"You're my one princess alright
my arms around you, hold you tight
and like a vampire in the night
I'll show how much I love you
with my, my, my, lovebite"
'Lovebite', -Alpha Centauri
The drive was unbearably long; partly because Manager was still yelling at me over the whole note thing and as for the other part? Kai was kicking the back of my seat for most of the night until he fell asleep with his head on Alex's shoulder and one of his iPod ear buds jammed into his ear. Surprisingly, Kai was tamed around Alex; he wasn't mean like he was around me and he never made fun of him by calling him ridiculous names like 'Goldie Locks' or 'Miss Legally Blonde.' He even told me once that I looked like a girl.
Don't get me wrong; I was highly aware of the fact that my face didn't exactly scream 'Pinnacle of Manliness', but I didn't look feminine either. Well, in my opinion I didn't. Who said that baby-faced boys were girly? I just didn't understand why Kai liked to put me down all the time and hurt my feelings. Although I was just too proud to show it, he really just managed to every now and then. Maybe it was just part of his role in the group; he was the badass after all, right?
"Great!" Manager hissed and gripped the steering wheel so tightly that his knuckles turned white underneath his bronze skin. "He's not even listening!"
Kelsey leaned over- the last of a hundred times- and squeezed his shoulder.
"I am listening!" I argued and my bottom lip curled out into a pout. Okay, so maybe not, but you never admit that to an adult when they were in the middle of yelling at you. That just made it worse. Manager glared at me in the rearview mirror again. I sighed and dropped my head in my hands. Hopefully this car ride would end soon or I was willing to open my door and fling myself into traffic head first.
"Relax, Paul," Alex said groggily from the back.
He was the only one out of the three of us that called him by his first name; he shifted his head and transferred Kai's hooded head onto his lap. I swear, if I didn't know them as well as I did, I would've mistaken them for a gay couple. It just the certain things they did that screamed 'gayness'. I yawned and closed my eyes.
Manager gritted his teeth and pinched the bridge of his nose after he eased the car behind a black convertible at a right light.
"The best thing to do," Kelsey said and looked from me, to Manager, and back, "is to simply rest. The meet and greet fan signing next week isn't gonna sign those fans' A.C albums by itself."
She smiled and reached back to pat my knee. I sighed and turned my attention out the world toward the city zooming past us. "Yeah," Alex said with a yawn. "Rest and all that stuff."
"How can I rest when Manager's giving me a hard time?" I asked with a frown. "He's raping me with his words. There has to be a law against that." To my surprise, Kai chuckled. I didn't know whether to shiver or smile. It wasn't like him to do that.
"Don't say that," Kelsey shot back. "That's not nice."
What? We were in kindergarten now? Who cared if it wasn't nice? She was a stick like Alex! "Neither is rape. The Terminator over there is terminating my self esteem."
Kai snorted and sat up. Here we go again; more put downs and sissy names. I rolled my eyes.
"Kai," Alex warned. Kai sighed and pulled his hood low over his face. "I didn't say anything," he said with a smirk. "You were about to!" I snapped and a scowl. That made his roll his eyes and lay his head back down on Alex's lap.
"Guys," Alex interjected and frowned. "Give it a-"
"It's not my fault if Princess there is throwing a tantrum," Kai replied and closed his eyes.
I scowled and turned around in my seat to glare down at him. I didn't know what his problem was with me, but it was seriously starting to get on my last damn nerve. I never did anything to him; I behaved, I went about my life the way I knew how, and then he managed to blow out my flame. If he wanted to wallow in his own pool of whatever it is was that was leaking from his ass, then he could do that. I wasn't about to join him.
"And it's not my fault you like to sit there and cry about everything like a little girl," I retorted. My fate was sealed. I knew that already. The nervous looks on Kelsey's and Alex's faces said it all.
"What is your deal?" I asked him. "You constantly pick on me and put me down for your own amusement. It's not funny Kai."
He sat up abruptly and fixed his cold-eyed glare on my face. My stomached flip-flopped anxiously and my heart pounded violently in my chest.
"You want to know what my deal is?" he asked and leaned forward so his face was just inches away from mine.
Alex unbuckled his seatbelt and gripped Kai's shoulders firmly so he couldn't bump heads with me or something. I shoved my hands in my pockets to keep anyone from seeing how much they trembled. Kelsey squeaked and hid her face behind her clipboard. She's helpful, I thought bitterly, I was about to die at the hands of the meanest guy on this planet and she decided to hide? I sighed through my nose.
"Watch yourself, brat," Kai hissed and leaned back in his seat. "Don't have to," I replied coolly even though I was lying through my teeth. "Because I'm not afraid of some-"
"Enough!" Manager screamed and jerked the car over to the right, into a semi empty parking lot of an open McDonald's.
I flew backwards and then to the right, slamming my face into the door and knotting my ankle with the seatbelt I'd taken off. Alex rubbed the back of his head and frowned at the manager. Kai sat and pulled his hood back.
"What's the big-"
"I've had it with this childish behavior," he shouted and stepped out of the car; he stepped around the side of the car and jerked my door open, sending me sprawling to the concrete below me with my ankle still knotted into the seatbelt. I groaned and rolled onto my back.
"What did I do?" I asked. Manager reached over and pulled my shoe off, freeing my foot from its prison. I stood up and he handed it to me. "You're both walking home."
Kai stiffened in his spot and narrowed his eyes at Manager. I dusted my clothes off and sighed.
"Don't want to hear it," Manager said and looked from Kai, to me, and back to Kai. "You two are band mates. You are co-workers, meaning that there is no reason why this sort of behavior should even be going on. I hope this walk to show you the error of your ways gentlemen. I wish you good luck." I opened my mouth to speak, but Manager shook his head.
"I'm sure your grandmother would agree," he said and I blinked as if he'd slapped me. There was no way that she would. I was a fifteen year old pop star who was being thrown out of his manager's car and being forced to walk to the hotel he was staying without so much as a gun or a taser and all because of Mr. Terminator over there who couldn't seem to make a habit of keeping his comments to himself. Kai climbed out of the SUV and shoved his hands into his pockets.
"So be it," he said. "And she would not," I grumbled and pulled the zipper of my cardigan all the way up.
I was cold out; the air was cool and crisp, signaling that the end of winter was coming and spring was coming in. Manager slammed the door shut and hopped back into his car again. Kelsey rolled down her window and poked her head out.
"I'll leave the door open for you guys!" she said and just like that, Manager took off. I stared after them, somehow unable to comprehend what was just happened and believe it. How was I supposed to get back to the hotel if I didn't even know which way it was or in which part of the city? I sighed and knelt down to slip my shoe on. I might as well start walking. Instead of staying with me like I'd expected, Kai started walking in the direction Manager had left in.
I hastily tied my shoes and stood looked like he knew the way-
"Don't follow me," he said and glared at me over his shoulder. I sighed and shoved my hands in my pockets. "How else am I supposed to get home?" I asked him. I met his glare with one of my own.
I wasn't in the mood for one of his stupid eye staring contests; if I wanted to sleep tonight, then I had to get home even if that meant going as low as following the world's biggest jerk around like some sort of dog. Scratch that; dogs had more sense then I did at the moment. There was no doubt in my mind that he would turn around and hit me eventually. It wouldn't have been the first time either.
"Find your own damn way home." He turned sharply and started walking again.
I scowled and marched right after him; what was it about me that always made him want to hit me and insult me all the time? I didn't remember doing anything to him. Only the series of things he used to do to me when we started singing together. What did I do now? I sure wasn't my fault we got kicked out if that was why he was mad at me. I spun him around by the shoulder and forced him to look at me.
"Look," I said through gritted teeth, anger boiling on my tongue. "I don't know what exactly I did to piss you off and make you wanna hit me and call me names all the damn time, but I'm gonna go ahead and said it; I'm sorry for whatever it is that I did to you. Whether I made a stupid joke about you and did something you didn't like, all I can say is that I'm sorry and that I hope we can put it behind us and start over."
I held my breath and waited for his response. Kai stood there, hands tucked into the pockets of his black hoodie and a disapproving scowl on his eyes. His eyes seemed colder and emptier then they normally were, lacking life and human emotions. I sighed and threw my hands up in the air in defeat. This was just hopeless! How did Manager expect us to bury the hatch when Kai kept unburying it? What was his problem anyway?
I'd had it with this stupid drama. "Kai-"
"I said don't follow me!" he shouted and grabbed me by the collar of my shirt and lifted me off the ground.
And then time seemed to stop and freeze everything in place. The cars were no zooming past us and the once bright lights were sudden dull and colorless. I swallowed hard and stared into those black holes he called eyes.
"Kai?" I squeaked and shut my eyes tightly to obstruct the hot, salty tears from escaping my eyes. As if the trance he was in had been broken, Kai blinked a few times and stared at me as if I'd just sung happy birthday in Norwegian.
He put me down hastily, making me stumble a bit on my feet, and took off running as fast as he could down the sidewalk. Time sped up again and the cars raced past me as if nothing had ever happened. The lights were cast down on me in a halo of orange-white light.
He almost hit me- just like the last time. I buried my face in my hand and let out a loud, frustrated wail as the sound ripped itself out of my throat drowned in the bustling noises of the city around me.
I lifted my foot up onto the bed and slipped my other boot on; what was another good way to clear your head than go for a walk? It was dark out; the sky a rich blue color with thin, dark clouds stretched across it and a hue of luscious purple sitting on the horizon. If I hadn't been in such a hurry to leave, then I would've enjoyed the rich tones of the evening sky. I reached over and plucked my favorite light blue hoodie off the bed and sauntered downstairs toward the door since mom was asleep. She wouldn't have approved of me leaving so late, though it was eight thirty in the evening and my curfew wasn't until nine.
Sadly, I had a curfew. It wasn't fair; I was a pretty good student as school. I did my homework, never passed a note around the classroom when the teacher was talking, never got caught when texting during study time, and most of all, managed to come on top with a B at the end of every semester, and most importantly, I never ran with the 'hoodlums' that plagued the halls of my school. It didn't make sense that the good kids got curfews and the bad kids didn't.
It was like arresting the super heroes and throwing them in prison while letting the bad guys roam free on the streets among the innocent. It just wasn't right. I closed my eyes and sniffled the clean, crisp air that made my skin tingle.
"Off to the park," I said and smiled to myself. I needed to think; why exactly would Alpha Centari be in a city like this? It wasn't exactly known for mega famous celebrities running around in it. It just didn't scream 'celebrity central.' I sighed and started walking down the colorless sidewalk. Were they here because of a photo shoot? I frowned to myself and shook my head. In Boringville? That wasn't possible. I scratched my head in thought? To shoot a commercial maybe? I blushed heavily when I pictured myself with an Alpha Centari cologne in my hands and spraying the boys' half naked bodies, bathing them with its heavenly scent. My mouthed watered. Now that would be an experience to tell about on-
I stopped short and smacked my forehead with the palm of my head.
Of course! My LoveBucket account! I could've looked it up when I had the chance. That would explain the big mystery; why was the hottest and most famous boy band in a boring town like Dixie? I turned the corner and began to run toward the abandoned playground I used to hang out on with Hayden everyday after school when we were both in elementary school. It looked the same; twisty yellow slide, red monkey bars, the brightly, multi-colored jungle gym where we used to play tag with each other and our moms.
I smiled at it lovingly. And then I heard sobbing. I froze in my tracks and looked around, expecting to see a lost little kid looking for his parents. Instead, I saw a tall, slumped figure sitting on the end of the twisty slide with a crumpled bag of McDonald's fast food in his lap and sorrowful expression on his face.
"Hello?" I called out before I could even stop myself. The figure's sobbing ceased and he looked up at me with the most beautiful moss green eyes I'd ever seen. My mouth dropped and my heart began to quicken its thumping.
It was Eden! He wiped the back of his hand over his eyes and grinned at me.
"Hey," he smiled, his voice sounding raspy, like he'd scraped his throat with sandpaper. I blinked in response to his voice. "Glad to see that you're alright."