What A Jerk!
“You didn’t have to be so damn rude to her,” I grumbled as we made our way back to the hotel.
Kai, once again, ignored what I’d said and pulled me along with him by my upper arm. We wove through the Dixie town pedestrians with our hoods pulled low over our faces and our sunglasses on in case we were to run into a crazed fan. Why we were wearing sunglasses at one in the morning was beyond me. Kai had asked me- no, forced me- to put it on with ‘Don’t ask me dumb questions’ as his response.
The night was fairly warm; the sky was an inky black color with millions of stars freckling it and twinkling like tiny, sparkling diamonds. The sounds of jubilant laughter and cars shooting past us like heat seeking missiles rung through the air. I took a deep breath and sighed. If I wasn’t in such a crummy mood than I would’ve taken the time to actually enjoy this time while I still could.
Living your life in the limelight wasn’t as glamorous as it sounded to most people: living a life of singing rehearsals, dance practices, constant travel, photo shoots, millions of interviews, recording sessions, and constant paparazzi hounding you was exhausting. In fact, the time and energy that went into publicity for the band was just downright uncomfortable and somewhat annoying when they started asking questions about your personal life.
As much as I honestly enjoyed the perks that being a celebrity had, I also just missed being at home with my grandparents and my little brother just sitting around and doing things that regular, non-famous kids did every single day. Like actually go to school for instance. As horrifying and as crazy as it sounded, I missed it.
I sighed again and pulled out my cell phone to check the time.
“Kai,” I said. I wasn’t expecting him to reply to me. Why would he? We hardly spoke to each other during work hours, so why would we talk to each other now? I cleared my throat loudly to try to get his attention.
“Kai- it’s almost two in the morning. We need to stop somewhere and call for a ride.” Still, he didn’t respond to me.
I sucked in my breath and pinched the bridge of my nose to maintain my annoyance and hold it inside. This whole rivalry thing between us was just so stupid and lame. If he couldn’t stand my being alive, then why didn’t he just quit the band and leave? I’d bet everyone could live their lives better without his aura of negativity looming all around us everyday.
“Kai,” I snapped through gritted teeth. “Stop. Now.”
He stopped shortly and shot me one of his infamous glares over his shoulders. I rolled my eyes and scowled t back at him.
“I’m calling Alex for a ride. If you still wanna walk, then go ahead. I’m not doing it.” I punched in Alex’s number on my blackberry and held it to my ear.
Kai sighed with impatience and half-dragged me aside so we weren’t standing in the middle of the sidewalk. I tapped my shoe against the colorless sidewalk as I waited for Alex to pick us. To my surprise, Kai hadn’t abandoned me and took off on his own like he normally would’ve. I guess even he was tired of walking the distance too.
Alex answered on the fifth ring. “Hello? Eden?”
“Alex,” I said and rolled my eyes again when Kai let out another loud sigh of impatience.
If he didn’t like waiting for me, then why hadn’t he called for a ride? Ugh. It was hard not to hate this guy. Whether or not he was actually like that or if he spent his practicing was beyond me. “We need a ride. It’s getting late and we-”
“Come get us,” Kai growled after he forcefully plucked my phone out of my hand.
I gritted my teeth together to keep from snapping at him. What an ass. Kai shoved a hand into his pocket and turned his back to me as he talked to Alex in a hushed whisper. I huffed and folded my arms over my chest. I wondered if I could knock him out cold if I hit hard enough….
“St. Charles and Westbrook. In front of some clothing shop,” he said.
He nodded his head at something Alex was saying and then chuckled darkly. I shivered and pulled my hood lower over my head. He wasn’t human; he couldn’t be. How could one person just make you feel so…strange? So…cold all of a sudden? Kai chuckled again and looked over at me. They were talking about me again. I was sure of it. Kai only laughed and looked at me when they were making fun of me.
I wondered if conspiring against your band mate was a law? If it wasn’t, then it should’ve been.
“Alright then,” Kai said and nodded again with a chuckle. “See you soon.”
He hung up and stuffed my phone in his pocket. What the hell? I scowled up at him.
“Gimme my phone, Kai,” I said and held out my hand.
He chuckled and reached up to scratch his chin. I breathed out slowly through my nose. Why did everyone think it was so funny to pick on me all the time? I may be younger but did that mean I didn’t have any feelings? Fifteen wasn’t that young. If I was old enough to operate a vehicle, then I was old enough to be treated like an adult right? Kai was nineteen years old. He technically counted as a teenager too. I didn’t count him as a full adult until he reached Alex’s age, which was twenty-one.
“Kai.” These games were starting to get on my last nerve. “Give. It. To. Me.”
He smirked a little and rolled his eyes at me. I sighed loudly and shifted my attention to the pedestrians passing by us, clearly oblivious to our identities. Kai reached inside his pocket and pulled out an iPod. This is going to be a long wait, I thought and leaned back against the wall of the Macy’s standing tall behind us.
I sniffled and wiped the backs of my hands against my wet face and dripping nose and squeezed my eyes shut to keep the salty tears from pouring out. How could one special event go from being the best moment of a fan girl’s life to being one of the most embarrassing disasters a person could experience? I held the phone in my trembling hand to my ear and listening as Hayden continued to bash Kai.
She paused to take a breath and started up again, this time mixing some Spanish swear words into the mix. I only recognized ‘puto’ and ‘bastardo’ from my Spanish class. For a second, I’d actually felt bad for Kai by the way Hayden was cursing at his name, despite the fact that Kai was her favorite out of the three boy banders. She had a thing for bad boys. I sniffled and stood up to brush the bits of pointy wood chips off the back of my pants. What good was it doing me just sitting here sobbing? That wasn’t going to change the fact that Kai had to be one of the rudest celebrities on the planet and that my chance to catch Eden’s autograph was officially down the drain.
Eden. I pictured the look he’d given Kai when he was being rude to me. I shivered as I remembered the cold impatience in his voice, the way his eyes looked, almost empty and black. ‘Enough. We’re. Not. Signing. Anything.’ My stomach dropped to my knees and my heart gave a painful squeeze. At least it had been me. How would another Alpha Centauri fan handled it? How would Hayden have handled it?
By the way she was shrieking in my ear, I think I had a pretty good idea.
“Hello?” she said. “Hello? Kat? Are you there?”
“Yeah,” I croaked in my raspy voice. I winced at the sound.
“Don’t cry over him, Katie,” Hayden replied.
I could almost hear the scowl on her face. “Just what kind of pop star is that rude to a fan? I’d say it’s pretty obvious that he thinks he’s all that. Ha! That kind of behavior coming from the guy who dated the biggest slut in all of Hollywood history! That Barbara-What’s-her-face’ is really something…”
Her voice trailed off as my mind wondered. I crossed the length of the playground and started to walk home.
I still couldn’t believe that someone as good-looking as Kai, putting aside his revolting personality, could even considered Barbara Van Vorst as girlfriend material, considering the fact that there are rumors flying around that she’d slept with more than three married actors for cash. Gold-digging skank much?
“Um…Hayden? We don’t know that they went out. They were only spotted once hanging out together and that was because the band was-”
“Sure they were!” Hayden insisted. “They hugged each other!”
“So?” I asked and blinked. Since when was a guy and a girl hugging each other considered dating? Hayden hugs her guy friends all the time, but did it mean she dated them? No. I sighed and let Hayden continue to swear in my ear. What a crummy night. I spotted my house down the street and yawned aloud. I hadn’t realized just how tiring chasing after a certain hottie all day could be. First thing I planned to do was go inside and take a nice long, hot, steamy shower before bed…I stopped short and patted my pockets for my cell.
A wave of dread and panic suddenly washed over me. What time was it anyway? With a grunt, I took off in the direction of my home, hoping and silently praying to God that mom wasn’t awake.
She has said that she’d had a very stressful day, hadn’t she? Huffing and panting audibly, I pushed the door opened and stepped inside the brightly-lit front hall. Uh oh. The lights were still on. This wasn’t a good sign.
“Okay, Katie,” I mumbled under my breath and took slow, cautious steps toward the stairs after closing the door behind me gently. “Here we go.”
I stepped onto the first step and looked around for any sign of my mother. I sighed with relief. I took another step and then another.
And then my cell phone went off, flooding the silent house with Alpha Centauri’s new hit single, Urge. I mentally kicked myself in the head. Why did sneaking in have to be so hard sometimes?
“Katherine Kitten Linda Holm!” my angry, anxious mother screeched from somewhere in the kitchen. “Just where have you been? It’s nearly ten thirty in the evening!”
I sighed and stomped down the stairs toward her. Might as well get the yelling part over with instead of going through it in the morning. Dang it.
Mom fisted her hands on her narrow hips and pressed her lips together into a thin line. She looked like she’d been crying; her eyes were red and puffy with a surge of tears glistening and bubbling on the rims, threatening to spill onto her red cheeks. Her hair, normally done in a neat, shiny, auburn bob, was now flying in all directions, as if she’d dove into a tornado head first.
I blinked up at her. Was she really that worried? I was only gone for a second….
“Katherine,” mom said sternly and her hazel eyes seemed to harden.
I gulped and held my breath, waiting for what she was going to say next. Only she didn’t say anything; instead, she’d settled for standing there giving me a hard stare and not saying a single word to me. That wasn’t like her. She’d normally yell as much as her lungs would allow. My mother was a bit hysterical. But not today. I took a deep breath and took a coy step forward.
“I can explain,” I said. “When I left, it was still early. It was still eight thirty and then when I got to the park-”
“Go upstairs to your room. I…” She sighed and ran a hand through her tousled hair. Something was definitely up and it was starting to make my stomach churn with unease.
“Mom?” I said carefully, slowly. “Are you alright? What happened?”
“What happened?” mom echoed incredulously, then threw her hand back and let out a humorless guffaw. I shivered and swallowed the growing lump in my throat.
“I catch my teenage daughter sneaking back into the house after curfew, and you’re asking me what’s happened.” She laughed again and almost winced at the sound.
Somehow, for some reason, I had the feeling that mom wasn’t mad at me, but at something else.
“I’m sorry,” I said and bowed my head. “I lost track of time. It won’t happen again.”
“Oh, you bet it won’t,” she said and scowled at me. “It won’t happen because you’re grounded for two weeks.”
I opened my mouth to protest, but she’d cut me off.
“No computer, no TV, no cell phone or texting, no electronics, and no hanging out with friends. You are to be in the house at eight o’clock sharp. No later. You are to do all the household chores, prepare dinner at seven, and spend the rest of your evening in your bedroom. If you are to fail at this, Katherine Kitten Linda Holm, then your punishment will be extended and more consequences shall be added. Is this clear?”
I stared at her as if I’d just witnessed the return of E.T. Had I heard right? I blinked and reached up to rub my eyes. I was grounded? For what? It wasn’t like I did it on purpose. I lost track of time for God’s sake! Suddenly I wasn’t allowed to make one stupid mistake? Mom’s scowl deepened and her eyes narrowed.
“Have I made myself clear, young lady?” she demanded acidly.
I jumped at her tone, but, reluctantly, nodded. “Yes, ma’am.”
“Your cell phone.” She extended her hand in my direction and stared at me expectantly, like a teacher awaiting the answer to a math problem from a student who hadn’t raised her hand to answer it.
“Cell phone. I want it, Katherine. Now.”
“I’m not going to repeat myself!” she snapped at me.
With a groan, I reached into my pocket and placed the phone in her hand. Not after saying my silent goodbyes though.
With I huff and a cold stare, I stomped my way up to my room and made a point of how unfair it was by slamming the door shut as hard as I could. I jumped onto my bed and screamed into my pillow as loud and as long as I could. Just what exactly was her problem anyway?
“Eden! There you are!” Grandma cried when I waltzed in through the door of our hotel suite with Kai and Alex. She scooped me up into a tight bear hug and peppered my face with bird-like pecks she called kisses. Ugh.
“Hey, Grams,” I said and smiled sheepishly.
I hugged her tightly and glared at Kai and Alex as they moved off into the room, chuckling under their breaths and commenting to each other in low, discrete voice. Jerks. Kelsey sighed with relief and came over to hug me.
“We were so worried about you guys,” she said when we hugged.
“Yeah,” I said. “I can imagine. It was taking us too long to get home so-”
“I’m out,“Kai said and jumped onto the bed face-down. I rolled my eyes at him. God, he was such a damn jerk sometimes. Grandma kissed my cheeks some more and dragged me over to the bed to sit down. I sighed and rubbed my eyes wearily. Who knew that one whole day in one town would be this exhausting? I yawned loudly. Time to hit the sack, I suppose.
“Are you alright? Have you eaten? Where in the world were you? What exactly happened? Did you run into any trouble? Did you-”
“Um…I’m fine, yes, downtown, kicked out of the car, and not really.” Grandma scowled and turned to the door. “I outta teach that filthy excuse of a manager a thing or two..”
I took her hand and shook my head. Why? It just wasn’t worth it. “Let’s just go to bed,” I said and yawned again.
Kelsey clapped her hands together. “To bed it is! We’ll deal with all this tomorrow.”
She took off her glasses and headed toward the door. “See ya.”
I stood up and stretched my arms over my head. “Me too. I’m gone.”
If I had to be in the same building as Kai, then I would at least distance myself as much as possible. He didn’t reply. Alex said his good nights and jumped onto the bed by the window.
Grandma took my arm and led the way back to our room. “Don’t ever leave my sight again. I’m not too fond of that band member of yours.”
I nodded sleepily. “You and me both, Grams.”