“The shuttle is ready,” Yamina says. “It’s right through that door.”
I nod at her as she rushes off, and the other three walk ahead. “That was so embarrassing,” I say, hiding my face in my hands. “Oh my God, can you imagine the headlines?” I say, turning my head into his shoulder.
“I don’t suppose this is repayment for that favor that I owe you,” he says with a smirk on his face. I glare up at him, but it doesn’t last long before his smirk turns into a huge grin and then a laugh. The easiness of the whole thing—as if it’s just the two of us and not the hundreds of people right outside the door. I turn and laugh into his shoulder, his body shaking now from his own laughter.
“There you are,” someone says from over my shoulder, and I turn to see that Cassie is now rushing to him. Seeing me here, she looks at me, and then she spots his hand around my waist. “I was looking all around for you.”
“I’m here,” he says. I try to disengage from his arm, but he doesn’t just let me go. “I was going to catch the shuttle back to the hotel.”
“You have dinner reservations,” she says to him. I slowly move to the side, and he lets me this time.
“You told me it wasn’t mandatory,” he tells her, and she rolls her eyes.
“Fine,” she says, reaching in to her purse, “let me get the car.”
“We can all take the shuttle.” I look from him to Cassie and see the shock on her face. The thoughts that must be running through her mind right now give me life. Riding with the commoners must be the highlight of her evening. “Are you coming?” he asks her and then turns, putting his hand on my elbow and walking toward the door where the others just exited through. We make it to the shuttle, and the door opens when the driver sees us walking toward it. Tyler waits for me to climb the three steps, and then he holds out his hand for Cassie to get in. I walk to the back and sit in the first available seat.
“Oh, are you going back to the hotel?” Jonathan asks, and I nod. “Great. We’re going to check out the ramen place around the corner.”
“Oh, yeah?” I say to them when I feel someone sit next to me.
“That place is good,” Tyler says from next to me, “but if you really want to try the best ramen . . .”
“Define best ramen,” Autumn says and then looks at me and then Kendall. “I mean, it is ramen and not Michelin-rated cuisine.”
“It’s actually just a hole in the wall. I think it has like maybe ten seats, but it’s the best thing you will possibly ever eat in your entire life.” She looks at him not convinced. “Trust me, I filmed here three years ago, and the crew brought me there.”
“We are still talking about ramen, aren’t we?” Kendall says. “Like noodles that are freeze-dried and then dunked in water and flavored with the condom-sized packet, right?” I roll my lips and silently laugh when Tyler gasps out loud. He gets up and goes to the front of the bus, talking to the driver. “I think I insulted him.”
We all watch him as he walks back to the seat. “He’s going to take us there,” he says.
Cassie groans. Rolling her eyes, she ignores us and looks at Tyler. “I already had your dinner sent up to your suite. I have no reservations for there, and we don’t even have a bodyguard.”
“Oh, dear God,” Autumn mumbles under her breath, and when I look at her, she is looking out the window trying to ignore the conversation.
“You don’t have to come, Cassie,” Tyler tells her. “Besides, all the paparazzi are still at the theater.” She doesn’t say anything. Instead, she takes out her phone, and her fingers move a mile a minute. No one says anything while we look out the window as we wind down the smallest road ever made, then stop in the middle of the street. “All right, folks,” Tyler says, turning with a huge smile on his face, “follow me.” He walks to the front, bending his head to walk out of the bus, then turns to hold out a hand to help me down. I look around while he helps the other women off the bus. Smog is everywhere, the honking is so loud, and the little scooters are zigzagging their way through us. But the smell of food lingers in the air. He walks toward this little door that you need to duck in order to enter.
I look around and see a girl at the front of the restaurant taking orders, and the chefs are all behind the half wall. The tables, correction, table, if you can even call it that because what it is, is a long table with individual stools in a row. Everyone sits and dines together. Very homey. I look up at the menu, and it’s all in Korean, but thankfully, there are pictures.