I stand backstage, the short skirt and top I’m wearing not helping with the heat.
I’m pressed up against Layla and Shailene, their sweaty bodies making me more uncomfortable and suffocated with every second.
Our star is late.
And eight thousand people aren’t very happy about it.
“LOGAN! LOGAN! LOGAN! LOGAN!”
Can’t he come on time for once?
People from all over the world travelled here just to see him, and he has to be all dramatic and make them wait.
“Now, please welcome to the stage, the one and only, Logan Young!”
The cheering and clapping intensifies with this announcement, and Logan appears from below the stage, a platform lifting him up.
I almost forget my cue, as Shailene pushes me forward when the music starts.
Me and three other girls walk on stage from the left while the rest of them enter from the right, and as Logan starts singing, we start dancing the same routine we’ve practised for six months and have performed on stage for almost a month now.
I nod at Courtney on the other side of the stage and she nods back.
We cartwheel in unison and reach the opposite side of the stage.
We’re almost nearing the end of the song, and I place my arm on his shoulder as he wraps his around my hip for our final pose.
“So, how was I?” he asks, squeezing me lightly.
“You were late.”
He shoves me.
“You know what I’m talking about.”
“Yeah sure, you were alright.”
“I appreciate the high compliment, your majesty.”
“Shut up, idiot. I’m not inflating your ego anymore than your audience already has.”
“See you in a sec.”
I pat him on the back, and we run backstage before the next song starts.
The show is as expected, no last-minute changes to the setlist or positions like some other shows which I’m still salty about.
The adrenaline rush hits only after the show is over, and the chattering of my friends, the rest of the backup dancers, is familiar and comforting.
“The cartwheel was perfect this time! You guys nailed it!”
Me and Courtney hi-five each other, proud of finally reaching perfection, in at least one aspect.
The rest of our lives need a bit more work.
“So guys,” begins Layla.
“Come on Layla!”
“We’ve gone over this before!”
Similar protests emerge from the rest of the girls as we enter the tour bus.
She looks confused.
We glare at her, taking our seats.
“Logan is one of my best friends, okay? So if you want to gush over him or go over how hot he is, do it when I’m not here,” I say.
“Oh. I wasn’t going to talk to you guys about Logan, at least not at this moment,” she says, winking.
We roll our eyes in unison, some resorting to groaning.
She laughs, and says, “I wanted to ask what you guys are doing for Christmas this year.”
“We all know what Shailene is doing,” says Kiara, a sly smirk on her face.
“Mwah mwah sesh with her boo!”
I facepalm myself, while Shailene goes beetroot red.
“We’re in this city till the twenty-seventh, and my cousin is hosting a Christmas bash at his place on the twenty-fourth midnight onwards, so I was thinking we could go there. What do you guys think?” says Layla, her eyes shining.
“Is he rich?”
“There better be booze.”
As the others talk amongst each other in excitement, I shake my head.
“I have to pass.”
The others groan.
“Why do you always have to be such a party pooper?”
“Are you allergic to fun?”
Layla looks at me, confused.
“Why won’t you come?”
“I’m just tired, alright? We’ve been on tour for the past month and I just want to chill this Christmas.”
“And going to a party is real hard work, isn’t it Vick?”
“I’m sure it is for her.”
“Ladies,” says Logan, having entered our bus without us realizing.
He runs his hand through his hair, knowing how much the other girls love that.
You would think that being his backup dancers for almost a year would make the girls a bit more comfortable around him.
“Logan!” gasps Layla, looking like she might just throw up.
“I’m afraid I have to steal Victoria for a bit.”
“Could you ask him to steal me next time?” asks Layla, sounding breathless.
I elbow her and smile at Logan.
“Sure, anything to get a break from them.”
“You don’t mean that!”
“You love us!”
Shaking my head amusedly, I get down the bus, Logan on my heels.
“A friend of mine is hosting…”
“A Christmas bash on the twenty-fourth and you’re inviting me?”
“How did you know?”
“Everyone from Layla’s cousin to your friend is throwing a Christmas bash and wanting me to be there. Can’t you all just leave me alone?”
“Woah. What’s wrong?”
“I just – just want to relax this Christmas, is that illegal?”
“No, not at all. But are you sure it’s only because you’re tired? Or is it because you’re missing your family?”
I don’t know how he does it.
I thought that he would believe me.
But he’s more intuitive than I realized.
“Maybe I’m missing them a little bit,” I admit.
He gives me a sad smile.
That’s when I realize that he hasn’t seen or spent any time with his family in almost two years.
“And you? How are you holding up?”
“I’ll be okay.”
“How about we go somewhere? Just the two of us?” I suggest.
“Sure. Bailing on Chase won’t be fun, but it is inevitable, seeing that you need some Logan time,” he says, putting his tongue out.
“Oh shut up,” I say, attempting to glare at him, but instead end up laughing.
“See you at rehearsal,” he says, walking away.
“Are you sure you don’t want to come, Vicky? It will be fun, I promise,” says Layla, clinging on to my arm tightly.
“Nah, I’m sure. You go and have fun honey, don’t worry about me.”
She gives me a hug as she gets down from the tour bus.
I check my watch.
I see him walk towards the bus from the window, and I get down.
He’s dressed heavily, not just because of the cold, but also to avoid the screaming mob of girls that are a part and parcel of a famous male singer’s life.
“Oh wow, incredible disguise Logan. I almost didn’t recognize you for a second.”
“Shut up. Be thankful for the lengths I go to for your sake.”
“I am,” I say. Surprising myself, I slide my hand into his.
He squeezes my hand and flashes me a grin.
We walk on the pavement, snow lightly falling on us, Christmas trees and lights bathing us in colour.
We reach the movie theatre and stand in line to buy our tickets.
“You get the tickets, I’ll get popcorn,” he says, getting out of the line.
As I buy the tickets, I notice a few girls not so discreetly point at Logan and take pictures.
Suddenly, a high-pitched scream rings in my ears.
“That’s Logan Young!”
He looks at me in pure terror.
An increasing mob of girls surround him.
Alright then, if he can’t take care of himself, I might just have to save him.
I wrap my scarf to cover the lower part of my face so that no one recognises me.
“Excuse me, girls,” I yell, squeezing myself through the large crowd.
I pull Logan out, mumbling incoherent words in an attempt to convince the girls.
As soon as we get out of the theatre, I grab his hand tightly, and we run to the tour buses like our lives depend on it.
When we reach, I hold on to the side of the bus in an attempt to catch my breath.
“I’m – I’m sorry Vick,” says Logan, panting.
“I know you wanted a nice and peaceful Christmas, and I managed to get you the exact opposite of that.”
“Besides, it was so fun to see those girls trying to get a piece of you,” I say, laughing between my heavy breaths.
He lightly chuckles, then suddenly grows thoughtful.
“What do we do now?”
“I have an idea,” I say, smiling.
“I don’t know why I didn’t think of this,” says Logan, holding up his mug of hot chocolate.
We’re back in the tour bus for backup dancers, and on patiently insisting, I managed to get Logan in his pyjamas, to make it feel more like home.
“That’s because you don’t have anything in that head of yours,” I say, giggling.
“A very pretty head, mind you,” he says, and I roll my eyes at him.
We sit and sip some hot chocolate I whipped up from the chocolate packets and milk I found.
“Any minute now.”
The tour bus gives an incredible view of the city, framed by colourful lights and cloaked by a star-studded sky.
The hour hand on my watch touches twelve.
A second later, the fireworks begin. The green, red and white colours in the sky are met with cheers from everyone watching.
“Merry Christmas Victoria,” Logan says, holding up his mug.
“Merry Christmas Logan,” I reply with a wide grin, clinking my mug with his.
“I know that this isn’t exactly what you had imagined for Christmas,” he begins.
“No. It wasn’t.”