“You can wander. I’ll find you.”
He grinned. “I’ll wait here.”
I headed to the bathroom to refocus my mind, because I truly felt as if I’d stepped into the twilight zone.
As I walked into the bathroom, I noticed two women—twins, it appeared—reapplying their lipstick. “Did you see that Ian Parker is here?” one asked.
“Yes. And holy crap, is he hot,” her twin echoed.
“Dibs!” the other said.
“Not fair,” the other pouted. “Then again, the drummer is hot. I could go for him too.”
She pushed her boobs together and smirked before looking toward me with a confused look.
“Um, can I help you?” she questioned, looking me up and down like I didn’t belong. Then again, she might’ve been looking at me so strangely because I was being a complete creeper and staring at them in the bathroom as I eavesdropped on their conversation about my boyfriend.
“Oh, uh, no. Sorry. Are you in line?” I asked, pointing to the bathroom stalls. The completely empty bathroom stalls. I wanted to crawl into a ball and rock in a corner because of how awkward I was.
“Um, no, sweetheart. It’s all yours.”
I hurried into the stall and shut the door. I pounded my hand against my forehead, feeling ridiculous. How humiliating.
After I heard them leave, I took a few deep breaths and walked out of the stall. I stared into the mirror and tried to erase how beautiful those women were. “Dirt roads, bonfires, Holly’s cooking,” I murmured, reminding myself what was real and what truly mattered.
The moment I stepped outside of the bathroom, an uneasy feeling rushed through me as I noticed Ian was missing. My eyes danced around the space in search of him, and as I began to walk off to find him, I heard my name being called. I turned around to see Max Fucking Dickhead in an overpriced suit.
I raised an eyebrow. “Yes?”
“I thought that was you. It’s nice to see you again.”
“It’s nice to see you too,” I lied, giving him a small, fake smile. “I’m sorry, I was just off to find Ian,” I started, stepping off.
He held his hand out and pointed across the room. “Oh, he’s right there, talking to the Romper twins. They’re up-and-coming vocalists. Just as hot on the scene as the Wreckage.”
I looked up to see the two beauties from the bathroom, and my stomach dropped.
They were flirting with Ian, touching his shoulders and tossing their heads back in laughter, as Ian kept his hands to himself with a small, uncomfortable smile.
“I sent him off to chat with them. You know, networking and all,” Max explained. He stuffed his hands into his tailored pants and swayed back and forth. “I’m glad I bumped into you, actually. I was hoping to get to know more about Ms. Hazel Stone.”
“There’s not much to know, actually.”
He chuckled. “Humble, huh? That’s nice. You don’t run across a lot of humble people where I come from. I must admit, I almost feel as if I know you from the amount of times that Ian brings you up. You two must’ve been dating for ages.”
“Not that long, actually. We connected over the summer, and we actually only made it official right before Ian went out to Los Angeles to work with you.”
“Oh? That’s surprising. So it’s not too much of a serious relationship,” he remarked. I didn’t like the way he said those words.
“I disagree with that. We are very close. We mean the world to one another.”
“Yeah, I’m sure that’s true. Young love and all. I just worry about how that’s going to shape the future of his career, you know, having him be with someone like you.”
“Excuse me? Someone like me?”
“You know: a single mother. You do have a child, right?”
I remained quiet and didn’t find the tone of his question to be to my liking. And obviously, he knew things about me.
He gave me another smile. I didn’t return the gesture this time.
“I have to ask, is the kid Ian’s? Just from a marketing point of view, these things are important to know.”
“No, it’s not, but it is a pretty private situation that I don’t feel comfortable talking about. Now, if you’d excuse me—” I pushed past him but froze in place when he spoke again.
“I just worry about the headlines that your relationship with Ian could bring to the forefront. Like the fact that your mother is in prison for running a meth lab.”
“You’re crossing so many lines right now,” I barked toward him, barging back in front of his face. “I don’t know how you know about my mother, but it is truly none of your business.”
“But it is. With a quick Google search, you can find out everything there is to know about anyone on this planet. How do you think it will look when people get ahold of the fact that Ian is in a relationship with a meth addict?”
“What? No. I’ve never used drugs. I don’t have a problem. I’m not my mother.”
“But what does that matter? The internet will make you your mother. They will twist the story and spin a web of lies. They will make it seem as if Ian, too, is a drug addict. They will shut down his flame before he even has a minute to burn, and for what? For a girl he hadn’t even been serious about before the beginning of the summer? Is that what you want for him? Do you really want to kill his chance at fame for a love story that might not even be everlasting?”