“Look at these shirts, Marly!” Bianca said, at the top of her lungs. I wriggled the tip of my finger in my ear, making a face at her. She laughed, and said, “I wasn’t that loud.”
Smiling, I said, “Sure…my ears are bleeding.”
We were packing the merch for the tour. They’d arrived earlier that morning and Bianca and I offered to load them up. It was actually my job, but Bianca was too antsy to just sit around while the band waited to meet with Simple Plan’s management. Mark shot through a message to tell me that they were in the country. More specifically they were on the way to the Hilton.
I was nervous, which was no surprise, especially since I was still to tell anyone about my history with the band. There was no real chance to, either. We hit the ground running, coffees in hand, lists going everywhere. The only thing I could tell you with any certainty was that I now knew what it felt like to be Patrick Langlois. If only by a margin.
Bianca, at that moment, said, “Got a text. They’re here.” She grabbed my arm tugging me away from the boxes of shirts. “Come on. Let’s go meet them.”
I allowed her to lead me out of the hall the guys had booked for rehearsal and everything else, and followed her to the foyer. Her excitement was palpable, I could hardly understand what she was saying as she gushed about meeting the band and what she thought they’d be like…though we’d already talked about that the day before. I couldn’t keep up, instead focusing on not being sick, or falling over.
As we entered the foyer, I spotted them straight away. They were standing with their backs to us, talking to Mark, Ben and Andy. Except Pat, who was facing us; and he saw us first. I watched as he said something to Chuck – I recognised the drummer from behind, the way he was standing – then came toward Bianca and me. I was frozen, even though I was telling my feet to move, but all my emotions suddenly overwhelmed me as I stood there.
Pat stopped in front of us, and at that same instant I couldn’t handle it anymore. Turning on the spot I bolted back into the hall. I heard Pat behind me, telling Bianca he’d come after me, and her anxious voice saying something about him not knowing me. I knew he could be persuasive, though and next I heard as I kept going were his firm steps following me.
Before reaching the elevator, I felt him come up right behind me, and then…
I stopped, without turning, my breathing ragged. He turned me, his hand gentle on my arm, his expression filled with a warmth that I remembered. Blinking up at him, I could feel tears forming in my eyes.
“Pat…” My voice wobbled on his name.
He gripped my shoulders lightly. “Hey, too soon?”
It was a relief that he understood why I’d bolted. Nodding, I let him pull me into a hug.
He rocked me then murmured softly, “I’m here for you, okay?”
I nodded, peeking up at him. “Thanks…it’s just a bit much…first day, and all.” His lips twisted in a wry smile.
“Yeah. I figured.” He stepped back, leaning against the wall. I stood for a moment, steeling myself.
We remained there for a while until I felt that I was ready. At least, as ready as I could be, considering.
“You don’t need to meet them, yet. I can call and tell them we went to talk Merch.” Pat’s voice was soft. I shot a grateful look his way, but shook my head.
“Bianca will ask questions.”
His lips twisted in a smirk, as he said, “Yeah, maybe. But, I don’t want you stressing yourself.”
Patting his arm, I smiled. “Thanks, Pat…but I’m a big girl.” He lifted an eyebrow at me.
“I’d say more like, average-sized.”
I laughed, whacking him on his shoulder. “You’re so bad.”
Pat’s smile was infectious, causing warmth to spread through me.
We headed back, Pat not speaking which was a relief for me. Processing the situation wasn’t easy, and holding myself together was tough. Bianca turned as we approached, her smile still as bright as ever.
“Hey, let me introduce you.”
I took my bottom lip between my teeth as the guys shifted their gaze in my direction.
“Marly?” Chuck said, before Bianca could speak, his eyebrows lifting as I felt heat rise to my face.
Clearing my throat, I nodded as I said, “Hi, Chuck. Long time.”
Bianca’s look of confusion would’ve been endearing if I’d had the wherewithal to notice but my focus was on the guys and trying to remain calm. Which wasn’t too hard as long as I was looking at Chuck. His smile was soft as he stepped forward to greet me; he pulled me into his arms, squeezing gently. I breathed in hard, blinking.
“What are you doing here?” Chuck’s voice in my ear was all it took to put me over the edge.
No words came as I just started sobbing. His arms tightened around me before releasing me and he took a step back, tilting his head. I wiped at my eyes, blinking at him.
Chuck shook his head. “It’s been a while.”
“You didn’t answer Chuck’s question.” David. Grinning, though the surprise in his eyes was evident. I turned to look at him, trying to smile, but failing.
“I live here, David.”
“Well, we knew that, babe…but…why are you here, here?”
I rubbed my cheek, keeping my eyes locked on his face, though I could feel Bianca staring at me…and his gaze.
“I’m friends with the band. Obviously.” I glanced at Bianca who was now frowning at me and mouthing ‘what the Hell, Marlz?’ I shook my head at her. Then looked back at David. “Bianca convinced me to come help out with Merch.”
David blinked several times then before I could say anything further, enveloped me in his arms, squeezing hard.
I lost it then. Completely. I found myself on the floor with David wrapped around me, doing his best to console me. I probably looked the worst I possibly could, snot streaming from my nose, eyes stinging from tears. What a mess.
And, Pierre stood there with an expression I couldn’t fathom throughout the whole episode.