Closing my eyes, I reach out and grab two packs of beer. Callum’s just going to have to deal with what I get. I open my eyes and look at what I picked. One is an apple cider beer and the other is an IPA.
I turn to the man and clear my throat. I can’t see his face because it’s hidden by the hood of his coat. “I am so sorry to bother you, but have you by any chance tried any of these? I just want to know if they’re good or not.”
He freezes and steps slowly away from the beer as if I scared him. He doesn’t move or reply, which is strange and makes me regret asking him in the first place. Now, all I want to do is get away from him. But everything changes when his face comes into view.
My eyes go wide and my breath hitches in my lungs. A set of familiar brown eyes meet mine and it’s as if everything around me disappears. “Oh my God,” I whisper, trying to catch my breath. My arms go weak and I can feel the beers slipping from my grasp, but the man in front of me saves them.
He sets the packs of beer on the floor and stares right into my eyes. “I thought I was imagining things when I heard your voice.”
My heart skips a beat. It’s been years since I’ve seen him. Brennan McLean. I knew him as my high school boyfriend, but the world knows him as a superstar. I never thought I’d see him again, certainly not after he rose to fame. Letting him go all those years ago was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. But, he needed to follow his dreams, and they all came true for him.
“What . . . what are you doing here?” I stutter. “I figured you’d be in New York City or somewhere like that for New Year’s.” He lowers the hoodie and now I get a good look at his face. He hasn’t changed a bit. All the memories from our past come flooding back.
“My flight got canceled,” he says, his voice low.
The intense way he looks at me makes me tremble. “Did you visit your parents?”
He nods and his lips pull back into a smile. “Yeah. They don’t want me to leave.”
That makes me grin. “I bet not. They probably don’t get to see you much. I’ve been keeping up with your career and reading up on you. You’re always on the road.”
He snorts. “Don’t believe everything you read. There’s a lot of shit said about me.”
The tabloids love following him around, and I’ve seen all the pictures of him with all sorts of famous women. “Is it everything you always wanted?” I ask.
He takes in a deep breath and lets it out slow. “Yes and no. What about you? Did you get everything you always wanted? In high school you wanted to be a nurse.”
I nod. “Looks like we both followed our dreams. I work at the hospital now. I was lucky enough to get the night off.”
Picking up the two packs of beer from the floor, he tucks one under his arm and holds the other so he can grab another pack off the shelf. “And how are you celebrating this New Year’s?” he wonders.
He looks at me curiously and I smile. “I’m going to a party at my friend’s apartment. Her husband forgot to stock up on enough beer, so they asked me to stop here.”
Brennan glances down at the beer I picked out. “Oh, and to answer your question, I’ve had the apple cider beer before. It’s pretty good.”
We walk up to the guy at the service desk and the poor boy’s mouth flops open. “Holy shit, you’re Brennan McLean,” he gasps. Brennan’s face is known around the world. The guy pulls out his phone and looks sheepishly at Brennan. “Do you mind if I get a selfie? My friends aren’t going to believe this.” Brennan smiled and obliged.
I try to pay for my beer, but Brennan pushes my card away. The cashier bags it all up and hands it to Brennan, still staring at him as if he’s a god. Once we’re outside, I stare at Brennan and he acts as if none of that happened.
“It has to be weird having strangers fawn over you all the time,” I say.
Brennan’s smile fades. “It is. Took me a while to get used to it. I can’t go anywhere without someone recognizing me.”
“The price of fame,” I state.
He shrugs. “Yeah.” Silence fills the air, but there’s so much I want to ask him. He nods toward the sidewalk. “Which way you headed?”
I point to the high-rise just a couple blocks away. “There.”
Brennan’s eyes widen. “I’m going there too. I’ll walk with you.” He walks slowly through the snow and I’m glad. I’ll probably never see him again after tonight and I don’t want it to end. Our arms brush against each other as we head toward the building. “How’s life treated you, Nat? I’ve wondered how you’ve gotten along these past few years.”