Off to Los Angeles
“Excuse me! Ow, excuse me!”
I shoved some more weeping pedestrians aside while half-dragging my suitcases behind me. The whole entire block was crowded: the streets filled with news vans, cops cruisers, and random cars. Sidewalks packed with crying teen girls holding each other and singing in loud, off-key tones. I clammed my hands over my ears as a symphony of car horns blasting through the air, angry threats, and excited screaming afterwards.
“…and what about a later appearance for your fans here in Dixie? What can you say about that?”
My ears twitched as they picked up on the last bit of that female reporter’s statement. Who is appearing somewhere? I shoved my way through another wave of crying girls. What is going on here anyway? A girl can’t get through the airport without having to swim through half the country? A hand suddenly reached out and shoved my shoulder back, sending me tumbling into another group of sobbing teens.
“Move your fugly face!” someone snarled and pushed me forward.
I staggered forward and clung to my luggage as support before I face planted into the ground.
I spun around clumsily to face my aggressor. Who does this chick think she is?
“Eew! Get off me! Look at that ugly hair!” another girl snapped. “Don’t you have any manners? I’m trying to take a picture.”
“You’re the one who’s pushing!” I shot back and curled my hands into fists. “I’m trying to get to the stupid plane and you’re taking a picture of this stupid place?”
“What kind of fan are you anyway? Don’t tell me you’re a Boy Toy fan! Gross!” came a nasty response somewhere in the crowd.
I wrinkled my nose in disgust. “A Boy Toy fan? Me? Are you out of your mind? Who in the world would like their music?”
“You since you clearly don’t know what we’re for!” A Latina girl stepped forward and fixed her venomous glare at me.
“Didn’t I just say that I’m trying to catch a stupid flight?” I hissed and tightened my grip on my luggage. “So why would I even care to know why you’re even—”
“Here they come!” someone squealed. “Shut up you guys!”
The glaring Latina girl burst into a jag of excited giggled. I groaned out loud. Can’t this stupid day just end already? I’m already in enough trouble as it is.
“AHHHHHHHH!” they shrieked and all moved forward.
I cried out and fell to my knees again with a curse. Seriously? Who could be so important that this would be happening again? I mean, Alpha Centauri, yes, but—my heart suddenly skipped a beat. I looked around me slowly, now registering the familiar banners, posters, and glow sticks. I opened my mouth to speak, ask if what my mind was thinking is true, but my voice stuck in my throat.
No way, I thought and mechanically climbed to my feet.
This can’t be right. They are on a plane to California by now. There’s no way they could still be here.
But the screams and cries said otherwise as my confirmation spilled out of their gaping mouths: “Alpha Centauri!”
In a flash, I was on my feet and running, heaving my heavy luggage behind me and mowing down any Beta in my way. My hands were sweaty and my eyes were filling with tears all over again. Ohmygod. Ohmygod. Ohmygod. The Gods must be smiling down on me yet again. Even the nasty scratches and swelling on his being didn’t take away from his masculine perfection. My heart was thudding in m ears and my legs suddenly grew too weak to hold me upright.
I dragged my tongue over my lips to moisten them and took a leap.
He was with the other members of Alpha and a small old lady clinging to his upper arm as security struggled to make a path through the growing mush of crazy Betas. I couldn’t help the knot of jealousy twisted into a cold, hard ball at the base of my throat. So…so he’s into old hags now? Who is this fossil and who does she think she is grabbing onto my future husband like that? To hell with that prehistoric relic.
A scream of pain erupted from my throat as my head was jerked back by an invisible hand pulling violently at my hair. My scalp was burning and I swung a blind fist—and connected with the jaw of the Beta closest to me. Her little blond head lurched back with the force of an unexpected hit, but she didn’t fall over like I thought she would. Instead, she quickly righted herself and locked her icy blue eyes on me. I planted my feet firmly on the ground and raised my fists.
If it’s a fight she wants, then it’s a fight she will get.
“Get out of the way!” someone cried and forced me to the side.
I caught myself and spun, my eyes narrowed in anger, and connected the palm of my hand to the cheek of the girl jumping next to me. She gasped and stumbled into the Betas standing to her right, causing them all to go sprawling to the dirty ground and drop their things on the cracked pavement with a noisy clatter. I grinned in satisfaction. Courtesy of Mrs. Eden Sioux.
“Don’t hit her bitch!” yet another Beta growled. “That’s my sister!”
“Bring it on!” I snarled and blindly started swinging, a brittle battle cry cutting through the air. “I’m not scared of you, stupid slut!”
“Who do you bitches think you are?” A redheaded Beta with glasses responded. “No hitting members of the fandom! It’s an official rule!”
“Oh shut up!” An African American Beta snapped back. “Don’t be such a baby!”
“Quit bullying each other!” A fat, Caucasian Beta howled. “We are here for the boys—not any of you! Clearly you’re not true Alpha Centauri fans at all!”
“I am so!” I protested and glared hotly at her. I noticed the dark purple streaks cutting through her short mouse brown hair. Yuck. Typical mean Kai fan. “I am Alpha’s biggest fan! What do you know about them, skank?”
The Kai-biased Beta looked taken aback by my words. She opened her mouth to argue, but clamped it shut moments later. Ha. A newbie Alpha fan. Who does she think she’s messing with? I was a fan of the boys even before they were discovered. How many countless YouTube covers have I watched, commented, and shared on my beloved Eden’s old channel? I have bought nearly every magazine Alex was featured in before his transition to music, and I tuned into every TV show Kai acted in. How dare this fat troublemaker come and accuse me of my loyalties?
I huffed and elbowed my way back to the front of the crowd where Alpha’s pillar-like securities stood before us like the keepers of some ancient Egyptian tomb.
And I met his lively green eyes again. I stumbled forward, barely noticing how my luggage dropped away from my numbing hands, my eyes unable to look away. He was staring at me, unwavering and unblinking, as security hurried him along with the rest of his management team into the airport. My head turned and my gaze followed his movements until he was nothing but a blur of green and gold.
“Eden!” I called out though I knew it was too late.
I doors swung shut right behind him. I shook my head in disbelief. No. I can’t just let him get away without hearing me one last time.
With another faltering battle cry, I reared back on the heels of my feet and leaped forward, fingernails out and teeth bore like a ferocious vampire.
“Givehimbacktome!” I ordered at the top of my lungs.
The young security guard let out a frightened cry and stumped backward into another, who shot him a glare for his cowardice. “Don’t let them through!” he bellowed and the other guards nodded in agreement. “Reinforcements will be here so enough, you buncha brats!”
Uh oh. I halted in my tracks. The police? Another attempted arrest? Me?
I could feel my blood pounding in my ears as I whipped around and sprung back into the crowd of Betas. I kicked, punched, and bit my way through until I relocated my luggage on the side of road and hopped back onto the streets. My chest heaved as I bent over, hands on my knees, and I drew in long, shaky breath. Sorry juvie. Maybe next time—when I’m ready to be convicted as a criminal.
“Katie!” my mother’s voice sounded strained in the distance.
I nearly jumped out of my skin. I peeked over my shoulder and smiled sheepishly as mom glared down at me from behind the cracked lenses of her glasses. With an angry huff, she wrapped a hand around my upper arm. I winced. Ouch. She dragged me away from the brawling Betas and we backed up as a large SUV drove past, the driver looking very pissed off with the situation.
Whatever. If he were in our place, then he would do the same thing.
“I cannot believe your behavior, young lady!” mom hissed into my ear. “What has gotten into you? Why are you acting like a crazy monkey for a group of famous punk womanizers? Honestly, Kitty-Kat, you know better than this! I know I raised you to have dignity!”
I wrenched my arm out of his grasp and glared at her.
“They are not womanizers mom!” I protested and stomped my foot in defiance. “You don’t know them so why are you insulting them? What did they ever do to you?”
Mom shook her head disapprovingly. “They are the reason why my only daughter is acting out recently. So why won’t I be mad at them? It’s clear that these delinquents are the true cause of your recent rebellious activities.”
I rolled my eyes at her. Me? Rebellious? Them? Delinquents?
“Don’t say that,” I snapped through clenched teeth. “Stop saying that. They are nice and sweet and always worrying about their fans. I’m not doing anything wrong so why am I a criminal? Is it so bad to you that I just want to meet my favorite boy band?”
Mom narrowed her eyes at me. “When you start talking back to me and staying out past your curfew, then yes, it is wrong to me. Kitty-Kat, I don’t like the road that you’re going down. I mean, you don’t even know these boys. So how can you possibly vouch for their characters? You’re a young woman now. It’s high time you start acting like it.”
I curled my hands into fists at my sides. “I know I’m a young woman now—you’re the one who doesn’t want to accept it. Always bossing me around, telling me who to be and what I can like. Maybe you are the reason I’m acting this way. Maybe you are the reason why I’m so happy to go to California for the summer.” I took a step forward and gave mom my hardest glare. “Because it means that I won’t have to be around you anymore.”
I ignored the tears pooling at the rims of her eyes as I turned away from her and disappeared into the crowd of Betas.
I don’t get my mom sometimes. I like to think that I’m not a bad kid: I go to school, doing my homework, and take care of chores that I don’t want to deal with. I never stole, I rarely lie, and I hardly ever cheat since unless I have to. So what else does she want from me? I sighed and let my eyelids flutter shut. Getting through the airport was more difficult—and tiring—then I expected. But I was madder at myself for not telling him how I feel right then and there.
I pictured his glorious face in my mind and felt my heart flutter happily inside my chest. Gosh, when did I become such a coward? It’s not too hard, right? Just watking up to your crush and telling him how you feel. I mean, I’ve seen Hayden do it and things always turned out well for her. The thought of Hayden send a pang of guilt in my chest. We would be friends if mom didn’t tell her mom about what happened. Sure, I shouldn’t have gone, but I couldn’t just miss it either. That time could have been the last time I ever saw Eden. How could I pass up the opportunity to confess my love to him?
Who am I kidding? He may not even care about what I have to say. I’m not pretty, I’m not rich or famous, and I definitely don’t know how to deal with rejection if—when—he decides to turn me down. Whereas, if Hayden liked him and she was to tell him how she felt, would he say yes to her? She’s tall with curves in the right places, exotic with a pretty accent, and a face that should be on every Seventeen magazine cover. I don’t have any of those things. No guys has ever asked me out at school so why would a mega famous pop star who can have anybody that he wants with a snap of his fingers?
Hayden was right. I’m just wasting my time chasing after him then.
I blinked back the bitter tears in my eyes. Maybe they all saw it coming but didn’t know how to tell me that I didn’t have a chance with such an amazing and handsome guy.
Was I really so deluded into thinking that I could get a guy like that to like me? What was I thinking? Why didn’t I see this before?
I sighed shakily and dried my eyes. I picked up my phone and flipped it open, noting a few missed calls and text messages from my mother and someone else whose number I don’t recognize. I squinted my eyes against the bright screen and felt my finger punch the number in. This isn’t Hayden’s number. Who called me then? Only two or three people have my number.
I glued the phone to my ear and listened as it rang.
A low woman’s voice answered on the other end after the third ring. “Katie?” she said slowly. “Kate? You there, kiddo?”
“Who is this?” I questioned and directed my attention to the window, watching the plane zoom past the clouds against a beautiful blue sky.
The woman laughed. “Sorry,” she said with another giggle. “It’s been nearly nine years since the last time I talked to you. Of course you don’t remember me.”
My breath hitched in my throat. Ohmygod. Can it be…Aunt Josie?
She cleared her throat before speaking again. “I, uh, tried to call you before, but you didn’t answer so I left a voicemail. Just, um, wanted to tell you that I will be meeting you at the airport and I wanted to know if you have a picture you can send me so I’ll know that it’s you. I know that, uh, you looked a lot like Lauren did but that was nine years ago, you know? So…just want to make sure that I have the right person.”
I smiled. She’s still so weird. At least she doesn’t hate me.
“Yeah!” I said. “I’ll send you one. Is this a cell or house phone? I don’t take pictures much, but I can do one right now.”
Aunt Josie sighed with relief. “Sure, kiddo. This is my cell by the way. When you land, please call and text the photo and I’ll come to you. You have any food preferences? I was hoping to eat out since I’m such a horrible cook.” I laughed gratefully. I’m a horrible cook too.
“Nope,” I said and grinned like an idiot. “No preference. Anything is good to me, Aunt Josie.”
Aunt Josie chuckled. “Please call me Aunt Jo or Joey. Everybody does. And BBQ it is! Ooh there is so much I want to tell you and show you! I think you’ll like Los Angeles a lot better than boring Dixie, you know? Better looking people, amazing food, beaches not too far away—you know how to swim right? Oh! Don’t forget surfing. I love to surf when I’m not working.”
I squealed in delight into the receiver. This is awesome. “What do you work as?” I asked, barely able to stop jumping up and down in my seat. I ignored the warning glares from my neighbors beside me.
“I’m a dance choreographer for very big people in the entertainment industry.”
I couldn’t help it. I screamed at the top of my lungs. The heads of the passengers swiveled around in my direction, chest heaving and eyes frozen wide. A baby started crying and two flight attendants rushed to my aid while the third attempted to calm the panicking passengers trying to throw themselves from the windows.
“Miss, is something wrong?” the first attendant asked and knitted her dark eyebrows together.
“Are you hurt? Has something happened?” the second one asked.
I smiled sheepishly at them. “Sorry. I got some good news and I just reacted without thinking. I’m really sorry.”
They both sighed and glared at me. “Please control your actions while you’re on this flight. We have people here who assumed a bomb threat and were ready to harm themselves. Make sure it doesn’t happen again in the future.”
I sighed and nodded grimly. “Okay. Sorry. Again.”
Once they were gone, I dove back into my conversation with Aunt Josie. She’s so cool, I decided and squealed under my breath.
“Who do you work for right now?” I asked and jumped in my seat again.
Aunt Joey laughed. “I think you may know them. Almost everybody on the planet does.”
I rolled my eyes. “What’s with the suspense? Who is it already?”
Aunt Joey seemed to smile into the receiver. “The hottest boy band of the century. Alpha Centauri.”