“Isla! How do you feel about this? Are you upset? Will you and Tom be getting back together? What’s the story behind it? Have you met her –” I blocked out the reporters, journalists and photographers voices as I sprung into my cab. New York’s busy at this time of year, March. I guess tourists see it as the ideal time to come because they think no one else will have the same idea. Wrong.
Then again, it was always busy for me. There was always someone following me around like a sheep with a camera spouting from his wrist. People say you get used to it. Wrong again. “You ready for the interview?” My agent, May Finch, asked. Her plain brown hair was tucked into a bun neatly just like her shirt was placed in her professional pencil skirt. May was always working for me; she never seemed to want a break, I guess.
“May, no offence or anything, but I just saw my boyfriend with some slutty model. So I’d prefer if you just shut up about business for one minute and let me think this over.” I snapped. I couldn’t help it, being ‘The World’s Best Youngest Author’ was great and everything I could have ever asked for but the downsides were…well, they were like falling down Mount Everest and when you hit the bottom…it hurt. For a long time I’d been sliding down the slopes with Tom, my boyfriend, and I’d feared I hadn’t quite hit the bottom yet.
Tom and I met the year before when we started working on the new film for my book, he was the star actor. Soon into the process of filming, we got closer than a director and an actor should but it happened anyway. The tabloids and media hooked onto to it all too well for my liking but Tom loved the attention. Typical. So I guess catching him with that slut wasn’t a surprise at all, I had suspected something for a while but once the media had a story…they just wouldn’t let go.
“Sorry Miss Hall.” May looked to her feet.
Irritated by her, I span in my seat and shouted at her. “How many times do I have to tell you to call me Isla, hmm? And for the record, I’m not going to this interview. I’m going to the airport.” I aimed the last part at the cab driver.
“Airport, coming up ma’am.” I didn’t get annoyed at him for being formal, he was doing his job. May, on the other hand, had known me for the past three years and still couldn’t call me by my first name.
“Miss – Isla, we need to go to this interview. It’s essential for –”
I interrupted her. “Stop the cab!” A second later, he pulled into the side of the road, causing mayhem. I opened the door, jumped out and slammed it behind me waving the cab off with May inside it still. The traffic was hectic on the outskirts of New York so my old cab stayed in sight while I stood outside some tacky hotel. I wanted to go home to England, to my family. I hadn’t seen them for five months because I had some much promotion to do here in the States for the film and books. As much as I loved being a famous author, I needed a break. I was only eighteen.
“Over there! Isla Hall!” Photographers across the road spotted me. I jerked my hand out into the road and another cab stopped. Before the driver could ask where I was going, I threw myself in and he pulled back into the heavy traffic.
“Where to ma’am…Miss Hall?” I rolled my eyes and directed him to go to Central Park. That was always a good place to go without having a constant stream of people following you.
After about an hour, we arrived next to Central Park. I hopped out, and headed across the street before anyone saw me. Just for precaution, I tucked my hair into my hoodie and stuffed my hands in my pockets with my head down. The fresh air cleaned out all the dirty curses and cruel thoughts revolving in my head but no amount of air could flush out the image of Tom and that girl. I walked around the Park many times that day, people noticed me but one scowl and they left me alone. Eventually I got tired of pacing around and stopped to sit on one of the many benches.
Gum covered the arms of the bench and cigarettes stained the ground below but something about it was real. I know it sounds stupid but I was a world famous author and director with a Hollywood star boyfriend, ex-boyfriend, something as simple as a grubby bench felt great. Just normality felt great.
“Can I sit?” It wasn’t the scruffy Timberland boots, which were tied oddly or the fact that his dark jeans had holes in the bottom because they were too long, that caught my attention. It was the English accent, Geordie accent to be precise. Moving here meant that I had lost my broad accent and it had been replaced with a tinge of American. Admittedly, I preferred the Geordie. I looked up and to be honest, he wasn’t unbelievably stunning or handsome but he was normal. Wavy auburn hair with an attempt at being styled into a quiff, though individual waves flicked out messily; average height around six foot; tan-ish skin and light green eyes with a hint of hazel.
“Sure.” I said. As he sat down next to me, nothing changed. I remained concentrated on the gum on the bench’s warn mossy wood and he appeared to be scribbling something in a journal. Okay, it was weird to start with that he hadn’t questioned me about my status or clothing or reason for being here but it was very weird that by him writing something in what appeared to be a journal didn’t faze me at all. Usually, the first sign of a journalist and I was off running for dear life, I hated them; especially, when they had a juicy story on me, Tom and the slut of the century.
Although, he didn’t seem to be a journalist or at least not a curious one, maybe he was just writing a diary or something. Then again, the way he looked up every so often to observe people or the way a little crease on his forehead would form when he watched some people arguing was suspicious. He was figuring out something about New Yorkers, about the common people around him while I, the hot spot for journalism, was sat right next to him. And that is where our story begins.
“Can I help you?” He said clearly. If I remember correctly, that was the moment I realised I had been staring flat at him for however long he’d been sat there.
“Um…” I furrowed my face and searched for a logical answer. “What are you doing?” Stupidly, I had replied.
“You’re the one gazing at me and you’re asking me what I’m doing?” I couldn’t help but enjoy how his Geordie accent suddenly made me feel like I was at home. Maybe I was in the middle of New York and everyone was American around me but just his simple accent was enough to make me feel better at the time.
His eyebrows raised and he slapped the journal shut in his lap then tucked it back into his brown satchel. “Well I was writing, now I’m talking to you.” I rolled my eyes dramatically.
“I got that much.” He pursed his lips making him look young and boyish. In fact, he didn’t look much older than me. “What were you writing about?” I had no idea why I was so interested about this guy.
“You’re a nosy one.” I tilted my head and waited for him to reply. Really, I just wanted to hear his voice because the more he talked, the more I felt at home. After everything that had happened earlier that day, feeling at home was more than enough. Chuckling a little, he looked into the trees next to us and then muttered: “I’m trying to find the perfect story to apply for a university in England.” He seemed almost ashamed of his goal.
“And have you found one yet?”
“Na. Just a bunch of stuff about people and New York, nothing special really.” It amazed me how, still after admitting he was a journalist and he was looking for his big break story, he hadn’t asked me any questions. That was a first.
We carried on talking about nothing in particular for hours until the buildings surrounding the one area of nature began to light up. That was the last time I saw him that year, I didn’t find out his name and he didn’t find out mine.