Seeing someone on TV, or from a distance, is nothing compared to the experience of seeing them standing right in front of you. I never thought of myself as one of those fan-girl types. But let me tell you, being this close to 10FOUR's lead singer, Taylor Morgan-- let's just say I'm ready to throw off the wig, rip off the tensor and jump him. And when I say jump him I mean...well you probably know what I mean.
"Ray?" Someone punches me in the arm. I wince and with great effort pull my eyes off Taylor and turn towards the person calling my name. I open my mouth to reply. It's Mason Jones, complete with big smile, curly brown hair that bounces with his nodding head, and bass guitar hanging off his arm. I pinch my lips into a tight line. My stomach swoons, I rock back and forth with the motion of the sea inside of me. Must.Keep.Chili.Dog.Down. Damn you Akiko for always being right!
"Dude," Mason says, "your solo rocked." He pulls the bass into his hands and plucks at a random string. "I haven't been able to get it out of my head."
"Uh, thanks." I listen to his notes and realize he's playing a complimentary line to what I auditioned. The stomach hurricane slows into a light current. "That sounds great!" I spot the drum kit in the corner and my hands fly to my sticks out of habit.
Mason follows my gaze and smiles. "Let's do this."
"Hold on a minute," a voice with a slight British accent says, Taylor's voice, and it's coming from behind me. I refuse to turn because I just started to relax and I'm not quite ready to loose my chili dog all over the hottest guy I've ever seen.
"We haven't all been introduced." He puts his hand on my shoulder and my knees give out. I try to swing around, mimicking the boy-strut-walk, but I'm almost positive it comes across as though I'm drunk. Let's be honest, drunk is better than girl-dressed-as-boy. So I shrug and keep my eyes everywhere but on his hazel beauties. I start to blush when I realize I'm staring at his chest, so I turn to the guitar player, Jack Effrey, who's sitting on an amp, pick in mouth, playing along with Mason.
"Nice to meet you, I'm Ray," I say holding out my hand.
Jack mumbles a 'hello,' though pick-in-teeth and shakes my hand. He glances awkwardly over my shoulder at Taylor and says something else. I hear this: "HInod sobdkj nsuobbjk."
"What?" I ask.
Taylor laughs, a deep breathy laugh that sinks deep into my ears. The current inside starts to pick up. I press on my stomach as I turn to see what he thinks is funny. The moment I lock eyes with him I regret it, because my stomach goes into a full barrel roll.
His warm almond eyes crinkle at the side as he smiles and says, "I've been playing with Jack for three years and I still have no clue what he's saying half the time."
"Cool." Cool? Gahh, not this again. Please zombie brain--go away!
"I mean, it's cool. We don't need words to communicate," I say holding up my sticks.
"Amen," Jack mumbles. Or at least I think that's what he says.
I watch as Mason and Jack get lost in a jam-- a jam inspired by my drumming and I can't help feel exited about my new place in this band. That is until I realize I'm left standing, alone, with Taylor. My heart pounds at my ribcage. I'm certain it's rocking my whole chest, if I keep this up I might even loosen my tensor. And we can't have that. I gulp and take a deep breath. These girly flutters aren't going to help me any.
"Have you been playing long?" Taylor asks.
He grins at me, eyes shining with something I don't know but wish I did. "Oh, yeah," he says. "For how long?"
"Oh...um, since I was five."
"Wow, that's young."
"Yeah." I watch him hold back a laugh. I have to do something. This awkward tension is only one sided--my side. Akiko wouldn't let me feel this weak. She'd say something like 'you are the best thing that's happened to 10FOUR.' I wish she was here right now. For her I push past my nerves and say, "Can I ask you a question?"
"Shoot," he says. Both Mason and Jack stop mid note, hold their hands like a gun and shout, "bang!"
I start to giggle-- afraid of sounding too girly I cover it with a snort.
"Sorry," Taylor says, "band habit."
"Is there a lot of those?" I ask.
"Too many. But you'll learn them soon enough." He runs his hand through his thick brown hair. I gulp. "What did you want to ask?"
"I, uh, I." I start to panic, I'm sure there was something I had to ask, but he's so darn distracting. There is one question I've been wondering since I got the call from Marcus, but do I dare ask it? At this point I can't embarrass myself more, so why not?
"I wanted to ask why you guys picked me? I mean I didn't exactly rock the audition."
Taylor let's out a deep breath. My eyes get lost in the way the muscles on his jaw flex.
"It's because you didn't give up," he says, holding my gaze.
My lips suddenly feel so dry and I can't think straight. "What?"
"You'll figure this out soon enough. Nothing in this industry goes as planned. So when you fumbled and kept going I knew you were the drummer we needed."
The boys stop what they're doing and turn towards Taylor. Jack stands and starts clapping, guitar hanging off his neck. "What Tay said," he mumbles, the guitar pick flopping about in his teeth.
"Yeah man," Mason says. "Anyone can play with a track, but not many can play from their heart after being ripped by someone like Marcus."
I choke back tears and smile. "Guys!" I say, "how cute are you?"
Stupid, stupid girl. Why did I just say that?
Mason laughs. "We're cute?" he smacks Jack on the arm. "Hear that Jacky boy, the guy in pink thinks you're cute."
Jack's eyes bulge, he waves his hands and shakes his head no. There's something more to the desperation in him and I can't help wondering what it is.
"Don't mind him," Mason adds, with a chuckle. "For some reason, Jack here gets a lot of male attention."
Jack pushes Mason back, and shouts what I assume to be profanities by the redness of his face.
Taylor jumps between the boys and holds Jack back. "He didn't mean it." Taylor nods to me and adds, "You heard his interview, Ray likes the ladies."
If I had been drinking anything I would have spit it out. It takes everything within me not to laugh, cry, vomit, and repeat. If only they knew that technically Jack should be worried. Well maybe not Jack, but definitely Taylor. Because this girl in drag has a crush!