1. The Mysterious Woman
As he strode across the hall of the banquet hall, his eyes fall upon a woman, who elegantly stood at the far corner, taking a sip of her soft drink, alone. His heart skipped a beat for some reason and even he didn’t know why. Ignoring his sudden running impulse, he comes to a halt before his guy group.
“Zachariah Hayek, finally you made your appearance,” one of his friends says as he hugs his buddy.
A light smile tugs at the corner of his lips as the cameras constantly flicker.
“I told you to call me Zach,” Zachariah murmurs through his gritted teeth as he maintains his smile, forcing his hug. His friend chuckles. Even after having this knowledge, he still likes to tease Zachariah.
“Don’t expose your true feelings, buddy. Just smile at the camera,” his friend remarks, reminding him of the paparazzi that stood before them.
“Mr. Zach, what will you say about your upcoming movie?” A reporter asks, forcing herself to the front of the crowd. Zachariah calmly smiles and says, “I would appreciate it if you don’t ask questions like these here. This is my friend’s birthday party and I don’t want to steal the spotlight from him,” he says. The reporter, embarrassingly, backs away as the glint in Zachariah’s eyes makes it aware of his intentions.
“Let’s go cut the cake,” his friend says out loud, stirring the crowd away from Zachariah.
As soon as the crowd leaves him, Zachariah takes a deep sigh. It’s not easy being a celebrity. Not at least for him. He may be popular but the more popular he becomes, the more he has to disguise his true self. He looks around and finds only reporters, other few celebrities, and mostly the birthday boy’s friends and family. This is yet another day where he has to disguise himself in front of the world. Show them the happy-go-round Zach when in reality there are more bruises and scars.
The cake cuts and the hall is filled with the cheers of happy birthdays. Zachariah feeds a slice of cake to his friend in slow motion as he poses to the camera.
“Man, just feed the damn thing at once. Why are you testing my hunger?” his friend chides to which the crowd shares a laugh.
After his turn, Zachariah aloof himself from the crowd. As he is walking away, his eyes fall on the same woman whom he saw some time ago. This time she stood in utter nervousness, he sees her sneaking something in her bag as she turns around to leave the hall. He suspiciously follows her silently as he didn’t want to stir the attention away from the birthday boy.
As he reaches outside, he calls out, “excuse me!”
She doesn’t turn around, in fact, she accelerates her speed to which Zachariah raises his eyebrows.
“What the hell? Hey, you!”
When she still doesn’t stop, he makes it his duty to stop her. He runs after her and holds on to her arm, pulling her towards him. Bewildered, she slams her head against his chest. Her soft hands are in his hand as she struggles to free herself.
“Not so easy,” he remarks, not affected by the intense proximity whereas the shock is evident on the mystery woman’s face.
“What do you want?” she questions, raising her voice.
Zachariah is taken back by her rudeness. This is not a reaction he is used to. Does she not know who he is? He looks at her bewildered but doesn’t lose his grip on her wrist.
“You don’t know me?”
“Oh how can I forget such a known face, Mr. Zakariah Hayek?” she says.
“Don’t you like me?” he asks confused.
“And why do I need to like you? You are nothing but a spoiled celebrity,” she fires back.
It’s impossible, everybody likes him. He is a famous celebrity, after all.
“What did you put in your bag?” he asks, changing the subject.
“And why does it matter to you?”
Again, with the same amount of rudeness.
Without listening to anything further, he snatches the bag from her hold and starts to investigate himself. She tries to snatch it back but his grip on the bag is stronger than hers. He flips the bag over and empties out everything from it, throwing everything on the ground.
“Don’t you know never to look into a lady’s purse?”
“And don’t you know never to be rude to somebody who you just met?” he taunts back.
From all the items on the floor he takes a quick glance and finds nothing that belongs to him or his friends. Once satisfied, he throws the bag at her. She sighs and bends down to pick up all her items, placing them in her bag.
“And this is exactly why I don’t like you,” she spats as she is collecting her items, making sure nothing is broken.
He looks at her, picking up her stuff. Her license is faced up and in large letters, her name is written, Alina Kareem.
“Ms. Alina Kareem, I don’t know who invited you but please leave now.”
She glares up at him.
“Spoiled celebrity,” she mutters.
Suddenly a huge crowd of reporters was seen exiting from the very same door from which Zachariah and Alina came out.
If they see them two, then it will become scandalous. He grabs hold of her wrist one more time and runs. Shocked by his action, she struggles to free her hand.
“Let go of me,” she yells. But his hold on her wrist forces her body to be dragged to wherever he is pulling her to. Zachariah comes to a stop by a bush, and without thinking, he pulls her behind the push, in an attempt to use the bush as a secured hiding spot.
“What are you doing?” she yells again only to be violated again by him placing his index finger on her lips and with a harsh, “shh,” escaping his gritted teeth.
“Have you seen Zach? He is not inside,” a faint voice of one of the reporters asking a waiter is heard. The waiter shrugs and hastily leaves.
“Did you check inside properly? Maybe he went to the bathroom?” another reporter remarks.
As they all were going back inside, one loud sneeze stops the last reporter. He turns around, facing the bush. He raises his eyebrows but still with subtle footsteps, he reaches them. A sudden flash makes bewildered Zachariah and Alina look up.
“He is right here guys!” the intruder hollers.
The unbearable flashes plague them both. Zachariah stands up and pushes the reporter out of the way, hoping nobody else had heard him but too late, a huge crowd of reporters stood before them, capturing everything in their cameras.
“Who is she?” a reporter boldly asks, pointing at Alina. The focus of the reporters shift from Zachariah to her. She covers her eyes, nearly going blind from all the flashes.
“Is she your rumored girlfriend?” another reporter’s voice travels over an impatient crowd.
Zachariah angrily looks at his shocked girlfriend. He pulls her towards him, and pushes her down behind the bush, hiding her from the reporters and their questions. One another reporter tries to approach her, but Zachariah stands before her, blocking his way.
“How long have you two been together?” Without even waiting for Zachariah’s answer for the previous question, another reporter shoves another question his way, clearly believing them to be in a relationship.
“I don’t want to answer any questions. Security! Security!” Zachariah yells.
Security unleashes on them and in no time the path was clear of reporters as they are shoved outside the gate of the house.
Alina comes out from behind the bush, Zachariah shoots glares at her. If looks could kill, she would be dead.
“Do you have the slightest idea, what you have done, you fool,” he yells. She is taken back.
“Me? What did i do? You were the one who came running after me,” she responds with equal intensity.
“Just watch. By tomorrow, our picture will be on the front covers of magazines,” he warns her. Alina’s eyes pop open in shock.
“My wedding...” she mutters.
“What did you say?” he asks as he was unable to hear. Without replying to him, she grabs her bag which had fallen on the ground in the chaos, and makes a run for the main gate. By now the roads were free from any reporters, she picks up her dress and runs as fast as she could.
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