Silver Flashing Lights
“Audra, sweetie, slow down!” I never thought I’d be yelling those words at a person whose legs were the same length as my forearms. But then again, two weeks ago, I never thought I’d be wandering around the backstage of a stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts.
Still, thus far, my life as being the nanny to two celebrity children had been surprisingly uneventful. Which probably wasn’t a bad thing.
Our days pretty much consisted of travelling and waiting. In the morning, I’d report to the back room of the tour bus where Jaxon and the twins slept on an air mattress to take which ever three year old was ready to the bathroom to begin the grooming process and by the time both of them were dressed and squeaky clean and properly fed, the tour bus had arrived at the venue for that evening’s concert. Then I’d play with them all morning while the band did interview after interview before Jaxon returned in time to feed them lunch and give them affection and then he was gone again for soundcheck. The band had about two hours of downtime before the show actually started, during which they kept their energy up by dancing around the dressing room. The twins usually stayed awake long enough to watch their dad and uncles perform about three songs before they were ready to crash and were absolutely knocked out by the time the boys returned from the encore, practically tripping over themselves to volunteer to carry the three year olds back to the tour bus.
Now that they were used to me constantly being around, Finn and Audra had returned to being the children that they apparently actually were, which basically consisted of exhibiting high levels of energy during every waking hour. Finn was actually relatively easy to handle, I thought, glancing back to where he was contently glued to his Uncle Benji’s side, playing with the guitarist’s fading fuchsia hair, because as long as he was receiving some sort of affection, he was perfectly happy.
It was Audra who I had to keep an eye on twenty four seven. Despite being small, she was quick as a whip and could run out of my line of vision before I realized what was happening, which was why I was grateful for times like now, when Trey sprinted forward and picked her up from behind to place her on his shoulders, sending her into a fit off giggles as she automatically tangled her tiny fingers into his hair for support.
“Hey, Audra,” he sang out, winking in my direction as he walked back towards us. “Wanna see where we’re playing tonight?”
Currently, we were wandering around the back stage area of that night’s venue, attempting to locate the dressing room, but apparently Trey had decided now was a good time for a detour, so we all followed as he made his way down the hallway which led to the stage, pushing open the back doors to step out onto the area where the band would be performing that evening, still being set up by the crew.
It was pretty cool, I had to admit, watching how an empty stadium was prepped for a rock show and soon enough filled out with thousands of screaming fans. Tonight’s concert would be the sixth show I would watch on the television stream in the dressing room and I could honestly say I was excited. Despite the fact that I’d already seen it five times, the band managed to keep it fresh from city to city, most likely because their friendship was so genuine that it was hard not to become invested.
In fact, there were times when I wondered if maybe Jaxon’s assertion that his kids didn’t need a nanny was accurate. The other members of the band were so invested in the lives of their niece and nephew that the twins never wanted for attention or affection when they were around.
But I supposed that was the tricky part; them being around. Because at the end of the day, they had jobs to do, jobs that included about a dozen interviews a day followed by hours of rehearsal and topped off with high energy performances. So I could tell they were grateful when they returned to the dressing room after a show to find that the twins were sound asleep because I’d made sure to wear them out, no matter how much Jaxon refused to admit it.
“So what do you think, baby girl?” Trey asked, lifting Audra from his shoulders to bring her to his hip. “Pretty cool, huh?”
Nodding, she clapped her hands together excitedly as her gaze floated over the empty seats. “Cool!”
“Wanna help me find the dressing room?” he asked, smiling widely when she nodded enthusiastically and I shot him a grateful grin of my own, glad that there was at least one person in this group who always seemed to be on my side.
I hadn’t interacted much with Benji because he spent a good chunk of his free time with his long term girlfriend, who had been tagging along on the tour, but was set to leave the next day. He seemed nice enough, though, always smiley and bursting with sunshine. Peter was super polite, but a bit more reserved as he was just getting over a tough breakup, and Trey always seemed eager to help.
And then there was Jaxon, who despite being the band member with whom I spent the majority of my time, I felt as though I knew nothing about. I was pretty sure that was completely intentional. He was avoiding getting close to me, probably in hopes that I’d screw up and then he’d have no qualms about firing me on the spot.
Thus far, I thought I had been doing pretty well. Considering my job description basically consisted of making sure the twins ate and then playing with them when their father wasn’t around, I wasn’t particularly stressed.
So when the band hit the stage to begin their soundcheck, I plopped to the floor of the dressing room to help Finn act out a play with his stuffed animals and the block castle his sister had built, just like I had every other concert day of the past few weeks. That is, until Audra decided to shake things up by claiming she was tired of the usual activities.
“I bawd,” she pouted, jutting out her lower lip and crossing her arms over her chest to add maximum effect.
“Do you wanna play with a different toy?” I asked, my eyes scanning the room for the duffel bag which held all of their entertainment.
Sighing, I leaned back on my palms as I attempted to come up with a different solution. “Do you wanna go outside? It’s pretty out.”
That was actually a pretty good idea. Because running around would tire them out faster and they’d be less fussy when it was time to eat their dinner and they’d probably pass out without me having to go through the usual number of bedtime stories.
Her expression lit immediately, so I pushed myself to my feet and reached out to grab her and Finn’s hands when they stood as well, ending up a little behind them as they dragged me towards the door. We skipped down the hallway to the stadium’s back door, nodding at one of the security guards before I dropped Audra’s hand to push open the door and blinked as we stepped into the sunlight.
It was quiet at first, which I soon realized was actually pretty strange, because once my eyes adjusted to the change in light, I noticed that there was actually a mass of people standing on the other side of a chain link fence. They were both boys and girls, ranging in age from preteen to middle aged, and if they noticed we were there, they made absolutely no indication.
That is, until about ten minutes into Finn and Audra staring up in awe at their father’s face on the side of a truck which held the band’s equipment.
It started with a few hush whispers. Apparently a couple of the fans realized that the twins were Jaxon’s flesh and blood and began to murmur among themselves. Then one brave soul called out Audra’s name, causing her to look towards the fence purely out of habitual reaction and in turn confirming that she was exactly who they thought she was. As more of them were informed of the toddlers’ identities, the murmuring grew to a dull roar and before I could realize what was happening, what started as a few whispers of recognition had snowballed into absolute chaos.
There were flashing lights and a lot of yelling out of both of their names and I was on the verge of tears myself, so it was entirely understandable that the twins began to sob, tears streaming down their faces as they screamed for their father at the top of their lungs. Squatting down to their front, I pulled them against my chest, allowing them to bury their faces into the sides of my neck as I rubbed my palms soothingly up and down their backs. Unfortunately, I couldn’t carry them both at the same time, or I would have immediately brought them inside.
Looking over towards the door, which was propped open slightly, I called out for Dan, the security guard who had been by the door when we’d stepped outside earlier, letting out a small sigh of relief when he heard my cries and jogged out the door, quickly sizing up the situation and reaching down to grab Audra. Shooting him a grateful smile, I clutched Finn against my chest and sprinted towards the back door, holding the three year old close and not breathing until we reached the safety of the dressing room once more.
Dan set Audra down at my side and nodded to let me know I was on my own, and I shot him a quick smile to thank him before crouching down to set Finn on the ground and pull Audra into my chest for comfort simultaneously.
“I’m sorry,” I whispered into the soft hair at the top of her head, despite knowing that my apologies meant nothing to her. “I’m so sorry, honey.”
“What’s going on?”
I looked up to see Benji entering the dressing room, his brow pulled into a deep furrow, obviously confused as to why the twins had their heads buried in my shoulders. Now that we were in a quieter space, their screams had ceased, but they were still sobbing so hard that they were shaking against me.
“They’re a little freaked out,” I said quietly, parting my lips to further explain, but stopping short when Jaxon entered the room next. His expression had been initially light in anticipation of seeing his kids, but it quickly melted into concern when he noticed that they weren’t particularly happy.
Rushing to my side, he plopped down on the floor next to me, his eyes shooting my accusatory daggers as he pulled the twins out of my grasp and into his lap, pressing kisses to both of their heads. “What did you do?”
“Chill, Jax,” Trey said nonchalantly as he strolled into the room, probably because he had absolutely no idea what was happening. “I’m sure whatever happened wasn’t Divya’s fault.”
I appreciated his faith in my nannying skills, but on this count, I was pretty sure he was wrong. “I just…I took them outside to get some air and there were some paparazzi there and…”
“You took them outside?!” Jaxon interrupted, his glare becoming even fierier, if that was even possible. “Why would you do that?”
“Audra was bored,” I sputtered out, knowing that wasn’t a good excuse and thinking that in any other circumstance, this conversation would be completely ridiculous. Usually, parents loved when their kids played outdoors.
But Jaxon wasn’t a normal parent and his kids weren’t normal kids. They didn’t have the freedom to just run around outdoors whenever they pleased and I should have realized that. It was common sense, really, because of course there would be hordes of fans and paparazzi outside the venue where the band was going to perform. That made perfect sense. What didn’t make sense was my logic in thinking that exposing a couple three year olds to that craziness wouldn’t be traumatic. I was quickly learning that I knew absolutely nothing about the world of celebrities and that needed to change sooner rather than later.
“Congratulations,” he spat out bitterly, keeping his voice soft as to not further alarm his children, but letting me know that I was pretty low on the list of people with whom he was currently pleased. “They’re terrified.”
“I’m sorry,” I whispered, standing up straight in preparation for giving the Rigalis some space.
However, before I could turn to leave, Audra had reached out her hand towards me, waving it up and down to indicate she wanted me to grab hold. “Divs? Can I has hug?”
“Of course, sweetheart,” I breathed out, relieved that she didn’t hate me as much as her father currently did. Settling myself on the floor, I opened my arms to her and squeezed her close, closing my eyes and holding her until her trembling stopped and hoping that at some point in the near future, I would figure out what the hell I was doing.