When It's Real
@luv_oakley_hands @VeryVaughn This pic is sooooo amazing. Need 1 in my locker.
@VeryVaughn God, basic pic or what? Go back to art school, btch
@OakleyFord_stanNo1 @VeryVaughn Preach. Looked at her history. Not even a fan let alone a stan. Get out.
@VeryVaughn your not even cute. @OakleyFord ur hot af
@selleuni5 @OakFordHeart @unicornio @wammalamma @ magg1e_han50n and 244 more just followed @VeryVaughn
Oh, wow. I racked up more than two hundred new followers in the span of ten seconds. That’s nuts.
Paisley pokes her head in my room. “Claudia called. She thinks you should start replying. Apparently you’re getting hundreds of responses.”
“I know.” I hold up my phone, a tad dazed. “They’re pretty much about how basic and not cute I am and how he can do so much better than me.”
My sister gives me a wry grin. “It’s the internet. People say stupid stuff all the time on the internet. Want some help with that?”
I shake my head. I signed a contract and it’s time to do my part, so I spend the next hour answering random Tweets with the appropriate OMGs and !!!!! while ignoring the “your so ugly” comments. The insulters have one thing in common. They’re not good with homophones and that provides me with the tiniest bit of pleasure.
The last text I get before I go to bed is from W.
What the fuck V! Call me.
“Why didn’t I see this picture before it went out?” I ask Jim.
It’s past ten, the house is dead again and I’m staring at a pencil sketch of my face on Ty’s phone. He’s in the front room trying to hide his laughter from me.
“You don’t like it?” Jim says, his surprise echoing through the line. “I think it’s good. Actually, it’s better than I thought it was going to be. Your fans are loving it.”
I zoom in on my mouth. Is that how she sees me? Pouty and sullen? I look like a little boy who got his favorite toy taken away. But I’ll sound even more childish complaining about it to Jim, so I latch on to a different excuse.
“Have you seen all the shit that other girls are sending? Doesn’t Twitter have some kind of rules?” I don’t know why I’m shocked. I’m used to getting private naked pics all the time, but some of these girls look...young. Way too young for even me.
When Jim signed me up for Snapchat, I got about a thousand nudes before I uploaded my first snap. I accidentally responded to one of them, which led to a weird stalker experience. Having four fourteen-year-old girls follow you around on their bicycles is scary.
“Ignore them,” Jim advises. “In fact, you can ignore all of this. Claudia will handle your responses.”
Tired of looking at myself, I toss Tyrese’s phone onto the marble kitchen counter. “What’s our timeline on King?” I demand, because getting my music made is the only reason I’m going through with this crap.
“Nothing’s going to happen with him for a while. Put it out of your mind. Why don’t you use this time to write new music? Maybe your new girlfriend will give you some inspiration.”
“Hardeeharhar.” Since Vaughn doesn’t like me much, all my songs would be about irrational girls and their incorrect snap judgments.
And what did I ever do to her, anyway? Traffic in LA is bad, and Jim knows better than to schedule a meeting before noon. I’m a night owl.
“I hope you don’t think I’m going to stay in my house this entire year,” I mutter.
“No, I realize a bored Oak is a dangerous one. Frankly, I don’t care what you do all year, other than keep your nose clean. King will come around. You let me worry about that. Now I’m going home to my pretty wife.”
“I can’t tell if you’re mocking me or scolding me.”
“It’s both, kid,” Jim says cheerfully before he hangs up.
The picture on Ty’s phone keeps taunting me. I want to write something back to Vaughn, but I have no idea how to log in to my own Twitter account. Social media is a total time suck. When I first went on, I was shocked by the number of people who sent messages that they’d never have the balls to say to me in person. I argued with a few of them.
That’s when Claudia stepped in and took over my account—all of them. And after the gang of four, as I like to refer to them, I was happy enough to let her take the wheel.
I pick up Ty’s phone when it buzzes. Some girl just snapped him a dirty message. I swipe it away.
“Ty, why do you have a Twitter account?”
“Football, brother.” He wanders into the kitchen, apparently done with his laughing fit. “Lots of pros on Twitter.”
“Yeah, see here.” He pulls the phone out of my hand and taps on something before setting it back in front of me. “I’ve got my fantasy follows and then a bunch of athletes.”
I read his timeline. It’s full of stats, links to football videos and articles. “No wonder you kick my ass in fantasy football.”
“You need a secret Twitter account.”
“Yeah, that’d go over well with Claudia.” I hop off the bar stool and rummage around in the fridge for something to eat. I pass over the veggies, cheese, health drinks, and grab a beer. “Wanna play some FIFA?”
“Sure. You ready for an ass-kicking?”
“Bring it on.”
I toss him a beer and we make our way to the living room. Ty slips on the headset with the mic while I don my headphones. I’m not allowed to have a mic attached to mine. One time I was bellowing out curses and someone figured out that I sounded a helluvalot like Oakley Ford. They recorded me, put the sound bite up on the internet and I got a bunch of people mad because I cursed too much at the age of sixteen.
Hell, do any of these parents even listen to their kids? I swear, ninety-nine percent of the I’m going to bang your mother insults are delivered by preteens.
Ty and I play for a couple of hours, and he does proceed to kick my ass. I soothe my ego by playing some random on the internet and finally log a win.
Once we’re done playing, my eyes stray to his phone again.
“Can you log in?” I ask.
“To your account?”
“No. I don’t know your deets. I can call Claudia, though.”
I toss Ty’s phone back and forth between my hands. As far as I can tell, Vaughn hasn’t responded to “my” fave’ing of her picture. She couldn’t be less interested in my attention. She reminds me of my parents.