So this is the first chapter of what will be a long and winding trip from before the show to a little way after it and it is essentially Smash as it would've been in Bobby and Jessica had been the main characters, with Tom and Kyle prominent supporting players. And yes, this chapter focuses mainly on Bobby and Jessica and they will continue to be a huge part of this story, but later chapters will have much more Tom and Kyle than this. And whilst this chapter is fluffy, there's a good chance you'll get a whole spectrum of stuff from this - picking categories for this story is a difficult thing because basically there is going to be angst, romance, fluff and ridiculousness and it'll change from chapter to chapter. Anyway, here we go with the first chapter - please feel free to read, review if you want, but above all enjoy :)
'So Jess is just useless by this point – I mean she is literally stood on a chair in the corner of the room screaming with laughter – and all I've got to hand is this spanner, so I'm waving that around trying to shoo the thing out, still wearing the dress from before, totally not prepared for Jay to pick that moment to come storming into the room all: "Bobby, please can y-"...er, excuse me? This is a private story. Good, ok, yeah. Sheesh. Oh, hey, Si, can we get some more drinks over here? Yes. Please. Thank you. Anyway, where was I? Right, so he comes storming in, yelling at me, of course, and I'm just stood in the middle of the room...'
Jessica had already begun her apologies before she'd reached the stage. All around the auditorium there was a flurry of dance and activity and the stage was packed with people all already warmed up and ready to start the day. It was just a one-night-only show, something she'd gone in for as a way to tide herself over between jobs (after all, she could always use the extra cash.) But it wasn't like her to be late, no matter how temporary the job, and she knew better than to mess any director or choreographer around for fear of getting a reputation. She cursed under her breath slightly, ruing her faulty alarm clock and the battle she'd had to wade through on the subway. Lydia, the show's choreographer, was standing at the head of the stage, overseeing the rehearsal of a routine Jessica knew she was supposed to be involved in and she groaned to herself before quickly dashing up the steps to the stage.
'Lydia, I am so sorry! So, so sorry! Give me like, two minutes to change and I'll be ready I swear.' As she came to a halt she finally stopped to take in the scene before her. Dancers were milling about, all of them familiar faces from the first rehearsal yesterday. The group Lydia was watching were standing on a podium centre-stage, all girls rehearsing a section of the closing number. Only, they were being led by someone Jessica had never seen before. And, to her surprise, she realised he was dancing in her place. 'Hey, who's that?' She let her bag slip from her shoulder as she studied her stand-in, scrutinizing him closely, a tiny frown knitting her pretty features. Lydia finally turned to glance at Jessica, temporarily confused by her sudden presence, before looking back to the rehearsal in front of them. The man was seemingly lost to the routine by this point, his dark hair flicking wildly out with every movement of his head, his hips twisting in perfect time with the rest of the group and his mouth hanging open slightly as he rolled them and stamped his feet.
'Oh! You mean Bobby?' Lydia nodded slowly, her lips twisting up as she let out a small laugh. 'He's a chorus boy from over at Hairspray.' Just then, Bobby flicked his dark hair out of his eyes and struck his pose triumphantly, jutting out his hip and putting almost all the girls to shame. The grin on his face suggested he knew exactly how good he looked up there and he turned to the others and shrugged. A couple of the girls offered him high-fives and they laughed at something he said to them before they began to disband and jump down from the podium. Bobby blew his hair out of his face and sat himself down at the podium's edge, smiling flirtatiously at Joe – another dancer who was standing by the side of the podium stretching. Jessica watched the exchange and found herself mildly amused by the fact that, even all the way over at the side of the stage, she could still see the devious twinkle in Bobby's dark eyes as he looked Joe up and down. Lydia too was smiling and she shrugged, as though she had seen a similar display from the man many times before. 'Yeah, Liam had to drop out sick and Bobby agreed to do this last minute. He always needs the money, and he said it was a better way of spending his week off than waiting tables. I think he's allergic to any job that doesn't involve jazz hands, you know the sort,' Lydia smirked, rolling her eyes fondly and Jessica couldn't help but laugh too, tipping her head slightly in acknowledgement.
'Oh Lydiaaaa, I can hear you talking about me!' Bobby's voice cut into their conversation, sing-song and sarcastic, and when Lydia and Jessica turned back to look at him they saw he was still perching on the edge of the podium, his dark eyes flashing mischievously as he leaned on Joe's shoulder. He waggled his eyebrows at the two of them and Lydia shook her head at him, sighing in half-hearted frustration.
'And Bobby, I can see you flirting with my dancers instead of letting them rehearse,' she called back and Bobby simply grinned at her.
As Lydia turned to walk away, Bobby blew a kiss at her before slowly turning his eyes back to Jessica, tilting his head to one side as he looked her up and down. When she saw his dark eyes watching her, Jessica quickly folded her arms, raising an eyebrow at him in challenge and trying to suppress a smile. Bobby smirked back at her then, quickly jumping down from the podium and coming over.
'You are trying to steal my place in the last number,' she scolded him lightly as he approached, and, though she pointed a dainty, accusing finger at him, she couldn't help but let her lips curve upwards at the bold, mischievous way he grinned at her.
'Hey, I can't help that I'm fabulous,' he remarked, his voice dripping with a condescension that should not have endeared him to her as much as it did. She couldn't help but think there was something charmingly evil about his eyes. 'And anyway, you were late, Blondie.' Jessica opened her mouth to protest but he cut her off, offering out his hand to her. 'I'm Bobby, by the way.' Jessica didn't take his hand right away, instead keeping her arms folded and trying to stare him down. Bobby waggled his eyebrows once more.
'So I've heard.' His smile didn't waver.
'I get that a lot. My reputation precedes me.' Jessica laughed softly and shook her head at him, letting out a sigh as she took his hand.
'Jessica,' she relented. He grinned, clearly pleased with himself and she couldn't help but think he really was the most maddening person. Yet still she couldn't bring herself to be annoyed by him. All she could think was that it was probably really fun just to wind him up and watch him go – a good way to spend a night out, or get revenge on your enemies.
'Nice to meet you, Jessica,' Bobby smiled as he relinquished her hand. He stepped back and began to move away. 'You know, we should go for drinks later,' he added over his shoulder and Jessica blinked.
'Why?' she laughed, confused. Bobby began to walk backwards, his eyes scanning her up and down once more.
'Er, because I'm fierce and you're adorable. Why the hell not?' he shrugged – turning his back to her once more as he sauntered away.
'Because.' Bobby paused to pluck the olives from his drink, letting some liquid drip from them onto his tongue. 'That's it. That's the end of my reasoning. Just...because.' He breathed the words like she was missing the most obvious of points and Jessica smirked and rolled her eyes at him. 'Look, I don't know whether you'd noticed but; I give good face, lady. So I need a best friend who won't be totally overshadowed by me. And you're as cute as a bug.' He smiled winningly. 'Now, are you going to do shots with me, or do I have to find a new chorus girl to gossip with?' Jessica bit her lip and studied him a moment, but Bobby had never quite mastered the art of patience and he sighed theatrically, fixing his new friend with the sternest gaze his brown eyes could muster. 'So: you in or you in?'
Jessica groaned and pulled the pillow over her head, angry at the sunlight which was filtering through into her bedroom. She had been up most of the night, embroiled in a marathon gossip with Bobby about everything from her love life to the theatre, and she found that she was now too hungover to be alarmed at just how much she'd shared with someone she'd only met the previous morning. She forced herself to sit up in her bed and wrapped herself tightly in her covers, waiting a few minutes for the room to stop tilting back and forth before she tentatively began pushing herself to the edge of the bed. The last thing she actually remembered was Bobby climbing over the bar to make cocktails, although there were fuzzy images in her mind of dancing with him on the subway ride home and him carrying her to her bed. Woozily she reached for her phone, which was lying on the floor beside her bed. Three missed calls; her on-off boyfriend Jake, her friend Ivy and her agent. She grimaced, deciding she was unable to face any of them before she'd had coffee.
Just as she had staggered to her feet and was about to head for the kitchen, her phone began ringing and she gladly took the excuse to flop back onto her bed, pulling the covers more tightly around her and pressing the phone to her ear, her heavy eyelids closing as her head made contact with her pillows.
'Heeeeey,' the voice down the line was sharp and chipper and everything Jessica wasn't feeling and she winced at the sound.
'Oh my God, it's you. Cocktail Boy,' she groaned, burying her head inside her covers and closing her eyes more tightly shut.
'Well, I've been called worse,' Bobby replied.
'How are you okay?!'
'Er, coz there's a Starbucks, like, right around the corner from my place. And I've spent about...three hours in there already.' He paused. 'Oh my God, you've only just woken up haven't you!' Bobby gasped suddenly, cackling – or at least, it felt like cackling to Jessica – and she could just imagine the sly grin on his face as he spoke. 'Wow, Cutie, I thought you were made of stronger stuff.'
'Urgh, I am never drinking with you again. Or letting you mix me any cocktails – I mean, what did you even put in those things?' Bobby laughed again and Jessica whimpered. 'I can take my drink, ok? It's you I can't take.'
'Aw, but I thought we were friends now.'
'You made me dance on the subway.'
'I didn't make you, you offered. And anyway, it was to Bootylicious and you can't not dance to that. Besides, I carried you home after. I even tucked you in.' She could just hear him pouting, could hear the sparkle of hurt in his eyes even, and that was something which registered with her clearly, even through the fog of her hungover brain. Because there was one thing she was sure of; he cared a lot more than he wanted to let on. And the more she thought about it, the more she remembered of his sweetness the night before. The way he offered her sincere advice about her boyfriend woes and him hugging her when she got cold on the walk back to her place. She remembered him insisting he walk her home and asking her repeatedly if she was ok as she fumbled with her keys. Sure, he'd been giggling just as much as she had, and there was no way she'd imagined him falling over and dropping her when he finally got the door open (she could feel the bruise that was forming on her thigh from the impact). But the point was he'd made sure she got home safely. And he'd tucked her in, with goodnight kisses and everything. She remembered him still giggling as he disappeared through her bedroom door. 'And I got you coffee,' Bobby's voice interrupted Jessica's thoughts suddenly and a smile tugged at her lips.
'You got me coffee, Chorus Boy?'
'Er, yeah. I want us to be BFF, Jessica. And everyone knows you're supposed to buy your hungover BFF coffee,' he shot back and she laughed.
'Alright so where is this coffee then?' she asked. At that moment she heard the buzzer sound for her apartment and she frowned, sitting up in bed then immediately regretting it as the room seemed to spin around her.
'So, shall I just come right in and give you the coffee or would you rather I carry on waiting outside your door and scaring the neighbours?' Bobby smirked down the line.
'Come on in, Stalker,' Jessica replied with a grin.
'Wow, nice place, Blondie. It looks so much better in the daylight.' Bobby settled himself down on the bed, sitting cross-legged and sipping on one of the two coffees in his hands before handing the other to Jessica. 'Although you really should rethink where you keep your shoes. I mean, a guy could trip over those when he's delivering you home from a night of drunken debauchery.' Jessica attempted to punch Bobby on the arm and he ducked out of the way, laughing. 'Hey, caramel latte here, God! Oh, and I got doughnuts too. See, you're liking me more and more by the minute, right?' He ducked again, this time just avoiding a cushion being aimed at his head. 'Wow, ok! You're small but you're spunky.' Jessica laughed and rolled her eyes and they both began to pick their way through the doughnuts, sipping their coffee in amicable silence. 'So come on, talk to me. When we left off, I seem to remember that Jake was a total dick and you are so totally better than him in every way...'
'Oh my God, can I have this?' Music was playing through Jessica's small bedroom stereo, but Bobby's voice was clear all the same, even from inside her closet. She was trying to apply her lipstick, but in the mirror she could see Bobby emerging from her closet, wrapped in a sequinned scarf which he was stroking as though it were made of pure gold. She couldn't stifle her laugh as he twirled for her, striking a pose.
'You look ridiculous,' she told him bluntly, turning around and putting her hands on her hips.
'Actually, I look fierce,' he retorted dramatically and he grabbed up a pair of sunglasses from the heap of her clothes he had been pawing through, slipping them on and proceeding to catwalk up and down the small space of her bedroom. The more she laughed the more he played up for her until eventually she was forced to throw a discarded shoe at him.
'Quit it, Chorus Boy, you're supposed to be helping me choose what to wear, not stealing all my clothes,' Jessica warned him, holding up her hair in a ponytail and studying her reflection thoughtfully before scrunching up her face and dropping it down, sweeping all her hair to one side instead. 'I've known you...what, three weeks now? And you've spent half that time admiring my shoe collection, so now's the time to make yourself useful and help me get ready because we're going to be late.' Bobby smiled sweetly at her in the mirror and she sighed tersely, turning to face him. 'What?'
'Nothin'. You're just cute when you're angry. I mean really, you should try that on a straight guy some time, you could get some serious action,' Bobby raised an eyebrow suggestively and Jessica pointed her hairbrush at him in warning. Bobby simply laughed, throwing his hands up in surrender before going over to the bed and examining the plethora of dresses discarded there. After a moment he picked up one still on its hanger and held it up for her. 'This dress. And you keep your hair down because you are flawless without having to do a thing. Simple jewellery, you wear the shoes you just tried to kill me with, and then you drink cocktails 'til dawn.' Bobby raised his eyebrows, daring her to go against him, and Jessica let out a contented sigh.
'See, I knew there was a reason we became friends.' She grabbed the dress from him and began dashing around her bedroom as Bobby settled himself down on her bed.
'By the way, not that I'm counting but...we've actually known each other a month now.' Jessica stopped rushing then and turned round to look at Bobby properly.
'I know. Just testing,' she shrugged and Bobby looked up at her, his lips curving up in a smile which was unusually gentle for him. His dark eyes were sparkling, but not with their usual air of deviousness, and so Jessica winked at him, giving him a soft smile of her own. 'You're softer than you want people to believe, Chorus Boy.' Bobby chuckled and looked down.
'Keep telling yourself that, Blondie,' he mumbled, picking at a thread in a sparkly pink cushion and trying to hide his smile.
They were the last to arrive and Jessica had to forcibly drag Bobby away from the bar to stop him flirting with the bartender.
'You flirt with him every time we come here – he's not even gay!'
'Doesn't mean he can't be turned, Jess.' She attempted to glare at him but he met her look with a smile and all she could do was cuff him lightly round the head and pull him over to the table where her friends were waiting. 'What did you say your friend's name was again?'
'Ivy. And you're going to love her.'
'But am I, Jessica? Really?' Bobby retorted.
'Yes. And she's probably going to be up to sing any second so just try and behave yourself for five minutes, ok?' Jessica said through gritted teeth before turning to face the table of people they had stopped by. 'Hey, guys, sorry I'm late. This is Bobby by the way. Bobby, this is everyone.' As soon as the introductions were completed, Bobby began talking like he'd known the group his whole life and Jessica couldn't honestly say she was surprised. She watched him a moment; his hair was slicked back smartly for the occasion and it meant that his eyes were, for once, not even partially hidden by his hair. And those dark eyes were flashing more dangerously than ever. It was captivating, almost; he demanded friendship with those eyes, issuing it as a challenge that was both thrilling and terrifying. She felt Sam lean across the table towards her.
'He doesn't bite, does he?' he chuckled, watching Bobby carefully, and Jessica smirked.
'Only a little,' she teased. 'But thank you for inviting him. I came so close to calling Jake but then Bobby found out and stole my phone and then more or less invited himself, actually, now I think about it.'
'Yeah, well, if he's keeping you away from that jerk of an ex then he's more than welcome here.' Jessica smiled and briefly rested her head on Sam's shoulder.
'Thank you, Sam. And happy birthday, by the way.' She sat up then, looking round 'So, where's your best girl? Is she going to sing for you like she said?' Sam smiled and nodded his head towards the stage, where Ivy was deep in conversation with the pianist. Jessica nodded and then raised her glass. 'Well then, here's to you birthday boy.'
After a few minutes, an elbow in her ribcage distracted Jessica from her conversation with Sam and she turned to see Bobby leaning over, his head close to hers and his eyes on someone who'd just come through the door.
'Please tell me you know that guy,' Bobby breathed, his eyebrows waggling. Jessica followed his gaze and then groaned when she saw who it was.
'No. No. You hear me? No. His name is Dennis and he's one of our best friends and he's actually the sweetest. And unlike you, he doesn't come with claws. So paws off, Kitty Fierce, this one's off limits.'
'I keep you in check.'
'You cramp my style.' Jessica hit Bobby lightly and he laughed, shoving her back before defiantly standing up and heading off to intercept Dennis' path to their table. Jessica watched, helpless as Bobby introduced himself and then began to pull Dennis towards the bar.
By the time Bobby returned, Ivy was already singing and Jessica was looking on with a smile as her friend's voice reverberated around the room. Bobby sat down next to her and leant in close once more, setting a drink down in front of her, his eyes not leaving Ivy.
'Ok, you were right. I love her. I mean, I want to be her. Like, I want to climb inside her body and be her. She's amazing.' Bobby sipped his own drink and sat back, his jaw dropping slightly as Ivy hit a high note. Jessica simply laughed.
'Yeah, I told you so.'
'Where did I find him?' Jessica frowned, slowly following Ivy's eye-line before realisation dawned. 'Oh, you mean Bobby? Yeah...I didn't, actually. He sort of found me. Or at least; he danced to Destiny's Child with me on the subway and decided that bound us for life so...' she sighed and looked down. 'Look, I know on the outside he's all spikes and...well...glitter. But when you really get to know him he's a teddy bear, I promise.' Jessica laughed at the sceptical glance Ivy gave her and then looked back over to where Bobby was standing, draped elegantly along the bar as he chatted with Dennis and sipped on some ridiculous cocktail. 'You know that guy Amber dated, the one who cheated on her? When we were out the other night I saw him. And Bobby caught me glaring so I just told him I hated him, didn't go into it or anything, but as soon as I said it, that was it, Bobby was giving him the stink-eye across the room all night, without even asking why. It was hilarious. But...it was also kind of sweet of him, don't you think?' Jessica shrugged and bit her lip. 'Just give him a chance, ok? He's a teddy bear. A sassy teddy bear but, I don't know...I've grown attached to him anyway. Seriously; give him a chance.'
'All I'm saying is that that boy must have made some sort of pact with the devil. It is the only way he can possibly still be holding down that job. Did he tell you what happened last time he worked with Derek Wills? And we both know what his reputation is in this town. You don't get second chances with directors like that, so how has Bobby managed to even get in that room without armed guards being present?!' Ivy sighed as she linked her arm through Jessica's. Jessica laughed and shrugged.
'Come on, Ivy, you know Bobby is pretty good at what he does.'
'So am I, but I'm out of work.'
'Not for long, I thought Tom had all but promised you a role in his and Julia's new project?'
'Yeah, in the chorus.'
'Nothing wrong with the chorus, Ivy. Some of us actually enjoy it.' Ivy smiled half-heartedly.
'I'm sorry, I'm being a killjoy. I'm starting to understand why you've basically ditched me for Bobby these days,' she laughed and Jessica rested her head on her shoulder.
'I haven't ditched you for Bobby. He actually whines way more than you ever do,' she joked, making Ivy chuckle slightly. 'Seriously, you should hear him in dance class, he's ridiculous.'
'I hear him plenty, Jessica, and ridiculous doesn't even come close.'
'My ears are burning!' a voice interrupted the girls' conversation and they jumped, turning round to see Bobby standing behind them, his arms folded, one eyebrow arched and his brown eyes twinkling menacingly.
'God, how do you do that?!' Ivy gasped, putting her hand over her heart and trying to catch her breath. Bobby simply smiled at her.
'I was a cat in a previous life?' he suggested and when she glared at him he shrugged. 'We're rehearing just up the street, I saw you two walking, I followed.'
'Stalker,' Jessica put in, swotting at him lightly.
'Don't even start with me today, Blondie. I'm not kidding,' Bobby sighed, rolling his eyes and linking arms with both of the girls, starting to walk with them down the street. 'Someone needs to buy me dinner and drinks so I can vent.' Jessica and Ivy exchanged a look.
'What happened now?' Jessica smirked.
'You're not going to believe me.'
'Try us,' Ivy pressed and Bobby drew in a deep breath.
'Honestly? It all started last week. And yes, there's a guy involved. And possibly I am not entirely innocent in this whole thing but you have to side with me anyway because that's what I would do for you, ok?'
'Spill it,' Jessica said and Bobby screwed up his face.
'Fine. But there also may or may not be several live lobsters involved in the story. And they might not necessarily fit into the story where you'd expect.'
'Seriously?' Ivy asked.
'Hey, would I lie?'
'Yes!' both girls replied.
'Oh yeah, I worked with him once. Workshop. Nightmare. I'm not even kidding: it was a disaster. Like, imagine the worst workshop you've ever been in and then multiply that by about...a thousand. He nearly fired me actually. Swear to God, Jess. I can't even remember why now...although it might have had something to do with the whole Leopard Print Shoes/Cherry Pie fiasco...and then there was the big lunch-break food-fight...and my sleeping with half of the rest of the cast didn't help...hey, did I actually ever get round to telling you about that job? It's a good story...maybe embellished slightly over time but, seriously, it was pretty amazing. I'm kinda hazy on the details, but basically I'd just got done being a swing over at The Producers, when my agent gives me a call...'
Bobby was perched on the edge of Jessica's dressing table, picking his way through a bag of chips and staring at his phone whilst Jessica pinned her hair up in preparation for their next performance. As Bobby let out the occasional laugh and Jessica hummed contentedly to herself, other members of the cast came and went around the two of them, leaving them in an amicable peace. They'd only been in the show for two weeks, arriving with a wave of cast changes at the turn of the month, and already people knew better than to expect Bobby to not be around whenever Jessica was.
'Seriously, Jess, you should see some of the texts Dennis is sending me. It's like a play by play of a show imploding. This is what happens when actors sleep with their co-stars, you know? And it's brilliant! Apparently the guy's wife has turned up now,' Bobby giggled, showing Jessica his phone. Jessica simply rolled her eyes, hardly glancing at the text Bobby was showing her.
'You and Dennis text too much. I swear, I should have never let you near him, you flirt with everyone.' Bobby pulled a face.
'God, when did you get so uptight about it?'
'When you flirted with my dad.' She fixed him with her sternest look but Bobby only grinned back at her, shrugging and jumping down from the dressing table to sit on one of the other chairs, starting to text a reply to Dennis.
'So what, your dad's hot for his age.' Jessica threw a lipstick at him and he dodged it before smiling proudly and looking back up at her. 'Lighten up, Blondie. I'm not going to break Dennis' heart. I have a boyfriend, remember?'
'I believe the term you used last week was 'fuck buddy' but if he's been upgraded to boyfriend now...' Jessica raised an eyebrow and her blue eyes glittered mischievously. Bobby prodded her in the side with his foot and tried to suppress his smile, looking down.
'I don't know. It's a new thing we're trying. I'll let you know when we've figured it out.'
'I'll hold you to that, Chorus Boy.' Jessica turned back to the mirror and examined the job she'd done with her hair, smiling slightly. 'Don't forget, Ivy's coming with us for drinks tonight after the show. She's been doing some work for her friend Tom, doing some demos or something, I don't know. But anyway, he might be coming too, so be good. No throwing yourself at bartenders to get free drinks. We're pretending to be grown-ups for the night, ok?'
'Nawww, boring.' Bobby pouted, then he frowned, glancing back up from his phone. 'Wait, did you say Tom? As in Tom Levitt Tom? Like Houston and Levitt? Like Broadway's very own?' Bobby was talking faster by the second and Jessica paused to look at him curiously, surprised that he was bothered. Bobby was rarely one to be star-struck by anyone; he'd once told her that his philosophy was that he was the biggest celebrity in his own life and that no actual celebrity could really compete.
'You knew she was friends with him, right?'
'Yeah...I just...' Bobby opened and closed his mouth for a few moments before shaking his head slightly and straightening up. 'Never mind.' Jessica frowned, but Bobby was saved by his phone lighting up with a new text and he quickly picked it back up. 'The wife? Being removed by security. Sometimes I love the theatre.'
After the show, Bobby got changed as quickly as possible before hurrying across to Jessica's dressing room. 'Hope you're all dressed ladies, coz you know I really don't want to see any of you lot naked,' he announced as he came in the room and a small chorus greeting went up from around the room as he made his way over to Jessica, who was putting the finishing touches to her make-up. 'Wow, nice outfit. You angling after a part in the next Houston and Levitt or did we go on a mission for a new boyfriend without telling me?' Bobby asked, sitting himself down on the dressing table beside her. Jessica simply shot him a look and then went back to rooting through her voluminous bag in search of her mascara. By the time she had pulled out various cosmetics, several pairs of headphones, a selection of pens and notebooks, some old sweet wrappers, multiple receipts, her phone, two sets of keys and – eventually – her mascara, she and Bobby were the last two left in the room. Jessica checked the time and rolled her eyes before beginning to apply the mascara as Bobby set about returning the bric-a-brac to her bag.
'Knock knock!' a voice called from the doorway and Bobby and Jessica turned in unison to see Ivy leaning into the room, smiling brightly.
'Hey!' Bobby beamed warmly.
'Come in Iv, I won't be a minute,' Jessica said and Ivy and Bobby shared a knowing look before Ivy stepped further into the room. But Bobby tensed slightly when he saw who followed her.
'Hi Jessica.' Jessica turned at the sound of her name and her smile widened when she saw Tom Levitt, leaning in the doorway and raking a hand through his hair. She flashed a quick wave to him.
'Hey Tom, it's nice to see you again. Ivy said you might be joining us.' Tom smiled politely and Jessica turned away, looking around for her new shoes. 'Ok, I'm nearly ready, just let me grab my shoes from Bobby's dressing room,' she sighed, giving Bobby a shove as she walked past him whilst he barely stifled a laugh. As she dashed past she didn't spot Tom eyeing Bobby strangely.
'Oh, sorry; Tom, this is the chorus boy who can't keep a secret who I warned you about,' Ivy put in with a smirk and Bobby huffed at her.
'One time! I didn't mean to blurt it out, ok? I didn't even know it was a secret.' Ivy was laughing but Tom was still looking at Bobby with narrowed eyes.
'Anyway, Bobby, meet my friend Tom, Tom, this is Big Mouth Bobby.'
'Actually, I believe we've met,' Tom remarked and Ivy looked surprised.
'Yes. Bobby here threw pink champagne on me at a party a few months back,' Tom smiled brightly, tilting his head to one side and looking at Bobby pointedly.
'I DIDN'T THROW IT, IT JUST EXPLODED! GOD!' Bobby gasped theatrically – and in a way which suggested he'd had to make this point on more than one occasion. Ivy began to laugh and Tom raised his eyebrows, looking at Bobby with amusement.
'Really? Coz it kinda felt like a throw. I mean, your aim was...pretty impressive, actually,' he teased and Bobby put his hands up in surrender.
'I can't help it that it all landed on you, ok? It was just the luck of the draw. And really, come on, who wears a velvet jacket near champagne? Exactly, it's not done. Now can we move on please?!' Bobby sighed as Ivy continued laughing and Tom smothered a smirk.
'You told me you'd pay for the dry cleaning...then went to get towels and...strangely, I never saw you after that,' he continued, folding his arms as Bobby groaned.
'Er, my boss was watching and I wanted to get paid. We both know you have more money than me anyway,' he retorted, before spotting Jessica standing in the doorway, also laughing. He sighed his most put-upon sigh. 'Do you see why I don't take catering jobs, now, Jess? God. I am never doing you a favour again.'
'I'm telling you, I saw him there. I know it's not his show, and I know that I've thought I've seen people before and been wrong but trust me, Jimmy, that was Tom Levitt. I saw him come out the stage door with a few of the dancers from the show and he was like...singing something to them, like jokingly I think coz they clearly found it hilarious but I thought his voice was amazing. And it took everything I had not to run over there and ask for his autograph, you know? I probably would've done if I'd actually had a Playbill from one of his shows handy. You know what? From now on, I take my Playbills everywhere, I'm going to have them in my bag, always. And next time I see Tom Levitt at a show, I'm going to get his autograph...and will you please stop laughing? This is a big deal to me, ok?!'
'Shane dumped me,' Jessica dispensed with the usual greetings and cut straight to the heartbreak as she fell back onto her bed, pulling a pillow to her chest.
'Well then Shane is a whore and we hate him.' She couldn't help but smile at Bobby's matter-of-fact tone and in that moment she was incredibly grateful for his unquestioning loyalty. So many people thought Bobby was flighty and flippant, but when it came down to it, he was quite fiercely loyal, once he decided he wanted to be anyway, he just had his own code of conduct for how best to show that loyalty and not everyone always understood that. Jessica balanced the phone between her shoulder and her ear and then began to pull the covers up around her.
'I found out he was cheating on me too,' she added softly.
'Want me to knee him in the balls for you?'
'High-kick in the teeth? A jazz-hand to the eye? A tap shoe up his-'
'Bobby! Stop making me laugh when I'm trying to wallow.' Jessica brushed a few tears from her cheeks, smiling to herself and rolling her eyes fondly. 'I already threw most of my shoe collection at him when he left anyway. And then I put a load of his stuff that he'd left here into a bag and threw it down the stairs after him. It's still just sitting there in the entryway.' A pause on the other end of the line.
'Right, I'm getting all the Ben and Jerry's from my freezer and I'm coming over.' Jessica wasn't about to argue with that. 'I'll be with you in ten, Jess.' Jessica smiled softly, a rush of gratitude overcoming her and temporarily making her forget Shane and his three – or was it four? – other girlfriends.
'It's times like this I'm really glad you stood in for me that day then dragged me off to do shots 'til I dropped,' Jessica murmured. She knew he'd never admit it, but on the other end of the line she was sure she heard him smiling.
'Er, Tom, when did we cast the guy who threw champagne all over you at that party?'
'I DIDN'T THROW IT, IT JUST EXPLODED, OK?! GOD!'
'I still hate the feathers but...at least it looks like the show's going to last. Tom said the numbers were looking good anyway and...I trust him so...' Ivy turned from her mirror to look at her friend, who was frowning down at her phone, clearly miles away. 'Jess? Jessica!' Ivy clicked her fingers and laughed slightly when Jessica jumped. 'Have you been listening to a word I've said? What's wrong with you, you've been miles away all night.'
'It's nothing, Ivy. I'm fine,' Jessica insisted quietly, setting her phone down and starting to gather up her stuff for the night.
'Hang on a minute, you never have your phone with you...is this boy trouble? Tell me you've not found your way back to Jake again,' Ivy grimaced and Jessica laughed, pulling a face.
'God no. Never. Again. Bobby's got instructions to do whatever it takes to keep me away from a phone if I ever even think about calling Jake again.'
'Wow, it's almost worth it to see what he'd do.'
'Please don't encourage him!' Jessica laughed.
'Sorry.' Ivy came over to sit next to Jessica. 'So if it's not a man, what is it?'
'It's a queen,' Jessica joked and Ivy frowned. 'It's Bobby, actually. The one and only. You know he's out of town visiting his parents, right?'
'Well we got in a big fight before he left-'
'About his fondness for flirting with all our friends, I seem to remember.'
'Exactly. And even though we talked on the phone after I feel like he's still mad with me. And he was supposed to get back today but he's not called so now I'm worried about him.'
'Trust me, Jess, Bobby can take care of himself.'
'I know...I know. I'm being stupid and paranoid. He'll call when he's done sulking with me.'
'The boy does love a good sulk,' Ivy nodded. Just then Dennis appeared in the doorway to the dressing room, all smiles, his bag slung over his shoulder.
'Hey, you guys ready to go?' He looked from Ivy to Jessica and then frowned. He was so used to seeing Jessica smiling that it unsettled him to see her looking so concerned. 'Jess, you ok?' he asked gently and she offered him a small smile and a nod.
'I'm fine. Come on, let's go. I really need a drink,' she sighed, standing up sharply. Ivy shook her head.
'She's worried about Bobby.'
'About Bobby?!' Dennis laughed, rolling his eyes. 'Since when did Bobby need to be worried about? I mean, other than the fact he's loose, newly single and terrorizing the general population of the city once more.'
'He hasn't called her. For a whole day!' Ivy said, her voice heavy with sarcasm, and Jessica gave her a light smack on the arm, smirking slightly.
'I think he's sulking with me, that's all. And I just want to make it right.'
'Sulking with you? How can anyone sulk with you?' Dennis asked, giving Jessica's shoulders a squeeze before linking arms with both girls as they headed for the stairs.
'If anyone can then Bobby can,' Ivy put in.
Once they'd signed out, Dennis stepped out ahead of the two girls, holding the door open as Ivy and Jessica stepped onto the street. Jessica smiled sweetly and thanked him before turning to check her phone once more.
'Hey, Cutie, you going to show me some love?' a familiar voice pierced the night and Jessica looked up immediately, her whole face breaking into a bright-eyed grin when she saw who was standing waiting for her outside the stage door.
'Chorus Boy!' she squealed, heading for Bobby in a run and throwing her arms around his neck. Bobby laughed as she barrelled into him and he wrapped her in a firm hug, lifting her off the ground to give her a tight squeeze.
'Remind me never to leave town again. Seriously. Next time my parents want to see me they can get in a car and drive. I'm completely worth the effort, you know? And I definitely belong in the city.' Bobby set Jessica down and broke the hug, looking her in the eye. His expression was all seriousness but Jessica knew him too well and she could see the glint of mischief in his eyes. 'It was terrible, Jess. I couldn't find anyone to do shots with me, let alone find a bar with a hot enough bar tender.' Jessica laughed at him, thwacking him fondly on the shoulder. 'I'm not kidding! I just...I belong in New York. Even unemployed in New York is better than Back-End-Of-Beyond with my parents, trust me.' Jessica reached up to give him another hug, a softer one this time, and he returned the gesture gladly. 'I missed you, Blondie. Let's not ever fight again.'
'Let's go dancing! And don't even think about giving me that 'I dance all day at work' crap because some of us still don't have a job and it's just insulting to me that you do. Come on. Please let's go? I mean, we both know I'm Beyoncé's long lost twin sister – how on earth is she supposed to find me and recognise that I am the more talented sibling if my friends refuse to come dancing with me! And Jess, don't even think about giving me that look or it'll be a repeat of the tap shoe incident all over again and you know none of us wants that.'