42 - Reunited: Day Forty-Two

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Wanting to ensure the two bands were still prepared to continue the tour, a rehearsal day had been scheduled at a local venue while they were in Portland, Oregon. Majority of the day was spent going over choreography and practicing vocals under the supervision of Dave, the girls' vocal coach, and Priscilla and Fatima, the bands' choreographers. There was no expectation for Melanie to join the girls. She spent most of her time in the stands with Simon and JP, watching the girls perform with a great deal of interest.

Following their rehearsal, Geri, Mel, Emma, and Victoria walked irritably behind Simon as they headed toward the green room back stage. Simon had broken the news to them that they were being forced into an interview with Andy Coulson from The Sun. Coulson had threatened to release scandalous stories about the girls if he wasn't given an interview and some behind the scenes photos with the girls. They'd had many run ins with Coulson in the past and he had always used scare tactics to get the exclusive interview he wanted. The girls hated him, but played by his rules to keep him from creating fake stories and tarnishing their image.

Melanie followed the girls, holding Geri's hand as they walked through the hallway. She wasn't sure why the girls were upset and she watched them curiously. Victoria was silently fuming, while Emma occasionally whined about having to constantly appease Coulson. Mel and Geri were much more vocal, swearing and complaining about how Coulson treated them. Simon did what he could to mollify the girls, but they all knew there was nothing that could be done. Dealing with the tabloids was part of their job and since Coulson had heard Melanie had started talking, he was demanding one of the first interviews.

"You know he's just gonna have a go at Melanie," Mel snarled. "That twat is going to be ruthless with her."

Melanie looked at her worriedly, not understanding what she meant and she suddenly felt apprehensive about who they were meeting with.

Simon held the door of the green room open and ushered the girls inside where Coulson and his cameraman, Herbert, were set up and waiting for them. Coulson smiled and immediately stood up to welcome the girls, doling out hugs and kisses as if they were old friends. Melanie stayed near the door and subtly stepped behind Simon to distance herself from the other two men. Simon looked at her curiously, stepping aside and placing his hand on her back to encourage her into the room. She looked at him with horror and shook her head desperately, glancing over at Coulson, who was watching her with confusion as the other girls sat on the couch across from him.

"It's all right," Simon assured her. "You've met Andy before." He tried to lead her toward the couch, but she stayed behind him, trying to keep Simon between herself and the two strangers. Simon smiled apologetically at Coulson and turned to face Melanie, placing his hands on her shoulders and looking at her with concern.

"What's wrong, darling?" he asked softly, watching as she looked at him intensely, silently pleading with him as her eyes began to water. Worried, he excused himself and Melanie and led her out of the room with Geri following close behind.

As the door clicked shut, Melanie immediately wrapped her arms around Simon, clinging to him tightly and trembling uncontrollably. He held her close, speaking calmly and trying to get her to talk to him, but she wouldn't say a word.

"What happened?" Geri asked, running her hand along Melanie's back and looking at Simon with concern. He shrugged and looked at her with bewilderment.

"Come on, love," he coaxed. "You haven't said a word yet today. Why don't you try and tell us what's wrong?"

He waited a moment, patiently trying to coax an answer out of her as she clung to him and refused to look at either of them.

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