Chapter 8: The search for Cinderella begins
~ She could not get her big toe into it, for the shoe was too small for her. ~
“Come one, come all! Prove that you’re Peyton Charming’s mystery girl!”
Peyton sighed. Duncan was trying to help, but it just wasn’t doing any good.
“Don’t you think we should try a different approach?” Peyton asked Duncan.
He look surprised. “Why? At this rate you’d have seen a quarter of the girls that go to this school by the end of the day. Your girl has to be at least one of them.”
“Yeah, but that’s the thing.” He sighed. “This is exactly the kind of thing that my mystery girl would avoid. She wouldn’t want all this attention brought on her.”
Duncan shrugged and called the next girl up in line.
Peyton had been questioning girls on the charms on the bracelet all morning and now all of lunch. He must’ve interviewed about a hundred girls by this point, all claiming to be his mystery girl. Not one of them had guessed the charms on the bracelet correctly.
Peyton was starting to think that he’d never find his mystery girl no matter how hard he looked for her. It seemed that she just didn’t want to be found.
He remembered the night he first met her, at the party. It seemed like so long ago, and he hadn’t even spent much time with her before she left him. Somehow she had affected him so much in a little less than an hour
He felt like he was in some sappy romance novel where the guy falls for the girl at first sight.
Next thing you know, they’re going to make a novel about this.
Peyton only wished that he could know more about the blonde girl he danced with. Just having her charm bracelet didn’t seem to be enough.
Maybe he should’ve convinced her to stay with him. Sure, most girls wouldn’t have needed convincing - he was Peyton Charming, but she wasn’t most girls.
The next girl in line walked up to the table. She was smiling from head to toe and was wearing an enormous amount of blue eye shadow. Her enormous amount of plastic jewelry also added to the fact that she looked a little too young to even be in High School. He figured this wasn’t his mystery girl, but he had to let everyone have a chance.
She flattened down a stray piece of hair and opened her mouth. “A heart, a P charm, a stiletto, and a camera.”
He leaned back in his chair and ran his hand through his hair, something he did when he was anxious. “Sorry, I’m afraid those weren’t the right charms.”
Her face fell and she broke out in tears. “But, I’m your soul mate, Peyton!”
She continued to cry and yell out nonsense, so Duncan had to personally escort her out of the cafeteria. It was crazy fans like her that made Peyton doubt his career choices.
Duncan sat back at his side at the table and turned to Peyton. “So, how about that one?”
“Dude, can’t we just take a break for today?”
Duncan gasped. “What about your mystery girl? What if she’s in the back of the line waiting to prove to you who she is? You can’t abandon her now.”
Peyton groaned and ran his hand through his hair again. This was a useless and unnecessary process to finding his girl. At this rate he’d never find her.
“Fine. Call the next girl up.”
Peyton zoned out and let Duncan continue the search. He let himself be wrapped up in the memories of his first years at high school, before he became famous.
He had still been with Evelyn in those first years. She was just as much of a head case and a spoiled brat, but Peyton hadn’t really caught on. It would take him many more years of being famous to appreciate the people in his life who weren’t rich or famous.
He remembered one day in particular when Evelyn’s two henchmen (he was pretty sure their names were Ana and Drew) had joined them on a trip to the mall.
“Evelyn, this would totally look great on you!” One had said.
(To be honest, Peyton wasn’t sure which one was which, even though they looked nothing alike.)
The whole day they’d been saying things like that. It was obvious that she only kept them around because of their money and how often they showered her with compliments.
“I think it would, what do you think, Peyton?”
Peyton had faltered. “Great.”
Evelyn was obviously upset with his response, but didn’t say anything about it.
When they left to go try on stuff in Victoria’s Secret, Peyton took it as his chance to take a break.
Peyton, besides the fact of being a hormonal teenage boy, hated that place. He felt awkward whenever he went in there. All the moms would look at him disapprovingly, like he was breaking some sort of hidden rule by just being there.
So, Peyton escaped to the store across from the Victoria’s Secret, the Music Hut.
Inside there was every musical instrument imaginable. They had everything from an accordion to a zurna and everything in between.
He used to love going in this store. Well, he did until his father insisted that he wouldn’t get famous playing background in some unknown band. His father suggested, or more like forced, him to sign onto his record company as a solo artist just a couple of days ago.
If you asked Peyton, which no one ever did, he’d rather be doing something he loved than be famous.
“What are you doing in this old ratty place, honey? We still need to go to Sephora and that cute little dairy free, vegan, and gluten free ice cream bar in the food court.”
Of course. Because someone thought that real people who weren’t twigs (*cough* Evelyn) would love to eat ice cream that is no longer edible.
“Right, as you wish.” He’s said sarcastically, quoting a favorite movie of his. She had never caught on.
“Peyton!” He was brought back to the present by Duncan.
“Yes, what? I was totally listening.”
Duncan sighed in defeat. “Look dude, if you don’t want to do this, we can pick it up again after school.”
Peyton looked at the long line of girls still waiting to guess the charms on the bracelet. “No, I’ll keep going. Who knows, she might be in this line.”
Duncan smiled and fist bumped him. “That’s my man.”
Cindy walked with Fanny through the lunch line, trying to ignore the pain in her gut when she looked over to the middle of the lunch room, where Peyton was holding the ‘interviews’ for his mystery girl.
Most every single girl in the cafeteria had abandoned their lunches to go wait in that line. Even a couple guys were hiding in there.
“Cindy!” Fanny snapped in front of her. “Were you even listening to me?”
“Yes, you were talking about the interviews again.”
She stared at Cindy with narrow eyes. “Good guess.”
Cindy didn’t mean to ignore her best friend, she was just preoccupied with thinking about her current problem at hand. She was trying to figure out how to get her bracelet back without actually telling Peyton that she was his mystery girl.
“Cindy, you have to tell him.” Fanny argued, continuing their never-ending conversation on the topic.
“Why? We all know that it’s just a publicity stunt anyways. As soon as the public finds out that I’m his mystery girl, he won’t want anything to do with me.”
Fanny gave her a disapproving look.
“Maybe he’s different than what the media thinks he is. I mean - you said it yourself. You told me that he was kind and an overall nice guy when you talked to him at the dance.”
Cindy scoffed. “Yeah, that was before I found out that he was the Peyton Charming. Trust me, he’s better off not knowing that I’m his mystery girl.”
Fanny frowned. Cindy knew that she was disappointed in her. Fanny wanted her to take the high road and just tell Peyton who she was, but she couldn’t. She had enough disappointments in her life, she didn’t want Peyton’s rejection to be another.
And, besides, it would never work. Pop stars preferred size two models with a taste for expensive jewels. They didn’t date aspiring singers living under the tyranny of a washed-up step-mother.
Cindy unconsciously rubbed her wrist, where her bracelet was normally wrapped around. She would absentmindedly turn it around on her wrist ever since she was little. It felt weird now not to be able to do it now.
Cindy dropped her hand as they sat down at their lunch table. It would be best if she just didn’t turn around and see the interview table. That way she wouldn’t be tempted.
“Hello? Earth to Cindy!” Fanny snapped in front of her face again.
“Sorry.” Cindy apologized, stuffing a soggy cafeteria fry in her mouth.
“Man, this shit must be really getting to you if you keep staring off into space like that. Maybe it’s a sign.”
“A sign?” Cindy knew Fanny was hopeful, but signs? Now she really was talking crazy.
“Yeah, you know the more you think about a guy the more you know you like them.” She countered, stuffing a fry in her mouth.
Cindy scoffed. “Yeah, right. You think about that one guy from One Direction how often? And can you say that you actually like him in a romantically sense?”
Fanny blushed. “Shut up, Cindy. This is different for you.”
“Because you’ve actually met the guy and had a conversation with him. Heck, you even sang with him on stage. Not to mention the fact that you kissed him.”
Now it was Cindy’s turn to blush.
“Technically, he kissed me. It wasn’t like it was voluntary.” Cindy argued halfheartedly.
She gave her a look that suggested, ‘you’re joking, right?’ and pointed a perfectly manicured nail in her direction. “You’re telling me that a pop star kissed you and you didn’t kiss back?”
“I never said I didn’t kiss him back.” Cindy said under her breath.
That was the wrong thing to say in the presence of Fanny Goode. The same girl who selflessly believed in love so much that she named every couple kissing in the hallways her OTP.
“That’s it, it’s settled.” She gave Cindy her sternest look. “You have to go over there right now and tell him that the charm bracelet is yours. You two need to get together.”
Cindy laughed dryly. “Fanny it was just a kiss.” And a duet with the most sincere guy she’d ever met, Cindy added to herself.
She didn’t know why she was denying it so much. If she was being honest, he was a pretty cool guy when she was talking to him like he was just some regular high school student. What made her want to run away and hide from the guy was her own personal experiences. People like him weren’t supposed to like people like her.
She didn’t want to be disappointed. She didn’t want to be let down by her wild expectations.
After all, expectations often exceeded reality.