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I leaned my head back against the couch and tried to swallow. I could hear AJs voice coming through the headphones, his smooth tones soothing my ears.

It must be so nice to open your mouth and trust whatever sound comes out.

He was crazy excited about this song, and so was the rest. I guessed I should have been too, but the fact that I couldn’t get it out of my throat stopped me in my enthusiasm a bit. I had tried, don’t get me wrong, it was just so completely out of my range, it wasn’t even funny.

It didn’t always used to be that way.

There were times I carried fifty percent of an album vocally. There were times I went into the studios days before the others did and I would lay out every foundation of a song. I would pick out the harmonies, just to get the main idea of the melodies. If you wondered about how certain harmonies or melodies would be, go to Brian.

I would do their job for them.

I thought about this with quite a bit of resentment as I heard AJ slightly crack on one of his lines. Two albums ago, I would have said something about his sometimes inconsistent voice, but I figured that it was not my place this time. The recording stopped and I heard AJ mumble something. AJ mumbled a lot, half the time I had no idea what he was talking about. The music started up again and he started over. He nailed it.

Screw him.

“So, I think AJ’s done,” Kevin said and I jumped in shock. I hadn’t even noticed he was sitting next to me.

“You ready?”


Kevin was biting his lip and I knew he was going to say something, so I stood up and let him sit there on the couch. I heard him sigh when I walked out.

I don’t know when I realized just how much of an outsider I was. I just know now that I was reinforcing that notion greatly. I would be quiet around the others, almost apologetic for my presence. All the while, the big question playing tricks on my mind was: What am I still doing here?

The recording session wasn’t as embarrassing as I’d expected. By now, we only needed to add adlibs to songs and I was quite good at those. With a somewhat renewed confidence I walked through the house that afternoon with a cup of tea. I already heard the soft strings of the guitar from upstairs. I couldn’t pinpoint the exact moment when Nick became better with a guitar than I, but I didn’t mind it in the least. He’d always been creative on a whole different level, was unafraid to think outside the preset lines and I really admired that about him. His talents went beyond a nice voice and a pretty face and he could sometimes be described as overly ambitious. I clutched my fingers around the mug when I remembered how rude and insensitive I had been that morning with him. The night had been warm as hell and I hadn’t really been able to sleep without a few bad dreams plaguing my mind. It didn’t help that I found Nick next to me once again early in the morning, unaware of anything around him and having the most peaceful sleeps I’d ever seen. Not a worry in the world.

So I kicked him out of bed.

He didn’t seem bothered with the rude awakening, which annoyed the hell out of me. So I just kept being a dick until he left. I hadn’t seen him for the remainder of the day.

“Stop playing on that guitar,” I sang loudly in a high tone of voice. The music stopped for a few seconds and I heard Nick mutter something. Then he continued like nothing happened. When I walked up the stairs, I began to recognize the melody and softly sang with him. He laughed and his smile grew wider with each second. I planted the mug of tea pointedly on the nightstand next to his bed.

“Don’t get used to me bringing you tea,” I mumbled, before turning around, feeling the cameras on my back and tensing noticeably.

“Wait,” he called when I’d already walked three steps down the stairs.

“Hmm?” I grumbled.

“What’s for dinner?” Nick asked with a grin when I came back.

I stared at him before rolling my eyes, then took a seat next to him on the bed. “Your wiener, how about that?”

“You’re hilarious.”

“It’s been told.”

“I thought you were the cook?”

“I can order pizza, if that’s what you mean.”

“Pizza? Again?”

“uhuh,” I sighed, staring at the stark white wall in front of us. We’d been here for two and a half weeks, in three days, we’d go back home.

I couldn’t wait.

“How’d the recording go today?” Nick asked quietly, avoiding my eyes.

I stared at the side of his head. He knew damn well how the recording went today, “Okay,” I replied curtly.

“You were phenomenal on those adlibs, dude!” he exclaimed, almost hitting me in the face with his guitar.

“I didn’t know you knew the word ‘phenomenal,’ Nick,” I muttered. If there was one thing I avoided like it was the black plague, it was compliments. I knew they were meant well, but they were often so undeserved, it gave me chills.

“You really are a buzzkill today, aren’t you?” Nick sighed and this time he was the one that got up and left. “You don’t have to push everyone away, you know?”

He walked away, totally forgetting the now cold mug of tea. I shook my head slightly at the camera. With a sigh, I picked up the disregarded guitar. After five minutes of useless plunking, I put it down again.

Even the guitar sounded awful when I played it.

I fell back on the bed, massaging my temples to will the nagging headache away. Nick and Kevin were talking downstairs. I heard them laughing and joking, like nothing was wrong. Like the world was a sunlit paradise and life was as fair as a children’s story. Like they could just ignore everything that was wrong with this situation and move on in their jolly ways.

Three more days, I reminded myself. Three more days and I could just be alone again.