Star Signs

Star Signs by J.M. Adele
(©J.M. Adele, 2015.)

I watch as best-selling author, Helena Granger, sweeps through the convention room on her platform heels. Her red hair trails behind her like the flames of an Olympic torch. Heads turn and conversation lowers to a hush. The fatigue and agitation plaguing the line of waiting fans is knocked over, domino style, as she passes; replaced by excitement and awe.

Helena finds her way to a table cloaked in a red velvet cloth and strewn with book merchandise. She stands beside the table, talking to her assistant in husky tones. The smell of her perfume clouds my senses as I stand within reach, first in line. I stare at the top of her fiery head as she takes a seat, has a sip of water and uncaps her marker pen. Her eyelashes lift, revealing her unusual green-grey irises. She smiles at me and I’m struck dumb. I have her latest release clutched to my chest, with my wrists crossed. I’m unable to unlock my clawed hands from the book as she looks at me expectantly.

“Hi there. I see you have my book. May I sign it for you?” Her eyes hold a wariness, unmasked between blinks. 

My hands finally loosen, and I fumble to catch the book before it hits the floor. I end up throwing it at her, almost spilling her drink. The sound of snickering reaches my ears from behind. 

One person yells, “STALKER!”
The increased volume matches the rising heat on my face. My eyes drift down to the velvet cloth. I want to rip it off and perform a disappearing act. My heart pounds, preparing me for escape.
“Excuse me?” I snap my gaze back to Helena. “What’s your name?” She has the book open at the title page, marker ready to sign.
“Juanita,” I croak.
“How do you spell that?” Her eyebrows rise as if trying to blend with her freckled forehead.
“J-u-a-n-i-t-a.” I blurt each letter, making them incomprehensible. 
Eyebrows still poised on high, she asks, “what was that?”
I just yelled at Helena Graham. Oh my God, kill me now.
She lowers the pen and swivels her head to give her assistant a look before turning back to me with a plastic smile pasted on her face. 
My stomach is gearing up to revolt, I need to bail from this disaster. I swallow and wave my sweaty hand over the book telling her not to worry about it. Now her eyebrows are trying to fuse together, forming a handy shelf above her eyes where her freckles can congregate. 
“Just J is fine.” I manage to whisper. How she hears me over the uproarious laughter behind me, I don’t know.
Her pen squiggles across the page before she snaps the book shut and slides it across the velvet to rest in front of me. “Thanks for buying the book. Have a great day.” The monotone of her voice is almost insulting. I nod, attempting a smile, but failing. 
She was all class. It was rude not to thank her, but I’d done enough damage. I watch my feet as they eat up the carpet. Thank God I’m short and have long hair. 
My assistant waves me over. “Well, that was embarrassing.” He peers at me from a lofty six foot, his designer specs unable to hide his amusement. Gorgeous bastard.
“Stating the obvious. Thanks, Taylor.”
“Your table will be set up over there. Far away from Helena’s groupies. You’ll have an hour to compose yourself before the signing. I suggest that you dye your hair, change your clothes and borrow my glasses.”
I wrap a hand around each side of my ribcage and jiggle up and down. “Har, hardy, har… Jerk.”
“Please tell me you didn’t yell at her.” Taylor holds up a hand, directing me to stop.
“I yelled at her.” My shoulders sink as the confession comes out.
“I know.” His expression is full of sympathy as he wraps one arm around my shoulders. If I wasn't so mortified I'd be relishing in the tingling heat produced by his touch.

My first big signing hasn’t even begun and I’ve made a laughing stock of myself. Excellent.