Home > The Idea of You(8)

The Idea of You(8)
Author: Robinne Lee

There were two additional security detail on Hayes’s floor, strolling the corridors. Perhaps this was what it felt like to have an audience with a head of state. Or clearance at the Pentagon. I’d begun to sweat.

At the end of the hall, Desmond withdrew a key card and opened the door to Hayes’s suite. I was not prepared for the commotion within. The room was cluttered with floral arrangements and fruit platters and mini-bottles of Pellegrino, although no one seemed to be eating. There was a young South Asian guy, all business, wheeling and dealing on his cell phone; two PR-type women congregated on a sofa, texting madly; a wardrobe lady holding suit jackets in both hands and giving orders to her assistant in a British-by-way-of-Jamaica accent; the aforementioned assistant traipsing back and forth to the bedroom with numerous shopping bags; a nattily dressed fellow plunking away on a laptop at the desk; and in the midst of it all: Hayes. His eyes met mine from the far side of the living room where he stood, arms outstretched, Jesus-like, while the wardrobe woman wrestled him into one of the jackets.

“Hi,” he mouthed. His lips parting into that megawatt smile.

“Hi,” I mouthed back.

Heads turned then, the entourage not so furtively checking me out. I was trying to read their looks without being read. No easy feat.

“Everyone, this is my friend Solène. Solène, everyone,” Hayes announced.

There were genuine smiles from the stylists and a nod from the guy on the phone, but there ended the hospitality. The laptop fellow was dismissive, and the sofa women were surprisingly cold. The fact that my role there had already been assessed and discredited was startling. This was precisely what I had dreaded.

It struck me then that I could not have looked like a typical groupie, and for them to dismiss me so summarily, it was quite possible that Hayes Campbell had a “type.”

“I’m sorry, it’s just going to be a few minutes more,” he said.

“No problem.”

“I don’t like this shirt, pet. Maggie, check the Prada bag in the bedroom and see what shirts they sent over.”

“What’s wrong with this shirt?” Hayes made a face. “Beverly doesn’t like my shirt.”

“I’m not crazy about the fit.” Beverly pulled at the extra material on his sides, drawing the shirt tight across Hayes’s abdomen, revealing his narrow waist. “See all this. You don’t need all this. I can take it in, but let’s see if something else fits better.”

“We have a fancy dinner tonight,” Hayes explained, “at the British Consulate General’s residence. That’s all, right?” He turned toward the women on the sofa.

“That’s all.” The blonder of the two smiled. “I’m emailing you the itinerary now. Along with your notes about Alistair’s charity.”

I was right: they were PR girls. Well-dressed, well-accessorized thirty-something women with matching Drybar blowouts. This was how I suppose Max Steinberg saw me. Perhaps he had not gotten the memo about Hayes’s type.

“I like the cut of this suit on you, but not the shirt,” Beverly mused. “Maggie!”

The wardrobe assistant emerged from the bedroom holding two dress shirts. Beverly looked them over quickly, grabbed the one on the right, and instructed Hayes to remove his clothes.

Hayes peeled off the trim suit jacket and unbuttoned his shirt before grabbing option no. 2. For a prolonged moment he was there, shirtless, in the middle of the living room. The others were consumed with whatever it was they were doing, but I could not resist the temptation to ogle. He was a vision: smooth, creamy skin; broad shoulders; taut abs; sculpted arms. Flawless. So this was what twenty looked like. That sweet spot between adolescence and the moment things begin to unravel.

“Perfect,” Beverly announced when he was done buttoning the replacement shirt. “You need to stick with the Italians, pet. They cut for a slimmer build. Maggie, be a love and get me the skinny tie on the bed.”

I watched Beverly as she fussed with her muse. Arranging his collar, smoothing his lapels, tying his tie. Like a mom … if Hayes were to have a forty-something Jamaican mom.

“All right. I’m happy with this. I’m leaving a pair of dress shoes for you in the bedroom.”

“Can’t I just wear my boots?”

“No,” Beverly, Maggie, and the nattily dressed fellow on the laptop said in unison.

“Absolutely not,” one of the PR women added.

Hayes laughed, and then his eyes narrowed, sly. “I’m wearing my boots.”

Beverly made some disapproving clucking sound with her mouth as she and Maggie began assembling their various wardrobe and shopping bags. “Leave the things hanging in your closet and I’ll make sure to press them before tonight. I’ll send someone up later to polish your boots.”

“Thank you, Bev. Ooh, whose suit is that?”

“That one is for Oliver.”

“How come Ol gets all the dandy suits? Maybe I want to be a dandy. Is he wearing a bow tie? I want a bow tie.”

“You want a bow tie now?”

“Maybe.”

“Lawd Jeezum.” Beverly’s Jamaican was coming out.

“I know, I know … I’m swagger,” he laughed, turning to find me in the corner. “Solène, did you know I was ‘swagger’? That’s my official archetype. Lest you think we were interchangeable. That’s what you think when you see me, right? You think, ‘Oh, he must be the swagger one.’”

I laughed at that. As did all the other women in the room. Hayes and his loyal subjects.

The business guy who had been consumed with his phone call up until then let out a little whoop, calling our attention. “You, my friend, are going to owe me big-time.”

“TAG Heuer?” Hayes asked.

“TAG Heuer. Hi, I’m Raj. Pleasure.” He leaned in to shake my hand before turning back toward Hayes. “Yes, they’re sending over someone at three o’clock with several watches. You’re to choose one appropriate for this evening. And then another more casual for every day.”

“Well done, Raj,” laptop fellow said.

“This could be huge, Hayes. If they offer it to you, you can’t say no,” the darker of the blondes said.

“Yes, but isn’t it off-brand?”

“It’s off August Moon brand. It’s not off Hayes Campbell brand.”

Hayes was doing that thing where he pulled at his lower lip, pensive. “I just think it’s kind of elitist. I mean fourteen-year-old girls aren’t buying TAG Heuer watches.”

“They are in Dubai.” Laptop fellow again.

“You’re reaching beyond fourteen-year-old girls, mate. That’s the whole point. You’re expanding your brand. You’re redefining yourself. You’re not going to be in a boy band forever.”

Hayes turned to me then. He was so dashing in his suit. Were these people ever going to leave? “They want me to do an ad campaign for TAG Heuer. Solo. What do you think?”

All eyes were on me then, and I assumed they were wondering if and why my opinion should matter. “Who else has done them?”

“Brad, Leonardo,” Raj said.

“Who’s shooting it?”

“They have a couple of people they use for all their projects. Very competent, impeccable work, but not celebrity names.”

“So he can’t request Meisel or Leibovitz or Afanador?”

“I’m sorry, what is it you do again?” The fellow at the laptop stopped plunking.

Hayes broke into one of his half grins then. “Solène owns an art gallery in L.A.” He sounded almost boastful. “I trust her taste implicitly.”

I would have laughed at him had he not been staring at me so intensely. So much for secrets.

“Well,” I said after a charged moment, “if it’s good enough for Brad and Leo … go for it. Give them swagger.”

* * *

“I missed you.” Not long after the entourage had parted and Hayes had changed out of his suit, we found ourselves on the sofa. Alone.

The heightened energy of his celebrity had dissipated in the absence of those whose job it was to fawn and dote and cater. As exhilarating as the fame aspect could be, there was something appealing about him not having to be “Hayes Campbell, pop star.” Something raw, naked, accessible.

“It’s only been two weeks,” I said.

“For you it’s been two weeks. For me it’s been ten cities.” He reached for my hand then, sliding his fingers between mine. Suggestive.

“Well, if that’s how you’re measuring time—”

“Ten cities … What, thirteen shows? Three hundred fifty thousand screaming girls … who were not you.”

“No. I’ve never been a screaming girl.”

“Well, we’ll have to change that, won’t we?”

God, he was good. The ease with which he slipped in these little lines: seemingly innocuous, but loaded.

The side of his mouth was curling up in that way that I had come to adore. “What are you smiling at, Solène?”

“Nothing,” I laughed.

“I know what you’re thinking.”

“Do you?”

He nodded, his free hand reaching up to finger my hair. I could smell whatever fragrance it was he had put on his skin. Wood and amber and lime. “You’re thinking, ‘God, I could really use some lunch right now.’”

“Yes. Exactly. That’s exactly what I was thinking.”

For a moment he did not speak, and I could hear my heart pounding in my chest as his thumb traced the side of my jaw. So faint I might have imagined it.

“Okay … Let’s go out and get something to eat.”

He’d already crossed the room before I registered what was happening. “Outside?”

“Yeah. There’s a great sushi place not far from here. Do you like sushi? We can walk, it’s such a beautiful day,” he called from the closet.

   
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