Aaron sat twiddling his thumbs the following morning, eyeing the clock anxiously in the airport lobby– he was still unsure whether Audrey would show. He hoped she would, not only because he fought tooth and nail for her to be here but he wanted to get to know her more, she interested him to immense proportions.
20 minutes till boarding; Aaron knew fine well that women liked to be fashionably late but this was just taking it too far.
He sat staring at the polystyrene cup in front of him; it was a golden mocha, something he was very unfamiliar with. He deliberated for a few moments the likelihood of whether he would enjoy the golden froth head on the luke-warm liquid.
Although before he could reach his final decision, a young woman came and took a seat opposite him, Aaron raised his gaze to meet that of the girl's.
"Hello Aaron" she whispered reaching for his fist to gently caress.
"Rebecca? What are you doing here?" He crumpled his face in confusion.
"Is that anyway to welcome your girlfriend?" Becca pouted lowering her mouth to whine a little.
"I know, I'm sorry" Aaron began. "It's just that you told me you didn't want to come."
"But baby, I'll miss you too much, we can't live without each other."
"Mhmmm" he grunted in acknowledgement, while pulling his hand from her coiling grasp.
Rebecca was three years Aaron's junior, with an oval face, ample chest, long slender legs and wavy blonde hair, she'd be any man's fantasy.
Any man apart from Aaron that is.
She lacked personality under her inch thick make up and over styled eyebrows, with no depth or quirky character, the singer often found himself wondering why he was with her in the first place. It was then the answer came, the sex was fantastic! It wasn't as regular as it used to be with work commitments and all although when there was a spare moment, phwoar it really happened!
Audrey was then cast out his mind while he tried to listen attentively to Rebecca's in-depth argument over the latest Armani watch, it was tedious to say the least but it passed the time.
Flight 160OFHJ to Stockholm boarding in 5 minutes, flashed across the screen, as the couple lifted their hand luggage together and began walking down row after row of occupied seats; meanwhile another young woman came flying down to the alleyway made for passengers.
The dark haired brunette wore navy blue pumps, along with a halter-neck pale blue and white starred dress, her mid section was cut by an over-the-shoulder-bag almost overflowing with it's contents. Aaron, Rebecca and the woman met consecutively at the now forming line where the flight attendants were now checking passports and boarding cards. Aaron looked and turned around to eye the young girl behind him, it was Audrey. She met his eye too and smiled sympathetically.
"I didn't think you'd show" Aaron whispered partly in awe of still how perfect she looked when flustered.
"I know I'm sorry, I've always had very bad timekeeping; it's one of my many flaws" Audrey exclaimed while still rummaging around in her bag to fin her passport.
Aaron laughed heartily alerting his girlfriend to turn around, "oh I'm sure you aren't as flawed as you let on". From Audrey's lips escaped an un-ladylike snort dubiously.
"Aaron who is this?" Rebecca asked half growling while sizing up what she thought as the competition.
"This is Audrey, the new resident journalist, the one I was interviewing, you remember?" He articulated while grasping his necessary paperwork.
"No I don't, but Aaron-baby, what about Harry?" The blonde whined, squinting in hatred at Audrey. Aaron winced at his inappropriate nickname he had withstood for the duration of his and Rebecca's relationship; he always thought it made him sound like a dog.
"Harry left remember, the month before last. His wife had a baby girl." He attempted to keep eye contact with Becca although she spaced out, proving yet again she was incapable of having an intellectual conversation with anybody.
Audrey cut in attempting to strike up a conversation with the dark haired man in front of her. "Do you know what they called the baby?"
Aaron was a little taken aback at this, and hesitated with his reply slightly "Rosie, I think. Though don't quote me on it."
She nodded to herself replaying what he had told her previous "Rosie, I like it."
Aaron smiled, although the calmness was short lived as Rebecca turned around and held Audrey with a poisonous glare.
"Listen, Anna or whatever you are called…"
"It's Audrey actually, or is that too hard for you to pronounce."
"Tsk…no". Rebecca answered rather taken aback. "Aaron-baby is mine, so you better keep your measly hands off of him, or you'll have me to deal with."
"Aaron-baby?" The journalist smirked attempting to figure out the puzzle which presented itself. "Oh, you mean Aaron. You think that I and him?"Audrey was then set off into a hysterical fit of giggles so much so she doubled herself over having to clutch her stomach.
"What's so funny?" The blonde asked now feeling very stupid still glaring daggers in the girl's direction.
"The fact that you'd think I'd want your Aaron-baby. I've got a fiancé, or did this rock on my finger escape your notice?" She asked wriggling the princess cut ring in front of Rebecca's face. That soon shut her up, and the party of three checked in, Aaron especially began feeling very betrayed by Audrey's words, "you'd think I'd want your Aaron-baby."
How could she be so brutal?
Thankfully due to late check-in Rebecca was down the bottom of the plane sandwiched in between to large, blonde Swedish men, leaving Aaron and Audrey to sit together, and a little girl next to her in the window seat. She looked very anxious; the journalist took her hand resting on the armrest beside her and squeezed it affectionately. Aaron noticed this action and smiled a little her thoughtfulness. The little ginger girl must have only been about five or six at the most, as she turned with a confused expression clouding her face.
"I'm Audrey, and what do they call you?"
"That's a very pretty name, Hansel and Gretel used to be my favourite fairytale" the young woman soothed rubbing the little girl's palm, as she continued. "Are you scared of flying?"
Gretel nodded violently and grasped her hand tightly as the plane began to taxi.
"Me too" Audrey agreed. "I'll tell you what, how about we sing a song okay?"
Gretel nodded in agreement attempting to look out of the window, until Audrey used her spare hand to guide her gaze over to her own.
"Do you know Incy Wincey Spider?"
She nodded again.
"Incy Wincey spider went up the water spout, down came the rain and washed the spider out. Out came the sunshine and dried up all the rain, Incy Wincey spider climbed up the spout again".
It then began, Incy Wincey Spider once, then twice, and finally three times until the plane had successfully taken off; Aaron couldn't help but join in with small parts too. Gretel occupied herself for the rest of the journey reading a book in Swedish that neither Audrey nor Aaron could understand, so they occupied themselves as they talked instead.
Aaron asked her what caused her to be so late, apart from her apparent weak time management. She told him that there were some "loose ends to tie up". He then pried further asking if the loose ends were anything to do with the man he met yesterday.
Audrey hesitantly explained that the man he talked to briefly was her boyfriend and now fiancé Toby, she had decided it was better not to tell him about her job application, which then caused a great row the night before, once again resulting with Toby sleeping on the sofa. Then in the morning he had a total change of heart and apologised for all the things he had said, with a bouquet of orchids her favourite and a caramel crème from the local Starbucks. "It was then he sprung the question on me; and the rest appears to be history". She concluded twiddling her fingers within her lap, occasionally allowing her eye to pass over her engagement ring, which was a hefty size it had to be said. Aaron nodded, acknowledging he understood her story.
Smalltalk then followed, Audrey asked Aaron about Rebecca, to whom he hastily spouted "it's complicated" and the subject was closed. The pair created a lengthy debate over music, Aaron preferring the greats such as Def Leppard, ACDC and Guns 'n' Roses to the modern day equivalent, meanwhile Audrey disagreed with him to a great extent. She preferred such raw talent as Kids in Glass Houses, You Me at Six and We Are the Ocean, who are still refusing to reform and comply to the demands of a record company. Needless to say the argument went on until the plane touched down in Stockholm, although by this time little Gretel had fallen asleep, leaving no encore for Incy Wincey Spider unfortunately. Audrey was grievously upset.
Aaron was a little taken aback was they arrived at the terminal how easy Audrey and himself fell into conversation; there weren't any awkward silences, or hurt feelings, both giving their full attention to the other. He had never experienced that with a woman before, well not a complete connection and especially not Rebecca as her handbag and shoe rants grew tiresome very quickly.
Although when they also touched down in Stockholm, Rebecca was there watching Audrey with her beady brown eyes and clinging desperately to Aaron, probably because she heard their music orientated conversation earlier as at times it was rather heated.
A car was there to collect them, after a longer wait than expected since Audrey promised to see Gretel safe and sound with her parents; Aaron found this heart-warming, while Rebecca just thought this tedious and unnecessary, not to mention time wasting. They finally reached the venue know to be Stockholm's rival to the Royal Albert Hall in Britain. The Swedish Operatic Centre.
Aaron's girlfriend still refused to let him out of her grasp, literally. Leaving Audrey to amble along quietly a few steps behind them, very nervous – she could even feel her windpipe narrowing slightly and her breaths shallow, they affect her that much. There were a wall of buses that were aligned neatly into three rows, varying in size and condition. Audrey had attended many gigs in her time as a music journalist yet had never experienced something on this skill. Her breath was caught in her throat.
The party reached a bus, on the door stuck a piece of A4 paper which read:-
"A Backseat Romance, enter at your peril".
Audrey failed to hide a laugh at this, which resulted in Aaron turning to face her smiling cheekily.
"The guys seriously can't be that dangerous," Audrey rationalised with herself, turning her shoulder bag the correct way round.
"You'll eat your words Miss Malone" the singer exclaimed dramatically reaching for the door handle and pushing the body ajar.
There sat the missing pieces of an award winning rock band, Audrey was in total awe of the pair. Or perhaps at the tidiness of the bus, she had never known men to be as meticulous as they appeared. Stevie sat reading what the journalist recognised instantly as the latest edition of Echo Magazine – her very own employer, she watched his expression curiously for a moment, he smiled mouthing the words silently to himself. The three standing silently by the door could just about see Paul as he was sprawled out on the corner couch obviously installed to save space, scrolling through his I-pod library. The two musicians still failed to recognise their presence until Aaron and Rebecca who still had her talons in Aaron's quickly paling arm took and few steps up to the main level of the bus, leaving Audrey no option other than to follow dutifully.
Stevie was the first to notice Aaron's return; he dropped the magazine to the floor as an elated smile crept up onto his features. He stumbled the few steps closing the gap between him and his younger brother of four years and embraced him in a bone crushing hug. His eyes allowed him a fleeting glance at his girlfriend and scowled a little. He caught eye of the young woman behind the pair and surveyed her, with a smile, leaving with a wink. Audrey beamed at this, cheeks turning a shade of deep crimson involuntarily. Suddenly this position didn't seem as daunting as it first appeared. Paul was the last to notice, looking up and nodding in Aaron's direction acknowledging his presence then turning back to his I-pod.
Rebecca led what an outsider would see as her prey over to the remaining one seat on the sofa, leaving Aaron no reason to not hold his girlfriend on the curvature of his knee. Audrey still stood in the same awkward spot, still refusing to move her eyes from Stevie while hurriedly twiddling her fingers, a nervous habit.
A new found courage emerged from deep inside her as she turned to Aaron "well don't introduce us then!"
Aaron turned to her in alarm as if forgetting Audrey existed. He suddenly realised his discrepancies and gave Audrey a shrug of his broad shoulders and set about righting the situation.
"I'm Audrey, the new journalist. I don't know if you've heard about me" she began wiping her long fringe away from her eyes, extending a hand for her new colleagues to shake.
"No believe me; I would have known if you were mentioned." Stevie being the perfect gentleman led her to a seat at the breakfast him taking one opposite her. The pair; were then immersed in conversation often pausing for laughter. Aaron felt a twinge of jealousy as he watched his older brother and new friend slip easily into conversation with each other. He surveyed Audrey's expression, her cheeks stood plump from a constant smile, her eyes glittering in the sunlight that travelled in through the windows; she looked elated. The jealousy then returned. He growled inwardly and was brought back to the present with Rebecca's incessant whine about being hungry.
After the initial introductions to the band, excluding Paul - he was too engrossed with his music to pay any attention. Aaron proposed the idea to go and meet the journalistic team she would be working with, Audrey felt this would be beneficial, so Aaron and Audrey set off leaving Stevie and Rebecca to politely stalk them. Rebecca and Aaron lead the way, her still clinging onto him for dear life. Meanwhile Audrey and Stevie lagged behind a little talking continuously until her body caught onto the cold and shivered slightly. Stevie without any hesitation handed her his leather jacket as a chivalrous gesture and gently slipped his palm into her hand. The young woman tried to protest, but he refused earnestly explaining how he was a naturally warm person.
"Who says romance is dead" Audrey whispered kindly into his ear watching humorously as the blush rose uncontrollably in his cheeks.
It made sense to her, as his jacket seemed to radiate heat, they reached a single white tent set up in the centre of backstage, streams of people entering at leaving at the same time; needless to say the naïve journalist felt intimidated - once again Stevie noticed this and grasped her hand a little tighter in reassurance.
On the inside were row after row of tables with twenty members of staff to a table, voices were emanating from every corner of the makeshift room making it almost impossible to make out a single word of what was being said or indeed shouted. Stevie and Aaron guided the girls through table after table causing apologies to gruffly slip from their mouths as they barged and intruded on debates and conversations being held across the room. Audrey attempted to keep her head and gaze down to the floor ensuring she didn't draw any unwanted attention to herself meanwhile watching where she placed her feet – this was a danger zone for Audrey and her clumsiness.
Eventually they reached the appropriate table, which didn't appear any tidier or organised than the previous, although the occupants all looked up and smiled reassuringly at the new addition, she scanned her gaze over each individually. Her eyes glistened warmly as she knew one member - Noah. He shot up immediately, embraced tightly resulting in Audrey having to let Stevie's palm go.
"Yeah!" The blonde exclaimed finally placing her feet back on the ground "I knew they'd make the right decision." Noah patted her affectionately on the top of her head while wrapping a muscular arm around her dainty waist. "Okay listen up team" he began, all those sitting turned their gaze to him. "This is Audrey; she's the new resident journalist. So you all better be nice to her, or you'll have to deal with me!" He then introduced Audrey to the whole team which including her consisted of a close knit community of twelve staff.
"This is the photography sector" Noah began motioning to the left side of the table where sat one man and two women. "This is James" he signalled to a weedy looking man with round glasses and a fringe that covered his left eye, "he's the deputy photographer." Audrey offered him a light-hearted smile that wasn't returned from his melancholy face. "These two girls are Sammie and Kate, they're ground photographers." The pair eyed her suspiciously for a moment before giving Audrey and encouraging thumbs up.
"Meanwhile" Noah then motioned to the right hand side of the table, "these are the journalists. The man with the dark hair who currently is talking on his Bluetooth headset, that's Alexander, he's the head journalist." Audrey nodded slightly attempting to absorb all of the new information being presented at her. "That means every piece of work you create has to pass his scrutiny to then be published. Other than that the remaining people are resident journalists just like yourself. Matthew…" Noah paused as the man in question stood up and offered to shake Audrey's hand and whispered a shy "hello." "As I was saying Matthew is the journalist for Man in a Dress and Toot Sweet. Meanwhile the man to his left is Greg he looks after Fighting with the Fishes and Many Cracked Shapes and finally the blonde girl at the end is Eleanor she is looking after the babies on tour Shouts for Screams and Macbeth's Final Scene."
Audrey's head was spinning at the new people she had been introduced to, they all seemed so comfortable with each other, and yet Audrey was still able to keep a smile on her face however close the impending dizziness and nausea became. Noah then went on to explain the set up of each individual team.
"The layout of the Technology department is vastly different and original compared to any of the others around us Audrey. Every resident journalist is assigned two bands to represent on their Myspace pages, Facebook, Bebo and whatever internet based publisher or magazine you work for. You individually Audrey have been assigned to these lucky chaps here" Noah motioned to Stevie and Aaron one twiddling their thumbs while the other anxiously reading the brunette's expression.
The dirty blonde continued "you have also been assigned the band Tomorrow's Headline. The procedure all our journalists follow with the lesser known bands is a little different to dealing with the experienced musicians. On the simplest level you have to promote them as much as humanly possible in your magazine; they are here because they deserve it, and therefore should appear in your publication more often than not."
Audrey responded lightly to his speech agreeing with him, his persona then changed completely from main manager to good friend. The new Noah stepped forward and embraced Audrey in a hug attempting to whisper some comforting words.
"It's so good to see you here doll! We have to get to know each other better."
The new addition to the team nodded slowly trying to excuse herself from the conversation, Stevie seemed to notice this and made the new team member's excuses for her. The quartet trailed back to the bus silently, all very much drained. Rebecca went straight to her bunk, or should I say Aaron's bunk to "recuperate", leaving A Backseat Romance and Audrey.
The four sat down on the sofa, in a piercing quiet Paul left for a moment. He brought out three beers from the cooler and a glass of red wine for Audrey, she eyed this suspiciously.
"What Paul, am I not good enough to drink the same as you guys?" She joked pretending to be sick looking at the blood red liquid in the wine glass.
"Well of course you are" he stumbled over his words slightly "it's just that Rebecca always drank this."
"Then just thank god I'm not her, now pour this ghastly liquid down the sink because I fancy a Carlsberg." The guitarist agreed and gave her a can.
After the party took a few sips Aaron spoke up for the first time since Rebecca released him from her claws.
"I've just realised Audrey, that you're going to be staying with us for five months and we all hardly know anything about you."
"Well we must change that then, what do you want to know?" She shifted to the front of the sofa preparing her for an interrogation that slightly the resembled the Spanish inquisition.
They sat deliberating for a moment until Stevie answered "how about twenty questions?"
The remaining members of the band agreed profusely while poor Audrey prepared herself for a very awkward evening and in fact early morning ahead.
Hey guys! I hoped you like the chapter :D
It was nice to hear your first impressions of Toby... you all seem to be grasping the direction I'm trying to head with him.
Any feedback on this chapter?