Chapter 46. - Afterparty
“How is everyone feeling tonight?” The lights dimmed as Ash walked to the front of the stage, capturing the crowd’s attention. Between songs, we took turns talking to the fans, connecting with them, and giving the others a chance to grab a sip of water or take a leak.
And when the spotlight wasn’t on me, I had a chance to check on her.
But where London stood just minutes ago, was now an empty seat.
I walked to the edge of the stage, getting the attention of one of the security details. He came over and I crunched down so I could talk to him. “Did you see where the brunette went? The girl that was sitting right there?”
He shook his head. “I think she walked out a bit ago, but I’ve been keeping my eyes on those girls - the ones trying to throw their clothes on stage.” Sure enough, two chicks were now only in their bras, looking at me like they were ready to tear those off and throw them at my face.
I turned my attention back to the security. “Walked out where? Did she head backstage?”
“No one goes backstage.”
“Fuck!” I snapped, straightening and walking off to where Nikki was sitting off to the side, typing away on her phone. “Nikki, I need you to find London.”
She frowned. “Isn’t she-” Her question trailed off as her eyes landed on the empty chair. “Where’s Callie? Maybe she went out to meet her?”
I reached into my back pocket, wanting to grab the phone that wasn’t there. We stopped bringing them on stage when we signed with the label - it was one of their nonsense rules, to keep our attention on our fans. As if you could easily ignore twenty thousand people staring at you…
“Can I borrow your phone?” But I already snatched the mobile out of her grasp before she could respond. Dialing London’s number by memory, I listened impatiently to the sound of it ringing. And ringing.
And ringing some more.
The call went to voicemail.
I lowered the phone, disconnecting the call and handing it back to Nikki, who was looking at me like she wanted to skin me alive. “The guys are ready to start! She’ll turn up, but you have a job to focus on!”
“Fuck off.” I murmured under my nose, as I turned back to the guys and picked up my guitar.
We got through two songs, but the uneasiness I felt in the pit of my stomach never subsided. Something wasn’t right - I could feel it. But I didn’t know just what to do with that sensation.
The night went on and every chance I got, I glanced at her still empty seat, the seat where London should’ve been sitting, watching me play for her. But she wasn’t there. And neither was Callie.
So at the next chance of a break, I rushed back to Nikki. “Did she call back?”
She shook her head. “Is she not back to her seat?”
I grabbed for her phone again, but this time, she was quicker. Holding it away from me, she frowned.
“What the hell has gotten into you?! This was your intermission!” She nodded behind me, where Jesse was currently talking to the crowd, thankfully keeping them entertained. “I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but we have a full house. And you’re over here.”
I opened my mouth to respond when someone clapped my back. “What’s going on?” Ash asked, jogging up to stand next to me. “Are you ok, man?”
“The coffee chick?”
I fought the urge to punch my best friend right in the face. “I know you know her name, Ash. Yes, London. She fucking left, and now she’s not picking up her phone.”
Ash’s dark brows furrowed. “Where could she have gone? I thought you two had plans.”
“I don’t fucking know!” I realized that I was raising my voice with people who had nothing to do with my problems, but suddenly, I felt desperate. Panic started to set in.
Where the fuck was she?! Anything could’ve happened to her. She could’ve been hurt or lost, or mobbed by a group of fans.
I waved a security detail over. “Radio all the crew members in the arena. If she’s in here, I need them to find her and make sure she’s ok. She’ll probably be with a tall, blonde girl.”
The guy nodded and walked off, just as Jesse announced the next song. Just how fucking long would this night be?! “Hey, man, do you need to leave?” Ash stepped closer, his dark eyes reflecting genuine concern - an emotion so rare for Ash, I barely recognized it. “Because if you want to leave to find her, fuck it. Just go.”
“Absolutely no way! You’re here to give a concert, for fuck’s sake!” Nikki jumped in, interrupting our moment. “These people have paid way too much money not to see all four of you idiots on stage. So get your entertainer panties on and get the fuck back there!”
Ash’s dark stare flashed to her. “When did you become such a bitch, Nik?”
“Stop!” I stepped between them before Nikki could respond. “Ash, not now. It’s fine! Let’s finish out this set. I’ll figure it out after.”
We walked back on stage together, and even after I picked up my guitar, I could feel Ash’s eyes on me. This was the part most didn’t know about him - behind that horrible attitude and borderline insane mentality, when Ash cared about someone, he would’ve done anything for them.
We pulled through the next few songs, I even took my turn of interacting with the crowd, when finally we were done.
The last song played, we thanked the fans for coming out tonight, and just like that, we were off. I fucking ran to our dressing rooms, where I dug my phone out of my jacket. I scrolled through my messages and missed calls - but none were from her.
“Shit!” I dialed her number again, and while I listened to the increasingly annoying sound of ringing, my band members piled into the room. Once more, the call went to voicemail.
I didn’t leave a message. Instead, I typed out a quick text, asking her where the fuck she went off to and if she was ok. Then, I sent a similar message to Callie, before raising my eyes back to the group of four in front of me.
“What happened? You look like you’re about to pass out.” Jesse observed, his brows furrowing as he took me in.
“She left. She just walked out at some point, and now she’s not answering the phone.”
“Shit! Have you tried her friend?” Brian asked, just as Nikki walked through the door.
“I talked to the head of security. London’s not in the building - they even checked the bathrooms.” She informed us, but the compassion I’ve gotten from my bandmates was missing from her tone. “She left, Lukas. And Callie never showed.”
“Do you want me to drive you to her house?” Ash offered. “Jesse can check blondie’s.”
I nodded. “She might be with Ginger, too.”
“We can swing by there too, if she’s not at her mother’s. Why would she leave, though?” Ash asked, voicing the question I was sure everyone was thinking.
I shrugged. “I have no fucking idea. Things were going perfect. I mean, you all saw her at the backstage meet and greet!”
“Did you say something to offend her? Piss her off?” My best friend offered helpfully. “Chicks don’t dig it when you’re around too many hot girls. Maybe she saw you looking at one of them too long and decided to throw a tantrum.”
I shook my head. “London isn’t like that.” My head began to hurt from thinking back and analyzing every second of the last few hours. Even the last few days. There wasn’t anything-
“She did leave rather suddenly from your party the other day.” I said slowly, remembering the way she was laughing one second, and then suddenly gone the next after Brian and Nikki’s cookout.
Brian agreed. “I noticed that. But I thought you said she just ate something bad?”
My eyes traveled to Ash, who only shrugged. “Chicks are crazy, man. Every single one of them.”
Then, I noticed Jesse’s expression. I stepped closer to him. “Do you know something?”
Jesse swallowed, his shoulders visibly tensing. “Look… I need you to stay calm. I can fix this!”
His gaze moved over to Nikki, who was standing in the corner, typing away on her phone. “Nikki, I need you to leave for this.”
“What? She is one of-” Brian started, but I waved him off.
“Please, Nik. I need to hear this.”
Nikki shrugged, looking eerily unaffected. “Whatever. I’ll see you at home.” She said to Brian, before walking out of the room and closing the door behind herself.
“What the fuck, Jesse?! Why did you make her leave?!” Brian was looking angrier by the second as he took Jesse’s other side.
“She can’t know we know,” Jesse said simply. “I know she’s your wife, but she is one of them.” He practically whispered the last part. “She plays for the label. And we’re on Team Lukas.”
My stomach tightened, knowing exactly what was coming, but I still held my breath as I listened and clung onto every word that came out of Jesse’s mouth.
“Look, London and I were talking at Brian’s. Somehow Erika’s name came up and she caught onto it. One thing led to the other - I mean, you know how pushy she can be once she puts her mind to it! And she’s my friend. I owed her the truth.”
“Fuck!” I snapped, taking a step back.
Ash grabbed his brother by the shoulders and shook him. “Why the fuck would you say anything?! We have a plan!”
The plan! I pushed Ash out of the way as I moved right into Jesse’s personal space. “Did you tell her about the plan?”
His hazel gaze dropped to the ground. “I didn’t get around to it.”
“You fucking moron!” Ash exploded, lunging at his brother again, but I moved into his path.
“It’s ok! It’s fine!” I breathed, calming myself just as much as I was intending to do the same to my best friends. “I’ll just tell her what we’re going to do. It’ll have to be a secret, but she can pretend for a few weeks - a couple months. And then-”
“She’s not picking up the phone though.” Brian pointed out.
“She doesn’t have to. I’ll go see her in person, explain everything thoroughly-” I shot a look at Jesse. “-and she’ll take me back. And everything will be just how it was intended. She doesn’t have to leave me.”
“You should’ve told her from the beginning.” Jesse murmured under his nose, earning a grunt from his brother. “I’m just saying! You obviously want her - that’s your choice. So you should’ve told her that from the beginning.”
“She didn’t need to know! She didn’t need to know any of this!” I was yelling now, expecting security to come barreling through the door at any second. “There never was a choice to be made.”
“He’s right about this one, though,” Brian spoke up, surprising all of us. “If you would’ve just talked to her, she-”
“She never would’ve let me chose her!” I was breathing heavy now, feeling more desperate and helpless as the seconds ticked on. “That’s why I didn’t tell her. She fucking loves this band, she loves the fandom. If she knew there was a choice between her and any part of this, she would’ve just taken herself out of the equation. Exactly as she has done, thanks to you!”
Jesse took a deep breath, looking pretty shaken up himself. “Look… I’ll fix this. I’ll talk to her if she won’t talk to you. I’ll explain and make it up to you and-”
There was a knock on the door, and a moment later, Erika walked in, a small smile playing on her lips. “I just got a call from the beautiful London Grey.” Following her, two young boys who barely looked legal carried in bottles of expensive champaign. “Cheers to another year of Hazmat!”