Meet & Greet
“Please make sure they get in first,” Ben says to the crew lady. Then he turns to you and your friend. “I’ll ask Alec to start earlier and give you guys a little bit more time.”
You stare at him, speechless, gratitude filling your heart. “You are amazing, Ben. Seriously! I don’t know what we did to deserve you, but thank you so much!”
“Yeah,” your friend agrees. “This is already the best day of my life and the show hasn’t even started!”
Ben lets out a chuckle. “I’m happy to hear that.”
“Ben!” someone shouts.
“Oh my God, Ben?”
There’s no doubt you’ve found the right line this time! You’re still a few yards away but there are at least a hundred screaming girls, begging Ben to come closer.
He freezes to the spot. “I’d better get going.”
“Yep.” You nod, suddenly scared for him.
“It was so nice to meet you!” your friend has to shout in order to be heard.
“You too!” He smiles at her, then waves at you.
The girls don’t stop screaming until he’s out of sight. That’s when their attention is transferred to you.
“You stay here.” The crew member gestures for you to stand at the head of the line. “I’ll go get your badges—be back in a minute!”
You glance nervously at your best friend, trying to ignore the dozens of girls interrogating you with their eyes.
“Who are you?” one of them asks. “Are you friends with Ben?”
“No,” your friend blurts, defensive. “We’re just fans—like you.”
“So what was that all about?” says another girl.
“Yeah, why are they letting you cut the line?” A third girl scowls.
You swallow hard at her fair accusation. “I’m sorry, we didn’t mean to… It was Ben who asked the crew lady to let us go first!”
“But how do you know him?” asks the first girl again.
“We were queuing in the wrong line—on the opposite side of the venue. So Ben took pity on us and let us in with him.”
“That does sound like him.” The third girl softens her tone, cracking a little smile.
“That’s why I love him so much!” the second girl adds. “He’s always so considerate of the fans.”
“Yes!” Your voice comes out louder than you intended. “He was super nice to us backstage—he even let us watch Alec soundcheck!”
“Urgh, I would kill for your luck!” The third girl sighs.
“Me too,” says the second one. “We thought we were lucky to be able to hear him soundcheck—imagine getting to watch it!”
“And he played “Only Stars” today!” the fourth girl jumps into the conversation. “He never soundchecks that song!”
“It’s because I asked him to.” Your best friend beams.
“I’m dead!” The third girl rubs her forehead dramatically. “Did you hear that, Charlie? She asked him to!”
“I heard!” Charlie replies, laughing at her friend.
And that’s when you notice…
“Where did you get that?” You stare at her beautiful Alec Brock: The Tour tee.
“VIPs have early access to the merch store!” Charlie points at the tent near the entrance. “You might wanna wait until after the Meet & Greet, though. I think they’re about to—”
“There you go!” The crew lady is back, handing you and your friend your VIP packages.
You wait with anticipation for the Meet & Greet to start. But five minutes go by. Then ten. Then fifteen. And your feet start to complain about standing here this long…
The bright side is that the girls in line are cooler than you imagined, so you’re never actually bored. You talk about your favorite Alec Brock songs. Everybody agrees that “All My Love” and the songs Alec wrote for Terra Scott are their least favorite ones because it’s so obvious she played with his heart. Then Charlie drops this huge bomb on you:
“No, he never dated Hailey Dawson. She’s actually going out with Ben!”
“But we saw the pictures!” you protest. Alec had been rumored to be dating other supermodels before, but the photos with Hailey were pretty much undeniable!
“I’m telling you: PR stunt!” Charlie insists. “Trust me, she’s…kind of my aunt. And I know for a fact she’s been dating Ben, not Alec, on and off for years!”
“Wow…” You wonder if any of Alec’s dating rumors were actually true.
“How can she be kind of your aunt?” your friend asks.
“It’s complicated…” Charlie chuckles. “Her mom is married to my granddad. But Hailey is not his daughter, so she’s technically my…step-aunt? Is that a thing?”
“And you’re only telling us this now?” Another girl raises her brows. “Come one, spill all the tea! You must know so much about Ben and his girlfriend!”
Charlie’s cheeks go red and she glances down, hiding behind her long blonde hair.
“There’s nothing to tell!” Her friend steps up to help. “Hailey is a bitch—Charlie doesn’t even speak to her!”
That only makes you more curious about the whole Alec-Hailey-Ben situation. But before anyone has the chance to ask more questions, the security guards get into position and the next thing you know, you’re all moving in line through the long concourse.
The Meet & Greet room is right at the entrance of the backstage area, where you’ve been with Ben earlier. The security guards stop you a few feet away, then instruct you to leave your bags against the wall before returning to the line.
“I think he’s already there!” your best friend points to the half-open door, but all you can see is the photo backdrop.
“I’m so nervous!” You look away, butterflies dancing in your stomach. You’ve been looking forward to this for eight months! Longer even—because, though this isn’t your first Alec Brock concert, it’s the first time you’ve managed to get VIP tickets.
“We’re going together, right?” your friend asks.
“Of course!” You give her a reassuring smile. You wouldn’t want to do this without her.
She’s the one person in your life who understands how much this means to you—because it means the world to her too. You’ve become best friends thanks to Alec, in fact. If it wasn’t for the love you share for him, you probably wouldn’t have gotten as close as you are.
“Girls?” The crew lady says quietly, only to you and your friend. “Alec is ready to see you.”
Your heart rate skyrockets.
“This way…” she continues.
And you let her guide you into the corridor, then through the door. You’re so starstruck your head is blank when you reach the backdrop—when you look around, searching for him.
“Hello again!” Alec grins from the corner of the room.
You can’t help but beam as he signs… Is that his second album?
“This is for you.” He hands you and your friend the same T-shirt Charlie was wearing and an autographed copy of his CD. “Hope I got your names right,” he says shyly.
Your jaw drops at the sight of your name in his handwriting.
“How did you…?” your friend asks.
“Ben told me everything.” A side smile slides onto his face. “Thanks for defending him from that journalist—and for being such loyal fans. It really means a lot to me.”
The past two years of your life flash before your eyes. All those cold nights, listening to his songs… All the times he saved you from your pain; comforted you when you were alone; helped you stay strong…
You stare at him, on the verge of tears, and finally find the words to say, “I love you so much.”
Alec opens his arms for you; squeezes you tight in a bear hug. “I love you too.”