1. Control Your Reactions
Another day, another half past six alarm.
Another shower, another battle with the hair straighteners, another quick downing of coffee, and another fight with several annoying Londoners who refuse to let me on the tube in the morning.
Another half hour tube ride amongst smelly old people, another ten minute walk through an annoyingly posh North London estate- and another Brandon Harrison.
"Hello?" Marge's voice comes through the intercom as sharply as is usual.
"Hello Marge, it's Rochelle."
"Just a moment, please."
The gates buzz open and I head into the giant mansion, ready to take over a certain young man's life again for the day.
"Good day off?" Marge asks me when I come in.
"Brandon's asleep. He had quite a heavy one again last night," she warns me.
Why am I not surprised?
Oh, how this is my favourite part of the day. As is per usual, Brandon takes a good twenty minutes to open the door after my persistent knocking. And as is per usual, he opens the door half naked. It used to surprise me when I started the job- being faced with his finely sculpted six-pack, that is- but now I've skilfully learned to control and hide any sign of shock or admiration.
"Ah, Rochelle, I see you've decided to get me out of bed just as early as normal. You know I'd rather there was another way in which I could wake up to your lovely face in the mornings."
"Whatever, Brandon. Get yourself ready- we've got a meeting with your publicist in an hour and a half. I'll be waiting for you downstairs."
"You sure you don't want to come in?" He winks.
Control any sign of blushing, Rochelle.
"You have one hour before we have to leave," I say firmly, keeping my folder tightly tucked between my folded arms as I turn and leave again.
As I wait for him to come downstairs I take my usual seat in the reception hall and read over my plan of the day for the fiftieth-or-so time. If everything goes as I've written down, then the day should run like clockwork. Only Brandon is the person who can ruin it- which has happened more than once, to be fair.
When he appears I quickly look him up and down.
"Do I get your approval?" He asks.
"You're one minute over- and your hair needs tidying on the right side," I answer carefully. "Though I prefer your outfit choice today, Cameron might be impressed."
He frowns and runs a hand through his coppery-brown hair. He never really cares about what Cameron thinks, because if the producers say anything negative to him- which Cameron does often- then Brandon just likes to smart-talk them with his own form of subtle abuse.
"Yeah yeah. Let's just go. Do we have time to go to the office?"
"Absolutely not. Not until three o'clock."
He rolls his eyes thinking that I can't see him. Of course I can see him.
"Can I get some headache tablets?"
"I've already packed some in my bag, I'll give them to you in the car."
"Right. Of course. Thanks."
"Now come on, I told Jeff to start the car at precisely nine- thirty."
"I'm sure he doesn't mind a few quiet moments with a fag...."
He observes me for a moment and we have our usual staring contest which ends with him laughing at my 'insane need for organisation and structure'. Luckily he doesn't say anything as we make our way to the Mercedes Benz with its engine purring ready for us and Jeff patiently waiting in the front seat.
"Now I'm planning on scheduling your meeting with the art director for Wednesday at half two, this may mean that I'll have to push back your appointment at the hairdressers for half four instead of four, because I never know how long that art director of yours takes...."
"I thought my hairdresser's appointment was on Thursday?" He mutters as he wolfs down a croissant.
"That's why you need an assistant, Brandon."
"And that's why I picked you, Shelly."
I need to control the urge to smack him one for using the name that I always ask him not to use. Instead I just give him a warning look.
"Can I have my headache tablets now?"
Two hazel eyes glimmer at me as he beams like a little boy asking for sweets. I pass them to him with a small bottle of water and read over some notes that I made from last week's meeting with the Louise.
"Aren't you going to ask me how last night was?"
"Huh?" I look up from the part about practising interview techniques.
"Don't you care?"
"How was last night?" I ask unenthusiastically.
"I got spotted."
If he means a few teenage girls again that recognised him from his performance at that dodgy club in Hammersmith last week then he shouldn't be looking so smug.
"That's great, Brandon."
"Took one of them home, too," he winks at me.
I hope they're not teenagers.
"I didn't see her this morning," I mumble, checking my phone to see if the stylist for his show next Friday has sent me a text me yet.
"She buggered off early. Said something about work."
Good. Not a school-girl then. I make sure not to display any signs of disgust, in case he comes out with the 'are you jealous' line again. I've never been very good at answering that question.
"How was your day yesterday?"
"Fine," I answer sharply, not looking at him.
"Does Rochelle Adams not wish to disclose any of the details of her private life again?"
"Not right now."
He reaches over the seat to snatch the papers out of my hand.
"I'll have you telling me everything one day," he murmurs suggestively, gazing down at me with a cheeky grin.
I ignore him purposely and don't even bother trying to snatch the papers back from him, because it'll only lead to him grabbing my hand.
"You've got dinner with the editor of Cover tomorrow night, don't forget. He's very interested in your music, so I'm going to have to make sure we practice some of your conversational skills."
"Oh, but I haven't even got a date yet," he whines cynically.
"I'll need to help you pick which suit is appropriate."
"Will you be my date?"
"Hmmm- maybe I should reschedule your appointment with the hairdresser to tomorrow instead?" I murmur to myself.
"You're no fun, Rochelle. Five months with you and you've managed to turn my life around in all ways but one," he says distantly, leaning back in his seat and passing me back my notes.
I stifle a snort. Thankfully, my phone rings to distract me from having to talk to him anymore.
"Ah Jackie, I was just thinking about ringing you- I think we may need to reschedule...."
After a quick stop home and a well-needed shower, I make it to Bar Twelve unfortunately slightly off-schedule. Stupid Brandon. I smooth my skirt down and look for Riley amongst all the crowd.
"Sorry I'm late," I apologise before kissing him hello.
"No worries," he shrugs. "Work go ok?"
"A bit hectic." Brandon got into an argument with Cameron at the recording studios and that's why I was delayed, but I don't want to talk about work with Riley.
"You look really tired," Riley notes, pushing back a strand of my hair. "Are you sure you want to go later?"
"Yeah, yeah, 'course I do!" I insist. "We haven't been to the cinema in ages."
"Good," he smiles at me softly, but I can read that something's going on in that brain of his. His eyes always give him away.
"Look- I really wanted to ask you something."
Oh no. What have I done now?
"No nothing- nothing," he says hurriedly, taking hold of my hand. "It's about- us."
Oh gosh. An 'us' talk.
When I don't respond his mouth twitches but he goes on anyway.
"I was just thinking, well, with us both working and not seeing each other so much.... and because we're always swapping flats to stay the night and you're living with the other girls.... well, you know...."
No, I don't know.
"Why don't we just- move in together?"
My face freezes for a moment as he worriedly looks on at me. I was quite happy with swapping flats every other night to be honest. Moving in with Riley would be.... weird.
"Well?" Riley asks, his facial features starting to quiver a little with panic.
I like living with the girls I live with. It's- fun. I'm only just about to turn twenty- and Riley and I haven't even been together that long anyway.
"If you don't want to-"
"No-no, it's not that," I interject. Though it kind of is. "I just need to think about it first."
"But you're not saying no....?"
"N-no. I'm not saying-"
Damn phone. I check the screen.
"Sorry, Riley- I better take this," I mutter irritably.
He makes a face but smiles and lets me go, as always.
"What?" I snap when I finally get outside.
"Not interrupting anything, am I?"
"No, Brandon, but I've finished aiding you with absolutely everything for today- what do you want?"
"How would you like a pay rise?"
"You've booked one too many places for dinner tomorrow night with the editor of Cover."
"What? What do you mean? I can't have."
"It says here that you booked places for me, him, his wife and co-editor, and someone else."
"Yes. You're father."
"Dad's had to take a last-minute trip to Paris."
"So- you have to come."
"You're my assistant. You can arrange things and take notes or whatever it is you like doing at my meetings."
"And you can be my date."
"I'll pay you double for the rest of the week."
I sigh hopelessly.
"Yes- alright then."
"Excellent." I can visualise his annoying grin. "See you tomorrow, Shelly. I'm looking forward to seeing your beautiful face already."
I hang up the phone feeling irritated that I gave in to his request so easily. This is not how it's suppose to work between us- I'm supposed to organise his schedule- he's not supposed to alter mine.
I really do have to control myself around the idiot sometimes.
Please review! I almost forgot about this story and then suddenly I had a couple of brainwaves.
Have a lovely day :)