Rain check them.
That was never going to happen, anyway.
Your entire schedule was renovated upon learning that Central City's own claim to fame (in almost a decade), H.R. Wells, bestselling author, was giving a special and surprise reading of his latest steamy novel at Jitters tonight. Naturally, everything would take a backseat to this event, because not only were you a massive fan of his writing (you own his entire works, but his Romance series being your unabashed favourite ever), you were pretty sure you were in love with him. You've seen H.R. in interviews and at other book readings, and boy is he a charmer. So full of energy, a bright puppy dog smile, and God-perfected blue eyes that pierce your very soul. Word on the street has been that he's extremely “friendly” with the ladies. And the ladies are always more than “friendly” back. To say that H.R. Wells had fangirls was an understatement. More like he had fanwomen. He had them, alright. Had them begging.
What you wouldn't give to have his attention for only a minute...
You dismiss the thought because, as if. If only you were that lucky.
You make sure to bring your hardcover copy of the novel he'll be reading from, The Streak vs. Mr. Reflecto. Though H.R. has never outright mentioned it, you are convinced he uses moments from real life experiences from his past from working with The Flash eight years ago. The Flash used to be called The Streak when he first started saving Central City citizens. In the series, each book features The Streak battling a foe, always with a name similar to one belonging to a real life villain that once terrorized your city. Mr. Reflecto in the latest book has basically the same powers as Mirror Master, a horrible man who still runs around town tricking innocent people with his reflective powers and his vertigo-inducing lady friend in tow. You almost feel like a detective when putting these pieces together (rather than the journalist you really were), and you're sure none of his groupies are even paying attention to that kind of information he incorporates into his work. They just want to get in his pants.
Not that you could blame them.
Jitters was, well, jittering with anticipation and overpowering hormones. The entire crowd was women (plus a perfectly groomed man) in low cut, short skirts and dresses to accentuate everything they have and wish to offer. You seem to have missed the memo, what with your skin being covered and blouse actually buttoned up.
Oh look, a spot in the second row is still open!
You shuffle your way past all the bare legs and manage to snag the last seat in the second row, behind a woman in a ruffly green dress. She's rather tall, and as you try to see past her fresh blowout, she turns around in her seat. She eyes you up and down, with your copy of H.R.'s book clutched at your chest.
“Can you see, sweetie?” she asks.
“Aw, too bad. Should've gotten here earlier, I guess.” The woman smiles an evil smirk and faces the front again. You couldn't help your jaw drop, but really lady? Where's karma when you need it? The lights dim and the room fills with gasps and squeaks. A voice from the speaker system comes alive.
A male cough interrupts.
“Ladies and gentleman! You know him from his runaway hit The Future Ain't What It Used To Be and, of course, his bestselling children's books McSnurtle the Turtle and ABC Labs. Tonight he's here to read from his latest installment of the popular H.R. Romance Series, The Streak vs. Mr. Reflecto. Let's give it up for Mr. H.R. Wells!”
The room erupts with applause and wolf whistles as the man of the hour walks out on the little stage. He's wearing a gorgeous maroon blazer, his hair is swooped to perfection, and his grin? Heart stopping.
“Good evening, you lovely, lovely people. I'm glad you could make it out tonight for little ol' me.”
“I love you!” a female voice shouts from the back of the room.
“And I love you, random woman!” he shouts back. “I love you all. For without you,” H.R. scans the room, giving everyone attention it seems, but you. “I would be no one.”
Cue the sighs and twirling of hair.
“Let us begin! Which scene do you propose I read first?”
“The one where Florence first bumps into Terry Fallon,” someone suggests.
“Where Florence kisses The Streak in the rain!” yells another.
“When The Streak and Mr. Reflecto have that sexually charged moment!” calls out the only male fan.
“I don't remember writing it that way...” second-guesses H.R. Then Green Dress in front of you chimes in.
“I think we would all enjoy the scene where The Streak saves Florence for the first time.”
“Excellent choice,” he praises her. Ugh. It's a good thing you like that scene, too.
“Just as the villain was about to go in for the fatal blow,” H.R. reads. The room is captivated like never before. “Florence felt strong hands around her waist, lifting her like she was a feather. She was whisked away, the wind blowing through her hair, as her mystery hero finally set Florence down on a mountain top. I love that part. I was in the zone...” H.R. chuckles at his own writing, which is beyond adorable. If it was literally anyone else, you would think this behaviour pretty lame. Green Dress clicks away on her phone in front of you. How rude! You feel like confronting her, but then you hear a buzz come from the table beside H.R. He becomes distracted and fiddles with his phone. Absent-mindedly, he continues reading with a coy smile.
“Uh huh, hmm... She uh, Florence, was um, at the mountain top. Back to the mountain top.”
Green Dress's fingers begin typing again down by her side. H.R.'s phone vibrates again. Wait. No! You peek around her and see she's been texting him!
I want you, she had texted.
I know, he replied!
I have to have you *now*
“O...kay,” H.R. says closing his book. “We should do something else. Quick coffee break?”
A text shows up on GD's phone: How did you get this number? Not that I'm complaining...
Oh God. What is going on? While the ladies and man disperse to mingle, H.R. leaves to get himself a drink from the back (an espresso probably, it's his favourite). A burly man opens the entrance door and shouts, “Hey, anyone own a red Prius? It's being towed right now.”
A cry of anguish followed by a “you gotta be shitting me!”
Green Dress immediately makes a break for it out the door, and now you're mentally cackling like how you imagine Mr. Reflecto does in the book because that karma is a bitch. And right now, a blessing. Something buzzes on the floor near the stage.
This is too good.
Apparently, GD didn't realize her phone dropped out of her bag. You make a quick grab for it before anyone sees. Another reply shines brightly on her abandoned phone: Are you here tonight, stranger?
You notice that it's possible to reply without even unlocking the phone. Feeling brave, you type: Maybe.
Another reply: Oh, now you're playing hard to get. I like that.
You should probably put the phone down now. You don't want to be caught holding that chick's phone when she comes back. Before you can do anything though, you feel a presence behind you.
“It was you.”
Spinning to face the voice you know all too well, your heart practically stops. H.R. looks down at you with curiosity.
“I would never have guessed,” he says. You stare back in a stunned silence for a moment. Quick, say something back!
“I... suppose I couldn't help myself.”
“Understandable. My work has that effect on most,” he says with a wink that might as well have been a love arrow to your chest. You give an awkward little giggle.
“What say you to getting together after this?” His eyes are seriously hypnotic, pouring into you. Like you ever stood a chance against that question-and-eyes combo.
“I'd love to.”
The rest of the book reading made you feel like you were on fire. Since H.R. had believed it was you who sent those first texts, he couldn't take his eyes off you while he was trying to read. Sometimes he'd stumble over his words, look at you, and everyone's eyes turned to you and shot daggers. What a rush.
After the event, he snuck you out the Jitters' side exit and proceeded to, wait for it... his place. His midtown apartment is furnished elegantly, a major ladies magnet. Instantly your attention is captured by a bookshelf near the fireplace. Here lies each of his famous books and various plaques and awards for his writing.
“Wow. Very impressive,” you say almost in a hushed tone. “I hope to be as successful as you one day.”
“Ahh, you share the gift of the written word?”
“I'm a journalist at CCPN, but on the side, I'm trying to write my own novel.”
“Get out of town!” His face is so animated it's like he should have his own Saturday morning cartoon. He pats the cushion of his sofa. “Tell me all about it.”
The two of you end up spending hours talking about writing, each other's pasts (of which he is vague for most of it), and Big Belly Burger secret menu food items.
“You know, it's funny,” he says. “I've met a lot of women being an author, okay no, not a lot a lot, several maybe? Some?”
“H.R.” you bring him back to Earth.
“Right, anyway. None of them have intrigued me like you do.”
“I bet you've said that to all of these 'several' women.”
“I haven't.” His stare is fixed on you. Serious, which is very unlike him. It has you frozen in place. “No other woman has sat with me for hours to talk about writing, not to mention fast food!” H.R. scoots a little closer to you and drapes an arm across the back of the couch. “There's usually never much talking. Not much substance.”
He searches your face for a moment before leaning in to kiss you. His lips meet yours, soft and slow.
What. Is. Life?
For some reason your brain cannot comprehend, you break the kiss. You're a little flustered.
“I, um, it's really late. I have work in the morning. I should go.” And then it hits you. You need to leave because you don't want to be like those other women. One night with H.R. only to leave you the next day for someone new and interesting and better looking? That's something you could never bear. Not with the way you feel about him. It's better to break it off now than to have your heart broken later.
“Really? So soon?”
“It's 1 a.m.” You grab your jacket hastily.
“Can I call you sometime?”
In all your haste to save your heart from breaking, it would appear that H.R.'s is the one in danger of breakage. His normally bright face has fallen. You might as well have kicked a puppy. Maybe he's serious about getting to know you and only you. Could he leave his life of groupies to explore something with you? To quote a line from the second novel in his series, "The power of love, in all its mystery, is life changing."
“Sure. Give me your phone.” His eyes light up again at the hope your words brought.
“I believe I already have your number.”
Shit. No, he doesn't.
“Oh no, that was a friend's phone I was using. Mine's in the shop getting fixed. Here, this is the new number.” Saved it! H.R. pulls you in close to him and gives you a more than pleasant goodbye-for-now kiss. You could get so used to this kind of thing.
“You never told me how you got my number in the first place.”
“Let's call it fate and leave it at that.”
Being a CCPN journalist had its perks, for sure. For instance, when the crew gathered around the meeting room table last week to pitch ideas for the next issue, you already had one in mind for yourself to cover. You had been adamant that you should cover a certain famous author's children's book reading at the Central City Public Library coming up. The editor waved you off like, yeah, yeah, you do that.
You didn't even mention that it was your boyfriend giving the reading.
Yeah, that's right. Boyfriend.
For almost a month, now!
How you managed to snag H.R. as a boyfriend is beyond you, but he has really proven himself to be a caring, attentive, one-girl kind of guy. You are truly blessed with the way he treats you. In fact, he made a reservation at Central City's fanciest restaurant for your one month anniversary. The waiting list for that place is always insanely long, but self-name dropping doesn't bother H.R. in the slightest. And if it gets you guys benefits like this, you're all for it.
But before you dine with the love of your life (though those words have yet to be uttered by either of you), you have to get through this kids event. The children's section of the library is packed. Young kids sit cross-legged on the floor in front of a large armchair, while mothers wait around in their spiffy day-clothes and preen themselves. You pardon your way through them, carrying your work camera around your neck, looking for a good angle. H.R. arrives shortly after and the librarians are quick to offer him the key to his heart – coffee. Those sneaky librarians, they know what your man likes. Soon enough, the event is underway after a library staff member introduces the guest of honour.
H.R. runs into the room with a massive smile for the kids and an expression that exudes I'm one of you! Just bigger! He high-fives them on his way to the armchair especially for him.
“Hey, kiddies!” he greets them with high energy. “How're you all doin'?”
“GOOD!” a collective reply.
“I'm so psyched to get to read to you guys, today! Which book would you like to hear?”
“MCSNURTLE THE TURTLE! MCSNURTLE THE TURTLE!” they chant. H.R. chuckles at their enthusiasm and picks up his award-winning picture book. You hover your camera close to your eyes to get a good shot of him as he begins to read in the cutest voice ever.
“McSnurtle the Turtle likes to bite. McSnurtle the Turtle stays up all night. He carries his home up on his back, like a handy dandy little packsack.”
Click. Click. Zoom. Click. These shots are perfect. He's perfect.
H.R. pauses for a second and spots you off to the side. He grins wide.
“Say, I need a helper for this next bit,” he says playfully. “Who shall I pick?”
“ME! ME! ME!” the kids bounce for attention. H.R. feigns thinking carefully about his choosing process. Through the lens of your camera, his finger points directly at you.
“Excuse me, Miss, would you care to join me up here?” Suddenly embarrassed by the number of eyes now following your every move, you silently accept and make your way over to him. You don't even think about making eye contact with the moms in the crowd.
“Is this really necessary?” you whisper.
“Just think of it as a great twist to your article,” he puts it. What a man. You take a seat on the arm of the chair. H.R. looks up at you with his smiling blue eyes that twinkle whenever he sees you. “Go for it, hun,” he encourages you quietly. You clear your throat and read the next line.
“'Is being a turtle as easy as pie?'”
Then H.R. reads the next couple lines."'Being a turtle is hard,' he says with a sigh. 'I'm small, and I'm green, and so very slow, it takes forever to get to the places I go.'"
“That McNabbit the Rabbit is really fast!” you continue. “So fast, he always leaves McSnurtle in last.”
"'But that's okay, I'm friends with him. We all have our gifts, and mine is to swim!'"
"'Sometimes we get ourselves into trouble, but together we put our brains on the double.'" The two of you can't help but lock eyes. You could totally swoon off this chair right now if it weren't for all the witnesses. H.R. joins you in reading the final lines of the story.
“McNabbit is glad he's friends with McSnurtle, for together, there's nothing that they can't hurdle!”
The kids applaud like wild little monkeys while their now disinterested mothers pretend to clap, making no noise. But none of them matter because you become lost in this beautiful moment while looking at your gorgeous man. You were so lucky.
Thinking it best to move aside and let H.R. continue to do his thing and woo the crowd, you head to the back of the room. You can hear H.R. starting to read from his other kids' book, ABC Labs.
“A is for Aberration – a mistake that could be created by, say, altering timelines.”
Taking out your notebook from your bag, you start to jot down some notes when a woman's voice catches your attention.
You spin around to find a vaguely familiar face... Oh no.
The woman in the green dress. From the night you met H.R. With her phone in your hand!
“Hi,” is all you can manage, as you try to play it off as if you have no idea who she is.
“Oh, please. You remember me.” Damn. “And I know it was you.”
“What was me?”
“I went back to Jitters after I realized I had lost my phone and it was on the chair you were sitting in! With the word 'maybe,' that I sure as hell never texted!” Her voice is harsh and hushed. “Next thing I know, you're shacking up H.R. and turning him monogamous!”
“What's wrong with that?” you ask seriously irked by this witch. “Or are you just jealous it's me with him, and not you?”
“G is for Grodd,” you can hear H.R. from the back. “A psychotic, telekinetic gorilla. No, really!” The kids laugh.
“I have half a mind to tell him,” she threatens.
“Oh and what? You think he'll come crawling to you?”
“J is for Jitters – the best coffee on Earth-1. I mean, just regular Earth. Yeah.”
“He's a man. Men never really change. A few words with me and he'll be back to his... old self again.”
You scowl hard at her and she retaliates with an I'm-better-than-you shrug and a checkmate folding of her arms. At that, one of the librarians walks up to the pair of you. You assume she's about to shush you.
“Excuse me, ladies. Would either of you happen to own a red Prius?”
Your opponent's face drains of colour while your hand flies to your mouth to stifle a laugh. She flees the scene with a “hmph!”
“X is for X-Ray – a scan that lets you see your broken bones. I get these a lot from mouthing off. Remember that, kids!”
Tonight's the night. It's the night you're going to tell H.R. you love him. Really, truly love him, and this dinner will have the perfect atmosphere to say it. It'll be like a beautiful dream come true.
There's just one small problem.
Ever since earlier today, talking with that horrid woman, you couldn't get something she said out of your head.
He's a man. Men never really change.
You know she was only trying to get inside your head, but what if she was right? What if H.R. is just trying you out on a monogamous test drive and finds that one woman isn't enough for him? What if he wants to go back to serial dating or whatever he was doing before? Women constantly throw themselves at him. How can a man resist so much of that? And then a worse thought comes to mind:
What if he doesn't truly, fully love you back?
No, no. That's just ridiculous.
H.R. is checking out the photos you took earlier. “You should use this one in your piece,” he suggests, shaking you out of your reverie. “You've really captured my essence, here.”
“Your essence?” you giggle, taking note of the photo he wants, all the while putting in the earrings you had chosen for tonight.
“Yeah, you know. What I'm all about. Fun loving, freewheeling.”
“Hopefully not too freewheeling...” you mutter under your breath.
“Hmm, what's that?” he asks, thankfully missing what you had said.
“Nothing! I love that one too. I'll definitely use it, sweetie.” You plant a kiss on his cheek. “You ready to go?”
“I am, believe it or not! You won't have to wait for me this time.”
“I'm surprised! You normally always take longer than me.”
“It's the hair,” he blames. You never mind that reason in the slightest. His hair is always so gloriously styled, sometimes you daydream about it when things are slow at work. Among other things...
The restaurant isn't far at all from his apartment so you opt to walk the short distance. On the way there, a little boy walking with his parents spots H.R. and runs up to him excitedly.
“Hey, Mister! You were really funny today!” the boy praises.
“Why, thank you,” H.R. replies, crouching down to the child's level.
“When I grow up, I wanna write a book, too!”
“Right on, little man! Well, I can't wait to read it!” H.R. sticks out a fist to give him a fist bump, but the boy ignores him and goes in for a hug. You could cry, this is so sweet. H.R. glances up at you with potentially glistening eyes. The little boy says his goodbye and runs back to his parents.
Outside the restaurant, there's a line filed out the door and down the block of people waiting for a table. H.R. has his hand on the small of your back as you walk by them all. When all is said and done, the hostess assigns you two 'the best table in the house.'
“You were amazing today,” H.R. says, taking your hands in his.
“Me? Are you kidding? You clearly had those kids positively enthralled!”
“I still think you were a major factor in making that happen,” he insists. His eyes bore into yours. “I don't know how I got so lucky enough to find you.” Your eyes flick over to something moving a few tables over. Someone.
Please God, no.
“And to think,” he continues. “This all started with you texting me!”
Green Dress' lips curl when she sees you've spotted her.
“Ha ha! Yeah, right?” is all you can muster. She's standing up, she's coming over. Goodbye cruel world! It was nice knowin' ya!
“Pardon the intrusion,” Green Dress says in a cringingly smooth tone. “But I must speak with you, Mr. Wells. It's urgent and dare I say eye opening.” She shoots you a dirty look, while H.R. looks confused as hell. When he sees your unsettled expression, he even does that puppy-dog-head-tilt thing.
“I'm on a very important date, here,” he tries. “I'm sure you underst-”
“It won't take a minute of your time.” Pushy witch. She walks him over to the waiting area and has some very lively words with him (of which you can't quite make out). A few times she even points in your direction. H.R.'s face is in a constant frown. Not good. You were worried it would end like this. You didn't even get the chance to tell him how you really feel.
You can't watch this train wreck anymore so you bury your head in your hands on the table. But then a ruckus is heard all throughout the place. Yelling. GD's yelling, to be precise. Upon turning around, it's impossible to ignore the fact that two large men are carrying her out of the restaurant. H.R. is soon back at the table with you and exhales a breath.
“Now, where were we?” he says. You can't lie, you're a little dumbfounded right now.
“What was that?” you demand.
“What, her? Just some stalker, I guess. She was insisting that she was the one who sent those um, racy texts you sent me last month during the reading.” He makes a 'coo-coo' gesture. “Oh, and that you stole her phone to make it look like you had, instead. Ha!”
“Okay, I did not steal her phone, I put it back on the chair!” You gasp soon after the words escape your mouth. Cue another round of the puppy-dog-head-tilt plus a frown.
“So you're saying you didn't...”
“Didn't send those texts, no. It wasn't my phone,” the truth starts pouring out of you like a faucet. “She dropped it, and you caught me holding it. And I couldn't believe you were paying attention to me, not when we were in a room filled with leggy, bombshell women completely ogling you. What chance did I have? It was what you believed, and I-I went along with it.” You feel so defeated. How could he see you the same way after knowing your whole relationship started out with a lie? You can't bear to look at him and start to brace yourself for the inevitable heartbreak.
Was H.R... laughing?
“Why are you laughing?” Now you're the one totally lost.
“Why aren't you? It's pretty funny if you think about it. Think of what a great story that'll make!” H.R. gasps. “In my next novel!”
“Wait, so you're not upset with me?”
“Why would I be?”
“I don't know, maybe because I lied to you?
“(Y/N), you lied about not sending texts. That's nothing to break up with someone you love about.”
All you can do is blink.
“Did you just-?”
“Say 'I love you'? You're damn right, I did. I mean it with all my heart and nobody, nobody, can come between what we have. Of that I'm sure.” Okay, now you're really going to cry. He gets up out of his chair and stands you up out of yours, taking you in his arms. His soft lips find yours to cement his love.
“H.R. I love you so damn much, you big loon,” you say, holding his face while laughing and choking up. His face lights up in the way it does when he has an idea.
“What do say to ditching this place for-”
“Big Belly Burger?” you finish his sentence. “I thought you'd never ask.”
I hope this was an adequate story. I think I'll end it here. But I'll for sure write more H.R. stories! How can I not? Oh! and here are "McSnurtle the Turtle" and "ABC Labs" in their entirety:
McSnurtle the Turtle:
McSnurtle the Turtle likes to bite.
McSnurtle the Turtle stays up all night.
He carries his home up on his back,
Like a handy dandy little packsack.
Is being a turtle as easy as pie?
"Being a turtle is hard," he says with a sigh.
"I'm small, and I'm green, and so very slow,
It takes forever to get to the places I go."
That McNabbit the Rabbit is really fast!
So fast, he always leaves McSnurtle in last.
"But that's okay, I'm friends with him.
We all have our gifts, and mine is to swim!"
"Sometimes we get ourselves into trouble,
But together we put our brains on the double."
McNabbit is glad he's friends with McSnurtle,
For together, there's nothing that they can't hurdle!
A is for Aberration – a mistake that could be created by, say, altering timelines.
B is for Barry "B.A." Allen – the owner of S.T.A.R. Labs and top CSI of the CCPD.
C is for Caitlin & Cisco – doctor and engineer extraordinaires (respectively).
D is for Detective Joe West – the only man you want solving your case!
E is for Eobard Thawne – a wolf in sheep's clothing... from the future?
F is for Flash – the man who saved Central City.
G is for Grodd – a psychotic, telekinetic gorilla. No, really!
H is for Harrison Wells – original, fake, father, or bestselling author...?
I is for Iris West – ace journalist that will get you the scoop!
J is for Jitters – the best coffee on Earth-1. I mean, just regular Earth. Yeah.
K is for Kid Flash – Flash's "fast" learning prodigy.
L is for Leonard Snart – aka Captain Cold (Brrr! Watch out!)
M is for Metahuman – a person with special powers. Can be good or bad.
N is for Nora Allen – Barry's late mother, rest in peace N.A.
O is for Oliver Queen – mayor of our sister city, Star City.
P is for Particle Accelerator – the machine that exploded and created the metahumans.
Q is for Quantum Theory – a lot of science stuff that's hard to understand.
R is for Reverse-Flash – aka The Man in the Yellow Suit or Eobard Thawne. Pick a name, bro!
S is for S.T.A.R. Labs – the place where you can find science, technology, and friendship.
T is for Trickster – a twisted villain who likes toys and pranks.
U is for Ultimate Team Up – it's when you bring together several individual superhero teams to create one massive rear-kicking team to fight the bad guys!
V is for Vibe – a good metahuman friend who can create portals with his hands and has cool shades!
W is for Wallace (Wally) West – brother of Iris West. Likes to go fast, has great taste in cars.
X is for X-Ray – a scan that lets you see your broken bones. I get these a lot from mouthing off. Remember that, kids!
Y is for Yellow Suit – a bright and perfectly slimming speedster suit. Reverse-Flash had one, but so does Kid Flash!
Z is for Zoom – a scary speedster in black, defeated by our Flash, of course!
Thanks for reading! <3