It’s brisk outside for a May summer night in the city, but I don’t mind because the heat radiating off the crowd of concert-goers is stifling. As the stadium fills, the temperature rises, and soon I must locate the nearest exit for a breath of fresh air. The excitement inside the walls is tremendous, but I can’t bring myself to share their enthusiasm. It’s late, and I haven’t eaten anything all day but an egg salad sandwich which I’m pretty sure was putrid. The so-called chic pair of Levis I mistakenly chose to wear tonight are squeezing my midsection in the most distressing of ways. Not only am I tired, hungry, and chafing from the sweat buildup, but I haven’t been able to take a real deep breath since stepping out of my hotel room at six AM this morning. Not for the first time today, I wish I was back home in Detroit.
I take a seat on the edge of a marble fountain outside of the venue, moving slowly so I won’t rip a hole in the crotch of my pants. I plan on throwing them out later tonight, of course, but there’s no way in hell I can traipse back into that stadium with my Vampire Diaries underwear flashing the crowd. Not everyone may appreciate Damon Salvatore like I do, and I’m not going to force it on them.
My cell phone rings as I start to fan myself with an abandoned paper plate sitting near the garbage pail. There’s something that resembles taco sauce dried to the inside of it, but I can’t even bring myself to care because the hot flash dilemma is real. As my phone goes off, vibrating awkwardly against my thigh, I jump so high in surprise that the plate I’m holding drops into my lap and smears not-so-dry sauce all over my not-so-chic jeans.
“Fuck,” I say. Some lady with a kid jerks her head in my direction and narrows her eyes. Her eight-year-old looks like he’s stifling a laugh as I fish my fingers into the pocket of my pants and pull it out. Cell-phones–like most electronics that test my patience and my skills–are on the list of things I could probably live without. Unfortunately for me, my new boss made it clear that I have it on me at all times. You know, just in case he needs to give me a ring and check up on things. It’s only been a day, and he’s already abused that power twelve and a half times—the half being when he butt-dialed me and sang “I Will Survive” at the top of his lungs for six minutes before I finally hung up. The other twelve times wasn’t for anything terribly important, only to check up, as if he kept expecting I would lose my shit, ditch the phone, and get on the first plane back to Michigan. At this point, I was seriously considering it.
“Harper,” I say, raising the phone to my ear. I figure if I’m going to act the part, I can at least try and sound professional.
“Quinn?” Daryl shouts in my ear. “Is that you?”
“It’s me,” I say. It doesn’t seem to matter that it’s been me the last dozen times. I pull the phone slightly away from my head, looking around. It’s quiet out here, most of the crowd has finally moved inside, but Daryl is yelling like someone’s blowing a French horn in his ear.
“Are you at the venue, my dear?” he howls. Not for the first time, I wonder if he’s hearing impaired and just pretends to have his shit together.
“I’m at the venue.” I turn down the volume on my phone, flashing an apologetic smile at a woman who’s glaring at me. It seems to be traveling from one person straight to the other, honestly. This girl is flaunting a tee-shirt with the Man-of-the-Night’s face on it: the one and only Chris Shearon, Rockstar. You’d think that her being here is excitement enough, but my phone call annoys her, anyway.
“How come I don’t hear any music?”
“Because it’s seven forty-five,” I mutter, glancing at my watch. “The concert starts at eight.”
“Are you inside?” Daryl demands. I’ve come to find in the short time I’ve known him that Daryl Dickenson assumes everyone is incapable of doing their job if he doesn’t check in every fifteen minutes. He takes the phrase micromanager who a whole new level.
“I needed some air. It’s hot in there.”
“You’re outside?” Daryl asks. “Why? Why are you outside when your job is to be inside? Why?”
“Don’t bore me,” he snaps. “Just get inside that building and do what I’ve hired you to do.”
“On it,” I say, and hang up the phone before he drills me some more. He doesn’t call back immediately, so I stuff the cell phone back into my pocket and stand up, adjusting the fabric around my waistline. Some teenage boy walks past and gives me a once-over, but not in a way that suggests he wants to get-all-up-on-that. He’s smirking. I stick out my tongue at him because I feel I’ve offended quite enough people already. As I head back inside, I pull out the camera Daryl sent me, along with a notepad for possible interviews later. I have to nail this because Chris Shearon– mega-celebrity and heart-throb–has the future of my career resting in his slimy, wealthy hands.