13 | Pitching A Tent In La-La Land
The successful warrior is the average man, with laser-like focus.”
- Bruce Lee
" - and he said I should give him a feet massage because my hands are so soft and smooth,” I say and Hannah bursts out in a fit of giggles. Her brown eyes sparkle with joy, without a care in the world.
“Oh my gosh," she says between breaths, trying to calm herself down. “He sounds amazing.”
I nod my head in agreement. Jason most definitely is amazing. Shame I don’t feel anything for him other than friendship. But nobody other than people close to me and him knows that.
“So what about you?” I ask her, very curious about how she met Brock. I still can’t wrap my head around the fact she is dating my asshole of a brother. They are on two different ends of a spectrum - Hannah on the nice, decent side and Brock on the jerk side.
Hannah smiles brightly at my question and shifts on the sofa. “Oh, we met at school.” She starts, her brown orbs wandering to the large window where she gazes out there, lost in thought. Almost as if she’s recalling the time they met. “The first day I started, I brought all of my textbooks with me which clearly wasn’t a good idea. Brock saw me struggling and so stepped in as my knight and shining armour and helped me. We talked for a bit, you know, got to know each other. And then, one day, he just asked me out."
Taking a sip of my decaf coffee, I ponder on her story. Now that I’ve seen the real side of Brock - a selfish, egotistical jerk who only cares about popularity - I don’t think I will ever see him as a hero. Perhaps he’s only like that to people he cherishes.
“So you two have been together since you got here?”
Hannah vigorously nods her head and slurps up the rest of her drink. I laugh at the whipped cream on the top of her lips, making her look like she has a white moustache. Out of embarrassment, Hannah blushes and furiously wipes it away with a napkin.
“That’s not very nice,” she pouts, using her big, doe eyes to her advantage.
“I’m sorry Hannah Banana,” I apologize and bite back a smile at her angry face. I guess she still isn’t used to her new nickname. I’ll work on that.
Suddenly, my pocket begins to vibrate. Giving Hannah an apologetic smile, I snatch my phone out and see Jason’s name pop up on my screen. My face breaks out into a grin at the sight and I quickly answer my phone. I haven’t spoken to him in what feels like forever.
“Hello. You are currently speaking to the fabulous Whitney Winters. What can I help you with?” I greet poshly, forcing myself to keep a straight face.
“Fabulous? Whitney?” A sweet yet manly voice questions on the other side of the line. My Jason. “I don’t think I’m talking to the right person here.”
I gasp in mock hurt and place my hand over my heart. He may not be able to see my actions but he will probably be able to guess I’m doing something like this. The guy knows me too well.
“Well if that’s how you want to be Mr Too-Good-For-Anybody, then I guess I will hang up,” I answer, my voice laced with hurt and annoyance. Hopefully, he will be able to tell that it's not real.
“Ugh, you play dirty Whitney,” Jason remarks on the other side of the line. I can imagine him running a hand through his soft dark hair right now.
“I know,” I cheekily reply, grinning ear to ear. Hannah cocks her head to the side curiously and shakes her head in amusement. “Now take back what you said earlier because we all know I’m the greatest.”
Jason tsks at my demand. “Where are your manners, sweet Whitney?”
I snort at the word ‘sweet’. Jason has never seen me act sweet, not even when I’m around the paparazzi. They know I despise them yet they never comment on it. My theory is that they are used to being hated. Even the self-centred celebrities loathe the media most of the time - especially when they spread a rumour that isn’t true.
I’m only nice when I’m around new people who appear nice and kind or when I want something.
Which happens every single day.
“Me? Manners?” I repeat in feigning confusion. “I don’t think I’ve ever been polite to you.”
“You can say that again,” Jason mumbles quietly, thinking I don’t hear it. Of course, I do.
“Hey!” I protest a bit too loudly, attracting an elderly couple’s attention. They roll their eyes and mutter ‘typical teenagers’ under their breaths. Rude. “Now looks who's being mean,” I say in a sassy, arrogant voice. For a moment, Lily’s face comes to mind at the sound of my own voice. I nearly freeze in fear at how similar I sounded to her.
“Right,” he drawls. “So anyway, before we get into another argument, I wanted to ask you a question.”
“No thanks, I’d rather not get arrested,” Jason jokes, sounding serious.
I roll my eyes at his words. “Just hurry up Jason!”
“Fine lady, jeez. Don’t start clawing your hair out.” He mumbles. I narrow my eyes at the small coffee table when hearing the last part of his sentence. “I was only asking where you are. I called Lulu,” I purse my lips at the name of my manager who I hate. That lady will always have a special place at the back of my mind, labelled ′evil people out to get me’. ”And she said you were away and would be back in a couple of months. So my dearest Whitney, where are you?”
“Um...” I trail, trying to come up with an answer. Do I tell him I’m in my old town or do I tell him I’m studying in a remote town that I’ve never been to before?
Jason doesn’t know much about the person I used to be. He knows that I had it hard before I became famous. He’s always respected my privacy; has never pushed for answers.
The media already know I’m here and will soon be here, hounding me. I can only hope that nobody opens their mouth and tells them that I was born here.
For some odd reason, I don’t think anyone will do that though. I don’t think they are bothered about knowing Anastasia, only that Whitney is staying in their town.
“I - I’m in a small town. Lulu and Casey thought it would be a good idea for me to have a break from everything and study. So yeah, they enrolled me in a small school.” I eventually tell him, deciding to keep out this being my birthplace.
“Oh,” comes Jason’s short reply. He doesn’t know how to reply to my answer, obviously shocked that I would be put into a school. Not many celebrities have stuff like this happening to them. “Sounds exciting.”
I snort at the lie. “Sure,” I say instead of pointing out how untrue it is. Meeting Hannah is great and all but it’s not going to make up for all of the trauma I’m feeling.
Several seconds of silence pass between us. I glance at Hannah to see what’s she doing but find her gone. Quickly, my eyes search for her small bouncy form. They settle on her by the counter where she’s buying a chocolate chip muffin.
“Whitney? You still there?” Jason’s voice drones, forcing my attention back to him.
“Oh, yeah. Sorry, I think I went to La-la land.” I sheepishly explain. A habit I used to have was zoning out all of the time. I would focus specifically on something like Hannah and then I would stare for a long time.
“I don’t think you visited La-la land, I think you started pitching your tent up to live there,” Jason jokes to ease the suddenly sad atmosphere between us.
I lightly laugh though, still not fully here. You know those moments where you are physically there but not fully there in the mind. You answer or do things but almost as if you a programmed to do them.
“You okay there?” Jason asks seriously, no more playfulness in his tone.
I sigh and slump my shoulders. “Honestly, no. I don’t want to be here, I want to be back in Beverly Hills. Some of the people here are nice but most of the people here only want to be friends with me because of my status. I hate it.”
Jason harumphs. He’s had many friends who only used him for his fame. Many who ended up backstabbing him. He understands where I'm coming from, better than most people.
“Well how about I come and visit you in a couple of weeks? I have to do a few shoots and some interviews but after that I’m free.” Jason suggests. I start squealing at the prospect of him coming here.
I would feel immensely relieved that somebody else famous would be here. It would mean the attention wouldn’t be just on me.
“I’m going to take your high pitched squealing as a yes.” Jason laughs.
“Great, now do you want me to stay with you or at a hotel?”
I shake my head as my answer but then I realize I’m talking on the phone to Jason, not face to face. Luckily, since Jason can only hear me, he won’t know what I just did. Because he would so tease me about this if he found out.
“I don’t think they have hotels here,” I tell him. I know they don’t have hotels here but Jason doesn’t know that I know. “You can stay at my place. Casey won’t mind; we have a lot of bedrooms.”
“Aww,” Jason whines and I can imagine him pouting right now. “I was hoping I could share a bed with you.”
I giggle at his comment. We are both only interested in each other as friends but that doesn’t mean we can’t pretend to act like a couple. Or friends with benefits.
“Keep dreaming, Jacey.”
“Oh I do, every night.” He replies flirtatiously.
And that’s how the rest of our conversation is spent - with Jason shamelessly flirting with me. I do admit, I joined in several times but for fun.
“So I’ll talk to you later?” I ask Jason when I see Hannah heading back to the sofas. She spent the majority of my talk with Jason at the counter, politely talking to the old woman working there.
“Yep. Bye for now.”
“Bye,” I whisper and hang up. My stomach fills with sadness. It's sad that I’m sad really - I feel homesick. Is it ironic that I feel homesick even though I’m technically home?
Hannah bobbles back over with a gleeful smile on her face and starts rambling about the nice old lady she was speaking to.
I try to keep up with what she’s saying but once again, I’m not entirely here. My thoughts keep drifting to a certain brown-haired, green-eyed boy who broke my heart two years ago. I don’t know why. He doesn’t deserve an ounce of my thoughts yet my heart stutters at the mere thought of him. Just the mental image of him leaves me breathless.
Callum Jerald, you still haunt me two years on.
What did you think of that? I love Jason, he's such a sweetie. I hope you loved the chapter!