Firstly, my apologies for being a day late with this week’s episode. I had some time away with my family and consequently, much needed time away from the keyboard.
You all never cease to surprise me with your voting. I was certain that the voting would go one way this week and you sent it the other way.
Nothing like keeping me on my toes with my storytelling.
Enjoy this week’s chapter and—DON’T FORGET TO VOTE!
Love Toni xx
Ella and I boarded the train and had settled ourselves into the recliner seats for the long trip from Auckland to Wellington.
I’d hoped that we’d have a carriage to ourselves, but that wasn’t to be the case.
We’d been joined shortly after the train pulled away from the station by a couple of Samoan girls who I would have put at around mine and Ella’s age and a man I assumed to be their older brother.
One of the girls had tipped her recliner seat forward—so she effectively travelled looking back towards where we had come from. This meant that the three of them now sat around a large carton of soft drinks that they positioned, with great care, between them like a small table.
I wondered if they were planning to play cards all night.
It became apparent quite soon into the journey that my assumptions that the older man was somehow related to the girls had been completely wrong.
“Like a drink?” The muscular man asked me.
He had a warm and inviting demeanour about him and, upon closer inspection, probably wasn’t quite as old as I’d initially picked him to be.
My new Samoan friend had already taken a couple of bottles out of the carton and handed them to the girls.
“No, I’m fine,” I said offering up my bottle of sparkling water that I’d purchased at the station.
“You sure?” he asked with a wink. “Comes with a little extra something to make the trip go faster.” He pulled a small duffle bag out from under the seat and flipped up the top of the green satchel.
The neck of a bottle of vodka came clearly into view.
“Honest, I’m fine. Thanks so much.”
The last thing I needed was to get out of it on a train to Wellington with a stranger sitting in the carriage.
He leaned around me and spoke to Ella. “How ‘bout you?”
“I’m sweet,” Ella replied, “don’t let us stop you.”
My Samoan friend shrugged. “Suit yourselves, you weren’t going to stop us anyhow.”
With any luck, I thought to myself, they’d pass out pretty quickly and we’d have an uneventful trip to Wellington.
“You let the boys know we’re coming yet?” Ella asked me. Her initial reluctance to come had vanished the second we’d arrived on the platform at the Auckland railway station.
“Nah. I’ll text Dylan when we arrive in Wellington.”
“I think we should stay here,” she said scrolling down the face of her phone and then flicking a photo of an inner city backpackers at me.
The outside of the building had zebra stripes painted down the side.
“Why there?” I asked.
“It’s cheap,” she replied, “and close to Courtney Place.”
“Sounds great. You should book it.”
I leaned back in my seat and began to watch the lights of Auckland recede. The further we got out into the countryside, the less intrusive the lights of the city became.
We had a long trip ahead of us, but I was pleased to be on our way to see the boys.
I wanted to see Dylan more than anything.
The only black cloud on the horizon that I could see was that my period still hadn’t arrived.
Should I tell him, I wondered?
Was it worth worrying him when I still didn’t know whether I was just late?
What the hell would his reaction be?
I tried not to think about the worse case scenario.
Tensions had eased since we’d stopped playing cards with Kat.
That wasn’t to say that she didn’t try to wind any one of us up whenever she had the chance.
But, the boys had found a new kind of solidarity—one that didn’t involve the sound guy setting us up to create scenes.
We were just finishing up sound check for the first of our two gigs in Wellington when Calvin appeared down on the floor in front of the stage.
Friday and Saturday night at The Brideshead were coveted gigs. I could feel the pressure of the occasion in the way the boys had worked together on the sound check.
I’d give Kat her dues. She may have enjoyed playing us when we weren’t on stage—but she made us sound fucking amazing when we were on stage.
Calvin owned The Brideshead and it had a similar reputation to its sister hotel, The Globe, up in Auckland.
“I want to see a new level of professional from you guys tonight,” Calvin announced as we finished up from sound check. “I’ve arranged for a couple of top industry promotors from Australia and the States to come and see you play. They might be in tonight, or they may be in tomorrow. I’m not sure. So just make sure you’re on your top game both nights. Okay?”
Calvin had my entire attention, along with that of the rest of the band.
“Fuckin’ no way,” Marty said.
I looked to the fountain of all knowledge, Liam. “You know who he’s got lined up to see us?”
Liam shrugged. “Not a clue.”
“But,” I said, “he must have had guys check out your last band?”
Liam cocked his head to one side. “Like I said at the outset, you got talent and Calvin sees that. He’s rounded up the big guys.” A couple of large hands arrived on my shoulders—they were attached to the huge frame of Liam’s body. “Don’t let us down, okay?”
It wasn’t just the weight of Liam’s hands that I suddenly realised were on my shoulders. Somehow, I felt all of a sudden as if the weight of the entire future of Yellow Lady was riding on me and how well I performed tonight.
I thought about Jeff and the little pill that he’d offered me all those nights ago.
Then I pushed that thought out of my head.
It wasn’t just down to me.
That was an idiotic thought.
We were a band.
These guys were coming to see all of us—not just me.
My mouth had gone suddenly dry.
I picked up my drink bottle—the green one that Liam had given to me just before our first gig.
God, that seemed like such a long time ago.
Were we good enough to make it?
Calvin seemed to think so, or he wouldn’t have asked these industry guys to come and see us.
“You want to run through a few numbers?” I asked the rest of the band. All of a sudden I wanted everything to be spot on.
I needed everything to be spot on.
“Sure thing, kid,” Liam said as he sat himself back down behind his drums.
“You want to start at the top of the list?” Marty asked.
I nodded in the affirmative.
“Let’s do it,” Jesse said from the edge of the stage as he plugged in his bass.
I’d worked out that there was little I could control while we were on the road—but the one thing I could control was how well I knew the music.
To me, music was life.
All I had control over was the instrument in my hand—the sequence of chords—and the clarity of my voice. All I could do was weave these things together with my fellow band mates to create a rich tapestry of inclusive sound.
Given the opportunity, I would play and sing over and over and over again until I came as close to perfection as possible.
The party of three beside us had reached critical mass a couple of hours after we left Auckland. I watched with interest as one of the girls appeared to pass out fairly early on.
The two survivors took the partying down several notches when their partner in crime passed out.
I must have been dozing when I felt a sharp stab in my ribs.
“Destiny,” Ella hissed into my ear. “Are you awake?”
“I am now,” I mumbled as I opened my eyes in time to see the lights of Taihape station go by.
“What’s up?” I asked wondering why Ella would have bothered to wake me now—especially since the party beside us seemed to have quietened down.
Ella’s eyes were wide as she stabbed her finger in the direction of our two fellow passengers.
I looked and couldn’t believe what I was seeing.
The older looking of the two girls was sat astride my Samoan friend.
Her panties were pooled on the floor around one of her ankles.
I was under no illusion from the way his large hands gripped the bunched fabric of her skirt at her hips what they were doing.
“They’re…” I couldn’t even say the word to Ella.
“I know!” she hissed back at me.
What kind of people fuck each other on the train? I couldn’t help but wonder.
“Do you think we should leave?” I asked, “You know, give them some privacy?”
“And go where?” Ella replied. “Like we couldn’t get past them without interrupting.”
The idea of trying to get past them both with our packs suddenly seemed insane.
In fact, the entire situation was insane.
A fit of the giggles threatened to overcome me.
I leaned against Ella, my hand over my mouth and my shoulders shaking.
She started silently giggling too.
Clearly terrified that we’d make a noise and interrupt the two lovebirds, Ella broke eye contact and leaned her head against the cool glass of the window.
I smothered my laughter, closed my eyes and tried to erase the sight of the couple in the carriage.
My last thought before I drifted off to sleep again was how easy it was to find yourself at the mercy of the possibility of pregnancy.
When I woke up again, our copulating carriage mates were nowhere to be seen.
“When did they go?” I asked Ella.
She shrugged. “No idea. They were gone when I woke up.”
It hadn’t been the best night’s sleep, but I had gotten some sleep and now we were headed into Wellington.
As the train snaked its way along the edge of the Wellington harbour and as we came closer to town, I could see the ferry making its way to the dock to unload passengers who had travelled overnight from the South Island. The white-caps on the water were the only indicator that the trademark Wellington wind blew.
I pulled my phone from my pocket and scrolled to the last text message I’d had from Dylan.
“Me and Ella are in Wellington,” I tapped out, “looking forward to catching the gig tonight.”
I pressed send with an uncomfortable sinking feeling in my stomach. It was the same one that I had every time I thought about my period being late.
I don’t know how many times I’d sat down in the bathroom hoping to see some telltale sign of bleeding.
“You told them we’re coming?”
I had the urge to vomit.
That wasn’t a good sign.
My phone buzzed.
I hadn’t expected him to come back to me so quickly.
“Great. Come meet us for dinner. 6 at the bar.”
The nausea passed.
I couldn’t help but smile.
“The boys want to meet us for dinner.”
Ella gave me a huge hug.
“You weren’t worried were you?” I asked.
“Only as much as you,” she grinned.
“Come on.” The train had ground to a halt at Wellington station. “Let’s go find this hostel and check out Wellywood.”
It surprised me when my phone buzzed.
No-one texted me this early in the morning—especially after a gig the night before.
Although, that was every morning these days.
I contemplated pulling the covers over my head again.
Last night’s gig had been great.
Calvin told us that one of the guys from the Australian agency had been in, but he had to go before we finished, so we didn’t get a chance to meet with him.
He liked us.
That meant the prospect of touring in Australia.
I still couldn’t get my head around it.
Instead of hiding under the covers, I picked up my phone.
“The girls are here,” I said to Marty.
“The girls?” he asked his voice still thick with sleep.
“Ella and Destiny.”
“What are they doing here?”
“Fuck knows,” I said.
“Shall we meet them?”
“You want to meet them?” I asked.
“Any reason you don’t want to meet them?” Marty asked as he rolled over onto his side and looked at me.
I shook my head, “No.”
“They’re a long way from Auckland. You think they came here specially to see us?” Marty asked. “Or maybe you think something’s up?”
“Fucked if I know. You want me to ask?” Marty had a point. What would make the girls come all the way from Auckland to see us?
“No!” Marty sat bolt upright.
“Calm down,” I said as I tapped out a reply.
“No, but really,” Marty said. “Think about it. Why would they come to Wellington if they didn’t need to tell one of us something? It would have to be something pretty big if they’ve come all the way down here.”
I ignored Marty’s question—but my gut twisted.
“Told ‘em to come meet us for dinner at six at the bar.”
“Cool.” Marty said.
“You reckon we’re going on tour to Australia?”
I shrugged. “Don’t know. You’d have to ask Calvin that.”
We were on the cusp of international stardom and our girlfriends from back home had made the trek down to Wellington.
What the hell would bring them here and why did I have such a bad feeling about this?
* * *
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