I had been a professional photographer for just over five years now. It wasn't an easy industry to break into, so being only twenty seven I was considered at the top of my field for where I lived.
Getting a break that young is unheard of.
Roughly two years into my career, I was approached by a Record Label to be their in-house photographer. I would be working alongside their promotional and marketing team, organising artists tours, concerts, promotional photos and alike.
Of course, I jumped at the opportunity.
Three years later... It is my longest relationship... ever... seriously!
Don't get me wrong that wasn't a complaint in the slightest. I loved my job and I would put it ahead of anything else in my life.
That right there, was the biggest problem. How many men were willing to stand down at a moment's notice because their girlfriend had to go on tour with god knows which artist this month?
I was busily working away in my office, lost in my thoughts, when our Marketing Manager came in. "Charlie, how's it going girl?"
"I am good Marcus, what brings you into my humble part of the world?"I said as I looked up from my laptop.
"Your favourite assignments." His hands were tucked in the back pockets of jeans, a look on his face that told me I really wouldn't like what he had to say next.
Closing my laptop I looked up at him, "What have you done Marcus?"
Without missing a beat, "I need you to go on Brax's regional tour."
"But that leaves in like two days!" I exclaimed quickly. I had not expected those to be the words out of his mouth.
Marcus started rubbing his neck, his discomfort obvious. "Yeah, I'm sorry mate, we fucked up. I'm not gonna lie to you. His usual photographer for tours was overlooked. By the time we picked it up, it was too short notice and he had other commitments booked in."
Damn it Marcus! I had not expected today to turn out like this.
This was my job though, I didn't really have much say here. "How long for?"
Marcus pulled out the chair in front of my desk. Having made himself comfortable he continued, "Three and a half months in total with travel time."
Caught off guard I was more vocal than even I could have predicted. "WHAT?? Awww Marcus man, you're killing me."
"Preaching to the choir here mate, I already had this talk with the powers that be. But I can negotiate, they said. So hit me."
Finding the humour in this I questioned, "Literally?"
Smirking back I nearly laughed at his sarcastic laugh back before he added, "Metaphorically."
I took my time to think.
What can I get out of this?
Then it hit me, "Fully compensated wages. You pay my rent for the period I am gone and organise to have it cleaned before I get back. I am not coming back to a dusty house that has been shut down for 3 months." Seeing him nod, I realise I might have a chance to ask for more here . . . "oh and I want expenses covered for the trip."
I had barely finished what I was saying, when Marcus spoke up, "Done!"
"Wow you really are desperate. I should have gone for more." Of course this was said half in jest.
"You could have." He winked at me.
Well fuck, that will teach me for not being greedy.
"Thought it all through, didn't you? Fine! But, I am going to need tomorrow off to get shit sorted."
"No argument here, I promise." Standing from his chair, he pushed it away from the table. "Well, let's go meet the guys shall we and I'll introduce you to everyone you don't already know?"
We headed down to the studio and it was all systems go. I watched as everyone was doing a last sound check, before making sure all the equipment was ready to go.
I became aware of a presence behind me however, before I could turn,I heard him speak, "No Groupies today sorry."
Knowing that voice immediately, I turned around laughing, "Brax! It's been a few weeks, how have you been?"
We hugged and greeted each other. Brax was one of our most popular Hip-Hop Artists, with the brains to match. Generally, he was an all-round great guy.
"Never better, what brings you down to our neck of the woods?" He points out to the loading dock at the back of the studio.
"Marcus," was all I said before rolling my eyes. "He roped me into saving his ass from fucking up."
"Hey! I heard that." Marcus yelled from the edge of the loading dock.
"You were meant to," I didn't hesitate to add before we all laughed.
"Wait, does that mean you're one of the photographers and promotional staff for the tour?" Brax turned, a questioning look on his face.
"The one and only," I curtsy in front of him, much to his amusement.
"Fuck yes! We are going to have the best time." His enthusiasm was contagious, but I also knew it was dangerous.
"Ok calm down party boy, some of us have to work " Winking at him, trying to imply I was the adult of the group.
Brax laughed before adding, "Please! You can sink them like a fish! I've got a drinking buddy for this tour."
We laughed as he hugged me. Brax and I caught up for a bit before I had to head home. I needed to start getting sorted. I was not expecting to be heading off in a day for nearly 3 months!
The rest of the day went too fast, while I made sure I had everything I needed.
And it's a lot!
Not only had I got my essentials I will need — but all my photography equipment.
I had settled in for the night and just sorted some dinner and a bottle of wine. Sitting down I saw a message pop up on my snapchat.
Brax - (Message) So I need your honest opinion.
Charlie - (Message) Shoot
Brax - (Message) Black Sambuca or Tequila?
Charlie - (Message) Tequila always! But why?
I saw a photo notification come through on our snapchat, and opened it up.
Brax - (Message) Packing the tour bus babyyyyy
Charlie - (Message) You're my hero Brax!
Brax - (Message) haha catch you tomorrow Charlie, have a good night!
Charlie - (Message) You too mate. And don't start that shit without me!
Brax - (Message) I wouldn't dream of it x
I took up my wine glass and flicked my laptop open, and checked my emails from the afternoon since I had been busy packing. I was speedily getting through them all, when I saw an email from Marcus. Included were the access codes to Brax's social media ready for the tour and instructions on the promotional photos they are seeking for the tour.
I laughed to myself when I saw in big bold red '**No Alcohol shots**. We need this to look clinical and professional, not a pissed-up frat party.'
I guess Marcus still hasn't forgiven them for the last tour yet.
I took a screenshot and sent it to Brax.
Brax - (Message) Well Fuck! Apparently, they still aren't over our antics from last tour. Am I reading that right, they are trying to prevent a reunion?
Charlie - (Message) haha they know you too well man
Brax - (Message) Well what big brother doesn't know right Robin?
Charlie - (Message) Oh so because it's your tour you get to be Batman?
Brax - (Message) Not at all! Everyone knows I look shit in yellow.
Charlie - (Message) haha you're so vain.
Brax - (Message) I promise I don't think this song is about me though haha. Peace out x
Charlie - (Message) Later Batman x
I finished tidying up my emails and the bottle of wine before I headed off to bed.
The next morning, I had a bit of a sleep in as we were leaving tomorrow. I need to get all my general housekeeping duties sorted today.
I shot off an email to Marcus to confirm what time I needed to be at the studio ready. Afterwards I messaged my best friend Tina to see if she was free to catch up for lunch before I had to head off.
Thankfully she had an hour today, so we organised to meet near her office. I pottered around the house for the morning then quickly got ready to head off to meet Tina.
Once I locked up the house, I made my way down to her office. I only had to wait a little while before Tina came out.
"Babes, how are you doing? To what do I owe the surprise visit?" She hugged me tight. It felt like it had been too long since we last saw each other.
"I'm leaving you baby, work calls." Leaning back out the hug to look at her as she gripped my arms.
"Charlotte! Seriously." Cocking her head to the side I saw her eyebrows furrow and I knew what was coming next.
"Ut oh, you used the full name. l'm in trouble." Hoping she would understand this was beyond my control.
"You couIdn't have told me sooner? Also, when and how long for?" Stepping back now, I saw her hands go to her hips, while she raised her eyebrow at me.
"Woah! The only reason I didn't tell you sooner is because I only found out yesterday. I am helping to fix Marcus' fuck up." I protested in my defence. "And, tomorrow for three and a half months."
Cringing before she even spoke, I knew what was coming "No this is unacceptable."
Now I had to laugh at her matter of fact solution, "Tell Marcus that."
"So you mean I am forced to have no other choice but to spend time with Alex?" My hand flew to my mouth as I tried to stop myself from laughing. "Thanks a lot Charlie I thought we had something!"
Still laughing, I replied "I love how spending time with your beloved is such a chore to you"
The look Tina gave me, you could be forgiven for thinking I had just committed a cardinal sin when she added, "Bitch please, you know you are my beloved!"
We laughed and headed off to a café down the road to get lunch. We spent the hour talking and catching up while I filled Tina in on the tour. "Well it is good it's Brax at least, someone you get on with other than those stuck up types." Tina added at the end once I had finished explaining.
"This is true, although I feel like by the time we get back I'll be headed for detox," only half joking I added as I showed Tina his idea of packing.
"A man after my own heart!" Clutching her heart swooningly as we laughed. "Well boo I am going to have to love you and leave you. I must get back to work. Please stay in touch or else we will have problems."
"You know I will girl, bring it in." We hugged before I walked Tina back to work. Jumping in my car, I headed to the Studio to get the last few things I need for the morning. As I was walking up to my office my phone pinged with a message.
Brax - (Message) Pre tour drinks at mine tonight. You're in, right?