Meet Aunt Josie
Ohmygod. Ohmygod. Ohmygod.
I couldn’t help it. I screamed. Thump-thump. Thump-thump. Thump-thump. Oh. My. God. Is she serious? The dance choreographer of the Alpha Centauri? As in, the best-selling boyband in the world? I could feel my chest tightening as my lungs came close to exploding from the lack of air. I dried my hands on my shorts before bringing my cell phone up to my ear again. Wait. Let’s not get too excited, Kat. Maybe I misheard her. Maybe she meant a lesser band like Boy Toy or Men-Archy. Hey, Aunt Josie can’t be that successful. Maybe she works for CU22.
“Hello?” Aunt Josie shouted into the receiver. “You still there, kiddo?”
The fangirl in me cannot be swayed. I answered with another marathon of excited giggles and shrill screaming.
Ohmygod! Ohmygod! Ohmygod!
I couldn’t help it. I screamed again and clung to the phone for dear life.
Who would have guessed that my aunt—who I haven’t seen or talked to in nine years—would be my ticket to meeting Alpha Centauri and confessing my feelings to the Eden Sioux?
Ohmygod! Ohmygod! Ohmygod—
My screams died down to raspy croaks when I noticed that everyone at the airport was staring at me like a Freak Show or something. Uh oh. Not even five minutes in California, and I’m already making myself look like a loser. Dang it. Okay. Damage control. If I’m gonna be Eden’s girlfriend, then I have to know how to deal with the public, right? Here we go. “Sorry!” I said and threw up my best Pageant Queen smile and wave.
Like magic, after a few more seconds of staring, the crowd turned away and returned to what they were doing.
I sighed in relief and ignored the red coloring my cheeks from the embarrassment.
I can’t let that happen in front of Eden. He’ll think I’m such a spaz!
“Hello?” Aunt Josie sighed in irritation. “I’m trying to talk here, Kiddo! Don’t just talk over me! That’s so rude!”
I rolled my eyes and glued the phone to my ear again. Fine. Better not get on Aunt Joey’s bad side.
“Anyway, I’m almost there so grab your things at wait for me out in the front. I’ll be driving a yellow hummer so keep an eye out for me.”
I groaned out loud. “You’re not here yet? What’s taking you so long?”
Aunt Joey sighed. “There’s a lot of traffic at this hour, Kiddo, and I left N.J. Productions later than expected because I had to make some tweaks to Alpha’s new choreographies. You wouldn’t want them to go on stage like a hot mess, right?” She laughed in my ear afterward.
Thump-thump. She’s right. I can’t rush her like that. I should be happy that she’ll even let me near the boys, let alone talk to them. All the other times, I ran into Eden have blown up in my face. If I screw this up now, then when will I ever have a chance to tell him how I feel? I took a deep breath and began collecting my things. Okay. This is my chance. I can’t screw this up by upsetting the only link I have to Eden.
Operation Kiss Aunt Joey’s Butt is officially underway—
“—Mexican, Italian, or Chinese?” Aunt Joey cut in as I waddled through the endless sea of people through the terminal.
“Huh?” I said and stared at my phone. What is she saying? She doesn’t know that I’m American?
Aunt Joey sighed. “Food, Kid. I’m talking about food. Do you want Mexican, Italian, or Chinese?”
“Oh! I’ll do Mexican!” I said with a smile. Hayden got me hooked on some fantastic Mexican food—
Oh right. Hayden. The girl who used to be my best friend.
I swallowed the growing lump in my throat. Ignore it, Kat. She was never your friend to begin with. She said so herself.
“I’ll be there in a few minutes, okay?” Aunt Joey said.
I smiled into the receiver. “Okay! I’ll see you in a bit!” After saying our goodbyes, I quickly gathered my things and began to shove my way through the crowded airport to the exit.
I guess when people saying ‘a few minutes’ in L.A., they don’t mean it. I found myself standing outside the airport 30 minutes later, standing awkwardly on the curb as I watched random families be reunited with their loved ones with bone-crushing hugs and too-wide Ronald-McDonald-looking smiles. Where could she be? I know she said that there’s traffic, but it can’t be that bad, right? I’m hungry, and my feet hurt from standing in the same place for so long.
But still. No whining, Kat. I have to endure this.
I’m closer to Eden now than any other fangirl has ever been. Pretty soon, I’ll have the privilege of watching him laugh, eat, shower, sleep, and work all day long without anyone nagging me about school nights and house chores. It’s finally summer vacation—and I couldn’t ask for a better way to spend it. Oh. My. God. The girls are gonna be so jealous of me—and I’ll show Hayden that I’m not some Nancy Nobody. Eden will accept me into his circle of glitz and glam, and I’ll finally be somebody. I’ll be that girl that everybody doubted but ended up with the last laugh.
I chuckled under my breath as I watched more groups of people come and go through the front doors of the airport. What’s Hayden gonna do with herself? Sit on her uncle’s farmland in Reno playing with Betty Jo the Pig? Serves her right for using me. I’m so done with her anyway. I’m in Hollywood now—and nothing is going to stop me from having the time of my life here. Not Hayden, not my mother, not haters—nobody. Just Eden and I walking along the sandy beaches, hand-in-hand as we watched the last of the sunset together.
I finally get to have a happy ending.
My thoughts were interrupted by the blast of a car horn cutting through the air. I screamed and jumped three feet in the air, my belongings dropping from my arms and spilling onto the sidewalk. What the heck was that? With a deep scowl on my face, I looked up—into the blinding headlights of a roaring canary yellow hummer approaching the curb I was standing on. “Stupid Aunt Joey,” I grumbled as I quickly gathered my things and stood up, ignoring the chuckles from the strangers around me. Ugh. Did she have to embarrass me like that?
The passenger’s side window rolled down as Aunt Joey exploded into a great fit of laughter.
I scowled and stomped my way over to the back of the car with my luggage.
Seriously? Does she think scaring the living daylights out of me is funny?
“I’m so sorry, kid!” she gasped through hysterical laughter. “The look on your face was priceless! I’ve never seen someone jump so high in the air like that!”
She was wiping tears from her eyes as I shoved my luggage inside the car, my face growing hot with anger.
Ugh. Do I have to be the butt of everyone’s jokes here too?
Well…whatever. As long as Eden doesn’t see me as a joke, then I don’t care what anyone else has to say about it.
No matter what happens—I have to let him know how I feel.
“You need any help? I can get out and—”
“No, thank you,” I said slowly and a sickly sweet voice. I could feel my eyebrow twitching in annoyance. “I’m fine, Aunt Joey. No need to worry about me.”
I can’t sabotage my final shot at making this happen. I’m going to be spending the whole summer with Alpha, so that gives me three months to make him fall in love with me and become his girlfriend no matter what. I’m not backing down. I’ve got this in the bag.
With a hum and a smile on my face, I closed the doors and quickly climbed into the passenger’s seat.
“Where to?” I ask as Aunt Joey revved her engine and pulled away from the curb.
“I know this amazing Mexican restaurant…”
After weaving through the crazy crowd of L.A. pedestrians, we disappeared into the setting sun towards our destination.
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