“Come on boo, let’s get you home,” I mumbled into his ear over the aggressive booms of the paparazzi. Award shows were fun on the inside, but once the cameras are off, we literally step into the wild.
“No baby, fun. Let’s have fun…”
“Liam, just stay quiet, ok? Don’t start anything.” His huge body was practically draped over my shoulder as I hauled him through the crowd screaming absurd questions into my face. I squealed as some guy squeezed my ass from behind.
Liam suddenly was standing upright and had the guy by his t-shirt tuxedo. “Hey!” his voice boomed, making everyone go silent for a second, but the camera flashes went up a notch. “Get your filthy hands off of her!” He slurred, “She is my. Fucking…” he licked his lips, closed his eyes, and spat out, “Property.”
“Liam!” I screamed over the explosion that resulted from his drunken outburst. I tried grasping him back but he was already consumed by the sea of photographers. Suddenly I saw no way out and I started to panic. I knew that going to an after party was not a good idea.
“Miley!” He cupped his hands around his mouth lazily, looking around aimlessly for me. The flashes were blinding and the chaos was too much so I did the only thing that seemed practical at that time. I got down on my hands and knees and crawled in between every one of those photographers’ legs. They could have gotten some nasty pictures, but they were all so stupid that they had no idea what just hit them.
As soon as I escaped the mob, I got my phone out and dialed the first person I could think of to help me in the situation. I knew Liam wouldn’t like it, but he was in no state to drive us home, and I didn’t know how to deal with him when he was this drunk. I ran around the corner and kept running until I found a dark, quiet alley. He answered on the first ring.
“What’s wrong?” I guess my only reason for calling him at 3:00 in the morning on a Saturday night would be a bad one. But he didn’t sound groggy or annoyed. He hadn’t been sleeping.
“I’m so sorry Zac, but Liam’s drunk and the paps are everywhere and I don’t even know where my car is. I don’t even know how we got here I just – “ I don’t know why I was crying, but the tears kept coming down. I always play it off like I’m used to being bombarded everywhere I go because I should be. It’s been happening to me since I was fourteen years old. But you can never really get used to having absolutely no privacy.
“Ok, where are you?”
“Um,” I stepped out of the alleyway to find a street sign. I recited to him every street sign I could find in our general area. “We were at the Rolling Stone after party and then walked to a bar.”
“Brilliant idea,” he mumbled. Before I could shoot back a defense he added, “Are you with anyone else?” I heard him starting the engine to his car. I couldn’t believe how calm he was. I couldn’t believe that he wasn’t so annoyed by this. Zac had always been there for me and I had always been there for him. We’re far apart enough in age so the romance factor is not an option, and he’s always just been like my older brother. I always end up calling him whenever I need a guy’s perspective on relationship advice. Whenever Liam isn’t there and I need some masculine support, he’s always there. He used to tell me that I was easier to talk to than his girlfriend. That part made me uncomfortable.
“No, me and Liam got separated though. I need to find him. Do you think I should go out now or can you drive me around to find him?”
“What do you mean drive around to find him? Where do you think he is? When did you get separated?”
“Chill, chill. He can handle himself.”
I started to run out from the alley and back to the swarm of photographers. I saw his car pull up right in front of them and started waving my hands. The second his eyes glanced in my direction, every single photographer swung around and started blinding me with their flashes. I shielded my eyes with my hand and tried to push through them but all of a sudden, I felt his arm wrap around my waist and he guided me through the herd of them. I just kept my body relaxed and my eyes down and let his arms push me through to the other side. Even when I heard their screams in the distance and my eyes started to return to normal, I kept my head down. His hands didn’t leave my body the whole way.
“What the hell are you doing here?” Liam’s voice was below me. I squinted my eyes open and took in the image of him sprawled on the ground, his head the only part of his body leaning on the dirty bricks behind him. Zac moved to help him up and he scrambled away. “Get your hands off my girlfriend! I can get her home myself…” His face contorted and I knew he was going to be sick.
“Babe, please…” I was still partially blinded and my voice was weak but Zac gave me a look that told me he had it under control. And I knew he did.
“Come on, dude. Just calm down. I’ll get you guys home.” He squatted down next to him and lifted his arm so it draped over his shoulder and the two of them slowly stood up. His lips pressed together and his shoulders wobbled; all of Liam’s weight was clearly on his back. I moved to help him but he just nodded his head in the direction of his car and I kept quiet.
After a painful few minutes of watching the dysfunctional duo wobble through the back alley, we finally got back to Zac’s car. He hauled Liam into the back seat and opened my door for me. After all that, he still had the decency to open a car door for me. Ridiculous.
It was silent for most of the way. I was too embarrassed to apologize and I knew that even if I did, he would play it off like it was nothing. I wanted to ask what I had interrupted, but I was too afraid of the answer.
He cleared his throat. “Are you going back to his place or…”
“Um,” I hadn’t been back to my house in weeks. I figured that I had to make sure he got into his bed. “Yeah, I guess so.” He nodded. I took a deep breath. “Thank you.”
He looked at me for a really long time. Like, a really long time. Not only was it uncomfortable considering the circumstances, but I had to break the stare to look at the road in front of us, afraid that he was going to crash.
“Any time you need me, Miles, I’m there. But he honestly needs to get a hold of himself.” I saw the tiniest hint of a smile play on his face, which was especially gorgeous when looking at his profile.
“I’m sorry if I interrupted anything, by the way. I probably completely ruined your Saturday night…”
“No, it’s fine. Trust me, I really wanted to get out of there.”
I had to ask. “Where?”
He gave me a quick glance before returning his eyes to the road. “I was just out. With Vanessa and her friends, you know. They’re fine, I guess. I just like it better when we’re alone.”
“Of course you like it better when you’re alone. She is, like, so fucking beautiful. I can only imagine…” The alcohol was really getting to me. I physically slammed my hand over my mouth. I stole a look over to him and thank God he was laughing.
“Yes, she is fucking beautiful.” And that was it. We pulled into the driveway and he offered to help Liam up to the house, but at this point he was semi-conscious and I didn’t want to go through any more awkwardness than I had already endured.
“Thank you Zac.”
“No problem, any time.”
“Really though. You’re the only person I know who would have done this for me. It means a lot.”
“Miley.” Oh my goodness, that smile. His face just couldn’t be any more perfect. “Anything for you babe, anything for you.”
I gave him one last smile and slammed the door, trying to catch up with Liam who was already wobbling to the front door. By the time I turned around, his car was already gone.