The city of dreams. And fortunes. And bright lights. Do not leave out the bright lights.

That was what Ava had heard all her life about Bellamy city. The city where anything goes. The city where only the fast and the strong survives. She thought they were all myths until she had finally seen it for herself.

At first, she had thought the bright lights were fireworks till she had realized they weren .

Moving to Bellamy was a big decision for Ava, since she had spent twenty three years of her life in Salta- a countryside, just outside of Crocs.

After three years of taking care of the only family she had left- her grandmother- who still died, she was left with no choice than to move.

A father she never met. A mother who abandoned her on her grandmothers doorstep and never returned.

Grandma Sherri had taken her in and loved her till shed got sick. Ava had done her best to return the favour, that she had to forfeit her college scholarship just to take care of her.

Grandma Sherris death left her with lots of hospital bills to pay off. Being left with no means to fall back to, she had accepted a highschool friends invitation to move to Bellamy.

Knowing it was the best chance she had, she had accepted it and packed up whats left of her. A few belongings.

The friend, Nicole Ashey, didn even have it easy but had accepted to share her tiny apartment with Ava.

Nicole had found her a job at the same club where she worked. It had been really hard to swallow all the jibes and shoves from the male customers. Without a college degree, it would be really difficult to find a decent job, she knew that much.

Being a naive girl from the countryside, she knew she just had to suck it up till she could even find her way around the city.

Luckily, the club wasn far from their little apartment, they just had to walk the distance every evening. It didn pay much but it was better than nothing. It was better than the life she had in Salta.

”Still nothing? ” Nicole asked, sitting beside Ava on the old sofa in their cramped and tiny living room.

She mumbled something incoherent and dropped her cracked Tecno phone on the table. Apparently, the table was the only new thing in the entire apartment.

So, just weeks ago Ava had applied for a housekeeping job but hadn got a reply. Its been three days already and she couldn help getting antsy.

She wasn sure shed get the job, but she hoped upon hope that it was her way out of working at that horrible place.

”Ava I already told you that you
e getting ahead of yourself. ” Nicole pointed out, pulling out the pins in her hair.

It was surprising how theyd both ended up as friends. They weren exactly friends in highschool, but were neighbours. Just like Ava, Nicole had a shitty background; an abusive father and an alcoholic mother.

Nicole had left immediately after prom and hadn returned, even when her mother died.

Ava leaned into the chair and thought for a while, blinking hard against the moist air. ”Im just hoping that luck would be on my side, just this once. ”

Nicole stopped for a second and dropped her arms, looking at Ava closely. ”Theres nothing like luck in Bellamy, Ava. Ive told you before. ”

Leaning into the chair as Ava had done, Nicole folded her arms across her big bosoms. ”Ive lived here long enough to know that luck is just not in the book for people like us. ”

People like us, Ava repeated thoughtfully within her.

Nicole continued nonetheless. ”Ive gone from one job to the other just to have the basics, yet, ” she shrugged absently, ”yet, its never enough. Ive applied for those same jobs too but_ ”

”We can only hope I get it, Nicole. I hate working at the club. ” Ava said breathlessly. She needed to keep her hope alive. It was all she had left.

”I did too for a while but I stopped because I didn have lots of choices to choose from. ” Giving her a cool once over, she gave a chuckle, ”Bellamy has that effect on people. Makes you think youve arrived while it gives you the real deal. I was like that when I first came here. Feeling that Ive finally made my mark and could actually get out of the hard struggle to survive. But you
e right… ” She took a deep breath and started pulling out more pins. ”We can only hope you get it. ”

”Yea, I hope so too. ” Ava said, mulling over what Nicole had just said.

Ava hadn come to Bellamy with the notion of walking into a bed of roses. At least, she wasn that stupid to know there were prerequisites. She knew it wouldn be easy for her.

No college certificate. No family. No money. Nothing. She knew she came from nothing.

But she had hoped, prayed too, that something would pull through for her. Somethings got to make sense in her life for once.

”Ahah! ” Nicole slapped her lap as it seemed she suddenly remembered something. ”You know Tony. ” It wasn a question although it sounded like one.

Ava knew there could be only one Tony and it had to be the Tony from the club.

”What about him? ” Ava asked anyway, feeling uncomfortable discussing the infamous Tony.

Nicole turned fully to face Ava who stared back at her, looking interested.

”Well, you know he has a thing for you right? I mean he freqquents the club just to see you_ ”

Ava scoffed at that. Not that Tony.

”Was that what he told you? That he comes everyday just to see me? Wow! ” Ava was certainly amused by that.

”I have eyes and I see that he has something_ ”

”Thank God you keep saying he has something for me because from the way I see it, he has a whole lot for everyone at the club. ” Ava interrupted, sitting up to face Nicole squarely.

”At least he has enough to spare for you if you agree to date him. ”

Ava was really taken aback by that. Nicole might be her friend, a good friend at that, but they see things differently. Way differently.

”Date him? Tony? ” Scoffing again, Ava got up, beginning to get really amused.

”Not me, Nicole. I will never date that sloppy idiot! ” Avas voice was beginning to rise.

”Why? Hes cool to look at. Im sure_ ”

”I might come off as naive to you and everyone else, but Im not going to ever go out with that idiot. Ever! ”

Nicole burst into a hysterical laughter which Ava didn expect.

”Whats funny? ” She inquired, seemingly confused at such outburst.

”You are… ” Nicole said between her laughter, trying to stop. ”You are not only naive, you also look so innocent. I can bet youve never been laid, ” thinking quickly, Nicole waved her hands at that. ”No no no. Im sure youve never even been kissed. ”

Avas cheeks turned red and her lower lips quivered at that. There was no denying Nicoles insinuations.

It wouldn be just an insinuation if Nicole was right but Ava wasn going to jump into an agreement.

Peering closely at Nicole, she asked, ”Im not going to answer that but what has that got to do with what we
e talking about?

Nicole just shrugged, running her fingers through her hair. ”Guys like Tony might come off as a sloppy idiot… ” She squinted at Ava as she used her words. ”But trust me when I tell you that hes the kind of guy every woman needs. ”

That had to be the grossiest thing Ava had ever heard because she couldn even believe her ears.

Squinting back at Nicole, her jaw dropped. ”What? ” Running her palm down her face, she asked again. ”What? ” Really perplexed.

Pushing herself up from the wornout couch, Nicole made her way to the tiny kitchen while Ava followed suit.

”Before you go into anything with Tony you already know whats in it for you, ” Nicole said and pulled out a rather small carton of milk from the refrigerator. It was a wonder how it even still worked fine, judging from how old and rickety it looked.

Good gracious!

”I still don know where you
e going with this. ” Ava was still confused.

Nicole looked exasperatingly at her. ”Thats why I said you
e innocent and naive. ” Giving a small laughter, she uncapped the carton and started to pour into a glass.

”Tony is the kind of guy you go into a transactional relationship with, ” adding quickly, ”trust me when I say its so convenient. He gives you money and you know… ” Nicole shrugged and made a weird face.

Avas face was the perfect picture of dazed. Scoffing mildly, ”I can even stand Tony, ” scoffing again, not sure she got what she heard, ”transactional relationship, with Tony? ” That had to be the most insane thing.

Nicole just shrugged and returned to the living room with her glass of milk and the carton in hand.

Ava stood there transfixed and thought about everything.

There were lots of things Ava needed to experience for herself, she knew that. Things like, being in relationships, going on dates, even a one night stand.

Back in Salta, all she did was go to school, do some part-time jobs, and then take care of her grandmother when she fell sick. Theya had stunted those would-be moments. No regrets, but…

Giving herself a mental shake, she strummed her fingers on the counter and prayed silently.

She needs that job, and fast.

Running her palms down her face, she exhaled heavily into them and prayed again.

She was never a religious person but shed found herself praying often.

She had prayed when her grandmother had fallen sick. She had prayed when things had taken the worst turn.

Ava ran her fingers through her hair and felt her chest get tighter. She didn want to feel the way she had felt years ago.

Maybe, Nicole was right- Bellamy had that effect on people. But the way she was feeling had a strange beat to it.

Suddenly feeling chills down her spine, Ava hugged herself tight.

Maybe this time her prayers would be answered.

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