A Night To Remember
Dancing and Kissing
When they finally pulled into the parking lot of the hotel in Denver, Payson raised her head off Austin's back and looked around. Members of the media stood at the front entrance and the entire crowd turned at the sound of Lolita.
"Hope you didn't plan on keeping tonight a secret," Austin shouted to her. Payson, however, was too busy trying to cover her face to reply. Austin pull the bike up to the front entrance and he climbed off. Payson followed suit, still trying to avoid being recognized. He pulled off his helmet and shook his head slightly to fix his hair. The cameras started clicking and flashing everywhere.
"Come on," he muttered to Payson.
"Is this why you asked me?" she snapped. "To get more media coverage?"
"No. I didn't even know anyone in the media would be here," he said with a grin that told Payson he was lying. Payson sighed. She took a deep breath and pulled the helmet off her head. There was a collective gasp from all the reporters and photographers. She tried to look away from them as she attempted to unflatten her hair.
"Payson Keeler, are you dating Austin Tucker?" some blond woman whose face looked as if she had recently had a bad botox job asked her.
"No comment," Austin said. Payson would have slapped him, if she hadn't been blinded by the camera flashes. He tossed the key to his bike to the parking valet. Then Austin grabbed Payson's hand, laced his fingers with her, yelped in pain when she nearly broke his fingers squeezing his hand, and pulled her along behind him into the hotel.
"I'm going to kill you for this," Payson snapped at him. He laughed and led her into the lobby. They saw a line of people waiting outside what they assumed was the ballroom. He held onto her hand tighter as he pushed their way through the crowd of people trying to get in.
"Austin Tucker, and date," he said with a wink to the man standing at the entrance to the ballroom with a clipboard in his hands.
"Go on through, Mr. Tucker," the man told him.
"Oh, Payson," Payson said mocked. "I completely forgot about this fundraiser I'm supposed to go to. And I need a date. Will you please go with me to save my ass."
"Of course, Austin," he said snidely. "I would love to use your connections in order to see my boyfriend. Oh, but I'm going to complain endlessly."
"He is not my boyfriend," Payson snapped.
"If you say so."
"He's not. I just really like him," she said, blushing furiously.
Austin laughed. "You two are too alike to be together."
"What's that supposed to mean?"
"Just that, you know, all either of you care about is gymnastics."
"That isn't true. I care about him. Why else would I be here right now?"
"Because you like me."
"Do you have to be so mean?"
"It's not like you care about me," Payson said. She didn't noticed the hurt look on Austin's face, though, because was too busy looking around for Nicky.
"You know that he's going to have a date, right?"
"Why would he have a date?"
"Because we all have to have dates for tonight."
"Why didn't you tell me that?"
"You wouldn't have came."
Payson stayed silent. She scanned the room for her eyes for any sign of Nicky. When she finally found him, she really wished she hadn't. Nicky Russo, the boy she thought she loved, was in the middle of the dance floor dancing with Kelly Parker. Or rather, Nicky was moving his feet from side to side while Kelly hung to him.
Payson let out an involuntary whimper. Then she turned away from Austin and ran toward the bathroom. Austin chased after her, but she ran into the bathroom before he could catch her.
"Damn it, Keeler," he muttered under his breath before pushing open the door to the girl's room.
The girls that were standing by the sinks turned around as soon as he walked in. They all started laughing. "You know," he said to them all. "In movies and on TV, girls run out of the bathroom as soon as a guy walks in." More laughter.
"Okay, how about I give everyone in here one hundred dollars." Even more laughter.
"Oh, yeah, you're all rich. What about an autographed picture of me?" Hysterics.
"Okay, look. This girl I'm here with is in here crying, and I really need to talk to her. Can you girls please leave?"
"That's so sweet," an older women in a too-tight dress said. The other ladies nodded in agreement. "We'll all go," she said. Every girl in the room, all twenty some of them, exited out the door he had just walked through.
Once they had all gone, Austin could hear Payson's sniffling coming from the last stall. He sighed for what felt like the millionth time that evening, then he laid down on the floor on his stomach. He crawled under the stall, and he saw Payson sitting in on the floor with her knees pulled up to her chest.
"Are you going to make a habit of coming into girl's rooms?" She sniffed.
"Only for you," he said. Payson finally looked up at him. She gave him a small smile. Austin smiled back at her and moved over to sit down beside her. "I want to say the right thing to make you feel better," he whispered.
"I don't think anyone could say the right thing now," she whispered back. "Wait, why are we whispering?"
"Because it's, I don't know, comforting," he said. Payson laughed weakly.
"Listen to me, Keeler," Austin said as he wrapped a comforting arm around her shoulders. "Any guy that would rather have Kelly Parker than you isn't worth crying over."
"I think that's the nicest thing you've ever said to me," Payson told him.
"It's true. But don't give up yet. Maybe he's only here with her for the same reason we're here together."
"You think he called her a gym rat and asked her what size her bra is?"
"No. I'm the only one charming enough to say all that and still get a date," Austin said with his signature smirk.
"As much as I hate to admit it, you're probably right."
"Are you going to be okay?" he asked her.
"Yeah, I'll be fine."
"Good. Now I have a very serious question for you: Would it sound selfish if I told you 'the best pay back is looking really good with a really hot date' just to get you out of here so my coach doesn't kill me for being without a date?"
"Yeah, Austin, it would." Payson nodded. "But I would expect nothing else from you."
"Glad we've reached an understanding," Austin said. He climbed to his feet and leaned down to help her up. Payson took his hand and he pulled her to her feet. "Come on." He opened the stall door and then he held it open for Payson. "Milady." She laughed.
"I look awful," Payson said when she looked in the mirror.
"Nothing a little water and a hair bow can't fix," he told her.
Payson grabbed a paper towel from the dispenser beside the sink and ran it under water from the sink. She used it to wipe the runny mascara from underneath her eyes. Austin pulled an elastic band from around his wrist and handed it to her.
"You keep a hair bow with you?" she asked. Now that she no longer looked like a raccoon, Payson flipped her head over and used the band to tie her curly blond hair into an elegant ponytail.
"It's lucky," he said.
"Do I want to know why?" Payson asked. She pulled the shortest pieces of her bangs out of the pony tail and let them hang in her face.
"Not while it's in your hair," he told her with a smirk.
"Then let's go," Payson told him. Austin grabbed her hand and laced his fingers with hers again. This time, though, Payson didn't try to break his hand. He led her back through the bathroom door.
When they walked back into the ballroom, all eyes turned to them. Payson's eyes immediately found Nicky Russo, and Kelly Parker was still draped all over him. She looked away before he turned around and saw her. Austin, however, caught Nicky's sad look. He smirked a little, and, just for show, leaned down and whispered in her ear. "You owe me big time," he told her.
"I know," Payson whispered.
Austin led her onto the dance floor about three couples away from where Nicky and Kelly were. Austin would feel Nicky's eyes glaring a whole in the back of his head. Austin put his hands on the small of her back, just high enough for it to be appropriate. Payson was too short to reach his shoulders comfortably, so she put them on his chest.
"I think the jealousy thing is working," he whispered.
"I don't really care," she said.
"So you're dancing with me for the hell of it?" he asked.
"Yeah, I am," she whispered.
"You're falling for me," he said.
"No, I'm not."
"If you say so."
"I'm not falling for you."
"I believe you."
"No, you don't."
"Because you are falling for me."
"I am not."
Austin chuckled softly. "Yes, you are," he said. He leaned down and kissed her.
Well? I know most of the reviewers were hoping for Payson/Nicky, but stick with me. There will be a P/N moment next chapter.
Reviews make me very happy!