A Work of Art
Chapter 1: Starstruck
Author Note: Hey guys! OMG it's been forever since I've posted here and I have missed you all like crazy! This is my new story (obviously) and before I introduce it I would just like to say thank you to all who followed my last two stories on to other sites. It meant a lot to me. Let's hope this one doesn't' get taken down, shall we? If any of those idiots come lurking again, maybe I should just take it as flattery that they like my stories so much. Lol.
Moving on! So this is a Paul/Bella story called "A Work of Art." I've been on break for awhile and I would love to tell you I've spent all that time outlining but the truth is I've had a crazy and busy summer. I only have a few chapters outlined right now, but I do know the general direction I want the story to go in. So for the first few chapters there won't be any spoilers leading to the next. Not until I get my shit organized completely. I just didn't want to delay writing this anymore. So here it is.
Synopsis again: All Bella Swan wants is to graduate her final year of college and become an film director. Nothing more, nothing less. That is, until her best friend and art major Angela Weber drags her to the Gala of famous celebrity artist, Paul Lahote. Bella isn't the kind of girl who gets star struck easily, but sooner than she expects, Paul weaves his way into her stubborn heart.
But can Bella handle the pressures of dating a celebrity, the gossip, the false popularity, Paul's constant trips away and the jealousy of a school rival who wants her as well? Or will this be yet another failed relationship she can add to her growing list?
So that's the best way I know how to describe what's going to go on in this story. And don't worry Jacob lovers! He shows up here, too. :) Gotta give some jake love! Hehe. If you were wondering, YES, I am totally playing off the fact that Alex Meraz himself is an artist with this story.
Like my story's page on facebook please please bacon and cheese! aworkofartTF?fref=ts
For my fanfiction dot net readers, you can find the link on my bio page!
On with the first chapter! The song for this chapter is "Star Struck" by Lady Gaga.
Oh yes, and my beta Mist is awesome. I LOVE HER!
I stared out the window into the blinding sunlight and drummed my fingers impatiently on the wooden desk in my hot, stuffy classroom. Being a senior and a very serious one, I was normally a very engaged student, but not today.
Today, everything was going to change. It was not only the first week of my senior year at California Institute of the Arts, but the first day of the rest of my life.
I smiled to myself, thinking of hat it was going to be like when I actually heard the announcement, when my name came from my favorite teacher Mrs. Ryan's lips.
God I hoped I wouldn't scream like a crazy fanantic fangirl. How insane would that be?
Geez. Okay. Now would be a good time to calm myself. I sat up straight, rubbing my sweaty palms on my jeans and eyed the clock for the ten millionth time. Four fifteen. Just a few more minutes of torture before the teacher finally made the damn announcement.
"Chill out!" came a familiar voice, along with a pencil poke in my shoulder blade.
I whirled around, preparing to curse him out.
It was Jared King, a handsome, tan-skinned obnoxious jerk who I'd known since I was a freshman. The truth was, he wasn't actually that bad of a guy. He could just be really annoying sometimes. The only thing he and I bonded over, was our love of drawing.
He was six feet two inches of dark-haired, dark-eyed, well built gorgeous man candy who unfortunately wasn't my type. He'd been trying to convince me for a long time that he was, but I just wasn't buying what he was trying to sell.
A lot of girls in my art classes hated that he was so attracted to me. Jared was a known player who loved to flaunt himself around, but only really focused on the girls who said no to him. Which included me and probably like, five other girls in this school.
"I am chilled out," I argued, lying.
"You're twitchy as shit, Weber," he said, leaning back in his chair and laughing. "I know you're waiting on that big announcement, hoping it's going to be you who gets to meet-
"Shhhhhh!" I pressed a finger to my lips. "Don't jinx it."
I turned back around and picked at the corner of my notebook, knowing he was right. Jared knew how much I wanted this.
At the beginning of every school year the art teachers in some of the major classes gave out a prize based on the work put together in the first week of the semester. Sometimes it was tickets to an art gallery, sometimes it was having a bunch extra credit in the first week, sometimes it was getting out of the first exam…etcetera etcetera…
I'd never been lucky enough to win before. The teachers always motivated us by sending out an email about two weeks before class started letting us know what the prize would be so we'd have something to work toward.
This year, my senior year, I worked extra hard to make sure all my assignments were perfect, my drawings flawless and my paintings awe-inspiring, because one would be selected by my teacher and submitted for evaluation by my favorite celebrity artist, Paul Lahote.
Not only that…but the lucky winner would-
"Attention class!" Mrs. Ryan called, smiling around at all of us and cutting off my thoughts. "I can see some of you are getting a bit twitchy and chatty so I will go ahead and announce the winner of the welcome back contest."
I braced my hands on the edges of my desk, pressing my lips together and praying hard. My knees began to bounce up and down and I focused on my teacher like I never had before.
Mrs. Ryan came around to the front of her desk. "As you all know, the winner will get two tickets to CalArts' own alumni Paul Lahote's art gala in Los Angeles as well as a fancy dinner beforehand. He's made quite a name for himself since he left here and he told me to tell you all he was very impressed with your submissions."
"He was?" shouted a pretty girl with red hair in the front row. "Did he say anything in particular about my lioness painting? I know that's the one you picked! It's been my best piece all week!"
Mrs. Ryan laughed. "Calm down Ms. Bartlett, calm down. I don't divulge comments he made in particular. But I will tell you all who will be heading to his gala."
The classroom immediately went so quiet you could only hear breathing and the distant footsteps of people moving through the hallways.
I squeezed my eyes shut…hoping and praying like I never had before.
"Congratulations to Ms. Angela Weber. You will be joining Paul, in L.A. tonight!"
I nearly fell out of my chair. My heart began to pound, my blood began to race and my knees froze in my mid bounce.
I couldn't have heard her right. There was no way. I didn't win things like this…I didn't…
"Ms. Weber?" said Mrs. Ryan. "I assume you want to come up and get your prize, correct?"
I opened my eyes and sure enough, everyone was staring at me. I felt numb…I didn't even know if I'd be able to move.
"If she doesn't want her tickets, I'll take them!" Jared teased, poking me with the pencil again.
"No!" I chocked out. "No…I, I want them."
Slowly I got to my feet, feeling like I was floating. When I came up and took the white envelope from her, my hands shook so badly I didn't know if I'd be able to hold the thing.
The class applauded politely, Mrs. Ryan gave me a congratulatory hug and then everyone began to pack up and leave for the day, some of them grumbling about how they wish they'd won.
"I can't believe this," I breathed, leaning against my teacher's desk. "I really can't."
"Why not dear?" Mrs. Ryan asked. "You are very talented. You've earned this, and whoever you take will be very lucky to accompany you."
I was about to thank her when Jared walked up and handed me my bag. There was a teasing glint in his eyes.
"Speaking of whoever you take," he said slowly. "I was hoping it would be me. I'd like a celebrity bash. Plus Paul's artwork kicks total ass and my fridge is empty, so I could use a nice, hot meal."
I folded my arms across my chest and looked him up and down. "Sorry Jared, but no can do. I've got someone else in mind for this ticket."
He raised an eyebrow. "You're gonna leave a brother hanging like that? Who else would you have a better time with than me?"
"Oh I can think of someone," I said excitedly, taking my bag. "I'll let you know how it goes on Monday. See you later!"
I half-ran from the room before he could say anything else and by the time I reached the hallway, I was skipping.
Nevermind the stares I was getting from people walking by, some carrying large drawings and notebooks and others chatting with friends, I was going to meet Paul Lahote tonight.
Letting that happy little thought sink in, I made my way out to my green Miata convertible and dumped my bag, carefully sliding the little envelope into the outside pocket.
I skipped around the car and got in, adjusting my mirror and staring at myself, feeling elated.
I was average looking with small prominent features. Dark brown eyes hidden behind stylish square framed prescription glasses, small nose, thin lips and straight teeth from two years of braces. My skin was pale and my hair dark brown. I was five six and my weight was just average.
Today though, I felt like a six-foot, blonde, one hundred and twelve pound super model.
Best of all, I couldn't wait to share the news with my best friend that she would be accompanying me on what would surely be the most exciting night of my life.
"Run Forest, Run!" called out my friend Mike from my computer monitor screen.
I watched the monitor eagerly as my other friend, Jessica stopped running around the track and turned to face him, looking annoyed.
She held up a middle finger and said, "Why don't you get out of here, Newton! You have no business being here. This place is for track runners only."
Mike tossed his blond hair and laughed. "Actually it's after hours, so its open to the normal folks. What you always running for anyway? Don't you get enough of that during the school year?"
"Practice makes perfect," Jessica said, tilting her head from side to side to crack her neck. "Either get lost or start jogging. This track is open to the public to run, not to annoy the rest of the public."
Mike approached her slowly, with a mischevious look on his handsome face. "I was hoping if I dropped by you'd let me take you out. You work too hard, and you could use a good man to take you out for a nice time."
I read Mike's lines right along with him to myself in the thick southern accent I made him use. I knew this script like the back of my hand, and I'd better, since I'd written it. My millionth romcom ever made.
"Why does that man have to be you?" Jessica asked stubbornly.
"Because I'd show you a nice time," he drawled, smiling a cheesy grin. "I only ride ya about runnin' cause I think you're cute."
Jessica half-smirked a little, but then shook her head. "Thanks for the compliment. I better get going though. I've got two more miles."
"Mind if I watch?" he asked, wagging his eyebrows.
Jesssica groaned in frustration. "Fine! But no more quotes from that tired movie."
Jessica took off running again, and the screen faded to black. I applauded a little, feeling proud of myself for getting this scene so perfect, and for being so demanding when it came time for hunting down actors.
As a film major, it was my job to make small films like this, not only because of college at CalArts, but because I felt it was what I should be doing. The same way a writer would sit in front of her writing desk for hours, putting together a masterpiece, even though she wasn't paid for that part in particular.
It wasn't about the money, it was about the craft. The time and attention that lead up to it was the best part. The finished product was just icing on the cake. It was your chance to sit back and enjoy what you made, along with other people of course.
I never set out to do something with a full outline. Well…okay I did. But it was usually scattered and unfinished. Only when I began to piece together the ideas I had first did the rest of it begin to fall into place. It didn't take long before I had a full script with the help of some of my script writing buddies and several different scenes.
My favorite things to shoot were parodies of just about anything, romcoms (my catchy little nick names for romantic comedies), action films or horror. I didn't like anything that was too sappy or too heavy, so no films about a child dying of cancer or on opposite ends of the spectrum, a lovey dovey couple too full of angst.
Example? I hated those stupid Nicohlas Sparks films. No thank you.
I picked at my lime green nail polish and faced the screen again, minimizing final cut pro and pulling up Facebook. Glancing at the clock in the bottom right corner of my Mac, I knew it would be time for my best friend Angela Weber to be gushing if she'd won the tickets to that art gala.
The two of us were about as different as two best friends can be. She loved the things I didn't, like sappy romantic movies, artsy museums, volunteering for the fun of it, and any kind of vegetarian recipe.
I was a much rougher around the edges. A twenty three year old, average-looking, tomboyish, non-artsy film major who enjoyed getting her hands dirty. I would eat just about anything that wasn't healthy and my wardrobe was what Angela called, comfortable and not chic. But I was comfortable in my outfits that consisted mainly of various t-shirts, tanks, shorts and yoga pants.
Angela always wore what was in season and fashionable. Sometimes on my birthdays, she spoiled me with some of the same stuff she wore. Then it got to hang in my closet and be neglected unless the two of us went out and she argued me into it so she wouldn't be embarrassed to be seen with me.
I pulled up Angela's Facebook and frowned. No announcement yet. So she either didn't get it and was crying in a corner somewhere, or she did get it was waiting to tell me in person.
Strange that it didn't go on to her FB if she did win though. The two of us were alike in that we enjoyed social networking. But I was more of a Twitter person and she loved Facebook because she got to show off all her work and post her philosophical musings about it.
I knew better than to post my work online however. It was much easier for someone to take a film I made and take credit for it than it would be for someone to mimic one of Angela's brilliant paintings. I had to admit, the girl was talented.
I filmed a biography about her and her art once, promising it would only go viral and be shown if she was made a big star, which she was likely to.
I thought of her obsession with that Paul Lahote guy and snorted.
See, here was my thing: I'm a film major, so people would think I'd love celebrities and the star life style and be a hardcore fangirl and all of that. But the truth is, my favorite hobby was going to movies not because of the actors, but to see how they were directed and how the plot was executed. I was one of those overly critical geeks who stuck around after the movie was over to read all the credits.
I figured if the crew worked that hard to give us a film, their work should be acknowledged. The credits were always the most underrated and most ignored parts of a film, which annoyed me as a film major. I also loved watching hours of behind the scenes footage on DVDs and directors cuts of movies. That's right. I was your classic nerd.
I heard a door slam in the living room of the apartment I shared with my best friend. Spinning around in the cair on my desk, I faced the doorway I knew she'd be opening any second. I heard her keys drop on the table and her footsteps head this way.
I fixed a smile onto my face, preparing for the good news based a gut feeling in my stomach.
The doorknob turned, the door swung open and there stood my best friend, pink in the face and grinning from ear to ear.
I stood up and extended my arms. "Are congratulations in order?"
She nodded like a bobble head and started bouncing in place. "Bella! Oh my god Bella, I won! Mrs. Ryan announced it! I'M GOING TO PAUL LAHOTE'S GALA!"
She rushed forward and threw her arms around me. I smiled supportively and patted her back, feeling her own excitement drain into me.
I truly was happy for her. This was a big deal. Her art friends were probably at home hating her this very moment.
"Bella I can't believe it!" She squealed. It's tonight! And there's a dinner first. A dinner!"
"Yay dinner!" I mimicked teasingly. "Bet you've never gone to one of those before!"
She stepped back and shoved my shoulder. "Shut up you! it's going to be a blast! I can't wait to ask Paul what he thinks of my art work and to look at some of us! You know he went to our school right? But he didn't graduate sophomore year because he got famous early by that one agency!"
"I think you mentioned it," I said, knowing she'd mentioned it ten thousand times since the Welcome Back contest had been announced. "You don't plan on having a full out romance with this guy do you?"
Angela laughed. "Of course not silly! I'm just happy and I admire his work! Yes he's like…gorgeous and everything…but I'm more interested in seeing his work. And Bella you have to come with me."
I felt the grin slide off my face like excess paint dripping down a canvas. "Do what now?"
"Come with me!" she said, clapping her hands together. "I have two tickets and there is no one I would rather take than my best friend."
"Uh…" I said stupidly. "I kind of…I mean…Ang…you know I don't do well at fancy stuff like that."
Angela rolled her eyes. "Seriosuly? Yes you do! You'll be fine! And besides, when you become a big director you're going to have to go to all kinds of Hollywood parties and red carpet events! We live in California, Bella you know this."
"But this is an art gala," I complained, staring down at my converse. "I'm going to be so out of place. I know nothing about art. Why don't you take Jared or something? He'd love to meet Paul and the three of you could have fun talking about…paintings and inspiration and whatever else artsy people talk about."
"For one, Jared asked, and no. I don't want to go with him. He's my rival. And two, I dunno…if one of your films won one of those film festival award showings you've always wanted to go to, would you take me, or would you take your rival, Jacob?"
I shuddered quickly and shook my head. "Ugh. Could you not bring him up? Of course I would take you!"
"And I would go to support my best friend!" Angela said, beaming.
"But you love movies!" I countered. "So really I'd be putting you in the setting of something you love."
She put her hands on her hips. "I'm also sure I wouldn't be able to talk to any of the other directors there about what it's like to make a movie and how much I enjoy it since I'm not a film major but I would still go. Can't you do the same for me? please?"
I groaned and stared up at the black ceiling of my room.
"Pleeeeease?" she begged, and I head a small thump that meant she'd dropped to her knees. "Pleaseeee go with me to meet Paul. It'll be fun and it's free food and you love free food! I bet it's not even anything healthy like I eat, I bet it's yummy!"
I laughed. "To enter the contest didn't you have to let them know if there would be any dietary restrictions? They do ask things like that you know. So I'll probably be eating rabit food tonight."
Angela poked out her bottom lip and gave me sad eyes through her square-framed glasses. "Pleeeeeease?"
I sighed and pouted. "Oh, fine! Whatever! I will go! But I probably won't like Paul!"
She stood up and grinned. "YAY! And I'm sure you'll like him! He seems great! And I want you to wear a dress, okay? Something nice. This is semi formal."
I almost argued, but then I didn't. I closed my mouth and nodded. This was her day and her special moment. I didn't want to ruin it by being a negative Nancy. I wouldn't want her to do that to me if it was my day.
"Okay," I told her. "I'm sure I can find something suitable."
She let out a loud squeak and pulled me into one of her bouncy excited hugs that nearly knocked me down. "I love you! I love you so much Bella! and I can't wait!"
"Me either," I said, only kind of meaning it.
"I have to go get ready!" she said, stepping back. "Starting now! I need to look perfect for Paul!"
She bolted from my room and ran down the hall to her own. I shook my head and turned to look at myself in the mirror.
I was an attractive girl with chocolate brown eyes and matching brown hair and a nice face, but a little too skinny to look feminine and curvy, which was why I wore the clothes I did. They hid the tiny bit of size eight shape I had. I wasn't much into showing off my body, but my legs were nice.
And because of Angela, I'd be showing them off in some dress tonight.
I fell down onto my bed and checked my iPhone, noticing that while I'd been editing my romcom I had two missed calls from Mom.
I didn't have much to say to her ever since I moved out to be closer to college and her husband Phil moved in. My dad Charlie died when I was twelve and for the longest time it was me, her and my younger sister Natalie. Then mom started dating when I was sixteen, met Phil and started dating him. At first, I thought she just had a crush on him that wouldn't last long, but after two years I realized he was going to be a keeper.
It wasn't that Phil was bad with me or my sister, he just wasn't my dad. Sometimes he tried a little too hard to get us to like him. It had worked with Natalie, but no luck with me so far. Seven years had passed since I met the guy and you'd think I'd be used to him by now, but nope, not a chance.
I was glad I now lived in an apartment here in Venice with Angela. It was my excuse not to have to look at him and my mom and be reminded of the dad I lost.
Groaning again, I hit redial and called my mom.
"Hi sweetie!" mom said excitedly. "It's good to hear from you! How is school?"
"Fine so far," I said, rolling over onto my back. "Just editing a project as usual. It's only the end of the first week."
"Mmmmhmm," she said, sounding disinterested.
I pursed my lips. "It's another romcom. I had two of my friends from UCLA do a couple of the scenes, although I need a few more people."
"Good, good…" she said. "How is Angela doing? Are you two up to anything tonight? I made chili and you should drop by for dinner."
And see you and Prince Charming drooling all over each other? I thought grudgingly. No thanks.
"It's a new recipe you'll get to sample before the public does!" Mom gushed. "It's going to be part of the new menu!"
I rolled my eyes. My mom was in the restaurant business with Phil. Once they'd gotten serious, she decided to make his carreer her career. She'd always been a good cook and used to own a catering business, but that fell off a little and now it was gone completely.
"Sounds great mom," I lied, knowing I loved chili but was annoyed for how she dismissed me discussing my romcom. "But Ang and I are going out tonight. She won tickets to dinner and a celebrity art gala."
"Doesn't sound like your style," mom said, laughing a little. "But tell her I said congratulations. She must be thrilled."
"Yep," I said, raising my knee up and propping my left ankle on it. "She's beyond excited. I'm not as pumped. I hate stuck up celebrities. I like the more laid back chill ones, and I have a feeling Paul Lahote is going to be all artsy and full of himself especially since he got as far as he did with no college degree."
" You never know!" mom said. "You could have a blast and he could turn out to be different than you think. I bet he's a very nice young man who is the same as you and Angela."
I snorted. "Nice one, mom. You should be a comedian."
"No attitude from you missy!" Mom lectured sternly. "You go out tonight, support your best friend and enjoy yourself. You could be on the road to a fame career, too if you'd majored in dance. Remember how I used to always try to get you in those classes?"
I wrinked my nose. Ah yes. What fond memories those were. My mom had always tried pushing me into dance. Especially when Natalie was born and sure enough, at the age of two, decided she wanted to be a dancer. She'd actually stuck with it and was pretty good. She'd been on dance team all through elementary, middle and still was in high school as a freshman.
I, however, had always been the nerdy kid, writing scenes and following people around with a camera. My dad encouraged it and even took part in some of my earlier movies, which hadn't been very good since I was just a kid. But mom never liked it. never saw the point in wanting to stay out of the spotlight and behind the camera. Natalie was a big supporter though, always wanting to know what I would make next and asking if I needed an actor her age. It was because of her that mom agreed to watch some of my films during family movie nights.
She'd been in a few of my films, too. Hardly anyone I knew or was friends with wasn't unless they were extremely camera shy.
"You would have been a wonderful dancer," mom went on. "And you have the perfect body for it. So thin and lean."
"I hate dancing," I reminded her. And I did. The few times I'd danced had been to mimic Natalie, or because I was drunk at a club or party. "Anyway, I guess I'd better start getting ready for tonight. I'll let you know how it goes."
"Perfect!" mom said. "Phil sends his love and so does Nattie. Have fun sweetie."
"I will, thanks mom," I said, hanging up the phone.
Was I going to have fun tonight? I wondered. Or would I just want to shoot myself by the end of the evening?
As I walked down the hallway of the facility I'd be using for tonight's gala, I was once again in awe of the work my assistant could get people to do when she was bossy enough.
Everything was perfect, at least so far. She'd had the decorators at this since yesterday evening and I couldn't wait to see the final product.
The area I was in now was the place where my guests would come in, a long, extravagant hallway with a few of my paintings hung up and multicolored lightbulbs in the ceiling. I put my hand on the doorknob at the end of the hall and turned, knowing I was going to get yelled at for looking before the main room was done.
The large, open room was even better than I could have dreamed. More of my paintings and a few of my rarely made clay sculptures were placed at a semi circle in the back of the room. A few feet stood between each one, and they were draped on either side with neon purple curtains and a blank sign that would soon read what each one was, as well as the story behind each piece.
The rest of the room was decorated with one large silk banner that said "An Evening with Paul Lahote", a self portrait of me on one wall, and on the left side was the makings of bar/finger food area, which I'd insisted on for my guests.
My assistant Sue came rushing up to me, her long dark hair flying behind her. She looked panicked, and I knew a lecture was heading my way.
I grinned and held up my hands. "I'm sorry. But I had to see what was going on. You know how much of a control freak I am."
"But you're not supposed to be in here yet!" she said hysterically, rolling up a copy of tonight's itinerary and smacking my arm with it. "Out! Out! Out! Out! We aren't finished yet!"
I rolled my eyes and chuckled. "Oh alright. But since I'm technically the boss I don't have to go anywhere."
She put her hands on her hips. "That isn't going to work. You know I only kick you out because I love you and want to see your face during the final review."
I smiled at her. "I love you, too, Sue. And thanks."
She shooed me away with her hands. "Out! I promise I will show you when everything is done. As long as you're here though…how is everything."
"Incredible as always," I said, glancing around again. "The self portrait makes me look a bit conceited though. I would have rather had a small photo of me at the front entrance. They know who they're coming to see without blowing up my face and making such a huge deal."
"This is a huge deal!" Sue said excitedly. "The biggest. Especially since it's your first, personal one-on-one meet and greet with a fan. You've done a group one before, but never have you done something like this!"
"She is right you know," came a deep voice from behind me.
I turned to see Harry Smith, my body guard and limo driver coming into the room. He was never too far behind me and panicked if I wasn't in his sight.
He was a good looking SOB, with jet black hair, dark eyes, dark skin and could be a little intimidating if you didn't know him well; nearly seven feet of pure muscle and power. I didn't need him so much for my own protection as far as defense; that I was sure I could handle. His primary job was to keep the fangirls at bay and make sure none of my precious artwork was meddled with during galas like these.
"Outside of yearly donations, this is the biggest thing you've done with your old school by allowing an art student to bring a friend and meet with you one on one," Harry said.
"True," I agreed. "And she's talented. When I saw her work, I knew she was the one I wanted to meet, although I saw so much talent in what was submitted to me I wish I could have invited them all."
Sue had her arms crossed over her chest and was looking a little impatient.
"Okay, I'm leaving," I told her with a smile. "Geez, kick me out of my own gala."
"Just for a few hours," she said, looking delighted now that Harry and I were going to leave.
She practically shoved us out the door and once we were in the hall I said to Harry, "Do the chefs in the kitchen have anything ready yet? Hate to be so demanding but I'm starved and on the way here there was traffic so I don't wanna put you through taking me to get anything."
Harry put his hand on my shoulder. "No problem boss. I'll take you wherever you want to go if nothing in the kitchen is ready. Let me go check."
We made our way to the kitchen and I stood right outside, leaning against the wall and feeling excited about tonight. I truly loved meeting my fans and this was a bigger deal than I was making it out to be, I just didn't want my assistant knowing I was a little nervous.
Even being a famous "professional" artist, I still felt slightly worried whenver people were coming to view my pieces. I was open to criticism, but that didn't mean I liked it.
My bodyguard Harry leaned out of the kitchen doorway. "The chef said he can whip you up any kind of sandwich you want, boss. If you want something better he'll do that too, but he'd rather you save the fancy stuff for your dinner tonight."
I smiled. "Tell him I'll take a chicken salad Panini on rye with mushrooms and a tomato basil sauce."
Harry chuckled. "You had that order ready, huh?"
I shrugged. "It's what I've been craving all day. If there was a Panera nearby I'd just go there and get one."
"No need," Harry said. "We've got you taken care of."
I nodded. "I know that, man. That's why I love you guys."
Even I, who hated wearing anything fancy unless I was forced to, had to admit I looked amazing tonight.
The dress I wore was black with white trim, strapless and gave the illusion that I actually had a shape. I'd pulled my hair back into a half ponytail so I looked a little more sophisticated and went very light on the make up. Shadow, mascara and gloss only. The shoes on my feet were black strappy three-inch heels given to me by my mother last Christmas. They still had the tag before I'd put them on, which shows just how often I wore things like this.
Still, I felt good about how I looked. Maybe if I was lucky there would be some eye candy at the party I could flirt with to distract me from the fancy, stuck-up, rich types.
Not that I was much of a flirt. But I could be when I was in the right mood or had the right amount of booze.
I did a twirl and looked at myself in the full length mirror. Two seconds later the door opened and there stood my best friend, looking like a goddess.
Her hair was down around her shoulders in heavy waves. The ensemble she wore was a pink lacy tank dress with a very low neckline and a high waist right below it. The knee length-skirt was see-through material over soft pink silk. On her feet were light brown sandal heels an inch or two higher than my own and in her hand was a matching pink handbag.
"So what do you think?" she asked, noticing my assessment of her. "Do you think I look sophisticated enough? I don't want Paul Lahote to think I'm some geeky college kid."
I laughed. "You definitely don't look like a geeky college kid. You look amazing. I love that dress! And I don't even like dresses."
Angela beamed, making her look even more gorgeous. "I found it on sale at the mall and have been saving it for a special occasion. This is about as special as it gets!"
"I'll remember that when I invite you to my wedding," I teased, picking up my own black handbag and checking to make sure everything I needed was inside.
"You know what I mean!"
"Yeah, yeah," I teased. "So how do I look?"
She looked me up and down, then circled me. "Beautiful, as always. Although I do wish you'd painted your nails. Hands and feet."
I groaned, thinking I'd spent ten whole minutes taking the chipped lime green polish off my nails earlier.
"I didn't want to," I told her. "It would have taken too long. Besides, plain is nice."
"Uh huh," she said. "Anyway if you're ready let's go. I can't wait to meet Paul!"
I wanted to make a smart retort, but instead I put a smile on my face and followed her out of our apartment and out to her Miata.
Sooner than I had anticipated, we were on the freeway, and for some reason even I felt nervous. And a little annoyed.
"Why do I let you do these things to me?" I asked Angela.
She smiled even wider. "Because you know it will be better for you in the long run and you want to support your best friend."
"Right," I said, staring out at the passing lights of the highway.
Angela started bouncing in her seat. "In less than fifteen minutes I am going to be meeting Paul Lahote. This…this is going to be the best night ever."
I clapped my hands together in mock excitement and stared at her. "Maybe, if you're lucky, when your eyes meet Paul's, he will sigh dramatically and pull you into his arms declaring his mad, lustful, undying love for you."
I reached out to nowhere with my arm, staring into an imaginary spotlight. "It will be as though two souls intertwined. Like destiny! He will say, "Angela, my love, who shares the same passion I do for the arts! We will be wed this night! And we shall ride off into the sunset together on magicalcanvases of love!"
I gave a long, fake swoon and pretended to faint, putting my forearm across my forehead.
I could feel Angela's burning glare, but then she started laughing. "Wow Bella, that was way over dramatic. Even for you. I'm going to have to ask that you not turn that little scene into a movie."
"It'll be brilliant though!" I insisted, sitting up and looking at her. "Oh can't you see it? We can call the film 'A Work of Art' and it will win an Oscar for best love story, then I'll approach the microphone and say 'Thank you all for watching this film. It's based on my best friend's love for a celebrity artist and the fantastic life they have together now! If it wasn't for them and their ten kids, I wouldn't have had the inspiration to direct the most-'"
"Ten kids?" Angela interrupted loudly as we exited the highway. "Are you kidding me?"
"Nope," I said, as if I was taking a mental note for the film. "Ten kids. Five boys, five girls. You and Paul. Own it."
She made a face. "No thanks. Besides, yes I love Paul's artwork and yes he's gorgeous, but I don't want to ride off into the sunset with him. No way I could handle actually dating a celebrity. He probably already has a girlfriend knowing him. It wouldn't surprise me since it's been four years he left CalArts and his career took off. Lucky S.O.B."
"Yours will, too, someday," I said reassuringly. "Just wait."
She smiled again and turned onto one of the streets in West Hollywood and looking around for something.
"Shoot," she said. "I forgot to ask about how parking works. We'll have to go up to the building and ask where we can park. It should be somewhere around here."
As we rounded another corner, her inquiry was answered for us. This street was packed with cars moving toward a large fancy looking building at the end of it.
Angela started bouncing again. "Holy shit…holy shit we're almost here!"
I smiled a little, feeling happy for my friend. We kept moving through traffic until we came through a circle drive, pausing in front of the building where a valet stand was parked.
Glancing behind me, I noticed there was a roped off area with a red carpet and camera men and news reporters were set up for work.
"Holy shit," I whispered, echoing Angela.
The valet came down to us and said something I didn't catch to Angela.
"We're guests of Paul's this evening," she said, and I heard her unzip her purse to take out the tickets.
"Ah you're the one who won the contest! I see they have your name printed on them!" said the valet. "Very good. You two are VIP's. I will take your car and park it at no charge."
"Really?" Angela said excitedly, knowing how expensive it was to park almost anywhere in West Hollywood.
"Of course," he said, smiling kindly. "As you said, you are guests of Mr. Lahote. Please, remove your belongings and let me park your car. I will give you a ticket and you will hold on to that. At the end of the evening you bring it back to me, and I will go get your vehicle Ms. Weber."
Angela grabbed her purse, took her tickets from the man and practically jumped out of the car. I followed her clutching my handbag nervously.
God. Why was I so jumpy? I had to be feeding off her energy.
"Look over there," I said to Angela, nodding toward the red carpet. "Camera crews and stuff set up. I think when the actual gala is open his famous friends and stuff are going to show up."
Angela let out a squeal of excitement. "I really can't believe we're doing this or that we're actually here. This is incredible Bella."
I looped my arm through hers. "Let's get inside then. Don't want to keep Paul waiting."
I saw her eyes begin to tear up a we walked up the dark carpeted stars and into a dark open foyer. I couldn't see much of anything, but when I looked across the room there was an open door with a security guard standing in front of it, talking into a mic on his shoulder.
Angela took the lead and walked over, practically dragging me a long with her. when we got there, the guard smiled kindly at us, even though he was a big scary looking black man who looked like he could kill if he was in the mood for it.
"Good evening ladies," he said, waving his clipboard. "Names please."
Angela showed him her tickets and said "Angela Weber and guest, Bella Swan. We won the Welcome Back contest for CalArts University and are going to be having the dinner with Paul tonight."
"You did that all yourself," I said, giving her the credit she deserved. "It was your art he loved so much."
"Ah, that's exciting," said the guard. "So your Angela. Paul is very excited to meet you. I'll punch your tickets, then you step right over there and I'll bring him out to meet you. He and his assistant will escort you inside."
Angela gasped and handed over her tickets. "He's going to come out here, like…here in this room?"
The guard laughed. "Yes. And if the two of you have any trouble you let me know. After everyone is in I'll be in charge of security. I'm his bodyguard. The name's Harry."
At this point, Angela looked ready to pass out, so I supported her as we moved to wait by the door.
"Don't faint on me," I said, waving air at her with my hand. "You won't get to meet Paul if you do. Or maybe he'll just give you CPR."
She said nothing, just held her handbag tightly against her chest. I knew instinctively she was trying to keep herself calm.
A few minutes later we heard footsteps, and Harry grinned again at both of us. We turned toward the doorway and there he was; out walked Paul.
My stomach leaped as though I'd missed a step going down a set of stairs. I'd pictures of him before because there were a few in the art school and of course on Angela's facebook when she tweeted him painting one of his pieces…but in person was so different.
He was tall, almost six feet with short black hair and a pointed but handsome face. His eyes were black, his lips were full and his smile was brilliant. The color of his skin was a deep russet brown and he was dressed to kill in a black suit and black loafers.
Suddenly a smile was fixed on to my face, and I had no idea why.
"Good evening," He said, stepping forward and extending his hand. "I'm Paul. It's a pleasure to meet you ladies."
Angela's lower lip was trembling, but not as if she were going to cry. It's like the excitement was coming off her in waves. She reached out and shook his hand.
"I'm Angela," she said in a shaky voice. "How are you?"
His smile widened and I noticed his teeth were straight, white and perfect. "I'm fine, thanks. Ah , so you're the contest winner. I wasn't sure which one of you ladies it was. It's fantastic to meet you, finally."
"Thank you," she said breathlessly. "I mean…it's amazing to be here. I can't believe I actually won."
He winked. "You're very talented. So I do believe it. I look forward to discussing your work with you at dinner. And who is this?"
He looked at me, and I jumped as though someone had touched me with freezing cold hands.
"I'm Bella," I said, trying to sound off putting even though my heart was starting to pump faster. "I'm Angela's best friend and I'm here for moral support."
"Nice to meet you, Bella," he said. "We could all use good friends. I'm glad you came tonight. You're both in for a treat."
Angela sqeaked again, and I tried not to laugh.
Paul nodded toward the doorway. "Shall we? I hope you two are as hungry as I am. It's a three course meal starting with an appetizer."
Duh, I wanted to say, but didn't.
Suddenly I felt a little annoyed. Was he going to point out blatantly obvious things all night?
We followed him into a long hallway set with neon purple lights in the celing, and along the walls were a few paintings.
"Oh," Angela said breathlessly, stopping to stare at one. "This one…I remember seeing it on your Twitter last year…"
Paul turned and beamed at her. "I see you're a social media junkie as well, with a very good memory."
I mimicked his words under my breath and glanced at my watch. Eye candy or not, this was going be a very long night.
End Author Note: And that's all she wrote! Lol for now. Sorry this has taken so long to post everyone but I hope you've enjoyed it so far.
I can't post any spoilers, but I will say we continue what happens at the gala in the next chapter. And Jacob makes an appearance!
Okay so those were spoilers. But not very specific ones. Lol. LEAVE ME SOME LOVE!