When I entered the café two afternoons later, I was greeted by the customers by loud applause. Even Danny and Dougie(who had been there, jamming with Danny) were clapping for me.
Confused, I went to the two, who were sitting on stage.
“What’s going on?”
“Haven’t you heard?” Dougie asked. “You’re famous.”
“Does anyone have a tab?” Danny called out at the tables. It was as though every person pulled out the same issue of The Sun. I went over to grab one to see what all the fuss was about. My jaw dropped to the ground.
“CRICKET STUD FINDS A NEW BIRD” read the headline on the front page, and there I was, sucking mouth with him at the beach pier.
“Oh my gawd,” I said, feeling myself lose breath. I let myself fall onto a chair as I stared at it.
“And look!” Dougie said, opening the paper for me, revealing more text and a picture of me dancing with Mowgli. “There’s an article to go with it.”
“It’s been quite a while since we’ve seen Judd the Studd with a ladyfriend…” read the first sentence “Wow…” I said. I seriously had nothing to say at that point. I didn’t know what to feel, but I can’t tell you now that I was not in the least bit happy about this.
Just then, my cell phone rang. ‘Lo and behold, it was Harry.
I got up and went behind the stage, behind Dougie and Danny. “I saw The Sun,” I said right when I answered the phone.
“Oh, Abby, I’m terribly sorry. I should’ve realized that the paps were going to be there.”
“Well, what can you do? You’re famous. You’re supposed to be a paparazzi magnet.”
“Are you upset at me?”
Of course I was upset.
“No,” I replied after a short pause.
“You seem to be.”
“I’m fine. Don’t worry about it.” I felt so cold saying it to him…
“Okay, well, I’ve got an interview in an hour to prepare for. I’ll talk to you later?”
I sat with Danny and Dougie on the floor of the stage after hanging up with Harry. Why was I such a bitch to him? I wasn’t even angry with him. Letting out a frustrated sigh, I leaned my head against Danny’s shoulder and closed my eyes.
“Why does the first place I get exposure from is in a bloody tabloid?!” I whined.
“Well, at least it talks about how talented you are,” Danny said.
“That’s a start,” added Dougie.
“Ugh. At least they don’t know about my job…”
As if on cue, a mass crowd of photographers barged through the café doors. There must have been ten, fifteen of them. They were talking loudly, and they were calling for Abby Miller.
“Shit,” I muttered, lifting my head off of Danny’s shoulder.
“Run for it?” Dougie said, looking at me. I looked at him, then at Danny, who clearly didn’t know what else for me to do. Before anything else, I jumped to the back of the stage, which wasn’t very high, but high enough for me to crouch behind it.
“Did you want a cuppa coffee?” Danny asked through the microphone.
“Abby Miller! Where is she?!” they shouted.
“Abby Miller! Doesn’t she work here?” one of them asked.
“Abby…? Hmm. I don’t think I’ve ever even heard of her.”
“Abby!” Dougie whispered. He had crouched down behind the stage with me. “The paps are looking lethal. We need to get you out of here, quick.”
“Don’t be so thick, Danny!” called out the manager. “Abby’s worked here for two years! Surely you’d know her by now.”
Oh, gawd. When did the manager get there?
“Ah, really?” he asked. “The name doesn’t ring a bell.”
“Where is she?”
Quietly and cautiously, Dougie and I made our way through the back of the shelves, surprised that they couldn’t see us.
“…Well, what does she look like?” Danny asked.
Dougie snorted but covered his mouth. I shot him a warning look but couldn’t help but smile either. We were watching Danny from behind the shelves nearest to the door. In front of the aggressive paps stood Danny on stage, who looked convincingly confused.
“Dougie, stop!” I said, starting to giggle along with him. “Let’s keep going…”
But as we walked from behind the shelves, I felt my shoulder brush past a coffee mug, which slipped off a shelf and broke into pieces.
“Shit!” Dougie said as I gasped with my hands over my mouth.
“There she is!!” pointed the paps. Luckily, I was so close to the doors.
“Go! Go! Go!” cried Dougie.
In a flash, I was outside, watching the paps hustling and stumbling to get to the front doors. I had to run, run as fast as I could to get away.
But I couldn’t. From both sides of the street, there were more of them. More people desperate to find me, more cameras ready to flash.
Holy crap… How was I going to get out of this?
Just then, I heard a honk from a car on the street. “Get in! Get in!” yelled the person inside of it.
Without hesitating, I opened the door to the passenger seat and jumped in, and the car drove away as fast as possible.
“Perfect timing, eh?” said the driver, grinning at me.
I let out a laugh in relief. “You don’t know how grateful I am, Tom Fletcher.”