Description: Vanessa goes back to San Luis Obispo. How will she face Zac a year and half after having her heart broken? Will all of the old feelings resurface? Or will a new person in Vanessa's life fill the gap that had been left by Zac? Read to find out!
One- The New Face and the Flight
"Stupid, stupid, stupid." That was all I could think as the plane's wheels hit the tarmac, causing me to grip the armrests on either side of me even tighter. The man sitting next to me chuckled quietly as he glanced down at my already white knuckles.
"Not a fan of flying?" He asked, with a slightly amused tone to his voice. That really wasn't helping my situation.
"No, I fly all the time actually," I replied, his questioning making me even more anxious. If a stranger could tell that I was nervous, I couldn't bear to imagine how blatantly obvious my nerves would be to who waiting for me at the gate.
"It's more getting off the plane that I'm not a fan of. Not much to look forward to. I have to see some people that I haven't seen in a really long time. And I had been looking forward to seeing them, but now that I know I have no way out I'm not so sure anymore" I gushed, and immediately I wished I'd just lied and told him I was edgy because it was my first flight or something generic like that. I didn't like to talk about myself; yet when I was nervous my brain could never seem to tell my mouth to stop talking. I wished I could just shut up.
The look on his face gave me the impression that he felt the same way. He smiled politely but awkwardly and then turned to pay close attention to the Blackberry that he was sending messages on almost faster than I would have thought possible. Was he telling everyone that he knew about the famous but crazy actress that he had met on his cross-country flight?
I wanted to laugh as I recalled the conversation that I'd had with this man, probably in his early thirties, so not much older than me, when we first boarded the plane and were getting settled. I assumed that he had thought differently, more highly, of me at that point.
--------- flashback to beginning of flight ---------
As I was somewhat accustomed to, although not nearly comfortable with, I was aware of his eyes scanning my figure as I approached and pointed at the seat next to him. I could practically feel the trail of his eyes on my back as he stood in the aisle to let me in and I slid past him to sit down in the window seat. When his eyes did make their way to my face, he smiled and let out a small rush of air as recognition sunk in.
"You're. You can't. Are you really…" he began, still smiling but now seeming nervous.
"Vanessa Hudgens," I finished for him with a slight laugh as I held out my hand to shake his. He seemed slightly taken aback for a moment, but then he took my hand in his. He held on for just a moment too long as he looked at me in what seemed to be a mixture of awe and intimidation. I wondered if I was ever going to get used to people looking at me like this- like I was something special. It had been almost two years, and it still made me feel awkward and uncomfortable.
"Oh, I'm Aaron Saunders, by the way. It's so great to meet you. I know that you probably hear this all the time, but I am a really big fan of yours. I think I've seen all of your movies, and I have all of your acceptance speeches taped. Not that you wanted to know that," he trailed off. He shifted nervously in his seat. I laughed lightly, making sure it came across as laughing with him and not at his saying too much.
"I actually don't hear that last part very often, but I appreciate your support. Now if I ever want proof of my nerves at their very best, I'll know who to ask." I smiled gently at him, doing the best that I could to make him feel comfortable.
It took him a moment to gather what I was referring to, but then he laughed and smiled back. "Oh the acceptance speeches. Right. Well, geez, if you were nervous- and you can't even tell that you were in the videos- you had plenty of reasons, I guess. I mean, an Oscar and two Golden Globes all in the same year. That would be pretty nerve wracking. In a good way."
"I guess you could say that," I smiled weakly in reply. Talking about it still made me feel slightly uncomfortable. Being the center of attention or the subject of people's admiration had never been my goal. I had started acting because it was the one thing in my life that consistently made me happy. It was my whole life. Not because I was good at it, as I was constantly being told, but because it was just what I loved. It made me feel complete.
For the next few minutes, I chatted with Aaron about his job, author, the purpose of his trip, family wedding, and about some of his hobbies, tennis and building his vast library of both DVDs and books. When the flight attendant came around offering headphones for the in-flight movie, I purchases a pair, mostly for the sake of politely ending the conversation with Aaron before it was my turn to really contribute to it; talking about myself had always made me feel horribly self conscious.
I groaned and leaned my head against the wall of the plane as the opening titles of the movie began. Of course, they would be showing my most recent film. I suddenly felt that numerous sets of eyes were locked on me. There were moments in my life when I felt like I had a huge, neon sign over my head that flashed "ACTRESS! OSCAR! GOLDEN GLOBE!" Not because I liked to think that people stared at me, but because I hated that it was often true. This was one of those moments.
Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Aaron steal a quick glance in my direction, trying to gauge my reaction. I closed my eyes, pretending to sleep. After a few minutes, I actually did drift off to sleep, waking when we were only about twenty minutes away from landing.
--------- end flashback ---------
While I'd been rethinking the duration of the flight, I hadn't been listening to any of the speech the flight attendant had been giving about disembarking, but I grimaced as I caught her last few words. "We hope you have a pleasant stay in San Luis Obispo, or wherever your final destination may be."
I snorted, thinking that my stay here was bound to be anything but pleasant. I was kicking myself mentally for being so damn impulsive as I trudged down the narrow aisle behind Aaron.
When we got to the gate, Aaron turned and held out his hand. I took it and smiled.
"Again, it was very nice to meet you. Good luck with the rest of your career. Not that you even need it." He returned my smile, and then turned to walk away. He took about five steps before turning again and walking back toward me.
"I don't want to seem like an annoying fan, but could I get your autograph? It's just been so surreal and nice to meet you. I know that no one is going to believe me if I don't have some proof. Hell, when I wake up tomorrow I might not even believe it. I'll think it was some kind of dream." This time it was his turn to say too much again. It made me feel more comfortable that I wasn't the only who's mouth got away from me. I wondered to myself if I would start rambling again at some point before we parted ways, so that the score between us would be even.
"Of course," I said quickly and drew a pen out of my bag. I watched him as he fumbled around in his own carry-on, looking for something that I could sign.
With each passing moment, I found myself liking Aaron more and more. I think it was a certain sense of awkwardness that he possessed that matched my own and made me feel more comfortable. And it didn't hurt that he was actually very good looking, in a very simple and humble sort of way. He had a genuine smile and bright, blue eyes that shone when smiled or laughed. He was good looking, but not in the same way as many actors I had worked with who knew how attractive they were. Aaron either had never thought of himself as attractive, or he had but he was just as uncomfortable with it as I was with my status as a beauty symbol. Either way, it made me like him more.
I stood there patiently, gently laughing at his frantic search. I was perfectly content to stand there all day watching him sift through his bag, and I had almost forgot that I was bound to have a small welcome party awaiting me just past security.
After a minute or two, Aaron straightened up and held out his boarding pass for the flight we'd just been on. I gave him an amused, quizzical look.
"I know, I know. All that time spent looking and this is what I come up with. But I figure how better to prove to myself and the rest of the world that I met you on this flight than to have you sign this," he waved the boarding pass and then handed it to me.
"I guess that makes sense," I replied with a laugh. There was not much blank space on the ticket, but I scrawled him a short note about what a pleasure it was to sit with him, and under it I signed my name. Then, before I realized I was doing it and for a reason that I did not even fully understand, underneath my name I wrote out my cell phone number.
I quickly handed the boarding pass back to him, afraid to see his reaction. But I heard a slight gasp and saw his head snap up. His gaze met mine directly and lingered there. He was obviously waiting for me to speak first. I didn't know how to fill the awkward silence that I had just created.
"Uh, in case your friends need more concrete proof that you met me." I stammered, trying to shake the feeling of being back in the seventh grade telling a boy I liked him for the first time. "You know, just give me a call and I'll prove it to anyone who doesn't believe you." I laughed, hoping to play it off as a joke. I didn't know if it had worked, but Aaron smiled at me and tucked the boarding pass into his pocket.
"Yeah, thanks. I might have to do that." He stood, somewhat slack-jawed, and still looked at me as if it were my move.
"Well I have people waiting for me, so I better get going," I reasoned, at the same time that I internally registered that I was somewhat sad to be walking away from Aaron. I didn't know why I felt a connection to him after such a short time.
"Yeah, you wouldn't want to keep them waiting, even if you don't want to see them." He laughed. I thought for a brief moment that I saw in his eyes the same regret that I felt about walking away.
"It was very nice to meet you, Aaron Saunders."
"You too, Vanessa Hudgens." He said, and then he turned and started to walk away. I stood watching him for a moment before I began walking as well.
****Author note: Stay tuned for the next chapter. Who will be waiting for Vanessa at the gate, and will she be able to face whoever it is? Will Vanessa ever see or hear from Aaron?
Feedback and reviews would be SO greatly appreciated. Especially since this is my first story ever. Let me know what you think!