Keep the Beat

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Chapter 22

“My girl, I’ve learned over the summer not to question your motives.” Chase’s grandfather drawled, “but why are you nibbling at a carrot?”

I glanced down at the carrot in my hand, “Lots of people eat carrots.”

“Well, I’ve driven buses for many years, and the usual travel food consisted of a bag of crisps, or even a sandwich.”

I bit into the carrot, feeling sort of like a rabbit. “That’s a good point, why don’t you ask your grandson?”

Mr Commons glanced at Chase through the mirror who was sitting two seats behind me, beside Keara. “I’ve two questions for you Chase.”

Chase looked nervous, “Shoot.”

“Why did you give May a carrot?”

“Because she’s having problems with her blood sugar grandpa, and I always eat carrots. I don’t get the big deal?”

“I don’t like carrots- well actually I like the ones that they put into the Chinese dishes!” Mr Commons drifted off, probably craving Chinese food.

“I love Chinese food!” Caleb shouted up, “Especially mu shu pork!”

“I prefer cooked carrots.” I mused, ignoring the Chinese talk.

“Raw carrots are healthy!” Keara interrupted, “Plus they help give you a better figure.”

“So does chocolate, if you like the whole round look I mean.”

“Which leads me to my second question.” Mr Commons frowned, “Who is that other young lady?”

Keara put on her best smile, “My name is Keara. I’m Chase’s girlfriend.”

“Girlfriend?”

“We’re almost there, Mr Commons.” Jessica interrupted, cutting through the awkward tension. “Take the next right.”

I looked out the window, taking in the surroundings of the city of angels. It was beautiful, and incredibly warm. “You will all be crashing in groups of four.” Chris announced, standing up. I was tempted to chide to him about not wearing his seat belt, but decided against it. “Jessica’s uncle is doing this for free, so there is to be no boisterous behavior. The rooms are to be left in the best of condition. Some of you won’t have a bed, but there will be sleeping bags.”

He had lost me after the word free.

The bus parked in the hotel parking lot, and we began to gather our things. Keara pushed past me, knocking my bags out of my hand. She raced to the front of the bus in an attempt to make conversation with Mr Commons, who was trying to talk to Caleb about the advantages and disadvantages of Chinese food.

Once we were out of the bus, we made our way into the fancy looking hotel. I had expected a bunch of elderly people, snapping at the staff to move their luggage quicker like many other hotels I had been in, yet there were not many elderly in the hotel lobby at all. Mostly people around the age of twenty or thirty.

“May,” Melissa snapped me out of my daze, “It’s gonna be me, Shannon, Jessica and you? Is that okay?”

“Yeah that’s cool.” I agreed, turning my attention the closest bit of drama I could find. Cassie was arguing with Chris over the no girl and boys together rule.

“But Max is my bestfriend! I’m not going to fu-“

“Cassie.” Chris sighed.

“Come on Chris, you honestly think there aren’t any boys sneaking into my room at camp already?”

I snorted with laughter at that while Chris just sighed, muttering something about how he can’t deal with teenagers. “I know that Cassie, I’m not stupid. I’m running a camp full of hormonal teens and I try my best to stop them impregnating each other because I honestly doubt the parents would be too pleased!”

Cassie waved him away, “Max and I will promise to not sleep together. The thought makes me want to puke to be honest. Shane and Josh will crash with us too, and they’re like my brothers so they won’t let anything happen!”

Chris turned to Shane, “I trust Shane. He’s honestly the only person in this camp I would trust to be sensible-“

“Wow Chris, I’m hurt.” I interrupted, deciding to help Cassie. “But let me phrase this another way, if Cassie isn’t allowed to sleep in the same room with her best friend because of possible sexual desires-“

“Oh god.” Cassie grumbled, gagging.

“Then what does that mean for good old Melissa and I.” Melissa came forward and wrapped her arms around me in a mocking affectionate hug.

“Yeah Chris, I can still room with May right?” She wiggled her eyebrows. Chris was caught of guard, and tried to think of a way around our trap.

“She can’t get pregnant though.” He pointing out.

I thought about this and nodded, “That’s a valid point you have there, sir. Sorry Cass.”

Cassie whined and stomped off in the opposite direction. I smiled cheerfully at Chris before dragging Melissa after me. We grabbed our bags and began to make our way up the stairs after Shannon and Jessica. “Okay Melissa, we have two hours to find the fighting stadium.” Melissa pulled her phone from her back pocket and brought up a map of the city.

“I still think it’s this one here.” She explained, “From how Jack described it- which might I add was a pretty terrible description.”

“Awful.” I agreed.

“So I’m saying it would take us about a half an hour to walk there. Jack sent us tickets online, but it would probably be better to get there early. I’m not sure how popular these fights are going to be.”

“They’re going to be a pretty big deal. There’s seven fights taking place today. Jacks is the fifth one.”

“We have to sit through five fights.” Melissa winced, she never liked violence, especially for sport.

“It’s only boxing Mel, it’s not like the MMA’s.” I encouraged her, feeling guilty. I had once forced her to watch Connor McGregor’s UFC fight. She was traumatized. “No kicking, or rolling around the floor elbowing people. Just clean punches to the face.”

She didn’t look convinced.

We came to a halt outside room 134, and remembered that Shannon had the key. “Oi, open up.” I called, knocking my head against the door repeatedly. The door open to reveal Jessica rolling her eyes at me and pulling us inside.

“Wow.” Melissa murmured.

“I feel like we’re totally ripping your uncle off.” I agreed.

The room was huge, four beds, two doubles, two singles. There was a flat screen TV, mini fridge, and a huge window that showed the full view of LA.

“We are ripping my uncle off.” Jessica snorted, “He likes me though. And he owes me.”

“Jesus, how much does he owe you?”

“A lot.” She smiled, and jumped onto the bed.


“You’re sure this is the right place?” I whispered, smiling awkwardly at the buff guy standing nearby.

“It has to be.” She nodded, “Come on.”

“But where-” She took my hand and led me to the door.

“Hi.” She chirped to the bouncer taking the tickets. He raised an eyebrow, and glanced at the tickets we had only printed out a couple of hours ago.

“You two don’t look like the type to be here.” He mused, “You know that there will probably be a lot of blood?”

I felt offended by his comment, “Yeah there will be if you keep talking.” I snarled, narrowing my eyes at him. He took a surprised step back and held up a hand.

“I didn’t mean to offend you, girlie, it’s just not many of your kind come here.”

“Call me a girlie again and I’ll have my ‘kind’ beat your ass mate!”

“May! Chill!”

“Never! Just because we’re innocent girls doesn’t mean we can’t watch a simple boxing match. You’d swear you were running some illegal underground fighting club. You do know that this is actually a sponsored sporting tournament?”

“Well yeah, I just don’t see why you’d be interested-“

“How about I punch you here and now and see how interested I am!”

“Easy tiger.” I looked up to see Jack standing in the doorway, towel tossed over his shoulder, grinning at us. “Jesus Melissa, control your women.”

“She can’t be tamed.” Melissa drawled, rolling her eyes.

“Jackie Chan!” I squealed, pushing past the ignorant bouncer and hugging him. He hugged me back, even though he grumbled about my annoying pet names.

“Why aren’t you like, warming up or something?” Melissa questioned, giving him a hug.

“Dude, do I look like I need to get any hotter?”

I turned my nose up at him, “Why you gotta be like this?”

He chuckled, “Come on, I’ll get you guys the best seats. You can even hide behind the barrier Melissa.”

Melissa frowned while I snickered under my breath. He led us to our seats and told us that he’d meet up with us after the fight and that we’d go out and get something to eat afterwards. The seats circled around the ring that stood in the middle of the floor, red ropes surrounded it and a large symbol was painted inside it. It was the organisations main advertising symbol, with a pair of boxing gloves and a hawk sitting upon them.

“Well try not to get all bloodied up, I don’t want to walk into a restaurant and everyone thinking I’m with a thug.”

“A hot thug.”

“A thug nonetheless.”

A man- who I presumed was his coach- began calling his name. Jack smirked, “Right, so I’ll see you guys in a while. Enjoy the fights.”

“Be careful.” Melissa warned, eyeing him.

“And good luck!” I shouted enthusiastically.

A man came out and stood in the middle of the ring. His voice boomed over the stadium as he welcomed everyone. The audience were beginning to get hyped, banging on seats, yelling names. Once the man welcomed the first two fighters, the fights began. I watched with fascination as they fought, it was a slow fight, a lot of footwork and quite a few blows to the face.

The fights continued like this until the fourth one eventually ended, Melissa looked like she was going to get sick. There was blood on the floor where the last man had just got his nose broken. “Why does anyone do this to themselves?” She questioned.

“I’m not sure,” I mused, “but Jack said I packed a good punch so maybe I should start up-“

“No!”

Suddenly Jacks name was bellowed through the speakers and I was on my feet screaming and clapping with Melissa. Jack came out and his eyes found us, he grinned and winked. I watched his eyes wander again until it landed on someone else. I followed his gaze, and my mouth dropped open. “No way!”

“What?” Melissa questioned.

I turned back to Jack who was beginning his fight. I was stunned, partially by what I just saw and partially by how good of a fighter Jack was. He danced around his opponent expertly, making sudden jabs and throwing in a few good punches to the face.

Out of nowhere, his opponent punched out, hitting Jack in the jaw and dazing him a bit. Melissa winced and hid behind her hands. “Come on Jack!” I yelled.

Jack was up on his feet and began to continue his footwork. He was able to get two punches in, one to the body and one to the face, before the first round finished.

I glanced up again, trying to locate the person I had been so shocked to see. There they were, watching the ring expressionlessly.

Round two started again, and I tore my eyes away from them and back to the ring. Jack started his fight intellectually, his defense was strong and his attack was stronger. His supporters were cheering and singing at the top of their lungs while his opponents supporters were beginning to get vicious. They tossed insults at Jack, booing him every time he managed to get a hit in. One of them took it that little too far, after Jack got one of his best punches in, they threw a beer can down to ring, hitting Jack with it in the back.

It didn’t hurt him in the slightest, but it distracted him. A two second distraction that gave his opponent the opportunity to throw a fist in his direction, hitting Jack square in the face.

The next few minutes were a blur, I stood up from my seat in horror. “Jack.” I whispered, seeing him lying unresponsive on the ground.

“Oh my god.” Melissa whimpered, behind me as I dashed from my position, pushing through the crowd to get to the ring.

“Miss you can’t go in there!” One of the bouncers tried to stop me.

“Don’t! He’s my best friend!”

I pushed past her, and ducked under the ropes, kneeling beside an unconscious Jack. “Jack wake up.” I hissed. The paramedics began to work on him, while his coach called for an ambulance. “Wake up.”

Melissa knelt beside me, tears in her eyes. “Will he be okay?” She asked the paramedics. A woman looked at her with pity.

“This sort of thing happens quite often.” She explained, “There is the possibility that he could have done severe damage, but we won’t be sure until we get him to the hospital.”

“The ambulance will be here in five minutes.” Jacks coach informed her, he put his hand on Jacks arm, anxiety written all over his face.

“Can I go with him?” I asked, looking up. “I don’t want him to be on his own.”

“Only one person can go with him, usually it’s family only-“

“None of his family is here.” I snapped, clenching my teeth.

“Let her go with him.” The coach insisted, “I’ll drive behind and meet them there.”

Melissa put her arm on my shoulder, “I’ll go back to the hotel and tell Chris why you won’t be back. I’ll get a taxi up then.”

I nodded, my eyes still trailed on Jack. I could feel someone watching us and looked though the crowd. She had tears streaming down her face, her hand covering her mouth. I had never seen Jessica cry until then. ‘He’s going to be okay’. I mouthed to her. He had to be okay.


I sat beside the bed, waiting. The irritating beeping sound of the machine was beginning to get on my nerves. “You really need to wake up, mate.” I grumbled, “Before I break that thing.”

Jack didn’t reply, his eyes remained closed and he looked peaceful.

“They say you should be okay. They did scans and stuff and they couldn’t see any severe damage. You’ll probably have concussion for a few days, so stop milking it and wake up.”

I sighed and rested my chin on my knees that I rolled up on the chair. “This sort of reminds me of the song, you know the one we both fangirled about a few months ago, when we found out we both loved it?”

“You knew I could sing then. You were still so shocked when you found out that I was in camp turn up the beat. That’s sort of insulting you know…”

I began to sing the lyrics under my breath, “If you could soldier on, headstrong into the storm. I’ll be here waiting on the other side.”

“The road is long,
the first days of the war are gone.
Take back your former throne and turn the tide.” I sang softly, loud enough for Jack to hear, low enough to prevent any drama.
“So tell me you’re strong, tell me you see!
I need to hear it, can you promise me to.
Keep your eyes open, my love!”

I squeezed his hand and sang slightly louder.

“Just past the circumstance,
the first light, a second chance.
No child could ever dance the way you do, oh…” Someone stopped at the doorway, and listened to me sing. Presuming it was a nurse, I wasn’t bothered to pass any remarks.
“Tear down the prison walls.
Don’t start the curtain call,
your chains will never fall until you do.”

“Cause if you never leave home, never let go-
You’ll never make it to the great unknown till you
keep your eyes open, my love.
So show me your fire, show me your heart!
You know I’ll never let you fall apart if you.
Keep your eyes open, my love..” Melissa and Jessica’s voice melted in with mine. Melissa had never heard the song until Jack and I had raved about it, but now she knew the lyrics off by heart. I was startled for a moment, but Jessica continued for me.

Open up.
Open up.
Open up your eyes!
The weight is unbroken!” She sang.

“Open up!
Open up!
Open up your eyes…
Keep your eyes open.” Melissa and I joined in.

“Jeez, you’re all so bossy.” Jacks croaked. I jumped and turned to him, before laughing at his ridiculous reply.

“Aren’t I lucky? Three of the prettiest girls here singing for lil ol’ me?”

“You’re such a moron.” Jessica stated, smiling at him. Her eyes shone when they looked at him, and his did back.

“So much love in one room!” I cried, making Melissa laugh. “God damn Jack, only you could turn the wicked witch of the west in a fairy godmother!”

Jack burst out laughing at this, causing him to wince in pain. “Nah, she wasn’t the wicked witch of the west. She was like Severus Snape, on the outside a huge asshole but on the inside a wee softie.”

Jessica scowled at us and turned to Melissa, “How could you manage the two of them? I can hardly manage one.”

“I don’t manage, usually I just block it all out.” She shrugged, making me gasp in horror.

“Did you hear that Jack? Her friendship has been a lie.”

“It’s time to ditch her.” He agreed, “That new Joseph guy can be her replacement. All we need to do is curl his hair, die it black-“

“My personality is far too unique to replace.” Melissa implored, grinning.

“Nonsense.” I waved my hand, “He just needs to get the Melissa look. No one will even notice you missing.”

“Except the fact that he’s white.” She mused, “But sure go for it.”

“A white, possible straight Melissa, it is.” Jack mumbled, beginning to feel sleepy.

“We should probably have called the nurse the moment he woke up.” I pondered.

“That would have been sensible.” Jessica agreed, racing out of the room to find some hospital staff.

“And you sir, are going to tell us exactly what happened with you and Jessica.” Melissa ordered firmly. I nodded frantically in agreement.

“Every little detail, from her bitchiness to your sex life.”

Jack groaned, and began to hit himself in an attempt to knock himself out again.


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