Chapter 1: White Houses
But we gave each other up so easily.
And silly little wounds will never mend,
I feel so far from where I’ve been.
So I go,
And I will not be back here again.
~White Houses- Vanessa Carlton
I hated days like this.
They didn’t come too often, but when they did, they hit hard.
I let out a quiet sigh and ran a hand through my dark hair as my iPod decides to play yet another love song. Honestly, I didn’t have that many, they weren’t really my thing, but currently, it felt like I had hundred, upon hundred of them. It was almost as if my music played had decided to gather the few that were scattered in there, put them on a playlist, and then put the playlist on repeat.
I didn’t bother reaching into my pocket to skip the song, having given that up five songs ago. Just whatever, Raine. Don’t think about it. I told myself. I fixed the falling strap of my book bag and pulled out my phone to send a text to Annabelle.
Hey, going to the cafe, wanna meet up?
Another half of a love song later, I got a reply.
Can’t, got work for another hour. But last day before I’m free for summer! :)
I rolled my eyes and laughed a bit at her response. Bells’ boss wasn’t exactly the nicest. He was almost never happy with anything and hated letting people go. But this job would look great on her resume, which would make everything worth it, or so Bells said. She worked as an assistant to another assistant for some big business company.
Kay, I’ll still bring something back to the apartment.
I texted back before pocketing my phone. The stream of love and heartbreak songs were finally getting to me so I decided to switch off my iPod. I didn’t have anything against love songs, really, some were actually pretty sweet. Too many of them just reminded me too much of things I didn’t want to remember.
I looked around the familiar streets and grinned. It was amazing that I was here, in New York, going to Julliard. Since it was both Bells’ and me’s first full summer in New York, we had decided to take the summer off to explore the city. We still had some stuff to study for junior year of college, but other than that, we were free. Yay!
After half a block of partial silence, I arrived at Starbucks. I ducked into the small shop and got in line behind a pair of girls. I think they were talking about some movie with some huge movie star. I know it’s wrong to eavesdrop, but in my defense, they were talking really loudly. I tried to distract myself by looking around the room, but it didn’t really work.
“It’s their first film together.”
Oh look, a blonde Nadia Clint’s hiding in the corner.
“The site said they were co-directing it together.”
Wait, I think that is Nadia Clint. Hang on...
“I can’t wait. It’s gonna be huge.”
Never mind, I can’t tell, her newspaper’s covering too much of her face.
“No duh, it’ll be huge. Summer Productions only ever picks up movies that’ll be big.”
Hmm, looks like Starbucks forgot to clean the ceiling today. If they ever do, that is.
“If her brother’s in it, it’ll be even bigger. He’s so hot.”
How do you get coffee stains on the ceiling anyway? Did someone toss their drink up or something? Would that even work?
“Imagine if one of us got the role of Alyssa. It’d be awesome. We’d be, like, instantly famous!”
....Is it bad that I have the somewhat violent urge to shoot her? With a gun that’ll somehow magically appear? I mean, come on, you shouldn’t want a role just to be famous. You shouldn’t act just to be famous.
Wait. I’m not supposed to be eavesdropping... Ah, screw it, I give up. This distracting thing isn’t really working.
“Auditions are locked up, though. They said on one of the forums that you’ll need an invite to get in.”
What the heck? Auditions are never locked. The point of holding an audition is to find “new talent”. How would they do that with locked auditions? I should really stop eavesdropping...
“We should sneak in. I’d be perfect for the part of Alyssa. Once they see me, they’ll be thankful that I snuck in.”
Wow, stuck up much? Her friend looked kind of really pissed, but luckily, before it could break out into a fight, the barista called them up. It took them just a bit longer than people usually took to order.
Ten minutes later, an icy mocha Frappuccino and a paper bag with cinnamon roll for Bells in hand, I turned to look for a place to sit. Given that it was about three in the afternoon, it wasn’t too crowded, so I quickly found a booth in the back.
“Hey, can I have your number?” I heard a guy ask from behind me. I don’t know what there was about that simple question that caught my attention, it hadn’t been directed to be, but something made it stand out from the hum of conversations. Maybe because it was at the booth next to mine.
“Ew. I don’t to that way. Get away from me.” Wait. That voice was distinctly male. Before I could remind myself to mind my own business I turned around to look.
Hmm, he was pretty cute. Short blonde hair, light blue eyes, he looked about a year older than me. Devon needed someone. And he needed to get out more. If this guy had the guts to go up to a stranger and ask for his number...
I looked back down at my Frappuccino when the guy turned in my direction to walk away, not wanting to be caught staring. I shouldn’t, I shouldn’t, I shouldn’t. I did. Before I could stop myself, I reached out and grabbed his hand.
“Are you gay?” I asked, pulling him towards my table, then blushing slightly at the shocked look on his face. Okay maybe this isn’t the best idea...
Then his blue eyes hardened slightly. “Yeah. What, are you gonna cal me a fag?”
“Are you single?” I continued, ignoring his jab. Well, I can’t really stop now, since I’ve already started...
“You’re not exactly my type,” he said incredulously. I pressed my lips together to keep from laughing at his expression. His eyes rows we pushed down in what seemed to be confusion while his eyes were slightly round with shock. This combination proves to make a very interesting look.
“Sit,” I instructed simply. He followed my command and dropped into the seat across from me, looking at me as if he expected me to pull a gun on him.
“Do I know you from somewhere? Sorry if I do, I’m not good with faces. And if you’re the best friend, or sister, or any other relative or whatever of one of the girls my mom set me up with, I swear it’s not my fault. I mean, yeah, I’m sorry I stood whoever you’re related to up, I just don’t go that way. And if you’re the girlfriend of one of my exes, I promise I won’t be a threat, things ended for a reason... Though you might want to double check his sexuality,” he said. Whoa. Well, he’s interesting at the very least. Kind of fast moving, but I think Devon can keep up with him. It might even be good for Devon.
I blinked. “You have have an interesting life story, but I’m not any of those. I do have a question that’s bugging me now, though, do you have a case of word vomit?”
“No,” he replied shortly, shooting me a flat look.
“Really?” I asked, raising an eyebrow and tilting my head slightly. Word vomit didn’t really both me, in fact, I had always wanted to meet someone who had a case of word vomit, but if he did, I wanted to be able to at least warn Devon.
“Really!” he protested, his blue eyes widening to an innocent look.
“So you usually don’t spit out your list of potential enemies to strangers?” I confirmed.
“I usually don’t have strangers questioning my sexuality!” he exclaimed, throwing his hands up.
I laughed slightly. Okay, time to change that. “I’m Raine,” I said, holding a hand out.
For a moment, he simply stared at it like it was some unknown species. Then his hands dropped back down and he lifted his right one to shake it. “Shawn.”
“There. We’re not exactly strangers anymore, now are we?” Maybe it was bad to tease people I had just met. But I couldn’t help it. Shawn was the kind of person you just couldn’t help but tease. You know, the kind of person that reacted to everything in a slightly weird, slightly over-exaggerated way
“Do you usually do this? Oh my god. You’re a social piranha aren’t you? And you picked me to be your friend?” he asked in a weirded out tone, staring at me intently. I resisted the urge to laugh. Where does he get these things? It’s like he expects that there are no more normal people in the world. Then again, I did randomly stop him and ask if he was gay.
“No. I swear, this is the first time I’ve done this. I, actually, want you to go on a date with my friend,” I told him slowly. I narrowed my eyes slightly, watching for his reaction.
He blinked at me. “Is he a social piranha?”
“No. He’s in college.”
“Owns a bazillion cats?”
“I think he’s allergic.”
“How do I know if I can trust you? How do he’s not some person who got unlucky when going under the knife and had his face mutilated? Or that he’s not a psychotic criminal?” Shawn asked, still suspicious. Honestly I didn’t blame him. I wouldn’t exactly be jumping with excitement if somebody I met five minutes ago was trying to set me up on a date. But I wanted this for Devon. He deserved it.
“I have a picture of him somewhere on my phone. He’s sane enough and he doesn’t have a criminal record... That I know of.” Devon didn’t have a criminal record, right? Yeah, he’s too nice to, and I can’t exactly imagine him being hauled into a police station...
“That’s reassuring,” he said with a slight grin. Okay, so he’s easy going. I think. I mean he’s still here, right?
“Come on, just at least meet him. I’ll be there. You can bring whoever you’d like, and if you think he’s not good for you, or that he’s completely psycho, you can go.”
For a moment, it was silent as Shawn considered my offer. “Fine-” Yes! “-What does he look like?”
I pulled out my phone and searched for the photo I had taken of Devon and Bells last month at Central Park. It didn’t take too long to find, since I didn’t have that many photos on my phone.
“Okay, so, he’s cute,” Shawn said after seeing the photo of Devon. “But I can’t go on looks alone. If I did, then I would be jumping guys on the street.”
“So you knew that guy?” I asked, nodding my head back slightly to gesture to the guy he had asked out.
“No. It was instinct.”
“So what does your instinct say now?” I asked as I placed the phone on the cushion beside me.
“Um....” he stuttered.
“You’re really reluctant about this,” I remarked. I didn’t really blame him, but at the same time he had asked a random guy, so a blind date by a stranger shouldn’t be too bad, right? He knew what Devon looked like from the photo, so it wasn’t as bad, I don’t think...
“Sorry I’m apprehensive about being set up by a stranger. I mean, if my own mother couldn’t do it, why should I think that you can?” he challenged.
“Didn’t you say your mother set you up with girls?” I asked, raising an eyebrow.
He waved a hand dismissively. “Complications. Do you usually set strangers up on blind dates?” he asked, raising an eyebrow. “And how to you know I’m not some psychotic serial killer?”
“No, but I don’t know if you’re not. Or if your friend’s not. And how do you even know if I’ll be good for him?”
“Because, he’s nice and not clichély gay. He’s openly gay, but isn’t exactly confident with it, so he needs someone like you. Besides, even if it doesn’t work out, you guys can be friends!” Then I felt my phone buzz against the side of my leg. As discreetly as I could, I took a peek at it. It was from Bells.
Got news. Get back ASAP, please.
“I gotta go,” I told him quietly. “Here’s my number if you change your mind.” I grabbed a napkin from the holder and a pen from my pocket, quickly scribbling it down and handing it to him.
“Just so you know, if this is some ploy to make me change teams so you can date me, it’s not gonna work, I’ve been gay for 7 years.” Well. At least I don’t have to worry about him ‘changing teams’.
I laughed. “We’ll work on the modesty part. Oh, and no.”
“What? What do you mean no?” he asked as I stood up and gathered my stuff.
“No, I usually don’t set strangers up on blind dates. This was just instinct.”
“Bells?” I yelled when I got home. I dropped the paper bag on the coffee table and turned to look around when something caught my eye. It was something of a cross between a flyer and an invitation. It looked sort of like those flyers you found on bulletin boards at the supermarket, but more expensive, more high-class, if there was such a thing. It was fancy, despite being printed in black and white.
300 Broadway Street.
Call Me Cupid auditions for lead.
Female, aged 17-22
“Hey, you’re back.” I looked up to see Annabelle standing in the doorway of the living room, drying her hair with a towel.
“Yeah, what’s this for?” I asked, gesturing to flyer.
Bells grinned. “That, is an audition you’ll be doing.”