The Hooker and the Hermit(Rugby #1)

The Hooker and the Hermit(Rugby #1) BY L.H. Cosway & Penny Reid




Chapter One


The Email Checker: When one pretends to be checking his/her email on a smartphone, but is instead actually taking a picture of a person/the people directly in front of him/her.

Best for: Most situations where it is socially acceptable to be checking email, e.g. coffee shops, while dining alone at a restaurant, waiting for public transportation.

Do not use: In locations with no cell phone or Internet reception.




Annie

I’m not going to pretend that I have pristine intentions. But to be fair, when he initially entered the restaurant, I was already checking my email.

In fact, I didn’t look up from my phone until I heard the kerfuffle and squawking of excited females. These sounds—giggling, squeals, oooohhhhh, whispered Oh, My God! and Is that really him?—typically accompanied the arrival of a male celebrity. I’m especially tuned into the signs and symptoms for two reasons: my job and my hobby.

I am the primary project lead of the Social Media Marketing division at Davidson & Croft Media. My specialty is transforming reputations in the court of public opinion. Give me a disgraced celebrity, politician, or public figure—sex-tape scandal, DUIs, arrests, the great rehab escape, sexting an intern (what I call “Donkey Donging”)—and I will transform that person’s image.

I will make her sparkle. I will make him shine. I am legendary in my field. I am the best at what I do.

And I admit this as truth with absolutely no conceit or vanity because I’m terrible at almost everything else in life. Take walking or talking, for instance, never mind attempting both at the same time. Or smiling. Or not being weird. Or not creeping people out. Or not being the cause of every awkward silence in a five-mile radius.

The only other things at which I excel in life are: 1) responsible financial planning, 2) my hobby blog, and 3) eating.

Which brings me to now, Tom’s Southern Kitchen, and the group of ladies molting feathers left and right as they try to dry-hump the remarkably attractive and muscular man who has just entered.

I’d lifted just my eyes, peering at him and the women as I tried to place his face. He was standing in profile, and his handsome mouth was curved in a patient, polite smile. I couldn’t tell if he was enjoying the attention or if he just had exceedingly excellent manners.

Regardless, he looked quite a lot like the Irish actor Colin Farrell, except a Colin Farrell who’d been working out nonstop, had thighs like tree trunks, and was ten to fifteen years younger. So, maybe a Colin Farrell just back from a visit to the plastic surgeon and a CrossFit boot camp. This glorious specimen of maleness had dark brown hair, spiky and short. His nose was perfect, almost adorable, but it somehow fit his face. His jaw was angular and strong. He even had the actor’s high cheekbones, dark brown eyebrows, thick lashes, and doe eyes.

I couldn’t decide if this guy was a doppelg?nger or if he was the real deal, but it didn’t really matter. He would be perfect for my Saturday Celebrity Stalker post. It was, without fail, the most popular post every week.

Which leads me to my greatest and most closely held secret. The truth is that I, Annie Catrel, am The Socialmedialite, the owner and purveyor of the blog New York’s Finest.

That’s right.

I’m The Socialmedialite.

I’m that girl, the most influential infotainment blogger in the world.

And, because I am meticulous about my security protocols, no one knows who I am…that I am she…that she is me.

Never mind. You know what I mean.

Anyway, Saturday Celebrity Stalker is my weekly post dedicated to celebrities or their look-alikes wherein their physical features are picked apart John Madden style (John Madden being the famous American football coach-then-announcer who loved to draw on the home viewers’ TV screen with circles, arrows, and random lines to demonstrate errors in football plays).

Except I do this to celebrities (almost exclusively male celebrities) and question their judgment regarding grooming, makeup (yes, makeup), clothes, and accessory choices. And, if they’re walking a dog, I do it to their little dog, too.

The degree to which I pick apart the celebrity’s lack of judgment depends on several factors, and I’m the first to admit I’m a good deal easier and/or nicer to those people with talent than I am to celebriturds (people who are famous because they’re famous/rich but with no redeeming qualities to offer society) and celebritrash (celebriturds who are also fame whores).

However, I try not to comment too much on bodies or facial features. Personally, I feel like we—Western culture—are so body obsessed, there’s no need for me to add to the hysteria. Especially since these famous people already give me so much fodder with their ridiculous million-dollar fanny packs (made in third world sweatshops) and their gold-plated floss holders.

Why does anyone need a gold-plated floss holder? Tell me. Why? Why? Why?

I don’t know. I don’t get it.

Most men loved being featured on my blog. My posts typically resulted in emails of praise and thanks from publicity-hungry agents and celebrities. Sometimes they’d make a donation to charity in the name of the blog or respond with a self-deprecating parody on YouTube.

I took care to focus on satire, poking fun at the extremes, playfully objectifying these untouchable gods among men. Women, especially females of notoriety, in our society had to suck up and swallow daily doses of criticism about everything—too fat, too skinny, wearing the same outfit twice in public, having an opinion—from fake TV personalities and tabloid vultures.

In comparison to these self-esteem vampires, I provide a public service. So I make fun of these famous-people-specific idiosyncrasies on a blog followed by twenty million people. It’s all in good fun.

The look-alike continued to smile and sign napkins for the group of ladies. He might not have actually been the Irish actor, but he was definitely a somebody. Luckily for him, it was 3:30 p.m. on a Thursday afternoon; that meant Tom’s Southern Kitchen was virtually empty of customers. Surreptitiously, I angled my telephone and clicked out of my email, pulling up my smartphone’s camera.

I then took about forty or fifty shots over the next two minutes until my view of the hubbub was blocked by a waiter bringing over my bag of takeout. I didn’t quite make eye contact with my server as I paid for the food, collected my belongings as leisurely as I could manage, and left the small restaurant.

Eye contact is difficult for me. I know that seems strange; it is strange. For the longest time, I assumed I was just very shy—that is, until I started engaging with people online. That’s when I discovered in-real-life-Annie might be introverted. She is reclusive and quiet. She observes. She seldom speaks. She dislikes attention of any kind.

But The Socialmedialite, my online handle, is gregarious and silly. She is opinionated. She craves interaction and attention. She is clever and witty (mostly because, online, wittiness is not a factor of time; in real life you have to be quick-witted in order to be considered witty).

My bag slung over my shoulder, I carried the takeout in one hand and held my phone in the other. I was eager to thumb through my new pictures on the short walk back to my apartment. I hadn’t taken notice of much while sitting at my table, pretending to check my email, except for the guy’s resemblance to the Irish actor.

Therefore I was anxious to analyze what he was wearing, what he was carrying, and any other potentially remarkable external manifestations of eccentricity. I turned the corner, now just a half block from my building, and studied the shots.

Initially, all I saw was a guy who looked like Colin Farrell with a strange-looking, albeit small, apparatus strapped to his back, his feet in those godawful toe-shoes that make the wearer look like a hobbit. His shirt was lime green, skin tight, highlighting his impressively muscled physique, and appeared to be made of Lycra; his thighs were corded and thick, plainly visible because he wore spandex—black spandex, not lime green.

On 99.9% of people, this outfit would have looked completely ridiculous. But not on this guy. He looked hot. Really, really hot.

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