“Lorelei! Adeya!” Mrs. Clifford opens the hotel door, Lorelei immediately jumping into her grandmothers’ arms.
“Allison,” I say. “Robert,” I say, spotting Braum’s Father sitting at the desk in the corner of the hotel room. “I wanted to bring Lorelei to see you guys, I’m so grateful you guys came for the 4 shows with my parents, and I hope you enjoyed yourself,” I say, stepping into the room. Lorelei moves from her Grandmother to her Grandfather, jumping into her arms.
“I’m glad I got to see her,” Robert says, squeezing her into him.
“Honey come take a seat,” Mrs. Clifford pulls me down to the table. “I wanted to apologize about all the drama we have been causing,”
“I understand Braum is your son,”
“And we only want what’s fair for him,” Mr. Clifford says.
“And I want what’s best for my daughter,” I say, before taking a deep breath. “I didn’t come here to stir the pot, or to start trouble, I came here to say that there is no hard feelings and I understand that you would have like things to have happened different, but it different but it didn’t and we’re all going to have to handle things like adults, alright?”
“We understand,” Mrs. Clifford says.
“You are Lorelei’s Grandparents and I am so glad she has you guys in her life, but don’t forget who her parents are,” I say. I turn my attention to Mr. Clifford who sits Lorelei in her lap and stays blankly at me.
“Understood,” Mrs. Clifford says, before looking back at her husband. “Rob,” she says.
“I heard her,” he says. Mrs. Clifford turns to me.
“This is all a real mess I will admit,” she says, before leaning against the table. “You were always my favorite, and not because you gave me my first grandchild,” she says. “Seeing you with Braum, brought me back to the days when I was young and in love, and I always thought you two were going to end up together,”
“I thought so too,” I say.
“I’ve always rooted for you Adeya,” she whispers, before bopping me on the nose. “And things work out when it’s meant to be, why do you think I’m with that dope?” she says, with a wink. I spend a little more time with the Clifford’s, before I have to start heading to the venue to start my 5th show of the tour. My parents and the Clifford’s were returning home tonight, and so was Zahara and Calum. Laila and Laila and Geo were staying until we made it to New York in 1 week, and then they will stay and finish their school year before moving to California.
I was unfortunately now going to finish the tour alone. Just me, Lorelei, and May for 90% of the time. That other 10% will be babysitters, and venues with daycares. It was okay, it was life, and I was happy for my friends and wanted them to be happy and healthy, and not focus on me. When tour was finished, I was going on another break before releasing anymore music and then we will be having Zahara and Calum’s wedding, and then bam they’ll be having kids and then bam Geo and Laila would be getting married, and then bam life was going to be like I had pictured it in my story books. With all their good news, all I could think about was Braum and I. Our past, and how I was going to function in the future after he was married.
I had tried to move on from him, only to sleep with him and break up my relationship. Now every time I close my eyes, I see him. Whenever I practice my music, I see him in the crowd listening, watching, with the same brown eyes that I fell in love with.
“And there she is the star of the show!” Jacob says, when I make it to the venue. “And the cutest baby in the world,” he says, bopping Lorelei on the face. “This is your temporary manager Maddison, Maddi for short she was an intern and a very good one, she has all of Zahara’s notes and will be at your side for the rest of the tour,” a perky, red head pops up at his side, she has wild curls like Merida.
“It’s a pleasure to meet you Adeya, I am in love with all of your work,” Maddi gushes.
“It’s nice to meet you too,” she says. “And you are a cutie, I’m Maddi,” she says to Lorelei.
“Hi,” Lorelei replies.
“We can all get acquainted after mic. Check, which by the way you are late for,” Jacob says.
“Thanks for the reminder,” I say, I drop Lorelei off with May and rush to stage where my band waits. “Sorry I’m late guys,” I say.
“No rush, I’m stoned,” Kailey says.
“Parental figures leaving?” Ryan asks.
“Tonight, thank god,” I say.
“That means bars and bitches, right?” Ryan says.
“Of course, but remember I have Lorelei,” I say.
“Lorelei has a bedtime and a nanny,” Ryan says. “During the day your hers, at night your ours,” he winks.
“Focus guys!” the stage manager shouts, gaining our attention. “Let’s run some songs,”
“I was thinking Great One, 1+1, and River of Tears,” I say.
“Great One? We haven’t played that one in a minute,” Ryan comments.
“Let me see if I still remember it,” Kailey jokes, and I roll my eyes. We start our rehearsal, going through the songs I listed in more. I tried more movement as advised by Jacob who believed I was stiff and tended to stay in one stop. It was a stadium tour and unlike most pop icons I didn’t dance, I used my music to entertain my crowd completely. Which wasn’t completely unheard of, but it wasn’t hard either, or it seemed to work.
After Mic. Checks and rehearsals, I return to my dressing room to rest. Of course, it wasn’t true rest with, the hairdressers touching up my hair, and my makeup getting touched up. My door opens and I’m joined by Zahara and Laila.
“I can’t believe I’m leaving you,” Zahara whines.
“Don’t start this mess,” I say.
“This is the first time since I started at Magnolia that I won’t be working, Jacob doesn’t even want me to telework,” Zahara says.
“Good, because Maddi has everything handled,”
“That’s my replacement? Big boob Maddi?” Zahara falls in her seat.
“They weren’t that big,” I comment.
“Give the girl a chance,” Laila says, sitting beside Zahara. “Of course, no one can compare to the great Zahara, but she could come close,”
“She seemed nice,” I say.
“Don’t get used to it, because as soon as Lil’ Zar-Zar is out, you’re my star again!”
“I will always be you,” I wink. I get a few hours of freedom, which I choose eating and doing vocal exercises. When the show starts, I’m enveloped by the feelings. The feeling of love and comfort I always felt while performing for my fans. I start of course with the setlist from the new album, moving through the song like I did every performance, and then it was my chance to choose a song from an old song for the night. “How is everyone doing tonight Orlando?” I shout, the crowd roaring. “I want to bring it back, back before I was famous, back to when I was writing songs in my bedroom, back when I was in love with the first person I ever loved, I wrote this song for our 5th anniversary and he told me it was his favorite song in the entire world, so of course I had to add this to my album, this is Great One”
When the concert is over, and I have a chance to catch my breath. For the first time I’m alone, and for the first time I can cry, and let everything out. When I calm down, I join the crew for wrap, and return all the microphones.
“That was beautiful, I haven’t heard that song in forever, except when I listen to it,” Laila says, pulling me into a hug.
“My god I’m going to miss your dramatic ass,” Zahara says, joining the hug. “This is going to be the longest vacation of my life,”
“You’re the only person I know who dislikes vacations,” I say.
“Having my job means my life is my job, and you’re my life,” she says.
“Well you’re about to bring in new life, and you should focus on that,” I say, pulling her into a hug and kissing her cheek.
“Adeya, I hope I’m not interrupting,” Maddi says, stepping in front of us. “You have a phone call,” she says, holding out my cell phone. I grab it, Braum’s name on the screen, and my stomach twist. I step away from the crowd, from the voices.
“Hello?” I say.
“I’m at the airport,” Braum says.
“What?” I say.
“I’m coming to Charlotte,” he says. “I’m not getting Married to Carson,” he says.
“What you’re not?” I say. “Why not?”
“Why not? Why not? Are you kidding me Adeya,” he shouts into the phone, before taking a deep breath? “I will see you in Charlotte,” the phone line goes dead, and my knees go weak. But I pull myself together, joining Laila and Zahara, acting normal for the last night of normalcy.
“Braum is coming,” I say, Alec takes a big sip from his drink. “I think he saw the performance somehow, probably his parents and he’s saying he’s not going to get married to Carson anymore,” I say.
“Are you serious?” Alec says. “And he’s coming to meet you in Charlotte? To probably declare his love?”
“Do you think?” I say, grabbing a glass and downing it quickly. It burns but I ignore it, walking in a circle. “I still love him, I want to be with him,”
“That’s clear” Alec says.
“And Lorelei needs her father in her life consistently,” I say.
“And he barely knew Carson, I mean it’s clear that he was just with her to try and make me jealous,” I say.
“Whatever makes you sleep at night,” Alec smirks. “Who are you trying convince here? You know you only told me because you know I’m the most reasonable of all your friends,” he says.
“Reasonable?” I say.
“I’m not Laila who is biased about Braum since day one, and I’m not Zahara who had to pick up the pieces of your broken heart and build a superstar,” he says. “I’m the middle ground, your gay best friend that has seen every relationship you’ve attempted to have fail all because of Mr. Abraham Clifford,”
“So, what should I do?”
“Listen, react, and make your own decision, because you are an adult,” he says. I fall against the couch, staring at the ceiling.
“Man, I hate being an adult,” I say.
“Everything has been leading to this moment Adeya, you wouldn’t have sung that song if you didn’t think it would lead to this,” Alec says.
“I didn’t think it would lead to this actually,” I say. “I thought it would be a special intimate moment with my fans, not an engagement ruining, life altering performance,” I say.
“You wanted that engagement ruined; did you really want the newest Fashion Nova model to be your daughter’s stepmom? I mean that is just eating disorder central,” Alec comments.
“Alec,” I say, and he snorts.
“You wanted this to happen Adeya, I don’t know what else you want me to say,”
“But now that it’s actually happening, I’m scared,” I whisper.
“Of course, you are, I’m scared to get on planes, and I’m scared of going on dates with strangers that could murder me,” Alec says, before appearing over me. “But does that stop me?”
“No,” I say.
“So, what’s stopping you?” he asks.
“I’m going to miss you so much,” I say, squeezing Zahara again.
“I expect a phone call every day,” she says.
“And I expect progress updates every day,” I say, before pulling away, before turning to Calum and pulling him into a hug. “Don’t get on her bad side, she will bite your head off,” I say.
“I dealt with you, didn’t I?” he asks. I kiss him on the cheek before turning to Alec.
“I’ll see you in Paris,” he says, with a smile.
“I’ll miss my favorite drinking buddy,” I say.
“None of these lightweights can compare,” he says, before pulling me into a hug. “And good luck with Mr. Clifford,” he whispers before pulling away.
“We need to get going, and so do you, the bus isn’t going to wait forever,” Zahara says.
“I’ll call you guys when I get to Charlotte,” I say.
“Unless you’re busy,” Alec winks, before they turn and they’re off. I watch them leave until they disappear into the airport and I’m forced to leave, the taxi takes me to the bus lot where Lorelei and May are already waiting for my arrival. When we get on the bus, we’re on and on the road again. Laila and Geo were probably already almost to Charlotte. They got a head start, but we’d get there in time to get comfortable in the hotel room, before having to start the night. The entire bus trip, I lie with Lorelei in her bunk, watching movies, thinking of what was going to happen when I arrived in Charlotte.
I knew Braum was going to be there. I knew he was going to be single, and he saw my performance. When I eventually fall asleep, it’s to the soft bumps of the road, Lorelei wakes me up poking my face, and whispering about how hungry she is. When we leave the bus, were at the gas station, and the drivers are drinking coffee, and smoking cigarettes.
“Good morning Ms. Waterson,” Our Driver, Owen waves. I wave and Lorelei walk into the gas station for snacks, and coffee.
“Anything else for you ma’am?” the clerk asks.
“I hope it’s not too much to ask, but my daughter is a big fan,” the clerk asks, and I quickly scribble something down on a piece of paper.
“Enjoy the rest of your day,” I smile, before grabbing the bags and leaving with Lorelei. We climb back on the bus, and May is sitting in her bed eating cereal and facetiming someone. I climb back into bed with Lorelei and we eat snacks and watch morning kid shows.
“We’ll be arriving in Charlotte in less than an hour,” Owen says, as he boards the bus again. I check my itinerary when we arrive in Charlotte. I have a check in at the venue, and then I can unload in the hotel before rehearsal and mic. Check. I move into the bathroom to wash my face, my phone buzzing in my pockets. I reply after I finish my routine.
“You will never guess who I saw outside of the venue,” Laila says. “I’m here with Maddi, getting our seats and bam I saw Braum! People are tweeting and snapping what the hell,” she says.
“You saw him, did you speak?”
“What no? gross?” she says. “Why is he here? He isn’t supposed to be back until New York,”
“He broke off the engagement with Carson,” I spit out. “And coming to see me,”
“Are you joking? Why didn’t you tell me,” she asks, I rest my head on the wall, holding my breath.
“Because I didn’t want people changing how I feel about this situation, I know how you feel about Braum,” I say.
“You know how feel about what he did to you, how he made you feel,” she says.
“I’m not saying I’m forgiving him Laila okay. But I want to hear him out…. I want to do what we should have done 5 years ago, and talk,”