A/N: I wrote this for the Star-Cross'd challenge on A Drop of Romeo. Hope you like it!
Must be of the romance genre
Must be multi-chaptered (unless it is a Battle of the One-Shots prompt)
Reference to Romeo and Juliet
Must have been written after the contest begun
I thought I had gotten rid of him.
Then again, I thought I had gotten rid of him after elementary, middle, and high school, but he always found a way to creep back into my life.
I was sure though, that after college, I would be able to put the nuisance of Colton Foss in the past. And for the past two and a half years, I was done. There was no annoying boy I saw everywhere, much to both of our chagrins. He was the chronic rash of my life, and I knew naught of how to get rid of him.
I should have known he would show up again at some point or another, but I never expected him to be a model. Last time I checked, he graduated with a degree in engineering.
It was a bittersweet thing, being a photographer for a male modelling agency. There were the obvious pros… I mean, look at Francisco Lachowski, for example. I spent my days around guys like him, and I could take pictures without having to be incognito about it (which is actually pretty damn hard). And even more, I got to talk to them, and even make some friends along the way.
Then again, it wasn't the greatest thing when the model is a full bag of douche. Most aren't, of course, but some people can't just get it through their thick mounds of hair gel that being good-looking isn't a rite of passage to a grotesque personality. I didn't doubt that Colton would be the same way, but without the gel.
When the clock struck 1:59, I groaned. He was going to be here in about a minute, and I was trying to prepare myself for what was bound to be the worst photography session of my career.
I looked around the set; my co-workers were acting as though this was going to be just a normal photo-shoot. As if the bane of my existence wasn't about to walk through that door.
Well, maybe to them it didn't matter.
Nevertheless, I envied their clam demeanors.
In an effort to compose myself, I started to fiddle around with my camera. The door opened about a second later and I was startled into a jump. I looked up from my camera to look at the man entering the room. Our eyes met for a split second before he quirked a corner of his lips at me. I raised an eyebrow at him. Since when did we smile at each other?
He hadn't changed much: he still had that short dark brown hair that was infuriatingly mussed up to look just the right amount of messy, the deceivingly kind eyes, the slightest bit of facial hair, and the same unbuttoned dress shirts with wife beaters inside.
If his physical appearance didn't so much as change from the way he styled his hair to the way he stood with his hands stuffed into his jean pockets, I highly doubted his personality had changed much either.
He was talking to one of the managers, who was explaining what would be happening today since this would be his first shoot here. Far too soon, the manager was done explaining and Colton was heading toward me.
I plastered a polite, albeit insincere look on my face. I was a professional, and determined to not get myself fired for looking like I wanted to strangle the guy.
"You should go to the dressing room over there," I told him, pointing to the dressing rooms the second he came near me. "A Girl named Sarah has your clothes." Hopefully, giving him simple instructions would deter him from a conversation.
"What, no rude quip?" Of course he'd start one anyway.
"I'm not rude."
"I never said you were. I said your remarks were." No one like a smartass, Colton.
"Can you just get changed so we can start?"
He looked down at his clothes. "Oh, right. I'll be right back."
"Joy," I muttered under my breath.
"Ah, there's the rude quip," he half-sang, wagging a finger at me as he headed to back to the dressing rooms.
I groaned. If this went as long as a normal shoot, he'd be in my presence for three more hours. I could already feel the Colton-induced headaches I always used to get, and the sad thing was that this was only the beginning.
He came back fifteen minutes later, and I laughed to myself seeing how his hair only stuck up in the front as opposed to all over. I knew it was Sarah's doing; she hated messy hair like his.
"Nice hair," I drawled.
Colton cracked a smile. "Why thank you."
I wasn't sure if he caught the sarcasm or not.
I had to admit that doing the actual shoot wasn't that bad. He mostly obeyed me when I gave him orders and didn't try to talk back, except for when I told him to do something he deemed "awkward." All in all, it was a decent shoot, despite my feelings less than holly for him. Evidently, he, like I, just wanted to get the damn thing over with.
But he was back the next week. And the week after. And the week after that.
Each time, he would go get changed, and then we'd do the shoot. After the first two weeks, we developed the makings of a professional relationship. I supposed that we (me, mostly) realized that we'd be working together often and stopped complaining. Believe it or not, Colton was actually be bearable from time to time.
In the middle of one of the sessions where it was just the two of us rather than with other models or set workers, we decided to take a break for some food, since Kate, a fellow photographer and friend, brought in some leftovers she had from a banquet the night before.
We were making quick work of the crackers in silence until I asked the question that had been bothering me since the moment he stepped in for his first shoot:"Why are you modelling? I thought you were an engineer."
He looked away for a second and I thought he was going to ignore me, but his eyes dropped back down to mine and he sighed. "I was out with some friends last year and someone asked me I wanted to, but I turned her down. My sister's pretty sick and hospitals aren't exactly cheap. I called the girl and here I am."
"I'm sorry," I said, trying to sound sincere so he wouldn't think I was being sarcastic.
"Thanks." He gave me a genuine smile, and continued, "She's getting a lot better though; I think she'll be released soon."
I couldn't help but feel happy for him with him sounding that happy about his sister's improvement and especially when his hazel eyes gleamed like that.
Don't get me wrong, I mean, I didn't like the guy, but for heaven's sake, he was a model and very good-looking. Usually, his demeanor towards me was enough to ignore his appearance for as long as I've known him, but since we started working together, somewhat decent conversations did make me see him as a tad more attractive.
It was quiet for a moment before I spoke up. "I— I think it's a real sweet thing you're doing for her."
"Did you just say two nice things to me in less than five minutes?" he asked me, mocking incredulity.
"Now who's making rude quips?"
The corner of his mouth upturned in a way I'm sure he mistakenly thought was dashing."Come on, you walked right into that one." And just when I thought he wasn't all bad.
I crossed my arms and grumbled, "Fine then, I just won't be nice anymore."
"I was kidding."
"Whatever." I turned on my heel and walked out of the room. I tried to be nice and what did I get? Mockery.
Well, fuck him.
I glared, pressing the capture button on my camera. Colton came back onto the photo set silently a few seconds after me. The entire room was silent since it was just the two of us and I didn't want to speak to him. I took the rest of the pictures, glaring at him all the while. Every so often, I would see him roll his eyes at me, but I ignored it and kept snapping pictures in our lull of communication.
It wasn't as if we spoke much when he was here before, but I would at least give him instructions telling him where to stand, how to stand, to run a hand through his hair, things like that. But today it was like the Berlin Wall was dropped between us.
I thought it was going to stay that way, that is, until we started leaving.
"Look, I didn't mean to make you angry, okay?" he said when I reached the door. I couldn't tell if he was apologizing or not, so I just stayed silent. He continued on to say, "I'm sorry if it's such a surprise to me that after knowing you all this time, you've never said a single genuinely kind word to me until today, but it was."
"I've never said a single kind word to you because you gave me no reason to," I told him shortly.
He took a couple of steps toward me and narrowed his eyes. "You hate me more than Capulet hated Montague, and I gave you no reason to do that either."
"Yes, you did."
"Tell me, what did I do?" He crossed his arms and looked at me expectantly.
"Well, let's start with the second grade. You stole my best friend and told him I had cooties. He never spoke to me again."
"That was 15 years ago."
"In seventh grade," I continued, ignoring him, "you laughed when all of my pads fell out of my backpack."
Colton chuckled at the memory."Everyone laughed. It was a funny thing."
"That year, you gave me a box of pads for my birthday."
"Maybe that was a bit mean," he admitted. "But still: funny."
"In ninth grade you dated my best friend and made her ditch me." I took a breath to glower at him. "Then you broke her heart."
"I can't be blamed for that; she was obsessed."
"You always cheated off of me in Spanish. And when I told you to cut it out, I got my test taken away and you got an A."
"That's because I'm slick and you clearly are not."
"And in senior year, you're the one that spiked the punch with vodka at prom, which resulted in me waking up in some stranger's bed."
"Are you really blaming me for your drunken mistakes?"
"Could you stop trying to defend yourself?" I snapped when I couldn't think of any other specific instances. "You told me to tell you what you did, and I did."
"But none of your reasons are valid," he said with a laugh.
Colton shook his head, slightly exasperated at me. "Whatever. I have to head over to the hospital, so if that's all, I'll see you next week."
But Colton didn't show up the next week for his appointment like he said. I had to turn in pictures today to my editor today, and with him not here, there was no way I would be able to do that. And of course, it would be my ass on the line and not his. Hell if I was going to let that jackass get me in trouble.
I pulled his file from the office and called him, only to get his voice-mail all seven times. If he wasn't dead already, he sure would be once I was done with him. His address was on the file, and luckily, I knew exactly where it was.
Now, I normally didn't have road rage. But since I was dealing with Colton Foss, piss-off extraordinaire, I shouted at everyone that did something wrong from an old woman driving a bit slow to the idiot that didn't know what a turn signal was. The second I pulled up at his apartment complex, I tried calling him once more, which turned into the eighth call he didn't pick up. Fuming, I tore my way up to apartment 4D.
When I got there, however, I felt my anger slowly ebb away thanks to a small sticky note plastered to the door. It read:
Something's wrong with Anna. At the hospital.
"I thought he said that she was getting better," I said to myself with a sigh. For a few moments I pondered whether or not I should go track Colton down at the hospital. I decided that it be disgustingly rude for me to go a place I had no business of going to just so I wouldn't get yelled at, so instead, I sent my editor a text explaining Colton's absence and headed back to work.
At a knock on my door, I looked up. Colton stood under the doorway, hands shoved into his pockets, looking apologetic. I gestured at the chair on the other side of my desk and he sat down.
"It's okay." Colton stared at me as though I sprouted antennas out of my neck. "What?"
"I missed our thing yesterday and didn't even call to explain, and you, of all people, are okay with that?"
I gave him a half hearted chuckle. "I was mad at first. I called you and everything. But I drove to your apartment and saw the note that you left, so I decided to let it go."
"Oh," he said, scratching the back of his head, "well, thanks."
I was to snap at him to be decent and call next time, but the words that came out of my mouth were, "How is she? Anna, I mean."
Colton's shoulders slumped. "I don't even know anymore. I thought she was doing well, and yesterday she started puking again."
"If you don't mind my asking, what happened to her?"
"She had an appendicitis. It started off as just pain in her stomach and then she got a fever and starting puking and stuff. I tried to get her to go see a doctor, but she kept insisting that she was fine." He paused, shutting his eyes and taking a deep breath before he continued. "I brought her some soup, and to my surprise, there she was, lying unconscious on the floor. By the time she was checked into the hospital, her abdomen was infected because her appendix had already burst. There have been so many complications since then and I can't help but think that if I forced her to go see someone earlier, she'd be fine now."
"It—it wasn't your fault. You couldn't have known," I assured him, or at least I tried. It was crazy; I was feeling bad for a man I could not stand a mere two or three months ago.
Colton shrugged, then stood up. "Thanks. I'll see you Saturday."
For a split second as he walked out of the door, I wanted him to stay and talk more about his sister. But, realizing that I would be able to ask on Saturday, the desire was gone.
Oddly enough, I found myself slightly anticipating Saturday every so often throughout the week. I was dying to know how Anna was doing, regardless of the fact that I did not know her. When Colton walked in Saturday afternoon, he walked past me to get to the dressing rooms, but I stopped him, asking about her.
"How is she?"
"Pretty good. Thanks for asking."
"Thanks for sharing," I shot back with a half-smile.
When he came back out to start shooting, he complained, "Every time I go back there Sarah fixes my hair. Every. Damn. Time."
"She likes her men well-groomed," I explained with a laugh.
"…But I'm not her men."
Rephrasing, I said, "She hates it when guy's hair is messy."
"I hate my hair when it's neat!" he protested.
"I don't appreciate that mockery."
I rolled my eyes at him good-naturedly and told him to get his ass to the place he is supposed to stand. Our brief conversation seemed to be the first domino to fall in what was a great photo session. The two of us threw "rude quips," as Colton would call them, back and forth for the duration of the shoot, laughing at and with each other. Since we got off topic so often, we were taking pictures for four and a half hours instead of the usual three. I had to admit that while I was there for an hour and a half more than I should have been, and with Colton, no less, I did have a lot of fun.
The whole time though, I couldn't shake this one thought from my mind: maybe Colton wasn't that bad after all.
"Guess what?" I looked up to see Colton standing in my doorway with a huge smile on his face.
"Hmm, did you get a haircut or something?"
"Nope. Better." His grin got wider. "Anna was released from the hospital today!"
I stood up and walked toward him. I almost hugged him, but stopped when I realized it'd be a bit awkward, seeing as though we only started getting along three weeks ago. "That's great!"
He sobered a bit and said, "I thought that you should hear it from me so you don't come hunting me down again when I don't show up Saturday, but I think I'm done modelling."
"What? Why?" I inquired.
"With Anna out, I can go back to just having one job." Suddenly, the happiness I felt for Colton's sister faded. I didn't want him to go. There was a pseudo friendship that we built that I didn't want to just let go.
"So it looks like we won't be seeing each other anymore," I said, trying to hide my sadness. "There was a time when I would have been overjoyed to say that."
"But now?" he asked, his eyes boring into mine as he took a step toward me.
I felt the heat rise to my cheeks as I admitted, "Now I'm, not so sure."
"I mean, you could always come to dinner with me…" he trailed off uncertainly. It took me a few seconds to figure out what he was insinuating.
"Did you just ask me out?"
He scratched the back of his head and smiled sheepishly. "I mean, since you don't hate me anymore, I figured I may as well ask." I didn't say anything, still trying to work out what was happening in my head, when he spoke up again. "But, I mean, if you don't want to, it's cool."
"No, I want to," I replied almost immediately. I thought about it for a few seconds after it left my mouth and weirdly enough, I didn't want to take back what I said. It was a bittersweet thing, accepting Colton's offer.
There were the pros, of course. I was going on a date for the first time in far too long, so my mother would probably stay off my back in a while. The two of us wouldn't stop seeing each other completely, despite the fact that we didn't work together once a week anymore. And of course, I could officially say that I was going on a date with a male model. Well, former male model, but still.
But then again, I was never really a fan of being proved wrong.
I mean who knows, if I was that wrong about Colton in the first place, maybe something good could work.