Chapter 11: Hand (4/5)

[Previously in 3/5]

[He placed one bowl in front of her and one bowl in front of him.  He fed her a spoon of ice cream and she smiled.  He smiled.  She tapped his phone and he read, “Don’t forget your other guests.” He chuckled and she slid her bowl to Big and handed him her spoon.

Big asked JZ in a girly voice, “Can you feed us a spoon, too?” and The Guys laughed.

JZ got Bigger a bowl of ice cream and a spoon then resumed feeding his angel.  She was the only person he saw.  She became a little embarrassed that The Guys were watching them.  She turned her head away and some hair fell on her face.  He gently pushed her hair back, and cupped her face with his hand.  He caressed her soft, rosy cheek with his thumb and liked seeing her so shy and vulnerable when he touches her.  He leaned in closer and closer, his lips closer and closer, and then, “SURPRISE!!” a large group of people shouted.]

JZ and Elle quickly got to their feet and turned their heads to the front door.  They saw everyone that works at JZ’s studio was flooding in to his suite with cheers, gifts, balloons, beer, and lastly, a large cake.  Once everyone was in his suite, they cheered, “HAPPY BIRTHDAY!”

Elle had a short gasp and said, “I forgot today is your birthday,” and looked at him with wide eyes.

He smiled and forgave her.

“Why didn’t you tell me?”

“Because you are more important.”

She smiled and shyly touched his hand.  She quickly put everything that was on the dining table into the sink, so the cake could be placed there.  The last thing was JZ’s phone and she held onto it.

He said a few words, “This was quite a surprise everyone.  Thank you.  I’m very happy that all of you could come and celebrate my birthday with me.  Let’s have some fun!”

The crowd cheered wildly, and loud music and chatter erupted.

Elle slipped into the bathroom where she left her dirty clothes on the floor, quickly tossed her clothes in the hamper.  When she came out, she felt that there was no one to socialize with.  She was mad at CeeCee who was talking to Hero.  JZ was talking to One Word – no doubt the man who planned the party – and The Guys.  Buzzy was unsocial so that was not an option.  Everyone else was a stranger.  She stood like an outcast.

She remembered she had JZ’s phone in her hands.  “There’s only one 10% left.  I should go charge it and take pictures,” she said to herself.  “If you’re rifling through his stuff, people will think you’re stealing or looking for dirt.”  “You have a good point. Luckily you stopped me.  I’ll just be wise when I take pictures.”

She tried to look casual but still kept her eye on him so she could capture the perfect moments.  “Ooo, there’s him with One Word; he’s super important.”  Tap! Save.  “Ooo, there’s him with the musicians.”  Tap! Save.  “There’s him clinking beers with some guys.”  Tap! Save.  “Who is that tall…is that Jeremy Lin? I have to take a picture of him with JZ.  JZ loves basketball.”  Tap! Save.  “There’s One Word with a couple of elderly people.  The woman looks like she’s JZ’s mother.  Then the older man must be his father.  Cooooome on … all four of you get in the picture talking with one another.”  Tap! Save.  “Why are his parents frowning? Why are they shaking their heads? Why does his mother look like she’s threatening to leave? Oh no! Battery died! Well, I guess I better hide.”

Elle casually walked through the crowd and exited his suite.  She bypassed all the footwear that lined the creamy hallway wall and red carpet, and went to the end of the floor by the stairwell and looked out the window.  The buildings were dark, so she watched the cars and streetlights illuminate the streets in cherry and caramel.

Her eyes were getting comfortable when she felt someone tap her on the shoulder.  She could not identify who the person was from the window’s reflection so she turned around.

“Hi,” she said in her calm natural voice.

“Hi,” New Guy replied.  “Why are you out here?” he asked curiously and looking away.

“I saw two mad old people.  Are they his parents?”

“Yes.”

“How did you find me?”

“I saw you leave.  When I looked in the hallway, I didn’t see you.  I thought it was a little chilly outside so I didn’t think you went outside.  The quickest place to hide is here, so I checked here,” he said in his normal voice, looking down with his hands in his pockets.

She understood enough of what he said and asked, “Are you hiding, too?” in her calm voice, her face relaxed.

“No.”

“Then why are you out here and not in there?”

“I don’t really know those people.”

“You will know them better when you talk to them.”

“I’m talking to someone I don’t know right now.”

She rubbed his arm.  He focused his eyes even more on the floor and then he saw her small chubby feet. “Why aren’t you wearing shoes?”

“My shoes are in there,” she softly answered, pointing at the suite he did not look at.  Curious, she gently asked him, “Why aren’t you looking at me?”

“Because…Because…” he did not know whether to tell the truth or the deep truth.  “Because…you are not wearing something that you are supposed to,” was what he blurted out but what he really wanted to say was, “Because I do not deserve to lay my ordinary eyes on your extraordinary beauty.”

“Oh,” she said, very embarrassed and covered her chest with her arms.  “Is this better?”

He slowly elevated his eyes from her chubby feet and ankles to her athletic calves, then at the black basketball shorts hiding her toned thighs, then the long dark gray dress shirt hiding her hips and waist, then her short arms hugging herself, then her bare neck, then her beautiful, soft, white face as delicate as a peach blossom.

She noticed she was being looked at too long, and hoped his observations were innocent.

“What are you thinking about?” she asked softly.

Uncertain again of what to say, he said, “I’m not thinking about anything.”

“Your mouth and your face say are not saying the same thing.”

He did not respond.

“Do you have matters of the heart?”

He did not respond again.

“Sometimes it’s better to talk to someone you don’t know.”

“Really?”

She nodded sincerely, her eyes, soft, brown, and comforting.

He hesitated then spoke quietly.  “Last night, it was extremely disturbing that that many of the paparazzi were following you and they were being so aggressive.  I saw them film you on the subway, photographing and probing you with their questions.  Although your face did not show it, every question they asked you felt like a knife stabbing you.  They followed you to your home. They followed you wherever you went.  Although every flash from a camera felt like an electric shock, yet you did not fight back.  The scariest part was when they pushed you off the roof with their cameras and did not even know it.  They only had an angle from the roof, and I saw that you would land on those police officers, but I did not know if you would actually survive it.  Your body got so small so quick, quickly vanishing in the night.  When he rescued you, your body was not moving.  The cruelty of humankind worsens as they exploit what has value.  You have value, but they are creating and capturing the wrong value.  Your value is beyond me.  Your struggles prove your strength and control of them, not your weaknesses and being under control.  My inability to protect you shows my weakness and lack of control.  I do not deserve you.  He does.  He takes action to rescue you.  He has the ability to protect you and give you what you want and deserve.  He won.”

“What is he saying?” she thought.  “He began with ‘last night,’ then moved on to ‘subway,’ and ‘knife,’ and nothing else made sense after that.”  “If he’s telling you something in that dark tone, like he’s telling you a secret, or revealing his innermost thoughts, you should not dismiss what he said just because of the language barrier.”

“Write it,” she said, and imitated writing on a sheet of paper in her hand.

“What?” he asked, returning to reality.

“Write what you just said.  I did not understand everything, but it sounds super important.”

“I don’t have a pen and paper.”

“Type it on your phone!” she said with urgency so he doesn’t forget what he just said.  “Hurry! Hurry!”

He took out his phone and began furiously typing, and she tried to read it from the side.  She did not recognize the vast majority of the characters he was using, and watched how focused he was, then resumed trying to decipher what he wrote.

JZ exited his suite and saw a sliver of his clothes past the wall to the end and went there hoping to find Elle.  “Hey Elle,” he said, sounding like he wanted to tell her something important but also exciting.  “Let me introduce you to my parents.”

She shook her head furiously.

He nodded his head furiously.

“You want me to meet your parents when I’m wearing your clothes and not wearing a bra?” she asked in an angry tone and trying to keep her voice down.

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