"Hey, you're actually out of your house," the tall boy said as she crossed the road.
He was standing on the grass, waiting for her. The white car she'd gotten out of suddenly stopped and pulled over on the side of the road. She ignored it and ran at him, dropping her bag at the ground near his feet.
He smiled as he caught her and swung her around. Two girls were approaching. He held her tighter and laughed. "I love you so much!"
He put her down and tried to take her bag. "Why'd you leave me at your house to deal with your family all on my own?" She grabbed her bag from his hands and shrugged it on.
"He wanted to compare us and how similar and different we are." She opened her mouth to reply when the two girls walked up to them.
"—here! I can't believe it! It's really him!" One of them was on the phone.
"He who?" her friend's voice said out of the cell.
"Taylor Lautner!" He looked at her. Then he turned and ran.
I'd only been standing in line for a few seconds when I felt someone get in after me. My phone rang at the same time. I ignored the person and answered the phone.
"I can't make it," my friend said, breathless.
"Okay. I hear Dustin. I don't need to know," I responded. The last time I'd asked for details, I'd sorely regretted it.
"Yeah. Well, I gotta go. Call me when the movie ends." I sighed. She'd already hung up. Ditching me for sex. Great.
"Do you know how long the movie lasts," the person behind me asked. I turned around, recognized him and chose to forget.
"Yep. Two and a half hours. Longest computer made movie," I said. He nodded, watching me with apprehension.
"Cool. I think it's gonna be really good. Been waiting to see it for a month."
"You couldn't get tickets?" I asked, surprised. How was that possible?
"No. Not enough time. Kind of swamped." His head tilted in wonder.
"What?" I asked.
"Why aren't you freaking out and asking for my autograph and taking pictures and labeling it 'me and my boyfriend' on facebook?"
"Because I don't think that you're that different from any other person with a job or talent," I said. "Just because you're Taylor Lautner doesn't mean I have to freak out."
"Really? I don't completely understand," he said, stepping closer to me with is head cocked to one side.
"You only have a job. It's your job to act, correct?" He nodded. "Okay. Is your job at entertaining people any better than the person who wrote the book? Or the screenplay? Or made all the special-effects?"
"No, not really. If anything, they did more work," he said.
I turned away from him and stared out the glass doors I was standing next to. For a few seconds, he stood behind me in silence.
"Isn't the reason all those girls want a picture with me because they want proof that they met me?" he asked, trying to get back on my good side. He even wanted to be friends with a stranger he never met.
"Yes, that's pretty much it."
"And you don't want proof that we had this conversation?" he asked.
"Nope. The only person who would listen to the story would believe me instantly. But she'd much rather talk about her boyfriend than any actor, be him hot or not."
"Isn't that what all the females are saying about you? What with the unceremonious shirt-ripping-off scene," I said, trying to describe the scene simply.
"I guess. I don't pay attention. Smile and wave is pretty much my motto. NO one can get made at me if I don't say anything."
I looked up into his dark eyes and tried to read the emotion there. I got nothing. Panning my eyes to include most of his tall body, I read his life story.
"You really didn't like having to pull your shirt off in front of the people there, did you?" I asked.
"No, not really."
"And you didn't even think of the countless numbers of American girls who would be watching it later, did you?"
"Not at all, but thank you for reminding me," he said, groaning slightly. I laughed.
"Not quite the best job to have, is it?" I asked, watching his slight humiliation.
"Not so much. Not anymore."
A group of four girls walked by and he turned his head away from them, facing out the windows like I had been. There wasn't anybody in line behind him. He was completely exposed.
They fell on him like vultures.
"Aren't you Taylor Lautner?"
"Can I get your autograph?"
"Pose for this picture, Taylor."
"Text my friend. Better—call her!"
They were all searching for some way to document the meeting. He smiled, glanced at me in apology, and signed the back of the ticket stub one of them held out.
I shook my head and smiled. All the girls looked at me for a second before deciding I was no threat. A few people moved out of the line and the rest of it moved forward quickly. I grabbed the sleeve of his shirt and pulled him with me as I stepped forward.
"Thank you," he said, hurriedly. They all smiled at him and walked away. "See, that's how normal girls are supposed to act around me," he said to me.
"Well, that's lovely. It just means I'm not a normal teenage girl." My phone vibrated in my pocket. "Sorry," I said to Taylor.
"Not at all," he said, stepping away to give me some privacy.
"I thought I told you never to call me that."
"You did. I ignored it."
"What do you want?"
"Nothing. What are you doing?"
"Standing in line for Avatar and talking to a lovely man. Also, itching to get off the phone with you."
"Nice guy, huh?"
"No. You're just very annoying."
"Awesome. You need a ride home?"
"No. If I can't get anyone after the movie, I'll call you."
"No. I'll walk home. It's only a mile or so. Not a big deal."
"Are you kidding?"
"Not at all."
"I have to go."
"To the movie I payed so much to watch." I rolled my eyes. Taylor smiled, catching on.
"Alright. Well, talk to you later."
"Yeah, sure." I hung up and sighed, replacing the phone in my pocket.
"If you don't mind me asking, who was that?" He'd stepped back into line directly behind me.
"Just an annoying ex-boyfriend. Sometimes, he won't leave me alone. Others, I'm the farthest thing from his mind. I don't know which is better," I said.
"You've never dated anyone? And then had them obsessed with you."
"Not really. Dated, but it's not an extensive collection."
"The effects of being an actor?"
"Yup. Want the money, not me."
I nodded, trying not to analyze him. It was so hard. Maybe just studying him.
There was the obvious brown hair, brown eyes, semi-plainness that came with being a normal human. Interesting that it wasn't dyed. But what made him different from all the other boys identical to him? Why were women so attracted to him?
Was it the way he never made direct eye-contact? Or the intelligence hidden inside? There was no anger or fear that clouded his feelings. The urge to run and hide for survival was prominent, though. Might it just have been me?
"Does it annoy you girls are so shallow? That all they want out of you is what you can offer that they can hold?"
"Are you asking if I hate that they use me?"
"Yes. In less words. A little oversimplified," I said.
"The answer is sort of. Afterwards, I get annoyed, but more at myself." His head tilted again. "Does that make sense?"
"Yes. It's a common answer. I only ask because I'm taking psychology and wonder how those girls get that way."
"What do you mean?" I'd forgotten that most people don't understand anything that comes after psychology.
"It's hard to explain," I said, trying to dodge the question and skirt around it.
"No, I'm curious," he said, crossing his arms. I'd make a horrible politician. I can't avoid conversation for my life.
"Women are attracted to a man who can provide for them and their children." He nodded as he followed along. "You have money to take care of them financially and enough strength to take care of them physically. But they're not attracted to you as a person," I said.
"Does that mean you're attracted to me, too?" He grinned.
"No. I'm a bit different," I said.
"I'm guessing you're interested in guys, so it's not that you're gay. Unless the ex is because you went gay."
"Nope. Very straight. Positive."
"I'm never going to guess this, am I?" he asked.
"Probably not," I said, looking towards the front of the line. No movement. Damn. I really didn't want to have this conversation with a random movie star I'd met a few minutes before.
"Okay, then. I'll still try, but it'll be in my head. I'll only guess if I'm positive."
"So, onto another subject. Um, do you have a job?" he asked, looking me in the eye. I tried to maintain contact, but had to look away.
"Yeah. Two, actually. Teller at a bank and semi-vet," I said, internally laughing at the double meaning. Most of the men I know could be considered dogs, too.
"Semi? What does that mean?" His head tilted.
"I take care of the pets, but don't really do any doctor-like things."
"Oh. You're the one in the back who feeds the ones who need to stay over-night. The one nobody notices."
"Yep, that's me. Occasionally, I have to take them home with me, too."
"That must be fun," he said.
"Pets are like people. They can get really annoying really fast," I said.
"True. I hadn't thought of that."
"When'd you move here?" I asked. "I think I would have remembered if Taylor Lautner were living in Colorado."
", I just got here today. I barely had time to check out the house and put my suitcase down before I came here for the movie," he said.
"I can understand if you don't want to answer this, but where's the house?"
"Just off Wadsworth. A few streets off it. It's near Pamona High School," he said. I smiled.
"Interesting. I also happen to live in that general area," I replied.
"Really?" he asked. "Maybe I'll see you around when I try to avoid my delirious fans." We both laughed and the line moved forward, the first people going into the theater.
We didn't speak as we got closer to the double doors ahead of us. For a minute, there was a small commotion and the line stopped. Taylor looked at an advertisement hanging on the wall.
When I finally got into the theater, I recognized the person checking ticket stubs.
"Hey, Nick," I said, handing him the tiny piece of paper.
"Hey. Haven't seen you for a while," he responded, trying to flip his blond hair out of his eyes.
"Yeah. Holed up in my house." I noticed Taylor wasn't behind me, so I turned to find him. He was still looking at the ad.
I grabbed his arm and pulled him after me. Nick stared at him for a second before clearing his voice to speak.
"There are two seat up near the top," he said, pointing. "They look to be the last two."
I thanked him and started up the stairs on the side. Taylor turned to the side and tried to hide his face. Not many people noticed us, and no one recognized him.
The movie was fairly good. By the end, the tension in the room was too thick. Taylor seemed to feel the same way. He kept shifting his position when things got awkward on screen.
I tried to calm him down, but it was hard to in the palpable emotions in the air.
By the time the credits were rolling and the house lights were on, both of us were out of the theater. He breathed a sigh of relief as we leaned against a low railing at the entrance to the building.
"Wow. I'm just glad only a few girls noticed me," he said.
"I agree. Had we been at the mall, appraising the shirts you're on, I'm sure we'd have been massacred. Not to mention stabbed."
"Stabbed? Why stabbed?"
"Well, I think it's more plausible. Not many women carry around guns or crossbows when they shop, so shanking was next on my list."
"But why would we get stabbed?" he asked.
"I would because I'm with you. Jealousy makes even the coolest, smartest of women murderous. I've seen it. You, because you're not Robert Pattinson. Some people get very passionate about favorites."
He laughed. "And who would survive?"
"You, of course. Your adoring fans would save you, even as you sob over my body," I said, crossing my arms against the cold.
"Crying over your body? I don't even know your name."
"Well, feelings go deeper than names. I'm sure you're already named me something in your mind."
He looked shocked. "How'd you know?"
"I know psychology, remember?"
"Well, what names have you picked out?" I asked, looking out across the parking lot.
"Marie," he said. "What I consider exotic and old-fashioned."
"See? It's strange how close your mind can get with these things."
"That's your name?" he said, surprised.
"Not my first name. My middle one, yes."
"Well, then. What's your first name?"
"Raina. My ex's like to call me Rains, but they know I hate it coming from them."
"Coming from them? What's different about them?"
"It's not a name for them. Just something they can annoy me with," I explained.
"So, if I were to call you this so-called horrendous name, you'd hate me for it?" His head tilted.
"No. You don't mean to anger me by it."
"Good. That's what I'll call you from now on. I kinda like it."
"Well, that's good. I suppose."
"Of course it is. If you're me, at least." We both laughed a little. I didn't understand why. My phone rang again.
"Good Goddess," I mumbled. "Aren't I just the popular one tonight."
I shivered as I reached into my pocket to answer. The sky was darkening. A light gold was just visible on the horizon, almost blocked by buildings.
"What?" I asked.
"Well, hello to you, too, sis-in-law."
"Don't mess with me, Dustin, dearest. You may be dating my best friend, but I'll still kill you."
"I love you, too. Ah, how thoughtful of you to say that I'm the most important man in your life."
"Sorry to burst your bubble, lover boy, but I've replaced you in that category."
"Aw, why? Whatever have I done to you?"
"Oh, let's see. Stole my car, broke my foot, then my garage door, drove over my back garden and into my newly refurbished library."
"It wasn't that bad."
"Yes, it was. You exposed all my books to direct sunlight for a whole month."
"I'm sure it wasn't a month."
"Four weeks is a month, Dustin."
"Sure. Anyway, I called to tell you I'm not gonna need your car tonight, so I left it out in the parking lot for you."
"Which parking lot?"
"The movie theater one."
"Ooh, she does have manners."
"Test me and I'll send a disease infested rodent to castrate you while you're awake. Don't put it past me."
"Good. Tell your girlfriend you're a bastard and the movie's over. Goodbye."
I hung up.
"No. Best friend's boyfriend. I find it hard to be nice."
"I can tell."
"I have a mode of transportation home. Do you need a ride?" I asked.
"That would be lovely." He pushed himself off the railing and followed me to the top of the steps.
It took me half a minute to find my car. It looked fine as I inspected it. The engine purred softly, just like it always did. I tried to back out of the parking spot.
The mirrors weren't where they were supposed to be.
I slammed on the brakes and growled in anger.
"What? What is it?" Taylor asked.
"He fucked with my car."
"Moved the mirrors. He knows I hate it when he doesn't at least try to fix them." I fumed in silence for a while as Taylor looked at the car.
It was black outside and in. Not leather, but a smooth, velvet-type material covered the seats. The interior was clean and empty except for a single Mountain Dew bottle I'd left in it.
"Nice. What is it?" he asked.
"New Jaguar. Only sold 38 of them in the continental U.S."
"Yep." I'd fixed the mirrors and backed out.
Once we were on the main street, I turned to him.
"Which side of Wads do you live on?" I asked, waiting for the traffic to pass by so I could turn.
"Uh. The east side."
"Yeah." I smiled.
"I know where we're going?" I said.
My car sped down Sheridan, turned onto 80th Avenue and barely slowed before taking a right onto Vance.
I pulled into my driveway and stopped the car.
"I believe your house is next door," I said, closing my car door.
"How'd your know?" he asked.
"Not many houses get sold around here. It was the talk of the town for months."
"No one knew who you were, but they were certainly excited you were coming."
"Wow," he said. "Small neighborhood."
"Yep. By the way, how do you expect to sleep in that house?" I walked around the car to him.
"What do you mean?"
"There's a hole in the side. It's the middle of winter. You'll freeze in your sleep."
"Oh. I didn't really think of that."
"Stay with me."
"Stay at my house tonight. I know that the plumbing for that one isn't set up and the heater doesn't always work. The chimney is stopped up, there's almost no insulation and the electricity isn't connected very well."
"Seems like there's a lot wrong with it. No wonder I got suggestions from so many repair companies."
I smiled at him. "What do you say? One night at my house?" He shrugged.
"Yeah, why not?" I laughed.
"There are many reasons for that I'm betting my house is currently filled to the brim with men. All of whom will be gone soon."
"Please tell me that was sarcastic." He laughed.
I unlocked the metal gate leading to my front stairs and locked it after him. He glanced at the black, intricate railing and the green, velvet carpeting. That was draped over the stairs.
A tall man wearing a white button-up shirt, baggy black pants, and black boots was sitting in one of the two chairs at the top of the staircase.
"Hello, Nat," I said. He nodded and took a sip of the beer he was holding. "This is Taylor Lautner. I met him at the movies."
Nat held out a tanned hand, which Taylor shook. They eyed each other for a second.
"Are the guys inside?" I asked. Nat nodded again and I grabbed Taylor's arm. The next door was also metal, but was already unlocked.
"It was nice to meet you," Taylor said through the screen once we were inside.
Our entrance into the foyer was greeted by an uproar of male voices. A group of men was sitting in front of the T.V. in my living room to our right.
"You brought another one home for us, huh, Rains?"
"Where'd you find this one? Another King Soopers?"
"Hey, Rains, how big are his feet?" An outburst of laughter came from them all. I grabbed the remote from the couch armrest and switched the channel to wrestling. Two girls were fighting each other for some award.
"Guys, this is Taylor Lautner. You know him. We're not dating and I don't want you bothering him while he's here, okay?" I said. All of the guys already had their eyes glued to the T.V. screen.
"Did they even hear you?" Taylor asked.
"Yeah. Not new boyfriend. No bothering, gotcha," a tall, fair skinned man said. I rolled my eyes.
"At least Fang got that much," I said, taking my jacket off and putting it in the foyer closet. "Come on. We'll leave them to their strange sexual fantasies. I suppose you're tired."
"I could sleep." I glanced over at him and smiled. He was exhausted.
"Well, then. We'll get you showered and in bed quickly."
"That'd be great," he said, yawning. I smiled again.
The staircase next to the front door led up to the bedrooms and bathrooms. The first door on the right led to a small bathroom with just a sink, a toilet, and a shower/tub. The next door on the right was the master bedroom.
I led Taylor into the adjoining bathroom and told him to take a shower. There were clean towels hanging on a rack next to the shower.
"What about clothes?" he asked. He said he didn't want to go over and get hid, so I was able to scrounge out an overly large t-shirt and some basketball shorts of mine that barely fit on him.
When he came out of the bathroom, I was watching The Mentalist on my T.V.. He sat down on the edge of the bed next to me.
"Girl was found buried in a digging site and Jane's going crazy," I said, not really paying attention to him at all.
"Ah. Scoot over." I slid farther onto the king-sized bed. He lifted his legs onto the mattress.
The bed was actually two pressed together. Each was controlled by a separate remote. The head and foot of each could raise or lower or massage as needed. We were both squished onto one bed and I rolled over onto my side, away from him.