial Swarovski crystal chandeliers, Chesterfield sofas, tufted leather armchairs and renowned artwork. Well-groomed men in three-piece suits, modelesque women in designer dresses and nose-bleeding heels casually socialized over glasses of expensive champagne and miniscule caviar sandwiches.
Mira looked as though he’d walked out of the glossy pages of GQ magazine in his tailored, Alexander McQueen suit and leather, Oxford shoes. He moved through the room like a natural-born hustler and introduced me, along the way, to artists, influencers and European celebrities.
I’m not the kind of a girl that suffers from low self-esteem but on that night I felt like chopped liver. All of the guests knew Mira – his name would casually roll off their lips – and even despite having more followers on Instagram, I felt as though I was his arm candy and not the other way around.
That kind of, sort of bugged me, actually.
His hand was on the small of my back as he steered me towards our reserved table. It stood by the tall glass windows and offered a breathtaking view of the Parliament and the St. Vitus Cathedral in the distance.
Without bothering to see my I.D., the waiter returned with a bottle of Dom Pérignon and two plates laden with sizzling filet mignon, sautéed mushrooms and mashed potatoes.
“I ordered ahead,” Mira explained sheepishly. “I figured since you eat like a caveman, you’d appreciate my chivalrous gesture.”
I laughed. “That’s very sweet.”
While I stuffed my face with the first, second and third courses, Mira had finally confessed about his connections.
Apparently, he was related to Scarlet Rose – one of the biggest DJs in Europe – and the bejeweled Audemars Piguet watch on his wrist was a gift from his famous, older sister.
Coincidentally, she helped him secure the internship at creativ[un]block and tonight, she was promoting her new album.
“So that’s why everyone here knows your name.”
He nodded his head. “It’s kind of embarrassing, actually. Almost like walking in the shadows of your cool, older sibling at school. You know?”
“Actually, I don’t!” I snorted. “You’ve met my sister, right?”
He didn’t answer right away but it didn’t take a psychic to read the thoughts that floated inside of his head. In fact, I was used to that kind of a reaction whenever I mentioned Julia.
None of my friends believed that we shared the same bloodline, and whenever we had to attend corporate banquets and fundraising soirées with our parents, most of the guests thought she was adopted!
“She’s different…” he finally said.
“Psychotic, anti-social, creepy and ugly is more like it.”
He chuckled. “You don’t get along?”
“I like to pretend that she doesn’t exist—”
Suddenly, the room broke out in applause and Scarlet Rose appeared on a small, elevated platform that tonight served as a stage. She took a bow and blew kisses, before grabbing the microphone.
“I want to thank everyone for coming out tonight. Your support means a lot to me, and since I hate talking in public, I’m going to make this super short and sweet. Thanks to my manager Leni and my marketing powerhouse, Sydney. You’re a bunch of brilliantly crazy mothereffers and I love you for that!”
Scarlet Rose was striking with her large, blue eyes, full lips and razor-sharp cheekbones. She sported a raven faux-hawk, several tattoos and piercings, and her tall, lean body was clad in high-waisted tuxedo trousers and a cropped, muscle tee.
She walked behind the DJ table, pressed the headphones to one side of her head and moved her hands from her laptop to the turntables. Soon, the lounge drowned in hypnotic beats and the guests bobbed their heads and moved their bodies to the music.
Mira gently took hold of my hand.
“You look gorgeous, by the way,” he said with an Oscar-worthy smile on his face.
I wore a black, spaghetti-strap velvet dress and spiked Christian Louboutin heels. I knew I looked like a stone cold fox tonight but the way he looked at me made my heart twerk inside of my chest.
“Let’s go dance.” I grabbed his hand and led him to the dance floor.
We joined a bevy of sun-kissed girls and sexy, muscular guys. Despite their best efforts, some of the guests were sloshed, and their drinks ended up all over their Versaces and Armanis.
I swayed my hips to the EDM music that poured out of the speakers and grinded up against Mira. He wrapped his muscular arms around my waist and his lips were dangerously close to my neck. I could feel his warm breath against my skin.
By the time Scarlet Rose decided to take a fifteen-minute break, my body was glistening with sweat. I grabbed a towel off the waiter’s tray and dabbed it against my chest and neck.
Two glasses of iced water, along with Panna cotta, waited for Mira and I back at the table. I gulped down the water like the runner after a triathlon, and gobbled up a slice of the Italian dessert.
“Miroslav!” exclaimed Scarlet Rose and kissed her little brother on the cheek. He turned pink from embarrassment.
“Hana, this is Olivia. She’s visiting from California and she’s interning at creativ[un]block as well.”
Scarlet Rose smiled and stretched out her hand for me to shake. I gave it a firm squeeze.
“You were amazing!” I gushed, knowing damn well that flattery will get you in many places.
“I’m happy you enjoyed my performance. And—” her eyes glistened like gemstones when she looked me up and down, “—are you single?”
Mira interrupted me with a short answer in Czech, and his sister looked visibly disappointed by his words.
“Enjoy the show!” She called out and returned back to the stage.
“What was that all about?” I asked, confused by her sudden shift in attitude.
He grinned like a Cheshire cat. “It’s getting hot in here. Let’s go outside for a few minutes.”
I followed him out on the balcony.
The air was cool, perfumed with honeysuckle that grew alongside of the railing, burnt coffee beans that wafted from the Starbucks below and foreign food.
Mira wrapped his blazer around my bare shoulders when I gave out an involuntary shiver.
“This is definitely not California. It still gets cold during the summers.”
I watched a glittery boat cross the Prague River and admired the twinkling lights in the distance.
“So, are you going to tell me what you told your sister before she left?”
“Sure. She was interested in dating you but I told her you were taken.”
That’s a surprise!
“I am? Who’s the lucky guy, then?”
He reached out and kissed me. It was hot and sweltering kiss – the kind that could win an Oscar.