Bella motions two fingers from her eyes to me to let me know she’s watching me. It almost makes me snort-laugh. Watch me, bitch. Watch me all you want. Now that I’m looking right at her, I realize she reminds me of a girl back home who always acted like she was better than everyone else. I feel myself grimacing. She’s a rich girl who thinks she can have whatever she wants. I start to genuinely feel sorry for Sebastian. He seems like he’s being honest and she’s got coo-coo written on her face. So, I decide to do the only thing I can think of. I take his hand in mine and hold it on the armrest between us. Then I smile at her as I raise my voice. “Oh, Sebastian, darling, it’s not your fault. Some people are just crazy.”
I face forward in my seat and place our entwined hands on my thigh, knowing Bella is watching. “It’s only a couple of hours. I’ve got you,” I whisper, leaning toward him.
“Really? You are solid gold. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. I’ll never forget this.”
“You’re lucky I have a big heart, Bash.”
“I’ll call you whatever I want and you’ll like it.”
He smiles and my heart feels odd. Can helping someone actually make you feel good?
“Do you think perhaps I could know your name? I mean, we’re holding hands and you are my girlfriend for the next few hours.”
“S…” I stop myself. Shit, I almost gave him my old name. “Natalia… Natalia Pearson. My friends call me Nat.” It feels odd as it leaves my mouth. The truth is I have no real friends and I’ve never told a soul my new name before, unless you count Joey the Juggler when he forged all my new documents.
“And you’re okay with that?” he asks.
“What?” I question, wondering if I spoke my thoughts out loud.
“You’re okay that your friends refer to you as a cumbersome insect that flies in swarms and bites people?”
“Cumbersome? Grand? Solid gold? Who talks like that? What are you, sixty? And no, it’s not G-N-A-T like the bug. It’s Nat. It’s cute, like a cool chick you want to drink beers and play pool with.”
He scrunches his face and shakes his head. “I refuse to call you Nat. You’re too sweet to be a bug.”
I’m sure he thinks he’s being nice, and maybe someone else would see it as a compliment, but I’m not sweet. He doesn’t know me. And I’m kind of pissed he dissed my nickname for myself. I liked it perfectly well until now. Why is he ruining this moment for me?
“Then don’t say my name. It’s not like you’ll need to say it in the next one hundred and forty minutes or so we’ll be pretend dating.”
He squeezes my hand and glances down at my fingers. I wonder if the pale pink color I chose suits a Natalia. I used to keep my nails a fire engine red, or sometimes black like my soul, but I’m not that girl anymore.