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Chapter 16

When the parade ended, the band parted ways and we all went to celebrate Thanksgiving with our families. Nat and I witnessed Dad burn the turkey twice, and then we witnessed getting mobbed by fans in the restaurant we chose to have dinner in.

School started again that Monday, and everything went almost back to normal. Well, besides girls following me trying to help me due to my cast. Melody didn't come back from her vacation until a week after Thanksgiving and boy did she look different.

I don't know where she went or what happened to her, or if the person that sat down at the table next to me was even her. I kept on staring at her while she ate her lunch, her leg resting on a nearby chair.

"Seriously Alex, I'm not that interesting. People get haircuts all the time, it's not a problem."

"But-you, your hair," I stuttered out. Melody rolled her eyes.

"I know it's not like it was, but it's all I could do, okay Alex? So my hair's short and I dyed it."

"But it's so weird," I replied, then slapped my hand over my mouth. Nat and Dad once told me you should never talk bad about a girl's haircut. It wasn't nice, or something weird like that.

Melody scoffed. "Next time you get a haircut beyond your control, I'll make fun of you, kay?"

"I'm just saying…."

"Well, don't. Don't say, or do anything. Ugh." She threw the rest of her lunch in the trash, heading to the English class room. I followed her to the room where our next class was held.

"Alexander," our English teacher said to me as I walked in the room. "I didn't expect you as the type to come to class early. Now Nat, maybe. Now Nat was such a good boy—" Even my teachers rambled about how much they liked Nat better. Everyone likes Nat better.

Nat's not all that great; he really isn't.

"I'm just here for Melody," I said, as our teacher nodded.

"It seems you and her were involved in a little accident, Mister Wolff. I'm sorry about your arm, but that doesn't excuse you from writing the paper."

"I'm not-" Melody was straightening some papers on a desk she was sitting down in. I walked up beside her.

She turned around and glared. "If you have something to say to me Alex, I don't want to answer."

"What if I say sorry?"

"If you say sorry, I might reconsider. But it doesn't change what you said!"

"I'm sorry. Listen, do you want to come to Nat's party on Friday? It's his birthday."

She sighed. "Why should I come? You're just gonna say something stupid, and then it's going to mess things up again. Alex, where are we even going with our relationship? I give you stress, it just- I dunno, Alex."

"But I'm sorry!"

"And sorry doesn't fix everything. I accept your apology, but you always push things too far. I don't know what is worth it right now, Alex. I think it's easier when we're apart."

"So you don't want to see me anymore?" I asked, and she frowns.

"I don't know, Alex. Maybe…maybe just until your band stops…"

"Are you still coming to our concert?"

"Of course! That I won't miss. I promise."

"Are you just saying that because Nat will be there?"

"What are you talking about? You know I don't care about that!"

"Then why don't you want to be around me?"

Melody slammed her book on her desk, facing me in a fury. "I don't not want to be around you. It's just I attract unwanted attention, and so do you. I thought I was doing both of us a favor. Besides, there's no doubt that you're a bad boy and I'm not. Okay, maybe you're just too much for me! Urgh!" She turned back around, avoiding me.

"So you only like good boys, like Nat."

"This isn't about Nat, so stop saying it is! You're just,…we're so different. What'd you do last summer? Oh yeah, you were touring all over the states. Me? I was fighting for my mother's life. Who was shot because she was different. Alex, you've been in a rock band since you were two! I've been teased and messed with because of my parents since I was two. You get a VMA, I get an eviction notice. You visit Chicago, I visit so my fathers still know I'm alive and not dead. You get mobbed by fangirls, I get mobbed by psychos! Face it, Alex. Me and you, we're like…Tabasco sauce and tuna fish. We don't mix."

"Or maybe we mix better than you think," I add with a grin.

She stops suddenly, drifting off into space. "Maybe, I just want to think. But for now, just go with whats her name…."


"I don't care."

"Then why'd you ask about her?"

"I don't care."

"You're acting like Rosalina when she's mad at Nat. She pretends to not care, but she does."

"I'm not Rosalina, and I don't care about Nat. Okay? And I don't—urgh! And now you're probably going to write some fucking song about this, aren't you?"


"It's what you do."

"I don't control what I write about. When I write a song, I write a song."

"Alex, stop trying to make things better. I just want to be alone for a while….to think. About things."

"About me?" I grin at her, raising my eyebrow. I know she's going to be thinking about me, but she just doesn't want to admit it.

"You're so conceited, Alex. It's not all about you, you know!"

This conversation wasn't going to end on a good note, so for the like, millionth time, I left my class and skipped the rest of the day.

I got home early and lay on my bed, trying not to squish my arm. I had to lie in six different positions before I found one that didn't hurt my arm. I was lying down trying to sleep and think things over when Nat came in the room. He must've thought I wasn't home or something, because he started saying words he normally avoided when I was around. It's not like I don't care if he swears-all my favorite musicians do- but for some reason it's all a part of the "trying to be a good brother" act he puts on when I'm here.

"God, I hate high school," Nat complained, throwing his backpack down. "Everyone's so fake and stupid. Seriously? Me and Patrice? Who does she think she is, anyway? What person thinks I would do something like that?"

"Nat, what in poo-poo sauce are you talking about?"

Nat's face turned bright red, noticing that I was in bed lying down. He looked like he was trying to erase everything he said in the last ten minutes. Too late, I've already heard everything.

My older brother sighed. "You know that Patrice girl? She made up some stupid rumor that me and her—" His face turned even redder as he mumbled incoherent stuff. Contrary to Nat's belief, I'm not stupid, and I'm not his little innocent brother. Heck, I've known swear words since before he did! The Rock 'n' Roll Industry does that to you.

"Did more than kiss?" I asked, and seeing my brothers bright red face means I was right.

"Yeah. She thinks—Alex, can you not tell Dad? Oh, what am I saying, of course you will tell Dad. Or Jesse…or Cooper, Melody, even…"

"Nat, just tell me. And um…" I didn't bother to continue as Nat took the floor, ready to tell me about what he did that was so bad. I bet it wasn't even really bad, because Nat's just that type of guy. He tries too hard to be bad, and he fails at it. Nat's just not the rebel type, which is why I think more girls like him, anyways.

"So you know how you really liked lemon-lime soda back when it was The Silver Boulders-which you shouldn't drink anymore. Well, remember how you drank so much you got sick. Well awhile back, the guys and I didn't—we didn't go see a movie like I said. We went to a high school party with Rosalina and her friends. And at the party—at the party there was alcohol."

Oh," I replied. This wasn't news; Nat already told this to Rosalina, which I heard already. He knew I heard this already, and we've already discussed this. "You told me this all before, Nat. It's not new. I know you got drunk, Patrice stripped you of your clothes, and Rosalina was trying to keep Thomas and David from swimming…"

"It's not even that. She's claiming that she's having my baby. And she's got the school believing her! Me! I'm just a freshman! How am I going to survive the rest of my years?"

"And did you do it with her?"

"No! You know that, Alex. I can hardly kiss girls."

"Well, yeah," I agreed. "But what does this matter?"

"The school believes her, and I'm getting made fun of for it. But it's not that—it's what they do and say one minute, and then say again the next minute. The girls are dead set on throwing her a baby shower, and the guys all think I do it because I'm famous. That I do everything because of the band!"

"They're gonna know she lied. You can't fake having a baby."

"Being in a band and dealing with school is much more work than I thought."

"Amen to that brother," I add, and Nat laughs.

"Middle school isn't dramatic. Just wait until high school. I've got fangirls lined up and I've got guys wanting to kick my-erm, butt… all because of the band. You don't win. How is middle school that bad?"

I wanted to hit my brother but I couldn't. Stupid arm.

"In case you didn't notice, I'm your little brother."

"Yeah, I've noticed."

"And you are lead singer of a rock band."


"And all the girls want you."

"And how is that—" Nat's face grew sympathy. I hate it how my brother tries to act all sympathetic about all my situations. Like I couldn't ever have anything serious happen to me because I'm young and he's older. "Oh, Alex, I'm sorry. I can't help it those girls-"

"Yeah," I interrupt. "All the time."

"But Melody's cool, right? She doesn't care about me."

"That's where you're wrong, Bucko. So stop hitting on my woman and-"

Nat was laughing. "Are you still on that Alex? Jeez, it was a picture I signed for her sister. An autograph. She never once tries to hit on me, or push away Rosalina. Whenever we talk, it's about you. She just is in an awkward point in her life, and not to mention her mom died!"

"She told me I was too bad for her."

"She's just scared. Rosalina told me that she learned about reactions and stuff like that in her psychology class. Sometimes people push away when they're scared, and Melody's scared."

"She called me conceited, and told me that we shouldn't be seen together."

Nat's face softened. "Well, have you ever thought that it was a good thing? That with her life being so secretive and the press always around us, that either one of you could get hurt? It seems to me like she's being safe. After all, look what's happened the few times you are seen together?"

"She called me conceited!"

Nat just laughed at that one. "Well…"

I grumbled, throwing a piece of paper at my brother. "Why do you have to be so perfect?"

Nat looked at me, confused. "Who says I'm perfect? I'm not anywhere near perfect."

"Everyone," I mutter and Nat frowns.

"Those who say that don't really know me. It's just the fans."

"And the teachers, and the girls I like."

"Don't let them get to you, Alex," Nat says as he pats me on the shoulder. "There are plenty of girls who like you instead of me."

I don't respond, as Nat sits next to me. "Don't worry, okay, Alex? You'll find someone. And you're only in middle school; don't worry about it." Nat stands up to leave the room adding, "And hey, you've got that dance coming up, that'll be fun, right?" He ruffles my hair. "Even if it is with Crazy Girl."

I don't reply to my brother as he leaves the room. I just hope he's right.