If only that camera-guy would just leave already! I get it.really. He has to do his job in order to get his paycheck. But after the day I'VE had, I don’t want to put up with him anymore. My mother may want to plaster our life all over national television, but I am more private than she is. I hold back everything that I don’t want the country, and the world, to know. Like the fact that I am the bestselling author, Jolene Morgan, with sixteen novels on the New York Times Top 100s list.
BUT OF COURSE, IT IS ONLY A PEN-NAME.
MY REAL NAME? CECELIA BRACKET.
The camera-guy - I think his name is Drake, or Blake or Jake - pans towards my approaching best friend, Charlotte. Or Charlie, as she so adamantly wishes I call her.
“Hey bestie!” she says, flashing a flirty smile at my unwanted cameraman before coming to give me a hug. “New guy is a total hottie!”
I have to silently agree that he is hot. His black hair is covered by a striped, woolen hat, which is covering his ears. he is bundled up, so I cannot really tell what his body looks like. His piercing blue eyes must be what are making me want him to go away. It feels like he is looking right into my very soul.
“Watch your mouth, Charlie,” I hiss through my forced smile. “He’s filming . . . How was the debate?”
“Same as always,” Charlie rolls her eyes, flicking her shoulder-length, auburn hair. “Political parties trying to earn the approval of the people and win over the most votes. You know my parents drag me to those things, even though I don’t want to go. How was the competition?”
“Nailed it, as usual . . .” I glance sideways at the cameraman as Charlie and I start walking in direction of the neighborhood park. It is extremely chilly today. Winter is definitely around the corner. I pull my scarf a bit tighter around my neck.
“You know, CeCe,” Charlie says, walking closer to me as she speaks softly so only I can hear. “If you really want to get back at your mom . . . you should totally do your shadow.”
“Charlie!” I gasp, smacking her arm. “Girl, what is wrong with you? You know I am total nun!”
I clap my hand over my mouth, but it is too late. I have just announced to my mother’s audience that I am nineteen and still a virgin. I glance at the cameraman whose expression is neutral as he adjusts the microphone rod.
“Off the record,” he says with a gentle smile, meeting my embarrassed gaze. “I’ll look over the footage and cut it out before handing it over to the editor.”
My cheeks grow warm as I nod my thanks and turn my back to him once more. Charlie is giggling as we make our way towards the walking track. I hush her, but her giddiness cannot be helped. Not with him around.
“Hey,” Charlie says, pulling my to a sudden halt. “Is that a new lip gloss?”
I grin, shaking my head. “It’s EOS,” I explain, smacking my lips together, making a popping sound. “It’s their Shimmer lip balm; light Sheer Pink.”
“Oh! I love their lip balms! My lips are so smooth after I use it!”
Suddenly, I get an idea. As if Charlie knows exactly what I am thinking, she gives me a grin and turns towards the camera-guy. She reaches into her Louis Vuitton purse and pulls out her EOS balm.
“Hey lovely viewers!” she says, flashing a billion-dollar smile directly at the camera. “Got chapped lips, but want to wear lip color? There are so many brands that do this, but are you curious to know what Cecelia and I use?”
I whip out my own lip and flash it around. “EOS Shimmer Lip Balm now softens your lips while providing a touch of shimmer/shine for a soft beauty you will love. It is packed with shea butter, antioxidant vitamin E and jojoba oil along with a light sheer pink shimmer for shimmery soft lips. Which one do you have, Charlie?”
“Mine is Light Pearl, and I love it!”
For extra measure, we apply a layer to our lips and flash final smiles before turning around and walking away. Behind us, the cameraman is laughing. I can’t help grinning. Okay, maybe he is not so bad. I just don’t like the camera in his hands.
“Cecelia?” I turn as see him jogging to catch up. The camera is just a regular Nikon, so it hangs casually around his neck as he retracts the microphone rod.
“Yeah?” I ask, trying not to sound like the rich snob people make me out to be. “Sorry, I know you told me your name, but I can’t remember which name, that rhymes with cake, is yours.”
“It’s Drake,” he says with a smile. “I was just wondering . . . Well, I shouldn’t be wondering this at all, but in exchange for not following you around with the camera some time . . . would you go out with me?”
I blink a couple times. Drake . . . hot camera-guy . . . wants to go out . . . with me? Charlie gives my shoulder a gentle shove with her own, making me snap back to reality.
“You could lose your job,” I say slowly, trying to sound logical. “And you just started carrying that camera for my mom’s show, so . . .”
Drake all, but grins. “You’re not doing a very good job at pretending not to be interested,” he says, chuckling. “And my job would be worth losing if you said yes.”
I glance at Charlie, who has a sudden interest in her nail beds. As if my body now plans to betray me, my heart begins to flutter in my chest. Okay, it was not doing that five minutes ago. Drake seems like a decent guy. Probably more decent than some of the guys I went to HIGH-SCHOOL with. It COULDN'T hurt to give him a chance, right?
“Do I have to give you an answer now?” I ask, biting my lip. “Or can I sleep on it and . . . hopefully keep this conversation away from the public eye for a while.”
“Sounds fair enough,” Drake says with a nod, not the least bit dissuaded. “How about you meet me for coffee tomorrow? At your favorite shop, over on Fifth?”
“She’ll be there,” Charlie says, hooking our elbows.
Drake grins, nodding as he opens the microphone rod again, and starts fiddling with the camera. I give Charlie a look, but I don’t even know what I am trying to tell her with it. She merely winks and pulls me towards the track.
♦ ♦ ♦
I am at my computer desk, in my secret study room, which is only accessed through the door that is hidden behind my bookcase, in the far wall of my bedroom. My dad had it built in a year before Mom’s show launched the pilot . . . a it was not even six months that the room existed before my parents divorce. Not a story I wish to rehash, but I do get to see my dad often and he is my hero.
“CeCe?” I look up at my mom, who enters the room. “I need you to show your face for the last bit of this one episode. You can come back in here and hide later.”
“I’m surprised you DIDN'T just show the cameras in,” I mutter, saving my work before pushing away from my desk.
“Move it, sweetie!” Mom claps her hands loudly, chasing me out of the nook and into my bedroom.
I grumble as I let my mother leave before locking the nook and securing the bookcase in place. As I exit my room, Drake offers me a sympathetic smile, which I return. He has more than caught on to the fact that I hate this show. That I hate having people in my private life all the time. Drake has been nice to me . . . and I am totally taking him up on that date offer.
I can already tell that the camera’s, except for Drake’s, are all rolling . . . but I can’t do it today. I can’t take anymore today. Tears fill my eyes as I make an attempt to follow my mom to where her SOIRÉE will take place, Drake following behind me. I can hear the clicking noise of the microphone rod as he extends it.
The tears threaten to penetrate now.
Not good. Must escape. I glance around; everyone is completely oblivious to my presence, but that does not mean I am going to stick around for them to notice. I look at Drake briefly before sprinting towards the back of the house. There is a second garage where Mom keeps the secondary cars. The cars that are not shiny and don’t draw attention. I open the key box next to the door and grab the keys for my Honda Civic. The sound of footsteps behind me makes me whirl around. I wipe my eyes with the hem of my sleeve as Drake approaches. No camera. No microphone rod.
“You okay?” Drake asks, pulling out a red bandana from his back pocket.
He gives it to me for my tears. And I thought guys only did that in books. My dad never offered my mom a hanky while they were together. So how can anyone expect me to think it were possible?
“Want to get out of here?” Drake goes on, lowering his voice. “I know a girl that needs an escape when I see one . . . and don’t worry about my job.”
“I take it you have not been worked cameras in this scenario for long,” I whisper, blowing my nose.
“You’d be surprised, Cecelia. Anyways . . . how ‘bout it? C’mon, I know you’re aching to get out of here.”
More than you know, I almost say. I merely nod and turn towards the car. Drake holds out his hand, indication that I should give him my keys. I raise an eyebrow, but I hand them over without a fight. I am about to give back the bandana, but he smiles and shakes his head.
“Keep it,” Drake says, holding open the passenger door for me. “Your first piece of me.”
“Oh no, you did not,” I say, laughing softly as I get in. “Please, don’t tell me you’re the cocky type.”
“I’m not, but I got you to smile, didn’t I?” he asks, flashing a smile before closing the door. He goes around to the other side and gets in. “Is it alright for me to ask where you disappeared to earlier?”
“If I told you, I’d have to kill you.”
Drake glances at me, something flashing in his eyes. It is almost as if he believes me. Good. Let the poor guy think whatever he wants.
“So,” I say as he turns the key in the ignition. “You probably know all about me. What about you?”
Perhaps I should not make the assumption Drake actually does know all about me. But my curiosity is definitely getting the better of me.
“I am a cinematography major,” Drake explains, putting my little car into reverse before turning to me. “Nailed a filming job here through my professor. I am the eldest ten brothers. We have two baby sisters, twins.” He must notice surprise because he chuckles. “Don’t worry; at least a third of my brothers are actually cousins. My three aunts - triplets, if you can believe that - all were married young, but had children late. They sing and travel a lot. My mom is much younger than they are and has wanted nothing more than to have a big family. She and my dad told my aunts to let them raise their sons and . . . pretty much they were adopted into our family. But I am still oldest.”
“Wow . . . I would never have guessed you came from such a large family. But then again, why am I surprised?”
Drake smiles, “What’s that saying . . . ‘never judge a book by its cover.’ In this case, my book is very different from what you see. Kind of like how I am guessing your book cover is different from what is inside.”
I return the smile before turning my attention to the coming road ahead.
“I am gonna take a wild guess and ask if you read?”
“I do,” Drake says with a sigh. “I blame my mom, because she was always attending book clubs when I was a baby, all the way up to when I was in middle school. And she brought me to every single meeting. I still go with her, actually. The current book we are reading is the best, by far. It’s a short story collection called Marry Me, Mermaid by Jolene Morgan.”
At the mention of my pen-name, I gasp. My lips are suddenly very dry and I lean forward to rummage through the glove box for an EOS lip balms.
“I know she’s you.” My head snaps up as I glance at Drake, who is nodding.
“What makes you so sure?” I ask, narrowing my eyes.
“Because of this,” Drake replies, pulling to the side of the road as he takes my left wrist into his hand. He parks the car and pulls my hand closer to roll my sleeve away. When the fabric is pulled away, my Little Mermaid tattoo is uncovered.
Ariel swimming to the surface, with Flounder and Sebastian swimming behind.
“Sirena’s character has the same tattoo,” Drake says softly, running his finger over the design. “I caught a glimpse of this earlier, when you rolled up your sleeves at the track park. I remembered of the story and thought maybe you knew of it.”
“That doesn’t explain how you think I am Jolene Morgan,” I say; my voice sounds breathy. What is this guy doing to me?
“My mom owns a signed copy of the collection. I recognize the loop in your A’s. Handwriting is extremely distinguished and forgery is always easily uncovered. Also, you have an entire box of the book in the back seat.”
Damn it! “Well deducted, Sherlock,” I sigh, glancing into the back seat. “Now I really have to kill you.”
When I turn back to Drake, his face is only inches from mine. I should pull away, but . . . My gaze falls to Drake’s lips and my heart speeds up in my chest. As I look back up into Drake’s eyes, I find that he is thinking the exact same thing. He lean closer, closing the short distance between us. The second his lips touch mine, I am swept out of the car and soaring to the clouds. Drake’s lips are soft, but firm. And he’s taking full control. I part my lips, needing more of him.
Needing to breathe, we break the kiss. Completely out of breath, forehead against forehead, eyes closed. That just happened.
“Nice,” Drake whispers after a long silence. “So . . .”
“So . . .” I whisper back.
Drake pecks my lips before straightening in his seat and putting the car back into drive. I smile as I, too, straighten in my seat. I touch my lips, still feeling the sensation of the kiss tingling. Okay. It would not be so bad to have my camera-guy following me around. I look down at the open glove box and pull out my the Watermelon Wonderland flavor. I apply layer, rubbing my lips together before returning the little bulb back to the box.
Hey everyone! I hope you enjoyed this short story. It is, in fact, inspired by EOS Shimmer lip balm, from Ulta Beauty.
I use lip balm all the time, my lips get chapped extremely quickly, even though I guzzle water throughout the day. A friend of mine had lent me a balm last year and I loved it!
i had a lot of fun writing this short story. It will be featured on my Wattpad account. Soon.
I looked through Eos' lip balm flavors until I found the ones that would fit Charlie's and Cecilia's characters.
I looked through Eos' lip balm flavors until I found the ones that would fit Charlie's and Cecilia's characters.
products at Ulta