That night the guys got together in the games room all taken turns on the game for a while, they stopped and talked about the girls and what they would bring to the show.
‘So what do you think of the girls? They’ve got something?’ Dylan stated.
‘Yes they all pretty badass.’ Elliot mentioned.
‘Well, I’ve got 1 of 5 so far, like to try the others.’ Blake teased, they glared at him unapproved from his remarks.
‘That’s not cool you know.’ Ashton told him.
‘So? I don’t care, if they want to go for it I’m not stopping them.’ Most of them rolled your eyes.
‘It looks like Ryleigh told you already.’ Rory mocked him, he didn’t like Blakes arrogant attitude towards the girls presuming he could get any girl into his lap.
‘I like her, but I found it surprising that she’s never done anything to what we’ve all done.’ Elliot questioned.
‘I don’t think it matters, she obviously seems to make pretty good music.’ Rory said defensively.
‘No I can see that, it’s just surprising. You seem to get along with her well?’ Elliot stated.
‘Yeah well, she seems to be the first person that doesn’t see the bad stuff that I’ve done and not treating me differently because of it.’ He seemed happy to respect her but expressing out loud with a camera watching disturbed him. He aim to get fans but doesn’t want to bestow as a weak target, and not be an asshole like Blake is. ‘I got to know who I am facing up against, you know as we’re in the same genre area.’
‘Keep your friends close and your enemies closer…Smart’ Ashton said to him, and raise their beers to it.
Also that evening, the girls relaxed on the sofa by the pool with the fire burning, Ryleigh had the chance to catch up with Ester and saw she had a hummingbird tattoo done on her right shoulder blade and added more purple into her hair. She noticed the girls got root and dye top-ups.
‘So did you sleep with Blake or not?’ Harper asked Kaylin.
‘What if I did? I don’t kiss and tell.’ She teased, Ryleigh remained quiet but deemed this as pretty childish. ‘Who would you sleep with one of the guys if you have you?’ Harper and Melody answered they seemed to formed a mean girl group which wasn’t her taste of people to be around with, Tessa and Ester joined in but responded swiftly and then questioned her.
‘I’m not joining in.’ Ryleigh said.
‘Oh, I forgot like miss engaged here.’ Kaylin mocked. ‘That’s ok, I’ll pick someone for you.’ She thinks for a second. ‘Rory.’ Ryleigh scrunched her nose.
‘How did you conclude to that?’ Ester asked, she wished she wasn’t participating.
‘Nobody said him and he’s quite moody like Ryleigh is now.’ She scowled at Kaylin and wasn’t satisfied with her remark, she believes she is doing it on purpose to get the ratings up.
‘He is a nice guy once you get to know him.’ She should of stood up for herself and not defend for someone else.
‘If you say so.’
The next day is the first time going back to the studio with their coaches and grasping the first challenge. To keep it simple she wore an over-sized black graphic top with dark grey jeans and converse shoes and with a classic eye-liner for her make-up.
As they walk in, the camera is switched on facing them all and the judges stood opposite.
‘Welcome all, hope you had a nice few days settling into the house.’ Marcus says, it still isn’t real to Ryleigh that he is her coach and they’re in the same room together. ‘Are you all ready for your first challenge?’ Some responded yes and some nodded.
‘Okay, so what we want you to do is show off your stuff.’ Aimee says.
‘You need to gain an audience and we want to see what you got. This includes a music video and a recording track that you’ll will perform live on Saturday.’ Bruce said, he’s been in a pop-rock band for many years and had successful albums with his band Friday Night, his scruffy dark hair and slim build with a red bandana tied on his head like a headband, he has the cute boy band vibe.
After the recording, Kelsie appeared and told her she’ll have a one-to-one meeting with Marcus filmed and a schedule to follow for the rest of the week.
‘So you’ll meet Marcus tomorrow morning, then Tuesday you’re at the studio for 3 hours with the producers for 2 days, then Thursday you’ll be shooting a video for half a day, then that afternoon, you’ll be in rehearsal for the show and then again on Saturday morning. Your good to go?’ Ryleigh stared at her shocked by the busy schedule for the week also, for her exercise too.
‘This is a lot.’ She declared.
‘You’ll be fine, I’m here if you need me.’ She rubs her arm for comfort ‘So go back to the house and get writing.’
That afternoon everyone found a “personal spot” for them to work, for Ryleigh by the window in the girls’ bedroom looking over LA sitting on the floor crossing her legs holding her guitar. She has one of the windows slightly open letting in a breeze and hearing the sound of the birds.
‘Hey, Ryleigh. If you want to work outside and look at the view, our room has a balcony.’ Elliot says to her when he passed the room.
‘Is it taken?’ He shook his head and followed him, she examined their room and seen a bit untidy. Ryleigh thanked him and the view looked better from the balcony with the noise and the feel of the sun-rays catching her pale skin made her decide this is the space she wanted to work in.
Perching on the chair and placing the note pad on the table, she starts to strum away some cords and hums a pitch she’s striving to aim.
You know it’s hard when you can’t tell the truth,
When you dream like this and got no clue,
The mirror sees nothing more than fake happiness,
And time is at stake.
I want something more, I want something new,
This is me here telling you the truth,
I want nothing more or nothing less,
The me in-between will be the best.
Release me from this cage that I am chained to,
Set me free, so set me free.
In her element, plucking away not realising someone behind her is listening. He leans on the door to the balcony, observing her sound emotionally open and strong. Her music, her voice made the hairs stand on the back of his neck, he only gets like that when a track he listens to understands the pain he’s feeling. When she finishes she catches the figure in the corner of the eye.
‘Rory!’ She jumped off her chair. ‘You scared me.’ His skin glowed in the sun and his cheeks are red from the workout he’s been doing at the gym, she tried not to blush. ‘How long have you been there?’ He snickered.
‘Not long, but from what I heard….‘, he looks down fiddling with the towel he has around his shoulder, and then back at her ‘…it’s really good.’ And ends with a corner smile. Ryleigh became breathless and her stomach flipped slightly, his brownish eyes drawing her in.
‘Elliot said I can come in, but if you don’t want me to stay I’ll go somewhere else.’ She says snapping out from gaping at him.
‘No it’s fine, I’m going to take a shower and change in there. What are your plans this evening?’
‘I don’t know yet, I think we’re going to order a takeaway downstairs to share out. You joining?’
‘Yeah. Don’t go anywhere.’ He says and goes back in, Rory accepted she can be just a friend to him, it’s just a crush for now and it’ll flare away he tells himself.
From the distraction, Ryleigh had enough for today and hopefully has done enough to show to Marcus. While she’s waiting, she checks her phone and messages Russell for them to have a facetime chat, with that too she takes a photo of her looking out of LA and her guitar and starts editing the photo. She hears Rory taking a seat next to her and puts her phone down.
‘How’s your song going?’ Ryleigh asks.
‘It’s going ok, you want to hear?’ She nods and gives him her guitar, his plain black t-shirt fits tight around his biceps and chest which she found attractive. As he adjusts himself, he starts playing,
So what does it take to make you see,
I’m the one you’ll fall in love with me,
My heart hurts deep enough it cracks,
Nobody can fix it and that is a fact.
You can’t save me from what I’ve become,
Everything I’ve done has been so wrong,
I’ve always tried my best,
But my best is still a test in your eyes.
I’ve been a bad boy and locked up for a really long time.
Ryleigh fell in love with it instantly, his voice draws her in and the harmony he invented memorised her and how easy he made it.
‘That’s really something.’ She says respectfully, he gazes at her and falls deeply into her eyes.
‘I can’t wait to get into the studio and record it.’ They stare at each other and she starts chewing the bottom of her lip, he tried hard not to glance at her lips and question how they taste.
‘Yo! We’re ordering.’ Ashton calls out. Whatever happened, they snapped out of it.