chapter one - awards
The golden spotlight shines down onto her as her dress glitters gently, catching your eye and drawing you in. Alexandria's stance is one of confidence and pride, as she stands right where she belongs. The crystal shape in her hands draws competitors attention, but the beauty that shines from her face has every singe male on the edge of their seat.
The room is hot, the fans whirring in the background, but not to loud as to disrupt the filming of her speech. The crowd sits in adoration at her words, many people even opting to stand up and cheer for her as she makes bold statements that every person has been too afraid to say so far. Her smile is confident as she calls out social issues and dedicates her award to people who need the confidence boost the most - making my heart swell up in pride.
As her speech comes to a close, the words become more personal. I come out of my own head to find her staring at my section of seats. Suddenly very aware of the co-stars around me, it takes every fiber of control in me to not grin or wave at her.
"...I also want to thank my co-stars who I wouldn't of managed without. Finally, I just want to thank the person who has made my year. They know who they are and they should know that I am eternally grateful to them. Thank you." She speaks, expertly drawing her eyes off of my section of seats to address the whole room.
But she's talking about me, I know she is.
Sticking to her usual dare devil personality, I'm not surprised she decided to mention me. Our relationship may be hidden, but that doesn't stop her from talking about me in her acceptance speech nor does it stop my grin that stretches across my face after she finishes her speech. Unable to hide the joy flowing through my body, I'm extremely grateful when the cameras shut off for an advert break.
People jump from their seats immediately, sick of following orders. At least ten new people flock around Alex, the crystal award placed in her lap acting like honey for a swarm of flies. They surround her, but I know it's going to take something bigger than that to stop us.
As she stands up to thank another person, I go behind her. Using the innocent excuse of needing to grab a drink, which are at the end of the aisles, I run my hand down her forearm and give her hand a quick squeeze.
It's invisible to any bystander, it's as quick as a flash, but the smile on her face solidifies the fact that she knew what I meant. My silent way of congratulating her was successful and her smile is the reward.
The cameras quickly come back on as the lights on the stage become luminous once again. The categories continue to trudge along and I become bored almost instantaneously. But as the last category is called, my excitement arises at the promise of a good after-party.
Once everything has been said, I'm one of the first to stand up and make my way to the exit. My best friend, of three years, Noah follows beside me. We met at a audition and quickly hit it off. Three years later and he's one of the small group of people I can actually stand. He lets out a yawn and twists to the side to crack his back. I looking quizzically at him, raising my eyebrow in a silent question.
"What? That was dull and you know it. Can't believe we still get dragged along to these things by management." He huffs like a child, stuffing his hands into his front pockets as we make our way out.
"I know. They call us celebrities, but we're more like sheep. I mean, look." I say, motioning to the almost stand-still queue of people waiting to get out.
"I know, but now I'm going to use my celebrity status and hit the free bar. We're going to the party along the street, right?" He asks.
Remembering the planning Alex and I did last night, I nod in agreement. With paparazzi disappearing from the scene quickly, Noah and I manage to walk to the party, due to the short distance.
Walking in, I'm hit with the smell of rich perfume, I quickly walk to the bar with the hope that the smell of beer will overpower it. I quickly discover it doesn't and in fact, the smell of perfume only gets worse as more people arrive. But when she does finally arrive, my eyes immediately find hers.
Clear blue eyes draw me in as usual and I quickly find myself drowning out any other noise in the room. She's changed out of her previous outfit and now stands wearing a navy jumpsuit and high heels, looking round the room with another cast member who I faintly recognize.
The need to go her is almost unbearable. Our romance is hidden due to work and it's remained hidden, due to that reason, for the whole seven months we've been together.
When I signed my contract to have a lead role in a TV series called Queries, it stated that romantic relationships with other cast members would not be tolerated and my role would be terminated if a romantic relationship was to occur. Of course it said the same on Alex's as she landed a lead role as well and when our relationship started, the show started getting more and more successful.
Now named the most watched TV series in the last eight years, Alex and I decided to keep our relationship private in the pursuit to keep our jobs in roles that are making our dreams come true. But due to the fragility of our arrangement, only Noah and Alex's best friend, Clara, know about our relationship. I'm quickly reminded of this fact as Noah waves his hand across my face.
"I don't think you could make it more obvious that you're in love with her if you tried." Noah laughs, shaking his head.
"Shut up, I'm not that bad." I shove his shoulder with my own and take another drink of beer, wishing that the flavor will take my mind off of how good she looks. It doesn't.
"Yeah, yeah. C'mon, I'm pretty sure the DJ is about to come on." He winks, before standing up off of his stool and walking away from the bar.
I follow and easily find myself lost in the world of an after-party. Talking to over half of the people in the room is exhausting and I'm suddenly very relieved when the music finally picks up and people begin dancing. Searching the room, my eyes quickly find Alex and Isadora, a member of the Queries cast, talking in a corner.
Making my way over, I sling an innocent arm around Alex's shoulder but keep my eyes on Isadora's - knowing I won't be able to look away if I look at Alex.
"How are we this evening, ladies?" I drawl, faking a British accent which I know annoys Alex.
Isadora lets out a laugh and shrugs her shoulders. "We're doing just fine thank you." She replies politely in the same accent, grinning.
Confused at her grin, I break my promise to myself to look down at Alex. She stands with her arms crossed, rolling her eyes, but the slight smirk pulling at her very kissable lips proves that she's amused.
"Good, are we up for a dance?" I ask, blatantly looking at Alex in a silent plea to get some alone time with her.
Even if it is in the middle of a dance floor.
"If you both drop that accent," She smiles. "Then sure."
I smile and walk towards the dance floor, resisting the urge to grab her hand and walk with her. Finally finding a spot near the middle, I follow the girls in dancing. The song is over in a split second, but as if the universe suddenly senses my pleas - another one comes on quickly.
Continuing to dance, I almost let my whole guard drop just by watching Alex dance. Her blonde hair shimmers from the spotlights as she dances freely. Looking like she's not got a care in the world, I barely notice myself grinning at her. The urge to dance solely with her and not with other people is overwhelming and when Noah turns up, I silently celebrate, knowing he is the way to achieve my wishes.
Dancing effortlessly, he takes Isadora's hand in his own and spins her, slowly edging her away from the both of us. As she spins, he looks over at me and winks before continuing to dance. I mouth back a silent thank you before wrapping an arm round Alex's waist and drawing her body against my own.
Letting my forehead drop to her own, a gentle wave of calm washes over me. Relieved to finally have her to myself, after a day of wishing for it, feels better than I could've imagined.
Her arms run along my own before innocently landing on my shoulders and pulling me down closer to her. We slow our dancing as she leans forward to say something.
"People are going to see us." She says, her eyes connecting with my own.
I tighten my arms around her to prove my defiance. Ducking my head down so that my lips brush her ear, I whisper, "No they won't, dancing isn't suspicious anyway. Just dance with me, standing still is going to draw more attention to us both."
"Oh yeah?" Alex challenges me, and I meet her glare of defiance with one of my own.
She takes my words as a challenge, her competitiveness streak being put to the test as she begins to dance. Despite placing more distance between us, which I continually try to close, she stays close to me. Never breaking eye contact, the party around me melts away as I loose myself in her. Minutes feel like seconds and before I know it, people begin to walk away from the dance floor - tired and bored of dancing for so long.
Sensing our vulnerability, I break up our dance - breaking my heart up at the same time. Pouting in sadness at me, Alex recovers quickly, walking away to go and get another drink as I go to find Noah.
The party continues well into the night, but I want to be alone. Alone with her, more specifically. Looking down at my phone, a grin appears on my face at the most recent message.
Alex: I miss you :( Meet at the back entrance?
Sending back a text, I agree and make my way through the stuffy crowds. After being stopped by people who obviously don't realise how much I hate big social gatherings, I eventually make my way out.
Streetlights shine down onto the sidewalk and the stuffy air of New York wraps around me in a blanket of humidity. I scan for paparazzi, but the street looks desolate with the only activity coming from the pounding music inside. Alex stands alone, looking innocent as she looks around the street. With flushed cheeks from the stuffy room inside and her hair tucked behind her ears - my heart twangs with the need to protect her.
Walking closer to me, she lets out a sigh of relief. But she keeps her confident facade on as she calls out, "Saying goodbye to your girlfriend then?"
"Yeah. God, she's so needy, sometimes." I shoot back, smiling at her hurt expression.
She recovers quickly. "Must be because of your obsession with yourself. Other people need attention sometimes, you know."
Unable to stop myself from grinning, I close the small distance between us and place both of my hands on her cheeks. Bringing myself down to her height, our lips connect for the first time that night. My heart picks up its pace, as usual, as I loose myself in how good it feels to finally have her in my arms again.
"Let's go home, yeah?" I ask.
She opens her mouth to reply, but she's cut off from a sound across the street. Bringing my arm around her shoulder, I move us to the corner of the building - hidden from the naked eye. The noise gets louder as a group of men come round the building dressed in black. With camera straps looped around their necks and shiny cameras resting at the bottom of them, it's obvious who they are.
I'm brought out of my inner panic by Alex whispering, "We're going to have to run."
"How? Where's the car?" I whisper back harshly due to the impending sense of doom that has settled itself into my stomach.
"Over there," Alex whispers and points to the black car that's disguised in the night sky. Noticing it's not far to run, I nod. "Okay, on the count of three."
Holding up my hand, I motion the countdown before we take off sprinting. Alex keeps up with me easily and we make it to the car. With only a few shouts of confusion, and not recognition, from the paparazzi before we make it to the car and my heart pounds in relief.
Reaching the car door first, I open it and motion Alex in. I don't risk looking behind me, scared of the ready cameras if I did, and practically jump into the seat.
"Your place, Mr Williams?" My driver, Mr Walden, asks.
I hired him as Queries began to take off, no longer being able to drive my own car without being bombarded by fans or the paparazzi. He keeps the secret of Alex and I away from the public and has never questioned our decision.Hiring him was one of the best decisions I've made, he's reliable, friendly and everything I need in a driver.
"Please." I respond, before turning my attention to Alex.
"Are you okay?" She asks, her voice breathless from the sprint.
"Yeah, I'm fine. Are you?" I ask, my eyes raking over her face to reassure myself she's fine.
"Fine. Damn, that was a close call though."
I nod in agreement. "To close." I reply, my voice gruff.
It was too close.
Alex grabs my hand in hers and I lace our fingers together. As Mr Walden begins driving, my heart still doesn't slow down - the adrenaline of the situation continuously flowing over me.
Because the situation was too close and we have to be more careful. Despite how much it breaks me, I can't show her off to the world as my own because we've got jobs to keep and rules to meet.
But as I look at her now, flushed from adrenaline and smiling gently, I know that it's only a matter of time until I break the rules.