Part 1 - Chapter 8

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The festival in San Francisco was in full swing. During the day, Vyola and the girls walked the grounds, sampling food and hanging out among the big tents with the other festival-goers. Without make-up, their hair up, in jeans and tee shirts, they looked only like three schoolgirls out for a good time. No one had a clue they were performing at the event, and they were careful to not talk about it. They flirted with boys and laughed at the crazy outfits people were wearing.

"It's so sixities, man," Jjeni kept saying.

Unable to buy any alcohol, Patience charged champagne on Mandi's credit card and asked that it be delivered and left in her room. They watched, giggling, as it arrived and then used the card key they had boosted from her bag to retrieve it. They had then mixed themselves mimosas to carry in their water bottles. They returned to their room later, with a slight buzz from the drinks and their stomachs full from amazing foods, sad for their fun, relaxing day to end.

But by the time they got dressed and to the stage they were filled with excitement. The backstage was teeming with celebrities, some of whom were performing and others who were just there to enjoy the festival with their fabulous friends. Vyola had never met so many famous people all at once in her whole life. They all seemed so nice. Taylor told her she liked the girls' sound and Kylie said she liked the girls' look. Jjeni's favorite, Adam, gave her a great big hug and kiss on her cheek as he came off stage and her face was still glowing from it.

After playing their second song, Vyola addressed the crowd. They hadn't ever performed for so many people.

"San Francisco," she said, "thank you for your warm welcome. We are so happy to be here. It's so amazing to be in a line up with so many crazy talented artists, artists that we listen to, that we respect so much, and who have made such incredible music for so long."

"Yeah, who are we when Mick is here?" Patience said into her mic.

The crowd reacted to the name she dropped but there were also shouts of "Girls-Rule," a few "girl-rules" and one or two of simply "girls." Vyola, Patience and Jjeni all laughed.

"We just put out our first album, but we are working hard all the time to bring you more and I'd like to sing a song for you now that we just recorded. We hope you like it. It's called Think That."

Sorry if it bothers you

But I think about you all the time.

I know you don't want to hear it.

I can't keep you out of my mind.

Think that I loved you

Before I knew you

It was a love so high.

Think that I loved you

Before I knew you

And I will till the day I die.

When you're so far away

Standing right in front of me

I still need to know that you're okay

Even when I don't know what to say.

Think that I loved you

Before I knew you.

It was a love so high.

Think that I loved you

Before I knew you.

And I will till the day I die.

Think that I loved you

Before I knew you.

Before I knew you

Think that I loved you.

It was a love so high.

As the last guitar chord floated out across the crowd, Vyola held her breath. If she wanted to speak or sing another word, at that moment she could not. It was an amazing sight. The crowd seemed to sway as one, phones lit and held aloft, arms stretching for the sky. Vyola moved forward to the edge of the stage, mesmerized, and swept her hand along the sea of hands below her, the energy from the huge mass of people pulsing through her body.

"Thank you," she said.

Vyola waved to the crowd, and then bent low again to touch the outstretched fingertips reaching out for her. Suddenly, there was a tug on her wrist that unbalanced her. She felt herself falling forward and as she put out her other hand to brace herself, she locked eyes with a man who now held her forearm and was pulling her roughly toward him. His face was set like stone, like a mask. She tried to pull back but he had too firm a grip. Then someone began screaming and she realized it was her own voice so filled with fright that her mind for a split second did not recognize it as her own. Vyola was on her knees, sliding forward, her feet nearing the edge of the stage, her body colliding against people in the crowd, some of who were trying to hold her up and push her back toward the stage, others trying to fend off the man. Directly behind her, she heard Patience screaming for help and then felt her friend grab hold of her belt. She was suspended out over the crowd, just her toes still on the stage. Finally, security reached the man and as they pried his hands from her and tackled him, she and Patience tumbled backwards. Before Vyola knew it, she was sprawled out on her back, tangled up with Patience and with mic and amp wires. Jjeni was with them now, too, trying to help to her feet, but she was shaking so badly she could not stand. Patience was crying and hugging her and the three of them just huddled there as the audience continued to scream, most of them only slightly aware of what had happened, it had happened so fast.

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