Chapter 23 - Inside the Theater (I)
While Keith was helplessly trying to adjust to the colorlessness of the ICU ward, he had sneaked into; Taylor was immersed in a world so different than what she had ever known. It was almost as if she had entered into the world of movies, world of fairy tales... world of happily ever after. The Roosevelt Theater's entrance hall was four outstretched wall creating a huge space for antiques and statues. But it wasn't the motionless people or vases that would attract the attention of people walking inside the theater. It was the walls full of murals of people enacting plays, ballets, operas and what not. On her left there was a scene being played where Cinderella was just about to try out the shoe that her Prince Charming had found. There was another scene where a man, his face writhing in agony as he held onto a woman dying in his arms. Taylor's entire body chilled as she climbed one of the two adjoining stairs staring at the walls. She almost knocked herself into the large entrance door, still unable to grasp the fact that Ian came here for work and hated it. She pulled open the door and suddenly the light ran past her intruding the darkness inside. Taylor didn't like the silence that met her but she didn't want to disturb anybody's work so she quickly stepped onto the uncanny middle of the night. The theater was bigger than what she had imagined. She could barely see the top of the chairs through the light that illuminated the stage. It could've easily held around 1000 or more audience.
But Taylor's attention didn't last another second on the probable number of seats inside the theater. She found that her eyes, her attention, her mind and her soul were being paneled into a straight line of sight as if a firefly hovering over a light bulb. Her mouth parted and remained that way for a long time as she looked at the scene of Romeo and Juliet being played out by Ian and the girl she knew was Jamie. Jamie, no longer the girl being bullied by the tyrannical teenage bitch Blair Kiel instead a star crossed lover who was having a gushed conversation with her destined soulmate. She had the same kind face as Taylor remembered but gone was the awkward shyness. Had it only been a year since she had last seen the girl? Jamie was a woman now, confident and very good at looking, romantic with the man that Taylor loved. A pang of jealousy hit Taylor hard, but she could do nothing but sit down and watch the play being enacted in front of her. Ian was Ian, heavenly good-looking, perfect for the romantic Romeo role.
"STOP! STOP! Mr. Gospel! What is the matter with you today?? Where is the romance? Where is the feel of longing, of desire as you leave your recently-found soulmate too soon for your liking? Where is the ache?" An annoyed voice yelled amidst the darkness. The voice was accented and sounded authoritarian, so maybe Taylor was wrong. Taylor was annoyed as he continued yelling at Ian for another couple of minutes. Everyone else was quiet, no one defending him.
"Gaffer, c'mon it wasn't that bad. We're just tired. I think we could all use a little bit of break. We'll bounce back after that, I'm sure of it." Jamie said with a dazzling smile staring certainly at the darkness as if she could pierce through the blackness and stare right into the eyes of the Gaffer person. Taylor couldn't help but notice that Jamie had shared the blame that Gaffer was pouring only on Ian. She was defending him; Taylor suddenly liked her much more.
"I hope you're right Jamie." The voice sounded relaxed now, almost caring. "One hour break and Mr. Gospel you better bring your A-game after it!"
Looking at all the mouth that gaped at this announcement, Taylor knew this one-hour break was an unlikely gesture that happened rarely. A few people patted Ian's shoulder almost as if thanking him for doing whatever he did to give them an hour of relief. Almost everyone left, except for a few strangers, Jamie and Ian. Taylor still unable to remove her gaze from Ian moved silently toward the stairs that would bring her closer to him at the end of it. They were standing close to each other discussing merrily about. Jamie was laughing and Ian smiling embarrassingly while others kept on talking. Ian was scratching the back of his hair and started to seat himself on the stage floor. Others continued talking in the semicircle, and as Taylor got closer, she realized the discussion was going on about what lunch they were about to order. It seemed quite a weird topic to talk about with such passion but then the actors did jump up and down at the one hour break announcement as if the Gaffer guy had just announced an early Christmas break.
"I want Mexican..."
"How about we order from the deli round the block this time?"
"It's gonna take at least half an hour... They're too slow" someone complained.
"Oh don't worry about the service... it's Ian's turn today..." Jamie said and at that almost everyone's face lighted up.
Taylor managed to finally reach the end of the stairs and now had to look up to see Ian. The stage was about three-foot high, and Ian sat at the edge of it with a goofy smile stuck on his face as if reminiscing about a fond memory.
"Ian?" Taylor managed to creak as her voice cracked awkwardly.
Others continued chatting merrily, as if they didn't need to hurry at all. But Ian heard her and his smile lost in the air started gazing through the darkness to find the source of the sound, to find her. Ian stretched his neck and started moving his head like a pendulum stuck moving in the wrong pace searching for her and Taylor couldn't help but laugh. Hearing her more clearly this time, Ian suddenly jumped off the stage and started running, like really running closing in on almost a yard's distance between in a matter of few seconds. Ian had already spotted her and all the doubt that Taylor had suppressed throughout the one-hour long bus ride vanished into air as their eyes met amid the darkness. Taylor wasn't sure earlier if she were just as invited to drop in on Ian's work as he was invited to drop in on her anytime of the day (even if it were 1 o'clock in the morning at a deserted parking lot of the Trixie Hospital). But as he ran into her, she knew he was just as happy to see her as she had been earlier that day.
"Taylor..." He hushed her name as if it were a fresh breath of air.
He crashed into her, almost knocking her off her feet but that was alright because he caught her right, in that moment she realized just how drained she was off of her energy. She was tired and Ian's embrace was like a warm blanket that protected her from all the harm and the tragedy of the world.
"I know we just met a few hours ago but I've missed you..." Ian said as he buried his head in her neck. His cold nose soothing against warmth he was spreading all over her. Taylor couldn't reply partly because she was so happy and content in smiling and partly because his hold was so tight that breathing was a conscious effort, but she didn't mind the exercise at all.
"Ian?" Jamie's voice echoed throughout the empty theater.
Ian grunted and begrudgingly loosened the hold over Taylor. It had been a long day. Taylor had just kissed him early in the morning and it had lasted only a few blissful seconds. Every time he had to utter the romantic verses of the Shakespeare's play, Ian would find his mind replaying Taylor turning on her heels and meeting him to kiss him the perfect kiss he'd always wanted. And now she was here by his side only to get disturbed by none other than Jamie. Ian moved to Taylor's side, his right arm protectively behind her as if he knew without his support Taylor was just about ready to fall down.
"Yes, Jamie..." Ian replied with a fond yet irritated tone.
"We've decided..." She announced proudly.
"What?" Ian asked confused.
"The lunch... Where are you? Come out..." Jamie ordered melodiously.
"Just... Just bear with it.... with Jamie... with them." Ian whispered pleadingly for only Taylor to hear with a hint of apology in his voice.
Taylor was about to ask why, when he started pulling her towards the brightly lit stage muttering, "Just my luck..."
"I think I will have to forfeit the lunch duty today..." Ian said, but even Taylor could hear the defeat in his tone.
"Oh, no ways!" Everyone yelled together.
"It's the deli! You're the only one who can make them work fast. We only have..." Jamie looked at her watch, "53 minutes now. We are counting on you Romeo!"
"Right..." Ian muttered as both of them climbed the stairs of the stage, Taylor almost hidden behind him.
"Who's that?" Jamie asked a new merriment evident in her voice.
Taylor couldn't see people's reaction but with the sudden silence that followed Jamie's question, she knew everyone was staring at Ian trying to look through him to get a gaze at her. Ian's hand, now holding Taylor's grew firmer as if he were about to introduce her to a pack of hungry wolves tied in a chain, scared that she might get too close to them. Taylor didn't understand the protectiveness but she was unable to do anything about it.
"Jamie..." Ian said forcibly.
"Is that... Oh my God... Is that Taylor Jenkins?" Jamie yelled and Taylor understood why Ian had been hiding her behind him.
Ian must've nodded or Jamie had perceived his answer telepathically because suddenly she was surrounded by strangers who knew everything about her. Ian had been pushed away. They really were like a pack of hungry wolves.
"Oh my God, Taylor!"
"So this is what Taylor the great looks like..."
"Ian's crazy about you..."
Taylor was really scared for reason she couldn't fathom. The shock made her mute as people showered her with compliments. People, except for Lisa, had never been so nice to her. There were only about a dozen people there, but the rain of greetings didn't stop for a few more agonizing minutes. Taylor smiled and nodded trying to decipher what was going on while her heart beat faster with panic.
"OKAY STOP! YOU'RE SUFFOCATING HER!" Ian shouted and finally the circle around her that was making her spin dispersed. Ian moved over to her and once again pulled her into him with a protective arm to support her. She was dazed and couldn't stop her lips from curving into a smile that was really beginning to ache.
"Yes, she is Taylor Jenkins. Yes, the same Taylor I've been talking about for a gazillion years. So stop scaring her. I don't want her running away from me again. And now you guys can probably guess why I deny my lunch duty today!" Ian announced satisfied with his remark. But both Ian and Taylor, almost at the same time happened to glance at Jamie who was giving such a coy smile that they both knew she had mischief rolled all over her sleeves.
"But you can't do that... we're eating from the deli today. it's decided."
"But..." Ian started to say but was cut off.
"Don't worry... we'll take good care of her while you bring the food over in what..." Jamie looked back at her fellow actors who had the similar grin stuck on their faces, "5 minutes?"
Everyone nodded, a few stifled their laughter.
"No, then I'm taking her with me..." Ian said once again pushing her backward as if a battle was about to begin.
"Oh no no no no no no..." Jamie said with a dramatic air. "How can we trust that you'll come back at all? We may starve to death waiting for the real star crossed lover to present us with our predetermined victuals..." Jamie said showing off her acting skills.
"I'll stay... You can go. It's okay..." Taylor said finally finding her voice that she had lost over the past couple of minutes.
"The lady agrees the slave must come through with his duties..." One of the guys said.
"Are you sure?" Ian asked warning her to say no.
"Yes..." Taylor said aloud as everyone cheered.
"But come back soon... I'm scared," she admitted close to his ears.
Ian sighed and ran away from her towards the exit door already dialing the deli shouting orders into the receiver.
"Don't worry... I'll be your savior for now..." Jamie smiled.
Taylor believed her, even though she didn't know why she had to be saved. In a few minutes, she did. People around her were like bunch of children in a sugar rush, and Taylor was the shiny new toy. They were all so damn excited. They all must've been really close to Ian, because they all asked embarrassing questions only families in holiday gathering were allowed to ask. The queries ranged from "How did you guys meet... like again?" to "Have you guys done it yet?"
Taylor was literally incapable of answering them because she was blushing so hard. Had Ian really liked her so much that she was familiar to all these strangers? She was among well-trained actors but she was the real celebrity there. When Jamie finally made everyone stop hovering over her, they both sat down at the edge of the stage.
"I never got a chance to thank you..." Jamie said slowly with the same innocence Taylor had seen during their high school days.
"That Blair hair incident... You were the only one who stood by my side. I knew you had your own troubles but you still cared. Nobody dared standing up to her but you."
"I'm sorry you had to go through all that."
"Yeah... but I have no regrets. If it weren't for those troubled days, I would've never been friends with Ian and would've never got to know Sameer. I guess no pain, no gain right?"
"Sameer?" Taylor asked incredulously. "You and Sameer? Sameer Kher and you?" Taylor shouted unable to get a grip on her voice. "That bully... that..."
Jamie laughed as if she were expecting her reaction.
"Ian was right. You really don't like him huh?"
Taylor faked a smiled. Taylor not liking him was somehow comparing diamonds to plastic. She hated him. Sameer Kher the famous prankster in high school had made Taylor his muse for a couple of months until she had finally had it and punched him right where it hurt.
"He's not that bad, you know. We've been together for two years now. Sure he is stubborn with his dumb sense of humor but if you knew him like I do, you'd know why I love him so much."
"Yeah... I really love him, not as much as Ian loves you but you already know that, don't you?"
"I don't know. I mean, all my life I've always seen Ian as a high school popular jock. I had this image of him in my mind and it's difficult to change that you know? Right now, he is so different from what I've always known about him. He is almost like a... like a..." Taylor couldn't complete the sentence.
"Like a nerd hopelessly in love with you..."
Taylor blushed and nodded.
"Is it really so weird that I don't trust him and his feelings yet? Sometimes I still feel like Sameer Kher is going to pop up out of nowhere and start laughing at my face for believing him. He is Ian Gospel, you know the all-star and I'm just a grief stricken nerd with so much baggage. Why would he even choose me?"
"Is that really, how you feel?"Jamie asked almost as if she was hurt.
"Sometimes, but the feeling goes away once I'm around him. He makes me forget my every doubt and reasons to not trust him. For those moments we meet, I give myself over to him like a trusting small girl even though I know he can hurt me if chooses to..."
Jamie didn't reply to that. She was quiet, almost as if Taylor had just presented her with a Chinese puzzle. But Taylor knew Jamie would somehow understand her, after all she had chosen to love the best friend of the guy she loved despite all her efforts not to. Jamie must've gone through the same things Taylor was going through. It must've taken enormous effort to put her trust in a guy who was and still is famous for making fun of people's emotion. Taylor wished she knew how Jamie knew it was the right thing to do.
"You know, I know what you're talking about. For the first few months I was pretty sure Sam was playing around with me." Jamie said almost as if she had read Taylor's mind.
"Then how did you... you know knew it was for real?"
"I didn't. I just went with it because it felt right. And one day you'll wake up by his side and realize that you don't love the guy you thought he was because he isn't really that guy. He is someone else entirely. This guy sleeping beside you is incapable of hurting you. That guy who makes you smile and laugh all the time really does love you. And call it an intuition but I know if you give Ian a real chance, you'll get that epiphany too because I know, he loves you. I know you're right for him. I just do..."
Taylor listened quietly to Jamie and realized that even if Jamie hadn't vouch for Ian, she still would've been with Ian. Despite the frequent doubts creeping up to her, she trusted Ian with all his might.
"Food's here!" Ian yelled as he hurried down the stairs.
Taylor and Jamie kept staring at each other, both trying to communicate without really speaking. Jamie's huge brown eyes were pleading Taylor not to give in on her doubts and Taylor's deep gray eyes were trying to trust her. Taylor knew beyond her doubts that she couldn't really give in on Ian. Somehow she had grown accustomed to him. Somehow the late night calls and flirty text messages were all it took for her to fall in love with him but trusting him was still a little too far off her reach. But if Jamie had poured her heart and soul to a guy like Sameer Kher and came out triumphant then Taylor wouldn't give up either. This was about the blue-eyed guy who was always there, even though she didn't know it. This was about the guy whom everyone loved including herself. This was easy...
"Great!" Yelled a guy behind them breaking a silent secret that only the two girls shared, that only the girls who decided to surrender themselves for a chance to find love would understand.
I really want to thank you guys for being patient with me, if not with me then with the story! Life just keeps getting in my way! Anyway hope this chapter was worth your wait!
Tans: Hope this one does the same for Taylor and Ian! Thanks for the comment! Hope you liked it!
Kyshia: Aww, thank you for your precious tears! I am so happy that you loved the previous chapter! Hope you like this one too!
Unzel: I promise you I will... no matter how long it takes! Thanks for the comment!
Gloria: So I'm back!! And so are Taylor, Keith and Ian! Hope you enjoyed the chapter!
Krizztine: Well, let's see what happens! Thanks for the comment! Hope you liked it!
Hate is Just the Beginning - Chapter 23Hope you guys like it!
By Lazilyinlove x