My legs, which met with a personal trainer three times a week, and held definition for the first time in their life, pinned together at the knee. I stared at a small mole on the side of his nose and swallowed the urge to vomit. “I’m not sleeping with you.”
He chuckled. “Come on, Emma. You want this more than you dislike me.”
It was really interesting, the way he said that. A bit softer. Kinder. And he said my name. Back then, that was a big thing, someone knowing and remembering my name. Using it.
Ugly girls, we don’t get remembered. It’s just a fact of life, one you get so accustomed to that you don’t even notice it because you have never had anything different.
I felt myself yield. Literally felt the muscles in my legs relax and part. Just a hands width, but it was enough of a move to catch my attention and underscore his point.
I wasn’t going to sleep with him. That wasn’t even a glimmer of a possibility. But his question did still spark an interesting conundrum. Did I want fame more than I disliked Bojan? Yes. But that wasn’t exactly the question, though he certainly thought it was. The real question was whether I wanted fame more than I wanted my self-respect. And that question I couldn’t answer as easily.
I set down my drink. “Eighteen is a lot.”
“Well, it could have been more. I just recently learned the game. Wasted a lot of years before that.” He grinned, but something moved behind the mask. This was pathetic of me. But it was also sad for him. He was sitting here with the knowledge that I had no interest in him for anything other than a press mention. That had to hurt, even if he played it off like a benefit.
I picked up my drink. “Let’s forget the deal.”
He snorted. “Right. Sure. Forget the deal.” He looked toward the bartender as if he was bored.
“I’m not going to sleep with you, and no one is going to know about this ‘date’.”
He shook his head. “Stupid decision.”
I tried to find the right words, to find the hole to enter his heart through, to figure out what he wanted more than his dislike of himself. But I already knew.
He was insecure.
He was unloved.
He was ME, with a bigger bankroll and an addiction to everything.
And if he was like me, he wanted a friend. A real one, not someone after his money or his celebrity or his ticket at Coachella. I pulled out my phone and texted Vidal and told him to call off the photographer. Then I looked at Bojan. “Come on. Let’s get out of here.”
“It was brilliant how she did it. It was like that movie… that one where the popular kid makes a project out of the loser girl, and she becomes the most popular girl in school? It was like that, only in reverse.
Everyone hated Bo. He was this complete douchebag who always had hot girls dripping off his arms. And at the beginning, we thought that’s what she was—another girl sleeping her way to fame, except that they avoided the cameras and weren’t dating. There seemed to be this genuine friendship that was growing between this complete random and Bojan Frost, and she really changed him. You look at Bo now, and you forget. You forget that there was a time when he was a complete waste of very, very expensive space.”
Ingrid Long, The Celebrity Report
“I can work with this.” Vidal eyed a string of photos that showed me and Bojan sitting in my car, eating burgers. “It’s not as strong as a girlfriend, but he can still get you into the big parties, and we can pair you with someone there.”
“I don’t want you to use Bojan.” I propped one foot up on the stool between us and stretched my hamstring. “Find me someone else.”
He turned to face me. “You realize that you’re nobody, right? You’re shit.”
Back then, he used to say things like that to me. I allowed it because I believed it. And back then, in the world of Los Angeles… I was shit. I was a wanna-be star climber and in Hollywood, that made you normal and normal was shit.
“I can’t just pull another name out of my ass. Bojan is your ticket. And you guys got along so…” he tapped on the front of the photos. “Let’s run with it.”
“I don’t want to benefit from being his friend,” I insisted. “That’s not why I did that. I did that because I didn’t want him to think I was using him.”
“But you were using him,” he countered. “He knew you were. It’s the currency of this town, Emma.”
I crossed my arms over my shirt, an itchy wool number that cost me four hundred dollars but Vidal insisted I needed. “Find someone else.”