The Night We Met

Liv has never felt at home in the Northern seaside town she grew up in. So, she moves to the vibrant city of London to pursue her dream of becoming an artist. Along the way, she encounters a group of fellow colorful misfits and the alluring Lex; a beautiful musician reaching the peak of fame, who lives every day like it's his last. Seeking a quiet life, Liv struggles to accommodate the interesting nature of Lex's career, the lives of the people around her and her own ever-growing anxieties whilst trying to become the version of herself she has always wanted to be...


7. Six (2)

There isn't a word able to describe the Strand's live experience but mindblowing comes pretty close. The band were well rehearsed, Lex was astounding (as usual) and the whole crowd knew the lyrics to the songs. It gave me serious chills. Afterwards, they hung around to sign some merch for the fans (it still blew my mind that my boyfriend had actual real-life fans). I stood on the sidelines in sheer awe as I couldn't imagine having a job like that where people worshipped you. Parm was like a fangirl herself; desperately waiting for Jonesy to notice her. She was still having no luck speeding up the process and was getting increasingly angry that Jonesy was a slow burner. I couldn't tell if it ignited her passion more or just seriously angered her. But as the night wore on, her mood seemed to decline. I tried to ignore it as it was Lex's night and he didn't need Parm, or anyone else's drama, ruining his memories.


"That was aaaaamazing!" I beamed, shellshocked, when Lex eventually made it back to the green room. I thought I had seen him happy before but in that moment, he was absolutely ecstatic. I knew, deep down in my bones, the boy in front of me was born to create music.
"So, was the live experience everything you thought?" He asked, modestly, wiping his forehead with a towel. There was something about him being so sweaty that made me want to rip his shirt right off but I managed to restrain myself.
"Everything and more!"
"Good because you're the only person I want to impress."



Jonesy put an arm around each of our shoulders and squeezed us with genuine happiness and pride.


"We are off to the pub to celebrate!" Jonesy was clearly buzzing too after the gig. Parm was watching from the corner trying to look less pissed off. "Are you joining us?"
"We'll catch up with you!" Lex said, grabbing my hand. "Going to sort out some stuff first."


Eventually the rest of the band, and Parm, filtered out of the room to the pub leaving us behind. A sweaty, irresistable Lex and I had somehow ended up alone in the tiny room together and, with my recent lack of self-control, I didn't exactly relish the opportunity. Last time I had tried to force myself onto Lex, I had almost broken his nose. Who knew what would happen the second time around?


"Is this the part where you seduce me whilst nobody is around?" I raised an eyebrow and awkwardly toyed with the hem of my dress.
"Do you want me to seduce you?" Lex asked, trying to fight down a smile. "Because I am willing to make that sacrifice."


I slapped him playfully. 


"I'm just kidding," He smiled. "Actually, I wanted you to stay here with me, without else anyone around, because I have something to show you."
"What is it?" I asked, suddenly feeling frightened.
"Close your eyes."
"You're worrying me now..."
"Just do it!" He laughed and put his hands over my eyes until I scrunched them together tightly.


I could hear some muffled sounds; the sound of feet shuffling around the room, a chair scratching across the floor and a funny, little nervous sigh as a body dropped into a chair. 


"Okay," He said, softly. "You can open your eyes now."


There he was, in a shirt that matched his brilliant blue eyes, sitting in the chair across from me; with his guitar in hand.


"You know that song I said I'd write about you?" He said, simply. "I finished it today."
"Are you joking?" I asked, flabberghasted. 
"I'm not. Can I play it for you?"
"Uhh...yes!!!" I almost yelled with enthusiasm, still shocked that he had actually followed through and written a song about little old me.


He smiled, the lovely, kind smiled that created dimples in his cheeks and brightened his eyes, and started to play...


Come back, move in, mess my place
Chest infect me, waste my days
Cause I know you love to drive me up the wall
I know you love to drive me up the wall

I wanna bring you home myself
Bring you home myself

And I'm so impatient when you're not mine
I just want to catch up on all the lost times
And I'll say I'm sorry if I sound sordid
Cause all I really ever want is you  ...



There was a minute long silence after the song ended.



"So," His voice wavered as he spoke finally. "What do you think?"
"I think," I contemplated my answer for a moment. "You could quite possibly be the greatest thing that has ever happened to me. Infact no, scratch that - you are the greatest thing that has ever come into my life. Period."


That time, when I kissed him, I didn't break his nose.





Eventually, Lex and I made it to the pub with the rest of the gang and had a brilliant night together. It felt nice to be able to dance and hold hands with Lex without hiding and we spent the entire night glued to each other's side. At times, as unoriginal as it sounds, it felt like there was nobody else in the room apart from Lex and I; the rest of the scene around us fell away into a blurred mixture of shapes and colours. All that mattered to me was the fact that I was falling, hard and fast, for a stunningly beautiful and kind soul who had written a song for me. I couldn't recall a time when I had felt more happy or safe. 


Towards the end of the night, Parm and Jonesy were in the corner of the pub talking in hushed tones. Parm seemed very annoyed but Jonesy was way too chilled out for confrontation so, eventually, just sat there motionless as Parm berated him. She was my dear friend but I didn't feel it was my place to get involved in their personal drama. I decided that if she wanted help she would come to me. It turns out she did need help - and alot of it.


"I'm ready to go home now," She tugged on the back of my dress, like a child would do to it's mother.
"Right now?" I tried to remain cheerful but I knew, judging by her present mood, that Parm was not playing around. "It's still early though..."


This was my polite way of saying "I am here to have a nice time with my boyfriend and celebrate his accomplishments so no I don't want to go home". But Parm was persistent and evidently, deeply pissed off about her conversation with Jonesy.


"You're a terrible friend," She hissed.

"Huh?!" I could barely hear her over the music. 
"I want to leave."
"What's going on?"I dragged her into the toilets. 


Parm's dramatic moodswings were beginning to wear thin on me. For the past couple of weeks, she had either been ridiculously overjoyed or fallen into a dark, depressive hole. There was no inbetween. I had always known she had a flair for the dramatics but some of her recent remarks could be cutting. Often, I felt that she was arguing for no reason other than she was bored or not getting her own way. Sadly, I seemed to be on the receiving end of her inane arguments quite a bit and it was starting to really drain me. But she was my friend and I didn't know how to tell her that without hurting her feelings. So, I usually just let her give me a good telling off and hoped she would be in a better mood the next day.


"Jonesy ended things," Parm announced. For a moment she looked tearful but then she launched in her rage-filled tirade again. "He said that I keep pushing him to rush things and he doesn't want to. He thinks, I quote, we are 'fundamentally very different people who want different things'".
"Ok," I rubbed my forehead, as it had suddenly began to ache, and tried to be diplomatic. "I see why you're upset. It's not nice to be dumped..."
"I was NOT dumped. Nobody dumps me."
"I'll rephrase it then. It's never nice to be let down by someone. But if that's how Jonesy feels you have to respect his wishes. It'll be better for you as well, Parm. Now you can find a guy who wants the same things as you."
"But I don't want another guy - I want Jonesy."


Honestly, I understood her frustration at getting rejected but I also thought that she was being a bit of a brat.


"He's the only guy I haven't been able to talk round to being with me," She flipped her hair over her shoulder. "It's so frustrating!"
"Didn't you hear what you just said? You had to 'talk' all the others round. Jonesy genuinely wanted to be with you - he told Lex."
"How come he ended things then?"

"My best guess is that he isn't used to being chased. Jonesy is just a laid-back guy; he's probably not used to a girl declaring her feelings so openly for him."

"So, you're saying all of this is my fault?"
"No," I insisted. "Not at all. I'm saying that perhaps the tactic you always use just doesn't work with certain guys."
"Right, I forgot you are an expert on boys now," Parm replied, snidely. "Well, we don't all have millionaire rockstars chasing after us."

"There's no need to be like that. I'm just trying to help."
"I didn't ask for your help. I said I wanted to go home."
"Ok. Well, you have two legs of your own - I'm sure you can go home without me."
"UGGGH!" Parm flung her arms into the air in disgust and stormed out of the toilets.


"Not everything is about you, Parm," I shouted after her. "This isn't fair to the boys! It's their night - not yours!"


Parm didn't reply as she had already stalked straight out of the nearest exit. I didn't know what it was about confrontation but it always made me tremble badly. So, when I eventually felt able to come out of the toilets, I clung to the wall for support and reminded myself to breath. I'd had panic attacks before, where my brain was pulled in so many directions that it couldn't cope, but I had gotten better at managing them. So, I took deep breaths and closed my eyes until I could feel the panic subside.


Lex finally found me clinging to a bar stool with my all might and tried to steady me.


"Liv???" He took my face in his hands and looked at my shaking hands. "You're shivering. What's happening?"
"I know I look like a massive wimp but I can't handle confrontation," I admitted. "I just had a massive argument with Parm. Jonesy dumped her."
"Yeah, he told me. Jonesy has been concerned about her 'extracurricular activities' for some time."
"What do you mean?"
"I don't know how to tell you this. I'm a former addict myself and I think I know when I see someone else going through the same thing. I think Parm has a problem."
"You think Parm has a drug problem?" I asked, confused. 
"Drinking or drugs - it's all the same. But there is something going on with her. Jonesy suggested she sort herself out first before pursuing anything with him or anyone else. She didn't take it well."
"She conveniently left out that part of the story."
"Of course she did. Addicts worm their way out of everything and blame everyone else. I should know - I did it myself before."
"I think I should go after her. She shouldn't be out alone wandering the streets in that state."
"Don't worry," Lex said, sympathetically. "I'll come with you. We'll find her."


He went over to a despondent looking Jonesy and gave him a supportive hug before gathering his jacket and joining me at the door. My head was ringing as I began to put the pieces together; Parm's insistence on binge drinking, her erratic behaviour, the way she disappeared for days at a time. Did she really have a 'problem', as Lex put it? Or was she just another teenager having fun? Where was the line between the two?


As soon as we got outside the pub, the sea of cameras began to flash in our direction. I was momentarily blinded but I could feel Lex's hand grasping my own and guiding me towards safety. 




I closed my eyes and began to count my breaths slowly. The panic was beginning to rise in my chest again; pin and needles stabbed my palms as an unwelcome reminder of the anxiety I lived with everyday. 





The paparazzi were relentless and shouted mine and Lex's name on a continous loop. 




Immediately, Lex stopped dead in his tracks. His fists were clenched by his side, quivering and white, and he suddenly looked very, very angry. Oh no, my screaming heart warned me. This is not good.


"What did you just say?" Lex rounded on the photographer but acted very calmly and deliberately.
"I asked your girlfriend to show us her underwear again," The photographer licked his lips. It disgusted me to think he was someone's father or uncle and would speak about a young girl in that way. "That last photo got me a few hundred quid!"
"Lex," I stepped between them and pleaded with Lex. "Don't! It's not worth it. He's just a sleazy pap."
"Who you callin' a sleazy pap?" The photographer prodded me in the chest. "You little whore."


It all happened quickly; firstly, the enraged photographer lunged for Lex. He attempted to grab Lex's hair with both hands but missed and, instead, his fist connected with Lex's cheekbone. There was an almighty crack. Startled, I stumbled backwards and an older lady standing by watching caught me. 


"It's okay, love," She put an around around me and rubbed my arm in a motherly gesture. "They're men - you have to let them sort it out between themselves."
"But I love him," I admitted, mostly to myself. The realization startled me. Luckily, it seemed Lex didn't hear my admission as he was too busy punching the living daylights out of the photographer.



Except, Lex wouldn't stop; he kept punching and punching, until the photographer was a groaning, bloody mess. I screamed at him over and over, but he just wouldn't stop. I couldn't believe the same loving, generous guy I had fallen for could be capable of such violence. 



"AAAAALEX!" I finally shouted, hoping using the name his Mum knew him by would bring him back to reality. It worked as he immediately stood up; his white shirt spittled with blood stains and his hand peppered with cuts. 


I didn't know what to say so we just stood looking at each other in silence for a long time whilst the photographer unleashed a neverending list of swear words from a pool of his own blood. It felt like my once colorful world had been reduced to a grey, miserable shadow of it's former self. Lex and I stood like that, just staring at each other utterly speechless, as the police sirens blared in the background. 


The sharp voice in my head broke the silence, coming out of nowhere, and decided to point out a rather troubling fear I was beginning to develop:


Maybe your Mum was right...
Maybe Lex Langley IS bad news...

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