My sister does this so easily. She approaches the hottest guys like they should be lucky to share oxygen in her vicinity.
But this is my turn. She’s not here. I am.
One step at a time.
One breath at a time.
You’re just walking into an audition, except it’s ten billion times worse, and the casting director is the hottest guy you have ever seen. Suddenly, all I can hear are my own breaths, in and out. Then come my footsteps as I cross the stage, each slap of shoe against wood rattling my brain.
I draw so close, I bump into the table. He doesn’t seem to notice, turned away slightly and seeming to be trapped in a web of dark, bothersome thoughts. A tortured artist, I decide with a smirk. He’s a man of many mysteries. That’s okay. I’m mysterious, too.
Then I inhale, and that might be the greatest mistake of all. He smells amazing. The hint of some unnamed, mannish cologne invades my senses, its spicy subtleness intoxicating me. He smells clean and oddly comforting, like the way someone else’s home might smell—safe, inviting, yet unfamiliar.
I have to speak. I have to say something to get his attention. I can’t just be the ghost girl who lurks. I draw breath to say something, anything—and then nothing comes.
He has a cup of beer in his big, strong hand. He studies it pensively. This is your moment. No one else is around. You even have the perfect excuse: you’re new and you’re meeting people. Introduce yourself.
No better gift than right now; it’s why they call it the present.
“Hi,” I offer, using my sweetest audition voice.
He doesn’t even flinch. After too long a moment, he takes a sip of his beer, then stares into it like he’s disgusted with his own reflection. God, he looks so hot when he makes that face, scowling at absolutely nothing.
I try again. “I’m Dessie.” A beer is in my hand and I don’t even remember getting it. Its contents shake because my hands do. “I—I’m a transfer here. Second year. Are you an actor? You look like an actor.”
Still nothing. He even turns his head upstage, looking off as if something far more interesting than me caught his attention. Y’know, like a fly.
That’s when I notice the seriously sexy, dark tattoo running up the base of his thick neck, making me wonder what else he’s hiding under that tight shirt.
“Listen, I’m new here, and … and I’m just trying to meet people,” I go on, feeling more desperate and dumb by the second. I set my beer back down on the table. “It would be rather nice to talk to someone who actually acknowledges when he’s being—”
Then, the asshole walks away.
I watch, completely taken aback by his rudeness. It was clear as hell who I was talking to, wasn’t it? He had every opportunity to just simply tell me he wasn’t interested in getting to know me. Except, isn’t that the point of this damn Theatre mixer thing? To … mix?
“Prick,” I mutter at his back, drawing the attention of a couple girls at the other end of the table, but not from the guy to which the word was directed. I hope they didn’t hear me.
Or maybe I do. I suddenly, immediately, wholly don’t care about anything. I’ve been used to this my whole life. Cece gets told “yes” every day. My peers at Rigby & Claudio’s got all the praise while I sat back and wondered what the hell was wrong with me. I’m the outcast, the failure, the family joke.
I’m the guppy.
I abandon the stage, departing through the wing and the rehearsal room. In a matter of seconds, the School of Theatre is behind me and I’m tramping down the dark pathways back to my dorm, alone.
I don’t even know his name.
Yet there he stands in all his perfect glory.
“Hi,” I mutter stupidly.
He sees me. His eyes zero in and the world zeros out. Nothing exists but me, him, and the breath between us.
“Can you help me?” I ask him, drawing close, too close, far closer than I thought I’d dare. “I think I’m lost. I know the School of Theatre, and the School of Music, but I can’t seem to find the—”
“School of Sex?” he finishes for me, and his voice is like silk against my skin. I suppress a moan just from hearing it.
“Yeah.” I feel so confident and beautiful. “I need your help … in finding … the School of Sex.”
He licks his lips and nods knowingly. His eyes pierce me. The subtle light of whatever room we’re in barely colors his gruff, unshaven face, leaving so much of him in the mysterious dark.
His hand slips behind my neck. “What … What are you doing?” I ask, knowing full well. My heart is hammering against my chest. Heat surges between my thighs and I’m trembling with anticipation. “All I needed … was help in … in finding the School of Sex.”