[Here is Chapter 2 everybody, I really hope you enjoy it!]
I was never one for sleeping long, once we had reached the hotel I managed to get three hours of sleep only to wake up at eight. The guys were still asleep, so I had gone to the shop down the road and now sat in the hotel living room with a bag of trail mix, banana’s, mixed berries, and coconut water on the table for the guys and myself to pick at. Whenever they woke up that is. Nursing a coffee I stared off into space and my mind wandered to places I preferred them not to wander. I shook my head to clear it, I instead tried to think about the conversation I had with Jared on the plane last night. He had been nice, and funny, I couldn’t deny that I was excited to learn more about him. “Yo, Bones?” I blinked, focusing on Shannon who had appeared across from me and was munching away on some of the trail mix. “Pardon? Sorry, Shannon.” “I thought you were sleeping with your eyes open for a second, it was kinda freaky,” he said with an amused look in his eyes. I smiled, he looked cute with his hair all rumpled from his sleep and his pajama bottoms riding low on his hips. I stared at his chest for a second before quickly asking, “Do you want a tea or coffee?” “Coffee, please.” Good thing I bought some because swanky hotel or not, the complimentary coffee tasted like shit. I could feel his eyes on me as I moved around which made me feel mildly self conscious. Did I have dried drool on my face or something? Oh god that would be embarrassing. My pajama’s weren’t really flattering, just a T-shirt and flannel bottoms. He was still staring at me, I could tell. “Why are you up so early?” He finally asked. “I don’t sleep well, three hours is all I need.” “Insomnia?” “Something like that,” I said gently, pouring the coffee into his mug. “You up for a walk? I usually go alone or with Jared for one in the morning but you seem like solid company,” he offered warmly. I was mildly surprised that he would invite me anywhere, but I was also just glad that they all seemed to be welcoming me with open arms. They had all been so understanding, kind, and patient… it was something I wasn’t used to. “Yeah, of course. After coffee?” He nodded, thanking me when I handed the steaming mug over to him. I had a feeling this was all going to go very well.
When I got up a little after eleven rubbing still tired eyes I noticed an assortment of goodies on the table and I smiled. I had high hopes for Johara, I just hoped Shan and Tomo got along with her too. She was one of those shy types that completely flip around once they warm up to you. She was so afraid while talkiing to me last night but she masked it with humor and here fear made her talk more which I could appreciate. She was really fucking funny, and depending on how she is she might actually be an asset, especially on this tour. We’d be able to tell her more about what we expect of her today. I sat down on the couch and began munching on the trail mix. Perhaps when Shan and Tomo got up we could treat Johara to lunch or something. I jumped when the door suddenly burst open and a laughing Shannon and Johara came rushing in. I watched with mild amusement and confusion as they just it quickly and Shan dramatically locked it, they were both sweaty and red faced. Johara was giggling and gasping trying to catch her breath. “Eventful morning?” They both whipped around, laughing harder and I smiled. Their grins were contagious. “Sorry J, the paps spotted us so we ran,” “For three miles,” Johara chimed in. “Even thought we lost them at the half-mile mark,” Shan said, panting. “And then it became a race,” Johara coughed. “Which I,” Shan placed a hand to his just, an arrogant air forming around him, “won of course.” “Yeah, because you cheated you dick.” She punched him in the arm, laughing with him like she had known him for years and I was in awe just watching them. I was also mildly jealous, not in an I want her and no one else can have her kind of way, it was more or less a jealousy of her ease with him because I don’t think she would ever be this playful around me. “You guys want to go out for lunch?” I asked. “As long as I get to buy and shower first.” Both Shan and I looked at her, unable to help but stare at her. There was no way we were letting her pay for our lunch after she had brought us snacks and we hadn’t properly welcomed her yet. She didn’t give us much time to protest though, because she was already disappearing into the bathroom. “We’re not letting her buy us lunch before we buy her lunch right?” Shan asked. “No we most certainly aren’t. Quick, go wake up Tomo.”
“So, there’s Cornucopia, the reviews seem decent and it’s a vegetarian/vegan restaurant,” I suggested continuing to scroll through my phone as I exited the bathroom. Someone cleared their throat and I glanced up, an unintentional/almost instinctual, “The fuck?” escaped me and they guys laughed lightly. “I wanted to buy us lunch,” I began to scold them, but the assortment of food on the table was calling my stomach and warming my heart. They didn’t have to, there was an adorable and sweet quality in the fact that they rushed out or speed called at least three different places to deliver food while I was in the shower. “Well, tough. Come sit,” Jared gestured to the leather couch with an easy smile. I moved sitting down cross-legged beside Shannon, Jared sat in the chair to my right and Tomo sat on the floor munching away. Shan was going to town on some sushi, I personally went for the avocado panini’s and we all ate in comfortable silence for a while. Jared set a thick folder in front of me when we had all almost finished. Arching a brow in question at the monster of a file, Jared simply shrugged and said, “This covers the basics. The equipment, allergies, set designs/information on lighting, the set lists, the names of people we will be interacting with and all that shit. The rest you’ll figure out along the way,” he gave me a wink and I smirked. My phone vibrated in my pocket and I pulled it out. Seven missed calls from Tams. For a moment I was lost in the past, I couldn’t focus on the three men around me which would be an impossibility to most. I don’t think I was lost in myself for to long though. Tuning off my phone I tucked it back into the pocket of my jeans. “That seemed important,” Jared said under his breath, his face telling me that he hadn’t wanted to say anything but he was concerned. I shook my head, taking a sip of my soy milk, “It wasn’t.” I was grateful that he let the matter drop, but I felt unsettled. The moment with them had been shattered and it made me angry that something so little could have done that. “I’ll just be in the other room looking through the folder, thank you for lunch. If you need me just come get me.”
I watched her go feeling an uncomfortable gnawing in my stomach. Her business was her own, I just met her yesterday so I was in no position to invade her space but that look when she saw the missed calls… I didn’t like it to say the least. Getting up I walked to her room, Jo was curled up in one of the white leather chairs with the binder in her lap and her brow furrowed. She had put her glasses on and headphones in but I could tell she wasn’t reading, her mind was elsewhere. I almost tried to get her attention, but instead I returned to Shan and Tomo. It’s none of my business.
***3 Months Later, Jo’s P.O.V***
The folder had been a godsend and I was happy to have gotten to a point where I rarely ever need it. I don’t think I would have ever ended up in Philadelphia if it hadn’t been for this job, I don’t think I would ever have had a reason to come here but I was glad I got the chance. It was nice here. “Jo, didn’t you tell them how we wanted the set and the lights? It’s a fuckin’ mess on stage,” Jared said, snapping me out of my little moment of bliss. He had been irritable for the past two days, stress I suppose, in all fairness I shouldn’t have stepped out until after the set had been finished. “I did, I showed them the prin-” “Well obviously they didn’t see it clearly enough. We hired you to handle this,” his voice was rising, he had never yelled at me before and I looked down at my feet. “I know, I just had something I had to-” “We have a show to do, I have my own shit that I gotta do, if you can’t do your job-” “Jared.” I heard Shannon, his voice hard and it had come from behind me. Taking that as my cue I left to go fix the mess I made.
“Don’t look at me like that,” I sighed, rubbing my eyes. “She didn’t deserve that, she has been doing a badass job and you know it. I told her I had it while she came out to answer a phone call. What’s wrong, Jared?” “I’ll tell you about it after the show,” It wasn’t worth telling though. It wasn’t worth telling him that I had a… falling out with Chloe and decided to take it out on everyone else. He was right, Jo didn’t deserve that, yeah she messed up but I made it seem bigger than it was. She took her job seriously and got shit done more efficiently than a newbie should have. Fuck, I should go apologise. “Okay, sounds good. Just chill J, we’re going to have a good show.” Yeah, yeah, a good show.
The concert was good, it always was. I don’t think I could ever get tired of listening to them, and Jared seemed like he was in much higher spirits by the time the night came to an end. It may have been a result of the woman he brought back to the hotel to… entertain, but I was just happy that I was able to fix the set. I didn’t want him to be angry with me, and I also did not want to get fired. “Oh, hey,” I looked up at him and swallowed the couscous slowly. He wore only a pair of boxer shorts and his hair stood up every which way. I pretended not to find the hickies, bite marks, and scratches all over him amusing. “Hi, want some?” “Sure,” he sat down on the stool. Setting the container between us I handed him a fork and got him a bottle of water from the fridge before he could ask for it. “I’m sorry about today,” he said, and I looked up at him slightly confused. “It was my fault, I should have made sure they understood what you wanted-” “No it wasn’t. Sure things got a bit mixed up but you asked Shan for help while you handled something, you didn’t deserve to get yelled at,” he said, taking a long drink of water and I grabbed him another bottle. “It was my fault, but thank you, it was a good show,” I said with a small smile. A thought suddenly occurred to him as he ate the couscous. I saw it in the way he swallowed hard, his eyes looked to me and then away, and in the way his ears reddened slightly. “Did you hear any of… that?” I nodded to the headphones that laid on the counter next to my notebook. “The wonders of music.” He looked relieved and I bit my lower lip to keep from laughing. I trapped his fork with mine and he looked up at me with a pout. “No more couscous until you tell me whats been eating you,” I said firmly. He licked his lips and considered whether my delicious couscous was worth telling me anything, apparently it was. “Chloe,” was all he said, and all he needed to say. “Ahh, I’m sorry. That must have sucked,” I freed his fork and let him have all of it. He shrugged, eating in silence for a long time before asking, “You ever been in love, Jo?” I did my best to hide my discomfort, “Nope, never.” He looked up at me in a way that most people did when people my age said that, “No?” “I thought I was once. I wasn’t,” I wanted this conversation to drop. “That’s fair, if the sex is good sometimes you get lost in it and mistake lust for love,” I smirked, “Yeah? Oh Jared! Yes, yes daddy, choke me!” I moaned. “The sex was obviously great for her, you better be careful, Jared,” I said, tears rolling down my cheeks as I laughed while he stared at me with his mouth hanging open.
There was something attractive about her when she was being playful, even more so when she had closed her eyes and moaned like that. I could almost imagine it was her in that bed with me and not- I shook my head to clear it. “I thought you said you didn’t hear anything!” I said in an accusatory tone, unable to help but laugh lightly with her. “There was the agonising seconds between songs, Jared. It was torture, it truly was,” Her phone vibrated on the counter and I watched her smile die as she read the name. I stopped laughing. “Who is it? Who do you keep ignoring?” She rubbed the back of her neck awkwardly, “No one important,” I pursed my lips, debating whether or not to press the matter further but what she had said bothered me. This whole situation bothered me ever since the day it happened during lunch in Dublin. “I respect your privacy, all I ask is that if you ever decide to tell me anything don’t let it be a lie. It can be a beautiful lie, a white lie, a lie you think is necessary, but it is still a lie. I’d rather you kill me with honesty than soothe me with lies, it is the worst thing you can tell me or yourself.” She surprised me by saying, “Tams used to be my friend, but she let me down when I needed her. She is part of a past I don’t care for,” She swallowed hard and looked away from me. “How’d she let you down?” I asked, feeling slightly honoured that she was opening up a little. “She didn’t believe me when it mattered.” She whispered.
The silence hung between us as I considered whether or not I wanted to just tell him, tell someone everything. I thought about all the bad things that could come from telling him, his pity would be one of the worst. “I’m going to go and make a few calls,” I said abruptly. He gave me a look, “Jo, it’s 4am-” I was on the verge of a panic attack so I ignored him, “There’s so much to do and if I don’t call soon-” In my haste to leave I hadn’t been ready for him to touch me, so I couldn’t help but be surprised and flinch when he gripped me by my upper arms. There was an odd look in his eyes for a moment before it was gone. He surprised me again, he pulled me into his arms for a warm hug. He smelled like sex, perfume, his cologne, and something heady that was unique to him. He held me to him and I slowly hugged him back. “Don’t give her power over you because then she wins. Get some sleep, Jo.” With a comforting smile he left and I waited until I heard the door shut behind him before I let the tears fall.
I wasn’t able to fall back asleep no matter what I did. All I could think about was the way she had flinched when I touched her. Was she afraid of me? I know I had been a little hard on her today, but I didn’t think I had been that awful. I mean, I apologised. Or maybe she was disgusted with me, no, that’s not it, she wasn’t like that even though I would have understood given that I had been having sex just before talking to her. But she didn’t seem like the type that would force her morals down my throat or view me in a negative light for something that didn’t involve her. I still barely knew her but that flinch had me on edge. That flinch brought up so many more questions. It made me question little things I didn’t really pay attention to before, like the reason why she got so little sleep. We were still getting to know each other but she had quickly become a friend to all of us. I don’t usually pry into peoples lives but my mind was working overtime. Did her parents beat her? I mean, she said she had no family so it was a possibility she bailed. If I asked she would never tell me and I would probably never ask. She would never tell me willingly because she was guarded enough as it is. With a sigh I gave up on sleep and rolled out of bed. I needed to go for a run and clear my mind.
I just bought Mars merch purely because it was in the sale. I didn’t need it. Who knows how often I’ll end up wearing it. I’m so gonna regret this when I don’t have enough money left for BREAD AND WATER god dammit.