Chapter 18: Charming gets an idea
~ But the prince insisted on it, and they had to call Cinderella down. ~
Peyton hadn’t been able to find Cindy all week.
You’d think talking to a girl would be easier than this for an international pop star, but no.
At lunch she would hide in her teachers’ classrooms, using a different one each day. In the mornings she arrived to school straight on time, leaving no room for Peyton to find her before class started. In theater she would go off and build the set before Peyton could get close. And don’t even get him talking about after school.
(Cindy would barricade herself in her house, and his father made sure that he had enough press interviews to fill that time anyways)
Peyton was convinced that there was absolutely no way he could get back to her.
Evelyn wasn’t helping matters. She was planning on singing a cover of a Taylor Swift love song - a dedication to him - at the festival. The media was all ears for their ‘romance’.
Peyton was going to make a guest appearance and surprise the crowd. He’d sing Work of Art while the judges were ‘deciding’ the winner and afterwards the winner would be announced.
Peyton was getting quite tired of that song to be honest.
In fact, he was tired of performing all the songs his management had given him. Work of Art was a single from his last album, a little less than a year ago. It was still surprisingly in the top 100 charts, even though it was a year old.
His fans were already expecting a new album, and a new single for him to release. Peyton knew that his father was already choosing those songs from the best songwriters that money could hire.
But Peyton had a different idea for a new album. Ever since he came back to school, Peyton had been building up the courage to tell his father his idea. He knew that he wouldn’t like it, but Peyton was tired of his management and his father controlling all aspects of his career. For once, he wanted to sing something that would mean something real to him and his fans.
Peyton had been writing songs.
Now, just because he was a ‘mindless celebrity’ didn’t mean that he didn’t have any good ideas. In fact, the songs Peyton had been writing were real and personal.
After the incident with Cindy and Evelyn, he’d started to write his feelings out, and it became a song. Maybe if he hadn’t been writing some of it in theater on Monday, he would’ve been able to fix the rift between him and Cindy already.
And after writing that song, he had an epiphany. It had been Thursday when he got the idea, and he’d called Duncan to his house straight after school.
“What do you need to tell me that you couldn’t say over the phone?” Duncan asked, confused.
“I’ve got an idea. And let’s just say that you’re going to think I’m crazy.”
Duncan’s face fell. “Oh, no. Is this another thing about trying to win Cindy back? Because all you’re other plans were horrible.”
Peyton scoffed, “No.”
Duncan stared him down and Peyton caved. “Maybe.”
“Dude, for the last time, kidnapping her and running away to become alpaca farmers is not the solution.”
“Yeah, I know – apparently kidnapping is illegal - but I have an idea for the festival, and I’m going to make sure Cindy is the last performer of the night to make it work. And I might need you to recruit her friend, Fanny.”
Duncan sighed loudly. “Dude, you know that chick hates you and then hates me by connection to you!”
“Yeah, but . . .” Peyton trailed off.
Duncan’s rock hard exterior softened the tiniest bit and Peyton knew that he had succeeded. “Fine.”
It was now after the fact, on Friday night. Peyton was about to go into yet another interview. His father was scheduling these things like wildfire.
Speaking of the devil . . .
He sighed and looked him in the eye. “You know what you’re supposed to say, right?”
“Yes, I’m not an idiot.” Peyton was tired of his father underestimating him. He should know that as long as Evelyn still had the upper hand, he wasn’t going to make any moves.
Peyton looked out on the set of the late night talk show while a woman finished putting on his stage makeup. There was a bigger crowd than normal, with people sitting in the aisles and wherever they could. Having a teen idol on the show must’ve brought in many more viewers.
He saw the camera man hold up a hand and count down from five. The makeup woman finished up before the countdown was finished and Chris Sawyer, the talk show host, started his intro.
Chris Sawyer was a notorious comedian. At only thirty two, Chris wasn’t too bad on the eyes for the millions of women viewers. He’d been in many movies in his youth, gaining him his comedic reputation early on in his career. He finally retired to the late night show Chris Talk just last year. Who knew how long the show would last until he moved on to movies again.
“Hey, hey, hey! This is Chris Sawyer here, your favorite comedian and heartthrob, but tonight we have a different heartthrob on the show. Please give it up for the award winning teenage pop star, Peyton Charming!”
The crowd went wild as soon as he walked on the stage, Work of Art playing quietly in the background. It took a full two minutes of awkward laughing by him and Sawyer to stop the crowd from cheering.
“Wow,” Sawyer joked around, “they must really love you.” That brought on even more cheering.
“Yeah, I guess. But I can’t seem to point out why.” Peyton replied smoothly with an award winning smile.
“Now, Peyton. We seem to have some information circulating the internet. There are rumors that you are already working on your next album, am I right?”
Peyton laughed awkwardly. “Yes, I am.”
Sawyer put his chin in his hands and blinked his eyes furiously. “Oh, then just tell us Peyton Charming, we are all waiting so eagerly to hear about it.” He intimidated a preteen.
Peyton laughed along with the crowd, “Well, all I can say on the subject is that it will be very different from anything else I’ve produced so far. I really want to show how I’ve improved as an artist.”
Sawyer nodded, “Great, great. And we also need to set some rumors to rest about a certain girl of yours.” He moved his eyebrows up in a suggestive manner. “That Evelyn Queen Gal.”
Peyton nodded. He was already preparing to say some lie about how much he loved her and all that crap, but Sawyer beat him to the punch.
“A news story recently broke about her hanging around some other men. What are your thoughts on that?”
Peyton almost breathed a sigh of relief. “Well, Evelyn can have friends, can’t she? Why would it matter if some of them are guys? I have friends that are girls and Evelyn doesn’t mind.”
He automatically knew that was the wrong thing to say when Sawyer’s eyes lit up with mischief. “Ooh, always the lady’s man, am I right, Peyton?”
Peyton laughed uncomfortably, “Sure, I guess.”
“Now, you’re only eighteen, am I correct?”
“Yes.” He nodded.
“And at that young age, you’ve already become a sensation, who do you credit your success to?”
Peyton was relieved that he got the questions back on track. He said some nonsense about how inspiring his father was and all, the same answer he always gave. Even though, in all reality, his father was more threatening than inspiring.
By the time the show ended, Peyton had given an Oscar worthy performance and even been the musical guest on tonight’s show. He’d even been able to surprise a couple fans that were waiting outside the building.
Peyton wasn’t some self-absorbed bad boy who didn’t care about his fans. In fact, Peyton absolutely loved them. He recognized that he’d be nowhere today without them.
(The only thing he didn’t enjoy was the fanfictions. He had looked some up once, and never again.)
Instead of going back to his house, he went to Duncan’s. Duncan was supposed to get Fanny over so they could discuss the festival, hopefully he hadn’t failed him.
And as he walked up to the front door, he could already hear Fanny’s yelling. “You want to what? No! I only came here so you could apologize! I am not going to speak to that lowlife who-” Peyton rang the doorbell before she could finish.
Fanny opened the door, and as soon as she saw Peyton, the door was slammed in his face.
“Why’d you do that?” Duncan asked.
“You actually invited the pig here?”
Peyton opened the door now that it was unlocked and was greeted by Fanny’s twisted face and Duncan with a shirt soaked full of water.
Fanny huffed and sat down on the couch, refusing to meet his eyes. Duncan, however, groaned loudly and pointed an accusing finger at her. “As soon as I told her you were coming, she threw her water on my shirt and attempted to tackle me! And then she started to complain-“
“What? Do not go blaming your T-shirt problems on me, mister! You lured me here under false pretenses!”
“And what were those pretenses?” Peyton asked curiously.
That got her to shut up pretty quickly.
“Look,” Peyton started. “I have a way to get Cindy back and make sure the whole world knows what a bitch Evelyn is, but I need you on my side to be able to do it.”
“What makes you think that I would believe anything you say?”
Peyton sighed. “That night that Evelyn came to my house wasn’t what it seemed to be. I invited her over to negotiate a peace agreement. I wanted to see if there was a way to let her down easy instead of a big spectacle. But then she got all sad and told me that if I kissed her, and felt nothing, she would stop being so manipulative. So I did, it seemed like a small price to pay for getting Cindy back, but somehow Cindy was there and she only saw the kiss.
“She assumed the worst and didn’t even let me explain. But I still don’t know how she knew to come to my house at that exact time to witness a misunderstanding. How did she even get past my bodyguard?” Peyton wondered aloud.
Fanny gasped and looked down. “So you weren’t the one who gave her the note?”
“I never gave her the note. I saw it afterwards, it was in Evelyn’s handwriting.
Peyton clenched his fists together, the memory of that night still pained him deeply. Evelyn wanted to hurt Cindy, so she made sure she witnessed Peyton and Evelyn kissing, giving the illusion that he never even cared about her. It was horrible.
Duncan whistled. “Dang, Evelyn could be a badass spy with manipulative skills like that.”
Peyton gave him a stare that shut him up and turned back to Fanny, “So you believe me now?”
She shifted uncomfortably, “I guess, but Cindy is really hurt. She even wrote a song . . .” Fanny covered her mouth suddenly, like she wasn’t supposed to say that.
“She wrote a song?” Peyton asked tentatively.
Fanny nodded. “She wants to perform that song after the other one. She has enough time to and the crowd won’t chase her off of the stage when they know who she really is.”
Peyton smiled, “That’s amazing – let them know who she is, it’ll make my plan much easier to pull off. Here it is . . .”