I blinked a few times to make sure my eyes weren’t playing tricks on me.
I pretended to cough so that I could place my hand over my mouth. The last thing I wanted was someone reading my lips and plastering my words all over the internet. These days, media reporters were tricky and since I was rusty at this game, I had to be careful. I hadn’t been a real part of this scene since Nate was born.
I looked over to Ric who was sitting next to me and happily signing CDs for yet another small gaggle of fangirls who were about to faint. He was thoroughly enjoying the buzz of excitement in the air and the attention. The throngs of fans below on the main floor had specifically come out to see us as opposed to some of the newer artists that were set up outside under some large canopies. It was an ego booster to know that we could still pull such a crowd and frenzy. It brought back good memories of the fun times we had back when our days were filled with girls, parties, touring and more girls. But it also brought back some less than desirable ones.
I leaned in towards him.
“Ric, it’s her – the girl I’ve been telling you about.”
“What? What are talking about?” He gave me a quick confused look and then he caught on. “Oh, you mean your girl next door? No way! Which one is she?”
Ric scanned the room below, expecting me to point her out from the hundreds of screaming fans that were vying for our attention. The event organizers had set us up on the second floor of the huge popular music store. We were visible to everyone below but far enough away for security to control the flow of fans, only allowing a few up at a time. I was simply happy that we were not outside in the heat like last year.
Ric, Freddy, Emilio and I had been participating in the children’s hospital fundraising event for years, usually without Leo who was highly unreliable. When Leo did show up, he was always late and hung over. And after last year’s fiasco, we had all agreed that until he cleaned up his act, Leo was banned from joining us at any event. It was a simple unanimous decision. While Leo was still partying his days away wasting his time with different girls, the rest of us had moved on to having families of our own, solo careers, managing other artists and in Ric’s case all three. I only hoped that Leo would overcome his struggle with how life used to be and move on before it was too late. Or his money ran out.
I gestured towards the window. “She’s not in here. She’s outside. Red summer dress. In the plaza. Reading.” My girl was sitting on a bench in the square and was lost in the pages of a book. No make-up, her hair in a messy bun, her sunshades perched at the top of her head. Every so often, I would see her glance in the direction of the music store. Of all the coincidences…or not.
Why does this keep happening to me?
Every time I saw her, it was always from a distance or when I was in a position that I could not easily approach her. Either the devil was having fun with me or God was telling me that I would have to be more proactive if I really wanted to meet her.
Ric thanked the group of girls and handed me their CDs to autograph. He tried to get a look out the glass-paned wall but it wasn’t easy from his vantage point.
I turned my attention to the group of girls, greeted them, signed the CD covers and thanked them for coming to the event. Being the one at the end of the table, I handed each of them back their CDs, all of their hands nervously shaking.
“How’s it going girls? What are your names?”
“Oh my God! Oh my God! I can’t believe we’re meeting you guys! Melissa, my name’s Melissa! And this is Jessica and Maria! Oh my God! I can’t believe that we’re meeting all of you!” Melissa, the leader of the pack, let out a loud nervous shriek that made the other two squeal in unison.
I truly appreciated the loyal fans that still loved us from our boy band days but right then, I was much more interested in my girl and the fact that she was a stone’s throw away.
“Oh my God, we love you so much. Could we get selfies with you all of you? Please? Please?”
I looked down the line at Ric, Emilio and Freddy who were all ready and willing to oblige until one of the no-nonsense coordinators appeared out of nowhere, motioning for us to stay seated.
With a rehearsed smile on his face, the coordinator explained to the girls that selfies weren’t allowed. “If you girls would like a photo with them, you can purchase tickets for the photo op in about an hour. All ticket proceeds will be going to the hospital.” The girls squealed again and quickly scurried off down the stairs, probably to be get their tickets.
Ric took the opportunity to speak to the coordinator.
“We’ve been at this for over an hour. Could we take 10 minutes?”
From Ric’s tone, the coordinator clearly understood that Ric was not asking him a question. He looked annoyed but nodded and instructed the security guard to hold off on letting any other fans up the stairs. He also motioned for the photographer to take 10 so that we were all left alone.
I grabbed my bottle of water and headed over to the large window with Ric following close behind me.
“Ok. Now show me this girl that has you so distracted.”
I pointed her out. “Right there on that bench, red dress, nose in her book.”
Emilio and Freddy approached, wanting to know what we were looking at.
“Alejandro’s got a crush on that girl over there.” I was a bit embarrassed at how the three of them were trying to get a good look at her.
“Very cute,” Emilio commented.
As if on cue, my girl smiled widely at something she was reading. Again, she glanced up, looked in the direction of the music store and then back down at her book.
“Yes, very cute. And killer smile. But what happened to your like of smoking hot?” Freddy teased, punching my shoulder. I felt like I was kid again being teased by my friends.
“A cute girl with a killer smile who is reading a real book? That is smoking hot.”
“What’s her name?”
Ric answered before I could. “Alejandro doesn’t know her name because he’s never met her. She’s staying at the house next door to his.”
“What kind of shit is that? You haven’t met her and she lives next door? Bro, it sounds like you’re just a little chicken shit!” As always, Freddy was cracking himself up.
“Fuck you Freddy. Leave him alone.” Emilio chimed in. “I guess that she’s not a fan otherwise she’d be in here instead of out there in the park. She keeps looking in this direction. Maybe she is waiting for someone who is here?”
I had already figured that out. I was just wondering if she was waiting for a girl. Or a guy.
“Look at you Mr. Emilio the Private Investigator. Aleja, why don’t you use your VIP celebrity status and send someone to go get her.”
I turned around to look at all of them but mostly at Freddy.
“Really Freddy? Just send someone to go get her for me like a cup of coffee? Tell me how that would play out and what they would say? Excuse me Miss, the guy who lives next door to you that you have never met but who knows who you are because he watches you everyday, just happened to see you here in the park and would like you to meet him right now? ”
“Yeah, that sounds about right.” Freddy was dead serious. Emilio and Ric were shook their heads at how Freddy couldn’t hear how crazy he sounded.
“Wait up, what do you mean that you’ve been watching her?” Emilio sounded a little concerned, his eyes wide.
“It’s not what it sounds like,” Ric explained. “What Aleja needs to do is reclaim the cojones he used to have and just do something to meet her, that is, as long as it isn’t advice from Freddy.”
We all turned back to the window and watched her close her book, place it on the bench next to her and take out her cell to look at the screen. Then she put her cell and book into her purse, got up and walked towards the store. She was definitely waiting on someone who was in this store.
Like a bunch of little teenage boys, we all rushed from the window over to the railing to see if she would step into the store.
“Look, she’s inside the entrance,” Emilio said and pointed her out.
We watched as my girl greeted what looked like a cute Latina friend around her own age. Her friend promptly waved the signed CD in her face and she laughed. The fans below spotted us at the railing and started screaming even louder than they were before. We waved at the crowd and smiled for all the cellphone pictures that would soon end up online.
“Here’s your chance, Bro,” Freddy said as he blew kisses to the girls below. “Wait until she looks up, make eye contact and give her a sexy stare. Then, wave directly at her and then point to her so that she knows that you want her attention.”
Except for the sexy staring part of his formula, Freddy’s advice didn’t sound half-bad. We all continued exchanging waves with the crowd and even her friend waved at us.
I watched my girl intently, waiting for my opportunity when she would eventually look up and I could catch her eye.
But instead of looking up like everyone else, she looked around at crowd and walked back outside. When her friend turned around and noticed she was gone, she hurried to catch up to her.
My heart sank.
“Burn Bro! I guess that’s that! Your girl is definitely not part of our demographic.” Emilio hit Freddy hard enough for him to wince. “Jesus Emilio, I was just kidding! Càlmate for Christ sake!”
The coordinator reappeared and we knew our time was up.
As Ric sat back down at the table, he looked at me.
“Look at the bright side. At least you know where to find her, right? Do yourself a favor and find a way to introduce yourself before the week is over, okay? I know it didn’t work out when you tried to meet her on the beach last week but you’ve got to do something. You’ve got to get over the cold feet about getting back out there with the new music and now that Nate is no longer a baby… You’ve gotta take a chance man. How would you feel if she up and left tomorrow?”
I nodded in agreement as security directed another group of fans to us for autographs.
I still couldn’t believe that she hadn’t even looked up when everyone else had. Not even once.
Ric was right. I would find a way to meet her before the week was through.
©2015 Marquessa Matthews. All Rights Reserved.