It was the night of our date. THE date with James. For some reason I had knots on top of knots forming in my stomach. I had no clue why I was so nervous. He wasn’t going to be the man of my dreams like everyone on the stinking planet seemed to think. And poor Charlie. I died ten thousand deaths when I had to tell him about my date. But he took it so well, my heart melted. I was determined this would be the last of Jenny pleading with me to go out with her brother and the Sisterhood would be proven wrong, too.
Then Charlie and I could sail off into a Heartthrob sunset.
Domina gave me some last minute advice. “Make sure to take mace with you because I’ve heard his fans will hunt down any girl he’s with.”
Rolling my eyes and laughing, I said, “Gee, thanks, Dom. Way to make me feel gushy about this date.”
“Always happy to help.”
“I hope you have fun tonight, Lex,” Kate said. “You deserve to be happy.”
“Hey, thanks. But guys, this is just one date. It’s not going anywhere. I like Charlie, remember?”
Reese and Copper started giggling with each other.
“Do you think we should name our first child after James, babe?” Reese asked Copper.
“I do! James if its a boy and James Ann is it’s a girl.”
I shook my head. Flamers.
Normally, dating a girl was no big deal. Before the Heartthrobs, I had a few girlfriends. Well, more than a few. But fast forward to superstardom and my only choices were to date bubbleheaded golddiggers, conceited narcissistic actresses, or crazy groupies. In order to deal, I gave up the scene and hid. Meeting Lexie changed my world.
When she answered the door, I lost my breath. “Hi,” I said, clumsily, getting caught in her eyes. She was absolutely stunning. And tonight, I could finally be myself.
“Hello, um…so, you’re James?” she asked with a twinkle in her eye.
I nodded, so shell shocked I couldn’t find my words.
She waved. “I’m Lexie.” Her cheeks turned a nice shade of pink that rippled down her neck. I felt a twinge of awkwardness.
Glancing at the china rose I’d bought at Tiffany’s on the way over, she asked, “Oh, is that a flower?”
I raised it and said, “Um, yeah…it’s for you. I thought you might want something that didn’t die in a few days.”
“That’s…different. But nice! Thank you.”
She stood there, her plump and perfect lips twisting in that coy way I’d grown to love.
Blinking, she asked, “Um…are you…going to give it to me? Or do you want to keep it as a pretty accessory? The red does enhance the blue of your eyes.”
“Oh…shit…um…sorry.” I pushed the rose into her hands, my face burning. Damn, I was out of practice.
James seemed so nervous, he made me nervous. It was totally weird. Like I was on a date with Jenny only cut the hair, get rid of the gobs of makeup, and deepen the voice. But Jenny was always so relaxed around me. And fun. James was way more distant. Sort of how you’d think a superstar might act. It wasn’t as if he was snobby, but…he didn’t talk much. I must have started a conversation five times, and he’d just stare and give me short answers. Sooo wasn’t looking forward to him meeting my family. My father was going to eat this poor guy alive. And Uncle Beau? Oh my god…it was going to be a cringefest. My cheeks were red just thinking about it.
Because James would get mobbed if we went out normally, he’d rented out Rainbow Park. Had no clue anyone COULD rent out a park, but there you go. I guessed if you were James Sanderson, it was possible.
“S-So, do you want some coffee?” he asked as we wandered around and found what usually was the coffeehouse but it was like a ghosttown with no employees.
“Yeah, I guess. Do you know how to use an espresso machine?”
He shook his head. “My assistants usually get coffee for me.”
“Yeah. Kind of figured that.” I chewed on my thumb, trying to think back to my college days when I learned how to become a barista for a day at Geek Con. It was years ago, so I had to rinse off the cobwebs in order to remember. “I could take a stab at it, I guess. I’m dying to eat one of those pastries with some coffee. Just don’t tell my grandfather because he wants me to try his barbecue tofu.”
“Barbecue tofu? You mean, we’re not eating chicken or steak?”
“Oh yeah, I forgot to mention this. You’re vegan.”
“Uh…I don’t remember ever being vegan,” he said, brushing his hands over his face.
“Well, you are. Hope you don’t mind.”
“No…not a strange order at all…I guess I’m vegan then.”
I laughed. He had a subtle sense of humor. I liked it.
I didn’t know what the hell I was doing. For some reason my mouth wouldn’t work like it was supposed to. All I wanted to do was stare at how beautiful Lexie was tonight. She went out of her way to dress just for me. It was so cute. I knew she hated wearing a lot of make up and styling her hair like that bothered her because strands of hair would get stuck to her lip gloss.
She gave me a sidelong glance. “What’s so funny?”
I couldn’t tell her I could see some of those strands caught on her lips right now. “Nothing.”
“Come on…out with it. You’re just like your sister. She’d always laugh at me, too. What’s up? Do I have a panty line showing? Spinach on my teeth? Toilet paper hanging out of my pants?”
I came over and pulled the strands from her lips, tucking her hair behind an ear. “There. Is that better?” I asked.
“God, thank you. I was too embarrassed to touch my face while I was making this stuff. I hate long hair. I think I’m going to cut it all off.”
I shrugged. “You’d look good in any hair style. You should wear it how you like.”
Handing me a cup, she grinned. “That’s not what Jenny says. She told me your dates are ‘sophisticated’.” She put a hand up in air quotes.
I sat down. I hated when she’d reference “my sister”. It underscored how fucked up this all was and how I’d dug my grave with her. I could only pray she’d take the truth well. I planned on telling her at the end of the night or when the time was right. Whichever came first.
“Maybe you shouldn’t listen to Jenny and do what you want,” I said.
She wobbled her head in amazement. “Wow. You’re nothing like I thought you’d be.”
I sipped on the delicious nutty coffee then asked, “How’d you think I’d be?”
“To be honest, I thought you were going to be some stuck up diva with a stick up his ass. No offense.”
“And you don’t think that now?”
Shrugging, she threw on a teasing grin. “The jury’s still out on that one, but it’s looking good you’re just a normal guy.”
“Normal?” I sipped my coffee then said, “I’m anything but.”
She laughed at my joke.