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ObicanDecko

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About ObicanDecko

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  • Age in Years
    30
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    Male
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    Gay
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    Adventure
    Comedy
    Fantasy
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  1. Wait who showed you the rest of the story?! Was it Marcus?
  2. I think you predicted it correctly a few chapters ago!
  3. Ash was definitely right, but when does Cliff listen to what other people think? And yes, let's hope our boy gets away from Sanders asap! Yes, Samson's hard work is starting to pay off! Let's see if that changes him as a person. And congrats on the first comment!
  4. ObicanDecko

    Ultimatum

    It was Friday, almost one week after the Stardust Awards, and the day when new charts came out. Tyler’s team already had reliable information from the record label that his album had sold a huge amount in the USA, all but guaranteeing him the number one spot. However, Friday was also the day when Stacy was set to return to England - something Tyler was not looking forward to. Soon after he woke up that morning and got dressed, he went to her hotel room, where she had been sleeping every night during their stay. “It’s open,” the girl called out after Tyler knocked on the door. As he entered the room, his face fell upon seeing her packing, getting ready for her flight back. “Hey,” he said weakly, so unlike his powerful singing voice. “Need help packing?” “No, I’m ok, I’m almost done. I didn’t bring a lot of stuff in the first place,” she replied, busying herself with folding her clothes, avoiding eye contact. “But thanks anyway,” she added, sounding as if she was on the verge of crying. Tyler picked it up right away. They had been going out for three years, and before that they were friends for two more. He knew all of her moods, and she knew his. “So, you’re really going, huh?” he asked, sitting on the bed. “Yeah. My flight is today.” “You know you can always change flights, right? We can get you another ticket. I mean, we’ll be here one more week, so…” “Tyler, don’t do this,” Stacy replied, gently but firmly at the same time. “Don’t make things harder than they have to be. This whole trip, it wasn’t… It wasn’t what I thought it would be. I thought we might be able to reconnect and salvage things, but it’s just too hard. Things have changed so much. I know you’ve noticed it too.” “Well, it’s not like I haven’t been trying…” “I know you have and I’m not blaming you. But it feels like everything is against us, from the moment I landed here and missed your show. That was a sign.” “Come on, Stacy, you know I don’t believe in that stuff,” he replied. Her superstition never really bothered him, but he wasn’t in the mood for it at that moment. “Well, I do,” she said defiantly. “And it doesn’t matter whether you believe in it or not. It’s just the way things are. I have to go to uni and you… you have a million other things to deal with. You’re a celebrity now. And I - I have to settle with pretending I’m just your friend. It seems that’s all we’ve been doing lately - pretending. I think we have to stop.” Tyler sat quietly, looking away from Stacy and thinking where they had gone wrong, trying to pinpoint the exact moment things had started to crumble between them. He knew it all began when he became famous, when he signed that contract with his record label. Was it all worth it? That was the question he kept asking himself, but he had no answer. He was doing what he had always dreamed of since he was a young boy singing loudly in his room as he looked at posters of singers on his walls. If he had a time machine, would he really go back and change things? There was a knock on the door. “Come on in, it’s open,” Stacy said as she continued packing her stuff. A moment later, Florence entered the room with a proud look on her face. “Guess what, hot shot? It’s official, you’re number one,” the woman said, lifting up her phone and pointing it to Tyler. The article on the screen was too small to read, but he could clearly guess what it was about. “Wait, what?” Tyler mumbled, startled. He had been deep in thought, and Florence had interrupted him with her loud, harsh voice. “You’re number one, kid! Left the other suckers in the dust,” the manager repeated, chuckling. “Wow, really?” he replied, wide-eyed. If the news had come at any other time, he would’ve been over the moon, but right now… There was little that could lift his spirits. “That’s, uh, that’s pretty cool. Thanks for letting me know.” “Pretty cool?” Florence looked at Tyler incredulously, before turning to Stacy. “Honey, would you smack him on the head for me? I come here to deliver great news, and this is the reaction I get? He was more excited when he skyped with his lizards yesterday.” “That’s really great news, Ty. I’m happy for you,” the girl forced a smile. “I knew you could do it.” “Yeah, thanks,” the singer nodded, trying to keep his sadness hidden. “Ok, now come on, your parents are waiting to have breakfast and celebrate with you. Then we’ve got a long day ahead of us,” Florence said, starting to list all the things on their schedule for that day. With Stacy’s packing finished, she and Tyler followed the manager to the hotel restaurant to have one last dinner together. Then, she would return to England, and he had no idea when he would see her again. ~~ “How do you feel about your album going number one? Did you expect this kind of success?” a young woman asked, standing in the front row of the crowd of reporters at the press conference, a smartphone in her hand, recording everything Tyler was saying. “Oh blimey, I never even imagined it! I’m so happy and so, so thankful to all of my fans and everyone who bought and streamed the album. It’s really amazing to see it’s been so well received,” Tyler replied, putting on a smile for the cameras. With all eyes on him, he could not afford to let his personal issues get in the way. He had to be all smiles and reply patiently to all the reporters’ questions, even though all he wanted was to sit in his room for a week and watch Dragon Ball with his siblings. Instead, he had to promote and attend press conferences. He felt as if he was in a minefield, every question a potential mine he could step on and blow himself up. “Will there be a tour any time soon?” another journalist asked. Tyler was relieved. At least they didn’t ask him anything about his personal life. “Um, not yet. We’re still looking into it, but as soon as I have any news, I’ll make sure to let you know,” he replied. “How many songs did you record for the album?” “We did about forty songs, and then we had to pick fourteen to put on the album. And it was really tough to choose! Some of them, like The Day I Found You, were insta-picks, but we had a lot of back and forth with the other choices until we decided on the final picks.” It was an exhausting half an hour. Who knew answering dull questions and faking a smile could be so draining? By the end of the conference, the singer felt as if he had done a two-hour session at the gym and then got grilled by the police for crimes he never even committed. After it was finally over, he made his way out of the venue, accompanied by his parents and Florence. He looked at the time and wondered how Stacy was doing. She was already on the flight back to the UK, on the way back to a normal life, without him. Even though he didn’t believe in fate or destiny, he wondered if Stacy was right - maybe it just wasn’t meant to be. On the way out of the building, a throng of fans had gathered, waiting for Tyler to appear. Waving their CDs and posters in the air, and taking photos of the singer on their phones, the fans started calling out as soon as he appeared. Everyone wanted a moment of his time - an autograph, a selfie, or just to talk to him. Security guards were all around him, ready to escort him out, but Tyler didn’t want to leave his fans hanging. He felt bad about walking out since they’ve been waiting all that time to support him. As if she knew what he was thinking, Florence walked up to him. “Ok, you’ve got ten minutes.” “Alright, thanks,” Tyler smiled and stopped the security guards, passing them by. The crowd cheered even louder when they saw the singer approach them. He still felt embarrassed when meeting fans and couldn’t help the awkward smile that would appear on his face. It was just hard to believe there were so many people who loved his music and looked up to him. He was nothing special - just an ordinary guy who happened to record an album. Of course, none of his fans thought that way. “Oh my God, Tyler, I love you so much!” “Can I get a selfie?!” “Tyler, please sign my t-shirt!” The fans were going wild until the security guards, who stood by threateningly close, warned them to calm down. Tyler smiled and greeted as many fans as he could, rushing to take selfies with them and sign their merchandise. It wasn’t until he saw a woman standing with a little girl in her arms, not unlike his own younger sister Lucy, that he stopped and grinned. As the kid waved a CD in her tiny hands and smiled at him, Tyler felt as if his heart would melt. “And what’s your name, princess?” he asked, coming closer to take the girl’s hand. She was dressed in a red and yellow dress, with a small, yellow hat on her head. “That’s Emma,” the girl’s mother said. “Say hi to Tyler, Emma,” she added, but the girl just turned around and buried her face in her mom’s shoulder, her cheeks burning red. “Aww, she’s just a little shy,” Tyler said, only then noticing the hat was there to cover up the fact that the girl’s head was shaved. “She’s a big fan, and so am I,” the mom spoke again, on the verge of tears. “We, uh, we’ve been through a lot these past few months, but your music helped us so much. I just want to say thank you for that, you have no idea how much that meant to us.” “Ohh…” he whispered, as his eyes welled up. “Is everything alright now?” “Yes, thank God, we’re all good now. She’s recovering,” the mother replied, sniffling. “I’m glad,” Tyler nodded, a genuine smile on his face. “Come on, then, let’s take a picture, the three of us,” he suggested, to the woman’s content. After some persuasion, Emma turned her head as well, but was too shy to look at the camera. Instead, she stared at the grinning Tyler, while her mom took a photo on her phone. Even though there were tears in his eyes, Tyler was smiling the whole way back to the hotel. “Why are you so quiet, love?” Mrs Edwards asked, watching her son silently stare through the tinted windows. “Nothing, just thinking,” he shook his head, feeling warmth in his chest. ~~ It was a few days later when Samson and Hank headed off to meet Melanie Roy, the CEO of Argent Media. The mega corporation was planning a two-day festival for that fall and had already booked Ash as the headliner for the first day. Roy, one of the biggest media moguls in the USA, wanted Samson to headline the second day. The woman needed the festival to succeed and she knew Samson would be able to draw a big crowd, especially since he would have new material to perform. It was to be a win-win deal. “Have you ever met Melanie Roy?” Samson asked. He was sitting in the passenger seat of Hank’s Toyota Avalon, drumming his fingers against his leg to the rhythm of the music playing on the stereo. “No, but I’ve spoken to people who have,” the manager replied, his eyes on the road. “And?” “Well, all the guys said she’s a bitch. Some may have used even harsher language,” Hank smirked. “The women mainly loved her, saying she’s a boss. Anyway, they all agree she’s quite intimidating.” “Hey, I’ve seen Anna without makeup, I don’t get scared that easily,” the singer quipped. “I know you don’t. You’re quite fearless,” the other guy smiled. “Sometimes even scary.” “Hah! Only when I put too much eyeliner,” Samson replied, running fingers through his fair. “So, do you think we should be afraid of her?” “I don’t think so. This festival thing could be really good for you. You’ll be remembered as the headliner of the first ever Argent Fest. Of course, if it ever becomes a big deal. If not, at least you’ll make a bank off of it.” The head office of Argent Media was a tall, modern building, a masterpiece of concrete and glass, over thirty floors high. The company name stood above the entrance in large, golden letters - in all caps, of course. Samson and Hank entered the building, immediately greeted by an overly pleasant receptionist standing behind her desk in the lobby. The building looked even more polished and expensive on the inside, with minimalist furniture in shades of gold and black. Even though they arrived with ten minutes to spare, they were told Melanie was already waiting for them up in her office on the top floor. A long elevator ride later, and the pair were finally there, inside a large, stylish office. Melanie, a short, slim woman with dark skin and even darker hair welcomed them with a big smile that revealed her pearly white teeth. She wore an impeccable pink suit and sandals to match. Samson liked her already. Even though in her late forties, the woman was clearly taking excellent care of herself - or at least her plastic surgeons did. “Welcome! Mr Flynn, Mr Silverton, it’s a pleasure to finally meet you,” she greeted them, shaking hands with both of them. “Would you like anything to drink? Coffee, tea… Something stronger, perhaps?” “Coffee is fine, thank you,” Hank replied, as he sat down at a conference table next to Samson. “Same here, thank you,” Samson agreed. Melanie sat at the head of the table, their drinks arriving a minute later. While the three were sipping their coffee, small talk flowed seamlessly, as if they were just three old friends catching up after not seeing each other for a few months. Samson was pleasantly surprised with the interest Melanie showed in his music, hobbies, and even his pet cat. Just a few minutes into the conversation and he was feeling relaxed and comfortable. Of course, that was precisely when Melanie changed the topic to business. “We are very excited about Argent Fest. It’s something the company - and myself personally - have been wanting to do for a long time. I honestly believe it will be the next big go-to music festival, and I would love it if you would help us make it an even more amazing experience for everyone this year.” “We were very intrigued when we first heard about it,” Hank admitted. “Yes, and we hear Ash already signed on to perform, right?” Samson asked. “Correct. He’ll be headlining the first day, but as you know, the festival lasts two days. That’s where you come in,” Melanie explained. “We are still making the final arrangements, but the plan is for the festival to be on November 4 and 5. Six stages and over thirty performers on those two days. Of course, you’d be on the main stage. As for the length of your set, you’ll be given the most time, of course - one and a half hours.” “That all sounds great from where we’re standing,” said Hank, already checking Samson’s tour schedule on his phone. “Yes, November 3 is your Helsinki date. After that, you’ve got Copenhagen on the seventh.” “Right, that’s perfect timing then,” Samson said, leaning over to look at the calendar. “I’m glad we agree on that. Oh, and just one more little thing - we would require that you refrain from performing your new music until the festival, so that we can give our audience an exclusive, so to speak,” Melanie added, a sly smile on her lips. “But… my album just came out. My tour starts in a few weeks, of course I’m gonna be singing my new songs,” Samson frowned, looking at the woman with confusion. “You’re asking me not to perform my new music for four months?” “Heh, Mr. Flynn, I was well aware of your upcoming tour, which is exactly why I insisted on having this meeting with you in person. I’m sure you’ll agree that this is a one-time opportunity I’m offering you here and, well, tours come and go. You’ll have more of them, I’m sure,” Melanie shrugged. Samson and Hank quickly looked at each other, before the latter spoke again. “Ms Roy, do you understand what you’re asking us to do here? We can’t just change the entire setlist three weeks before the tour starts. People have bought tickets because they want to hear the new music. Samson, the band, the dancers, everyone’s been training hard for this.” “Exactly, I can’t just cut over half of my setlist,” Samson spoke again, getting increasingly more passionate. He had been working way too hard for this, dancing his butt off in the studio, learning new choreography with his dancers and practicing those live vocals. Besides, if he was to cut the new songs from the tour, he would barely have enough material to fill a sixty-minute show. No, what she was asking was impossible, he thought. “I’m sure Samson has enough songs in his repertoire to fill the set one way or another,” Melanie looked pointedly at them. “You’ll still be giving people new music, only a few months later, at my festival. Think of it as… building the anticipation. The more you keep them waiting, the hungrier they get. Imagine the reaction you’ll get when you take that stage. It will be a show for the ages. So, gentlemen, do we have a deal?”
  5. ObicanDecko

    Afterparty

    Samson is showing his jealous side because he thinks Tyler got it all so easy - he appeared out of nowhere and is already a huge star, while Samson had trouble breaking through. As always, thank you for reading and commenting!
  6. “...Tyler Edwards, the UK sensation that took the world by storm just a few months ago, has officially debuted at #1 in the US with his first album, ‘A Story To Tell’. With 870,000 equivalent album units in its first week, Edwards’ album earns him a landslide victory. Earlier this week, ‘Story’ also debuted at #1 in the UK, as well as over twenty-five other countries across the globe. Sitting pretty at #2 is Samson Flynn with his second studio album ‘Night Calls’. With first-week units of 394,000, this is Flynn’s biggest debut ever, over 50% higher than that of his first album two years ago. On the singles chart, Samson’s new song ‘The Perfect Place’, which he performed at the Stardust Awards last week, shoots to #2, becoming his highest charting single ever. The top spot is held by Tyler Edward’s new track ‘Distance’, which received a rather clumsy performance at the same event. Number 3 on the album charts is another new release - Ash Khong’s second studio album ‘Too Close’. The title is the perfect description of its chart battle against Flynn, as it was a tight race all the way to the end. In the final tally, Khong’s album ended up with 385,000 units, only 9,000 short of the #2 spot.” ~~ “Come on, it’s gonna start!” Anna shouted from the couch, where she sat with a big bowl of buttered popcorn in her hands. The latest episode of Drag Race was about to begin, but Samson was still sitting at his work desk, eyes glued to his computer screen. “In a minute!” the singer yelled back, clicking on the mouse again. “Are you still refreshing that page? Oh my God!” “What? I wanna see the charts,” Samson replied impatiently. Any moment now, he would finally see the latest album charts. According to what Hank told him, he sold a whooping 394,000 units in the first week, which was amazing, but he had no idea how much Tyler and Ash had sold. He’d seen some predictions, but they were all different, and they all predicted a tight race between him and Ash. As much as he tried to temper his expectations, he couldn’t help but hope he would get a pleasant surprise. “Me too, but you gotta chill. They’re not gonna publish it any faster just because-” “Fuck yes, it’s loading!” Samson yelled, interrupting her. His heart was racing as he held his breath, waiting for the page to load. Finally, there it was. The Elite Albums 200 chart. He wasn’t surprised when he saw Tyler’s picture pop up next to the number one spot, but right below him, at number two... “Ohmygosh! I’m number two! I’M NUMBER TWO!! What the fuuuuuuck!” the singer screamed, beside himself with happiness and excitement. “What?!” Anna jumped from the couch and ran over to look at the screen. “This is insane! I beat Ash, I can’t believe it,” Samson kept staring at the charts, looking at his album cover next to a big, yellow number two, while Ash’s cover was right under his. His first album had barely scraped the top ten, peaking at number seven for just one week, before dropping to fifteen. But now he was number two, and it was only because of Tyler’s surprise release. If Samson had released any other week, he would’ve been number one. “Congrats, baby,” Anna hugged him tightly, shaking him in the process. They were both crying tears of joy. “You so deserved this!” “I still can’t believe it, how did this happen,” he almost whispered, trying to process what was happening. This could be the moment he’s been waiting for all this time. This could be his time to shine. If he plays his cards right, keeps working hard and promoting his music, he could become a big superstar. So what if Tyler is number one right now? He won’t be at the top forever. Besides, there is room for more than one young, male pop star, and Samson would show everyone just how much he has to offer. He is just getting started. The next few days passed in a blur, as Samson celebrated his number two album and number two hit single with Hank, Anna, his family and friends. As Hank entered the singer’s apartment that day to take him to the taping of a new episode of Kyle’s Friday Show, he could barely enter the hallway. “Wow, what’s going on here?” the manager asked, taking a look at dozens of packages, gift baskets and bouquets covering the floor. Dolce & Gabbana, Bvlgari, Gucci… Luxury brand names could be seen on nearly all of the packages. “Where did all this come from?” “Ugh, sorry, I didn’t have a chance to clear it out,” Samson said, poking his head through his bedroom door. “Gifts from… everywhere. Radio, TV, fashion designers, it’s crazy. I don’t… This has never happened before!” “You’re in the big leagues now,” Hank smirked. “This is where everyone starts loving you, which means everyone will want something from you.” After getting dressed and ready for going out, Samson joined Hank in the living room. Minutes later, the two men were on their way to Studio 78, where Kyle’s Friday Show was taped. It was one of the biggest talk shows in America, and Samson was one of the guests. To say the audience went crazy when the singer appeared would be a major understatement. The claps and cheers continued for almost a full minute until Kyle Morrison, the popular TV host, asked them to calm down. Samson sat in his armchair, with a grin from ear to ear, as he took in the crowd’s reaction. Studio audiences were always instructed when to laugh or applaud, but this was genuine and unlike anything he’d ever experienced before. Was it possible that his time had finally come? After the Stardust Awards and the success of his new song and album, maybe he would finally come out as the biggest male pop singer? “Congratulations on your new album,” the host opened the interview, picking up a vinyl copy of ‘Night Calls’ and raising it so that everyone can see. “I absolutely love it.” “Why, thank you, Kyle,” Samson said, a bashful smile on his face. “I’m glad you liked it!” “It’s been a big success for you, hasn’t it?” “Oh, absolutely. I’m just stunned by the response I’ve gotten. I’ve got the best fans in the world, my Stansons.” “Shoutout to all the Stansons out there! I’m one of them, by the way,” Kyle said, waving to the camera. “Now, I gotta ask something a lot of people demanded that I ask you - is Samson seeing anyone?” Letting out a laugh, the singer took a moment to figure out what to say. “Kyle, I am single and NOT ready to mingle.” “You’re not? Well, I can tell you you’ve just disappointed thousands of guys watching this.” “Sorry, guys,” he shrugged. “I’m just really focused on my career and enjoying my single life.” After the interview, Samson stayed in the studio to perform his new single for the audience. Afterward, he and Hank were on their way back to the singer’s apartment. “Why do I have a feeling my schedule is about to get a lot more hectic?” Samson asked as he sat in the back seat next to Hank, while his driver was taking him back home. “Because it is,” the other man replied, finally finishing the phone conversation he was having. “It’s been ringing all day. We’ve got you booked for an interview with Alma de Leon…” “Oh my God, I’ve never been on her show,” the singer’s eyes went wide as he thought about appearing on the biggest daytime show in America. It was certainly intimidating, but also wonderfully exciting. “And next Thursday you’ve got an interview at Radio X500. They’re dedicating an hour just for you. They’ll be playing your songs, have the audience ask questions, the whole nine yards,” Hank said, before noticing the almost stunned look on Samson’s face. “Uh, sorry. I know all of this must be a lot for you. I didn’t mean to spring it all on you like that. It’s a lot for me too, but we’ll work it out, ok? Whatever you need, I’ll be right here.” “Yeah, it is a lot. I’m just trying to process everything,” the singer replied, playing with his bracelets. “And thanks. I know I can count on you whenever I need it,” he added, offering Hank a sincere smile. “Yes, you can,” Hank nodded, returning the smile. “We’ll just take it one day at a time. We’ve got a lot of work ahead of us, but first, we have that meeting with Melanie Roy tomorrow. After we’re done with her, everything else is going to look like child’s play.” ~~ “GOD DAMMIT!!” Cliff Sanders roared at the top of his lungs, standing in his office on the top floor of the Pinnacle Records building. He was furious. Having just read the latest chart update, he couldn’t believe his own eyes. Not only was Ash beaten to the top spot by Tyler, which was to be expected, but he also charted below Samson. How was this even possible? The Flynn boy was never supposed to be a threat. Sure, he had a dedicated fanbase, but compared to Ash he was just a B-list star. Or at least that’s what Sanders had believed all this time. Number three! After everything he did to secure that top spot, how could he have failed so miserably? So much money that went to marketing and promotion, all for nothing. It was humiliating! He viewed it as his own failure, not even considering how Ash felt about it. The singer was secondary. It was Sanders’ reputation and his label’s that were on the line. He was mad at Tyler, Samson, Ash, the media, everyone. “Fuck! This is bullshit!” In a fit of rage, the man grabbed the nearest thing he could reach - a ceramic statue of a Spartan warrior that stood on a pillar near his desk - and hurled it at the bar on the opposite side of the room. Dozens of bottles of liquor crashed down from their shelves, glass shattering and alcohol spilling all over the floor. His chest heaving, Sanders fell back into his leather chair, looking around the office like a wild animal as he drew ragged breaths. It wasn’t until a minute later that he managed to calm down, although only slightly. He finally seemed to notice the stench of alcohol that came from the ruined bar, and only then realized what he had done. He bolted up and strode over to the door, jerking it wide open. “Portia, get over here,” he barked at his secretary. The young girl immediately stood up from her desk and entered his office, her gaze falling upon the mess where a bar used to be. “Clean that up!” “Uh, shouldn’t I call one of the cleaning ladies?” Portia asked timidly. Cleaning was not in her job description. “What, you don’t know how to use a fucking mop?” Sanders snapped at her, and she quickly nodded. She was not about to lose her job over this. “Then get to work, I want it clean asap! I have a meeting in half an hour.” While the girl hurried off to get the cleaning supplies from a nearby closet, Sanders went back to his desk, checking the time. Ash was supposed to arrive soon for their meeting. They would have to find some way to figure out what to do next. ~~ After an intense forty-minute workout session in his home gym, Ash went to take a shower, enjoying the feeling of warm water on his skin. He loved it almost as much as working out. It always made him feel reinvigorated and helped him relax, which is exactly what he needed at the moment. After the emotional rollercoaster of last week, he had taken a few days off to spend with family and get away from everything and everyone. Marcus was still a sore spot that he did not want to talk about, but Ash knew his mother would probably get it out of him sooner rather than later. She could always sense when he was hiding something important, and since she was there for the week to keep him company, she used every meal as an opportunity to get her son to open up. There was also the reunion with his former bandmates and their suggestion for him to rejoin the band. It was crazy, he thought. He would never go back. Even though they had some amazing times together, 2Good was a part of his past. Yet, there he was, unable to get that conversation out of his head. After a relaxing shower and a change of clothes, the Korean went to the kitchen to join his mother, who was making breakfast. While the woman was busy making Ash’s favorite seafood salad, he checked his phone, chuckling as he did. “What’s funny, dear?” “Nothing, it’s just… Lance Lovecraft texted me, saying he got ten thousand new fans since our performance… But also ten thousand new haters.” “Aw, why would anyone hate him?” Mrs Khong asked innocently. “Oh, you don’t know the first thing about the stan world, mom,” Ash shook his head. “When they get obsessed with a celeb, whether it’s love or hate, it gets intense.” As they sat at the dining table, having breakfast, the singer’s mom tried her best to keep up a lively conversation, hoping her son would open up about whatever was bothering him. However, she was having little success. “So, do you want to tell me what happened with Marcus? You said you weren’t together anymore,” she finally decided to go for the simplest approach - asking him openly. “You know I’m here if you want to talk about it.” “I know, maybe later,” Ash kept it short. He was still not ready to open that wound. As much as he blamed Marcus for his jealousy, Ash blamed himself even more. “Thanks, mom,” he added, looking at her with gratitude. Finally, after he finished his meal, the singer left the table, knowing he had to be ready to leave soon. As much as he wanted to avoid the meeting with Cliff Sanders, he couldn’t, especially now that the charts were released and his album debuted at number three. As far as Ash was concerned, that was pretty good. He didn’t even get the news until he woke up to find his phone full of new messages and missed calls. His publicist, Lauren, was quick to let him know what had happened. “Hey, Ash, good morning. Have you seen the latest charts?” the woman went straight to business. “No, I haven’t. You know I don’t really follow them, that’s more…” he started to say, but then stopped himself as his mind drifted off. “That’s more Marcus’ thing,” he thought. Ash would always get chart updates from his boyfriend, who seemed to live for that sort of thing. Marcus would get so proud of Ash’s accomplishments as if they were his own. Whenever the Korean reached a number one spot on some chart, they would have to celebrate. Marcus would then prepare them a nice dinner, or take him out for drinks. Of course, the main treat was the celebratory sex, which was always mind-blowing. “So, what’s the situation?” he asked. “You’re number three, behind Tyler and Samson,” Lauren stated. “Oh,” Ash replied, almost chuckling with some weird joy at the thought of Sanders’ plan failing so miserably. However, he then remembered he was the one who would have to deal with the man. “Sanders isn’t gonna like this.” Now, after getting dressed and grabbing his phone from the coffee table, the singer headed out to where he parked his car. He wanted to get the meeting over with as quickly as possible. However, he had barely left his apartment building when a swarm of paparazzi and reporters rushed toward him, their cameras flashing incessantly. “Ash, your album is number three, are you happy with that?” “Is there rivalry between you, Samson and Tyler?” “Have you read the reviews of your new album?” The questions kept coming and Ash had to slow down as the mob was practically blocking his path. He definitely should’ve listened to Paul and kept those security guards with him all the time, not just during events. “No, no rivalry between us. We’re just three singers, each doing their own thing,” he replied in a tired tone. “And yes, I’m really happy with how my new album came out. I’ve been getting some amazing feedback from my fans. They’re so awesome, as always.” “What about Kelly Marvel, are you two still dating? You haven’t been seen together lately,” one of the paparazzi asked, thrusting his voice recorder in Ash’s face. “No, Kelly and I never dated, those were just rumors. We did a song together, nothing more,” the singer said tersely. Whatever patience he had was now completely gone. “No more questions.” Without looking back, he pushed through and got into his car, driving away. Paul was already waiting in the lobby of the Pinnacle Records building when Ash arrived. Together, they took the elevator to the top floor, where Sanders was supposed to be waiting for them. As soon as they entered the CEO’s gargantuan office, the pervasive stench of alcohol and cleaning products hit their nostrils with full force. Not expecting it, Ash started coughing, before turning toward the source of the smell. “Ugh, what happened here?” he asked, seeing the once luxuriously equipped bar now in shambles. Although the broken glass was cleaned, half of the shelves were empty, many of them fallen down and in disarray. “Nothing, just a little accident,” Sanders frowned, waving dismissively at the bar. “Come, let’s move over here,” he added sternly, in a rush to lead the two men away from the mess. The west part of the office was a mini-library, separated from the rest with a sliding door. While two walls were covered in bookshelves, the remaining one featured large windows that took up almost the entire wall. A thick, brick-red carpet covered the floor, while a comfortable-looking sofa and two armchairs were placed around a small, round coffee table. The three men sat down, wasting no time to get down to business. Before he started speaking, Cliff Sanders took a deep sigh, staring at a point on the wall. “You know why I called you here. We’ve all seen the charts and… the results are not good at all. It’s very, very bad,” he shook his head, his fingers pressed tightly together. “Number three is not that bad, though,” Ash shrugged. “It’s not like I failed to crack the top ten.” “For an artist of your caliber, it should’ve been much better. This is only your second album and we’re already seeing a decline. By the time your third record comes out, who knows, maybe it won’t even reach the top ten,” Sanders replied, glaring at Ash. “Sanders, I think you may be missing the big picture here. So he didn’t chart as high as with the previous record, but the sales were 385,000. That’s thirty percent more than his last album,” Paul interjected. “It’s not about sales! It’s about me... YOU losing the top spot to Tyler,” the CEO replied, quickly correcting himself. “Even Samson outsold us! This should never have happened!” “Well, it wouldn’t have if we hadn’t moved my release date,” Ash said, quickly losing his cool. After the paparazzi ambush in front of his building, he had little patience left. “The original date was perfect, no competition. Would’ve been easy for me to be number one, since it means so much to you.” “Do you think this is about me?” Cliff stood up suddenly, raising his voice. “This is about your career! This is about the entire label! You’re the biggest artist in our roster and you have to start taking this seriously!” “Sanders, calm down,” Paul spoke calmly, but with authority. “I assure you, everyone is taking this seriously here.” “It does NOT look that way to me. This is not some silly game of numbers. We have sponsorships, business deals on the line. We need to step up as of this moment. Tyler is still new and interesting, and Samson… well, I have no idea whose dick he sucked to get those numbers, but we need to step up on all fronts. First of all, we need all eyes on you,” Sanders spoke without pausing for breath, pointing at Ash. “That means publicity. We need to double down on the Kelly Marvel story - let’s have you two appear in public as a couple. Paul, get in touch with her team and see if they’ll work with us.” “No, absolutely not,” Ash immediately shot the idea down. “I am not doing it. We said it would only be until the album release. Well, that’s over now, and I am not doing a PR relationship with anyone.” “Mr. Khong,” Sanders took a deep breath, his icy stare focused on Ash. “Let me remind you that record labels are a business, and as such we cannot invest in artists who do not give their all. Do I make myself clear?” “Are you threatening to pull the budget from Ash?” Paul asked, now standing up to face Sanders. “I am simply explaining to Ash how businesses work.” “I know how businesses work,” Ash glared angrily at the CEO. “It doesn’t matter anyway, because I’ve already told the media there’s nothing between me and Kelly.” “What?! When did that happen?” “Just today. See for yourself if you don’t believe me,” the singer said, pointing at the older man’s phone on the coffee table. Sanders immediately grabbed the device, opening the browser and typing in Ash’s name. Sure enough, dozens of new tweets and articles popped up in the last half an hour. All of them showed photos of Ash from earlier that day, including a short video clip of him shooting down the rumors about him and Kelly. Red in the face, Sanders suddenly flung the phone as hard as he could into the wall, making it smash into pieces and fall to the ground. Ash and Paul stared silently, shocked at Sanders’ violent outburst. The ruined bar in his office suddenly made so much sense. “I can’t believe this!!” the CEO growled, his chest rapidly rising and falling as he stared at the floor. “Get out, both of you. OUT!!” “Not like we were planning to stay,” Ash shot back, unable to keep quiet. Hurriedly, he and Paul left the office. On their way to the elevator, the secretary glanced at them with a knowing look. Paul simply nodded, without saying a word. When Sanders was in one of his moods, the entire building knew it. Of course, no one dared to say anything or they would risk losing their job. After all, at Pinnacle Records, no one mattered but Cliff Sanders.
  7. Yeah, I don't blame you for being unsure about Samson. He went for what he felt was rightfully his, but did he go about it in the wrong way? At least we know he feels guilty. It's much clearer with Florence - I don't think anybody likes her.
  8. Hehe I knew this would be a controversial chapter for Samson. He's been a bad boy for sure. You're so right, Tyler powered through and proved himself! And his mother was a hero as well! He's lucky to have her.
  9. It was a rough day for Tyler for sure. Thanks for the comment!
  10. ObicanDecko

    Afterparty

    I always like it when you start addressing them directly. Samson and Hyun are kind of similar in the way they're holding grudges. We can only hope they'll come to their senses and come around. Stacy was pissed off and for a good reason, but I agree, she shouldn't have taken it out on Tyler.
  11. ObicanDecko

    Roadmap

    Whew you are going through these so quickly, I didn't get a chance to reply. Thank you for all the comments, it's always fun to see someone react to the story!
  12. ObicanDecko

    Afterparty

    Thumping bass was blasting through the luxurious ‘Emperor’ club as red and purple lights created an almost hypnotic atmosphere. Dozens of guests had already made their way onto the dancefloor, under the sparkling lights of disco balls, while others chose to stay in their private booths, having drinks and chatting among each other. It was the afterparty following the Stardust Awards, which meant not just anyone was invited. Only celebrities and their special guests could get in. As usual, Samson was fashionably late, arriving with Hank and Anna. After the singer’s successful performance earlier that night, they were all in a good mood, ready to enjoy the rest of the night. While Hank used the opportunity to do some schmoozing and feel out some potential business prospects, Anna was set on feeling up a sexy singer or actor by the end of the night. “Oh my god, is that Austin Douglas?!” She whispered to Samson as she noticed the famous TV actor at the bar. “Sure is, and I bet he won’t be alone for long,” the singer replied, eyeing the hot guy. Too bad he was straight. “I know, I’m going over there. How do my boobs look?” “I like them better firm and hairy,” Samson shrugged. “Gurl, you look amazing. Go get that D!” Left alone, Samson decided to get a drink and relax for the moment. The excitement of the performance well done was still keeping him in high spirits, but he needed to just relax for a while before he headed to the dancefloor. After all, he could let loose more once he’s had a few drinks in him. Soon after he got his cocktail, the singer found himself joined by Ash. They didn’t meet frequently, but when they did, they always had a good conversation. The Korean seemed relaxed and cool, exuding effortless charisma, as he usually did. If there was any tension or annoyance over what happened with Marcus, Samson could not sense it. “So, spill the tea! How did you manage to snag Lance Lovecraft for the performance? I don’t think anyone saw that coming!” Samson asked Ash as the two sat in a private booth, nursing their drinks. Even though he was curious about what happened with Marcus, he decided not to push his luck. “Actually, I didn’t see it coming either,” Ash let out a laugh, showing his pearly white teeth. “I literally just met the guy at the red carpet and asked him to join me on stage, spur of the moment, and he said yes.” “Are you kidding me?!” Samson shrieked in delight, hitting Ash on the arm. “That is fucking brilliant! Ugh, I hate you right now. Why didn’t I see him first…” “Sucks to be you,” Ash shrugged, smirking playfully at the other singer. “Real talk, man, I loved your performance. You nailed it. I think everyone loved it.” “Aww, thanks, you’re a peach,” Samson smiled thankfully. “Yours was amazing, as usual. It would’ve been great even without Lance, he was just the cherry on top. A very sexy, British cherry.” “I’m gonna tell him you said that, you know.” “Oh my gosh,” Samson laughed, covering his mouth with one hand. “You know what, feel free to quote me on that, I don’t even care!” Throughout all of their small talk, there was one topic both singers were avoiding, unsure of what to say. Their albums were going head to head and neither had acknowledged it yet, until at some point, Ash finally broached the subject. “So, I hear a great new album just came out a few days ago… ‘Night Shift’ or something?” Ash said, pretending he didn’t know the title. Samson chuckled, then took a sip of his cocktail. “Yeah, I hear it’s album-of-the-year material. Luckily, there’s no competition, only some ex-boyband member… Hang it up, flatscreen.” Ash couldn’t help but laugh, appreciating that Samson was being a good sport about it. “Look, about this whole rivalry thing, it wasn’t my idea. Sanders decided to push back my release date. He’s just… impossible.” “Yeah, I know,” Samson said without thinking. “I mean, I’m not crazy about it, but I don’t blame you.” “You know? How?” the Korean asked. “Uh, I mean, I assumed it wasn’t your doing. I know you don’t care about that crap, so I guessed the order probably came from above,” the younger guy shrugged. He didn’t want to reveal that he had talked to Marcus about it. “Yeah… Sanders is gonna be pissed if Tyler ruins his perfect plan, though,” Ash replied. “Speak of the devil,” Samson whispered, noticing a very familiar face approaching them. He pursed his lips, his mood instantly ruined. The British guy came over, nervous, but excited to meet the two singers he admired very much. Since his parents took the younger siblings back to the hotel, and Stacy hadn’t arrived yet, Tyler decided to mingle a bit on his own, as scary as that prospect sounded. It was certainly better than staying with Florence, who would not stop singing his praises to anyone who would listen. Once he saw Ash and Samson sitting together, he knew he had to go over and introduce himself. When would he get another chance? “Sorry to interrupt,” Tyler gave them a small wave as he came over to their booth. “I just wanted to say hi.” While Samson mustered a smile and waved back, Ash wasted no time in getting up and giving the Brit a friendly hug. “Hey, it’s great to finally meet you! Come sit with us,” the Korean greeted him cheerfully, scooting over to make room for Tyler. “You definitely don’t need any introductions!” “Ugh, does he have to be so friendly?” Samson wondered silently, fighting the urge to roll his eyes as he watched Ash get chummy with Tyler. They were already chatting like best friends. This was the guy who barely had one hit, but was already hailed as the next big superstar. Samson had been working his ass off for years and didn’t manage to make such a big breakthrough, while this guy comes over and tries to overshadow his album release AND steal his slot at the award show! And then he didn’t even have the guts to go through with it. “A wolf in sheep’s clothing if I ever saw one,” Samson thought as he observed the younger singer. “I am such a big fan of both of you! I went to your concerts in London last year, had the time of my life,” Tyler started fanboying, not even stopping to think if he looked awkward or not. He was genuinely starstruck and couldn’t stop the river of words that kept pouring out of his mouth. “I wanted to buy the meet and greet so badly, but I didn’t really have money at the time… But this is so much better, I can’t believe I got to meet you and see you perform tonight!” “The feeling is mutual, man, I’m glad to finally meet you! And that performance… Oof, you killed it. You know, my parents are big fans of yours, especially my mom. She loves your voice. They were here tonight, but they already left. Shame, because they would’ve loved to have met you,” Ash said. “Oh, that’s too bad. Say hi to them for me and tell them I’d love to meet them sometime,” Tyler replied. He was grateful his own parents had come to support him, but he was also glad they had gone back to the hotel for the night. If they had stayed, they would’ve probably embarrassed him horribly. “I will, my mom’s gonna freak out when she hears I met- wait, what the...” Ash suddenly drifted off as he caught a familiar face out of the corner of his eye - the last person he expected to see that night. No, it couldn’t be... As he turned to get a better look, he noticed another, and another… His jaw dropped as he stared silently at the group of young men he knew so well. “Hey, what’s up? Seen a ghost?” Samson asked, following Ash’s gaze across the crowd. “Five, actually,” the Korean replied, standing up, his face almost frozen in confusion and surprise as he watched his former bandmates enter the room. Dae-Jung, a tall, lanky guy whose hair was dyed pink, easily spotted Ash and broke out into a grin, waving him over. The other four guys quickly noticed him as well, stopping to wait for him. “Excuse me, I gotta go say hi,” Ash scrambled out of his seat. “Tyler, it’s been so nice to meet you, I hope we get to chat some more soon!” He quickly excused himself and squeezed past the British singer, leaving him with Samson. “Who are those guys?” Tyler asked, glancing at the group that was now talking to Ash. “Shouldn’t you know, seeing as you’re such a big fanboy of Ash?” Samson could hardly wait to snipe at the Brit. He knew he was being petty, but he didn’t care. “They’re 2Good, his former bandmates.” “Ohh,” Tyler bit his lip, feeling dumb. He should’ve figured it out. “To be honest, I didn’t really listen to them much. But I do love Ash’s solo stuff,” he added, trying to defend himself. With the Korean out of the picture to act as a buffer between them, the other two singers quickly fell into an awkward silence, with Samson looking anywhere but the other guy. He was irritated at the newcomer whom he had immediately branded as fake. As far as he was concerned, they had nothing to talk about. Tyler suddenly felt stranded. Ash had done nothing but be friendly and welcoming to him, but Samson had barely spoken a word. The Brit wondered if he had done anything wrong to make him upset, but he sure as hell wasn’t going to ask him that. He felt awkward and out of his depth. All around him were nothing but certified celebrities, while he was only starting to enter the world of show business, and he still wasn’t sure if he would like it there. He reached for his phone as he saw a message from Stacy pop up, letting him know she and the driver had arrived. At the same moment, Samson did the same. Tyler smiled as he noticed a photo of a cute Siamese cat on the other singer’s phone case. “Is that your cat?” He asked hesitantly, almost afraid he would say something wrong again. “Yes, his name is Cheops,” Samson replied, his face suddenly lighting up. “Wow, that was the first time he smiled since I came over,” Tyler thought. “Aww, I like that name. He’s adorable! How old is he?” “He’ll be three this autumn,” the other singer said, turning his phone around to look at his beloved pet. “I have two lizards,” Tyler said, quickly finding their photos to show Samson. “This is Sally Mander, and this big girl right here is Queen Elizardbeth.” “Heh, that’s clever,” Samson gave a quick glance at the screen. “So, he likes reptiles. No wonder, since he’s a damn snake,” he thought to himself. As quickly as he perked up, he went back to his moody self, turning to look at his phone and doing his best to ignore Tyler. “So… are you enjoying the evening? It’s been so exciting, at least for me,” the Brit spoke again, grasping at straws in an attempt to continue the conversation. He was never good with awkward silences, but this was on a whole other level. He was sitting with THE Samson Flynn. “You know what, I was,” the other guy replied, emphasizing the last word. “And I think there’s still time to salvage what’s left of it. I have to go find my friends. It’s been a... delight.” With those final words, spoken sweetly, but laced with venom, Samson got up and left, leaving Tyler alone. “Uh, sure, have a nice… evening,” Tyler stammered, looking at Samson’s back as he walked away without pause. If there was ever any doubt in his mind, it was now gone. The guy did not like him at all, and Tyler had no clue as to why. He didn’t have much chance to think about it, though, as the person he was looking forward to seeing all day finally showed up. Stacy entered the club accompanied by Florence. The poor girl looked exhausted, her dress wrinkled from hours of sitting in the car. Still, Tyler did not notice any flaws on her - to him, she looked beautiful. The British singer was all smiles as he stood up to greet his girlfriend, wrapping her in a hug. With Florence standing nearby and keeping a watchful eye on them, Tyler decided not to risk kissing Stacy. They could do that later in the privacy of his hotel room. For now, they would have to pretend they were just really good friends. “I’m so glad you’re finally here,” he said with relief as he led her over to the booth he had occupied. “Yeah, finally being the operative word,” Stacy sighed as she moved uncomfortably through the crowd. She had never been in such high-profile company, at such an upscale venue. Until a few months ago, neither had Tyler. As she looked around at all the celebrities around her, she wondered if Tyler was fitting in well with that crowd. She didn’t think she ever could. “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to imply…” “No, it’s ok. I’m just so bloody tired and angry for missing your performance,” the girl said, sighing. “I really wanted to be there to support you, but… so much for that, I guess. We were stuck in traffic for so long and couldn’t get out. We spent two bloody hours going at a snail’s pace.” “Hey, you’re here now and that’s all that matters. So, let’s enjoy the night,” Tyler tried his best to cheer her up. He didn’t want their first date in weeks - if it could even be called a date - to be spent moping around. They were in LA, at the hottest party of the season. Some people would kill to be invited to such an event, and there they were, feeling sorry for themselves. It simply wouldn’t do. “Let me get you a drink!” He suddenly remembered and stood up to wave his hand. A waiter appeared within seconds, taking Tyler’s order of two cocktails. “One Banana Daiquiri and one Hurricane coming right up, sir.” “Thank you,” Tyler smiled, wondering what he just ordered. All he knew was that the names sounded cool, but he had no idea what the drinks actually contained. It would just have to be a surprise. As they waited for the drinks, Stacy tiredly glanced around the room, suddenly feeling small. In the corner of her eye, she could see Tyler’s manager standing by the bar. The woman must have been keeping an eye on them, and it made the girl uncomfortable. She could not relax at all, knowing her every move was being watched - especially since she was in a room full of famous people. What if she accidentally made a fool of herself and ended up in a tabloid tomorrow? She could embarrass Tyler and hurt his career. Starting to feel anxious, she decided to stop looking at others and try to focus only on Tyler. “So, um, tell me about the performance. How was it? Were you nervous?” “Oh, yeah, kinda…” the singer replied, pondering how much to tell her. Should he reveal that he almost fled the show altogether because of his stage fright? Although that was his first instinct, he decided to keep it a secret from her. Her day was difficult enough without him giving her another reason to worry. “Some jitters, but I guess that’s only normal, right? But once I got on the stage… Oh my God, it was amazing. I’ve never been to such a massive show…” “Tyler Edwards?!” An excited voice suddenly came from behind him. The singer turned around only to see Tiffany Cooper, a famous singer and member of the Kittycat Dolls. She wore a tight, sparkling dress that made her boobs look even bigger. “Sorry to interrupt, I just wanted to say hi. I’m such a big fan! I loved your performance tonight.” “Oh, uh, thank you,” the Brit replied, taken aback at the girl’s sudden appearance. Plus, he was still getting used to meeting all these celebrities and chatting with them as if they were friends. “You girls rocked too, I really enjoyed it.” “You’re sweet! Wait till I tell Haley I met you tonight,” Tiffany replied, looking around for her bandmate, but unable to locate her. All of a sudden, she raised a hand and started waving. “Mark, come, look who I found!” A stylish, young man quickly came over and stood next to Tiffany. Now that he saw them standing side by side, Tyler could clearly see the resemblance. The famous fashion designer Mark Cooper was Tiffany’s twin, and just like his sister, he was also quite eager to meet Tyler. Of course, the two siblings weren’t the only ones looking to steal a minute of Tyler’s time. One by one, actors, TV hosts and singers came over to introduce themselves, take selfies and chat with the British sensation. “Looks like you have a lot of fans here,” Stacy commented after all of the uninvited guests left. Tyler was quite sure he detected a note of annoyance in her voice. “This night is just getting better and better.” “I’m sorry, I didn’t know it was going to be like this,” he replied, feeling guilty, even though he knew it wasn’t really his fault. He could hardly make himself invisible or ignore everyone who came to meet him. “I guess you better get used to it, huh?” “That’s going to take some time, for sure. Just now, when all these people came over, I felt like I was on auto-pilot for most of the time, smiling and shaking hands. I had no idea what I was doing, I could hardly even relax,” Tyler said. “Well, that’s what you signed up for,” the girl shrugged, clearly not in the mood for anything. It was the final straw for Tyler. He wasn’t in the mood for celebrating either, but no one asked how he was feeling. Exasperated with everyone antagonising him, he threw his hands in the air, staring at Stacy. “Alright, what do you want me to say? Yes, I signed up for this, but I couldn’t know how much everything would change. Do you think I love all of it? No, but I have to make sacrifices.” Stacy just shook her head and let out a tired sigh. “Look, I don’t want to argue, especially not here. I’m just so tired and annoyed with everything. I flew to bloody America, put on this uncomfortable dress and then instead of enjoying the show, I had to sit two more hours in that fucking car! I just want to go to the hotel... It’s your big night and you should stay and celebrate if you want.” “Yeah, I’m not really in the mood for celebrating anything. Come on, let’s find Florence and go.” It was nearly four in the morning when the young couple, accompanied by Tyler’s manager, arrived at their hotel. Assuming his family was already fast asleep, Tyler headed straight for his room, Stacy walking by his side. “Well, at least I’ve got this huge comfy bed, you’re going to love it,” the singer said as he stopped in front of his door and unlocked it. Stacy, however, made no attempt to follow him inside. “I think I’ll just go to my room and sleep.” “Oh… Well, alright then. Have a good night,” Tyler replied. As he deliberated whether to give her a goodnight kiss or a hug, Stacy already turned around and went to her room without a word. ~~ For the first time in over three years, all six members of 2Good were together under the same roof. Before this very moment, Ash had no idea how much he actually missed his ex-bandmates. Sure, he would sometimes think of them when he would see their names pop up on his Twitter feed. He would even play their old music and videos now and then when he got nostalgic, but seeing them in person again was almost overwhelming. Maybe it was the surprise factor, he wasn’t sure. He had no idea they would show up that night, but they clearly knew he would be there. He realized they wanted to surprise him, and they definitely succeeded. As he hugged each of them, tears threatened to fall down his face, but luckily, he wasn’t the only one. Everyone had gotten misty-eyed, even Hyun, although his face seemed frozen in a scowl. The young, platinum-blond guy used to be Ash’s roommate back when they all lived together in the same house, and he was the one who took Ash’s departure from the band the hardest. He saw it as personal betrayal - of their friendship and everything they worked together to achieve - and he never completely forgave Ash. While the other members would still send Ash the occasional message - mainly at birthdays and holidays, Hyun never did. The other four - Jin, Dae-Jung, Tae and Nik - all came to accept and respect Ash’s decision over time. They weren’t happy about it, and certainly didn’t consider Ash one of their best friends anymore, but they also weren’t about to crucify him for wanting to go solo. “Well, are we just gonna stand here or what?” Hyun asked impatiently, gesturing with his hands. The novelty of the reunion had worn off and he wanted to go and have a drink. “Sure, let’s go over there,” Jin pointed at an empty booth in the corner and everyone followed. In a matter of seconds, the fight with Marcus and the hot mess that was his performance were the last things on Ash’s mind. He found himself laughing to tears as he listened to the other guys’ stories about their band adventures. Even though their career never really returned to the peak from back when it was the six of them, they were still quite popular in South Korea and Japan. “Remember when we went on our first tour?” Nik asked, pointing at Ash and Hyun. “You guys were afraid of flying so we gave you Tic Tacs, telling you they were sleeping pills.” “Ash fell asleep ten minutes into the flight, but you were clutching your seat the whole time! You nearly crapped your pants,” Jin laughed as he threw an arm around his bandmate, pulling him into a hug. “Yeah, very funny,” Hyun frowned, extricating himself from Jin’s grip. “Come on, man, are you gonna be this grumpy all night? We came to have fun,” Tae asked as Ash guiltily looked at the blond guy. He knew Hyun hadn’t forgiven him and it made him feel bad. They would have to talk about it again at some point, Ash realized. Just the two of them. “So... we’ve been thinking about something and we have a question for you,” Jin said at one point during the night. All the other guys went silent, looking at him. Everyone except Ash knew what he was about to say. “We know you’re doing your own thing now, and you’re rocking it, but… We’ve been talking about doing a new album and we wanted to see if maybe you wanted to rejoin us?” Ash’s first instinct was to laugh, thinking the guys were messing with him. But then, he realized he was the only one laughing. “Wait, you guys are being serious?” he asked, his eyes scanning all of their faces. He’d be lying if he said the thought never crossed his mind in rare moments of boredom, but he never seriously entertained the idea. Especially now that his solo career was going so well. “Yeah, we are. I mean, why not? It’d be fun, just like old times,” Dae-Jung jumped in. “You can’t say we didn’t have a blast, the six of us.” “I mean, yeah, we did, but…” Ash stuttered, looking at each of the guys in turn. “Guys, I just dropped my album, I’m going on tour this year…” “See, I told you,” Hyun shrugged and was about to reach for his drink when Tae kicked him under the table, shushing him. “What? This was a waste of time. But no one listens to me,” Hyun muttered as he got up, pushing his way out of the booth. “I have to go piss.” The blond guy had barely entered the bathroom when the door opened again. He turned around to see Ash come in after him. “Oh, it’s you,” Hyun rolled his eyes and turned around, going toward the row of stalls. “Come on, man, I know we have to talk, but I don’t wanna do it here,” Ash said in a hushed tone, looking pleadingly at his ex-bandmate. He couldn’t deny that he missed Hyun, despite everything. They used to be such good friends. “I don’t want our first meeting after so long to go this way.” “Well, tough luck. And we have nothing to talk about. You said everything you wanted to say three years ago.” “What about what you guys asked me back there?” “No, THEY asked you, not me. They’re the ones who want you back in the band,” Hyun corrected him. “And you don’t?” “Why would I? You already left once. See, for once we agree on something - neither of us wants you back,” the blond stared at Ash, as if trying to shoot lasers out of his green eyes. After a moment of tense silence, Ash dropped his gaze. “Ok then, if that’s how you feel,” he replied softly, turning around and leaving the restroom. He quickly rejoined his former bandmates, a fake smile plastered on his face. “Hey, I know we sprang this on you so suddenly, but we clearly didn’t mean you had to decide anything right now,” Nik explained, patting Ash on the shoulder. “We’re also going on tour soon, so we won’t be starting to work on the album until next year. Obviously, we didn’t expect you to say yes, but we didn’t wanna miss the chance to ask you in person.” “Look guys, thanks for the offer, but...” “Hey, at least think about it, ok? You have a lot of time, and you have our numbers,” Nik added. “Yeah…” Ash nodded, his mind racing. “Sure, I’ll think about it.” There was nothing to think about. He was happy with his solo career. He was making the music he always wanted to, his new album had just dropped, and he would be going on a big world tour in a few months. He had everything going for him and didn’t want any changes. But if that was so, then why did their idea sound so appealing?
  13. Oh, my! This is the first time one of my stories has been features like this, and I am really surprised and flattered! 😮 Thank you so much for the lovely words. I am glad if my story brought you some joy, a temporary distraction from whatever problems you might have, or if it just put a smile on your face for a moment or two. @Headstall As is usual with me, the title was inspired by music - there are a few songs by that name that I really like, and it seemed like a good way to name the story.
  14. “And the award for Best Dance Recording goes to… ‘Sky High’ by MC Jax,” the presenter announced excitedly as she opened the envelope containing the name of the winner. The crowd erupted into cheers as MC Jax, a famous Brazilian DJ, got up from his seat and started making his way to the stage, a big, sexy grin on his handsome face. “Woooo!” Samson shouted in support, raising his hand in the air. He always loved the DJ’s work and was excited as if he had won the award himself. Despite all the drama about his performance slot being given to Tyler, Samson found himself enjoying the evening and having fun with Anna and Hank. They sat together at a table along with a few other singers, chatting as they watched the show. While the rest of them sipped on champagne, Samson refused, wanting to have a clear head for his performance. Still, he was having a great evening even without alcohol. He had managed to avoid seeing Tyler all night, which definitely contributed to his good mood. As Kittycat Dolls, a popular Canadian girl group, took the stage, Hank leaned over to Samson. “There should be another award presented after the Dolls finish, and then Tyler is up.” “Ugh, thanks for reminding me. I’m going backstage to prepare, I don’t wanna sit here and watch him. I think I’ll puke if I stay,” the singer rolled his eyes, taking his phone and putting it in his pocket. “Do you want me to come with you?” “No, that’s ok, you stay here and enjoy the show - if you can. I wanna run through everything once again with the dancers anyway,” Samson replied as he got up to leave. “Hey, are we going?” Anna asked, receiving a nod in reply. “Ok then, let’s get you all pretty- uh, I mean prettier!” “That’s more like it,” the singer smiled at her before slipping away together through one of the side passages that led backstage. Back in his dressing room, Samson quickly changed into his stage outfit - tight, deep blue pants and a mint green silk shirt with a leaf pattern. Anna then sat him down in front of a mirror to fix his hair and makeup. Even though the singer already looked flawless, she had to make sure every single lock was in its place. Once the girl was finished with the hair and started reapplying eyeliner around Samson’s eyes, the two of them suddenly heard some commotion outside the dressing room. Last minute hiccups and production problems were not at all unusual at large shows like the Stardust Awards, but this sounded even worse - someone was hysterically yelling in the hallway. “What the hell is going on out there?” Anna wondered, stopping what she was doing for a moment. “No idea, but I’m gonna find out,” Samson replied, bouncing over to the door and opening it ajar so he could hear the conversation. “What do you mean you can’t find him? He couldn’t have just vanished! Have you checked his dressing room?” He could see a short woman in a black bob yelling at some unfortunate young man. Her face was red, the veins in her forehead looking as if they were about to explode. “Of course, that’s the first place we looked. You’re his manager, don’t you know where he could’ve gone?” “If I knew that, I wouldn’t be wasting time with you,” the woman snapped. “He’s supposed to be live in ten bloody minutes, where the hell did he go?!” Gasping in realization, Samson quickly closed the door. They were talking about Tyler. “Babe, what’s happening? What did you hear?” Anna asked, still holding the eyeliner in her hand. “I think Tyler’s gone… At least they can’t seem to find him,” the singer whispered. “Stay here, I’ll be right back. Call me if you hear anything.” “Ok, but where are you go-” the girl started to ask, but Samson was already out the door. Tyler’s manager and the man she was talking to earlier descended down the stairs before heading in opposite directions. The woman still had her phone pressed against her ear. “...no, nothing. Well, he was a bit nervous, but that’s just Tyler, he always has stage fright before performing,” Samson could hear her say. He quickly turned around and went down the hallway, looking at the names on the doors. They were all dressing rooms, just like his, each belonging to a different artist. He knew one of them had to be Tyler’s, and it was the best place to start the search. When he turned the corner and entered the other hall, he finally found what he was looking for - the third door on the left had a paper with the words ‘Tyler Edwards’ printed on it. Bingo! Looking around to make sure no one was nearby, Samson knocked on the door, but there was no reply. He went for the doorknob and it opened. His heart racing as if he were on a spy mission, the singer entered the room, finding it empty. “Maybe he left a message or something,” he thought, going through the items scattered about the room, but he could find nothing of significance. When he finally opened the door to the bathroom, he could see the small window in the back - it was halfway open. As if something was drawing him to it, he crept over, rising up on his toes to take a peek outside. It was then that he spotted the blond singer sitting on the stairs, his back turned toward the building. The Brit sighed deeply, running fingers through his hair, something he often did when he was nervous. Samson opened his mouth as if to say something, but then quickly closed it, changing his mind. “Sorry not sorry, Tyler, but you’re not stealing my moment,” he thought as he closed the window, double checking to make sure it can’t be opened from the outside. As quickly as he could, Samson rushed out of the dressing room and headed straight for the producers’ office. It was now or never. It was no surprise that Taylor’s manager was already inside, having a heated discussion with the producers. From what Samson could catch before entering the room, they wanted to continue the show with or without Tyler, while she insisted that they wait for him to show up. “He’ll be here any minute, I assure you!” The woman was adamant, speaking as if she firmly believed in her own words. “You’ve seen him perform, you know he’s brilliant!” “Yes, but he can’t perform if he’s not here, can he?” a tall man in an expensive, dark grey suit was firm. He turned his gaze toward the door as he noticed Samson walking in. “I’m sorry, but what is all this noise?” Samson asked, pretending to be frustrated. “I’m supposed to perform in like twenty minutes and I can’t even focus!” “Samson, we’re sorry to have disturbed you,” the shorter of the men spoke, standing up to greet the singer. “We’re dealing with some… surprise difficulties, but it’s nothing for you to be concerned about.” “Actually, it’s a good thing you came,” the taller man jumped in, turning to Samson, “Mr Flynn, can you be ready in five?” “You can’t possibly suggest-” Florence started to protest, but the producer quickly cut her off. “The show must go on, Ms Carter,” he replied sternly, leaving no room for discussion. “Mr Flynn, do you think you can perform in the next slot, instead of Mr Edwards?” “Uh, I guess,” Samson replied, feigning confusion. “I just have to let my dancers know.” “Excellent, be ready in five. We’ll handle all the stage props.” Hank was sitting in the audience, sharing a table with pop-country singer Marie Gold and her husband. His eyes were on the main stage as he, just like everyone else, waited for Tyler to perform. “Ladies and gentlemen, you all know our next performer very well, and you all love him,” the show host said after he came up to his spot on the podium. “He’s here to perform his new single The Perfect Place. Give it up for Samson Flynn!” “What the hell?” Hank muttered in confusion as the crowd erupted behind him, cheering and applauding. He quickly checked his phone for messages from Samson, but there were none. Did the host make a mistake or was there some kind of a last-minute change of plans? Hank knew Samson wasn’t scheduled to perform until later in the show, once all the major awards have already been presented. As the host stepped off the stage and all the lights came on, Hank could see the large fake tree on the right side of the main stage - the prop Samson was to use in his performance. His dancers appeared one by one from the left side, barefoot and dressed in black silk pants and long-sleeved shirts. Samson was the last to step on the stage, just as the mid-tempo ballad started playing. Against the backdrop of warm sunset colors, the dancers performed their ballet-like movements while Samson sang the song, the audience watching him entranced, recording the entire thing on their phones. When he finished singing the bridge of the song, a love letter to his fans and loved ones, Samson joined the dancers in their choreography as golden leaves started falling all around them. Hank watched the performance in awe, not even noticing when Anna returned from backstage to sit beside him. He had seen the singer practice this many times in the dance studio, but to see it all come together like this - it felt magical. Once the song ended, cheers and applause broke through the arena. With a big, happy grin on his face, Samson and his dancers lined up and bowed down, holding hands. “Thank you so much! You’re all amazing and I love you!” the singer shouted into the mic before leaving the stage, his heart still pounding with excitement. By the time he got to his dressing room, Hank and Anna were already there, waiting to congratulate him. “Great job,” Hank said as he approached Samson and gave him a hug. “Great job?” Anna frowned, moving in for a group hug. “Bitch, that was amazing! I was shook! Literally one of your best performances ever. Like, top three!” “Aww, thanks guys! You’re not just saying that?” the singer asked. His eyes were wet and mascara was starting to run down his face. “Of course not, you were brilliant. But what happened, how come you performed? I was expecting Tyler to come out but... there you were,” the manager asked. “Oh, yeah, Tyler had some problems, I guess. It was a whole thing,” Samson hesitated, contemplating how much to reveal. What would they think of him if they knew what he had done? “I’ll tell you all about it later, I need to change and wash my face first. Then we can go watch the rest of the show.” “Oh, so you wanna stay now?” Anna perked up. She was hoping they would stay for the entire show and the afterparty. With so many hot famous guys around, she didn’t want to miss any of the action. “Why not, I’m in a good mood,” Samson replied cheerfully as he went to the bathroom to clean his ruined makeup. His performance went swimmingly and he had the afterparty to look forward to - he was on cloud nine, ready to get drunk and enjoy the rest of the evening with his friends. He would deal with the nagging feeling of guilt later. ~~ “Where the hell have you been?” Florence stared daggers at Tyler, like an angry mother trying to discipline her disobedient child. “Do you have any idea what kind of chaos you caused for us here?” “I’m sorry,” Tyler replied, looking down at the floor. “I was just nervous, I… I’m not sure if I can do this.” After finding the bathroom window closed, the British singer had to climb down the fire escape and go through the back entrance. By the time he got back to his floor, it was already too late. Although he was hoping his manager wouldn’t be the one to find him, she was one of the first people he came across and, of course, she was pissed. “You better be joking because you can and will perform tonight! So you better get over whatever fear you’ve got and-” “That’s enough!” Mrs Edwards snapped as she appeared around the corner and proceeded to hug Tyler. “I do not appreciate you talking to my son that way, alright? Can’t you see that he’s in distress? The last thing he needs is for you to add fuel to the fire. He just needs a minute to calm down.” “No, mom, I’m serious. This day’s been going all wrong,” the blond guy shook his head in frustration. “First Stacy doesn’t show up, and now… Remember that talent show when I was seven? That’s all I can think about now. I don’t know how I can get out there, in front of so many people.” “Sweetheart, that was so long ago, you’re not that little kid anymore. I know you can do it, even if you don’t think you can. Dad, Lucy, Kit and I - we’ll all be there front row, cheering you on, just like we always do. Just pretend like you’re singing to us in the living room,” Marissa tried to console him as they all walked back to his dressing room. Once they got there, Tyler sat in an armchair while his mother brought him a bottle of water. “Here, take a sip if you want.” Tyler nodded and took a few gulps of water, trying to calm his nerves. “You sure you don’t want something stronger than that?” Florence asked, pointing to a stocked minibar in the corner. “There’s some good stuff in there, I checked.” “No, thanks,” Tyler shook his head dejectedly. He still hadn’t developed a taste for alcohol - except beer, but he wasn’t in the mood for it at that moment. “Suit yourself,” the woman shrugged, letting out a sigh. “Alright, kiddo, here’s the deal. First of all, I apologize for lashing out before,” she added, glancing at Marissa, but there was hardly a trace of remorse in her voice. “Secondly, they replaced you with Samson. They wouldn’t wait for you to show up, said they had to fill the slot somehow. And I don’t blame them. So that means you go on in… less than half an hour, almost at the end of the show.” The singer still looked uncertain, his face paler than usual. “Look, I’m sure I don’t have to remind you that you’re contractually obligated to perform tonight unless in case of an emergency. You already know that. You have about twenty minutes, so I suggest you use that time to pull yourself together and get out there. And I don’t mean out of the building,” Florence said, looking at the expensive watch on her right hand. “But what I am going to remind you is that you’re here because you can do it. People love you for a reason - you’re cute, relatable, you have great music, but most of all, you’re a bloody brilliant singer, Tyler! Half the singers out there would kill to have your pipes. I’ve seen you perform a hundred times and I know you’ll do an amazing job. You just have to believe in yourself like the rest of us do.” Still not a hundred percent convinced, Tyler didn’t say a word. Instead, he just sat there, staring at the wall, as his mother came over and squeezed his hand in comfort. Florence left the room, leaving the mother and son so they could talk in private. When she returned ten minutes later, the two were standing in the middle of the room, hugging each other. Tyler finally looked over and nodded, giving his mother and his manager an uncertain smile. “Thanks, both of you. You’re right, this is my job and I have a duty to perform... I can do it,” he whispered the last part, more for himself than for anyone else. His family always believed in him and he knew that without their support, he would not have gotten that far. In her own strange way, Florence believed in him as well. Whether it was genuine or just because it was her job, Tyler wasn’t sure, but at that moment, he appreciated it nonetheless. After the stylist touched up his makeup and fixed his hair again, it was already time to take the stage. Tyler went to the restroom one last time - just in case - before rejoining his manager and one of the producers, who led him to the main stage. It was showtime. “The moment you’ve all been waiting for is here,” the host started his announcement. “First time at the Stardust Awards, our next guest is coming all the way from the UK. Here to perform his brand new song, Distance, please give it up for the incredibly talented Tyler Edwards!” Green and yellow lights lit up the stage, revealing Tyler standing in the middle, in front of a mic stand. There were so many people, and he was there all alone in the spotlight, for everyone to see. Why did he have to become a singer, he wondered, wishing he could trade places with anyone from the crowd. All he wanted at that moment was to sit in the audience and enjoy the show stress-free, but that was the one thing he couldn’t have. As the opening notes started playing, he gave his best smile while his eyes searched the front rows for his family. It was difficult to see anyone from his position due to the spotlights, so he gave up after a few moments, grabbing the mic with an insecure hand. What if he fainted? What if his voice failed? His heart was pounding so loud, he wondered if the audience would be able to hear it if he brought the mic any closer. It didn’t matter anymore because there was no turning back. With a gulp, he opened his mouth and started singing, the first few notes coming out shaky. At least he remembered the lyrics. He’d heard and sang the song so many times by now, there was no way he could forget them. Finding comfort in the fact that he knew the words and that his voice hadn’t failed him, Tyler kept singing. He was hitting all the right notes, his powerful voice echoing throughout the arena. In all his anxiety, he had completely forgotten where he was supposed to look and what to do. He was supposed to move across the stage, make the performance more lively and interesting for the audience. Instead, he had just stood in one place, barely moving a finger, let alone his feet. Florence would tear him a new one for that later. Before he even realized it, the song was over and he placed the mic back on the stand, taking a bow as the people in the audience clapped and cheered. “I didn’t deserve that,” he thought, forcing himself to smile. “But at least they’re faking it for me.” Once he finally left the stage, Florence promptly caught up with him. He avoided her gaze, afraid of what she would say. He knew he did badly, or at least not as good as he could have. “Superstar, you alright?” the woman barked at him, startling him for a moment. “You did good. Come here!” Before Tyler could react, Florence pulled him into a clumsy half-hug, patting him on the back. “Thanks, I guess,” he shrugged, wondering what his family thought of it. Were they regretting coming to the show? Maybe it was a good thing Stacy didn’t make it. At least she didn’t see him embarrass himself in front of thousands of people. “See, you’re still alive! I told you that you could do it! Was it as scary as you thought it’d be?” “Well… I was scared when I walked out there. I could’ve done a lot better,” Tyler mumbled. “Hey, none of that self-pity now, alright? Now, you want to go and join your folks in the audience? Watch the rest of the show?” the manager asked. Tyler was surprised she was being so tame. Perhaps she just didn’t want to ruin his night and was saving all the lashings for tomorrow. “Yes, please,” he said, eager to rejoin his family. Whatever happened on stage, he could count on them to cheer him up. On his way to the VIP area, Tyler checked his phone, his face lighting up as he saw a message from Stacy. Along with the apology for missing his performance, she was letting him know that she was finally coming.
  15. We'll see very soon! Thank you for staying tuned! Lol I'm glad you think so! We still have two performances to go, so what will happen indeed? Well, you should've gone to see the Stardust Awards. I'm not sure why I even chose that venue in the first place. I think the VMAs or Grammys were held there one year, so I went with it. Hah yes, I am a big fan of Lance, and I thought he'd be perfect here. (Marcus probably disagrees.) Oof Florence is a b-word indeed! Tyler definitely needs some help, but who will come to the rescue? Thank you for the comment! The new chapter will be out tomorrow, and it'll be pretty much cliffhanger-free.
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