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‘Tis the Season

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It has been a mighty strange couple of weeks, well it’s been a mighty strange couple of months but the last two weeks have been particularly surreal. She didn’t think she would make it in to the band, after her first trip to the bottom two she gave up on that dream. To be honest she is surprised that she survived the first performance, not because she doubts her talent but because her talent disappeared in a wave of nerves the moment she stepped upon the stage. She has a sneaking suspicion that her family risked bankruptcy and RSI by compulsively voting for her, a more gracious person might have asked them to stop but she is not about to pretend that she is unhappy with the result. To say that she was pleasantly surprised to hear her name called first would be an epic understatement, she showed her enthusiasm with all the class that would be expected of a girl from Newcastle.

Reaching the final five came with mixed feelings, her success felt bitter sweet once she realised that Javine had not made it into the group. From day one it had felt like every man and his dog had known that Javine would be in the band and Pete went so far as to make it clear that Javine was the only one of them that he felt was worthy of success, it had never occurred to her that Javine wouldn’t be part of this experience. She wonders it she would have been so excited about Nadine’s name being announced if she had have known that Javine would not be in the final line-up or if she had realised that it meant that she would have to continue living with Nadine. She knows that Nadine will be good for the band, knows that Nadine deserves to be there and her initial excitement was related to this but when the dust settled and she had a chance to think about what had happened she realised that she has some rather complicated feelings about Miss Coyle.

It’s not that she has been in denial, it’s just that she’s been oblivious to everything except the drive to produce a performance that would show that she had more to offer than dimples and breasts. She had been aware that she was more self-conscious than usual but she just assumed that it was the pressure of the show. It didn’t occur to her that the reason she suddenly worried about her unusual earring choices was because Nadine had looked at her accessories with questioning eyes. She had noticed that Nadine was talented and beautiful but the latter was given - amongst the girls they had weeded out the unattractive long before they had considered the merits of any of their voices. Louis understands that success is about the package and that it is much more important that the package sparkles than for it to have substance. She can live with the fact that their looks were an important factor in deciding who reached the top ten because it is the reason that they have a real chance of beating the boys. One True Voice with their pretentious and fucking evangelistic belief in the power of their ‘vocal harmony group’ seem clueless to the fact that ‘real musicians’ with big ears and tiny personalties don’t often dominate the charts, well not in this day and age anyway. Girls Aloud don’t have to have superior vocal talent to win this race, that just have to have a bitching single, which they do, and an awareness of exactly what assets will enhance their appeal.

She didn’t need denial during the competition but she sure could use it now. The whole world seems to be a little bit in love with Nadine and she should just try to convince herself that she is no different but it’s hard to pretend that you don’t ache to touch someone when you live in the same house as them and are frequently forced into close proximity. Everyone seems to want a little a piece of Nadine, seems to want to be in her presence and while she has definitely been hugging Nadine and holding her hand more often since they made the group it is only because she has realised that she can get away with it and that her actions don’t seem any different to those of the rest of the group or to Davina’s for that matter. Given the way she acts around Nadine it is possible that Kimberly feels the same way about the Nadine that Cheryl does but she doesn’t want to think about that because if it comes to that Kimberly has the advantage of a closer relationship with Nadine. Attraction is a strange thing, she can’t say for sure what it is about Nadine that makes her stand out, that means that Cheryl is aware when Nadine is near. If she had any say in the people that she was attracted to she would never have selected Nadine, Nadine is far too sweet and nice a girl to let Cheryl do the things that she wants to do her and while Nadine may sing like an angel, she has a speaking voice that is virtually unintelligible and possibly worst of all, the girl has no rhythm. She tries not to think about what Nadine would be like in bed but when she does she worries that it will feature a lack of co-ordination and poor timing of movements and that thought is almost as affective as a cold shower.

She hadn’t expected the announcement of the Christmas number one to come quite so early in the show but standing there waiting for the verdict seemed to take an eternity and she is grateful that they didn’t stretch the anticipation out until later in the proceedings. Her arms feel heavy from the armour of silver bracelets that has been forced over her wrists and she has to rest them on her belt. Earlier the boys had mocked their outfits telling them they looked like slutty snowflakes, she decided to take that as a compliment – they are all beautiful, sexy and unique as compared with the boys who are really just a collection of blandness with nice voices. Their uniqueness wins out in the end and they are told that the have the number one single, along with some others records that Davina attempts to inform them of but Cheryl is able to register that they are good things and couldn’t repeat the details if her life depended on it as her brain has overloaded from the excitement. She goes through the performance of Sound of the Underground on autopilot and later when people make reference to her changing the lyrics she smiles dutifully. She doesn’t actually have any recollection of doing that but it’s funny and it’s bold and it does sound like something that she would have done so she has no choice but to believe them.

It is a good thing that the set is going to be dismantled because it really isn’t standing up to the thrashing that it is receiving but she has been busy surpassing her yearly allotted calorie intake by consuming eggnog like it is air and no longer cares about such things. The floor is sticky and she is trying not to think about the fact that it might mean that she been spilling precious alcohol. The party isn’t bad but it is awkward, it is almost impossible to stifle her excitement but it seems a little out of place in a room that contains not only One True Voice but also those who didn’t make it into the either of the bands. No-one is being rude, they all gush and offer the appropriate congratulations but jealousy is hard to hide and their resentment is clear. This is not the way she usually spends the holiday. Christmas has always been about family and even though some of her family are here to support her it isn’t the same, it isn’t the tradition that she is used to, already her life is changing and even though she really wants this career she is not sure that she is ready for the things that come with it.

She is licking eggnog from her fingers, after attempting to get another drink and only managing to get the ladle to pour in the general vicinity of her cup, when Nadine approaches. Nadine’s speech is a little slurred making it even harder to understand but she seems to be having a good time. The only statement that draws Cheryl’s attention is when Nadine laments, “I just wish that I had someone special to share this moment with.”

The eggnog has either made her bold or stupid, possibly both, because she replies with, “Well you could share it with me, consider it your Christmas present.”

Nadine laughs and attempts to grab Cheryl’s wrist but is repelled by the multitude of bracelets. While Cheryl is busy wondering why she didn’t get changed into her own clothes, Nadine shrugs the moment off, “I was sorta thinking along the lines of someone that I could kiss under the mistletoe.”

“That’s no problem, I happen to be an excellent kisser.”

“I guess I will have to settle for hugging you under the mistletoe instead.” This isn’t exactly what Cheryl had in mind but at least she hasn’t offended Nadine by being too forward. She shouldn’t have mentioned the kissing, by rights she should be dying of embarrassment but she seems to be alive and well and able to her hear Nadine inquire, “Well are you coming?”

She follows Nadine to the mistletoe which is thankfully located in an area that is spared the harsh glare of the studio lights. Nadine wraps her arms around her neck in a friendly gesture and Cheryl cautiously places her hands on Nadine’s hips. She tells herself that she has self-control and she can handle this situation and she almost convinces herself of this, right up until the moment when Nadine places a gentle kiss on her check and she lets out a moan in response. Nadine looks shocked and her body becomes stiff but she doesn’t pull away from the embrace. They are positioned so that Cheryl’s back is to the crowd and her body is shielding Nadine from view and this turns out to be an extremely dangerous thing because there is nothing, other than common sense, to stop her from moving her hands so that they cover Nadine’s arse and it would seem that her common sense disserted her several drinks ago. She is not sure if Nadine is biting her lip out of lust or out of concern but decides that there is only one sensible way to find out, she closes her eyes and presses her lips against Nadine’s. This is where Nadine apparently draws the line because she abruptly pulls out of Cheryl’s arms and heads to the other side of the room.

This would really be the ideal moment to stop drinking but now that she has made an incredible blunder with someone that she lives with she has decided that sobriety is her enemy and her current plan for managing the situation is to keep her blood alcohol level elevated for the rest of her life. She is working hard on her new agenda when a hand grabs hers and yanks her out of the room. Nadine drags her down the corridor and she has fleeting thought about how the walls are closer together than she remembers but that disappears the moment she is pulled into the dressing room and Nadine locks the door behind them.

After the abrupt stop the room seems to be spinning and she has to lean against a chair for support. The chair isn’t coming to the party and the traitorous bastard rolls away on its casters leaving her to tumble to the floor.

“Shit, are you alright?”

She casts an evil glare at the chair, “The little fucker has it in for me.”

“Do you think you can stand up?”

“Of course I can, have been able to stand for many years now.” Her words are a little premature because even with Nadine’s help she can’t seem to make her legs work and for all intents and purposes her body is currently glued to the floor.

Nadine gives up and joins her on the ground, “You’re drunk.”

“You’re Irish.”

“I know that.”

“Sorry I thought we was stating the obvious.”

“Maybe we should have this conversation later.”

“I don’t see that we need to talk at all.”

Nadine smiles, “Maybe not but I’m worried that the alcohol may have made you all emotional.”

“Fuck off.” Nadine doesn’t have the decency to be intimidated and simply giggles at her. “It’s not exactly the thing I wanted to be known for you know.”

“It’s fine, I think it’s cute.”

“I don’t want you to think of us as cute,” she pouts

“Well I do and it’s not a bad thing.” Nadine tentatively places her fingers on Cheryl’s cheek, “I also happen to think you are incredibly sexy.”

She manages to stop pouting long enough to reply, “I think you are pretty lush yourself.” Cheryl leans forward and for the second time that evening makes an attempt to kiss Nadine, on this occasion her advance is not rebuffed. For someone who couldn’t learn a dance routine to save her life Nadine is a surprisingly good kisser. Without breaking the rhythm of the kiss Nadine manages to slide over and position herself between Cheryl legs while her own legs move to arch over Cheryl’s forming tiny barricades blocking off potential avenues of escape. It is really rather strange, as though all of Nadine’s motor skills are only capable of coming together when her brain is distracted by kissing but Cheryl is certainly not planning on complaining.

When the need for oxygen finally forces them apart Cheryl is afraid to look at Nadine but Nadine has done nothing to remove the hands that have crept under her skirt and Cheryl has to assume that she is enjoying herself. Cheryl shifts her focus from Nadine’s lips and places a series of kisses across her collarbone mapping a path from her shoulder to her sternum. She then turns her attention to the soft tissue of Nadine’s neck forcing Nadine to issue a decree, “I love you.”

The words are like a combination of ice water and caffeine and they stop her dead in her tracks, “Are you serious?”

Nadine’s expression is sheepish, “I just thought it was the sort of thing that you should say when you have let someone put their hand up your skirt.” Sometimes it is hard to remember just how young Nadine is, she seems so poised and mature that Cheryl tends to forget that she is essentially a schoolgirl. The thought of Nadine in a school uniform is more appealing than she would like it to be and she issues an uncomfortable chuckle. Nadine looks worried, “Did I so something wrong?”

“No, no you’re fine. I just that I realised that I have a crush on a Catholic schoolgirl and I am wondering if that makes us a creepy old perve.”

Nadine raises one shoulder in a half-hearted fashion, “If it does I’m not objecting.” A hand pushes Cheryl back and she finds herself lying on the ground with Nadine on top of her. Nadine’s lips are millimetres from her own when a knocking erupts like fireworks from the door.

It appears that the other members of the band have been looking for them in order to take a photo and the trio are ordering them to exit the dressing room. Nadine jumps up and grabs a tissue and then returns to Cheryl and wipes the lipstick smudges from her face before attending to her own face and neck. Nadine is perfectly composed as she opens the door, “Cheryl’s had a little too much to drink and is having some trouble standing, I need youse to help me get her up.”

For the rest of the night Nadine mingles with the other partygoers giving no indication that anything as transpired between the two of them but as they are saying their goodbyes and are heading off to spend Christmas with their respective families Nadine hugs her tightly and whispers, “I’ll call you.”

Nadine isn’t true to her word and she doesn’t hear from her over the holiday period. She arrives back at the house before Nadine and on the night Nadine is due to return she feigns a headache and goes to bed early in order to avoid her arrival. It is doubtful that she can have a successful music career if she never again leaves her bedroom but at this point she is willing to give it a try. It is almost impossible to sleep, she spends the night staring at the ceiling and listening out for any words that are uttered in an Irish accent but at some point she must have drifted off because she is forced awake by a body climbing into bed with her.

“You didn’t call me.”

Nadine doesn’t seem concerned by the non-conventional greeting, “I didn’t know what to say.”

“I thought you might have been mad at us.”

“You’re the one who should be mad, I took advantage of you while you were drunk.”

“You can take advantage of me any time you want.”

“Good cause I seem to recall that we were rudely interrupted,” she moves so that she is lying on top of Cheryl, “now where were we?” Nadine completes the kiss that they started days ago and then props herself up on her elbows to look at Cheryl, “I can’t believe this is happening.”

“The band, the single or you and me?”

“All of the above.”

“You better hurry up and believe it cause we have a four AM pick up tomorrow.”

“Jesus they are trying to kill us.”

“Yep so we need to get some sleep.”

“Is it okay if I stay with you tonight?”

“Of course you can.” Nadine takes out her phone and begins pressing buttons. “What are you doing?”

“Setting the alarm so that I can be out of here before the others wake up.” Nadine’s pragmatic display makes her pleased that she was restrained in her answer to Nadine’s question because Nadine may not be ready to hear that she doesn’t just want her to say with her for tonight, she thinks she wants her to stay with her for forever.