Home > If This Gets Out(3)

If This Gets Out(3)
Author: Sophie Gonzales

Angel has his back to me, so I snatch up the nearest water bottle and splash it over his head, soaking his black hair and sagging it into limp tendrils. He gasps and whips around. “Betrayal,” he declares. I run to crouch behind Zach, who’s got his shirt on now, and is therefore safe to acknowledge again.

“Guys, guys,” Penny says, darting in front of the table housing her vast makeup kit like a desperate mother throwing her body in front of her only child. “No water fights around the makeup. Enough. Ruben, you need a makeup wipe, come on.”

Angel lowers his water bottle and holds up his hands in submission, then uses one to push his dripping hair out of his face. I emerge from behind Zach, and, with a flick of his wrist, Angel splashes water my way. It doesn’t quite make it.

I dodge past him to take a handful of wipes and start on my eyes first. Over the last couple years, our eye makeup has gotten less and less subtle, to the point where neutral-but-obvious eye makeup has become part of our brand. These days, Penny goes through about one brown eyeliner per week. She has a way of smoking out the liner with soft shadows and a light touch to make our eyes pop. I tried to replicate it once and I ended up looking like I was auditioning for a Pirates of the Caribbean movie. Since then, I’ve left the liner to her.

Finally, fresh-faced and clean-clothed, we traipse into the green room after Erin. I throw myself onto the couch, lay my head on the armrest, and close my eyes, while Zach, who sits in the armchair next to me, amuses himself by rhythmically poking my head. I hide my smile behind the armrest and wave a hand in his general direction to halfheartedly buzz him off as Angel and Jon cram in beside me.

Angel kicks at my feet until I lower them to give him more space, forcing me to sit up straight where Zach can’t reach me anymore. I stop myself from giving Angel a petty nudge back in revenge, but only barely. Mostly because I don’t have the energy for it.

Angel wasn’t kidding when he said we’re zombies. We haven’t had a break in weeks. Every single day has been the same. An early start, followed by publicity events—interviews, TV show appearances, waving to crowds from building windows like we’re the freaking royal family or something—followed by dinner, then warm-ups and getting ready, a concert, getting un-ready, then either going to our hotel rooms or straight to a private jet to get flown to the next state to do it all again.

But not tomorrow. Tomorrow, we get to go home.

Personally, I’m not exactly overflowing with anticipation—my mom’s passive-aggressive on her best days and garden-variety aggressive on her worst, and Dad might as well live at work. I’m looking forward to the chance to sleep past sunrise, though.

“Okay,” Erin says, and I open my eyes, but don’t lift my head. “I wanted to gather you here to make sure we’re all on the same page for next week, and to give you the chance to ask last-minute questions while we’re together.”

Next week. Next week we’re getting on a plane and kissing the home of the brave goodbye for months while we go on the international leg of the tour. First stop, London.

I’ve never left the country before. Over the past couple years, I’ve gotten used to leaving my parents for weeks—and sometimes months—at a time, but it’s never felt as serious as this. Until now, I’ve always been in the same country as them. Even though I’ve technically been farther from them before in terms of flight times, somehow, flying to Europe feels bigger. Honestly, it’s all kind of overwhelming to think about, and I haven’t given myself the chance to dwell on it yet. It’s been easier to think of it as something that future-me would face.

Problem is, future-me is about to become present-me.

I knew there was a flaw in the plan.

I raise a sleepy hand as I remember there is one question I have. Well, two. “Can I triple-clarify you’re not surprising me with tickets to a West End show?” I ask.

“Wouldn’t be a very good surprise if she told you,” Jon points out.

“No, it wouldn’t,” Erin says. “But just so you don’t get your hopes up, I can confirm we definitely don’t have time for a West End show. Sorry, Ruben.”

I can’t muster up the energy to be disappointed. “I figured. But you said we might be able to check out the Burgtheater in Vienna…?”

Erin smiles. “I did, and we will. I promise, I’ve made a point of getting it on our itinerary. We should be able to spare an hour.”

I perk up at this. My family is made up of theater geeks. I was raised on Andrew Lloyd Webber and bred on Sondheim. My mom threw me into private singing lessons to perfect my vibrato and belt in kindergarten, and I started touring with professional theater companies in elementary school. I’ve seen everything America has to offer in terms of musical theater history, but I can’t go to Europe without at least doing something touristy, and I’ve always been in love with the vibe and history of the Burgtheater. That, and we don’t have time to visit the Globe, to my disgust.

Jon, who’s the only one of us not slumping in his seat, speaks up now. “We’re still visiting the Vatican, right?”

“Yes, absolutely.”

Because of course, we couldn’t put aside four hours for a West End show, but we’re spending a whole morning at the Vatican for Jon. It’s not surprising, I guess: Jon’s super Catholic, like his mom, and even though his dad, Geoff Braxton, isn’t, Geoff’s obviously going to make sure we have time to do whatever’s important to Jon. It’s how things have always been.

Erin nods at Angel. “Anything you need to clarify, hon?”

Angel pretends to think about it. “Um, is the drinking age in London still eighteen?”

She sighs. “Yes.”

Angel grins. “No further questions, Your Honor.”

I lift my head to look at Zach, who’s resting his chin on his palm. “You’re quiet,” I say.

“Hmm?” He blinks. “Oh, no, I’m good. No questions. Theaters and drinking and, um … Jesus … all sound good.”

“Bedtime, huh?” I ask, and he nods, his eyes heavy-lidded.

Erin takes the hint. “Okay. The minibus’s out front. Email me or text if you have any questions, otherwise I’ll see you bright and early on Sunday.”

We all scramble to get out of there before Erin remembers any more items on the agenda. “I know all of you follow the law and don’t drink underage!” she calls to our backs. “But just remember hangovers and transatlantic flights don’t mix, all right?”

Zach and I take the back seat in the minibus, while Angel and Jon sit in front of us, in separate seats. Usually we’re chatty on the way back to our hotel, but today I’m a special kind of tired. Like I’ve just finished running a marathon: the final reserve of energy used to propel me over the finish line finally exhausted. We haven’t had four whole days off in … a really fucking long time.

Even though our hotel’s barely five minutes away in night traffic, Angel curls up and naps on his seat, and Jon puts his headphones on to wind down with some music.

Essentially alone, I glance at Zach. “I can’t believe it’s over,” I say.

Zach raises an eyebrow. “We’ve still got all of Europe left.”

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