Chapter 1: The "Magical" Mystery Tour
The rumors had been flying around since school started. The topic was just too juicy to stay away from. Nearly every single member of the choir had heard about the tour. If they hadn't, they were just dense.
"I heard that we're going to China!" one person would whisper.
"Oh yeah?" someone else would answer. "Well I heard Mr. Faulkner say something about gondolas. My money's on Venice."
I was rather disinclined to believe most of the things people were saying, for instance that we were singing for the Pope. I mean, yeah right. The Pope. Sure. I wouldn't normally classify myself as a skeptic (in fact, I'm often a bit on the gullible side), but some of those rumors were just insane.
Today, though, it was all going to come to an end. Today, Mr. Faulkner was going to announce where our choir was really going on tour next summer. We all assembled in the choir room at 4:00, as we did every Thursday afternoon, but this time the air was charged with an electric excitement. I took my seat in the soprano section, saying a quick hello to my friend Eden, who sat next to me. She had to be by far the prettiest girl I'd ever met with her long, dark red hair (which was natural, by the way) and huge emerald green eyes. Not only that, but she was also about the nicest person in the school. She flashed me a brilliant smile and whispered "Hey, Lotte!" as we anxiously awaited the conductor's arrival.
Mr. Faulkner walked in late, at about 4:07, gray hair flying everywhere, shirttails not tucked in, and jacket on inside out. He was not a particularly tall man, but he made up for his size with his larger-than-life personality. He smiled around the room at our apprehensive faces, then said "Good afternoon, everyone," as though there was nothing unusual going on.
The silence of the room was so complete that I vaguely wondered if anyone was even breathing.
"I feel like I just walked into a wax museum. Maybe if I turn up the heat, you'll all melt." He laughed at his own joke. No one else did.
A freshman in the tenor section chose that moment to cough.
"Oh alright, so you're all alive then," said Mr. Faulkner, pretending to look disappointed. "I guess we'll have to have rehearsal after all." He shuffled some music around on his stand. "First thing's first, though. I bet you're all anxious to find out the truth about the tour next summer."
Half the choir unconsciously leaned forward in their seats.
Mr. Faulkner continued with a grin. "We will be traveling to Europe and spending six weeks in six major cities, one week in each city."
The room immediately started buzzing with chatter. Curious about the details, I raised my hand.
"Yes, Miss Leisch?"
"Which cities will we be going to?" I asked.
"We will be visiting London, Stockholm, Madrid, Berlin, Rome, and Paris," he answered, beaming.
"Yes!" whispered Eden beside me, making a ka-ching motion with her fist. Knowing her, she was probably already planning some kind of amazing shopping excursion in Paris. I'd personally rather go to Montmartre and see the street artists, but to each his own.
"This trip is going to rock!" I whispered to her.
"I know!" she answered, flustered with excitement. "It'll be totally magical. Paris at night is so romantic. It would be so amazing if we could find a couple of hot French lovers or something."
I giggled in response. I'd always wanted to have some kind of love affair in a foreign country. There was just something about it that was so exciting, exotic, and completely romantic.
"I bet you're excited about Berlin, aren't you, Lotte?" whispered an all too familiar voice in my ear, making me shiver. "Going to show off your German skills?"
I turned around to face my assailant, who sat there in the bass section with a teasing grin twisting his lips. "Oh shove it, Kurt," I snarled, fixing him with a glare of my icy-blue eyes.
Kurt Matthews was my absolute least favorite person in the world, aside from perhaps certain politicians. It took a lot for me to not like a person, but trust me, Kurt fulfilled every requirement for loathing that I had.
Most people actually liked Kurt. He was one of those kids who could fit in with any group that he graced with his company, and with his expressive hazel eyes, light brown hair, and tall, chiseled body, he wasn't exactly hard on the eyes either. In fact, if I didn't hate him so much, I might even have had a thing for him. That could never happen, though. Not after so many years of mutual dislike.
Ever since we first met in second grade after I moved to Massachusetts from Germany, Kurt's favorite hobby had been getting on my nerves. If I recall correctly, his first words to me were "Your lunch smells funny." I was only seven, could I help it if my mom packed sauerkraut? Naturally, I took offense to the insult directed at my meal, and I retorted with the oh-so-intelligent comment, "Well, your FACE smells funny." At that point, I still had a pretty heavy German accent, so my insult just caused him to laugh at me. I was not amused.
At first Kurt's teasing was just the traditional juvenile stuff, like pulling my long blonde hair or chasing me around the playground or something like that. When we got to middle school and high school, though, it got much more invasive. He became friends with my older brother, Hans, and started hanging around my house so often that he actually started calling my mother "Mutti." She, of course, thought that he was the most adorable boy in the world and encouraged him to stay at our house as often as he liked.
While Kurt was in my house on these occasions, he made a point of infiltrating my room on a regular basis and going through my things. One time in tenth grade I even walked in to find him snooping through my underwear drawer. Eden had bought me an incredibly sexy red lace bra and a matching thong for Valentine's Day, just as a joke, and of course it was this piece of lingerie that Kurt happened to be holding when I caught him. Of course, he made a wisecrack about wanting me to model it for him. It was a disturbing experience that I never wished to repeat.
Now with my brother away at college, Kurt didn't come around as much, but he still put in an appearance whenever Hans came home for the weekend. My stupid mother also invited him over for dinner on occasion, apparently not noticing how much I hated him. She was either the prize dope of the century or the most sadistic mother in the world.
Glaring at Kurt once more for good measure, I turned my attention back to Mr. Faulkner, who was at that point asking us to open our scores to the third movement of the oratorio we were rehearsing. I smiled. I loved to sing, and I knew that if Kurt was singing, he couldn't be bothering me.
Even though I was eighteen years old and a senior in high school, I still didn't have my driver's license. Being a notorious procrastinator, I kept putting off the classes that I needed to take. My dad was really starting to get on my case about it, but my mother didn't seem to mind at all. In fact, I think she actually enjoyed driving me places, even though she was always disappointed to see the speed limit signs on the highway.
After rehearsal, I went outside to wait for my ride. Being the annoying prick that he was, Kurt sidled up next to me.
"You weren't very nice to me this afternoon," he informed me.
"Have I ever been nice to you?" I asked, meeting his gaze and raising an eyebrow.
"There's a first time for everything," he replied with a wink.
"Yeah, okay, whatever." His mere presence was starting to get on my nerves.
"What an intelligent response!" he mocked. "I'm afraid I'm going to have to quote you on that one, Lotte. Can I credit it to 'Cute Little German Milkmaid'?"
My cheeks were starting to burn with anger. I hated it when Kurt called me a milkmaid, and he knew it. He did it on purpose just to piss me off.
Grinning like a Cheshire Cat, Kurt decided to push my buttons even further. "You look so cute when you're mad at me," he said.
I didn't get a chance to retort, for at that moment, my mother drove up and rolled down the window of her car.
"Hallo, Liebchen!" she called to me warmly. Noticing Kurt, she added, "Kurt, mein Schatz, how are you?"
"I'm wonderful, Mutti," he said, beaming. "How are you?"
"Very good, thanks," she replied in her heavy German accent. "You haven't come for dinner in so long. You must come soon, okay?"
I made eye contact with my mother, trying to convey some kind of panicked look that might make her realize how much I did not want Kurt to come over for dinner. She ignored me, of course, and continued to look at Kurt with a hopeful smile.
"I'd love to," he responded brightly.
"How about tomorrow, then?" she replied happily. "I'll make sauerbraten just the way you like it."
Kurt was positively beaming. He loved my mother's sauerbraten. "Sounds great!" he exclaimed. "I'll see you then."
Cursing my horrible luck, I climbed into the passenger seat of the car, and we pulled out with Kurt waving at us.
"Mutti," I began, quite furious. "Warum hast du Kurt eingeladen?!? (Why did you invite Kurt?)"
"Warum nicht? (Why not?)" she replied, shocked at my anger. "Er ist ein sehr netter Junge. (He's a very nice boy.) Ich vermisse deinen Bruder, und Kurt ist mir wie ein zweiter Sohn. (I miss your brother, and Kurt is like a second son to me.) Jedenfalls erkennt er meinem Sauerbraten an, im Gegensatz zu dir. (Anyways, he appreciates my sauerbraten, unlike you.)"
I rolled my eyes. "Mutti, ich habe dir schon einhundert mal gesagt: ich bin vegatarierin. (Mom, I've told you a hundred times already: I'm a vegetarian) Und das hat mit Kurt nichts zu tun! (And that has nothing to do with Kurt!)"
Our argument continued around in circles for the entire ride home, and I was eventually informed that Kurt was coming over whether I liked it or not. I mean, we couldn't uninvite him, could we? Oh, how I wished that we could.
As the doorbell rang at 6:00 on Friday evening, I felt as though a hunk of lead had been dropped into my stomach. I slowly walked to answer the door while softly praying for the evening to be painless and free from humiliation. I swung the door open and there stood Kurt in all his…Kurtness. What other word could possibly be used to describe a guy so outwardly appealing but so inwardly revolting? He wore dark jeans and a black button-down that accentuated his built figure and made him look absolutely delicious. I think I actually licked my lips before his words snapped me out of any desire I might have felt.
"Hey babe," he greeted me in an attempt to be smooth.
Rolling my eyes and making a mental note to kill my mother in a slow and painful fashion, I swung the door wider for Kurt to enter. He stepped into the foyer, looking around for my parents. Fritzi, my cat, padded up to him and started to rub on his leg, purring loudly. Kurt squatted down to pet her, talking in that bizarre voice that people use when addressing cute animals. Fritzi purred louder and nuzzled against his outstretched hand. I glared at her. "Traitor," I thought.
Just then, my dad came striding in from the living room. "Kurt!" he said excitedly. "How are you?" He then gave our guest a "manly" hug. Eden and I had tried to hug like that before, just for shits and giggles, but we always ended up banging our heads together.
"I'm great, thanks, Herr Leisch," Kurt replied with equal enthusiasm. "How are you?"
"I'm just fine, thanks. Here, come into the living room and sit down for a while."
The two of them headed for the couch, chatting about sports and whatnot, and with a sigh of reluctance, I followed, placing myself in the wingchair across the room. "Why does my entire family have to like Kurt so much?" I thought."Why am I the only one he ever bothers? Everyone else must think I'm crazy for hating him so much."
"So Kurt," said my dad. "Lotte tells me that your choir is going to Europe this summer. Is that so?"
"Yes sir, we are," said Kurt excitedly. "We're going to London, Stockholm, Madrid, Berlin, Rome, and Paris. I'm very excited!"
As Dad started babbling on about our relatives in Berlin, it hit me: next summer, the tour…Kurt was going to be there.
I wanted to cry. Why did he have to spoil everything in my life?
After what I considered to be an awkward dinner, but what everyone else considered to be a "great time," I called Eden to lament my newfound misery.
"Hello?" she answered as she picked up the phone.
"Hey Eden, it's Lotte."
"Hey girl! What's up?"
"Not too much," I sighed. "I just needed to vent."
"Oh yeah, how did the dinner from hell go?" she asked.
"Ugh," I said with disgust. "He kept trying to play footsie with me the entire time. I ended up kicking him in the shin to get him to stop. Kurt Matthews is seriously the most obnoxious human being on the planet."
"Oh, he's not as bad as you think." Typical. Trust Eden to try to find the good in everyone.
"Yes he is as bad as I think!" I argued vehemently.
"Fine, have it your way," she conceded. "Now what was it that you needed to vent about?"
"My horrifying realization."
"Kurt's going to be on the tour with us."
"You just figured that out today?"
"I got so excited that I forgot about him being involved. Damn, that just ruined the whole thing for me."
"Don't let it," said Eden sympathetically. "You can't let a guy you don't like ruin a summer in Europe for you. That's just moronic."
"Yeah, yeah," I replied. "It's just that if I can't stand being with him for six minutes, how the hell am I supposed to put up with him for six weeks?"
"I guess you guys will just have to work that one out yourselves. Maybe you should just learn to get along."
I snorted. The day that Kurt Matthews and I got along would be a cold day in hell indeed.
A/N: There you have it, folks: the first chapter of my new story. It's just kind of an introductory chapter, though, for the purpose of acquainting you all with the relationship between Lotte and Kurt, their past, and the situation with the summer tour. It'll get more interesting when they actually go to Europe. It's also a shorter chapter than I usually write, but they'll get longer, I promise. Just to let you all know, the title of this chapter is also the title of a Beatles song, so I suppose I should just say that I don't own it.
Please review! I'd very much appreciate that, and it lets me know who you guys are so that I can read your work, too.
Until the next chapter, then!