Sequel: If Only Until Morning

Pictures on Silence

Chapter 25

After brushing my teeth, washing my face, and getting dressed, I sat down on the couch and opened the last book I'd brought that I had yet to read: Chuck Palahniuk's Choke. I loved the rest of his work, so I assumed this would prove no different.

About five pages into it, Brendon called out from Ryan's room. "Hey, Angie! Come in here and tell us who's bigger!"

I lifted my eyes to the opposite wall and blinked a few times. Having a wide perverse streak, I jumped to the most obvious conclusion, and doing so I returned to reading and called back very sweetly, "It's not how big it is, it's how you use it!"

I smirked to myself and put on a placid expression when he popped his head out of the doorway. "You have a very, very dirty mind," he informed me. Brendon grinned. "And I like that about you." I rolled my eyes at him and dropped my gaze to the text when he and Ryan walked out to the couch where I sat. Do not, I told myself, I repeat, do not, ogle the two incredibly sexy gentlemen who are not wearing shirts.

"What he meant to say," Ryan elaborated, "Was tell us who has bigger biceps."

"You can't figure that out yourselves?" I asked professionally, not looking up at the risk of blushing like a tomato.

"No. We need an outside opinion and figure that you would be the most sound choice."

"Because of your innate expertise as a female," Brendon put in. I raised my eyebrows sceptically at him. "And because you'd probably enjoy looking at us shirtless." I arched only one eyebrow at him flatly, and he smiled uncertainly. "And... because... I love you?"

Smirking, I held my thumb in the book to keep my page and adjusted my seat. "Flex." Ryan and Brendon bent their elbows at a ninety-degree angle. Unable to tell precisely merely by looking, I stood up and squeezed both of their arms. "Brendon by a little," I answered lightly, sitting back down, "But that's only because if Ryan turned sideways, he would disappear, he's so skinny." They made faces at each other, which made me snort out a laugh. "If it's any consolation, I like Ryan's hair better."

"Ha," he laughed victoriously. Brendon stuck out his lower lip.

I rolled my eyes. "You both have very pretty hair," I complimented. They both grinned inanely. "How about you go put on shirts now and I won't ask what made you comprise this competition in the first place." They laughed and left the room.

"Okay, so we'll be back here at two-thirty," Jon told me as the four of them made their way out the door. "Don't miss us too much."

I rolled my eyes. "I'll try," I promised sarcastically.

"And we're going out so look hot!" Brendon called down the hall. "Not that you'll have trouble!" I laughed and waved as they disappeared from the view. Shutting the door, I rubbed my hands together. Now comes the interesting bit.

I spent twenty minutes sorting through all my clothes and put on my black elbow-length Henley, red plaid skirt, opaque black thigh-high stockings, and black leather boots. Leaving a note just in case and shoving the other room key into my messenger bag, I departed the suite and took the elevator downstairs.

"Excuse me," I said politely to the pink- and brown-haired woman with the plastic smile behind the information desk. "I wondered if you might tell me where I can find the closest beauty shop."

"We have a spa right here on the property," the Stepford Clerk said, smiling creepily. "It's just down the hall that way and--"

"I hoped for something a little less taxing on my wallet," I interrupted courteously. Obviously, anything at the resort would require an exorbitant amount of money I did not have. And I probably would end up looking like a mannequin whore.

"Look, you seem like a nice kid." The woman glanced around, wearing an actual human expression, and wrote something down on a slip of paper, which she slid towards me. "Here's the name of my place. Go out the main entrance, turn left, and go two blocks. It's right between the bistro and the record store. Ask for Jamie. Tell them Lacie sent you." She gave me a real smile.

I smiled gratefully and followed her directions exactly, keeping a straight back the whole way due to paranoia. The shop wasn't huge, didn't have any big flashy signs or gimmicks, and had a good, neighbourly quality. The bell jingled as I walked through the door and a few people looked up. "Heyya, honey," the woman at the desk greeted, smiling with brilliant white teeth. "What can I do for ya?"

"Um, I want to get my hair and nails done," I informed her, cautious to speak correctly; I had friends who told a stylist to make them look good and ended up looking like Barbie. "Lacie told me to ask for Jamie."

"Hear that?" she called back to the stylists working at chairs. "She's a friend of Lacie's!" They all let out whoops and laughs. I smiled nervously. "Don't worry, hun. Jamie's the best we got. Go sit in the last chair and Jamie'll be out in a sec."

I sat down in the swivelling chair and smiled shyly at the women around me, either working or getting worked on. "Hey, sweetie, you my sugarcake's friend?" I turned my head and was surprised by the effeminate Latino with the shiniest hair I'd ever seen. He smiled cutely and cocked his head at me. "Must be. Lacie only sends the best down here."

He turned me towards the mirror and looked at me. "So what are we doing today, sweetie?" he asked pleasantly.

"I'm not entirely sure," I confessed. "I want to wow some new friends of mine when we go out later, but I don't want to completely change myself."

"So the same, but different?" Jamie giggled. Suspicion applied: gay or straight?

I smiled sheepishly and twisted one of my earrings. "I'm not too helpful, am I?"

"We'll make due. It'll be a challenge to improve on what you've got, but babe, I'm willing to try." I smiled, cheeks heating. "Your hair is so gorgeous." He played with some pieces, pulling it back, turning me this way and that. "Do you blow dry your hair usually?"

I shook my head. "I normally don't do anything to my hair except use a lot of conditioner." I held out a curl and let it spring back into my face. "They've never seen me with straight hair," I mused. Though they could have done for the three straightening irons in the bathroom sink.

"Then that's what we'll do," Jamie decided, spinning me around. As he shampooed my head in the sink, he asked, "So where you from, sweetie?"

"California. South of San Francisco."

"Oooh. It's nice there. Lots of great people, places to party." I smiled up at him smiling. "I could tell you're not from around here. Not fake like a lot of people you get in Vegas. Fake tans, fake boobs, fake personalities."

"I guess I got lucky then," I said over the noise of the faucet. "Three of the friends I'm going out with are from around here."

Jamie smiled impishly as he worked conditioner into my hair. "These friends of yours, they boys?" he asked knowingly. I grinned. "Uh huh, uh huh. What are you all doing? Crazy night on the town? Best city to do it in."

"After the show, they're going to take me around to their favourite places. I guess it's mostly a surprise."

"What show?"

"Panic! At the Disco."

Jamie gasped. "I love them! I was so bummed when the tickets sold out. Now what's a sexy thing like you doing missing a show like that?" Laughing uncomfortably, I shrugged. "Well, if you hadn't I wouldn't be here talking to you, now would I?" He tilted the chair up and pulled out a blow dryer and round brush. Jamie continued talking as he worked and a woman started giving me a French manicure.

"I wish I could meet those boys," he said wistfully. "I heard they're super nice, as well as dead gorgeous. Some people just have it all I suppose."

I smiled. "Yeah, they do." You have no idea how true that is, I thought to myself.

"So who's your favourite?" Jamie asked. "I like Brendon, personally. He has the most gorgeous lips. And that voice. Oh my god! I bet he's a loud one in the bedroom. You don't get lungs like that except on a screamer, I tell you what." I laughed. Suspicion confirmed: definitely gay. "Who's your favourite, sweetie?"

"I like them all," I answered truthfully. "Theyr'e s-- they seem like such sweet guys."

"Oh, that's no fun," Jamie chided, blow-drying the last section of hair. The woman snapped her gum and spun her chair around to do my other hand. "Now come on, if you had to choose-- say you won a date with one of them-- who would you want to stare at all night?"

I laughed and thought about it seriously, weighing each guys traits against each other. Truthfully, the first name that popped up in my head (and continued to scream itself and dance around) was Ryan. "Ryan, I think."

"He's a cutie. What's your favourite part about him?"

I searched for something that wouldn't give away that I knew him personally. Biting my lip, I looked up at the ceiling. "His eyes," I decided. "They're so expressive... and deep... and beautiful..." I drifted off pensively, picturing Ryan asleep in the bed next to me a few nights before.

"Mmhmmm. Sounds like someone has a celebrity crush," Jamie said playfully, running the straighter through my hair. I told myself that my cheeks were hot from the blow dryer and I shook the mental image away. "I don't blame you. He'd be my next choice." He put down the straightening iron and stepped away to look at me. "Sugar, if you've got your sight sets on any of those boys tonight, you'll definitely have them wrapped around your little finger."

I smiled. "Can I look?" I asked.

"No, not yet. We'll put a little makeup on you to really knock em dead." He leaned in and whispered, "This ones on me, honey." I tried to protest, but he walked away to get a palette, singing 'But It's Better If You Do' loudly. I settled into the chair, swinging my feet and watching my nails dry.


"Honey, I'm home!" Spencer called as we entered the hotel room. I took a deep breath; it was good to be back home. Even if we still were staying in a hotel.

"Where is she?" Jon asked, coming out of his and Bren's room.

Brendon held up a note. "Says here if she's not back when we get in, not to worry." He read the note over. "She's 'popped out' and she'll be back soon." Brendon shrugged and dropped the note back on the table. "I still think Sean's not the only English member of the band."

Shrugging, we all went our separate directions to get ready. I took off my stage makeup and re-flat ironed my hair to perfection; the bathroom got crowded with Brendon and Spencer and I all in there at once. I heard the front door shut as I changed my clothes. Sitting out in the kitchen, Jon said something muffled, and Angie replied indistinctly. Brendon and Spencer soon joined the mostly quiet conversation. Tugging on my blazer, I walked out to see what the hubbub was and stopped short.

It never really occurred to my how long Angie's hair really was until I saw it, pin straight, cascading down her back almost to the end of her skirt. Which itself was shorter than I'd have pinned her for owning. She turned her head towards me and I think my jaw dropped to the floor. Green eyes vibrant against the copper and gold makeup, she smiled warmly, white teeth peeking out from behind crimson lips.

"Yeah, that was pretty much my reaction," Jon laughed.

I shook my head and blinked a few times: not a mirage. This magnificent creature actually stood before me. "Wow," was all I could say. Angie smiled shyly and ran a hand through her hair. "You look... wow."

"So what do you say we get going before Ryan goes catatonic from shock?" Spencer suggested. They laughed, but all I saw and heard was her. It wasn't that I didn't know Penelope was attractive, but damn. I think my heart sped up a little.

"Yeah, in a tic," she said. "It was bloody hot walking back here dressed like this. I don't know how you guys manage it."

"You get used to it," I said, shrugging a shoulder. She brushed past me, giving me a whiff of whatever made her smell so wonderful, and I watched her hips sway as she walked into my room to change. Blinking, I turned to the guys, who all smirked at me. "There is a god."