Going Back Home
Man, if looks could kill than I would be dead on the spot. At least, the way Kai has been glaring daggers at me since we left the hospital. You’d think this would be a great occasion to celebrate. You know, getting away with our lives after being mauled and nearly killed by a bunch of giggly, squealing girls. But no. Not Alpha Centauri. In fact, here we are, sitting in the SUV in silence as we’re driving to the airport. Or maybe I shouldn’t be this happy. After all, we ended up coming here for no reason. We were told that there had been so much chaos downtown that there was no other option but to pull the plug on the meet-and-greet. Part is me was upset when we heard the news. We rehearsed out songs until our throats hurt, we signed album until our hands ached, and for what? Just to be sent back home without doing anything at all?
At the same time, some of us weren’t in any condition to be singing or dancing or taking pictures with an endless sea of eager fans. I had a broken finger, Alex would be on crutches for the next few weeks, and Kai… well, who even cares? He’s clearly feeling good enough to try and pick fights. But that’s the least of our problems right now. We ended up having to apologize to a lot of people because of this incident. Lots of guys on our security team who suffered minor injuries, the people staying at the hotel that complained of the noise and the fans, the hotel manager for the property damage. No doubt we will personally be held accountable for since we are the group.
Even the police officers who had to fight off a lot of angry girls and arresting them with charges like ‘disturbing the peace’, property damage, resisting arrest, etc. To make things worse, this would be shown all over national TV. My ears flared with heat. Imagine seeing yourself getting owned by a bunch of girls and getting teased about it on the internet. Yeah. Not a good look for us guys.
“Okay,” Manager said as he finally flipped his phone shut and slid it into the breast pocket of his suit jacket. “Here’s the plan.”
We all leaned forward to listen. Manager cleared his throat. “So our flight will take off in twenty minutes so we get in, go through all that necessary airport hussle, and get on the jet before anybody in there can identify you. Airport security has been made aware of the situation and the health issues you guys are having right now in case anything else should happen. You are to remain together at all times. When we’re there, you get out and go do what you have to do. The boys will take care of the luggage.”
He turned to look at Kelsea and Grams. “Ladies, you are with me. Can’t have you getting caught in the middle of the chaos again, right?”
Kelsea nodded gratefully. Grams, however, scowled. “I don’t understand this madness!” she shouted. “How do you know airport security will be able to protect the boys against that horde of improper young women when the police could not? Huh? Where is my reassurance?”
I turned around and placed my hand on her shoulder. “Grams,” I said in the most soothing voice I could manage, “We’ll be alright. There’s no way they could possibly know we’re here anyway. This is supposed to be a private arrangement remember?”
Manager nodded in encouragement. Kai huffed and rolled his eyes.
Keep cool Eden, Keep cool Eden. I took a deep breath to keep from exploding. What is this guy’s freaking problem?
Manager twisted around in his seat. “Okay! We’re almost here! I can see the airport just up ahead. Remember everybody to stay together and…”
The color suddenly drained from his face. Kelsea and I looked at each other. What’s going on here now? I leaned forward and shook his shoulder.
“Hey!” I said. “Manager! What’s wrong? Stay together and what now?”
He didn’t answer. Instead, he leaned back against the seat and shook his head back and forth, as if in disbelief. Kelsey bit down on her lip in concern.
“Paul?” Alex whispered, speaking for the first time when we left the hospital.
He at least had some color in his face now. He nudged Kai in the side and motioned for him to say something.
“Oh god,” Manager breathed. “How could this have happened?”
“What?” Kai said impatiently. The SUV stopped to a stop. “What happened already?”
No one answered. Why would you when the answer was staring you right in the face. With hundreds of different-colored eyes ringed with smudged eye makeup and identical excited expressions on their sweaty, bruised faces. I could spot a few news crews among them; cameramen plopping their cameras on their shoulders, news reporters adding finishing touches to their hair. Airport security was out there, but there’s no way they would be able to stop all of them from catching us.
Crap. Can’t we ever catch a stupid break in this town?
“But h-how?” Kelsey stammered. “How could they have known we’d be here so quickly? We didn’t let anyone know when we were leaving!”
“No, but I bet the hospital staff did,” Kai answered, scowling at the cheerful girls through the window. “One or some of them had to of overheard Paul making arrangements for the jet or something and told everyone.”
“Oh my lord,” Grams whispered. She glared at Manager. “I told you something like this would happen!”
Manager swallowed nervously. “Look,” he said. “There’s no too many of them here like there was before so we shouldn’t have too much trouble with them this time…”
But he didn’t sound all that sure. I sighed. “We have to get out eventually so let’s go!”
Before anyone could protest, I pushed the door open and stepped out. The cheers were so loud that my ears hurt. I clamped my hands down over them and stepped aside as Kelsey followed, then Grams, than Alex, and Kai coming up last. Manager sighed and half-dragged himself out of the car, looking irritated and tired.
“Boys! Boys over here!” shouted a chorus of voices before the camera flashes started.
Great. Paparazzi. I kept my hand down and threw my arm around Gram’s shoulders as we followed the security to the doors. The screams were deafening; high and shrill like bells coupled with violent pushing, aggressive shouting, poor dancing, and off key singing. Manager was right though. There wasn’t as many of them here as before. Thank God.
“Alex! How are you feeling?” A short bald man with glasses asked as he stepped a picture of Alex hobbling along with Kai at his right. He didn’t answer.
“Hey Kai! Is it true that you and Barbara Van Vorst are an item?” another asked and snapped another pictures of us.
“Get away from me!” Kai retorted. “Nosy idiots.”
“Eden! Buddy! That’s a nasty injury!” someone yelled over the fans’ thunderous cries.
“So?” I snapped. Grams frowned at me. Now I had to be nice to a bunch of stalkers? I don’t freaking think so.
“We love you guys!” the fans sang and they tried unsuccessfully to get around the security to touch us.
“Have a good trip!” one of them cried.
“The album is amazing!” another chimed in.
“Get better boys! We want you performing soon!” they screeched. “Come back soon!”
“As if!” Manager huffed as we slipped past the glass doors and hurried to the lines. I let out a sigh of relieve. Thank god that’s done and over with.
“Let’s go guys!” One of the security guys urged. “My guys won’t be able to hold them off forever, you know?”
We dove into the lines, a small team of security lugging our stuff behind us.
I turned around once more to look at the giggling fans behind us. And there, in the midst of the calamity, I saw a face that I thought I would never see again.