I walked to the kitchen and pulled the vodka bottle full of water out of the fridge. I sat on a stool along one side of the island and took off the cap of the bottle. As I took a long swig of water from the bottle, I rubbed my sore neck and groaned. “Never again…” I mumbled.
“Huh? What?” Harry shot up from the couch, the blanket barely covering his legs and his hair standing up straight on the side of his face that he slept on. He looked around the apartment and at the sunlight streaming in the windows before rubbing his face with his hands and groaning too.
“I said ‘Never again’,” I repeated, taking another drink of water. “Never again will I allow myself to fall asleep on that couch. You should have woken me up. My neck is killing me.”
“I fell asleep too! If I knew it was going to be that uncomfortable I would have moved us.” Harry threw the blanket off of him and revealed his black boxers, not trying at all to hide his morning wood, and walked over to the refrigerator. He grabbed a Jimmy Dean breakfast sandwich from the freezer and threw it into the microwave. While he waited for it to warm up, he took my water from me and began to down half of the bottle.
“Damn it, Harry, you know I hate that!” I whined, sticking my hand out for the bottle. He tried not to spit out the water in his mouth as he chuckled and handed the bottle back to me.
“Sorry-“ he gurgled. When the timer went off on the microwave, he grabbed his breakfast sandwich and stuffed half of it in his mouth. “So what are we doing today?” He asked, crumbs falling out of his mouth.
I frowned in disapproval at his nasty open-mouthed chewing. I’m pretty sure I was the only person who had ever seen Harry’s pig side. He would fart and burp as loud, dirty, and smelly as he could when he was around me, but as soon as someone else was around he would stop. Not even his own mother could begin to imagine some of the things I had seen. I was pretty much used to it at this point, but I still made faces occasionally to let him know how repugnant he was being. I shook my head. “I don’t know. What is it, Thursday?”
Harry thought for a moment and then nodded. “The 8th of September.”
I froze. “No, the 8th is next week.”
Harry’s face contorted and he began to chew more slowly. “I’m pretty sure it’s today…”
I shook my head. “No. No, no, no today can’t be the 8th.” I slid off of the stool and sprinted down the hallway to my room. I searched my bedside table for my phone when I saw that it wasn’t on the charger. Remembering that it was in my purse from the night before, I snatched the bag up and tore through it until I felt the familiar technology in my fingers. I pressed the home button, but the screen remained black. I swore loudly and snatched up the end of my charger. I waited impatiently for a few moments as the screen lit up and scanned the screen until my eyes landed on the date.
“SHIT HARRY-“ I screamed, dashing out of my room as I tore my hoodie over my head. I dropped my underwear on the floor in the hall and jumped into the shower, drenching myself in the freezing water. I dumped shampoo on my head and began to violently lather up. “HARRY!” I screamed again.
“What is it? What’s today?” He poked his head into the curtain.
“My Wentz interview! It’s today! It’s at 10:30 and it’s freaking 9:56! Please just go get my outfit out of my closet. It’s in the very back – the black sweater with the new red skirt and my black heels-“
“With the strap?” Harry called from the hall.
“NO! The open-toed ones!” I didn’t waste my time with conditioner, but quickly ran a razor over my legs and under my arms, yelping when I cut myself. I shut off the water and barely had the towel wrapped around my dripping body before I was in the hallway and running back to my room again. Harry was pulling my things from the closet.
“I need you to drive me. I told James he was going to drive me but that was when I thought the interview was next week- Shit!” I swore as I spotted a stream of blood running down my leg from where I was cut.
“I’ll get it, just start drying your hair,” Harry instructed, jumping around me and out of my room. I let the towel fall to the floor and snatched my hair dryer from beside my dresser.
I couldn’t believe that I messed up the dates on one of the most important days of my life. Wentz Magazine was my dream. Ever since I spotted the magazine at Harry’s mom’s house so many years ago, I aspired to be a part of the team that created the pictures in the popular fashion magazine. The pictures just seemed so much better than any other magazines’, but I didn’t know why. All I knew was that I had to be a part of the magic. I sent in an application and a portfolio full of some of my best work to them weeks ago and got a call from a rude secretary at the Wentz Offices telling me I had an interview on September 8th two days after my submission. I was furious with myself for forgetting all about it.
Harry wiped the blood off of my leg and put a band-aid on the spot as I dried my hair. “Just take it off when you get in the car. Put your makeup on in the car too,” he commanded as he handed me my panties and a bra, followed by my black button-up cardigan and red pencil-skirt. I snatched up my makeup kit and my purse, as well as a brush and my shoes. Harry rushed into his room and slipped into a pair of sweatpants and a tee before snatching his keys and checking his watch. I stood in the hallway and waited for him, but the longer I stood, the more it suddenly hit me: This was just a horrible morning.
My eyes began to water. You fucked up, I told myself. This interview is going to be shit.
Harry ran his fingers through his hair and stepped into the hallway. “Okay, let’s go-“ he said breathlessly, but stopped when he saw my teary eyes. “Oh, Scotty, come on. You’re tougher than that. You can do this. Just take a few deep breaths.”
“Haz, I’m not prepared at-“
“You are though. You just have to stay calm and think about the questions they ask. It’s not going to be anything you can’t handle. You’ve got this, I promise. We really need to go though. Like, now.” He kissed my hot forehead and pushed me toward the door. Reluctantly, I carried my things in my arms and led the way to the car. I was hoping to collect my mind in the car but unfortunately, thanks to random road construction and me forgetting half of my makeup at home, the car ride was no less upsetting than the rest of the morning was. As we rounded the corner of the street that the office was on, I flipped down the visor and looked in the small mirror at myself. I looked like shit. My eyes felt naked since I was missing any kind of mascara or eyeliner and the puffiness around them from my crying didn’t help me at all either. “Ohhhhh my god,” I breathed as Harry stopped the car in front of the building. He patted my leg and looked at me.
“Breathe. You still have four minutes, you look beautiful, and your pictures are amazing. There is no way they could overlook you.”
I puffed my cheeks out and squeezed my eyes shut.
“Be sure to make that face,” Harry added, laughing softly. “That’ll get you the job for sure.”
I elbowed him and frowned. “You aren’t funny.”
“You know I am,” He said, puckering his lips at me. I leaned across the median of the car and kissed his lips. We really didn’t do that often. We had done it a few times before but it was either a little peck or an accidental brush of our lips during sex. Harry looked a little surprised but smiled pleasantly. “Knock ‘em dead, Scotlan.”
The main lobby was glorious. Massive chandeliers dangled from the tall dome-like ceilings, radiating light that danced back off of the glass tables, each adorned with gold and silver ornaments. It almost reminded me of Christmas, which seemed odd for September, but I didn’t try to fight anyone on it. Wentz magazines were everywhere on the tables and chairs in neat fanned-out stacks. Massive, blown-up versions of covers that I had collected over the years were outlined in golden frames and hung along the walls. I was so busy taking in the ornate lobby that I nearly ran into the front desk.
“Shit,” I mumbled as the toe of my high-heel bumped against the counter. The secretary didn’t seem to hear me swear but noticed my presence and faked a smile at me. For some reason I just assumed she was the rude woman who gave me the call about my interview in the first place.
“Can I help you?”
“Scotlan Ray, I’m here for an interview,” I responded as pleasantly as I could. The woman’s shiny black nails clicked against the keyboard as she typed my name into the computer. She stared at the screen and clicked on the mouse what seemed like an unnecessary amount of times before looking back at me and nodding. Her shiny black bob swished against her face as she looked up at me. “Take a seat. I’ll let Mr. Wentz know you’re here.”
I gulped. “My interview is with Mr. Wentz?”
The secretary held the phone up to her ear and furrowed her perfect black eyebrows at me. “Yes? Who else did you think you would be interviewed by? It’s his magazine…”
Despite her snappy response, I thanked the woman and turned to take a seat. Before I could sit, an elevator dinged and a man called my name. “Miss Ray?”
I jumped up from my mid-squat and looked at the man. He wore a gray suit that fit him rather nicely. His black hair was gelled back and he was about three inches shorter than me, but I was still intimidated. “That was fast,” I blurted. I mentally slapped myself for actually saying what I was thinking.
The man laughed and pointed his hand toward the elevator. “Well we were expecting you. It shouldn’t be too long of an interview. I’m Drew, Mr. Wentz’s assistant.”
An uneasy feeling struck me as we got into the elevator. Why did Drew say that the interview would be short? If the interview was short, it could mean that they already decided whether or not I got the job based on my application. They wouldn’t have brought me in for an interview if my work was shit. But then again, maybe my work was just so-so and they wanted to interview me to make sure I was worth rejecting. Oh god.
The doors to the elevator flew open sooner than I would have liked, letting a wave of light into the small lift. I held my hand up instinctively in front of my face to shield my eyes from the light.
“Oh lord, I’m so sorry, Miss Ray. Will someone please close the blinds? The sun is a bit bright.”
I felt compelled to laugh as I lowered my hand. My assumption that it was Mr. Wentz speaking was confirmed when my eyes adjusted with the closing blinds. He was a stout man, much shorter than I had imagined. I hoped that being short wasn’t a requirement to work here, as I was about 5-foot-7 myself. His face reminded me of a prairie dog, especially the whiskers that he had growing around his mouth. He didn’t look at all what the magazines showed on the back panel. Photoshop, maybe? They definitely touched up his hair in the pictures because instead of the brown, luscious locks that the magazine revealed, he had a few strands on the top between the brown patches that grew above his ears and around the back of his head.
I grinned hard to try and hide my nerves as he shook my hand. “Take a seat, Miss Ray,” he said, pointing to one of the two circular white chairs in front of his large, white desk. I spotted my portfolio on the desk as I sat, forcing my stomach into a knot. Drew sat next to me, running his hand over his slick black hair as he watched Mr. Wentz plop down into the chair behind the desk.
He took a deep breath and smiled at me. “Well you are looking just radiant this morning.”
I grinned. “Thank you. I actually forgot to put on makeup so your compliment makes me feel better!” I forced a laugh but suppressed it, embarrassed with how obnoxious I sounded. Drew and Mr. Wentz didn’t seem to notice.
“Have you ever considered being a model?” Mr. Wentz asked, looking me up and down.
I was a little caught off guard. “Oh- Uh, well, no. I mean, yes. My best friend is Harry Styles. That’s why he’s in so many of my shots. He’s always trying to encourage me to be a model but I just don’t have the confidence…” I chuckled awkwardly and pulled at the bottom of my skirt.
“Well you certainly have enough confidence to pull off a red pencil-skirt!” Mr. Wentz said, nodding at my attire. “Stand up, stand up,” He insisted, flicking his hand at me. I hesitated and looked at Drew, but Drew just watched me like this was nothing unusual. I stood slowly and straightened my skirt. “Walk on over there!” Mr. Wentz instructed, pointing to one corner of the wide room. I wanted to cover my butt as I walked away from them, but I resisted. Mr. Wentz hummed from his desk. “Now turn and walk this way.”
I turned slowly and avoided their eye contact as I walked uneasily back to my seat.
“Well you really can walk in those heels pretty well. Do you wear heels often?”
I cleared my throat and nodded. “Sometimes. Well yes, I mean- yes. I do.” I folded my hands in my lap and bit my lip as I looked down. We sat in silence for a moment.
Finally, Mr. Wentz cleared his throat. “So you own your own studio?”
I nodded. “Just a little place off of Loctura Avenue. I have all the equipment and everything to take pictures with, I have an assistant who helps me approve the pictures, I have a set designer and constructor, models… They’re a good team.”
Mr. Wentz nodded again and opened the cover of my profile. “I saw your recent work with Mr. Kyrie for Vogue’s December issue. I also saw Mrs. Lang’s line for this spring and the shots you took at Fashion Week last year. Impressive.” I beamed as he flipped through the pictures in the folder and then sat back in his chair. “If you’ve built such a great team there at your own studio, why would you want to come here?”
I licked my lips as I thought. “It’s just always been a dream of mine to be here. This magazine was the reason I picked up a camera. I’ve been studying the photos in every issue since December of 2008. I love my team, but they know – and have known – that this is what I really want to do. This is where I want to be.”
Mr. Wentz raised his eyebrows. “Wow. Well you have a really understanding team there, don’t you?”
I grinned and twisted my thumbs around one another.
“Miss Ray, you have some amazing work and you are such a pleasant person-“ Harry would have laughed if he heard Mr. Wentz call me that. Only he knew how much of a bitch I could be. “-But you’re just not right for our team here at Wentz.”
My stomach lurched.
I was not expecting that at all.
“I was a little surprised when you said you’ve been studying the pictures in our magazines for the last 6 years because you obviously didn’t learn anything. Your work is so different from anything that we’ve ever put in our magazine.”
I was at a complete loss for words. Mr. Wentz didn’t even seem to think for a second about what he was saying. Next to me, Drew was nodding along, just agreeing with whatever Mr. Wentz said.
“I mean, really, your work is good but it just seems so… so… help me out, Drew-“ he snapped his fat fingers.
“That’s the one,” Mr. Wentz said, slapping my folder. “Dispassionate.”
I blinked a few times and looked at the two of them. “What?” I asked breathlessly. I just didn’t know what else to say.
“Dispassionate. Emotionless. Deadpan… I mean when we take photos here, we try and take a picture that the viewer can connect with. If they can connect with the picture on an emotional level, they’re more likely to buy the product, you know? Your pictures are just so… detached I suppose.”
I rubbed my forehead and started down at my lap. I wanted to grab the folder out of his fat little hands and look at the pictures just to see what he was talking about. If anyone was being emotionless, it was him. He seemed almost like he didn’t care about hurting my feelings after I just told him I looked up to the magazine for so long.
After a moment of silence, Mr. Wentz sat forward. “Miss Ray- or Scotlan. Can I call you Scotlan? Just go out for a few days and take pictures of things that make you, personally, feel something. Excitement, sadness, anger, confusion… Just try it. Maybe in a month you can submit a different portfolio.”
As Drew stood, so did I. I clutched my purse tightly and almost didn’t want to let go to shake Mr. Wentz’s hand. I tried my best to smile and thank him for his time as Drew placed his hand on my lower back and lead me to the elevator, already waiting for us. I faced the wall and we began to ride down the floors.
“Don’t take it personally,” Drew said lightly. I turned my head and glared at him. He leaned against the back of the elevator casually and grinned like a fool.
“Oh, so he just tells all of the rejects that their pictures are “Deadpan”?”
Drew’s smile faded. “Well, no-“
“Then that was personal, you fucker.”
If there was any chance of me getting another interview with Mr. Wentz, I just blew it. I didn’t mean to be a bitch to Drew, but he was just the moldy cherry on top of the melted ice cream sundae that got spilled all over my self-esteem. I stormed off of the elevator, dug through my purse for my phone, dialed Harry’s number, and held the phone up to my ear.
“Harry, please come get me pronto.”
“Are you okay?”
“Just come quick.” I hung up the call and collapsed onto the front steps of the building. The cars passing on the street began to blur as tears filled my eyes to the brim before falling onto my new red pencil-skirt. I looked in the opposite direction from anyone who walked up the stairs near me. I could see them staring out of the corner of my eye, probably judging my tears and lack of makeup. I probably looked like a zombie.
I didn’t waste time collapsing into the front seat of the Celica as it pulled up in front of me. For some reason I felt like Mr. Wentz and Drew were looking down from their thrones on the top floor at me, giggling about how they had just taken down another hopeful dreamer. Once I was safe behind the tinted glass of the windshield, I fully let my emotions loose.
“Just drive, my god, please just drive Harry.”
He stepped on the gas. For a few moments he didn’t say anything; he just let me cry and passed me a Starbucks napkin to wipe my face with. When he got impatient, he asked, “Well, what happened? What did he say?”
I shook my head. “He didn’t like my work.”
“What?” Harry stared at me and then swerved to avoid hitting the car in front of us when he looked back at the street.
“He said it was… hell, I don’t even remember. Something about emotion. All of my work lacked emotion. They were all just pictures of things and people. There was no passion.” I flipped down the visor to look in the mirror at my puffy eyes. I silently thanked God that I had forgotten my makeup at home today – otherwise it would have been a mess.
“That’s got to be a joke. You’re more passionate than anyone I’ve ever watched or worked with.” Harry sounded so sincere that I wanted to believe him, but I knew that in the end he was just being my best friend. I knew that what he was saying was partially the truth, but everyone lies a little bit to make their best friend feel better after their heart or soul has been stomped on.
“Mr. Wentz said I should take pictures of random things until I understood emotion and reapply in a month.” I crossed my arms and watched Harry, studying the stubble around his jaw. “It’s like he thinks this is a fucking joke.”
Harry laughed. “That sounds stupid but you should do it.”
I contorted my face. “Do YOU think this is a fucking joke?”
Harry laughed again and placed his hand on my leg, running his hand up and down the fabric of my red skirt. “No, but I don’t think he thinks you’ll actually do it. Maybe if you show that you’re willing to work and learn – NOT that you have much learning to do – he’ll be more willing to hire you and you’ll have a second chance. He probably sees photos like yours all the time and just wants to know what makes you different now.”
I hated Harry for saying it but maybe he was right. This was something that I always wanted and somehow I managed to let my dream get ripped out from under my feet in ten minutes. “I just need to regroup. I need to go home and look at all of my pictures or something.”
“I can help you,” Harry suggested.
I sat quietly and chewed my lip as I thought about what I had to do. “I probably won’t go out tonight,” I told Harry.
He nodded. “That’s fine. I’ll probably stay in too.”
“Oh Harry, you don’t have to just because of me. I know you probably are going through relapse. How long has it been since you last had sex? Like two days? Three days?” I poked Harry’s dimple as he grinned and shook his head.
“Oh and you aren’t? When was the last time you actually got fucked? And I mean FUCKED. Not 5-second rebounded.” He raised his eyebrows at me as we pulled into our driveway. I kicked off my shoes and gathered up my purse. Harry continued. “We should have fucked last night. You probably would have felt better this morning.”
I groaned. “Nothing would have improved this morning. I almost asked you to last night though.”
Harry snapped his neck to look at me. “When? Why didn’t you??”
I giggled and jumped out of the car. “I just fell asleep!”
Harry stood up quickly from the car and slammed the door. His mouth was hanging open in disbelief. “You fell asleep?!”
I fiddled with my house key by the door as he approached. “Yes! I was tired!”
I opened the door and passed into the living room, dropping my shoes and purse on the floor. I threw my hair up into a ponytail and started to unbutton my cardigan when I realized that Harry was still standing outside the front door, his mouth hanging open.
I frowned at him. “Sometimes people get freaking tired, Harry Styles!”
His mouth slowly curled into a cruel grin. “Well are you tired now, Scotlan Ray?”
I rolled my eyes yet couldn’t help but giggle. “No, I am not.”
Harry stepped through the door and closed it slowly behind him. He pulled his shirt over his head and dropped it on the floor. “Well you’re going to be when I’m done with you.”
I didn’t hesitate to run straight at him. I threw my arms around his neck and pulled myself up to his face, our lips slamming into each other’s but immediately parting so we could suck on each other’s tongues. His large hands gripped my bum and squeezed it, making me flinch just the slightest. As he walked blindly over to the kitchen counter, I fisted his dirty hair and tugged lightly on his locks. He pulled my red skirt up higher around my thighs until I could part my legs with ease and hooked my underwear with his finger. I reached for his shorts as he pulled my underwear down and off of my ankles, but I didn’t get very far before he started taking his own shorts off with one hand and fingering me with the other. My stomach twisted as he fluttered two of his fingers back and forth inside of me, occasionally pumping them. I pushed his hand away quickly when my toes started to tingle.
“Stop! Stop-“ I said breathlessly. “Don’t you dare finish me that way.”
Harry grinned and grabbed the back of my neck, pulling my lips back to his. After a heated make-out his hand left my neck and moved to my hips, pulling me closer to the edge of the counter. His thumbs and fingers dug into either side of my thighs as he gripped me tightly and pushed himself into me. I groaned.
“Seeeee, you needed this…” Harry hissed into my ear as he picked up the pace, pounding into me.
“I needed this…” I breathed.
“Say that again, would you?”
I groaned. “Don’t make me.”
“It just turns me on.”
I inhaled sharply as he thrust hard, arching my back. I didn’t notice that my boobs were in Harry’s face until he kissed the skin on my chest that was revealed by the open buttons of my cardigan.
“I needed this badly,” I whispered, taking his earlobe between my teeth and nibbling gently. I grinned when I saw some of the hair on the back of his neck stand up. He surprised me when he yanked me off the counter and sat on the couch.
“Ride me,” he ordered. I quickly obliged, but not just because he told me to. I hated being on top, but with Harry I didn’t care… well, usually I didn’t. Since I had a cardigan on, I didn’t care this time. If my boobs were hanging out and bouncing all over the place… that was when I cared. Harry’s hands slid up my stomach under my cardigan and he picked me up. Before I knew it we were on the way to my room.
“Can’t get comfortable?” I whined, tired of him making me stop. He used his teeth to rip open the buttons of my cardigan and I pulled the rest off of my arms, dropping it on the floor as we entered my room.
“I’m just really feeling the doggy style right now,” he said, tossing me onto the bed. Harry didn’t wait for me to flip over, but flipped me over himself and slammed into me again. I whimpered as he leaned forward, wrapping one arm around my waist and grabbing a fist-full of my ponytail with his other hand.
“That’s for pulling mine,” he growled, making me laugh. He stopped and flipped me over quickly, kissing my mouth to push me back onto the bed before crawling on top of me and, once again, pounding into me. When my toes began to tingle again, I tried to squeeze all of my muscles together to prolong the end but I couldn’t.
“I know-“ he grunted. “Just a minute more.”
I could hear my heart beat in my head as I squeezed together all of the muscles in my lower body. When I knew I couldn’t wait any longer, I wrapped my legs around Harry’s waist and pulled on his hair to bring his face down to mine. He bit my lip as we both hit our highs, our sweaty bodies trembling against one another. Harry pulled his lips from mine and began to kiss down my neck, his hot breath heating up the spots that he sucked on.
“Are you feeling okay?” I whispered, still out of breath.
Harry nodded and hummed.
“You just didn’t last very long,” I continued. Harry looked up from kissing my chest and snarled.
“Well you didn’t either!”
I laughed and pulled his head back into my chest. “I was kidding! That was amazing. I neeeeeded that…” I purred.
Harry’s eyes lit up as he looked back up at me. “Now don’t start that again or I might start again…”