[Really long story! Sorry!]
I had never been that big a fan of Disneyland. Maybe it was because my only memory of it was driving all the way from Bumfuck, Alabama, to Disney, and then sneaking in because we couldn't afford admission, but either way, I wasn't particularly psyched about being basically forced back to a childhood nightmare. And to top it all off, Hunter and I hadn't spoken in three days. I hadn't seen him since the disaster the night of the Grammy's, and it was killing me. I was almost desperate enough to call his phone, just to hear his voice mail, but I wasn't quite there. Yet.
But then while I was sifting through my closet looking for a pair of comfortable flats, I came across the bag I'd brought to the autograph signing, and when I grabbed it to move it out of the way, a piece of paper fluttered to the ground. I picked it up, and saw written in a child's scrawl: "Emma McKenzie - 310-7823." I smiled, and picked up my phone. I suddenly knew just how to make this day better.
Half an hour later, I pulled into the driveway of a grungy house in East LA. Emma ran out of the house, Sean in tow. "Hi Zoe! Hi!" she called, waving at me as she opened the back seat of the cherry-red convertible Amanda had rented for me.
"Emma," Sean said, a warning evident in his tone.
"Thank you for taking us to Disneyland," she recited before buckling her seatbelt with an amount of excitement I hadn't even thought possible.
"Really," Sean added as he slid into the passenger seat. "I was running out of things to do with her. I think our next game might've been 'Pin the Label on the Beer Bottle.'"
I made a 'yikes!' face, and laughed. "Don't worry about it. I wasn't really looking forward to this, but bringing Emma along is going to make it all better." Turning around, I pulled out of the driveway before hitting the stereo. "What should we listen to, Em?"
"ACDC!" she cried, and I almost stopped the car, I was so surprised.
"ACDC?" I asked Sean, who shrugged.
"I can't stand those Disney twats, so Emma had to learn a good taste in music if she wanted to like what she heard in the car."
I laughed, and motioned for him to sift through the CDs in my purse, which he did, until finding an ACDC album and popping it into the player. We rocked out for the next hour until we pulled into the parking lot, where we were guided to where all the other stars and starlets were being allowed to park.
The three of us maneuvered our way through the park all day, going on every ride possible, and eating everything available. Around five, Sean told Emma two more rides, and then it was time to stop and get souvenirs. As she got in line for the Toy Story ride for the fifth time, Sean and I stood watching. I was eating a strawberry ice cream cone that he'd insisted on trying to buy for me, and he was eating the fried dough that was the result of said attempt. "I told you," I laughed through my brain freeze. "People like to just give famous people stuff. It's like, if you can pay for it, you don't have to. It's absolutely ridiculous."
"Yeah, well. It's the unfairness of the universe. I've gotten used to it by now." Sean smiled at me, and I bumped him with my elbow. We'd fallen into a familiar sort of banter throughout the day, almost leaving me wondering if we could somehow be long lost siblings.
"So," he said, keeping a watchful eye on Emma as she boarded the ride. "You're dating that Hunter guy, right?"
"Wha- wha- what?" I spluttered, wiping my face free of strawberry ice cream. "What gave you that idea?"
He shrugged. "There's been pictures of you guys at like, the Golden Globes and the Grammy's all over the magazines. I just assumed... Sorry."
I gave him a weak smile. "Don't worry about it," I said, squeezing his arm. "It's just... Well, he and I got really close a while back. I'm not exactly the most outgoing girl, believe it or not, and he wasn't in any mood to be when he got back from Iraq. So we just sort of... hung out. And then after a while, I started to kind of... kind of start falling totally fairy-tale in love with him." And just like that, I found myself spilling the entire sordid affair to him, right down to the gallon of Ben and Jerry's I'd eaten since the Grammy's.
"Aw, Zo," was all he said, and pulled me into a hug. I heard cameras snapping, and I was sure that THAT photo was going to be all over the tabloids.
"Thanks," I said, then pulled away. "Now beware. Your picture is going to be splattered in every rag this country has to offer now, especially since we've been spending the whole day together. Sure you're okay with that? Think through your answer before you hug me in public again."
Sean laughed before Emma came over to us. "Can we go to the Disney store now?" she pleaded, tugging on the hem of my shirt.
I looked at Sean, who nodded, so we traipsed off to buy ourselves some Disney-insignia covered accessories.
Emma requested to listen to Journey on the way home, and by the end of Don't Stop Believin', I had a plan. I turned the music down, and looked at the both of them as much as I could while still keeping an eye on the road. "You guys wanna come spend the night at my place tonight? The traffics gonna be bad trying to get back into East LA right now, and I've gotta get the keys back to Amanda, my agent, by eight. Why don't you just spend the night?"
Emma started jumping up and down in her seat, but Sean looked skeptical. "Are you sure?" he asked, motioning for Emma to stop moving. "That's kind of a big deal, you know."
I shrugged. "Look," I said, trying to keep my voice low for Emma's sake. "I'm coming from the same background as you. I know how much that sucks. Just let me help you out tonight, or whenever I can."
Sean studied my face as I drove before agreeing, which just started Emma's jumping again. I grinned, and made the appropriate turns to get to the apartment building. I called Manda and asked her to bring some girls pajamas, size ten, when she came by to pick up the car keys, and a pair of guys sweatpants, size 32, as well. If she was intrigued, she didn't ask any questions, just said she would and that she'd be by around seven fifteen.
As soon as we entered my apartment, Emma was buzzing around examining everything. It took about ten minutes to finally calm her down, and when we did, she collapsed on the couch with exhaustion. "Just let her sleep," Sean instructed while throwing one of the cashmere afghans I had over her. "She's had a long day. And Em's always been a good sleeper. Who knows, she might not wake up until morning. We can only hope," he joked, and I snorted.
We sat facing each other on the other couch and talked about everything. Honestly, we did talk about everything. I told him about my childhood, and he told me about his. Emma was actually his half sister, which explained the mega age difference. Around eight, after Manda had already dropped by, we called for chinese delivery. So naturally, when the doorbell rang at eight forty-five, waking Emma, I assumed it was the delivery boy and opened the door, still laughing at whatever joke Sean had just made. Instead of our food, there stood Hunter. Immediately, I stopped laughing, and folded my arms in front of myself. "What?" I asked, my voice coming out way smaller than I had tried to make it.
"Don't be mad. Just listen, okay?" Hunter took a deep breath, obviously not seeing Sean and Emma. "I love you too. I'm sorry I walked away. I'm sorry when you told me, I just said 'okay.' But I needed to process things. And I know that's not an excuse, really, but that's who I am. Zo, you know that I don't just jump into things. I've gone the past seven months thinking that you didn't love me back, thinking that I was being completely irrational in loving you, and then out of the blue, you suddenly love me too? It's crazy, and I can't process things as quickly as you can. Hell, I just think that girls process things quicker than guys in general. So I'm sorry I was a d o u c h e. I'm sorry I made you wait three days. But I'm here now, and I love you." He exhaled, and I opened the door a little more to reveal Sean and Emma.
"Oh." Hunter's face turned from rosy to scarlet. "I didn't know you had moved - Okay, I'm just gonna take off now. Sorry to interrupt. Have fun."
"Dude," Sean called out as Hunter turned to leave again. "Are you seriously leaving again? Cause this?" - he gestured to the three of us - "This is nothing. Zoe was just helping me out with my little sister today. She said she told you about us. The kids who her agent thought were druggies going to sell her numbers? Yeah, that's us."
Half of Hunter's face turned up into a grin. "That's you guys?"
"In the flesh, bro. Now please. Don't be an idiot. Would you just come back here and kiss her?"
Hunter's entire face was smiling now, and in three long strides, he was back in front of me. I smiled up at him for barely a millisecond before I was in his arms, and his mouth was pressed against mine. I could hear Emma cheering sleepily in the background, and Sean trying to shush her, but I couldn't pay much attention to that, due to the fact that all around my head, there were fireworks exploding.