They finished with a clash of sound, the band yelling their thanks then running off stage. I stood alone in the crowd, feeling at once triumphant because the show had been just that damn good, and sad, because it was the last one I would see for a while.
Real life was intruding, summer was over, and I had to go back to school. There were a dozen of so 8 year olds who needed me to help them ‘be all they could be’ to paraphrase the school’s motto. The band I had watched casually for months, then not so casually for the last few months when I’d somehow captured the attention of their singer, didn’t need me, not really.
Around me people were starting to push towards the exits and I listened as they flowed around me. The show had been ‘brilliant’, ‘awesome’, ‘amazing’, and the best song was being hotly debated by a couple with their arms twined around each other. Smiling at the comments I moved against the crowd towards the backstage exit knowing Nick would be waiting not so patiently in the dressing room.
I didn’t recognise the men working security but appreciated their professionalism as they were faced with a sea of scantily clad women trying to get by them. Thank god I had a pass as there was no way my jeans and tshirt were going to get me in if the mini skirts and tiny dresses weren’t getting by. The … women/girls were for the most part young and gorgeous, I felt positively ancient standing at the back of the group.
Resigned to pushing through and the resulting glares and elbows I reached into my back pocket for the plastic card that would save me having to beg to ‘just go say hello’ as some of the girls were suggesting, only to come up empty. Okay, check other pocket. No need to panic, I’d just call Nick and he’d send someone for me, only …. my front pocket was empty too. What the fuck! I’d been pick pocketed during the concert? Or maybe I’d dropped them both or missed my pocket when I thought I’d put them away. It had been crowded, bodies pressed together as we all enjoyed the concert. It was possible.
It took me a lot less time to get back to where I’d watched the show from since the place was nearly empty and even less time to check the floor. Nothing. I didn’t panic, I was a teacher after all, I just had to think. Okay, new plan. Find a phone to call Nick and hit up lost property in case I had just dropped it.
Good plan, except when I got out to the foyer there was no brightly lit lost and found for me. Also, thanks to rise of mobile phones, I couldn’t see any pay phones to use. Then I spotted the ‘Information Desk’, it’s well lit radiance drawing me in. A bored looking twenty-something was leaning on the desk, looking down at the phone in her hand. Same model as mine but it was a pretty common model.
My interruption didn’t rate a look, she just recited, “No I can’t call you a cab, there are pay phones outside.”
Good to know but not my priority since I could now see the phone screen as she tried to work out my passcode. “I was looking for lost property actually.”
She sighed loudly and looked up at me. Her brand of customer service didn’t come with a smile. “What have you lost?”
“My phone,” I said with a smile and pointed at it since she held it in her hand.
“How do I know it’s yours?” She challenged, pressing it to her chest.
“You could hand it over and I’ll unlock it,” I suggested.
“Yeah right,” she said with a sneer. “How do I know you’re not some hacker that knows a trick to do that.”
Okay, I could appreciate her caution, so I tried again. “The lock screen in a photo of my boyfriend. He’s wearing a green tshirt.”
“You mean Nico and you and every girl here has him on their phone.” She shook her head and gave me a look that said I was an idiot. Right, Nico, not Nick. Because according to their PR people, it was more rockstar. But I was pretty sure I was the only one with that photo on their phone because I was the one who’d taken it.
If I could get her to let me unlock the phone, there were photos of me on there too which should be proof enough for the lost property guardian. But I really didn’t want her looking through my photos. Wait, I had it.
“Do you have a phone there? I’ll tell you the number, then when it rings, that should be proof enough, right?”
Before she could answer me, the phone in her hand chirped and she jerked it away to look at the screen.
“Just hit the button, it’ll go to speaker,” I told her helpfully.
“Hello?” She answered with her great customer service voice.
“Who’s this?” Nick’s voice just about matched hers.
“Stella. Who’s this?” She shot back.
“Why are you answering my girlfriend’s phone Stella?”
I watched her face as she listened to his voice, could see her battle between wanting to believe and then her eyes jumped to me and there was pure disbelief.
“Someone lost this phone, it was handed in to me at the info desk.”
“In the lobby?”
“Yes, why?” Stella asked.
“Don’t move, I’ll be there in a minute.” Nick didn’t wait for an answer.
“So, your boyfriend will be able to vouch that it’s yours,” she said like it was all her idea.
“Great,” I agreed with a smile. I looked around and was relieved to see most of the crowd had cleared. Nick didn’t always think before he acted and I didn’t know if he would have grabbed a security guard to come with him.
Stella’s voice had me turning back to face her. “Does your boyfriend know you have Nico’s photo for your lock screen?” She held up my phone so I could see the photo in question.
“He doesn’t mind,” I said with a shrug. The shock on her face was my warning before a rough hand gripped my neck and a hard body pressed against me.
“Babe, what the hell?” Before I could answer his hand slid into my hair and his mouth covered mine for an all too brief kiss.
From behind me came this noise, “Ohmigawditsnicoitsreallyyou!”
“Oh hey, Stella right?” He smiled as she just stared, her jaw slack. I knew how she felt, he had that effect on me sometimes too. “Thanks for finding this.” He plucked my phone from her hand and shoved it into his own pocket.
I finally noticed the two huge security men behind him as he twined out fingers together and we followed the first one, the second one a step behind us. A ripple of awareness rose behind us but the crowd was too small and we were moving too fast for it to become a problem. In minute we were backstage and behind a closed door.
“Are you okay?” Nick held me by the shoulders and looked me up and down.
“I’m fine, I must have dropped it,” I said dismissively. “You guys were amazing as usual.”
“Someone else had your pass, I thought … I didn’t know …” his voice trailed off and his eyes were so uncertain.
“You thought what?” I stepped back, out of his grip and crossed my arms over my chest. “That maybe I’d sold it?”
Guilt flashed across his face and my anger grew. Not so much at him but at the person who fed his fear, who made him think I’d rather have a few extra dollars than him.
He shrugged and looked down at the floor. “It’s the last show for you and I know your flight is early. Libby said maybe you’d gone back to the hotel to pack.”
Right there was the problem. Their publicist hated me, and did everything she could to drive a wedge between Nick and I. It hadn’t taken her long to see how Nick could be insecure and had some abandonment issues. I hated that he let her get to him but realistically, the few months we’d been together hadn’t been enough to build a buffer of trust against her poison.
I could either let her games spoil our last night together or I could show Nick the truth of my feelings. I took a deep breath and let the anger go for now, then I moved closer to him, pressed my hands to his chest and slid them up to tangle in his hair.
“And miss my chance to make out with Nico the rockstar,” I teased. “No way.”
At my touch his head lifted and he smirked at me. “Really?” He wrapped his arms around me, pressed me to him so not even air could come between us. “And what would your boyfriend say about that?”
A few hours later he kissed me desperately then I buried my face against his chest so he wouldn’t see my tears.
“I’m going to miss you so much,” he murmured as we held each other for a last few seconds.
“It’s not forever,” I reminded him. “I’ll fly out when ever I can and we’ll talk every day.”
“Every day,” he said like it was a promise.
Aren’t promises only made to be broken?