Once the group had checked in and settled into the hotel for the evening, Evie headed out and finally got the chance to do her laundry. It was the little things she tended to miss while touring, and having her own washing machine was definitely one. Life was not easy being at the mercy of a tour schedule, especially when it came to making sure you had clean clothes.
Once her laundry was done, she stopped by the buses once more and packed her clothes away, making sure to leave out an outfit to take back to the hotel for tomorrow. She placed the clothes on her bunk, pausing her movements when she noticed a bra sitting upon the bed. Her eyebrows furrowed, confused by the appearance of the item. It was definitely hers, that much she knew without having to look closer. It was actually one of her more comfortable bras, not only having been worn in to that perfect stage of comfort, the fabric softened with time, but the straps were convertible, making it one of her favourite pieces she could wear with any outfit.
What had made her pause was the placement of the bra. It was propped up on the bed, sitting perfectly upon the blanket. If it had fallen out of her laundry, or simply been forgotten when she was packing, it would surely have been in a heap, definitely not have been displayed so perfectly. She then noticed the small note sitting in front of it, the white paper having blended into the bedding upon her first look over. The words, scratchily scribbled in black, had been what caught her attention.
‘I see you enjoyed switching bunks as much as I did. If you keep leaving me presents, I will have to do it more often. - B’
It took a second for everything to register in Evie’s brain, her mind whirling as she started put all the facts together. She was mortified when she realised that she had actually left her bra in Brian’s bunk this morning, the item forgotten in her haste in getting out of his bed once their crew had arrived at the hotel. Even though no one was around, she blushed a deep red, embarrassed by her stupidity. She hadn’t even realised she had gone braless in front of everyone only hours before. Thankfully her sweater had been loose-fitting, and it was almost impossible to tell if she was wearing a bra or not.
Evie took a deep breath, trying to calm herself as she rationalised everything. It was just a bra, there was nothing to be embarrassed about. Brian was a man, he had definitely seen a bra or ten before. After all, every night myriads of women threw their own on stage towards the lead guitarist, and at least 99% of them were a lot more alluring than her boring grey cotton with black lace detailing number. In the grand scheme of things, surely this was not even a blip on his radar.
She re-read the note, her cheeks once again ablaze. Why did those words set her on fire? How could a handful of letters make her palms sweaty and her insides quiver? She was unsure if she was reading too far into the note, her overactive imagination had to be getting the best of her. Surely he wasn’t flirting with her, right? She was just over analysing the words, because after all, they were just words on a piece of paper. There was no tone of voice or inflection she could work off, just 25 boring words. Not that she had counted.
Evie quickly scrunched up the note, making sure to put the paper ball into the pocket of her jeans. She then collected the bra, packing it away with the rest of her laundry before shoving her new outfit in a backpack and throwing the bag over her shoulder. She made her way out of the bus, immediately lighting a cigarette after she locked up behind herself. Creating her own placebo effect, she inhaled the smoke, holding it briefly before heavily exhaling. She imagined exhaling her sudden stress along with the toxins, trying to convince her mind that she was letting go of everything that had just happened on the bus, and starting fresh.
Walking quickly out of the parking lot, Evie made her way back to the hotel. She was thankful for her very physical job, her body used to walking a lot and making the 5 minute walk a breeze. She tried to keep in mind that the further she walked away from the buses, the further she walked from her troubles. Only hours before had she been giving herself a pep talk, convincing herself to keep away from getting further entangled in the group of friends. Yet here she was, inventing the idea that Brian was anything more than friendly, imagining that he might be interested in her in any other way than as his temporary technician. She needed to reign herself in and not become hopeful of furthering any relationships. Even if, by some grace of God, Brian had been flirting in his note, it didn’t matter. She would be gone before long, and it would all be a waste of time, something to make it harder when she went home after Rock on the Range.
Evie arrived back at the hotel, snubbing out her cigarette on the garbage can outside the doors before heading up to her room. She slid in the key card, unlocking her door and slipped inside the room. To her surprise, yet another note awaited her, having been slipped under her locked door while she was out.
‘Going for dinner and drinks at the place across the road. We will be there all night.’
The writing on this one was different to Brian’s note, the scratchy, slanted penmanship missing and in its place was something slightly more elegant and curved. The note warmed her in a completely different way to Brian’s, the invitation reinforcing the bond she had created with the crew.
She ignored it, trying to remind herself to stay on the fringe of the group. She needed to take advantage of the privacy and solitude that the hotel stop offered, taking the time to get her head on straight. Besides, she doubted she could even face Brian this evening without dying of embarrassment.
The next few days were a blur of setting up, performing, packing down and travelling, allowing Evie to focus on her job and nothing more. She tried to stay out of most conversations, only contributing when asked a direct question, and as soon as the pack down was complete, she would retreat to her bunk. She slept most days until about 8am, taking the chance while everyone was still asleep to go for a morning run and clear her head. Once she returned to the buses, she usually saw Dan up, starting a work out of his own. She said hello to him before boarding the bus again and hiding out until it was time to set up.
The hardest part about her new routine was having to constantly say ‘no’ to the invitations to any after-show shenanigans that happened upon the band bus as they moved through the night towards the next venue. The first time was easy enough, no one really noticing her withdrawal. As time went on, she was met with more and more resistance to her self-imposed solitude. Often one of the Berry boys would try to convince her to come along, Matty usually spending at least half an hour trying to reason with her before eventually giving in to her refusal.
They had stayed in a hotel last night, letting Evie indulge for most of the day in solitude before wildly knocking on her door to invite her to dinner with them. She hadn’t opened the door to them, instead pretending to be in the bathtub and convincing them that nothing would get her out of it. She didn’t like lying to them, especially when they only had her best interests at heart, but it would easily undo all of her work so far.
Tonight’s gig in Arizona had been particularly good, the set up had been smooth and easy, the show itself was flawless with not a single mistaken note being played by any band member, and as such the crew had packed down quickly while riding the perfection train. They had closed the trailer doors at least half an hour earlier than they usually did, meaning that they could all relax for the next 48 hours before they had to do it all again in their home state of California.
Evie busied herself with her final cigarette of the evening, the buses rolling out within the next 10 minutes. Bruce and Dave were milling around the trailer, each on the phone to their respective wives on their nightly call home. She couldn’t help but think how adorable it was, seeing the two older, yet still physically intimidating men, making sure to call home every evening.
Cutting it close, she finally saw the band and rest of the crew emerge from the venue, spilling out into the parking lot. Never ones to hold back, the noise they were creating came with them, Evie distinctly hearing Matt’s deep baritone ‘dad’ voice reprimanding an impossibly hyper Jimmy. The drummer stopped abruptly before launching his lanky body at Matt and latching onto his back. Matt, clearly used to the antics of one of his best friends, barely moved with the impact, not stopping his movement towards the buses. The laughter escaping from the others had Evie’s mouth twitching in a smile of her own. She had missed this.
Finishing off her cigarette, Evie tried to slip into the bus before they noticed her still hanging about. Her movement was far too late, each of the guys having clearly seen her before her retreat. Once again, Matt’s commanding voice sounded through the parking lot, this time directed to her.
“Hey, wait!” He yelled out as they all watched as she paused her movements like a deer caught in the headlights of an oncoming truck. She had one foot on the first step of the bus, one still on the pavement. She cursed to herself.
It took the group not even a minute to reach her position, the remaining three members of the crew and all five band members circling her.
“Hey,” she said lamely, unsure of how to break the tension. She smiled weakly, trying her best not to look around at each of the surrounding faces. Instead, she kept her gaze moving, flicking around like a spooked cat.
“Climb aboard already! Time to party!” Jimmy told her, eager to get going and continue drinking through his post-gig adrenaline.
“So you guys stopped me getting on the bus before, just to make me get on now?” She asked, thoroughly confused as to why they had yelled out to her in the first place when they would have been aboard within minutes of her. Then the second part of Jimmy’s statement hit her. “What, what?”
“You’ve been a party pooper lately, so the party is coming to you,” Matty told her, a smug look on his face as he told her the news.
He had noticed Evie pulling herself away over the last few days, and had worried about why she had suddenly changed, barely communicating with any of them. He couldn’t pinpoint when his feelings towards her had morphed from his original attraction to something much more protective and nurturing. He obviously still thought she was beautiful, but had no interest in pursuing her. He much happier in the friendship they had created, it being similar to the relationships he had with the rest of the guys. Or at least, he had been happy. The last few days were making him doubt himself.
“You guys don’t have to do that,” she told them, wracking her brain to try and think of an excuse to get out of yet another get together.
They were heading towards California, so she knew the guys were going to indulge a lot more than they usually would. In about 7 hours they would be arriving at their homes, able to sleep in their own beds, have their own space. She only had to survive another 7 hours in close quarters with them before she would arrive at a hotel and could hide away until she met them at the LA gig.
“Too late. Dave and Bruce are already staying on our bus while we hijack yours,” Zacky told her, giving her a wink as he spoke. His action reminded her of the last time she hung out with them at an after party and of his weird, clingy behaviour. She was not in the mood to deal with that again!
With his words, he moved past her and started on the stairs up the bus. His movement spurred on the rest of guys, Johnny, Jimmy, Matt, JB and Dan filing on while Evie tried her best to catch up with what was happening.
“I can just stay on the other bus as well, it’s fine,” she said as she watched Matty start to ascend.
“Then we will all come over there. Come on, no getting out of this one,” Matty told her, motioning for her to follow and join the rest of them. His words were firm, leaving little wiggle room for her to get out of it.
“Please?” Brian asked her, the guitarist the only person remaining in the car park but herself. Even Bruce and Dave had retired, the engines to both buses starting up as she hung in limbo. Brian’s short, yet fueled, question caught her attention, her gaze meeting his.
He held out his hand, the gesture making her heart skip a beat. Unable to say no, she placed her own (slightly shaking) hand in his, letting herself be led into the bus behind the entirely too charming Brian Haner.
By the time Evie climbed aboard, the small table in the living area was already home to a few bottles of assorted spirits and plastic shot glasses, and there was even the packaging of a now empty 6-pack thrown in the sink of the kitchen. At least there was beer, Evie thought. She was not overly eager to touch bourbon again for a long time after her last experience.
Dismissing the side look from Zacky, Evie dropped Brian’s hand once she was on the bus, trying to shake off the ridiculous way the simple touch made her feel. She had successfully managed to interact little with Brian over the last few days of her self-imposed exclusion, the only time she came in contact with him being soundcheck and the actual show itself. She was present enough to assure everyone that she was still excelling at her job, before each show she had already had the guitars ready to go, but that was as far as she went. She held back talking to him during the shows, saying nothing during their changeovers, and only spoke technically during the soundchecks, leaving no room for anything more familiar to slip through.
Evie moved further into the bus, taking one of the few remaining seats on the smaller leather couch. As soon as her ass hit the cushion, Zacky leapt off the space next to her, abruptly moving from the seat and over to sit beside JB. The tiny seat at the table was only just able to hold both of them, and instead of meeting her questioning gaze, Zacky pretending to dive immediately into the booze. This left the couch now the only remaining seat, and it took Brian only seconds to claim the now-vacant spot. As soon as they were seated, the bus was moving, a loud cheer emanating from Jimmy as they started their journey back to California.
Taking a deep breath to help steady herself, Evie accepted the beer that was passed to her by Matty and joined the group in a cheers to a great show. She couldn’t help the grin that took over her face as she was so easily included in the evenings celebrations. Nothing more was said about her sudden disappearing from socialising, and she fell into conversation with Jimmy and Matt who were sat across from her.
Look at that! Two chapters in a week! Yay me!
Hope you all enjoyed!