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Authors: Portia MacIntosh

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BOOK: Starstruck
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‘Shall
we get back to the bus then?’ he asks, grabbing my hand and dragging me in what
I assume is the right direction.

I
don’t know what time it is, but it must be after 3am as we make our way down
the eerily quiet streets of Manchester.

‘I
think Luke think he’s in there with you, he’s probably waiting for you on the
bus with this jeans around his ankles,’ Mark informs me, like it’s a done deal.

I
laugh and shrug my shoulders. It’s nothing to do with him, is it?

‘We
could always stay out for a bit,’ he suggests.

‘And
go where? Everywhere is closed!’

‘Not
everywhere,’ he says, leading me down a dark alley way, and before I have time
to take in exactly what is going on, Mark is pushing me up against the wall and
kissing me hard on the lips.

As
we kiss I open my eyes and take in our surroundings. This particular part of
the city is practically silent and it’s too dark to see anything but I know we
must be near some bins because they are all I can smell. Mark’s horrible beard
(think Brad Pitt, circa 2009) is rubbing against my face, making it itch, and I
can feel him carelessly tugging at my clothes. At that moment an ambulance goes
flying past, illuminating the alley with its bright blue lights and making me
jump with its loud siren. Saved by the bell, what the hell am I doing here? I
don’t fancy this guy - bloody hell, I don’t even like this guy most of the time.
My vodka goggles are abruptly ripped from my face and I push Mark away.

‘What’s
the matter?’ he asks breathlessly.

‘We’d
better get back to the bus. They're going to wonder where we are,’ I insist,
but he’s having none of it, grabbing my hips and moving closer, squashing me
against the wall.

‘They
won’t give a shit. Come on, just relax!’

I
can’t relax because I really don’t want to do this.

‘Someone
might see us,’ I say, wiggling free from his grasp and making my way back towards
the street.

‘Nicole,
come on,’ he calls after me, but I keep walking and eventually he follows me.
We walk the rest of the way in silence.

Finally
through the bus doors safe and sound, I make my way up the stairs to the living
area and realise everyone is already in their bunk – apart from Luke. He’s
sitting on the sofa, probably waiting for me.

‘You
guys took a while, is everything ok?’ he asks, sounding concerned.

‘Everything
is great, man,’ Mark tells him, giving him a wink that we all know the meaning
of. Oh God, I want to curl up and die! I’m fairly sure getting it on with one
of his band friends is not the way to his heart.

‘Oh,
right,’ Luke replies. ‘Well, I’m going to get to bed. Night mate,’ he says
giving Mark a pat on the shoulder. And then he looks at me. His eyes look so red
and tired, and there’s a look of disappointment all over his face. ‘Night
Nicole,’ he says, walking off towards the bunks without waiting for a reply.

‘Night,’
I call after him, but it’s too late. I’ve really blown it this time. All I want
to do is get in my bunk and pray that everything will be ok in the morning when
we’re all sober. What happened with Mark was nothing really, a few seconds of
madness, or was it minutes? I have no idea.

Mark
stands up and, presuming he’s going to his bunk, I stand up too. He puts his
hand on my shoulder and pushes me back down.

‘I’m
going for a piss, don’t go to sleep I’ll be back in a minute. We’ve got
unfinished business.’

He
walks off towards the toilet. Now I really do feel sick. There’s isn’t even a
hint of sexiness in his request and I don’t even want to be near him, let alone
anything else. So I do what any girl would do in my situation, I fake it. I lie
down on the sofa, shut my eyes and pretend to be asleep. I hear him come back
and loudly whisper my name a couple of times to try and wake me but I keep my
eyes tightly closed and eventually he gives up and goes off to his bunk. Too
scared to move in case he hears me, I pretend to be asleep on the uncomfortable
sofa until tiredness takes over and I fall asleep for real.

Chapter Nine: The Morning After the Night Before

 

Oh
my God, I feel terrible. I’ve got such a headache and I’m too scared to open my
eyes properly in case the light makes it worse. The events of last night are
bouncing around in my head, which is probably contributing towards my headache.
How could I have been so stupid? Mark might have masterminded a pretty decent
plan to get me alone, but I didn’t have to go along with it. Yes, I was drunk
enough to get caught up in things, but unfortunately I wasn’t quite drunk
enough to forget what happened. But nothing did happen really, did it? It was
just a silly kiss. I kiss people all the time – although, not everyone I kiss
tries to remove my underwear in the street.

I
open my eyes ever so slowly and stare at the ceiling for a second, giving them
chance to adjust. The bus is silent so I assume everyone else is asleep. Rolling
onto my side I see that Luke is sitting on the opposite side of the sofa, in
the exact same place as last night. He’s staring at me and his face is totally
expressionless. I must look terrible, not only did I have such an awkward,
uncomfortable night but I didn’t take my makeup off and you can guarantee my
post-club hair will be a frizzy mess.

‘Good
morning,’ I say weakly.

‘Hello,’
he replies. ‘Rough night?’

‘Something
like that... what time is it?’

‘8am.
Want to go get a coffee?’ he asks in an unusually blunt manner.

‘Yeah,
sure. I’ll just smarten myself up,’ I reply shyly. I really didn’t want him to
see me like this.

‘Ok.
I’m going outside for a smoke, I’ll see you in a minute.’ And with that, he’s
gone.

As
I sit up slowly, I take in my surroundings. The living area is just as messy as
I am. Empty cans and bottles are littered all over the place, there’s the odd
junk food rapper and cigarette packets scattered around and I am being over
powered by two smells – Lynx and sweat. Unfortunately the latter scent is the
stronger one.

Grabbing
my bag, I make my way to the tiny bus toilet. It’s impossible not to feel
claustrophobic in these bathrooms, there’s barely enough standing room for one
person. The small space consists of a toilet, a small sink and a shower head,
none of which are very easy to use, even when the bus is stationary. I catch
sight of myself in the dirty mirror and just as I suspected, I have make-up all
over my face and a hairstyle that would be more at home in the 80s. Thankfully
my face wipes are in the bag that I actually remembered, although unfortunately
I don’t have a hair brush or any clean clothes with me.

Scraping
my hair into a high ponytail, I begin wiping off my make-up - only to start
reapplying it seconds later. With my hair looking crap I make the decision to
wear even more make-up to compensate. Standing back to take in my appearance in
the tiny mirror, I can only conclude that I look like a groupie. My hair is
messed up, my make-up is over the top and I’m still wearing my gig outfit - or
maybe I just feel like a groupie after last night.

I
am distracted from my thoughts by a noise from my phone. Taking it out of my
bag, I realise it is the low battery alert and guess what? I packed my charger
in the bag I left at home. Now I’m feeling seriously out of my comfort zone.
I’m horribly hung over, I look a complete state, I’m going to have to face both
Mark and Luke today and to top it all off my only form of contact with the “real
world” will be cut off when my phone dies, which I’m guessing is going to be
sooner rather than later.

Leaving
the bathroom, and making my way past the bunks, I can hear girls giggling, but
I don’t remember seeing any girls last night when we left the club. Maybe they
found their way on to the bus while Mark and I made our detour.

As
I pass Eddie’s bunk a girl climbs out and, looking at the state of her, I start
to feel slightly better about the way I look this morning. She definitely still
drunk, her clothes are hanging off and she’s looking at me like I’ve just
fallen out of a tree. She actually looks like she has just fallen out of a
tree.

‘Becky,’
she calls, looking at me but failing to acknowledge the fact that I am standing
there and that she is blocking my path. Becky sticks her head out of the bottom
bunk which, as far as I remember, is Ben’s bunk, but he must be in one of the
spares because, as we all know, Ben has a girlfriend and he doesn’t stop
texting her for long enough to even talk to another girl. Becky looks equally
as rough as her friend so I’m quite happy to walk off the bus after them, they
can only make me look better. Neither girl speaks to me until we get to the bus
door, which neither of them can work out how to open.

‘How
the fuck does this open?’ Becky politely asks me. I don’t speak, I just reach
forward and open the door. Becky and her friend fall about laughing and hop off
the bus. As they walk past Luke they both say ‘Bye Luke’ in unison, laughing
hysterically as the stagger off.

‘Bye
girls,’ he says and then turns towards me. ‘They weren’t with me you know.’

‘No
judgement from me,’ I tell him, holding up my hands. It’s not that I’m not
bothered, but I’m hardly in a position to say anything, am I? Feeling
self-conscious, I let my hair down. Knots or no knots, my long hair is like my
safety blanket. You don’t find many girls with real long hair these days, just
cheap looking hair extensions. It’s got to a point where people come up to me
to ask me where I purchased such realistic fake hair, and I always tell them my
little-known but very simple hair tip: If you don’t get your hair cut, it will
grow. Magic, isn’t it?

‘You
know I care what you think,’ he says, throwing the end of his cigarette on the
floor and stamping it out. ‘Shall we go get that coffee?’

I
nod and follow his lead. I love Manchester, but with my rubbish sense of
direction I find it impossible to find my way around, and it doesn’t matter how
many times I visit.

‘Cold,
isn’t it?’ I say in an attempt to break the silence with small talk.

‘It
is. You should have put something warmer on.’

I
look down at my dress. Not only is it totally inappropriate for strolling
around town at this time of morning, but it isn’t doing much to fight off the
chilly October wind. Oh, and there’s a rather unattractive booze stain down the
side that must have happened last night.

‘I
would have, but I forgot the bag with my clothes in. Don’t laugh!’ I insist.

He
does laugh, and it’s adorable. His eyes light up when he laughs and he’s got
the most gorgeous smile.

‘What
are we going to do with you?’ he sighs, putting his arm around me and I wonder
if he’s doing it to keep me warm, or just to touch me.

‘I’ll
be fine.’

‘You’ll
freeze! Don’t worry, I’m sure I’ve got something you can wear,’ he says as he
ushers me into Starbucks.

I
don’t think I have ever been so happy to be in Starbucks. I haven’t been inside
this particular branch before, but it all feels so familiar and I instantly
feel more relaxed. I might have been feeling out of my comfort zone before but
this feels just like home.

We
grab our drinks and take a seat on the sofa in the only dark corner of the
room, something my hangover and I are very thankful for.

‘So
last night was a bit mad,’ Luke starts. ‘I’m sorry we didn’t see very much of
each other, did you sleep on the sofa all night?’

‘I
did. I was tipsy, I must have fallen asleep there,’ I lie.

‘I’m
sorry you had to walk back with The Torpedo.’

What
I’m thinking is that I’m sorry I had to as well, but what I say out loud is ‘Don’t
worry about it.’

The
conversation feels forced and awkward, and it worries me that I still have to
spend a few more days with these people, living in such a small space. Yes,
it’s a big bus, but not when you’re trying to avoid people.

‘Well
you must have had a horrible night’s sleep, but don’t worry, we’re booked in a
hotel tonight.’

Thank
God! After one night of not sleeping in a bed I am absolutely desperate to climb
into one, even if I don’t get to sleep, even if it’s just for a minute.

‘We’ve
got three rooms booked, that’s all the hotel in Birmingham had. Management
wanted to put us somewhere really nice though. They’re kissing our arses
because the album is doing so well.’

‘Yeah,
that’s great. I’m missing sleeping in a proper bed already.’

‘We’ve
got three double rooms. Mick is going in with Ben, and Mark and Eddie usually
share,’ he tells me, waiting for a few seconds before he finishes his sentence.
‘We could share if you wanted to?’

I
hesitate and before I get chance to reply Luke starts talking again.

‘Unless
you don’t want to. I mean, I can go in with Mark and Ed, no problem.’

‘No,
it’s fine. We can’t have the celebrities squashed in the same bed,’ I tease,
secretly delighted.

‘Good,’
he replies, leaning closer to me and resting his hand gently on my leg. ‘Maybe
we’ll finally get some time alone together,’ he lowers his voice to a whisper.
‘I can’t wait to get you on your own.’

BOOK: Starstruck
9.41Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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