Oneshot. I loved him for one night, and woke up to find him gone. I learned from him. Will I ever see him again, or better yet, will I be able to forget? How can this little punk band wannabe have ...
The room was dark and the atmosphere was lighthearted. Jokes passed back and forth across the room with loud laughter that seemed to give light to the room. Some taking a pick at me and some going completely over my head. The only source of light came from the computers and the over head light in the sound room. I picked up a rag and got up from where I was sitting to dust everything off before the clients came in. They were new, never been here before. We were supposed to give them a good feel so that they would return again. Jack said that we needed the business and that a good up and coming band would be the perfect candidates for us to make some money off of. I sighed as I wiped my hands on the rag wondering how I had ended up here. How did I end up in a recording studio in a typical urban area in Central Jersey? I was meant to be so much more than some replaceable tech person in a recording studio. I shook my head, hoping to scramble up my doubts and knock away regrets. I heard the wind howling outside the shaded windows. The comforting sound of the downpour from the typical Spring storm would soon be drowned out by whatever wannabe punk pop band was scheduled to be here... ten minutes ago.
I turned to my right, "Hey, Ted, what's this band's name again?"
The balding middle-aged man covered in ink and sporting a Van Halen t-shirt turned to me and scratched his head, "I honestly have no idea sweetheart, just go with the flow. Get 'em in, get 'em recorded, and get 'em back here again. It started with a "T" though I believe?"
"Such wise words from Ted the old timer," I teased.
He completely disregarded my dig at his age, which was obvious with the increasing decrease of hair on his head and his growing wrinkles. I took a look around the room and leaned back in my favorite spinny chair. The 3 or 4 other guys in the room were either around my age or even a bit younger. Two of them I know were graduating high school this year, this was an internship for them. I wish I could be honest with them and tell them that at age 22 I've figured out that there's nowhere to go from this job. Once you're here, you're stuck here for good. I knew that better than many. But who was I to ruin their dreams like mine had been?
I, Noelle Grant, had made the mistake of denying med school to try and follow my heart, which beats and breathes music. Too bad music doesn't put money on the table. And that is the reason that I now reside 10 minutes west of my hometown and live in a small 2 bedroom apartment with my best friend from high school. I barely scrape by every month with the pay from this job. I'm one of those people behind the scenes, never really having wanted to be up front and center. I would rather be the one creating the music that brings everyone so closely together, than the one performing it.
I should have listened to my parents and gone to get my doctorate. I don't know what derailed that plan, but there is no turning back once you make a decision like that. And the consequences that followed were unavoidable. I never did get a response from that Christmas card I sent Mom and Dad.
I sat there twiddling my thumbs and losing myself in a private pity party when the doors to the studio slammed open and in ran four guys with their arms full of equipment. Their obnoxious neon rain coats were a blinding contrast from the dimmed lighting of the studio. We kept the lights low when bands were coming in to record as a way to 'set the mood for creativity', or at least that's what Jack would tell us to do. And you never defy the boss man, especially when he lived 10 blocks away and could pop up at any time for a surprise visit.
As two of the guys took a deep breath, looked at each other, pulled their hoods out and ran back out into the storm the two left came towards us to introduce themselves. Ted and I stood to greet them as the other techies did all of the last minute setting up, not that there was much to do with these guys being late and everything being more than ready thanks to the extra time. Yeah, that totally does not irritate me at all. Whatever, it's studio time that they're going to have to pay for, no worries for me.
"I'm Evan and this is Milo," a guy with wild brown curls and calloused hands introduced as he shook my hand firmly and signaled to the blonde guy next to him with a faux hawk. Oh yeah, cause faux hawks are so punk. "Chris and Leo ran outside to grab the rest of our crap."
"I'm Noelle and this is Ted, we'll be setting you guys up today and getting everything rolling," I smiled politely, used to this same old routine. I've learned over the past year or so that eventually all of these little bands sound the same. If you played me back one of their EP's I wouldn't be able to guess whose was whose. The sounds all begin to blend into one after a while. Maybe one or two stick out in my mind, but they all fade eventually too. This band would be no different. I would let them come in here excited and pumped to get started on achieving their dreams, when I knew that this was the closest they would ever get. And this little dumpy studio on the bad side of town was not very close to what they were aiming for, not at all. And as cynical as I may be sounding, in our hearts we all know that it's the truth. I've just been more open to reality lately, having no other choice.
"Cool, cool. I'm sorry for the lateness too, but the weather was killer out there and our old van can only go so fast on wet roads before we begin to doubt her braking capabilities," he apologized with a boyish grin.
"It's all good, no worries," I smiled politely while inside I was rolling my eyes at the pathetic excuse for a cutesy apology. He was the typical band guy. They were just like the music, they all blended into one as time went on. They also, both gave me the worst headaches and left me heading home after a long day at work, annoyed and snippy.
"So just set up your equipment, the dudes over there will help you with anything you need and Ted and I will be at the soundboard if you have any questions at all," I nodded with a tight smile and sat down at my favorite spinny chair as he watched me walk away, with a raised eyebrow.
"And the verdict is...?" Ted mumbled to me.
"Typical PBW," and in our code that stood for Punk Band Wannabe. Meaning, no matter what haircut her had, what clothes he wore, or what music he listened to, he never fully would understand the music and what it stands for.
"Don't think you're judging a little too quickly? I mean, these guys could completely blow us away, we could be surprised," He said thoughtfully, as he played around with the soundboard, making sure that everything was set up just right.
"Yeah, and cows could fly right out of my ass," I chuckled and all I got in response from him was a grin and a shrug.
The next 20 minutes was used to make sure that everything was plugged in correctly and that they were ready to go. Honestly, I was ready to get them done with and get home so that I could sleep. Yes, I do plan on being asleep before 8 o'clock tonight. Because yes, I am that much of a dork.
I watched the PBW out of the corner of my eye as he finally shrugged out of the obnoxious neon green rain coat and made a quiet "hmm" noise as I took in the sleeve of ink that looked to be halfway done on his left arm. The colorful designs of intricate words and details had me openly staring. There was something about tattoos that just drew my eye in. I don't know whether it was the beauty of the artwork or the questions in my mind about that person and why they had decided to get what they did. He rolled up the sleeves on his simple grey thermal and I turned my stare away from him and to his other band members who were getting set in their positions. I did not need a typical PBW noticing me staring at him. He would either get angsty or completely douchey, which they seemed to thing was attractive in a man.
I would admit though, PBWs usually wore the typical ripped up jeans, that were obviously bought already ripped, and some brand new "vintage" shirt of some overrated band. Oh, and the guyliner. Oh how they overdid the guyliner to an extent that made me worry that all of that liner had messed up their vision and that's why it was so thick, because they were having vision problems. This guy though, Evan I think he said, he just had regular jeans on, just tight enough but not enough to wonder if his circulation was being cut off, and that thermal that I would admit I was a bit jealous of. His outfit really just screamed laidback and lazy. He would blend in with a crowd, which was shocking, considering most of these guys fought to stand out all of the time.
As he entered the recording room he picked up his guitar and I took a look at them all the make sure that they were all ready. I noticed that the blonde with the faux hawkm Milo, was standing at the mic, that was actually unsurprising though. He looked the most commercial, it would sell. He also held an air about him, something that would draw people in. The bass guitarist, who I believe was named Joey, stood to my right of the singer and had a shaved head of dark hair and stood their with a lazy grin as he looked around the room, taking everything in. The drummer, Barry, in the back had shaggy auburn hair and sat there tapping his feet and nodding to an imaginary beat in his head. I noticed that across the drums read 'Tomorrow Comes Today'. Ah, so that's the name. Original enough, I thought to myself with an approving hum.
Then my glance turned to the tattoo clad Evan and I saw him calmly playing around with some chords on his beautiful Gibson, completely calm. That was also a surprise to me, none of them seemed nervous at all. Most of the newer bands that came in would be shaking with nerves, visibly.
I pressed the green circular button to my left, "You all ready now?" I asked with a thumbs up.
They all whooped and laughed happily. I gave them a countdown from five, holding my hand up to them as I fiddled some buttons and then I hit the record and opening chords were the first sounds to hit my ears. They had given us some information on the songs they were recording with the music and lyrics so we were well-informed on everything. I looked through as Ted took control of the board for a few minutes.
The song they had started now was called 'Can't Fly Tonight' and had opened with a dreary melody that just seemed to have something pounding beneath, trying to break out. For the next 20 seconds I listened as they played and was shocked to find myself actually approving of it and actually liking it. They weren't bad, at least from the snippet I heard. Ted and I gave them some direction as we went through the first song and in the next twenty minutes or so we had it down and it was good to go. We called them in to take a listen and see if they approved thus far. They walked in through the door excitedly, ready to listen to what they had just created. And as I played it back I admitted that I would be excited if I wear them too. It was good, it really was.
That first song was the perfect quiet ballad and the lyrics were like poetry. The chords were all played at the perfect time and everything blended together perfectly. As the fully edited song played back to them and finished up they pulled back from where they had moved their heads and did some strange handshake. Ted, I, and the other techies around the room got a good chuckle from their excitement though.
As they headed back into the recording room on the other side of the glass Ted turned to me, "Moooo. Oh! Wait! Is that a cow I see coming out of your ass? Should we open the windows? It looks to be flying out!" and he cracked up with an air of arrogance surrounding him.
The next 2 hours went smoothly. It went more smoothly than any session I have ever done has. It was actually in shock for half of it. Halfway through out I had decided to take away the BPW's label and begin calling him by his name. Evan. The longest a song took to be dine as 25 minutes and the shortest one took about 12 minutes. I was shocked. They were just naturally good though. The thing that differentiated them from the rest that I noticed was that they were sure of their music. I felt as if they were sure of what they were playing and that they knew exactly how they wanted it to be heard. They weren't that bad either, I'll admit it. They were all typical class clowns. Evan though, I noticed when they took a cookie break, yes a cookie break, was a lot more quiet and chill than they other guys. Milo also was more on the cocky side. What else would you expect from the singer? They were all in their early twenties with the bassist Joey being the only exception, he having only just turned 19.
As we wrapped up and finished everything they began to pack up all of their things, looking cautiously out the window at the monsoon that was occurring outside. I too was worried, hoping that Roxy had remembered to close the windows in our apartment. Last time she had forgotten I got stuck blow drying the parts of the rug by windows for two hours. Yes, my best friend was definitely a genius, wasn't she?
Barry and Joey nodded goodbye as best as they could as they made a run out the door with some of the newer techies who were helping them load up. Milo and Evan approached us with boyish grins on their faces.
"So, how do you think we did?" Milo asked, biting his lip with excitement.
Before I could even open my mouth Ted replied, "You guys honestly did great. A lot of little bands come and go through here and you guys are the first to really catch my ear in a very long time. And I'm not bullshitting you either. Bullshit is a waste of my time, and lemme tell you kid, my time is precious," Ted said leaning back in his rolling chair with his arms behind his head.
"Thanks man!" Milo said offering him his hand in a high five.
"It's the truth kid, and I only speak the truth," he returned as they completed one of those 'bro handshakes'.
"What about you quiet kid? Any questions?" Ted nodded at the calm Evan who stood their casually with his hands in his jeans pockets.
"Nah, I'm good. Just ready to get home and crash," he shrugged. He seemed to be tired out completely and the friendly and bubbly guy who had first approached us a few hours ago seemed to have faded.
"So we'll have it all copied for you and done in a day, two at the most so just come back then and we'll have that done for you. Now all I need is the cash for the hours and we'll be good to go," Ted let them know this a grin and tap of the foot. And with that he and Milo walked out of the room to go fill out all of the paper at the front desk.
As I turned to start shutting everything down I was interrupted by a deep voice, "So, you know how you told me that if I have any problems that you'll be here at the soundboard?" he asked as he leaned against the file cabinet 10 feet from where I sat.
"Yes..." I replied with a raised eyebrow.
"Well, you see, I do have a problem..."
"And that is...?" I asked curiously.
"I'm really itching to go grab a drink but I need a pretty girl to accompany, cause you know, without one my reputation on the streets could be ruined..." he tried keeping a serious face and not letting his grin break through.
"Sorry, I don't date boys in bands," I answered immediately.
"Yes, but see, I am not a boy in a band," he responded, offended.
"Alright, I'll play this game," I stated as I spun my chair to face him and leaned back with my arms crossed over my chest, "then what exactly are you?"
"I am a MAN in a band! I stopped being a boy that Saturday night of my Junior year in high school when Nina Petrowski took off her-"
"Alright! I get it. You are no longer a boy. Still, I think I'll pass, you're still in a band," I tried to end the conversation.
"Well, what if we make a bet," he proposed.
With mild interest I replied, "And what kind of bet would this be?"
"I bet that within the first hour of hanging out that you will completely forget that I'm in a band."
"Oh really? And what do I get if I don't forget?" I questioned, my interesting growing.
"You get 50 bucks," he answered decidedly.
"And if you win?" I asked.
A began laughing and when I saw that his face remained serious I tried to cover it up with a cough and answered, "Well, you get an A plus for being persistent, and creative..."
"So is that a yes?" he asked with his eyebrows raised.
"That's an 'alright'," I sassed back with a wink. How could a girl say no to this? A chance at fifty dollars. Even if it went against my number one rule of never dating a musician. That never ends well.
"Meet you at Ronaldo's at 9?" he asked.
I looked at the clock and saw that it was already past 8:30. Whatever, it's not like I was going to go home and primp for this. "Sure, Ronaldo's at 9. Be sure to bring my money." And with that he saluted me and went to go stand with Milo who nodded goodbye to me and shook hands with Ted before they sprinted out into the cold downpour.
"So, the quiet one seems to have taken a liking to you it seems..." Ted teased as we finished took a look around us to see what would have to be cleaned up.
"Ted, you're still going bald. It's not my fault that you can't appreciate someone getting play since your lackluster love life is suffering even more thanks to your receding hairline," I quipped.
That shut him up for the rest of the time as he grumbled and pouted about how he got play. Hah. Sure. I ignored his grumbling and grinned to myself. I was getting play. How silly of me is it to get giddy from that?
I left at five of and let Ted lock up the studio tonight. As I drove to the bar a 5 minutes from the studio I tried to look in the mirror as best as I good, trying to clean myself up a bit. There wasn't exactly anything that I could do about my jeans, tank top, hoodie combination. My makeup was going to need to be touched up a bit, the small amount that I regularly wore. I believed more in going natural than globbing it on. Imperfections kept things real, why try to cover up what was left in this world that wasn't deceiving?
I parked my car about a block from the bar and made a run in the rain after putting my hood up, trying to keep my mascara from running and smudging. As I entered the bar I looked around for Evan. I noticed him sitting at the bar trying to balance a coaster on the bridge of his nose. He mop of curls looks soaked, as I'm sure my own straight brown locks did. But he had the appeal of a wet puppy dog at the moment, I just hope he doesn't smell like one.
As I approached him he quickly pulled the coaster off his nose, trying to play it cool like he wasn't just acting like a four year old.
"What's going on?" I asked with a smirk.
He cleared his throat and sat up straighter, "Uhm, nothing, nothing, would you like a drink?"
"Sure, on you right?" I teased. When he nodded quickly I smiled to myself at his nerves and motioned for the bartender to come over, "Sex on the beach, please."
I turned back to Evan with a smirk, "What are you getting?"
His eyes widened a bit and he turned to the bartender,"Uh, I'll just have another Budweiser."
And as the night went on, so did the drinks. I learned his last name was Meyers and that he had grown up in upstate New York. I learned that he hated cats and dogs but though rabbits were the coolest pets in the world. I learned that he had an older brother who had gone to law school and that his parents saw him as a failure because he decided to follow his dreams. I learned that he was my age, and that our birthdays were exactly one month apart. I learned more about him than seemed likely 3 hours prior, and I found myself wanting to know more. And as the night went on his eyes seemed to get bluer and his hair seemed to get curlier and he seemed to get taller. That could have been the alcohol talking.
And when he told that he thought I was beautiful and angelic I believed him. And I took him back home to my apartment. And I just wanted to be held. And I wanted to be loved, at least for one night. Just for one night. And throughout that night, he loved me. And when I fell asleep it was in peace. I fell asleep in his arms, and I thought to myself how I had never felt that content in my life.
When he whispered in my ear that he wanted to be with me forever, I cuddled into his arms and smiled to myself. And when he told me that he thought that he may have fell in love with me, I pulled the sheets over us and wrapped his arms tighter around me. I had the best night's sleep that I had in a very long time.
And then I woke up, and he was gone. All that was left of him was a note on the pillow next to mine with the neatest handwriting I had ever seen. It read:
'I'm sorry. Now isn't the time. Forgive but don't forget. -Evan M.'
There I lay in my bed, all alone, wondering what I had done wrong. Wondering why I had finally let someone in.
And I was left with a broken heart and anger at myself. I had been coddled with lies. But I learned a valuable lesson that day- don't settle. Settling will only end in disappointment and pain. For that whole day I sat on my couch crying to Roxy while we watched black and white movies and ate gummy bears and ice cream. Then the next day was the day that I quit my job at Soundscape Recording Studios and begin to fight for what I wanted in my life. I was done settling. It had gotten me nothing but a mediocre paying job and a broken heart.
2 years later
I looked outside of the window wondering whether the rain would stop anytime soon. The streets below were filled with honking cars and pedestrians that were heading hastily to appointments and meetings. I sighed and looked up at the gray clouds, appreciating there calming effect on my mind.
I spun my chair back to the desk and pulled it closer so that I could get a better look at my computer screen. Twenty four emails in the past hour?! What is going on? As I clicked through I deflated, realizing that only two of them were useless or spam and that the other 22 actually had to be read, analyzed, and responded to.
And I had a deadline today and had to get my article to my Editor by noon.
Yeah, I was a writer now, a journalist. Specifically, a music journalist. I worked for AP Magazine and had just finished an interview with a newer band on the scene named Four Year Strong that we were trying to give a ton of publicity. I hadn't heard a band as down to earth or natural as them since... well, I don't want to think about them, or well, him. I've done a damn good job about forgetting about his existence for awhile.
I read through Roxy's email about going to dinner with her and her fiance Fernando. I also got a few emails from my editor reminding me that my article was due in less than two hours and then some with new ideas that she was thinking of that seemed like like something that would catch my interest. I made a few notes in my phone and closed my blinds. The New York City streets below were distracting me from work that had to be done. And with my back straight and my mind open I began to comb through the interview, making sure that everything was just right.
Things have changed the past two years. I had changed. With some help from Roxy and Ted, who I still kept in touch with and saw at least once a week, I reached for the moon. I decided that nothing was going to hold me back from what I loved, and that was music, and everything that had to do with it. And I though to myself, what am I good with? And I came up with writing. I had been on the school newspaper and taken journalism classes in high school, but I had never really thought of it as a career. But I was good at it. So I entered as many contests as I could find and after the thirty second time I entered an article, it got picked. The prize was a few grand and an internship for a smaller music magazine named Now Music, but it helped me get a foot in the door.
After a 6 month internship and working late night shifts as a bartender at a local bar in the city I got hired their, because they loved my writing. And about 6 months after that, I got offered a job by AP, who had read some of my articles and loved how I wrote. And the past year has been amazing. It has truly been a dream come true. I've got to meet amazing bands and I've gained so many connections. I was even able to help Ted out and got him a job working sound at a large, well-known label named Decaydance. Roxy had met some famous Spaniard soccer player while abroad in Europe for her public relations job and now represents her soon to be husband as his publicist.
All is well that ends well, I suppose.
…Says the chick who still has an old note written on a ripped piece of paper in a sealed plastic bag under her mattress...
But we're not going to get into my inability to move on, because that's not only a touchy subject, but also a depressing one. And what I have realized over the past few years is that you shouldn't let anything or anyone bring you down, not even yourself.
An hour later I had done everything that I possibly could with my writing and answered all of my emails and I printed out my article to hand off to my Editor and emailed her a copy just in case. As I entered my editor's room she looked up and began to spazz and babble to me about how Johnny, one of the other frequently used writers, had literally just threw up all over the cafeteria and was just taken to the hospital and diagnosed with food poisoning. How does that effect my life? Well, he'd had an assignment tonight to go review a show for a band that was playing tonight at the club Angels and Kings that Pete Wentz had just signed to his label and was trying to get some publicity for. Now it was my assignment.
"So will you please do this for me Noelle dear?! I'll give you two extra weeks of vacation this Summer! Two paid weeks of vacation!" She asked desperately, having no other options since her other good or more experienced writers already had things going on.
I knew the whole time that I would snatch the opportunity up, but I was going to milk it for all I could, and what did I get? Two weeks more of vacation, with pay! "I can do that, just email me the details and I'll make sure that everything is good. It's just a review, right?"
"And a quick sit down interview after the show. They'll be waiting in the dressing rooms and I was told that they will be sober and conscious," she assured, knowing that was a common fear and annoyance when it came to music journalism.
I walked back to my my office, listening to the clack of my 3 inch heeled, gold, gladiator-like shoes, and sent Roxy an email letting her know that dinner would have to be early since I had some work to do. Content with myself and my position I leaned back in my chair with a happy sigh and flattened out my cute vest worn over my simple black tank top, feeling very in control of my life.
7 Hours Later
I entered the club ahead of the line, with Roxy and Fernando in tow, with my name having been put on the list and Fernando himself being pretty well known by the many soccer lovers found in the city.
The thumping of the bass from the songs being played didn't take away from the laidback atmosphere of the place. We made our way to the bar and I ordered a coke for myself while Roxy and her beau made their way to the dance floor. I sat down and started sipping my drink, writing notes down about the atmosphere and the people, figuring that I could refer to or somehow use them in the article.
I didn't notice the quieting in the crowd until someone spoke into a microphone, introducing he and his buddies as Tomorrow Never Comes. I turned in the stool and literally fell off of it and right onto my ass on the hard floor. I didn't even notice that judgmental stares that I got from people who shuffled away from my still shocked form. I snapped back to it and stood up quickly, brushing off the vest and styling dress pants that I still had on, not having had time to stop at my apartment to get changed.
My eyes were still wide and I swear my heart had stopped beating.
It was them.
It was Tomorrow Comes Today, or well, as they were now called Tomorrow Never Comes.
And then my eyes locked onto him. Evan. Even a few years later, he looked almost exactly the same, except that his sleeve had been completely finished and that one had been started on the other arm, with only an outline done. All of them looked pretty much completely unchanged actually, except for Milo whose faux hawk had turned into a small scale mohawk. I sat there on the stool, gripping the sides until my knuckles turned white and then I began to pull it together again. I resist the urge to through my drink in a certain direction, towards a certain head, and held in all of the angry comments that I wanted to scream. This was my job that I was here for. I had to stay professional and I had to keep my mind open. I was here to review their music, not the band mates, especially any specific one that I had a lot to say about.
Sitting through that set became less painful as I closed my eyes and just listened to the emotional, passion filled voice of Milo. Taking notes on the admittedly amazing guitar solos in two of the faster paced song was done with a lot of reluctance though, I have to admit. Milo kept the crowd happy, being a natural ham, and the other guys joked around, usually speaking into their mics just to pick on the front man. Evan stayed quiet though, and I was very thankful for that.
Before their last song of the night Milo leaned into the mic with a smile, "This last song is a pretty old one that was written by our very own guitarist Evan Meyers," and when the cheering and catcalling calmed Milo began to speak again, "do you have anything to say about it dude?" he looked in Evan's direction.
For the first time that night Evan leaned into his mic to speak, "It's about someone very special, who will never get to learn just how special she is, thanks to me. This song was an attempt to make it up to her, though she may never get to hear it. This song is called 'Forgive But Don't Forget'," and with those parting, chilling words the opening rifts started and Milo's voice wove a story of a lonely girl with light green eyes who saw the world for what it was, and how he just wanted to sugar coat everything for her, and make it seem brighter.
The haunting sound of the melody drew the crowd in as they rocked from side to side and listened, enraptured to the 20 second guitar solo, that held a sad, soft, feel to it. I would be a liar if I told you that my eyes stayed dry. But I would be weak if I let any tears fall from those eyes. And when the song ended he was the first one off the stage, not even taking any time to appreciate the applause and cheering of the crowd.
They had done amazing, but that didn't surprise me. They were great a few years ago, and they were even better now. They're be big soon, especially after being signed to their newest label. I give them six months before they're well known on the web.
After another diet coke I made my way through the dancing crowds to the entrance to the doorway where the dressing rooms were found. I showed told the security guards my name, flashed them my work ID, and before I knew it was walking down the hallway towards the second to last door on the left. I stood outside of it unsurely, worrying and almost shaking with nerves. But then I sucked in a deep breath and stood up straight. This was my job, and hey, they probably wouldn't even remember me, right? Right?!
I knocked on the door, quietly, but confidently and heard a chorus of "Come in!" I reminded myself that I still had a chance to make a run for it and forget that this had ever happened. I mentally slapped myself for being such a sissy. I was a journalist! I had more backbone than that! After my mini ten second pep talk I pushed the door open softly, taking a glance in before walking through the doorway. The first thing I noticed was Joey hanging upside down off the couch with the back of his legs up against the wall. Barry stood shirtless, grabbing a can of Red Bull from the mini fridge. Milo and Evan were sprawled out on the floor, staring up at the ceiling.
"Hey! You're the interview chick, right?!" Joey asked excitedly, nearly falling on his face as he tried to right himself on the couch. That caught the other guys' attention and suddenly I was being examined by all four of them. Intimidating? Oh yes.
"Hey! I'm Milo!" he jumped up and offered his hand to me as Barry and Joey did the same.
I wasn't surprised that they didn't recognize me, we had only met once and my hair had been chopped from halfway down my back to right past my shoulders in a series of choppy layers. And my 'the less makeup the better' mantra had been thrown away and replaced with 'the more the better'.
I felt a set of eyes burning into the side of my face as I spoke with the three guys and knew exactly who they belonged to, the only guy who had yet to introduce himself- Evan. And at that moments I decided that someone up there definitely hated me.
"Hey, Ev, come introduce yourself to the AP chick," Milo tried encouraged, annoyed with his bandmate's lack of social skills at the moment.
He stood up slowly, never once taking his eyes off me as I completely ignored his gaze and glanced around the room taking in all details. From the crack in the left corner of the ceiling to the sketchy yellow stain in the carpet in that same corner, I made sure to keep my focus on anything but him while he approached.
"We've met before," he spoke towards Milo, but his gaze remained on me. I turned my face towards him but kept my eyes more on the scruff that he had growing in from not having shaved for a few days, rather than looking into those blue eyes. I knew I would drown in them like the sea, unable to surface until he broke the stare.
"Really? When?" Joey asked curiously.
"A few years back," he answered vaguely.
"Oh," Joey answered deflatedly, with his curiosity still unsatisfied.
That lead to an awkward silence spanning over the next few minutes as we all just stood their, lost in our own thoughts, or in one person's case, staring intensely.
I finally broke the silence, unable to stand that atmosphere anymore, "Alright, you guys ready to start the interview?" I asked with a large smile, forced, but still there.
Once we sat down and things got rolling it all went along smoothly. Milo answered all the questions with his charm intact, Barry kept things real, Joey was the kid of the group and seemed to keep things cute with his baby face, while everything that Evan said seemed to have some sort of double meaning to it. It wasn't even a dirty or perverted double meaning, just that his words meant more than the surface value had you assuming. It made me feel uncomfortable, but then I just figured that it was all in my mind and kept on my friendly, but probing journalist persona.
The interview was done about a half hour and as the guys stood to leave the room and grab some drinks outside, now that the interview was over, they shook my hands and told me that they would catch me around. Left in the room now was only Evan and myself. I turned to leave, not wanting to be with him without any others around. I felt a hand on my upper arm pulling me back gently and the warmth that seemed to be radiating from it made me wanted to curl closer. I resisted though. We all know that happened last time I let that happen.
Strength. That's it. I had to show him that I was strong and make him believe that he had no effect on me whatsoever. Even though that was the farthest thing from the truth. I looked into his eyes for the first time that night, and I'm sure that defiance could be seen, clear as day, radiating from them. And then I saw what he held in his eyes. I saw sadness, I saw regret, I saw desperateness, and I saw longing. I also saw a twinkle in them that I refused to recognize as anything.
"Don't look at me like that," he begged quietly.
"Don't talk to me. You have no right to ever talk to me again, not after what you did to me," I whispered to him fiercely, trying to hold back my anger as best as possible.
"I had to do it," he tried to explain, grasping my shoulders and leaning down closer to my face, to try and make eye contact with me.
"Bullshit," I spat out, and pulled out of his grasp, not wanting to feel that longing for him that I did when I felt his touch.
"You weren't ready, I wasn't ready, you know that's the truth. I was an immature kid with a big dream and you were this girl who hated where she was and wanted nothing, but everything at the same time. I wanted to give you everything, but I knew that by staying there with you I would be holding you back. You needed to live your life and succeed before I could give you the rest," he spoke loudly, begging me to understand.
I stood with my arms crossed stubbornly, not wanting to believe a word that he said while at the same time they made so much sense to me. I knew that if he and I had been together then, we would have held each other back. He would have refused to leave me to tour and travel like they had to to get where they were now and I would have happily settled. And he didn't want that for me.
"You left me," I whispered brokenly as my arms fell limp to my side and my posture slumped. The first few tears began to spill from the corners of my eyes.
In two long strides he had reached me and wrapped is arms around me tightly whispering in my ear, "And I missed you every single day that I wasn't there. Do you know I slept one hour that night. One hour. The other six I laid there watching you sleep, wondering how anyone could ever look that peaceful. Do you know that I have a box of magazine clippings. Every single article you have ever written, I have laminated. Even the ones from Now Music, they're all there. They were all that I could have of you, and I took them. Leaving you, that was the hardest thing I have ever, ever, done in my entire life," he whispered passionately, and in his eyes I saw the truth in the words.
I had nothing else to say, my crying had drained me of my anger and fight, leaving me a ball of pathetic emotions in his arms. My mind had seemed to freeze on me and I couldn't find any words, or even the will to walk away.
"It's not too late. you know that, right?" he asked, and I could hear the hope in his voice.
I stared at him unsurely, "For what?"
"Us," he answered simply, with a small smile on his face.
I took that moment and I fired up the engines in my brain once again, examining everything. I didn't want to get hurt again. Everything inside me screamed for me to yell 'No!' and walk away forever, to leave him just as he had left me two years prior. But then I stopped. I thought of how he made me feel. I thought of how even though what he had done had hurt me immensely, it pushed me like nothing else ever could have. It helped me get to the place that I am today. And every time that I doubted myself, I looked at that note that he had left me and my anger motivated me even more. It motivated me not to settle. And now the only question left in my mind was whether I would be settling with him, now.
And then I look into those deep blue orbs of his once again and saw that twinkle for what it was. It was love. That twinkle that I had tried so hard to ignore was love, for me.
And then I realized something, when you love someone, you're not settling, because love is the best thing in this world that you could find. Feeling that comfort in his arms, and that calming from his touch, and that happiness his voice made me feel I decided that I was in fact in love with him. As strange as it seems, I think I have been even when I felt deep resent for him. Everything led back to Evan, my drive, my passion, my everything, he was the cause of it all. He was everything, even when he wasn't present I still felt his presence. He was there all along.
His worry seemed to grow and he pulled me closer to him, "Please, Noelle, I love you, please," he whispered desperately.
I could be the one to leave him this time. I could shatter his heart just as he had shattered mine. But looking into his eyes, I knew that would break mine as well. And right there I made my decision.
"I love you too Evan. I think it's finally our time," I stated with a large smile and when I saw it reflected on his face I knew it had been the right decision.
And I knew that I would look back on this fondly, having made the right decision. I deserved this, I deserved to let myself be loved and love in return. I had indeed broken my rule of not letting myself date musicians. But, I mean, I guess sacrifices have to be made for a good cause.
And love was the best cause that I knew of.