‘Come on, admit it, you’re having a good time!’ Maria preened her hair, scanning the room for any eligible men who may have been looking over at the two girls. Ivy, feeling more self conscious than she ever had done, was still trying to find a way to simultaneously pull her dress both up and down, feeling incredibly exposed. Literally. ‘Yeah, it’s amazing here,’ she muttered, trying to ignore the judging looks of the similarly-dressed elite who were slowly filtering into the bar, trying to determine whether she was dressed finely enough to be accepted.
‘Oh, come on Ivy! You just need to relax a bit. C’mon, let’s go to the bar. We’ve got to take advantage of this free bar, right?’ Taking her by the hand, Maria pulled Ivy over and ordered two cocktails, which Ivy gratefully took.
‘I definitely need this!’ Ivy grinned in spite of herself, stirring her drink a little before taking a sip. A fruity sweetness filled her mouth. ‘Oh wow, this is delicious!’ She took a deeper gulp.
‘That’s the spirit! We’re going to have a good night. Or we will do, if Ethan Blaine ever shows up! Where is he?!’ Maria crossly knocked back her own glass, frustrated that she hadn’t caught sight of her idol yet.
‘Steady on girl! You don’t want to be paraletic by the time he gets he – oh!’
A swell of excitement filled the room as everyone flocked to the back door, which a group of security men had just walked through to clear a pathway to the stage. Maria squealed with excitement, practically throwing her glass into the air. ‘He’s here! He’s here!! Quick, Ivy! Let’s get to the front!’
Ivy marvelled at Maria’s forwardness as she yanked her through to the front of the stage with seemingly little care for the people she barged out of the way. One girl she nearly sent flying across the room! As they reached the front, Maria turned to Ivy. ‘Did I get her? Zelda! Did she fall over?’ She muttered into her ear. Ivy understood immediately.
Discreetly looking over her shoulder, Ivy saw a very cross, but very upright, Zelda Mae complaining to her date. ‘No, but she looks really pissed off,’ she whispered.
‘Damn.’ Maria crossly brushed her fringe to one side, running a hand over the top of her pony tail. ‘She tried to get me fired the other day, you know, she’s so determined to get my job. Oh my god, here he comes!!’
The stage lights brightening while the rest of the building faded into darkness, Ivy and Maria watched breathlessly as the tall figure strolled calmly onto the stage, waving at the adoring audience. ‘Hello Sunset Valley!’ Ethan Blaine’s warm, rich voice filled the room, his brown eyes twinkling under the spot lights. Ivy had to hold onto Maria to stop herself from swooning right over.
Gently picking up his flame patterned guitar, Ethan strummed it a little to check that it was definitely in tune before grinning at the audience. ‘Wow, it’s so awesome to be playing such an intimate gig! Arenas are all well and good, but you can’t connect with the audience as well as you can when you can look them right in the… right in the eyes…’
As he’d looked around the gathered crowd, he’d said that last part directly to Ivy, a slow smile creeping across his face. She felt her cheeks flush bright red and a wave of heat burned through her. Wrenching her gaze away from the rock star, she steadfastedly stared at the drinks list behind the bar.
‘Ohmigod Ivy! He just looked right at you!’ Maria squealed into Ivy’s ear as the guitarist launched into his first song. ‘You lucky thing!’
‘He wasn’t. He was just looking at the crowd in general,’ Ivy muttered, willing her face to return its usual shade. She couldn’t get the expression he’d had on his face out of her mind. ‘Now be quiet! You’re missing his performance!’
Ethan Blaine played for the next half an hour, going through the band’s latest hits and a few of his own compositions. His presence dwarfed the small stage, his rock star aura filling the lounge. Goosebumps ran down Ivy’s spine with each note he played, the electric guitar electrifying her body. As much as it made her blush to do so, she could not tear her eyes from him. It was the quietest Maria had ever been too, the magic of the music silencing her usual chatter.
As his set came to an end, he waving to the adoring crowd before hopping off stage into a conversation with his management. Security surrounded the pair of them, keeping his adoring fans at bay until he was ready for them.
‘Oh wow! That was… That was incredible!’ Maria gushed, barely able to stand in her excitement. ‘Oh hey! There’s Stiles McGraw, my boss. I’m just going to pop over and say hi, okay?’
‘Yeah, that’s fine. I’ll go sit down for a bit. Bring a drink over, yeah?’
Ivy wandered into one of the booths, thankful to sit down a few minutes. Why on earth had Maria put her in such uncomfortable heels? She longed for her comfortable trainers, wincing as she thought about the blisters that were to come tomorrow. Bloody heels. She’d wanted to see Ethan Blaine, but she wasn’t entirely sure it had been worth feeling this uncomfortable…
She pulled her phone out to text Tristan when she became aware of a figure walking over and sitting down next to her. She assumed it was Maria, but when she turned to accept her long-awaited drink…
‘Oh god, I’ve got such a head ache. Some of this lot never stop screeching,’ Ethan Blaine groaned, halfly to himself, running his hand through his quiffed hair. Ivy froze. Ethan Blaine was sat next to her. Ethan. Blaine.
Ethan Blaine had just said something to her, well kind of. Ethan. Blaine.
Was she dreaming? Had she fallen over on her stupid heels and was actually unconscious on the floor? Had she had one too many of the free cocktails and was hallucinating?
‘So did you enjoy the show? Seemed like you did. I saw you, on the front row?’
Tentatively, Ivy looked at Ethan, who was looking right back at her, a quizzical smile on his face. He really was talking to her. Ethan Blaine was striking up a conversation!
‘Y-Yes, I did enjoy it. You were really good!’
Really good?! Ivy died a little inside. Here she was talking to one of the country’s greatest rock stars, and all she can say is that he was really good?! Oh, great going Ivy. So impressive…
‘Well, I am glad you thought I was really good. I do aim to please!’ Ethan’s face practically twinkled with amusement.
‘You did! You really… You did…’ Ivy trailed off, trying to regain control of her squeaking voice. Trying to be subtle she brought her hand up to her cheek. Boiling.
‘So why’re you sat here all on your own? Doesn’t seem right, really,’ Ethan pretended he hadn’t noticed, a little charmed by this girl’s tongue-tied nature.
‘Um… My friend, she saw her boss. She went to say hi, so I decided to sit down. My feet hurt,’ Ivy stated lamely. Why are you talking about your feet?! He doesn’t care about your feet!!
‘Ah. Heels getting the better of you?’
‘Yes. Don’t usually, er, don’t usually wear them.’
‘Can’t say I blame you! Don’t know how you ladies do it,’ Ethan smiled, trying to put Ivy at ease. ‘Don’t think I could do it!’
‘Ha! Hahaha!’ Ivy, stop laughing. You sound pathetic.
‘So where’s your friend now? If she’s otherwise engaged, perhaps -‘
Ivy looked up, startled. Where was Maria?! She was only supposed to be five minutes! Looking around the room, not paying attention to what Ethan was saying to her, she finally clocked her stood next to a table with their drinks on, looking over at Ivy with a grin on her face reminiscent of a Cheshire Cat.
‘Go for it!’ Maria mouthed, giving Ivy a thumbs up. Ivy couldn’t wait to get out of this uncomfortable situation.
‘She’s over there! My friend, she’s over there. Um, nice talking to you!’ As fast as she could on her heels, Ivy tottered over to Maria.
‘What are you playing at? You’ve got Ethan Bloody Blaine chatting you up, and you come back over to me?!’
‘He wasn’t chatting me up! Don’t be stupid. He was just making small talk!’
Maria rolled her eyes. ‘Oh Ivy, you are naive,’ she said, a little patronisingly. ‘I was watching you as soon as he walked over to you! He’s clearly smitten.’
‘Oh, don’t be daft. Is that mine?’ Ivy grabbed hre cocktail and knocked it back, desperate to change the subject.
‘Ivy, you can down the spirits all you like, but he was definitely making a move! You lucky sod. I’d have given my left lung to be in your situation!’
‘Yeah, well. I didn’t exactly make a great first impression, if you must know. Look, let’s just hang out here, take advantage of the free bar, and have a good night. And let’s say nothing more about Ethan Blaine! Another drink?’