Nonchalantly I rolled my eyes and slowly got up. Tucking the Sony Reader in the back of my jeans again, I exaggeratingly clapped my hands, but he just continued to look down at me intently. I held my hands out like, what? Looking up at him, I then glanced over at Lizzie who was fuming and then to Riley who wouldn’t even make eye contact with me.
“Let us borrow just a moment of your time,” Hawkins said sarcastically into the microphone as the crowd roared to life.
“Anytime!” I heard a girl yell behind me while I bit my lip nervously.
“Whenever you’re done reading the chapter,” he held up his hand like take your time, “we’ll start the concert.” With a quick flip of my wrist I gave him the middle finger. He threw his head back and laughed.
Smiling at me, he turned around to face Blakely. He cocked his shoulders back to adjust the strap of his guitar and paused to compose himself before he hit the first chord. The lights on the stage flashed up above and the crowd roared excitedly again. Hawkins grabbed onto the microphone and sang, “Love in an elevator, livin’ it up when it’s goin’ down.”
Riley nudged me and mouthed, “Oh, my god!”
“What?” I mouthed back over the loud music, but he just widened his eyes at the stage then looked back at me.
I looked up at Hawkins, who locked eyes with mine as he sang, “Love in an elevator, lovin’ it up, til I hit the ground.”
There was an edge of sarcasm in his voice as he sang the song when it suddenly hit me that he was singing about
elevator ride. It didn’t exactly sound like love in an elevator as much as it sounded like pure torture. I didn’t understand why he would make such a big deal out of this? What happened to forgive and forget?
Lizzie darted a sideways glance over at me as Hawkins continued to give me his undivided attention. I swear it was the only time the girl had ever sized me up though I wanted to laugh because Hawkins was really only up to his usual belittling antics. She definitely must have thought it was serious since she discreetly took both backstage passes with her at the end of the night. After the concert was over, she assured us, “Don’t wait up.”
“So that was some elevator ride, huh?” Riley swung an arm over my shoulder as we exited the amphitheater.
“It was really not that big of a deal.”
“Hawkins seems to think otherwise.”
“He was just trying to irk me like usual.”
, so what really happened?” Riley teased as he tugged my shoulder. “Huh?”
“Nothing, I promise you. We just made an agreement.” If anything, I remembered feeling a little harassed in the elevator, not exactly taken with him.
“Sounds like Hawkins has a little crush,” Riley continued.
“I don’t think Hawkins has a chance against Lizzie. When she decides that she wants something or someone, Lizzie doesn’t let anything get in her way.”
“I’m not so sure.” Riley looked at me with a crooked little grin across his face. “A guy like Hawkins is looking for the exceptional.” He winked. “Someone to keep him intrigued, a girl with substance.”
As enthralling as Riley’s theory was, I had been down this road before with Jake. Hot, arrogant guys remain arrogant and the hot factor slowly disappears because of it.
“Where’s our next concert, again?” I tried to change the subject.
“Oh…possibly in your bedroom,” he started to sing. “Love in an elevator.”
“Shut it.” I playfully slapped him.
“Ah, huh,” he said to himself. “I can’t wait to see how this all plays out.”
Two seconds later, I heard a loud beep before he flipped open his phone and looked down at the text. He snapped the phone shut. “Lizzie’s going to their hotel.”
“Wow, that was quick.”
,” he emphasized. “Next time I’ll just pretend that it’s me he’s singing to. You know his
fan base. Don’t be surprised if I get one of those Stalking Hawkins t-shirts.”
That made me smile as we got in the van. “So will it be a hotel or Walmart tonight?” I asked.
Not letting me get off the hook that easily he continued, “Say hello to Stalking,” his left pec flexed, “Hawkins,” his right pec flexed. Soon he had both of them going up and down as I laughed.
“Oh, shit, you’re better at that than Lizzie.”
“Damn straight,” he quipped.
I noticed the traffic was starting to move more speedily than usual as I started the van and pulled out of the parking space. We were freshly showered and had slept in a hotel last night so we decided to rough it. We found a vacant grocery store near the highway. Riley and I fought over the bed sheet until I won. Tossing back and forth in a restless semi-sleep, I reasoned that Hawkins couldn’t be that much different than Jake; no matter what Riley insisted. Picturing Hawkins singing to me at the concert, full of conceit and arrogance, left no doubt in my mind. Sighing to myself, I thought how much I hated these games.
Riley continued to snore loudly beside me so I shouldn’t have been able to hear what I thought were footsteps approaching the van. Lifting my head slightly, I glanced through the back window where the curtains didn’t block my view of the outside. But all I saw was the wash of fluorescent light cascading down on the empty parking lot.
After several minutes of silence, I thought maybe all this Hawkins drama was too much excitement for one night and rolled over on my other side. Staring at the back of Riley slumped over beside me, I thought about how nice it was to have a guy around. I couldn’t imagine doing this alone. Sighing to myself, I rolled over on my back again when suddenly my heart caught in my chest. I saw the silhouette of a tall man leaning against the window trying to catch a glimpse of us through the side curtains. Shrinking back from the window and into Riley, I screamed out loud causing Riley to jolt awake and the man to run. Grabbing up the sheet like it was some kind of barrier, Riley asked, “What is it?”
“Someone is outside,” I whispered. Riley reached across and pushed back the side curtain. “I don’t see anyone,” he croaked in his dazed state as he looked back and forth. “Are you sure, Joie?”
“Yes,” I hissed.
“What was he doing?”
“I could only make out his silhouette through the curtains, but I think he was trying to look in on us.”
Heaving a heavy sigh, Riley continued, “I guess we’re going to have to find another place to sleep tonight?”
“Umm, yeah, like now,” I stressed, quickly jumping up, I got behind the wheel and the van roared to life. Glancing out at the almost empty parking lot, my eyes rested on the nearby woods. Shivering, I rammed the gear into place and sped off.
4. THE AGREEMENT
My body jerked awake as the van hit a couple of bumps on the highway. Groaning, I rolled over to look up at Riley who was driving the van. Must have finally fallen asleep after last night’s peeping Tom incident, I realized.
“Good afternoon,” Riley called over his shoulder.
“What time is it?”
“Time to get up!” I was startled when Lizzie turned around in the passenger seat.
I pulled the sheet up over my head in protest.
“Look, you made front page news,” she sang while throwing a magazine over my head. “You finally have something to comment about now.”
Recoiling from the unexpected blow, I reached out for the magazine and pulled it under the sheet with me. There, on the cover of one of those gossip magazines was Hawkins with two girls on his left and one on his right: a brunette, a redhead, and a blonde. I read the headline, “Hawkins puts the rumors to rest that he only prefers blondes.”
“Ha!” I threw the sheet off me for a much needed, whole hearted laugh.
“There’s a picture of me on the inside,” Lizzie gushed.
“Oh, hell.” Flipping through a couple of pages of the magazine, I came across an article about Hawkins. On the page was a photo of Lizzie from the blog. There was also another photo of the girls from the cover, capturing them laughing hysterically at something Hawkins probably did not say.
The article read, “Hawkins claims that Lizzie McIntyre, otherwise known as Not Stalking Hawkins, is a mentally disturbed, delusional fan who he has never met. Just a groupie who is riding on his coat tails while seeking the attention that follows The Grimm Brothers Band each summer tour.”
“Oh, that arrogant son of,” I mumbled.
“Keep reading, it only gets better.” Lizzie smacked her bubble gum.
“Meanwhile, a source close to the band claims that Hawkins and the girl in question
met before and on more than one occasion, including a late night rendezvous at his hotel that ended badly. After seeing him at the Milo Club adorned with girls of every shade of hair color, one can only wonder if Lizzie McIntyre is just suffering from ‘scorned pride.’”
“Ha!” I exclaimed.
“Hawkins, wanting to put a stop to the rumors, stated, ‘Her fifteen minutes of fame is definitely up.’ Others believe that it’s a marketing strategy timed precisely when The Grimm Brothers Band sales are at an all-time low. This love affair, whether real or not, was the most sought after news this week according to the Google website polls.”
I looked up from the article. “Mentally disturbed groupie? My fifteen minutes of fame? And apparently I’m still hooking up with him?!”
“You’re a busy girl.” Riley snickered.
“Did you see my picture?” Lizzie asked excitedly while bouncing in her seat. “I’m going to have to go shopping if I’m going to be seen in magazines.”
I snarled in response then my cell phone went off. The word “Mom” flashed on the screen.
“Holy shit, who told her?!”
“Told who?” Riley asked.
“My mom,” I squeaked. “Who told my mom about this?!”
“Not me,” Riley insisted.
“God, I have more important people to tell,” she said while blowing kisses at the sun visor vanity mirror.
the mental one?” I exclaimed, before answering my cell.
“Hi Mom,” I said, speaking in an overly chipper tone for someone who had just woken up to an embarrassingly detailed article intended to smear her character.
“Where are you?” my mom asked.
“Where am I?” I asked rhetorically so Riley could hear.
And I repeated without thinking, “Virginia Beach, Mom.” Grimacing as soon as I said it, anything with beach connected to it sounded like I was goofing off and
figuring out what I was going to do with my life.
“I don’t understand,” my mom said with an edge. “How do you get college credit for going to Virginia Beach?”
“It’s like studying abroad without the abroad part.” I winced.
“Smooth.” Riley’s shoulders shook with laughter.
“Sounds like a load of shit, Josephine, what are you really doing?”
Rubbing my face with my hand I said, “The truth is, Mom.”
“The truth is…” I was grasping for straws when I just happened to look down at the magazine. “The truth is that I got a summer job.”
“YES!” Lizzie shouted from up front.
“What?” My mom asked.
I could tell that my mom believed this even less than the abroad class.
“No, it’s true. I’m writing for a website.”
“A website for what?” I looked down at the cover of Hawkins who was surrounded by girls.
“A political party for the upcoming election in the fall.”
“When have you ever cared about politics?”
As of two seconds ago.
“Wow, Mom, I thought that you would be happy to hear the news. That I’m doing something with my life.”
“I am,” she said earnestly. “It’s just so unexpected. Whose campaign are you working for anyway?”
“Whose campaign?” I emphasized, looking at Riley for help. “Well, the democrat of course.”
“Which democrat?” My mom was starting to smell the fear in me from over two hundred miles away. I could tell that my story was hanging in the balance with the answer to this question.
“Johnson,” Riley whispered.
Oh, thank god.
“Johnson,” I said.
Nicholas Johnson.” She was awe struck.
one,” I said.
“How did you hear about this job?”
“Through a friend,” I said vaguely. “I heard that they were hiring so I filled out an application on the website and then they contacted me. It sounded like a great way to see the country as well.”
“I don’t agree with his health care policy.” She found the only negative thing to comment on.
“His wife is—” my mom began to say, but I knew this was only going to lead to more questions that I didn’t have answers for.
“Mom, umm, I have to go,” I interrupted her. “We’re on the move.” Saying it like they do in the movies, I noticed Riley was shaking from laughter again.
“Well, take care of yourself,” she said. “You’re not going to any protest rallies, are you?”
“Good,” she said. “I would hate to see you splattered across the front page of the newspaper while making an embarrassing spectacle of yourself. That kind of stuff follows people for years!”
“That would be bad,” I said, flipping over the cover of the magazine with Hawkins on it. “Love you.”
“Love you too, honey.”
I felt horrible for lying to my mom as the call ended, but she was absolutely not going to like hearing the truth. Dropping the cell phone on the floor, I rolled over and pulled the sheet up over my head once more.