So I'm sitting here, in a random Leeds bar venue, sipping on my fourth cup of coffee out of a small plastic cup and watching DAX's sound check while someone sorts out a leak around five metres away from me. The first UK leg of the tour isn't supposed to be glamorous I suppose.
Brandon's off arguing somewhere with Cameron, who wanted to change one of the songs during his sound check. It probably won't be settled for a while, so I'm just scribbling down various things that need to be sorted out before the concert while Brandon's band all mess about around me.
"I'm telling you," says John, "if Cameron keeps deciding to change the set list every day, then Brandon's going to punch him in the face before the week is out."
"Serves him right," grumbles Dwayne. "Shell and Brandon spent ages planning those set lists, eh, Shell?"
I turn in surprise when my name is mentioned.
"Um- yeah, Cameron was even there most of the time. I don't understand why he's always changing the set lists."
"Exactly," Dwayne responds. "It's pretty annoying for us as well. I thought our sound check was going well until he butted in."
"It was," I shrug, scribbling away as I remember to email the hotel in Edinburgh and check the room arrangements. "Cameron's just being nitpicky- he doesn't think the song's ready."
"Yeah well it's going to make Brandon a miserable grump," grumbles Ollie. "Go and sweeten him up Shell, we all know you can do that, right lads?"
I stop scribbling and turn to glare at him, the laughter of the other two surrounding me as I do so.
"Nothing," he shrugs. "You're the only person he listens to- that's all....... unless there's something you want to tell us?"
The other two are still chuckling away beside him, which makes me think that if Brandon's been running his mouth then I'm going to kick him in the balls.
"I don't know what you're implying, guys, but you can shut your traps if it's what I think it is."
John holds his hands up.
"We're not suggesting anything, Shell," he says innocently, and then there's a moment of silence. "But you can't deny-"
"Quiet, boys," I order them harshly, turning back to my notes and pretending to read over them when really I feel embarrassed and want to murder Brandon.
They go back to their own pointless conversation and soon enough Brandon appears from wherever the hell he was.
"Shelly, add this to your notes- kill Cameron," he complains, taking the seat beside me.
"Not before I kill you first," I mumble really quietly. He gives me a perplexed look but is soon distracted when the boys ask him how the argument went down. I decide to ignore their conversation and listen to DAX's sound check instead. Doing the usual, I only choose to listen to the bits of their conversation that matter to the day's progress.
"So has the set list been changed?" Ollie asks him.
"No, I just threatened him with getting the Don on the line in the end and he's left it the same way."
"You better tell Leon then," I instruct Brandon.
"What?" He asks, turning to me like he's surprised I've uttered a word.
"Well Leon's going to need to know, isn't he? Since he is your sound engineer."
"Oh yeah. Good thinkin' Shelly, I'll tell him later."
"You'll forget otherwise. Go now."
I'm not bothering to look at him but I can tell he's giving me one of his surprised- yet amused- looks, and he soon starts chuckling and gets up to go and speak to Leon.
"See what I mean, Shelly?" John laughs behind me. "He always listens to you. You definitely have a hold on him of some sort."
"What have you been telling the band?" I eventually ask Brandon at lunch time. We're in the line to get food for everyone in a café near the venue.
"The boys. What have you been telling them?"
"I thought there wasn't an 'us'?" Brandon smirks at me, and then he runs a hand through his hair. "Yeah ok, I know what you mean- I figured they must have said something that made you all wound up earlier. But I haven't said anything."
He takes a step forward in the queue, ignoring the suspicious look I give him.
"I don't believe you."
"Well you better believe it, babe- it's not my fault that the sexual tension between us is so strong that others are picking it up," he winks. "Face it, Shelly, we look good together."
He takes a look at my face and starts chuckling.
"Anyway, forget what they all say- you know they're just a bunch of twats trying to wind you up."
"I wonder where they got it from...."
"Oh ha ha." He takes another step forward. "You shouldn't let people wind you up so easily, or they keep doing it. I mean, look at us two.... then again, I think that's just because you secretly like me winding you up."
"Not bloody likely."
"Yeah yeah," he laughs, not believing me. To be fair I wouldn't believe me either.
"Have you made up with Cameron yet?"
"Well you have a final sound check in an hour so you better not argue again. I'm sick of having to sort out your feuds every time you have a gig. It's embarrassing in front of the other band as well."
"They don't mind," Brandon chuckles. "They're cool guys, they get it- plus their manager is a legend. Cameron needs to be more like him."
He has a point there. Chris- who I've come to admire as a manager since meeting him that first time- is less dramatic than Cameron, and more like a friend to the band than a manager. That's where he and Cameron really differ, because Brandon will never see Cameron as anything other than an annoying pain in the arse who likes to make too many decisions where Brandon doesn't want him to make decisions.
Brandon orders the long list of food and we're made to wait in a corner of the café at a little table by the window.
"Isn't this romantic?" Is Brandon's first line as soon as we sit down.
"Yes. Sitting in a dingy little café in some corner of Leeds waiting for a large chips order for a bunch of hungry crew members is really romantic."
"Well if I have your pretty face in front of me then anything can be romantic," Brandon chuckles, drumming his fingers on the table. "Just imagine we're in a Parisian coffee house with a grand view of the Eiffel Tower in the sunshine, rather than here in the rain."
I look out the window to face a grey sky and some road works.
"It's kinda hard, Brandon."
"Well that's why I said imagine," he says, rolling his eyes. "Think about it, we'll be there soon enough."
He grabs my hand. I sigh and shoot a fierce glare at him.
"Will you let go please?"
"No. I'm trying to fill your head with romantic thoughts," he says stupidly, and then he starts laughing and lets go.
"Ok, so you're not in a romantic mood today," he decides rightly. "Maybe after a couple of glasses of wine later...." He glances at me. "Alright, maybe not. Whatever, we'll see, it's your choice. It always has been."
The connotations of such a remark irritate me, but I don't respond because the moron is laughing at me again. I just go back to my notebook.
"Bloody hell, Shelly, what are you writing now?"
"I just need to...."
He snaps my book shut.
"I'm trying to converse with you my dear, I don't appreciate you scribbling unimportant notes down."
"They're not unimportant- I just remembered that we haven't checked the arrangements for the travel-"
"I don't care right now. Just quit it."
I frown at him but do as told and shove my notebook back into my bag.
"Just chill, Selly- stop looking so stressed about everything."
"I know I know- this is just all so different, I don't want anything to go wrong, ok?"
"Don't worry it won't- not with you around scribbling and shouting at me and such."
He smiles at me and starts humming to one of DAX's songs- one that I only just heard this morning but that's been in my head all day. The more I listen to them, the more I start to think their music is better than just your average same-old Indie crap.
"So," says Brandon, giving me a little look.
"You looking forward to your family's arrival next week?"
I groan so loudly that the table next to us look over. Mixing family and work will not be a good idea- but they bloody insisted on coming to the show in Birmingham.
"I take it that's a no then," Brandon laughs. "I can't wait to meet them personally- it's a bit like digging a little bit further into your personal life to find that golden treasure."
I raise my eyebrows at whatever utter trollop Brandon just said and look down at the table, hoping he won't go on about it anymore.
"So tell me about them."
Of course not. This is Brandon.
"Don't play all dumb on me, Miss Shelly. I want to know about your family."
"You really don't."
"I really do. So spill- you never say a word about them. You have a brother right?"
"Um, his name's Jordan."
"Older or younger?"
"Older. By a year."
Brandon starts laughing at me, shaking his head."
"I love how you stress the fact that it's only a year." He taps the table. "So come on- what does he do?"
"He's a student."
"Business. At Nottingham University."
"He's a smart lad then?"
"Yeah, he's pretty smart," I mumble, thinking about Jordan and the various case study examples that he used to bug me about.
"So it's just you and him then?"
Gosh, why so many bloody questions?
"No, I have a sister as well."
"Older or younger?"
"Younger, eh..... I'm kidding I'm kidding!" He suddenly shouts when he sees my facial reaction to his tone. "Is she still at school?"
"Yeah, she's doing her A-levels."
"What's her name?"
"Oh. I like that name."
"Hmmmm," I say, wondering where on earth the food is because now is probably not the best time to announce to Brandon that my sixteen year old sister absolutely fancies the pants off him. Or maybe it is, it could save him the shock when she jumps him as soon as she meets him.
"And what about the famous parents, then? You always give that look of disdain when they're mentioned."
In all honest truth, my parents are alright. They just worry too much, that's all. They're supportive, but they don't think this is the right path for me and they would rather that I took my brother's route and got a degree at university so I have 'some back-up if something like this goes wrong'.
Plus, to be honest, my family, when they want to be, can be really, really embarrassing sometimes. It's never often, but it's absolutely diabolical when they decide to successfully embarrass me. The thought of them meeting Brandon fills me with fear.
"Huh?" I say again, lost in my own thoughts, and then I sigh irritably. "My mother's name is Una, she's the manager of a supermarket, and my Dad's name is Frank, he works as a marketing director. They're all very lovely and can't wait to meet you."
Brandon watches me for a second as I start fiddling around in my bag to distract attention, but luckily our gigantic food order comes and we can get on with the rest of our day without talking about the hurricane that will be met in Birmingham next week.
So backstage at the gig and Brandon's set is going pretty well- despite a couple of sound issues with Ollie's guitar at the beginning which Leon thankfully managed to sort out quickly before Cameron almost died of heart failure.
"I'm still not impressed that John ignored my advice. Those shoes are awful," Georgia mutters in agitation beside me, watching the band very carefully.
Thank goodness for Georgia, that's all I can say. Brandon's stylist, and the only other woman on tour from Brandon's posse. I literally treasure her company even if Brandon thinks the idea of having a stylist is ludicrous. His mother made him take her, since she doesn't trust his judgement- she also made sure to pick a stylist that has experience in hair styling, funnily enough. I just appreciate having some female company around and being able to talk about shoes- even if they are men's shoes. Together we're aiming to take the woman from DAX's tour crowd and form a three-strong crew.
"I just don't see the point of being hired to style a band if they all won't listen to me. I mean- Ollie looks like he's wearing an effing tea cosy on his head- it's boiling hot in here so why does he need to wear the thing anyway?"
I giggle quietly as we watch them prepare for the next song.
"Come on, Shell, shall we get a cheeky glass of wine from the dressing room?"
I look to the stage, then wonder what the point is because they definitely won't notice if we slip away– or care either. We make a sharp turn away from side-stage and bump straight into Chris- DAX's manager- Marvin, their bassist, and Lewis, their guitarist.
"Hi," we both say in unison, sounding like two school girls being caught on their way to have a fag.
"Brandon's doing alright, isn't he?" Chris asks.
"Yeah, yeah, the boys are doing well."
"Nice full venue too," mentions Lewis.
"Yea, let's hope they don't all bugger off right before we come one," laughs Marvin.
"We just were trying to find you to let you know that we're all going for drinks after the show tonight- kind of a post-first gig celebration," Chris tells us. "Everyone should be there, I guess it's a better way for us to all get to know each other pissed- right?"
"Too right," Georgia agrees beside me. "We'll be there, right Shell?"
"Yep, sure," I nod. As long as I stick with Georgia or someone else that is not Brandon after a few drinks, everything should be just fine.
The concert's over, everyone's at this bar and Georgia and I drank too much wine. We're at the sort of drunk stage where it becomes socially acceptable to blabber your thoughts on political leaders in a heated debate with people you barely know.
"Yeah, but if you had to pick one girls, who would it be?" The guitarist who's either Lewis or Nathan asks.
"I don't know," Georgia ponders. "I suppose Blair's slightly better looking.... hey, shall we get another drink, Shell?"
I nod happily and follow her to the bar.
"What now then? My round."
"Cosmopolitans all round then!" she smiles, and then she looks over to where most of the boys are sitting. "That Nathan's quite fit, isn't he?"
I glimpse back, trying to work it whether the one with the long blonde hair is Nathan, but then it hits me that he's the guy with the dark hair who was speaking to us after all.
"I suppose so. He has nice eyes."
Georgia smiles at the barman and orders our drinks for us while I take a quick glance at Brandon. Some girl with annoyingly perfect hair keeps talking to him.
"Why do you keep looking over at Brandon like that?"
Oh no, is it obvious?
"I mean I knew you two liked each other but the way you've been looking at each other these couple of days....." she stops herself. "Wait, nothing's happened between you two, right?"
"N-no...." it's no use, I've never been good at lying when I'm drunk. Even Georgia, who isn't exactly my best friend, can read me like a book right now.
"Oh. My. Gosh." She grabs the drinks from the barman and pulls over to a corner dramatically.
"When? How?" She stares at me almost desperately. "Come on Shell, I need to know now! This is groundbreaking!"
Ugh. Groundbreaking? Really?
"So spill!" Georgia screeches impatiently.
I tell her a brief version of the story, probably only because it always seems fine to talk about these sorts of things when intoxicated. I'm definitely going to hate myself tomorrow.
"Wow. So was it good?"
"Yeah, really good." Whoops. COMPLETE SLIP OF THE TONGUE.
"Wow," she repeats.
"Just make sure you don't tell anyone."
"My lips are sealed," she smiles, before I notice her eyes widen as she looks behind me. "Oh look, he's conveniently coming over- better get going...."
"Wait- what? Georgia...."
She saunters off and before I know it bloody Brandon is in her place.
"This is a very cosy place for a chat," he smirks.
"Why haven't you spoken to me yet this evening?"
"You haven't come to say hi yet."
"Thought you were busy with Goldilocks."
Oh no, another slip of the tongue.
"Huh?" He looks behind me. "Oh her. Well she's.... wait a minute, Shelly, are you jealous?"
"No," I say sharply before turning around to walk back to the others. Brandon grabs my free hand.
"You only needed to say if you wanted some time with me you know," he whispers in my ear pulling me slightly backwards towards him.
"What are you doing? Let go!" I hiss as his arm snakes around my waist. "People can see."
"So you'd rather carry on in private? Well, just say the word, Shelly."
I spin round. Bad idea. My face is now too close to his.
"I would choose you over any other girl," he murmurs.
As much as I'm trying to tell myself that this is one of his lines and not actually true I can't help but feel that familiar sense of euphoria rushing through me.
"You know where I am if you need me," he tells me, and then he smiles as one of the band appears from absolutely nowhere.
Need him? Not likely.
Too many drinks later and everyone's headed back to the hotel to get some shuteye. Except me. I somehow have ended up locked outside my room because Georgia had the key and will not answer the door to my knocking. I think she's passed out.
In despair, I sigh and slump down beside the door. I'll just sleep in the hallway.
"Shelly, get up the floor- you're better than that."
I open an eye to see Brandon chuckling away at me.
"What the hell are you doing here?"
"Well my room is next door. You know you should have just let me organise your own room for you- Dad would've paid for it."
"I don't want to be spoilt rotten like you, thanks," I snap as he helps me up.
"Yeah, ok. Well the offer's still there for the other fifty or so hotels we're staying in."
He bangs on Georgia's door for me several times, but to no avail.
"She is out like a light," he mumbles. "Well well well, Shelly, looks like you're my bed buddy tonight."
"What? No I'm not."
"I won't touch you. Unless you ask for it," he grins. "Or you can just sleep on the floor."
I look back to where I was previously crouched.
He opens his door and I stare at the big double bed in the centre of the room.
"Can't you split it up?"
"Uh- no, Shelly, it's a King-size." He glances at me and rolls his eyes. "I'll make a barrier of pillows, just go to bed. I'll even sleep with clothes on for you."
When he does get into bed he fulfils his promise on both counts, but the proximity is enough to make me want to explode. When the lights go off I'm immediately on edge.
"No problem. Are you comfortable enough? Want me to cuddle up for some extra comfort?" he jokes, laughing away, but in my state it's enough to make me turn over and face him properly, moving one of the pillows he put between us.
"Would you have really chosen me over Goldilocks?"
"What?" I can make out a little frown in the darkness. "Oh that. Yes, 'course I would. Gosh you really were jealous weren't you?"
It's much easier to make out his gigantic smile.
"I d-didn't say that...."
"You didn't need to." He moves his tall frame a little closer so that his face is just as close as it was back in the pub. It's even harder to move away now.
"I always knew you wanted me."
"I didn't s-say that either."
"Well again you don't need to- it's written all over your face right now," he decides, and then just like that I feel him come towards me and push his lips onto mine urgently.
In some ways I can't understand how right this feels. My body almost screams as he moves above me and our legs are pretty much tangled. Every touch of his hands on my skin fills me with adrenaline. It only takes his lips to move to the nape of my neck for me to let out a wanting cry for- well, just him.
"Wait," I hear him breathe by my collarbone. "Not again."
"W-what?" I ask, almost in horror as he moves away from me and I feel an unwanted cold breeze hit me.
"I'm not having you hating me tomorrow."
"Shelly, I don't want to be a drunken mistake. Not for you."
"But I thought this is what you wanted! " I almost scream in frustration.
"It is, but not if every time you're going to regret it the next day." He puts a hand on my cheek as I look up at him in dismay. I can't deny the huge sense of disappointment I feel right now.
"Since you're drunk I'm only going to say this one time, cause I hate being soppy," he tells me. "I like you, Shelly, enough to respect you. I don't want you thinking I'm taking advantage of you, this can only happen if you want it as much as I do."
"But- I do!"
"Yeah well I can't be sure if you're drunk enough to try and sleep on a dirty hotel floor and haven't even tried to resist me once." He laughs and shuffles over, moving the pillows back between us.
"Tomorrow I hope you realise that this was one of the hardiest bloody things I've ever had to do, Shelly. Seriously, I deserve a medal."
I can't even think about that. I'm not sure how I'm going to cope facing this boy tomorrow. I definitely won't be able to look him in the eye.
Thank heavens! An update! I know it's been too long because I have none of my documents left on the Document manager. I'm so sorry guys, I am officially lame. These past few months I've been super busy at uni and decided to leave writing until Christmas break... which is now! For the next four weeks I can give you regular exciting updates depending on the amount of reviews I get!
I hope you're all well- next chapter concerns a very embarrassed Rochelle and a slightly annoying family visit!