Like those other girls, my instinct was to run... in the opposite direction. But that would make the situation even more awkward if he saw me. I tried to convince myself it was going to be okay. "You're just friends. It's no big deal. It'll only be awkward if you allow it to be."
The fans had their moment with the guys, but it wasn't long before Dave announced to the small group of girls that it was time to go. Though the girls backed off, they didn't leave. They stayed where they were and gawked at the boys as they walked in our direction. I was afraid Dave wasn't going to let the guys stop for us, but he did.
Naturally, Traci went straight for Calum. I saw them hug, but I didn't pay attention to what they said, because I was fixated on Ashton. As he walked toward me, nothing else existed in the world. I felt hopeful when our eyes met and he smiled. However, the look of recognition and smile on his face was quickly replaced by panic for a split second. But he quickly regained his composure when he walked past me and said, "Hi."
That was it. Just "hi." He didn't even stop. It was obvious that he was pretending to not know me. And I understood, because his girlfriend was with him. But it still hurt. It happened so quickly that I didn't even think to say hello back. I couldn't take my eyes off of him as he walked through the door Dave was holding open. He let Brandi go in first, then he looked back over his shoulder at me long enough to mouth, "Sorry." And then he was gone.
"Hello!" Michael jolted me out of my trance. He walked up and held up his hand for a fist bump. Yes, a fist bump. I couldn't help but to laugh even though I felt like crying.
"Hey, Mikey. How's it going?"
"Good." He nodded his head. Then he cocked his head and put his hands on his hips. "This is going to sound like a really lame pick up line. But, do I know you?"
"Um, yeah, you could say that."
His eyebrows furrowed as he looked at me. It obviously wasn't registering why I looked familiar.
I decided to help him out. "Last month. Chicago. Ashton interrupted your hookup when he introduced us. You were naked. Then you asked me to join you. Does any of that ring a bell?"
"Oh, fuck. Yeah." He covered his face in embarrassment for a second, then said, "That wasn't one of my greatest moments. I'm guessing it's safe to say you're not a Michael girl now?" he asked with an awkward laugh, and even in the dim light, I could tell he was blushing. I was as well.
"Nope. Right now you're my absolute favorite." I wasn't lying.
"Really?" His face lit up and he looked so cute, almost childlike. "Cool. It's good to know you don't think I'm a total douchebag."
"Not at all."
Calum and Traci walked over to us and Calum said, "Hey. Nice to see you again."
"Yeah, you, too. Sorry if this seems kind of stalkerish." I was back in my I'm-too-awkward-to-speak-intelligently mode.
Thankfully, Dave saved me from saying anything else stupid. "Guys," he said on a gruff voice, letting them know it was time to go.
Michael said, "I guess that's our cue. Are you all staying here tonight?"
We both nodded.
"Cool. If you want to hang out, we're on the 7th floor. Dave or one of our other security guys will be camping out by the elevator, but I'll tell him we invited you. I'd say come on in with us, but there are people watching," he said quietly.
Calum looked down at Traci, then back to Michael. "Um, we're going to be busy, mate."
"Oh, okay. Well..." He looked at me and scratched the back of his neck. He looked nervous when he looked at me and said, "I guess it'll just be the two of us. Do you like video games? Or I'm sure we can find a movie to watch. It's your call. But please keep me company. It's still early and I have nothing to do."
I glanced at Traci, trying to find the courage to answer. She raised an eyebrow, waiting for me to speak. "Umm, yeah. I kind of suck ass at video games, but I like to play them anyway."
"Cool. Then come on up, or down, or whatever, whenever you're ready."
I simply nodded again, and he gave me another fist bump before he and Calum walked away.
It wasn't until after I saw the exchange between Michael and Dave, presumably Michael telling him about the invitation, that I realized Luke must have walked by without me seeing him. The little shit got by me again. Dave glanced at Traci and me and gave us the slightest nod before disappearing through the door behind the others.
Traci took me by the arm and didn't let go until we made it all the way back to our room. Not a single word was exchanged until then, either.
"Oh my - what the - holy shit, how is this happening again?!" Traci practically yelled. "How long do you think we should wait? I think I'll take a shower first. And what should I change into? Aubree?"
I was sitting on the bed staring at the floor. I was far less excited than my fortunate friend. "Yeah, about that. Maybe I should just stay here. But you should definitely go."
Traci looked at me appalled. "You most certainly will not stay here by yourself! If Michael didn't want you there, he sure as hell wouldn't have asked you."
"Yeah, but I don't know. What if he really wants to do more than play games or watch a movie? Maybe that's some groupie code for 'let's fuck'."
Traci sat down beside me and said matter of factly, "Then you fuck."
"Are you serious right now? I'm not having sex with Michael Clifford."
"You wouldn't have said that two months ago! Are you really that wrapped around Ashton's finger? No pun intended."
As much as I didn't want to admit it, I was wrapped so tight that the circulation was cut off. "I guess so. And I hate it. Fucking hell, his bitch of a girlfriend is with him right now, after he said he wanted to meet up with me. Was he playing me all along? What an ass. Fuck that. You don't do that to a friend."
"Exactly! And you don't make plans with a friend to have the time of your lives, and allow her to sit alone in a hotel room when she's been asked to chill with a band member. So put your big girl panties on, and go have a good time. Don't sleep with him if you don't want to. Call the shots and just do what you're comfortable with. I bet playing video games with Michael is a great time. I'm not even joking about that."
I thought about it for a minute. "Did you see Ashton walk right past me and barely acknowledge my existence?"
"No, I guess I was too far up Calum's ass to pay attention to anything else. I'm sorry, Bree, but you deserve better than that."
"I kind of can't blame him, though, with Brandi being with him. But he should have known I wouldn't have let on we knew each other. I don't know. Maybe there's more to it than what I know. If he'll ever talk to me again, maybe I'll find out."
Traci stood up and pulled on my arm, forcing me to stand. "And in the meantime, let's enjoy ourselves."
In the end, Traci won. And an hour later we were on our way to the seventh floor.
When the elevator doors opened, sure enough, there was Dave. He might appear to be a badass, but he was very nice to us. He showed Traci to Calum's room first, then we stopped at Michael's door. "Have fun," he said as he knocked on the door and stepped away. I covered my eyes when I heard the door opening, but I was peeking through my fingers.
Michael looked confused when and said to me, "Uhh... surprise?"
I slowly removed my hands and joked, "Oh, good, you're not naked this time!"
Michael laughed. "Nope, not yet. Come on in."
I wasn't sure if he was making a joke or not, but I changed the subject to a far more important one. "So, I'm assuming there's alcohol up in here?"
"You assumed right. But I only have beer. Is that okay?"
Gross. I've never been one to care for beer. But if it was all I had, I'd tolerate it. "Yeah, that'll do. By the way, do you always have your Xbox with you?" I asked, spying the game system already hooked up to the television.
"Pretty much." He grabbed a couple bottles from the small refrigerator, twisted the top off of one, and handed it to me. Then he sat down on the floor in front of the couch. "So, Call of Duty: Black Ops?"
"Whatever your heart desires, Mikey." I sat down next to him and took the controller he was holding out for me. When I got settled, I asked, "I've always wondered, do you have a preference on how people address you? Do you prefer Michael over Mikey, or vice versa?"
Michael did that cute grin where just one side of his mouth lifts. "As many questions as I've been asked the past few years, no one has ever asked me that."
"Really? So which one do you like better? Or how about Mike?"
"I've honestly never thought about it. So I guess it doesn't matter. But it's kind of cute when girls call me Mikey."
"Well, good. Because I usually call you Mikey. And I prefer Bree, by the way. Now, remind me how to use this controller."
As boring as it may sound, we actually did just play video games. But there was nothing boring about it. I totally suck at anything that's not Zumba for the Wii, so my awkwardness pretty much provided the entertainment. I have no idea how long we played, but during a moment when we were literally lying on the floor laughing, there was a knock on the door.
Michael cursed and got up to see who it was. While I was making an effort to sit up and make myself look presentable, I heard a familiar, slightly angry voice ask, "Don't you know how to answer a phone?"