WHEN SPARKS FLY
by Ines Bautista-Yao
Genre: Sweet Romance
Available on Amazon
Twenty-four-year-old photographer’s apprentice Regina has always felt like the plain, dull orange next to the shiny red apple that is her best friend Lana. But then she meets Ben—the first guy to ever break Lana’s heart, and the first guy to ever make Regina feel that he only has eyes for her. As Regina finds herself falling hard for Ben, she also finds herself breaking all the rules of best-friendship. Will she give up the love of her life for Lana, or will she finally realize that she deserves her share of the spotlight, too?
There was a slight commotion by the entrance of the dark studio as a few guys in what looked like different kinds of Nike shirts walked in. The ubiquitous swoosh (or what Regina called the check mark) gave them away. They headed straight for the throng around the makeup chairs and began chattering with the players. Since she had nothing to do, Regina watched them. They were probably sponsors and wanted to make sure the players wore their clothes and no other brand. She rolled her eyes. How was this even relevant when they were hardly going to be clothed?
“You look like you’re hard at work.”
“You know how it is,” she mumbled, thinking it was one of the magazine editors or advertising executives she had met earlier. Her eyes were still on the guys who had just entered.
That made her look up. Goodness, what was he doing here? Her heart began to hammer in her chest.
“It’s great to see you.” His eyes crinkled up when he smiled. He was in another long-sleeved dress shirt, a light pink one this time, and dark pants. His tie was a no-nonsense striped one, unlike the printed ones she was seeing more and more often on the corporate guys who hired Paulo.
She shook her head, leaning as far away from him as possible as he pulled up a plastic chair. “No, you’re not hanging out here with me,” she protested. “I’m getting ready for the shoot.”
He tilted his head for a few seconds, plopped himself down on the chair, and bent forward—close enough for her to see that his eyes were dark brown with flecks of gold. Or was that just the light coming from the makeup mirrors? Probably. It wasn’t like he was part vampire or something. “Yeah, you look really busy.”
“I am! I have to…” She couldn’t think of a single thing to say. Even the stupid box of Polaroids mocked her by just resting in her hand.
“You have nothing better to do. So why not just kill time with me?” He grinned. Then she saw him swallow and take a deep breath as if psyching himself up for something. “So, did you get my message?”
With a little sigh, Regina decided to ease her grip on the brick wall she’d conjured up around her heart. She didn’t have the energy to fight it anymore. Not after all those nights of cramming senseless cartoons and TV shows into her brain to push thoughts of him away. Not after berating herself for not being able to forget someone she had talked to for what wasn’t even a few minutes. Not with him sitting this close.
Putting the Polaroid box down, she turned her whole body to face him. She studied his expression. He looked confident, which was what she had noticed the first time they’d met. But there was something behind that playful, carefree grin. Was it actually vulnerability? She wanted to find out. Or at least, that was the excuse she gave herself.
“Yes, and I threw it away. Is that how you usually get the girls? By scribbling your number on a coffee cup?”
He closed his eyes and winced. “No it’s …”
She waited, crossing her arms, knowing all she had to do was keep her mouth shut and the truth was bound to come out.
“All right, it’s worked before,” he admitted with a shrug.
“So it’s one of your methods.”
“Look, Regina, I’m really sorry about Lana. But I made it clear from the start that we were just hanging out. She was the one who started talking about forever. Believe me, I quickly corrected her and she seemed to understand.”
Regina narrowed her eyes. She wanted to believe him. She wanted to believe him so badly. He looked so frustrated, open, sincere, and…cute. There it was. Her remaining hold on that brick wall crumbled. “Fine. I believe you. Lana can be a bit, uh, over the top sometimes.”
He broke into a huge smile. “Yes! I didn’t want to say anything, I know she’s your friend—”
“Best friend,” Regina corrected.
“Best friend.” He nodded, contrite. “But I did not lead her on. I didn’t even, well, you know.”
Regina tilted her head. “No, I don’t.”
His cheeks reddened. “Uh, nothing. So aren’t you wondering what I’m doing here?”
“Okay. What are you doing here?” Regina didn’t want to hear the details about him and Lana anyway.
“I actually have to interview a few of the players. I need some inside info for the game tomorrow and I want to be ready. Besides, a shoot like this is always something fun to add when there’s nothing else to talk about.”
Regina frowned. “What game? You stalk players because you need conversation topics when you pick up girls? That’s pathetic, Ben.”
His laugh was warm and loud. “No! I need it when I describe basketball games as they unfold. Makes things more interesting to have tidbits of information if it gets boring. You never know.”
“You describe games.”
“On TV!” He beamed, his chest thrusting out a little.
Regina couldn’t help the grin that broke her guarded countenance. “So you’re a sportscaster, is that what you’ve been trying to tell me? Or did you think I already knew that because you think being on TV makes you a celebrity?”
“No, of course not!” But he looked guilty. It dawned on her that besides his good looks and his charm, being a TV personality—even a mini one—could be a big draw for most girls. But see, she wasn’t like most girls. He’d have to try harder than that. But then again, that meant she wasn’t shutting the door on him. She was letting him try. Against her better judgment. Against all the rules of best friendship. “But I was….hoping you knew. At the very least it’s something I could impress you with.”
His smile was genuine. He was making fun of himself now. And Regina’s heart melted. She didn’t fall for the celebrity. But the celebrity (okay, miniscule celebrity) who had the confidence to mock his status? Well, that was another story.
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Reading and writing are close to Ines Bautista Yao’s heart ever since she was a child. She graduated from the Ateneo de Manila University with a degree in AB Communication Arts. She has been a teacher at the Assumption College San Lorenzo and the Ateneo de Manila University’s English department.
Her debut novel One Crazy Summer was first penned in 2007 when she was pregnant with her first daughter Addie. Being a mother has taken much of Ines’ time so she was only able to write 13 pages of her novel. She completed her story in April 2011, while three-year-old Addie was sleeping and inspiration struck her again. Two months later her story was complete. After eight months, her dream of publishing her own book came true. The book was only launched last January 26, 2012, but Ines is already writing her second novel.
Most readers can remember Ines as the former editor-in-chief of K-Zone Magazine and Candy Magazine . At present, Ines is working as an editor of Summit Books. She is also married to photographer Marc Yao, whom she says she consults whenever she’s stuck in the middle of a story she’s writing.