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Paper Rings

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The cursor on the Google search bar was mocking me with a ferocity I’d never seen before, like it knew my intentions without me even breaking my poker face. It knew, it always knew, so with a sigh, I typed the first three letters of his name, erased, typed his full first name, erased again. My fingers were caught in a dance that I didn’t know all the moves to and it was getting ridiculous, so I finally bit the bullet and typed his full name. 

 

Aaron Warner 

 

My screen was flooded with millions of hits in less than a second.  Millions . Articles of all sorts popped up, a Wikipedia page, his social media accounts. Commonly asked questions were listed in one space, further down were older articles about projects he had worked on. Is Aaron Warner single? Was one of the commonly asked questions, and when I clicked on his social media I saw no sign of a girlfriend. 

 

That had been the entire point of the internet stalking, hadn’t it? To find out if the perfect, inhumanly beautiful man I had met earlier tonight was single or otherwise preoccupied. Digging around a little more I found that he had previously been in a relationship with a reality star named Lena Mishkin for something around two years, but all reports pointed to them breaking up months ago. 

 

I closed my laptop and rubbed my eyes, feeling like a complete and utter fool for cyberstalking a boy I met only hours ago. A boy that, according to an Instagram notification, was now requesting to follow me. 

 

Maybe it wasn’t a complete lost cause, after all. 

 

~*~ 

 

“Juliette?” I recognized his voice immediately, would never have forgotten the voice that made me hot and cold all at once from a single two hour conversation we’d had tucked in the corner of his living room one night several weeks ago. It was somehow still surprising, though, when I turned and Aaron Warner was half jogging down the sidewalk to catch up with me. My brow was furrowed, body tense by the clicking of cameras somewhere across the street that was a little too loud for comfort. 

 

It wasn’t fair that he looked so perfect despite no umbrella and rain sprinkling down into his golden hair. Just looking at him was sending my body into some desperate mode, looking to completely overwork itself into oblivion while I stood here and my bones and joints and organs all melted into the rainy puddle at my feet. 

 

What

 was happening

 to my heart.

 

“Hey?” It came out like a question, and assuming because of how confused I undoubtedly looked, he introduced himself. To me. Aaron Warner, international movie star, introduced himself to me, hardly a model and body positivity activist, Juliette Ferrars. 

 

“I’m — we met at my party Kishimoto brought you. Aar- Warner?” Curious that he would hesitate to give me his first name, considering there wasn’t a person alive that wouldn’t know what it was.

 

“I…. know who you are,” I couldn’t help but laugh a little, and he loosed a breath as he slid his hands into his pockets with a nod. There was an increasingly awkward silence as we just stared at each other until I shifted uncomfortably and pointed in the direction I’d been heading. “I have a meeting to get to, so. It was nice seeing you.” 

 

And then, like the idiot that I so clearly am, I turned and left the biggest movie star on the planet standing on a curb. 

 

We had several more encounters like that, really awkward ones at parties and various get togethers that ended in me doing whatever I could to get away from him. Every single time he looked wildly confused, like he couldn’t think of anything he would have done for me to give him the cold shoulder over and over. The thing was, he hadn’t, I just couldn’t wrap my head around why someone that looked like that would be even a little interested in me. Idiot. I’m an idiot. 

 

~*~

 

“Juliette?” The voice. The way he said my name like it was liquid gold, or made of glass, like if he wasn’t careful enough in the way he said it, it would shatter me.

 

“Warner. Hey,” I smiled a close-lipped smile. 

 

“Can I — have I done something to offend you?” His brow is furrowed, that perfect line between perfect brows, dividing a perfectly symmetrical face. Some cruel God dumped me in a photo shoot with him for a magazine cover, and I’m unsure that I even want to exist in a picture with him. His question catches me off guard, though, and I found myself at a loss. 

 

No, he hadn’t. I just wasn’t sure why he kept trying to talk to me. Kenji insisted that he was an asshole, over and over pointing out the way he treated other girls and that just because his too-perfect smile was turned on me didn’t mean anything. When we bumped into each other on the street I was nice enough, though. We exchanged a handful of Instagram DMs that were friendly. But he always seemed to be trying to capture my attention for reasons I couldn’t comprehend. 

 

“I… no. No, you haven’t.”

 

“Because I keep trying to figure out how you’re so wholly uninterested in me and it came down to me having to have offended you somewhere in our relationship.” 

 

“Relationship?” The smile that tugs at my lips is a teasing one. “Because it would be so hard to believe that a woman wouldn't be tripping over herself to talk to you?.” I arch a brow, shifting in the makeup chair. Warner pays no attention to the women doing my hair and makeup as though he has eyes solely for me. 

 

“Friendship isn’t the word I would use, and Kishimoto insists —“

 

“God, Kenji,” I groan, slumping back and causing the makeup artist to slant a line of lipliner down the corner of my mouth at the wrong angle. I apologize, shifting my eyes to Warner without moving my head this time. “I’m not offended, I just don’t know why you keep talking to me.” I paused, then, “Kenji insists what?” 

 

A slow grin spread across his lips and he stuck his hands into the pockets of his leather jacket. “That I should stay away from you.”

 

“Kenji insists to me that you’re an asshole.” Warner laughed, a real laugh with his head tipped back and — and dimples

 

“And what do you think, love?”

 

“I don’t know?” I hadn’t meant for it to come out as a question, but there it was, a confused answer for a confused girl staring at a confused boy that didn’t know what was going on. That made two of us. “I think that if you’re an asshole, you’re awfully nice for one.” And awfully beautiful. Painfully beautiful, really. It almost hurt to look at him and felt like you weren’t supposed to look at people that looked like that. Everything about him pointed to perfection and not just a matter of opinion. Even Kenji had called him a pretty boy because it was just that undeniable.

 

 Instead of answering, though, Warner just grinned at me and walked away. 

 

When it was finally time for us to photograph together my heart wouldn’t stop beating so hard I thought my ribcage was going to split into pieces. He smelled good, his hands felt good everywhere they touched me, he kept whispering things in my ear to make me blush and I could tell he was enjoying every single uncomfortable second of my embarrassment. It felt like my cheeks were stained pink the entire shoot, like my skin was too hot and covered in wildfire the entire time. It didn’t help when they had him strip down to nothing but briefs and I was left in nothing but underwear and our skin was touching just about everywhere and I felt then like my senses had been flooded and I was drowning.

 

 People shouldn’t look like him, and people that look like him shouldn’t be touching me at all.