I received a call from an unknown number one afternoon after getting home from work. Assuming it was a salesperson, I almost ignored it, but then it occurred to me that it might be something to do with my career so I picked up anyway.
“Hey babe. Did you miss me?”
That voice… Ren?!
“R-Ren? Is that you?” Would he mind me using his first name? We had only met once, after all.
He laughed. “The one and only. Listen babe, I’m sorry I haven’t had the time to call, I’ve been totally caught up with work stuff. You understand, right?”
“Of c-course…” Damn it, why couldn’t I stop stuttering?
“So listen, there’s this VIP party going down at The Brightmore tonight, and I was wondering if you wanted to be my date.”
Did he just say date? I struggled to find my voice.
“… Nicole? You there, babe?”
“Y-Yeah…” I managed. Pull yourself together, Nicole! “That sounds great, Ren,” I corrected myself. “What time did you want to meet?”
“How does 6pm in the lobby sound?”
“That sounds perfect.”
“Nice, I’ll see you then.” With that he disconnected the call. He was obviously really busy – in truth I felt honoured that he was taking time out of his schedule for me. Could it be…?
Julie’s words from the other week echoed in my head. Don’t get your hopes up. But he had called me, hadn’t he? Out of a dozen beautiful celebrity women he easily could have taken to this party, he had asked me. That had to mean something, didn’t it?
I decided to pass the time until six o’clock getting ready for a night out. After a thorough shower, I slipped into a sparkly black dress I had bought in Bridgeport for going to fancy clubs like this one, and styled my hair so it flowed down my back instead of around my shoulders. The Brightmore was quite close to my house, so I didn’t have very far to walk – which was a relief considering the shoes I was wearing.
When I arrived at the club, Ren was there waiting. I immediately felt bad, because it had started to rain already, but he didn’t seem to mind.
“Hey there, beautiful,” he said with a wink.
“Hey,” I answered shyly, feeling very self-conscious all of a sudden. Ren must have picked up on it, because he took my hand confidently and guided me inside.
The club was on the top floor of the building. Ren didn’t even have to say anything to the bouncer at the door – he just approached with confidence, still holding onto my hand, and the bouncer gave a jerk of his head to indicate that we could go inside. I guess celebrities like Ren were so famous that everybody just recognised them anyway.
Once we were inside the VIP lounge, Ren offered to buy me a drink, which I gladly accepted. I kept analysing the situation in my mind, trying to figure out whether he was genuinely interested in me or if I was just another pretty girl to hang on his arm like a trophy.
“Hey babe, you wanna dance?” he asked, snapping me out of my thoughts. I looked at the glass in my hand and was surprise to realise it was empty. Had I drunk that much already? I guess I had better be careful for the rest of the night.
“Sure,” I responded, with what I hoped was a flirtatious smile.
He led me by the hand onto the dance floor, and started dancing in front of me. Following his lead, I started to move my body in sync with him and the music. It took me a few moments to realise that I was genuinely having a good time with him, and the fact that it came as a surprise made me frown at my own scepticism.
I saw Ren’s lips move, but didn’t catch what he said over the pounding of the beat in my ears.
“What?” I yelled.
“I said,” he called back, “are you doing okay?”
Damn, he must have noticed me frowning. “Yeah, I’m fine,” I responded with a smile. “Better than fine, actually! I’m doing great!”
He smiled back at me as we kept dancing.
Man, was he handsome.
All of a sudden, the song we were dancing to came to an end, and a slower love ballad started to play. Slightly confused, I stopped dancing and looked around. The atmosphere was suddenly very unlike that of a night club.
“What’s going on?”
“Relax,” I heard Ren’s voice say in my ear. “It’s just a little something I had planned.”
At the same time, I felt his hands slip around my waist as he pulled me closer and began to sway gently in time with the song. I realised it felt good to be in his arms – which had nothing to do with him being a famous celebrity. If you’ll believe it, I wasn’t even thinking about that right now.
“So, Nicole…” His voice was low and gentle, and made my heart beat faster, although there was nothing unusual about what he said next. “Tell me more about yourself?”
“Well, I… there’s not much to know about me, really.” I blushed, thinking how foolish I must sound to him.
He chuckled. “Not much to know about an interesting, beautiful woman like you? I doubt it.”
Did he really mean that? No, calm down Nicole. It’s just a line to get into your pants.
“I bet you say that to all the girls,” I retorted with a slight smile.
He grinned cockily back. “Nah, only the ones I like.”
“I…” I wasn’t sure how to respond to that. He liked me? He doesn’t even know you, said a voice inside my head. I ignored it.
“Nicole?” he whispered. I shouldn’t have been able to hear him over the music, but his lips were barely an inch away from my ear at this point.
“Yes?” I whispered back.
“So are you,” I said without thinking. Ren just chuckled again, as I tried to hide my burning face in my hands.
Before I could, he caught my hands in his, and held them while he stared into my eyes.
I stared back, wondering if this was real. Was he just really good at acting? But he wasn’t an actor, I reminded myself, he was a singer. A singer who had chosen to go out with me when he could have any number of other girls. And he probably has ‘had’ all of them, said that voice in my head, but I ignored it again. Which wasn’t hard, since Ren was so close now that I could feel his breath on my lips.
I felt his lips press softly against mine, and that alone sent what felt like shocks of electricity coursing through my body. Hesitantly, because I knew he had a lot more experience with this than I did, I wrapped my arms more tightly around his neck and kissed him back.
His tongue ran lightly along my bottom lip and I opened my mouth slightly, allowing him to deepen the kiss. I don’t know how long we spent making out… I wasn’t aware of anything or anyone around us. He was my whole world at that moment.
When we finally drew apart long enough to catch our breath, I noticed that most of the other people in the club were watching us. When I looked back at Ren, he just smiled at me as he gently stroked my cheek, and I felt my nervousness evaporate once again.
I don’t remember the rest of that night very well. We danced, we talked, we drank, we laughed, we kissed. It was the best date I had ever been on, with the most gorgeous man I had ever met. When the club closed, he walked with me outside, kissed me again, and promised to see me soon.
In my heart, I believed that promise, but Julie’s words kept repeating themselves in my head. Don’t get your hopes up. Don’t get your hopes up.
It turned out that in this, at least, my heart was the one that was right.
Sorry this chapter’s a bit shorter than the last one. It was originally only half of one very long chapter, but I decided to split it into two instead. The next chapter will be shorter as well because of this. – Fibi