Jul 3, 2006 4:10 PM
You Are (the second one in the series)
“Oh my God, do you know how many calories are in that?” Angie shakes her head in disbelief.
Riley Thomas looks down at the tall stack of pancakes the waitress had just set in front of her. She frowns, as though considering what her sister had said. Then she shrugs and drizzles syrup all over her pancakes.
“You can’t eat that!” Angie continues. “It’s not healthy!”
Riley stares Angie directly in the eyes and shoves the largest bite she can manage into her mouth.
“Ew!” Angie wrinkles her nose in disgust.
“Dammit, Angie, let me eat!” she says, bits of pancake sticking to the corners of her mouth.
“Riley, we will not use that language,” Mrs. Thomas reprimands. As soon as Riley begins to protest, she quickly adds, “And Angela, don’t bother Riley about her food.”
Angie concentrates on picking the blueberries out of her muffin and Riley eats her pancakes.
“Man, I like it when they fight,” Charlie says. He stirs his chocolate milk.
The Thomas family is sitting in the local Denny’s eating brunch. Later that day, Riley has a flight bound for Los Angeles to record vocals for the Format’s second album.
How strange, Riley thinks. People across America know my name and face. I’m a famous rock star, so to speak, but even I can’t escape the awkward family meal.
Mrs. Thomas turns a concerned face to Riley. “Now, you’re sure Evan is meeting you at the L.A. airport?”
Riley rolls her eyes. “For the thousandth time, Mum, yes. He’ll be there. He promised.”
“Are you sure?” Angie asks. She arches an eyebrow. “What if he forgets you?”
“I highly doubt my own boyfriend will forget me!”
“Oooh, boyfriend,” Charlie shouts gleefully.
“Am I the only normal person in this family?” Riley snaps.
“Come on, honey, your father and I are quite normal,” Mrs. Thomas says. She pats her husband, who hasn’t said anything, on the arm.
“You bought a pet turtle…for no reason…”
“It’s not any stranger than you being a rock star, Riley.” Angie grimaces at her.
“Shut up!” Riley throws a packet of grape jam at Angie and it bounces off the side of her head. “Mum, does she really have to go on tour with me? I don’t need a babysitter!”
“It’s not a babysitter, honey, it’s a personal assistant,” Mrs. Thomas reasons. “I don’t like the thought of you in a different country without someone you know.”
“I know the guys in the band! And Evan said he’ll come for some of the tour dates.”
“I don’t want you surrounded by young, hormonal males. I’d just feel more comfortable having Angie there, although I do think Evan is a very nice man.”
“Oh, I’m sure he is,” Angie juts in. “That’s why he’s barely called Riley, his girlfriend, this whole month!”
“He’s been overseas!” Riley tries to explain.
“Yes…with all those groupies. And let’s not forget those European girls…”
“Dammit, Angie, just because your husband left you doesn’t mean Evan will do that to me!”
Angie blushes. “He didn’t leave…it was mutual!” She stumbles over her words.
“Sure.” Riley licks syrup off of her fork. “Let’s ask his secretary, shall we?”
The blush in her face pales. She dives out of the booth and rushes to the bathroom.
Her parents glaring at her, Riley sighs. “I know, I know…I’ll go wait in the car and think of an apology.” She slips on her jacket and steps outside into the cool air, leaving her plate of half-eaten pancakes behind.
A few minutes later, the rest of the family exits the restaurant, Angie stomping behind them. The car ride is quiet.
At the airport, Mrs. Thomas clutches Riley tightly. “Honey, go and make me proud! I’m going to miss you!”
“I’ll miss you too…but if you don’t let go I think I’m gonna pass out.” Riley is gasping for air when her mother releases her. She says goodbye to the rest of her family and pauses when she comes to Angie. “Look, I’m sorry, okay?” she says so only they can hear.
Angie shrugs her shoulders. “Whatever.”
“I guess I’ll see you on tour…soon…”
“I guess so.”
* * * * * *
Jul 3, 2006 4:11 PM
“Miss, would you like something to drink?” a flight attendant asks.
“Hm?” Riley pulls off her headphones. “Oh, no, thank you.”
The flight attendant moves on down the aisle and Riley stares out the window.
It’s amazing how much can change in a year, she thinks. Last year, I was struggling to be known and now I can’t pick up a magazine without me in it.
But that’s what happened with fame. Right after touring with Evan’s band, the Format had released their debut album. It sold four million copies, a surprise to everyone since they were widely unknown. They were thrown into a whirlwind of touring and media frenzy, especially after their two singles both went to number one.
It’s hard being the center of attention all the time, she thinks. But it’s what I wanted. I’m not complaining.
In addition to that, there was now pressure on the Format. ‘Can they top their debut album?’ reporters wanted to know. After seeing this craziness and realizing they needed rest, the Format went on a short vacation. It was a relief to finally have a break. The guys went back to L.A. to visit their families and write music. Meanwhile, Riley returned to her hometown of Stillwater, Oklahoma. She wrote new lyrics and that’s why she is currently heading for L.A.: to record and prepare for the Format’s overseas tour.
I can’t wait to see Evan! Riley grins at the window. He had been touring with his band overseas and they hadn’t seen each other in several months. That was another thing that’s strange: everyone wants to know everything about me and Evan, from what food we ate at dinner to who we hang out with! It’s true; one day Riley wore a ring she found at a vintage store to an awards show and the next day, the tabloids said that it was an engagement ring and she and Evan were secretly married. It’s difficult, but they manage by not discussing their relationship in interviews and trying to keep a low profile on dates.
I wouldn’t change anything though, Riley thinks. I love Evan and being with him and making music with him and having sex—I mean, um…dammit, when will this plane land?!
Finally, after what seems like an eternity, the plane lands in the L.A. airport. Riley dodges past some other flyers and practically skips off the plane and into the terminal. Inside she comes to a halt and glances around.
There’s no sign of Evan.
Where could he be? Riley wonders and sits in a chair to wait. Ten minutes pass. What if Angie was right? What if he forgot me? She bites her nails nervously.
Suddenly she spots a familiar figure across the terminal, craning his neck. He’s wearing a beanie pulled low over his ears but he can’t conceal his signature half-smile. It grows when he spots her too.
Riley runs as fast as she can through the terminal, crashing into Evan and throwing her arms around him. “Evan…” she sighs.
“Hey Riley-girl,” he whispers and hugs her. His half-smile is on a full-on grin now. “Did you have a good flight?”
“Yeah…I couldn’t wait to see you. I missed you so much.” She trails a finger along the collar of his shirt.
“I missed you too. Let me have a good look at you.” Evan holds her an arm’s length away from his body. “Mm-hmm, everything just the way I left it. No surprises, right?”
“Nope. Well…maybe this one thing…” Riley grabs his collar and pulls him into her, kissing him fully on the mouth.
“That was a surprise. A nice one, I might add.” Evan grins but purses his lips. “I think some paparazzi are here. See?”
Riley follows his pointed finger. Several men clad in casual clothes are hunched together near the terminal entrance, snapping away. She frowns.
“Fucking damn paparazzi. Can’t even say hello to my own girlfriend without them taking pictures and ruining the moment.” Evan looks extremely angry and shoots them a dirty look.
I certainly wouldn’t want Evan to ever look at me like that, she thinks and shivers. Scary. “They’re not ruining the moment, baby, not for me at least…I’m still happy to see you. I can’t wait to be alone with you.” She wiggles her eyebrows.
Evan turns back to her and his angry expression is gone, replaced by another grin. “Come on then, we’ll get your luggage and something to eat…or whatever you want.”
Evan puts an arm around her and squeezes her shoulder. “I’m so happy to see you though…so glad to have you back.”
Riley smiles up at him. “Me too.”
Jul 3, 2006 4:11 PM
Jul 3, 2006 4:12 PM
“Damn, Riley, how much shit did you bring?” Evan asks. He stares in awe as she piles another suitcase into his already filled arms.
“Come on, it’s not that much! I’ll be living out here and I’m going on tour soon, so of course I had to pack lots of ‘shit.’” Riley arches an eyebrow at him. “Why, can’t handle it? Do I need to find another man to carry my ‘shit’ around?”
“Oh nooo, definitely not. I can handle it, see?” He lifts two of her suitcases over his shoulders and nearly falls backwards at their weight. He stumbles and regains his balance. “Told you.”
“Nice.” She pinches his cheek and they exit the airport, heading for Evan’s car. Evan loads Riley’s things into the trunk and slides into the driver’s seat. Riley buckles herself into the passenger’s side and flicks on the radio.
“Don’t even think about changing the station,” Evan says knowingly and grins at her.
“How did you know I was going to do that?”
“Every time we’re in the car, you go for the radio dial. I expect it.” He cranks up the car, backs out of the parking space, and pulls out onto the highway. “Besides, I don’t think you’d want to change it anyways.”
“Why is that--” Riley begins to ask, but all of a sudden the music comes blaring out of the speakers and she hears her own voice. It’s the Format’s first album. “Awww, Evan!” She leans over and kisses him on the cheek. “It’s me!”
“No shit.” Evan checks his rearview mirror and switches lanes. “It’s one of the only CDs I listened to on tour…I told you I missed you.”
“Awww,” she repeats and turns it up. They sing along with the songs at the top of their lungs. Riley stops and stares out the window. “Hey Ev, that’s the exit you always take…I think you missed your turn…”
“It’s not my turn anymore.”
“Wait…so you’re not living in the suite now?”
“Nope. I got an apartment a month ago, but I’m just starting to move stuff in. I can’t wait for you to see it,” Evan explains. “I have a little surprise for you…”
“What is it?”
“If I tell you, it’s not a surprise.”
“But you’ll have to tell me eventually.”
“And eventually will come later when I decide to tell you the surprise. Patience, my young grasshopper, patience.” Evan takes one hand off the wheel and tousles her hair.
Defeated, Riley sinks down into her seat. “I’m not a grasshopper,” she mumbles.
Evan glances at her and she pretends to pout but as soon as he turns away she smiles. She fiddles with the window button on the car door. It gets stuck every third time, she recalls. I’ve been in this car and counted enough times to know. She remembers the first time she’d ever been in Evan’s car: over a year ago, he’d asked her to go with him to see Baltimore. They’d hated each other then and it was awkwardly silent in the car. But now...any silence we have isn’t awkward and I’m comfortable in this car. She glances into the back seat. Lots of make out sessions back there…
“What are you thinking about?” Evan interrupts her thoughts.
“It’s a surprise,” Riley mocks him.
“You know, if I wasn’t driving, I’d probably smack you in the face.”
“You wouldn’t do that! You like me too much.”
“Hm…well, I guess I like you a little…” Evan pulls onto an exit. “It’s only about ten more minutes until we get to my apartment.”
Riley nods and turns up the music again. He turns onto a tree-lined street and pulls up in front of a large grey building. “Holy shit, Evan, it’s freaking GothamCity. I’m expecting Batman to jump out from somewhere!”
“Hah hah,” Evan says dryly. “I admit it looks really…scary…on the outside, but it’s different inside. Let’s go.”
“Wait, this song is almost over! We can’t just cut it off in the middle!”
Evan shakes his head, laughing, and they shout together the last words to the song: “This is who we are and you better believe it, so you can take it or leave it!”
They take her luggage out of the trunk and walk inside to a huge lobby. He presses the button for the elevator and they ride up to the fifth floor, the top one. He jiggles the keys in front of her face. “Home, sweet home,” he says and opens the door.
Riley’s mouth drops as she looks around the apartment. The door opens into a short foyer. There’s a huge living room on the left with floor-to-ceiling windows, black leather couches, a coffee table, a widescreen television, and a stereo system set up in the corner. To the right is a spacious kitchen full of stainless steel.
She feels Evan’s eyes carefully watching her. “Do you like it?” he asks shyly.
“Um…yeah! Wow, it’s so big! Sorry, I was a bit in shock.”
“Come see my office and my bedroom.” Evan leads her down a long hallway. “Bathroom and closet…” He taps two doors on the left. “And this is actually another bedroom, but I’ve turned it into my working space.” He points to a door on the right.
Riley steps inside of it and glances around. His drum set is in the middle of the room with various amps and guitars spread around it. A keyboard and computer are on a desk against the wall. “A bit disorganized, are we?”
“Yeah. I have to figure out how I want it all set up.”
She turns to face him. “What about my surprise? Is it time yet?”
“As a matter of fact, yes.” Evan grins and grabs her hand. “It’s in my bedroom.” His bedroom is practically empty with only a bed, a nightstand, and a chest of drawers. He waves his hand around.
“Where’s my surprise?”
“This is it.”
Riley leans against the nightstand. “Um…I’m not sure what you mean.”
Jul 3, 2006 4:13 PM
Evan rolls his eyes in exasperation. “Okay, okay.” He swings open his closet door. Some of his clothes are hanging inside, but only take up half the space. The other half is empty. Then he walks over to the chest of drawers and yanks open two drawers. One is full of his stuff; the other is empty.
She stares at him.
“Did you notice anything?”
“Half of everything is empty.”
“To make space for two.” Evan looks into Riley’s eyes. “Do you get it now?”
Oh my God…he wants me to move in with him! This is a big step! Oh my God! Riley puts a hand to her mouth. “You want me…to move in with you.” She says it more like a statement.
“Yes.” She doesn’t say anything and he looks worried. “Is that okay? I thought things were going well. Did I assume too much?”
Riley finds her voice. “No! I mean, no, you didn’t assume too much! Of course I’ll move in with you!” She jumps into his arms and he hugs her tightly.
“Now.” Evan pulls away and kisses her quickly on the mouth. “Are you hungry? I’ll get you whatever you want.”
“Hm…is that Japanese place close to here? I feel like some take-out.”
“Sure, I’ll order something and they’ll deliver. Chicken, like always?”
“Yep.” He leaves the room and Riley sinks onto the soft bed. Wow, she thinks. This is my new home. Everything in my life is perfect! Perfect job, perfect boyfriend, perfect life…She closes her eyes and sighs happily.
Jul 3, 2006 4:14 PM
“Okay, I ordered the food. They said it’d only be like twenty to twenty-five minutes,” Evan says, entering the room.
Riley sits up. “Great.”
“And what were you doing?”
“Nothing really. I was just thinking how bare this room is.”
“When you move in, you can handle that. I suck with those things.” Evan sits beside her on the bed and slips an arm around her waist. “Which, by the way, I’m happy you’re moving here.”
Riley leans into him. “Me too. What would you have done if I had said no?”
“I would have!” Evan uses the arm he has around her to tickle her viciously. “I would have! Admit it!”
“Okay! You would have cried!” Riley gasps for air and collapses back onto the bed. Evan lies beside her and she turns on her side to gaze at him.
“You said earlier you couldn’t wait until we were alone,” he says and raises his eyebrows.
“So we are.” Riley nods. She places a hand on his cheek and touches his lips lightly with her own.
“No, that’s not good enough.” Evan gently pulls her to him, barely leaving any space between them, and keeps one hand on the small of her back and the other on her tummy. He kisses her softly and slides her shirt up, rubbing her tummy.
Goosebumps form on her skin and she smiles against his mouth.
“What?” He begins working on the buttons of her shirt.
“Nothing,” Riley whispers. Evan has finished unbuttoning her shirt and she sits up to allow it to slide off her and hit the floor. He lifts his shirt over his head and it joins hers. She kisses his neck and moves her hands along his smooth back and chest. He feels so wonderful, she thinks.
Evan grins. “Remember our rule…”
“I know: no hickeys.” Riley kisses his neck again and runs her fingers through his hair. “But you’re the one who needs to remember that! You almost gave me one right before the VMA’s!”
He laughs evilly. “I did, didn’t I? Poor you.” He brings her attention back to his lips and works at the clasp on her bra.
She kisses him harder and presses her body against him.
“What the hell…is this…an invincible bra or something?” Evan mutters into her mouth. He’s still struggling with the clasp.
Riley giggles and slaps his hand away. “It’s a different one…it hooks in the front, dumbass.”
“Excuuuse me,” he huffs and stops. “I don’t care now. You hurt my feelings.”
“Awww, baby.” She unhooks it herself and tosses it to the floor. “Does that help?”
“Hm.” Evan nuzzles her neck. “Certainly doesn’t hurt the situation.”
They kiss for several minutes. I love him so much, Riley thinks. I can’t imagine being with anyone else ever. There’s just one problem. If only he would say…
“I missed you so much. Did I tell you how much I missed you?” Evan whispers.
“I think so. But how much did you miss me?” Riley whispers back.
“A lot. I’ll prove it to you.” Evan unbuckles his belt, unzips his jeans, and takes one of Riley’s hands. He slides it into his boxers. “Do you feel that?”
“Yes…you missed me a lot,” Riley agrees and moves her hand. Evan half-closes his eyes.
He unzips her jeans as well and rests a hand just inside her underwear. “Now I have to see how much you missed me…”
“It was a lot too,” Riley says and closes her eyes. She enjoys feeling him this close to her and sharing this moment with him. If only he would say it, those three words, she finishes her previous thought. Why won’t he? It’s like pulling teeth with him. Maybe I could say it now, maybe, just maybe… “I love you, Evan,” she tries.
So much for that. “Well, don’t you--”
He covers her mouth with a kiss, stopping anything she was going to say.
The doorbell rings.
“Fuck.” Evan jerks away from her and sighs. “That’s the food. I forgot it was coming.” He hurriedly fixes his jeans, tugs on his shirt, and races to the door.
Jul 3, 2006 4:15 PM
Riley snatches her clothes from the floor and slowly dresses. What am I doing wrong? she wonders. Why can’t he just say it? It’s not that hard, is it? He loves me, doesn’t he? He must. How else can you make love with someone if you don’t love them? She drags herself to the living room.
Evan is setting some take-out cartons onto the coffee table. He flicks open the tab on a few of them. “Chicken…this is yours…and this rice too…” He hands her two cartons and a pair of chopsticks. “And the sushi is mine.”
They plop down onto the couch. Evan flips on the television and Riley curls up beside him. A Paul McCartney special is on and they silently watch that, or at least Evan does. Riley is so lost in her thoughts she can’t concentrate.
It’s been longer than a year and I’ve said ‘I love you’ to him many times. All he ever says in return is ‘Yes,’ or ‘I know,’ or something equally unromantic. Maybe I should ask him about it. He likes it when I’m honest.
She glances at him. He’s lifting the chopsticks to his mouth, but the glob of rice he has on it falls and lands on his shirt. “Shit,” he mumbles and wipes it with a napkin. She can’t help but laugh. He smiles at her and kisses her on the cheek.
Not today. The time is not right. Riley steals a piece of sushi from him and resumes eating. “I hate chopsticks,” she says.
“Then get a fork,” Evan advises.
“But you always make me eat with chopsticks. You say it’s an insult to the food to eat it with a fork and then you laugh at me when it takes me two hours to eat!”
“True, but…the sooner you get a fork, the sooner you finish eating. And the sooner you finish eating, the sooner we can…” He makes a kissing face with his lips and widens his eyes.
Riley stares at him strangely. “The sooner we can pretend to be fish?”
Evan tips his head back and laughs. “I never knew my fish face was so attractive. You know what?” He sets his food on the table and adds her own to it. “I don’t feel like waiting. Come on.” He stands and reaches for her.
She crosses her arms and smirks at him. “I’m hungry.”
“Me too, for you. Come on!” He picks her up and tosses her over his shoulder.
“Evan Taubenfeld! Put me down!” Riley shouts but she’s laughing along with him. She almost says “I love you” but remembers his earlier reaction.
He drops her onto the bed and immediately starts kissing her.
He has to love me, I know he does, even if he doesn’t say it. It’d just make this so much better if he said it. How can I enjoy it as much? I don’t see how I can. I won’t give in this time. But when Evan pulls something out from the nightstand drawer and takes his place on top of her, she does.
Jul 3, 2006 4:16 PM
“No, I don’t eat apples with cheese. Who does that?” Riley mumbles. She topples off the bed and jolts awake. She rubs her head. Okay, definitely not eating Japanese food before bed anymore. What a crazy dream! she thinks.
She rises and looks around the unfamiliar room, remembering she’s in Evan’s new apartment. She sighs as she realizes Evan is nowhere to be found. Must be in his office making some musical magic, she decides. She can count on one hand the number of times she’s woken up with him at her side. By the time she awakens, he’s usually been up for awhile, messing with a recording program on his computer or plucking along on his guitar strings. It used to annoy her.
“Why can’t you just stay with me?” she had asked him once.
“How can I? After being with you all night, it’s impossible for me to relax…I get so inspired. I have to write or do something,” he’d told her.
So now she accepts it as a special part of him.
Ironic, Riley thinks. The press is always trying to take pictures of us or find out information about our relationship, when all they really have to do is listen to Evan’s songs. Everything is in there. It’s also ironic that, a year ago, if he had been in the same room with me I would have left it so that I wasn’t anywhere near him. And now a room feels empty if he’s not in it.
She stretches, yawns, and searches for some clothes. She settles on one of Evan’s shirts and tiptoes to his office. He’s sitting at the desk chair, holding his guitar and staring out the window. She creeps up behind him and grips his shoulders. “Boo!” she yells.
Evan doesn’t jump or anything. “Good morning, sleepy head,” he says and strums a C chord.
Riley scowls. “How did you know I was behind you?”
“I heard you fall off the bed. Then I heard you digging for one of my shirts.” He hasn’t looked at her yet.
She stares at the back of his head. “How did you know I would have your shirt on? You haven’t even looked at me yet!”
Evan finally turns to face her and sets his guitar aside. “Because I know you very well,” he replies. He yanks her into his lap. “Extremely well.”
“I believe it. But next time I fall off the bed, you may want to check on me at least!”
“Eh, if you need me, you’ll shout or something. Hungry?” He spins in his chair with her still on his lap and stops at his desk where a plate of toast and a glass of orange juice are sitting. “I brought you something.”
“Thank you.” Riley kisses his cheek.
“No problem. Now get off of me.” Evan nudges her and she semi-falls from the chair.
She pouts at him. “That’s no way to treat your girlfriend.”
“Aw, baby, you’re right. After all, I do lo…like you. You’re my third favorite girl in the entire world.”
Was he about to say ‘I love you’? “Third favorite? Good, I’m moving up in the ranking.”
“That you are.”
Riley nibbles on a piece of toast and props herself up on the desk. Evan takes out a notebook from a drawer. “Oh no, not the notebook,” she complains. He carries around a composition notebook where he writes down ideas, criticisms, etc. for songs and, mainly, her.
“Yes, the notebook.”
“Things were going so well.”
“I looked at the material you wrote on the break and I selected the best ones, in my opinion.” Evan pulls out a sheaf of papers, her songs, and spreads them out in his lap. “So let’s do some vocals. I want to see what you’ve come up with him.”
“Evannnnn,” Riley whines.
“Do we have to do this yet? I just want to spend some more time with you and not work.”
“I’m sorry, baby, but we have to do this. I’ve got studio time booked for us today and we shouldn’t waste time doing this in there when we can do it here.”
“Okay, fine.” Riley crams the rest of her toast into her mouth, washes it down with orange juice, and slides off the desk. “I’m ready.”
“Besides, aren’t you excited to see the guys today?”
“They’re going to be there?” She leaps up and down. “Yes! I haven’t seen them in over a month! I can’t wait!”
Evan clicks his teeth and says, “The sooner we begin, the sooner we’ll see them. Let’s start with this, ‘Homecoming.’” He begins to pick out the rhythm on his guitar.
Riley clears her throat and sings, “I didn’t notice, but I wouldn’t say it was because I didn’t care. Then one day I turned around too soon, and you weren’t standing there…”
After about an hour of singing most of the songs, Evan hands her a sheet of paper and a pen. “Write me a hit,” he says.
“Write you a hit?” Riley props her feet on the desk. “It’s not that easy.”
“Write me one anyway,” Evan commands her. “I want just one more song to work on.”
She writes “This is a Hit” at the top of the paper. She laughs. “There you go.”
“Smartass,” he says. “I’m serious…” He slides a hand down the front of her, or rather his, shirt.
“Oh…oh!” Riley blushes and immediately begins writing. Ten minutes later she’s finished and Evan suggests they get ready and head for the studio. Once they arrive Riley is so excited to see the guys that she leaps out of the car and races inside.
Jul 3, 2006 4:18 PM
Jul 3, 2006 4:21 PM
I want pancakes. Buttermilk pancakes to be exact - con el tocino!
Jul 3, 2006 4:21 PM
that's cause i wrote it months ago
“When will they be here?” she hears Mark saying. “It’s been forever!”
“Chill,” Dylan says. “They’ll be here…when they’re here!”
“We’re here!” Riley shouts and bangs open the studio door. “I’m back, boys!” She and the guys all hug at the same time. She can’t stop grinning; she’s so happy to finally see the guys after what feels like an eternity of separation.
Evan quietly enters and settles into a couch in the back of the studio.
“Taubenfeld!” Mark says and shakes his hand. “Let me just say that it’s an honor that you chose to produce our second album as well.”
“I see you’re still ass-kissing Evan,” Riley teases.
“You’re kissing Evan somewhere too, Miss Riley, just not on the ass.” Mark high-fives Eric and they burst into laughter while Riley blushes.
“Okay, okay, children,” Evan interrupts but he’s laughing too. “I know I have personal connections with the Format now”—he glances at Riley—“but I am still a professional, your manager, and your producer. We do have to get some work done, so let’s not waste time.”
“How about being my buddy too and fetching me a snack? I’m hungry,” Eric says.
Evan gives him a look.
“Okay then…” Eric hides behind Riley.
“We’ve written some music these past few weeks,” Mark offers. “I don’t know if they’ll fit the lyrics, but maybe they would.”
“Let’s hear it.” Evan points to the recording booth. “The instruments are set up in there, right?”
“Yeah.” Mark walks into the booth, sits down on the stool, and picks up his guitar. He plays a few measures of the song until Evan stops him.
Evan flips through the pages that have Riley’s lyrics. “I think that this one would work. Riley-girl, try to pick up a rhythm and sing along with Mark.”
“Ooooh, ‘Riley-girl,’” Eric jokes. “Someone’s going soft. Guys, do you remember recording our first album? We couldn’t keep these two from fighting!”
Dylan laughs. “Yeah, and they would always glare at each other!”
“And they couldn’t agree on the songs,” Mark adds.
“Yeah, well,” Riley says and blushes. Evan doesn’t like having our relationship all public and thrown out because he’s worried he won’t look professional, she thinks. “I’ve learned to…be a better worker and take criticism, right, Evan?”
“Let’s just say you’re sweeter now.” Evan pats her head. “A very sweet little girl.” She squints at him and he kisses her on the nose, but then he realizes that he’s done that in front of everyone and holds up his hand. “No jokes, please.”
Riley blushes even harder and turns away. I can’t believe he did that in front of everyone! This is good! It’s one step closer to something…not sure what, but something. Is ‘I love you’ next? I hope so. She crosses her fingers.
“Um, Evan…” Dylan says. He’s been sitting in a chair in the corner the whole time. “Aren’t you gonna…well, am I supposed to…or what?”
“You need to,” Mark says.
“Um…” Evan looks at Riley. “You’re supposed to, yeah.”
“Supposed to what? What’s going on?” Riley asks. All of a sudden everyone has their heads down and is looking everywhere but at her. “Someone please tell me…”
“Riley,” Dylan says and stands. “You know I have a girlfriend, right? Um, we’re very serious now. Actually, she’s not my girlfriend anymore, she’s my fiancée…”
“Dylan, that’s great!” Riley grins and hugs him. “I’m invited to the wedding, of course…ohhh, she can go on tour with us!”
“No, that’s…not possible. You see, I don’t want to be long distance and separated all the time. This is hard for me to say, but…I’m leaving the band.”
She bursts out laughing. “That’s the lamest joke I’ve ever heard!”
“No, I’m serious.” Dylan catches her eye and she knows he’s not kidding. “I wanted to tell you awhile ago, but things were going so well…and the guys kept telling me I should, but I was too shy. But Evan said I absolutely had to tell you today.”
Riley gazes around the room and stops on Evan. “You knew? And you didn’t tell me?”
Evan shrugs. “Baby, I…”
“And Dylan! How could you do this? We’re a band! You can’t just leave!” Tears are quickly forming in her eyes and she runs out of the studio room into the hallway. Not knowing where to go next, she goes into the women’s bathroom and locks the door. She sinks to the floor, not caring if her jeans get dirty, and cries. How could this happen? We’re the Format! No one else can take Dylan’s place! What will we do?
Someone bangs on the door. “Riley-girl?” It’s obviously Evan.
She doesn’t answer.
“I know you’re in there. Open up. I need to talk to you.”
Evan sighs loudly. “I know this is a shock, but…please open the door.” He lowers his voice. “Erm…monkey really wants to talk to his pumpkin right now,” he says, using their nicknames. Someone laughs at the top of their lungs and Evan says, “Shut the fuck up, Eric! I’m going to make you work extra hard on the drums!”
Riley smiles in spite of herself.
“So…” Evan continues. “Will pumpkin please open the door?”
She shuffles the door and unlocks it. Evan steps inside and holds her carefully in his arms.
“It’s okay to be upset,” he says. “But Dylan has his personal life too, you know? He’s not doing this to intentionally hurt you. He never would and you know that. It’ll be okay.”
Jul 3, 2006 4:22 PM
“But what will we do? We don’t have a bass player now!” She cries again.
“I have auditions scheduled for next week. I’m taking care of it. Don’t I always take care of you?”
“Yes.” Riley sniffles. “But why didn’t you tell me before if you knew?”
“It wasn’t my place, wasn’t my business. It was up to him to tell you.” Evan digs out a tissue from his pocket and wipes under her eyes. “Besides, monkey didn’t want to see his pumpkin upset before she had to be.”
She smiles. “I understand.”
He kisses her softly, cradling her face in his hands. “We can go home. You’re not in the mood to record today, are you?”
Riley shakes her head. “Not really.”
“Okay, come on.” Evan puts his hand through hers. He leaves some instructions for the guys and then they walk outside to his car.
“Thank you, Evan,” Riley says. “I love you…”
“Yeah, you too.”
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