Ryleigh woke up with a blanket on her sprawling on the sofa, no one was here. Her mouth was dry and desperate to have water as she travelled to the kitchen she can see out the window of everyone relaxing by the pool. She seemed tempted to go outside but thought against it, the cool breeze inside the house obtained her body temperature tolerable.
She created the opportunity to go to the studio and decided to make a start on her song. The piano drew her attention and aspired to tackle the sequence that Rory taught her, her soft fingers play loosely and delivers a soothing noise co-ordinating with her fingers to play easily. After a while of feeling frustrated, she gets the guitar and starts to pluck some chords.
I know you may be wondering,
On who I want to be,
So set me free,
There isn’t a way out,
Believe me when I say, there isn’t no other way,
I’ve just got to try,
Let me be me and set me free,
Let go of the gravity
‘Which bit are you thinking of making screamo?’ Rory speaks making his way in.
‘I’m hoping in the middle-eight part. I am tempted to do it on the chorus, but if I can’t I won’t bother.’
‘I’m glad you’re better.’ He comes and sits next to her on the sofa.
‘I am thanks.’ She smiles, ‘Thanks for looking after me today, even though you’re quite bossy.’ Ryleigh kids.
‘You need to listen to me more.’ He smirks.
‘Not going to happen.’ She smirks back and chuckle together, Ryleigh sets the guitar down and faced onwards to Rory a bit more. ‘How do you do it? The screaming, what’s the technique?’
‘I think it’s better to learn with the teacher tomorrow, I’ll teach you some bad habits.’ A vibration noise went in his pocket and he forgot about owning Ryleigh’s phone. He pulls it out and passes it to her. ‘It’s been going off all day, don’t know what for.’ He lies to her, Ryleigh scans the phone to see 8 missed messages and a call from her mum. As she opens the messages she gets up and reads all his messages,
“We need to talk x”
“Is it really the show editing it? It doesn’t look like it to me.”
“How can I believe you when I see things like that?”
“Call me when you give a shit.”
“Are you going to ignore me now?”
“Ryleigh, please tell me what I am seeing is not true?”
“How can I trust you?”
“Please just quit and come home.”
She stares at the phone questioning her relationship with Russell, she misses him a little but not as much as she did to begin with. The messages he sent to her now makes her anxious and afraid of what he’s viewed on the internet. Rory can see she’s in distress and gets up to be closer to her.
‘Are you ok?’
‘I….I don’t know. I don’t know what to do.’ Ryleigh tries to hold back her tears, he glimpses over her phone quickly.
‘You need to talk to him.’ He advises her but it gave him a stabbing pain to his stomach, ‘He’ll understand.’ Rory wraps one arm around her and she falls into his chest, it provided her some comfort and can hear his beating chest racing.
‘I don’t know if I can.’ She crooks her neck up and gazes into his dark eyes, her lips a partly open and he dreams to have them and see’s her innocent green eyes recognising her pain.
‘You need to.’ He kisses her temple and leaves to give her some privacy, before he goes, she grabs his hand to look back.
‘Thank you for believing in me Rory.’ He smiles and walks off, it hurt as he recalls her announcing earlier in her dreams. If Ryleigh was single he would have kissed her by now. Rory wondered on what these feelings he had with Ryleigh and something made her different to all the girls before and concluded she’s not like the other girls. Her carefree character and playful comments towards him and how understandable she can be with him on a personal level. He had to stop these feelings growing before he won’t be able to stop falling for her, but he can’t stay away.
Ryleigh couldn’t call Russell now as it’s late in the UK and hoping to try the next day after her singing lesson, she left him a message kindly saying they will talk. She starts to consider shifting to Rory and it could be because he’s here and how briskly they clicked with each other and formed this strong friendship. She tries carefully not to think about him a lovingly way but sometimes she can’t. Ryleigh might have to face it, she might have nothing at home for her anymore and would have to start over and if this all fails too, she pushes away these negative perceptions immediately deciding not to think about it.
Feeling as right as rain and on her way to the studio with the boys, dressed casual with a blue vest top and denim jeans, Rory had his leather jacket on and Ryleigh mocked him for having it constantly on everywhere he goes.
‘Do you sleep with it too?’ She said and he smirks at her,
‘I think for that, you can make me breakfast tomorrow.’
‘Why would I want to do that?’ Taunting him again.
‘Because I made you one yesterday.’
‘Whatever.’ She nudges him as they walk to the studio.
The teacher begins with the warm-up and how to find their vocal tension and how to control it, Ryleigh was finding it tricky and had to take sips of water in between breaks, while the other three were used to it, taking it easy. Rory decided not to show off and focused on how she’s doing, he can tell from the bags under her eyes she didn’t sleep well last night. She did feel tired, tossing and turning last night contemplating what are her priorities are and if Russell was being reasonable and wondered if she can continue worrying regularly.
After that, each of them went into the recording booth to test their pitch level while the others watched behind her glass with the team and the decks. Rory went first and had multiple range to work with, which was incredible in her eyes. Blake went in next and did anything to show off.
‘You’re doing really well.’ Rory whispers in her ear and she provides a small smile.
‘Not as good as you guys.’ He takes her hand from behind squeezes hers.
‘You’re brilliant Ryleigh.’ She gasps lightly and looks at him deeply finding it challenging to look away.
‘Ryleigh your turn.’ The sound guy calls out, losing her concentration and makes her way into the booth putting the headphones on, she listens over the mic for the sound guy ready to play some music and takes a deep breath ready to scream, trying not to be loud at the top of the lungs to stop scratching her vocals. Once the recording was done she heard herself back and noticed it’s too quiet and had to be louder and decided to have one more go. The next time felt better and sounded clearer, not to push it anymore she had enough for today and gulped half a bottle of water.
The next morning going to her workout, she did promise Rory some breakfast but was running late. She made it and placed it on his bedside with a note, he wasn’t there and she heard the shower running speculating he might be in there. Ryleigh attempted not to think of his tattoos and chest with his bottom half wrapped in a towel, it’s inappropriate.
Rory got out of the shower and see’s the tea in a black mug with a toasted bagel with the butter melted with a note leaning on the mug.
“Soz I couldn’t have breakfast with you but here is some like I promised.
We’ll have one together soon.
Gone to my workout and hopefully I won’t die.
He giggles at about her workout and remembers how much she hates it.
The rest of the days fell easy but knew she had to face Russell at some point, she kept thinking of her words to him and to trust her again. It’s 10 pm in the UK and had a spare slot in the afternoon in LA to talk. The laptop on ready for him to answer his call, and see’s his face unsettled and exhausted.
‘Hey, Rus. How are you?’
‘I’m fine, I guess.’ He says flatly.
‘Whatever you’re seeing is not true you know.’ She calmly said.
‘Pictures don’t lie.’ He spat out, she knows the photos he’s talking about and is afraid to tell him what happened, but won’t be surprised if it will be displayed on the TV show.
‘My drink got spiked and he was helping me. He knew something wasn’t right.’
‘Probably done it on purpose so you can get closer to him.’
‘No, it wasn’t him.’ She said quietly.
‘Is there anything going on between you and him?’
‘No.’ She said to him without hesitation.
‘I don’t trust you.’
‘Please, don’t believe anything you read.’ Her eyes began to fill up with water. ‘I just have a really good friendship with Rory, that’s all. It’s no different than it is with Paul at work.’ They joked him being the “work husband”. ‘Or you with Yasmin.’
‘No, it’s not like that and you know it.’
‘All you’re doing is reading the bad stuff so they can get a reaction, that’s what is happening right now and you’re falling for it.’
‘The photos that were taken show something different, how can I believe you? You clearly don’t care about me or your family anymore, why have you decided to become selfish all of a sudden? Do you think you could come back and everything will be fine? All the things we build-up to and been through, you’re throwing it away because you want 15 minutes of fame.’ The tears rolled down her face, the pure hate and spite from his words.
‘I love you Russell, please don’t be like this.’
‘It seems clear to me that you’ve found a way to keep yourself occupied by being in someone else’s arms.’
‘Russell please stop! Don’t talk about him like that, he’s done nothing wrong. He’s doing what you should be doing is being supportive, but I can’t seem to get that from you.’ She snapped disrespecting her loyalty. ‘I’m sick of you bringing me down all the time!’
‘Tell you what Ryleigh, I didn’t give up on what we achieved and what we have done to get ourselves here, but to you it obviously means nothing. You need to come home.’
‘No! I’ve come this far and I’m not backing out.’ She yelled.
‘Well, then it seems to me you’ve already made a decision.’ Russell hung up the chat, she tried to contact him again but the line kept saying it’s busy, when she couldn’t reach him anymore she cried hugging herself into a ball, crushed on the outcome. She doesn’t know if this is the end of them both and it’s damaged beyond repair.
Ryleigh needed to be on her own, but couldn’t sit in this room all day. She snuck out and made her way into the girls’ bathroom trying to cover the blotches around her eyes and her smudged make-up. She covered enough for everyone to assume she’s fine, with them around it made her forget but sleeping has remained challenging.
Recording all done, having a one-to-one with Marcus and he made some suggestions to her track a hundred times better and the video went well. The live show came round and had her rehearsal, but she started to struggle with the changing into the screamo part then back to singing, desperate for water. She had practised enough not to overdo it, after she finished she coughed out the tickly throat she produced.
‘You alright Ryleigh?’ Marcus asks, she nods.
‘Yes, I’ll be ok.’
‘I think you are pushing a bit hard on the screamo parts then you need to. Take a break from now and do some breathing techniques with the teacher.’ She nods again and makes her way off stage, she’s not been herself for a few days and played on her happy face. Ryleigh needed to shift out of her mind if she’ll ever get a chance of this as a future career.
In the make-up room having a hair done she sits with Kelsie and has a catch-up, she informs her the situation with Russell.
‘I don’t understand why he is acting like this, well I do but I wished he would believe me.’ Ryleigh sounded frustrated.
‘He’s probably missing you and doesn’t know how to deal with it.’
‘I don’t know, it seems more than that.’ She looks at herself in the mirror. ‘I’m not cut out for this, I’m probably going to flunk it tonight so I can go home.’
‘Ryleigh, you don’t want to be doing that.’ Kelsie told her adamantly. ‘You have an amazing fan base out there and your song and video are streaming well. Why give it all up now?’ Ryleigh looks to her hands and picks at the nail polish.
‘I don’t want to, but if I fail I have no choice but go back home.’
‘That’s what I thought first when I was here with my ex, but Josh helped me through it.’ Kelsie grabs her hands to stop her fiddling and get to look at her. ‘Ryleigh if this doesn’t work out, there are other things you can do. This isn’t just it. You are an amazing singer, now stop moping and start acting like one.’ Ryleigh smiles thankful from cheering her up.
Rory stood by the door hearing, he didn’t want to but it appeared serious and it got him worried on what she’s planning to do. He has to find a way to talk her out of it, the reason Rory came over was to give her some tea to soothe her throat. He made his cue in and Ryleigh noticed him in the reflection from the mirror.
‘Hey Rory.’ Kelsie says.
Hey K, I would of gotten you one if I knew you where here.′
‘It’s fine, I’ll go get myself some coffee.’ She tells him and winks making her way out, Rory sits in the chair Kelsie was on and passes her tea, she thanked him.
‘How did the coaching go?’
‘It was ok, he’s given me a technique to try when I perform tonight. Hopefully, it’ll work.’ She carries a fake smile and Rory can detect it.
‘How are you feeling about tonight? You seem pretty quiet.’
‘I’m ok, but I don’t think I’ll do well tonight. I’m thinking of going to flunk it, so I can go home.’
‘No Ryleigh don’t.’ She shrugs and he holds her hand feeling the warmth of holding her tea. ‘You don’t need to do that, whatever has happened this week - never bring it on stage with you. It won’t make you the right person you want to be on there. Like you said once you go on there, you feel alive and free and they all like it - I do too. You shouldn’t throw this away because people are telling you, you should be doing this. Isn’t that the purpose of this song you’ve written?’ Ryleigh nods, taking everything he said, the attraction to him and his kindness makes her heart flutter faster.
‘Yes, that’s the reason I wrote it. Everything that has happened, I don’t know if I can fix this.’
‘Don’t, things happen for a reason, take it as it is. I had to think like that when I was behind bars, I felt like giving up on the things I was fighting for once. Layla got me through it knowing I have something worth living for. ’ She moves forward for a hug.
‘Ryleigh, it’s time to change.’ A women calls out and lets go of Rory, before she left Ryleigh kisses him on the cheek.
‘I’ll see you tomorrow for breakfast.’ She wanders away he can’t help but smile.