you make me (wow, wow) happy
you're why I'm (so, so) happy
”Happy”, -Alpha Centauri
I ran as hard and as fast as my legs could carry me with the weight of this girl slung over my shoulder and her slobber all over my favorite cardigan. Her mom was still yelling at me- waving her fist in the air like a crazed Valkyrie and threatening to have me arrested for assaulting her underage daughter and for kidnapping them afterwards. Did she even bother to notice that I was a minor too? 'Eden Sioux, tenor singer of Alpha Centauri, a kidnapper? Ugh. That wouldn't exactly have been the icing on the cake for the band's reputation.
"Help!" the girl's mom shouted urgently at the top of her lungs.
She swatted at my arm and savagely dragged her nails across the back of my neck in a failed attempt to free herself from me. I needed to call for help. With the way things were going and the way this psycho lady's shouting was drawing the attention of the pedestrians we shoved past, it'd only be a matter of time before I was recognized and someone was dialing the paparazzi's number…
Focus Eden, I scolded myself and darted into the nearest restaurant I saw.
It was actually a diner filled with middle-aged men and women in cheap-looking clothing and dingy face expressions. I hastily shoved the psycho lady forward and paused once to balance her daughter correctly on my aching shoulder again. How could such a small girl weigh so much?
The psycho lady spun around and slapped me, leaving behind a sharp stinging pain on my face that soon made my cheek go numb.
"Can I help you with something?" a blonde, anorexic waitress asked, cautiously approaching us with a rather tight grip on her metal tray. I almost groaned aloud. Did everybody think I was some sort of psychotic kidnapper?
"Where's the nearest hospital?" I asked her bluntly.
The last thing I could do was waste time; someone was bound to recognize me here. If not the sleazy old guy with a long salt and pepper beard and a worn red plaid jacket who was giving me the evil eye, then most likely one of the waitresses. They looked young enough to listen to pop boy bands.
The waitress blinked and looked taken aback, as if I'd just slapped her. I groaned in frustration. This wasn't going the way I wanted it to.
"What you need to do," said Psycho Lady sternly, "Is call the police! This boy allegedly assaulted-"
"I didn't hit her!" I said and stumbled under the heavy weight of her daughter.
The first thing I was going to say to this girl when she came to was to lay of the sweets. Psycho Lady backed up with her hands out, palms out and fingers sprayed and stared at me with wide eyes, almost as if I were pointing a loaded gun at her.
"Easy, pal," she said slowly, as if talking to a little kid. I rolled my eyes and reached into my pocket for my cell phone.
I really needed help; both Alex and Kaien were the perfect guys to do the job. And plus, my manager didn't approve of me driving on my own, despite the fact that I was fifteen with a driver's permit. Psycho Lady gasped and pointed at the hand inside my pocket.
"He's got a gun!" she screamed and hit the floor.
Sleazy Old Man jumped off his stool at the counter and lunged at me, along with two others; the first was a rail thin man with balding blonde hair and the second being a stocky African-American with a thick set of kinky black dreadlocks. I jumped back, stumbling a bit because of Unconscious Girl on my shoulder, and darted to the right, narrowly missing Dreadlocks. Sleazy Old man came and tackled me down from the left and Blonde Boy pulled Unconscious Girl off me and dragged her away.
Sleazy Old man jerked my shoulder to the side, forcing me onto my stomach on the checkered vinyl floor and yanked both of my arms behind my back and pinned them there. I cried out when he pulled my head up by my hair and lowered his dangerously close to mine.
"Tanya!" He called out without taking his eyes off me for a second.
I could smell the bitter smell of alcohol lingering on his breath; my stomach flip-flopped with unease and I swallowed the bile that boiled in my throat and threatened to escape my mouth. He pinned my arms up higher on my back and I cried out in pain.
What was his deal? Did he not know who I was? I could have him thrown in jail for assaulting an adolescent in a mere blink of an eye.
"Tanya!" he called again and a wave of alcohol breath filled my nostrils. I coughed and turned my face away from his.
I'd never really given much thought into how I do die until now; would I die of poison breath due to Sleazy Old Man's face or at the hands of someone else? Like Psycho Lady and those sharp talons she called nails? The anorexic waitress ran forward, still carrying her metal tray and her red heels click-clacking loudly as she approached. She stopped a few feet away from me and shot me a sympathetic look.
"I wan' cha ta' call dem officers, ya hear me? I need you to- don't look at 'em!"
I cried out again when he pulled my arms up even higher on my back. They were really starting to hurt now; the pain throbbed at my wrists like a pulsing heartbeat and shot up my arms like a wave of fire.
"Please!" I gasped and looked up at Tanya. "I didn't do anything!"
Sleazy Old Man let out a deep, ominous laugh and bent his head down so low that his lips brushed against my earlobe. I shivered and squeezed my eyes shut. Oh god…bitter alcohol breath…
"Listen here, boy," he growled menacingly in my ear. "You speak when yer spoken to, understood?"
I gasped and nodded quickly. Psycho Lady's finally in my view; she looked almost upset by the way this man had pinned me down, but angry that I had 'kidnapped' her daughter. Would this nightmare ever end?
"My," Psycho Lady whispered to me. "You're so young."
She knelt down and looked into my eyes. I couldn't help but notice that she had a nice pair of hazel-green eyes; they were big and slightly almond-shaped with a fringe of long, dark lashes framing them behind the lenses of her wire-framed glasses. I grunted in pain and her eyebrows furrowed in response.
"Let him go," she said to Sleazy Old Man. I heard him suck in his breath. "Are ya ser, ma' am? He may be dangerous. He's gotta gun."
"I don't have a gun!" I insisted, on the brink of tears.
"Let him up," Psycho Lady said again, this time with a stern edge in her voice, "Easily. We don't want to give him a chance to slip away."
Sleazy Old man sighed, grunted a garbled 'alright' and jerked my up to my feet. I yelped out in pain and wrenched his filthy hand out of my hair. Just who the hell did he think he was dealing with? Some rotten juvenile delinquent? I was so going to take this guy to court. I looked around at the stone-faced customers in the silent diner; some half out of their chairs, and others had retreated into the brown leather of their seats, as if to make themselves invisible to everyone else around them.
I stretched my arms over my head to get my blood flowing correctly and get rid of the prickling needless of pain in them.
"Who are you?" Psycho Lady asked slowly, like talking to a small kid again.
Was this some kind of joke? Because it sure as hell wasn't funny. I scowled and reached inside my pocket for my phone; this was getting ridiculous! These people had no right to treat me like this! I was Eden Sioux of Alpha Centari! Who the hell did these losers think they were dealing with?
Sleazy Old Man and Dreadlocks tensed, obviously waiting for me to pull out my 'gun' and use it as an excuse to attack me again. I pulled my phone out and shoved it at Psycho Lady.
"My name is Eden Sioux," I said, still trying to vanquish the trembling in my voice with a deep cough. "I'm a member of a boy band called Alpha Centari. I'm not some juvenile delinquent scum who runs around assaulting random girls and kidnapping them along with their moms like you think I am. I was simply trying to get her to a hospital, but you were too freaked out to listen to me so I grabbed both of you and brought you here 'cause you were making such a scene outside and I didn't want to be recognized.
"I don't know how to use a gun. If you don't believe me or anything that I'm saying, then look through the contacts and pictures in my phone. I'm telling the truth. I really am that Eden Sioux."
I took a deep breath and kept my arms in the air as Psycho Lady went through my phone as I'd asked. She seemed fascinated by the pictures in there; pictures of the guys and me in Temple Square performing for a New Year's Blast last year, pictures of me and my ex-girlfriend and pop singer Stevie Rae in my car, pictures of Alex and me at his birthday beach party two weeks ago and a lot more.
Psycho Lady handed me my phone and Sleazy Old Man, along with Dreadlocks, reluctantly backed away from me.
I sighed with relief and looked to look at Blond Boy; he was quietly kneeing down by Unconscious girl, who looked like she'd since better days. The dried blood caked onto her forehead and nose and the lack of color on her face didn't do much to help her appearance either, but looking past that, she was cute. In a young, doll-like kind of way.
"I'm terribly sorry," Psycho Lady said and reached out to hug me. I stepped back and shook my head. The last thing I needed was this lady grabbing me in a headlock and phoning the paparazzi. Manager Douglass wouldn't be too happy about that.
"Can I just call my band mates so I can get Unconscious Girl to the hospital and have her stitched up?"
Psycho Lady laughed and nodded at me to call. "And her name is Katie. Katie Holm, my daughter."
I nodded and rapidly dialed Alex's number first; it wasn't that I didn't like Kaien, but he could be so cold sometimes. He'd made a habit out of yelling at people over the phone and hanging up on them in the middle of their sentences. He was so….never mind. I held the phone to my ear and waited. Alex picked up after three long rings.
"Hello? Alexander Castillo speaking," he said and I almost rolled my eyes at his formality. He could be such a stick sometimes.
"Alex," I said and licked my lips. "I need help. Like, really big help."
"What's happened?" Alex asked. "Where are you Eden? Are you okay?"
"I've been better," I said and glared at Sleazy Old Man and Dreadlocks. "But I need you to come down and get us. I need a ride to the hospital-"
"You're hurt?" Alex yelled and my ear rang for a second. "Where are you? What happened? Do you know how Manager Douglass will react if he-"
"Who are you talking to?" a smooth, dark voice that I instantly recognized to be Kaien's inquired.
They must have been back at the hotel. I checked my watch and my heart nearly stopped; I was suppose to be at the hotel an hour ago to go over the details of our meet-and-greet here.
"Eden is hurt," Alex told him and I groaned aloud. "He says he needs a-"
"Here," Kaien interjected. "I'll put the idiot on speaker." I scowled at the comment.
"I 'm not hurt!" I shouted into the phone. "I need a ride to the hospital so the doctors can take a look at Uncon- uh, Katie and her mom!"
"Who?" Alex asked, bewildered, and I rolled my eyes. Sometimes I hated the way he always had to press people for all the details.
"Look- I don't have much time- will you just come? And hurry up."
"The idiot gets in trouble with some chick and her mom and he's giving orders around like he's the president," Kaien said with a dark chuckle. "Where. Are. You. Idiot? We need an address to go and get you-"
"What's the address and name of this place?" I asked Tanya, who blinked in surprise.
"Deena's Diner. It's on the corner of St. Petersburg and Harrison St. Right before the city library."
I repeated the information to Alex. "Stay put. We'll be there soon.
"Got that, idiot? Don't move-"
I ended the call before he could finish; he was just such a jerk all the time that it was hard to believe he even had a heart. He must of if he was still breathing like a human being.
"They're on their way," I said and collapsed into the nearest stool, playing the waiting game in my head.
"Just what were you thinking?" Manager Douglass shouted and wagged a short, pudgy finger in my face. I sighed and hung my head to make it appear that I felt at least a little bit of shame in my actions, which I did not. Why should I have felt ashamed? Sure, this whole entire fiasco was completely avoidable, but it could've gone worse; for instance, they could've been a huge crowd of Alpha Centari fan girls surrounding the whole entire hospital with colorful banners and posters, T-shirts with our names and faces imprinted on the front, and a whole lot of girly squealing and sobbing going on. The media would've been parked out there somewhere in their expensive suits, delivering the exciting news to their viewers at home.
Manager Douglass snapped his fingers in my face and I jumped in my chair. "Argh!" he cried and threw his hands up in the air in frustration.
"Alex! Kai! I suggest you keep an eye on your band mate here if you don't want me to pack him up in a box full of Styrofoam peanuts and ship him off to his family with a stamp on his head!" He stormed out of the hospital room, grumbling to himself and jerking the sleeves of his dress shirt up to his elbows.
"They don't pay me to baby-sit," Kai grunted and leaned against the window with his eyes fixed on the city below.
For such a small place, Dixie sure had a lot of traffic. It wasn't something I'd ever seen in a small town; then again, I was raised in the city of Brooklyn with all the tall skyscrapers and the smells of pee and roasted peanuts in the air. I wasn't a countryside kind of guy.
Alex heaved a weary sigh and sat down at the foot of Katie's bed. She'd been asleep for over an hour now. I'd insisted on staying so I could apologize in person for the accident I caused to her face. She looked somewhat more decent with the bandages on it though.
"Looks like Manager Douglass will probably put you on probation or something like that," Alex said with a light laugh. I dropped my head in my hands and rolled my eyes. Kai chuckled under his breath, but didn't turn around. That damned jerk.
"Not funny Lexis," I said, calling him by his dreaded nickname.
Alex frowned and folded his arms over his chest. "Don't take this out on me. You're the one that went off by yourself and ended up assaulting some poor mom's daughter."
I scowled at him. Had he not been listening when I'd said that she hit a wall and damaged her face?
"I didn't assault her," I insisted with a sigh. "She came from behind and grabbed the back of my cardigan. I thought she was some worthless, nasty mugger trying to rob me, so I turned around to face him and she just flew off to the side and went face-first into the wall."
"That's not what her mother says," Alex replied sternly. I rolled my eyes again and closed my eyes. I honestly didn't know why I bothered trying.
"That doesn't explain why you left the hotel after I told you that you were not allowed to," Manager Douglass snapped as he entered the room, with Kelsey in tow, his assistant and a very good talent scout. She looked anxious and confused, as she always did. I sighed and rolled my eyes again.
"Well, I asked everyone if they'd go with me, but no one wanted to go," I said. "So I-"
"Moron," Kai said hotly, making both Alex and Kelsey look at him. He continued to look out the window as he spoke.
"Because no one wanted to waste their time babysitting you means that you just pick and go off somewhere without so much as a goodbye or a peep to anyone and appear again with some random 10-year-old draped on your shoulder and her hysterical mother?"
He finally turned and shot me a cold, murderous glare. I felt my back stiffen and my heart begin to race. There was always something about Kai, maybe his stare or the way he could silence a whole room of giggling fans with a single word that always made me feel kind of... intimidated. He always stood there with his face expressionless, as smooth and as opaque as stone, and his arms crossed over his chest like some kind of mean prison warden.
"Grow up, you miserable,worthless swine. We are not your caddie drivers nor are we your nannies; you're still an underage snot-nosed brat so I'll ease up on you this time. The next time you make us waste our time coming down here and missing our meeting so you can go and harass little girls, then I swear I'll-"
"Kai!" Alex shouted, looking stunned and slightly fearful. Kai peeled himself off the window and left the room, but not before shooting me another menacing glare on his way out. I took a deep breath and closed my eyes.
"Just leave me alone," I growled and gripped the arms of my chair tightly upon seeing Kai's face in the darkness behind my eyelids.
That was when I realized one thing about myself; that I was officially terrified of him. I was terrified of my own band mate.