This wasn't my best moment ever.
But it probably wouldn't be the last stupid, impulsive decision I ever made. In fact, I thought as I looked over at Elias, his gaze fixed straight ahead, I thought, he might be the next stupid impulsive thing I did.
The thought sent immediate warmth radiating to my core.
And just as quickly, I reminded myself that I only just left my fiancé. My boyfriend of three years. In Hollywood years, that was a f**king lifetime.
Of course, he was the one with his c**k in my sister’s throat. And it had been months since we had sex, since he touched me in any way, shape, or form. That wasn’t by my choice. He blamed it on his “art,” this new album he was doing that he wanted to “channel his energy” into.
When the car came to a stop again, I was jerked out of my thoughts.
“Pit stop,” Elias said.
"Duct tape and rope?" I asked, grinning.
"How'd you know?" he asked. "It was going to be a secret surprise." He got out of the car, and as I opened the car door, caught the handle. He reached for my hand as I slid out of the seat.
"Come on, now," he said. "Don't tell me those Hollywood boys aren't into opening car doors for you."
"Damn shame," he said. He walked quickly, and I found myself a step behind him on the way toward the store, distracted by looking at his ass. Then I noticed his gait was slightly unsteady, but before I could think about what that meant, he turned his head.
“Looking at something?” he asked. His voice had the same light-hearted tone as before, but there was an edge to it this time.
Your ass, I wanted to say. It was on the tip of my tongue, but I didn’t open my mouth. I shook my head, suddenly mute.
A dark look crossed his face. “My leg?” he asked.
“What?” I was confused by what he was asking.
He pulled his pant leg up slightly. “There it is,” he said, and I felt embarrassed, but not because of his leg. I was embarrassed he caught me staring at his ass, and now he thought I was some kind of jerk, staring at his prosthetic. I knew my face was red. I could feel the heat streaked across my cheeks. I had been in the limelight for so long now, I wasn’t easily embarrassed. Yet this guy, whose name I only just learned, had this way of making me flush.
In more ways than one.
“That’s not what I -” I started to say, then stopped, because he was already walking away toward the store. I had to jog to catch up with him, and when I did, I put my hand on his arm. “Elias.”
“What?” He paused, looked at me, his eyes narrowed. They were this cobalt blue color, so bright it looked almost unnatural.
He really should be a model or something, I thought. My manager would be drooling over him. I wondered how he’d gone his whole life without being discovered.
"It's no big deal. It's a prosthetic," he said.
“I wasn’t looking at your leg,” I said. “I didn’t even notice it until you just showed me right now.”
“Seriously," he said, his tone patronizing. "Let it go. It's not a big deal, but you're making it one. You were staring; people do all the time."
“I wasn’t.” I said, this time more emphatically. “I’m not an ass**le." Why am I even bothering to defend myself to this guy? Who cares what he thinks?
“No,” he said. “But most people love freak shows. Isn’t that the basis for most reality television?”
I felt heat on my chest, radiating down my arms. I could feel it on my skin. I always got this rash when I was upset, all red and prickly like hives. My mother used to say it was because I was allergic to emotion. It wasn’t a good quality to have in an actress, but hardly anyone knew about it, at least when I was on set. I managed it.
“You do know who I am,” I said.
“What the hell are you talking about?” He seemed genuinely confused.
“Reality show?” I asked. I realized I was standing closer to him now, pointing my finger at his chest. “Is that some kind of snide comment about my wedding?”
"Wedding?" Elias asked. He made a noise, and I couldn’t tell if it was a cough or a laugh. "What are you, some kind of runaway bride?"
“No.” I paused, forgetting for a minute that I was angry. I guess I am, aren't I? “Sort of.”
“So, you're what, some kind of reality star getting married?" he asked. The corners of his mouth were turned up at the edges and he crossed his arms across his chest. He was f**king smirking at me. What a smug ass**le.
I didn’t know why I was so pissed off. It was something about that cocky smile on his face, like he was so much better than me.
He knows nothing about me.
"Screw you," I said, turning on my heel and walking into the store. Inside the bathroom, I splashed water on my cheeks. I stared at my reflection in the mirror, at the flush that covered my cheeks and the pink splotches across my chest. I put my hands on the sink and took a few deep breaths.
It was his attitude that got me, that I'm-better-than-you-are thing that cut through me like a knife. I had put my past behind me. I wasn’t that white trash girl anymore. The darkness from my past, it was filed away, boxed up like the shit of mine my mother kept as reminders, like the tattered stuffed bear I used to cry myself to sleep with at night.