After this night
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After a difficult breakup with her ex-boyfriend, Sophia plunges into a deep depression and loses everything that was dear to her, including her job. Having lost all motivation, she finds herself reduced to working as a cleaning lady in a hotel. But her best friend Sharon refuses to see her settle for this new situation and forces her to break out of her shell by inviting her to a gala evening. During this event, Sophia meets Akira Mora, a charismatic and attractive man who garners admiration from everyone. To their great surprise, Sophia and Akira get along wonderfully and an obvious chemistry develops between them. But they are not prepared for what is about to happen that night, which will forever change their lives. Discover an exciting and heart-wrenching romance where feelings are put to the test. Between desire, passion, and moral dilemmas, Sophia and Akira will have to confront their fears to achieve happiness.
Chapter 1 : Trapped
The night had already settled in when Sophia opened the door to her apartment. After a brief sigh, she threw her bag onto one of the couches in her small living room. She took off her shoes and coat, which she put away before flopping down onto the couch.
"So, you're back?" shouted her roommate and best friend Sharon from her room. Not receiving any answer after several other attempts, she hurriedly put on her robe and tiptoed to the living room, a curtain rod in hand, ready to strike the first stranger she would come across. Seeing Sophia slumped on the couch, the tension in her subsided and she delicately placed her weapon against the wall and walked into the room.
"You could have answered me, So, so that I wouldn't be making up stories," she reprimanded her gently, sitting on a pouf next to the couch Sophia occupied.
"Sorry, I just don't have, really don't have, the energy to raise my voice. I'm literally exhausted," she justified.
"Sorry, my dear. I hope tomorrow's day will be less exhausting because we're going out," announced Sharon.
"We're going out?" asked Sophia, raising an eyebrow and emphasizing the "we."
"Don't worry, honey. You heard me correctly. Sean is inviting us to the gala organized by his parents and he made it clear to me that he won't accept any refusal," said Sharon. She knew her best friend. She knew that getting her out of the house was almost impossible. For that, she had thought of everything because she was determined to make her spend a moment away from her dark thoughts. Since the betrayal of her ex-boyfriend Josh, the young woman had been brooding. She who was so bubbly, so joyful had become extremely calm. She no longer went out, preferring the bed or couch and her blanket.
"But I don't have..." Sophia started.
"An outfit? A dress? I took care of that," she replied, her voice full of pride and challenge.
"And we need..."
"Accessories, shoes, etc. Don't worry about a thing, my little chick. I have a complete outfit for you, So, you won't back out, my beauty," replied Sharon.
"But I have Sunday overtime," Sophia complained.
"We won't be back late. Plus, Sean has booked us a room at the hotel where you work..."
"What?" Sophia cut in, astonished.
"Sean has booked us a room at the hotel where you work," she said nonchalantly, shrugging her shoulders.
"But the rooms there are expensive, and you know it. Why did you let him do that?" Sophia asked.
"It's not like he's short of money, So. Besides, he's already paid, and you know their refund policy."
"You shouldn't have let him do that, Sharon!" Sophia exclaimed.
"He did it before he told me, young lady. It's not my fault," she lied to defend herself.
"OK, OK, I give up!" said Sophia in a sign of resignation.
"Great. One more thing," Sharon began, pushing Sophia to look at her with big, stunned eyes. "No, don't worry, So. It has nothing to do with the party preparations or anything like that," she laughed at the expression on her friend's face.
"That's good. Otherwise, I would definitely back out," said Sophia.
"That you would back out? No way! I know you wouldn't let Sean waste his money."
"Yeah, right! OK, go ahead, I'm listening."
"You know I'm right. Well! Well! Well! It's possible that you'll be sleeping alone at the hotel. Sean may have other plans for us," Sharon said.
"Maybe? Don't act like you're unsure or doubtful with me. The room was booked only for me. Surely, your prince charming and you will end up spending the evening together at his place or somewhere else, but still together," Sophia teased.
"I'm serious, So."
"Hm hm, I don't believe you, Shasha," protested Sophia.
"But I really am," Sharon insisted.
"No! No! I don't believe you even a tiny bit," Sophia replied.
"Well then, I'll just go back to my room. I need to finish getting dressed," Sharon said, pretending to be offended.
"Are you going out?"
"No, but Sean might come by with dinner," she said, getting up gracefully.
"And if he doesn't come?"
"We'll just order a pizza, but that's unlikely."
"Do you think this will be okay?" Sophia asked Sharon as she entered her room. Finishing putting on her mascara, the young woman turned around and was speechless. She was mesmerized by her friend's beauty. Sophia didn't realize it, but she was stunningly beautiful. She didn't fit the stereotype of the perfect woman. No! She had beautiful, harmonious curves due to her African origins. The 23-year-old woman was mixed-race, born to a Beninese-French mother and a French father. She had a heart of gold and exuded purity. Her shyness, reserve, and angelic face charmed everyone from the first second.
"You're su-blime, So. Damn!" exclaimed Sharon, breathless.
"Are you sure? I feel like..."
"Stop it, So. You annoy me when you doubt yourself all the time like this. Listen to me! You're gorgeous. Come and look at yourself in the mirror," she said, pulling her over to the large mirror in her room. "You don't need anything more. You're perfect."
"Don't you think it's too much?" Sophia began. She had never worn dresses like this before. She found them far too revealing.
"Don't start again, So! This dress is perfect for you!"
"Okay, fine," she resigned herself.
The mirror showed her an image of herself that was totally different from what she was used to seeing. She felt beautiful that night, but couldn't believe it. It had been almost five months since she had taken the time to indulge herself, to present herself well, and to go out. She was so used to seeing a neglected image of herself that she couldn't accept the fact that she could be very pretty.
"Sean won't be long. Let's go!"
With a smile on their faces, they headed towards the front door. Hearing the sound of Sean's car engine, they went outside and after locking the door, they walked up to the car where Sean was waiting for them.
"You look beautiful, girls," he said with a broad smile. When they reached him, Sharon extended her hand to him. He took it, pulled her towards him, and kissed her. He turned to Sophia and gave her a kiss on the cheek.
"Oh, I almost forgot," he said before knocking on the car window. It opened and a gloved hand handed him two boxes, one after the other, which he retrieved. "These are for you," he said, handing them over to the girls.
They took them and opened them. Two beautiful masks sat inside, nestled in a cushion that resembled a cloud.
"Wow! They're gorgeous," exclaimed Sophia as she ran her fingers over her mask.
"I couldn't agree more. You've made excellent choices, my love," said Sharon, feeling emotional.
"Thank you, babe."
"You didn't tell me it was a masked ball," Sophia said to her best friend.
"I forgot about that detail. Sorry. But now you know, sweetie," Sharon replied.
"Ladies, please take your seats! We have a long way to go," Sean said as he opened the car door.
They all got in, and after fastening their seat belts, the driver started the car.
Chapter 2-1 : The meeting
The car approached the entrance of the building where the party was taking place. A red carpet adorned the path. Security agents were standing there to ensure order. The press was in attendance, and camera flashes were visible everywhere. Sophia felt a little anxious, but Sharon reassured her by taking her hand.
"Don't worry, everything will be fine," she said, with a radiant and reassuring smile on her lips. Sophia smiled back at her and breathed a sigh of relief.
"Are you ready, ladies?" Sean asked. They replied in the affirmative, and the car came to a stop. An agent opened the door for them, and they stepped out. Sean took Sharon's hand, and they walked forward. The journalists asked them for poses, which they made naturally with smiles on their faces. Sophia, on the other hand, stayed behind and walked behind them.
When they entered, Sean led them to the huge room they had prepared for the occasion.
"Wow! This room is m
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