BEHIND THE LIGHTS

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Chapter 26

December 10th, 2016
Hamburg, Germany
I speak Astronomy - Jinjer

“Fuck, yeah!” Chris exclaimed as they made their way backstage, jumping like a deer.

“Dude, you’re gonna break a leg or something!” Marc warned him, laughing.

“I don’t fucking care!” the guitar player sang.

“I do care!” Erik spat, getting closer to him. “If we make it to the next one, you’re going to need both of your legs.” Then he smacked his ass. Erik used to behave, but enthusiasm had taken over his brain.

“I could fucking play in a wheelchair if needed!”

Leah burst out laughing, the adrenaline still running through her body like a Formula One car. As much as the thought of not making it to the next and final part of the competition made her feel kind of disappointed, she had to admit they had nailed that concert.

“Guys!” the singer called her friends. “I’m going this way,” she said, pointing to the left side of the corridor. Since the bands were coming from all over Germany, the location for the competition was bigger than the first one. An actual rock concert hall, with a proper backstage and dressing rooms with showers and all.

“Right!” Chris laughed, still feeling high. “See you in... Thirty minutes?”

“Okay.”

“Meet us outside, at the bar, where that Eddie bust is hanging on the wall?”

“Sure.” It was an easy place to find, the creepy, emaciated Iron Maiden characteristic skull face was easy to see from anywhere in that place. Its eyes were even lit in red. “Don’t be late.”

The three of them cracked up because they knew they used to fool around, wasting time instead of getting into the shower like responsible, normal adults.

Leah turned away and while she walked down the corridor, hearing them still talking loudly, joking and laughing. Before stepping into the females dressing room, she glanced back at them once more and smiled, shaking her head.

“Hi!” She greeted the two women sitting on a bench, chatting with towels around their bodies.

“Hi!” both of them replied in unison.

If there was one good thing about playing in a metal band it was that, even though more and more women were joining, it was still a male-dominated world, which in cases like that was something good. Out of all the bands that were participating in the contest that day, there were only ten women in total, and five belonged to a female band that played in the morning.

“That’s quite an interesting tattoo you have there,” the bleached-haired woman commented as Leah took off her boots. “What is it?” she asked as she approached her.

“Fibonacci?” Leah told her with a smile. “More or less,” she chuckled.

“Cool,” the one with dark green hair said as she leaned forward in her seat, tilting her head.

It was one of those fractal, geometric tattoos in the shape of a mandala, following Fibonacci’s pattern. It covered the top of her right foot and part of her ankle, reaching the middle of the shin.

“Thanks.” She smiled as she kept undressing.

It was the first tattoo she had gotten after the skull on her thigh. She went back home after her first year of college was over, and of course, it was Chris who did it, using her as a guinea pig during his internship as an apprentice of a renowned tattoo artist. Luckily for her, he had always been great at drawing, like he truly had a knack for that.

“Yours are pretty too,” she noted as she looked at them.

The blonde had a stunning skull with roses and wings tattooed on her chest, not like she would have gotten one like that, but it was a masterpiece. The other one had an old school, colorful sleeve that matched her alternative, pin-up style.

“Thanks.” They both smiled.

“See you later, girls.” She gave them a half-smile, not wanting to be rude, but she seriously needed to wipe the sweat away.

With the towel around her body, her flip-flops, cleansing towelette, and the body gel bottle in her hand, she walked towards the shower area. It was a pretty decent space for a concert hall.

Stopping at the white sinks, she opened the water tap and removed her makeup. The pinky small towel immediately turning black. She barely used makeup in her daily life, but for the concerts she always overdid it so she could add that mystery, dark aura to her presence. Black smokey eyes and blood-red lipstick included.

When she was done and she didn’t look like a living dead nor a raccoon anymore, she opened the curtain of the so needed shower.

As the water ran down her skin and she lathered her body with soap, her mind traveled far away.

She liked what they were doing; she loved playing with her friends, connecting with them in a way most people wouldn’t understand, but at the same time she missed her apartment and that permanent smell of wood and chemicals, the calm inside her studio.

With a sigh, Leah turned off the water and dried her torso and legs with the towel before walking out again. She applied some body lotion and a light layer of BB cream all over her face, concealer to cover the dark circles under her eyes, some eyeliner and mascara and voila, she was done.

She hadn’t washed her hair because it would take forever to dry it, so she put it up in a messy bun that looked quite stylish for once, slipped into her faux leather pants combined with a sleeveless, grey Led Zeppelin t-shirt—in those places the temperature was always too freaking high even in winter—put on her platform military boots and went to the bar.

As expected, the guys were late. She ordered herself a beer and texted Søren while she waited. He didn’t reply but it was normal since he was most likely asleep. Bored, playing with the rings on her fingers, she huffed.

“What are you doing here so alone?” the tech guy she talked with for a couple of hours after their last competition, when Søren had gone to sleep and her so called friends had abandoned her, said from behind her.

“Hey, Theo!” she beamed. “You’re on a break?”

“Yeah, finally, been working since four and my back’s killing me already.” He chuckled. Then he called the waiter and asked her for a water bottle. “By the way, that was one hell of a performance. Hate that it was so short.”

“Thanks!” Leah exclaimed, smiling at him. “You’re just drinking that?” she asked, gesturing towards his drink when the waiter put it on the counter.

“I’m still on duty,” he joked. “I don’t like to drink while I’m working.”

“That sucks but how responsible of you”

The tech guy chuckled. “A little but it’s also fun watching everyone getting wasted. People really do dumb things when they’re drunk.” He laughed, his pearly white teeth on full display.

“Right.” Leah chortled.

“Hmm... Why are you always alone?” Theo asked with that deep, raspy voice he had.

“You ask my friends whenever they decide to show up,” Leah scoffed, rolling her eyes. “They’re like some pompous, filthy rich women from the eighteen century. I bet Marie Antoinette needed less time to get ready,” she snorted.

“Not like I mind you being alone...” he declared in a husky tone, eyes flicking to her lips while his tattooed arm brushed hers as he leaned over the bar counter.

Wait. Is he flirting?He didn’t do it the last time. I think.

Before Leah could open her mouth to say something stupid, the guys finally made their appearance.

“Jäger!” Chris called her.

“Sorry we’re late,” Erik apologized.

“It’s fine, thanks to him I wasn’t alone all the time.” She faked being offended, but she had gotten there just fifteen minutes before them—she was also late.

“We’re going to smoke and will be right back!” Marc told her, putting a cigarette between his lips and his hands together in an apologetic position.

“Yeah, go poison yourselves and die.” She laughed as they walked away.

“Gonna get back to work,” Theo commented, a hand resting on the small of her back as he looked deep into her eyes. “See you later?”

“S—Sure, Leah stammered.

What the fuck was that?

“Someone’s getting laid tonight,” Erik quipped, singing before sipping from his pint.

“What the fuck?” Leah spat, slapping his chest.

“Don’t tell me you haven’t seen his intentions.” The blonde arched an eyebrow.

“I... I...” She averted her eyes. “I might.”

Erik laughed. “I think anyone on the moon could have seen that.”

“Shut up!” She pinched his side.

“But...?” he said as he leaned on the counter, looking at her out of the corner of his eye. Having that female, empathic, or whatever side of him so well developed made him notice stuff most men didn’t.

“Jumping in bed with him after a small talk?... I don’t know.” She shrugged.

Excuses.

She did know.

After getting to know Søren better, talking to him and seeing that he was actually interested in talking to her because he initiated the conversations a lot of times, other men had turned into some plain, boring dick carriers she didn’t want to waste a minute of her life with. No matter how hot they were, none of them were as intriguing as the metalhead.

“You do know,” Erik stated, his grey eyes fixed on hers. “You’ve been texting with a certain someone for a while now. Like a month?”

“Wait, I didn’t know you were my mom!” she sarcastically noted looking at him with a fake smile, trying to change the course of the conversation.

“Come on, Leah! It’s so freaking obvious!” the drummer laughed.

“Okay, I’ve been talking with him, so what?” the singer turned around and leaned her elbows on the counter.

“Why don’t you give it a try?”

“Are you serious?” She scoffed.

“Look, I know you don’t like to sleep with musicians—”

“What has Chris told you?”

“Nothing!” He exclaimed. “But it’s so evident that you’re pushing them away... And I have the feeling is for the wrong reasons.”

“What?” Leah arched an eyebrow.

“It’s basic psychology, honestly.” Erik chuckled. “Your ex was a bassist... And well, after you slept with this drummer and then that bass player, like... two, three years ago? You acted weird for a few days and you haven’t gotten close to any other musician since then.”

“What the fuck?” Leah shook her head with an incredulity smile on her lips. Was she that easy to read or had his perception power overdeveloped?

“You cannot stay in your shell forever. You know that fear is irrational, and that’s what created anxiety... It might never happen again or maybe you just need the right guy for you to feel safer?”

“It’s not safety I’m worried about. It’s just that... Ugh, it’s hard to explain, but it was like sleeping with that scumbag again. I could even see his face. It was super disturbing, I don’t know... And after them, it didn’t happen again.” She bit the inside of her cheek. She knew it was probably her brain tricking her, but it still scared the shit out of her.

“Well, those were the first few times you had sex after everything that happened, guess it’s normal that you felt that way back then, you were still recovering... But it’s been almost five years and you’re stronger now, why keep denying yourself what you obviously want?”

“Fucking smooth talker,” she mumbled with her beer bottle pressed to her lips.

“I mean, Julia’s great, but if I got an offer from any of the members of Dark Omen...”

“You too?” Leah laughed. “You’re insane, dude.”

“I’m just kidding, but seriously, if he wasn’t interested in you, he wouldn’t be talking to you when you’ve seen each other, what? Three or four times?”

“But he’s in Asia now.”

“He’s coming back soon.”

“But he lives in Norway.”

“Are you gonna keep giving me these shitty excuses?”

“Maybe?” She chuckled.

“Just let it flow.” He softly elbowed her. “Leah you’re a young, beautiful woman and one of the most amazing human beings I’ve ever known. Allow yourself to live a little, you deserve it. Whether it’s this guy, which I approve of by the way, or a famous metalhead, let it be and enjoy it... Just fucking treat yourself with whatever hot ass you choose.”

Leah burst out laughing, head thrown back, thanking the universe for blessing her with such amazing friends. “Thanks.”

“No need but you can buy me one later.”

Leah laughed “Of course!”


Dancing, or whatever they were doing was called, laughing and taking stupid pictures of them puckering up or making strange faces because none of them could actually pose like a normal person. They had spent the last few hours celebrating their achievement on winning that second round of the Battle of the Bands.

They had also been bothering Julia, sending her the pictures and trying to make a video call with her. The worst part was that they couldn’t blame the alcohol for their dumb behavior because they had been drinking but they weren’t that drunk—at least Leah wasn’t, two beers, two rum-cola’s, and about one gallon of water that made her go pee countless times.

“I’m gonna get something else to drink, want anything?”

“Nope!” Chris screamed.

“I’m fine,” Marc added.

“Nothing for me,” Erik said, showing her his almost full whiskey cup.

Unable to hold the stupid grin on her face, she walked to the bar to ask for another rum-cola and some water.

“Hey...” Her new friend’s breath fanned a strand of her hair that had fallen down from her bun, the skin of her neck tingling.

“Hey...” Leah replied, looking at him over her shoulder as he had caged her between his arms and the bar.

“So... I was wondering...” he whispered as he got closer to her.

“Hmm?” Leah hummed, enjoying the musky scent intoxicating her nostrils.

“Your friends abandoned you the last time, how about you abandon them this time?” He encouraged her.

“To do what?” She turned around to face him, hands going straight to his strong chest.

Maybe it was the alcohol running through her veins, or the excitement she was feeling for making it to the next phase, or the lack of sex for the last couple of months, or was it three already?—she had lost count. Whatever it was, she liked the sexy atmosphere around them.

Erik was right, she had been overthinking things a lot since she found out about James being married. That had killed her drive and the couple of men she met after were so average, boring, and selfish in bed she got tired. But she needed to turn that page. Not everyone was such a fool.

She also had the feeling she was restraining herself because of Søren, waiting to see if that friendship, or whatever it was, moved in a clearer direction. Talking with him and flirting was fun, but confusing as fuck, and it wasn’t as if she owed him anything. He probably had been sleeping with other women on his tour too, so why should she stop herself from playing with such an attractive man?

The sound technician was very nice, chill, and laid back, and he had been taunting her throughout the night. He was tall, had a fit, hot body with tattoos all over it—or at least the places she could see, which made her wonder what was under his t-shirt—and even if his facial features weren’t the badass type that made her panties wet like Søren’s, he was freaking handsome, fashion model-like handsome.

“Whatever you want.” He stared deep into her eyes, pupils growing as his lips brushed over hers. Inhibitions going wild when his lower body pressed against hers, a hand squeezing her ass.

“Let’s go to your hotel.”

He smirked and without giving it a second thought; he dragged her out of the bar with him.

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