Fame, Love, and Other Four Letter Nouns

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Summary

Love is not a noun. Love is a verb. The romantic comedy fans of Richard Curtis have been waiting for since Notting Hill and the Unidentified Readhead series. Lisa Kelly is dying to confess. She’s unable to keep a job, she’s on the brink of losing her home, she has no car, and she’s got pictures on her walls of men in tights and superhero uniforms. She doesn’t want a man to be her boyfriend, she just wants a future husband, just not yet. She wants to get her problems fixed and get some kind of income soon, or she’ll be forced to live with her psycho Born Again Pentecostal mother who wants to exorcise her, or live forever homeless. Then she meets someone she never dreamed of meeting in all her years: a hot A-list actor from England, most known for one of her favorite sci fi movie franchises about quantum astrophysics. When they meet, she tries pushing him away, but he’s drawn to her, and one fateful kiss ends up becoming the best year of their lives. Inspired by the Marvel Cinematic Universe and Notting Hill, here comes Lisa, the newest nobody who becomes a celebrity for being the best and luckiest girlfriend who ever lived.

Genre:
Humor / Romance
Author:
Rachel Beth Ahrens
Status:
Complete
Chapters:
14
Rating:
n/a
Age Rating:
16+

September: Confession

There are some things I miss about being Catholic, but I really don’t care at this point because I am not as devout as the other Catholic bats in the world. To be totally honest, I haven’t been back to church in a very long time and it’s been hard to keep track of who’s the Pope or my current bishop in my town.

But I do miss confessions. I miss venting my problems to a priest and I miss asking for advice from someone to help ease my way of thinking and doing things I shouldn’t. Maybe redirecting my anger and getting rid of my sadness. That way, I wouldn’t have lost my faith in God, perhaps. I don’t even know if God exists. And even if Jesus was real and he died for people’s sins, I know for sure that he hated me most of all. I’m officially unemployed, living on welfare, on the brink of an eviction notice, and my parents have also denounced their faiths and they’re divorced. My mother is a Pentecostal idiot trying to get me saved again, and my dad is now Protestant, I think, but he looks like he’s becoming more and more atheist every year at Christmas because he watches the show Nova on PBS and he recently took a philosophy class that taught him how Christmas is somehow linked to every known religion, since the world starts getting more sunlight three days after the darkest day of the year, December 21, the first day of winter. And Christmas is three days after the beginning of winter.

Anyway, even though I doubt my faith in God, I have a little confession. Before my parents converted to their faiths and later divorced, I was raised by nerds.

Even when I was a baby, I was weird to begin with. My dad was obsessed with Star Wars since it first opened in the 70s, when he was just a kid in elementary school. He wanted to be just like Luke Skywalker and join the Jedi forces, studying under Obi Wan Kenobi. When Return of the Jedi came out, he and his buddies from middle or high school got together for a Star Wars party and they all went to see it at the movies, dressed up as Storm Troopers, Luke, and Vader. My dad’s girlfriend at the time was dressed as Princess Leia, which was weird, because Luke and Leia were twin brother and sister. But it worked out because one of dad’s buddies was Han Solo, who ends up with the space princess.

Because of this crazy tradition, my dad and I have never missed a Star Wars movie in the theatre and we’ve never missed a media convention. When Star Wars got bought by Disney, my dad took me to see Force Awakens, Rogue One, and Last Jedi all within the same month they all first opened. My dad has every single Star Wars related movie on DVD and Blu Ray disc, and he has a Star Wars poster autographed by Mark Hamill himself from going to a sci fi convention one year. He’s very proud of it. My mom, she isn’t so big on the sci fi stuff anymore as she used to be, because she thinks it’s Pagan and Satanist, and she now only reads stuff in the Bible, the Christian magazines, and those romantic fiction books about pious Christian young women who wonder when their Prince Charming is coming to save them. She also watches too many movies on the Hallmark channel, which I really, really hate because they’re boring and predictable.

Basically, my dad is awesome, and my mom wants to exorcise me and get me “Saved”.

That is precisely my problem. I read too many graphic novels and comic books, I sometimes play the occasional video game, from Spyro the Dragon to Batman: Arkham City. I am obsessed with female superheroes like Supergirl and Wonder Woman, and my ideal boyfriend is Steve Rogers, Captain America. I want to be somebody’s Peggy Carter, or her niece, Sharon Carter from Winter Soldier and Civil War, both directed by the Russo brothers, the executive producers of the Joel McHale show Community, which an old boyfriend got me into at first, until something turned me off by it. I still love watching some of the old episodes for the friendship between Troy and Abed, the funniest guys on the show. I hate club music, I’m no judge of actual classic literature, and the only books I’ve read are of the Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings variety. I occasionally like some romantic movies, I like the John Hughes stuff like Pretty in Pink and Ferris Bueller, and 13 Going On 30 is one of my all time favorites because it stars two Marvel action celebrities from Daredevil and the Avengers and Thor variety, Jennifer Garner, Elektra, who plays the very glitzy girly Jenna Rink, and Mark Ruffalo, the Hulk, who plays the photographer love interest Matt.

I’m sort of in between the girly girl wannabe and the awesome tomboy.

That’s why I can’t get a boyfriend. It’s also why I don’t have that many girlfriends.

The last time I went to a convention, I dressed up as a female Doctor Strange for the costume contest. I designed and made the costume myself, if that helps any. But when I got there, nobody got the gist of what I was supposed to be. People thought I was Supergirl or Scarlet Witch, but I tried to point out to them that I made a bustle with the Eye of Agamotto on it, and my red cape had pipe cleaners in the collar to make it look like it was floating, like the Cloak of Levitation.

I swear, there has got to be a new superhero for Marvel who is a woman, other than the minor heroes like Black Widow and Scarlet Witch. DC has too many females in their Justice League and Marvel doesn’t have enough unless you read anything of X Men or Fantastic Four. But sometime, I’m thinking of making a costume of Tilda Swinton’s Ancient One from the movie version of Doctor Strange, since her character was pretty badass. But right now, I don’t have enough funds to buy more gold fabric to make her robes and a skull cap to hide my hair, since the Ancient One in the movie is bald and I refuse to shave my blond hair.

But this story isn’t about me. It’s about him. The British A-list actor who is one of the most eligible bachelors in the media. Daniel Sawyer. I’ve secretly loved him since he performed in his first movie, Quantus, the first in a sci fi series about quantum travel through the universe and fighting gods and demons from other realms. The other guy, Ed Owens, played the role of the hero in the films, the astronaut and secret spy like the James Bond of time and space, and all the girls adored him for playing the role of the son of a mortal Earth human and Hercules, the god of strength. He was also American like Chris Evans, but he didn’t compare to Sawyer. Sawyer played Ed Owens’s costar, his adopted brother who’s along for the ride and is a quantum physicist, and later becomes the villain in the first sequel. Daniel hides his accent really well and fakes American in his role, and ever since that first movie, he’s gotten so many movie offers from all the great producers and directors like Zach Snyder, Christopher Nolan, Peter Jackson, and even Oscar winner Woody Allen. I wouldn’t be surprised if the next movie he does for Luc Besson or Spielburg gets him nominated for Best Supporting Actor.

“I used to hate his character,” I said over green tea and sushi at lunch. “But now Mark Nelson is growing on me.”

“Lisa, you’re killing me,” my friend Gerry said while taking a bite of rainbow roll. The only friends I had were the friends I usually saw at conventions, the geeks. But because most of them were from out of town or out of state, the only two friends I saw on a regular basis were my married friends Gerry and Vivian Nobal. We were at Towson Best, one of Towson’s finest sushi and Chinese places in a ten mile radius. The Chinese food wasn’t that great, but the sushi was better than the stuff at college. But nothing compares to the Hibachi Grill buffet in Parkville, in the Satyr Hill shopping center.

“What?” I said, picking up a California roll with my chopsticks. “I’m sorry, what did I do this time?”

Vivian, who was prettier and much more Callista Flockhart blond and thin than I, sipped her tea and said, “You’re doing it again. You’re comparing actors to Daniel Sawyer and we don’t like it. If I didn’t know any better, I’d say he’s your number one celebrity crush.”

“He is not my crush,” I said. “He’s cute, yes, and he’s on my list of guys I wouldn’t mind dating if I was as famous as he is. But you know my number one hot guy I want to date is Chris Pratt. He’s just been divorced from Anna Faris and he’s a funny guy, so I know he’ll make me happy.”

“And… you think you’re going to get in his pants someday?”

“See, the problem is, I’m not famous yet. I was thinking I could become a famous poet or a fashion designer, and then I could get close to him.”

“Whereas now, you don’t have a job, you have a useless college degree, and you’re on unemployment income, which is going to run out at some point,” Gerry said. “You told us you barely have enough money to make rent. How are you going to prevent yourself from moving back in with your dad, or worse, your mom?”

“I can easily move back in with dad,” I said. “I’m just going to do a little sweet talking. My mom, I’m going to try to avoid her at all costs.”

Gerry picked up a ginger petal and said, “I doubt that you’re even going to get past his door.”

Gerry was right, though. I called dad, asking him if it was all right if I moved in with him since my rent was almost over and I could no longer afford it, and his response was, “Oh Christ, did you get fired again?” It wasn’t really a firing, because the comic distributor I worked for was downsizing. They were saying that they were losing some money and they didn’t need that many secretaries, so they let me go, but kept me functioning on unemployment while I searched for other jobs. I didn’t understand why they didn’t want me anymore. It was the perfect job for me. I felt like myself there. For a while, I depressed myself with thinking they probably hated me there and couldn’t wait to see me go. But then again, I had to say it was just business. All they cared about was making money and they had to lose some of their staff to keep afloat.

I tried applying to jobs on Indeed, Monster, even Craig’s List. The only jobs I could find were for salespeople who went door to door to businesses selling insurance, selling cable or Verizon, or whatever they get paid by commission for. I got an email back from someone on Craig’s List, who said they were a wedding dress company from out of the country and they were hearing and vision impaired and didn’t speak much English because the email was very poorly written. But they wanted me to personally deliver things to people. After reading that, I deleted the email and lost my trust in Craig’s List. I never applied to anything on that website again. I wouldn’t say my English major wasn’t useless, I’d say my job hunt was useless more than anything.

I didn’t own a dog, my car recently got repossessed, so I take the bus, and I’m on the precipice of becoming homeless, unless my crazy mother wants to take me in and force me bad food and going to church every single day. My mother watches the 700 Club channel religiously, and she makes the worst turkey stuffing ever, because there’s so much water in it and it’s soggy more than salty, firm, and sweet. She can’t cook at all. My father’s excuse for not letting me stay with him is that he’s got a new girlfriend younger than mom, and she has a son under the age of 18. Basically, my room in his house was turned into a boy’s bedroom so that my dad can have the football playing son he’s always wanted.

I hate my life.

But then one afternoon, I met him. At the wrong time.

I was supposed to meet him at a convention or whenever I became famous before the age of 30. But I’m 32 now, and 35 is coming up soon, so I doubt that I’ll be successful by the time I reach my forties. I had basically given up and decided I wanted just a boring dead end job with nothing to live for. But meeting him was unexpected. I was at a used bookstore, just browsing, because other than Harry Potter and Tolkien, I’ve never read a real book. So I started by going to the sci fi fantasy section and I picked up Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, which was a story I think I’ve heard of once, and Gerry said it was a good read if you were into Harry Potter. As I read the first chapter, someone came in through the front door, making the non electric bell ding. I heard the person at the register say something to the person who came in, but I didn’t exactly hear their conversation. Then the guy who came in started perusing the stacks and when I looked up, I didn’t see anyone, so I must have missed the person who walked in. The new customer sounded like he was English and not from around here, so that was a clue that my life was about to change.

As I kept reading, I twitched my nose. It’s something I tend to do when I read books, like an involuntary habit I picked up from Samantha in the original show Bewitched, since I used to watch it on TV Land, Nick at Nite, and sometimes Me TV. I used to watch that show when I was little, when my parents were still married, and somehow, I’ve never stopped doing the nose twitch the witch does in that show. I could hear someone snicker at something, but when I looked up, the new customer had his back turned to the travel section. So I looked back at the book.

Then the new customer turned around and cleared his throat and said, “So, Samantha, is what you’re reading any interesting?”

I looked up and saw the guy’s face. I was shocked. I couldn’t say anything. He was slightly taller and thinner in real life. I wished I said something, but I couldn’t speak for the life of me. Then I remembered what the clerk said to him when he walked in:

“Wow! Mandy, look at this! It’s that guy from the movies!”

“I don’t care,” the other clerk Mandy shouted from the back room.

“Shh, I’m in hiding from the press,” Daniel said.

“Well, Mr. Sawyer,” the clerk said a little softer. “I’m Aaron, if you see anything you like, I’ll give you 50 percent off.”

“Thank you, you’re very kind.”

“Do you mind if I have your autograph?”

“As long as you don’t draw attention.”

And as I imagined, the clerk ripped off a blank receipt and gave him a pen to sign. After Daniel scribbled something, the clerk thanked him and Daniel sauntered around the stacks as the clerk whispered again, “50 percent off!”

“I’ll keep that in mind,” Daniel said. And then he introduced himself to me by clearing his throat and calling me a character from a very old TV show.

“Are you going to say anything?” he said. “Or are you going to stand there like a statue?”

I finally snapped out of it. “I’m sorry, sir, or… heh.” I nervously chuckled. “My name really isn’t Samantha, and I’m sorry if I involuntarily twitched my nose like her. It’s just something I do.”

“Are you an actress?” he said. “On the stage, perhaps?”

I laughed nervously again. “No, unless you count the Christmas plays I was in at elementary school and the one spring musical I did in high school. I was mostly the tech person with those plays and I helped my mother sew costumes.”

“Oh, you’re a costume designer?” he said.

I put the book down on the shelf. “No, but I wish I was. I’m in between jobs right now.”

“Oh dear, maybe I could help you get somewhere with an agent I know in New York who works with designers, if you like.”

“No, it’s ok,” I said. “I’m sure you’re just passing through and you don’t know anything about me.”

“Well at least let me know your name,” he said.

I smiled. My hands were unusually warm. “I’m sorry, but I don’t think you want to know me after today because I’m way too weird in real life. You’d run from me, screaming.”

He shook his head. “I don’t think you can scare me, not after my last girlfriend.”

“What happened to your last girlfriend?” I said.

He stared at me in shock. “You didn’t read the papers?”

I stood back and shook my head in terror.

“What is your name?”

I was panicking, searching for an excuse to get out. “I have to go.”

He grabbed my arm as I started heading out when he said, “No, stay. I’m not letting you leave without knowing your name. Please, I’ll get you the book you were reading.”

I turned and said, “The book was starting off great, but that’s not enough to get me to go out with you.”

“I don’t want to go out with you, I just want to learn your name,” he said.

I forced my hand out of his strong grip, for I knew if he held me any longer, he’d know that my hands were warm and clammy and he’d either freak out or want me more because he’d know he made me nervous.

“I really gotta go,” I said. “I have a job interview today.”

“You’re not dressed for an interview,” he said.

And very quickly, without thinking, and my mouth moving a hundred miles an hour, I spat, “Nice to meet you, Daniel Sawyer, bye!”

And when I turned and dashed out the door, I accidentally hit myself on the door frame, slamming my head and my hip into it. “Ow.” And then, I corrected my position and left with a firm head on my shoulders.

I did have a job interview that day, but I knew I had to get home and change if I wanted to make the bus stop. It was a short walk back to my tiny apartment that had no heat and very little furniture. I didn’t even have a TV because I didn’t want to be charged for the cable package the leasing office had for everyone. It was the fall and I had just lost my health insurance since I lost my job with it, so there was no way I could afford a flu shot this year. I also lost my therapist with the job and the insurance, and now I had nobody to vent to except my married friends and social media, until Vivian put her foot down and yelled at me to stop venting on Twitter and Tumblr. She was really pissed that I said some very wordy rants on social media and she had had enough.

But I’m glad I still have a roof over my head. And I still have Vivian and Gerry to help me, unless they ever decide to have children, then I’m on my own.

I got changed quickly and went right to the bus stop outside my building. I checked my bag to make sure I had copies of my resume, which I did. I really wasn’t proud of my resume because I’ve been out of a job for more than a year and jobs were being taken by even younger millennials just out of college or just out of high school, since a lot of fast food places wanted more high school graduates more than me. The last thing I want is to work in retail or food service. I can’t handle angry customers.

When I got to the interview, the employer asked me, “Can you handle a steady flow of emails, like about a hundred emails in ten minutes?” And then after I answered, she asked me the question I hated the most: “Where do you see yourself in five years?”

Honestly, I can never answer that question for the life of me. I have no plan of where I see myself by the time I’m 37. I didn’t even care about the job I was applying for, because it was a communications place and it was just another boring nine to six job with a long hour lunch break. I could see myself working there, but not for very long because I really wanted to publish a book of poems that I wrote. But then Gerry asked me to be my beta reader for my book of poetry, to which he said, “You can’t write for shit.” So my dream of being a poet like Emily Dickenson died quickly. I thought my college professors liked my writing, being an English major, but I studied more professional writing more than anything. I thought business writing would at least get me somewhere in the workforce, but it didn’t. All I want for Christmas is for someone to give me a job with a steady income and health and dental benefits.

So I left the interview thinking at first that the interview went well, then later, I realized I was better off strangling myself at that interview because I was horrible at it. As I walked down the sidewalk on my way to the bus again to get a ride home and hang my head in shame, I felt someone bump into me and I felt something warm and wet go down my good clean suit.

“Oh bugger! Shit!” the guy who slammed into me yelled. “I’m so sorry! Are you all right?”

He started grabbing some napkins from his pocket as I shook off the warm liquid from my hands. When he went for my wet blouse, I yelled, “Hands off, asshole!”

He put the napkins away and said, “Look, I’m sorry! I swear, it’ll come out in the wash, it’s just tea. Is it burning? Tell me if it was scalding you.”

“I’m fine,” I said. Then I looked away from the mess he made all over my suit, and saw him. It was him, again. So I took back what I said in saying, “I’m sorry I called you an asshole.”

“My ex girlfriend has called me far worse,” he said.

“So why did she leave you?” I said.

“Let’s get you home first. Where is your car?”

“It got repossessed.”

“Really? So how did you get here?”

I sighed. “I took the bus. See, you really don’t want to get to know me.”

“I think I really do, poor thing,” he said. “No job, no car, no place to stay…”

“Actually, I do still have an apartment, and I do have friends.”

“Oh, right. Where do you live?”

“I can get there myself.”

“My limo driver has GPS, I’m sure I can give you a lift.”

“I’ve never even been inside a limo, and I think I want to keep it that way. When I was in high school, no one wanted to go to the prom with me, so I just drove up in my parents’ Jeep, like a hillbilly hick. I still had a good time at the prom, but it made me realize the hypocrisy of school and everything. That’s why I got the hell out of there and I went to college, came out of the nerd closet.”

“Nerd closet?” he said with a smirk on his face. He was snarling at me like I was his prey. “Tell me, have you seen any of my movies?”

I backed off and said, “A few. Listen, I really have to get home, and the bus only comes every 30 minutes, so if I miss it, I’ll be stranded for an hour. So, I have to go.”

He grabbed my hand again and said, “No, please, I insist. Waiting for a bus that takes 30 minutes to arrive is plenty reason enough for me to give you a lift home. Please, my limo is just down the road. I can have you home and cleaned up in no time at all.”

“Well, what does it cost?”

“Cup of coffee? And I still need to know your name.”

He wasn’t going to give up on me so easily, so I grunted and said, “Fine. Where is your car?”

His black limo was parked in a Starbucks parking lot where the driver was standing outside, waiting for him. He tipped his hat and said, “Mr. Sawyer.”

“Hello, Kenneth, this is a friend of mine, she just needs a ride home.”

“Pleasure to meet you, miss-?”

“Kelly,” I said. “Lisa Kelly.”

“Was that so hard?” Daniel said. “I just wanted to know.”

“Trust me, it’ll get worse once you see my apartment, which you’re not allowed in,” I said.

“You agreed to a cup of coffee, so that entitles me to getting some at your place.”

“Yeah, well, Starbucks is right here and I don’t own a coffeemaker. So get a coffee here.”

“This is where I got my drink that I spilled all over you before I made it to my destination. I was headed to an audition, but I figured there’s too many auditions out there for me, so I can take a break.”

The driver opened the limo door for us and we got in. It was a classy limo, but without the disco lights you would normally see in a limo on prom night. There were no mirrors on the ceiling and there were little compartments on the other side of the seats with ice, glasses, and bottles of water. I think there was also two glass bottles of bourbon and Crown Royal. So he did have a mini bar. I was so out of breath I could use a drink, but I thought it wasn’t late enough to be drinking any booze.

“Where to, Mr. Sawyer?” the driver said.

“Tell him,” Daniel said.

“305 Virginia Avenue, Towson,” I said.

“Got it,” the driver said, and he backed out and drove off.

While the driver took us back home, I just looked out the window to calm my nerves. That’s what usually relaxed me, got my mind off things. But then Daniel said, “Are you cold?”

“Not really,” I said. “It’s kind of warm this time of year. It doesn’t really get cold until November, when the football season starts getting down to the wire for the Ravens to get into the playoffs. A couple years ago, they didn’t make it past December, which was a shame. And everyone was really upset when they got their asses handed to them by the Jaguars in London. You probably remember that game.”

“I was on location in Cannes in 2017,” he said. “It was getting close to the Academy Awards, and my agent thought it would be a good idea to do a movie in France then. But enough about that. How was your interview, if I may ask?”

I looked down at my soaked suit and realized the warm drink he spilled on me was now cold and it didn’t feel comfortable being in his expensive rented limo for the day. “Oh, I think it was a disaster waiting to happen anyway.”

“Why would you say that?”

“Because even though I have a college degree, they want someone younger and someone more qualified, maybe someone who has a Master’s. And the employer saw right through me.”

“Oh, that’s not good. But you know that’s all in your head, right? As an actor, some people in the casting department see right through me all the time and I’m used to the rejections for some roles I would have been brilliant for. You just need to have faith.”

“I don’t know because I’m at the end of my unemployment benefits.”

“Money will come later,” he said. “Just focus on what you want to do. Do what you love. You may find out it wasn’t for you anyway. I just had a gut feeling that I didn’t want to do this movie anyway.”

I snapped my head around and said, “Why? You’re a celebrity. You’d be good at anything.”

“That’s precisely my point,” he said. “I could do anything I wanted. I’m tired of playing the villain all the time. I want to play the role of the hero at some point. I loved working with Ed on Quantus, but at the same time, I want to break out of that role. This audition was more of the same, you know what I mean?”

I nodded. “I can imagine.”

When we got to my building, the driver stopped the car and opened the door for us. I got the front door when Daniel told the driver to find a place for the car and wait for him a while.

We got inside and I waited for Daniel to run away in terror. But he didn’t scream and he didn’t panic or make some rude comment.

“It’s a mess,” I said. “I apologize in advance. I’ll try to clean this place up as best I can.”

“No, it’s lovely,” he said, walking in through the tiny kitchen that had a counter littered with dirty plates and bowls from too many mornings and evenings eating cereal and frozen dinners whenever I had no company and no appointments. There were clean dishes in the dishwasher, but I hadn’t put them away yet. I grabbed the only two mugs I had and opened the top cupboard with all the tea flavors I had.

“Wow, I never pegged you for a tea drinker,” he said, admiring my collection. “I’ve never heard of Tension Tamer.”

“I break that out when I’ve had a bad day,” I said. “It’s got a eucalyptus texture to it.”

“Well, what do you recommend?”

“My personal favorite is chocolate mint oolong. It’s costs me $2.89 for a box at Wegman’s, but it’s worth it. There’s chocolate in it. Nough said.”

“Ok, I’ll take a cup.”

I reached for the big plastic container of bagged teas and got two of the brown tea bags for the mugs. After unwrapping them, I turned on the faucet until it was steaming and poured the hot water in each mug. I didn’t have a coffee machine and I didn’t have a microwave, so that was the best thing I could do.

Then I said, “You’re not sensitive to sugar, are you?”

“No,” he said.

“Good.” And I took the sugar jar out of the fridge and poured a tablespoon of it in each cup. “All right, while they’re steeping, I need to change.”

So I ran back to my bedroom and got out of my sopping clothes. Even my underwear were wet, so I had to put on a fresh bra and panties. I wasn’t going anywhere special, so I went with jeans and a long sleeve shirt, my blue one that was thin but super soft no matter how many times I put it through the dryer.

When I came back, Daniel had taken off his jacket. He had a toned body underneath that t shirt. And his hair was a little bit darker than it was in the photos, kind of a dirty blond. And he was sipping my tea out of my puppy mug, the one with all the cute little puppies on it. He put the mug down and just stared at me.

“What?” I said.

“Do you want to have dinner with me?” he said.

“I thought we established we were having coffee, or tea, and you were leaving,” I said.

“What about lunch? Do you eat lunch?”

“Why are you asking? You’re leaving after this. That was the agreement.”

“This is a tiny flat,” he said. “And it’s cold, and there’s no furniture in your living room except for some pillows. Do you have a heating system?”

“I have plenty of pillows and I have blankets.”

“What do you have for a dining table?”

“I usually eat over the kitchen sink. And I normally don’t have company, which is why I don’t have that many games or a television.”

“Did they get repossessed too?”

“No, I’ve never had the money for them.”

“But you have a lot of DVDs. Wait, is that a Quantus poster on that wall?”

He pointed to the movie poster of him and Ed Owens from the movie, but with a graphic effect to make the two of them look like they were in different areas of the same place at the quantum bar in outer space. That was when his time at my place was over.

“Ok, I think it’s the end of our time and you should get going, if you have a busy schedule,” I said, taking his mug out of his hands and showing him to the door.

“Really? You want me to leave so soon?” he said.

“Have a nice day,” I said.

And I opened the door for him and showed him out.

“It was lovely to meet you, Lisa.”

“Nice to meet you too, Daniel,” I said.

“Please, call me Will,” he said.

I giggled. “Will? Why?”

“It’s my real name. William Daniel George Sawyer. My family’s been very keen on long English names. But I prefer that my dearest friends call me by my real name rather than just Daniel or Mr. Sawyer.”

“Like Benedict Cumberbatch,” I said. “Or Prince George, William and Kate’s son.”

“Indeed,” he said. “You sure you don’t want to have dinner with me?”

I took a deep breath. The last thing I needed now was a boyfriend, let alone a celebrity one who expected big things of me. I was better off dating a homeless guy than dating him. “Bye, Will.”

And I shut the door on him. For about fifteen seconds, I thought I did a great thing. But another second later, I remembered it had been months since a guy had asked me on a date. I hated turning him down like that, but I knew it was better than spending more money I didn’t have on an expensive dinner date at a fancy five star hotel. I also didn’t want to handle the press. The last thing on my mind was getting caught by some paparazzi. If anyone got to see me with Daniel Sawyer, they would be taking my picture every day and I wouldn’t know what to do about it. I wouldn’t be allowed any privacy or vent to anyone without a camera in my face.

That all changed when I heard someone knocking on my door when I was halfway to my bedroom to think it over. I thought it was probably some idiot who ordered pizza for the wrong apartment when I opened the door.

It was Daniel.

“Hi.”

“Hi,” I said.

“I forgot my coat,” he said.

“Oh,” I said, realizing his jacket was still on the hanger on the wall next to the kitchen.

I handed him his jacket, to which he thanked me for it. Then he turned around to leave when he suddenly returned. “I forgot,” he said.

“Yeah, I know, I gave you your jacket,” I said.

“No, not that,” he said.

He kissed me. And it wasn’t one of those playful little kisses on the cheek. It wasn’t any of those heart melting French kisses where your tongues wrap each other in bows with the other person. It was a kiss that stunned me. In school, I’ve always wanted to play the role of the character that got to kiss the guy on stage, but every time I tried to audition for Big Rock at Candy’s Mountain or Barefoot in the Park, I was never in the main cast. I was always an extra or in the tech crew. Blame it on the drama teacher who liked to pick the most popular kids in school. I wanted to write a play to perform at school after what he did, with me playing the girl who gets the guy, but I never did.

This kiss made me feel like I was on stage performing in a play or musical, and people around me were cheering us to get together. But this time, there was no audience, for all my neighbors were either at work or falling asleep in front of the television they could afford with their pension plans.

When he let me go, he said, “Now will you go to dinner with me?”

I was stunned. He just kissed me to persuade me to go out with him on a date. I still felt uncomfortable about dating a celebrity. But that thought was now in the back of my head because I didn’t want to resist the urge of kissing him again.

“I… may need a little more… convincing,” I said slowly.

“Oh really?” he said, doing his sexy smile at me. “Convincing?”

I nodded.

“Like this?”

He kissed me again. This time I was getting tingles everywhere. And then he put his arms around me and pressed his chest on me. When he let me go, we stared at each other for what felt like half a minute. At first when he pulled away the second time, I felt my face pushing forward, my body leaning in to keep kissing him. But then I barricaded the doorway with my arms and held myself down from pouncing on him.

Here’s another confession: I haven’t been kissed in almost two years. Not even on all the first dates, blind dates, and speed dates I’ve been on. I’ve even heard that speed dating is a lot less stressful than being on an interview or looking for a new job. That’s what scares me about job hunting, that I will never be employed ever again and then I’ll be homeless for the rest of my miserable life.

But three years since my last kiss? I would rather die than go without kissing Daniel Sawyer for another three or five more years.

“Convinced enough?” he said.

I sighed. He had amazing lips. I hadn’t been kissed like that since New Year’s Eve, 2011, when I was still in college. Robbie kissed me like a maniac at Vivian’s New Year’s party at her great big house in Rockville where her parents lived. That was before she met Gerry and before I got dumped by Robbie only three weeks into our relationship because he wanted an open relationship and I didn’t.

This time, it was different. I didn’t know what to think anymore.

So without hesitating, I said, “240-636-9827.”

“Sorry?” he said.

“That’s my phone number,” I said. “Call me when you want to go to dinner.”

He chuckled. “So that’s a yes to dinner?”

I kissed him on the cheek and said, “That’s a real yes.”

“No cameras,” he said. “None of your friends either.”

“No cameras, no lies,” I said. “And don’t put anything on social media.”

“I would never.”

He smirked at me again and winked before he left, this time for good. I didn’t hear from him for weeks, for I thought he must have had a very busy life getting movie deals and going to premiers, or helping third world homeless children in Darfur, Sudan. But for a long time, I thought about the kiss. It was a really good make out moment that I felt lasted the rest of the summer until the colder months kicked in. When I shut the door behind me and collapsed on my bed that day, or really it was just a couple of twin mattresses for I could never afford a bigger bed frame and a queen or king size mattress, I thought about every detail of my meeting with a real celebrity. He had really good advice to give me in the limo, he was extremely polite, and he was drop dead gorgeous. He knew my name and he had my number now. But I wondered if he ever put my number into his phone or if he just forgot. Or maybe he had no reason to put my number in because he only dates celebrities and he had no intention of dating a normal person with no fame or fortune to their account. Maybe this was just a test, or like the job interview I just had. Nothing made sense. If he was interested in a dinner date, why wouldn’t he call me? I waited a whole month for him to call me, and nothing. He was never in town. Too busy with the Hollywood life.

So I gave up. Put it on the back burner.

And then he came back.

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