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Stranger In The Crowd | Ch. 15

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..

Anonymous asked: what. is. going. on.



Anonymous asked: "Chapter 13 | Empty more coming soon…" ITS BEEN SO LONG. I miss reading these chapters!!!!

Chapter 14 has been up for a while :) it’s just not on the chapter list page yet xx

joshs-peen-ricardo asked: When is the next chapter being posted? I'm terribly addicted I literally went around my house screaming with all the twists and turns. It's so good! Oh my lord *.*

You’re awesome!

I’m writing it RIGHT NOW!!!!! :D


Anonymous asked: Hi my names amanda:)! I dont have a tumblr but my friend showed me this website because we both are head over heels for josh hutcherson! Haha but I love your story so much!!!

Hi Amanda! :)

Aw, well thanks to you and your friend for reading my fan fic! I hope you like it :) xx

Anonymous asked: your chapters > ANYTHING. cant wait!

Next chapter is now being posted :)

hannahbeautifullife asked: i cant wait. i cant wait. i cant wait. i cant wait. i cant wait. i cant wait. i cant wait. i cant wait. i cant wait. i cant wait. i cant wait. i cant wait. i cant wait. i cant wait. i cant wait. i cant wait. i cant wait. i cant wait. i cant wait. i cant wait. i cant wait. i cant wait. i cant wait. i cant wait. i cant wait. i cant wait. i cant wait. i cant wait. i cant wait. i cant wait. i cant wait. i cant wait. i cant wait. i cant wait. i cant wait. i cant wait. :) Hopefully its up by tonight!

Thank yooou!! Now posting :D

Anonymous asked: :'(

Turn that frown upside down! Because I’m now posting the next chapter!!! :)



Stranger In The Crowd | Ch. 14

Chapter Fourteen: Camera Flashes

So we picked Connor up and took him to the hospital. He’s done something to some ligaments. He seemed pretty down as he’s been told to rest for four to six weeks. No more football for him for the time being. Poor guy.

When we got home me and Josh just chilled and decided to watch a movie alone. Enjoy each others company while we were both together.

"I’m gonna miss y-" Josh started to say.

"No, don’t ruin it Josh." I cut him off and carried on watching the movie. I don’t want to think about him leaving. He understood what I meant and kissed me on the cheek and went back to watching the movie too..


We spend the next few days around Kentucky. Spending some time with Josh’s family (who I’ve grown to love and feel so comfortable around), and the rest of the time alone. I fall more and more in love with Josh every day. He wakes me with a cup of tea every morning, and insists on making me breakfast. In the evenings he makes sure I’m warm enough, and the last thing he tells me at night is “I love you”. If he thinks of something else to say after that, he makes sure he says “I love you” again.


It’s now the day of my show! I’m so excited but equally nervous to play here. I have a surprise for Josh. I wrote him a song while I’ve been here. He gets business calls every now and then, which gives me time to work on it. I’ve got it as close to perfect as possible. I hope he likes it…

Although I’m thinking about this show tonight, the fact that Josh is leaving is constantly on my mind. Especially now his leaving date is tomorrow. Time has flown since he told me has to leave. It’s like the world is jealous of us and make time go ten times faster than usual. I’d give anything for it to go ten times slower.

"I’m excited for tonight." I smile at Josh as I put my hands behind his head and stand with my body pressed against his.

"Me too." He smiles back.

"Thank you." I kiss him, and with my eyes still closed I smile. I feel like a princess. The way he treats me. How happy he makes me. I can feel his steady heart beating, and with each thump, I feel myself relaxing in his arms. It’s that magic thing he’s able to do to me. Make me calm, relaxed at any given moment.


Me, Josh and Connor are in the kitchen, as Josh promised he’d bake me his apple pie. I sit and watch with Connor (who is still bummed out about the whole ‘no soccer’ rule).

"Step one, ladies," Josh announces. I see Connor pull a face. "wash your hands!" He calls in a slightly crazy voice. I’m laughing as he dances over to the sink, and exaggerates his moves. Tears start to fall from my eyes. A mixture of laughing so hard, and realisation he’s leaving tomorrow, and I’ll be going home. I take a deep breath in and out to bring myself back to the moment. I remind myself to enjoy what’s happening right now, and not to think about tomorrow.

"Step two!" Josh looks around for a moment at all the ingredients and utensils. "Watch and learn, suckers!" He winks at me, which still manages to give me butterflies.


While Josh is in his element, Connor nudges me. I look to my left, in his eyes which are very similar to Josh’s.

"He loves you, Hayley." He half mouths, half whispers. I frown slightly and nod. I know he does. Maybe he’s just trying to reassure me, as we’re both leaving tomorrow.

"I know." I mouth back at him with a smile. Connor looks over to Josh, to make sure he’s not listening and that he can’t hear.

"Don’t hurt him." His quiet words shock me. Why would he even think I would? "Just be there for him when he comes back."

"Of course." I get it. I think. From Connors facial expressions and words, I know what he’s trying to tell me. Josh has fallen for a girl before. He must have gone away to film, and when he returned she was with someone else. It breaks my heart to know Josh has been treated that way. He doesn’t deserve to be hurt. I look at him, he’s perfect. I could never leave him.


"It’ll be done soon." Josh announces after he’s put all the ingredients away in the cupboards.

"Yum!" I reply, as I walk over to him for a hug. He shields my body with his arms and makes me feel safe. Safe from tomorrow.

"Simon, Aaron, Grace and Francesca are coming to watch you later too." Josh tells me. They’re his friends from the welcome home barbecue.

"Cool. Should be a good night." I reply. I liked his friends. They each had something which reminded me of Josh.


*beep beep beep beep*

"FOOOD!" Connor shouts. I laugh, thinking the same thing. Josh pulls the apple pie from the oven and says

"Ta da!"

"Looks delicious!" I say.

"Why thank you! Not too bad yourself!" Josh jokes.


"Good luck, Hayley! We’ll see you there in a while!" Josh’s family call from the front door. I have to leave, with Josh, slightly earlier for a sound check.

"Thanks guys! Bye!" I reply. Josh opens the passenger door and let’s me in. Gentlemen. He goes around to the drivers side and gets in.

"Here we go!" Josh announces as we pull away. I wave back at his family and they return inside.

"Your family are so sweet. They don’t have to come and watch me!" I tell Josh.

"Don’t be stupid. They can’t wait!" He smiles, and that’s the sign I get from him when he’s being genuine with words.


We’re getting out of Josh’s car, and I’m fascinated by the building. It looks like a castle and a pub ran and crashed into each other. Seriously. It’s bigger than the venue I played in London. The outside has wooden panels all around it with some stones in the wall too. It has a big sign above the doors on a wooden plaque which reads ‘Kentucky Barns’. It makes sense. It’s a barn conversion. It looks beautiful from the outside, so as I walk through the door my expectations of the inside are high.

"Wow." I breathe out.

"Cool, huh?" Josh says.

"It’s incredible! Does it usually sell out?" If this place is full tonight, then I’m gonna have a pretty big audience! Which on one hand means I’ll be super nervous, but on the other, it means more people get to hear my music.

"Yeah! It’s where loads of up and coming bands play. Tonight’s acoustic night. They’re popular. You’re gonna do great, Hayley." He kisses my cheek and I smile in return.


I’m using the venues equipment tonight. They have four steps up to a stage (much more of a ‘real’ stage than the one home in London which is only a few inches from the ground.)

I’ve just sound checked and it sounds brilliant. The place has a really nice vibe to it. Josh and the few sound men and bar staff were bobbing along to my sound check songs. I’m getting more excited and nervous by the minute!

Josh walks over from the bar where he was watching me sound check from.

"You’re the bestest!" He says in a funny voice, and kisses me.


The venue is pretty packed, and after this band finish their song, I’m up!!

"My throat hurts and it’s getting hot, I’ll probably sound rubbish. It’s packed, that’s good. I need to remember to ha-"

"Hayley." Josh puts his hand over my mouth. "Chill. You’ll be fine!" I nod at him. He’s right. I will be. Just breathe Hayley. With a deep inhale and exhale, I feel better.

"Big round of applause for Three Sixty!" The man on the stage announces. The room is filled with cheers, whistles and clapping. "Up next, all the way from London… Hayley Semore!" the cheers and claps continue but die down, probably because they have no idea who I am.

"Good luck, Hayley. I’ll be standing here." Josh pecks my cheek and pushes a loose bit of hair behind my ear.

"Thanks, I love you." I say, but walk towards the stage before he can even reply.

"Go Hayley!!" I hear a voice. I turn my head, and peering between a sea of heads, I see Connor and Josh’s mum and dad. I give him a wave so he knows I heard him.

I’ve reached the stage and step up each step, one by one. My heart thumps in my rib cage. The butterflies flutter.

As I pick up the guitar and stand behind the microphone, the announcer on the side of the stage announces my name, and the room explodes with cheers and whistles. I see Simon, Aaron, Grace and Francesca in the middle of the crowd. I give them a smile and they each smile and wave back.

"Thank you." I shyly say into the microphone. "This first song is about a special place to me back home. It’s called Semores Secret Garden." And with that, there’s applause from the audience.

As I begin the song, the words remind me of how I thought I wouldn’t be with Josh ever again. I look over at Josh for comfort, and his smile brings a tear to my eye. Knowing I’ve got him to look after me. Keep me safe.

As the song fades out, I smile at Josh. He blows a kiss. He starts to do some hand signals, and as I frown to see through the bright lights, the majority of the crowd turn to look at Josh too, wondering what I’m looking at. He signals “I love you too”. His reply for when I walked to the stage a moment ago.

It’s strange being in Josh’s home town. People respect Josh as a person and he isn’t drowned by fans and pictures and autographs.

But then something happens which makes me realise something. The flash of a camera in Josh’s face as he smiles at me, then a flash as a photo is taken of me smiling back. Of course there’d be someone here following Josh. I see the guy with the camera talk to Josh, but Josh’s response is just a frown and a shake of his head. The guy keeps nudging Josh, but he gives him no response.

As I begin to replay what just happened, it clicks in my head. This is the first time me and Josh have been out in his hometown and made it clear we’re… in love. There was the time in the park, but no one was around.

This guy isn’t just any guy with a camera. Paparazzi. He’s going to be sending these photos to websites, magazines… you name it. Within hours, my photo will be next to Josh’s. Named as his girlfriend. As the new hot gossip. My photo will be flying around the internet. In magazines…

Now I know what Connor meant earlier. He didn’t mean that Josh’s precious relationships ended with her cheating on him. They ended it because they couldn’t take the camera flashes. The news articles. Being known as ‘Josh Hutcherson’s girlfriend’. Not having their own identity. Would anyone ever care about my music? Probably not. Not if I’m with Josh..

Is leaving Josh to keep my own identity selfish? I don’t know. But it’s running through my mind..