My title sucks right now. But welcome. I’m calling it a fanfic. Because it’s fiction. Written by a fan. Gosh, I’m so creative!
Thank you to Evie for being my beta reader! I don’t like how that term sounds but in case anyone doesn’t know: “A beta reader (or betareader, or beta) is a person who reads a work of fiction with a critical eye, with the aim of improving grammar, spelling, characterization, and general style of a story prior to its release to the general public.” (From fanfiction.net) Woody is a word, by the way. 😜 (People who aren’t Evie won’t get it – sorry). Also, I chose the second one – don’t hate me Evie-chan. (I know you won’t). Sorry.
It feels weird that people will be reading this – I’ve only showed it to two friends and would only show it to one more besides them. Anyway, I hope you enjoy it. I’m excited!
My one disclaimer – don’t judge me. Also, yes, I saw a band and a story sprang to life. I’m going to sign off now – a.k.a. in real life I’d walk away so that I wouldn’t have to sit there, embarrassed, watching you read.
Ivy is currently listening to: Lovely Thing Suite: Roses by Watsky
For Some Context:
Citizen Four Original Songs: Cold, Testify
Citizen Four Covers:
- Mercy (original artist – Shawn Mendes)
- All Night (original artists – The Vamps and Matoma)
- Black Beatles (original artist – Rae Sremmurd ft. Gucci Mane)
- Cold Water (original artist – Major Lazer ft. Justin Bieber and MØ)
- This Is What You Came For (original artist – Calvin Harris ft. Rihanna)
- Side To Side (original artist – Ariana Grande ft. Nicki Minaj)
- Needed Me (original artist – Rihanna)
- This Town (original artist – Niall Horan)
From left to right: Conner Boatman, Josh Levi, Austin Percario, and Carson Boatman
And so it begins…..
Los Angeles was a different world. I welcomed the freedom, but feared it too. I stood so long at the bus doorway the driver asked me if I was okay. I took a deep breath to compose myself and stepped off.
Island Records didn’t look like much: a bland off-white, two-story building whose lot was pretty small. Thankfully, I found that the inside looked much better. There was classy furniture in the lobby and the Island Records logo hung over a desk.
I told the pretty girl sitting behind the desk my name and after she’d checked something on the computer in front of her, she pointed me to the stairs and gave me vague directions to the right studio. I had to pause in the stairwell to breathe and quell my nerves. “You’re all humans. They won’t be judgemental. You’ll be great,” I thought to myself. Whatever bullshit would get me up the stairs. Thankfully, my duffel wasn’t heavy.
Never mind that Citizen Four all look and sound like angels. Citizen. Freaking. Four. Incredible luck had brought me here. I won the contest in my state and then auditioned along with 49 other people. I was technically competing against the entire country. My voice isn’t anything special, except when it goes scary-deep, but I guess it had come out smoothly enough for them to pick me. All in all, one of the most stressful days of my life. The actual band members weren’t at the auditions, so I’d never met them.
My heart was beating too fast for deep breaths to catch up with it.
I spotted a bathroom and ran to it. The lock was broken, so I hoped no one would walk in on me. A quick inspection on the mirror had me sighing. Dark circles dominated, pimples were dotted around my nose, my cheeks were blazing, and my hair was a mess. I splashed cold water on my and put on mascara and lip gloss (which was about where my makeup expertise ended). My hair refused to cooperate and I tamed it into a messy bun. I was way too preoccupied with how I looked – they’d just have to deal with my fitted tank top, shorts, and beat-up tennis shoes.
I still splashed water on my face as I left.
I scanned the doors as I walked, humming Cold to myself to stay calm. Studio number ten was the last door in the hallway. I quietly opened the door and walked into a large room with comfortable-looking furniture. The peaked ceiling gave the impression of a huge space. There was a computer on a desk against one wall. A door next to it probably led to the recording room. And there they were. Four boys-made-angels.
Josh, with his beautiful caramel skin, and Austin, utterly adorable in nerd glasses, shared a sofa and talked animatedly. The Boatman duo sat on two separate armchairs, the leather kind that you can hear when you move. Carson was bent over a phone, adding bits to the conversation. Conner had an arm behind his head and was watching them, deep in thought.
Conner. His head was turned slightly in the other direction, and the tendons in his neck stretched in neat lines. His shirt showed off his collarbone. He was all lines: his nose and jaw were straight, and his cheekbones stood out from his face in a slant that made his eyes smolder. Recessive genes had made their rare debut on him: pale blonde hair, and his eyes were baby blues tinged with gray.
His hair went to his shoulders, and while I usually hated long hair on guys, it looked so good on him. It was gently curled, making him look even more angelic. His lips were gently parted…
I shook my head to force myself to stop staring. I was about to clear my throat and make my presence known when Conner turned his head.
“Hey. Your name’s…Veronica, right?” he asked. The way he bit his lip when he thought stole my breath away for a second. His voice matched his boyish personality. “Or do you go by Ronnie or something like that?”
I cleared my throat before speaking. My voice wasn’t unlike that of a twelve-year-old boy. It had a tendency to crack or break whenever it wanted.
“Um, you can call me Vera if you want,” I say, my voice not very audible.
“I can totally see you as a Vera,” Austin said. I smiled nervously. This was getting awkward very quickly.
“Guys, can’t you see she’s overwhelmed?” Conner laughs lightly and stands. His moves are graceful and fluid, probably from all the gymnastics. Which was a fact I definitely didn’t learn from stalking his Instagram. He walks up to me and puts his arm around me. My face blazes five times hotter than it already is. I’m sure everyone in the room can hear my heart beating much too fast.
“I’m Conner Boatman, which I’m sure you already know. I can’t wait to work with you, especially if your voice is as pretty as you are.”
I blinked at him in surprise. “Veronica Maxwell.” I could feel the rough calluses on his hands on my shoulder. Our shirts were thin enough that I could feel hard muscle through them. I swallowed. He smelled sweet, like vanilla, but there was also a layer of something more forceful underneath, something I was unable to identify.
“You’re welcome,” he breathed in my ear. I barely stopped myself from jumping. I really hoped he couldn’t tell what that did to me.
Josh hugged me gently. “Welcome to the world of music. This is where it all begins – people singing their hearts out in a studio.”
“Just ignore Conner and his craziness. You’ll get used to it,” Austin whispered in my ear. I laughed. “He’s probably doing something stupid behind my back right now.” Sure enough, I looked up to see Conner winking and sticking his tongue out at me behind Austin’s back. “Don’t worry – we’re all going to be great together. Just relax and have fun.”
“I hope we have fun working together. A well-known fact: Conner’s, you know, that one crazy person in the family who people avoid talking about,” Carson said jokingly. His stubble tickled the back of my neck.
The crazy one, huh? I grinned.
“Today is a day for celebration! A night out on the town and pizza!” Austin said.
“After you sing for us, of course,” Josh said. What little confidence I had sputtered and died out.
“The audition manager said your voice dipped low nicely and that you have a good range. Just sing whatever you want,” Carson said. His voice seemed like he was trying to soothe me. He probably saw that I was panicking inside.
“You should sing Mercy,” Conner suggested. The others nodded, so I cleared my throat and took a deep breath.
At first I sang quietly, but I knew I sounded better when I was louder. My voice flat-lined or buzzed a few times when I went too low, but it got better as I kept going.
I sang Mercy and All Night. They just sat and listened, nodding along. They all smiled when I started singing Cold, my favorite song of theirs.
As they grew accustomed to my voice, they played theirs around mine so that mine was the main thing you could hear and theirs added a lovely background. We took turns singing the parts of Cold and sang the chorus together. I had to say, we sounded good. We sang Testify and Black Beatles together.
I asked to them to teach me how to harmonize and they did. It was a bit tough to figure out what level to sing on to work with the guys, to get our voices to sound like one voice with different layers. I worked until we sounded really smooth together.
The next time I looked up the sun was setting outside the big window at the end of the room. I’d never had so much fun just sitting and singing before. I realized that I’d stopped being nervous and panicking altogether. It was a good feeling. We sang Cold Water as a wrap-up just for fun.
“Your voice is really natural. It breaks and all, but there’s no need to cover that up because it sounds good. It sounds human, you know?” Josh said.
“Yeah, and your range is great,” Carson added. “There are few girls I know of who can go that low and sound good doing it.”
“You’d be a total success, Vera. Our voices sound great all together. We should do a cover and a song with you – I think the fans would love it.” Conner said. His voice – I could listen to it all day.
“You could even join us on tour,” Josh said.
“Wow! Guys, thanks. That’s really awesome. That’s huge. Thank you. That really meant a lot. You guys are all so amazing. You sound like angels, honestly,” I said. My stomach, of course, chose that moment to growl.
“Someone’s hungry,” Carson said. Everyone was laughing good-naturedly. I decided at that moment not to be embarrassed in front of them and joined right in.
“Guys, we should go to a bar!” Austin said.
“Have you ever been to a bar? Bars are so fun! Wait…how old are you?” Conner asked.
“Shoot, you’re underaged. Why this country doesn’t give its adults the permission to get intoxicated, I’ll never be able to fathom,” Conner said. I stared at him, but smiled, biting my lip. I wasn’t the only nerd in here who was obsessed with big words. An unexpected bonus.
“There’s always the bars that don’t care,” Austin suggested.
“If you want we can go,” Conner said, searching my eyes with those baby blues of his.
Their voices got so deliciously low and husky as we casually discussed breaking the law; they made my heart beat faster. Conner was right. They were overwhelming.
We went to the bar, and I had a couple drinks. I wasn’t proud of it. I knew that after this trip, I’d go back to being a responsible adult and never break the law again, so what the hell? We ordered the biggest pizza I’d ever seen.
After a few shots, I decided I’d had enough. I didn’t want to get drunk. The edges of my vision were blurry. We took a taxi to the place Island Records had rented for them, singing raucously to every song that came on the radio. Over course, raucous for them was still amazing.
The ride in the elevator made me dizzy. Conner and Austin were the only thing keeping me upright. The penthouse we walked into was huge. The details were hard to take in with the blurriness in my vision.
“Only the best for Island Records’ rising stars,” Austin said. I half-sat, half-collapsed onto a couch.
“You okay there, Vera?” Conner asked. The concern turned his eyes a lighter shade of blue. “Did she have that much to drink?”
“No. I’m not even properly drunk,” I said, to which they all laughed. They all started telling embarrassing stories about each other. Some of the worse ones had me snorting.
I wanted to get up to take a shower and go to bed when I realized I didn’t know where those things were. Suddenly Conner was in front of me, offering a hand.
“Come on. I’ll sleep in the guest room and you can have my room,” he said. “It’s this way.”
“You don’t have to do that. I’m the guest. I should have the guest room.”
“Sound logic, but you’re taking my bed.”
“Why? Is there something in the guest room you’re trying to hide?”
“Yeah, that’s the only place we could find to hide the bodies. My room is here. Your duffel’s already in it.” When I tried to argue further, he put a finger over my lips. I could feel his callouses again. “You’ve just ingested a large amount of alcohol. A big bed helps.”
“That’s not sound logic,” I mumbled in protest. He hugged me, said good night, pushed me gently into the room, and shut the door behind him, all in one quick motion. Or maybe it just seemed really fast to my brain, which was only working half-time. The hot shower in the all-white bathroom did little to revive me and I fell into Conner’s bed, hair dripping wet. I think I stole his shampoo.
My heart is pounding as I press the Publish button…