My face was all over the news.
Well, I guess it couldn’t be helped; Wayne did mention paparazzi when we were at the restaurant. Now E! News decided to make a thing out of it and plastered a photo of Wayne and me talking while eating at that place. Everyone tried to understand if the famous Holden Knight was off the market, and who the heck I was. It didn’t take long for them to realize I was the other daughter of Raymond Sheridan, and the sister of Emma who was soon to get married to Ford.
The sudden exposure didn’t bother me. It may’ve been good for my work as well; maybe now more places would be happy to have me playing the piano there. It would be a good publicity to have the Academy Award winning director’s girlfriend as a worker.
Although I wasn’t sure I was his girlfriend, but titles never bothered me either. And it wasn’t like I wanted to be his girlfriend. We were purely physical which was just fine by me. I honestly didn’t need more than what he was already giving to me.
But not long after I realized my face was now known to the world, daddy dearest decided to pay me a phone call. When I answered, as I sat and watched some random TV show, his first words were, “You’re not right for him.”
At that, I sighed. “We’re not together. We’re sex buddies.”
“It doesn’t matter, Blair,” he snapped into my ear, making me grimace, “you’re emotionally blind. Holden is a decent guy, and I wouldn’t wish for him – or any other man of his degree - to get involved with you.”
“I’m twenty-four, Dad,” I said, “I can do whatever the fuck I want. If I want to screw him, then it’s my decision and mine alone.”
With that he couldn’t really argue but he tried. For a full hour he tried to dissuade me, but to no avail. As I mentioned before, nothing he could say would ever get to me again.
After that lovely conversation, Emma called as well. Her words were different than those of our father’s, but while she tried to sugarcoat her true thoughts, the meaning was the same. “You’re a good girl, Blair, but don’t you think Holden deserves more? From what Ford told me and my own acquaintance with him, you’re not right for each other. Maybe you should reconsider?”
If I thought my morning was over after I told Emma it was none of her business, I was wrong. A knock on the door announced the presence of someone deciding to pay me a visit. I doubted it was Wayne; he usually texted before he came. I was right; when I opened the door, I saw it wasn’t Wayne, but rather another man.
He wore a furious face when he stormed inside. Once the door was closed, he whirled to me and barked out, “You’re poisonous. Stay away from him. He’s my friend and I won’t let you drag him under with you.”
I threw my hands in a rare display of frustration. “Why does everyone think they know me or whether I’m right or wrong for him?” I asked no one in particular. Then I fixed my gaze on him. “You’re not the boss of me, Liam. You barely know me. You only believe what my family and Ford told you about me. Can you not make a judgment for yourself?”
“I don’t need to,” he fumed, “you haven’t made me think any differently of you; you only emphasized what I’ve already been told.”
“You’re stupid, then,” I deduced, putting my hands on my hips. “When everyone gossips about you or Holden or Ford in the news and the net, does it make those rumors true? Do you want people to believe them?”
“No, but it’s different with us normal people,” he pointed an accusing finger at me. “You’re not normal. You’re a tease and a whore.”
“Now you’ve insulted the entire female population,” I informed him, arching an eyebrow. “Do you think women are any different than men when they sleep with whomever they want?”
“As I said, normal people are different,” he glared at me. “You’re a psycho who doesn’t understand the basics of human emotions.”
“So what if I am?” I asked, trying to grasp why he was so worked up about something so trivial like sleeping around or specifically me who did that. Not that I actually slept around, but whatever.
“See? That’s what I’m talking about,” he gestured toward me like it explained everything. “Normal people would’ve gotten pissed off by now. You just stand here and talk to me like this is a perfectly ordinary conversation between two people. You’re unbelievable.”
I strode toward him until we were toe to toe. Then I glared him down, despite being shorter. “I guess I should be pissed off,” I murmured darkly, “you come into my house unnoticed, someone who’s only exchanged a few words with me in the past, and judge me in my own home, not to mention trying your best to insult me. But I’m not pissed off, because getting worked up about something like that is not on my agenda. You’re absolutely nothing to me, Liam,” I gave him a sweet smile. “You don’t even register on my radar as a threat. So I suggest you go home and cool that little pretty head of yours, and then, if you really want to get to know me and truly judge my character by yourself for whatever reason you might have, then you’ll be more than welcomed to.”
While his face was still twisted in rage and indignity, his eyes seemed to study me. After a few long silent moments, he finally spoke. “Just stay away from him. He’s not like you. He actually has feelings and the last thing any of us need is him falling in love with a creepy woman like you.”
He left my apartment after those dramatic words, and I slumped down on my sofa. I seriously loved how people cared so much for me. It was touching, really.
Looking at the ceiling, however, the sarcasm left my system. If I was normal, as Liam put it, I guess I should’ve felt completely, utterly alone in this world. And maybe I did feel alone. Maybe loneliness became such an integral part of me, I stopped noticing it as an emotion of its own. I had no friends, no true family, and the guy I slept with was just this; a guy I slept with, and who occasionally helped me with stuff, personality speaking. But how could it be such a part of me when only two years ago everything was fine?
Maybe because two years ago I felt the same. I’d always known I didn’t love Darren like I should’ve loved my boyfriend of four years, the one who I was supposed to get married to, eventually. But I did have friends back then, not a lot but enough to count them as such. And Dad, Emma and Ford had been a family, a much warmer, accepting family than they were now.
It’d all been superficial, perhaps. Maybe they all simply tolerated me because I showed “good” signs of being normal, of getting involved with someone like Darren Flint, and when that went away, so did their civilized masks. It made sense. Maybe I’d been alone since a longer time than I ever considered.
But did it matter analyzing it now? After all, the situation was what it was. Even if I finally understood how truly alone I was in this world, it mattered nothing. The situation remained the same. I remained the same. Everything was the same. And maybe it was better this way.
* * *
Later that day, Wayne came over. He didn’t say anything as I opened the door and let him in; he simply picked me up, took me to the bedroom, and fucked me thoroughly. Only afterwards, as I lay naked next to him, sweaty and sore, he finally spoke. “Ignore what they all say.”
I turned my head to him. “They talked to you, too?”
Looking at me with those silver eyes of his, he nodded. “Liam, Emma, Raymond – none of them know you. Not really.”
“And you do?” I asked out of pure curiosity.
His hand was suddenly wiping away a few stray hairs from my face. “I do,” he said softly, his eyes searching my face, “I know more than they do, anyway. I now that you’re not really a sociopath. I know that you do have feelings. But in your case, you just feel these feelings and express them in a different way than most. I know you. And besides,” he grinned a little, “you’ve already figured me all out back when we first met.”
He was right; I did. But that was because he was easy to read, and his kind of personality was only an extent of a different part of me. While I was blunt and honest, he was so too, only in a more lighthearted way. Under that easygoing charade, however, he was intense, and wicked, and maybe even a little cruel. He was a different type of me, but similar at the same time.
“I’m famous now,” I told him and turned my body fully to him. “My face is everywhere as your mystery girl.”
He put his arms around my waist and dragged me close so I was plastered against him. “No mystery,” he said, “you are my girl.”
I arched an eyebrow. “We’re only sleeping together.”
“No,” he surprised me by saying, leaning his forehead against mine. “I want more.”
That made me still. “No you don’t,” I blurted out, stunned.
“Yes, I do,” he insisted, eyes turning bright as his intensity came into play, making my skin grow goosebumps. “Sex with you is the best I’ve ever had. Guiding your emotions out is one of the greatest, most intriguing challenges I’d ever encountered. I want more,” his face was completely serious, “I want you to actually be my girlfriend.”
I considered him for a few silent moments as I got over my initial shock. “What would change if I become your girlfriend?” I was interested to know.
He shrugged. “Just the title, I guess. Oh, and you’ll have to accompany me to public appearances, premieres, and all that stuff.”
“So basically I’ll be your private escort.”
“If you want to simplify it in such a way, then yes.”
His eyes gave away nothing but his clear intentions. “I haven’t had a boyfriend since that one from two years ago,” I told him. “I dated some guys, but that was about it. I need to know if it’s worth my while.”
“Think of it as what we do now, only more steadily,” he grinned then, like a wolf showing off his teeth to intimidate his prey.
“It also means I’ll be committed to you,” I pointed out, more to myself than to him.
But he answered my unasked question anyway. “It’s not like you’re sleeping with anyone else right now, are you?”
No, I weren’t. “Fine then,” I shrugged. “Let’s play couple, if that’s what you want.”
“What about what you want?” he gave me a pointed look.
“I don’t actually mind,” I said, “be it sex buddies or boyfriend-girlfriend, the title doesn’t matter. I’m okay with stepping it up.”
“You didn’t answer my question,” he said, grin fading. “Is it what you want?”
I glanced away from him. This was a legitimate question. But before I could even consider it, I asked, “Why do you want it?”
“Because I like you,” he said, surprising me into looking at him again. “I like your attitude and sauciness, and I like this soft side of you, the one you think no one notices or care about, but I do. You’re one of a kind, and I want to snatch you away before another man realizes it.”
“So I’m basically a never-ending challenge for you and you like the intrigue,” I summed it up.
“Intrigue is the basic of every healthy relationship and, eventually, love. And I believe that with time, I’ll fall for you, and you for me, in your own way.”
He had a valid point. But still. “I don’t know if I want to fall in love in whatever way,” I told him as frankly as always. “I don’t know if I even can. But if you insist on me wanting this suggestion of yours, then yes, I want it.” I just didn’t understand what it would change about our current relationship. We were already having sex and making some minor public appearances. It couldn’t be that different, if any.
Another grin appeared on his face. “Glad we have that settled, then. We’re officially together.”
“Yay,” I said dryly, and gasped when he pushed me to my back and I felt him all hot and sweaty and ready for seconds. And I didn’t mind at all.
Just thinking of grabbing oblivion with him on a much more regular basis was enough to make me glad I agreed.