Zoey fidgets with her hands and leans back and forth between the two soles of her feet. She tries to contain some confidence before going on stage but she had about two minutes till her introduction, and all the hard work and practice she did all night, flew out of her mind. She does the worst thing possible by looking at her audience. Three years ago, around this time, she held a similar speech but then it had just felt like a prep talk to merely 10 people. Now, she surrounds herself with fifty or more people waiting to hear her forgotten speech.
Seconds before convincing herself to run out, her co-partner announces her name through the microphone and the crowd begins clapping. Sadly, it is not a full audience clapping and her co-partner waving her to the stage that prompts her to go up the stairs, instead one of Zoey's co-workers nudges her forward.
Zoey puts on an easy smile on her face and obliges. She stands in front of her employees. Zoey pulls out a sheet a paper and looks down at her speech.
"I want to thank Grace, my co-partner for all the incredibly hard work she has contributed to Style is Key. It has been the hardest yet the most satisfying years we have faced together these past five years." Zoey smiles at Grace, who nods in total agreement. Zoey eye line moves to the audience. "What use to be a simple dream that I carried around with me, turned into something much bigger and better than I had ever imagined. It is you guys who I have to thank for. We had started with one store in Los Angeles and now it is an honor to see majority of my employees from all four different properties." Zoey pauses as the crowd claps at her statement. Zoey laughs through the microphone.
"I want to let you guys know, this is more than just fulfilling my dreams, I am inspired to help fulfill yours. Style is Key is for anyone who has ever wanted fashion to be their life, for anyone who has felt that they need a creative outlet, and for those who needed a safe haven. I hope Style is Key is and will be that for you." On cue, the audience cheers again. "I am proud to say that we are expanding and that you have made this possible. I am happy about this summit this evening because you are truly family to me and if you need anything, I am here." Zoey looks down at the paper that she has abandon a while ago.
"I can take any questions or comments you may have now." Zoey scans the room while many hands shoot up. Zoey begins the Q&A, but with complete surprise, most are actual praises on how Style Is Key has accomplished a lot. Some suggest more volunteer work, others pitch ideas: a fashion battle within the stores. As time goes on, more hands shoot up in excitement.
"Alright, I am having so much fun but I can only take one more question tonight." The audience moans in disappointment. "However, anyone can find me on the floor with any of their questions." Zoey finally chooses a young lady in the center. The young lady grabs the microphone that was handed to her.
"Hi, I'm Denise. I actually work in your neighbor store in Los Angeles. I started there about two years ago." Denise starts, the young lady looks awkward and much more timid than her fellow coworkers. Zoey senses it but only widens her smile.
"Yes, I am well acquainted with the store." Zoey response. "It was actually our first up in running franchise."
"Right, I hate to be a party pooper to this great community but I wanted to address something serious, about something maybe some of your employees are too afraid to speak about." Denise voice fills with annoyance, making it crack here and there.
"I am more than happy to speak on any issues that you or anyone may have." Zoey face drops suddenly.
"Great, because I am curious about on how you plan to manages sexual harassment and assaults on your now four and more properties. Don't get me wrong, persuasive pay may keep a person's mouth shut but sometimes I try to find reasons to not come to work." A crowd, only seconds ago in full energy and yelling in excitement is now in pure silence. Denise observes this and looks at her surroundings.
Zoey herself is in pure shock. Every time she opens her mouth she shuts it immediately – erasing the comment she has created in her head. No words in her head remotely come close to a mature and professional solution in a situation that she never knew was happening. Did Grace know? Zoey turns her face to Grace, who is whispering feverishly to her assistant.
"Don't worry Zoey, how could you have possibly known? It's not like the hotline phone numbers actually reports back to you or our management are doing what they say they are. I am just glad that Style is Key is a safe haven to a lot of you guys." Denise speaks to the crowd. But, given on your comment, I would like to officially quit. Thanks for making my life a living hell." Denise drops the microphone and pushes through the crowd.
Zoey stands there watching Denise leaves the venue while she cannot fucking figure out why she does not have a word to say.
Zoey feels even more shitty hiding in a private bathroom in the back of the venue's kitchen where she knows no one could find her. She had begged a waiter to escort her to somewhere quiet and to check in with champagne cups periodically until the summit is over. If she had it her way, Zoey would be away from this whole situation and drown herself with tequila shots in the comfort of her own bed. She could retire from Style is Key and find a different occupation where no one could ever get hurt again. Maybe she'll work at a post office; a simple paper cut does not carry this type of burden. Plus Zoey has always like those seasonal stamps at her local post office.
A knock on the door makes Zoey lift her head from between her thighs. She should not be this eager for a cup of champagne but being buzzed does not help forget the pain on a young girl's face, or the dropping of a microphone with people in the audience directing disgusted faces as she storms off.
Zoey opens the door and shows disappointment when she is face to face with her on and off again, but currently off ex- boyfriend Brian. Zoey pushes the door in attempt to shut it in his face. Brian senses her motive long before and places his foot to prevent from closing. He walks in the bathroom with ease.
"You see, my fight to kick you out of here is about equivalent to the fight I had to prevent the girl from quitting or against any sexual assault for that matter." Zoey lean against the skin and put her hands in face. "I had put no fight in, in case you were wondering. I feel horrible and not from the liquor." Brian walks closer to her.
"Well it definitely puts you in the hot seat. Myself included since I am kind of the senior manager of her location." Brian points. Zoey lets go of her face and narrow her eyes at him.
"Don't think I didn't hear you out there Brian. You basically told people I was a scam. That I got too much credit and am only in higher position because of my good looks and finding the company." Brian sighs and bows his head down. "You got out the hot seat by just putting me in a hotter one." Zoey shouts. Brian looks back up and rolls his eyes. "Why the fuck would you do that to me? You know I would never allow anything of this to happen if I knew. Did you know, did you know anything of this was happening, Brian?" A new set of tears roll down Zoey's face.
Brian's face softens seeing Zoey's now shaking and sobbing body. He walks closer and Zoey reacts quickly. "No, get the fuck away from me Brian. I can barely look at you right now." Brian ignores her put his hands on her face. She slaps it away immediately.
"Babe, it's okay." He leans in and kisses her on the cheek. She tries to pull away but he presses his body against and grabs both sides of her face.
"No, Brian, get off me." Zoey whimpers trying to separate herself from him.
"I'm sorry Zoey.." She can feel him hard against her thighs and a sick feeling forms in the pit of her stomach. She slaps him across his face and moves her body to the other side of him.
"You are seriously sick. We just found out that one of our employee got sexually assaulted and all you could think about is mending our relationship." Brian has yet to turn to face her but once he does, Zoey realizes that Brian is far from sober. Zoey roll her eyes. "I suggest you sober up and fix that in your pant before you walk out. You look worst than how I feel." Zoey storms out the bathroom, leaving Brian leaning against the sink.
The waiter escorts Zoey to the reserved table of two. She immediately sees Michael on his phone sitting at the table patiently.
"Wow, twice in one month. You do not disappoint" Zoey says while setting her stuff down on the table. Michael gets up from his chair and tightly hugs her, groaning in emphasis.
"I'm glad you are able to meet, you know, with you being CEO and all." Michael winks at Zoey. Zoey chuckles weakly and sits down in response.
"Are you staying long?" the waiter interrupts briefly for their beverage orders. Zoey orders wine for the both of them.
"Actually, I was passing through, Logan convinced me to stay the night at his place. I am leaving for San Diego tomorrow afternoon. " Zoey pouts while the waiter pours the first rounds of wine. The couple orders their entrée and briefly gives each other a summary of their work and its daily routine. Zoey excludes her new knowledge from two days ago and tries to keep it light. Michael has no trouble talking about his job as a personal trainer for aspiring athletes. He appears to love it.
While time goes on, Zoey cannot remember a time, before tonight, when she has felt so young and carefree. Michael keeps spitting jokes one after another and all she could think about is how simple her life could be.
"So anyone new in your life, Michael? We never got to you in our circle confession back in New York." Zoey giggles, the wine taking full effect.
"Actually, I met this girl named Robin two years ago. We just always had this interesting relationship. She's a personal trainer too but we were hard on each other at first." Michael leans in. " I believe she felt like she had to prove herself? Since she is a woman and all." Michael leans back and gives a love-struck sigh. "We went on our first date a couple months back, we haven't stop hanging out since. I just love being around her. It's weird, nothing I have ever experience before" Michael finish with another sip of his wine.
Zoey subconsciously trails her finger around the edge of her wine glass while her other hand props her head on the table. She is deep in thought. Michael notices and lifts up an eyebrow at Zoey. " You alright, Zo?"
Zoey body language changes rapidly and she plants a smile on her face. She looks back at Michael "Yeah, Sorry. I guess I have just been so busy with work that I feel like I've lost so much." Zoey whispers and laughs halfheartedly. She looks back down at her wine glass. "It's nice… to have you here is all. You make things feel more…real." She looks back at him with a warmer smile. " Sorry, I am such a party pooper…" Zoey drags the last word with a cringe from the familiar wording. Michael shrugs and does not seem to notice her change demeanor.
"This doesn't have anything to do with Chase, does it?" Michael tests her. The same waiter comes with their entrée, putting a pause to Michael's question. Zoey orders another bottle of wine while Michael request water for the both of them.
They give their entrée a couple of bites before Michael wipes his mouth with his napkin and stares intensely at Zoey.
Zoey catches on at Michael stare after a couple of bites. " Yes and No. It's a little more complicated than Chase, but yes, he's apart of it of course." Michael senses the regret in her voice.
"He still loves you." Zoey rolls her eyes and laughs sincerely.
"Hence why the complications." Zoey shakes her head. Michael phones rings and he excuses himself to pick it up outside. Zoey finishes the glass of wine she has in her cup and pushes the empty wine glass away from her.
Michael comes back before she finishes her entrée and sits back in front of her. "What are you doing tonight?"
"I like to embrace the grandma side of me on a Saturday night by cuddling in bed with a nice cup of warm tea." Michael lifts his eyebrows in amazement. " Fine, replace tea with a glass of wine. But we already did that." Zoey points to the bottles of wine.
"Not trying to advocate you to drink more tonight but Logan wants me to meet him at a bar in downtown LA. You should join?" Michael wiggles his eyebrows.
"No I don't think I should go." Zoey dismisses weakly.
"Oh come on, it would be fun!" Michael pushes.
"You don't think Logan would mind if I just…so up?"
"I told him that I was meeting you before I'll do any festivities with him. It's Logan, he'll get over it. You have no choice now. I am leaving tomorrow and you are a hard person to make plans with Zoey Brooks. " Michael reminds her again. " And yeah, I want to see you drunk too." Michael chugs back the rest of his water, then his wine, and calls for the check.
"Michael, you fucking made it!" Logan screams from the bar that embarrassingly took forever for Michael and Zoey to get to with the oversized crowd. Michael matches Logan's enthusiasm with a headlock and a rubbing to Logan's head. Zoey trails behind.
"Dude, I'm sleeping at your place." Michael lets go of Logan and tries his best to fix the damage he has done to Logan's hair. Logan does not seem to care and looks at Zoey.
"So are you going to be rude and not introduce me to your beautiful friend?" Logan hardly whispers to Michael. Michael turns to look at Zoey and back at Logan in confusion.
"Yo, this is Zoey. As in Zoey Brooks – how drunk are yo-
"Brooks!" Logan pushes Michael to the side and gives Zoey a suffocating hug.
"Hi." The only word Zoey can release from his hard embrace. Logan lets go and beams at Zoey harder than Zoey ever seen him do.
"My two favorite people are here. Let me order you guys three shots each. You guys look too sober. Dark or light?" Logan is already signaling a bartender. Michael glances at Zoey and slowly grins, Zoey answers with a shrug.
"I am so sorry that we did not get to do this a lot sooner." Zoey attempts to yell to Logan over the music. The three friends are attempting to dance, but realistically are bumping into each other and others periodically. Michael and Zoey now reach the point of drunkenness while trying to catch up with Logan.
"What?" Logan screams back but continues dancing anyway.
"What?" Zoey screams back.
"I love this song!" Michael interjects the duo's conversation. Zoey attention span is too short to concentrate on the series of events happening in front of her. Zoey eyes the bar and looks back at her friends.
"I want another shot, let's get some more" Zoey yells over the music. Logan seems to hear her comment and cheers in agreement. Michael mentions he needs to use the bathroom and skips away. Zoey grabs Logan's hand and beelines their way to the bar.
A female bartender is on the counter of the bar with her shirt half off. An older guy expertly does a body shot off the woman and puts the bottle up in the air while the crowd around them cheers.
Zoey turns to face Logan. "I want to do that." Logan grabs both of Zoey's shoulders and leans in.
"Zoey, I don't think I have ever wanted anything more than for you to do a body shot right now." Logan spins Zoey around and pushes her through the crowd closer to the female bartender. "Laurie! Meet a good friend of mine, Zoey." Logan points in the vicinity where Zoey stands. "Would you like to do the honor by popping her cherry and host another body shot?" Zoey gasps and slaps Logan's arm playfully.
"I was going to say Logan, you and I have done many things for there to be any cherries left. " Laurie's eyes look towards Zoey. "But for your friend? I can't say that I wouldn't like to lick anything off her." Zoey eyes went wide. "I'll get me a shot." Laurie winks and jumps down from the counter and goes to the corner of the bar. Zoey turns to Logan.
"I don't think I can do it anymore." Logan looks down at Zoey in disbelief.
"Wait what? You can't back out now. You want this" Logan tries to look defensive but his stance sways back and front with subtly.
"I thought I was going to drink off her, not the other way around." Zoey shrieks in panic mode. Logan ignores her and lifts her effortlessly onto the bar. Laurie walks to Zoey with her shot.
"I hear you Brooks, but I simple don't care. Live a little" Logan pats her leg in encouragement. The same crowd from earlier realizes the situation and begin cheering the ladies on. Logan joins and add Zoey's name to the chanting crowd.
"Don't listen to them, do whatever makes you comfortable. Most of them are pigs anyways" Zoey hears Laurie whispers through the music and the participating crowd. Zoey sighs and takes off her shirt. All the boys yell in joy and Logan whistles for emphasis. Zoey lies down and cover her face with her hands. She feels the cool liquid filling in her belly button. Zoey tries to contain the laughter, causing her body to shake and the liquid to spill over. Immediately soft lips are pressing on top of her stomach and suck the liquid off. The action is so quick that Zoey lies there for a moment, actually enjoying the adrenaline. Laurie walks to Zoey's head to check up on her.
Spontaneously, Zoey grabs Laurie's face and brings her down for a quick makeout session. The kiss was completely platonic but when Zoey releases Laurie's face, Zoey feels much more free than she has ever been before. Zoey sits up and looks at Logan and covers her mouth in surprise. Logan pause in shock but shouts in encouragement after processing what just happened.
Logan pulls Zoey down from the counter. "That's what I'm talking about Brooks. Let loose" Logan wrap his arm around her shoulder. Zoey laughs and smiles in amazement.
"Wow, definitely a good kisser" Laurie says from behind the bar. She slides two shot glass towards the two friends. " On the house." She winks and proceeds to go back to bar tendering.
"There goes my chances on getting laid tonight." Logan laughs. Zoey takes back her shot and makes no face. Logan smirks and does it as well. "I'm not going to lie, it was definitely a turn on to se -."
"Let's dance" Zoey pulls Logan towards the dance floor. Logan doesn't argue and lets her lead. About in the middle of the dance floor, Zoey twirls herself around with Logan's hand and push her body back against him. Logan response quickly and places his hands on her waist. They playfully grind on each other and sway to the music.
Logan grabs one of Zoey's hands and twirls her forward, making them go face to face. He grabs her waist and she wraps her arms around his neck and continues dancing. Logan moves back and twirls her several time, making her to laugh. Zoey begins goofing off by doing traditional 70's dance moves against the modern EDM music currently playing. Logan laughs and joins suit. They naturally go back to Zoey's back against Logan body. This time, Zoey butt presses harder onto Logan and he reacts by holding her waist tighter. Zoey swings an arm around his neck bringing his head closer to her neck. She does not ignore the bulge that is forming behind her. She bits her bottom lip from the stimulation.
"There you guys are." Michael squeezes through the crowd out of nowhere. He stands of the duo, forcing them to stop their dancing. " I've been looking everywhere for you guys. I checked the bars and couldn't find you or Logan." Zoey notices Michael oblivious reaction and walks a few feet away from Logan.
"We were just dancing." Zoey yells over the music. Her excitement returns when she thinks about her body shot. "Guess what Michael? Laurie did a body shot off me. and I made out with her afterwards." Zoey wilds gesture leaves Michael expression fighting between being confused, shock and also proud.
In the end, he gives in on being confused " Who the hell is Laurie?" Zoey laughs and hits Michael playfully
"She's the bartender, silly." Michael eyebrow pulls together, again in confusion." Logan slept with her." Zoey adds simply. Michael awes in understanding.
"Whom hasn't Logan slept with?" Michael jokes. On cue, Michael and Zoey look back to Logan who appears to find a brunette girl who is grinding all over him. "Awe, feels like old times. Back at PCA all over again." Michael laughs, clearly overwhelm with nostalgia. Zoey in the other hand, eyes the girl with hatred. She watches the girl rubbing her hand over Logan's crotch teasing him by leaning close enough to kiss him. Logan's eyes stare at this mysterious girl with lust. Zoey bite her lower lip again, feeling the tension coming from the couple. Zoey faces Michael suddenly.
"So I'm drunk, want to give me some water?" Michael seems like he wanted to fight against it but couldn't find a reason not to. He obliges and leaves Zoey alone with Logan and the brunette girl. Zoey walks over to Logan and pull him away from the girl.
"Sorry, I felt awkward dancing alone. Michael is getting us more drinks. Dance with me till he comes back?" Logan seems to still be processing and keeps looking back at the girl.
"Ummm…wait, what?" Zoey grabs Logan's hand and twirl herself around. " Yeah…uh, I guess." Logan's attention span is too short to notice the irritable brunette behind them. Zoey grinds against Logan again. She feels him much harder in the pant than before. She turns around and faces him. She see the lust in his eyes. She walks closer to him and leans in teasingly, similar to what the brunette did to him moments ago. However, this time, Logan grabs Zoey's face and pushes their lips together. Zoey feels his hands going into her hair with urgency. Zoey feels like her adrenaline is skyrocketing but this is different than when she has kissed Laurie. Kissing Laurie provided an inner spiritual reboot. But kissing Logan…well hell, she is more scared that there's even a comparison.
Zoey pulls away and looks at Logan. He too seems to be having similar thoughts running through his head. He put his hand through his hair in awkwardness. "I am so drunk." Zoey nods her head frantically and laughs.
After a long pause and stares, Zoey settles on a thought. "Where's the bathroom?"
Logan lifts off Zoey's shirt and dives to her neck to plant kisses. Zoey closes her eyes to intensify the sensation. She blindly reaches for the buckle of his pants and unzips it.
"Do you have a condom?" Logan confirms with an audible noise. He unbuckles her bra easily while she lifts off his shirt." Never done it in a public bathroom before." Zoey sighs out - Logan's finds her weak spot. She whimpers in pleasure.
"Aren't you getting a little tired of popping cherries tonight." Logan says between kisses.
"Don't get cocky, it's a turn off." The two make quick eye contact and he smirks.
"I never have issue turning them back on." Logan presses his mouth against hers. She chuckles while they kiss. Suddenly something comes into the forefront of her mind. She pushes Logan away slightly
"Logan is this weird?" Logan rolls his eyes and put his attention onto her breasts this time. "What exactly is happening here?"
"Please tell me this is not your way of having sex?" Logan finally gives her his full attention.
"Michael is literally out there with two glasses of water trying to find us in a huge ass crowd." Zoey slides away from Logan. Logan groans in annoyance.
"That's great, because afterwards we may need some. Can we go back to kissing now?" Logan grabs Zoey's waist.
"I know we are pretty drunk but are we even that drunk…to do this?" Zoey whispers finally.
"I mean look at my good looks…it was bound to happen Brooks." He looks at her innocently and slowly leans in to kiss her, as if she will counter his approach with one false move.
But she kisses him back slow at first then more eagerly. She helps him pull down his pants to his knees. He lifts her against the stall wall having her legs wrap around his body. Zoey trails her hand to his crotch and he moans loudly but soon for the wrong reason. He pushes his forehead against Zoey's, breaking their kiss.
"What?" Zoey snaps, irritable.
"You're right, it's weird. I think we're sobering up." Logan says it with a disgusted face. "We should probably go find Michael." Zoey pausing but nods her head in agreement. They readjust themselves in silence.
When they find Michael, they are surprised seeing Michael taking more shots with a crowd of people in front of the bar. Logan and Zoey look at each other in disbelief before walking to their friend. Zoey taps on Michael to get his attention.
Michael turns around and faces his friends. " Zoey, Logan! You're just in time. I just order three more shots. " He yells out. "I shall order you guys some." Zoey is about to protest but Logan steps in.
"Actually, I think we should go back to my place dude. You have a long trip ahead of you tomorrow." Logan sounds more sober than before.
"Non sense, I live in Los Angeles now, effective about an hour ago." Michael gasp. " Zoey, your water, I forgot. I am such a horrible friend."
"Let's not go into the philosophy of friendships right now. I think tonight we are all kinda screwed up when it comes to that matter." Logan chuckles and shakes his head.
Zoey and Logan manage to take Michael out of the bar after several pointless conversations Michael initiates as a reason to say near the bar. Logan puts Michael in the cab and turn to face Zoey.
"Your uber is near?" Zoey checks her phone and nods.
"Yeah, but head out. You have a longer night than I will. I'm fine. It's only two minutes away." Logan looks around with his hands in his pocket observing the location. The night a bit chilly.
"You'll text me when you make it safe?" Logan lifts an eyebrow in concern. Zoey nods her head. "It was fun Brooks." Logan looks down at the ground and then back up at her.
"Yeah it was." She smiles. "Now go, or I'll make Michael take another shot with me. Logan shakes his head and goes into the cab.
Zoey's uber follows shortly and takes her home. Zoey keeps her promise and texts Logan at her arrival. She gets ready for bed and grabs herself a glass of water. Before she settles her phone onto the nightstand, she notices she got a text back from Logan.
Michael is going to kill me in the morning.
A/N: I thought to give in and write a second chapter! I guess I more wrote this for me since its been a while since a new Zogan fanfiction has been posted. Apologizes if this chapter is completely left field. My desperation for a Zogan pairing clearly influence my writing this time. But In conclusion, I am such a horrible selfish person! HAHA. I hope my posting on Christmas Eve makes up for that. Please let me know your thoughts. I am still working on a direction with the storyline BTW. In this chapter, I wanted to show a glimpse of the environment Zoey currently lives in now versus and the transition to the world Zoey will live in...with Logan. so I would love some reviews and inputs. I find them to be very encouraging. Again, I'll attempt to keep writing as long as I know there is still Zogan fans out there! Sorry for any grammatical errors. Merry Christmas everyone!