Chapter Fifteen: Eye Contact
My eyes flit around and look at all the people in the room. I think. Are they here for me? Or because they know I’m with Josh? Have I already lost my identity as Hayley?
I play several more songs. They all get a great response. People keep turning to look at Josh, almost as if they’re waiting for another sign that we’re in some sort of relationship.
The next song is Josh’s song. The one I’ve written since I’ve been here in Kentucky. The most personal song I’ve ever written. But if I play it, surely that paparazzi guy will put two and two together and figure out the song is all about Josh. And then he has his article to send out to the press…and bam. I’m no longer Hayley. I’m ‘Josh’s Girlfriend’.
“Thank you all for coming here tonight. It means a lot. I know you’re not just here for me, for the other bands too, but to get this opportunity is incredible.” I mean every word. I’m trying to stall my own set, deciding whether or not playing Josh’s song is a good idea. “I would never have imagined, sitting at home in London, in my flat, that I’d one day be here, playing you my songs. It’s unbelievable. So thank you, again.” I still feel undecided. But it’s the last song, and I haven’t got anything else prepared.
I haven’t looked back at Josh since my mind started racing and thinking about those photographs. But my eyes can’t help but look and see what he’s doing. If he’s realised something’s up. Or if he’s still standing in the same position, smiling and being supportive. My eyes meet his. Of course he’s still there. He smiles slightly, but his face doesn’t follow the smile. His brain knows something’s wrong, but he wants to smile to keep me calm. That’s what he does after all.
“This is my last song.” People boo. They’re actually disappointed that my set has come to an end. I’m so thankful. It makes me smile. “It’s about. I – .” I trip over my tongue. I don’t know if explaining is such a great idea. I look over where the paparazzi guy was. He’s still there. He gives a sly look, and a creepy smile. His finger taps his camera button, ready to snap a photo of me confessing my love my song. I have a plan. “It’s about my boyfriend back home.” The room makes no sound. I gulp. Bad idea? I look at Josh’s family with a ‘it’s a cover up’ look, but that’s not an easy look to portray. Connor looks at me and frowns. I bite my lip as I look back at him, praying he can read my thoughts of ‘it’s not. It’s about Josh. Every word is about how much he means to me.’ I look at Josh and see him look back with a puzzled face. He frowns too, and mimes ‘what?’ I shake my head ever so slightly, but enough for him to see. He knows the paparazzi guy is there. He gets it. He understands! Josh gives me one of his cheeky winks and I sigh silently.
As I sing the song. I try so hard not to look at Josh, or in that direction. I don’t want my picture in all the magazines, talking about me, about Josh. About us. I want to look into Josh’s hazel eyes so badly. Look deep into them and sing to his heart, from mine. He’s the best thing that has ever happened to me, but I know I should keep my eyes locked at the back wall in order to save my identity.
The song ends on a C chord and I smile as the room explodes with cheers, whistles, claps, you name it. I almost cry slightly from all the positive feedback. I blow a kiss and leave the stage. All I want to do is kiss and hug Josh. But the paparazzi guy isn’t leaving… I can’t kiss and hug Josh. I can’t even go over to him. But Josh is walking over this way. I shake my head and nod in the direction of the man and the camera, but it makes no difference to Josh’s path.
“Beautiful.” Josh stops directly in front of me and puts my face between is hands.
“Josh. Paparazzi.” I whisper.
“Where?” He looks around in genuine confusion.
“He was standing next to you the whole time!”
“What?” I frown.
“An old friend. Dave. He likes to take pictures. He took some at my birthday several years back.” Josh explains and smiles. Phew! What a relief.
“That’s why I said that song was about my boyfriend back home, and not you.. I thought Dave was the paparazzi! ” I try to explain.
“Oh. I thought you were calling Kentucky your home! I’m confused. So, it’s not about me?”
“Yes! It’s one hundred percent about you, Josh!” I go to kiss him but I stop myself.
“What’s wrong?” Josh asks.
“Well, I can’t kiss you now, can I? The whole crowd thinks I have a boyfriend somewhere else..”
“Oh.” He sighs.
“Yeah. Oh.” I sigh too.
“Ok. For tonight, we’re best friends. Really good best friends.” He winks and kisses my cheek. I giggle and hug him tightly. That’s when I see his old friend Dave in the background. He smiles, so I politely smile back. But he has a weird look about him. Like he’s up to something. He winks at me and so I decide to stop the eye contact. I turn back to Josh.
“You better explain to your family that by ‘boyfriend back home’, I mean you!” I smile stare into his stunning hazel eyes. Josh links his fingers in mine and we head over to his family to explain and hang out with.
As we’re walking over to Josh’s family, something happens again. Dave. He takes more pictures of me and Josh holding hands.
“Hey, why’s he still taking pictures?” I whisper.
“Who knows? I’ll go speak to him in a little while.” Josh replies and squeezes my hands. “Maybe he’s just jealous that I’m with the most beautiful and talented girl in the room.” I shush Josh to make sure no one hears, but really, I love his compliments!
After explaining myself to Josh’s about the whole boyfriend comment I made onstage, everything is back to normal. Except Dave is still present. Now he’s on the phone. While he is talking he’s looking at his camera, now he looks at me but his eyes quickly dart away. There’s something going on. And it’s not something good..