Second(7)By: Chantal Fernando
I study his profile, wondering what brought him back to town. He’s famous now, and he doesn’t need to be here. His parents don’t live here anymore, they moved east after Dean made it big, so it’s only Ben’s mother, her husband, and their two sons who remain. I don’t even know if he’s close with his two cousins or not, but I don’t think he’s seen them in a while. I’d read in one of the gossip magazines that Dean is dating the actress Bella Reed, but I don’t know how much of that is true. I don’t feel like it’s my place to ask, even though I’m curious as hell.
I look straight ahead and lean my head back. This is my first time leaving the house in so long, and I’m going to buy food and booze with a sexy-as-sin famous musician and I still don’t feel happy.
What if it’s always like this?
The concerning part is that I don’t know if I’ll ever snap out of this funk. I don’t know who I am without Ben.
“Is that hat meant to be your diabolical disguise?” I ask, smirking as we get out of the car.
He pulls it down low on his head. “No one will recognise me.”
“Yes, they will,” I say, brow furrowing. “You grew up here so everyone worships you. You’re the local treasure. They’ll definitely recognise you, Dean.”
“We’ll be quick,” he says, nodding to the grocery store. “Let’s go.”
I follow him inside, feeling amusement as I watch him grab a trolley and push it towards the first aisle.
“When’s the last time you went food shopping?” I ask him, scanning the fruit selection.
He clears his throat, then says, “I don’t know. Months, maybe.”
I make a tsk tsk sound. “How does it feel to be amongst the common folk? Us plebs?”
He throws me a look that clearly tells me to shut up, but all I do is flash him a grin, then start loading the trolley with various fruits and vegetables. A decent meal does sound good. Tara has dropped food off every day, trying to get me to eat, but all I did was consume the bare minimum. The looseness of my jeans tells me just how much I’ve been neglecting myself, and it’s time for me to get out of my slump and get my shit together. Dean is right, I can’t go on like this anymore. Other people lose someone they love every day, but they get through it.
And I will too.
We’re down the second aisle when I hear a woman say to her friend, “Oh my God, is that Dean Amore?”
My head snaps to Dean, and I catch his wince. He keeps pushing through the aisle, at a faster speed this time.
“Disguise fail,” I mutter under my breath.
“Fuck,” he whispers, turning around and looking behind him as the women start to follow him.
“Do you want to go to the car?” I ask him, quickly ducking behind a display of nappies. “I can finish up here alone.”
“No,” he says, shaking his head. “I have to get the shit I need to cook dinner tonight.”
My eyebrows hit my hairline. “You’re cooking dinner tonight? Will wonders never cease?”
“Well at least the fire in you is back,” he says in a dry tone, glancing up at the nappies stacked in a huge pile. “Great, next they’ll be saying I knocked someone up.”
I glance around. “There’s no paparazzi here, Dean. This isn’t the big city.”
However if those women take a photo, it could be plastered all over social media, which is kind of the same thing. “Or maybe you’re right. What do you want me to do?”
“You gonna save me?” he asks, his smile hitting his green eyes. “There’s nothing we can do, let’s just get what we need and bounce.”
We rush around the store, grabbing everything we think we’ll need. We’re in the ice-cream aisle when the women catch up with us.
“Oh my God, Dean, it is you!” one gushes, closing the space between them and touching his arm. “Can I take a photo with you? I love you and your music so much! Your picture is my phone wallpaper!”
She slides up next to him, like they’ve known each other for years, completely invading his personal space.
Is this what he has to go through every time he leaves the house? People acting like he’s community property? The other woman, a younger-looking brunette, steps to his other side. “Could I get your signature? My friends aren’t going to believe this….”
Dean looks uncomfortable, and fairly so. I try to step in and save him.
“Listen, ladies,” I say, stepping closer to Dean and slowly nudging them out of the way. “How about a quick photo, but you both need to stay quiet about him being here? His cousin just died and he’s trying to mourn in peace, without everyone knowing his whereabouts.”