His lips were on mine for all of two seconds before my defences kicked in, literally.
‘Shit,’ he howled, biting my lip as he pulled away, clutching at his boyhood.
‘You bit me,’ I complained, gently prodding my lip to check for blood. He didn’t reply but instead shot me a dirty look before he clenched his eyes in pain. ‘You better hope it doesn’t swell, pretty boy.’ I grumbled, walking over to the tiny brass mirror hanging beside my overstuffed bookshelf.
‘Are you kidding me?’ He groaned, stumbling over to my bed and making himself at home. He was still clutching at his groin and breathing heavily.
‘Cry baby,’ I muttered before I turned back to face him.
‘Cry baby? You f-’
‘Language,’ I scolded, placing my hands on my hips and raising my eyebrows. He muttered something incomprehensible under his breath and I could only assume it wasn’t PG rated. It seemed pretty boy had a foul mouth.
‘Why did you do that?’ He demanded, shifting uncomfortably on my bed.
‘Why did you think you could kiss me?’ I challenged, tapping my foot impatiently.
‘You wanted it,’ he scoffed, only causing my eyes to narrow.
‘I wanted that kiss about as much as you wanted my knee to your crotch.’ I fumed. ‘Are you so conceited as to believe that any woman with a pulse wants a kiss from you?’ I demanded and when he offered no reply I felt my eyebrows shoot up in shock. He shifted on the bed again, his face showing his discomfort but I didn’t think it was from my knee.
When he continued to remain silent I didn’t bother to stop the laughter that escaped me.
‘Oh my goodness,’ I gasped, clutching at my stomach as it cramped with laughter. ‘You really believe every woman wants you.’ I wasn’t sure he could understand me through my laughter but his next remark only confirmed that he got the general gist.
‘Not every woman,’ he mumbled defensively. When I continued to laugh he got to his feet, readjusting his pants and shuffling around me and out of the room. He truly was a sorry sight.
When I was able to finally catch my breath, I wiped the tears gathering in my eyes and followed after him.
‘Superstar,’ I sighed, trying not to laugh as he hobbled down our short hallway. ‘Hang on, I’ll get you some ice, just take a seat.’ I motioned towards our shabby couch whilst fighting the urge to roll my eyes.
Gingerly, he made his way over to it as I grabbed the remaining wads of cash in our freezer and wrapped them in the last of our paper towels.
‘Thanks,’ he mumbled, taking the offered ice-cash and applying it to his...afflicted region. Rolling my eyes, I sat across from him on our crate coffee table.
‘So, superstar, is this how you saw our night going?’ I smirked, revelling slightly in the glare he shot me.
‘Is that how you react to every guy that kisses you?’
‘No, just the entitled, conceited, jerks.’ I shrugged, leaning back on the table.
‘You’re unbelievable,’ he muttered.
‘Thank you,’ I smiled proudly, knowing full well he didn’t mean it as a compliment. He was about to say something else when the front door opened and my weary roommate walked through, dragging her feet behind her.
‘Annie?’ She called out, kicking her shoes off at the door. ‘You would not be-’ She froze mid sentence when she spotted the movie star sitting on our couch, still clutching his nether regions.
‘Hey Sarah,’ I smirked as she stared, open-mouthed, at Xander.
‘Sarah, this is Xander,’ I introduced. ‘Xander, this is my roommate, Sarah.’
‘Hey,’ Xander grumbled before he looked down to glare accusingly at his shoes. Without his eyes on her, it seemed Sarah was able to compose herself enough to scowl at me.
‘Roommate meeting,’ she hissed, nodding her head in the direction of the kitchen. ‘Now.’
Sighing, I patted Xander on the knee telling him I would be right back before I followed my angry roommate.
‘Why didn’t you warn me he was going to be here?’ She hissed, grabbing my arm and pulling me close. ‘I have twelve hours of caked on sweat covering me. As well as pasta on my shirt and I think a baby spit up on my shoulder. Why didn’t you text me?’
‘Oh, I don’t know Annie. Your phone.’ She growled.
‘He still has my phone,’ I deadpanned. ‘And my wallet and my keys and my school ID. They’ll probably want that back.’ I mused, not really intending to make that trip.
‘What? Why would the school want your ID back?’ She frowned, casting a quick look at Xander over my shoulder.
‘Well, generally when you get fired they-’
‘You got fired? Why?’ She screeched and I reflexively covered my ears against the noise.
‘Apparently, I bring too much press and baggage with me.’ I shrugged trying to downplay my devastation.
‘They can’t do that.’
‘And yet, they did.’ I answered bitterly. ‘But, it’s fine. I mean, they’re right. It’s not safe for me to be around the kids.’
‘What are you talking about?’ She demanded, gripping my shoulders so I would look at her. ‘You love teaching.’
‘I know,’ I sighed. ‘But, right now, I don’t think it’s an option.’ I frowned, looking over at Xander who was pretending not to listen to our conversation.
‘So, they just fired you because the world thinks you’re going out with a movie star?’ She asked, shooting a glare over at Xander. I tried to hide the smirk on my face because I knew she was his number one fan.
‘Look, it’s fine Sarah. I’ll just start looking for another job tomorrow. Maybe some of the schools haven’t heard about him yet,’ I shrugged but even I could hear the hopelessness in my tone.
‘This isn’t fair, you did nothing wrong. He did,’ she growled and before I could stop her she was marching over to Xander. She looked ferocious when she was angry.
‘How dare you,’ she accused, jabbing a finger in his chest. When I walked over to see his startled face, I almost doubled over. ‘My friend is the best teacher in New York City and you ruined that for her.’
‘You don’t get to speak. You get to listen. Now, I will be the first to admit that I thought having a best friend dating a superstar would be amazing. I mean it was going to be awesome. She was going to get me into all the exclusive clubs, all the high-end restaurants and eventually, I would meet a guy, marry him and never have to serve another coffee again but you’re...you’re an ass.’
‘You know? You’re not the first person to call me that,’ he shrugged. ‘And I highly doubt you’ll be the last.’
‘Do you even care?’ I demanded, growing angry with his nonchalant attitude.
‘Of course, I care,’ he began, getting to his feet and moving to stand in front of me. ‘I care that you get in that dress so we have a chance to make our reservation. My publicist informed the paparazzi that we were going to be there.’
‘You’re impossible,’ I fumed, taking several steps away from him. ‘Are you even trying to understand where I am coming from? You’re an actor, you put yourself in other people’s shoes for a living. Why is this so hard for you?’
‘I don’t think his ego would fit in your shoes, Annie,’ Sarah scoffed. ‘You are nothing like what I thought you would be.’ She pouted, crossing her arms over her chest in disappointment. The poor girl was her fantasy world shattered by reality.
‘At least my ego earns me millions,’ he retorted and I couldn’t stop my eye roll. This man was unbelievable.
‘I didn’t want to earn millions, movie star,’ I grumbled. ‘All I wanted to do was educate children.’
‘Look, Annie,’ he started but I was through listening. Instead, I spun on my heel and made for the door. ‘Where are you going?’
‘Annie-’ Sarah called but I was already out the door and halfway down the stairs before she could say anything else.
When I pushed the door open to the street I immediately regretted it.
‘Shoot,’ I muttered, shielding my eyes as the flashes went off. How could I have forgotten about the permanent fixtures camping outside my apartment?
‘Annie, over here,’ one of them shouted. ‘Where’s your boyfriend?’ ‘Is it true you’ve been fired?’
How do they even know that? I thought, trying to push through the crowd.
‘Hey,’ I nearly shouted, pushing at the hand that had grabbed my wrist. ‘What are you doing?’
‘Give us a smile, princess,’ I shuddered from the photographer’s touch. His clammy hands slid across my skin whilst his camera was pushed in my face.
‘Let go,’ I hissed, yanking my arm free and stumbling back several steps into another man.
Before he had the chance to grab me as well, I elbowed my way through the crowd until I came out somewhere else on the footpath.
I tried to out walk them but before I could even take three steps something hooked on my foot and my palms slapped against the pavement. My knees were all scraped and blood was already starting to gather where the skin had broken on my hands.
All whilst the click of cameras documented my every move. Not one of them offered to help me up or asked if I was okay. All they wanted was a good shot for their front cover. I guess me, at my lowest, would be sold to the highest bidder. All because Xander lied on a stupid talk show.
‘Come on, sweetheart,’ a familiar voice said before two strong hands pulled me off the pavement. ‘Let’s get you out of here.’ Xander’s familiar scent swept over me as he crushed me into his chest. I realised he was trying to keep the vultures from getting any more photos of me.
‘Thank you,’ I muttered, burrowing further into his chest as he led me to a waiting car.
‘You’re okay,’ he soothed, ushering me inside and quickly following after. As soon as the door was closed the car sped away from the curb, leaving the photographers in our wake.
When Xander didn’t say anything, I thought maybe he was angry at me so I chose to be silent as well.
Instead, I began to inspect my battle scars. My hands were grazed pretty badly, as they bore the majority of my weight when I fell. They were filled with dirt and rocks, as were my knees and the small cut I had managed to get on my ankle.
‘Are you alright?’ He finally asked and I looked over at him to see genuine concern in his eyes.
‘I’m fine,’ I answered in a clipped tone, still angry for the way he acted in my apartment. He might be angry at me but I was angrier at him.
‘Let me see,’ he scoffed, reaching for my hands. I snatched them away into my chest whilst shooting him a look.
‘Don’t touch me,’ I spat. I didn’t need his help.
When I saw ‘Boxing Books’ I slid forward on my seat and tapped the shoulder of the man driving.
‘Would you mind dropping me here?’
‘Don’t stop, Greg.’ Xander ordered, earning him another glare from me. ‘Take us to my place.’
‘I am not going to your apartment.’ I growled, slumping in my chair when we passed Teddy’s place.
‘Where else are we going to go? We can’t go back to your place after the show you gave them.’
‘I would have been fine,’ I muttered, slumping further in my seat.
‘Sure, sweetheart,’ and I could hear the smirk without even looking. He seemed to be perpetually laughing at me.
‘I don’t see why you’re being so rude to me about this. You’re the one asking me to do a favour.’
‘Stop protesting. I’d be a big step up from any boyfriend you’ve ever had before.’ He condescended and I took a deep breath to try and calm my anger. It didn’t work.
‘How dare you?’ I growled, spinning so I was looking directly at him ‘I want nothing to do with you. There isn’t anything on this planet that would make me want to date you.’
‘Half the women on this planet would kill to have the title of my girlfriend.’ He challenged, leaning over so his face nearly touched my own.
‘Then go find one of them.’
‘Can’t love, you’re it.’ He murmured and his deep, husky voice only severed to fuel my anger.
‘Why are you so insufferable?’
‘It’s part of my charm.’
‘I don’t think you understand the definition of charm.’
‘Are you going to give me a vocabulary lesson, teach?’ I was all too aware of how his eyes dipped to my lips and contemplated jumping out of the moving vehicle when my tongue instinctively darted out to wet them. ‘Because I think there might be a thing or two I might be able to teach you.’
‘O-Oh yeah and what might that be?’ I asked, hoping he didn’t hear the tremor in my voice. His eyes snapped back to mine and I knew he was aware how he was affecting me, even if I would never admit it.
His hand slowly reached up to cup my chin and when I did nothing to stop it, his other hand wrapped around the back of my neck, holding me in place.
‘Xander,’ I hummed, startled by the husky tone of my own voice but not enough to pull away. In my mind, I was screaming at him to leave me alone but my body had stopped listening. I was vaguely aware that the car had come to a stop and I heard the sounds of doors opening and closing but I felt as if my body was in a trance.
My lips were tingling in anticipation and my body felt flushed and overheated. How was he doing this?
One of his hands had slipped to my lower back and was pushing me closer. Again, I let it happen. I watched it happen as if I wasn’t seeing it with my own eyes.
He was intoxicating and when he still refused to close the inches between us I grew impatient, but there was still a part of my rational mind that had a semblance of control over my limbs. I refused to be the one to close the distance. I wouldn’t initiate a kiss he had baited me for. If he wanted to kiss me again, then he would have to make that jump. Not me.
‘Are we going down this road again, pretty boy? You only get one set, do you really want to risk it?’ I threatened, trying to claw my way back to the higher ground. I almost gave in when his overwhelming baritone laugh filled the car, but thankfully, he pulled away. He rested back against the leather seats and ran his hand through his light, ruffled hair.
‘You’re hard work, Annie Reiner,’ he chuckled, looking back at me out of the corner of his eye. ‘But, I think we could be a good pair.’
‘I think you might have a screw loose,’ I muttered, shaking my head at the conceited movie star.
‘Come on, sweetheart. Let’s get you cleaned up,’ he said, motioning towards the door Greg was now holding open.
‘You know, Greg, some people might call what you just did an accessory to kidnapping,’ I mused, stepping out onto the footpath.
‘And what would you call it Miss Annie?’ He smiled. Or at least I think he smiled. His reddish, brown moustache twitched, which I assumed meant he was smiling. It was interesting he had a moustache considering he was completely bald on top.
‘Your first warning.’
‘I’ll keep that in mind,’ he replied as Xander stepped out beside me.
‘Come on, you, stop terrorising my security team,’ Xander scolded, playfully. He took my hand in his, being careful of my cuts and scrapes and then walked us both inside an intimidating looking stone building.
Once inside the lobby was exactly what I expected it to be, extravagant and over the top expensive. The rich were always the same. It wasn’t worth having money if you weren’t able to flaunt it.
Xander nodded at the doorman who almost fell over himself trying to look cool and nonchalant. I tried not to roll my eyes too much.
Judging by the lobby of this place, his apartment was going to be the cookie cutter, rich guy, bachelor pad. Oh, joy.