The Laundry Scene – Aralie’s POV
I stuff my band tees into the hamper, trying to force as much into one load as possible. I can’t believe Mom expects us to cater to these self-righteous ego trips. This isn’t fun, and our house isn’t a vacation resort. Some people actually have normal lives and do normal things that don’t involve hiding a boyband or working around them to do simple things such as the freaking laundry.
I close the door halfway to grab the towel I tossed behind it this morning. When I pull the door back, Julian Rossi invites himself inside and drops a pile of clothes at the end of my bed.
“I know you didn’t just do what I think you did,” I say. I cram the towel on top of my T-shirts and then fold my arms over my chest. “Get out.”
“Get out?” he asks. He spreads his stance, like he’s all buff, and folds his arms to mimic my pose. “I thought your mom said to show some hospitality. I think you may need a few lessons – starting with a vocabulary lesson to learn what hospitality means.”
Who the hell does this guy think he is? Coming into my bedroom, all on his own invitation, and then telling me how I’m supposed to treat him? He’s about to get one hell of a wakeup call. Emery may think he’s one of the greatest people to ever breathe, but Aralie Branson is not a Saturnite.
“This isn’t happening,” I tell him. I grab his jeans and a shirt and throw them into the hallway. “Out!”
He smirks, and it makes my blood boil. He thinks he’s so freaking cute with his eyebrow piercing and dark clothes. He doesn’t know the first thing about being a bad boy. His face is on a fluffy purple pillow in Emery’s bedroom. He won’t win this stupid little game.
“I know you’re not deaf,” I say. “You guys all like hearing your own voices, so why don’t you go back downstairs with them and wash your own clothes?”
He doesn’t move, so I grab another shirt and chuck it into the hallway. I cannot believe he had the balls to come in here and put his dirty clothes on my bed. I reach for another article of clothing to throw when I see his boxers. His dirty boxers. On my bed. Where I sleep!
A flaming kind of anger consumes me. I don’t care how many girls would love to have his dirty boxers on their beds. There is no rock star or movie star or boyband idiot whose underwear I want on my bed.
“Who do you think you are?” I scream at him. “I’m not your mom or your maid or whatever you have on tour!”
I grab one of his T-shirts, grasp the boxers with it, and fling both of them into the hallway. Then I lunge for Jules and slam both of my palms into his shoulders. He stumbles back, catching his balance just a few steps away from his laundry.
“You said you were doing laundry,” he says, like that’s an open invitation to bring me his clothes. He leans back into my doorway, which is even more annoying.
I glance back at the pile on my bed. More. Freaking. Boxers. I scoop up as many items as I can and, with my best ability, hurl them toward him.
“You are so stupid,” I say, glaring at him with as much hatred as I can muster. “I wouldn’t wash your clothes with mine because I don’t want that awful cigarette smell on my clothes. No wonder they don’t give you that many parts on the songs. They don’t want you croaking on the album.”
He takes a step forward, and I chuck another T-shirt at him. He ducks to dodge it, only fueling me even more. Once I run out of his clothes, I may just throw my own at him.
“Such a bad boy, huh?” I ask. “What kind of ‘bad boy’ stands around letting a girl throw clothes at him? Better yet, what kind of bad boy dyes his hair black but doesn’t bother to match his eyebrows?”
I mention the lack of tattoos because even Noah – the cute one, apparently – has more tattoos than Jules does. I don’t get to lay into him, though. Mom rushes to his rescue, minus her supermom cape.
“What is going on up here?” she asks, more concerned than angry. “Why are your clothes all over the hallway?”
Jules hesitates for a second before he speaks. “She said she was going to start up some laundry, and I asked if I could throw these in,” he says. “Obviously that was the wrong question.”
“Oh. My. God,” I say. I don’t care if I sound like a dramatic teenage girl. For once, I’m going to be one. “Mom, he’s lying. He came in here and–”
“Aralie,” Mom interrupts. “It’s not polite to call our houseguests liars.”
This is seriously not happening. Where is my mom and who is this pod woman? And since when does anyone in this house other than Emery care more about Spaceships Around Saturn than our family?
“No,” I protest. “He invited himself in here, threw his dirty laundry on my bed, and expected me to do it. He didn’t ask. He didn’t even knock. He just barged in like a diva with his freaking demands, and I’m not doing it.”
Mom motions for Jules to give us a moment alone. Tate pulls Jules aside and tells him to calm down a few times while Godfrey scrapes Jules’s laundry off the hallway floor.
“I’m sure this was just a big misunderstanding,” Mom says with that sweet mom-ish smile that I know she’s faking for appearances. “This isn’t easy for any of us. Emotions are going to run high. We just need to try to stay calm and get through this lockdown with as much ease as possible, okay?”
I’m surprised Chloe hasn’t come in here to give me the same lecture. She’ll play the game, as will Emery. Who am I kidding? This is Emery’s dream come true. I just hate that their willingness to play along makes me look like the psycho bitch of the family.
Mom sighs. “I’ll help Jules get his laundry started, if you can wait just a little longer to do your load,” she offers. “Is that okay?”
“Whatever,” I tell her. “Just keep him away from me, and I’ll be fine.”
I close my bedroom door behind her and grab the Peach Bellini hand sanitizer from my dresser. I lather my hands and arms more than necessary, but I feel completely ick after that incident. I strip the top blanket off of my bed – because that thing is getting washed before I use it again – and toss it into the corner with my hamper of still-needing-washed clothes.
When I grab my phone to listen to music (that isn’t Spaceships Around Saturn), I realize my headphones aren’t attached. Damn it. They were on the bed before I ripped that blanket off in a fury. They could’ve flown anywhere.
I begin moving things around, searching for the only item that may help drown out the angry voice rushing through my head. And someone knocks on my bedroom door.
I should’ve known it wouldn’t take long for Chloe to step across the hallway for a lecture handed down from Mom. I’ll never understand why Mom sends Chloe for back up, like I’ll actually listen to her. Chloe and I always have each other’s backs, but siding with Mom on this Saturn issue may just break that alliance.
But it isn’t Chloe who’s standing there when I open my door.
“I knocked this time,” Jules says.
I start to push the door shut in his face, but he catches it with his hand and stops me.
“Wait,” he says. “I think we got off on the wrong foot.”
“That’s not an apology,” I tell him.
He nods. “I’m sorry,” he says. “Can we start over?”
“I don’t want to start over because I’m not really up for being friends with you,” I say. And it’s true. I do not want friends in a boyband, especially Emery’s boyband. “Can we just ignore each other blissfully for however long you’re here instead?”
He leans against the doorframe, and I get the feeling that even though he’s apologizing, he won’t be giving in any time soon. It’s not in his nature – or mine.
“Look, I said I was sorry. I’m trying here,” he says.
And that’s when I really can’t stop myself from digging deeper. “Why?” I ask.
“Well, you’re different,” he says. “Wait – don’t argue with me. I know you probably think I say that to a lot of girls, and I’m not hitting on you. It’s just, I meet all these girls with their dyed hair and their band tees, and they say they’re drawn to me because I’m ‘the bad boy’ and they want to be bad girls, and they’re just not real.”
Why is he telling me this? My hair is naturally dark. I actually listen to the bands on my shirts. And any girl who thinks Julian Rossi is a true bad boy is kidding herself. He’s a persona created by a management team. How can they not see through that? He’s no more of a bad boy than Benji is a heart-throb. Benji is manufactured to be single and pretty and captivate the world.
“Your point?” I ask.
“There’s one thing that sets you apart from those girls,” Jules says.
“And what’s that?” I ask.
He pushes my door open but doesn’t step inside. “That,” he says, pointing to the poster on my wall.
“Mutilated Arteries?” I ask, glancing at my favorite band plastered on my wall.
“Yeah. Them,” he replies. “The thing is, you’re a legit fan. I know this because that dude in the middle is freaking scary and ugly in a way I can’t even comprehend.”
Ink. The drummer. He’s not the worst looking, but I can see where the Benji Baccarini fanbase would be petrified and disgusted. I think I like Ink even more now than I did two minutes ago.
“My point is, all of those ‘bad girl’ Saturnites would die before they’d put someone who looked like that on their bedroom walls,” he says. “That makes you different. It makes you real.”
I really want to push him out of my doorway and into the hall and away from me for the rest of this lockdown. I’m not a Saturnite. I’m not a boyband fan. I represent everything that is the opposite of Saturn. And damn it if a Saturn guy didn’t just use my one weakness – Mutilated Arteries – against me. Damn him.
“So, um, are you going to invite me in or do I have to stand in your doorway to talk to you?” he asks.
I sigh. “Just make sure no one sees you come in or out of here, okay?”