The Masquerade(The Rental #0.5, a prequel)

By: Rebecca Berto



My little brother, Justin, pointed his gangly finger at Genevieve Wyland. “Remember her?”

I tugged on his arm. “You idiot. Don’t let her see you pointing.”

She was the gorgeous, poison apple of my life looking so fucking sweet in a floor-length gown—blue, draping skirt; lace bust; and a high, choking neckline. I wanted that to be me, my hands where her dress began, sliding down her porcelain skin, tightening at her waist. A black-lace mask hid half her face, the mysterious effect enhancing her lips and her delicate neckline. From her long blonde locks to the tips of her heels under the dress, she looked angelic—and unattainable—standing there by her friends, who were all clad in ass-hugging skirts.

It was the first time I saw Genevieve in weeks. Months. I clasped my hands over my hard-on as I watched her from the opposite side of the party room. The birthday boy called tonight Mark’s Masq. The invitation promised a wicked night with a portrait of Cinderella in a cut-off dress, slutty heels, some sparkly-shit eye mask, and red blowjob lips.

I felt the need to shield Genevieve from it all, but she wasn’t mine to protect.

“That’s the point, you pedo, so she gets the hint I want her,” Justin said, clueing into my staring.

I punched his shoulder. “Quit saying stuff like that. Dad would kick your ass for that filth.”

“Dad?” Justin said, pulling out a rollie.

Oh, how fucking classic. “Jus …”

He circled a hand over the end and ignited the lighter. The stench of the weed filled my lungs as he whispered, “Mmm.”

“You’re fifteen, dude.”

He inhaled a long drag looking at her side profile as she tilted her head back and chuckled. “And that would make you …” he made a Mexican wave out of his fingers, counting, “nineteen.”

Indeed. The fucker said it like they were four cock-blocking years. “Only by a couple of weeks.”

But it didn’t change anything. She was still fifteen. I was still nineteen. I shouldn’t crave a girl how I did with her. How I wanted to brush her hand under the table. Or excuse myself past her, hands reverent on the small of her back. Maybe lean into her ear to tell her a secret.

I gritted my teeth and exhaled ragged breaths.

I just … couldn’t.

Too many obstacles existed between us, the least of which included long sofas, a TV as big as a normal wall, and pillars announcing the ten-foot high French doors to the grass terrain out back. It wasn’t as if she stood near enough to smell the stench of ‘idiot’ on my brother, but if I could see her, she could us.

My heart lurched out of my chest, and I fidgeted my clasped hands over myself, making sure to hide any outward signals from Justin. Wanting her spurred a competitive interest in him. I’d lose that fight.

I couldn’t.

I just couldn’t—

I snapped my eyes back to him. His lip had shriveled up on one side. If she were my poison apple, he was Judas, the silent trouble.

“Want a drink?” I asked him. “Since you spent Mum’s pocket money on that.” I indicated his smoking.

He considered the girl, inhaling deeply. Fuck, how I wished I could clench my fist and eliminate that smug—

“Nah, I’m good here.”

Yeah, I bet he is.

I, however, needed a drink. All whiskey. Hold the coke.

A couple of minutes later, I had pushed and weaved through the crowd and leant my arm on the bar as I waited to be served. The bartender took a couple of minutes to come as she was busy preparing a drink for herself. Finally available, I reeled off what I wanted and slapped my note on the bar counter.

She snatched it, and a sour expression twisted in her features. I didn’t blame her for being shitty. My mates told me she either had to volunteer this gig as a favour to her cousin, Mark the birthday boy or Mark would tell her father she had her belly button and nipples pierced.

“Nasty,” a soft voice purred in my ear.

I shuddered, not having heard her voice so close. Tilting my head, I smiled by way of saying ‘hi.’ Her vanilla scent had assaulted my nose and robbed me of my voice. I wanted to bury my face into her chest and breathe her in.

“You eighteen? Mind getting me a cosmopolitan?” She leant in—right under my chin—and whispered into my ear, “Nasty Pants there might not serve a fifteen-year-old.”

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