BEHIND THE LIGHTS

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Chapter 28

January 14th, 2017
Vienna, Austria
Dark entries - Bauhaus

Everyone in that place moved forward, getting closer to the stage. It was packed with musicians from all over Europe and their fans, all eager to hear the final announcement.

“Hi! Welcome, beautiful people!” The presenter, a former bass player, exclaimed with a huge grin painted on her face. Her bleached blonde hair shining under the spotlights, just like the leather trousers she was wearing.

“Hope you’re having a pleasant evening, guys. If not, just tell me later so I have an excuse to yell at the boss,” the man joked, looking to the side of the stage where he probably was, making everyone in the room softly chuckle. He was wearing a more modest outfit, a clear sign he hadn’t been in the musical industry, at least not as a musician because they all ended up being a bit eccentric or flashy.

“Anyway, let’s keep this short,” the blonde said. “Some of you probably want to go to sleep and some want to keep drinking and I’m not going to be the one to keep you from doing whatever you want tonight because, whatever the final result is, you all deserve to celebrate.” She paused for a second. “You’ve all worked hard and you’ve amazed all of us during these crazy two days.”

“Agree with you Vicky, can’t say that there was a performance I didn’t enjoy,” the man commented.

“I know!” She laughed. “I had a great time this weekend, but sadly we can only pick two of you... That’s what the boss says!” She quipped, winking and sticking her tongue out.

“Once we’ve announced the winners, you’ll have to come with us so we can explain to you better how this last phase with the fans’ choice will work, okay?”

“Okay... Let’s do this!” Victory looked at the paper in her hand. “The band that has earned the second position in this contest is...”

Chris put his left arm around Leah and she sneaked hers around his waist, clutching his t-shirt, as her left hand grabbed his over her shoulder. Erick and Marc did the same and the four members of Buried Alive got closer.

“Midnight Blue!” the guy called.

The members of the mentioned band, who were a few feet behind them, screamed and jumped in their place with enthusiasm.

Most of the musicians there must have been feeling even more anxious and worried now that one of the spots had been occupied, but they still flooded the space with whistles and clapping. Leah and her friends joined the bustle, unable to hide their nervous excitement.

“I told you they were going to make it!” she told her friends.

“That’s the British band you were talking about before?” Søren asked her, raising his voice so she could hear him amongst the hustle.

“Yeah.” She grinned, looking at him over her shoulder, not letting Chris go.

“Nice.” He smiled back at her. “Guess you have a good ear after all,” he teased.

“Shut up, Wolff!” She laughed.

“Okay, okay... Guys! We still have a band to announce, so please!” The male judge laughed after five minutes of craziness.

As the noise reduced to a small murmur filling the hall, the blonde spoke again, “and the first winner of this long contest is...”

“Buried Alive!” They chirped in unison.

Leah and the guys remained silent for a couple of seconds. Frozen, looking at each other, dumbfounded, as if they couldn’t believe what they had just heard.

“D— Did she call our name?” Marc stammered.

None of his friends answered, still stunned.

“She did,” Ian confirmed.

And with that, the four members of the band burst out laughing and crying as they jumped.

“Fuck yes!!” Chris screamed as he embraced Leah, squeezing her between his arms.

“I can’t believe this!” She cried as she returned the gesture.

Erik and Marc, who had been hugging each other too, joined them.

“Congrats, guys!” Jørn exclaimed, making them break the group hug.

“Thank you,” Marc said as he shook his hand and hugged him, grinning like a kid.

“I told you!” Søren told Leah after congratulating her friends.

Leah was looking at the ceiling, mouth, and nose covered with both hands as she kept laughing, eyes flooded with tears.

“Jeez! Th— This is too much!” She stammered, turning to him.

“Congr—”

Before he could finish talking, she had jumped, circling her arms around his neck and forcing him to lean forward.

“Thank you for helping me keep my sanity during this crazy process...” she whispered, nuzzling the crook of his neck as a nervous, teary voice left her lips.

Søren chuckled, returning the hug. “Of course...”


Two hours had gone by and people were frenzied enjoying the night. Drinking, dancing, laughing. Especially those who had won the competition.

“Ah!” Leah sighed. “I still can’t believe this!”

“Well, believe it!” Ian laughed. “Now, who’s gonna buy me a drink for having foreseen the end of this night?”

“You’ve foreseen shit!” Jørn snorted. “They had many chances of winning and they did.”

“Shut up and buy me a drink!” Ian cried when the Swedish went away.

“The hell I’m gonna buy you something!” Jørn showed him the middle finger, disappearing into the crowd.

“I think I’m gonna get something too,” Chris commented, shaking his empty glass.

“Oh-oh...” Marc mumbled. ”Daddy at ten,” he said with a humorous tone of voice.

“What?” Leah tensed.

Ian, Erik, and Søren turned to the direction the bass player was looking at. A tall, tattooed guy with his hair slicked back was approaching them.

“Who’s the fella?” Ian asked.

“Leah’s last toyfriend.” Chris laughed.

Søren tensed. A sensation he couldn’t recognize burning the pit of his stomach, creeping up to his throat, forcing him to clench his jaw as his hand tightened around his beer bottle.

“Shut up!” She slapped his arm. “It was just one night...” she muttered, moving her eyes to her glass before the dude reached them.

“Hey, guys!” he greeted them.

“Oh, hey, Theo!” Leah answered, giving him a faint smile.

“Congr—” He stopped in his tracks. “The fuck?! You know Dark Omen?!” he exclaimed, looking at Ian and then at Søren.

“Looks like it,” Erik replied with a shrug.

“Wow! I’m a huge fan of you guys! This is so unexpected!” He laughed, holding his hand out to them, which Søren reluctantly shook.

“I’ve been working in the industry for years but never got to work with you... Wow!”

“Thanks.” Ian laughed.

It was always fun watching huge guys like him, grown-ups with hair on their balls fangirling like that, but Søren kept a straight face. He wasn’t very pleased at that moment and couldn’t hide his uneasiness. Neither did he want to.

“Oh! By the way, could you sign me this?” he asked as he got a small notebook and a pen from one of the pockets of his black, cargo pants.

“You carry that around with you all the time?” Leah questioned.

“Of course! I work with a lot of musicians and you never know when you’re going to meet your favs.”

“Makes sense.” Marc chuckled.

Both of them signed on a white page and returned the notebook to him.

“It’s just the two of you here?”

“Jørn is getting a drink and Alex stayed at the hotel,” Ian explained.

“Cool! Do you mind if I wait here until he comes back?”

“Of course not,” Chris told him.

Of course, yes.

“Anyway, I came here to congratulate you on winning the Battle of the Bands.”

“Well, we still haven’t won the competition itself, but thanks.” Leah smiled.

“But you’re in the finals and that’s great,” he said.

“Thank you, bro.” Marc shook his hand.

“Thanks.” Chris nodded.

“Yeah, thanks for everything. You’ve done an amazing job,” Erik declared.

“That’s what I get paid for.” The Theo guy laughed.

“You’ve been working here too?” Ian asked, curious.

“I’m a sound tech and I’ve been with the event from the beginning.”

“Nice!”

Fifteen minutes later, when Jørn finally came back, Søren was annoyed beyond imagination. The dude had been fluttering around Leah, touching her, marking his territory all the time, as if screwing her one fucking night gave him the right to do so. But maybe she wanted him to. Whatever.

While Jørn was signing the guy an autograph Søren looked at her. As easy as it was to read her sometimes, even through the messages, he couldn’t get anything out of her expression. She was there, standing beside him, relaxed, talking to Erik as if that was the most normal thing in the world. Well, it was the most normal thing, and he didn’t have any right to feel jealous when he had slept with other women too. They were just fucking friends.

Wait, jealous? No way!

“It’s been a pleasure to meet you, guys,” Theo said. “Gonna leave you now or I won’t make it to the airport.”

“You’re leaving already?” Leah asked him.

“Yeah, we have to be in Greece tomorrow and start preparing the gig by midday.”

“Have a nice flight then,” Erik said.

“Thanks. Leah...” He looked at her and then told her something in German. She nodded.

“I’ll be right back,” she excused herself with the group and walked away.

“Okay. Why did you call him Daddy before?” Ian asked, not wasting a second after they left. The fucking old woman hiding behind a curtain, always eager for juicy gossip.

Buried Alive’s members looked at him and burst out laughing, heads thrown back, hitting the table and all.

“What the hell’s so funny?” Jørn asked, completely lost.

“Ah...” Marc breathed out. “Tell them,” he insisted to Chris, a funny grin on his face.

“Well, in her words the guy was a good fuck,” he paused, “but she was close to running away the moment he asked her to call him Daddy.”

Another roar of laughter.

“Man... You should have seen her face when she was telling us. She hates it, makes her cringe really bad. Every time we bring it up, she shivers and punches us,” Erik commented.

“At least with that you can be sure she doesn’t have daddy issues,” Jørn noted.

“True!” Erik cracked up.

“Ugh! I’m gonna get another one or I’ll die.” Chris grumbled, looking at his empty glass. “Be right back.”

The other four kept laughing, exchanging anecdotes and weird experiences of all kinds for some time, Leah still not coming back.

With an annoying sensation biting the back of his head, Søren drank the last sip of his beer and knocked the table with it, not giving a fuck if the others noticed his temper. “Gonna go out to smoke,” he said, grabbing his coat and walking away.

He bumped into a few people on the way out but didn’t bother to apologize, not even turning back to check on them. A couple of chicks tried to stop him too, but he was in a mood, a terrible one, one that was better not to tempt.

When the icy wind finally hit his face, he took a deep breath, calming a little. Lighting a cig, he moved a few feet from the entrance, where a group of friends was cheerfully chatting. Once their voices had become a distant buzzing, he leaned against the wall and looked up at the sky. It was dark, not a single star shining in it.

Fucking light pollution.

Søren inhaled the fumes and, like every time he was alone, trying to get his shit together, he focused on the dancing forms the smoke created when it left his lungs. Mixing with the steam caused by the extreme cold night, it elevated, vanishing in the air, but the bitter sensation wouldn’t leave him like it did other times.

He had no right to be mad at her for sleeping with other people. It was irrational, hypocritical, and stupid, he had been with other women too. And she was fucking single.

She had made it pretty clear that she didn’t do musicians, but she had been so confusing, sending him obvious signals that she was attracted to him and then pushing him away, setting boundaries between them and then breaking them.

It had been a tug of war for weeks, but for the first time, he didn’t like it. It was fun talking to her, feeling her slowly getting closer, but he was at his limit, and seeing them together felt like rubbing salt in an opened wound.

Feeling weak and craving, what made him even angrier was knowing that with a simple snap of her fingers, she could get him down on his knees.

Fuck!

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