I opened my eyes and shut them quickly against the assault of sunlight and glanced at my phone. Good thing it was the weekend, or Rody would have my head for being extremely late. I rubbed sleep from my eyes and sat up. The first thing I noticed was the lingering smell of Ben, I wondered where he'd gone when I heard sizzling. I stood up and quickly pulled on some jeans and a t-shirt. Ben was standing in the kitchen part of the open-plan living room sizzling what smelled like delicious bacon.
“It's nice to wake up to two of my favourite things,” I said with a grin that was maybe too smug for my own good. Ben laughed and turned to face me, he'd obviously already showered because his hair was still wet and his chin freshly shaven. I leaned against the counter opposite the cooker and waited while he finished cooking. I couldn't help remembering the morning when I'd make breakfast and occasionally Jamie had woken up early enough to keep me company. I shook my head, I really needed to stop thinking about him. I had Ben and he was a hell of a lot better.
“Hurry up and eat,” Ben said as he handed me a plate. I raised a questioning eyebrow and he laughed, the kind that said there was something being planned, but he wasn't going to tell me what.
Once we finished eating I got showered and dressed properly and following Ben with some reluctance, wishing I knew what he was planning.
Eventually we pulled into a parking lot, nearby where converted studio flats. We walked in and he knocked on door, inside I could hear the sounds of practising. I heard a female yell to stop and Ben's name. The door was pulled open and a women with long black hair and sharp Asian features opened the door, her cheeks holding a slight blush. Did she have a crush on Ben maybe?
“Finally decided to stop by, huh?” she said with a laugh. She hadn't noticed me but something clicked in my head. What happened to us staying a secret?
“Well, the boss did bug me to hear your new single in person so I could be prepared for the shows,” Ben replied with a throaty laugh. He stepped inside and now she saw me. And her recognition was a lot faster.
“Ben, why did you bring someone from a rival band here?” she asked, her voice somewhere between annoyance and curiosity.
“Because he's my new boyfriend and he's not having much fun playing with his current band. And you texted me this morning to say Sid was sick,” Ben replied with a casual shrug. Her eyes grew wide.
“Somehow I doubt the boos would be happy letting a rival bands bassist play with us,” she countered, her eyes shooting me unnecessary glares. So the blushing had been a result of a crush. Ben shrugged again.
“The boss is just the boss to you, to me he's my dad and I don't care,” he replied with an impish grin. The girl rolled her eyes and gave him an unimpressed look.
“Must be nice having a silver spoon,” she muttered before glancing at me.
“Well, least it's you. The fact you wrote one of the songs yourself earns some respect. Do you know if the other two helped towards any of the singles?” she asked.
“Don't know. Though they could start working on a love song for all I know,” I muttered and the girls eyes grew wide.
“Oh, wow. Guess I shouldn't be surprised Jaimie already had his hands on one of you. She must be a total sucker to fall for his charm,” she sniggered. I resisted the urge to hide inside myself and simply walked over to the stand. I saw Ben sending the girl a glare, one she quickly figured out.
“Sorry,” she whispered. I shrugged. It took a while to pick up the tune of the unfamiliar chords but once I'd practised a few times I joined the others. Telling myself I wasn't being a traitor, just helping Ben out. He needed to see the performances himself beforehand to be good at his job.
“You're not half bad,” the girl said when it was over. Then her gaze lowered a little.
“You know, I could use this three-way crap to ruin you guys,” she said. I glanced around, but no one else was here, especially not Ben. She burst out in laughter, clutching her stomach as she did.
“Calm down. I actually think you're an okay guy, so I'll keep it to myself,” she said when her laughing had died down. She wiped tears from her eyes and sent me a smile.
“Shame you're gay. And in another band. Sid's always getting drunk and in hospital,” she muttered angrily. I chose not to comment. Until a few days ago, I doubted I'd have been a viable replacement.
“It was nice to meet you, er...” I trailed off and realised I'd never remembered her name, just her face and band.
“Zara,” she supplied. I opened my mouth to apologise but Ben called.
“I should go,” I murmured.
“Okay, it was nice playing with you. Feel free to sneak in here with Ben another time,” she said. I nodded and left. I had a feeling doing it once would give Rody a heart attack. If I kept doing it then things could get messy. I really should've bothered to read the fine print of that contract.