Chapter 7

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     Serena stood by the stage surrounded by a bunch of her fans. It was her third show and I was amazed by how popular she'd gotten. She had fans and admirers, and she was rarely alone nowadays. And from the way she was beaming, I knew she loved the attention.

     I was standing off to the side of Vandos, waiting for her to be done. As I stood alone, I watched as a little girl went up to Serena. She tugged on Serena's dress, bringing Serena's attention to her. And when Serena saw her, a huge smile appeared on her face and something tugged at my heart. The little girl talked excitedly to Serena, looking amazed, and Serena hugged her. My heart thumped and to my utter surprise, I found myself suddenly yearning to be in Serena's spot. For once, I wondered what it would be like to have someone look at me the way the little girl looked at Serena.

      "What are you doing here alone?" Carson asked, causing me to jump.

     I whipped my head to my right and saw Carson leaning against the wall next to me. His arms were crossed over his chest and he was looking to where Serena stood.

     "I'm just waiting for Serena to finish talking to everyone," I answered.

     "Why don't you join her?" he asked.

     I shrugged. "I'm not a fan of being surrounded by people."

     Carson looked at me, his eyes questioning and I looked away. Despite having to see Carson every few days, I still wasn't comfortable around him. Something about him made me nervous, which was why I could barely look at him.

     "Do you ever yearn for what Serena has?" he asked.

     Caught off guard by his question, I whipped my head back to look at him. I stared up at him, stunned, and he stared back at me. His face was expressionless, but I saw the curiosity in his eyes.

     "No, I don't," I answered.

     "Why not?" he asked.

     "I don't like attention," I said. "The idea of having fans and never being left alone... terrifies me."

      Carson stared at me for a moment and I continued to stare back at him. I wasn't sure why Carson and I kept ending up in these staring contests, but it was a bad habit we had when it came to each other.

     "What exactly terrifies you?" Carson then asked.

     "I... I don't know," I said quietly. "I'm not sure."

     Once again, we were left to stare at each other. I stared at Carson's hazel eyes, wondering about the guy who stood next to me. We didn't know much about each other and I stared at him, wondering about the person he was. So far, I couldn't quite pin him down.

     "You're odd," Carson said, looking away eventually. "Most people would kill to be in Serena's position. Everyone desires fame."

     "Well, I'm not like most people," I said.

     "I know." Carson glanced at me, his voice growing quiet. "That's what makes you so interesting."

     My eyes widened at his words and I stared at him a moment. But, Carson wouldn't look at me. His eyes remained on Serena who eventually noticed him and said her goodbyes to the crowd. And before I knew it, she was jogging towards us. While she ran to us, I prayed the blush in my cheeks would fade away.

     "Hey, what's up?" Serena said, smiling at Carson.

     "Nothing, just keeping Nivenah company," Carson said. "What are you up to?"

     "I was just chatting with some of the regulars at my shows. They were telling me how they see me becoming a huge star in the future. Can you believe that?"

      Carson's eyes softened. "I can believe that. With your voice, I know you'll be going places.

     Serena beamed up at Carson and he smiled. I stared at them and to my utter surprise, I began to yearn to be in Serena's spot once again. For some reason, I desired what she had and I had to shake my head a bit to get rid of the crazy idea. I hated attention and I knew I would hate what Serena had.

      "You know random people at school are coming up to me and complimenting me on my singing. They're even asking me to hang out with them," Serena said. "It feels... surreal. All I ever wanted was to be popular. I hated how invisible I was in university. But now, people are finally seeing me. It's a dream come true."

      Serena's eyes widened as if she suddenly realized what she said and she laughed lightly. She flushed and ran her fingers through her hair, looking embarrassed.

     "Sorry, I don't know why I said that," Serena said, laughing once again. "That was... weird."

     "No, I understand what you mean," Carson said. "Most people want to be seen. That's all some people ever wanted and that's what's happening to you now. People are seeing you and your talent and it must feel incredible."

     Serena smiled. "It does feel incredible."

     I stared at Serena who smiled at Carson and watched as Carson smiled back. Around Serena, Carson was a lot more gentle. His guard seemed to fall down and he didn't seem so rigid. It was an odd sight, but admittedly, a sight I enjoyed seeing.

     "Do you wish to be seen?" I asked Carson, surprising all of us. "Is that what you want, too?"

     Carson looked over at me, but he didn't say anything for a moment. He just stared at me, his face expressionless, and I stared back at him. Waiting for his answer, I stared at him, hoping to learn more about the boy I barely knew.

      "Yes, that's what I want, too," Carson said softly. "Maybe not in the exact same way as what Serena has, but... I want to be seen, too."

     "What way do you want to be seen?" I asked.

     Carson shrugged and looked away, and my heart dropped. I wanted to hear the answer and I could see from Serena's expression that she wanted to hear it, too. But Carson had closed up and his guard was back up, and I knew it was better to drop the conversation.

     "I'm not ready to admit it now," Carson said gently, surprising me. "But... maybe one day I can admit it to myself and to you."

     "Okay," I said softly, nodding understandingly.

     Carson looked over at Serena who smiled at him, and he smiled back at her. My eyes softened at the sight and I sighed lightly, unsure of how to feel. Never had I expected to be in the position I was in and I had no idea where it was taking me.

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