I started writing this back in June with barely an idea of where I was headed. Well, now that I think I know how it ends, I think I will try to finish this once the kids all go back to school. The first chapter here is something I already published earlier this summer but the rest of it…unless you read it on Wattpad…is new-ish.
We didn’t stay for the encore. Instead, we came to a unanimous decision and rushed out of the crowded venue just as the band came back on. We ran through the car-infested parking lot and high-tailed it to Jill’s Jeep. We had found out Down Rulers, the biggest and hottest band on the planet, was staying at a ritzy hotel in town so we decided to camp out in the bar there, just in case. Between her Jeeps tires and all four of our voices, there was a lot of squealing going on.
It was a twenty minute ride from the concert to the hotel and the excitement was palpable. Down Rulers had been our absolute favorite band since the seventh grade when their first song, Starving for You, came out. We were goners when we first saw what the band looked like, one guy was hotter than the next. Jesse, the bassist, was my favorite. Luckily, the four of us liked a different members so there was no fighting. Because, even though the chances were slim we’d even meet them, let alone date them, it was best to have less girl drama.
Alicia punched my arm, “Oh my god, Brooke! Can you even believe we’re doing this?”
“Ouch,” I rubbed the spot where her fist landed harder than she’d expected it to, “Actually, yeah, I can like totally believe we’re doing this. And, worst case scenario, we’ll have a couple drinks and go home defeated.”
I’ll be completely honest, I wasn’t expecting to even catch a glimpse of my boys, Down Rulers. They probably would be hooking up with some overdone groupies handpicked from the audience or something and they’ll go directly to their rooms to party. That seemed to be par for the course of the rockstar lifestyle. I mean, we read about it in all the gossip mags; famous band busted for destroying hotel rooms, leaving behind giddy girls stories of hook ups. But, who was I to bring my friends down? We’d end up having fun anyway, we always did. The hotel bar was a pretty happening spot, a place to see and be seen. All of us looked concert cute, and, at the very least, we’d most likely end up flirting with guys in attempt to bring our spirits up.
Down Rulers came on the radio and Melanie, sitting in the co-pilot seat and always in charge of the radio, turned the volume up. My eardrums were already blown out from the noise of the concert and, instead of acting like a 21 year old, I became a granny and tapped Melanie on the shoulder, “Can you turn it down a bit? I think I’m going deaf.” I had to scream to be heard.
“When did you get to be so old?” Melanie cackled and turned the volume down a bit.
“Not old but would like to preserve my hearing, just in case I need it when I get older.” I turned and pressed my nose against the window. I was suddenly feeling a little nervous, “You guys, what IF?”
Those few words sent the girls giggling. Jill, the more daring one of the bunch, sighed audibly, “I’d definitely do Stephen. It would be one exciting story I could pass on to my grandchildren.”
“I’m thinking that would be a big NO, J. That would probably be something your grandchildren would appreciate NOT knowing about their dear old grandma.” I ran my leather purse strap across my lap to try to harness in my shaking legs. Being a chickenshit sucked, that was for sure. “I think if Jesse spoke to me, I’d probably crap my pants and throw up at the same time.”
Alicia put her arm across my shoulder, “You’ll be fine. The worst thing that could happen is you’ll turn your lovely shade of magenta and not be able to talk. We’ve all seen that happen. Don’t worry, it’s sort of…endearing.”
Pulling away from her, I shot her a glare, “And you’re just so outgoing yourself, Ms. OMGCOMEWITHMEONMYDATEBECAUSEIDON’TTHINKICANHANDLEHIM.”
Jill caught my eye in the rearview mirror, she was sensing I was getting uptight, “Hey now, Brookie, Alicia was teasing. Take a pill, girl.”
Out of my three alleged best friends, Alicia was my least favorite. Somehow she had wormed her way into our group, back when we were in high school. I don’t think any of us really liked her but she was gorgeous and that helped when we went out to do, what my mom disgustingly called, trolling. We called it boyfriend hunting. Although, my less than supportive parents always insisted we never wanted a boyfriend we had picked up at the bar. I never understood why not, the other alternatives were equally as pathetic.
I turned to Alicia, “Sorry, I guess I’m sort of super excited and nervous. Because..WHAT IF?” Which set us all back to giggling like we did in high school.
We were still giggling and spewing out ‘what if’ stories as Jill rolled into valet parking. We poured out of the car and took a collective deep breath. Jill pulled us into a sort of circle, huddle, “Okay girls, calm and cool. I say we get seated, order drinks and pretend like we know nothing.”
Melanie snorted, “That should be easy. Especially for Brooke.” Then, to prove she was teasing, she pulled me into a hug and planted a lipstick kiss on the top of my hair-sprayed head. “We’re good?” She looked each of us in the eye and received nods, “Let’s go.”
Like unibrains, we walked in through the revolving doors and made our way to the hotel bar, The Joint. It’s where all the hipsters, divorcee’s and millennials hung out. And, seeing as we were in our very early 20’s, we definitely had the millennial thing covered.
There were a few vacant tables and we chose a hightop by the wall of windows. The instant we were seated, a tired looking waitress approached us and collected our drink orders.
I stared at the patrons reflections in the window and wondered out loud, “I have a feeling we had the wrong tip. Don’t you think this place would be crawling with more people like us if Down Rulers was really going to show up?”
The response I received was dead silence which led me to believe my posse agreed with my assessment, “Maybe we’ll give it a little bit. But, if they don’t show up in an hour, let’s call it a night. I have a long day tomorrow.” I was starting an internship at a huge digital marketing agency where I would be doing graphic design. It would look awesome on my resume, assuming I do a great job there.
I inspected my friends who were definitely already looking defeated. The waitress brought our drinks which we quickly downed. Jill flagged down the waitress and signaled we wanted another round. We busied ourselves by staring at each other, making silly faces until we began to laugh.
We started in our our second round and suddenly the atmosphere of the bar shifted. Hoards of girls started piling in, squealing louder than we had been earlier. Out the window, I saw THE tour bus come to a stop and my head exploded. I started shaking Melanie, whose chair was practically on top of mine, “Oh my fucking god, you guys. Oh. My. God.”
Jill kicked me under the table, “Calm yourself, woman.”
I could tell she was as excited as I was but she was way better at concealing it. I tried to be inconspicuous and use my peripheral vision to see what was going on outside. The bus was surrounded and a couple of big, burly bodyguards were trying to clear a walking path through the bodies of bouncing boobs. Slowly, the band emerged and I almost threw up. Stephen, the lead singer, led the way. Behind him, Jesse and his gorgeous smile stunned the screaming chicks to submission. Jarrod, Ryan and Nathan followed slowly behind the two leads.
The four of us were kicking each other, squeezing hands and trying not to scream like teeny boppers. I gotta admit, it wasn’t easy. Not in the least bit. There he was, the live version of the posters plastered all over my childhood bedroom. 3 dimensional is just so much better than flat. Like, so much better.
Alicia frowned, “They’re skinnier up close. I don’t like guys that skinny.”
I rolled my eyes, “Really Alicia? Because Kyle was just so buff.” Her last boyfriend was anorexically skinny. And these guys weren’t all that skinny, they definitely had eaten sandwiches recently.
She rolled her eyes back at me, “Shut up, Brooke. Ms. Holier than thou. You wouldn’t know what to do with any guy, let alone someone like Jesse. Besides, I can almost guarantee, he won’t be going anywhere with you.”
Jill jumped in to my rescue, “Be nice, Alicia. Or maybe that’s not so easy for you to do anymore?” Her tone was so venomous that Alicia simply opened her mouth and then shut it, reconsidering any type of comeback.
I gave Jill a look of gratitude before turning my attention to the front door, “Don’t look but they just walked in and are heading to the bar.” Now I was glad I was sitting in the seat facing the front of the restaurant, usually it was the last place I liked to be but I could see everything and tonight, I was good with that.
Melanie started dancing in her seat, “I have to see. You guys, I’m turning around. It’ll be quick, I promise.” She snapped her chair around, her jaw went slack and she whipped herself back to face us, “And then, I died.”
Too nervous to even talk, I mean..I was practically face to face with my lifelong love…all I could do was stir the ice in my margarita and let the girls talk amongst themselves.
Picking up my drink and downing it like a rockstar wanna be, I decided to check them out again. The bar had gotten super crowded and loud and I could hardly see them, meaning Jesse, perched at the bar. They were handling the gaggle like the pros they were, signing autographs and taking selfies with dignity and grace. I sighed and wished I had the nerve to push my way through those girls. I think a simple selfie with Jesse would be enough to make my life complete. But, I didn’t have the nerve so, instead, I’d have to live vicariously through everyone else.
Jill threw a piece of balled up cocktail napkin at me, “Hey, lets?” She nudged her head in the direction of where they were.
I shook my curls, “You go, I’ll just sit here. Anyway, fantasy is always better than reality.” Oh good god, I sounded like my mother. That was just wrong considering how much we didn’t like each other.
Alicia was still in Jesse induced silent submission, thankfully. Without saying a word to us, she jumped out of her seat and walked toward the crowd. Melanie shrugged and followed and Jill gave me one last pleading look before chasing after them.
I felt like crying, it made me sick that I was so shy and sometimes gutless. Especially when it came to guys, famous or not. It only took one broken heart to ruin me for, what seemed as though it would be, the rest of my life. “Guys.” I whispered to myself.
I grabbed an ice cube from my empty glass and popped it in my mouth. Feeling self conscious for being alone at a table, I took my phone out of my purse and busied myself by checking in on Facebook and seeing what was going on with the rest of my friends. I wasn’t going to status update about what a complete wuss I was, that was for sure. Instead, I looked at and liked everyone else’s.
The air shifted as I felt someone standing behind me, looking over my shoulder. I figured it was one of the girls so I threw my elbow back and hoped to get whomever it was square in the boob.
“Hey, not nice!” A breathy, laughing male voice with a beautiful English accent breathed into my ear. Let me rephrase that, a familiar sounding breathy, laughing male voice with a beautiful English accent breathed into my air.
Too shocked to actually throw up and crap my pants, I twirled around in my seat. And, I’m pretty certain my hair hit the owner of the voice in the face about a bazillion times.
Standing there, next to me, with two beers in his hand, was Jesse. The bassist. And fantasy love of my life. And, he was offering me one of the two beers.
Without fainting or crapping myself, I took the sweating bottle in my clammy hand and motioned for him to have a seat.
Chapter Two: His Side
Fans are a funny bunch, they either throw themselves on you or play nonchalant while stalking you with their body language. It can be an unnerving situation to be on the receiving end of those affections. And quite overwhelming, especially when all of it happens at once, the way it did whenever we arrived anywhere. Sure, after awhile we got used to it but it still hurt on reentry.
I saw her huge almond eyes through the window the minute I stepped onto the sidewalk. The way they widened and then looked away made me think she wasn’t like most of our groupies, there was something, I don’t know, safe about her. Then again, maybe I was having ‘ridiculous romantic notions” as Stephen liked to call them when I pointed out girls that I thought wouldn’t be like the rest of ‘them’. He figured them to be all alike and, on the most part, he was right. Hooking up with band members was to them what playing my bass was to me. Satisfying a passion. And stupid us, we inevitably fell into it. It was hard not to.
Stephen was engaged to an actress. She knew and understood the lifestyle the band had and it wasn’t that she was okay with it but she loved Stephen enough to allow him his freedom but only when we were on tour. He was one of the lucky ones. Relationships during tours met untimely deaths due to suffocation. I chose to remain free. That way, the only one to really get hurt was me. I kept it simple, sex for sex. No strings, no chains, no heartache.
As to be expected, we spent quite a bit of time signing various body parts and taking photos. It was just another thing that made each city and day blur into the next. Each new stop, I had to write on my hand where we were. Tonight, we played the Motor City. Detroit. One of the warmest welcoming cities. These people loved their music.
The Joint, a bar at the hotel, was swarming. I needed to sit down, I was tired and really just wanted to be left alone. She was there, sitting alone while her friends joined the fray. Without the glare of the glass skewing my vision, it was hard not to notice how understatedly beautiful she was. Her curly hair was so black that it looked blue and those eyes, those were what sucked me in from outside.
I broke away from the crowd and ordered two beers, hoping she liked beer. She was so engrossed in her phone that she didn’t notice when I approached her, even though there were quite a few sets of jealously blazing eyes watching me. And then tearing through her. Let them stare, maybe they’ll see how ladies should behave instead of throwing themselves out there the way they do. Yes, I felt a bit ashamed thinking that way, it’s our fans that made us who we are. Even though sometimes I don’t like what I’ve become. I want to trust, I really do. I just find it hard to believe that any of these women could really love me for me, instead of what I am.
When her elbow made contact with my ribcage, it shocked me, “Hey, not nice!”
Those eyes, so impossibly green, looked me up and down before recognition registered and a blush swept prettily across her cheeks. Without a word, she awkwardly motioned for me to take a seat. I offered her a beer, which she accepted and then I sank into one of her friends seats.
“Hey there.” I lifted my beer, toast-style, before pouring the cool liquid down my dry throat.
She cleared her throat a little, “Hey.” Her eyes flitted over to the bar and I could only assume she was looking for her friends.
There was something so fragile about her, so in need of protecting. “I’m not gonna bite, I promise.”
Letting out a little laugh, she brought the beer to her full lips and took a swig that rivaled mine, “Sorry about that rib punch, I thought you were someone else.”
Her voice was low and soothing, showing no signs of the shyness her face wore. I rubbed the spot her elbow had made contact with and mock grimaced, “No worries, I’ll heal soon enough.”
She looked mortified and reached out to me, “Oh my god, did I hurt you that badly?”
Not wanting to scare her off, I grinned, “I’m just teasing. It didn’t hurt, it just surprised me. I’m not used to being elbowed in the ribs as a warm welcome.” She flushed and then color crept back into her face. She was really outstanding looking except I had a strong feeling she was clueless to that fact, “I think I’m at a disadvantage. Or maybe not. I don’t know your name. I’m Jesse Martins.”
“I know.” Then she stuck her hand out, and I took her long fingers into mine, “I’m Brooke Tolbert. Nice to…er..meet you.”
Her hands were warm and fit so perfectly into mine that I was tempted to just keep holding it, “It’s nice to..er..meet you, as well, Brooke Tolbert.”
She laughed shyly and shook her head, her curls running amok over her shoulders, “I’m sorry, I just wasn’t really expecting this.”
“Is this unexpected turn of events a good or bad thing?” I was hoping she wasn’t going to ask me to vacate the seat, I really wanted to be right there, right now.
“No, no. It’s definitely a good thing. Just, well, unexpected is all.” The blush was back and redder than it had been. She lifted her hands to her cheeks, “Damn, that’s so embarrassing.”
I couldn’t help myself, I reached over and pulled her hands away from her face and kept them in my own, “It shouldn’t be, it’s cute. You’re cute. Actually, you’re more than cute.” Now it was my turn to do the blushing, which was a rarity. This girl, she had some sort of effect on me.
We chatted for a bit before her friends came back to the table, each carrying a napkin with autographs scribbled on them. They were doing that fan-giggle that only girls can do but stopped short when they noticed me. I waved to them and suddenly, there they were, hanging on me. It ruined the magic that the table had held when it was just Brooke and me, I felt the urge to flee. I just didn’t want to break the connection I felt with her. She was the real deal, not a one-night stand kind of thing. Probably a romantic notion again but I had no choice, my entire being was telling me to stay in that seat despite the fangirling friends.
Brooke introduced me to Alicia, Jill and Melanie. Each girl was pretty but none stood out to me the way Brooke did. They were pleasant enough, despite the one-upping each other that they did with the primping and posing. Through it all, Brooke sat and watched them without engaging in similar behavior. She sat back and finished off her beer while I signed their napkins and flirted back.
Alicia seemed to be the most outspoken of the bunch and for some reason that I wasn’t sure why, I immediately didn’t like her. She flipped her straight blonde hair over her shoulder and tilted her head seductively, “Why don’t you have your friends come join us?”
I forced a smile of the sincerest kind, the toothy one I used during photoshoots and interviews, “They seem a bit busy at the moment but maybe when they’re available they’ll come on over here.” I knew they wouldn’t, each of them already had their eyes on various ‘prizes’. We were experts at that, scanning the mob of faces and bodies to pick which one we’d take back to the hotels with us. None of us really had a ‘type’, variety was definitely spicy. None of the girls standing in my personal space were the chosen ones and there was nothing I could or would do about that, unless one of the guys got rejected. Then I would probably suggest that Alicia, she seemed to be more of a groupie type than the rest of them, even though they probably would argue otherwise.
I had my eyes on Brooke but I didn’t want to sleep with her, I wanted to know her. I wanted to know why her eyes shone with pain and what had been done to cause it. I wanted to twirl my fingers into her dark curls and…well, I was getting ahead of myself, not to mention I was leaving the city in four days. We had a three-night gig, each one to sold out crowds and then we were taking a day off to relax before finishing up the tour. I was looking forward to that one day off, exhaustion was settling heavily into my mind and spirit. It had been a long year.
I stood up and offered my seat to whomever wanted it and perched myself next to Brooke. My hip touched her thigh and I watched that blush creep across her face. I grinned at her and received a wide smile in return, “Another drink?”
Nodding at me, “Sure but then I’ve hit my limit. I’m not a big drinker, I hate the morning after.”
I had too many morning afters, myself and I could only shake my head in agreement, “Don’t give away my spot, I’ll be right back.”
Making my way to the bar, I was circled by a female formation of jutting hands stuffed with pens and papers. I half-heartedly flirted and scribbled my autograph but all I really wanted to do was get those damn beers and get back to that table. It took about a half hour, the minute I would finish with one group, another one would show up. Stephen and the other guys looked like they were getting ready to leave with their flavor of the night. I wondered if Brooke would just come and hang out back at the hotel. I ordered the beers and wandered back over to the table where I had left them.
They were gone. In their place were two couples looking over the drink menu. A lonely piece of paper caught my attention, “Excuse me.” I grabbed the cocktail napkin and inspected the writing, “You can call me, if you’d like. -Brooke” The first three digits of her phone number were smeared and I could hardly make them out.
I ran through the bar and bolted out the front door. I stood there, on the sidewalk, scanning to the street to find her.
I stared at the napkin in my hand.
She was gone.
And, I had no clue why I was so profoundly upset.
Chapter Three: Brooke
I tried not to stare at him as he signed autographs but I couldn’t help myself. He was real and he was right here, in the same room as me. I had to pinch myself to prove I wasn’t dreaming; he had been sitting right there next to me, talking to me, laughing and smiling at things I said. He seemed so sincere, as though he were truly enjoying my company. Reality was, I think he just wanted to sit down and I had the only open seats in the house.
Maybe he felt sorry for me? He did say I was cute, though. No, he said I was more than cute. Yet, he walked away and chances were, he wouldn’t be coming back. He’d probably find another ‘more than cute’ girl to talk to, one that would be an obvious sure thing. Which, I wasn’t. Everything about me screamed ‘closed for business’. My friends all told me I came across as cold and aloof to guys but no matter what I did, I couldn’t change who I was.
Jill got a text letting us know about a party where some guy from school she had the hots for was going to be. Suddenly, hanging with Down Rulers didn’t hold the same allure for her and she started getting antsy to leave, “I hate to be the one to break it to you but he’s not going to come back, Brooke. So, let’s go. It’ll be fun. Charlie has cute friends, ones that don’t live on a tour bus and screw a different chick in every city.”
I let out a sigh, “Can we wait fifteen more minutes? Please? If he’s not back, we can leave.” I really had no desire to be anywhere but right here. I mean, what if? I just didn’t want to lose my chance and this was the closest I’d ever been to it..to him and it would probably never happen again in my lifetime.
Sending a text, Jill looked around at Melanie and Alicia, who all nodded, “Okay, fifteen minutes. But doll, he’s done with you. Just look, he’s already moved on.” She nudged her thumb in the direction he was standing.
I did look and I did see. He was flirting with a Barbie looking blonde in extremely body conscious clothing. She was more of the rocker type than I’d ever be in my, conservative by comparison, maxi dress and espadrille sandals, “Fifteen minutes. And we’re out of here.”
The girls busied themselves with texting while I pretended not to watch Jesse’s every move. Finally, the promised fifteen had passed and Jill grabbed my arm, “Sorry honey.” She dragged me out of my seat.
Shifting my weight to make it difficult for her, “One minute, let me just do something really quick.” I found a pen in my purse and scribbled a note and phone number onto a cocktail napkin. Maybe he’d find it, maybe he wouldn’t but again with the what if’s.
As we squeezed our way through the bar, I silently prayed he’d see me leaving and run to catch me. It was a silly thought, I realized, but I put it out into the atmosphere as a tiny prayer. Of course, by the time we reached Jill’s car, I knew it had gone unanswered. I shouldn’t have been surprised, my wishes never seemed to come true.
The girls were busy chattering humorously amongst themselves but I sat the whole drive in pensive silence. I sort of wanted to go home, I wasn’t feeling much like going to a place where I really didn’t know anyone. To top it off, I was a bit nervous about starting my internship, it was with one of the biggest digital marketing agencies in the country and, if I did a great job for them for the one year trial, they’d probably hire me on as a full-timer. Then I could permanently move out of my parents house, a dream I’ve had for years.
The party was in full swing when we arrived. The three of them walked quickly to the door, leaving me to mope slowly behind. They knew parties weren’t my scene yet somehow I always allowed them to force me outside my element. Begrudgingly, I walked through the door shortly after they did. When I located them, they each had red Solo cups in their hands. Jill was holding two and held one out to me.
Taking from her, I rose it to my lips and tasted the bitter, cheap beer, “Ugh, you guys. How can you even drink this?” I found the closest table and set my cup down, there was no way I was going to waste calories on that crap.
I went back and stood next to Melanie who was eyeballing a guy that was eyeballing her, “That one, right there. He was in my Lit class. Cute, no?”
Rolling my eyes, I snorted, “If that’s your type, then go for it. He’s definitely checking you out.”
She bounced a bit, “He is, isn’t he? I wondered if I was imagining it.” Giving my arm a squeeze, she left my side and headed toward his.
Jill and Alicia had already deserted me so I was standing very much alone and felt every ounce of it. I didn’t feel like making small talk with anyone so I decided to go outside and wait until my friends had enough of the party. Personally, I had enough the moment it was even decided we were headed to it. Obviously they hadn’t really heard me tell them I needed to get home early to get a good nights sleep for my new job.
I popped a squat on one of the metal chairs lining the front porch. Thankfully, no one was outside, I had the whole space to myself to dwell on the fact I was rejected by Jesse. Not that it was really rejection but, at the moment, that’s how I was internalizing it to be.
My brief moment of solitude was interrupted by a familiar figure stumbling onto the porch. Knox, my ex-really big mistake sauntered toward me, glowering and looking drunk, “Well, well, look who’s here.” A slow, evil smile spread across his face turning his handsome features into a mask of pure ugliness.
He scared me, and with good reason. The two year relationship was an ugly one filled with emotional scars and mended broken bones. If it hadn’t been for Jill, I might have ended up dead. And, I don’t think I’m being dramatic. The last time we had been together, he had beaten me up in a drunken rage of jealousy simply because another guy held the door open for me.
My parents, too impressed with Knox’s extremely wealthy family, thought I should look the other way and keep trying with him. Shocked that my parents would expect me to be a human punching bag in exchange for a bank account, the precarious family relations I was in became completely estranged. I continued to live in their house simply because I couldn’t afford any alternatives while I was a student.
My breath was coming out in pants, “Knox.” His name was all I could muster, I was corned and quite terrified he’d start throwing punches.
Sitting on the railing, he faced me, “Looking good, Brooke.” His eyes brazenly traveled my seated body.
I tucked a curl behind my ear and stared at my lap, “Thanks.”
“Good to see you, babe. I’ve missed you.” His hands were now on my knees, rubbing my thighs.
And, I just sat there, paralyzed. I closed my eyes and begged Jill or Melanie, via mind control, to come outside. I knew it was futile, I wasn’t a character in a paranormal movie and my super power wasn’t physic powers. It was weakness. I was weak and there was nothing that was going to change that, anytime in the near future. He had beat the strength right out of me.
His hands kept roaming and a silent scream kept building up in my chest. Somehow, I managed to squeak out, “Get your hands off of me.” It was so quiet, I wondered if I had even said it out loud.
He just laughed which meant he had heard me, loud and clear, “Aw, c’mon babe, for old times sake.”
I wished I had guzzled down that liquid courage because finding it on my own was proving to be difficult. Pushing up from the seat, I rose to my feet. The move must have been some sort of false encouragement because Knox stood, too. He wound his arms around my waist and nuzzled his face into my neck. He wreaked, “Please Knox, just leave me alone.” I tried to push him away but he was too big and too strong.
His tongue flicked at the delicate cord along the side of my neck, “You smell so good, babe. So good.”
I started to struggle to free myself of his unwanted embrace, “Let. Go. Of. Me.” My heart was racing and panic was taking hold. I couldn’t let him hurt me, ever again. Where was everyone? Why wasn’t anyone coming outside? I needed help.
Not relaxing his hold, he let his hand travel to my breast and he groaned, “God, I’ve missed you. No one has ever driven me as wild as you do.”
I felt like a caged animal trying to claw its way to freedom. My knee bucked and met his dick with such force, he let go and dropped to the ground. This was my cue, I wheeled around and ran back into the house, frantically searching for one of my friends.
Locating Melanie, still talking to Lit guy, I ran toward her, knocking into someones drink which flew into the air and rained down on everyone in the vicinity. “What the fuck, man?” The owner of the drink whined. I couldn’t even apologize, I was in fight or flight mode.
Grabbing Melanie by the arm, I started to cry, “Where’s Jill? We have to go. I have to go. Now.” I was sobbing.
Seeing how freaked out I was, Melanie hugged me, “What happened? What the heck, Brooke? What’s wrong?” And, then I heard her gasp and I knew she saw Knox and quickly figured out why I was the way I was. “Come with me, we’re finding Jill and getting the hell outta here.”
Melanie was dragging me behind her and Knox grabbed my free hand, “Not so fast, you bitch.”
Narrowing her eyes into slits, Melanie put herself between me and Knox, “Don’t even think about it, you piece of shit. Stay away from Brooke. I’m warning you.”
Knox returned her glare with a much more malicious one, “Or what, Melanie? You’ll do what?”
She grabbed her phone from her purse and started dialing, “I’m going to call the police, Knox. Attempted assault, intimidation, and I’m sure I can make up a few things. And guess what, based on your record, they’ll believe anything I tell them over anything that comes out of your disgusting pie-hole.”
He paused, apparently assessing the pro’s and con’s of taking on Melanie and her threats. If it had been me, he would have just laughed and continued on but my friends, they were like Mama Bears when it came to me, and he knew better than to mess with them. Raising his hand, he backed up and looked at me, “We haven’t finished our little conversation, Brooke. You’ll be seeing me again, real soon.” He wheeled around and walked toward the kitchen, where the drinks were, leaving us to calm down and go find the other two.
After Jill and Alicia were located, we gave them a quick synopsis of what had just happened. Jill grabbed the keys from her purse, “Let’s go.” Then she turned and hugged me, “I’m so sorry, Brookie. If I had even thought there was a chance Knox was going to be here, I never would have come.”
Hugging her back, I nodded into her hair, “I know. It’s okay.”
Alicia, who never seemed to give a real crap about anyone but herself decided she was going to stay. We didn’t try to convince her otherwise, which I was relieved about. I really didn’t want to discuss anything in front of her, she’d probably make excuses for Knox or turn the conversation around to her.
Whatever it was she was planning on doing by staying at the party, we left her to do. Jill, promising she wasn’t drunk, drove the car toward my house. Melanie filled her in, with more detail, about Knox. I wasn’t wanting to talk about what happened on the porch, not yet. I knew I would but I was too shocked to speak coherently and they didn’t press the subject with me.
Vibrations from my purse brought me out of my haze. An incoming text that I hoped wasn’t from Knox. I, unwisely, hadn’t changed my cellphone number which gave him complete access to text-terrorizing me until I did.
Fishing the phone from the depths of my bag, I pulled it out and pushed the button which brought the screen to life. Grimacing and expecting the worst but instead, I was pleasantly surprised. A short little message from an unrecognizable number, “You left without saying goodbye.”
I didn’t even have to think too hard to know who it was.
It was Jesse. He had found my note on that table.
Suddenly, my night was saved.
Chapter Four: Jesse
I couldn’t stop thinking about that phone number in my hand. Somehow, some way, I was going to decipher those missing first three digits. Fairly certain it was the area code, I awakened Siri to retrieve the information I needed. Apparently, Michigan has a million area codes.
Not wanting to randomly text people, I decided to investigate further. Reverse look up, something I invested in due to random phone calls I received on a regular basis. A miracle, I found her missing digits.
I hesitated. Maybe I shouldn’t bother. My lifestyle was a wild one, one I really shouldn’t bring an innocent bystander along for. And Brooke did seem so completely innocent. Then again, I should know better than to judge based on how someone appears. I’ve been so very wrong in the past. You’d think I would have learned many lessons by now.
The guys were getting ready to leave and I was right there with them. Each of them had a cling-on, except for me. Probably the first time in a long time I was going back to the hotel alone. I was quite okay with that, I could use some down time anyway.
An hour later, I was sprawled out on the comfortable hotel bed, staring mindlessly at the flat screen television. I don’t even think I could say what show was on, my brain was too filled with those tortured green eyes.
Brooke had a story. Sure, everyone has one. It’s what happens when life takes hold. One experience after the other builds and molds us into who we are and who we become. But hers, it was swimming in her eyes and, for reasons I couldn’t put into words, I wanted to know what it was. What her story was.
Ever since Down Rulers hit super stardom, I have lived a selfish life. I’m not too ashamed to admit it. I give everything I have to the fans when I am onstage. But, offstage, I was a taker. I was becoming someone that I wouldn’t ever want to know yet, I was stuck with me. Something needed to change or I would explode. I just didn’t know how to change this habit that has become my life.
Performing, drinking and women. Three things that made up who I am today. At 26, I can’t even count how many bodies I had been with. In the end, that’s really all they become to me…bodies. Faces blur into each other and make up one giant face that encompasses all of them. Eyes, tits, legs, hips, lips…all interchangeable parts.
Here’s the thing, I’ve ‘loved’ many women in my life. Back before the band became big, I had a girl I was seeing. We’d been together a couple years when, like magic, Down Rulers, with Stephen stepping in as lead singer, hit the top of the charts in the UK and US, at the same time. Suddenly, the girl who had been so sweet and supportive only wanted more and more things and more and more time with me. And, nothing I did made her happy. She became clingy and paranoid, certain I was cheating on her, even before I really ever did.
My so-called normal relationship became a train wreck and we both had to get off the tracks to save ourselves. After that, touring and making videos became a way of life. Each stop we made was one step further away from who I used to be. I’m not sure I want my old life back but yet, there are parts of it I miss. Privacy, for example. And trust. Trust is something that left when hit records and fans stepped in.
I trusted no one, except the guys and even then, just barely. Mostly, I didn’t trust women. For many of them, I would be considered a stepping stone or a way out. I don’t think anyone really wanted me for me, for what was inside me. So, I created a barrier and kept emotions out of the scene. Instead of letting women take advantage of me, I turned it around. No one got in.
I had become the kind of guy my mother warned my sisters about. Yet, if she knew what I was, she’d make excuses for me, I was infallible in her eyes. She didn’t know about the drinking, though. The drinking; my escape from myself. I knew why I drank. I just didn’t know how to stop. I didn’t truly know if I could stop.
I laughed at myself, because tonight I was exceptionally sober. Which completely explained why I was ‘going there’ in my mind.
No, I probably should just leave Brooke alone. She didn’t deserve to know a wreck like me. But, what if. I couldn’t get those words out of my head, what if. What if she was my what if?
I thumbed the napkin again, the numbers scribbled in blue pen were already memorized.
What could it hurt? Three days, in my world, is a long time. It would just be a dinner. Or coffee. I’d even go stone sober. I swear. I just need to know, to understand what it was about her that I was so incredibly drawn to. Aside from those eyes. And the way her full lips turned up at the corners. And those curls my hands could get lost in. And the breathy sound of her voice.
Grabbing my phone, I turned it on. The battery was on red. Okay, fine. I’ll just let it charge for a bit and then text her. I’d hate to start out a conversation with my phone dying midway. Or, maybe I’m just making excuses.
I checked the time, it was almost one in the morning. She was probably long asleep. Most people, on a week night, went to bed at normal hours. 1am wasn’t a normal hour. Or, maybe it was. I just didn’t know anymore, it had been a long time since normal was part of my vocabulary.
Oh hell, what have I got to lose? She’ll either respond or she won’t. I won’t know unless I do it. I sort of wished Stephen were around so I could bounce my obsessing off of him, he always knew what to say to talk me down.
What would I say to her? I didn’t want to come on too strong, scaring her off was the last thing I wanted to do. I should just be honest. Girls liked guys who were honest. And, I’m a guy, she’s a girl. So, there’s that. Oh fuck, I’m so overthinking this whole thing.
I typed and deleted a few bazillion times. Long messages. Short messages. I got to the point where I was driving myself insane.
Rolling over on my back, I stared at the ceiling. Breathe, Jesse. In through the nose and out through the mouth. This isn’t that difficult, you idiot. It’s a stupid text message. For fucks sake, it’s not like you’re actually dialing a phone and expecting to hear a human voice. It’s simple letters that make up words which form a semi- coherent message.
Meanwhile, all I could think about was the fact that she left without saying goodbye. Hey, that’s a fine enough text, I think. Simple, straightforward and to the point. I wonder if she’ll even know who is texting her. Should I sign my name?
Nope, I’ll just type “You left without saying goodbye.” and hit send.
And that’s what I did.
I turned over on my side, with my phone right next to my ear, and fell asleep.
I felt like squealing but instead, I pinched myself. All the grossness from the party immediately wore off. I was having a hard time catching my breath, I was in absolute shock and disbelief as I read and reread that simple text. What should I say in response? I wasn’t ready to share with my friends yet so I couldn’t ask them. Or should I?
Pretty certain excitement would steal my voice, I cleared my throat, “Um, you guys?” I handed Melanie my phone, “Read this.”
I stared at her face as she scanned the text, looking confused, “Who is that? Knox? I can’t believe he has the nerve to text you, that asshole!”
I grabbed her shoulder and she turned in her seat to face me, “Jesse, Melanie. That text is from Jesse.” The thrill of saying it out loud caused shivers to travel my spine.
Melanie’s jaw dropped comically, “How do you know? I mean, how…”
Keeping her eyes on the road, Jill started squirming in her seat, “How do you know for sure? What’s the number?”
I scooted to the center seat and rested my elbows on the console, “Different area code. And, it’s not anyone from my contacts because the name didn’t pop up. I left my number on the table, he must have found it!” My heart was about to pop out of my throat, “How do I respond, you guys? I don’t want to sound like an immature fangirl.”
“Hmm..” Jill drummed her fingers on the steering wheel, “Why don’t you ask who it is first, before exploding?”
“You’re right. Yeah, you’re right.” I took my phone out of Melanie’s hand, “I’m just going to find out if it’s even worth getting excited over. It could be just a random person who got hold of my number tonight.”
I quickly texted back, asking who it was. And then proceeded to shake with anticipation as I waited for a response. We rolled up my driveway and I couldn’t move to open the door, not until my suspicions were confirmed and I had my friends as witnesses.
Five minutes later, a response in the form of a picture. It was Jesse, smiling broadly on top of his bed. Looking hot, of course. His brown hair all messy and his ginormous blue eyes staring straight at me. I started screaming that excited girl scream I hated. Which, in turn, caused Melanie and Jill to start screaming too. Three screaming idiots, one louder and more shrill than the next.
“Give me that phone. Right now!” Melanie’s hands were in front of my nose, “NOW!”
With one last gape of the screen, so I could burn the image into my brain, I passed it to her so she could have proof. “I think I might die. I do. I think I’m going to die, right here, right now.”
Jill was looking at the phone which was still in Melanie’s grabby paws, “Stay with us, Brookie. He’s expecting a response!” Her voice was high-pitched with excitement, “Are you going to send back a picture?”
“What do I do?” I couldn’t believe I was making this into a group effort. I’m a twenty-one year old woman, I should be able to handle this type of male-female interaction on my own. But, in my defense, this particular male still decorated the walls of my bedroom.
Handing me back my phone for the second time, Melanie sighed, “Picture. Send a picture. Fluff your hair up a bit.” She stared at me, inspecting the goods, “On second thought, your hair is fluffy enough. Just take the freaking pic. And smile big.”
Three poses later, a passable picture was sent back to Jesse, “I feel like a stupid teenager right now. I’m ridiculous. This is impossible and improbable. Nothing is ever going to happen, he’s Jesse Martins, super bass god and mega superstar. And, I’m Brooke Tolbert, a nothing and a nobody in the scheme of things. Yeah, I’m really good at the self-confidence and self love.
My phone chimed again, and once again I was staring at the screen, “I’d like to see you while I’m here. Coffee tomorrow morning? Or, if that’s no good, drinks tomorrow night?”
“I’m not sure I’m reading this right. He wants to meet for coffee or drinks while he’s in town.” We played pass the phone again and there was a lot of “Oh my god” being muttered.
The living room light turned on and I noticed the silhouette of my mom staring nosily out the window. I groaned, I avoided her and my father at all cost but since she was now awake, I’d receive the 3rd-degree and be followed up to my room until I answered her questions satisfyingly well enough for her.
“I gotta go, guys. My mom.” I looked away from the window over to my friends, “I promise to keep you posted.”
Jumping out of the Jeep, I slowly made my way to the front door. It opened before I even got my hands onto the doorknob, “You’re late.” She moved out of the way and let me enter, “You live in our house, you still have to follow our rules, whether or not you speak to us. Your curfew is midnight. It’s now almost 2 am.”
I gave her a glare, I didn’t want to engage. I just wanted to get up to my room and respond to the text, “Okay, sorry.” My words came out flat.
“Sorry? No, you aren’t sorry. You’re spoiled and selfish, is what you are.” She followed me up the stairs and down the hall as I made my way to my room.
“You know what, Mom? You’re right. I’m spoiled and selfish. And, I’m also tired and I start my internship tomorrow. So, I’m going to sleep now.” I held my breath as I entered my room, I could only hope she’d respect the job thing and not follow me. Once again, my wishes were unanswered.
My mom’s mouth was in that thin line, the one she pulls it into when she’s about to go off on her tirade. There was nothing I could say or do to stop it so I didn’t even try. She had been furious with me, ever since I broke up with Knox. She didn’t even care that he hurt me, that didn’t matter to her as much as his social standing. Words were flying from her mouth, I watched her lips move and her eyes narrow angrily at me. But, miraculously, I didn’t hear her. I had left the room, in my mind. Thinking about how to respond to Jesse was the perfect shield to the verbal assault.
When she was done yelling, her features softened, if that’s what you could even call it, “What do you have to say for yourself?” Her arms folded over her chest as she waited for my response.
“I have nothing to say, Mother. You’re right. I’m always wrong.” I just needed her to leave me in peace. I couldn’t wait until the day I moved out, whenever that would be. Hopefully sooner rather than later because I didn’t know how much more of my parents I could take. My dad sided with my mom but instead of constantly yelling at me, he just sort of acted like I wasn’t there. I don’t think I’ll ever understand what I did that made them hate me so much. It was sort of awful before Knox but after, it escalated and seemed as though it would never get back to the way it was. Not that it was anything to brag about before.
Throwing her arms up in disgust, she turned and headed toward the door, “You have one month to move out. You are no longer welcome in my home.” And with those final words, she left my room and shut the door behind her.
I sank onto my bed and buried my face in my pillow to muffle my sobs. I was mourning the loss of a family life I never had. We were never close, my parents were too wrapped up in their own lives to pay that much attention to me. I only knew how normal families acted by spending time at my friends homes. It made me long for something I never had. I only hoped that, someday, if and when I ever got married, I’d be able to give to my kids what I never had. Except, I was probably too screwed up for that to even happen. Any of it, the normal husband, normal children and normal life. Normal probably wasn’t in the cards for me.
My phone made my bed vibrate, temporarily distracting me from my pity party. Another text. It was Jesse again, “Did I say something wrong?”
I smiled into the screen, grateful he couldn’t see me blush, “Sorry, no. Just got home, had to talk to my mom for a minute. Drinks work. Where and what time?”
A second later, he responded, “The hotel. Will midnight work? Have another concert and then will meet you here.”
I would have to figure out a way to sneak out of the house but there was no way I was passing this up, “That works. Won’t be able to stay long, I have to work in the morning.”
“All good. Sleep well, beautiful Brooke. I’ll text you tomorrow.”
I sighed, he called me beautiful. “Sleep well, Jesse. See you later.”
Life sometimes seemed like it didn’t really appreciate the fact that I was here, on this planet. But right now, at this very moment, it appeared that somehow life was apologizing for some of the unwanted circumstances I was an innocent bystander to. What if this was life’s way of making amends?
It would probably only take one drink for him to realize I wasn’t really his type. But, the fact that this was really going to happen? I couldn’t help but forgive life. At least, for a little while.
I must’ve fallen asleep snuggling my phone because it was under my cheek when I woke up. I quickly checked to see if I received any new messages but, miraculously, there were none. I was feeling anxious and weak and it sickened me that I knew why. Alcohol. I hadn’t had a drink since I was at the bar and even then, it hadn’t been in my usual amount and I was feeling the ramifications of it now.
I despised addiction. I was the first one to say that only the weak became addicted to any kind of substance, yet here I was, downing a tiny bottle of scotch from the mini-bar in my room. I always made empty promises to myself, the kind that I never kept. Way too many tomorrows came and went and I still was a goddamn addict. My mum would be devastated if she knew and it was something I could only hope she’d never find out.
We were meeting on the bus to head to the venue for a quick soundcheck, even though we performed the night before. All of us were perfectionists and wanted to be sure tonight would rock as hard as last. We’d probably spend a couple hours there before coming back to the hotel to get our pre-show party on. Living the typical lifestyle, we were the rocker cliche. Models, movie stars, glamorous parties, it never ended. Keeping up was exhausting.
There was one highlight, a gleaming star, to my day. I was going to meet Brooke for drinks. I was surprised at how my heart skipped when I thought about it, I was nervous! She seemed so sweet, so someone my mum would approve of. Normal.
As I downed another mini bottle, not caring what sort of liquid was inside. As I tipped my head back and drank it in one gulp, I couldn’t help but go there. What if. What if she didn’t like me? I mean, realistically, why would she? I’m a drunk. Sure, on paper, I was pretty decent. Wealthy. Philanthropist. Fine family, even though my dad was a drunk, too. I suppose I would be looked upon as someone who ‘had it all’. Except for that confounded self-confidence and trust when it came to women.
I hopped onto the bus and Stephen greeted me with a friendly slap across the back, “Didn’t see much of you last night. What did you busy yourself with? Or, should I say whom?” He gave me a slightly mischievous grin as I grabbed a seat.
“I saw you and that little blonde hottie. You all were way busier than I was. I laid low last night, wasn’t feelin’ it.” I really hadn’t been, not with Brooke occupying my thoughts, despite the fact we had barely even gotten to know each other.
“She was alright. I told her to bugger off after an hour. There wasn’t much going on in her brain other than my wanker.” They all laughed with Stephen, his arrogance was actually quite hysterical.
I considered my bandmates, Stephen, Jarrod, Ryan and Nathan. We’d taken this eight year journey together and were impossibly close, like brothers. Often even fighting like brothers, as well. All four of them spoke to me, on quite a few separate occasions, regarding my drinking. Rightfully, they were concerned and thought I should check myself into rehab. It was something I was considering doing after the tour, I was just scared. But, the addiction scared me even more, to lose control wasn’t something I’d ever thought I’d see happen to me.
It had been weighing on my mind quite heavily, especially lately. Because, with last night being an exception, I’d been drinking more. And, they knew it as well as I did. I couldn’t hide anything from them. I didn’t want to, either. They were family and we took care of each other.
“For life, my brothers.” I roared, fist pumping the air.
In unison, they responded, “For life!”
I was back in Down Rulers mode, ready to entertain and be worshipped. Maybe that sounded cheap, pathetic. It shouldn’t though, it was a fact of our life. It’s what got me into my stage persona. Even during soundcheck, I needed my facade, the one that didn’t have any problems. The facade that rocked the bass and caused the fans to scream my name.
Offstage, that was the person I wasn’t so sure about being. For a vulnerable moment, I wondered if I should just cancel my midnight date with Brooke. Maybe I was already building her up in my mind as something delicate and to be treated gingerly. I was sabotaging whatever it was that could happen, I really needed to stop doing that.
One date. Drinks. What could possibly happen? It’s not like we are going to run off and get married, we weren’t in Vegas. Besides, she mentioned she had a drink limit because she hated hangovers, only super drunk people ran off to get married. I laughed out loud, my brain was being really stupid.
“Sorry, was thinking about something funny I saw on YouTube last night.” The guys were looking at me weirdly, I had to come up with a quick, yet lame, excuse.
We arrived at the venue and went through another flawless soundcheck. Quite a few groups of fans had been loitering the parking lot and we let them come watch and hang out for a bit. They were harmless and grateful for the private concert.
There weren’t any afternoon diversions in the small gathering so, when we were done, we thanked them and left. It was three, Brooke had almost finished her first day of internship. Once I was back on the bus, I figured I’d text her to confirm and see how her day was going.
“Hey. Still on for tonight?” I hit send and then stared at the screen in anticipation.
To my relief, she replied pretty quickly, “Hi Jesse. Yes, of course.”
I felt the need to keep the text conversation going, “How’s the new gig?”
Equally as fast as her first reply, “Overwhelming. It’s a nice office space, though. People are friendly. Can’t talk now, off at 5. Maybe text me later?”
Grinning, there was no way I wasn’t going to text her, “For sure. Later, beautiful.”
I put my phone into my pocket and pushed my chair back to recline, I was exhausted. Stephen passed me a beer and I accepted it with a nod of thanks. The guys were talking about the song line up, wondering if they should switch some of the numbers around. I didn’t care so I didn’t get involved in the decision making.
Tonight, I wouldn’t allow myself empty promises. I’d deal with my body’s repercussions when I needed to. I made a silent vow, no overdoing the drinking tonight. I wanted to be of sound mind and body when the clock struck midnight and I was face to face with the eyes that had taken over my thoughts since last night. I didn’t want to risk not remembering. Unless, of course, there was nothing there except disappointment. Then, all bets were off and I’d slam tequila like the rockstar I am.
The bus driver took us on a little tour of the Motor City, pointing out landmarks like Greektown, the casinos and little up and coming areas. There was no rush to go back to the hotel, being in the bus was just as relaxing. Our driver was originally from the area so he was the perfect tour guide.
I was surprised at how busy the streets were, it was a contrast to the last time we’d visited a couple years back. George, the driver, mentioned that the city was ‘making a comeback’. Even from the luxurious confines of the bus, we could feel the quickening of the pulse. It was hard not to get excited for the inhabitants of the once burnt out mess that Detroit was scared from.
After another beer, I was lulled into a deep sleep by the steady beat of the tires and the gentle rocking of the bus. It was there, in my dreams, I was met by dark curly hair and green eyes. Her mouth, with lips so full, turned up in laughter to something that had been said. In that dream, I reached out and stroked her bottom lip which caused her to bite the pad of my thumb. Suddenly, the dream turned to a nightmare where I was chasing her along a street of fire. When I caught up with her, I grabbed her and held her to me. When she turned her face to look up, it was a skeleton with green eyes. And a single tear ran down her cheek.
I woke with a gasp, I could feel my pulse in my neck. I jumped up and went to the fridge where I grabbed another beer, gulping it down as though I were dying of thirst. Stupid senseless dream that meant nothing. The after effects still shook me but the beer was helping to calm.
Nathan came and stood next to me, placing a hand on my shoulder, “You alright?”
I looked at my friend, “Yeah, I’m fine. Really.” We went back all the way to primary school. He was a year younger than I was but had skipped a grade, making him a classmate. I don’t remember how we became friends, each of us has a different memory. Yet, here we were, almost 20 years later, still mates.
It was actually the two of us that had formed Down Rulers. Only, we weren’t called that at the time. We had named ourselves Maggot Bypass and no, not the prettiest name. We played a lot of covers, mostly from the 80’s punk bands like GenX, Black Flag, Dead Kennedys and the like. We were repeats at a lot of bars, we drew in women. Even ones that didn’t like the music we played.
Jarrod and Ryan came on about a year after we formed. It wasn’t until Stephen joined, replacing our ex-lead who walked out on us after a fight, that we regrouped and became the beginnings of what we are today.
Nathan gave me a glance over and then left me alone, he probably sensed I was having internal dialogue. They all considered me the quieter one, I was oftentimes too wrapped up with whatever was going on in my head. Couldn’t help it, my pop was like that too. Genetics, they are a crazy thing.
Stephen announced he was starving and had the driver take us back to the concert hall, our food was being catered for us and we had a feast to look forward to. We had a couple hours before we needed to get ready, which gave us plenty of time to eat and do whatever it was that needed to be done.
After we ate almost the entire deli spread, our assistants showed up to do hair and stage make up. Then, it was time for wardrobe. I wore my typical leather pants and band tank top, it got hot up on stage and I liked to dress as light as possible. Not that it stopped me from sweating but the first row seemed to enjoy when I shook my wet hair and sprayed them. Fans.
Before we hit the stage, I looked over the song list and quickly memorized the order we’d play them in. Old hits mixed with the new ones, ending with two of our biggest chart toppers as the encore. I could play them all in my sleep and sometimes, I woke myself up playing air guitar.
I was actually antsy to get the show over and done with but I wouldn’t let it show in my performance. Midnight seemed so far away.