Chapter 2 – Paris
We were close to the next concert venue. Paris, no less. The city of romance! I dreamily looked at guitar player Brice. We were sitting spread out throughout rock band Featherstone’s comfortable tour bus. I was lounging in the back. Daydreaming to be more precise. I secretly hoped there would be time for the band and me to discover the city a bit. Eat a croissant and sip jus d’orange in the streets of Montmartre, a picturesque quarter of the French capital city. Maybe I could persuade Brice to take a moonlit stroll across the Champs-Elysées, just the two of us… But with just a few words, the very object of my secret affection shattered those dreams.
“Guys, wanna see my girlfriend?” the long haired musician asked us, looking all twinkly-eyed and happy.
I blinked a few times rapidly, trying to figure out if I heard him correctly, while the rest of the band enthusiastically gathered around their youngest colleague and looked at the picture on Brice’s cell phone. Judging by their reaction, the girl was quite a babe.
“She’s beautiful,” singer Jack agreed, while bass player Gabe whistled appreciatively.
“I didn’t know you had a girlfriend! Congrats! What’s the story, Brice?” Drummer Kurt asked him curiously.
“I met Sandy online a while ago. Then we hung out a few times when we were home in the States, and now we’re officially a couple,” Brice beamed. “She’s a model. Her dream is to model for Victoria’s Secret one day.”
I had to bite my tongue to prevent myself from saying something sarcastic. Sullenly I made my way to the guys and looked over Jack’s shoulder to see the woman who stole my man. She looks like a porn star, I concluded. She clearly had plastic surgery done on her boobs and had the longest eye lashes I’d ever seen. With pouty lips she looked into the camera as if she was about to kiss it.
“Pretty,” I forced myself to say something nice.
“Guys, we’re there!” the bus driver called out to us.
“Right, let’s get going, everyone,” Gabe ordered, clapping his hands to get us moving. We grabbed our bags and made our way out of the bus into the concert venue’s backstage area. I stayed behind a bit, taking my time to get out of the bus. I hoped everyone would be too busy plundering the buffet in the lunch room, to notice I was about to burst out in tears.
As I opened the bus I saw three of them hurrying to make their way inside the building. But one person stood a few steps away from me, with a serious expression on his face, eyeing me with a look of compassion.
Kurt opened his arms and motioned for me to come closer.
“I know you want to cry,” he said. “Come here, let it all out, darling.”
Without wasting a second I rushed towards the drummer and fell into his arms, sobbing loudly.
“It’s not fair!” I cried as I felt Kurt’s arms close around me, trying to comfort my heartbreak. “Why does a slutty troll like that get to have such a wonderful guy like Brice?!”
“I know… I know… it’s not fair,” the 37-year-old murmured softly in my ear.
“What did I do to deserve this?” I whined, tears rolling down my cheek and onto Kurt’s shirt.
“Don’t worry, sweetheart, your time will come,” he assured me, patting my back. “This isn’t the end of the world…”
“Yes, it is!” I retorted. “I wanted to eat croissants with Brice in Paris!”
I know I was being dramatic, but I felt completely devastated. Kurt calmly continued to hug me and let me throw my little tantrum.
“Wait a minute…” I suddenly took a step back and he released me.
“How did you know I liked Brice? I never told anyone!” I said with a frown, wiping my tears with the back of my hands.
He gave me a quick smile.
“You might be able to fool the rest of the guys, but not me. You’re pretty much an open book, Harlow. I’ve known since you came to work for us.”
“Oh…” I replied sheepishly, fidgeting with my necklace.
We were quiet for a moment.
“You won’t tell the guys, will you?” I eyed him suspiciously.
“Your secret is safe with me.”
“Good. Thank you.”
“Wanna go inside? If we wait any longer, there won’t be any food left for us.”
I couldn’t help but laugh through my tears.
“If Jack eats all the hot dogs again, I’m going to kill him!”
“Then let’s hurry!” Kurt grinned, ruffling my hair as we made our way inside.
A few days later
All was quiet in the tour bus, as we were en route to the next concert location: Brussels. Gabe was watching a documentary on the TV. Kurt was admiring the views outside, leaning his head against the window. Jack was eating a bag of potato chips, mindlessly munching away. I was silently envying the singer’s ability to eat whatever he wanted and not get fat. And Brice was looking at his cell phone.
After a few minutes the guitarist broke the silence with some joyful news.
“Sandy and I broke up, guys,” he announced in a sad voice.
Kurt shot me a quick look, warning me not to smile too broadly.
“Aww, man, I’m sorry to hear that, Brice!” Jack responded.
“What happened? I thought you were madly in love just a few days ago?” Gabe asked, turning off the TV.
Kurt sat down next to his younger colleague and put an arm over his shoulder. Jack offered him a potato chip, but Brice wasn’t in the mood for carbohydrates. I was. Since there wasn’t any popcorn to eat while listening to this drama, chips was a good second choice. I snatched the bag away from Jack, stuffed a few in my mouth and impatiently waited for Brice’s story.
“She cheated on me,” he explained, looking down at his shoes.
“No! Why would she do that?” Kurt asked him.
“My friend spotted her kissing two other guys during a night out. Two! On one evening!” Brice emphasized incredulously.
“Apparently she has a thing for guitar players. And I really thought she was the one…” he trailed off, looking downhearted.
“You can be glad you found out early in the relationship, man,” Gabe said, patting his shoulder. “She’s not worth it. You deserve someone who cares for you and has the decency to behave herself when you’re not around.”
‘Yes, someone like me!’ I wanted to yell out, but instead ate a few more chips and kept quiet.
“I’m sorry, kiddo,” Kurt told the 28-year-old as he squeezed his shoulder.
“I’ll live,” Brice smiled softly.
“We’re almost there, everyone!” the bus driver called out from behind the wheel.
I was still eating chips, letting the good news sink in. Maybe Brice and I could eat Belgian waffles as we strolled through the city. Or have a bit of that famous Belgian chocolate during a romantic evening walk…
Jack was observing me with a frown and suddenly snatched the bag of chips away from me.
“You should stop eating so many snacks, Harlow. You’re getting fat.”
My jaw dropped.
“That’s why I’ve been eating so many hot dogs. So you can’t have them,” Jack informs me. “I’ve been trying to help you. But apparently I need to do more to keep you from gaining weight. From now on no more snacks on the bus!”
“Guys, please… no fighting,” Gabe sighed. Everyone was used to the singer and me randomly quarreling like siblings.
“Did you hear what he said?!” I exclaimed, looking at the others for some support.
“Yeah, yeah,” Gabe muttered, opening the door and stepping outside.
I quickly slapped Jack on his arm and pushed him towards the door.
“I’m getting you fired, Harlow. That’s assault!” Jack cried out, stroking his arm and being dramatic as usual.
“Yeah, yeah,” Kurt said, giving Jack a playful push outside.
“Harlow, can I talk to you for a second?” Brice asked, putting a hand on my arm. “There is something personal I’d like to ask you…”
My heart skipped a beat as I quietly nodded.
Click here to read the third chapter.
Short Story – She’s With Us
Chapter 2 – Paris