Author's note: THIS IS SUPPOSED TO BE ANOTHER ONE SHOT. Clearly, I fail at that, so it's another short story. I also fail at keeping away from FP… when I'm supposed to be studying. HAHA, hopefully I pass. JSNDGJBSDG.
Of the Famous
I turned around to face a grin that was pasted on nearly every billboard in the city. Her hair wasn't as tamed and perfect in the pictures, but as she got closer, I noted her perfection. She was beautiful, smart and nice. I loved how people like her existed… it gave me a little hope for the human race.
I stopped walking and waited for Leigh Connors to meet me in the middle of the street. I was quite surprised when Leigh started talking to me; I expected her to be a snooty person especially since she was a famous actress. You had no idea how surprised I was when I realized someone like her was actually attending school. I mean, you'd think their mentality was along the lines of 'I'm rich, who gives a crap about education?', right?
But no. She was a nerd underneath that talent and megawatt smile.
Please stop me before I start to sound bitter.
"Hi," I said friendly, adjusting my gigantic purse. Seriously, I could kill someone with this. There were at least four textbooks in there, plus my binder. I was also carrying a separate bag for my laptop. Actually, I was surprised I wasn't falling over in complete agony.
She grinned. "You left before I could give your notes back," she explained and passed me my small notebook where I liked to handwrite the lectures. I usually typed away on my laptop, but I needed to write it down to get a good feel for the material. Leigh was at a shoot that day and couldn't make it for the class; I offered her my notes. Cause I'm kind like that.
No, really. I am.
"Thanks." I struggled with my bag for a while (with Leigh watching my frustration in amusement), and I straightened.
"So…" Leigh trailed off, looking over me. I gazed at her a little warily, noting the gleam in her eyes. "Want to go for a cup of coffee?"
I tried not to show my surprise at her offer and quickly accepted. We've spoken to each other in classes and maybe in between to our next ones, but we haven't been together anywhere that wasn't school related. I frowned thoughtfully. Maybe she needed help with studying. (But then I quickly shot the idea down since I knew she was a quick learner and way smarter than me. It was the sad truth.)
Once we were seated in the café, I casually took a sip and looked at her expectantly. I was taken aback when I saw her looking at me with a beam on her face, making me laugh. Albeit a little self-consciously. "What?" I asked when her stare wouldn't waver.
"Oh, nothing," she chirped, taking a bite out of her cookie. "I just wanted to thank you again."
I relaxed in my seat and smiled brightly at her. Oh, I thought I had something hanging off my nose… or something. Shut up, it happened before, it can happen again. "It's quite alright," I told her, "If I had a… photo shoot -" You know, which I probably won't, "- I'd definitely need someone's notes. I understand."
Her smile softened. "I think you're genuinely the nicest person I met here," she said honestly, and the honesty in her voice made my back go tense. I wanted to laugh a little. If only she knew how much of a bitch I can truly be.
Instead of voicing my thoughts, I returned her smile. "Thanks. You're not too bad yourself."
She visibly brightened at this and I couldn't help but admire her. It was a little weird talking to a famous celebrity so casually. She was so… down to earth. I briefly wondered if most of these actors were like her. "Really?" She didn't leave me time to answer. "So, Sera, I've been watching you."
For a moment I blinked blankly at her.
I think she caught herself and repeated the words in her head because pink tinged her cheeks. "Oh, wait that came out weird," she said hastily and laughed at herself. I felt myself chuckling. "What I meant to say is, you seem pretty cool."
I arched an eyebrow. "I do?" So… who lied to her?
She inclined her head once. "Yes." She shrugged. "Well, in comparison to the other girls in our class," she told me, her voice hushed as if she were afraid someone would hear. I smiled wryly. That was true, the girls in our class were pretty stuck-up and, well, conceited. As they say, beautiful and smart? Just smite me, God. Please.
"Tell me about it."
Leigh wrinkled her nose. "There's that one girl, Stella, who always tries to copy off me." She winced prettily. "I didn't want her to cheat, but I also didn't -"
"- want to rat her out?" I finished, hiding my surprise. At her nod, I shook my head with a laugh. "If I were you, I would've made sure she never copied from me again."
She smiled. "Yeah, but that's because you're brave," she said in matter-of-fact tones. "I mean, I have to watch what I say." She paused, deliberating. I watched her, inwardly wondering why we were having a heart to heart. How did she know I wasn't the type to turn around and spill the story to the press? "I have a good judge of people," she finished.
Sure she did. "Yeah?"
"Mhm." She nodded noncommittally, taking a sip of her drink. "Stella's the type to go out to the world and blab how rude I am." She frowned. Leigh actually looked quite disturbed. I would too, if I were her. I cringed to myself. God, watching what I have to say 24/7 when people were walking all over me? Hell. No. Tabloids would dub me as a diva.
I call it self defense. And it was.
"How do you know I'm not the type either?" I said smoothly, trying to figure out what angle Leigh Connors was coming from. I was a little bit wary of her. While she seemed nice and genuine enough, I had this guard that zinged whenever something was too good to be true.
Yup, safety mechanism. And I wondered why I don't have a lot of friends. Ha.
She looked at me like I was crazy. "Remember how we met?" she demanded. I shook my head slowly, trying not to laugh at her frustrated look. She tugged her hair and sighed. "Well, we were walking down the same sidewalk. Actually, you were speed walking," she said pointedly, "and brushed by me rather roughly." I cracked a grin. I didn't remember, but it was something I probably did. "But you stopped and tossed an apology without making a big deal about who I was… or what I did." She stopped, and she seemed rather self-conscious. "It was nice."
I looked at her like she was crazy, but I surprised myself by feeling a flicker of sympathy. God, I should be sitting here thinking that she was so damn lucky. But then I remembered what she had to sacrifice being famous. She probably didn't mind since she was reaching millions of people through her movies, but you had to forfeit another piece of your life for that. You weren't… normal. You were watched: you were judged and criticized.
Guess she liked being treated like everyone else. The irony.
"You know that I say sorry to people who step on my feet, right?" I said. If whatever she said happened, I was probably doing it on instinct. Scratch it, in-between classes I was usually on auto-pilot. All I knew was that I had to get to class on time and get a good seat.
You know, away from the professor, but not too far in the back to fall asleep when I'm bored.
Leigh laughed. "Yeah," she said with a smile. "But still," her face brightened, "at least I know not everyone in this university is bratty and self-righteous."
"Funny." I cast her an amused look. "I was just thinking the same thing about you.
Being friends with Leigh Connors was a bizarre experience all together. We sat next to each other during the few classes we had together. She saved a seat for me and vice versa. I never thought I'd ever be doing something like that for anyone, famous or not. I was a little wary of the relationship, but shrugged it off until I actually found myself liking her.
Oh God, I liked someone other than myself. How unselfish of me.
She was funny too. Whenever the paparazzi managed to find her on campus, she would have this horrified face before pasting on the fakest smile I have ever seen. She told me to shut up whenever I wouldn't stop laughing. And then proceeded to run away as if her life depended on it, and maybe it did.
It was a few minutes after my tutorial when I got a text from her. I haven't heard from her in over a week because she had to fly out of a country for this charity event she couldn't miss - she wouldn't want to miss. She'd skip auditions her agent signed up for her, but she wouldn't skip a charity event.
…She was too nice for my tastes.
Meet me at the usual! (:
I shook my head in amusement and made a left. There was nothing to do. I didn't have class until the next two days so I could sacrifice a bit of my time for the likes of her.
It wasn't that far of a walk, but for some reason the streets were more crowded than usual that I had to push myself through to get inside. I glanced over my shoulder. It looked like they were looking for someone but I couldn't be too sure. What are the chances of them all searching for the same person? Slim to none.
Then again, a famous celebrity befriended me, so I guess anything was possible at this point. Ha.
I turned and blinking, I saw Leigh smiling brightly at me. I felt my own lips stretch and I nodded towards outside. "Any idea?"
She blinked and smiled a little too innocently at me. "No, actually." We started towards our usual seat but I was rather surprised to see it taken. Suddenly, Leigh grabbed my hand and dragged me to the back of the café.
"Leigh -" I shot a look of incredulity to those working behind the counter but they just smiled as if they knew something I didn't and turned back to their jobs.
Useless people. What if she was about to kill me? Could they handle my death on their conscience?
"Yeah, drag me like I'm lifeless," I said in a dry voice, "It's cool."
Leigh laughed loudly, stopping in front of a door. "Stop it." She was grinning as she pushed the door open. I turned towards the corridor and saw no one there I could call for help if she really did try to kill me. "I'm not going to kill you," she said exasperatedly with an amused lilt in her voice. I laughed out loud at that.
"You never know. Ow! I was kidding," I murmured, and my expression quickly morphed into confusion when she abruptly pushed me into the door after she got the key in the hole. At first it was dark, but I heard Leigh slap the wall for the switch, and when the lights flickered on I found myself inches away from someone's face.
Naturally, I let out an explicit and jumped away.
"Oh my God," I breathed, glancing between the stranger and Leigh. Nothing was registering in my mind at the moment, mostly because of the adrenaline coursing throughout my body. I felt my head pound once before everything cleared and I looked at Leigh with something between a glare and amusement. "Thanks, I enjoyed that."
Leigh was grinning widely. "Sera," she sang and bounced to where I was standing. She grabbed the stranger's hand and swung it around playfully. My eyebrows shot to my hairline as I finally noticed him. Wow. He was - wow. I'm usually not speechless, but when you catch me at a time that I am, then you know something's up.
He had dark green eyes which were brought out by that green polo he was wearing. That silver wristwatch made his arms look exceptional to me. I had a thing for masculine hands. And those shoulders.
Really, if no one stopped me he would be shirtless in about two seconds.
"Hello," I said politely, restraining myself. I also tried to control the smirk spreading from my face at my thoughts. God, the amount of time I actually talk to myself was scaring me slightly. "Nice to meet you." Be nice, my conscience told me sternly. Jeez. "Leigh's been talking about you a lot."
Leigh looked at me. "What?"
"Oh yeah?" His voice. I needed to get out of here.
"Yes," I nodded simply, bullshitting like no tomorrow. I mean, wouldn't you want to hear that your girlfriend's been talking about you to your friends? I wasn't a guy, but I'm pretty sure that would boost my ego a peg or two. But with a body like that I hardly think he'd need any ego caressing.
He was looking at me expectantly, as if he were waiting for me to elaborate. Maybe he liked being told how great he was. Gee.
"Well," I drawled, "that you're the most sweetest person - of course, not as sweet as me -"
At this point Leigh caught on that I was bullshitting and elbowed me in the ribs as she stood next to me. I couldn't help but laugh at the look on her face which was a cross of frustration and amusement.
"Seraphrina," she hissed. I glared at her. She stared at me blankly, as realization crossed her face. I think that was disgust on her face. "And are you kidding, you think I'm with him? When have I ever mentioned a boyfriend?"
"Thanks Leigh," the beautiful person said.
Oh. What? I blinked and pointedly looked at their interlocked hands. Usually when people introduced someone to me like that, the next words out of their mouth was, "Oh, and this is my baby!" or something equally nauseating.
Totally cute, I mean. Completely.
"We're best friends," she said, taking a gigantic step away from him with her own pointed look at me. The stranger rolled his eyes at her acts but the faint smile on his face made me think that Leigh was special to him. Aw. That was genuine, by the way. I was capable of having a heart.
"Ah," I nodded sagely. "Then I take back what I said. She hasn't said anything about you."
"Not true," Leigh protested, shooting a little glance at to her right. I saw her smother a smile as she quickly racked her brain for a moment. She turned back to me triumphantly. "Remember that time I was talking about the ginger bread house?"
My mind flashed to the conversation we had during one of the more boring lectures. Even though we were next to each other we started a conversation via cell phone. She told me about a friend who was obsessed with ginger bread houses and practically dragged her out of bed to build one on Christmas day. It was going well until Leigh's German Sheppard pounced on them both, causing her best friend to land on his masterpiece and… well, suffice to say it was a bad experience. Especially since it ended with the dog pulling off his shorts in order to get the bread.
I laughed, turning to him with a mischievous smile. He looked incredulous, looking between the both of us. "You told her that?" he demanded, running a hand through his hair. He looked at me with narrowed eyes. "For the record, I was only nine."
"Of course," I nodded, "too young to know any better. I understand." He seemed rather taken aback and straightened, his gaze suddenly sharper. I made a face. "Anyway, I'm Sera," I said, holding my hand out automatically. "It… really is nice to meet you."
Even the words tasted bitter. Wow, I really was a horrible person.
Leigh elbowed me. "She's nice, I promise!"
"Sometimes," I muttered, his hand enclosing mine. I wanted to snatch my hand away as soon as I felt his skin. "And you are?" I pressed when he didn't say anything.
He smirked, grip tightening. "Wouldn't you like to know."
My mouth parted at the arrogance in his voice. Did he just -
"He's nice, I promise!" Leigh said frantically, thwacking him on his shoulder. He barely flinched.
I frowned when the smirk on his face didn't waver. I pulled my hand back, looking pointedly at our connected arms when he didn't release me. "I need my hand back."
He was laughing. "Seriously, Leigh?" he said. There was a fascinating child-like quality in his voice that suddenly made me feel light headed. Wow, he sounded happy. I almost forgot my annoyance. He turned to his best friend, his smile bright.
Leigh laughed. "Yeah, she has no idea. It's actually funny."
He turned back to me, his face suddenly seriously. In fact, he leaned all the way in until he was completely invading my personal space. He knew it, I knew it, and soon his shin was going to know it.
"Hey!" I yanked away. "Ever heard of personal space?" I fumed. Invasion of privacy irritated the hell out of me, among many other things. But if you're going to go up into my face, make sure we've known each other for more than five seconds. Okay, thanks.
"Do you know who I am?" he demanded. Leigh sighed, and I vaguely heard her say, "And it could've gone over so well…"
I looked at him like he was psychotic. Which I wasn't doubting at this moment. "You didn't give me your name," I said pointedly. What an arrogant son of a bitch. "You're Leigh's best friend." I frowned, waving a hand in his face. "Do you have… amnesia?"
He pulled back so fast that my eyes widened. But he started laughing.
"Oh shit," he smiled at me, and I felt my heartbeat quicken. What the fuck? I thought frantically. The last time a boy's affected me like this was in ninth grade. He was a year older than me and he had a girlfriend. Suffice to say, I got over my little phase. "I don't know if I should be happy or insulted that you have no idea who I am."
It was silent as we stared at each other. I was trying to see where he was coming from. He was just staring like the uncouth person he was.
"Leigh," I tore my gaze from him. "Why did you bring me here to be harassed by a perfect stranger?"
He snorted. "Baby, I don't need to harass. People only wished." Then he nodded to me, a delicious smirk on his face. "Perfect, eh? Already falling for my looks?"
I - wow. My jaw just dropped as I stared at him in complete disbelief.
Leigh smacked her forehead. "Shut up," she ordered him. "Sera -"
I straightened, my eyebrows practically reaching my hairline. "Look," I said, my lips thinning. "I don't know who you think you are, but this holier-than-thou act is irritating as hell. You're quite pompous, you know?" I tossed my hair over my shoulder. "Anyway," I said turning to Leigh, "I'm going to the gym. I'll see you later."
"No goodbye?" came his cheeky voice. I almost felt myself smile, which was completely out of character. Conceited people annoyed me like no tomorrow, you have no idea. But this guy - he injected enough charm into his voice that I almost fell for it. Almost being the operative word.
"Get back to me when you get over yourself," was my reply with a sweet smile as I stepped out of the room and walked back from where I came from.
"We both know you're hoping for that," came his swift remark just as I shut the door behind me. I shook my head amusedly, trying not to make a big deal of the light-headed feeling that overcome my body. Right, so he was attractive.
Besides, he was just a pretentious - probably jock - who had harems of misguided females lusting (I liked to call it ditz-ing) after his form. I was the girl he bumped into on the street that sensibly put him in his place. In terms of not falling at his feet, I mean.
I nodded sagely at my logic, pushing the café door open. I'm an excellent bullshitter. So excellent that sometimes I make myself believe what I'm saying.
Too bad he enjoyed getting yelled at. Like I said… the irony.
The next time I saw him was 500 hundred years later.
Of course I was lying, but to me it really did feel like 500 years later. I didn't forget about him because, c'mon, no one would forget a face like that. He was pompous, yes, but that annoying charm was enough to almost make one disregard his arrogance.
Not to mention the fact that he was Talen Spencer. Talen Spencer. I almost wanted to hit myself with my bag when I finally realized. Leigh actually told me offhandedly, and my first reaction was seriously falling flat on my face.
Talen Spencer? What the hell? Why didn't I recognize him sooner? I voiced that in irritation to Leigh.
I mean, I haven't watched anything of his, and the only time I saw his face was in a magazine. You know the racks that had magazines when you were waiting in line to check out your groceries? Yeah, those.
And I distinctly remember telling myself that I would love to ravish him if given the off-chance of meeting him. Once more: I am an idiot.
Seeing him again, to be honest, threw me off guard. I'm a calm person and I didn't panic or get nervous. I don't know if the reason had anything to do with his good looks (read: the man was absolutely gorgeous) but I was annoyed with myself at his capability of reducing me into a blubbering idiot. My retorts were sharp as a dull knife, I realized, when our first experience with each other replayed itself in my head.
That was another reason I decided to push the memory to the dark recesses of my mind. I didn't like reliving stupidity.
It was another busy walk in the campus of the university. I finished a class and decided to lounge in the library for a few hours to edit my paper due in a few days. I hated procrastinating.
I saw him before he saw me. He was leaning against the wall near the library, looking inconspicuous but I recognized his watch. He was playing with his cell phone, an attentive look on his face as he frowned at the screen. I gave myself two seconds to feel like a fool and admire his facial structure before I ducked my head and prayed he didn't look up until I reached my destination.
I almost made it, but Albert Low, my co-worker and weekly pain in my ass, decided to walk through the double doors the moment I stepped in front of it.
"For fu -"
"Seraphrine!" he gasped, clutching my arm to keep me upright. "Are you okay? I never saw you there, I swear!"
"The glass is transparent, you moron," I muttered under my breath, clutching my nose in pain. "And it's Seraphrina," I drawled to him for the thousandth time.
"Seraphrina," he corrected himself like he always did.
"Sera," I corrected him like I always did. I wrinkled my nose at him, checking if I could feel it to a degree. He observed me anxiously, hand reaching forward, but at my look he retracted. What was he going to do, probe my nose until he was assured it wasn't broken?
"So… you're working this week, right?" he broke the silence that descended over us as I pinched the bridge of my nose. I felt a nose bleed coming on.
I looked at him, unable to help myself. He was lanky and a little taller than me. To be honest, Albert wasn't a bad guy; we just met under terrible circumstances. He was holding a tray of hot chocolate and he decided to spill them on me. I forgave him… of course.
What? I did.
"Yes, I am," I said and then exhaled, nodding to myself once. "Thank you, Albert," I said.
"For slamming the door in your face?" he asked, almost looking afraid to accept my thanks. I had to laugh out loud at that.
"No. For staying to see if I was okay," I told him. See? I was capable of giving people a break. I was nice. I was, damn it.
"Uh, you're welcome." He shuffled and finally offered a weak smile. "See you later, Seraphrine."
I nodded, not bothering to correct him. I straightened and reached forward to pull the double doors open.
"I got over myself," I heard a drawl behind me. "You willing to talk to me now?"
I felt my heart leap to my throat and I cursed the little hope I had in my chest that he would notice me and talk to me. God, what was I?
I turned around, forcing myself not to feel anything. Instead of the arrogant posture I expected, he had his hands in his pockets and he was grinning at me from underneath his hat.
"Maybe," I answered suspiciously, deciding to play along. I didn't want to be a complete bitch; he was Leigh's best friend. I turned to face him fully and crossed my arms across my chest in a contemplative manner. "You're Talen Spencer."
He lifted his face to fully look at me and the smirk on his face was unmistakable. "Heard you fell on your face when you found out."
I made a mental note to kill Leigh.
"I did," I answered, unfazed. "Thanks for telling me, by the way."
"Hey, it's not my fault you don't keep up with the latest gossip. Apparently I'm the shit," he said cheekily. I rolled my eyes, fighting the smile tugging my lips. "It was refreshing, you not knowing me," he admitted after I didn't say anything. "You treated me like you would treat any other arrogant bastard."
I looked at him blankly. "You and Leigh like to be treated like crap?" I said with a frown.
"No, just honestly. Normally."
I wanted to clobber them. "Then don't get famous."
His eyebrow arched. "Talent shouldn't go to waste."
No wonder they were best friends. They were both idiots. I didn't bother gracing his arrogant statement with a response. If he wanted me to treat him like any other guy then he should be happy to know that I usually walked past them without a second thought.
I sighed, and with a dismissive gesture, I showed him my shoulder. "OK, Talen Spencer," I drawled. "While you shower your adoring fans with your magnificent talent, I'll be in the library working on a lab report."
He was laughing. "That's it?"
"Please don't tempt me," I snorted, pushing the door open and effectively obscuring our communication. Congratulations was in order, I thought, when I made myself comfortable in my usual spot. I didn't look back once to see his reaction, and that was wonderful.
"I swear you don't go to this university," I said as I shoved books into their designated shelf, absentmindedly reading the synopsis while I work. Ooh, this book looked interesting.
"I don't, but this is a public area," he answered. "Are you kicking me out? Because I could file a complaint and -"
"I get it," I interrupted with a roll of my eyes at his dramatics. I didn't bother hiding the gesture and proceeded to give his existence as little attention as possible. He was probably here to spite me; he couldn't stand someone who didn't worship the ground he walked on. God, this was so typical it was almost laughable.
"You look like you love your job," he said a few minutes later after watching me like a hawk. My eyebrow was ticking by the time he spoke up. Seriously, I wanted to kill him. "Especially with the way your eyebrow is twitching -"
"Talen Spencer," I hissed, sharply turning to him. "My eyebrow is twitching because you're blatantly gawking at me -"
"Ooh, how arrogant -"
"- so if you're not going to get anything, then kindly get the hell out!"
Fuming was an understatement. I was absolutely furious. I did not bode well with idiots who make a habit of annoying me purposely; I had better things to do than to entertain their obtuse needs… and just because Talen Spencer thought he had the right to "grace" me with his "presence" then he had another thing coming.
"So you are trying to kick me out," he drawled, straightening. "Cocky and bossy. Huh. Leigh told me you were a 'total sweetheart'."
"She lied." My jaw clenched and I glanced at my watch. "You know what? You can bother the other employees because my shift is over, thank God. Goodbye." I turned my heel and walked quickly towards the front desk where I saw Albert Low preparing to take his shift. Well, I guess I had to admire his dedication. I was usually late.
It was only five minutes though, I swear.
"Great." His teeth flashed as he easily caught up and I made the mistake of looking into his eyes. They were lethal. I bet he used his eyes to blackmail people, because honestly, if I had to deny him right now at this moment, I wouldn't be able to. "That means you're free."
"No," I said automatically, my mind already one step ahead of me and scrabbling for a lie. I was looking at his left ear. "I, uh, actually have a class right now… a practical. Yes, so I'm terribly sorry." I feigned a look of utter despair. Albert was watching from the sidelines owlishly. "Maybe next time."
I expected the celebrity to smile and nod in acceptance. In reality, all he did was raise his eyebrows. The silence ensued.
"Actually," Albert said hesitantly, "you're done for the day. You told me last week," he accused, pure confusion on his face. That's right, he looked confused, until he met my eyes, that little pain. My glare could have frozen hearts. "Oh… never mind!" That's right, Albert, try getting out of that hole you buried yourself in. Asshole.
"You're a liar, too!" He sounded too amused. I didn't like the way he said that.
"I'm not," I snapped. "I was trying to let you down gently, but clearly you can't take a hint!" The man was thick.
"Clearly." His voice was cheeky. I'm so glad he agreed with me.
"I think he likes you, Sera," Albert said sagely, using my name properly for once. I observed him, trying to convey to him telepathically that that idea itself was completely absurd. "A lot," he added, "because even when you're mean to him, he's still here." I had a feeling he was trying to tell me something.
"Clearly," I sighed, frustrated. "Albert, he likes the idea of breaking me," I explained. "Can't you recognize him? It's -"
"A bit blabby, isn't she?" Talen said, his hand slapped over mine. I stiffened the moment he touched me. I cannot believe that he did that. If he was going to walk around undisguised, what difference would it make if I told someone - Albert no less! - who he was? Someone please tell me because I cannot see his logic!
"A bit," Albert agreed, eyeing me cautiously. "I'll see you around, Seraphrine!" And he's back to that. I wanted to kick someone's ass. "Have fun on your date!"
I managed to turn my head away from his hand and glared furiously at Albert. "It's not a date! I'm being kidnapped, you moron. Don't just stand there!"
"We like to role play!" Talen called back just as cheerily. "She rather loves the aggressive -"
"Oh shut up." I elbowed him and struggled out of his grip. He managed to take me out of the bookstore and a few feet away from the entrance. I straightened, calming my racing heart. He was grinning too brightly at me. Dear God, was he seriously enjoying this? Didn't he have a movie to film or a premier to go to? Hair to do, legs to wax…?
He was looking at me, head tilted. I couldn't see his eyes because he had his sunglasses on… probably to delude people into believing he was just another student. He even dressed the part.
"I'm trying to figure out what angle you're coming from," he finally broke the silence. I was watching his lips move; a day's worth of stubble splattered his jaw, giving him the just rolled out of bed look. He probably did, his hair was to the part.
"Oh really? I was just wondering the same thing," I retorted, my hands tightening into a fist. "Look, Spencer, I've been seeing you around too much for my liking -"
"Actually, this is only the third time -"
"- and it's three times too many -"
"Oh, that's a first -"
"Of course it would be!" I growled. "Can you please let me finish?"
He was laughing too hard to argue. I glowered, but the longer I watched him laugh, the harder it was to stay annoyed. In the end, I felt myself smile and chuckle myself. But then I frowned. He was a charmer, wasn't he?
"Aw, sweetheart," he drawled, "I finally got you to smile." He grinned. I sighed, rubbing my forehead. "Leigh says you're a cool person, and if I had to trust someone else's judgment, then it'd have to be hers."
"How flattering," I said, and it really was, even if I believed it was a lie. I definitely wasn't fun to be around with. Leigh was obviously hallucinating. We stood there, watching each other until I felt myself wearing down.
Crossing my arm over my chest, I appraised the man before me under a serious light. This was taking a toll on my patience (what an understatement!) and it was simply exasperating to try and dismiss a male who obviously had too much time on his hands.
"Do you even live here?" I questioned when the silence began to irritate me. I couldn't tell if he was looking at me, and that was unnerving.
The end of his lips quirked and he stuffed his hands into his pockets. "Conversing cordially, are we?"
"Hardly," I said. "Maybe courteously." I made a useless gesture with my hands before letting them fall to my sides. He seemed to be amused again… and my irritation was catching up quickly to my manners. The latter would soon be non-existent. "Don't avoid the question."
He laughed richly. "I do," he said. "Just moved in, in fact. I've heard nothing but good about this city from a friend."
"You two are very close." It wasn't a question, but a statement. I couldn't stop the slight questioning tone in my voice because it was plainly astonishing to believe how two people could be so close after all this time. They grew up together; I only could read about this kind of relationship between two people. It was… fascinating. I could listen to Leigh talk about this brilliantly charming best friend of hers for days.
But, you know… like I would ever let her know that.
His smile was warm. "We are. She's a fiery thing, isn't she?" I had to agree. She never ran out of fuel. "Leigh's been there through everything."
I smiled. "So I've heard."
The smile on his face seemed to die down, but an almost-reluctant chuckle rose form his lips. "You know, I don't know whether you peg you as playing hard to get or just unaffected." He lowered his sunglasses and his eyes were staring right at me. "I've met all kinds of girls, but it's hard to place you in a category."
Annnd the nice moment was ruined.
"You're serious." I gaped at him; I didn't even know what to feel at his words. "You can't categorize people," the words rose from my mouth defiantly. "Everyone is their own person, and you see only what they choose to show."
He was appraising me; I could practically see him analyzing me, taking me apart - classifying my personality - choosing his best approach - !
I threw my hands in the air exasperatedly. "Never mind, Talen Spencer. I'm going to say this on a whim, but you can tell me later how close I hit to home." It was hard not to sneer. "I think you spend too much time with people who are coached what to say and how to say whatever thought comes to mind. Your words are filtered to the point of pretence, and since you aren't dealing with someone who isn't taught what to say, you're trying to classify my personality and base your responses according to the type of person you think I am."
Lecturing celebrities was exhausting. Leigh was enough, but him, too?
My eyes dared him to deny me, but all he did was open and close his mouth. I saw the uncertainty in his gaze - he took his aviators off - and didn't bother schooling his expression. Ha. Good. A little authenticity would do both of us some good - hell, more him than me, that was for sure.
He finally spoke. "I was told you were quite mouthy, too…" The words trailed off into a moment or two of silence before he suddenly laughed; the clearness in his laugh made me get that light feeling in my chest again. "Alright, Sera, I give. Man, you're brilliant."
I smirked. "Right." Now I had to figure out if what I said actually got to him.
Probably not, but here's to wishing.
"So…" he placed his aviators back on as the word drew out slowly. I was looking at him warily, expecting more of his insistence, but what he said surprised me. "I'll see you around? I promise, I really did get over myself." A brilliant smile was flashed, and I honestly couldn't deny him.
Maybe we'll run into each other again. Maybe.
I returned his smile. "Yeah, I'll see you around."
The people around us were either getting drunk or getting drunk and dancing their ass off. Amused, I surveyed those I noticed in a couple of my classes, and then took note of the amount of strangers I saw. It wasn't much different from high school.
That fact, I wasn't sure, should scare me or not.
"That," Leigh came up next to me, pointing to the row of bodies attached to each other by their ass, "is disgusting."
"That is," I agreed, muffling my laughter. "To think we're supposed to be more mature and sophisticated." We shared a grin and manoeuvred our way to what we thought was the direction of the kitchen. Leigh was stopped so frequently on our way that I was sending death glares to every next guy that made us pause our journey.
"Do you want to meet me there?" I looked at her pointedly; I didn't bother hiding my annoyance. "At this rate, I'll be seeing you tomorrow morning."
She laughed, smacking my arm. "No, no, let's go. I need a drink, most definitely."
My eyebrow rose and amusement leaked into my expression. I wondered how she was when drunk. Would she be the stupid drunk or smartass kind?
I wasn't surprised that Leigh was approached by a group of boys just after a few moments we grabbed our bottles. Idly, I sipped the liquid as I observed my surroundings a little… bored. Leigh managed to convince me to check out the parties on campus, and I wasn't ashamed to admit that I had very little experience in this field of socializing. Then again, I was limited in my experience in socializing, period.
It was a personal thing.
"Hey." A pretty girl slipped into position next to me; the smile on her face made me scrutinize her expression. I didn't recognize her. "You looked a little bored."
My eyebrows raised as I appraised her under a new light. "Maybe," I admitted. "I just got here, though."
"It gets old a little too fast when you're sober," she laughed, and I noted her empty hands. "I'm driving tonight," she explained. "Parties are fun, but only when I'm drunk," she joked, and then she brightened. "Oh yeah, I'm Veronica!"
I had to smile. "Nice to meet you." I accepted her hand. "I'm Sera."
We chatted for a few moments, and I was inwardly glad that she was a enthusiastic conversationalist… because if she wasn't, then we'd be immersed in a very awkward silence right about now. I was a little pathetic when it came to mingling.
Boy, was I on a rampage against my self-esteem, or what?
Veronica abruptly stopped in the middle of her sentence and her eyes widened. Alarmed, I watched her silently gasp. "Oh my god."
"What? What?" I whipped around quickly, looking for any signs of danger. All I saw was the group of people Leigh was happily conversing with, and other… individuals that didn't look particularly threatening.
I'll be honest with you, I wasn't really looking. My eyes sort of flitted.
"I've seen a lot of gorgeous people in my life, but he looks exactly like Talen Spencer! And Talen Spencer is fine," she said rather passionately, her eyes still trained over my shoulder.
Frowning, I checked again. Sure enough, said hot person was casually walking, smiling briefly at those he happened to catch attention from, but he was noticeably alone.
"I think I want him," Veronica said decisively.
Don't we all? I thought dully, returning my stare to Veronica who had a predatory glint in her eye. Veronica was very attractive, and I doubt she didn't know this.
"What if he's… different?" At her stare, I shrugged. "He could be a psychopath, and the only thing saving his ass from jail would be his good looks," I pointed out. "Or maybe he has internal problems."
Veronica frowned, momentarily thoughtful. "Internal, you mean physically in the sense of his organs, or by internal, you mean mentally?"
I nodded along, "I meant mentally, but physically works too."
Veronica laughed, but I could tell her mind was set. "Then I'll find a way to keep him from talking," she said. I wisely chose not to notice her suggestive tone.
I shook my head amusedly and watched her prepare for the encounter. I casually turned a little to see Talen grab a water bottle, his eyes scan the area -
My eyes snapped away and I subtly pivoted my feet to have my back facing him. Veronica smiled mischievously at me and I smiled in good luck… she probably didn't need it, but it couldn't hurt.
And… I was back to solidarity.
Leigh had beckoned me over a couple of times but I shook my head politely. I'd rather not be tightly surrounded by people who obviously weren't there for me. I'd probably only obstruct their vision and… yeah, I really needed to stop with bashing myself.
"I'm so deathly bored," I muttered under my breath, grabbing my, what, fourth, fifth bottle? I cursed my high tolerance of alcohol. Being intoxicated would probably have been loads better than this.
"Stop drinking," Leigh ordered as she slithered up next to me. She smiled politely at the people who tried to coax her back, but she was sticking with me. I ignored their (murderous) stares and glanced at my friend. "That's your sixth one."
"I was under the impression of four," I mumbled, taking a swing nonetheless. "Besides," I gestured widely around me. "I have a high tolerance, and this is nothing. I'm completely sober."
She eyed me. "Right… anyway, let's go outside. You're getting flushed."
I shrugged and trailed after her.
"I saw Talen, by the way," I said without thinking. She looked over her shoulder, surprised, before her expression relaxed. "I was with a girl called Veronica for a while until she saw him. Then she decided that she wanted him, and just like that, she walked up to him!" I snapped my fingers. "I don't understand how someone can have so much confidence. But then again, you and Talen have no trouble." I frowned. "You two are celebrities… why are you even my friend?"
Leigh was looking at me in a sort of amused exasperation. "So you're a talkative drunk, huh? A little more so than you usually are anyway," she grinned before sobering. "Why are you even asking me that? You're a good friend."
I shrugged, "Not really. You'll see soon enough."
Leigh frowned but didn't say anything as her attention was snagged. Listlessly, I followed her line of vision, trying very hard to focus.
Okay, maybe I was drunk… a little. Not much.
"Oh, look, it's Talen," I said as said person approached us. He shot me a look to keep my mouth shut, and I belatedly realized that he didn't want anyone to know it was him. Celebrities were weird. They spend their whole lives trying to be famous and when they are, they try to go unnoticed by the world.
I just didn't understand their train of thought, these two especially.
"Hey," Leigh greeted her friend as he hugged her to his side. She kept a firm hand around my wrist, and even as I tugged away, her grip didn't loosen. "What brings you to a lowly college party?"
Talen was eyeing me. "Catching up with what I missed in a normal life… what the hell is wrong with her?"
"Nothing's wrong with me," I snapped, trying steadily to keep the ground from moving. "God. Just because I don't praise your very being doesn't mean something's wrong with me."
Leigh laughed; Talen only raised his eyebrows.
"Is she drunk?" he asked his friend.
"I'm right here," I groused, finally admitting to myself that maybe I was a little more than drunk, especially since the light feeling was taking over my body. It was starting to feel a little nice… much so that I wanted to laugh hysterically. For no reason.
I was so deluded in life.
"Apparently she's not," Leigh said amusedly. "Right, Sera?"
"Denial," Talen instantly said, a tiny smirk forming around his lips. "I didn't think she was the type."
"I'm not!" Indignantly, I puffed my chest. "Don't categorize me again, Talen Spender, or so help me I'll…!" My threats came out muffled as he slapped a hand over my mouth. Leigh was torn between scolding him and giggling at my predicament.
"I've convinced just about everyone I've seen that I'm genetically blessed to have looked as good as Talen Spencer," he hissed. "Don't ruin it for me."
I stopped struggling and resumed to stare at him penetratingly.
"Promise me you won't say anything," he said.
Slowly, I began to nod. Searching my eyes for one last moment, he released me with a sigh. I immediately scrunched my face and crossed my arms over my chest.
"You shouldn't touch people like that," I told him casually. He looked at me rather blankly. Enthusiastically, I waved my arms around. "You know, up close and personal. It's bad enough that I think you're attractive, you touching me isn't helping my case."
His blank face transformed as my words registered in his mind. For a moment Leigh and him gaped at my sage-like demeanour, until an almost feral grin tugged at his lips.
"Wow… she's going to kill me for ever letting her say that to you," Leigh said with wide eyes.
"Of course I won't," I gasped. "Leigh, you're a lovely person." Too lovely to be with me, I thought a little forlornly.
"So you do like me," Talen said, cocking an eyebrow. "I was under the impression that you found me annoying."
"Talen," Leigh hissed. "Don't you dare take advantage of her!"
"I know," I scowled. "That isn't nice. And of course I find you annoying," I said irritably. "You confuse me. You're too good looking, and a thousand girls would kill me for even talking to you!" I sighed. "When you start to like someone, you start to have expectations. I don't like that."
"I knew no one could resist me," Talen said smugly, and even in my alcohol-induced state, his words cut me in the chest.
I smiled a big false smile. "Like now," I sung, trying very hard not to let my eyes go glassy because I couldn't let him know that he hurt me. The rational functioning part of my brain told me that he got what he wanted, which was to prove to me that no girl escaped his charm unscathed.
Of course he didn't entertain the possibility of liking me, I thought to myself fiercely. He just didn't want to continue life knowing that there was a girl who didn't like him. He had to prove me wrong.
I chugged the rest of my drink, feeling myself sway slightly. Leigh's grip tightened around me and I smiled to myself. At least I had a friend.
"What's wrong with you?" Talen said, grabbing the bottle from my grasp.
"Hey! That was mine!"
"I know. How much has she had to drink?" Talen demanded.
"That's her sixth."
"What the fuck?" Talen narrowed his eyes. I tried glaring at him.
"Don't you dare act like you give a shit," I told him rather coldly. Take aback, he pulled away slightly. I shrugged at the hard look in his eyes, wiping my forehead with the back of my hand. It was starting to get hot. "I think it'd do us both some good if I never see your face again."
Leigh gawped. "Talk about mood swings…"
He frowned. "What did I do? You were just telling me a second ago that you liked me."
"So? I like chocolate, it doesn't mean I'll go around eating it every second."
"She's delusional," Leigh whispered to Talen who nodded imperceptibly. As if I wouldn't notice.
"You're a player," I said factually. He looked stricken and Leigh's smile fell a little. I didn't notice her concerned look to her friend as I looked at him right in the eye. I laughed a little, high pitched and most amused. "If you think I'm going to willingly let you break my heart, then you've got another thing coming."
Leigh reached for Talen's arm, but he roughly brushed away.
"What makes you think you even know me to do that?"
I noticed his angered tone, but I only shrugged.
"I don't." I patted his arm rather cheerily. "And I want to keep it that way."