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Authors: Dana Aynn Levin

Hollywood Princess (10 page)

BOOK: Hollywood Princess
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CHAPTER 21 - ELIZABETH

Shortly after Rachel and Danny left, Greg knocked on the door. In sharp contrast to Danny’s entrance, Greg’s seemed reticent. He smiled shyly, pleased by my appearance.

“Ready in a minute,”
I called out. Greg quietly seated himself in the living room while I brushed my hair one more time.

Normally Greg wore jeans torn at the knee and his flannel shirts hung loosely on his slender frame. Tonight Greg wore chinos and an oxford shirt. His trademark hiking boots and down vest marked him as being Greg. He had cleaned up nicely.

In the short time I had known the sophomore, I found Greg to be the antithesis of Danny.  Greg was from a small town in Massachusetts. His father was a veterinarian and his mother was a high school principal. Both believed in the importance of serving their community.

A product of rural New England, low-key Greg was a double major in Physics and Environmental Studies. He planned on pursuing a Masters degree in Environmental Engineering.

I was nervous. I hadn’t had a date since last summer, and that one, ugh, never mind! Greg and I were going to go to a movie. Perhaps later we would end up at The Cellar, a very public way of showing that I was not Danny’s girlfriend. 

What was wrong with me? Life should not revolve around Danny. Greg was a nice guy and pleasing to look at. I should enjoy this evening because it was enjoyable, plain and simple. Its effect on Danny should not enter into my dating satisfaction.

Stop thinking of Danny! But it was impossible. The scent of his cologne remained strong in my nostrils. I couldn’t shake his presence. It was exactly what Danny had intended.

Danny would not ruin my good time with Greg, I vowed.

The movie, a big-budget action-adventure, was perfect for a first date. Neither romantic nor scary, there were enough plot twists to hold my attention. 

Greg and I shared a large bag of plain popcorn and individual water bottles. 

“Don’t you want butter on it?” I asked while standing at the concessions stand.

Movie popcorn wasn’t movie popcorn unless slathered with butter.

“Please, no,” Greg answered. “Elizabeth, do you understand all the chemicals in that stuff? You shouldn’t pollute your body with that crap. It’ll give you cancer. Melted organic butter would be different.”

Once we consumed the popcorn, Greg tentatively reached for my hand. I had grown accustomed to Danny’s confidence. He would never be tentative about taking my hand. He wouldn’t be tentative about taking any girl’s hand. Danny would just take it. It would never cross his mind that a girl might not want him to. 

Greg’s hand felt warm, but not quite right. His fingers were shorter and stubbier than the ones I was accustomed to holding. They were rough from calluses. 

Unlike Danny, Greg worked with his hands. He repaired his truck. He worked at Donnelly’s organic garden. Physical labor, not sports, was part of Greg’s life.

Argh!! I had to stop comparison Greg with Danny!

Different did not mean bad. I had to get it through my head that men’s hands feel different from one another. It was no different than having twinkling sapphire eyes or soft brown ones. Both should be considered equally good.

Then why did I sit in the theater longing for twinkling sapphires?

Danny had certainly messed with my head. Why did everything lead to thoughts of him? I knew the answer, and it made me cross.

Eventually I became accustomed to Greg’s hand. It was nice, I decided. I smiled, leaned over and kissed his cheek, a soft, quick kiss. He smiled and squeezed my hand.

Instantly I regretted it. What did Greg think by this act? Did he assume I had feelings or expectations that as far as I knew I didn’t have? 

This was not a dilemma when I kissed Danny’s cheek. If Danny thought it might mean I wanted more, so be it. He would have been right.

Danny! Danny! Danny! Get out of my head! I wanted to scream.

Later, Greg and I returned to Donnelly after dessert at the organic bakery near the theater. Greg insisted on walking me to my door. I did not invite him inside my room. That would send a message I was not ready to send. Instead, I agreed to see Greg again, and he pecked my cheek good-night.

Greg’s kiss did nothing to me. It was pleasant but tentative. There was no steam and my heart rate remained constant. 

I was spoiled. I only knew Danny’s kisses, ones that sent me soaring to the moon and back, kisses that left my heart wanting to leap out of my chest. I needed to get over it. Otherwise, I would set myself up to be disappointed for the rest of my life.

CHAPTER 22 - ELIZABETH

Tuesday a small group of us gathered at The Cellar to enjoy a low-keyed evening. 

“Dance with me Eli,” Danny said, his request more a command than a question. 

I rose and followed him to the dance floor. “This is a slow dance,” I pointed out giving him ample opportunity to back out.

“That’s why it’s perfect.” Danny glanced down at my boot cast.

“Good point.” I wasn’t capable of dancing to a faster beat.

Danny hooked his arm around my waist and took my hand. My pulse quickened. As Danny pulled me closer, my heartbeat increased even more. The light scent of his cologne was intoxicating. I shivered.

Danny’s smile met mine. His entire being lit up, and he pressed me even closer as the next song began. Danny leaned into me, and inhaled a sharp intake of breath.

“You smell nice, Elizabeth,” he whispered. Danny’s breath, light on my ear, sent more shivers radiating throughout me.

Moments later Danny whispered again, “Do you have any idea how good you feel?”

“No,” I answered, somewhat terrified by his remark.

Danny gave me the most electric smile I’d ever seen, and I mirrored it.

“I don’t want you to feel this good,” he said, and frowned.

“Is something wrong with me?” I whispered. “Should we stop dancing?” I didn’t want to stop. I was enjoying Danny’s hands and the warmth of his body too much.

“No. This is too good.
Elizabeth, you’re perfect.”

Soon the song ended.

“I want you to leave,” Danny whispered.

I looked at him like he was crazy. Danny and I were having such a good time together.

“Why should I leave? It’s early.”

Danny’s beautiful smile had been replaced by sad confusion. 

“I’m afraid if you don’t leave I’m going to do something I’ll regret. Damn! This is too perfect tonight, Elizabeth.”

I was depressed seeing Danny’s conflicted emotions. Staying would in effect be an ultimatum. I couldn’t do that to him.
I cared too much.

The next morning Shane and Cam were alone at breakfast when I arrived. After last night, I wondered if Danny was avoiding me.

“Where’s Danny?” I asked, trying to sound as casual as possible. 

“Sleeping it off,” Shane offered. “After you left The Cellar, Danny got blitzed.”

“Why would he do that?” Danny was sober when I had said ‘good-night’.

“So he could numb his brain enough to go home with the flirty blonde, instead of going  with the brunette he really wanted. But she had already left,” Cam said with brutal glee.

“Oh.” I didn’t know what to say. So that’s why Danny told me to leave. 

I took a couple of nibbles of toast, washed them down with a gulp of juice, then grabbed a banana and left without saying another word.

Too early for class, I walked back to Berkeley Hall, and nearly collided with Danny who was dashing out the door.

“Hey, Eli,” he greeted me as though he didn’t have a care in the world.

“Don’t ‘hey Eli’ me, Daniel,” I scowled.

Danny stopped in his tracks, keeping me from proceeding.

“E, what’s got you this early in the morning?”

“I know why you made me leave The Cellar.” I frowned.

“Shit! This is just what I wanted to avoid. You’re hurt.”

I couldn’t answer. It was the obvious truth. Danny gripped my shoulders. “Eli,” he said, “You’ve got to find a boyfriend so you won’t care what I’m doing.”

Furious, I pulled myself out of his hold. 

“So I won’t care what you’re doing!” I exploded. “How about if you don’t care what I’m doing. I had a date Saturday night, and you did everything to sabotage it.”

Danny smirked. “I didn’t sabotage your date. I said ‘have a good time, Sweetheart.’”

I rolled my eyes in defiance, outraged. “Sweetheart? You’re asking me about my date with another man and you’re calling me Sweetheart! Unbelievable Daniel! I am not your Sweetheart and I never will be, so you’ve made it more than clear! And yes, I had a lovely time.”

“Will you be seeing him again?”

“Trying to assuage your guilt, Daniel? Yes, I’m seeing Greg again, but don’t come to my room first.”

“Guilt?

“Do you even remember last night? The part you spent with me?”

“Of course I do. It was the best part.” Danny smiled. “We were dancing. I was holding you in my arms.”

“You told me I was perfect,” I stammered. “What should I think when you say something like that?”

“I was stupid, Eli. I’ve got to keep my hands off of you.”

Danny took my hands and kissed my cheek. “Can you forgive me, Eli?” he asked in a hurt little boy voice. “I’ll be crushed if you don’t.”

“Daniel, you’re impossible.”

Why did I always give in to him? 

Saturday evening I went out with Greg to an on-campus jazz concert, this time without Danny’s interference. That was just as bad. I was distracted, wondering about his whereabouts, fearing an unannounced appearance.

When the time came to part, I decided that I didn’t want a third date. Greg was nice, but we had no chemistry. The electricity generated by Danny’s eyes, his touch, and his lips, ah, those lips, had me wanting more than Greg could deliver. Had Danny set me up to have expectations that no other man could ever fulfill? I couldn’t let myself believe that. I had to believe it was just Greg and my realization that he was not the right man for me.

I had to believe that somewhere out there was a man I would want to get involved with who was not Danny. Otherwise, I was doomed.

CHAPTER 23 - ELIZABETH

“I’m
meeting Rach to prep our film.” Danny said as we left Professor Dennison’s class the following Wednesday. “I hate to do this Eli, but I need a rain check today.” Then Danny took my hand and gave me his biggest smile. “I’m sorry. You know I’d rather be with you.” 

He would? After our recent conversations,
I had been following his no expectations game plan, so I answered, “I know. Class work comes first.”

I tried sounding
cheerful. I’d miss Danny, but it was just one afternoon. Still, I felt lost. For two months, every Wednesday afternoon had been filled with Danny. It was as though a part of me was missing. 

How to spend the afternoon?
I didn’t want to return to the dorm. Boring! I would think about it over hot chocolate at the Cafe. Maybe I’d run into a friend and we could hang out.

I was putting my change away when two students doctoring their coffees at the condiment station stopped me.

“Are you a freshman?” asked the pleasant looking blonde.

“Yes,” I answered with uncertainty
.

T
he sandy haired girl noticed my cautious reaction. “I’m Sasha and this is Joely. We’re the yearbook editors and we need a freshman to join our staff.”

Then Joely added,
“The freshmen editor takes pictures and lays them out. Do you have a camera?”

“Uh, yeah.
I’m a decent photographer.”

“Excellent,” Sasha continued, “We’re h
aving a staff meeting now. Come on up and check it out. The editors are a great group. You’ll like them.”

And I did.
This was exactly what I needed; an engrossing activity with a good group of students to take my mind off Danny. 

As
I was leaving the yearbook office after the meeting broke up, a pleasant, dark blonde upperclassman, all preppy in an oxford shirt and Topsiders, approached me.

”Hi,” he said. The guy’s soft blue eyes were nearly level with mine. He couldn’t have stood more than five foot seven. “
I’m Jackson Shaw, one of the Associate Editors,” and he reached out his hand to shake mine.


Elizabeth Jacobs, Freshmen Editor as of today. What does an Associate Editor do?”

“I’m in training to be
come next year’s Editor-in-Chief. Mind if I walk with you?  I also live in Berkeley. I’ve seen you in the building.”


You have?” That was a surprise. I hadn’t noticed Jackson, but I had rather been walking around with blinders on.


I live on the third floor. I’ve seen you with the freshmen on my hall.”

“Shane, Cam and Danny are my
friends.”

We’d
arrived at the dorm and continued chatting. 

As we
parted, Jackson said, “I’ll see you at The Cellar this weekend.” 

“I’m sure I’ll be there
,” I replied.

BOOK: Hollywood Princess
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