Keep the Beat

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Chapter 23

The crowd applauded as we finished our version of ‘Popular Song’ by Mika and Ariane Grande. We had gone around LA, performing flash mobs throughout the city. We’d end it by throwing up a bag of small cards- like confetti- with our pictures, names and social media account on them. This way we could get our names out there, as people will pick them up and perhaps spread the word. It is likely some people from record labels could come across us also.

I exaggerated a bow, tossing my confetti contact cards into the air.

“That was epic.” Jack announced, coming over to us. He pulled Melissa and I into a monster hug, then gently wrapped his arms around Jessica, kissing her on the cheek.

“We try.” I shrugged, my attention focused on Keara who had her lips crushed against an uncomfortable Chase’s.

Jessica unwound herself from Jack, smiling softly at him and whispered something in his ear, before winking at him. I scrunched my nose up in disgust, “Dude, leave it for the hotel.”

Jessica rolled her eyes at me, “Whatever.” She scoffed, “Melissa, want to help me find a cafe that’s willing to take a bunch of crazy losers?”

“Sure.” Melissa agreed, walking off with her.

Jack held his hand out for me, and I took it. “Jessica said that I can meet everyone in the cafe later, and that I should talk to you because I’m good at comforting damsels in distress.”

I let out a disbelieved breath, “I am not a damsel, nor am I in distress! Jeez!”

He chuckled as he led me past the campers, “Sure whatever.” He walked me intentionally past both Chase and Keara. “Hi Keara, you hit a bum note earlier. Good effort though.” He smiled brightly at her, and pulled me by quicker. I snorted with laughter at Keara’s face of horror, but my smile faded at Chases lost look as he stared at our intertwined hands.

“That was petty.” I told Jack, “Very Sassy. I approve.”

Jack chuckled, and sat by the fountain. “I learn from the best.”

“Damn right you do!”

I sat down beside him, resting my head on his shoulder. “You and Jessica are adorable.”

“Totally.” Jack replied in a high-pitched voice, smirking at me.

“She could do better though.” I narrowed my eyes at him, and he grinned.

“Please. I’m like the best. I’m a nice guy, and I’m a boxer. Plus, do you see this body? This face? This h-“

“Yeah, yeah I get it. You’re self-conceited, but so are a lot of guys.”

He continued to grin as he pulled me into a brotherly hug- my head was tucked under his arm while his chin rested on top of it. “That was Chase right? The brown head guy?”

I nodded, not replying.

“He didn’t seem happy that I was with you.”

“Was it a test, is that why you took my hand and brought me past them?”

“I took your hand because you’re probably my best friend, and I took you past them because I wanted to talk shit to Keara.”

“Probably your best friend? Dude I am your best friend. I’m everyone’s best friend.”

He laughed, “And I’m conceited? But yes okay, it was sort of a test. I’m a guy, I know how guys act and Jessica said that it was too sudden for him to go to Keara. She thinks there’s more to it, so I had to see for myself.”

“And what do you think?”

“There’s definitely more too it. He adores you, you can see that a mile off.”

“You know what.” I stood up abruptly, “I don’t care! He can’t just do that! It isn’t right, and I don’t about an excuse or- or a reason. I wouldn’t have given up what we had for the world, you know?” My breath was becoming heavier, fists clenched.

“Hey, easy.” Jack murmured in a soothing voice, getting up and taking hold of my shoulders. “In the end, everything will work out. Whether for the best or worst. But you should know that us guys are fucking stupid. We do stupid things- I’ve done plenty of stupid things and I know that they’re stupid but sometimes we do them because we care.”

I leaned my head against his chest, calming down. After a couple of moments, I let out a breath of relief. “We should go find the others. I want you to meet everyone.”

“May, where have you been?” Shannon questioned as I walked into the cafe with Jack. It took us twenty minutes to get in touch with any of them to find out which cafe they went to in the first place.

“Wouldn’t you like to know.” I turned a winked mockingly at Jessica, who rolled her eyes. I swear all she ever does is roll her eyes at me.

“Wait who’s this?” Shane asked, smiling pleasantly. Not everyone was as friendly though, Shannon eyed Jack suspiciously and Caleb glared at him along with Chase.

My group had taken up two tables, while other camp mates surrounded the other side- some had gone to different cafes. The girls- Shannon, Jessica, Melissa, Cassie and Marie were sitting around one. While Shane, Josh, Caleb, Max, Chase and Keara were around the opposite. Keara stood out like a sore thumb beside Chase. The split in genders caused me to raise an eyebrow, the girls were obviously hating on Keara and being stubborn, while the boys tried to tolerate her so that they could sit with both Chase and Caleb.

“He’s hot.” Cassie mused, smirking.

Jack cocked an eyebrow at me, smirking. “I don’t know what you’re looking at Cassie.” Jessica responded, “He’s pretty average.”

I laughed at that, “Guys this is Jack. Jack this is everyone.”

“Do I acknowledge them as everyone or as individuals?”

“Too many names for your poor mind to process. Just call them everyone.” I shrugged.

“Hi everyone.” He greeted, “Mays a bitch, I don’t know why you are friends with her.”

I grinned and nodded in agreement, “Crazy, right? Go sit beside Melissa and Jess.”

He did as he was told and we made our way over to the circular table that the girls were surrounding. Jessica was eyeing Jack with a smirk on her face and excused herself saying that she needed fresh air.

“Yeah, uh, me too.” Jack smiled at me sheepishly at me and raced after her. I shook my head in amusement while Shannon stared confused. I decided to fill everyone in on Jack- including his and Jessica’s relationship.

As I talked, I felt a presence come forward and take Jessica’s chair, another stood beside us. I stopped talking and turned to the random guy he sat beside us.

“Yes?” I looked at him, giving him the opportunity to explain why he interrupted my intellectual story before I threw him off the chair.

“Hey there.” He smirked, “I’m Brandon.” His eyes traveled up and down my body, giving me a sickening feeling.

“Hi Brandon, what the hell do you want?” I questioned bluntly. His friends came closer, shadowing our table.

“You.” He smirked.

I gagged, “I’ll let you try again, if your answer is as idiotic as the first- then I’ll have no regrets in punching you in the face.”

“Just thought I’d say hi. It’s not often you see so many pretty girls sitting together.”

Marie scoffed, taking a sip of her coffee. Shannon glanced over at an infuriated Caleb, Cassie shrugged and continued to eat while Melissa raised her hand. “I’m a lesbian.” She stated brightly, obviously pleased that she was going to be excused from this ordeal. I smothered my laughter.

“Would you girls mind if we sat with you?” He questioned, shifting his eyes to Shannon.

“We’re good thanks.” Shannon murmured awkwardly, “Maybe if you stopped staring at my breasts, I’d consider it.”

“We can’t help that they’re so big!” Brandon’s friend whistled, making me snarl.

I felt a shuffle beside me, knowing that Caleb was struggling to get out of his seat as Max and Josh held him down.

“Dude, you want to cop yourself on real quick.” Cassie hissed.

“Chill sweetheart, here in LA we appreciate women’s bodies.” He winked.

“There’s a difference between appreciating and sexualising.” Marie spoke up, shooting a glare their way.

“Are you going now.” I made sure it didn’t sound like a question.

“But we’re only getting friendly!” Brandon smiled, putting his arm around my shoulders. I turned and gave him a death glare, but before I could say anything the boy was ripped away from me by a furious Chase.

“Don’t touch her.” Chase whispered in a menacing tone, pushing him backwards away from the table. Brandon’s eyes widened, and backed off a little to his small group of friends.

“Sorry man, I didn’t know she was taken.” He held up his hands in defense.

“I’m not ‘taken’.” I scoffed, at the same time that Keara cried out, “Not by him anyway.”

“Oh,” Brandon smiled at me, “I could take you out then? You’re pretty, just like your friends here. A bit too gabby though, put a bit more make up on and-“

Chase saw red, and this time it was Caleb holding him back.

“You think I would go out with you?” I mused, “Brandon sweetheart. I know your type. You’re the type of guy who just wants a girl as a decoration, who’d want her to sit still and look pretty, doll herself up like a typical Barbie while you make all the rules.”

“That’s a bit eccentric-“

I got out of my seat and approached him. “You think the world resolves around you. But trust me darling, you need a reality check. Brandon, you’re not that important. You’re not that good looking. You’re not funny at all. Frankly your voice is irritating and your personality sucks. And the most important thing? Girls do not have to sit still and look fucking pretty just because you said so.”

Chase couldn’t fight the smile on his face, relaxing his shoulders and standing back. Brandon looked like I just punched him in the face while his friends watched in alarm.

“Could dress up,
to get love,
but guess what?
I’m never gonna be that girl!
Who’s living in a Barbie world!” Marie sang out, sitting her coffee down and staring the boys in the eye.

“Could wake up,
in makeup,
and play dumb.
Pretending that I need a boy.
Who’s gonna treat me like a toy.” Shannon added softly, getting out of her moving her hands in a rhythmic movement.

“I know the other girlies wanna wear expensive things!
Like diamond rings.
But I don’t wanna be the puppet that you’re playing on a string!
This queen don’t need a king!” I started, raising my voice. I backed over to my friends, and sat on the table still watching their disbelieved faces.

“Oh, I don’t know what you’ve been told?
But this gal right here’s gonna rule the world!
Yeah, that is where I’m gonna be because I wanna be-
No, I don’t wanna sit still, look pretty!” We chorused together. The perverts were flushing with embarrassment at the amount of negative attention they were receiving in the café, while our friends watched in amusement.

“You get off on your nine to five,
dream of picket fences and trophy wives!
But no, I’m never gonna be ’cause I don’t wanna be!
No, I don’t wanna sit still look pretty!”

People were beginning to pour into the café to watch us, so we began to put more attitude into our performance.

Cassie took over the next verse, “Mr. Right could be nice for one night!
But then he wanna take control…
And I would rather fly solo!”

“That Snow White, she did right in her life.
Had 7 men to do the chores!
’Cause that’s not what a lady’s for!” Melissa sang, changing the notes to suit her vocals.

The only thing a boy’s gonna give a girl for free’s captivity!
And I might love me some vanilla but I’m not that sugar sweet,
call me HBIC!” I finished, jumping off the table to do a whip my long curls back and forth and to move to the sound of the repeated chorus.

Once we had finished the song, Brandon and his friends tried to exit as quickly as possible with bright red faces while a gentle applause took over the cafe. Jessica and Jack walked back in and she furrowed her eyebrows in confusion. “Wait what happened?”

“The girls just ruined a group of idiots.” Josh replied, smiling proudly at us. Caleb went over to Shannon and wrapped her in a hug, murmuring in her ear.

I just smirked at her as Jessica nodded her approval. Our audience came over to praise us, and after a while of thanking people and agreeing with women about how guys are assholes, I excused myself from the cafe for air.

“May.”

I rolled my eyes and turned around, with a sarcastic smile. “Wow you know my name, good job.”

Chase flinched, “What’s wrong?”

“What’s wrong?” I laughed in disbelief, “What was all that in there? Huh? ‘Don’t touch her’. You’re not my boyfriend Chase! You have a damsel at your side all the time that you can protect, but I’m capable of looking after myself!”

“I didn’t say you weren’t. I didn’t mean to lose it-“

“You infuriate me! You know that?”

He raised his eyes to the heavens, before offering me his hand. “I would be all macho male and grab your hand pulling you after me but I know that you’ll kick my ass. So, do you want to come with me?”

“No, I don’t want to-“

“May.” He whispered, in a pleading voice. I hesitated, groaned and stomped my foot. I stormed over to him, ordering him to walk fast.

He did as he was told, leading me down a small ally towards, stopping behind a blossom tree.

“Why are we here?” I sighed.

“Because I wanted to give you a chance to yell at me without an audience.” He responded, rolling his eyes. “I didn’t anyone to hear us either.”

“I said everything I needed to say. I don’t need you standing up for me!”

He scoffed, leaning back against the tree. “Would you have said that if Jack was the one standing up for you?”

“No. But Jack never let me down before.”

He stared at me, biting his lip. “I didn’t want you to let you down May. I never want to let you down.”

“How can you say that? You’re with her!”

“Esme Rose Riley,” He chuckled, leaning closer to me, tucked a strand of hair behind my ear. “For an evil mastermind, you’re so stupid.”

I narrowed my eyes, “You mother fu-“

He crushed his lips against mine, kissing me eagerly. I gasped into the kiss, responding immediately. I couldn’t help myself as I wound my arms around his neck, running a hand through his brown waves. He pulled me closer, arms around my waist, eyes closed.

I pulled back cursing, “This is so inappropriate!”

He chuckled and shushed me, kissing me again. I groaned angrily, kissing him fiercely back. He seemed as furious with me as I was with him. “You’re not a cheater Chase. Stop this.” I whispered against his lips as he pecked me.

“But I am.” He murmured back, “I’m cheating on you with her. I cheating on myself even putting up with her-“

“Then why. Why are you with her?”

He kissed the corner of my mouth, stroking his fingers through my hair. “I asked you to trust me, June. So please. Trust me.”


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