Chapter 3. Come Out to Play
Two weeks had passed since tour had started. Joe was right about one thing: it was madness. Things so simple as getting out of the car to the venue were turned into extreme sports due to the fans. M&Gs were crazy too. Each of those fans looked like their entire life had been made by just taking a look at them from up close. They wanted so desperately to be part of their lives. Even I got asked for pictures more than a few times. I was fascinated by all of it. If anything, it allowed me to become more motivated in getting close to the boys in hopes to have this for myself one day.
As for me, I found it to be easy to be around them. Don was right, we would be forced to spend a lot of time together. I made an effort to talk to them while we were on the flights, or backstage. Soon, they were initiating conversations with me too. Joe and I got along better than the rest.
The day it all began to change at a fast pace was in Toronto. Things were particularly tense in the crew because Phil told Priyanka, and in consequence Sophie and Danielle, that it's best if they went home. According to him, they were distracting to the boys, which wasn’t true. The real reason was because Nick and Priyanka wouldn't stop arguing with each other, which made Nick more irritable than usual. The boys were frustrated, and so was Phil. The rest of us were just collateral damage.
That night, the show ended early. They gave the fans an excuse about production error, but it was actually because Nick left the venue during change time.
I asked Felicia if I should share that information with Don, but she made sure I knew no information was to be passed until a month passed.
I was on the phone with Anna that night when I heard a knock on my door. I looked at the clock, it was 1:32 AM.
"Anna," I interrupted her. "I'll call you back." Before she could say anything, I hung up.
I opened the door to find Joe standing in front of me in a black shirt and a leather jacket. I furrowed my eyebrows when I saw him fully dressed.
"Did something happen?" I asked, confused.
"No, we're just going to head out with the guys. Do you wanna come?"
My eyes opened in surprise and horror. "You can't. Felicia will kill you!" I whispered.
He huffed. "Uh oh," he placed the back of his hand on my forehead. "Yup, Fel fever. She's definitely got you under her claws, which is why you should come out and have a drink with us. Doctor’s order." He chuckled. "Seriously, don't worry about her."
I was silent for a moment. I really didn't want to, but I had to. "I'm not dressed." I finally answered.
"Well, get dressed. I'll wait for you." Joe walked past me and into my room. Okay, then. He sat on the couch and his attention focused on his phone.
I awkwardly took some clothes out of my suitcase, all too aware of his presence in my room. "Is Nick going?" I finally asked, to break the unbearable silence in which he seemed comfortable in.
I walked into the bathroom to change and do my makeup. I didn't fully close the door so I could hear Joe.
"Yeah, he's the one that wanted to come out in the first place." I heard him answer.
I quickly got changed into a pair of black jeans and a white shirt and did my makeup, just doing mascara, eyeliner and lipstick. Should be good enough.
The boys were already in the car when Joe and I came downstairs. We both hopped into the backseat.
"Glad that you came, Charlie." Kevin greeted me.
"Thanks for inviting me." I answered, smiling at him.
"Have you been to Canada before?" He asked.
"Oh, no. Never."
"Well, we'll make sure to show you around before we leave." Joe added.
During the ride, I noticed Nick didn't say much while Joe and Kevin led most of the conversation. Our eyes met a few times through the rearview mirror before I embarrassedly looked away.
We pulled up at this modestly big house. Joe mentioned it belonged to Garbo's friend. What I got from the brothers' chat while we were on our way is that it would be just the members from the band getting together to have a few drinks. Boy, it certainly wasn't that.
Right after we entered the house, our phones were confiscated. The music was blasting loudly through the speakers as we walked towards the living room. This house was unlike anything I had seen before. It had a contemporary style. A living room with an indoor bar surrounded by glass walls that led to a deck where an infinity pool gazing over the city lights was the real show-stealer. There were people everywhere. The pool, the bar, the living room. Turns out it was friends of friends of the band and so on.
I felt my heart race. This was luxury as I'd never seen. As I stared at everything in utter amazement, I soon realized I was left behind. I noticed the boys were a few feet away from me greeting people. I walked over to the bar filled with people and sat down at a forgotten stool right at the corner, allowing me to have a panoramic view of everything. Over people's loud laughs and voices, I suddenly wished I had dressed better. Jeez, this place was filled with girls that seemed dragged straight out of a magazine cover. It almost felt intimidating.
I went to pull out my phone to text Anna, only to remember I didn't have it. She would've been thrilled to be there. As I got myself entertained with people-watching, I asked for a drink and let myself forget a little about nasty deals, stressing life-situations and everyone back home to enter my own little fantasy about a house like this being mine, filled with celebrity friends and people like this, probably celebrating after I'd won some award. I smiled a little to myself.
"Oh, shit," A squirming girl sat down beside me, mumbling something to herself as she tried to fix something on her dress.
"Do you need help?" I blurted out, and it was as if I had voiced myself back to existence after being invisible in this space for God knows how long.
"It's just the zipper of my dress, it won't go up and I'm really drunk!" She slurred.
"Let me help you." I turned her stool so her back was facing me and pulled it up. "There."
"Thanks." She hiccuped and gagged once. Oh, there it is. I saw the panic all over her face. She was going to turn on the gastric fireworks.
"Let's go to the bathroom." I stood up, grabbing her hand to help her steady herself.
We managed to rush to the bathroom just in time for her to let herself drop on the floor and hug the toilet bowl. As I held her hair, I managed to reach a few napkins to pass to her.
"Please don't tell anyone about this." She breathed out as she flushed the toilet.
"Don't worry, I won't." I smiled at her.
I watched her as she took a travel size mouthwash out of her purse, took a sip of it and after she was done, she put on lipstick, sprayed perfume on her and was as good as new. Holy shit, I thought. That was really that common in this scene?
"Thank you." And with that, she left and I was left alone in the bathroom.
While moving through people to find my spot over at the bar, I bumped into Joe.
"Charlie!" He exclaimed. "I've been looking for you!"
"Oh, I've been at the bar." I smiled at him.
"Alcoholic, I see." He smirked. "Let me show you something."
He put his hand on my back to lead me upstairs. We walked into two glass doors into a lounge that had a gigantic balcony overlooking the pool area and the city. The view was absolutely breathtaking.
"Meet Toronto." He said, extending his arm. "I know I promised a tour, but this is a nice headstart."
"It's beautiful." I distractedly said as I looked over at the city lights. "Just imagine living here and having this view all day every day. I mean, what does this guy do to even own a place like this?!"
Joe chuckled. "He inherited a huge fortune from his dad. He was apparently pretty important in the marketing industry here in Canada. So he's got a shitload of money to blow."
"You must be so used to being in places like this, maybe you've even got one, but this is absolutely crazy to me that people just have houses like this. Like.. their lazy Netflix days are lived in this huge mansion instead of a shitty apartment. It doesn't even sound right." I said in disbelief.
"I'm more of an apartment guy myself." Joe shrugged smugly. "My money is better spent on traveling. And eating while I'm at it." He chuckled.
"I haven't done much traveling. Well, in fact, I had never been outside the US." I laughed sadly.
"Wow," Joe sighed. "Anyone would've thought that working with celebrities would have you traveling around a lot."
I cursed myself mentally. Again. "Well, yeah, but domestic trips only." I looked away from him. "I was always more in the administrative side."
"There's some beautiful stuff out there, Charlie. This job has allowed me to visit some places I couldn't even imagine existed." He said as he gazed at the city, his voice almost sounding nostalgic. "You should travel more." He nudged my shoulder, smiling down at me.
"I plan to. Trust me."
"Where do you first want to go?"
I fell silent for a second while I thought of what to say. "I'd say Greece."
"Oh, good choice! Santorini is crazy beautiful. If you ever go, you can't miss Metaxi Mas. Best Shrimp Saganaki you'll ever have." That is true, I later learned.
I almost rolled my eyes at him. "I'll make note of that. Any destinations you recommend?"
"Australia. I love the fuck out of Melbourne..."
And that's how a conversation that lasted all night started.
The sun was coming out and the house was much quieter than when we arrived. We only ever stopped talking when it was one of our turns to get drinks. It surprised me how open Joe could be with a total stranger. We didn't talk about anything too personal, but he talked to me like I was a long time friend. Unafraid to express opinions, call me out, cracking silly jokes. I soon learned that talking to him was really easy.
He laid back on the lounge chair we ended up sharing staring up at the hint of the sun slowly starting to rise.
"I'm glad you came around, Charlie," he randomly changed the subject after I had been rambling on some movie about aliens I watched. "I love touring with my brothers. They're my best friends, but being surrounded by so much work, and a team of people constantly reminding us of what we have to do, we become coworkers more than anything. The free time we have is to be spent with our partners. And Sophie, she has her own stuff she wants to tell me about. So it all just ends up being about work.” He sighed.
"We've spent a lot of time together this past year, so getting back to that work tone is kind of weird. Nick just talks about Pri and Kevin has his family. So, I'm glad I found someone I can talk to about random stuff. Haven't done that in a while." He gave me the sweetest smile.
Well, I was in. Deeper than I could possibly imagine at that moment.