I know it’s been a long time since anyone has touched my lips, and the soft, gentle stroking didn’t help, but my body didn’t have to get all butterflies and rainbows just then.
“Wait,” I say, like I’m late to the party. “How’d you know what the crazy chick was wearing yesterday?”
I don’t believe her, but I don’t know how to say that without sounding paranoid. There’s no fucking way this is the same lunatic hanging outside my door yesterday.
Pulling a small comb from her apron, she rakes it through my eyebrows and then stands back.
“Looks good,” she says. I assume she’s referring to her work and not me. Aidy reaches around my neck, unfastening the smock before folding it away.
I climb out of the chair, hunching over to check out my hair and makeup in the mirror. Upon closer inspection, I look airbrushed and flawless. Like a bona fide pretty boy.
Aidy moves to the side to clean her tools, putting everything back into its own organized compartment in her carrying case, and I’m two seconds from making one final offer to sign something for her nephew.
Turning to face me, she points to a spot on the vanity behind me, brows lifted.
“You mind?” She reaches around me, nearly pressing her body against mine, and retrieves a spray bottle with some hand-written label on the front.
Her scent invades my lungs for a moment, and it makes me think of sunscreen and lavender and some kind of exotic fruit. It’s a mix of a bunch of things that don’t really belong together, but somehow they’re perfect on her.
“Thanks,” I say, checking out my makeup one last time.
“For not telling me to fuck off today.”
She smirks, shaking her head. “I figured twice was enough.”
Scratching my temple, I blow a hard breath between my lips and study her face. The girl outside my place yesterday looks nothing like the girl standing before me, but then again, I was more concerned with chasing her off than memorizing the color of her eyes or the delicate curve of her jaw.
“Mr. Amato, it’s time.” Blake peeks his head in the door to my dressing room, followed by his watch. “I’ll take you to the set, and we’ll go over everything there.”
Aidy rubs her lips together, fighting a smile, and turns away.
“I’ll be out in a sec,” I say to him.
Aidy’s back is to me, and Blake is tapping his pointed black loafers on the tile floor, and the sound of Michelle yelling at someone about craft services wafts from down the hall.
Questions linger on my tongue as I stare at Aidy from across the room.
“Mr. Amato, I’m sorry, but we need to go.” Blake says, words rushed and urgent. He steps inside the dressing room, and I half-wonder if he thinks he’s going to have to physically peel me out of here. “We’re live in ten.”
Aidy finally turns to face me, her sapphire blue gaze holding mine. I refuse to believe this is the same girl trying to leave her notebook on my steps yesterday like some crazy person. This woman, the one standing before me with short shorts and bare shoulders and red lips and hair that says she’s too cool to care, seems completely normal.
“What’s the hold up?” Michelle appears from behind Blake, her face twisted and jaw hanging. “We just standing around chit-chatting or what? Come on, people. Head to the set. Now. We’ve got a show to shoot.”
Blake gives me a pleading look, and I’m not in the mood to be responsible for getting an intern canned, so I gather myself and peel my gaze from Aidy. Following Blake out to the hall, he leads me to the set and points me toward a chair marked “guest.”
Michelle comes up to me, handing me what looks like a script. Upon closer examination, it appears to be the schedule for the show. The host, Michael Bradbury, will lead in, introduce me, and then dive right into the Smack Talk Five – the list of headlines we’ll be discussing today.
“I wasn’t given these ahead of time,” I say to Michelle. “I didn’t know Ramirez was signed to the Cards. Nobody told me Coach Jenkins was fired from the Royals.”
Michelle’s jaw hangs. “Don’t you watch ASPN?”
I shake my head. “Not really. Not anymore.”
“Well, fuck me.” Her arms fall to her sides, landing on her khakis with an exasperated thud. “Here, let me give you the gist of it . . .”
Michelle rattles on, giving me the Cliff’s Notes version of today’s topics, and in the distance, I see that the set’s beginning to fill in. People with lighting and clipboards and headphones and cameras are all lined up, standing in the dark. From the corner of my eye, I see Aidy and Stacia waiting on standby along a back wall.
My gaze catches Aidy’s for a fraction of a moment, but she looks away first.
“Mr. Amato, right this way, please.” Blake escorts me to the guest seat on the set, and Michael Bradbury takes his spot next to me.
We’re seated behind a kidney bean-shaped desk the color of polished onyx with the ASPN logo across the front in glossy blue letters.
“Hey, man, how’s it going?” Bradbury reaches out, giving me a slick handshake. “Good to see you, good to see you.”
“Likewise.” I adjust my tie and quietly clear my throat, and a woman in a tight skirt brings me a mug of still water. Her pink lips spread into a shy smile when our hands graze, and she clicks off in sky-high stilettos.