The next day I was woken up by Joe, smashing a pillow on my head.
"C'mon man, Julia will skin you alive if you're not ready on time," he yelled.
I rubbed my eyes, took my phone to check the time. 8:30!
"Shit," I groaned, jumping out of bed and running into the small bathroom. I took the quickest shower in history of mankind and got dressed. Joe was laughing at the whole situation, which didn't improve the foul mood I was in.
"Hey man, I'm sorry. I let you sleep as long as possible, I even waited for you to go to breakfast," he stated. "The others are already downstairs."
Lauren… I still had to think of something to make it up to her. Joe noticed the hesitation.
"What's up?" he asked me. I shrugged.
"I snapped at Lauren yesterday when she tried to help, I didn't mean to but you know… it was a rough day and so much stuff happened. She took it harder than I expected to… Still need to think of something to make it up to her," I explained.
"That's not so hard, Joey. What is the one thing in the world that Lauren loves the most?"
"Food!" we both exclaimed.
Luckily the hotel had a gift shop where they had all kinds of stuff besides magazines and postcards. They had these tiny boxes of chocolates filled with crèmes, liquor or even more chocolate. I paid the shop a quick visit before heading out to breakfast with Joe.
When we arrived at the table where the others were sitting, Brian ticked his wrist.
"You don't have much time left, Richter!" he laughed. I shrugged my shoulders, I still had ten minutes or so, which was more than enough time to grab some stuff from the buffet and shove it in my pockets for later.
I walked towards Lauren, who was trying her best to ignore me and put the box of chocolates on her plate, giving her a kiss on her head at the same time.
"I'm sorry about last night," I whispered.
"You got me chocolates?" she squealed, clapping her hands. I smiled, she was easily pleased as long as there was food involved.
"Why does she get chocolates? Did we miss something?" Jaime asked, trying to take one out of the box. Lauren slapped her hand, but gave her a white one. She didn't like white chocolate anyway.
"I just needed to make up for something," I shrugged.
"And you're completely forgiven for biting my head off," Lauren mumbled through the chocolates in her mouth.
"Hey!" Dylan laughed. "You snap at us all the time. Where's our chocolate?"
I grabbed one out of the box, making sure I took one of the white chocolates and threw it at his head. "You're welcome," I grinned.
Julia then came in the restaurant, telling us it was time to go to the conference room for our interview.
"The interview will take about an hour, they asked to take pictures as well. I'm glad to see you all look presentable," she smiled while giving us all a once-over. "Now get your butts up and go over there!"
I quickly ran to the buffet and grabbed some croissants before heading out. When I left the restaurant, I saw Julia talking to Lauren. It wasn't strange for them to do that, so I let them be and headed towards the conference room.
Lauren ran after me and I almost couldn't avoid the door smashing into her with my hands full of croissants, but I managed it somehow.
"Thanks," she smiled. I hold the door with my foot, munching on my breakfast.
"Aren't you coming?" Lauren asked.
I looked into the hallway, searching for Julia. "Where's Julia?"
"Oh, she isn't coming," Lauren quickly answered. "She had to take care of something, couldn't wait."
Well, that was strange. Julia never missed press conferences or interviews.
"Is she okay?" I asked concerned.
"Yes, Joey!" She laughed, grabbing my arm and dragging me towards the others. "Come on, let's get you and your croissants interviewed."
The interview wasn't very different from all the others I had in my Starkid-career. People really did their best to come up with clever questions, or original ones, but after a while the same questions keep coming back.
Yes, we still talked to Darren. No, I don't want to talk about my personal life. Yes, we are excited for the upcoming tour. Or we wouldn't do it in the first place, I thought sarcastically.
At one moment someone asked us how we enjoyed the convention yesterday. I stuffed my face with the last croissant to avoid having to talk, because my mind wandered towards Anna.
How was she? I didn't know and I probably never would. I knew which hospital she was in, that's if she was in fact still in the hospital. For all I knew, she was back home with that bastard. If that was the case, I truly hoped there was someone who could save her like we did yesterday. That she had someone to talk to. I knew I shouldn't get so involved in the first place, but I couldn't help it. It's who I was.
I felt a hand on my thigh, giving a reassuring squeeze. Lauren gave me a small smile, trying not to catch the attention of the others in the room.
"She's going to be fine," she whispered. I squeezed her hand in return. But I couldn't believe the words until I knew for sure.
After the interview, we shot some pictures. A couple of group photos, different pairings, the boys, the girls and so on.
When they were done and left us there in the conference room, Julia came in.
"I hope you all behaved yourselves?" she questioned. We all acted like we were insulted by her assumption and started to make some noise, jokingly shouting things like 'Of course we didn't!' and 'We would never!'.
"Hey!" Julia shouted, quickly silencing us like we were a bunch of kids. "Listen up, you guys. Before we go for lunch, I have some good and bad news to tell you."
Brian groaned. "Do we want to hear it?" Meredith slapped his arm, shushing him.
"I got a call early this morning from the travel agency. Apparently they had overbooked our flight to Chicago, which means not everyone can leave tonight." We collectively started to groan.
"I'm sorry," Julia apologized. "But some of us will have to stay longer, and take the next flight which goes Tuesday night. We are three tickets short for tonight's flight, I'll sacrifice my spot but I still need two people to do the same."
Everyone looked around them, waiting for someone to volunteer. Since we had the start of our tour later this week, we would all be traveling back to Chicago instead of spreading around the country again. I was actually looking forward spending some time with this group without having the stress of the tour weighing on us. This would cut that time with at least two or three days, and then I wasn't even counting the jetlag that would probably have its effect on us as well.
"Since nobody volunteered, Joe and Joey, you're going to have to stay," she sighed.
Joe jumped up immediately. "Why do I have to stay?"
"Because…" Julia said, pinching the bridge of her nose. "Joey will probably want to stay and you guys are sharing a room. It's easier this way for the hotel."
Wait, what? Why would I want to stay? I asked Julia this, looking as perplexed as Joe was.
Julia nodded towards Lauren and Meredith, who left the room with a skip in their step. Why were they in such a good mood all of a sudden?
"That's when the good news comes in. I wasn't at the interview this morning, because I had something important to care of. Or rather, someone important." She smiled.
The door of the conference room opened again and Lauren and Meredith came back in…
I audibly gasped when I noticed a third person in between them, smiling shyly.