Disclaimers: Nope, sorry, can't say there are any. All of the characters are mine. I take full responsibility for all of their actions. Hmm ... On second thought ... I've never seen them before in my life. They just followed me home one day ... really ...
Violence/Sex: No violence, I don't think. I guess that would depend on what you mean by "violence" ... I don't think there is any. You can decide for yourself. And sex? Umm ... I'll go on the safe side and say there will be. But don't go suing me for false advertisement if you can't find any. It really depends on what you mean by sex. As there are people in some cultures that show their affection by licking each other's eyeballs, it is possible that my definition of sex may be different than yours. Mine may involve cows in ballet slippers for instance ... wait, that doesn't sound right ...
Warning: This story involves an in-the closet actress, online relationships, Puerto Ricans, the Spanish language, Starbucks coffee, angels, boyfriends, sexual relationships between women .. and a ton of other random things that poured forth from my artistic loins. If none of the above things interest you, then you may not want to partake in this little tour of my demented psyche.
Dedication: to you and you and you you and you .. to people living with living with ... ::notices there are people watching:: Ahem. Sorry. Too much "RENT" for me. Strike that. There can never be too much RENT. Unless it's the kind you have to pay. But my point.. and I do have one .. is that this story is dedicated to you. Thank you for taking the time to delve into my madness. What a brave soul you are .. muahahaha <coughcough>
Special Thanks: To Amber, Cindy, Camilla, Christy, Amy, and Robin. Thank you, thank you, thank you from the bottom of my heart. I don't know what I'd do without you guys.
Write me: Cause I'd love to know what you think. I may be reached at email@example.com
"So what possessed you to email this girl, anyway?" Adrian asked, flipping over so he was now laying on his stomach.
Julianne glanced at him from her spot on the blanket. Why couldn't he just let her sunbathe in peace? And why did he insist on sunbathing in a thong? Thank God he turned over. "Because I really liked the drawing, and I wanted to know if she had more of her work on display." Short. Sweet. And more amazingly, true.
"If she had a gallery of some sort, she wouldn't be sitting at the park trying to make a quick buck," Adrian replied logically.
Julianne shrugged. "You never know."
"Do you know what she looks like?" he asked.
"Don't know, don't care," Julianne informed him, wishing he'd dropped the subject. I should've never told him about Kris. Ugh. She stared at the ocean and tried to relax. It was her one day off and she planned to enjoy it.
Adrian shrugged. "She could be really ugly."
"Sure you don't. I bet you've got her all pictured in your head. What did she tell you she looked like?"
"She didn't." Please drop this, Adrian, before I kill you. "And I honestly couldn't care less. She's just a person I email occasionally."
Adrian shook his head and sat up.
Julianne looked away. "Will you please put on a pair of shorts or something?"
"Just trying to avoid tan lines," Adrian replied with a grin, but slipped on a pair of tan cargos. "Besides, I like to add a bit of testosterone to your life."
"Right, because my life is just overflowing with estrogen."
Adrian held up his finger. "Which brings me to my next point."
Julianne rolled her eyes. "Don't start."
"You can't keep hiding away, Julianne. As much as I'm going to enjoy being your on-screen romance, you're eventually going to have to face up to the truth. You can't spend the rest of your life in isolation."
"I like it this way, Adrian," she argued. "It's simple. Do you know how complicated my life would be if I got involved with someone right now? Secrecy and avoidance and lying and ..." She shrugged. "You can't have a relationship under those circumstances."
"You're just scared of getting hurt."
Julianne shrugged. "Aren't we all?"
"And if you fall in love?"
Adrian shook his head. "You never know..."
Julianne stared at her best friend defiantly. "I do know, my darling Adrian. Because I won't let myself fall in love."
Adrian grinned. "But you admit you're sexually frustrated?"
"No you don't admit it?"
"Sex is overrated."
"Says she who's never tried it."
Julianne smiled. "It works best that way. I won't miss what I never knew."
"You're gonna end up one of those old, bitter women," Adrian predicted. "You'll talk to your plants and give them cute names, like Fluffy."
She laughed. "You're a dumbass."
Adrian took it as a compliment. He stared out at the water for a long moment, then turned back to Julianne. "Does she know?"
"I told her."
"Does she know who you are?"
Julianne shook her head, feeling depressed all of a sudden.
"Is this a good idea, Julianne?" Adrian asked seriously.
Probably not ... She shrugged. "It's just email."
"I hope so," Adrian responded, but somehow didn't think so.
* * *
Well, while you were dress, make-up, shoe and underwear shopping, I was out by the beach working on my tan. I love California. ;o)
Adrian, unfortunately, has this thing about prancing around in a thong. I think he's subconsciously attempting to turn me straight, but little does he know that his performance has the opposite effect. Hehe. Actually, he's one of those muscular guys that girls always go for, so it's not like it's a completely horrifying sight. But ... you know ... gross.
As for my type. Um, well, truthfully I haven't really dated much so I can't say I have much basis for comparison. But I guess, I want what everyone else seems to want and can never find. I just want someone who will love me for who I am. I can't even set any standards for what she would be like, because by doing so I would be trivializing anyone's individuality. No one can be everything. But I long to find the one girl who is everything to me.
You must think I'm incredibly corny.
So you're half Puerto Rican? Adrian is part Puerto Rican. Or maybe it's Colombian? Cuban? I should know these things, but sadly I forget. He's a mixture of a few things but he doesn't speak any Spanish. Maybe you can teach me. I tried French in High School, but I didn't get much out of it, I'm afraid. :o)
Having finished the email, Julianne went in search of a chat room. It had been a while since she'd messed with anyone's head and was kind of in the mood. The lesbian chat room looked promising, except that it had fallen under the invasion of bored guys pretending to be lesbians.
Julianne could sympathize, for she was bored herself. Too bad I can't chat with Kris. She froze, suddenly getting an idea. She typed Kris's email address into the member search engine. She wouldn't have a screen name ... But two second's later. There it was.
Julianne's breath caught. I wonder if she's online.
Oddly disappointed, Julianne decided to sign off.
Kris faced her reflection in her parents' bedroom mirror. Much to her utter dismay, the fateful night had come. And so there she was, with her hair up in an elegant French twist, her face all made-up, her feet properly clad, and most importantly, her body in the perfect dress.
"Nathan's here!" Carlos called from outside the door.
"Be right there!" Kris called back. She sighed at her reflection. Just get it over with. It's just a few hours. You'll dance, you'll eat, and you'll go home. No problem. Not feeling any better, she headed out to the living room.
Nathan's jaw dropped. "Whoa," was all he managed.
Kris forced a smile and turned to her mother for approval.
Sari was smiling proudly. "My baby's all grown up."
Carlos was staring at her critically. "That's all you're wearing?" he asked. "Does it come with a jacket?"
Sari slapped his arm. "She looks beautiful." She motioned for Nathan to stand beside Kris. "Now stay right there until I get the camera." She retreated to the bedroom.
Kris stood there awkwardly. Her feet were already killing her and she'd only walked two steps. I'm so going to regret this in the morning. She felt Nathan's warm breath on her ear.
"You look incredible," he whispered.
"Thanks," she answered. She glanced at the tuxedo he was wearing. It looked exactly the same as the one he'd worn to her prom. Guys were so lucky. "You don't look so shabby yourself."
Nathan grinned. "I'm going to be the envy of every guy there," he informed her. "And you the envy of every girl." He winked.
She smiled. Could you be any more full of yourself?
Sari returned with the camera a moment later, grinning widely. She handed it to Carlos. "Let's get a few shots of you together, and then some of Kris by herself."
Carlos stood in front of them, aiming the lens of the camera in their direction. "Smile," he instructed.
Kris acquiesced to her step-father's wishes if only to move the evening along. Beside her, Nathan displayed his own pearly whites, and a moment later, they were both blinded by a bright flash.
They got one of Nathan pinning the corsage to Kris's dress. And one of Nathan with his arm around Kris's waist. Then Carlos took a few of Kris by herself. A few of Kris with her mother. And finally, Sari snapped a shot of Kris and Carlos together.
Kris had the unsettling feeling that these new pictures would replace the ones of William and a sense of melancholy and sadness fell over her spirit.
"We better get going," Nathan announced. "The limo's waiting."
Carlos and Sari walked them both to the door and watched them from the doorway until they disappeared into the elevator.
"You should wear stuff like that more often," Nathan commented, running a hand through his hair as he watched the numbers atop the elevator doors. "Sometimes I forget how hot you are."
Gee..."Thanks." Kris avoided rolling her eyes somehow. Don't be a bitch, Kris. He's just trying to be nice. It's not his fault he's not good with words. She nodded slightly at the thought. He's going to be a lawyer not a poet. Kris suddenly found herself wondering what Julia would've said in a similar situation. Certainly not that.
The elevator doors inched open with painful effort and Kris and Nathan stepped out into the lobby where Nathan's best friend was waiting.
"Whoa mama!" whistled Ash Barclay, walking over to give Kris the once-over. "Damn, Kris, I haven't seen curves like those since‹"
"Dude!" Nathan interrupted, smacking his best friend's arm. "Go drool over your own date."
Ash winked at Kris. "Bill and the rest of the ladies are waiting in the limo."
The white limousine was parked right outside the apartment building and Kris had to admit it was a pretty impressive sight. The chauffeur stood by and opened the door as they approached.
Kris stepped inside first, and was confronted with the loud cheering of the rest of the high school group. I am getting too old for this. She smiled and waved in greeting.
Bill Stines smiled at Kris. "Long time no see, Kris," he greeted, grabbing her hand to help her get settled. "How's college?"
Kris started to answer but Ash and Nathan jumped inside the vehicle shouting in excitement and Kris's voice was drowned in the noise.
"We are so going to rock tonight!" Ash exclaimed. "Check it ladies." He held up a bottle of champagne. "Courtesy of my parents' liquor cabinet." This received a high five from Nathan and a deep sigh from Kris.
This is going to be a long night. Kris's eyes darted from the annoying boys to the rest of the gang. Ash's date, Lindsey Evans, was busy applying another coat of make-up to her already made face, while Bill's date munched on a bag of peanuts. Kris smiled in her direction. She'd never met Perry Cooper before but if she was dating Bill then she was probably a decent enough human being. Of all of Nathan's friends, Kris liked Bill the best. He was polite and friendly and most importantly, not a jerk.
Perry smiled and offered some peanuts to Kris.
Kris shook her head and declined as politely as possible. She then turned to Bill. "College is going well," she replied. "I'll be done with finals next week."
"Must be nice getting to finish so early," Perry commented. "We don't finish until June. I can't wait for college."
Kris nodded. "Where are you going?"
"Duke," Perry replied proudly. "With Bill."
"Congratulations to you both," Kris said, grinning. This isn't so bad. I can survive a night with these people.
Ash passed her a champagne glass, filled to the top. "Pass that along, my dear," he instructed. "We are getting wasted tonight!"
Or not ...
* * *
Kris managed to avoid liquor all evening. She was far from being in the party mood and a glance around the large room made her feel more gloomy than excited.
Black and purple balloons decorated the large hotel ballroom. And the lights were dimmed enough so that you could almost pretend you were somewhere else entirely. But the decorated atmosphere did nothing for the incredibly annoying music blasting through the speakers, or the splitting headache searing through Kris's temples.
Nathan appeared at her side a moment later, holding a glass of water. "Sorry, I couldn't find you any Tylenol," he apologized.
"So what's the glass of water for?" Kris asked, feeling more weary than annoyed.
He shrugged and took a seat at the table. "In case you were thirsty. I thought girls always carried pills around for their .. feminine problems."
"Yes, well," Kris began patiently, "my 'feminine problem' isn't due for another week."
Nathan shrugged, his gaze wandering to the dance floor. He licked his lips and turned back to Kris. "Want to get out of here?" he asked.
"I would love to," Kris replied, hoping she didn't sound too excited. Finally, I get to go home. The evening of hell has ended.
Nathan stood and pulled out the chair for Kris. Taking her hand in his, he led her out into the hotel lobby.
"How are we getting home?" Kris asked. "Is the limo going to come back for everyone else?"
Nathan simply smiled, and Kris was getting the unnerving suspicion that they weren't heading home after all. She followed her boyfriend to the elevators and frowned as she watched him press the button.
"Where are we going?"
"It's a surprise," Nathan replied smoothly. He smiled brightly at Kris. "Did I mention how beautiful you look tonight?"
Kris simply smiled. She was dying to get home and let her hair down. She had a nagging suspicion that the root of her headache could be traced back to the billions of bobby pins holding her hair together. A shower. I would so love a shower right now.
But as the elevator doors swooshed open in front of her, Kris realized her night was nowhere near over. And now she was getting worried. Prom night and a hotel room. If I didn't know any better ...
"I got us a room for the night," Nathan announced, grinning like an idiot. "Wait until you see it, Kris. You're going to die."
Kris had a sinking sensation at the pit of her stomach. I wasn't counting on this. He never said anything about a hotel room. Why do I get the feeling that I'm trapped in the middle of a really bad after school special? "Um, Nathan," she began, ready to voice her displeasure at this sudden and decidedly unwelcome turn of events.
"We're here," Nathan interrupted, as the doors opened before them.
Kris stepped out of the elevator and glanced around quickly. The hallway was bathed in a soft yellow light. The carpet stretched out endlessly in pale blue tones that instantly reminded Kris of the ocean.
Nathan grabbed her hand and started down the hallway, while Kris busied herself by looking at the framed pictures lining the walls. I hope my artwork doesn't end up like this. She cringed at the thought. But told herself to focus on the pressing matter at hand. Maybe everyone's in the room. A post-prom party of sorts. We can hang out for a little while and then leave.
Nathan stopped finally and withdrew the key from his pocket. "Close your eyes," he instructed.
Kris obeyed if only to humor him. A moment later, she felt herself get pulled gently and heard a door close behind her.
"What do you think?"
Kris opened her eyes and her gaze immediately flew to the lit candles strategically placed around the queen-size bed. Oh ... shit. "Nathan, what's this?" Maybe he's decided to become a Satan worshipper. Maybe he just wants me as his virgin sacrifice. She frowned. Dear God, I hope not.
Nathan smiled. "Do you like it?" he asked, his tone brimming with excitement. He ran over to the curtains and pulled them open. A beautiful view of New York greeted her from outside the sliding glass doors.
Her lips opened slightly, but no sound came out. If possible, her headache worsened as she took in the sight before her, and the obvious intention behind Nathan's actions began to fall into place.
"I know you said you wanted our first time to be special," Nathan said, walking over to take her hands. "So I went out of my way to make it so." His breath reeked of alcohol.
How much has he drank? "Nathan," she tried, willing her mind to form a coherent sentence. "I'm truly flattered and ... and surprised. But ..."
Nathan started to frown. "But what Kris?" he asked, a bit impatiently. "Don't tell me you're not ready. We've been together for six years! How much more time do you need!?"
Kris couldn't think clearly. Her head was pounding and her thoughts were racing a mile a minute. She hadn't seen this coming. "You can't just plan our first time together without telling me," she explained. "The room is beautiful and the candles are a nice touch, Nathan, but the timing isn't right."
Nathan threw his hands up in frustration. "Timing?" he yelled. "I'm leaving for Massachusetts in a couple of weeks!"'
Kris let out a sigh. She should've faked an illness to avoid this dreaded night. "I thought we were going to wait until we got married?"
Nathan's jaw dropped and then he started laughing bitterly. "Married? I thought you didn't want to get married yet, Kris? You don't want kids. You don't want marriage. And you clearly don't want me!"
"That's not true!" Kris argued.
"I have been really patient with you," Nathan continued.. "But I can't do this anymore. You either grow up, or we're finished. I am not going off to college still a virgin."
"What?!" Kris blew up. She couldn't believe her ears. He had been patient with her? What the hell was there to be patient about? "You asshole! I can't believe you just said that to me."
"You are twenty years old, Kristina," he replied. "You're not a child. Grow up."
Kris shook her head, too angry to speak. Her eyes threatened to water and she refused to let them. She wouldn't give him the satisfaction. "Go fuck yourself, Nathan." And with that she walked away, trying to ignore the angry curses her former boyfriend was now shouting at her back.
Don't cry. Don't cry. Don't cry. Damnit. She wiped away the tears with the back of her hand as she waited for the elevator.
Nathan stood in the doorway, a stream of curses flowing out of his mouth. He pounded his fist against the wall, and slammed the door to the hotel room closed.
To her relief, he didn't come after her.
* * *
"Oh Jesus, what happened to you?" Leigh asked, rising from the table.
Kris stumbled into the apartment an hour later. She'd started walking back from the hotel when it had started to pour. It took her forty minutes to find a cab. She was wet. She was freezing. Her make up was down to her ankles. Her dress was ruined. Her feet were killing her. And her headache continued to pound at her brain. Overall, it had been the worst night of her entire life.
"Kris," Leigh said, concern in her tone. "Baby, what happened?"
Kris limped to the nearest chair and sat down slowly. She kicked off her shoes with a whimper and sat back, closing her eyes. She was certain that if she opened her mouth to speak, she would never stop crying.
So she rose, silently, and walked into the bathroom. All she wanted was a shower. She wanted to get out of the dress that was now glued to her skin. She wanted to rub all the make up from her face, and release her hair from its bobby pin prison. And not think about Nathan.
Her reflection startled her and she blinked sadly. She had streaks of mascara lining her face in a way that was almost grotesque. It was hard to believe that only a few hours prior she'd looked the complete opposite of how she felt now. She dropped her gaze from the mirror and slipped out of the dress.
"Kris," Leigh called from outside the door. "I'm going to make some hot chocolate, okay?"
Kris didn't answer. She started removing pins from her hair and she flinched in pain as her hair moved slightly. A few minutes later, she was fairly certain that she'd removed them all.
Under the flow of steaming water, Kris let the tears fall. How had everything gone so wrong? It was like a dream. A nightmare. Something exaggerated and surreal. Why had she never realized what a jerk Nathan could be? Or rather, why did she keep forgiving him every time he was.
She scrubbed her face clean. The hot water cleared her head and the headache began to ease away.
Stepping out of the shower, she wrapped herself in a towel and walked out of the bathroom. The sweet smell of hot chocolate assaulted her senses and she thanked God for Leigh.
She changed quickly, relieved to be back in her regular clothes. A pair of white basketball shorts and a tank top did the trick.
Leigh looked up as Kris returned to the kitchen. She pointed to a cup already on the table. "I even put little marshmallows in it," she said.
Kris smiled slightly and took a seat across from her best friend. "I think Nathan and I may have broke up," she said finally, her gaze fixed on the melting marshmallows in her cup. It amazed her how cold and distant she felt about it. "He wanted us to have sex tonight."
"Uh oh," Leigh mumbled. "What happened?"
Kris shrugged and looked up. "He got mad and told me to grow up."
"What an asshole."
"Is he? I mean, maybe it hasn't been fair of me to make him wait this long. Maybe‹"
"Did those bobby pins mess with your head?" Leigh asked, shaking her head. "Listen to me, Kristina, you don't owe that jerk a thing. You said you wanted to do what you wanted to do. And if you don't want to sleep with him, then you don't. It's that simple."
Kris nodded. "You're right. Anyway, I told him to fuck himself and left. But then it started raining ..." She sighed. "I just want to forget all about tonight."
Leigh grinned. "Kris, I think we should celebrate. I think we should stay up all night and pig out and watch random movies until the crack of dawn. Hey, maybe we can even catch that sunrise."
Kris smiled, feeling slightly better. "That sounds really nice." What am I going to tell my parents? She pushed the thoughts from her mind and grabbed the telephone. "Let's order pizza. I'm starving." She was going to treat herself to a fun night. To hell with Nathan.
* * *
I donąt feel much like reliving the events of last night, but suffice it to say that my relationship with Nathan has reached an end. I can't even say that I'm sad about it. I think I'm more upset about the way things ended than about the ending itself.
I mean, have you ever gotten mad at someone because they didn't want to sleep with you? Has someone ever gotten mad at you? It's such a stupid thing ... So I didn't want my first time with him to be on prom night. Geez, how cliché is that?! And then he wants me to grow up??
Okay, so perhaps I'm still a bit bitter about what happened. But I think I'm coping well. Leigh made me feel better. We ordered pizza and ate junk food until the wee hours of the morning. Leigh fell asleep before sunrise, but I stayed up to watch it again. Why do I keep doing this? I'm sure it's your fault somehow. :)
I know what you mean about finding the one person who is everything to you. I donąt think Nathan ever was that person, and I suppose that was my mistake. How do you build a relationship with someone you're not even in love with? I think I did it mostly to please my parents. They're crazy about him. God, I don't even know what I'm going to tell them. If I tell them the truth, Carlos will go after Nathan with a shotgun. But what could I possibly say? Carlos and Nathan were discussing our marriage not too long ago, for crying out loud!
I'll deal with that later. I don't think I've heard the last from Nathan, anyway. Knowing him, he'll be by today with a bouquet of roses begging me to forgive him. Well, I'm not going to. Yeah, I know ... I'm trying to convince myself of that. But it's hard. I've never been without him.
So tell me, Julia, how come you've never really dated? You seem like a wonderful person. I'd bet a billion girls would kill to go out with you. Are you that picky? ;)
My dad emailed me. He wants to chat online tonight. I think he's just cheap and doesn't want to pay for the long distance phone call. Heh! I laugh about it, but it's probably true. Do you ever chat online? I only go on when my dad wants to meet me. I just don't get the point of striking conversation with strangers (present company excluded, of course).
I hope your tan is looking nice (just rub it in my face why don't ya!) ;)
Julianne was getting the sneaking suspicion that she was starting to lose her mind. Why else would she be lying in bed, flipping absently through her endless list of channels, glancing every two seconds at the computer screen to see if Kris had signed online. This borders on obsession.
She sighed, running a frustrated hand through her dark hair. After reading Kris's email an hour prior, Julianne had convinced herself to remain online. She wasn't entirely sure why she was doing this. And she didn't want to dwell on the logic either because if she started, she'd realize that she was in fact acting like a completely obsessed lunatic.
So it was best to move on.
The TV flickered in rhythm with the button she kept pushing. It was almost enough to lull her to sleep had she not been fully awake. She glanced at the computer screen where her screen saver was now in full performance.
Annoyed, she hit a random key and was about to return to the very exciting activity of channel surfing, when she noticed that Kmilan05 had signed on.
Julianne's heart sped up for reasons she did not want to question, and she blinked a few times, momentarily at a loss. I can't talk to her. She stared at the name on the screen. So what exactly have you been waiting for?
She considered her options carefully. I could send her a message and pretend it's not me. Or I could admit I was stalking her and found her screen name. Lovely choices. Or I could turn off the computer and get on with my life.
Julianne threw her head back against the pillows behind her. "Why do I insist on making things more complicated?" she whined. "Is my life not interesting enough??"
Sitting up, she grabbed the laptop and settled it in front of her. She continued to stare at Kris's name, half-hoping and half-fearing that it would disappear.
Julianne pondered what she could possibly say. She clicked on the name to see if Kris had a profile. She didn't. Well, then I can't very well pretend I found her that way. She opened a message box and typed in the screen name. She's going to think you're such a loser. Don't do it. Don't do it. Don't do it.
Julianne closed the box.
"Just send her a message and see how it goes," she told herself. "You don't have to admit who you are. And then you won't feel like a total dumbass."
Nodding, she opened the message box again. She typed in, "Hi." Deleted it. Typed in, "Hello." Deleted it. Sighed. Hit herself in the forehead. And typed, "Are you busy?"
She didn't hit enter, though. What if my screen name is too obvious? Julianne rolled her eyes. "Only if she's psychic." She hesitated a moment longer and then hit enter. Maybe she won't even respond.
Julianne waited nervously, and suddenly, a message popped up. She swallowed. I am the world's biggest dork.
PoetnAngel: Are you busy?
KMilan05: Do I know you?
PoetnAngel: Do you always answer a question with a question?
KMilan05: Do you?
Julianne found herself chuckling in spite of herself.
PoetnAngel: Does it bother you?
KMilan05: should it?
PoetnAngel: Is it annoying you?
KMilan05: do you want it to?
PoetnAngel: Does this mean you're not busy?
KMilan05: who is this?
She stared at the question, knowing that if she kept avoiding the truth Kris was going to get annoyed and leave. Just tell her. The worst that can happen is her thinking you're nuts, and she wouldn't be that far off.
PoetnAngel: It's Julia.
There was a long pause and Julianne started to worry that she had in fact freaked Kris out. Well, what did you expect? You email her out of the blue. You tell her you're a lesbian. And then you track down her screen name without her permission. Then you have the balls to send her a message.
KMilan05: Julia! How did you find me??
PoetnAngel: Uh, would you believe your handle came to me in a dream?
KMilan05: lol. I would but somehow I doubt that's accurate. So?
PoetnAngel: Um. Okay. Well at the risk of sounding like a complete loser, I got bored and looked you up. Sorry :o(
KMilan05: wow! I didn't even know you could do that. What are you apologizing for? I don't mind. This is so weird getting to talk to you like this. Sorry if it's taking me a while to reply. I'm chatting with my Dad and I type pretty slow.
PoetnAngel: That's okay. How is everything? I got your email about Nathan. I'm sorry...
KMilan05: yeah well. He hasn't called or anything, which is weird. I guess he's pretty upset himself. How is everything with you?
PoetnAngel: Fine. I went jogging today and then I watched TV.
KMilan05: what is it you do for a living? You never told me.
Julianne froze. Ummm...
PoetnAngel: Oh, you know. A little of this, a little of that. Some acting ...
KMilan05: acting? Really! Leigh is an actress, too. I bet the two of you would get along great. So you do a lot of plays and stuff?
PoetnAngel: And stuff. Do you chat with your Dad often?
KMilan05: not really. Neither of us are big online people. Are you online a lot?
PoetnAngel: I wouldn't say "a lot" but, once in a while.
KMilan05: maybe I'll come on more often then :)
Julianne blinked a few times at Kris's response. "Huh, I guess she doesn't think I'm that much of a freak." She found herself smiling.
PoetnAngel: I'm glad that you don't mind me tracking you down.
KMilan05: Why would I mind? On the contrary! I'm happy you did. It's a lot easier talking to you this way. Don't you think?
PoetnAngel: Yes, I do. :o) So what did you do today?
KMilan05: I slept! A lot. lol. I stayed up all night, like I told you, and I was so tired. When I woke up, I went for a long walk, thought things over, and decided that life as a single woman feels good!! Don't you agree?
PoetnAngel: LOL. Actually, I don't really know what it feels like to not be a single woman.
KMilan05: Oh oh! So answer my question. How come you're still single? There have to be lots of cute girls in California.
PoetnAngel: I guess ... I don't feel comfortable being ... visible.
KMilan05: How long have you been "out"?
PoetnAngel: To myself? Long time. Since I was 12. To another person, about four years.
KMilan05: Since you were 12?? Wow, I didn't even know I was straight when I was 12. Hehe. So, you've never had a girlfriend?
PoetnAngel: Nope. Are you trying to depress me? ;o)
KMilan05: LOL. Sorry! Not at all. I just think it's amazing. I wish I could've stayed single all that time. It must give you a great sense of individuality and freedom.
Julianne laughed. "Yeah, maybe in another life."
KMilan05: But I bet it must be hard, being gay and all. Hey what do you look like?
PoetnAngel: Umm. Well, people say I look remarkably like Julianne Franqui.
KMilan05: Wow, you must be beautiful!
She grinned. Kris thinks I'm beautiful?
PoetnAngel: You think she's beautiful?
KMilan05: Well, yeah. I'm pretty sure the entire world does. Dark hair, blue eyes. Killer combo right there.
PoetnAngel: Are you a fan?
KMilan05: LOL. Hardly. I can't stand her.
Julianne's grin faded into a frown. Uh-oh. Houston, we've got a problem.
PoetnAngel: Why's that?
KMilan05: She just seems fake somehow, you know? I don't know. I just don't like her. She seems stuck up and bitchy. Sorry, are you a fan?
Don't get defensive. She's right, and you know it. It's safer that way, right? That didn't make her feel any better.
PoetnAngel: I wouldn't say I'm a fan.
KMilan05: I like it when famous people seem down to earth, as opposed to floating above us. Cause I mean, if it weren't for the little people they wouldn't be anywhere. The least they could do is show some appreciation.
That stung. Am I that transparent? Julianne thought sadly. She thought of the pile of unread fan mails in her drawer and the thousands of others she hadn't bothered to read.
PoetnAngel: You're absolutely right. So, what would you do if you were rich and famous?
KMilan05: Ha! Um. Let's see. The first thing I would do is move my parents into a better apartment and make sure they were taken care of. And then I'd donate to all the charities I could think of. There's so much one can do given the resources. And if there was any money left, I'd open up a gallery. But only after I was certain I'd saved some trees. :) What would you do if you were rich and famous?
Sit here in awe of people like you.
* * *
"You wanted to see me, Ms. Franqui?" Karen asked hesitantly, standing awkwardly at the doorway of the trailer.
Julianne smiled at her assistant. She'd never thought to look at her before, but she decided it was probably time she started noticing people. Karen had to be around nineteen or twenty. What the hell was she doing here? "Come in," she said, in a tone she couldn't remember using before with anyone that wasn't Adrian.
The surprise in Karen's face was obvious. "Uh, okay." She stepped inside and carefully shut the door behind her.
Julianne was sure that Karen was nervous about this. Am I really that intimidating? "How long have you been working for me, Karen?" she asked.
The girl straightened out her glasses and thought back. Nervously she tucked light brown hair behind her ears. "Almost two years, Ms."
"Call me Julianne." She offered Karen a chair, noting the girl's nervousness appeared to escalate. "I'm not going to hurt you," she joked.
Karen sat down, a bit hesitantly, though she allowed herself a small smile. "Is something wrong, Ms.... Julianne?"
Julianne smiled. "Actually, everything's more than fine," she assured her young assistant. "Why are you working for me?"
Karen's jaw sagged. She stammered, momentarily caught offguard. "Well you hired me. And I get to learn a lot being here on the set. More than I could've learned at school."
Interesting. "So you're an actress?"
Karen chuckled slightly. "Oh no," she said, waving her hand dismissively as though the suggestion was ridiculous. "I'm a screenwriter."
Hmm..."Have you completed any screenplays?"
Karen stared at Julianne hesitantly. "I have a few," she replied.
"Have you ever shown them to Adrian?" Julianne wondered.
Karen's gray eyes went round and she looked a bit frightened. "Of course not! I would never cross the line like that!" She started to babble and Julianne had to struggle to keep up with the girl's ranting.
"Karen, calm down! I wasn't accusing you of anything," Julianne said. "I was merely asking because he's always looking for good screenplays to direct and if you showed him your work, perhaps the two of you could work something out."
Her assistant frowned slightly. "Why are you doing this?" she asked softly.
Julianne sighed. "Because I think I've been an asshole for long enough," she replied. "And it's time I did something about that."
"You seem awfully chipper this morning," Leigh commented, watching as her roommate stepped into the kitchen wearing a strange and unusual grin on her face. "The chat with your Dad go well?"
Kris paused, then smiled. "Oh yes. My chat with my Dad went beautifully." She leaned down to kiss Leigh's cheek. "Did you leave any coffee for me."
Fair brows rose upward. "Well yeah," she answered, "but I don't think caffeine is really the way to go for you this morning."
Kris chuckled and poured herself a cup. "So, I'm in a good mood today."
"Clearly," Leigh agreed, half turning in her chair. "Any particular reason?"
Kris considered the question as she punched numbers in the microwave. "Actually, I'm not sure," she replied. "I guess I just like being single."
"I'll drink to that." Leigh held up her own cup of coffee before taking a sip. "So what are you doing today?"
Kris yawned before answering. "Studying," she explained regretfully. But she instantly smiled as the beeping from the microwave announced that her caffeine fix was ready. "Ah, heaven." She pulled out a chair and sat down, feeling refreshed and happy.
"So what did Daddy dearest have to say?" Leigh wondered, studying her roommate intently. She kept her gaze fixed on Kris, though her view was momentarily eclipsed by the cup at her lips.
Kris shrugged. "He told me that he really misses me. And that he hopes I can take a trip down to see him before the summer ends. And that he has someone he wants me to meet. A new lady friend, I would assume." She paused to drink her coffee. "That's about it."
"But you were online all night. I could hear you typing."
Kris obviously hadn't been expecting that comment because she froze momentarily, coffee cup midway to her lips. Then she relaxed and sat back. "I was chatting with Julia," she admitted.
It was obvious to Leigh that Kris wasn't aware of the ridiculous grin on her face. "Julia," she repeated. "The cyber lesbian?"
"The one and only," Kris confirmed.
"And pray tell, what did cyber lesbian Julia have to say?" Leigh inquired curiously, leaning forward with her elbows on the table.
Kris just shrugged. "We just talked about random stuff," she answered casually. "And stop calling her that." Her dark brows narrowed slightly. "What? What is this look you're giving me?"
Leigh leaned back in her chair and shook her head. "I know what this is," she explained. "I took Psych in high school."
It was Kris's turn to look interested. "Won't you please share your analysis with me, Dr. Radlin?"
"You are doing that thing," Leigh said, pointing an accusing finger at Kris. "You know, where like ...you decide to switch teams for a while."
Kris rolled her eyes and stood, taking her cup of coffee with her. "How perceptive," she replied in mock surprise. "And articulate!"
Leigh stood as well, not quite prepared to relinquish the topic. "Nathan hurt you so you're swearing off men! That's what you're doing. You're going to break that poor lesbian's heart!"
"Over reacting again," Kris sing-songed on the way back to her room. She paused and turned. "Oh, did I mention she's an actress? Just like you." She grinned and entered her bedroom, shutting the door.
"I'm telling your mother that you dumped Nathan for a cyber lesbian!" threatened Leigh jokingly from the other side of the door.
Kris snickered. Wouldn't that be something? Shaking her head, and still in great spirits, she set about studying for her last exam of the semester.
* * *
Kris enjoyed the soothing sound of teeth brushing. It was comforting. It gave her a sense of cleanliness .. and ... comfort. She frowned. I need to get more sleep. Shaking her head, she regarded her reflection. How sexy. Nothing like a purple toothbrush hanging out of a foam-filled mouth to make the fellas say, "Ooo lala."
Still brushing, she stepped out of the bathroom. Her roommate was in her usual spot in front of the TV, flipping mindlessly through the plethora of channels. "It's like, we pay for cable and yet there's nothing on."
Kris rolled her eyes. Every night, same argument. "Hey let me ask you something," she said, though the state of her mouth prevented her from actually forming the words. It came out sounding something like, "Ey et ee ack oo ontin."
Leigh turned around with a puzzled look on her face. "Would you please rinse out your mouth before attempting to have a conversation with me? Or at least learn some sign language."
Kris held up her middle finger. How's that for sign language? Biatch. She returned to the bathroom and a moment later returned to the living room. Her mouth was now minty fresh. Life was good. She sat down and stared at her roommate for a moment. "Do you usually give out our number to strange guys?"
"Only the ones that ask for it," Leigh replied with a half smile. "Anyway, it's not like it's not on your card anyway."
Kris nodded. "So you gave that guy my card?"
Sometimes, Kris had the unnerving feeling that Leigh just enjoyed torturing her. But she refused to give in. "The guy with Julia..."
Kris held up her hands in a choking motion and strangled the air that should've been Leigh's neck. "Are you trying to drive me crazy?" she demanded.
"I'm bored, there's nothing on," Leigh replied. "You're all I have for entertainment." She grinned brightly. "Anyway, I gave him the card, but I wrote the number on the back."
Kris blinked a few times, as if the motion of her eyes opening and closing would somehow shed light on her roommate's sheer lack of logic. But it didn't. "The number is already on the card," she said, needlessly.
"Duh," Leigh said. "But I couldn't just be like, 'Hey stud, here's my best friend's business card. Call me sometime.'" She shook her head. "I felt that the action of writing down the number really added to the power of the moment."
"You. Are. A freak."
"I. Already. Knew that." Leigh stopped flipping channels. "I give up. I don't care what channel this is or what's on, I'm going to watch it."
Kris noted the commercials and shook her head. Time to email Julia. She grabbed the laptop from the coffee table, and propped her legs up in its place.
"Writing to your giiiiiirlfriend?" Leigh teased.
"How old are you again?" Kris asked.
Leigh held up a finger and shook it back and forth. "Nuh-uh-uh. A true actress never reveals her real age. It's a fate worse than death. There's a Hollywood curse. That's how all these famous people end up on infomercials at three o'clock in the morning."
Kris held up her own finger mockingly and made circular motions next to her ear. "Cuckoo." She turned her attention to the laptop. "Besides, I know your age, you dumbass."
"Then I must kill you," Leigh deadpanned.
"Oooh, I'm shaking in my Birks," Kris replied.
Leigh glanced down at the sandals on Kris's feet. "Lesbian shoes," she noted, shaking her head. "The transformation has begun."
* * *
After a failed attempt at finding something fruitful to watch, my roommate decided to leave it up to chance. And fate decreed that we should both suffer at the hands of Happy Days reruns. I begged her to change the channel, but she's stubborn (and insane). If I have nightmares tonight involving the Fonze in any shape, way or form, I'm going to kill her.
So I spent the day studying for an Art History exam. I'll be done with classes tomorrow. I can't wait! Three months of freedom; three months of art. I'll finally have time to start on that collection, if you're still interested, though I wouldn't feel right selling it to you at this point. Consider it a gift. :)
Nathan still hasnąt made an appearance, which is kind of weird and worries me a little. I mean, he's leaving for Harvard next week... the least he could do is say goodbye. Right? He can't be that angry with me. Well .. maybe he can.
He's got this internship thing, so he's got to leave early. It's strange. My parents adore him because he's going to be so successful. But I just don't see success as a requisite for love. I don't even care. As long as a person's happy, right? Maybe I'm just trying to convince myself that I'm not a complete loser. No, that's not true. I think I just envy the fact that when my parents look at him, I see pride and respect in their eyes. When they look at me, I just see disappointment and shame.
Oh, by the way, I had a lot of fun chatting with you last night. Maybe we can do it again sometime? After tomorrow I'll have all the time in the world, so let me know when it's good for you.
Julianne stared disdainfully at her public appearance schedule for the upcoming month. "This is going to be hell," she commented, and placed the piece of paper down on the table. Her blue eyes darted to the colorful fish swimming around the tank. The Oceana was her favorite place to eat. Not only did it serve the best seafood in town, but it provided a nice private atmosphere where Julianne could enjoy her meal without having to worry about the other patrons staring at her.
Instead of tables or booths, the Oceana provided small, individual "caves" tucked away into the lime rock wall partitions. There was even a small curtain to ensure further privacy. On the wall was a double-glass window with a small, private view of an aquarium tank. Colorful fish of all shapes and sizes swam around, passing by everyone's windows in their circular journey.
"I see that Operation: Embrace Your Fans has gotten nowhere," Adrian teased, grabbing the schedule. "Let's see here. Official Guardian convention. MTV Movie Awards." He paused. "Radio City Music Hall? New York. Well, I bet you're happy."
"Overjoyed," Julianne replied dryly.
Adrian stared at her for a moment, then back down at the schedule. "So what's the scoop? Are you presenting? Hosting? Receiving."
Julianne rolled her eyes. "Best Kiss."
"Nasty," Adrian replied, shaking his head in disapproval. "Which kiss is this? Wait. Let me guess, the all-tongue spit fest with Rye Philips?"
"Unfortunately," Julianne confirmed with a slight nod. "I think his tongue grazed my lung."
Adrian frowned. "Thank you for the imagery, Julianne. Remind me to keep you around whenever I need to go on a diet." He looked pointedly at his food.
"Hey, I'm the one that had to live through it," Julianne argued with a shudder. She covered her face with one hand. "Oh God, they'll probably want me to kiss him at the podium. Maybe I shouldn't go. I can give them one of those 'I'm off filming my next movie in Saskatchewan so I couldn't be there' excuses."
Adrian nodded. "Smooth."
"At least people think I'm a good kisser," Julianne said cheerfully, trying to find the silver lining. Maybe even Kris will be impressed. Yeah, cause that's exactly what you need to do to impress the girl. Win an MTV Movie Award for kissing someone.
"What's wrong?" Adrian asked. "All of a sudden you went from 'woo hoo!' to 'boo hoo.'"
"She hates me," Julianne confessed.
"Is this like an impromptu 'Guess Who' game?"
"Kris," Julianne clarified. "I asked her what she thought of Julianne Franqui and she said, 'She seems stuck up and bitchy.'"
Adrian whistled. "Harsh. True, but harsh." He shrugged. "But that's what you were going for, right? And I must say, you play the part so well."
"Thank you," Julianne replied flatly, her appetite quickly diminishing. She pushed around the shrimp on her plate. "I don't want her to think I'm stuck up and bitchy," she admitted softly.
"And what do you want her to think?" Adriana asked.
Julianne sat back, against the colorful cushions behind her. "I don't want her to think anything. I want her to know." Her gaze landed on the fish tank. "It's frustrating to be so totally honest with a person and still feel like I'm lying. I mean, there's no way I can be 100% sincere."
"So you tell her you're really Julianne Franqui," Adrian said. "What's the worst that can happen?"
Julianne stared at her best friend incredulously. "Let's see. Well, she will probably not even believe me, which would consequently lead to her thinking I'm a complete loon. End of friendship. Or, if by some miracle, she does believe me, she could think that I'm just playing a big prank on her for kicks. Because, after all, Julianne Franqui is stuck up and bitchy. End of friendship. Or she could like, forward all my emails to some news reporters, who would undoubtedly trace them back to me somehow. And then, not only would I be out, but I'd still lose her friendship."
Adrian nodded, picking up his iced tea. "So what you're saying, in a nutshell, is that the worst possible scenario at this point, is that you lose her friendship?"
Blue eyes blinked a few times in surprise. Is that what I just said?
"Interesting," Adrian commented, pressing the glass to his lips. "And this entire relationship doesn't concern you at all?"
Julianne narrowed her eyes slightly at the implication. "She's straight."
"But you're not," Adrian countered. "In all of the years that I've known you, you have never, not once, shown any interest, romantic or otherwise, for another human being. And all of a sudden you're concerned with what some girl in New York thinks about you?"
Julianne dropped her gaze. "She's special."
"She must be," Adrian said. "She's got you all wrapped around her little finger and neither of you know it."
"Hey, that's not true," Julianne argued.
Adrian leaned forward. "Do you want me to be your date at the awards?" he asked.
Julianne was completely thrown by the sudden change of topic. Is he trying to drive me mad? "Of course, I do," she replied. "I can't show up alone."
Adrian nodded. "So let me ask you something, Julianne. Up until this point, I haven't made any public appearances with you. But that camera is going to undoubtedly fall on me at some point during that program."
"Your point?" Julianne was starting to get impatient.
Adrian shook his head and caught Julianne's gaze. "How did you get Kris's email address in the first place?"
"The card," Julianne answered, still at a loss.
"And who gave me the card?"
Julianne froze. "Shit," was the only thing she could think to say.