Fiddling with her keys, Jolie tried to open the front apartment door. She was glad that John had left them out for her that morning, because she didn't know when he'd be back. She was just surprised that he had had time to make a copy for her.
The door wouldn't budge, no matter how hard she tried. Desperate, she rang for apartment fourteen. No answer. She tried jiggling the key, waited a few minutes to see if anyone would enter or leave, but nothing worked.
Giving up, she sat down on the front steps, her head in her hands. Either John was sleeping upstairs, or he hadn't come back from Nisa yet. He had to practice extra long last night, since Roy had quit on them. Jolie smiled at the thought of John punching Roy in the nose.
If anyone deserved that, it was Roy Kirkpatrick.
It was amazing to think that she had only known these people a week. And yet, they had become her entire life, even her friends. She felt that she and Brandon had really become good friends, not extremely close ones, because they barely knew each other, but good enough to hang around and have fun. She and John were always fighting, but they had their civil moments as well.
As for Dan and Wilson, she never saw them outside Nisa. But she would see them later, since that was exactly where she was going, with Kelsey.
She hadn't wanted to go alone, and the only other person she could ask was Chelsea, except she never wanted to talk to her again. Jolie realized that she really didn't have many friends. Sure, she talked to some kids in her classes, but she never saw them outside of class. Which was why gaining this new aspect of her life, Chance Nancy, was so overwhelming. She wasn't used to so many people in her life.
"What are you doing out here?"
Jerked out of her reverie, Jolie looked up. There he was, turning off the motorcycle. The famous John Ramsden.
"Key doesn't work," she answered, not moving from her spot on the steps.
"You gotta jiggle it a little."
John grinned, and sat down next to her, but not touching her. "How long have you been waiting out here?"
She shrugged. "Five minutes? I kind of got lost in thought."
He nodded, shoving his hands in his pockets. "That's my problem. Every girl I meet just daydreams about me, no matter how hard she tries not to."
She snorted at that, looking away. "You can't seriously believe I was thinking about you." Except that she had been, and she knew she had a faint blush upon her face.
He didn't answer. Instead, someone exited the apartment building, and they had to shuffle to the sides so he could get through.
Once he was past, John stood up. "It's cold out," he stated, and he pulled his key from his pocket.
Jolie followed him into the apartment, and shut the heavy door behind her. "So, are you guys ready for tonight?" she asked, following him up the stairs.
Without turning around he replied, "We're gonna kick ass."
"Sound pretty sure of yourself."
This time he stopped. "Are you saying you think we're gonna choke?"
She caught up to him on the stairs, and they stood face to face. "I didn't mean-"
"Because we're not." His eyes suddenly went darker that normal. His eyes lowered in a look that frightened her.
She couldn't think of a reply. They stayed like that for what seemed like forever. Then, suddenly, he fell into laughter. She watched as he laughed, and couldn't decide whether he was laughing at her or something else.
Finally he spoke. "You were really scared there, weren't you?"
Jolie frowned. "You're a jerk."
She continued up the stairs as quickly as she could. He was in no hurry to keep up with her. Once she got to their apartment, she tried her key again. It still didn't work.
"Just perfect," she whispered to herself. John appeared from the stairwell and swaggered over to the door. "I don't think you gave me the right key."
He took it from her and examined it fully. "No, it's right." He stuck it in the keyhole and opened the door. Her jaw dropped, mostly because this time he had proved her wrong. "You just gotta have the touch."
She rolled her eyes and entered. Dropping her bag on the floor, she took off her coat. She loved fall, but she hated the cold. But, it was not nearly as cold here as it was back with her mother in Quebec.
"You don't have a test or anything tomorrow, do you?" he asked, rummaging through the barely stocked fridge.
"Why, you want me to go shopping?" she asked, flopping onto the couch, pulling a pillow to her chest.
"Nah," he said, grabbing the last can of Coke. "I was just wondering if you had anything important for tomorrow."
She furrowed her brow when he entered. What is he getting at? "Why?"
"You should really come tonight. I know last time you had a paper, but now you obviously don't have anything important."
Jolie was still confused. Why would he ask when I'm already going? Then she realized she had agreed to go for Brandon, and had never mentioned that to John.
Instead of telling him about Brandon, because he didn't seem to be a fan of that topic, she decided to just say yes. "Maybe I'll bring my friend Kelsey," she threw in.
He seemed almost enthused. "Great. At least we'll have two people in the crowd."
"But you're Chance Nancy, you guys always have a crowd." It felt good to through his cocky attitude back in his face.
"Yeah, well, know matter how good we are, Wednesdays suck."
That made sense to her. People are able to get to shows more on the weekends, and Wednesday was right in the middle. "I'm sure you guys will have people show up." And she was sure, if last week's crowd said anything. She remembered how hard it was to move there, let alone think.
He didn't answer, and instead headed towards his room. "Hey, if I'm not up by six, wake me up, okay?"
She groaned. "Fine."
Jolie was sitting at the table, trying to figure out her economics homework, when the digital clock on the cable box clicked to six. She wasn't paying attention, instead teaching her self about supply-side economics.
Biting on the cap of her pen, she groaned. She pushed her books forward and leaned back into the chairs. Her legs were underneath her and her arms fell limply to her sides. She couldn't concentrate.
Her eyes glanced about the room. Her pillow was on the couch, where she had left it that morning. Her backpack was on the floor in front of the television. She was so sick of college. There was so much work, and so many other things to worry about.
Chance Nancy had invaded her life. A week ago, she was in her dorm. She knew nothing of Chance Nancy until later that night. Her life was going fine.
Then John Ramsden and his band entered her life.
She tried to shake her thoughts from her mind and instead stared at the television. Her eyes strolled down to the cable box. Six oh seven.
"John!" she shouted. She fell out of her chair, pushed herself up and ran down the small hallway to John's room. Not even thinking, she flung the door open. "It's six!"
It wasn't until after she had yelled the time that she noticed he was indeed awake. He was also only dressed in boxers.
Instinctively, she covered her mouth with her hands. Behind them, she felt herself biting her lip. In the days that she had lived with him, John had always been fully dressed. She spun around, hoping against hope that her face wasn't completely red.
"Good morning to you, too," he said lazily, fumbled around for his jeans.
Jolie did everything she could not to turn around and slap him for that. "Sorry," she forced herself to say. "I didn't know you were awake."
This time she did turn around, ready to say something when he closed the gap between them and placed his hands on her cheeks. Her eyes shot open. "What are you doing?" she breathed.
"Look, it was great, but I've gotta gig." He held a serious face for a moment, and then burst into laughter, like he had earlier.
Jolie hated this teasing he had suddenly found entertaining. She elbowed him in the bare stomach and walked out of his room. He grabbed a shirt and followed her.
While he was pulling it on, he asked, "So whatcha doing out here?"
She ignored him and gathered her books, shoving them into her backpack. "You really a jerk."
He smiled. "Sorry, I'm so used to women coming into my room after I've woken up."
"Sick but loved," he said in a sing-song voice.
She rolled her eyes and looked for her jacket. "How are we getting there?"
"Dan's going to pick us up. Do we have to get your friend, too?"
Jolie shook her head. "She's driving herself."
John ran a hand over his face and through his hair, trying to wake up. She watched him, without thinking, as he did this. Was she being initiated into his friendship or something? Is that why he was being so stupid?
"Dan won't be here for another hour or so," he stated, as if she had asked him a question. "I'm hungry."
"You really can't live on jelly beans, you know." She fell onto the couch, her head pounding. Sensory overload.
"No, we need real food. C'mon, there's a fast food place in walking distance."
"I'm not going to dinner with you."
He seemed genuine in his confusion. "Why not?"
She gave him the "duh" looked, as if he should have known. "That is way too much like a date."
"Nice try, but you'll have to work harder to win me, kid." He pulled his jacket on. "Besides, I'm not paying for you."
He had convinced her to come. He knew he had teased to almost to her breaking point, and he had fun doing it. She was so easy to annoy that it almost wasn't even fair. But he loved it.
At dinner, they talked about how the show would go. He had decided to start off with Death on a Subway, something she, of course, didn't agree with.
"I really think 'Breaking Bones' would be a good start," she said.
"You only want us to start with it because that's the one you helped with the most." But he smiled at it.
It was scary how much fun hanging around with Jolie really was.
In the end, they finished their burgers and the line-up of songs. He had paid for her, mainly to apologize for his joking around earlier. She thanked him.
By the time they got back, Dan was pulling in. John ran upstairs to grab his bass while Jolie got into the truck.
Before he left the apartment, John saw something catch his eye. Her backpack. He walked over to it, and saw an economics textbook. So that's what she's having trouble with. He had noticed her homework, and how she had barely done anything.
He decided he would help her. Back in high school, he was a whiz at economics, his best class in fact. He aced everything in it, but couldn't pass science for the life of him.
He would tutor her. Yes. He would help her, and she'd be grateful.
Why did that thought make him so…happy?
"Kelsey!" Jolie called, hugging her friend. Kelsey looked nervous in the crowd, and kept pulling at her black shirt, something Jolie had suggested.
"There's a lot of people here," she said. "Skinny people," she continued, under her breath.
Jolie gave her a sympathetic look, then dragged her into the club, careful to avoid the bar. They made it the floor, which was decently filled up. Jolie was optimistic that more people would show up soon. The show wasn't for another hour.
"So, what's there to do to kill time?" Kelsey asked.
Jolie wasn't sure. Last time, she was talking to Tim. That wasn't going to happen now. "Do you want to meet them?"
"The band," Jolie smiled. A week ago, she would have asked the same question. Now, she knew better.
"Oh, uh…" Kelsey sputtered. Jolie watched as her friend tried to formulate a way out of it. "They're probably getting warmed up and stuff. They don't need us bothering them."
Jolie rolled her eyes. "Come on."
Weaving her way through the crowd, holding on to Kelsey's hand, Jolie made it through the crowd, just to find herself on the wrong side of the stage. She moaned, looked at Kelsey sympathetically, and latched onto her hand again.
"Do you even know where you're going?" Kelsey whined, trying her best to stay with Jolie through the sea of bodies.
Jolie didn't answer her. The floor wasn't as filled as it had been last week, but the club was still a bit confusing. She looked up to see if she could spot the heavy door that lead to the back rooms, but instead she found a familiar face.
"Look, it's Jade!" The brunette was carrying her guitar case, careful not to get too close to the crowd. Her hair was down, the first time Jolie had seen it like that. Usually Jade wore her hair up so she could show off her various piercings.
Jolie felt reassured that she was going the right way, so she squeezed Kelsey's hand and pulled her out of the crowd.
"Jade!" Jolie called, trying to reach her. Jade didn't hear her, or at least didn't turn, so Jolie called her name again.
Still no response, so Jolie hurried up. She broke contact with Kelsey, so she had to stop and turn. Kelsey had been sucked back into the crowd, which was now filling up faster. "Kelsey!"
Too many faces were before her, so Jolie couldn't spot her quick enough. Finally, she heard her won name being called.
"Jolie!" It was from Jade. Shocked that the girl got her name right, so turned back and saw her waving her over. Biting her lip in decision, she decided to go to Jade. "Hey, glad you made it!"
"My friend's back there. I've got to go grab her and bring her to meet the band!" She had to yell, because all the noise in the club.
Jade nodded, and whispered something into the bouncer's ear, who was guarding the door. She pointed at Jolie and the guard nodded in acknowledgement. Before Jolie got a chance to ask what was going on, Jade slipped into the back, and Jolie was free to get Kelsey.
Pushing through people, Jolie searched. Suddenly, an elbow shot forward, catching her right in the eye. Stumbling back, she fell into someone. He pushed her over, so she was outside the crowd. Forgetting about Kelsey, she instead focused on her throbbing eye. It hurt terribly.
"Jolie. Oh my god, are you okay?" Kelsey appeared at her side, with a face filled with sympathy. "Someone punch you?"
Before she had a chance to answer, the bouncer from the door came forward, put a hand on each shoulder and brought them over to the door. Without a word he opened it and let them inside.
The brightness of the hall, compared to the darkness of the club, caused her eyes to hurt more. "Let me see," Kelsey said, pulling Jolie's arm away from her face. "It's okay. It's just a little red," she said after examination. "You might get a bruise."
When Jolie and Kelsey reached the band room, Kelsey was squeezing Jolie's hand. "I really don't want to do this."
Jolie squeezed her hand back, smiling. This is like the Twilight Zone. I've become Jade, and Kelsey's become me!
"I was kinda scared last week," she said, reassuringly. "But now, well, I guess I'm used to this place."
"You live with the bassist," Kelsey pointed out, obviously stalling.
A sudden burst of people from the band room cut of Jolie's answer. Looking at the faces, Jolie searched for someone familiar. She thought she saw Dan, and possibly Wilson. But no Brandon. No John.
Jade popped out of the crowd, which was making its way to through the hall to the main club. Jolie and Kelsey were shoved against the wall, so it took a while for Jade to get to them.
"Hey, set starts in like ten, so you better get out there."
It really was Dan that Jolie had noticed, because he came up behind Jade and pulled her against him. She turned to him and they began their usual make-out.
Kelsey had an uneasy expression, which Jade was too busy to notice. Jade and Dan were pulled back into the crowd, which was thinning and almost gone by now.
The last two people out of the room were Wilson and John. So the guy Jolie thought was Wilson really wasn't.
"Hey." This came from John.
"Hey, John." The sudden casualness of this was eerie. Every other time she and John had been in Nisa, they had thrown about words of disgust and aggravation to each other. Now, it was like they were old friends.
"What happened to your face?" Wilson asked, completely shocking Jolie. Not because of his observation, but because he had actually spoken.
"Someone punched her," Kelsey piped up, glad to finally have something to say.
"Someone punched you?" John demanded more than asked her.
Jolie shot Kelsey a death stare. "Just got elbowed in the crowd," she mumbled the correction.
John still looked concerned, but Wilson got over it. "That sucks. Happens, though."
Kelsey smiled at Wilson's apathetic air. "Oh." Jolie forgot to introduce them. "This is my friend Kelsey. Kels, this is Wilson and John."
John gave a short wave, but Wilson smiled back at Kelsey. Jolie didn't notice the looks passing between them. She was too busy being pulled into the band room by John.
"Let go of me!" Although his grip was tight, she was more concerned about leaving Kelsey alone.
"You should put some ice on that."
"Kelsey said it wasn't too bad," she said, as John scooped some ice from a cooler, put it in a shirt lying on the ground and slammed it against her eye. "Ow. Do you realize how gross this is?"
"Deal with it." John was looking about the room for something. "Damn," he muttered to himself.
Mac popped in the room. "Get ready, you're on in a few."
John nodded. Jolie tried to take the ice off, but John put it back on her face. "Keep that on for a little while. It really isn't bad, but you don't want to walk around with a bruised eye, do ya?"
Jolie rolled her eyes. "Fine."
John grabbed his bass, cracked his knuckles and ran a hand through his hair. "Guess this is it."
Jolie grinned. "You'll do great. Just don't screw up that chord on-"
"I swear to God Jolie. If you tell that one more time I will mess it up on purpose!" he said with a smile. "How about a good luck kiss?"
"In you're dreams." Jolie kicked at him and she waved as he left the room. The calm after the storm.
She felt very comfortable here now. She actually found herself sitting down on the broken couch and looking at the mirror opposite her. She slowly took off the ice and looked at herself. What are they talking about? No swelling, nothing!
She threw the ice on the floor, not caring where it went. That's how it worked in Nisa, she was learning.
Outside in the hall, Jolie found that Kelsey and Wilson were gone. In fact, the entire hall was empty. She shrugged. It was then that she heard a very familiar line. "ARE YOU READY?"
She made it outside in time to watch John come on. There he stood, next to Wilson. Their heads were banging in time with the music, and Jolie's chest swelled with pride. She had been the one to suggest they bang their heads with the time. Before, they just went with it.
On the opposite side of the stage were Jade and Brandon. Jade was slamming her fingers across the stage with such passion Jolie was amazed. From the look of her face, Jade was loving every minute up there. Next to her was Brandon. At the moment that she looked at him, Brandon looked down at her.
Jolie quickly averted her eyes, telling herself it was because she didn't want to distract him. She shook her head and looked back up .He was still looking at her. This time she smiled.
Dan finished the last line of "Breaking Bones". "Breaking my Bones, but mending my mind." The crowd cheered enthusiastically, and Jolie threw up her arms and went with it.
John pushed back his hair from his eyes and looked into the audience. She was easy to spot. Jolie looked so out of place, yet she was jumping and screaming just like everyone else. He smiled at her, but saw her eyes were looking at the other side of the stage.
A strange emotion took hold, and when Dan began to introduce "Death on a Subway", John cracked his knuckles again. He was ready to play this one as hard as he could.
Dan began the song, which started a cappella. When he finished the line "And no one wants to be caught dead with you here," John slammed on his bass, starting his rip with as much energy as he ever had.
He caught Brandon staring at him from the corner of his eye. He ignored it, and went on with it. From the audience, he saw Jolie, looking confused. Dan looked back at John, who was still doing his solo, and mouthed something to him.
"What?" John mouthed back.
"Wrong song," Dan mouthed. Moving closer to him, Dan wrapped an arm over his shoulder and spoke into his ear. "Wrong song, start the rip again."
John realized his mistake, so he calmly finished the wrong rip and let the final note ring. Then he released it, and started the correct one.
Dan nodded, then slowly made his way back to the front of the stage. On the outside John kept up his bravado appearance, but on the inside, he felt like crap. I just fucked this up, didn't I?
The rest of the song went off without a hitch, but the feeling of being wrong just lingered in his body.
He didn't look at Jolie for the rest of the set.
When it was over, Jolie decided it would be easier to just stand in one place and let the crowd move away. She felt safer that way; her eye was still a little sore. Some other people lingered about, but most everyone filtered off. Some went to the bar, some left completely and some found their way past the bouncer to the back hall.
As her surroundings became easier to focus on, she saw someone come closer to her. For a fleeting moment she thought John had found her and wanted to ask her something.
But, she soon discovered it was Brandon, just coming off the stage. "Hey!" he shouted, pulling his guitar off him, and holding the neck and the strap, each in one hand. "Enjoy the show?"
Jolie laughed, knowing he had seen her in the crowd. She threw up her hands. "Couldn't you tell?"
He laughed softly, and pulled her vulnerable self into a hug. Without even hesitating, she wrapped her arms around his neck and laughed along with him. Some people, mostly girls, attempted to come near him, but once they saw this they scampered away, looking for another Chance Nancy member to drool over.
"You guys did great," Jolie said, more serious this time. "You got it for sure."
"Yeah, well," he answered back, looking over her head at the wall. "It's hard to tell sometimes."
"Yeah, well," she said, playfully imitating him. "I think you got it."
"You sound pretty sure of yourself."
"Well, that's because I am."
Without any warning, or hesitation, Brandon leaned in, and Jolie followed suite. It wasn't passionate or anything, but there was something to that kiss, and Jolie enjoyed it. Fortunately, her arms were already around his neck so all she had to do was tighten them to pull him closer.
It was over in a moment, but they didn't let go over each. They began a slow dance, completely improvised, and Jolie watched as their feet found random spots on the floor to move to.
All this was brought to a halt when some guy appeared, tapping on Brandon's shoulder. "Hey, Rick," Brandon. "This is Jolie."
Rick waved a curt hello, and Jolie noticed his tattoos, especially the ones around his hands. He didn't seem like the kind of guy who'd have tattoos, but then again she couldn't have imagined that she'd be in Nisa of her own free will, either.
"I need to talk to you guys, in my office. Go find the rest of 'em, okay?"
"Yeah, sure." Brandon released Jolie, gave her a quick peck on the cheek and headed for the back hall. Jolie watched him leave, and started to wonder about what was happening to her.
He saw it.
John was looking for her after the set. He was the first off the stage, and was immediately hit with a gaggle of Janes, all looking to score with a soon to be famous band member.
One of them actually gave him her name and number. This wasn't as common as the random hook-ups he was used to, completely nameless.
"Hey, I'm April," the girl said, in her skimpy outfit and blonde ponytail. "Call me, we'll have some fun."
John barely even glanced at the girl, but did take the paper she had written her number on. He stuffed it in his pocket, mumbled something that not even he understood and pushed his way through the crowd. The floor wasn't exactly huge, but with people moving about, it was hard to find anyone.
But when it cleared, and he finally found her, she was with Brandon.
Images of the party flooded his mind. He was in almost the same situation as he was then, except now his feelings were different.
Now he had actually considered her a friend.
Livid, he turned around and headed for the back hall. He hadn't wanted a cigarette so bad in his life. It didn't occur to him that he hadn't smoke since Jolie moved in.
He was overdue.
As Brandon was rounding up everyone, Jolie headed for some place to sit down. Someone flung herself into the chair across from her, and it took Jolie a moment to realize it was Jade.
"Jade, that Rick guy is looking for you…" she trailed off, because she wasn't sure why Rick wanted the band. Probably to introduce them to that guy from the record company, or something…
"Yeah, that can wait a second. I need to tell you something! I mean, this is really big! Like life changing big. Oh my god!"
Jolie watched as Jade, in her high-spirited speech, was flailing her arms about and her head was constantly moving. "You sure you don't want to tell a closer friend? I mean, something this big-"
"What?" Jolie was not prepared for this. She was so shocked, that she actually stood up, staring down at Jade. "To who?"
"Who do you think? Dan!"
Jolie opened her mouth to say something but, Dan had caught Jade's arm and was pulling her away. "Congratulations," Jolie said, but not loud enough for the exiting Jade to hear.
She watched as the crowd dispersed out the front door, and as the band members headed for Rick's office, staggering in. The last to go in was John.
"What the hell do you mean he wasn't here?" John screamed, pounding his fist on the desk.
"He had a situation come up, and he couldn't come."
"Fucking hell!" John screamed again, turning to face the wall.
"Did he say anything about rescheduling?" his brother asked, sitting on one of Rick's chairs. Brandon sat in the other, Wilson was standing behind Dan and Jade was biting her thumb, leaning against the wall.
"He said he would like to, but he doesn't know when yet. His schedule is packed for the next month or so."
"He's not going to…" John shook his head in disbelief, muttering under his breath.
"We were so close," Wilson said. He ran a hand over his face and scratched his head. "This blows."
Brandon and Jade remained quiet, while Rick began to pay the band. He handed checks to everyone, but when he got to John, John refused it. He crumbled it up, threw it on the ground and stormed out the door.
"John!" someone called, but he didn't bother to figure out who. He marched across the floor, he mind set on getting his bass and his keys and driving home.
"John!" it came again, but this time he knew who was calling. It was Jolie. "Wait up!"
He heard her follow him through to the back hall, but he ignored it. He reached the band room, grabbed his stuff and artfully maneuvered his way around Jolie and her questioning expression. He slammed the back door open and walked out.
Once outside, and had reached his motorcycle, he dropped his bass and reached for his cell phone. As he dialed the digits that one girl had given him, he thought about what he was doing. The anger building inside finally exploded. He pitched his phone across the parking lot.
He waited a minute to calm down then drove home.
Jolie got the scoop from Brandon. She couldn't believe the guy didn't even show up for the auditions. Now she understood why John left in such a pissy mood.
Kelsey was nowhere to be found. At first Jolie was worried. But then she realized that if Kelsey really needed her, she'd have stuck with her the entire show.
"C'mon, I'll take you home," Brandon offered, pulling on his jacket. Jolie nodded, and they began to head out the door. She stopped suddenly.
"I don't want to go back to John's. I don't want to deal with that now."
Brandon thought that over. She could see that he was trying to hide his anger about the situation, unlike John who had been very open. She knew this record deal meant a lot to Brandon, too. "Want to go back to you're friend's dorm?"
She shook her head. "Let's go back to your place. Kelsey's not going to be there, anyway."
He looked a little surprised, but that's exactly what they did.
He….he? Yeah, I know it's been awhile. And this chapter probably sucked because I wrote it over the span of a few months, not continuously like I usually do.
So, here's the audition. Didn't go too well, did it? Well, let's hope Chance Nancy gets another chance.
I actually sat down and planned out the rest of the story, so I'm not just pulling stories lines out of my ass anymore. So, hopefully, I will write chapters faster. College gets boring, so I have time.
As always, thank you very much for reading
-DUI on Christie Road.