The next five weeks were crazy. Braelyn still played the Rover and worked her job at Target. She was in the Rover almost everyday, talking to Tom and Marissa, picking up shifts, and signing papers and going over contracts with Tom. Her website crashed on the first day. Apparently everyone who watched the video on My Chem’s site clicked the link to hers. Greg redid it and had it back up in an hour. When the full version was ready, he included a guest book. People left all sorts of comments, most were even nice. They asked for more videos from her. Addi started filming her when she performed at the bar.
Frank called her almost everyday to tell her about things he was planning. He had bought squirt guns and water balloons. He wanted to know if she liked Twizzlers because he just got three pounds of them from Costco. And what were her feelings on kickball and Mario Kart? She heard from the others about once a week.
Five weeks flew by. The day before she left, Addi took the day off to help Braelyn pack. That night Tom and Marissa threw her a going away party at the Rover. The next morning they made her and the regulars and bartenders breakfast before Braelyn had to get on a plane. There were tearful goodbyes and Tom, Marissa, Addi, and Gemma insisted on driving her to the airport. There were more tears at security and a lot of waving and shouting about how much they loved her after she walked through the metal detectors.
When she got of the plane in Newark, there was a person in uniform with a sign that said ‘Braelyn Porter.’ A driver. He helped her with her bags and drove her to a suburban house a while away. When she got out of the town car she was immediately tackled by Frank. She hugged all the boys and then they went inside where Gerard and Mikey introduced Braelyn to their parents. They all spent the night there. They were leaving the next night.
“What do we have to do today?” Frank asked the next morning as they sat around the breakfast table.
“Publicity photos,” Gerard said between bites of cereal.
“Pictures?” Braelyn squeaked.
“Of course, sugar,” Gerard replied.
“I should go get ready,” she pushed away from the table. “Shower?”
“Across the hall from where you slept last night,” Mikey answered.
“Girls,” Ray murmured as she ran out of the room. “Always worried about their hair and shit.”
“Really?” Bob said in disbelief. “You worry about your hair more than any girl I’ve ever known.”
“My hair is awesome.” Ray patted his fro. “It deserves attention.”
They laughed and finished breakfast. After a couple of hours they were all ready to go. They had been gone from the house for about ten minutes when Braelyn ran back in being heckled by Frank.
“How was I supposed to know I needed my guitar?!” She shouted as she ran up the stairs. “I’m not a famous rockstar. That’s y’all.” She reappeared still running, now with her guitar case. “Come on, Frank. I’m gonna beat you!”
Frank chased her out of the house. Donna leaned in the still open front door and waved as they drove away. To herself, she said, “She really does fit in with them.”
They finally made it to the location. Some industrial park. “Classy.”
“What can we say?” Gerard answered Braelyn’s comment, walking backwards. “We know what works for us.”
She laughed. Then she was whisked off by hair and makeup people. As she was sitting in the chair the photographer came to talk to her about things like ‘concept ‘ and ‘image.’ Apparently she was ‘alt-indie folk,’ whatever that meant. And he showed her a couple of wardrobe choices. It looked like what she would normally wear, so she agreed with him.
She emerged thirty minutes later, her long brown hair curled and loose. She had on a calico print short sleeved and collared shirt-dress belted around her waist and little brown flats on. She asked the stylist, “Can I keep this?”
“I feel like I would be the worst person in the world if I didn’t let you have it,” the man said. “You look way too cute in that.”
She clapped her hands excitedly and went to watch the boys take their pictures. They mostly took the normal ‘we’ll stand in a line with our arms crossed and scowls on our faces’ pictures. Then it was Braelyn’s turn. She had much more fun with it than the boys, playing her guitar and looking cute. Then the photographer wanted to do some of all of them together. That was a disaster and a half. Braelyn tried to mimic them by standing in the middle of their line with her arms crossed, but she couldn’t manage to keep a straight face. Then Frank started poking her. This started a war. They ran around the set, all of them, even Bob, trying to annoy each other as much as possible, the camera clicking all the while. Then Frank and Gerard managed to catch Braelyn and carried her back to where they were supposed to be. A picture of all of the boys holding her while she was horizontal was taken and then they were done.
The boys’ tour manager, Topher, came over and introduced himself. He was to be Braelyn’s tour manager too. He told them that the bus would be leaving in three hours from the Way’s house. They all went to get food and then went back to the house. They waited there for the bus to come.
When it did arrive the boys bolted from the house leaving Braelyn standing in the doorway confused. She followed at a more normal pace. As she climbed the stairs she could hear them arguing loudly. Topher was sitting on the bench seat reading a book. He looked up at her and started laughing. “Guess no one warned you about the fight?”
“The fight?” She asked, still confused.
“The fight. It happens at the beginning of every tour. They fight over who gets what bed. I’m not sure why, they always end up sleeping in the same places anyway.” He rolled his eyes and then looked back down at his book. When she started moving towards the sounds of the scuffle, he said, “I wouldn’t do that if I were you. They might actually rip you to pieces.”
“Oh, ok then.” Braelyn dropped her bags and sat in an empty chair as the bus started moving. She leaned forward, her elbows on her knees and her head resting on her fists looking around the bus. There was a kitchen that she had walked by when she got on the bus. Another chair like the one she was sitting in was bolted to the floor a few feet to her left towards the window, both chairs were facing an entertainment center. Braelyn found that the chair spun as she turned to look around some more. There was a booth on the right side of the bus toward the front and then the bench seat Topher was sitting on under the window. The rest of the bus was cut off by a curtain. Braelyn assumed that would lead to the bunks that the boys were currently fighting over.
Braelyn sat there for a while. She was starting to feel nervous. This was bigger than anything she could have imagined. In the last five weeks she hadn’t really thought about what was happening to her much. But today, with someone dressing her and doing her hair and makeup, this thing was so much more than she expected. She got free clothes, which, by the way, she had looked up the designers on the internet earlier and those clothes were not cheap. They took her picture like she was important. She was on this ridiculous bus. The enormity of the situation was starting to hit her. She was going on tour. With one of the biggest bands in the country.
She had never felt so lonely.
She was so caught up that she didn’t hear the noise level die down in the back. Frank popped his head out of the curtain. “Braelyn, come pick your bunk!”
Her head popped up when he said her name. He saw something strange in her eyes before she broke out into a smile. Fear? Sadness? He didn’t know, but it was gone now. She was walking towards him now with her bags in hand. She asked, “Are you kids done fighting now?”
“We don’t fight,” Ray answered as she pushed past Frank and into the bunkroom.
“You’re a liar,” she said, flashing them a smile. She looked around the room and saw six empty bunks. “So where am I?”
“You have the lovely options of A. The bunk under Gerard or B. The bunk above Mikey,” Bob said, reclining on a bunk that was obviously his.
She turned to the brothers, dropping her bags again and placing her hands on her hips. “Pros and cons, boys. I’m an awesome bunkmate. Convince me.”
Frank laughed and clapped his hands. “I like this girl.”
“Seriously, though,” she sat down on her suitcase primly. “Who wants to be my bunkmate more? I swear I don’t snore.”
Gerard was the first one to interject. “Mikey does snore, that’s why you should take the bunk under me.”
“First, I don’t snore…all the time,” Mikey put in. “Second, the bunk under Gerard is right across from the bathroom. Trust me. That gets gross as tour goes on.”
“Hmmmm, good points so far,” Braelyn was tapping her chin like she was thinking. “But all I’ve heard are negatives. I want positives.”
“Top bunk!” Mikey shouted shoving past Gerard who up until three seconds before had been standing in front of Mikey blocking him from Braelyn’s view. “If you bunk with me you get top bunk! Everyone always wants top bunk.”
“Tempting. Gerard? Counter point?”
“This is like watching television,” Ray said.
“I’m awesome.” Gerard said. “Really awesome. I feel that is my best attribute.”
Braelyn sat quietly for a few moments. Just when Frank started to get antsy, she spoke, “Top bunk. Totally wins over Gerard the Egomaniac.” She said the last bit in jest.
“Victory for Mikey!” Frank shouted, grabbing Mikey’s arm and raising it like he was a prizefighter.
“So which one?” Braelyn asked. Mikey pointed and the boys dispersed. She climbed up the ladder he indicated and pushed open the curtains. She threw in her pillow and the blanket she had brought with her from home. She made her bed and hopped back down to the floor.
“You can put your bags and stuff here,” Mikey explained popping open one of the two doors under his bunk.
She shoved her guitar, her larger bag and her duffel underneath, but she tossed her backpack up onto her bunk. She climbed back up and sat on her bed. She opened her backpack and started pulling out her pictures and some tape she had brought. She stuck them to the wall. There was one of her and Addi eating dinner in their apartment on the first night they moved in. They were eating take out using a box as a table sitting on the floor. Another was of her and Brett playing at the Rover when they were still in high school. One of Tom, Braelyn, and Marissa at her high school graduation seven years ago. In another, the whole staff of the Rover and the regulars were sitting on the bar with Braelyn in the middle. That was from her 24th birthday brunch. There were several of her and random others from the bar and from Sunday Fun Days. There were six months when Gemma fancied herself a photographer. There were some more from shows that she had seen over the years. She was at the end of her picture stack. The last picture she had was of a little girl with long brown hair braided in pigtails who was sitting on a swing being pushed by a young boy. They were both laughing in the bright sun. Braelyn looked at the photo for a while before she kissed it and hung it on the wall closest to her pillow.
She pulled her iPod out and a couple books she had brought went on the shelf. Mikey’s head appeared and he knocked on the wall next to her bunk. She turned to him and smiled, “Hey Mikey.”
“You work fast,” he said, nodding at her pictures. “Those are cool.”
She looked behind her and smiled at the collage that now took up most of her wall. “I like them.” She turned back to Mikey. “They’re to remind me of home.” Haughtily she added, “Plus they’ll keep me grounded when I blow up and get super famous soon.”
He laughed. “How soon is soon?”
She checked the time on her phone. “I’d say twenty-four hours.”
“Oh really?” Mikey asked as she grabbed a book and pushed herself to the edge of the bed swinging her legs over the side. “One show and you’re going to be world famous?”
“Absolutely,” she grinned. She put a hand on his shoulder and launched herself off the bunk. She landed lightly on the floor and started to walk to the front of the bus where the rest of the boys were. She looked over her shoulder and asked, “Do you really think it’ll take more time? With this face?”
She sashayed out of the room leaving Mikey standing on the edge of his bunk, hanging, looking after her unable to respond. Once he realized that he had been staring at the part in the curtains for several moments after they closed behind Braelyn still unable to come up with a reply, Mikey shook his head and stepped down to the floor. He followed her through the curtain.
Frank and Bob were already playing video games, Gerard sitting on the ground in front of them alternating between heckling the gamers and drawing in his typical sketch book. Ray was going through the cupboards complaining that there were no munchies. Topher was still sitting on the bench seat reading. Braelyn had now joined him sitting on bench seat in the corner formed by it and the wall of the bunkroom. She had a book open like she was reading, but she was staring out the window watching the scenery go by.
“I thought Frank bought Twizzlers,” Mikey said going to Ray at the cabinets. “I love me some Twizzlers.”
A/N: I forgot in the last chapter to say that the song was White Lie Lullaby, and old song by my friend Beau. So anywayyyyyy I hope you like this chapter. Reveiw =)