"So what's it like being the publicist for one of today's newest and hottest bands?" a lady from Rolling Stone asked me. Red manicured nails tapped lazily on a planner placed on the table in front of her. The reporter was a petite woman who was probably no taller than 5'5" and weighed 110 soaking wet. Her clothing style was odd, mismatched patterns and a brown toboggan on her head that had long blonde braids coming out from it. The tape recorder next to the planner showed that she meant business, but one could not tell from her relaxed posture and light eyes.

I racked my brain for the words that could describe my career choice. I knew how my mom would describe it: unprofessional. My dad would probably go more along the lines of far out. Being on the road with five boys and being the only girl for many hours at a time could be described by me as: exhilarating, nerve-wracking, annoying, exciting, fun, smothering, tense, stressful, but most importantly amazing.

Granted my mom hadn't thought any of those things when I announced that instead of going back to college for my junior year, I was going to board a tour bus and be a publicist for a band who had just established its legs in the music industry, Asking Thursday. Business degree be damned. My father, on the other hand, loved the idea. He was in his late 50s and still exhibited major hippie tendencies. He and my mom, who was also in her late 50s, fully enjoyed the 1960s. As I grew older, I realized that it entailed drug use, alcohol abuse, and promiscuous sex. It was an eye opener to say the least. While my mother grew out of the "free loving spirit" when she obtained a law degree, my dad held tighter to it. "Someone has to stay sane in this household," he later explained to me.

So as you can see, when I made that fateful announcement two weeks before I was due to start my junior year, my dad beamed with pride and my mom's reaction was—well—not so excited.

"That's wonderful, sweetheart," Dad said as he threw his arms around me.

My mom gave me a more encrypted answer. With a tight smile she said, "As long as you're happy.

Translation: You may be happy, but I'm sure as hell not.

That announcement led me to where I was now. It was a year later and I was sitting in front of a reporter for a famous magazine. The band was on the rise and we couldn't be happier. When I finally settled on what I was going to say, I opened my mouth to speak, but was confused when a male voice answered instead.

"It's amazing. There's no other way to describe it," he said. "I don't know if I would call us one of the hottest bands out there yet, but we sure do have some heat building.

Ryan, the drummer for Asking Thursday, was the one who answered the question. I shut my mouth and realized what I had done. My day dreaming had taken over. The reporter's question had actually been: "So what's it like being one of today's newest and hottest bands?" Oops, silly me.

I saw the lead guitarist, Evan, look over at me with amusement evident on his face. He'd seen what I had done. Joy.

I took in my surroundings and remembered where we were. The five members of Asking Thursday, the manager, and I were all in the large lobby of the hotel we were staying at for the night. The band was in the middle of its first headlining tour and there was a two day break in between shows. Phoenix, Arizona proved to be a wonderful stopping point and the Hilton was our choice for rest. I sat behind the band with Marc, the manager. He was texting furiously into his blackberry, oblivious to his surroundings. I could have flashed him and he wouldn't have noticed. We sat there for moral support. It was the boys' first big interview and they were a little nervous going into it. Ryan worried about saying the wrong things and the rest of the boys feared they would be too boring. So far, though, the interview was going smoothly despite my recently day dream.

Once the interview was done, the reporter shook hands with the band, Marc, and I before politely slipping out of the hotel. Ryan bounded up to me and ruffled my hair playfully.

"You have to get me her number," he said referring to the reporter. "She was a fox."

I rolled my eyes and pushed him slightly. "Actually, she was human and you get it yourself. You're a big boy."

The seven of us were walking through the lobby toward the elevator. Our rooms were on the twelfth floor and I fully planned on taking a nap once I reached my room. We had been in the hotel all of fifteen minutes before the interview started. This was the first bed my eyes had seen in about three weeks. Living on the road was rough and I was beginning to realize how much stuff I took for granted, like personal space.

Ryan stuck his bottom lip out at me and moped. I chose to ignore him and waited for the elevator to open its doors so we could get in. Ryan, who as I mentioned before, was the drummer of Asking Thursday. He was my best friend and my better half. We had never dated nor had romantic feelings for each other, but he was my rock. I needed him in my life.

We met in high school band and have never left each other's side since, metaphorically speaking that is. He was somewhat attractive with light brown eyes and short brown hair. He had an insatiable thirst for life and a sense of humor that could make a statue laugh. One of his recent accomplishments in life was that he could finally do the wave with his eyebrows. After watching School of Rock, he practiced every day for hours until he could finally do it. "The ladies will love it!" he proclaimed when I called him a dork.

His grace, however, was lacking. Ryan was the type of person who could be walking in an empty room with a flat floor and he would trip and break a bone. It had happened more times than I could count. But once you handed him a pair of drum sticks, he moved like a god. It was poetry in motion, and I've never seen anything as beautiful as him behind a trap set. His long lanky arms and legs, which were the cause of his grace problems, moved so fluidly it was as though he was a mirage.

The elevator dinged and we all shuffled through its doors.

"Someone was off in La La Land," Evan mumbled to me after the doors shut. I rolled my eyes at him (something I did very often) and tried my best to cover my surprise. Marc pressed the number twelve without looking up from his phone and the elevator began to move. Everyone in the elevator shifted slightly and I bumped Evan on accident.

The main reason I was surprised at Evan's comment was that in the past three years that I've known Evan, we've talked maybe a dozen times. Well this would make it a dozen plus one. One would think that we hated each other, but that wasn't the case. We just didn't talk. The reason was unknown to me. It was just a fact we'd all accepted long ago. Oddly enough I knew a lot about him. It happens when people are on the road with someone for long periods of time. I knew that he was hopelessly obsessed with Mountain Dew, he preferred brunettes over blondes (but would not turn down a good looking woman due to hair color), he enjoyed rainy days, he played guitar as well as Michelangelo could paint, and once had a dog named Fido. Being the lead guitarist got him a lot of attention from our fans. I don't blame them. He had shaggy blonde hair that subsequently covered his beautiful sea foam green eyes most of the time. It was a shame, really. Two dimples highlighted his cheeks when he smiled, which was rare, and his jaw line was very pronounced. He was own Adonis, put on this Earth to torture me.

Even though Evan and I hardly talked, I knew that without a doubt I was in love with him. Well—okay—maybe more like infatuated with him, but the attraction was there nonetheless. I had discovered this about a month into the first tour Asking Thursday had. They were opening for a more popular band, but we still rode on a tour bus and got loads of publicity. It certainly made my job a lot more hectic once word about Asking Thursday began to get out, but the boys loved it so therefore I did too. Anyways, back to the point. During that tour, I made the decision that Evan was the cheese to my macaroni for lack of a better phrase. The symptoms were as follows:

My heart beat increased whenever he entered the room or his name was mentioned.

When he entered the room my eyes automatically followed him (not in a creepy stalker way, but in the I-wish-you-would-just-say-my-name-once way).

Out of all the songs Asking Thursday sang, the ones where Evan's gravely back up vocals could be heard were my favorite.

His hand was touching my back and I felt like I was going to die.

Okay, so maybe I added that last one just now, but it was true. I stood in front of Evan in the elevator and his hand was lightly resting on my hip, driving me insane. The skin under his finger tips was on fire. After I had accidentally bumped into him, he placed a hand on my hip to steady me a bit and then never moved it. I was enjoying my misery. I hid my excitement by calling over to Elijah, the bass player, who was standing next to Marc.

"Eli, you going to go see Marnie while we're in town?" I asked with a smile.

Eli shook his long red hair and cleared his throat before speaking. "Marnie is just a friend girl, my dearest Avery," he exasperated. I knew he was teasing by the smile in his eyes.

I laughed. Eli always had different categories for the girls he had met in life. There were the foxes (a term the whole band adopted) who he either had or wanted to sleep with, the friend girls who were the girls that he was just friends with but could be inclined to take things further if the opportunity struck, and the friends (a category I fell into) who were the girls he would never attempt to date. Within seconds of meeting any girl, they were already put into a category and filled away in Eli's mental Rolodex.

Elijah's mother was Irish and passed down to him his beautiful (in my opinion at least) red hair, green eyes, and love for Irish slang. He loved to get in the horrors (drunk) and hit on fine half wans (good-looking females). I found it adorable, but the boys sometimes were irritated especially when Elijah would get drunk and slur out phrases that no one understood.

The elevator dinged once again and I saw that we were on the twelfth floor. I was eager to get Evan's hand off of me and rushed out of the elevator despite being in the back.

"Watch it," Damien said as I hit his elbow.

I placed a kiss on his cheek as an apology. Damien was the lead singer of Asking Thursday and the newest member. He had joined just a year ago, right as the band was taking off. The previous lead singer, Forrest, was forced to quit by his parents who claimed that Forrest's true aspiration in life was to go to Harvard Law and be a lawyer like his dad; he just didn't know it yet. Reverse psychology works wonders in America. While the rest of the band wasn't happy with Forrest's departure, they understood that blood was thicker than water and bid him farewell with a sad smile. Fortunately, Ryan found Damien singing karaoke at some hole in the wall bar and invited him to join the band on the spot. Damien proved to be a better singer than Forrest and was given most of the credit for the band's rise. He took it bashfully. What I loved most about Damien was that he wasn't your typical lead singer. Damien was kind and thoughtful; ironically enough he hated the spotlight, but could belt out notes in front of a crowd like it was nobody's business. He had short brown hair, much like Ryan's, and dark blue eyes. They reminded me of a stormy sea at times.

Damien smiled back at me. "You in a hurry?"

I nodded, grabbing the key to my room from Marc as he dolled them out. His cell phone was pinched between his ear and his shoulder. He clamored on about cost reduction for the tour buses, the price of gases, and how ridiculous things had gotten somewhere with something… Blah blah blah.

"My bed is calling my name," I said through a yawn. The number 1204 called out to me on my key card and I worked my way towards the room. Fortunately, since I was the only female on the tour, I had my own room which meant my own bed, bathroom, and personal space. Those were three things I had missed very much. Ryan and Evan were sharing a room in 1203, Elijah and Damien were in 1205, and Jasper was lucky enough to be in a single room like me in 1206.

Jasper made up the last part of our make shift family. He played piano and when needed guitar. He was the quietest out of the five, but in no way the most conservative. Jasper and Elijah were constantly battling each other to see who had slept with more girls. Personally, I found the contest demeaning to women, but as they both pointed out to me when I brought it up: "the girls don't seem to mind too much when..." I cut them off at that point every time, not wanting to hear the rest. I'd like to pretend that all the girls the boys had slept with were good, take home to mom material, but I wasn't that naïve. Bands had loyal fans and then they had groupies. I thought Asking Thursday needed more fans, but the boys thought otherwise for obvious reasons.

"Call me later if you want to go explore the pool," Ryan said in passing, as I opened the door to my room. The thought of swimming in a pool infected my brain and I stopped what I was doing. I glanced up and saw Ryan leaning next to my door, knowing exactly what he had done.

"You did that on purpose," I said with a smile. Ryan's smirk was all the answer I needed.

"Get your bathing suit on and meet me in my room," he said before disappearing to his room.

I slipped into my room and eyed my suitcase, which was sitting on my bed. Marc, despite his lack of attention, was an amazing person when it came down to the little details (like getting luggage in the appropriate rooms). I dug through my suitcase until I was elbow deep and searching blindly. Finally, my fingers fell upon the silky material of my bathing suit and I yanked it out. I had learned a long time ago to tie my tops and bottoms together that way I would always find one with the other. This was one of those times that I was thankful for that decision. I shucked my clothes off and slipped on the plain brown bathing suit. It complimented my slightly tan skin very well and my long brown hair, which was currently in braids.

I guess now would be the appropriate time to introduce myself, silly me for not doing it sooner. My name is Anna Victoria Matthews, but I went by Avery more for the convenience than out of hatred for my real name. It was easier to yell Avery out than Anna Victoria. I would never suggest calling me Anna around my mother unless you wanted to see a complete meltdown.

Unfortunately, a boy friend once upon a time developed the habit of calling my Anna (a habit I tried to break many times to no avail), and he let the little A word slip and all hell broke loose in the Matthews residence.

"Her name is Anna Victoria!" she screamed.

Had I not been accustomed to my mother's random screaming, I would have been shocked at her interruption. Personally, I blamed the acid, but my father blamed menopause (in public, but for the most part agreed with me).

Needless to say, the poor boy had been scared shitless and never returned to my house. Oh well, I never liked dating anyways…

I am twenty-two years young, and I've been single for about twenty-one of those years. For the most part I enjoyed being single. The only exceptions were Christmas, Thanksgiving, Valentine's Day, or my birthday. Well, basically any holiday that involved my large family and their inability to keep their mouths shut about my lack of boyfriend. I had never brought a boy to a family event and they refused to let me forget it (like I could).

I love bumper stickers but refused to put one on my car (looking at them was nice though). Clowns freak me out, as do feet. Most people think my parents are my grandparents. I'm the biggest Cranberries fan I've ever met, and I enjoy swimming more than I do breathing, which was why I was passing up the opportunity to catch so shut up. I slipped on a pair of flip flops and grabbed a towel and the key to my room. Within seconds, I was knocking on Ryan's door in only shoes and a bathing suit. Evan opened the door and I pushed past him. The door to their bathroom was closed and I assumed Ryan was in there. I rapidly hit the door before calling out, "Hurry up grandpa, we're not getting any younger."

The door swung open and revealed Ryan in a pair of yellow swimming trunks with black stripes. I stifled a laugh and grabbed his elbow. "Okay, bumble bee, let's get going."

"You coming?" Ryan asked Evan, who was lying on his bed staring up at the ceiling. I wanted him to. Boy did I want to see Evan's wonderful body in a pair of swim trunks, wet from the pool, and…

"Nah, you guys go ahead."

Damn.

"Okay, your loss." Ryan grabbed a towel and we were off.

The pool was amazing. It was nearly Olympic sized (save a few inches so that the pool was ineligible to hold swim meets) and the deep end reached around eight feet. I was in heaven.

I thanked my lucky stars that I had not worn any clothes over my bathing suit because shortly after we reached the pool, Ryan pushed me into the pool without warning. I came up screaming, but was stopped when he did a cannon ball. For over two hours, Ryan and I played like little kids in a pool. It was so much fun. I jumped into Ryan's arms and laid a sloppy kiss on his cheek.

"Rock." I pressed my forehead against his and gave him a huge smile.

"And roll," he said completing our phrase. Best friends forever was entirely too cliché and Ryan wouldn't be caught dead saying it.

We both climbed out of the pool and dried off. Once we were sure there was no water dripping from our bodies, we headed back to the elevators. As I pressed the up arrow, Ryan grabbed my legs and threw me over his shoulder.

"Put me down!" I squealed over the dinging of the elevator.

He rushed into the elevator and pressed the button for our floor. I fell limp on his back hoping to trick him into letting me down. I had no such luck. The elevator dinged again and I expected us to start moving, but instead an elderly couple (well two people around my parents' age) walked into the elevator and eyeballed me. I'm pretty sure I was a sight to see. I glanced over at them and gave a polite wave. It was impossible to be embarrassed when around Ryan. He exuded this confidence that was infectious to anyone around him. Finally, the elevator stopped at our floor and we made our way out, or more like Ryan carried me out.

"Hey, that's my room," I whined as we passed it and entered his room.

He took wide steps across the room before throwing me down onto his bed. "I am man, hear me roar," he bellowed, beating his chest in a gorilla like fashion. I giggled incessantly at his impersonation of King Kong. Evan sat on his bed watching us. I could see that he thought we were idiots, but I didn't care. Moments like this with Ryan were becoming few and far between due to the increased publicity and I wanted to enjoy it as best as I could. It was funny that my job was the reason I didn't get as much alone time with Ryan as I used to, but Ryan loved the stage and the stage loved him back. Who was I to step in the way of that beautiful relationship?

I was brought out of my thoughts when Ryan collapsed onto the bed, landing on top of me. I let out a grunt when I felt the extra 180 lbs hit me. Ryan curled up next to me and laid his head on my shoulder.

"Just like old times," he whispered. There was a hint of sadness in his voice and I knew he had missed the Avery-Ryan time too. I felt Evan's eyes on us, but as usual didn't say anything to him. Before I knew it, a soft snore was coming from Ryan and I knew that I wasn't too far behind him. Sleep was welcoming me with open arms.


I woke up a couple of hours later when Ryan shifted in the bed and subsequently elbowed me in the gut.

"Jesus," I hissed in pain. I shoved the rest of Ryan off of me and slipped out of bed. He was dead asleep and showed no signs of waking anytime soon. Slowly, I rubbed the spot where his elbow had once been and looked around the room. Evan was lying on his bed with his eyes glued to the TV.

Quietly, I grabbed my flip flops and key. I was at the door not too long afterwards with the intention of resting in my own bed.

"Hey Avery." Evan's voice called out to me and my breathing stopped. The sound of my name coming from his lips was enough to kill me on the spot. I spun on my heel and faced my Adonis. I waited to reply until I was sure my voice would be strong.

"Yeah Evan?"

"You snore," he said not taking his eyes off the TV.

My cheeks flamed up and I muttered a 'thanks' before walking out of the room.

Great, the first time I hear him say my name and it's only to tell me I snore. Glorious!


A/N: Okay, so I haven't necessarily hit a writer's block with Strange and Beautiful, it's just that I had this story bouncing around in my head too and I wanted to get it typed out before I forgot it. SaB will be updated eventually. I can't determine who wins the war between the stories in my head, but reviews just might persuade me. :)