King of Anything.
I rolled my eyes for what felt like the millionth time tonight, my eyes canvassing my surroundings and all of the faces I had already grown tired of seeing.
It had only been a month since my father was introduced as the new manager of Borussia Dortmund and I was already tired of his new appointment. I was wishing I could just return to our old location, living my old life with my old friends.
Instead I was here. In this large, golden ballroom surrounded by men in fancy suits or jackets and women in designer gowns. I had to fit the mold so I had on a designer gown as well, the sea green color contrasting with my paler than normal skin.
I was itching to get out of this dress, to trade it in for the Princeton sweatpants I sported around the house and a loose old t-shirt from one of the many concerts I had attended over my years. I wanted to be in my simplistic brown-rimmed eye glasses with the Chanel logo on the side instead of wearing these uncomfortable contact lenses I still hadn’t quite gotten used to even over my many years of enduring their wear.
My father was floating about the room, shaking hands with the well-endowed and further campaigning himself as the new manager. I guess I could understand his nerves. He was stepping into a coveted position following a successful predecessor and he was now in control of a well-known roster of stars but I didn’t think he would be that desperate to force upon me the idea of me and Marco Reus.
Me and Marco Reus?
I guess it made sense. The new manager has one of his star players falling in love with his daughter. The media would eat up the love story, he’d love Marco as his new future son-in-law and he’d now have some sort of leverage to keep the much wanted star here in Dortmund. It was exactly the story that dreams were made of.
And that’s what it was. A dream.
Because I was not even close to being in love with or even remotely interested in a Marco Reus. He was far from my type. I liked guys who spent their off days reading history novels and watching a random documentary on Netflix. Not the type who liked to skip off to Miami flaunting his figure for the paps and clubbing in some place called ‘Cocaine’.
Yet here I was. Maybe I was the desperate one as well because I was entertaining all of this. I did have some gains because of my Marco connection. Media had stalked me out and were now interested in who I was. I had been getting more and more calls from directors about possibly having a role in their shows or their movies.
It was like a breakthrough and that once silent line I had used for all of my bookings was now suddenly ringing off the hook so much I could barely handle all of the inquiries myself.
But was it worth it? Was it worth it to pretend to be interested in Marco Reus for the sole advancement of my career? When would this end? Once I was established enough as an actress to stand on my own two feet? When my father was no longer the coach at Dortmund?
It pained me to think it could go on for much longer, pained me enough to get me to swallow the alcoholic drink Marco had placed in front of me moments ago in two large gulps I was sure weren’t supposed to go down that fast.
Since my introduction to Marco, he had a say in practically all I did. He didn’t like my glasses so he made me wear my contacts. He didn’t like my choice of dress so he filled my closet with much more expensive, lavish choices of apparel. He had complained about my brunette tresses, hinting that maybe I would look a bit better blonde but I wasn’t willing to let some idiot talk me out of the hair color that had adorned my scalp all of my life just so I could look good on his arm.
I didn’t know if my father and Marco had some sort of deal involving him pretending to be my boyfriend or whatever label fit this story. He didn’t seem too enthused to be stuck by my side and it made me curious what sort of narrative he was trying to paint for himself by being paired with me. I had much more to gain, well after my father, than he did.
Sitting alone at my table, I finally stood up trying to find any sign of Cathy. She was one of the few in the Borussia Dortmund family that I had met or at least that I had interest in meeting and continuing to speak with. She was kind, sweet and she never questioned my relationship with Marco though that soft glint in her eyes of empathy told me that she knew enough or maybe she was smart enough to realize there was no genuine interaction between Marco and I.
I continued letting my eyes wander for any sign of her and as soon as I saw the back of Mats’ curly head, I knew she couldn’t be too far away. I practically skipped over towards him and my eyes lit up when I saw her at her husband’s side. It was like the happiness was radiating from her skin as she clung to him, mid-laughter thanks to a joke someone was spewing off to them. I quietly interrupted them with a soft tap to her shoulder.
Cathy whirled around and a wide smile broke her face as she nearly screamed at my appearance. “Ah! You’re here!” She released Mats and tapped me into a hug.
“Yup. I’m here.” I gave a weak smile. I wasn’t all that happy to be here and as soon as she saw my reaction, she gave a pouty frown.
“Are the drinks that bad? Have you not tried the pasta? It’s delish.” She tried to get me to smile by shaking my shoulder and breaking out into her signature smile. It at least got me to let out a soft laugh.
“No. I’ve avoided the pasta. Marco brought me a salad which I think was his secret way of telling me I’m fat.”
Where I could see all of the bad in Marco, Cathy seemed to know only the good and I didn’t know if that was because she had truly spent more time with him than I had or if it was her way of trying to make me feel better.
“Marco would never say that.”
I gave her that look, that look that said she didn’t know what the hell she was talking about because I was sure that was exactly what he was trying to tell me. I guess he wanted a slender girl on his side for the pictures the media would be taking of us. The camera did tend to add an extra ten pounds.
My hand self-consciously floated down to my thighs only for my arm to be touched by someone who was now pulling it gently. I turned away from Cathy and saw Marco standing behind me. He gave a gentle wave to her before looking to me. “Can you come with me for a second?” I wasn’t sure if it was meant to be a question with the way he spoke assertively but I gave a nod anyway just incase he was waiting for my approval.
He led the way throughout the room and eventually outside. I shivered as soon as I stepped out into the night air without my jacket on and curiously followed his steps silently until we were standing in the parking garage.
He now suddenly turned to me once he was beside his car. “You wanna get out of here?” It was hard to describe but there was this sudden change in his tone I had never heard him speak with. It was like a man proposing to his girlfriend they escape from their obligations and just go do something…fun.
No way was he talking to me like that.
“Uh…shouldn’t you stay? I mean…this is for the team and all.”
“I don’t have an interest in staying.”
“Oh.” I paused before clearing my throat. “Are you trying to send me home early?” Maybe he didn’t like my dress or maybe he realized he looked completely ridiculous by my side when he had more pleasant options.
Marco poked out his bottom lip as he shook his head no, a confused look furrowing his brows as he slowly said, “No. I just thought you’d want to go somewhere else. You didn’t seem to be having much fun.”
He turned around, hitting the lock to his car to open the door before reaching inside to the backseat and pulling something out. When he turned back to face me, I realized it was my case where my glasses were. He held it out for me to grab. “Here.”
I didn’t even realize he had grabbed them but I didn’t question him further. I just silently grabbed the black leather case. “Thanks.”
A proud smile supplanted his face and I wasn’t sure why until he spoke. “I grabbed your sweats and shirt too. If you want them?”
Eagerly, I nodded. “Oh yes. Please.” He reached back inside and grabbed for the two items. As soon as he handed them over I didn’t even care that I was in the middle of an empty parking garage with him. I shimmied the sweat pants over my dress before pulling the dress up and over my head, leaving me in the nude strapless bra I wore. I quickly covered my skin with the t-shirt. This was the most relaxed I had probably ever been around Marco so I took the opportunity to ask him the question that had been plaguing my mind for some time now. “Why are you doing this?”
“Doing what?” He slammed his car door shut.
“This. Being with me. My dad—“
He interrupted. “My agent told me I’d look good doing it.” He gave off a soft laugh as if he couldn’t believe he was admitting this aloud or maybe he felt shame for agreeing. “I’ve never really had a girl out in public with me aside from my ex and he thought maybe having someone who has a good reputation and has a connection to the club would be good for me. Settle down any bad rumors about my character and relationship with women and such.”
It made sense. I could see how I could be deemed as one who could bring him pleasant attention. I had no horror stories out about me on the internet. I was well-educated, had many friends but also had a shy personality as well. I was the perfect cover. “Makes sense. Because why else would you be with me,” I said under my breath
Marco let a sly smirk curve his lips. “Under different circumstances I would have opted to take you home the first night I met you if we met as strangers.”
I entertained the thought. Maybe under that character I thought he was, there was a guy with incredible stamina and other talented gifts. “Who said I would have went home with you?”
“You’re right. I’m not your type,” he shrugged. It was now him who seemed self-conscious.
“You know what my type is?”
“Your father told me.”
“So you controlling all that I wear and…”
“Agent,” he answered. “You have to fit the shy stigma but still look hot at the same time. I prefer you with the glasses though. And the sweats.”
I blushed slightly, pretending to busy myself with the dress that was cradled in my arms until I looked up to meet his gaze. “So let’s say we were strangers and you were my type. What would you do?”
“Well…” He pushed off of his car that he was once leaning against and walked closer to me. I could feel my heart beating within my chest but remained silent and confident where I stood.
“I’d take you to my favorite place.”
“It’s a secret,” he winked. “I’d spend a bit of time getting to know you. As much of you as you would allow me to.” His soft hands ran down my arm and I shivered to his cool touch.
“So about this secret place…”
“Can we go now?”
I looked up at him, his eyes looking down at mine before he smiled. “I was waiting on you to ask.”