Friday 31 December 2010 – Monday 3 January 2011
I had no idea where this was heading . . . until the last question, asked by Robbie.
A gentle knock on the bedroom door drew Ava’s attention from her thoughts of her mother, Benjamin, and the reception.
‘Come in,’ she called loud enough for the person on the other side of the door to hear.
Robbie Bartell cautiously walked in and closed the door behind him. Sheepishly, he looked around the room as if he’d never been inside it before. The fact that it looked the same as the last time he had been allowed entry into Ava’s sanctuary, and that had been when they were both teenagers.
‘What do you want?’ Ava was not impressed by the fact that Robbie had followed her upstairs.
‘I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have spoken to you like that –’
‘No, you shouldn’t, but that’s typical of you. You were always a loud mouth and a show off,’ she interrupted before he could finish, leaving him floundering mid-sentence.
He looked at the floor and shuffled his feet. Ava James always had the power to make him feel like a fool. She saw that she had cut him down to size, and felt awkward about it. It wasn’t in her nature, these days, to be so abrasive. She had a public image to protect and had worked very hard at overcoming her faults.
‘Now it’s me who is sorry, Robbie. I don’t know what to say.’ She threw the bear on the bed, stood up and walked over to him. She could barely hear him speak.
‘I’m sorry about Benji. He was a good guy.’ He put his hands deep into the pockets of his suit pants. Ava recalled the last time she saw him in a suit. It had been for their senior prom. She thought then that he looked good in a suit and should wear them more often. She reached out and straightened the knot of his black tie. He flinched, thinking she was going to strike him again, relaxing only when he realised that his tie was askew.
She nodded in agreement. Benji had been a nice guy, and he had been taken too soon.
‘I’ve missed you,’ Robbie said. ‘I don’t wanna sound like a crazy fan, but I’ve seen everything you’ve done. All the movies, the guest appearances on TV. Even went to the city to see you in that play on Broadway, last year.’
Ava was surprised by his admission. Robbie wasn’t the sort of guy who would ever have contemplated going to the theatre, and if it wasn’t an action film, he wasn’t interested in watching it. Yet, here he was, confessing to have seen all of her work. Then the realisation hit her: that means he saw the nude scene. Oh God, the shame.
She turned red from embarrassment at the thought of Robbie Bartell watching her naked form on the big screen. She didn’t know why it affected her so badly; he’d seen a lot more of her than what ended up in that film.
Leaving him standing by the door, Ava returned to sit on the bed. She needed to get some distance between herself and Robbie, somehow thinking it might lessen her embarrassment. It did not. She was all too aware of how silly it must have seemed to Robbie, that she had been made to feel uncomfortable by his admission, given that she was now a Hollywood A-list actress.
‘I came to see you the day you left. Your mom said you’d already gone. I wanted to say goodbye.’
Again, the words leaving his mouth surprised Ava. They had been a couple in high school, but when she told Robbie that she was leaving town to study in the city, he had reacted like a spoilt child, cursing her for her ambition. Ava had been frightened by the ferocity of his outburst, and had cut all ties with him on the spot. He hadn’t reacted well to that either. The further Ava was away from him, she decided, the better off she would be.
‘Yes, well, I wouldn’t have trusted anything that my mother had said on that day. We didn’t exactly see eye to eye about me leaving. I’ve barely spoken to her since then. Ben was the one who kept things going between us. Now, with him gone, I don’t know . . . ’ Her voice trailed off before she finished the thought.
Robbie raised his head a little to look at the woman who was quickly reverting back into the teenage girl he remembered – lost and hurt and feeling out of place. He wanted so much to put his arms around her, but things had moved on since they were close, and he deemed it inappropriate especially since she’d slapped him earlier. But she looked so small and helpless sitting there.
Against his instinct, Robbie sat on the bed next to her. He contemplated taking her hand, but chose instead, to sit on his own hands. He didn’t know if he could trust himself to only hold Ava’s hand. His feelings for her hadn’t really changed since they’d dated, despite the argument they’d had when Ava announced her plans to head to the city. He wasn’t sure that she felt the same though.
All of the magazines and papers that Robbie had seen, had Ava draped over some muscle-bound actor. He wondered if she’d actually been seeing any of them, or if it was all for publicity. Either way, she was totally out of his league now. There was no way she’d look at him they way she used to. Robbie suddenly found himself regretting ever having given Ava up. This was entirely unexpected.
‘How did it happen?’ Ava asked him.
‘How did what happen?’ Robbie was not thinking.
. . . To be continued . . .