One rock star.One undercover journalist.Oh what a wonderful caricature of intimacy...
My heels made sharp click-clacking noises upon the marble floor which reverberated on to the walls and echoed around the long, empty hallway I was currently walking down.
I came to a sharp halt outside the office door, and opened it with the hand which wasn't being occupied with the large amounts papers that were clustered together.
'Ah, Ella!' The raspy voice of my boss greeted me , as I stepped inside her large office and shut the door behind me.
'Here are the finished articles on Paramore, 30 seconds to mars and Gym Class Heroes.'I said, 'setting the papers down upon the desk in front of her. 'And I'll have the Fall Out Boy story ready by the end of the week.'
'Lovely' Eliza smiled 'I'll read them through tonight and get back to you on them tomorrow.'
I nodded, ready to turn and leave.
'Do sit, I have a favor to ask you.'
I grimaced. Not more work, surely. I already had far too many assignments on my plate at the moment to handle.
I obeyed, and sat down opposite Eliza, who took a large drag from her cigarette and exhaled a thick fog of smoke into my face. I coughed and backed away slightly.
'Eliza...' I said, trying to dodge the next cloud of smoke that was about to escape from her lips. 'I really don't think I have time for another assignment at the moment-'
'Just hear me out here.' Eliza interrupted. 'I know that lately, it would seem I may have been giving you a large amount of work to do, and I understand it must be quite tedious, but what with two of our journalists suddenly quitting, I've had to lay it on a bit thickly.'
I nodded, and she continued.
'But this assignment I'm about to give you, really can't be given to anyone else in these offices, and besides, I think you may even quite like it. And, If you take it, I'll give the My Chemical Romance and Linkin Park interviews to someone else.'
OK, so I had kinda been looking forward to meeting Frankie, but it was relief to know the pressures of writing those articles would be off my shoulders. And I knew that I didn't really have a choice in taking the assignment anyway.
'So what would this assignment consist of?' I asked, intrigued 'Why can't anyone else do it?'
'Because you're the youngest,the prettiest, and, well, single.'
I raised my eyebrows. 'What has that got to do with anything?' I asked.
Eliza stood up and stubbed out the cigarette in her ash tray before leaning forward so that her talon-tipped hands were lent on the desk in front of me and her face was level with my own.
'Ella, I want you to go undercover.' She said.
'I-uh-what' I stammered, pulling a confused face.
'Undercover.' She repeated 'You know, incognito. I want you to get a story from someone without them knowing.'
'But why would I do that?' I asked, perplexed.
Eliza just tilted her head back and surprised me by giving a roar of laughter, which ceased just as suddenly as it had started.
'Because Ella, there are some things people want to know, and some things people don't want to tell.'
'But I can't go undercover!' I protested 'I'm terrible at lying! I'll fuck it- I mean mess it up.'
'Nonsense.' She said 'You'll do just fine. You wouldn't be lying anyway per 'se. You simply wouldn't be telling the truth.'
I sighed. 'So what is it I'd have to do exactly?'
'Well' She said, a satisfied smirk creeping onto her lips as she sat back down. 'Are you familiar with the band Panic At The Disco?'
'Uh, yeah, sure.' I said 'I mean I've never worked with them before but I've heard of them.'
'Lovely, well. Are you aware that they are currently working on producing their follow up album from their platinum debut?'
'I am now.' I shrugged. 'So what? You want me to find out what it sounds like?'
'Panic are absolutely huge right now.' She said 'And they're new album is said to be causing quite a lot of controversy. Fans are scared that they're changing their sound. Panic have been very quiet about the whole thing. They began writing in a cabin somewhere in the mountains. Word is that they've completely scrapped everything that they began to write and have come back down to start all over again in a hotel right here in Vegas. Nothing about the album has been revealed yet. No album name, no song titles...Nada. If we could dish the dirt on this album before anyone else, Sound Scene will start flying off the shelves.'
'But why would they let me know anything?' I asked, fearing her answer.
'Because.' She said 'Your going to get up, close and personal with the lead guitarist and lyricist.'
'Are they the same person?' I asked innocently, but she simply gave an icy laugh in reply.
'His name is Ryan Ross. He is the only single one in the band at the moment, I believe. He's just broken up with his girlfriend of two years or so.'
'But-but...so by 'up, close and personal' you mean...?'
'Exactly.' She smiled, resting her chin on her hands. 'Ella, if you were to pretend to become this guys girlfriend, he would unravel everything about the new album to you.
You've gone nuts is the first thing I felt like saying to her.
'But, I can't go out with a total stranger!' I said, horrified.
'He won't be a stranger for much longer.' Eliza shrugged. 'I assure he's very nice. Looks and personality wise. Apparently he's the intellectual type. Smart, and quite shy.'
'But Eliza' I said 'I'm not exactly...you know...'
She raised a pointy, drawn on eyebrow at me.
I sighed. 'You know, I'm not exactly...well...used to dating guys.' I said, quite embarrassed.
Eliza laughed. 'Oh I know that.' She said, surprising me 'Everyone knows that Ella. Work has always come first to you hasn't it? Which is how it is for any successful woman in business today. It's a good thing; because I know I can trust you to take it professionally, and not end up getting too carried away...like falling in love with him.'
I sighed and shook my head. 'I could never do it.' I said 'I wouldn't be able to get him to go out with me.'
'Ella, you have absolutely no self esteem' She said 'You're a very pretty girl. And I'm not saying it to be nice, I'm saying it because it is necessary that you know. And you've got that whole...you know' She pulled a face 'Sarcastic...witty thing going on too, and your smart. To put it bluntly Ella, you're a catch.'
I merely blinked at her.
'Don't seem so surprised.' She said 'Now you're going to do this assignment for me, and your not going to fuck it up, you hear?'
'But, isn't it kind of mean?' I said 'To this Ryan guy? I mean, I don't know how I would feel if someone used me to get a story.'
'He'll never know it was you' She said, with a casual shrug.'And by the time you've got the story, you merely break it off with him, giving some feeble excuse like, your not ready for a relationship right now or whatever. Simple.'
'Eliza, I'm sorry, but I really don't know if I can do this' I said biting my lip, and looking down to my lap.
'I don't really think that's for you to decide.' She said sharply. 'I want this story Ella. And when I want something, I get it. Otherwise, someone pays, you understand?'
I looked up into her cold icy blue eyes that were staring me down. I would be the person paying no doubt, and I couldn't afford for that to happen. If I didn't agree to pretending to date this famous rock star guy, Eliza would fire me. Then it would be bye bye Las Vegas, and hello again England.
I sighed. 'OK' I said glumly.
'Excellent.' She said. 'If you do this well Ella, I can promise you will be rewarded very highly.' She said, rubbing her thumb and forefinger together for effect.
'So how is this whole thing going to work anyway?' I asked.
'Well' She said 'Next Friday Sound scene is going to be throwing a little bash. Panic will be invited, naturally. Assuming they turn up-and I will make sure that they will-I will introduce you to them.'
It sounded so crazy; How could I get a hot, famous rock star to like me? Boring old Ella Lapone who grew up on a farm in England, and is so busy working that she's had only one date in the past 6 months. And even that ended horribly, and consisted of me climbing out of the bathroom window to escape.
'Oh, and I'll want the story in about a month.' She added.
'I'll try my best Eliza.' I sighed, thinking it could only end in disappointment all round. I was never going to be able to do this. I don't know the first thing when it comes to guys.
'That's all I ask.' She said. 'You are dismissed.'
I stood up and uttered a small 'thank you' before exciting the office and walking back up the deserted hallway.
I was surely going to be fired.