Chloe takes my arm and drags me out. I’m so tired that I don’t even protest. I just let her drag me out. Besides, if I try to pull away in these shoes, I’ll probably twist an ankle or something. Maybe that’s why Derek cheated on me. I’m a total klutz. Or maybe Derek’s just a douche.
Maybe it’s the champagne talking, but I go out there. Over the sound of the loud music, I yell to my “friend” Madison, “Just got a cute guy’s nombre.”
She slaps me on the shoulder exuberantly. Ow. “Good for you, girlfriend!” And it occurs to me at that moment just how much I hate these girls. “Is it that one?”
She points to a polished guy dancing on the other side of the dance floor. He’s dark, with gelled back hair. Got the whole tall, dark, and handsome thing, but not for me. Gel is on the top ten banned list. That, and cheap cologne and/or Axe body spray. But dude’s got moves.
Oops, I meant, “That young man is quite the dancer.” According to my mother, Denise Rochester, slang words shouldn't be used in polite company.
Madison proceeds to point to a bunch of handsome, rich dudes. Finally, I spin her around and point to “Cute Waiter #3.”
“A waiter? Dating down? You could do so much better, hon. You’re gorgeous. But he is adorable.” It occurs to me that he is pretty goddamned adorable. I just liked him because he seemed funny and sweet. But it never occurred to me just how cute he is. He has shaggy brown hair that’s constantly in his eyes, bright, thoughtful green eyes, and untied sneakers. With a tuxedo. He’s like a lovable little kid.
“He’s definitely going to be a project. He’s so…messy,” she says.
I smile. Just the way I like ‘em.
A week later, I’m sitting at a sidewalk café in Midtown with one of my only true friends, Anna. We’ve known each other since elementary school, before my mother married the Ned Rochester, before we went from a small house to the penthouse. A rat scurries across my feet, but I’m too immersed in telling the story of the cute waiter to care.
“So some of my mom’s friends’ daughters were sitting with me, and per usual, they were all totally annoying,” I say, stirring the ice in my drink absentmindedly. “They all got up to dance, and I was just awkwardly sitting there all alone.”
“Boo hoo. You’ve always been a solitary person,” she interrupts.
“Well, not anymore,” I say with a wicked grin. “Then I looked around and I saw this waiter standing on the side. Before, he had come to collect our plates and he had looked me straight in the eye and smiled. So I went and stood next to him.”
“Aria, you’re getting so brave! I’m so proud of our little wallflower!”
“I’m not necessarily a wallflower. I just don’t like flirting. Anyway, I smiled at him and he smiled back. Then he said that I’m beautiful. Then I told him that he should tell that to my last boyfriend.”
Anna puts her head down in frustration. “I think I’m going to cry,” she says. “You mentioned your last boyfriend?”
“Yup. Why, is that bad?”
“Uh, yeah. Guys don’t want to hear about your ex. “
“Anyway, we had a whole conversation that ended up with me giving him my number.”
“Did you get his?”
She pounds her head on the table in frustration. “You. Didn’t. Get. His. Number.”
“No. Why is it so important?”
“So that you could make the first move if he doesn’t.”
“Anyway, what does this guy look like?”
“Brown hair, really bright green eyes, and he had his sneakers untied. Madison said he’ll be a ‘project.’”
Anna snorts and rolls her eyes. “He sounds like something out of some alt band. Go for it.”
And I will.
A/N: Each chapter will switch off between Austin and Aria's POV. Dedication goes to my friend, @clessler for being the sounding board for all my story ideas and always being super honest, even if it means bruising my ego. :)
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Austin's a cater waiter working for New York City's top catering service. Aria's the cynical stepdaughter of one of the city's richest men, the daughter of a father she never knew. When her mother married Ned Rochester, they traded in a small house...