Seven years ago…
My first day of college was a disaster.
I had been so excited to finally live in New York and go to NYU. If I had known how my first day would go, I think I seriously would have stayed in California and gone to another school. I wish that I was being melodramatic but that's not the case.
The day started out innocently. I had flown in with my family the day before and had checked in with my dorm's resident advisor without any problems. We took the elevator up to the fourth floor and walked down the crowded hall until we found my room. After unlocking the door, I found my new dorm room without my roommate but with all of her stuff already unpacked… she must have arrived the day before. I awkwardly teetered into the room with my heavy bags, quickly took in the plain brick walls and my empty bed, and then dropped my bags. "This is it." I announced to my parents as they walked in behind me.
My mother was ecstatic, to say the least. As she looked around the tiny room, she cooed, "It's so… college! Just like our college years, honey!" She beamed at my dad as he walked into the room and set down two more bags of my luggage. Of course she loved it… my parents had met in college and married soon after graduating so college was one of the best times of their lives. They told me that over and over too… "Your mom and I loved college, Olivia!" Dad told me repeatedly when I was growing up. "College was some of the best years of our lives!"
Back in the present, my fourteen year old brother Jordan burst into the room yelling, "Mom! Dad!" as he unceremoniously dumped my last two suitcases on the floor. "Mom! Dad! Can we go to Madison Square Garden? That's where the New York Rangers play!" Jordan lived for everything hockey… so of course he felt like visiting MSG was the ultimate hockey pilgrimage. I seriously bet that he would get on his knees and bow if they actually took him there. He had pitched a fit about missing hockey practice when my mom had told him that we were flying to New York together.
"We'll see, Jordan." Dad sighed and then smiled encouragingly at me.
"You have a floor meeting in a few hours, right?" Mom asked me and I nodded as I looked over the packet of information I had received at check in. "Then we'll let you unpack and then you can meet us for dinner later. How does that sound?" She smiled hopefully at me.
"Yeah, that sounds fine." I smiled, trying not to let on how nervous I was suddenly feeling.
"See ya!" Jordan was already out the door.
"Jordan, wait…" Dad hurried after him and then called over his shoulder, "Bye Livy!"
My mom quickly hugged me and I heard her sniffle a little. "We'll see you later." She smiled a shaky smile at me and then hurried out the door after my dad and Jordan. Just like that, I was officially alone in my dorm room. I was alone, away at school, living in another state for the first time in my life. Crazy.
My day seems good so far, right? Yeah, well, stay with me… the day was about to go downhill and I didn't even realize it.
It started with Whitney.
I heard a door open behind me and curiously looked over my shoulder. A girl with blond hair that was so blond it was almost white caught sight of me and squealed, "Hi!" Then she skipped across the hall and threw her arms around me. Stunned and sputtering, I tried to take a step away from her but she was already releasing me and grinning almost manically. She tossed her hair, stuck her hands on her hips, and squealed: "I'm Whitney!"
"I'm Olivia." I said, forcing a polite smile. My mother had told me that college was about meeting different kinds of people, right? Whitney was different all right…. she apparently loved the color pink. But I mean that she really loved pink as in she was head to toe in pink from her NYU sweatshirt, her pink sweatpants, and her pink flip-flops. Wow. I began to say, "Nice to meet—"
But she cut me off: "Did you just get here? I got here yesterday!" I heard a Southern twang in her voice and wondered where she was from. But before I could even think to ask: "Come on, come see my room!" She dragged me across the hall to her room like an eager four year old, her ponytail swishing gaily behind her. Pink had also vomited all over her room as well… there was a pink comforter, pink throw pillows, a pink shaggy chair, a pink slip cover over the nondescript desk chair, a pink fluffy rug on the floor… and hey, don't get me wrong. I like pink as much as the next girl. But this much pink was enough to make me feel a little dizzy. "Don't you love it?" Whitney prompted me as she grandly spread her arms open.
I forced a smile and nodded politely. "Yeah, it's great." That was when I noticed that she only had one bed in her room. "Oh, is this a single?"
"Yeah, my parents weren't too thrilled about me sharing a room with some stranger." Whitney smiled, showing me her white, slightly crooked teeth. "Daddy said that I'd be better living by myself." She still called her dad Daddy? I stopped calling my dad Daddy shortly after I'd reached adolescence. She plowed on: "So where are you from?" I began to answer but caught sight of us standing side by side in her full length mirror on the wall. We looked so different… she was so pale that she was almost snowy white while I was as tan as Scottish people can be after spending the summer in the sun. I had dark brown hair naturally streaked with blond while her hair was insanely white blond… and it looked to be natural too. Interesting.
I looked away, tucked my hair behind my ears, and answered, "California." I replied. "I live near—"
"Do you live near movie stars?" Whitney's eyes widened to the size of dinner plates. "I've always wanted to live in LA!"
"No, I don't live anywhere near LA." I forced another smile. People always forgot how large California was. "I live four hundred miles north of LA, in a town called—"
"So you don't live near, like, Brad Pitt or anything?" She genuinely looked disappointed. "He's my favorite actor," she sighed school-girlishly. "He's just so… yummy…" Her eyes glazed over a bit and I was glad that I didn't live in LA. She'd probably beg me to let her come out to visit so she could go camp out in poor Brad's bushes… there was a serious crazy vibe radiating off of her. "Anyway, I'm from Charlotte! That's in North Carolina! Have you been there?" I shook my head and began to say no but she was already steamrolling over me: "I miss it so much but New York is going to broaden my horizons, right?" Another big grin. "What's your major?"
"I'm thinking about public relations—"I began to answer.
But she continued over me: "I'm thinking about event planning… like I really like party planning but I'm not sure if I would be a wedding planner or just an event planner. Wedding planning seems so time consuming, you know, and so stressful because so many girls who getting married put so much into their wedding day that they…" That was when I tuned her out… although I did add an occasional murmur to show that I was listening. She was perfectly content to blab endlessly and I let her… until she squealed, "Holly!" at someone behind me.
I turned around to see who had caught her attention and found a girl with curly blond hair standing in the open doorway of my room, appearing momentarily frozen. Then she turned and obviously forced a smile while saying, "Hey… Whitney. Didn't think I'd run—"
"Holly! This is your roommate Olivia!" Whitney looped her arm through mine and dragged me out into the hallway.
"Hi…" I offered my hand to Holly, who shook it quickly. "I'm—"
But Whitney interrupted me and began explaining me like she was my mother or a summer camp counselor: "Olivia is from California! Although apparently she's from northern California, not from down near LA, so she doesn't know any movie stars or anything! She just got here like ten minutes ago and—"
"Cool, cool." Holly cut her off quickly while shooting me a brief sympathetic glance. "Hey, I have to get going, I'm meeting…" She paused and then finished vaguely, "I'm meeting some people."
"Ooh, are you meeting some other girls from our floor?" Whitney asked so forcefully that I tried to take a step away from her.
"No, no, just some friends from… yeah, I'm running so late." Holly checked her phone and then smiled a forced smile. "See you girls later!" Then she hurried out of our room. Great… so much for getting to know my roommate.
"I'll help you unpack!" Whitney squealed as she dragged me back into my room and plopped herself down in Holly's desk chair. "What do you need help with?"
"Well, I—" I began.
"Holly got here yesterday too and we had such a good time getting to know each other, ya know?" Whitney interrupted me as she eyed her hair. "I already have split ends, can you believe it? Anyway, today Holly's been, like, so busy, I guess she has some people she knows from home here and I wonder where I could find a good hairstylist who isn't too expensive but…" I tuned her out again as I sighed to myself and began unpacking.
A few hours later, we gathered together in the common room for the floor meeting. The other girls from my floor quickly moved on when they met me because Whitney was a solid, clingy fixture by my side. Embarrassingly over the top, she would gush and squeal over every single person we would meet, which in turn freaked everyone out and left me with no one to talk to… except for Whitney. Great. So much for making friends… the other girls looked like they were already bonding. From across the room, I'm pretty sure I saw Holly shoot me another sympathetic look and then quickly look away when Whitney turned in her direction.
Again, I tuned Whitney's chatter out and began eavesdropping on the conversations around us. The girl next to me checked her phone and then gasped lowly to the girl next to her: "I heard that a Vanderbilt is part of the freshman class!" Vanderbilt? As in the insanely wealthy family that was mentioned on the news? As in, 'Mr. Vanderbilt generously donated ten million dollars to Save the African Orphans foundation…'?
But the other girl shook her head. "No, I don't think so… they're all at Yale. I think that it's a Campbell instead."
The first girl frowned and then asked, "Who are the Campbells?"
The blond replied, "They're just as wealthy as the Vanderbilts but they're never mentioned in newspapers. They're more infamous than famous."
The first girl frowned again, this time suspiciously, and then accused the blond: "You're totally making that up. It's a Vanderbilt."
The other girl immediately protested: "No I'm not!"
"Olivia! Are you listening?" Whitney prompted me irritably, obviously noticing that I wasn't paying attention to her. I sighed and forced a smile as I tried harder to pretend that I was listening.
After the meeting, I joined my family for dinner. My mom was sympathetic when I explained the Whitney situation but assured me that Whitney was probably just excited about starting college. I found that doubtful… Whitney was screaming "stage five clinger." Jordan, on the other hand, had spent the entire meal begging, just shy of getting down on his knees, my parents to take him to Madison Square Garden. I smiled fondly as I remembered it while walking back into my building.
That's when everything changed. If this were a movie, there would be slow motion and dramatic music right now.
I caught sight of the elevator doors about to close and, not eager to take four flights of stairs to my floor, I yelled, "Wait! Hold the elevator!" The parents and the guy inside looked startled but they did so, although the elevator buzzed angrily as the doors slid back open. I jogged inside and quickly said to them, "Thanks so much. I hate hiking up those stairs." I reached but the button for my floor was already lit up.
The guy smiled back at me and said, "Me too." I realized that he was cute… actually more like tie him to the bedpost hot. He had longish brown hair, warm brown eyes, and wearing a dark blue collared shirt. I looked at him for a little longer than I should have but looked away, embarrassed, when I realized I was staring. I could have sworn I saw him smile out of the corner of his eye.
The elevator creeped along. The mother sniffed irritably and then huffed, "We might as well have taken the stairs." She was wearing a velvet burgundy dress that was complimented by her stylish black heels. I also noticed an enormous diamond ring as she rested her hand on the father's black suit jacket. What kind of parents wore a suit and a dress to move their kid into the dorms? Interesting…
I sneaked another peek at the cute boy but found him still looking at me… he smiled at me. Because he was standing behind his parents, he was able to covertly gesture to his mother and then rolled his eyes comically. I put a hand over my mouth to stifle my laugh and then smiled back at him. Then he asked me nonchalantly, "Are you a freshman too?"
"Yeah." I nodded in reply. "I'm from California."
His eyebrows rose in surprise before he offered, "Oh, I grew up here." Much to my surprise, his mother flicked a glare at me over her shoulder, radiating sharp and obvious disproval, leaving me taken aback. What the hell? Because I was from California? It wasn't like I had old needle marks in my arms and tattoos all over my body… so what the hell? But the boy gestured covertly to her again and then waved his hand… the universal gesture of "ignore my mother, sorry." I half smiled awkwardly back and then the elevator doors opened to the fourth floor.
His parents stepped out of the elevator first and we followed. His mother said coolly, "Come along, James." Perhaps this was my first Park Avenue snob sighting… although I knew we were a long way from Park Avenue.
But once we were out of the elevator, James turned and asked me: "Hey, what's your name?"
"Olivia Taylor." I replied.
"I'm Jamie Campbell." He smiled. "I'll see you around."
"Sure." I smiled back and watched his broad shoulders follow his parents down the hall. He was cute and I was rather infatuated… Jamie Campbell, Jamie Campbell, Jamie Campbell rolled around in my brain. Jamie Campbell— oh. He was probably the Campbell that the girl had mentioned at the meeting earlier. Interesting… very interesting…
Meeting Jamie changed everything for me.
At the time, I didn't know that Jamie and I would become friends, then good friends, then best friends, and I would fall harder and harder for him until I was in way over my head. Not that he ever indicated that he returned my feelings…
Well… there was a moment, once, when I'd thought… maybe.
We had been coming home from an off campus keg party in the middle of our junior year. Jamie had played a few too many round of beer pong and was leaning heavily on me while we stood in the lobby of our dorm. "Jamie," I hissed as I gave him a poke in the ribs. "Stand up straight and stop looking so wasted! You'll get written up." Or, even worse, he'd get busted for being underage and drunk in public. I glanced around covertly to make sure that no resident advisors were nearby.
But Jamie was so gone that he was apparently way past caring. "Whateverrrrrr…" he slurred loudly in reply. "My parents would love that. I got wait-listed at precious Yale so why shouldn't I—?" I clamped my hand over his mouth and glared at him until he looked contrite.
Once I knew he'd keep his mouth shut, I sighed as I pulled away and muttered, "Oh Jamie…" as I shook my head. I was already used to the dorm elevator being the slowest elevator on the planet but I still wished that it would arrive faster.
We weren't alone. Holly giggled from where she stood on the other side of me, not too steady on her feet either. She had been Jamie's teammate for a few rounds of beer pong but she hadn't played as many as he had. Holly and I had become fast friends after I had shaken Whitney (which was no small feat; mind you… I'd been right; she was a stage five clinger). Holly peered around me, pointed at Jamie, and mimicked my warning tone as she said: "Jamie!" Then she laughed.
"Thanks, Holls." I said dryly.
Finally, the elevator arrived. Holly tumbled inside first and Jamie and I slowly followed. I winced as I tried to keep him upright. "Hurry up!" Holly exclaimed as the elevator buzzed irritably when the doors tried to close on us.
"Fine!" Jamie retorted petulantly as he released me and launched himself inside the elevator. He fell into the wall with a loud thud.
I gasped as I leapt into the elevator and grabbed him away from the wall. "Are you okay?" I demanded as I pushed the hair back from his forehead as I checked to make sure he was okay. Of course he was fine… I exhaled irritably and admonished him, "Be careful!" I planted my feet to keep myself steady and then put my arm around his waist again so that I could continue to hold him up.
"Yeah." Holly chimed in snidely and then laughed again.
"Some help you are—" I began but then I noticed that Jamie was staring down at me with a strange expression on his face. "What?" I asked him. We had been loosely half embracing, his arms draped heavily around my shoulders and one of my arms around his waist, but suddenly he brought me closer, flush against him. His expression didn't waver as he stared at me. "What?" I asked again but this time it was a little softer. He muttered something, I think he said my name, and then he took a few steps forward. He overtook me and jerkily walked me backward into the corner of the elevator so that my back was against the wall. I felt my breath hitch in surprise and then I started breathing shallowly as he tightened his arms around my shoulders. Holly, who'd finally noticed us embracing, asked us curiously what we were doing but Jamie ignored her. He abruptly leaned in, closing the space between our faces, and almost touched noses with me. I jumped just a tiny bit in surprise as I saw him openly look down at my lips and then back into my eyes. For once I was thrilled with the slow speed of the elevator. He smelled spicy and warm… and I wouldn't protest at all if he leaned in and…
"Guys! We're here!" Holly yelled as the elevator reached our floor.
Jamie glanced at her and then looked back at me. He smiled; his eyes heavy, and then released me.
Yes, released me.
A rush of cool air replaced him as he stumbled out of the elevator and I paused, still processing what had just happened.
"Olive!" Holly yelled as she appeared in the elevator doors, grabbed my arm, and yanked me out of the elevator. She yelled, "Olive-Olive!" as she dragged me into the common room. What was she calling me? Olive? No, absolutely not—
Jamie had been using his face to lean against the wall in the common room but then he began to laugh. He repeated: "Olive-Olive!" Then he laughed harder.
"Olive-Olive!" Holly repeated as she giggled louder.
What had just happened in the elevator (more like what didn't happen) finally sunk in and made me sulky. "Don't call me that!" I sharply ordered them both but that just made them laugh harder. They repeated my new nickname over and over, sending them into fresh peals of laughter each time. I plopped myself sullenly down on the couch and waited for them to pull themselves together.
And that was the only time I'd thought… maybe… but he never tried anything again.
Maybe it was the timing of it all… I certainly didn't wait around or "save myself for him" (creepy and gross). Every time I saw him looking at me, I pushed away hoping that he wanted me as more than a friend… but a small part of me hoped, regardless.
Seven years later…
"We're here." The cab driver's voice brought me out of my trip down memory lane. Then he added impatiently, "Come on, let's move. It's New Years Eve; I want to get more fares." Based on his level of irritation, I hadn't heard him the first time he'd announced that we had arrived.
"I'm so sorry." I said quickly as I dug some cash out of my bag and paid him. "Thanks." I climbed out of the cab and walked into the Mirabelle Hotel where Jamie's parents always have their huge New Years Eve party. I crossed the lobby and stepped into the gold gilded elevator with rich burgundy carpeting. After catching sight of myself in the reflection and finding that I looked a little windblown, I tousled my hair back into submission and then tucked it neatly behind my ears. When my hand shook just a little, I tried to shake it out and then swallowed noisily. The muted recessed lighting overhead made me feel like I was in an actual room but the dead giveaway was that the elevator kept politely chiming, whisper-quiet, as we rose to the top floor.
I had promised Holly and (more importantly) myself that tonight would be the night. Tonight would be the night that I would finally explain to Jamie how I felt about him. My hands shook a little again… I was actually jittery, like I had drunk too much coffee. I shook out my hands again and sighed. Either Jamie would return my feelings or he wouldn't… that was all going to happen tonight. But hey, no pressure, right? I've only liked him for seven years…
Now, make no mistake… like I said before, I didn't take a vow of chastity to "save myself" for Jamie or something. I've always been attracted to him but I'm no stalker… I've had other boyfriends over the years. But they've all blended together into a messy smear of fairly nice boys who were never right for me. Maybe that was because I always measured them against Jamie. I know that wasn't fair to them but it was more unfair to privately swoon over Jamie while dating them. And tonight was the last night of mooning over him… I had to do it tonight. Seven years was just way too long…
I swallowed noisily again as the elevator slowed down and the doors lined up with the top floor. Jamie. Jamie, Jamie, Jamie… I—
Then the elevator doors slid open.
The top floor of the hotel was dimly lit but crowded. While checking my coat, I noticed that everyone had a drink in their hand as they grabbed their jewels, their husbands, or the waiters… when they thought no one else was looking, of course. This was New York, after all… actually, that wasn't fair. This was the Campbell family… like that girl from NYU had mentioned years ago, the Campbells were each were as wealthy as a Vanderbilt but flew under the radar instead except for the stray mention in the society pages of The Times. James Campbell, Jamie's father and the current patriarch, had made sure of that. Once, after one too many glasses of wine during Thanksgiving, he had confided in me: "None of that socialite nonsense. The last thing I need is my children getting fat heads and acting like idiots because their daddy is rich." Then he had added a wink… he had always liked me…
Speaking of Jamie's parents, I caught sight of Cynthia Campbell, Jamie's mother, coolly cutting through the crowd, and instantly remembered that she did not share her husband's fondness of me. Yes, from the moment she had flicked that disproving look over her shoulder in the elevator freshman year of college, she apparently made some sort of vow to make sure that I never felt comfortable. I smiled automatically in response to her faint smile that didn't reach her eyes and groaned inwardly as I surreptitiously glanced around for Jamie, Holly, another old friend, or an escape… any escape. But then she reached me and oozed like honey: "Olivia!" Up close, I could already see the familiar disproval in her eyes.
"Hi Mrs. Campbell," I greeted her in reply as we ever so lightly embraced. Always Mrs. Campbell, never Cynthia, regardless of how many years I had known her. She had always kept me formal and at arm's length, regardless of the fact that I'd known Jamie for years. I don't think she liked that her husband liked me either… but, then again, he'd always had a thing for young brunettes (always discreetly, of course). She was dressed head to toe in Chanel, from the beautiful necklace around her bony neck, to the black suit with the black interlocking white "C" buttons, and all the way down to her black pumps on her feet. I was hoping to remain under the radar and unscathed in my nicest (Nordstrom, sale rack, 50% off!) black suit that I usually saved for corporate events and funerals. Trying to be nice, I said, "Happy New Year!" My cheer sounded false so I swallowed quickly and then asked, "How are you?" I sounded more like myself that time around.
She didn't even bother answering my question. She asked me coolly, "Does James know you're coming tonight?" Her polite smile was already melting into the familiar cold, disproving look that seemed to be her default expression. Of course she thought I was crashing her party. Regardless of how many years I'd known Jamie, she still treated me like an unwelcome guest and it was truly bizarre… like I would really stop coming around simply because she treated me like the second coming of the Black Plague!
But I had vowed to try to be nice to her tonight (and I'll admit that I haven't always been nice to her) so I confirmed: "Yes, he invited me," and even managed to not to grit my teeth. The bitch at the end of my sentence remained unspoken.
"Olivia?" I looked over Cynthia's shoulder and saw Jamie cutting through the crowd. His approach was the opposite of his mother's; he was radiating warmth and happiness. I felt my face light up as he reached me… he looked so handsome in his perfectly tailored black suit, white pressed shirt, and dark blue tie. The blue complimented his warm brown eyes and his short sandy brown hair. He grinned as he opened his arms to me.
"Hi!" I grinned back as we embraced. He smelled like warm aftershave and spicy cologne… my favorite combination that never failed to make me remember the time he almost kissed me in the elevator.
Next he remarked, "I see that my mother found you first," as he released me, his brown eyes still warm and twinkling as he glanced at his mother.
"She did." I smiled at Cynthia but Jamie was already (thankfully) steering me away. "Happy New Year again, Mrs. C!" I added as one last final dig, mostly because I was positive that she hated being called Mrs. C. Petty? Yes. Fun? Absolutely. Especially when I saw her face pucker like she had just bit into something sour.
Jamie sighed heavily and then reprimanded me: "Did you really have to call her that?" But I still caught him suppressing a smirk… he often said that he liked the way I got to his mother and often sounded very envious. Jamie was too busy being the perfect son to bother trying to stick it to her, even if she seriously needed it.
"Couldn't resist!" I answered through my smile just as he steered me over to… "Holly!" I grinned at her.
She had been looking around the room, bored, but now she looked relieved to see me. She smiled and said, "Hey Olive-Olive," but her smile was strained because she looked so looked exhausted. She had also used the dreaded nickname… terrible.
"You okay?" I asked her lowly but she waved me off. I frowned and remained unconvinced.
Sensing a girl talk approaching, Jamie touched my back lightly. "I'll be back," he said with a smile before he walked away. I watched him go, admiring the way the suit jacket stretched across his broad shoulders—
"Oh would you stop?" Holly groaned as she snagged two glasses of champagne from a passing waiter. "Do I have to slap you?"
"What?" I asked, feigning confusion as I took one of the glasses from her.
"You better tell him soon so that we can find out if he returns your feelings or if you can otherwise move on," she grumbled. She brushed a blond ringlet away from her face. She was also wearing a black suit and, unlike me but like Mrs. C, her suit was also Chanel… lucky girl. "I can't believe I've watched you moon over Jamie for seven years," she grumbled.
"Seven years." I repeated with a wince.
She corrected herself: "Well, eight next fall… so seven and a half, give or take." Then her Blackberry began to ring. She muttered, "Uh oh," and then checked the screen. "Oh great," she muttered, annoyed. "I'll be on the balcony." She turned and ducked through one of the French doors that led out to the balcony.
I had only been standing alone for a few minutes when I caught Jamie looking at me from across the room. I shyly smiled as I half raised my champagne class and he smiled back before returning to his conversation. He looked so happy… maybe I'd picked the best night to tell him.
I jumped when a male voice boomed, "Olivia!" Mr. Campbell was approaching with a big grin and the usual glass of scotch in his hand.
"Mr. Campbell!" I smiled back, glad to see him. "Happy New Year!" We briefly embraced.
He grinned fondly down at me (I think he thinks of me as one of his own) and then asked, "So? How's the job going? Lifestyles of the rich and famous?"
Oh definitely not. "It's… going." I tried not to grimace in reply and managed just barely to force a smile. I pretty much hate my job… can't you tell?
Mrs. Campbell appeared out of nowhere and smiled falsely at me as she touched her husband's arm and said very pointedly, "James, there are other guests to attend to." He winked at me again and then sauntered away. Mrs. Campbell's smile dropped as she added in the same pointed voice: "Perhaps you should go check on Holly? I think I saw her slip outside to the balcony." Remembering my vow to be nice to her, I nodded and even managed to politely smile as I excused myself. It would be nice to get away from her perpetual cold front…
But, since this was the last day of December in New York, it wasn't all that much warmer out on the balcony. On the upside, the balcony was enclosed with glass windows and a glass ceiling that looked like they could be removed come summer. On the downside, the glass did little to keep out the cold, twenty degree air from outside. "I still have no comment." Holly said flatly into her phone as I approached her. "I already told you that those accusations are false," She paused and then rolled her eyes at me. "Uh huh. Goodbye." She hung up and shook her head. "What an asshole."
"What now?" I asked casually as I leaned against the railing, ignoring the way the cold that seeped in through my jacket, and took a healthy sip of champagne.
"Apparently the new rumor is that Ben and Kate are getting a divorce," she rolled her eyes. "Last week Kate was supposedly pregnant… but this week they're all over." She was currently the publicist for Ben, a producer, and Kate, an actress, who made up the current hottest couple in New York.
"But isn't that always the case in celebrity land?" I asked dryly. "You're either ecstatic, pregnant, or splitting up." She shrugged, bemused, and then nodded in agreement. Then I added: "At least you don't have baby mamas and paternity cases to deny."
"Fizz is still at it?" she smirked. She was referring to Fizz the rapper, my one and only client… straight out of Compton before his music career took off and made him a multi-millionaire. Now he splits his time between New York and Beverly Hills… having three hit singles gives you the enough money to do that. It was a small miracle that I'd landed him… I agreed to be his publicist just after his first single blew up on the charts. Single two and three followed very soon after, which made Fizz suddenly transition from a potential one hit wonder to a legitimate music act. Call me the luckiest publicist on the planet.
But, even though I knew that I was lucky, I still wasn't fond of my job… mostly because of Fizz himself. He's pretty repulsive. "Don't even get me started on him." I grumbled and then exhaled heavily with a shake of my head. "Tomorrow, to start off my year right, I have to negotiate Fizz's new record deal."
Holly frowned. "What? Why are you, as Fizz's publicist, doing that and not Anita, his manager?" She snatched my glass of champagne out of my hand and I let her.
"Because Fizz fired 'that bitch Anita' two weeks ago." I grumbled in reply. "His words, not mine. Right before Christmas too, I bet that made her holidays extra happy. He thinks he's worth ten million and she actually told him that he wasn't." Holly winced. "Although you should never tell the client that anyway, right?" She nodded obediently and I sighed. "Anyway, he fired her, so guess who picks up her duties while his assistant interviews for a new manager?"
She snorted. "Good luck with that."
"Thanks." I grumbled back as she polished off my champagne. "Hey!"
She smirked. "I'll go grab us some more booze." I nodded and then pulled out my own Blackberry to check up on Fizz. For once, he had only sent me one text instead of the usual twenty, and all it said was: "Ten mil, nothing less." Too bad I thought that Anita was right… Fizz was definitely worth more than five thanks to his three hit singles but he couldn't demand ten million… he wasn't Jay-Z. I heaved a sigh.
"What's Fizz up to now?" I jumped in surprise when Jamie spoke. He laughed and said, "Sorry…" Then he presented me with a fresh glass of champagne.
I smiled and began to say, "Holly—" as I gestured over my shoulder at the ballroom.
But he finished cheerfully: "—gave me this to give to you for her." Then he beamed at me.
"You're in a good mood." I remarked with a smile. "Am I forgiven for rattling your mother's cage?"
"Oh." He scoffed and waved his hand dismissively. "We both know that she's ridiculous," he said airily. "Someone has to stick it to her sometimes." He shook his head and I smirked again.
"She already doesn't like me." I shrugged and he didn't deny it. "Someday I'll show her that I'm worthy." I sighed before adding, "But only if Fizz will pay me more than pennies."
Jamie frowned and then remarked, "I thought you girls were making six figures."
"No, Holly is making six figures." I corrected him. "She's in charge of the hottest couple in New York. I, however, make enough to pay rent and eat." Actually, in any place other than New York, this was a substantial amount… but not in this city, when my rent was over two thousand a month. And Fizz is a selfish cheapskate too.
He shook his head. "Ridiculous. He doesn't pay you enough!"
"Not all of us work on Wall Street." I sighed. He half smiled and shrugged before grinning again. Now Jamie has a cheerful disposition to begin with but this was cheerful overload, even for him. "Why are you so happy?" I asked curiously.
He smiled and put his arm around me as he remarked, "Because you're here, Olive-Olive!" And even though I hated that nickname… when he said it… "Aren't you cold?" he asked me softly. I raised my eyes to look into his warm brown eyes and slowly returned his smile before I nodded slowly. He was taller than me but I fit right into his shoulder… like a puzzle piece. He brought me closer and began to say, "Hey, there's—"
Then my phone started ringing.
And it was ringing "Let's Get Fizzy Tonight," which meant that Fizz or (more likely) his assistant was calling. Of course he picked out his own song for his ringtone. "I have to take this." I muttered to Jamie.
"No problem." He pulled away and left me alone. "Come inside when you're done. Tell him to make it quick!"
I took a huge chug of my champagne. But it was a problem, a huge problem! Damn Fizz! This had better be important! I unclenched my teeth and said crisply into the phone: "This is Olivia."
"Olivia, this is Kylie." Fizz's assistant replied like I knew she would. She sounded like she was trying very hard not to clench her teeth. "Fizz wants you to promise him ten million. I'm putting you on speaker." She sounded just shy of disgusted but definitely annoyed.
I heard some rustling in the background and then said, "Fizz?"
"Yo O." I heard him drawl back in reply. I hated O more than Olive-Olive… only Oprah was allowed to go by O and I definitely was not Oprah. Then Fizz ordered: "Speak." Like I was a dog. Even though he was my employer, I still struggled not to lash back… what an asshole.
"I promise you ten million." I said even though I was lying through my teeth and then took another huge swig of my drink.
He chuckled once and then added, "Not a dime less. Right?"
"Not a dime less." I repeated obediently and finished off my champagne.
He said, "Peace." Then the call ended.
I hoped against hope that Kylie had thrown the phone at his head. "Peace." I snorted to myself and then walked inside to find another glass of champagne…
…and instead found Jamie down on one knee in front of his girlfriend Roshelle.
Author's note: Please, please, please review! Tell me what you think! :)