Flashes of the camera blinded the open hallway, blocking the late-morning rays from hitting the inside. Shadows of people crowding, noises floated across the atmosphere, making them a sting to the ears. Though it was only a 2-hour prior notice, everyone was ready. Everything was well-prepared. Banners of him with the latest headlines put at obvious spots. The one that wasn’t ready was the main character, Kyle Lee.
Sitting in his dressing room surrounded by the four walls, his hands were shaking in fear. It wasn’t the first time for him to have a conference. But- scandals? Probably the first. He never had one before. No black issues about him all this while, except for some bits and pieces. Until Clover stepped into his life.
Where is she? Where did you bring her, Brandon? Eyes questioning Brandon through the big mirror in front of him, while having his hair groomed by the stylist.
Not for you to worry. His gaze answered coldly.
He let out a heavy breath, blowing the annoying strands of fringe itching his sight. He shifted his head with a tsk, gesturing the stylist to stop what he was doing. The man jerked and immediately retreated, dropping his spray, gel, glitters along the way, leaving only two of them in the limited space.
Crampiness crawled into the air, inducing its partner, silence to come along. And Kyle was desperate to get out of this sickening place. Towards the exit, he sped up a little too fast, almost bumping into the tough Brandon who was guarding the door. Brandon crossed his arms over his oversized black baggy shirt, looked past him and remained motionless. He wasn’t letting him out till he was notified to do so.
“Brandon?” A voice came through the door after hearing several soft knocks. “He can come up now.”
“Noted,” he answered, slowly sliding away from the entrance, giving way for Kyle to make his appearance.
Kyle brushed past him without looking back, sending a strong wave of air onto Brandon. He heard Brandon mumbling under his tone about putting on the best act and stuffs like those, but he didn’t give a damn. He was angry with him.
Glimmers from the ongoing spotlights blurred his vision. And despite that, he had to put on a charming smile. It was the basic rule each celebrity should follow. Climbing up the side stairs, reaching for his seat like nothing scared him, Kyle lifted his head and looked straight into the cameras. Instantly, the media groups from Apple TV, WONderNews, everydaytalks.com went wild. The chairs served for them to seat suddenly served no purpose but as obstacles for them to reach him nearer. Some hopped on them, pushed them, kicked them, just to be the first to get to the nearest place right below the stage.
And the bomb began.
“Kyle, what is your response regarding the latest headline??”
“Kyle Lee, can we know more about your personal assistant??”
“Is your personal assistant here today???”
“Are you two dating??”
“I’ve heard that Clover Hon has been staying in your house for quite some time, is that true?”
One after another, questions shot like a shooting gun. There weren’t stops. The cameramen were bumping into each other, shoulders against shoulders to get the front position, showing no sense of moral values, no sense of respect.
Toying around with the red ribbons tied along the edges of the table, “Well...” he began, shutting off the noise among the crowd almost right away. “If I say we are just friends with no any special kinds of relationships..” he paused, curling up a side of his lips, “will you believe me?.. or will you stir up another rumour just to get this thing hooked up for quite some while?”
His attack was unexpected.
“I’m right, isn’t it?” he glared at them. “Media has no humanities. They screw on people’s lives in order to make a living.”
“But you chose fame,” someone in the crowd threw his voice. “...And this is one of the sacrifices that you gotta give.”
Kyle smirked, feeling the words stabbed right onto his heart. “Exactly.. I chose... to live a life like this.” And I’m starting to wonder if I had made the right choice.
“Sorry Kyle...” a softer voice took over, “I’m very sure that it’s not just us who are curious. Your fans too are facing the same dilemmas. Who exactly is Clover Hon?” There was a firm note at the end of his words.
“A human just like you and me.”
“You are making this situation really bad, Kyle Lee.”
“I don’t have a choice!” he stood up, pushing the chair with the back of his knees against the wall. “I just want to protect unfamed people from being backlashed by the media. What is so freaking wrong with that?”
Suddenly, the main entrance to the conference creaked open. Strong lights blazed their eyes. Two distinct figures stepped in. “Clover Hon is just an old friend of his.” A voice pierced through the awkward moment.
Cameras shifted to their directions as they entered, following to their gestures up the stage. Kyle squinted. The usual black baggy shirt came into his view soon after (which made him rolled his eyes). But the next figure that walked down beside him wasn’t what he wished to see right now, right here. His saliva sored the throat, trying to be gulped. You definitely can’t be here.
She was dressed in a simple sleeveless white dress, hair up in a long ponytail. Face touched up by thin layers of makeup. A little pink gloss painted on her lips paired with slightly drawn lines at the corner of her eyes. And the familiar look of her was...stealing his heartbeats away.
“This is Clover Hon,” Brandon repeated, after taking a seat next to her.
“Hello, everyone. I'm Clover Hon,” she greeted with the mic, flashing a brief smile. “It seemed that...” she dug her fingernails into her lower thighs, making semi-circles, focusing on the stinging sensations, "my appearance had caused our Kyle Lee here some troubles,”
Don’t Clover, he whispered. Please. Let me do the speaking.
She heard him despite the clicking noises from the cameras around. His tone wavered. He was scared. But she wasn’t here to act like a weakling. Forcing her mind to chase out Kyle, she was determined to answer the questions Kyle couldn’t answer. This was the best that she could do for him. As a gratitude for his kindness he showered her with. If she could solve this matter, why wouldn’t she?
“Miss Clover Hon,” a man with a short beard asked, with his mic pinned down from his ear, delivering the question as loud as the waves could withstand. “What is your relationship with Kyle?”
“Just like what Brandon had mentioned earlier,” she turned to look at Brandon for a short while before turning back at the reporters, “I’m an old friend of his.”
“Then what about the photos that are already all over the media?”
She dug in her nails deeper, refreshing the lines that Brandon had thought her a few hours ago. “Because we are old friends, small reunions is a must, isn’t it?”
“Does that also mean that you’ve been staying in his house all this while?”
Clover! He stretched out his arm, wrapping her clenching fist in his. No more please! Don’t say a single thing anymore!
Once again, she ignored his hisses. “Well... I don’t see it as a problem since we have known each other since young..”
“Or is it because you’ve fallen for him, Miss Clover? That’s why you laid a dirty hand on Stella when you guys went to Guilin since there are rumours about her liking Kyle?
Her eyes widened in shock at their words. “W..What?”
The media must have sensed this as her weak part. And they continued bombarded her, heating up the situation.
“You like Kyle, don’t you!?”
“You must have liked him for a very long time!”
“You has always been trying to get rid of Stella because you think that she’s your rival!”
“You stayed with him because you love him.”
“Right? Tell us that we are right!!!”
Clover slacked her jaw, dumbfounded. The eagerness in their hungry eyes was fearing her. They weren’t trying to find out the truths but actually trying to confirm their so-called truths. Shivers ran down her spine. Brandon too was panicking. He failed to predict the question for this part. She had no scripts to follow. And they were down there, almost banging into the stage, waiting to get her answers (probably her forced-out answers). She had to come up with something before they break it down.
“I...don't like him.” It started off with a very, very soft murmur.
Brandon gave her a puzzled look from the side as if he was wondering what were her utters. Kyle jerked his head and the grip on her released almost immediately. It was a whisper. But he heard her, which he probably wished a thousand times he didn’t. Salty liquids were sliding into his eyes, tearing down his mask. He blinked them away when he felt cameras targetting for his reaction. Burying the stinging pain, he drifted his gaze away from the girl, blocking his one-sided feelings from gushing out.
“I don’t like him in the way how a girl should like a boy for a relationship to start,” she repeated, stronger, restricting her tears from registering. “This is why I’m here,” she turned to look at him directly for the very first time. “To bid my final goodbye.”
A drop of tear slid off him, fast enough to avoid the attention from the media, “..F-..final goodbye?” he asked with a choky voice.
“Yea,” she said in a high pitch tone, lifting up the mood, running her hand over his shrunken shoulders. “I’ve stayed here long enough. It’s time to go.”
Second drop of tear fell. “Where?” he mouthed.
She smiled, and that was all her reply.
“Miss Clover. Could you hint more about your next stop??!” The bomb started back as soon as she stood up to make her leave.
“I don’t know either.”
“Will you be coming back?”
“We’ll see,” she turned her back towards the media and paced towards the door behind leading to the exit.
But something stopped her. Clover paused and turned to look at what was holding her back.
Kyle's hand caught on hers tightly. Don’t leave, Clover. His tearful gaze begged pleadingly, hoping so much Clover would change her mind. It was filled with such love and tenderness. But she had to go. The black men had fixed their eyes on him because of her. She couldn’t afford to drag him into her pool of troubles.
The cameras were all on them. On the sight of him grabbing her hand. Grinning widely to not make this look like a breaking up scene, “Goodbye, my friend,” she pulled her hand away in a move and exchanged it with a quick embrace. “Hope you will be successful forever.”
Drawing her face close to his, letting her vapours to wet his pinna, I’m sorry, Kyle, she muttered and dashed to the nearest exit before he had the chance to stop her again.
“Clover!!” Kyle jerked from his seat, but the crowd wasn’t letting him away.
“Kyle,” Brandon’s firm voice took over. “Please conclude this press conference.”
Her tears flew along with the warm breeze as she ran, staining her baby hair. Makeups were worn off, smudging her face. But they didn’t matter anymore. Everything was settled. She didn’t need to burden Kyle any longer. She cleared the scandal. It was supposed to be a happy news. Yet, she wasn’t feeling any hints of it. Her paces slowed down, swaying from running any further, hating the fact that she had hurt her life savior.
Danise stuck his chin under his palm by the side window, ready with his car, watching Clover approaching the car. His thoughts were completely messed. He kept on refreshing the scenes with Clover in them. They were certainly not much of a problem, except for the one in Guilin. But that didn’t seem to be the real reason behind her leave. What was it? Why was Clover leaving when she had nowhere to go?
“I thought I could stop this scene of you from happening,” he said as she opened the door.
Clover gave him a very sad, heavy-hearted look. “How did you know that I was going to leave?”
“I overheard your conversation with Brandon,” he hesitated for a little while,” .. but... but why? Clover.. everything went on pretty smoothly..isn’t it?”
Staring at the roads outside, “Don’t ask why, Danise,” she mumbled, allowing her eyes to be wet without attracting his attention. “...Just..” sobbing, “don’t ask...”
“Where are we going? ... Where am I going? To be more exact,” she asked.
“Brandon told me to send you to someone that we can trust.” he began, pressing the pedal with no brakes on the traffic-less streets. “And I only managed to think of him.”
“Who?” she asked.
Clover bugged her eyes. “... DreamMare?”