Chapter 1: Day 1- Mystery Girl
I call it 'Day One' because it's the day my life began. Not in the typical sense - technically, my life had begun sixteen-point-five years prior - but this was the day I was born again. I 'saw the light', if you will.
Really, though, there was no light. There was only her. And hot damn, was she ever sexy.
One look in her direction, and I belonged to her forever. It was love at first sight, I swear. I never believed in any of that bullshit until it happened to me.
I was thinking about it - the way we locked eyes, and how I might someday tell our grandchildren about it. "I was at a rehearsal with my brothers," I'd say. "We were one of the performers at an award show. There I was, strumming away on my guitar like it was nobody's business, ignoring all of the eyes watching me in the stadium - you get used to that after a while, everybody's eyes on you - and then my amp unplugged."
Not a big deal, but I saw crew members begin to scamper towards me to help, as if I was completely hopeless. I can plug in a fucking amp, thanks very much.
"I bent down to plug it in," I'd tell the little ones (they'd all be listening to me intently, hanging off my every word), "and on my way back up, I caught a glimpse of her."
And that did it. I never looked back.
"She was giggling with one of her friends, a photographer. They stood right in front of the stage. Then she looked at me, and her smile was bright and her cheeks were rosy..."
And I fell in love.
"And I knew that one day, I'd ask her to marry me."
Then my mesmerized grandchildren would 'ooh' and 'aw' and she - my wife - she'd sit on my lap and we'd smile at each other and continue to reminisce.
Needless to say, nobody was too impressed with me when we finished the song. It's hard to pay attention to anything when you realize you're staring into the eyes of the rest of your life, so naturally, I messed up a few times.
"You botched the whole thing, idiot," my brother, Joe, mumbled to me afterwards.
"You'd think it was our first time playing the song," grumbled brother #2, Kevin.
"It was only a rehearsal," I told them patiently. Christ. A guy who's just fallen in love should be given a break.
"Try not to stare off into space during the actual performance, then," Kevin instructed.
I wanted to tell him that I wasn't staring into space, I was staring at this beautiful girl - this girl with honey-coloured hair and brown eyes that had a little sparkle in them, eyes that told me we were destined to be together forever - but I kept my mouth shut. That was between me and Mystery Girl, anyway. We had secrets, even though I didn't know her name.
The thing about Kevin is that he never shuts up. He'll talk and talk, even if no one is listening. You can give him a blank sheet of paper and he'll make a whole speech out of it. My dad says when Kevin was four or five, he'd talk himself to sleep. He wouldn't cry himself to sleep or rock himself to sleep or sing himself to sleep - no, he'd talk himself to sleep.
By consequence, this makes him the worst listener in the entire world. I'm convinced of it. I don't even bother talking to him anymore because everything I say goes unheard. The funny thing is, he doesn't even notice. If the world dissolved in fire and ice and molten lava and left everyone dead but him, he would go on with life as if nothing had happened, talking up a storm the whole time.
That's the reason I didn't tell him about the love of my life. I'm the kind of guy who says only what is necessary; a guy who makes every word count. In this respect, Kevin and I are complete opposites, and since every word I say to Kevin doesn't count in the long run, I don't waste my time.
(Don't get me wrong - he's a good guy, and I don't mind him. You get used to a person after you've lived with them for sixteen-point-five years. We get along because we've learned to work around each other. I've learned that not even stapling his lips together can shut him up, and he's learned that his pointless drabble means nothing to me - not that it stops him from talking my ear off on a daily basis).
So, on the ride home, as Kevin rambled on about my poor performance, I thought of Mystery Girl and our future together. It was then that I realized I hadn't even bothered to talk to her. I didn't know anything about her other than the fact that we were getting married; I didn't even know if I'd ever see her again. I was pretty sure that she'd read in my eyes that I loved her, and she felt the same way - still, if we never met again, a load of good that knowledge would do.
The problem with my inability to ramble incessantly means that often, a lot is left unsaid. I expect people to read between the lines, but sometimes, people just aren't that smart. Still, I should have at least introduced myself to Mystery Girl. I should have said something witty or thought-provoking to make her want more. I should have done some sleuthing to find out her name and address.
Instead, I stared at her like an idiot for two out of the four minutes of our performance, playing the wrong notes and letting my jaw drop like a fool as I envisioned the faces of our nine grandchildren. So much for a good first impression.
"I gotta hand it to you, Nick," Kevin was saying from the backseat, "After the worst musicianship in the history of music, you managed to walk out of there with a stupid smile on your face, like it didn't even matter that you looked like a total joke. Good for you, buddy. Stay proud."
Chapter 2: Day 4- Call Me Chaucer
Being paired with ridiculously awkward girls has to be the worst thing about being a celebrity.
I can't explain how much I hate it. I can't explain how much I want to punch the fucking artistic director in the fucking face every single time this happens - and trust me, it's happened more times than I care to mention. Doesn't anyone know that Kevin is the social one out of the three of us? The one who's never experienced an awkward moment in his life? For Christ's sake, you can tell just by putting all three of us in a room together for five seconds.
Joe's the second best option next to Kevin. He'll make a stupid joke and get on with it. Girls warm up to him because he's friendly and funny. It doesn't matter who the girl is or her preconceived notions about him - Joe will have her swooning in the end. Always happens.
But no - time and time again, the shy, stiff, socially inept female always gets paired with me.
And every time, I complain to my dad, who says "Grin and bear it, Nick", and then I pretend to have heard, "Grit and bear it," so I clench my teeth and subject myself to this torture. Mark my words: by the time I'm twenty, I'll be wearing dentures.
Nina is nineteen (Joe's age), idolizes Fergie (Kevin's secret obsession), and spends the majority of her life lazing around her beachside condo waiting for someone to call her for a job (which I do not respect). That's all I'd gotten out of her in the past twenty minutes, and I was out of questions. I don't like talking; and she wasn't even trying. Fuck that.
And yes, we were doing a photo shoot together. Just the two of us. Swell.
Some schmuck wearing the most obnoxious red beret I've ever seen decided it would be a good feature in a magazine: "Jonas Brothers out on a date". We each get our separate shots with our faux-date, and then they ask us about our own dating experience and what our 'perfect date' would be. Gag me.
Let me tell you a secret: when you read celebrity babble in magazines, it's made up. If one of my guy friends - or one of my brothers, for that matter - told me they had this set notion in their minds of a perfect date, I would never talk to that person again. That is strange and not in the least bit manly. Furthermore, if they included the words "beach", "sunset", "roses" or "candlelight", they would get a complimentary tweak on the nose from yours truly.
Guys don't think about that kind of stuff. For that reason, when my brothers and I are given a question of that sort, we barf inwardly and then start rambling on about ice cream and puppy dogs and footing the bill. It doesn't mean anything. Half the time, we're not even thinking about what we're saying. To be honest, I don't even use the term 'date' when I'm not in front of a camera.
"Hey mom, I'll be back later, I got a date." No. That has never happened. Movies and sitcoms lie to you, kids. It's all wrong.
If I like a girl, we hang out in a comfortable setting. This means my house or her house or somewhere in between. If I don't like a girl but I think she's pretty, we go to the movies. That way we don't have to talk and there's plenty of darkness for groping and making out.
I'm not a knight in shining armour. I'm a kid who wears converse shoes and plaid shirts, and all I want is some ass once in a while. I don't do chivalry. It's lame and outdated, and guys who try to be gentlemanly make the rest of us look bad and deserve to be incarcerated for their flamboyance.
"Nick! Time to change! You're up next!" my dad yelled from his position behind the photographer. He likes to scrutinize everything that everyone does. He rarely says anything to their faces, but the rest of us Jonas' get an earful later. From what I've gathered, apparently no one in show business has half the skills he does.
"Nick!" hissed the makeup artist. "You better get going!" And she shoved me out of the chair.
There's a reason I was sticking to the chair, bossy bitch.
I'll tell you why I hadn't changed yet: because out of the three of us brothers, I had the worst scene and the worst costume. Joe got to be all casual with his girl, they did some sort of outdoorsy scene in a park where they both got to laugh and look like they were having a jolly old time. Kevin donned fancier attire and emulated a dinner scene with his prop. And me? I got the swimsuit picture at the beach.
Yeah. The white, pasty brother with no chest hair gets the beach scene. Also, I'm underage, so if some girl gets off on my half-naked body, she's committing some sort of sin. If not, she's at least violating a law of some kind.
Psh. Hollywood. Always fucking with people. And making me look like a twat.
At least the water was warm. I waded in as I waited for the ever-so-awkward Nina to ever-so-kindly join me in order to ever-so-swiftly get this over with.
"Might as well dunk your head under, Nick," shouted Axel, the photographer. I don't think his name is really Axel. I saw his office once - decked out from baseboard to ceiling with posters of Guns 'N Roses. Axl Rose, anyone?
The water was warm, so I dove in and immediately felt a sting in my eyes. Waterproof makeup sucks. I'm the only one out of the three of us who had to wear it, because I'm the only one with a water scene. Not only does it take forever to wash off, but I practically have to peel off a layer of skin to do so. Nonetheless, I guess it keeps my face looking fresh and desirable even after I've soaked my hair in saltwater.
While I rubbed the salt out of my eyes and got yelled at for messing with my makeup, Nina joined me in the sea. She squealed when I shook out my hair. Most girls would proceed to laugh, but not Nina. She was just... scared. How did I even respond to that?
Axel came closer, heavy-duty camera in hand. He waded into the water despite the ten-thousand-dollar equipment around his neck. "Okay... uh... okay... like this..." he muttered while rearranging our bodies and hands.
The thing about photography is that pre-planned poses never seem to look as good as spontaneous ones. After twenty minutes of minimal communication between Nina and I plus my hands being forced to explore almost every inch of her exposed skin, Axel decided to take a different route to success.
"Why don't you splash her, Nick?" he suggested. "Look like you're having fun."
Even though it's part of her job to do what they say without complaint, I had a distinct feeling that Nina might hit me if I splashed her. She waited expectantly, giving me a dirty look - it was subtle, but it was definitely there.
Oh. That made it easier to splash her.
I could tell as I heard the cameras click-clicking that this was not going to be a successful photo shoot overall. We were pretending to have fun, but to be honest, my resentment for Nina grew by the second. Some people can fake 'having fun' - not me. And when I'm forced to act all cutesy with someone I detest, I am not having fun.
Then, without warning, she jumped into my arms to hug me. It was unexpected, so naturally, I fell backwards into knee-deep water with a 110-pound weight wrapping her legs around my waist.
"Brilliant!" cried Axel as Nina dissolved into giggles. I, on the other hand, was coughing up saltwater and wondering if my tailbone was permanently bruised. "Do that again, Nina! Up you get, Nick!"
You've gotta be joking, I wanted to say. But like I said, I make words count, and those four words were useless. Axel knew what he wanted.
I don't know how many more times Nina hurled herself at me. After a few tries, I was able to lock my knees and bury my toes in the sand to prevent myself from painfully toppling over.
"Just... just stay like that... yes, perfect," Axel muttered. I drummed my fingers impatiently on Nina's back as I held her; even the lightest girl on the planet gets heavy after a while. I analyzed my skin next to hers - a dramatic difference, she was tanned. Unless they photoshopped my skin orange, I'd look transparent next to her. Perfect.
Nina rearranged herself in my arms to get more comfortable. Her hair fell on my shoulder and she pressed her bikini bottom against my pelvis.
Oh, dear God.
I tried to ignore it. I tried to think of Will Ferrell naked. I imagined myself taking a cold shower. I tried to readjust her, but all that did was grind us together. Repeatedly. Shit.
I can't help that I'm a sixteen-year-old male with a limited amount of sexual encounters. And by 'limited', let's be honest, I mean none whatsoever. So when a hot girl in a bikini, despite how much I dislike her, rubs herself against me - especially in that particular area - I really think it's unfair of anyone to expect me to be able to control myself.
"Oh-kay," Axel said slowly, lowering the camera from his face. He arched an eyebrow sceptically. "Nina, get down. Give the boy a minute."
Someone else mumbled, "Pitching a tent," before the entire audience burst into laughter.
Fantastic. Thanks, Nina. I let go of her lightly to see that she, too, was smiling in condescension. Wonderful.
I turned my back to the crowd as I rubbed my eyes and felt my cheeks heating up. Curse Joe and Kevin. I hated them. If only I could have done the dinner scene, all of this unnecessary embarrassment could have been avoided.
I changed my mind. The worst thing about being a celebrity is that your hard-ons suddenly become everyone's business.
Even after we'd changed, done the interview, eaten dinner, drove home, showered, and plopped ourselves in front of the television... Joe was still laughing hysterically.
People think Joe's great at keeping a straight face because he does it so easily on-camera. I know better. The truth is, Joe is constantly laughing at everyone but himself. Me especially. For some reason, he tends to find my misfortunes particularly hilarious. He says it's because I always act like I'm so smart, so whenever something funny happens to me, it's just that much more satisfying to him.
But I am so smart. And I'm sick of hearing about my boner.
"Man, you shoulda seen it, Pip," Joe was saying. "I mean, wow. Way to be unprofessional, Nick. I just..." He couldn't finish. He burst into laughter again.
From my spot on the edge of the couch, I rested my head on my propped-up arm and sighed, rolling my eyes. My best friend sat next to Joe, laughing along with him and occasionally giving me a look of pity. Rotten traitor.
And her name is Pep, not Pip. Joe's just an idiot. In reality, her name is Sarah or something, but about ten minutes after we met her, my dad started calling her Pep because of her extreme energy. The name stuck. The kid never stops moving, and that's not an exaggeration. She barely even sleeps.
Between gasps of air, Joe chirped, "I just... can't... believe... you actually..."
I threw a pillow at his head. He caught it, smirking in my direction. "You weren't even there," I pointed out.
"Did the photographer snap a picture?" Pep asked brightly. With that question, Joe doubled over with laughter once again.
"No," I replied with a sneer. I wanted nothing more than to body-slam Joe into the floor, but I have mastered the art of self-restraint. In the end, it pays to be a calculated individual.
Pep only giggled as she somersaulted across the floor to sit in front of me. Her auburn-coloured hair was, on that day, fashioned into a loose, knotty bun at the nape of her neck. "Oh, Nick," she said quietly, "That's just embarrassing."
I pursed my lips in disapproval. "Ya think?"
"Nick's had a bad week," Kevin remarked as he strolled into the room with a soda in hand. "Remember what happened a few days ago, Nicholas?"
Instead of wasting energy with a reply, I glared at him in boredom.
"What happened a few days ago?" Pep inquired, stretching her legs underneath the coffee table.
Naturally, Kevin told her. I didn't try to stop him. By then, Pep was too much a part of the family to try to keep secrets from her. She'd eventually find out and then make fun of me just as much as the rest of them. It was better to get it all over with at once.
As soon as Kevin recounted the events of the award show rehearsal, Joe's loud laughter resonated throughout the room once more, joined shortly afterwards by Pep's shrill giggles.
"He just stood there, staring in wonder at nothing at all," Kevin said.
"It wasn't nothing at all, dickwad," I muttered, clamping my mouth shut immediately afterwards. I didn't want to go into details about my future wife - it was too soon.
Mystery Girl. I hadn't forgotten her. Her perfect face often popped up in my mind. And the way she stopped laughing when our eyes connected, and the intense moment we shared in our own private world. It was beautiful. I couldn't regret ruining our performance for her. It was worth it.
"Remember how his mouth was hanging open?" Joe continued with a snort. "I'm pretty sure I caught a little bit of drool falling to the floor. Classy, Nick. Real classy."
I whipped another pillow at him. This time, he failed to catch it, and I heard the satisfying smack as it clocked him in the face.
Yes. Mystery Girl was totally worth it.
Pep and I played air hockey in the basement a lot. It was one of the only activities we could agree on properly because it was beneficial to both of us. She appreciated the energy it required while I found that it was a good way to relieve my frustration. And let's face it: a kid who's just displayed his uncontrollable sexual urges in front of a crowd of professional and important people has a lot of pent-up frustration.
She didn't initiate conversation. She was waiting for me to do it. She knows I don't talk much; it's one of the reasons we get along so well. She's a social butterfly - though not quite at Kevin's unattainable level - and I'm a social recluse. We compliment each other nicely.
It's hard to have a relationship with someone who's not in the entertainment industry. It's difficult for them to understand how busy I am; how I hardly ever have time to myself. I still have friends from when I used to live in New Jersey, but it's extremely hard to keep in regular contact with them. The majority of people I spend time with are in the industry, and it can get a bit boring after a while. It's impossible to expand your horizons.
That's why I like Pep so much. She's not in the industry (point 1), and she lives just a few blocks away from my home in LA (point 2). She understands that I have to travel and that I'm not necessarily home a lot (point 3), and she's okay with that because she knows when I come back, we can pick up where we left off (point 4). Also, despite her big mouth and her inability to sit still, I trust her, for a grand total of 5 points. There are some things I just can't tell my brothers, and for those things, there's good ol' Pep.
"I always get the worst girl to work with," I complained to her to start things off. Forcefully, I swatted the puck to her end of the plastic rink.
Pep smiled sympathetically, hitting the puck towards the slot on my end. Instead, it ricocheted off the back and slid towards her again. She tapped it effortlessly and it slipped right past my defence and into the slot. Goal 1: Pep.
"How do you know? Did you talk to the others?"
Admittedly, no. "I could tell that mine was the worst," I muttered, grabbing the puck and placing it in the centre of the rink.
"You always say that. I'm beginning to doubt your powers," she chuckled.
Y'know Canterbury Tales, Geoffrey Chaucer's masterpiece? Y'know how the narrator can talk to a person for five minutes and virtually know everything about them - their secrets, their mannerisms, everything? I don't mean to brag, but that's me. I'm convinced. People just aren't that hard to figure out.
Aha! While the puck slid out of her reach and she extended her arm to nudge it in my direction, I got to it first and swivelled around her outstretched arm. Goal 2: Me.
"I don't understand why I always get the worst scene," I continued.
I could tell that this tie in the game was causing her competitiveness to shine through. She shifted in her spot like a bull ready to charge and bit her lip in anticipation.
"Because you're a pussy, Nick!" she exclaimed excitedly.
"Excuse me!" I cried, withholding the puck from her with my spare hand.
She eyed me sheepishly, her gingery hair falling into her face. She mumbled an apology. "I was trying to trash-talk you and console you at the same time."
With an exasperated roll of my eyes signalling forgiveness, I put the puck back down and smacked it towards her. Almost immediately, she scored another goal.
Dancing triumphantly in the spot, she sighed, "God, I'm gonna miss this table when you and the boys go on tour this summer."
"You'll miss the table?" I demanded.
"And you," she laughed. Her face turned deadly serious as she added, "But I'll only miss you if you promise to hook me up with Jesse McCartney."
Fuck that. Ever since I told her we were touring with Jesse McCartney, she had been chattering on about jumping his bones. It drove me insane.
"No," I answered immediately. "Jesse's my friend. I would never do that to him."
Her jaw dropped in amusement as she grabbed the puck and threw it at me. I ducked instinctively. She must have whipped it hard - which scared me a little bit - because it hit the wall behind me hard enough to crack the paint.
Pep gasped as I straightened to inspect the wall. Yep. The light yellow paint had been replaced by a black gash from the puck. I clicked my tongue disapprovingly, wagging a finger at her.
"You'll pay for that, Pepper," I said in good humour.
She tugged at the collar of her shirt. "All right. I'll let you win."
"Not good enough."
She grinned, flashing me her teeth. "You don't have to hook me up with Jesse."
"Better," I agreed.
"I'll snag him without your help," she uttered, just loud enough for me to catch every word.
Swiftly, I lunged in her direction, attempting to squeeze her so tightly that she cried out for mercy. My plan was foiled as she wriggled her way out of my arms and jumped on my back. I nearly fell over, but I managed to grab a hold of her thighs and intended to send her flying onto the floor. I was just about to do so when she giggled, "I hope I'm not turning you on. Don't bone me, Nick."
Without another word, I dropped her onto the ground and glared at her resentfully. Heartless little witch. I had a feeling this was going to hang over my head for a long time to come.
Great. Something to look forward to.