Who's That Girl?Mature

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Chapter Two – Who is That Girl?


 The next morning Olivia woke suddenly, wondering where she was. Gary stirred beside her and she looked down at him in surprise. Then she remembered everything and smiled to herself. She got up and went back to her room. She showered and got dressed. Jane had left three large suitcases for her to pack all her clothes in, and Olivia spent a long time carefully folding everything, packing it neatly.

 There was a knock on the door and Robbie came in. He smiled.

 “I’m surprised to find you in here. I half expected you to be elsewhere,” he joked. Olivia blushed. “Or have you just got back?” Olivia blushed further. “Ah, now we have the truth.”

 “Nothing happened, I swear. We just talked for a while, and then fell asleep,” Olivia replied. “Fancy something to eat?” she asked, changing the subject.

 “I would rather talk about you and Gary, but brunch might be nice.”

 They went down to the restaurant. There was a crowd of young girls sat around and a murmur went around the room as they saw Robbie. Olivia was proud to be seen with him. As they ate, the others joined them one by one. Gary was the last to come down from his room. He smiled at Olivia as he sat down, a tender look in his eyes.

 “We’re leaving in half an hour guys,” the tour manager said as she passed. “Sorry, guys and girl.” Olivia smiled.

 “It is nice to be included,” Olivia said.

 “Ah, yes. You’re one of us now, whatever happens at the end of next week,” Jason said, smiling.

 “I’m sure we can find some reason for keeping you around,” Robbie said, giving Gary, then Olivia a knowing look.

 “I do not know what you mean,” Olivia said, laughing.

 Nigel came and sat with them. He looked around at each face at the table and smiled. He looked at Olivia for a long time, and then back to the others, then back to Olivia.

 “Okay, you have got me paranoid now,” Olivia said. “Why do you keep looking at me?”

 “No reason. I was just thinking about something. Don’t worry about it,” he replied, abstractly, his forehead creased in thought. Olivia was puzzled.

 “You shouldn’t disturb him while he’s thinking,” Robbie commented.

 Suddenly Nigel looked up. “Don’t forget that you’ve to start work today Olivia. You’ve only got a week, after all,” he said.

 “Today?” Olivia asked in shock. “I did not think it would be so soon.”

The tour manager came back to them and urged them to get their belongings together and onto the bus. The others got up, but Gary stopped Olivia leaving with them. He waited until they all had gone.

 “What is up?” Olivia asked.

 “I missed you this morning when I woke up,” he said quietly, and Olivia blushed. “I had the best night with you last night. I wanted to tell you that now, because I have a feeling that for the next week I wouldn’t see you that much. Nigel will push you to the limits, but I’m sure that you’re tough enough to take it. I’m sure it will all be worthwhile. I’ll be here for you when it all gets a bit much for you, and I do a fabulous back massage as well.”

“Thanks. I may take you up on that offer,” Olivia smiled, and then sighed. “I know it is going to be tough, but I know I will get through it if you are there for me. Come on, we should go and catch up with the others.”

 Olivia got up and offered her hand to him. “Not here. Not here with these girls around,” he said. “You understand.”

 “Only too well.”

 They collected their luggage and got on the bus, which took them to the airport. Their private plane waited for them on the runway and Olivia was treated as much of a celebrity as the others were. She knew she could really enjoy this life.

 When they landed in Ireland, however, the others were whisked away from her and she travelled alone to the hotel. Her room was some distance from the others’, and she had not even finished unpacking a few things before the choreographer knocked on the door. Olivia sighed. It had begun.

 “Right then Olivia,” the choreographer said. “My name’s Mike, and I don’t want you to hate me for what I am about to put you through.”

 “I will not blame you I assure you,” Olivia replied, smiling. “But I do want to be able to walk at the end of the week, okay?”

 “I’ll try to keep you standing. Now, what we’re going to do is learn the stage show, and in doing so, refine all aspects of your dance work. My assistant Chas will be doing the gymnastics and Suzy will be your vocal coach. I won’t pretend that this week is going to be easy, but I know you can do it if you really want it enough. We have to work together.”

 “I am willing to give it everything I have. There is nothing I have wanted more in my life, and I am going to give it my best shot, so at least I know that I tried.”

 Olivia worked. She worked harder than she had ever done in her life before. Her body ached all over, but she continued to work. She got up early in the morning and went to bed late. She did not see any of the others at all, but Nigel conveyed their messages to her when he came to check her progress. He would sit at the back of the room and watch her toil, as though he was trying to solve some great problem. He would sigh, then smile, and then leave her. Olivia was puzzled by his behaviour, but was too tired to think deeply about it all.

 On the last day, the tour was due to leave for Sheffield, but Nigel called a meeting before they left, making sure Olivia would be there. As she staggered in, the others were delighted to see her. Gary hugged her.

 “You made it then,” he said.

 “Only just,” Olivia replied. The others stood to greet her, and she hugged them all before gratefully curling up on a sofa with Robbie, who placed his arm around her.

 “Please, everyone sit down,” Nigel said. “I have something very important to discuss, but first I want to say what a tremendous job Olivia has done over these past few days. She has nearly killed herself with the effort, but she did what I wanted.”

 “Does she get her contract?” Mark asked.

 “Patience Mark. I’ve been thinking a lot over the past few days, and doing a hell of a lot of market research, the results of which will be known tonight, but I think I should warn you all now.”

 “About what?” Jason asked. “Stop beating about the bush and tell us.”

 “All right,” Nigel replied. “I want Olivia to join Take That.”

 There was a stunned silence. Olivia was shocked, sitting bolt upright, dragging Robbie with her.

 “I do not know if I can. Take That are doing so well on their own. The fans will not like a girl muscling in on their idols. Do you need a sixth member?” Olivia asked, trembling.

 “I hate to admit it, but she’s right Nigel. We have to consider the fans here, despite our feelings,” Mark said.

 “They get obsessive about us. They could turn against Olivia, and us. They could do anything,” Robbie added, his arm tightening his grip on her protectively.

 “I’ve thought of all that, I know the risks and dangers. That’s what the market research is for. I think you could be under-rating your fans. Most of them are level headed and could adjust, but it’s only a minority that thinks that they own you. Those are the fans you don’t want anyway. There are advantages for all of you if Olivia does join. The group will have wider appeal; lads would come to concerts, record sales would go up. Think about it.”

 Everyone was stunned, especially Olivia. She looked from face to face, wondering what they would say or do next. This was a test of friendship. Would they accept her over that final threshold?

 “I know Take That inside out,” Nigel was continuing, “and I know you. I know that with a bit of work you could pull it off. She has the talent, she can perform all the routines brilliantly, even after a week, and she looks good. If we get the media on side, the fans will follow. I know it will be hard at the beginning, but just think what will happen if we pull it off! If the fans decide no, then Olivia will still have a fabulous solo career with me.”

 “What if I do not want to do it?” Olivia asked. “What if I do not want to risk being beaten up, and making your fans turn against me? I would love to do the job and I know I could do you justice, but I am worried about the fans’ reaction to a sixth member, and especially a girl member in a highly successful boy band.”

 Gary stood up and smiled down at Olivia. “Let the fans decide. If they say no, then no, but if they say yes, then Olivia should join. If she comes in gradually, then maybe the fans will get used to seeing her around, and then forget that she was never there before. My main idea though is to see what this market research says. However, I would gladly welcome her to the group, and I’m prepared to face any dangers and risks thrown up. Those fans who might want to attack Olivia aren’t the sort of girls we want following us anyway.”

 “I agree with Gary,” Howard said. “If we try and fail, at least we tried.”

 “I’m prepared to face the risks,” Jason said.

 Mark and Robbie looked at each other. They were unsure. Olivia knew that it was nothing personal against her; they were just worried about the group and she could understand that. She half expected them to go against the idea, but they agreed.

 “We agree to go with whatever the market research says. If the fans don’t mind Olivia joining, then neither do we,” Robbie said. “We would love to have you join us Olivia, we really would. Please don’t take it personally.”

 “I am not.”

 Nigel looked around the room. “I’ve checked with the record company, and they say the same thing, but they haven’t seen or heard Olivia yet. Okay, let’s vote on it. Those in favour? Seven. That’s unanimous then. I conditionally welcome you to the group Olivia. I would like you to be on stage as soon as possible, research permitting.”

 “I will be there tonight Nigel, with the guys’ help, but I cannot see it happening,” Olivia replied, going into shock.

 “The results will have been calculated by the time you are due on stage,” Nigel said. “You should know by about five o’ clock.”

 There was a knock on the door and the tour manager told them it was time to leave for Sheffield. Olivia was still stunned. By that evening she could be part of Take That and she was actually uncertain about it all. Was this right? Was it what she really wanted? She knew that she had to be near these people, live her life with them, but be a part of the group? It was a huge risk, and Olivia was not used to taking risks.

 “Come on Olivia, you’ll be left behind,” Robbie joked. Olivia looked around her and saw that the room was empty. He saw the expression on her face and came to sit beside her again, putting his arms around her. He stroked her face. “You can understand why I’m worried about this, can’t you? It’s nothing about you personally, but if you were a man, I know I wouldn’t feel this way. I’m scared for your safety. You know what the fans can do.”

 “You do not need to explain to me Rob,” Olivia replied. “I just do not think it will happen anyway, and I am not even sure if it is what I want. I am no one, a schoolgirl from Yorkshire with ambition. What right do I have to have this chance with the most successful band in Britain?”

 “As much right as the next person, if not more. You haven’t just affected Gary’s life, but you’ve touched all of us. We could not go back now on what you’ve changed,” Robbie said, “even if we wanted.” Olivia smiled and got up. They carried their luggage out to the cars. Olivia found herself on her own again, but this time she did not mind. She had a lot to think about.

 Although she had flown with the others, Olivia found that when she got to the hotel, they had already left for the arena to rehearse. She wanted to tell Richard and tell him the news. She had not seen him for a week either.

 She was driven to the arena and she rushed to find Richard. He saw her first and dashed over to hug her. The other security guards looked impressed that he should be fraternising with someone they regarded as above them.

 “How have you been?” Richard asked.

 “I am exhausted, and confused,” Olivia replied, sitting down.

 “Confused? Why?”

 Olivia told him everything that had happened over the past week, and especially about the decision of that morning.

 “That’s fantastic!” Richard exclaimed, hugging her, then seeing her expression, asked, “Isn’t it?”

 “I do not know. Anything could happen to me. These fans may threaten me; beat me up, or anything.”

 “And they may not. You may have the time of your life, make oodles of money, have a nation of men at your feet, and the respect that you deserve. I can’t deny that there won’t be risks, but surely, the good points far outweigh the bad points. I can guarantee that you will be well protected.”

 “I am not sure. I have to make a choice. A huge choice. If the fans do not mind me joining the group, then I have to decide between Gary and Take That,” Olivia said, sadly. “You cannot honestly think that the fans will let me join and have a relationship with the lead singer. It is one or the other. The only way I can be with Gary is if I do not join Take That, and the only way I will get to spend time with him is if I do. Do I love him enough to make that decision?” Olivia sighed. Richard took her by the hand.

 “Your heart will tell you what to do when that time comes. The decision may be made for you,” he replied. “Now, get up on stage, you’re being called.”

 “What? Oh, right.” Olivia smiled at Richard and walked up and onto the stage. She was called into the wings to try on her stage outfits, made just in case they would be needed that evening.

 “Come on, let’s see them then,” Robbie called. Olivia put on the most dazzling outfit and smiled at Jane. It was her Relight My Fire outfit – a bright red, patent leather cat suit, with a cropped, red denim jacket to go over the top. The lads’ eyes widened as she back-flipped her way onto the stage, and then twirled around. Richard gave her the thumbs-up and a broad grin from the seating area. For a while, the others were stunned into silence, unable to believe the transformation in the girl that now stood before them. Was she really the girl that they had met a week before? They had had seen one version of her at the party, but this was someone different, so very different. This was the woman, not the girl.

 “No offence to you Olivia, but you’re like the ugly duckling turning into a swan, or a caterpillar turning into a butterfly. You’re beautiful!” Jason said in admiration.

 “It is all right Jay, I know what you mean. I am finding it a bit hard to believe myself,” Olivia replied.

 The others flocked around her, complimenting her, saying how good she looked now. Only Gary remained silent, an admiring smile on his face, taking pride in her. The others seemed to fade into oblivion as she turned to look at him. She moved across to him and stood facing him. He put his hands on her hips and drew her closer.

 “You never told me that you looked like this under your sensible clothes,” he said, smiling.

 “Sensible clothes?” Olivia laughed. “I guess I was sensible at the beginning of this week, but I am far from it now. The question is, do you like this new look?”

 “Only if you’re the same person inside, and you feel the same way about me.”

 “Of course.”

Robbie wolf-whistled, commenting on how the back view was just as good as the front. Olivia blushed as red as her cat suit. No one had ever said anything like that before. She went off-stage in a hurry to change into something more practical for rehearsal, just in case the fans said yes.

 A few exhausting hours later, Olivia was tearing her heart out. She could do all the routines in the privacy of a rehearsal room, but out here, she was having trouble. She had to adjust to having the others around her and working with them as a group, using formations. The others were surprised at how much she had mastered in that short time, and it was a learning process for them too. They never had had to cope with six person line-ups before.

 “I will never get this by tonight!” Olivia exclaimed over a particularly tricky step. “What about tomorrow night?”

 “You’ll get it if you concentrate! Now, stay calm, concentrate on what you want to do, and you’ll get it,” Howard said, trying to reassure her.

 “I am concentrating! And I cannot do it!” Olivia replied, almost crying with anger at herself. She was exhausted and her body could not really take this kind of punishment any longer, but she pushed on, exerted that extra energy.

 Half an hour later, through much patience and support, Olivia mastered the step, but now there was only time for one run-through of her songs. One run-through of her costume changes and one run-through for her entrances and exits. She asked someone what the time was – 4.45p.m!

 Outside, people were beginning to arrive in multitudes. Olivia thought of how that had been her, and she thought of where she was now. Her body ached at the thought of all the work she had done, but she knew she had impressed the others, despite also knowing how nervous they were about this sixth member idea of Nigel’s. There was no one more nervous than she was. What if she was booed and jeered at? She could drag Take That down in the mud and they might not recover.

 “Penny for your thoughts Olivia?” Mark asked, slipping his arms around her waist from behind. Olivia jumped in shock.

 “Oh! It’s you Mark! You made me jump! I am worried about your fans’ reaction to me. What if they hate me? I could spoil it for everyone,” Olivia replied, biting her lip in anxiety.

 “Don’t worry so much! We won’t let you get hurt, we promise. If the answer is no, then you will have a wonderful solo career to look forward to. You lose nothing by not joining us,” he replied. “We will even make sure you are our support act on tour so you still get to see us.”

 “Thanks Mark. I feel a bit better now. I will just have to wait and see what happens.”

 “Give me a hug.”

 Olivia found herself embracing Mark Owen; a position thousands of girls would have killed to be in. Maybe they would kill her.

 Olivia could believe what was happening to her. Why her? Why was she so special? Her head span with thinking about it all. She could not understand any of it. Was this part of some divine plan for her; that she should be plucked from total obscurity and plunged headfirst into a celebrity world that only had ever seemed a dream on the other side of the television screen?

 She waited nervously in the dressing room, just waiting. She had been introduced to Philip Ollerenshaw, the photographer, and Andi Peters, one of Gary’s best friends who had come up especially to meet her. The only sound in the room was the clock ticking.

 Tick. Tock. Tick. Tock. Tick. Tock. Tick. Tock. Tick. Tock. Tick. Tock. Tick. The tension mounted. Would she go on? Tock. Tick. Tock. Tick. Tock. Tick. Tock. Tick. Tock. Tick. Tock. Tick. Tock. Tick. Tock. Tick. Tock. Tick. Tock. Tick. Tock. Tick. Tock. Tick. Tock. Tick. Tock. Tick. Tock.

 Brinnnnnggggg! Brinnnnnggggg! The telephone sprang into life. This was it, the decisive moment. Everyone stared as Nigel picked up the receiver. Every face was pale, fixed on the expression of the manager, scanning each inch of it for some sign of a yes or no, hoping, waiting, wishing for good news.

 “Hmm,” Nigel said to the voice on the telephone. “I see. Okay. Thank you.”

 There was no flicker of emotion on his face, no flicker of a smile or a frown. He had answered the telephone emotionless, and it remained so now.

 “Olivia. You should be the first to know,” Nigel said.

 Everyone’s heart sank. This did not sound good. Olivia and Nigel went through to the other room.

 “The answer is yes,” Nigel whispered, “it was very close, but the deciding factor was that you must agree not to get romantically involved with any member of the group. More fans will support you if you promise that.”

 Olivia thought for a moment. “I promise,” she said, with a heavy heart.

 “Welcome to Take That!” Nigel said with a satisfied smile, ignoring the brief expression of grief he had seen flash across her eyes, and then hugged her. “Now, keep it quiet. I’m going to make them suffer.”

 They both came out of the room with faces lacking any emotion. Olivia did not have to pretend. She knew she should be ecstatic, but she had promised away her heart.

 “I’m sorry Olivia,” Mark said, quietly.

 “Me too,” Howard added. “We all are.”

 “We wanted it so much for you. There aren’t many people who can have me in hysterics without actually doing anything. It was your dream,” Robbie said, sadly.

 “Dreams come true, you know,” Nigel said.

Gary’s face broke into a broad grin, but he could tell that there was something wrong. Olivia put on a smile and found it hard not to laugh at their serious faces.

 “I cannot believe you fell for that! One point to number six!” Olivia said.

 “Number six?” Mark asked.

 Olivia grinned. “What, do you not want me now?”

 “The fans said yes?” Jason asked.

 “There was one condition, but otherwise – yes!” Olivia exclaimed.

 Everyone started leaping around and dancing about the room, kissing and hugging Olivia and each other.

 There was still a job to be done and time was flying by. The others went away to change, while Olivia settled down to her first interview as an official member. Life was good and getting better by the minute. Each minute brought her closer to the concert, closer to fame and fortune, and in a way, closer to Gary than she ever had been.

 He watched with amusement as Olivia dashed off to the toilet for the third time, and then brushed her hair for the sixth time.

 “What was the condition?” Gary asked suddenly. Olivia’s happiness burst.

“You do not want to know.”

 “What is so terrible that you can’t tell me?”

 “I had to promise not to get romantically involved with any member of the group, meaning you. It was the hardest decision I have ever had to make. I just hope I can keep my promise,” Olivia said, then sighed. Gary became serious. He came across to her and held her tightly in his arms.

 “I can understand why you chose how you did. Now we can see each other every day, but it’s going to be hard for both of us. Nigel is only thinking of the fans, and I’m sure you can understand why we have to stick to it. For now.”

 “For now?”

 “Just until you’re established in the group,” he replied, kissing her on the forehead. Olivia smiled. “You’re wonderful,” he said, smiling.

 “Usually I would argue, but tonight I feel it!” Olivia replied, taking his hands and waltzing around the room with him.

 “You’ll wear yourself out before we start!” he exclaimed.

 “No I will not!” Olivia said, forgetting her tiredness and aching muscles. There were about ten minutes to go and the mood in the dressing room changed completely. There were no jokes or laughter; everyone was completely serious, the concentration showing on their faces, adrenaline flowing. Olivia’s face was pale, yet the excitement showed in her eyes.

 Showtime! The others marched to their places, looking terrifyingly good in their army suits. As they were raised to the stage and the screams began in earnest, Olivia watched, waited, and warmed up in the wings, listening for her cue from Robbie.

 The moment came. Robbie came on, sang the first couple of lines, then sat on the stage steps.

 “Before I sing this song,” Robbie said. “I’m going to need some help from a good friend of mine. Her name is Olivia Huntley, and you will have to get used to hearing that name, as I have a feeling that in the next few weeks you’ll be hearing it a lot more. She’s a girl with amazing talent, so we decided to sign her up as our sixth member.” He waited for this to sink in. “But she also is intelligent, as she is not interested in any of us guys and we have to pay her to be nice to us.” There were cheers and screams at this. “I’m sure that you’ll get to love her as much as we do – so please, give her a huge Yorkshire welcome, and remember that you saw her here first!”

 There was an explosion and Olivia back-flipped and cart wheeled her way onto the stage. To her surprise, she was greeted with rapturous applause and screams. Robbie hugged her before telling the crowd to “Go mental!” and beginning to sing again.

 The whole night was magic for Olivia. She had never had so many people cheer for her in her life. There were the boos and jeers, but not half as many as she had expected. The audience clapped along with her singing, shouted her name, and tried to copy her dancing. She could not help but grin from ear to ear and back again in sheer delight. She had won over thousands of fans without even realising it – she was just happy to be there. They really liked her! They really wanted her! They were her fans too!

 As the evening drew on, they approached her favourite songs. She had gone off-stage before Babe and she had to be back on in perfect timing with the others. She had changed into her Give Good Feeling costume and was feeling good. This dance involved getting very friendly with Mark and Howard.

 There were cheers as she ran on, but there was no time to think. It was straight into the routine and Olivia enjoyed every second of it, every scream of it, and every look between Gary and herself of it. She especially enjoyed it when the music slowed down and the movements did as well. It was like going into slow motion, and had been the source of great amusement for Olivia at rehearsals, especially as she was doing the movements alone. She had felt so daft doing it, but now she saw how the fans appreciated it.

 The music relaunched itself, faster than before, leading to the finish. Olivia, Howard and Jason all stood in a line and back-flipped their way to the front of the stage in perfect formation with each other. This was rewarded with more rapturous applause and screams.

 They all left the stage, saying goodnights, as though it was the end of the concert. Olivia collapsed in a heap before changing. She could hear the screams for more and all the foot stamping from where she was. It seemed to reverberate off the wall and Olivia would always remember the thrill that that sound gave her then, for the rest of her life. That sound was for her, as well as for the others now. She felt proud, and happy.

 The others dashed off to change, while she sat back to recover with a glass of water. Lulu smiled at her and commented on how good Olivia had been so far. Olivia just smiled back while she caught her breath. So this is what life can be like, she thought. How could I have been so dull and boring? Why have I sat at home night after night with my parents? Why had I not guessed that all this was out here for me? Why had no one told me? What else have I been missing? Then Olivia realised what it was that had really been missing from her life – love.

 Suddenly her thoughts turned back to the stage and she realised that she was in the wrong place for her entrance. She had to run around the back of the stage to where the others were waiting for her, anxious that she was going to miss the cue. Gary hugged her tightly before adjusting part of her costume – the horns on her head were at a funny angle.

 Take That exploded onto the stage, receiving the loudest screams of the evening, especially for Howard’s now infamous bottomless trousers. He just grinned at Olivia, loving every minute.

 Before it had all started for Olivia, it was over. The time had flown by and the concert was finished. They were rushed to the car and after one final message to the fans back in the arena; they were driven away at high speed back to their hotel. Olivia was pleased to be finally sharing a car with them, her head still buzzing with excitement, the cheers still ringing in her ears, the happy faces still visible in her mind.

 When she returned to the hotel, she heard the whispers behind her back.

 “Who is that girl?” People would ask, turning to stare at her. Olivia found herself asking the same question. Who was she now? Was she the same person as she had been before? If not, who was she now? What had she become in such a short time? There were so many new things that she had to cope with now.

 Cameras. Interviews. Autographs. Pictures. Dance routines. Songs. Screams. Cheers. Raunchiness. Sexiness. Sixth member. Gary. People. Abuse. Cameras.

 They swirled around in her head, making her feel physically ill. Telephones seemed to be ringing everywhere. Cameras flashed. People demanding interviews, photographs, inside knowledge. People everywhere, their faces becoming a blur around her, colours running one into another. Olivia wanted to be sick. People pushed and shoved at her from all sides. She felt Gary holding her by the arm. People everywhere…

 “Are you all right Olivia?” Robbie asked. She saw the anxious looks on Take That’s faces. She smiled, her head still spinning out of control, her eyes going in and out of focus. Then…. Blackness…Nothingness…

 “Make some room! Give her some air!” Jason exclaimed. “Let’s get her to her room!”

 “Where is her room?” Gary asked. “Damn these hotels. Let’s put her in my room guys – it’s closest!” He almost had to shout above the increasing noise.

 “Good idea!” Howard agreed, and he picked Olivia up in his arms, carrying her upstairs.

 Olivia had no idea for how long she had been unconscious. She awoke, forcing her eyes to open, but quickly shut them again when the light hit her.

 “Ugh! Too bright!” she complained.

 “Dim the lights someone,” a voice said. Olivia thought it could have been Mark, but her mind still swam.

 She forced her eyes open again and this time she was able to look around the room, seeing several anxious faces. She tried to sit up but Gary gently pushed her back down. A wave of nausea washed over her and she dived out of the other side of the bed, ran to the bathroom, slammed the door, and promptly was sick twice. She staggered to her feet and stood at the sink, staring at her reflection in the mirror. Who was that pale faced girl looking back at her?

 She washed her face in cold water and sat, head in hands, on the edge of the bath, trembling slightly. She was exhausted, and she could not remember the last time that she had had the time to have a proper meal. She felt terrible, and knew that she did not look much better.

 Gary’s anxious voice called through the closed door, checking to see if she was all right.

 “Yeah,” Olivia replied. “Come in if you dare. I am not a pretty sight right now.” Gary came in and shut the door, but Mark soon followed him in and sat next to her, his arm around her.

 “Don’t you ever do that to us again!” Mark said, worried. “You really scared us all. We thought that you might die on us, and we would never want that!”

 “I did not mean to do it; it was not something I chose to do. Funnily enough, I am not that keen on being sick. It is just not something that I enjoy doing, you know,” Olivia replied, trying to sound light-hearted about everything, “but it is nice to know that you care about me and what happens to me. That is sweet.”

 “So what happened? One minute you were fine, the next you’re a whiter shade of pale and you pass out,” Gary said, crouched down in front of her. He knew from her eyes that there was something wrong, something that she was hiding from him.

 “It just got too much for me. There were people everywhere, pushing and shoving. I could not handle it, especially after everything that has happened in the past week. I am worn out,” Olivia replied, still looking at Gary.

 “We’ve all been there and survived,” Mark said.

 “Yeah, I will become used to it, I suppose. You cannot wrap me up in cotton wool, even if you two wanted to,” Olivia said, forcing a smile. She turned to Mark, as though she was seeing him for the first time. “Mark, will you get me a glass of water?”

 “Yeah, sure,” Mark said, suddenly understanding that Olivia needed to talk to Gary alone. As he left the room, Olivia sat curled up on the floor next to Gary and he held her to him, stroking her hair.

 “What’s really wrong?” he asked.

 “Everything. I have already explained why I fainted, but there is more than being exhausted,” Olivia said, not looking at him. “I loved doing the concert and the interview, but I do not know who I am now. I know who I was and what I was, but this is new and different. I have always felt in control of my life before, what life I had of my own, but I am on very new ground here. I do not know how to act, how to think, what to say or what to do. I hope that the girl who wrote to you is still somewhere inside me, but my whole life has turned upside down. I love this lifestyle, but not the demands it puts on you.”

 “Is that all? If it is, then in time you’ll learn how to cope with it all. One step at a time, each day as it comes and all that,” Gary smiled, “but there is something else, I know.”

 “I wish I did not have to promise what I had to promise. A piece of paper cannot stop me feeling the way I feel about you. I cannot ignore the fact that I…. I…I…erm…love you, but now I am in the group, I suppose I have to. I heard the cheer when Robbie said that I was too intelligent to get involved with any of you. It would not be fair on the fans; I understand that more than anyone does, because I have been there, and I know how I would feel. I find myself daring to let my defences go and longing to be with you. The more I know I cannot be with you, the more I want to be with you,” Olivia said, sadly, still unable to look him in the eye.

 “Don’t you think I feel it too?” Gary asked. “Take That are doing so well, it would be unfair to the others to jeopardise the group, but I want it so much, more than you can imagine, and it hurts me to look at you when I long to hold you tightly, and I would never want to let you go. If something started between us, I know I couldn’t stop it.” Gary sighed heavily. “Let’s get you to bed. You need a good night’s rest. Where is your room anyway?”

 “The next floor up, last room on the right,” Olivia said, smiling. “Just in case you want to visit.”

 Gary helped Olivia to her feet and walked her to the bed. Mark brought the water and she sipped it slowly, the coldness of the liquid stinging her throat. Everyone was there, watching her anxiously. As the colour returned to her face, their worry eased.

 “I am fine – do not worry!” Olivia said, with fake reassurance. “Go on with your lives! I am sure that there are still some fans around wanting autographs, so go and find out what they thought of my performance for me. All I want to do is sleep.”

 Steadily they bade her goodnight and left, still looking worried. Olivia watched them go, and then turned to Gary, a wry smile on her face.

 “I came to Take That because Fate decided that we should be together. Now we cannot be together, because of Take That.”

 Gary stood up and helped Olivia to her feet again. For a moment, he just looked at her, wanting to say something, but no words came. He hugged her tightly and Olivia wrapped her arms around him. After a minute or two, he pulled away from her, remembering their promise.

 “It’s only right that you sleep in your room. We wouldn’t want rumours starting,” he said.

 “I suppose you are right,” she replied. They slowly walked to Olivia’s room together, unable to speak, without anything to say to each other. They stood outside the door, looking at each other. Olivia opened the door and went inside. Gary followed.

 “I want to be sure that you’re all right,” he said.

 “I will be,” Olivia replied and went into the bathroom to change. When she came back into the room, Gary was sat in a chair by the window, looking at the city.

 “I’m going to stay here tonight, despite the rumours, to make sure you’re all right,” he said, not turning to look at her. “I’ll sleep on the sofa.”

 “Okay,” Olivia replied, too tired to argue. She got into bed, pulling the covers around her. Gary crossed the room and sat next to her.

 “You’ll hear people asking ‘Who is that girl?’ and you’ll know the answer from now on – an intelligent, attractive, extremely talented young woman with everything going for her,” he said, then kissed her on the forehead.

 “Thank you Gary.”

 “In the words of a well-known song – everything changes but you.”

 “I am beginning to see that now. Goodnight Gary.”

 “Goodnight. Sleep well.” Gary switched the light off and Olivia turned over in bed, everything now flooded with clear, pure moonlight. She heard Gary settle himself on the sofa. Everything was so obvious now. Olivia smiled and whispered to herself.

 “Who is that girl? It’s me, it’s me, it’s me!”

The End

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