Vocal Adrenaline

Emerson Handler was hardly your cliché teenage girl; she'd rather stay home and listen to music and splatter paint her entire wardrobe than bother about boys and nails and clothes. And if there was one thing Emerson could not stand, it was Reliant21. But when the band's lead singer ends up knocking on her door one night, she might just find herself tangled in the last web she wanted to be in.

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1. Enter: Kyle Conley

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The doorbell rang while I was in the midst of painting my nails black to match my thin eyeliner and the ombre eyeshadow I'd applied in boredom. It was the usual Friday night spent in my sprawling estate, one that I never invited my friends to. My intentions were to keep my friends completely unaware of my rich heritage for as long as physically possible, and that involved spending my weekends cooped up and alone, doing my makeup or studying or shredding my clothes to my heart's content.

I rolled off of my bed and checked myself out in the mirror quickly, making sure I looked socially acceptable to answer the door, even if it was just for the pizza man. My high-waisted jeans were rolled once as I had been wearing little heeled hiking booties today, and my fitted grey crop top was wrinkled slightly from being bent over for the past hour. I grabbed a flannel off of the back of my desk chair and pulled it on, throwing my waist-length strawberry blonde hair into a low ponytail and skipping down to the first floor, where I immediately entered the foyer.

"Thank God, I'm starving." I said, throwing the door open wide. I propped it open with my foot, careful not to mess up my toes. My head was ducked as I opened my wallet, flipping through the bills and pulling out two twenties for the three pizzas I'd ordered for my siblings and I.

The pizza-dude cleared his throat rather rudely considering he was expecting me to pay him, but I tried to stay composed as I narrowed my eyes, about to snap "politely" at him. But as soon as my eyes met those of the boy at my door, my jaw dropped and I felt all of my patience completely dissolving.

"Hell no." I sighed, slouching my shoulders at the boy in front of me. He had a red gas tank in one hand and a pair of designer sunglasses hanging from the dog tags around his neck, and was wearing the most impatient and arrogant expression I'd ever had the pleasure of seeing.

"Please don't scream." He smirked, one side of his puffy pink lips pulling up and revealing stretched smile lines in his tan cheek.

So was it totally unreasonable to want to smack this complete stranger senseless? Or if you have a complete and unarguable hatred for someone that you've never met, does that make it okay? All I could honestly say at the moment was that my dreams would have come true if I could beat Kyle Conley's face in right this very moment.

"Trust me, that will not be a problem." I replied flatly, cocking a hip. "Is there something I can do for you? Or are you just here to ruin my day?" I asked. Kyle's smirk only broadened as he set the red can down with a hollow thud, stuffing his hands into the pockets of his impossibly tight jeans.

"Ah, so you're not a fan?" He asked, sounding unreasonably amused. I cocked an eyebrow, giving him a lazy look.

"Wow, am I that easy to read?" I gasped sarcastically, plastering a shocked expression on my face and putting a hand to my chest. Kyle laughed, his head rolling back slightly and exposing his bobbing Adam's apple.

"So I'm guessing if I want to get some gas and a call to my insurance company, I'm going to have to knock on your neighbor's door?" Kyle guessed, smiling his "dazzling" smile, the one with the multitude of smile lines and sparkling white teeth that made his high cheeks turn red.

"No, but I'd let you pay for my pizzas." I reasoned after a minute. Kyle looked completely shocked as I stepped aside, waiting expectantly for him to enter my house. After a moment of complete shock, Kyle grabbed the red can and stepped inside, closing the door behind him as I walked to the kitchen.

"You're not going to slit my wrists and hold me hostage or do some creepy voodoo thing, are you?" Kyle called, following me into the kitchen, while I perched myself on a stool at the island and flipped through the phone book to the insurance company section.

"What would I want to do with you?" I asked, snorting very cutely. It's not like I cared what this shallow pop-star thought of me. He was probably the gayest member of his boyband, the one that only topped the charts because of their "good looks." He wasn't even that good looking up close, though he did look awfully mature for a seventeen year old.

"Well I can tell you what I want with you." Kyle said suggestively, leaning against the island next to me as he scoped out the house before scoping me out. "I mean, you're hot, and clearly loaded. Wouldn't be bad for the presses if you ended up sticking around." He smirked, twirling a piece of my hair around his finger. I lurched away from him, squinting at him before slamming the book against his chest and getting to my feet.

"You are disgusting." I uttered, pulling open a cabinet and pouring grape juice into a cup. Kyle winked before looking down at the book and typing a number into his phone.

"You must be a mega-fan, going for some sort of fan-fiction type thing where you play hard to get and suddenly I fall in love with you. A magical romance, if you ask me. If only those love-sick girls could actually get some facts right. I'd never get a girl 'just-because' flowers. Not my style." Kyle addressed me as he put the phone to his ear, looking me up and down as he leaned against the counter again.

"What a shame, just-because flowers are my favorite kind." I pouted sarcastically, examining my reflection in the toaster and making sure the makeup I had tried out when I got bored didn't look terrible.

Kyle started rambling to his insurance company about getting rear-ended and then running out of gas a few miles down when the doorbell rang, and I grabbed my money before answering the door. A pimply guy in an ugly hat stood, balancing the three pizzas. I handed over the money, releaved that it wasn't Justin Bieber or some other selfish pop-singer before taking the pizzas and meeting Kyle in the kitchen again, where he sounded surprisingly polite and understanding on the phone with the insurance company.

"Thank you, I totally understand. Of course, thank you." Kyle wiggled his eyebrows when he saw me, finishing up whatever he was saying before hanging up the phone and sliding it into his pocket.

"Looks like I'm out of your hair..." Kyle trailed off, fishing for a name.

"Emerson." I filled in, sliding two pieces of pizza onto a plate before taking a big bite of the stuffed-crust and smiling as it filled my mouth with hot and delicious factory-cheese.

"Aren't girls supposed to watch what they eat, Emerson?" Kyle asked skeptically as he grabbed himself a slice and eyed me devouring my pizza. I arched one eyebrow at him, waiting until I was done with my mouthful before responding.

"Aren't you supposed to not be an asshole, Kyle?" I replied, and Kyle laughed.

"I like you, you fight back." Kyle said in what sounded like a ... genuine tone. This had to be some sort of joke. Kyle eyed me for a moment before dabbing at his lips with a napkin and speaking again. "What do you do? Like as a career?"

"I'm a personal shopper." I admitted. It wasn't exactly something to be ashamed of, I mean it paid really well and I loved it, but it seemed awkwardly girly considering I seemed the complete opposite.

"Nice, you dress like it." Kyle said it what sounded like a complimentary fashion. I raised my eyebrows, and Kyle shrugged. "You don't look super put together, but you look like you keep up with the trends and make your own style. It's cool. Refreshing." He rephrased, and my eyebrows shot up. Had asshole fame-whore Kyle Conley just complimented me? I had to be dreaming.

"Thank you." I replied consciously, and Kyle laughed musically again.

"So how soon are you leaving?" I asked after a few minutes of silence. I mean, just because he didn't have to worry about me freaking out at his presence didn't mean that when my little sister showed up he wouldn't get an earful.

"You want me out that badly?" Kyle asked, pretending to be hurt. I rolled my eyes, almost smiling before I could stop myself.

"Is it that obvious?" I asked, and Kyle laughed again. Jesus, he was just a slimey ball of sunshine, wasn't he?

"Well, my manager is on his way to pick me up, which means I'll be by again tomorrow to get my car at some point." Kyle explained, and I held in a groan. Great, I got to see him again tomorrow! What a blast!

"And how soon with your manager be here?" I persisted, and Kyle shrugged.

"Like an hour or two? He's picking up the others from the airport." I choked on my pizza, my eyes beginning to water as I gagged, barely making it to the sink before I spit it out, wiping my mouth with the back of my hand ungracefully.

"Your three little... sidekicks are going to be here too? Great, that's just freaking great!" I complained, leaning against the counter and crossing my arms over my chest.

"Wow, you really hate us that much?" Kyle asked, looking almost offended. I glared at him. How did he managed to make everything about him? I had work tomorrow morning, and it was already nine at night, and Emma was going to be here any minute and was going to have an aneurism when she saw Kyle Conley in our kitchen. Not to mention my parents would be home in an hour, and they were so not going to like a boy in the house with me without them being there.

"I have a life that doesn't involve you, Kyle. Maybe I don't want you here for other reasons, like my parents and my sister and my job? Think about that!" I snapped, and Kyle looked taken aback. I would have felt bad if all of the girls in my school didn't squeal and giggle about him all the time and make me want to rip my internal organs out.

"Sorry." He apologized after a moment, and I felt myself soften. Maybe I didn't give him enough credit, I mean his life must be anything but easy.

"No, I'm sorry. But when my sister gets home we're going to have to hide you or I will never hear the end of this." I explained, and Kyle nodded in understanding. As if the gods had timed my life to the tee, the door opened down the hall and I heard the sounds of giggling and talking.

"Emerson, why is Kyle Conley's car in front of our house?" Emma called. Kyle's eyes widened, and I'm sure my own had done the same. I planted my hands on his shoulders and shoved him into the pantry, slamming the door closed and rushing to the counter.

"What are you talking about?" I called back just as Emma and her two best friends, Claire and Jane entered the room behind her.

"Kyle Conley's car is in front of our house." Emma gushed, and I rolled my eyes. Typical.

"Is he the lead singer in that little boyband you like?" I asked lazily, and Emma giggled, looking at her friends as if I was stupid and crazy.

"Um, duh!" Emma snorted, and I rolled my eyes again.

"Well, he isn't here if that's what you're trying to ask." I replied, biting into my pizza and praying that I sounded convincing.

"How can you eat that stuff?" Jane asked, looking at the cheese strings sticking to the plate, which had a small puddle of grease.

"Um, it's good?" I asked. Jane and Claire exchanged disgusted looks and I sighed, crossing my arms.

"Emma, can you and your little pals please leave me alone?" I asked, and Emma sighed dramatically.

"Whatever, we're only a year younger. I can drive now, don't you remember?" Emma asked, holding up her keys to the tiny dark blue Volkswagen Bug Dad had bought for her last month for her sixteenth.

"Yes, and I remembered every single time you've reminded me since then." I copped, and Emma frowned.

"You're so annoying, Emerson!" She complained, crossing her arms over her tiny push-up clad chest. I smiled like I could care less, and Emma stomped her foot before turning to the pantry. "Whatever, we're taking the veggie straws to my room while you eat thousands of calories in one sitting." Why my sixteen year old sister felt the need to count calories was beyond me, but my eyes shot open as she reached for the pantry door.

"Haven't you heard that veggie straws have more calories than regular chips?" I blurted before I could stop myself. Emma froze, turning to face me suspiciously.

"What?" She clarified, and I nodded, gulping down the last of my grape juice.

"Uh-huh, and regular chips have more calories and less nutritious value than pizza, which has more food groups. You're better off eating pizza." I lied, and Emma squinted at me before grabbing three slices and leading the way up the stairs.

"Thanks, Emerson!" She called as the trio climbed the stairs.

"No problem!" I called faintly, my body tingling as I realized how close they had been to finding Kyle Conley locked in our pantry. As soon as I heard the door close upstairs, I ran around the island and let Kyle out, my hands shaking.

"That was hilarious!" Kyle laughed quietly, doubling over and holding his stomach. "Pizza has more food groups than chips and veggie straws." He mimicked, and I glared at him before refilling my cup.

"You owe me one, Conley. Come to think of it, you owe me more than one, pop-star. You owe me like, three." I complained, sipping my juice while Kyle cocked an eyebrow at me.

"I think that can be arranged, Emersonnnn." I whined in a voice that could have rivaled my real sister's. This boy was going to be the death of me, and I found myself watching the clock, praying his manager would show up before I had to take some serious action.

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