Home > If This Gets Out(7)

If This Gets Out(7)
Author: Sophie Gonzales

“I’m looking forward to it.”

I break away, my shoulders sagging. Geoff would never come out and say to my face that he thinks my songs sucked, but in reality that’s what he just said. I try to push that away, though. It’s fine. Who cares if Saturday never sings about the stuff I actually care about? It’s a job, that’s all. In what world does anyone with a job get to do whatever they want?

I wander inside the main building. It’s lit like a nightclub, with blue lights cutting through the darkness, and music so loud I can feel the thud of the bass. There’s a DJ and a bar, and to the side, I kid you not, is an enormous ice sculpture of a roaring lion. There’s even a tattoo station set up, where a girl is getting a tattoo on her arm. I peer closer, and see she’s getting the word GUILTY in cursive.

At the far end of the room, leaning against the wall, is Ruben, looking unfairly cool in a sweater and wool coat. Fans are constantly saying Ruben could be a model, and I can see it, what with his perfectly tousled black hair and angular jawline. I might need to work out to transition from cute to hot, but Ruben is already there, and I’m pretty sure he knows.

He’s talking to a modern-day Adonis. This other boy laughs, then rests his hand on Ruben’s shoulder for just a moment. I feel a weird stab in the pit of my stomach. The media and general public don’t know about Ruben yet, and even at a private party I want to tell him to not be so obvious. For such a smart guy, he can be kind of thick sometimes, especially around hot guys. I get it, girls make me stupid, too, but my stupidity has a much slimmer chance of causing a worldwide headline.

Jon appears, clearly having been looking for me. “Hey,” he shouts, over the music. “Have you seen Angel?”

I shake my head. “Not yet.”

“Shoot,” he says, his brow furrowing. “Nobody can find him.”

“Oh, crap. Okay, I’ll text him.” Panic starts to set in. Angel has always been the biggest partier of all of us, but lately he’s moved on to things heavier than alcohol. He has a whole new group of friends, who can supply him with anything he wants, and … yeah. I get why Jon looks how he does right now.

“I already tried, but, go on.”

Hey, just got here, where are you?

 

The typing bubble appears, then vanishes.

“He’s conscious,” I say.

“Well, that’s something, I guess.”

He scans the crowd. I recognize a few more people, their famous faces only momentarily lit up by flashing lights. A lot of them are already staggering all over the place or grinding on each other in pairings that would make magazine editors salivate.

“Where’s Ruben?” Jon shouts.

“He’s talking to a guy over…” I stop, because he’s not there anymore. I try not to think about what he’s doing now.

Jon looks at me curiously.

“Er, I saw them when I came in. They seemed close.”

Jon presses his fist to his forehead. “Can you find him and ask if he’s seen Angel? I’ll keep looking. Text me if Ruben knows anything.”

“Okay.”

I leave the dance floor, and go back out into the fair, searching for Ruben. I bet he’s here with that Adonis guy. I can only hope they aren’t being too obvious.

I shake my head. What Ruben does is his business.

I just wish he’d be careful about it. Anyone could’ve seen him. If I noticed, I’m sure other people did.

Except I spot Ruben by the pirate ship, and he’s no longer with the Greek god. He’s alone, and he seems to be in a hurry, his hands tucked into his coat pockets. A girl shouts his name, but he waves, and keeps walking, leaving her looking crestfallen.

I follow after him.

He stops a ways from the party, by the shore of the lake, and picks up a rock. He skips it, and it goes so far I lose sight of it.

I keep my head down all the way until I reach him. There’s nobody else anywhere nearby. Just us, and the lake, with the neon lights and sounds of the party distant behind us.

I notice his eyes are glassy. All thoughts of Angel fall away.

“Are you okay?” I ask.

He shrugs. “I’m … whatever. Nice shirt.”

“Nice sweater,” I say haltingly.

He picks up another rock, and throws it. I shove my hands into my pockets and step closer to him. Usually, I’d let him get away with changing the subject to small talk. But something happened to him, something to do with that guy, I can feel it. If I’m going to fix it, we need to cut to the chase.

“Does this have anything to do with a guy?” I ask. “Want to talk about it?”

“Um. Nope. Not really.”

I pick up a rock, and try skimming it. It only skips once before sinking. Back at Camp Hollow Rock, the performing arts camp where Saturday started, I got really good at this, but I’ve clearly lost my touch.

“Okay, so,” he says. I smile, because Ruben has never been the silent and stoic type; I’m not shocked it only took him two seconds to crack. “I was talking to this guy, and it was going well. Like, really well, you know?”

“I do.”

“But then he asked me if I could listen to his demo, and show it to Galactic Records if I liked it.”

“Oh fuck.”

He gives me a tight smile. “Yeah.”

“I’m sorry.”

“Yeah. Well. It’s not like it’s your fault.” He skips another rock. “Sorry, I’m being moody. I just thought he might’ve liked me for me, you know?”

As I scan his face, I get a pang in my chest.

Ruben’s the sweetest, best guy. But he seems to be a magnet for guys who just want to use him. I don’t even know why; objectively, Ruben is hot, and funny, and cool—the trifecta, essentially. Yet he’s always treated like he’s disposable. Someday someone is going to figure out that he’s a dream guy. It’s just a matter of time.

I hope it happens soon, though. Because seeing Ruben like this guts me.

“I’ll be over this in ten minutes,” he says, gesturing to himself. “I just need a second. You don’t have to stick around for it.”

“I’m fine.”

“You sure? You’re missing the ‘biggest event of our lives.’”

I smile.

Because, honestly? I know I’m exactly where I want to be.

 

 

THREE

 

 

RUBEN


Zach sits with me while I simmer down. I didn’t mean to throw a tantrum in the middle of Angel’s party, and I’m annoyed at myself for dragging Zach away, but mostly I’m grateful to have him here.

My mood is twofold. I’m pissed about being used for my connections—by a guy I’d started to suspect was actually straight by the end of our chat, to add in an extra helping of humiliation. This would be bad enough for most people, but after my experience with Christopher Madden (Oscar-winning actor for a reason, apparently, because he did a world-class performance at convincing me he was into me before abruptly insisting he was straight when the lines got too blurry last year), I’m especially impatient with being treated as a new experience rather than a human being.

Usually, I’d be able to take this in my stride and push past it, but tonight, I’m essentially a toddler that didn’t get his naptime. This four-day break was meant to be my opportunity to slow down and recharge, but after all that quality time with my parents I feel more wound-up than ever. I guess I’d forgotten what being at home was really like. It’s funny how time and space cast a rosy glow over memories, making them seem less painful than they were in reality.

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