Chapter Two

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Our audition in front of the producers flew by in a blur. One minute I was walking into the meeting room and introducing the band, the next I was being grabbed and hugged by my four best mates, their grins and tears confusing me.

"What?" I spoke loudly, my confusion clear in that single word.

"We're through to the next round mate. We're going on stage in the main house!" Shaun was screaming in my ear as the rest of the guys were mumbling their thanks to the panel and dragging me out of the room so we could go and tell our families. The moment they were in sight, we ran to them, yelling, cheering, and hugging. Our excitement was watched by a cameraman and the other groups waiting for their auditions.

"Just the first step boys. You're gonna smash this." Shaun's dad told us all at the top of his voice as our group tried to restrain themselves, unsuccessfully. "You're headed for greatness, mark my words."

All of our parents had been supportive of us and this crazy dream we had from the day we'd decided it was going to be something we worked hard towards. We all had promised them that we would do our best with any exams we had coming up, just in case this idea didn't pan out, but they never once tried to talk us out of it. Since we'd invented ourselves as the band, they'd all got to know each other and become as close as us lads were.

"I'm going to phone Dad at work, let him know what's happening." Leighton spoke quietly to his mum and older sister Lisa. Even though I heard him, I pretended I hadn't heard a thing as I carried on walking as Steve carried on singing our praises as a band, and how we were going to be the biggest boyband ever.

"Okay Honey. Catch up with us, we're being moved around to the main house and into the big waiting room." His mum's voice was soft despite the excitement in the air.

Just as we were about to turn a corner away from the meeting room, I hovered to listen to Leighton's side of the conversation.

"We got through the first audition. We're walking round to the arena for the big one now." He'd been gutted been gutted when his dad hadn't been able to come with us because of work. I guess policemen couldn't just book a day off here and there whenever they felt like it.

I could imagine his dad's reaction on the other end of the phone. Although we weren't allowed to tell anyone, I knew Leight's dad had told his work colleagues... if you couldn't trust a bunch of coppers, who could you trust?

:: ::

"Urgh, I feel sick." I groaned, sliding down the wall to sit on the floor next to Leighton. He wasn't surprised, I'd been eating nothing but sweets all day— snacking on them as we waited rather than eating any of the sandwiches Josh's mum had brought with her which should have been more embarrassing for Josh than it was. We were just all too glad to have food we hadn't had to pay through the nose for rather than take the piss out of him.

"That's because you're a big kid who won't stop eating sweets." He nudged me with his elbow. "They're going to rot your teeth and you'll need dentures before you're twenty-five." At his words, my head whipped round and I glared at him, making him laugh a little.

"Shut your mouth! I brush my teeth at least twice a day and I floss. I don't even have a filling, so shut up." I'd had really bad teeth when I was younger and had needed braces as a teenager. It wasn't the best time in my life.

"Sorry mate, I'm only kidding." His apology was sincere and I felt guilty at teasing him, but when I suddenly grinned at him, he shoved me making it obvious he could easily punch me. "You arsehole. I thought you were serious then."

"Your face was brilliant; you looked like you were about to crap yourself." Laughing like a maniac, I clambered to my feet and went to join our older sisters who were sitting together, talking. They asked me why I was grinning so wide, so I told them which made us, a minute later, look over at Leighton and laugh, even though my sister, Gwen, told me I was mean for teasing him. He flipped us the finger, and pulled his phone out of his pocket to do... whatever he was doing.

Even after knowing Leighton for a little over a year since I joined the band that Josh and he started at school, it still took a little getting used to knowing that our sisters were a couple before we'd even met. My sister Gwen had gone to a university party with some friends, and had met Lisa who was also in her first year of her degree. They'd been together ever since. Our families had become really close with Lisa and Gwen being together, and then being invited to join the band. It all felt 'right'.

I sat quietly as Gwen and Lisa chatted in soft voices, and thought back to me, Josh, and Leighton rehearsing as a trio. We loved being a trio, but something was missing. I'd played with football with Brad as a kid and somehow managed to keep in contact with him over Facebook. Knowing he was pretty good with a guitar, we invited him to try out with us.

That first meeting was like... fate or some shit like that. He'd brought his cousin Shaun with him and we all just got on like we'd known each other for forever. That was the first time Ladz sung together as a five-piece, and we swore back then it wouldn't be the last. It also made Josh step up with his guitar lessons which rounded out our sound.

Once there were five of us, we couldn't all fit in Leighton's bedroom to practice, especially with two guitars and their set up. With Shaun and Brad living outside London, it was a trek to get together regularly, and then I passed my driving test. For my eighteenth, mum and dad bought me a rusty camper van. A bit of TLC and a lot of fresh paint, the 'LadzMobile' was up and running, and we began rehearsing twice a week in Brad's garage which was massive. It gave us the chance to get serious about what we wanted to achieve, and this audition was the first step.

"Hey, Owen, we're up next mate." Josh's voice brought me back to the present, along with a fresh bout of nerves. I looked up at him and smiled weakly at him as grinned widely. "A runner's coming back to get us in a bit."

"I feel sick." Leighton wouldn't be able to blame any sweets this time; we'd been waiting for almost five hours including the earlier performance, and it all boiled down to a ninety second performance, right now.

:: ::

Walking out onto that stage to the sound of five thousand people cheering was the scariest, yet most fulfilling thing I'd ever done. As instructed, we walked up to the mark near the front of the stage and waited. Guy Murray, the brains behind the show and the most successful boyband manager in the history of boybands leaned forward in his chair, a wide smile on his face, and spoke into the microphone in front of him, his deep voice and thick London accent surrounding us.

"Hi guys. Tell us about yourselves."    

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