The sound of tires screeching on the pavement told me that I'd stopped faster than I'd needed to - well, that, and the way Nate almost flung through my windshield, only the seat belt keeping him from doing so. I flashed him a what-else-did-you-want-me-to-do look, annoyed by the horrified expression on his face. I refused to come even close to running a red light - Boss had made it clear to me that I was to go about my daily life as quietly as possible (which was somewhat hard to do, considering my job, but it paid well, so I certainly wasn't complaining) yet Nate glared at me from the passenger seat, as if I was crazy.
"Do you even have a license?" Nate snapped. I guess, since I had decided to remain quiet and smile at him charmingly, Nate had decided it was his turn to be the annoyed one. "You almost killed us!" He yelled, and I rolled my eyes at his over exaggeration.
"Take a chill pill, Nate, you're still very much alive." I replied, feeling some of my earlier annoyance begin to creep up on me again. Trying to flirt with Nate while at the same time remaining inconspicuous was finally catching up to me. It was much harder than it looked in movies - trying to catch the pop star's attention without being too obvious. If Nate somehow discovered my mission... I was worse than dead. If Nate didn't kill me, Boss certainly would. I had to make absolutely certain that no one so much as had a fleeting thought about who I really was. "We're here, anyway." I pointed out as I pulled into the first empty parking space I came across and turned off the engine, turning to face Nate.
"And, surprisingly, in one piece," He muttered sarcastically. "No thanks to you, of course." He glanced pointedly at me, and I had to admit that I was surprised he was already joking, since just moments earlier he'd looked as if he was ready to tear off my head. I made another mental note about the Gray boys: They were, not surprisingly, bipolar.
I pushed the car's door open, launching myself out before Nate had a chance to come around and help me out, which I had no doubt that he would've done if I'd stayed longer. Nate was the 'gentleman' of the group - although in some ways I still couldn't see it. Nate seemed to sense that I was pointedly avoiding letting him open the door for me, and wisely said nothing as he turned and began to walk away from me, towards the store. Before I began to follow him, I rolled my eyes at his back.
The store was rather crowded, and at first I expected Nate to change his mind and refuse to step foot inside, since I figured that at least some people would recognize him. His face was plastered all over dozens of teen magazines, after all. If you walked down the magazine isle, you were sure to see at least a hundred pictures of Nate Gray - or Connect 3 - staring back at you. Most young teens were die-hard fans. Thankfully, I wasn't one of them, because once my mission was finished, there were sure to be thousands of girls with broken hearts all over the world.
I followed Nate into the store, hoping that if we could keep a low profile, no one would notice that a celebrity was shopping in their store, with yours truly, myself. I could only imagine the headlines if paparazzi caught us together. They'd automatically assume we were dating, and I'd be in bigger trouble with Boss than I already was. Ducking my head, my eyes darting around to see if anyone had recognized Nate yet, I made my way over towards the shirts, hoping I could grab some clothes off the rack, let Nate pay for them, and then be on my way.
My eyes scanned the racks quickly - I grabbed a tie-dye cami, a black mini-skirt, and a pair of black sandals before I literally threw them at Nate, smiling sweetly as I did so. Nate caught them easily, sending me a smirk that I wasn't sure how to read, before he insisted I get changed into them once we bought them. Rolling my eyes, I complied. Nate smiled charmingly at the cashier, promising her an autograph if she kept quiet once she'd recognized him. With narrowed eyes, she turned to glare at me.
"Who's this, your girlfriend?" She spat the word, giving me a look made of pure evil, and I shrank back slightly, trying to keep my head lowered so she wouoldn't get a close look at my face. Nate was quick to correct her, though, and once he'd opened his mouth, I gaped at him, wondering what in the world had possessed him to say such a thing.
"No, just a friend," He promised, hesitating slightly, before he cast a sly glance in my direction. "Of my brother's." He continued, and I felt my eyes widen at his words. What in the world was he getting at? I closed my eyes, tapping my foot in impatience as I waited for Nate to finish paying so I could grab my clothes and get out of here. Shopping was never my thing - shopping with a Gray brother made it ten times worse.
Once the cashier placed the bag on the counter, I literally pulled the bag out of her hands before turning and stalking out. Before I'd reached the door, I heard Nate mutter something about me being rather "temperamental", and then he proceeded to follow me out of the store, a huge smile on his face. The moment we exited the store, I cornered him, my eyes flashing with anger.
"What the heck was that about?" I practically screamed, forgetting Boss' words about 'keeping a low profile' as I glared at Nate, malice in my eyes. Nate, to add to my fury, began laughing, instead of looking even slightly nervous. If only he knew what I was capable of... maybe he wouldn't be so high and mighty - he would probably cower before running away, although neither one of those things would be able to save him. If only it wasn't for the mission...
"Whoa, Andy, chill." He chuckled, obviously finding my anger amusing. "Just go get changed and we'll talk in the car, okay?" He asked, his voice low as he glanced around, and I realized he was worried that someone might recognize him, since there were quite a few people staring at us suspiciously after my outburst. Glaring at him, I marched into the nearest shop - besides Urban Outfitters - and peeled my wet, sticky clothes off of my skin, wishing I had a spare wig somewhere in my car (next time I'll remember to bring one) since the wig was still rather damp and getting itchier by the second. Resisting the urge to pull it off and scream at the irritation, I pulled on the new clothes and smiled. Despite my annoyance with Nate, I had to admit I already loved the clothes he'd bought me.
Mental note to self: Thank Nate later on, when I wasn't ready to rip his head off.
With that, I cast another quick glance at the mirror before I grabbed my old clothes, rolled them into a ball, and shoved them into my purse. I muttered a quick thanks to the shop owner, who'd so graciously allowed me to use their bathroom to change in, before I headed out, towards the shiny red convertible, where Nate was already waiting. I rolled my eyes - couldn't he have at least waited for me? - before I slammed my own door shut and, once again, started up the little car's engine.
"So, Nate, would you like to explain, or do I need to just kill you now?" I asked, and although he thought I was just joking, I wasn't. I didn't know what was running through his little, narrow-minded brain when he'd spoken to the cashier, but he'd better have come up with a good reason for it, or else I was going to shove him out of "my" car and head on back to Boss, and leave Nate to find another ride back.
"I was thinking," Nate rolled his eyes at my serious expression, "That you probably didn't want your picture to be plastered all over the news tomorrow, with the title 'Nate Gray's New Girlfriend'." He replied, and unfortunately, I could see his logic in the situation. Sighing, I realized that I should be thankful to him, since if he had simply said I was just a friend (I didn't think I even qualified for that title, since I'd known him all of one and a half hours), people would've immediately assumed that I was his girlfriend, and then where would I be. Silently, I was glad Nate had said what he had, since Boss might not have welcomed having my face in the newspaper.
"Fine. You win." I replied, and Nate smiled back at me. "And now that we've got that settled, would you happen to know where I should be dropping you off?" I asked, raising my eyebrows at him. "Since it's not likely you'd like to sleep in the back of my car, you know..."
"You're right." Nate admits, "As much as I'd love to spend the night in your car, I'd better be getting back home. I can just call a cab, though, if it'll be too much trouble." Nate offers, and I cut him off with a shake of my head. No, as much as I wanted to drop him off at the curb and return to Boss before laying my head down on my bed, I wasn't going to pass up the opportunity to find out where Nate lived. And, it would be to her advantage if the other Gray boys happened to live with him.
"It's no trouble at all," I assured him, although secretly I was somewhat worried about what Boss would say. I would bet he was already in a seething rage at the fact I hadn't returned yet, but what did he expect from me? I was on a mission - one which he'd assigned me - and hence I had good reason for all of this. "Seriously. Just tell me the way." Nate smiled, as he told me he lived about an hour from L.A., which we were currently in. I sighed - Boss would surely be angry once I got back. I simply hoped that the rest of Connect 3 lived in the same place, because maybe it would soften Boss' anger if I found out where Shane lived.
The drive was mostly silent, with Nate and I sharing a few words every once in a while, while the radio broke the rest of the silence. As we drove, I discovered quite a few things - 1] Nate was a fan of pretty much every band that I was 2] We actually shared a lot of things in common, besides music, and 3] Nate and I were nothing alike.
Of course, we liked many of the same things, and yet we lived two different worlds. He was a famous rock star - living the dream - and I was a secret agent, bent on destroying that dream. Sometimes, it made me feel sick inside, but I refused to allow Nate to control my feelings. I had reasons as to why I'd agreed to this mission, and nothing Nate would say could make me change my mind.
I smiled as one of my favorite songs came on, the realization that I could relax slightly around Nate making me much more comfortable (although not comfortable enough to let myself slip out any information that was important) and I raised an eyebrow as Nate began to sing along, quiet but firmly.
"We're here." He announced a moment later, pointing to a lone house on the corner. I nodded, stifling a yawn as I pulled over to let him out. Nate pushed the door open, but not before he turned to thank me. As he caught me mid-yawn, his eyes narrowed, and he frowned at me.
"Are you sure you're okay to drive back?" He asked, and I nodded, opening my mouth to tell him that I was, indeed, fine, when another yawn cut me off. I smiled sheepishly at him, and he rolled his eyes. "C'mon, park your car, you can spend the night here. I'm not letting you drive back when you're half asleep. Especially," He continued when I began to object, "When I know when you drive when you're awake." He smiled at his little joke, and I crossly admitted to myself that I was rather tired, and Boss would be even more mad if I managed to wreck his car while driving back, and hence I begrudingly gave in.
A frown on my face, I stepped out of the car, turning to stare at the mansion that cowered in front of us. Nate took in my awestruck expression and gave my elbow a gentle tug. My attention immediately drawn away from the house, I gave him a cross glare, but he brushed me off as he made his way towards the house. I followed, knowing I had no where else to go. Boss was already going to be angry enough - one night wouldn't kill him.
Nate pushed open the door gently, motioning for me to follow him up a huge staircase, and pointed me towards an empty room, muttering something about a guest room. I stumbled in, barely managing to stay on my feet, and Nate caught me easily. I flashed him an annoyed look before I moved over to sit on the bed. Nate muttered something under his breath.
"I'll go get you some pajamas." He replied, "Wait here, okay?" He asked, and I nodded, barely awake. I heard his footsteps retreating from down the hall, and if I had been more awake I would've immediately jumped up and begun to explore, but I didn't seem to have the energy. It was surprising how quickly the need to sleep had hit me.
Nate reappeared a moment later, shoving a gray shirt and flannel pajama bottoms at me, and I quickly thanked him before Nate pointed me towards the bathroom.
I changed in a second, once again thanking Nate as I made my way back to the guest room.
"Goodnight." Nate said from the doorway, and I would've responded, but the moment my body hit the mattress, I was asleep.