Eight: Oh, So Blissfully…
"They had something that no one else had. We were actually trying to find it in other pairings. And we couldn't find anything stronger. It is a bit of a fairytale" - Kenny Ortega
Present moment in time. Lets weigh up the pro's and con's.
Pro. We are experiencing gorgeous weather in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Con. We're not exactly experiencing it for real since we're spending approximately nine hours everyday in a dance studio.
Pro. The new choreography Chucky and Bonnie have put together for High School Musical 3 is so out of this world, it's really challenging my adrenaline and pushing me to the limit.
Con. Yeah, my dance partner is currently in the UK. That kinda causes a teeny-weeny obstacle for us to learn the moves together in sync.
Pro. I'm currently in a room surrounded by people I've considered to be my best friends for the last three years.
Con. Zac's not here.
Kenny's on fire today - more so than usual. Everytime Ashley and Lucas try to skulk off to rest their feet for five minutes, Kenny's on their backs, telling them to get up, that he only wants to do the routine one more time. That was five hours ago.
As our beloved director and friend finally calls a break, our shoulders slack simultaneously and groans involuntarily erupt from our throats. "Go on, guys," Kenny smirks in my direction as I allow my body to fall onto Ashley's. Ashley holds me upright with a tight smirk, ruffling my hair up as she stands me up straight again. "Go have lunch."
"Dude, food!" Corbin calls out breathlessly as Monique finally falls against him. "Freakin' starving."
We go as fast as our tired legs can carry us (which isn't very fast at all) towards the canteen; desperately needing H2O and a decent meal kicking inside of us to keep up our energy. Despite the obvious tiredness and the fact that I'm desperate to see my boyfriend, happiness just keeps radiating from me everytime I allow my weary mind to wander back to the fact that once again, here we all are; ready to freefall onto this rollercoaster ride all over again and enjoy every damn minute of it. None of us have even brought up the subject that this will be the last time we'll ever be together like this - I don't think any of us really want to.
"When I come back in the next life, I'm coming back as a carrot." Simultaneously, Monique, Ashley, Corbin and I all turn our gazes towards Lucas who in turn gives us his own bewildered expression at his statement. "You know," he stammers, "because surely carrots have an easy life."
Ashley deadpans and glares at him in bafflement. "You've already got the mind of a freaking carrot."
"I wouldn't come back as a carrot," Monique states distantly as she picks up a plate of food from a wide selection sat in front of us. "They skin you alive and then they chop off your head and next thing you know you're thrown into a hot oven and served as part of a casserole." She ignores Lucas' look of realisation and horror. "In the next life, I think I'll come back as a giraffe."
Nobody speaks for a moment; each of us sporting out own 'what the fuck are we talking about' faces and silently thinking about what we want to come back as in the next life. Corbin raises a bemused eyebrow and gazes at his dance partner and close friend; examining her intently.
"I'll ask," he announces to the rest of us before turning back to Monique. "A giraffe? Any reason why?"
Monique just shrugs her shoulders defensively. "I don't know! Maybe because they're pretty or because they don't have a tough life! Or maybe because it's so much cooler than coming back as a fucking carrot!"
"Nothing wrong with carrots," Lucas points out as he shoves another fork-full of spaghetti bolognese in his mouth.
"There's everything wrong with carrots," I argue, picking at the food that's just been laid in front of me. "They're too carrot-y for a start."
Lucas grins and throws an arm around my shoulders, pulling my head down to his chest and squeezing me over-exaggeratedly. "Somebody's getting withdrawals…" he sings into my ear, playfully swaying me from side-to-side. "Come on, Van, it's only Zac."
"I know," I grin and roll my eyes, sitting back up straight and just catching Ashley stealing a handful of fries from my untouched plate. "But he does have his uses, ya know. I do need my actual dance partner learning the moves with me. I feel like such a loner in there - like the kid with no friends who has to partner up with the teacher because nobody wants to be with them."
"Yeah," Ashley scoffs. "That's why you want him here."
"Nothing to do with the fact you've been sexless for the past three months?" Monique enquires cheekily, raising a knowing eyebrow in my direction as I feel my cheeks flush.
"Well," I grin despite trying my damn hardest to hide it. "That also might be a reason…"
Corbin stuffs a handful of ketchup-covered fries into his mouth and puffs out his cheeks; earning a giggle from Monique and Ashley. "Let me just announce now that literally for the next two weeks I'll be keeping as far away from you two as humanly possible. A couple who've gone without sex for three months has to be hella scary - especially a couple as unnatural as you two."
I feign shock and offence before throwing a fry in Corbin's direction. "Shut up!" I chuckle as he pokes out his tongue. "Although you can stay away as much as possible. I want no disruptions!" I shoot a humorous glare at all of my friends around the table. "Those who dare shall die!"
My eyes close and I bite my lip; rapture and happiness explodes inside of me and as I hold him to me tighter. I gasp for breath as I feel him slowly litter kisses up and down my neck and my arms circle his neck, pushing him closer to my body. I giggle when he moves to my ear and he breathes his chuckle over my cheek at my actions.
"Ticklish?" He enquires breathlessly with a cheeky grin.
I push my nose to his; my smile wild and domineering. I swallow and try to catch my breath; running my fingers over his back and towards his neck; bringing his mouth back to mine and keeping him there. His fingers dig into my hips as pleasure engulfs us both in an instant. My eyes close again, my lips part and suddenly I feel his tongue sweeping over my mouth; his lips stroking mine, worshipping and loving. I breathe as I feel jolt after jolt of electricity strike through our bodies and I see sparks.
"Zac, buddy, I just saw-OHMYGOD!"
It takes only a few seconds for us to break apart and turn towards the bedroom door where Dylan is standing holding the latest Playstation game in one hand and staring at us with wide and shocked eyes.
I do the first thing my instinct tells me; pull myself off Zac's lap and reach for the sheets to cover up our exposed bodies as best I can; a dangerous blush taking over my body uncontrollably.
"DYLAN!" Zac roars, pulling the sheets up more so I'm practically underneath. "You shit! What the hell are you doing just walking in here? Heard of knocking? Heard of spontaneously evaporating? Heard of putting yourself up for adoption?"
Upon taking in Zac's clearly embarrassed and sarcastic words, Dylan smiles a goofy grin, his eyebrows rising up and down suggestively as he folds his arms and casually leans against the doorframe. "Hey, Bro. Vanessa." He grins at me and I slap both my hands across my flushed and burning face. "What'cha doin'?"
"Dylan, I swear you're going to die a very painful and brutal death if you don't get the fuck out of here."
"Why? So you two can go back to making babies?" He winks. "Uh…I don't think so. You're lucky I'm not mom and dad so really you should be bowing down and thanking me for leaving them at the store." He looks at his watch playfully. "You know, they're gonna be home pretty soon…" He sings his words mischievously. "Mom's gonna think Van's corrupting you and dad's gonna give you the talk."
"Screw you." Zac runs his hands frustratingly through his hair. "Seriously, you can fuck off now."
"I'll fuck off." I can see that Dylan's really not in the mood for handing out mercy and I press my face into the mattress, wishing that the ground would just swallow me whole. "I'll happily fuck off, Bro. All I gotta do is wait approximately ten minutes before the parental unit get home and you guys get busted."
"Ten minutes?" I shriek, sitting up straight and making sure to keep the sheets tucked under my arms. "Holy shit! Where the fuck are my fucking clothes?"
I dart my gaze frantically across the bedroom floor; the evils of being a teenager getting caught by your or your boyfriend's parents never reaching the point where you can just shrug it off nonchalantly. Zac follows my lead, shouting threats towards his younger brother whilst looking for his own clothes from the confinements of the sheets.
I make sure I'm totally covered up before reaching down and throwing Zac his jeans and then finding mine just under the bed. Dylan watches in amusement; my line of thought involves him and an on-coming train.
"Here, Van." My blush deepens as Dylan reaches over to the far corner of the room and holds up my bright red bra, swinging it lazily in the air. "I think I found something that belongs to you."
"Oh, hell no!" Zac wraps the sheet more securely around his waist and pulls on his jeans in haste; his eyes burning holes in Dylan's head. "Give that here!"
"What? And no souvenirs for me?"
"Dylan!" My teeth grit and I shoot him daggers. "Give. Me. The. Bra."
"I'll swap you the bra for Ashley's phone number."
"Dylan!" I practically scream, tugging on my locks in frustration. "Give it to me now!"
Dylan makes a face. "Woah. Don't feel comfortable with you saying that to me. I don't know if you were saying it to him earlier on."
It took a split second of a mischievous grin from Dylan before Zac flew through the air and lunged at him; knocking him to the floor. Dylan laughs hysterically moving my bra from one hand to the other as Zac reaches for it desperately; annoyance radiating from every part of him. I pick up a pillow and shove my red hot face into it in despair; my mind visualising Zac's parents walking in this very second and seeing the traumatising scene before them.
"Hey!" I hear Dylan call breathlessly and remove the pillow from my face to see Zac standing up, holding my bra tightly and glaring at his younger brother.
"Nah uh." Dylan winked. "You can make me leave but you can't keep my mouth shut."
"Dylan!" I shriek hysterically; wanting the ground to just hurry up and swallow me whole. "You wouldn't?"
Zac just sighs and tosses me the red garment which I hold onto tightly for fear the little brat would grab it again. "How much?" He asks tiredly. "Fifty bucks?"
"Are you insane, man?" Dylan places his hands on his hips and points back to my bra. "I could get more selling that thing on eBay."
"Fine, fine!" Zac stomps over to the beside table and picks up his wallet. "A hundred bucks. That covers you not telling anyone about this – especially mom and dad."
"Hmm…" Dylan pretends to think. "I want your last popsicle too."
"What? Hell no!"
"Zac," I mutter meekly. "Just give him the damn popsicle."
Zac huffs loudly and runs his hand through his hair. "Fine," he says in defeat. "Have the damn popsicle but don't do anything stupid and choke, will you?"
Dylan grins widely. "Zachary, my dear brother, we have a deal."
"Good. Now fuck off."
Dylan slowly makes his way to the door before turning back and grinning at me. "Van? Ashley's phone number?"
"Not a chance in hell."
"Oh, come on!" He winks; giving me a toothy grin. "It's not like you have any secrets from me anymore!"
My mouth and eyes open in shock and Zac forcefully pushes his younger brother out of the room before slamming the door in his face.
Kenny Ortega obviously has a death wish.
"Okay. Just one more time, I promise…"
The entire studio breaks out into moans and groans and Corbin's indignant squealing.
"But you said that half an hour ago!" He whines, sinking to his knees and grasping Kenny's ankles. "And I'm losing the feeling in my legs… all feelings… leaving me… killing me… Have a heart, Kenny. Have a heart."
Kenny just rolls his eyes and shoots me a smirk, to which I smile thinly back. I'm really not in the mood to join in on the joke though my legs are succumbing to numbness. Part of me should be excited - three whole months without him and now he was due to fly back from England tomorrow morning to join us in this madhouse. Now it was only a matter of hours. Just a few small teeny-weeny hours. Not even that long. Just a few…
Yeah. I'm hella impatient.
And that annoying clock sitting above Kenny's head is going to meet its doom.
Stop freaking counting the hours, Vanessa!
Okay, so flight leaves at 8am tomorrow morning from Heathrow… and that's a six hour flight to New York which takes us to 2pm - which is 6am my time… And then it's a five hour flight from JFK to UGH!
But then again I am entitled to freak out over this. Three months is a very long lonely and cold time… And Ashley and Jared acting all lovey-dovey in my face seriously isn't helping the situation. In fact, I've lost count of the different ways I've imagined myself killing them for torturing me so much.
"Vanessa," Chucky sing-songs into my ear and I blink heavily to bring myself back into reality. "You heard the man. One more time."
"One more equals twenty." I smile half-heartedly, unfolding my arms and stretching my legs out to warm up for another hardcore dance lesson. "Damn him for being so lovable."
"Places!" Kenny calls out to us all, shaking Corbin mercilessly off his feet as Monique drags her dance partner away by his shirt. "You're really nailing this, guys, it's awesome! You're putting the cha! in the Cha! Cha! Cha!"
Chucky and I take our places, each rolling our eyes at Kenny's colourful choice of words.
"You know, I know it sucks being the one who doesn't have a partner and so has to dance with 'the teacher', but you could at least smile more!"
"I am smiling!" I protest as Kenny counts us down as everybody begins moving in perfect rhythm.
"Actually, I'd be dreading it in your position," Chucky laughs as we start waltzing effortlessly around the room. "As soon as Zac gets here, you know we'll be trapped in a hardcore prison of teaching him all these dance moves in a matter of days. And I can only teach him so much, Miss Vanessa. You're his dance partner. You'd have to be the one to really teach him the steps and lead you."
"Damn me for getting paired up with the hot guy," I hiss with a devilish grin.
"Must be so hard for you."
"Excruciating," I reply, trying to sound as pained as possible though I know my wide smile is giving it away. It's as though Zac has the power over the tendon in my cheeks which makes my smile so incredibly scary wide everytime I think about him. "We all have to do the sucky jobs from time to time."
"Vanessa Hudgens, you look miserable as sin and yet you still find the time to get that bubbly smile of yours on your face. Tell me, when is Mr. Efron going to grace us with his presence?"
"Oh, don't get me started on that." I don't even comprehend we're dancing during this conversation - it all just seems to come naturally. I may as well savour it; as soon as Zac gets here and starts freaking out about his lack of dancing abilities, I know my focus will have to be one hundred percent on our feet rather than anywhere else.
"I've only just stopped myself counting the freaking hours, Chuck. You really don't need to start torturing me with glacial pace moving time."
"You think you're counting the hours?" Chucky laughs as Kenny calls for us to stop the routine, declaring with his own frantic yells of bliss of how well he thought we had done. "I can't wait until the moron lands here. After all the abuse we've taken from him on the last two films, this time he's not going to get away with anything. We've got a list made as long as your arm of all our little revenge plots."
"Is that so?" I raise a bemused eyebrow. "You know, Zac's pretty invincible when it comes to pranks. I hope you guys realise what you're getting yourselves into."
"He's not invincible; just consistent," Chucky smirks devilishly. "He just pulls them because he thinks he can get away with them. But not this time. And you better not say a word to him! You go off and warn him about what we're planning and he'll be straight onto us."
"I'm his partner in crime in the world of pranks," I answer coolly. "It simply would not be freakishly cool of me to keep such a secret from my boyfriend."
"You know he deserves it."
"Trust and honestly are major priorities in any strong relationship."
"He accidentally hit you with a water balloon last year."
"Accidentally being the key word here."
"But he still hit you. And remember how long it took you to do your hair? And he drenched your beloved Christian Louboutin shoes. Vanessa, remember the shoes…"
"Chucky!" I feign horror, distraught… disbelief and place my hand over my heart dramatically. "I cannot believe you're asking me to betray my beloved Zachary in the world of pranks. You know how much he loves to defeat you all… that look of pure happiness that radiates from his face everytime he sees you guys recoil in shock. It just warms my little heart to see him so happy…"
My beloved choreographer looks at me in total sarcasm, seeing through my dramatic actions and trying not to laugh. I pout and chew down on my bottom lip; trying to maintain that cute and innocent expression that I know never works on anyone around me - especially on Zac.
Corbin has obviously been eavesdropping on our leisurely conversation and strolls over quickly; eyebrows rising to his forehead and a playful smile emitting on his lips as he speaks. "Dude, defeat the Efron? You're going to attempt to defeat the Efron?"
"Damn straight. We just need to get Hudgens on board here otherwise she'll blow our damn cover."
"And this is an important conversation which just has to take place during my rehearsal time?" Kenny walks over to reprimand us - the rest of the dancers in place waiting to rerun the entire routine. "Corbin - Mr. Impossible - get back over with Monique. You know you ought to be more frightened of her than me."
"This is important stuff, Kenny. This is about… destiny."
"It's true!" Ashley calls over from her place opposite Chris. "Nessa, just keep your mouth shut and let us work our magic! Okay, can we get this done now?"
"You're in on it too?" I call over, exasperated.
"Corbin, take your place with Monique. Vanessa…" His eyes twinkle and he smirks. "You tell Zac what we're up to and I swear I'll get rid of every trace of cotton candy we've ordered for you to consume on set."
"You wouldn't!" My mouth drops. A pause. "You know too?"
"I'm the director. I see all; I know all. Places, everyone! From the top!"
The music starts again and in a daze, I take my place back with Chucky; mouth open wide in disbelief as he looks at me and laughs whole-heartedly.
"How about we never mention the fact you knew about this… and when he's all suicidal because he's finally been defeated, you can still be the sympathetic girlfriend who proclaims her love in a cheesy manner in order to stop him throwing himself from a tall building?"
I purse my lips together, deep in thought. On the one hand, it would be funny to see everyone get back at Zac in some way. During the filming schedules for the first two movies, Zac's held onto that invincibility award gracefully and was never disappointing when it came to truly hilarious pranks.
Shaving off one of Corbin's eyebrows as he slept was one of his finest moments. And then there was the unforgettable time when he and Jared stole one of Ashley's bras and used it as a catapult to aim hundreds of water balloons at innocent passers-by from the roof of his trailer. And each and everytime, I've played the girlfriend who, in front of an audience, not-so-convincingly gives her boyfriend the lecture of the importance of not pulling heartless pranks. And he'll stand there and nod slowly as if I've taught him a valuable lesson.
Seriously, bring on the damn Oscars. We rock at this jig.
Of course, once the audience leaves, it's nothing but complete and utter laughter and then further plotting for future pranks which, again, I will absolutely, completely and totally have no involvement with what-so-ever.
"I'll think about it," I finally answer as we dance each step spectacularly.
"Nope." Chucky clearly isn't pleased with my answer. "You have to come onto the good side at some point during your relationship. And it's not like he has to know."
"I can't believe you're advertising betrayal and making it sound appealing!"
"You heard Kenny. He'll dispose of all your cotton candy."
"He'd never do that to me. Surely, he loves me too much."
"It's cotton candy or Efron. Your pick. But before you decide, cotton candy didn't abandon you for three months."
"He didn't abandon me! We both had work to do!"
"It's been a cold three months." Chris has lead Ashley over to twirl just next to us, and I don't welcome her comment as they waltz past.
"We've spoken on the phone…" I'm losing. Shit.
"Phone sex does not equate to the real thing," Lucas spins past us with Olesya.
"Although it's really good…" Corbin nearly bumps into Chucky as he leads Monique past.
"It's not the same." Ashley is actually leading Chris during this waltz and after shooting her a harsh glare, I see the look of frustration on his face as he tries desperately to lead her instead.
"Who said anything about phone sex?"
"Dear sweet Vanessa… just give up," Chucky winks. "Cotton candy would never leave you for any amount of time. Just remember that fact."
"You guys are impossible!" I protest. "Next you'll be telling me cheating on Zac with Johnny Depp is a good thing and one hundred and one reasons why."
Chucky pulls a face; his eyes wild with mischief. "I'd keep your voice down, Van. I don't think starting a discussion about running off with Depp would help you out here."
"But discussing phone sex and trying to get me to give up my rightful place as Right Hand Man - or woman - in the super cool world of pranks is? And bribing me with cotton candy? Seriously, prepare to die."
Chucky is laughing and I don't notice that a lot of other people in the room are laughing too. I stand away from Chucky; folding my arms tightly over my chest and trying to look as annoyed as humanly possible at his playful banter.
"You may want to turn around, darling."
"Nuh-uh." I shake my head. "So you can pull an ultimate prank on me? I'm always one step ahead of everything, Kaplow. All the freaking time. I should be James Bond's sidekick, you know. I'm the top dog; the big cheese… the number one girl when it comes to being on the ball and always being one step above everyone else! I've got a seventh sense… a state of total awareness… No one can get past me and contrary to popular belief, I am the actual brains behind every operation Zac actions and I get no credit for it. So before you start trying to plan something on me, just remember, I am always aware."
Chucky nods his head; looking at me approvingly. "Sure you are," he coughs. "Completely. Hey, Zac? How'd you feel about your girlfriend deflating your manly ego in such a public manner?"
I think my stomach just leapt into my throat and I've just swallowed it again. "Wait. What?"
"Well, at least I know what she gets up to when she thinks I'm not here…"
Wait. Okay. That voice… whoever is talking does a great impression of Zac.
I really should turn around and congratulate them on their fantastic talent.
"I think she's died…"
I narrow my eyes into slits towards Chucky. "You better not be punking me here."
"I can't believe I haven't seen my girlfriend in three months and she won't even turn around."
Okay. Spooky. Fantastic impression going on here…
Oh, fuck it.
Now, either I'm completely and utterly shocked yet happy to see him, or my legs have spontaneously decided to grow their own brain and therefore have the total capability of moving at a great rate of knots in the general direction of where a very handsome guy is standing with the biggest "ha! I fooled you!" grin on his face.
And as I hurtle myself at two hundred miles an hour into his arms and wrap my limbs tightly around his waist and neck, the thought that in reality I should technically be mad at him since I've spent god knows how long counting the hours to his expected arrival and not even allowed the thought the process that maybe he was plotting to surprise me.
I hate surprises. Well, actually, no; I'm lying. I love them. But I won't tell him that. It'll just encourage him.
He squeezes me so tightly but hey, who's complaining? I don't really need oxygen.
I mean, come on, just how vital is it right now?
"Hey there, 007," he mumbles into my neck, pressing small kisses there and I just tighten my grip that little bit more, taking in everything about him.
He could get away again, you know.
I'm just overwhelmed. I can feel my knees shaking around his waist; my breath is uneven, goosebumps are forming all over my body and I have this sudden urge to cry. Three whole fucking months. And I can't even remember why we thought it was such a good idea to get all our work commitments out of the way at the same time.
I just hope he knows we're never leaving this position.
I'm not even aware I'm crying until he's coaxing my chin upwards, gently pulling my face away from the safety of his neck and then softly wipes away the stray tears.
"Are you just upset that you've been caught red handed?" He smirks at me in such an adorable way and I just want to die of suffocation in his arms.
"Don't." I pull him closer, another waterfall of tears cascading from my eyes. "I'm too happy to be pissed off at you right now."
He chuckles softly, placing a long and tantalising kiss on my lips which I respond to in an instant.
Three whole months of missing him… of - okay I'll admit - pining for him and feeling like I've lost some vital part of my body… all that is poured into one toe-curling kiss. He's kissing me back just as feverishly; the faint warning in my head that maybe oxygen is a necessity in my life leaving me in an instant.
He gently holds the back of my head, cradling and coaxing me to keep my tear-stained face pressed against his as we pull away - involuntarily taking in the damn oxygen that refuses to quit nagging us.
"Hey," Zac grins.
"Hey," I whisper back. I pull him back to my mouth, savouring every ounce of him and telling myself he's not ever leaving again.
I hate telling myself I'm wrong. I hate it. But then, I'm always so desperate to do it.
It's this weird dysfunction my brain has. For example, when Zac left for London, I was almost certain everytime my phone rang that he was calling to tell me that he'd met some fancy and gorgeous princess who, lets face it, was way prettier than me and gave him such mind blowing sex all through the months of absence that he'd forgotten who I was. So each phone call I was always slightly surprised that yes, he did remember my name; yes, he did still love me and yes, he was actually missing me too.
So, now, with him holding onto me so tight and kissing me with such a force I'm sure my lips are going to puff up in manner of a giant ugly fish, I'm having to tell myself that I was wrong; that I was stupid to ever think like that and promise myself I'll never do it again.
Unfortunately it's a vicious cycle.
My fingers lace into his hair, holding him in place against my lips and reeling in the familiar sensations that have come rushing back to me like a bolt of lightning. I can feel him cherishing me with every kiss and I only hope my reciprocations make him feel the same.
A hand on Zac's shoulder finally pulls him away from me and I open my eyes wide, ready to inflict some major pain on the person who dared to interrupt. Upon seeing Kenny, I smile softly and bury my face back into Zac's neck, not quite ready to be removed from the safety of his arms.
"You look like you need sleep," he says warmly, squeezing Zac's shoulder as form of a welcome.
"Fifteen hours of travelling, man, I need to sleep for at least a decade to catch up with the real world."
Kenny lets out a chuckle. "Unfortunately you've only got until tomorrow then its nine days of gruelling dance rehearsals for you until the cameras start rolling. You ready for the challenge?"
"Oh, hell. You know I always am."
"In the meantime, you take Miss 'I'm always aware' Hudgens back to the hotel with you and get reacquainted. Miserable Vanessa isn't one you'd like to hang out with during this process!"
"Tell me about it!"
I don't have the energy to punch his bicep at the remark. His hands squeeze my butt before one smoothly comes to caress the skin of my lower back beneath my tank top. I tingle at the action. I've missed him so fucking much.
"And sleep!" Kenny adds as Zac starts backing us up towards the exit. "Jetlagged Zac is miserable too!"
Zac laughs before nodding his head and shooting Kenny a playful glare. "Don't you all just know it. It's great to be back, man. Can't wait for you to completely run me down again!"
"Vanessa, make sure he doesn't get into mischief on his first day back…"
I just smirk and nod my head slowly as Kenny shakes his head with a large smile which read; 'yeah, I'm responsible for you two meeting. Remember that!'
And of course I would.
If I could find the incentive for getting off Zac's body and kissing Kenny's feet right now; I totally would. It's just that I prefer this position. And yeah, it gets uncomfortable after a while but comfy is so overrated.
Zac walks us out of the dance studio and out into the hot air that Utah graces us with on a daily basis. He chuckles as I just snuggle up closer to him, pressing my lips against his neck and ear at every opportunity; just relishing in the taste of him again.
"I can't believe you're here…"
"Want me to pinch you?"
I reprimand him with an unamused glare; his response is merely to laugh at my actions before sweeping my hair over my shoulder and tapping my nose softly.
"I missed you so much, baby." His tone turns serious and he kisses me again. "I didn't realise how much until I walked back in there and observed your very unconvincing and witty speech."
I pull away with a small and blissful smile; my fingers gently ghosting over his jawline and cheeks as I check for any newly formed imperfections on his skin - making sure he was the same Zac I'd left back in California all those lonely weeks ago. The spiky stubble of his unshaven face only add to my lust of him; the look contrasting perfectly with his own love-filled tired eyes and sleepy smile.
He was still my Zac. Still the same Zac I'd always known. Sure, his hair was a little shorter and he hadn't shaved in maybe two or three days, but he was still my Zac.
"You look exhausted," I comment, my tone deadly serious. "And you smell bad too."
Zac raises an eyebrow. "You know, I thought to myself hey! Why not take the earlier flight, Zac? Why not surprise your gorgeous and unbelievably lovely girlfriend? … is she here, by the way?"
I grin like a cheshire cat; my arms circling his neck again and my nose bouncing playfully against his. "You lied to me last night. I wasn't expecting you until tomorrow."
"Here lies that little teeny-weeny thing we like to call surprises," Zac beams at me, obvious proud of himself. "And I was kinda worried about pulling it off… You're always aware, remember? Always on the ball? The big cheese, the top dog… the girl no being can get past?" He's laughing at my shocked expression.
"I knew you were there the entire time." I'm not very convincing in times like these.
"I did," I protest. "I anticipated some sort of surprise occurring because you simply can't go through this relationship without inflicting some on me. You really need a new tactic, babe."
"Or maybe I don't. Maybe I'm just too cool at this. I've been inflicting them on you nearly three years now and everytime I still manage to pull the god-awfully cute expression on your face - where your eyes go super wide and your jaw drops. Gorgeous."
"Okay. Quit bragging." I roll my eyes, my stomach still doing flip-flops as my brain chants over and over again; he's here, he's here, he's here. "I'm too happy to care about arguing with you right now. Though I know I'm right. As usual."
"Oh, of course," Zac deadpans.
"And in future, I think I'm going to change my 'surprised' face into something really weird and freaky. Like this," my face contorts into many different startling positions - my tongue hangs out at an angle, my eyes bulge, my cheeks puff out before I do my super cool mega talent of pulling my infamous Jafar expression from Aladdin.
Hey, it makes him laugh. And I absolutely adore it when he does.
"Still cute, babe, still cute," Zac laughs at my antics. "You know, it's these little things that only I know about you and completely and utterly love to pieces. How the fuck have I managed three whole fucking months without you?"
"Wondering the exact same thing."
He pauses; looking down at our still joined bodies. "Are you going to get off me sometime today?"
I shake my head slowly, playfully; my grin widening as he raises an eyebrow and tries to look offended. "Babe, I've just endured three months without you. I think it's a fair cop to suggest we remain like this for the rest of our lives."
"A fair cop? Why can't I dangle off you?"
"Because that's just plain stupid."
"And walking around for the rest of our lives in this position isn't?"
I beam radiantly. Everything just seems to suddenly fit when he's around me. Everything always seems to fall into place without either of us even making an effort. "Oh, come on, baby. I know the prospect is a scary one. And sure, people will point at us, talk about us in hushed tones and be all judgemental… but in time, they'll accept us. And pretty soon it'll become this massive Hollywood trend. Nicole Richie will be dangling off Paris Hilton, Ashley will be dangling off Orlando Bloom, Ben Affleck will be dangling off Matt Damon… Oooh! Matt Damon…"
"Oooh! Change of subject, please!"
"Surely my boo isn't getting jealous already?" I taunt, dangerously playing with fire as I grind my hips slowly against his; relishing as he sucks in a deep breath of air and his tired eyes darken considerably. And suddenly, I don't care that we're standing out in the open air next to a van where the driver is sitting inside, trying to focus on anything but us canoodling only yards away. Giving the wild side of my nature is rapidly moving into haphazardly out of control, I would happily take him right there and then.
As I start nipping his throat and moving down to capture the skin between his neck and collarbone, Zac hisses wildly and squeezes my backside. "You're such a fucking tease sometimes, Van."
I'm clearly in no position to think up a cheeky and dirty response as Zac takes a firm grip of my thighs and bounces me upwards into the air, swiftly and gracefully capturing my waist as he effortlessly flings my body over his shoulder, laughing along with my giggles as he pats my butt and starts walking us towards the van.
"And I thought you were always aware…"
"Just get us into that van and back to the hotel, Efron. Otherwise I will not be responsible for my actions of violation in such a public place…"
I'm still trying to figure out what it was that we ate that sent us into a world of non-stop giggles and unnecessary hysterics.
See, me and Zac have these moments a lot of the time were we just can't stop laughing at nothing and we start acting like cheeky five-year-olds that are just asking for their parents to scold them and make them behave.
Unfortunately, right now, we just happen to be at an award ceremony in Palm Springs and at our very 'mature' ages of nineteen and twenty, we shouldn't really need our parents here to scold us and tell us to behave.
Except that we do.
Zac's publicist hasn't really been patient with us tonight. In fact, I think given a butchers knife and a further giggle-fest, me and Zac would be in a very bloody and tattered mess on the red carpet right now.
I still don't know how it started. We've had a good day - granted it was lust-filled and we spontaneously thought it would be a good idea to see how many times we could go - in many different positions - before declaring a time-out and admitting we could only go another round if we wanted to walk down the red carpet waddling like penguins.
But then declaring the time-out did no good. We were mature and responsible… we each came to the decision that we should shower separately and get ready for the show like the mature and responsible adults we so obviously are…
And then I'd had a downfall and decided it would be a great idea to flush the toilet while Zac was showering - emitting a loud squeak from him when the steaming hot water cascading down him suddenly turned ice cold and he ended up chasing me around his apartment with revenge in his eyes.
The giggling had started there. And it hadn't stopped. Even as he'd caught me and peppered me with his tantalising kisses… we both couldn't stop laughing. The kisses were sloppy, uneven, not our usual performances since the laughter and wide grins were making it practically impossible to.
He thought he'd gotten his own back when he'd hidden my own clean pair of panties while I was showering - stating that, "oh my god, isn't it a shame? You'll have to go commando" and then gulping when I'd sultry explained that I'd have absolutely no issues with going to the ceremony pantless.
The limousine ride from Zac's place to Palm Springs had been something else. I'm now fully confident that lust mixed with uncontrollable laughter really isn't a good combination. The ride had started slowly… each of us sitting in our respective seats and dressed up to the nines… looking like a royal celebrity couple. But then I've always been a sucker for my man dressed in black and it wasn't long before I was straddling his lap, hands roaming haphazardly, kisses wild and passionate as our tongues duelled in the most satisfying of battles.
Of course, the limo rounding corners at speed proved a problem as we were constantly thrown around the back seat, limbs flying and heads, hands and legs connecting painfully with the sides of the car as it swerved.
This only enticed more giggles rather than pain. And a willingness to see how long we could go on in our lust-filled state - caressing, nipping, suckling - until being thrown apart involuntarily again.
Pulling up alongside the red carpet had only made us laugh harder. The paranoia that maybe Zac's shirt hadn't buttoned up properly or that my dress was crumpled in some very suggestive places had taken over me and I was trying to maintain a calm aura. My worries only enticed Zac more… and as we walked through the sea of blinding lights and obsessive photographers, Zac dared to lower his hand down my back, finally reaching my backside were he gave it firm squeeze and ignored my not-so-subtle look of disapproval. His normally lovely and polite publicist had swiftly pushed his hand away from its position on my butt and her own glare of displeasure only made him laugh harder.
I think it's fair to say that even after two and a half years, I still pathetically and hopelessly in love. Even if he is a moron who, at that particular moment, was trying my patience with his wandering hands and eyes. But there was also this other side to him - the other side that felt the need to bury his face in my hair and whisper sweet endearments and actually make me forget that we were presently being blinded by a vast array of flashing lights and yelled at by press, photographers and fans.
Because when that part of him decided to come out in the most random of times, I'd always forget every damn part of the outside world - no matter how bright, how loud, how ever distracting.
I had smiled widely when he whispered "I love you" into my hair before squeezing me closer to his side and walking me a further few steps down the red carpet. Our giggles had momentarily stopped for a few minutes.
The ceremony itself had been intriguing and fun and our giggles still had not calmed. Even Elijah Kelley had joined in at one point - more or less laughing at our apparent immaturity rather than the reasons we were laughing. Brittany Snow had slapped Zac's bicep as one chuckle he emitted was considerably louder than the rest and a few people sitting nearby had turned to look at us.
Even now, hours later, during the after show party, Zac and I still haven't calmed down. The party is in full-swing, the music pumping. The majority of the guests are up and dancing - even John Travolta, who in normal circumstances, you'd think would distract me long enough to forget I was next to Zac since he's one of my all time heroes. But, nope, the giggling session is still going strong and right now, I couldn't care less if John leapt up on stage and started singing 'Grease Lightning'.
"Your face was hysterical!" I laugh, burying my face into Zac's neck as he, too, chuckles and holds onto my waist tighter as we slowly dance. "That woman looked like she was going to kill you!"
"And it would have been your fault!" he retorted indignantly. "You practically pushed me into her! No wonder she looked so pissed!"
"Have absolutely no idea what you're referring to, baby."
"Like hell you don't!" He pokes my sides and makes me squeal. "If you weren't such a tease…"
"Completely not my fault."
"Vanessa Hudgens," Zac stops moving and tilts my chin, making me look up at him. "That's a fib."
"I think you'll find that you're the one who hid my panties earlier on. So me going commando right now is all down to you, not me."
"True," he grins. "But that just means I get to reap the benefits later on."
I suddenly am feeling very devilishly. But then, really, on a serious note, how many more times can we go in one whole day? Surely I'm bordering on becoming a professional full-time nymphomaniac.
But he's just so… delicious… and hot… and… such. Any red blooded female want to come over and tell me I'm wrong?
"Meh. I don't know. I might have prior engagements to attend to."
He's not amused. His hands slowly move down my back again and then back up, causing me to shiver at his touch. He knows exactly what he's doing to me. His eyes are mixed with a delightful combination of love and lust - a mixture I'll never tire of seeing. He's just amazing; in every sense of the word. An addiction I don't ever want to find the cure for.
"Such as?" He presses demandingly, pulling my body up closer against his and swaying us to the gentle music.
"Well, for starters I haven't been home in three days. I'm guessing my parents want to make sure I'm still alive…"
"The point of this being?"
"I'm thinking I should go home and spent some lovely much needed quality time with them…" I grin widely; my arms sliding around his neck more comfortably.
"Don't you think so?" I'm wicked, I know.
"You want to talk to my dad about it?"
Seeing that unmistakable look of fear in his eyes, I start to giggle again uncontrollably. My dad and Zac get on so well together, but I know Zac's always going to have that fear of seeing a side of my dad which would most likely result in him being catapulted into outer space.
"Would…he…uh… be too bothered if you… - Vanessa!"
"What?" I laugh loudly as he grips my sides and starts tickling me mercilessly. I scream and squeal… trying my damn hardest to get away from him on the dance floor and run for some cover.
"You filthy little liar!"
I grasp a hold of his fingers; squirming to get out of his grip. "Zac! Stop!"
And he does but stares at me with such a humourous stare that I know my teasing will not go unpunished. "Now are you just being mean or do you really want to go home tonight?"
"Baby," I coo; my arms going back into their rightful spot around his neck. "I suppose one more night with you isn't going to hurt anyone… and they've still got Stella, right? One daughter's better than none."
"And as much fun as this party has been… and how proud I am of for winning that award…"
He blushes. I love it when he blushes. "We, Vanessa. We. It was an ensemble award."
"Which you contributed to. I don't know why you don't give yourself all the credit you deserve."
He turns a deeper shade of crimson. I've got it bad. "And you really need to stop inflating my ego more than it already is." He smirks as I put myself up on his tip-toes to give him a small kiss.
"You know you love it, baby."
"I love you."
"My, my," I smile. "Somebody's getting all mushy." Seriousness enfolds.
"Somebody's smitten." He kisses me again; his fingers curling around my neck.
"So is somebody else."
"Do you wanna get out of here?"
I nod my head; my heart fluttering off its own accord as he breaks our embrace and reaches down to grasp my hand and lace our fingers together. "We still have that interview to do."
Zac groans loudly and I feel another giggle catching in my throat. "Fuck the interview."
"Physically impossible, baby. And just for the record," I drop his hand and circle my own back around his neck again. "I love you too."
His arm engulf my waist again and we unknowingly begin to sway to the music again; oblivious to those dancing around us. "Now who's getting all mushy?"
"It's the damn effect you have on me. So, we'll stay here for another fifteen minutes or so, get that interview done and see what new mischief we can get up to in that limousine…" I wiggle my eyebrows for good measure.
"Hudgens, baby, you're gonna be the death of me."
He dips me low and I squeal before he pulls me back up straight and lifts me in the air, spinning me around so fast, it causes another round of giggles to bubble past my lips and set us both off again.
Surely it should be illegal to be this insanely happy.
I don't know what time it is and to be honest, I don't care one damn bit.
I know it's early… the sun's out, shining considerably more brightly than it has these last three months. Even the birds are chirping louder and if I took the time to listen really carefully, I'd probably find their chirping the tune of Walking on Sunshine.
The lights streams through the semi-open curtains of my hotel room - well, not just my hotel room anymore. I sigh softly, a smile breaking out on my tired face as I run my fingers gently over my sleeping boyfriend's face; still not daring believe that he was really here… that he'd surprised me the night before and that we'd been spending the past twelve hours getting reacquainted with blissful kisses, caresses and heartfelt words. My thighs were still deliciously aching as a testament to our actions mere hours ago before finally allowing sleep to consume us, wrapped up in one another and never wanting to let go.
And I still can't let go of him. Even though he'd managed to break the position I'd proposed since seeing him in, I wouldn't mind staying in this one forever. Everything in my life right now is exactly where it should be.
Zac's stirs as I tentatively brush his hair back from his eyes and forehead, letting my gaze caress his features as I watch him shift slightly in his sleep; careful not to wake him. How is it that he can make me so unbelievably happy without doing a thing? And he hasn't even presented me with my presents yet - a notion that I don't give a damn about right now because all I want to do for the next million years is lie here, holding my wonderful boyfriend and cherishing every moment we have.
I let out a small breathily giggle as I recall a conversation we'd had last night and push my nose against his cheek, ghosting it upwards until I reach his hair and inhale his sweet scent. The scent I'd missed so much even though it lingered on every shirt and hat I'd taken of his. It just wasn't the same.
My hair cascades over my shoulders and falls onto Zac's face and I inwardly curse as his eyes flutter open and he yawns.
"Sorry, baby," I mutter, annoyed that I'd woken him. "Stupid hair."
His eyes connect with mine as he stretches before smiling sleepily and pulling me back down against his body. Both his arms wrap around my back tightly, pushing my chest against his and resting his face in my hair. "Meh. It's okay," he yawns again, stretching his legs and engulfing me further into his warmth. "That's what you get for watching me sleep."
I place a kiss on his chest; the smile on my face still refusing to leave. "I was doing no such thing, Zachary."
"Of course you weren't."
"So glad we've got this situation resolved already."
Zac chuckles his reply and kisses the top of my head affectionately. "I love you so fucking much," he laughs as he embeds his fingers in my hair. "I've missed you."
My small blissful smile turns into a wide toothy grin and I somehow find the strength to lift my head to stare down into his eyes. "And the cutesy Efron emerges?" My own fingers rake through his hair as he shifts to lie completely on his back. I lean down and kiss him gently, feeling his tired lips respond against my own. "I love you too, baby. So much."
"Glad we're still on the same wavelength."
"And why wouldn't we be?"
Zac doesn't respond; just kisses me instead. I feel his insecurities… I own those insecurities. But all I can do is happily kiss him back and convince him through my kisses of how much I've missed him and love him. His fingers caress my hips, holding me gently as he flips us both over and hovers over me; his mouth attaching to my neck and invoking indecipherable feelings in my heart.
"Can we just stay here?" He asked huskily as he pulls away for one long minute.
"Do I look like I'd have a problem with that scenario?" I yank his mouth back to mine, kissing him with a powerful hunger.
Suddenly, he grins. "And what if I need to get up and out of bed to retrieve something vital?"
"Such as?" I'm beginning to get annoyed with his constant kiss-breaking routine. What I have in mind involves a lot of kissing and no talking whatsoever.
"I don't know… food? Water? … Presents?"
I let out a small sigh through my nose. "Zac, sweetie, this is very hard for me to say right now… and you know how much I adore my presents…"
"One big fat duh being placed right there."
"But right now I would so much adore for you to shut up and kiss me because right now, I'm still reeling from the fact that you're here holding me and if you stop, I might start believing it isn't real."
Zac smiles sincerely at my words; his fingers coming up and brushing away stray curls from my forehead and cheeks. The motion gives me goosebumps. "Well, we can't allow for that to happen, right?"
"So, if I were to…" His body starts to move off mine and he starts laughing when I groan childishly and wrap my legs around his waist, protesting his absence. "I'm only joking, Van!"
"Well, stop!" I hold him tightly.
"I thought you were always aware…"
"Shut up, Efron," I grin. "It's my day off. I can't be superior all the time."
Zac pushes his forehead to mine. "Love. You." He punctuates each word with a kiss and I freefall into the familiar sensations.
"Love you too."
And suddenly, all joking aside, we both plunge into a zealous kiss, conveniently forgetting about anything and everything situated around the bed and falling into that little world that can only be called our own. As the sun rises and brightens up the room more, Zac pulls away and with a mischievous smile, pulls the sheets up around our bodies and over the top; shielding us from everything.
Everything's back the way it should be. Everything's perfect and what's more… no one will ever suspect or find us in our top secret hiding place.