The cool summer breeze tickled Hope’s cheeks, contrasting sharply with the pair of full, warm lips that moved slowly against hers. She felt a large, rough hand reach up, entwining its fingers in her long brown hair as it pulled her closer.
The kiss was amazing – clearly this guy knew what he was doing. But all Hope could think of in that moment was Zayne. It sent an unpleasant twisting sensation through her stomach. What am I doing?!
“Cut! That was perfect, guys!”
Hope eagerly broke away from the man’s embrace the moment the director’s cry reached her ears. They’d done four takes of the kiss already, and Hope prayed that this time when he said ‘perfect’, he meant it.
“Let’s take ten and we’ll start on the last scene.” He continued. “Hope, I think that’s a wrap for you, sweetheart. You were amazing!”
“Hey, are you okay?” Garrett asked softly as the blinding lights shining on their faces finally turned off.
Hope shrugged slightly at her colleague’s question. “Yeah… Why?”
“I dunno… I guess you didn’t seem super into it… And I mean, I get it. Trust me.” He let out a small laugh. “My trick is to think of my boyfriend.” He confessed, smiling. “No offense.”
Yeah, that’s the problem. Hope wanted to say. All she’d been able to think about was Zayne the entire shoot. She forced a smile. “I promise, I’m fine. Nice job today.”
“You too! See you backstage tomorrow?” The other model asked kindly.
The girl nodded. “See you then!”
Hope headed straight for the dressing room, eager to change back into her own clothes, stop thinking about Zayne, and start focusing on tomorrow’s fashion show. That was the real reason she was in San Myshuno anyway – Francisco San Martín had requested that she walk in the debut of his new line. She’d booked that job weeks ago. The commercial, on the other hand, was something of a lucky coincidence.
According to Louis, there’d been some sort of scheduling conflict, and the model set to be in this perfume commercial was no longer able to do the job. It just so happened to be shooting the same weekend she’d be in the city for the fashion show, and the job was up for grabs.
The moment she learned the nature of the shoot, Hope had eagerly accepted. She knew how petty it was, but she’d really taken the job as something of a “screw you” to Zayne more than anything else. If he wants to be jealous, I’ll give him something to be jealous of. She’d told herself at the time.
But Hope found herself regretting her decision almost the moment she’d arrived at the shoot. No matter how hard she tried, all she could think of was Zayne sitting back home in Windenburg, completely unaware that she was halfway across the world making out with another guy. A gay guy, yes… But somehow that didn’t help her feel much better.
What’s he going to think of me when he sees this? The girl wondered as she finished putting her street clothes back on. God, we haven’t even broken up yet, and I’m already –
Hope’s entire body froze.
Yet. Had she really thought that? Yet?
Almost without warning, Hope felt the hot wetness of tears on her cheeks. Oh my God.
Had she really made her mind up so soon? Could she really throw away everything they had without giving him a second chance? But I’ve already given him so many of those. She reminded herself. The thought did nothing but make her feel worse.
Hope headed back toward her hotel on foot, hoping the fresh air would help clear her head. It felt like all the doubt, worry, and regret she’d been battling for the past two weeks had come rushing back at her all at once. Had she been too hard on him? Pushed too much? What could she have done differently? Hope did her best to chase the thoughts away just as quickly as they’d come. There was no use dwelling. There was nothing she or Zayne could do to change the past now.
But what about the future? We could start over, couldn’t we? Do things differently this time around?
Hope slowed her pace a bit as she continued down the sidewalk, savoring the sights and sounds of the city around her, and hoping they’d do something to lift her spirits.
She’d always loved San Myshuno, and even after all these years, it still managed to feel like home. She’d been trying to stay close to Windenburg and take as many local jobs as she could… But lately it was becoming harder and harder to turn down all the amazing opportunities the city had to offer. And the more time she’d been spending there, the more she realized just how much she missed it.
Y’know, I probably would have already moved back here by now, Hope realized. If it weren’t for…
The uncomfortable twisting in her stomach slowly began creeping its way back. And, try as she might, she could not will the feeling away. Maybe there was more to their problems than she’d thought… Had Zayne really been holding her back? And what if she’d been holding him back too…?
God damn it. Stop thinking shit like that!
She needed to give him another chance, didn’t she?
Zayne was everything to her. Her best friend. Her lover. Her confidant. The person she dreamed of spending the rest of her life with.
I love him. Hope reminded herself firmly. More than anything.
But was that enough?
By the time she made it back to her hotel, she’d made up her mind.