Authors: Rachel Van Dyken
Tags: #seaside, #rock star, #contemporary romance, #new adult
It always took a few seconds for it to click with the commoners. They’d look at me, then back at my passport, then back at me, then back at the passport. This usually went on for about five minutes, all the while with the smile frozen on their faces and the sweat started pouring from their temples.
“Uh, Jamie Jaymeson?” the attendant said.
“Yes?” I answered.
“It looks like…”
Click, click, click.
Her nails tapped at amazing speed across the keyboard. “You’re in the first class cabin. The flight into Portland will be boarding at 10:55. If there is anything…” Leaning forward, so her breasts seemed to kiss her keyboard, she sighed. “And I do mean anything you need, let me know. I will personally be sure to take care of it.”
Of course she would — I was a celebrity. I could ask her to clip my toenails and she’d probably save them and sell them on eBay. I tilted my head and examined her.
She was pretty.
You know, if you were into fifty year old cougars with lazy eyes. But I was done with making an ass out of myself. So I thanked her, touched her hand, gave her a solid wink, and made my way toward security.
Airport travel was always a toss up. Either I (A) made it through security without being noticed, or (B) was chased down the corridor and had to hide in the bathroom until someone came and found me.
Maybe I was feeling lucky, but I was hoping for option A.
I stood in line for security and checked my cell.
Demetri and Alec had yet to text me back. Bastards.
Sighing, I went to text them again just as someone bumped into my arm.
“Sorry,” the soft feminine voice said.
I looked up and paused. Her eyes were a golden brown. The type of brown that looked odd against dark skin, it was almost chocolate but not dark enough to blend in with her pupils. I must have been staring because she cleared her throat.
I shook my head and waved her off. “It’s cool.”
“Well, as long as it’s cool,” she murmured.
“Pardon?” I turned.
“Uh…” Her cheeks stained pink. “Nothing. Sorry, just talking to myself, nervous habit.”
Grinning, I leaned in. “You have a reason to be nervous?”
Her eyes left mine as she slowly checked me out, shoes to head, and then very simply said, “Nope.”
What the freaking hell? I glared, slightly irritated that she didn’t pause or at least blush. She was shitting me, right? Did she freaking know who I was? I jerked off my sunglasses and gave her the stare. You know, the one that literally causes a teenage scream to echo throughout the known universe, making parents want to stab me with sharp objects.
Not even crickets.
“Do you know who I am?” I asked… possibly with more than a little arrogance.
“You having trouble remembering your name or something?” She put her stuff on the conveyor belt and laughed. Yup, laughed at me.
“Of course not.” I snorted. “You know what, never mind.” I waved her off again just as I took off my jacket and put it in the bin. I put my new Rolex in one of the smaller trays, took off my Mark Nason boots and stomped through security, only to have the annoying as hell alarm go off.
Groaning, I stepped back out as the man with the giant torture stick examined me. It beeped when it went across the button of my jeans.
“Probably my button,” I said.
The girl who I’d just been talking to sighed and crossed her arms. Right, I knew I was holding up the line, I wasn’t an idiot, but I couldn’t control the stupid security guy with a power trip.
“Sir,” said the TSA dude with a nod toward my waist. “You can either strip here or strip in a private room. Either way, you need to take off the pants.”
“You’re joking, right?” I laughed. “Am I being Punk’d or something? What the hell?”
“No, sir, this is not a joke. Take off the pants.”
I looked back at the man and swore.
Was this legal? I mean, I flew all the time, I’d never had to take off my pants before.
“Sir…” The man groaned. “People are waiting. Just take off your damn pants and you can be on your way.”
My agent’s warnings went off like an alarm in my brain. I had to be the good guy, not the ass. With a smile that felt so cheesy I wanted to shoot myself, I nodded and began taking off my damn pants in the middle of LAX. Ten bucks said I’d make the nightly news.
Once my jeans were at my ankles. The guy nodded. He scanned my shirt and it beeped. What the hell it hadn’t beeped before? I gave him a helpless look as he sighed and crossed his arms. “Shirt too, I’m afraid.”
“What the hell, man?”
He was immobile. Just stared. By now people were going into different lines to avoid my strip tease.
I quickly pulled the shirt over my head.
I was officially standing in nothing but black Diesel boxer briefs in the middle of LAX. Really what else could go wrong?
And then I heard laughter.
A camera crew came flying at me, followed by Demetri and Alec.
Son of a bitch!
I should have yelled, but all I could do was laugh my ass off as I pulled up my pants and shook my head.
“You…” Alec said as he slapped me on the shoulder. “Have officially been Punk’d.”
I shook my head and looked at the camera saying, “Hi, I’m Jamie Jaymeson and I’ve been Punk’d”
The crew continued filming while I punched Demetri in the arm and rolled my eyes at Alec. We quickly walked through security as tons of cameras went off.
“Hold up.” I grabbed my belongings and followed them through the airport. LA was cool like that. For the most part, people stared and they took pictures, but they never really approached that much — especially if you were with an entourage. Now that Demetri and Alec had shown up though, I knew it was only a matter of time before the three of us were trending on Twitter.
“Hilarious,” I said once we were in the Delta Airlines Club Room.
“I almost pissed myself, I laughed so hard.” Demetri plopped into the large leather chair and spread his arms behind his head “We’ve been planning it for weeks but with the tour and stuff, it started to look like it might not happen, then your agent called and—”
“My agent called to tell you what exactly? That my life was over if I didn’t stop sleeping around? Great to know he’s got my back with the secrecy.”
“Hey!” Alec held up his hands. “Not to be an ass, but he said it would help further the whole innocent thing, you stripping at the airport looking all innocent while people took your picture. Humiliating. You’re welcome.”
“Haven’t you guys done enough to me?” I got up from my seat and grabbed a bottle of beer before sitting back down. “I mean I have exactly two months to clean up my act. The decision’s going to be made, and I want that part. Thanks to you two, my entire whorish escapades were filmed this last summer for the world to see. Apparently,” I said, shrugging. “I’m a whore-addicted Neanderthal.”
“Who uses that word anymore?” Demetri asked. “And not that it matters, but you agreed to the reality show. Not our fault you decided to use it as a platform for beating the Guinness world record for how many girls you could sleep with at once.”
“Whatever.” I picked at the label on the bottle. “I just want to make movies.”
“Then play nice,” Alec said. “Do the little dance they want you to do, let the puppet play you, and move on. It’s only two months, and Seaside is really nice this time of year.”
“If you say nice one more time I’m going to break my beer bottle on your head.” I groaned. “And it’s not nice. Seaside is anything but nice. I seem to remember two rock stars texting me like crazy when they had to move there for the summer, and I don’t get a partner in crime. Nope, it’s just me.”
“Shit.” I rested my head against the chair and closed my eyes. “I really have to do this, don’t I?”
“It would be best for your career,” Alec said seriously. “Besides, you’re already at the airport.”
“And let’s be honest — Seaside is the best place to find your future girl.”
At that I laughed and opened my eyes. “Still stuck on that, huh? I’m not a one-girl man. I’m just not made that way. I like things in pairs, or multiples if at all possible. One girl for the rest of my life? Holy shit, shoot me now.” I shook my head. “Not happening. Ever.”
“He’s going to be eighty and still hitting on chicks at clubs.” Demetri elbowed Alec.
Alec grinned. “A bet.”
“Huh?” Demetri asked.
Oh no. I knew that look. Stupid Alec.
“A bet.” Alec cleared his throat. “I bet you fall for a girl within the next two months.”
“I second that bet.” Demetri winked.
“Holy crap, it’s like you guys are putting a hex on me.” I shuddered and looked away. “Stop it, seriously. Not happening. Have you ever seen me in a relationship? Ever?”
They both shook their heads.
“My point exactly, I wouldn’t even know what to do.”
“It’s called dating.” Alec said it slowly like I was a two-year-old learning how to walk.
“Thanks, jackass.” I threw part of the beer label I’d been twisting in my fingers at his face.
“The role you want…” Demetri cleared his throat, all humor leaving. “It’s that new one about first love?”
“Yeah…” I said slowly. “Why?”
“You need to experience heartbreak in order to play it.”
“Not true,” I argued. “I’ve never been homeless, but I can play the shit out of a homeless guy.”
Alec chuckled. “What Demetri’s trying to say is that you can’t play heartbreak if you’ve never experienced it because it’s different than playing a part. When your heart breaks — when you lose something you want to win — it changes your world. You, my friend…” He pointed directly at me. “…have never been thrown off. You’ve experienced family drama, but you don’t know what it’s like to yearn for someone’s touch, to want them to want you so much that you’d die just for one taste…” He shrugged. “You don’t know that feeling. You don’t even know what it’s like to steal the innocence straight from a girl’s lips. You have to feel it to play it, that’s all I’m saying. You can change your image all you want, but that audition won’t be yours until you know what it’s like to get your earth completely and totally shattered.”
I kept my mocking smile firmly in place, when really my heart was damn near going to pound straight out of my chest. I’d drunk innocence directly from a girl’s lips. I’d tasted purity and ever since I’d nearly gone insane with want for it.
My mind replayed images of that night with Priscilla — the night I told myself I’d just satisfy my own stupid curiosity, only to find that it did nothing but start a burning fire in my soul for more of what I knew she could offer. I’d screwed it up by forcing her to think I didn’t care. It had been the only way, because the minute her body responded to my touch, I’d realized why I didn’t do relationships. Why I didn’t do first kisses and white picket fences.
Most endings weren’t the fairy tale. I knew that first hand. And Priscilla? She’d looked at me as if I’d freaking climbed an ivory tower and slain the dragon for her, not even realizing that I wasn’t the savior, but a wolf in sheep’s clothing. I was the damn dragon and I wanted nothing more than to destroy everything good about her — allow her to fill my loneliness with her smile.
“Hey, you okay?” Alec squinted in my direction while he and Demetri exchanged a glance.
“Just starving.” I shrugged, my voice croaking. “I should probably get something to eat before I catch my flight.”
“Okay.” Alec rose. “But think about what I said, alright?”
No chance in hell I’d be able to do anything but think about what he’d said, the bastard.
“I’ll try.” I gave him a tight smile.
Alec’s words haunted me the entire flight. I wanted to freaking bash my head against the wall; I was irritated that his little speech had affected me so much. I mean, who the hell cared? I could play anything! I’d be whatever they wanted me to be. I’d screw whomever I needed to screw. I just wanted the damn part.
The problem with Alec and Demetri? They were hopelessly in love; they saw things through a different lens, a clouded one, to be exact. Mine was clear, and my goal was clear. Clean up my image, get the part, do what I love. The End. It wasn’t selfish. How could bettering myself be selfish? It was doing what I was passionate about. It was making people smile, making them happy while making myself happy.
I fought the guilt and ordered another small bottle of whiskey. It was the last one; it had to be, because I wasn’t entirely sure I’d have a car waiting for me or if I’d have to rent one to drive all the way to Hell.
I wasn’t taking any chances.
The last thing I needed was a DUI.
“You traveling for business or pleasure?” the elderly lady next to me asked, totally interrupting my thoughts.
“Business,” I said, not making eye contact lest she start screaming my name and ask me to sign her bra.
“All pleasure on my end.” She elbowed me. “I’m going to one of those fancy resorts on the coast.”
“Lovely.” I cleared my throat and tried to look interested in the magazine in my lap.
“Oh it is. Seaside’s wonderful this time of year.”
“Seaside?” I snorted. “Wonderful?”
“Oh yes.” She sighed, “My honey and I used to take long walks on that beach, camp out in the sand at midnight.” She shivered. “Kiss under the stars.”
She kept reminiscing.
And I kept staring at the magazine. Praying my mind would — at some point in my life — rid itself of the memory of Priscilla’s kiss.
Everything about her that made my heart clench in my chest. Funny how one girl, one moment can change your life forever. She probably hated me.
And I couldn’t blame her.
But it was easier to hate someone than deal with having a broken heart. And I knew it was best. What I did was for both of us. But mainly, it was for her. She was lucky I rejected her.
“Do you have a girlfriend?” the chatty woman asked.
“No. I don’t.”