Original Work: You'll Always Find Your Way Back Home, Chapter 9, Part 6
Chapter 9, Part 6
“Your driver is here, Miss Thompson.” The manager said to me, obliviously to his ill-timed entry. Though I wasn’t entirely sure what I was expecting to happen, what I angry at him for ruining. “And the valet has brought your car around back as well, Mr. Beckett.”
Joshua helped me to my feet as we both thanked the manager for handling the situation. Again we followed him out of the office and deeper down the hallway, past another door and the entrance to the kitchen and finally to the backdoor, which led into a alley that seemed a little too narrow for the two cars that were currently idling there. I couldn’t help but give Joshua’s car an appraising once over, just like any driver was bound to do when they spotted a car nicer than their own. And in Los Angeles every car was nicer than my own.
Of course, as any proud guy would do, Joshua noticed me studying the car. “The managers control the assets, but I managed to talk them into letting me buy a little present for myself.” He remarked, going for casual even though it was clear that he was beyond proud of his little purchase and would have, no doubt, been able to stand around and talk about his car all day.
Even though I smelled like Caesar dressing and was sure that the top layers of skin had burned off my legs, I wasn’t looking forward to ending my evening with Joshua. There was no telling whether he’d call me in the morning or if he would consider his debt to his band and their image paid, so I was planning on milking our time together for all that it was worth, even if that included acting like I knew my way around cars. I studied the car closely, trying to look for something I recognized or could use as a jumping off point for conversation but I couldn’t even tell what kind of car it was and I figured ‘I like silver’ wasn’t really the conversation I was looking for. I was about to compliment the color anyway until I peeked in the passenger side window and remarked, “It’s a manual.” I looked back at Joshua and that expression of pride was still on his face. “I was learning how to drive a manual back-” Quickly, I caught myself and shut my mouth abruptly enough to cause Joshua to raise an eyebrow and I cleared my throat. “A while back.” I mumbled.
Joshua nodded, coming over to stand beside me, peering through the slightly tinted windows. Our shoulders brushed and I really, really hoped that he was going to call me after tonight. “Yeah, it definitely wasn’t easy to learn, especially in the city.” Joshua remarked casually but, again, his pride was obvious. “My brother taught me, he says the best cars are manuals.”
I thought back to my clunker and decided not to comment. “I hadn’t quite managed to get the hang of it.” I said instead.
Joshua turned to look at me and our contact came to an end. “You should come over some time, I’ll teach you.”
I wanted to do a Katherine Heigl inspired dance right there before his car but managed to contain the impulse. “Yeah, cool.” I nodded, reaching up to fumble with my hair the way I always did whenever I was nervous and going for nonchalant. Unfortunately I didn’t have as much hair as I was used to and had to settle for tucking my hair behind my ear. “Sounds good.” I hoped that he wasn’t just saying that the way people said ‘we’ll get together and catch up’ and you both knew that it was never going to happen.
Joshua and I were facing each other and I suddenly felt like I was hyper-aware of everything that was going on around me: the fact that we were standing in some small alley behind a restaurant I’d never heard of and that the manager and the driver were both watching us, the sounds of the street and the people and the photographers just beyond where we were standing and how none of this was at all the way I’d pictured this evening or even any evening with Joshua or any guy interested in taking me out to dinner. And, of course, I was acutely aware of the fact that I was face to face with Joshua Beckett and he was smiling at me and that his eyes were a really unique shade of brown that I’d never really noticed before.
“I guess you should get home, you have salad in your hair.” Joshua smiled and to illustrate his point he reached up and plucked a dressing coated leaf out of my hair. Fantastic.
I flushed and looked at my feet. “Yeah, I should probably do that.” I turned to go and Joshua rested a hand on my elbow and I immediately turned back around to face him.
“Tonight was interesting, Emilia,” Joshua said, “you’re nothing like I expected.” That’s because I’m not Emilia, I’m Scout, I wanted to tell him, you had an interesting night with me. But for obvious reasons I couldn’t exactly explain those sentences and therefore I couldn’t logically ask that he call me Scout. It seemed like there really was no getting away from my sister.
Instead I smiled. “I hope that’s a good thing.”
Joshua frowned and seemed to consider my words. I gave him a playful shove and he smiled. “Yes, it’s a good thing.” He consented. “I just wish that Michaela had decided to mind her own business.” He picked out another salad leaf to demonstrate how much Michaela had not minded her own business.
That definitely sounded promising. “Well, we could-”
It only figured that the first time I was actually clicking with a guy, could actually see myself enjoying spending time with and was actually going to make a move in making plans that I would be interrupted. Just as I was trying to suggest that we get together for lunch tomorrow (without stumbling on my words, which was a feat on it’s own) I heard someone shout, “There they are!” and Joshua and I both turned in time to be blinded by flashing lights.
Maybe I had been naïve to think that we might not be noticed by the paparazzi standing outside because, after all, they noticed everything but I was still surprised to see the photographers hurrying down the alley, cameras flashing, eager to get the shot of Joshua and I standing together. Joshua mumbled a few words that I was sure pre-teens everywhere would have been surprised to hear come out of his mouth and stepped away so that he was standing in between me and the paparazzi. Obviously someone valued privacy.
Joshua turned back so that his back was to the cameras. “One day we’ll get the timing thing down.” He remarked and before I was really aware what was happening he leaned forward and kissed me lightly on the cheek. Sure it was only the cheek but a kiss was still a kiss and it was a step in the right direction.
I wanted to grab Joshua, pull him back and tilt his head a little more to the right but he was all ready turning back to the paparazzi, throwing his hands up in a sign of defeat. “C’mon guys, we can’t be that interesting.” He complained as he started toward his car. “I’m sure Michaela’s breaking the law as we speak.”
But the photographers weren’t interested in Michaela at the moment, focused on me and taking what felt like a hundred pictures a minute. I was sure I was going to be seeing the flashes for days. I quickly realized that they were avidly capturing my disheveled and food covered exterior and the fact that I was standing there like an idiot thinking about Joshua’s kiss (on the cheek but still) was only making there job easier. Joshua had gotten in his car and was gesturing with the photographers to clear the way and leave us both alone, to which the photographers had their own, slightly ruder, gestures to return. I turned away from the photographers, wanting to hide my face in my hands but the damage had all ready been done. Luckily, the driver was standing by the opened backdoor and ushered me inside quickly, slamming the door shut the second my feet were inside the car and was pushing the photographers away from the car, though the cameras were still flashing.
The driver quickly got behind the wheel and maneuvered around the paparazzi and through the narrow alley with Joshua following behind. I resisted the urge to turn around and check out the view from the back windshield, deciding instead to slump down in the seat and rest my forehead against the window.
After a moment’s silence, the driver glanced back at me in the rearview mirror. “I trust you had an unforgettable evening?” He arched an eyebrow.
I sighed and rolled my eyes. “You could definitely say that.”