Over the next two weeks, up until it was time of the last two shows of the tour, Ashton and I communicated through texts. There were no more phone calls, and it was usually short and casual. But sometimes we talked for hours, or off and on throughout the day. I felt like we were growing closer. Or maybe it was just my warped mind. I felt like I was living part time in a fantasy world. So many times I had to remind myself that Ashton would eventually grow bored with me and I'd never hear from him again.
Traci wasn't much help in keeping my feet planted on the ground. It was weird because I'd always been the optimistic one. But I kept waiting for everything to come to an end. Every time Traci and I'd talk about the situation, she'd encourage my more unrealistic thoughts.
"You never know how this could turn out, Bree. It's not unheard of for famous people to fall in love with us normal people. I mean, hell, look at Luke and what's-her-face. She was no one before Luke got involved with her."
She was referring to Allegra, some chick in LA who Luke had been secretly sneaking around with. Except, she was constantly posting things on Twitter and Instagram that highly suggested they were seeing each other, so it wasn't much of a secret.
That's the thing about 5SOS fans. If it happens, they're more than likely going to find out about it one way or another. That's why I was super protective with my secret. Nothing in the world could possess me to tell anyone other than Traci. And she was the same way about what happened between her and Calum. If word got out that Ashton talked to me, even as innocent as it was, they'd put us both through the wringer for sure. And Traci would be a victim, too, just by association. Once they found out how old I was and that I had children, all hell would break loose. They're very protective and possessive of the band. Hell, I was, too. But the difference was that I didn't waste my time ranting about things like that on social media.
Based on what we'd seen, we didn't care much for Allegra because she seemed to be quite an attention seeker. On one hand, I got it. Who wouldn't want to brag about the fact that they were dating Luke Hemmings, gorgeous, talented lead singer and guitarist for popular band 5 Seconds Of Summer? But on the other hand, if I were so privileged as to be dating any of them, I'd keep everything as private as possible. Why take the chance on causing drama that could potentially ruin the relationship? But I tried to be mature and not judge her because I didn't even know her.
But the thing was that my goal wasn't to get Ashton to fall in love with me, despite Traci's insistence that it was possible. Yes, I found myself falling for him. But I knew that, realistically, even by some miracle he ended up falling for me, too, there was no chance of it working out. Besides the ever present fact that he already had a girlfriend, we lived completely different lives. Sure, opposites attract, but do they actually stay together? Not that I'd ever seen. Secondly, a relationship between the two of us would cause pandemonium within the fan base. I'd already seen that with Luke and Allegra, and it wasn't even confirmed that they were dating. Also, I couldn't imagine being in a long distance relationship with someone who girls would do anything to be with. Ashton had already proven that temptation was more powerful than willpower, and I didn't want either of us to go through that again. And lastly, I wouldn't dream of allowing Ashton to be tied down to someone who was my age and had children. Yeah, I could be every bit as fun as any 21 year old. But I had responsibilities and it wouldn't be fair to expect him to tolerate any of it.
It was dumb to even entertain the idea anyway. So I didn't, for the most part. I didn't even let Traci know how much I actually cared about Ashton. All I'd be doing is setting myself up for disappointment. And Lord knows I'd had my share of disappointment in life already. I'd been cheated on, manipulated, lied to, and put down my entire adult life by the biggest loser on Earth. As messed up as it sounds, it was almost a blessing when he finally put his hands on me when I was pregnant and I left him. I put up with far more than I should have, but physical abuse is where I drew the line. My kids weren't going to be raised in an environment like that.
But it was difficult to not have at least a sliver of hope when it was usually Ashton who initiated contact. And also when now and then he'd turn an innocent conversation into something risqué. I'm not going to lie and say I discouraged it. I should have, because I knew he was taken. But I was getting in too deep and couldn't help myself. It never got to the point where we were talking about being together or anything. It was just some cheeky conversation that I knew I'd be irate about if my boyfriend was talking like that with another girl. But what she didn't know couldn't hurt her, right?
The afternoon before the Tampa show, I sent a text to Ashton to tell him we were in town. According to what he'd told me earlier, they were headed that way as well. Traci and I had checked into the hotel, which Ashton confirmed was the same one they'd be staying at, and we settled down for a nap. Per our usual lack of good judgement, we'd had to get up at 3:30 am for our flight that morning and we were exhausted. But that idea was short lived when there was a knock on the door. Traci moaned and muttered, "What the hell?" and I got up to see who it was. It was housekeeping.
After shooing her off (we'd just gotten there, so we had no need for housekeeping services) we knew we weren't going to get any rest, so we thought we may as well eat. There was a restaurant in the lobby, so we decided to eat there and have a drink. Or two or three.
During the hour or so that we'd been in our room, the lobby had filled up with fans awaiting the boys' arrival. I don't know how they knew the band would be staying there, but they figured it out somehow, as always. The restaurant was open to the lobby area, so we got to sit there and watch everyone freak out each time a dark SUV or limo pulled up. At least it was entertaining. I still don't know why they didn't realize that the boys were driving in by bus, as they had the entire North American leg of the tour. Why would they be in another type of vehicle? Using a little common sense could have saved them a few heart attacks.
While we were waiting on our food, Traci asked, "Ashton still hasn't texted you back?"
I looked at my phone again and shook my head. I didn't want to let on that I was bummed that he hadn't said anything since I'd let him know that we were there. Maybe he was fortunate enough to sleep on the bus. Or perhaps he had been bullshitting me all that time saying he was anxious to see me again, and he was avoiding me. The second option was more likely.
Two hours and three Sangrias later, we decided to take a walk. The hotel property was very large and even had another more private area with a second pool and bar. We'd somehow ended up there and talked forever to this young valet guy named Kenny. After chatting a while and allowing him to drive us around on his golf cart for a "tour of the grounds" (to be honest, he was bored and I'm pretty sure he thought Traci was cute), Traci straight up asked him if he had any information about when 5SOS would be arriving.
Kenny laughed and said, "What? You're here for that band, too? I thought only teenagers liked them."
"Is that an old lady joke, mister?" Traci asked.
He laughed at her again and answered, "No, I don't mean anything by it! I just didn't realize you were fans. But since you're cool, I'll tell you."
He didn't say anything else. Traci got impatient and said, "Well, spill it, Kenny!"
"They've already been here and gone. They went in the back through the employee entrance, where their buses are parked. But they left for dinner a while ago. They should be back soon, I would think."
"Shut the fuck up. Are you serious?!" Traci's head whipped around to me and she whisper shouted, "Ashton's a dick." There was a tiny part of me that felt the same way.
To prove he was serious, Kenny drove us to the parking lot where the buses were indeed parked. How did they manage to pull that off? Sneaky little bastards. Kenny showed us where the employee entrance was. He said there were cameras, and we may get told to leave, but we could try waiting there if we wanted to. We thanked him for the information and hopped off the golf cart to wait at the said entrance.
During the 15 minutes that we waited, I almost chickened out. I knew I'd look desperate standing there when Ashton arrived, especially since he was obviously swerving me. But with the alcohol in my system, I went against my better judgement. I swear to you, Traci and I were the only ones there until those cars pulled up. But suddenly, five other girls appeared out of nowhere. They had to have been hiding in the bushes, not even kidding.
I was so excited and nervous to see Ashton again. But when I saw him offer his hand to the skinny blonde exiting the car after him, my heart dropped to my stomach. And, no, the blonde wasn't Luke. However, I did notice that she rejected Ashton's hand and crossed her arms when the other girls went running and surrounded them in the parking lot. I heard Dave raise his voice, telling them to settle down or they'd have to leave.
Then I heard Traci say, "Oh. My. Fuck."
My thoughts exactly.