Maggie was twenty minutes deep into an intense aerobic workout in her living room when she heard a loud knock on her front door.
“Holy shit!” She yelped, holding her hand over her sweaty chest and startled heart.
It wasn’t a regular occurrence to have people knocking on her door - not only because she didn’t have many friends in Los Angeles, even after nearly four years living there - but because she lived in a gated complex and not many people had access to it.
When she pulled herself off her yoga mat, the person knocked again - louder yet.
“I’m coming!” She yelled, quickly grabbing a towel from the hallway closet to wipe her sweaty face with.
She took the stairs down to the entryway and threw the door open. She was taken aback to see her handsome new neighbor, Joe Jonas standing there smiling at her. He’d lived there for over four months now, and sure, the two of them had conversations in passing, and yeah, she had watched his dog on occasion when he went out of town, but it was still weird for her to see him standing on her front step.
“Uh, Joe. Hi!” She said, her eyes wide. Her stomach clenched when she saw his eyes drop down her scantily-clad body. She was only wearing a sports bra and tight bicycle shorts, since she was working out.
“H-Hi,” he stammered, looking back up into her eyes.
“I-I was… working out…” She said quietly.
“I see that,” he said as a mischievous smirk pulled up his lips.
“What’s up?” She asked, quirking an eyebrow at him as his eyes dropped down her body again for a moment before he looked into her eyes again.
“Um. I was just… uh. I’m uh, I’m having people over tonight,” he stammered, pointing his thumb back behind him.
“Ohh-kay…” She said slowly, looking at him questioningly. Was he letting her know it might be loud over there tonight or something?
“Like… like, a barbeque. I’m having a barbeque with some friends,” he elaborated.
“Sounds like fun,” she said, nodding her head.
“Yeah. Uh, I came over to ask if you wanted to stop by,” he offered, catching her off guard.
“Really?” She asked, her heart beating hard in her chest as the blush caused her cheeks to burn. He wanted her to come to his barbeque?
“Yeah. Of course! It’s gonna be a good time. Lots of food and drinks. Lots of cool people. I promise it will be worth your while,” Joe told her.
“O-Okay,” she stammered, biting at her bottom lip. How did he not know how big of a crush she had on him? He probably did and was just showing her pity.
“You’ll come?” He asked, looking hopeful. Well, he certainly didn’t seem to be put-off by her crush on him if he knew.
“Yeah. Yeah, I’ll stop by,” she said, feeling incredibly bashful.
“You’ll ‘stop by’? How nice of you,” Joe chided, causing her to laugh out loud.
“Of course I want to go, Joe. Shut up,” she laughed, pushing at his shoulder, causing him to let out another loud laugh.
“Good. Good. I’m glad. Uh, people are probably going to start showing up around seven,” he told her.
“Alright,” she acknowledged with a nod.
“But, I mean, you can come by anytime before that. I’m sure Winston wouldn’t mind,” Joe said, cocking an eyebrow.
“Oh, Winny,” she cooed and Joe let out a laugh.
The two of them went silent for a moment while Maggie’s mind raced. She would be meeting Joe’s friends. What was she going to wear? Did he need her to help with anything? Should she bring anything?
“What?” Joe asked, looking at her skeptically.
“What?” She asked him, furrowing his eyebrows.
“Your face got really serious,” he pointed out.
“Oh, uh… I was just wondering if you wanted me to like, bring anything,” she said, making sure to put the smile back on her face.
“No. No, no, Maggie. No. Just bring yourself,” he said, waving it off with a smile.
“Are you sure?” She questioned, heightening her eyebrows.
“I’m sure. I got so much food and drinks already. It’s going to be fun. I promise,” Joe told her.
“Okay. I’ll see you then?” Joe asked.
“I’ll see you then,” Maggie confirmed. Joe nodded his head and began to walk backward away from her door. He gave her a smile and wave before turning to go back over to his place.
Maggie took a deep breath after she shut the door. Wow. A party at Joe Jonas’? Should be fun.
Maggie decided to head over to Joe’s a little bit early to see if he needed any help. She dressed in a blue and white flowered maxi sundress with silver gladiator sandals on her feet. Her long blonde hair was pulled up into a ponytail and she wore light makeup to accent her features.
Since she couldn’t just go over there without offering something, she brought a bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa Valley. It was a fifty-dollar bottle of wine that she got for her birthday the previous year, but she couldn’t just go empty handed. She had an entire wine rack at home. She could do without.
Joe answered his door shirtless and Maggie’s eyes nearly popped out of her head.
“Maggie!” Joe shouted, immediately wrapping his arms around her in a hug.
It was the first time they’d actually touched - besides a handshake - and Maggie wasn’t okay. Her inner girly-girl was screaming in octaves she couldn’t even hear. Winston was barking from the top of the steps, but it was the least of Maggie’s worries in that moment.
“Winston! Enough,” Joe snapped a second later as he let Maggie in.
“Am I too early?” She asked as her eyes dropped down his bare chest. Oh, god. He was so incredibly chiseled. Like, good for him. She wanted to clap in his honor. He must have worked hard for a body like that.
“No. No. I was just gonna… I need to go to the store to get some ice,” he told her.
“Oh, okay,” she said quietly, knowing it was stupid of her to come early.
“No! It’s totally cool. You can… you can come with if you want,” Joe offered.
“Oh, uh…” Maggie hesitated.
“I want you to come with,” he said a moment later.
“Alright,” she said with a nod.
“What’s that?” Joe asked, quirking an eyebrow at the bottle of wine in her hand.
“Oh, uh… this is for you,” she said, thrusting it out for him.
“Maggie May,” Joe warned as he heightened an eyebrow.
“Take it,” she told him.
“I told you not to bring anything.”
“I had to bring something,” she said, taking a step forward to put the wine in his hand.
“No, you didn’t,” he insisted, pushing it back in her hand.
“Joe,” she warned, shoving it back at him, dropping her hands away quickly so he was forced to take it.
“Okay. I’ll take it, but only if we drink it together,” he told her.
“Deal,” Maggie said with a smile.
“Alright. Let me just… let me just put this in the fridge and grab a shirt,” Joe said, trotting up the stairs.
Maggie spent the few minutes that Joe was occupied petting a very happy Winston. When Joe came back out of his room, he was wearing a classic white Adidas shirt with black writing to match his black skinny jeans. Maggie was a little disappointed that his luscious abs were no longer in view, but it was the middle of summer in California, she knew she’d probably get another chance at seeing them some time soon.
“I was born ready,” Maggie giggled, watching him walk down the stairs, shoving his wallet in his back pocket while his car keys dangled in his free hand.
Winston whimpered as the two of them went out the door without him and barked openly when Joe shut and locked the door.
“Poor baby,” Maggie said, jutting out her bottom lip to make a sad face.
“We’ll be gone ten minutes,” Joe chuckled as she followed him toward his ridiculously expensive Mercedes SUV.
Once inside, Joe quickly slipped on a pair of white Wayfarer Ray Bans and scrolled through his phone.
“I’ve got this really cool song I want you to hear,” Joe said, smiling over at her.
“Okay,” she said, trying not to smile too wide.
Her stomach tied in knots thinking he was going to play her some of his band DNCE’s new music, but when the opening bars of ‘Maggie May’ filled the air, she couldn’t help but giggle.
“It’s so good. You’ll love it,” Joe said, smiling over at her as he dropped his phone in the cupholder and backed out of the parking spot.
“You’re funny,” Maggie giggled.
“‘Wake up, Maggie, I think I’ve got something to say to you’!” Joe sang, a little more enthusiastically than Rod Stewart and it made Maggie laugh out loud.
“You’re really good,” she giggled.
“Oh, thank you, Maggie,” Joe said comically, which only made her laugh more.
The two of them sang the song together on the way to the gas station and it was the most fun Maggie had in awhile. Once at the gas station, the two of them hauled out six big bags of ice to the back of Joe’s truck before she heard Joe grumble under his breath.
“What?” She asked, looking over at him with her eyebrows furrowed.
“There’s paparazzi here,” Joe said under his breath and she could tell he was annoyed.
The whole mood changed on the way back to the condos as an Ed Sheeran song played over the radio. It was weird to her - the whole concept of paparazzi. Like, Joe was literally going to the gas station for ice and they felt the need to take his picture? But then again, it would be a pretty good picture to catch him doing something with a girl who wasn’t his girlfriend. But they weren’t doing anything nefarious or anything that would be categorized as scandalous, so it was stupid. Just stupid.
Once they got back, Joe’s mood had somehow flipped back to playful as he sent her a smile through the cab of the truck once he parked.
“I’m ready,” she giggled as the two of them got out of the vehicle.
They got the bags into the house and filled the four coolers of beverages - alcoholic and non - with the ice. He must have been expecting a good turn out. Maggie and Winston followed Joe back inside to the kitchen and she watched as he washed his hands.
“Uh, Ashley, my girlfriend, was supposed to be here helping me, but she called a little while ago and told me she wasn’t going to make it until later,” Joe told her as he dried his hands.
“Well, that sucks,” Maggie huffed as she sat down on one of the stools at his center-island counter.
“Yeah. It is what it is. I shouldn’t be surprised anymore,” he grumbled and it made Maggie sad to hear the disappointment in his voice.
“What can I help you with?” She asked a moment later.
“Nah, it’s cool, Maggie,” Joe said, opening the fridge to take out a massive tupperware container with hot dogs and brats and another with raw hamburger patties.
“I want to help,” she insisted.
“I mean, uh…” Joe said with a huff, thinking about it for a minute.
“The watermelon needs to get cut up for the fruit salad,” Joe said, looking at her imploringly.
“Yes. Of course,” she said, getting off the stool to wash her hands.
“Hey, we can share that bottle of wine now… if you want to,” Joe offered, pulling it out of the fridge.
“I’m down,” Maggie giggled as she stood by the kitchen sink, scrubbing her hands together with soap.
“Awesome!” Joe said, walking to the cupboard just to the left of her to grab two wine glasses.
The two of them worked fluidedly side-by-side with one another in the kitchen getting ready for the barbeque, drinking her most expensive bottle of wine together.
“Mm. This is really good,” Joe said, looking down at his half-drank second glass of wine.
“It’s a little dry for my taste, but it is good,” Maggie said with a nod before she tipped back what was left in her glass.
“‘It’s a little dry for my taste’,” Joe teased in a bourgeois accent, causing Maggie to let out a laugh.
“Shut up,” she snipped, pouring her third glass.
“Is that why you brought it? To get rid of it?” Joe joked, smiling widely at her.
“No!” She laughed, taking another sip.
“Yeah, right,” he laughed.
“I’m serious! That was my most expensive bottle. That’s why I brought it over,” she giggled into her glass.
“You didn’t have to do that,” Joe told her immediately and she shrugged her shoulders.
“You don’t have to impress me with expensive bottles of wine, Maggie May,” Joe laughed.
“I wasn’t… that wasn’t…” She stammered and he let out a laugh.
“Seriously,” he laughed, rolling his eyes at her as he drank the rest of what was in his glass.
“Fine. I won’t bring you expensive wine ever again,” she laughed.
“Good. But, hey,” he said, wiggling his fingers at her like he wanted something.
“What?” She asked, furrowing her eyebrows in question.
“Pass that expensive ass wine over here,” he said with a wide smile and Maggie let out a laugh, handing it to him to fill up his glass.
A little while later, people started showing up in groups and soon there were people scattered all around Joe’s house, inside and out. Maggie did the best she could to mingle with people she didn’t know. But she was an introvert and wasn’t really good at going out of her way to talk to people. It wasn’t until Joe introduced her to his DNCE bandmates, Cole, Jack and JinJoo, that she started having a good time. And she figured it was because Cole seemed to be the life of the party anywhere he went. He made it fun. And the way he and Joe played off each other was hilarious.
Maggie was what you could categorize as drunk by the time Joe’s girlfriend showed up. She knew he was dating Ashley Greene - the Twilight vampire chick - but it had her a little dazed to see this famous actress standing in front of her. It was weird how the party’s energy seemed to shift the moment she walked in - like, they were all having a great time and then it was like all eyes were on Alice Cullen. She was dressed like she was about to hit up a red carpet, in a skimpy black mini dress and just as dark makeup with her hair plastered to her head in a tight ponytail. She was gorgeous and Maggie hated it. Of course Joe would be dating someone just as perfect as him. It wasn’t fair. She could never live up to that kind of status.
“What’s going on?” Ashley said with a big smile as she walked over to the group at the large outdoor table on Joe’s backyard patio.
“Ash. Hey, babe,” Joe said, standing up from his seat to give her a kiss.
Maggie felt Ashley’s eyes on her immediately and it really wasn’t a good feeling, especially since she was sitting so close to her boyfriend just a few moments prior.
“Who’s this?” Ashley asked, looking down at her. The way she said it wasn’t exactly mean, but it wasn’t exactly polite either. Maggie had a feeling Ashley didn’t really know how to hold back her annoyance.
“Oh, Ash. This is my neighbor Maggie. She lives right over there,” Joe said, pointing at the connecting condo.
“Oh, this is Maggie,” Ashley said and plastered a smile to her face, but it was a smile that never reached her eyes.
“Hi. It’s nice to meet you,” Maggie said, standing up to shake her hand.
“You as well,” Ashley responded.
“I really like Twilight,” Maggie said a moment later and cringed at how stupid it sounded.
When Cole let out a laugh, Ashley’s head snapped in his direction and he shut up quickly, biting his lips together.
“Well, thanks, Maggie. That’s so nice of you,” Ashley said, sending her another fabricated smile.
Not long after, Ashley managed to pull Joe away from the group. Maggie still had fun, but she liked it better when Joe was around.
It was nearing eleven when Maggie decided it might be best for her to go home. She hadn’t seen Joe in a while and people were starting to dwindle down. She really liked spending time with Joe’s bandmates, but even they were off talking to other people at that point.
She went inside to find Joe, but there was no one in there. She sighed and walked toward the stairs to leave.
“Maggie, leaving so soon?” She heard and turned to see Ashley coming from Joe’s bedroom.
“Uh, yeah. I’m getting tired,” she said with a smile.
“It was so nice to meet you. It’s nice putting a face to the name, you know?” Ashley told her and all Maggie could do was nod. She just got a bad feeling from her. It was like every word that came out of her mouth was dripping with condescension.
“Although, I didn’t really like seeing pictures of you and my boyfriend on TMZ today,” Ashley added in, causing Maggie’s blood to run cold. How in the ever-loving shit were those pictures already up on TMZ?
“I uh… we just…” Maggie stammered.
“Uh, uh, yeah. Just stay away from Joe, okay?” Ashley snapped at her. Maggie stared at her in disbelief. Was she for real?
“I won’t let you or Joe make me look like a fool,” she added in.
“It’s not like that, I swear,” Maggie defended, feeling completely blindsided by this woman.
“I know you, like, watch his dog occasionally, but don’t think you’re going to weasel your way in somehow,” Ashley continued on.
“You have this completely wrong. Joe and I… Joe and I are just friends,” Maggie stammered.
“There’s no Joe and you, okay? Just stay away from him,” Ashley said again, raising her eyebrow intimidatingly at her before she turned on her heels and headed out to the backyard.
That night, as the party continued on in Joe Jonas’ backyard, Maggie cried herself to sleep because someone as horrible as Ashley got to be with a man as amazing as Joe. Life literally was not fair.