Nate strummed another chord. None of them seemed to fit in right with the rest of the song. He knew the extra pre-chorus stuck in before the bridge needed another chord change. It sounded empty without it. What was wrong with his ear? He was a musician, but here was his attempt to get down Shane and Mitchie's song from final jam. It wasn't getting itself down onto paper as easily as he had hoped.
He struggled with a few more chords. Making Nate frustrated with his guitar was not an easy task. He would just ask the songwriter herself if it weren't for the fact that the girl in question was off canoodling with his brother. Nate hadn't yet been given explicit orders to write down the song, but he knew it must be coming. He might as well be ready for when it came. He stared at the paper, at the chord progressions. There was a missing puzzle piece…in a puzzle that was comprised of a thousand or so pieces, all of which could be reused.
The performance hall was empty. The mangled chords that he was too frustrated to play echoed through the large room resoundingly. The vacant space only fueled the nostalgia he was beginning to feel. It seemed like ages since he had stood on this stage. So much had happened over the past three years. He, Jason, and Shane had been signed to a record company. They had released two albums. Both had been mega-hits. A part of him couldn't quite remember all the details of being young and hopeful, playing his heart out on the stage. Though Connect Three had played larger venues, the hall made him feel small again, just as the first time he had ever faced the seats in the audience years previously. He was just about to set the guitar down and go sleep on his dilemma when a voice stopped him.
"First of all, you need to tune your guitar half a step down. Then try A minor."
Standing in the wings, watching him somewhat intently was Mitchie's partner in crime, the producer…Caitlyn, presumably holding one of the cables she had left behind accidentally. Here she was, telling him how to play the guitar. What was wrong with that picture? Only one of them was a teen idol rock star, playing sold out arenas almost every weekend. He had every intention of proving her rock. The chord wasn't an A minor.
Looking at her with challenging his eyes, he began to tune his guitar half a step down. He started at the end of the second verse, humming with his guitar. He hesitated slightly as he moved ever closer to that one troublesome spot. He almost started to cringe, waiting for it all to go awry as he played her A minor. It echoed perfectly inside his ears. As soon as he heard the chord, he stopped and put the guitar down. Caitlyn wore a cheeky grin on her face, smug at her small victory in proving Nate wrong.
"I thought you didn't play any instruments," he said suspiciously.
She looked at him dubiously.
"Just because I'm not the one doing it out there on stage doesn't mean I can't play at all. I just don't want to. Ever think of that, rock star?" she let out sarcastically.
She carried herself with such a peculiar air. She was confident and sarcastic, cheeky and perhaps a bit too honest, and she somehow managed to seem very genuine all at the same time, though he could barely see the last element coming through. But the spark in her eyes was real. Caitlyn thoroughly enjoyed his shock in finding out that he was wrong.
"Don't hurt yourself trying to use that brain next time, pretty boy."
With that, she twirled the cord around in the air once, swung her hips, and walked out the stage door. Though he had quite obviously been shown up, he couldn't help but feel relieved that the darn song was finally down on paper.
Two days later, Nate had found avoiding Mitchie and Caitlyn far too difficult. Shane was attached to Mitchie at the hip, still enraptured by her voice, even though or even perhaps because her identity wasn't unknown anymore. Caitlyn would drift between chilling with the Connect Three crew and then Lola and even Peggy, who had clearly stated her independence from Tess. Every time he saw her, Caitlyn continued to give Nate that smirk. The verbal sparring continued endlessly, and Mitchie would roll her eyes.
The first session ended in only a few days. Shane, after learning his lesson quite well, had asked to come back as a counselor for the rest of the summer. The second session would begin three weeks after the first ended. That provided enough time to record the duet with Peggy and debut the new single. Nate had the rest of the summer mapped out in his head. The tour, which had been canceled, would be rescheduled for around the start of the school year.
His quiet spot by the lake provided a nice place to think. He was out by the dock, leaning up against the railing. He was still waiting for Shane and Mitchie to get past the honeymoon phase. Looking up towards the Kevin, he saw a figure standing under a tree. It wasn't who he had expected to see.
She edged closer towards him.
Tess Tyler hardly looked the same as when the summer began. Her attitude had been quite changed by Mitchie. She had cleaned up her act, so to speak. She had confessed to Brown, and she was becoming much more aware of those around her. Tess no longer looked the part of the diva. She hadn't straightened her hair. It was blonde and curly. Though they were still high end, her clothes were a much more simple jeans and t-shirt. There was a look of humility about her. For this reason, Nate was willing to acknowledge her presence, despite how his brother had felt about Tess. Up until Final Jam, Shane had endlessly griped about Tess. However, it was a changed girl that stood before Nate, and he could only wonder what on earth she wanted with him. She answered his question before a word was said.
"I know you don't really know me. But I know that your brother still hates me. I just want him to know that I'm really, really sorry. I hurt too many people. And I'm hoping that someday he can forgive me for what I did."
Nate wasn't sure whether or not to believe her. Her voice still had an almost sickly sweet quality to it, but that could have been out of habit. Some things are hard to change. He gave her a terse nod, not completely trusting the pop star's daughter. She gave an apologetic smile and looked back up to the cabin.
The young man thought about what he had seen of Camp Rock this summer. It was different looking at all of these events as an outsider. Everything he heard was second hand information. He hadn't seen any of the drama go down, except for Shane finding out that Mitchie was the girl. He had seen Tess's performance fall apart. Other than that, he only knew what Shane had shared with them.
Shane could be quite the hypocrite. He said people didn't change. Shane had undergone the biggest transformation of anyone at Camp Rock.
Caitlyn watched from the inside. For the first time in ages, she was jealous of Tess Tyler. Her blood boiled. Yet, she couldn't bring herself to be as angry as she wanted to be. From past experiences, she was inclined to believe that she was out there flirting and toying with Nate's little rocker heart. But Tess had changed. Everyone noticed it. Unfortunately, she was still breathtakingly beautiful, even when she didn't try. Seeing her out there with Nate was disheartening. And here he had her thinking that he was above that. Apparently, he wasn't above going after girls for their looks and money. She wasn't sure Tess had quite yet acquired the capacity to feel. She knew Tess wasn't the right girl for Nate. She only hoped it didn't take too long for them to see that. If Tess, beautiful and rich wasn't the one….then who would be good enough for one famous, handsome rock star?
When Nate walked into the cabin just a few minutes later, she couldn't help but comment. For days now, this boy had been driving her nuts. They would banter for hours, and for once, it was a challenge for Caitlyn to keep up. It's best to hit him when he's not looking, she figured.
"Romantic trysts by the lake. Really, Nate? Here you had me thinking you were more creative than that."
Nate didn't seem fazed.
"Spying on me, were you?" he looked at her. A look of surprise crossed her face.
He had her cornered. Caitlyn recovered quickly with a response.
"It's not my fault you and your girlfriend had to make it so blaringly obvious."
"My girlfriend? I never said anything about a girlfriend."
"Oh please, did you really have to? It's not like we're all blind."
"I never said I had a girlfriend. Just because you think it looks that way doesn't mean that's how it is."
"No, I'm just right more often than not…much more often." She said, her voice betraying her as it cracked.
"And if you're wrong?" he walked towards her.
"I wouldn't know how it feels" she said cockily. However, the decreasing proximity between them made her a little nervous. What was he going to do?
Nate could hardly stop the lopsided smirk that made its way to his face. She was so nervous. He had never seen her fidget as she was now.
"Well, maybe you should learn." He said confidently. He took another two steps toward her. There wasn't space left between them.
Nate had quite assertively taken Caitlyn in his arms. Forcefully, his lips were on hers. At first, she was rigid, stiff as a board, in fact. Rather possessively, he hooked his arm around her waist. It didn't take long for her to warm up to him, though. Her hands gently glided up to the back of his neck. She mussed and tugged at his small ringlets.
She was breathless. Honestly and truly, he had kissed the breath out of her. Nate could feel her clamoring for air underneath him. Slowly, reluctantly, he gave her room to breathe.
"Being wrong feels pretty good, huh?" he smirked.
"Oh, just shut up and kiss me, genius." She said commandingly.