Eye Candy Rumor Central
By RESHONDA TATE BILLINGSLEY
KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP. Copyright © 2015 ReShonda Tate Billingsley
All rights reserved.
I needed my own page in Webster's Dictionary. That's because, if you looked up the word fabulous, there I was. If you looked up phenomenal, you'd find my name. If you looked up all that and then some, yep, there I would be. Yeah, I know, nobody even uses dictionaries anymore, but you get what I'm sayin'.
I was Maya Morgan and I was off the chain.
I knew that sounded arrogant, but it was what it was.
I couldn't help who I was. And right about now, I was also the happiest girl on the planet. I was the most famous young talk show host in the country. My television show, Rumor Central, was still number one (as if there was anything else to be when it came to me). I was six weeks away from graduating high school. I had even managed to pull up my grades—even in that stupid calculus class, which yours truly was now rocking a C in.
And now, I had finally found love with the guy of my dreams. Yeah, I know at one time I'd thought that was Bryce, my lame ex-boyfriend, but Bryce was a boy. My new boo was a man. Actually, my new boo was Alvin Martin, one of my closest friends. Yes, he was twenty-one years old, but that was only three years older than me, so I didn't know why anybody would trip. Besides, I couldn't deal with guys my age because they were so immature. But our friendship was why our relationship is going so well—we were friends first.
I dabbed some lip gloss on as I leaned into the ladies'-room mirror and smiled. We were at an entertainment industry party and Alvin had once again held his own, which made me love him that much more. Alvin and I were from two different worlds. He was a geek; I was a goddess. Alvin preferred to stay in the background; I loved the limelight. Unlike my other exes, Alvin let me have my shine with no complaint. I couldn't say the same about Bryce, who went to school at Miami High with me and couldn't stand all of the attention I got, or my other ex, R & B singer J. Love, who was always competing with my shine.
Alvin took a back seat and let me do me. Of course, I couldn't forget the fact that he treated me so well, nor the fact that even though you wouldn't know it by looking at him, he was stupid rich. And now that I'd cleaned him up a little bit, he wasn't half bad looking. I still hadn't been able to get rid of those Coke-bottle glasses, but I was working on it. Now, he looked less like Steve Urkel and more like Michael B. Jordan, that cute guy from the movie Fruitvale Station.
I finally snapped out of my thoughts as I noticed the girl washing her hands in the sink next to me was staring my way.
"Hi," I said, when I really wanted to ask her what her problem was.
"Oh ... my ... God," she said, slowly, as if she'd been trying to figure out who I was and it had just dawned on her. "Are you Maya Morgan?"
I gave her a small nod and a smile, and she started jumping up and down.
"No way! No freakin' way!" She fumbled to get her phone out of her purse. "Can I take a picture with you?" She was already on the side of me before I could answer, so I just smiled as she snapped a selfie.
"OMG, I'm so putting this on Instagram," she said as she began tapping away on her phone.
"Nice to meet you" I said, dropping my lip gloss back in my purse and stepping around her to go into a stall.
She grabbed my arm and the look on my face must've made her think twice because she dropped my arm and said, "Sorry, I'm just so excited. I just want to say I love your show. I'm so glad they took you off Miami Divas and gave you your own show."
I smiled. I was happy about that, too. Before I ever made my first television appearance, I was already at the top of the food chain as the leader of Miami's "It Clique." In fact, that's why I'd been approached to do the reality show Miami Divas in the first place. But someone had a brain fart and put me with four other "rich chicks" as one magazine described us (even though, technically, Bali Fernandez, one of the "chicks" was a boy, he was more flamboyant than all of us put together). Miami Divas hadn't done as well as they'd wanted it to, so they'd canceled it and fired Bali and the other three costars—Evian Javid, Shay Turner, and my BFF, Sheridan Matthews. Of course, none of us were too thrilled about that. I'd quickly gotten over it though, when they'd announced I wouldn't be getting fired and instead would be getting my own show. Everybody had been so mad at me because we had all agreed that we were a team. I had honestly meant that—until the producers told me I was getting my own show. Then, all bets were off.
Evian, Bali, and Shay never got over it. And after a lot of drama, me and Sheridan (who was my BFF since like forever) had been able to squash things and go back to kickin' it.
That move to give me my own show had turned out to be the smartest thing the station could've done. I had become the go-to chick for all the latest celebrity gossip, dirt, and entertainment news. Rumor Central was now one of the top entertainment shows in the country.
"... and I even DVR your show."
I hadn't even realized this girl was still rambling.
"Well, I really need to go," I said, pointing at the stall.
"Oh, sorry," the girl said, still excited. "I'll let you go. I can't believe I actually met Maya Morgan." She giggled as she made her way out the ladies' room.
I hated public restrooms but all of that Fiji Water (because I didn't do alcohol) I had been drinking was running straight through me. So, I stepped into the stall, thankful that this place at least kept their restrooms clean. I was handling my business when I heard the chatter of two girls as they walked in. I didn't pay them any attention until I heard one of them say my name.
"Girl, did you see that nerd boy Maya Morgan is with?" one of them said.
That made me stand on alert because of the nasty way it rolled off her tongue.
"I did. Everybody's talking about it," the other voice replied.
"I'm like, seriously, you dumped J. Love for that?"
J. Love was an R & B singer who had to be the hottest thing going right now. He was so fine, it was ridiculous. He had smooth chocolate skin, curly hair, and a body that was out of this world. He looked like a much finer version of Trey Songz. Yes, he was all that, but he could also be a jerk.
"I mean, really?" the first girl continued. "I could pull a guy better than that dork she's with."
"For real, what I wouldn't give to have J. Love. He is so fine!"
"Baby, fine ain't even the word. And from what I heard, he was really feeling her and she dumped him for that."
Their laughter mixed with running water as I stood deathly still, both angry and shocked.
One of the girls continued. "But did you see him on the dance floor, though? He doesn't have any rhythm"
I couldn't appreciate them talking about my guy like that, but as mad as I was, they were right. Alvin's attempt on the dance floor had been embarrassing, to say the least. I couldn't bring myself to come out of the stall.
"All I know is I used to envy Maya Morgan, but, baby, if that's the best she can do, I think I'll stay me!"
Their laughter drifted off as they walked out of the restroom.
I didn't move for a few minutes. Then, finally, I pushed open the door, and made my way out of the stall. I stared at my reflection in the European-tiled mirror. Had I really been reduced to that chick who got talked about in the bathroom?
Were people really talking about my man?
Finally, I took a deep breath and told myself it wasn't about what they wanted. It wasn't about what anyone wanted. I was feeling Alvin and he was feeling me. And that's all that mattered—right?
I shook myself out of my trance, washed my hands, and headed back out. I had just walked back to the VIP area when I saw Alvin standing outside of the roped area.
"Hey, babe, what's up?" I asked, wondering why he was out here and not inside the VIP area at our private table.
"I came to check on you because you were gone so long and now they won't let me back in."
"What do you mean, they won't let you in?" I didn't wait for a reply as I stomped back over to the bouncer standing at the door to the VIP room.
"Excuse me. My boyfriend said you won't let him in. He has a VIP bracelet," I said, trying not to get an attitude as I jabbed my finger in Alvin's direction.
The burly bald-headed bouncer looked at me and then looked at Alvin. "Oh, dude, my bad. I thought you stole that or something." He stepped aside and then chuckled to his friend standing on the side of him. "I didn't know they were letting bustas in the VIP now."
I rolled my eyes as I stomped past them. Alvin was right on my heels. This was the second time tonight someone had disrespected my man and I was getting fed up. I had tried my best not to be that chick. But these people were definitely trying to push me.
I used to think that Alvin's nerdy dancing looked cute. But right about now I'd give anything if he'd just stop. Maybe it was because of what those girls in the bathroom had said. Maybe it was because of the way people were standing around snickering. And I didn't like that Alvin didn't seem bothered by any of it, including not being able to get back into the VIP area. Had it been me, I would've gone clean off on the bouncer. But Alvin acted like it was no big deal.
He finally stopped dancing when he noticed me barely moving. "What's wrong, babe?" he asked.
I just stared at him. If there was one thing I would change about Alvin, it would be his nonchalant attitude. He wasn't weak. He just rarely got upset—even when he had every right to. Yeah, I'd change that. And his style. And his nerdy ways. Oh yeah, and those glasses. They would definitely be gone. Other than that, I liked him just as he was. But I was definitely going to have to have a talk with him about this.
I'd first met Alvin when a friend of my other BFF, Kennedi, put me in touch with him so he could help me figure out who was hacking into my email account. Alvin was some kind of computer whiz (he even made a lot of money off one of his computer inventions).
Alvin liked me from jump, but he was a nerd with a capital N. He was a rich nerd, but he was a nerd nonetheless, so I wouldn't give him the time of day like that. But Alvin had a great sense of humor and a knack for making me laugh, and eventually, I fell in love with him.
"You're not still mad about that bouncer, are you?" Alvin asked as if he were reading my mind.
"And I can't believe you're not," I replied.
He shrugged. "Life is too short to be walking around mad. The bouncer didn't know who I was. You cleared it up; it's over." He began doing that stupid wiggle dance again to the sound of DJ Snake and Lil Jon's "Turn Down for What."
"Whatever, Alvin." I was about to turn and go back to my seat.
Alvin actually stopped dancing, took my hand, and studied me. "You're for-real mad? Come on, babe. Just relax and enjoy yourself." He started dancing harder. He almost reminded me of Carlton off of those Fresh Prince of Bel-Air reruns.
I couldn't help it. I actually giggled. "Okay. I'll get over it if you promise to just stop dancing."
"What?" he said, doing a quick spin around. "You don't think I could try out for America's Got Talent?"
"Um, that would be no," I said, laughing.
"Yo, I say go for it. I bet you could win."
We stopped and both of us turned to see my ex, J. Love, standing there, a big grin on his face. I wanted to die. I'd purposely asked the event organizer if J. Love was going to be here and he'd said no. I'd even gone as far as texting J. Love to find out if he was in town, and when he hadn't responded, I'd assumed that he wasn't.
"What's up, Maya?" J. said with a huge smile. He and I had been a serious item for a few months. Until someone had leaked some info about him to the National Enquirer and he'd just naturally assumed it was me. It had turned out to be this girl who was obsessed and stalking me, but because of the whole way J. had handled the situation, I had been too through.
"Hey J." I said. J. Love put Alvin to shame in the looks department. There was a reason he was one of the top singers in the country right now.
"You're looking good" J. said, licking his lips as if I were a pork chop.
Alvin stepped right in front of me, I guess guarding his territory.
"What's up, my man? Andrew right?" J. Love asked, directing his huge, charming smile in Alvin's direction.
"Naw, dude, it's Alvin" Alvin said, suddenly getting a cockiness that I actually liked. "But you know that, right?"
"Alvin, Alvin, that's right," J. Love said, snapping his fingers. "You're like a computer geek."
"I prefer computer guru, but yeah, that would be me."
If J. Love was trying to insult Alvin, he definitely wasn't doing a good job because Alvin didn't seem fazed.
"Yo, ma," J. Love said, looking around Alvin so that our eyes could meet, "you enjoying the party?"
Once again, Alvin stepped in front of me to block J.'s view. "Her name is Maya, not ma, but I'm sure you know that, too."
J. licked his lips again. "Oh, I know that. I know that very well."
I stepped up to defuse any situation. I liked J. Love, I really did, and the public had liked us together. But even though I had forgiven him from tripping with me about the Enquirer story, my heart wasn't with him. I felt like we had been more for show than anything else. He loved having Maya Morgan on his arm, but he didn't love Maya Morgan. Not like Alvin did anyway.
"Don't you have a concert somewhere you need to be performing?" I asked.
"That's tomorrow in Tampa. Want me to fly you up?"
"Oh, that would be cool," Alvin said with a big grin. "What time should we be ready to go?"
I couldn't help but smile.
J. Love actually laughed, too. "I like him," J. said to me. "He's quick witted."
Alvin took my hand.
"And a little possessive," J. Love added.
"Bye, J.," I said, dismissing him.
But before I could turn and walk away, someone yelled, "Maya, J.! This way!" I was about to go off because the paparazzi wasn't supposed to be able to get into the VIP area. But then I noticed it was actually the photographer assigned by the party promoters.
"Yo, can I get a closer shot of you two?" he asked, motioning between me and J. Love.
"Um, yeah, that's probably not a good idea." I held up my hand, which was still intertwined with Alvin's.
"Oh, come on now," the photographer replied.
"Yeah, come on now," J. Love repeated. "I mean, I'm sure your man won't mind. Will you, Alvin?" he said, stressing his name to make sure he got it right.
Alvin eased in front of me just a bit.
"Dude, it's just a photo," the photographer said, staring at Alvin like he didn't understand the problem.
Alvin looked at me. I didn't know what I was supposed to do, but all eyes were on me, so I just shrugged. "He's right. It's just a stupid picture."
Alvin gave me a look like that really wasn't the answer that he was looking for, but he let my hand go and stepped to the side. I moved closer to J. Love and the photographer immediately began taking pictures of me with J. Love. The flash of the bulbs brought more photographers and before we knew it, there were about five or six photographers snapping away and tossing questions our way. I guess once one of them got in, the rest jumped the rope as well.
I wanted to stop and ask why they were letting the photographers in VIP, but the last thing I wanted to do was get on their bad side. But when one of them said, "Are you guys back together?" I knew it was time to shut it down.
"Oh my God, you guys make such a cute couple!" someone else added.
"Sorry, folks, I'm not with J. Love." I stepped away from him and draped my arm through Alvin's. "This is my man."
In what seemed like a scene out of a movie, the whole place went quiet. Then there were a few snickers, then all-out laughter.
Then, someone in the back of the room yelled, "Are you freaking kidding me?"
Finally, a reporter that I actually did like said, "What's his name?"
"Alvin Martin," I said. "He's the sweetest guy you will ever meet." That made Alvin finally smile. "Here, why don't you guys get a few shots of us?" I asked, pulling Alvin toward me. One lone camera began flashing as the other photographers actually started putting their cameras up and walking away. I don't think I've ever been so embarrassed in all my life.
And once again, my boyfriend didn't seem fazed as he grinned for the one photographer. (Continues...)
Excerpted from Eye Candy Rumor Central by RESHONDA TATE BILLINGSLEY. Copyright © 2015 ReShonda Tate Billingsley. Excerpted by permission of KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP..
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