...Five...I smiled as Olivia watched the TV in the top left corner of the teacher’s lounge. Her face flushed and her eyes brightened as music filled my ears. The familiar lovely lullaby I had created now was sung by a woman with red hair and green eyes. Olivia turned to me with a smile, “Isn’t that drummer hot!” She squealed as the camera panned over to Sly.
I let out a laugh, “You’re obsessed aren’t ya’ Olivia?” I asked and she smiled with a blush.
“You can’t tell me he isn’t cute!”
I nodded, “You have a point there, but we’re teachers Olivia. How would it look if a drummer of the hottest band in America was dating an English teacher?”
She pouted, “Like you’ve got room to talk!” She complained and I smiled back to her. She squeezed my hands in hers, “I can’t wait for tonight! I can’t believe Austin scored us these tickets!”
“Well he is the co-coach for the cowboys, so he can get a lot of things most can’t.”
She gave me an evil smile, “Not to mention he’s obsessed with you and spends loads of money in order to get you tickets for your favorite band!”
I let out another laugh, “I’m lucky, I guess.”
That night I met Austin and Olivia at the concert arena where Released Reality was performing. Austin kissed my cheek before we went inside and found our great seats. The entire concert I felt my heart ache but heal all at once. I looked to Austin when he grabbed my arm as I started to get up when the concert was over, “I have a surprise for you two,” He said as he took my hand in his. We followed Austin back stage but I suddenly realized what was going on. Yet, it was too late to turn back. The group of four turned to us with smiles as I wrapped myself around Austin’s arm, “I thought a VIP chat with the band would please you.” He said with a smile towards me.
Olivia squealed, “Omigosh, Ray! You need to marry the guy already!” she joked before turning to the group, “I’m Olivia!”
Ash shook her hand first, “it’s nice to meet ya’.”
“Nicky, this is the girl I was telling you about. This is Ray.” Austin said as he looked to the red haired, green eyed girl.
She smiled towards me, “I’ve heard a lot about you from my friend here! I also know you’re a true die-hard fan!”
I let out a laugh as I slowly let go of Austin, “You could call it that,” I said but looked to Ash as he stared at me, “I’m Ray Patrice. It’s nice to meet all of you.”
“Patrice? That’s your last name?”
I nodded but Austin let out a laugh, “And she could give you a run for your money, Nicky. She’s got a voice as good as yours!”
I looked to him, “Geez, Austin. Don’t embarrass me!”
He smiled, “But I’ve heard you sing the national anthem at your school football games and you’re great!”
I blushed, “I really am not as good as he says I am.”
“But Austin sent me a tape of your singing and you are good. Your singing reminds me a lot of another girl with Patrice as her last name. Are you by chance related to Raven Patrice?”
I shook my head, “I don’t think so.”
“Really? Because you look a lot like Raven when she had her hair cut short in elementary school,” Sly replied, “Have we ever met? You look really familiar.”
I smiled, “I would certainly remember if I had met you, Sly.” I replied and he sighed.
Dwayne put his hand on Sly’s shoulder, “Her face really brings back the good ol’ days, don’t it?”
Sly nodded towards him, “It’s been almost five years too.”
Nicky sighed, “Geez, all you guys seem to talk about is the past with Rave Life!”
“Well she led us to you, so don’t slam ‘er!” Ash hissed but looked to the right as a brown haired, blue eyed boy walked up. He put his hand on Ash’s shoulder and smiled.
“What’cha doin, Ash?” He asked but then froze as he saw me, “Teach?” The guy asked and I squeezed my purse in my hand. Now I recognized him. It was Kevin Rig. Wow, he sure has grown to a handsome man.
“Excuse me?” I asked with a smile, “Are you one of my students? I’ve never seen you around campus.”
I nodded, “I work at Texas University as a history teacher. Are you one of my students?”
“No, I mistook you for my teacher in high school. Sorry.”
I smiled even though I wanted to cry, “It’s quite alright,” I replied but then looked to Austin. I put my arms around his, “It’s getting late and I need to get up early tomorrow. We should go.”
“Wait!” Nicky said as I started to turn away, “Do you think we could meet up for lunch tomorrow?”
“Um, sure. I’d love to.” I whispered and then smiled to her again before leaving. When Austin dropped me off at my house I went inside and dropped in front of my brother’s picture hanging on the wall as I walked in, “Oh, Evan! What can I do! I left them and now they are back! What should I do? They make my heart hurt, but I love the pain!” I cried and just watched my brother’s picture stare back at me with no emotion.
I went to the hotel Nicky had asked me to go to and went to the suite she had given the number of. Suite 206 came quickly and I knocked on the door. Ash opened the door and smiled towards me, “Oh, Ray. You’re already here.” He said before letting me in. I smiled to Nicky as she hugged me tightly.
“So are you vegetarian? I forgot to ask!”
I shook my head, “No, I am a carnivore.”
She smiled and then led me to the two person table in the middle of a large, open room, “Sit,” She insisted before pouring a glass of wine for me and then sitting down across from me. She suddenly looked up and frowned, “Leave us be, Ash! Geez!” She hissed and I heard Ash leave the suit. She smiled back towards me with knowing eyes, “so why do you not want the guys to know you are their previous singer? The famous Raven Patrice who packed up and disappeared within a week of leaving the band.”
I leaned back in my chair, “I always knew you were smart, Nicky, but I’m surprised you figured me out so quickly.”
She smiled, “Your voice gave you away. On that tape Austin sent me it was like I was back on stage behind you, watching you set the world on fire with your voice.”
I sighed, “So you have not told the guys?”
She nodded, “I assumed you had a good reason to not tell them so I was not going to step in.”
I sighed, “The truth is I really don’t have a reason other than I am ashamed of what I have done.”
“Do you mean leaving the band? ‘Cause I know the guys would take you back in a heartbeat.”
I looked away from her, “No, it’s because my mentally challenged brother killed himself when he found out he was what made me give up my dreams and move away from my friends.”
“That’s terrible!” She gasped and I looked to her.
“But I think you are great for the guys.”
She sighed, “Are you kidding me? They can’t get through one song without one of them suddenly stopping or starting up a conversation about the good ol’ days with you. And Kevin has joined the group in order to search the world for you. They miss you so much that they didn’t sleep for a month when you left.”
“But if I tell them, what will happen? I will take away your job and dreams while tearing away from the friends I’ve made here?”
She smiled, “You don’t have’ta worry ‘bout me. I’ll be really happy if you come back to the band and I think Austin would be happy for you if you left in order to pursue your dreams.”
I looked away from her, “I’m sorry, but I can’t go back to being Rave Life or Raven. I’m now just Ray Patrice and I am now not hurting anyone. If I go back things will go back to the way they used to be. I can’t take steps back and go back to what I used to have. I need to move on from Released Reality,” I looked to Nicky, “But I’m glad they found you Nicky. You will be able to help them slowly heal the wounds I left in their hearts,” I felt as though I would soon cry so I quickly stood, “If you’ll excuse me, I need to leave.” I whispered before quickly running out of the room, but froze when I ran into the band in the hallway.
“Oh, Ray.” Sly said with surprise.
“Sorry, please excuse me.” I whispered before running past them. I went directly home and cried as I hugged a pillow.
The next afternoon, Olivia was working in the office so I had my room to myself until one of my male students that always seemed to have a reason to see me every day came in. I turned my chair towards him and smiled, “What can I do for you Mr. Howards? Is there something wrong?” He shook his head as he walked over to my desk and leaned against the wall behind it.
“No, I was just outside with a group of friends and one of them asked me if I could see if you would be interested in doing something.”
“Oh? What is the ‘something’?”
“He wants to know if you will sing the national anthem at the football game next Friday night.”
I sighed, “I’m sorry, Mr. Howards, but I cannot.”
“But my older brother that graduated three years ago said you always sang the national anthem. He showed me a video he had taken of your singing because he thought it was so good.”
I smiled, “Well I’m glad he enjoyed it, but to tell you the truth I stopped singing two years ago, right after your brother’s class graduated.”
“Oh, well I just thought I’d ask,” He said with a smile, “Say, are you done now? I can walk you out.”
I nodded, “Thanks, but I can walk by myself.”
He let out a small laugh, “No, no! I’m not implying you can’t, I just wanted to spend a little more time with you.” He said with a smile bigger than the ones before. I stood and then followed behind the boy out of the school.
“My car’s this way.” I said and he nodded. I started leading him towards my car but stopped when I heard something.
“Miss Patrice!” A male voice yelled and I turned, expecting one of my college students. I felt sick as I saw the matured Kevin Rig running over to me with a smile, “Thank god I finally found ya’! Who knew this campus was so big!”
“Kevin,” I whispered but then noticed Mr. Howards watching me with concern so I cleared my throat, “You do not go to this school Mr. Rig, so you should not be on campus.”
Kevin stared at the boy next to me, “This one of your college students, teach?”
“Yea, I’m in her noon class,” Mr. Howards replied, “But how do you know Miss Patrice?”
Kevin smiled, “I was one of her students when she used to work at a high school.”
I froze. So he knew who I was. Did all the guys know now? Would they come after me? “Mr. Howards, I’m sorry but I must be going. I have plans for dinner and I should not run late.”
He sighed, “Will you reconsider my offer? You have such a great voice and you have sung at the football games before.”
I sighed, “I’m sorry, Mr. Howards, but I do not sing anymore. I gave it up two years ago and plan to keep it that way. I hope you find someone else who can do it, but I’ll see you in class next week.”
He nodded and then left. I looked to Kevin and tightened my grip on my books in my arms, “So have you told Sly, Ash, and Dwayne? Do they know?”
He shook his head, “I don’t think they do.”
I sighed, “Well it’s better if we keep it that way. Also you should not come near me anymore.”
“But I finally found you! After five years I’ve found you and now you just want me to leave?”
I looked away from him, “I’m not your teacher, your friend, your singer, or your parent Kevin. You don’t need to be with me, so please just leave me be.” I walked away but looked back as Kevin grabbed my arm. I stared at him with shock.
“I let you go once, Rave, but I’m not letting you go again!”
I shoved his hand away, “I am just your former teacher! What do you have to gain from finding me again?”
“Rave,” He started.
“No, Kevin. Go back to the band. You guys are leaving today right? That’s what all the girls in my classes have been talking about so I assumed that’s what’s happening. Now just go and let me get back to my life.” I started to get into my car and turned it on as Kevin leaned in from the open window.
“But this isn’t your real life, Rave! Your real life is on stage singing with the band!”
I turned away from him and quickly backed out. I drove to my home and quickly changed into a skimpy black dress with a little amount of makeup added and a pair of pumps. I left again with my small black clutch and quickly went back to my car. I drove to the basketball arena I was supposed to go to tonight and parked. I went inside and a young woman smiled, “May I help you?”
I nodded, “Yes, I am part of a group that bought a room…” I started to explain but stopped when a hand touched my arm. I smiled as I turned but was terrified by the sight I saw. My brother smiled back towards me.
“She’s with me,” He said and then took my hand in his before taking me away. He brought me to a room that was not the one I was supposed to be in and I frowned, “I never expected to see you, little sis, looking so sophisticated and pure. It’s a good look for ya’.”
I crossed my arms across my chest, “I am supposed to meet my date at this game, Eli. I would’ve canceled if I had known you would be here.”
He sighed, “Come on, Raven, have a drink with me.”
“I go by Ray now.”
“Ray?” He asked and then watched me before looking away with a small laugh and a smile, “You sure have changed since you ran away with brother.”
“What? Are you here to get Evan?”
He shook his head, “As if I care where that boy goes, I’m actually here to talk to that band you used to be part of. I was going to ask them if they knew where you had gone.”
“The band’s here?”
He nodded, “They have the room next door.”
“Don’t you dare go anywhere near them, Eli! They have nothing to do with you or me anymore!”
“Oh? So you have stopped contact with them too?”
“The day I left our home was the last time I talked to you, the band, or my friends.”
He smiled, “You would give that much to get away from me?”
I hissed, “I’d die in order to escape you.”
He sighed and came over to me, “So where is our brother? I’m surprised he is alright with you going on a date in such a slutty dress.”
“My dating life has nothing to do with you or Evan! Now if you will excuse me, my date is waiting.” I said and then quickly started towards the door but let out a small yelp when Eli pinned me on the ground. He kissed me and I tried to fight back but he was more than three times my size. When he kissed me again I quickly bit his lip while kneeing him between the legs. He let out a groan as he fell over in pain and quickly got up. I went to the door and used a key that was beside the door to lock it from the outside. I sat on the floor with my back against the door as I cried hysterically in the quiet hallway. Suddenly the door was thrown open to the right of me and my head shot up to look at the people.
“Let me go! I’m gonna kick that bastard’s ass!” Kevin yelled as I heard people hollering and pulling on him. Suddenly Kevin fell onto the ground as he looked to me. I froze as he stared, “Raven!” He gasped as he sprung to his feet and came over to me, “Why in the hell did that guy attack you! We heard the whole thing from next door!” He said as he kneeled in front of me.
I wiped tears off my cheeks, “It’s nothing.” I whispered but froze as the three guys stood in front of me. I looked to Nicky who stood behind where Kevin kneeled.
“They heard everything and I had to hold ‘em back in order to let you at least finish your argument.” She explained.
Sly took a step forward, “You moved out of the state, gave up Lulu, quit your jobs, and lost all contacts in one week. Why did you try to run away from us?”
I looked to the door as my brother rammed into it, “Eli stop it!” I whispered in a cry, “I won’t let you touch them!”
“Let me outta here!”
I looked to Sly who stared at the door, “I left to get away from you guys but mainly to get away from my brother. He was planning to have Evan and you guys killed so I ran.”
“So you ran to save us and Evan?” Dwayne asked.
I sighed, “Which was fruitless since you guys are here at the same time as him and Evan…” I put my hands on my head, “Evan died two years back. He committed suicide.”
“What!” Ash yelled and I looked to him.
“Evan felt that if he was not alive I could go back to the band and live my dreams. He knew how unhappy I was without my band and my music.”
“Then why didn’t ya’ come back?” Nicky asked me.
“My singing killed my brother and I have vowed to never sing again,” I whispered but looked up when I heard someone stop. I looked up to Austin as he stared at the group.
“Ray?” He asked and I quickly stood with terror.
“Austin, I…” I started to explain but stopped when his face turned grim.
“How could you lie to me for 5 years about who you really are!”
I squeezed my arms against me, “I’m sorry, but I cared too much about you to let you get caught up in what I’ve run away from. You don’t deserve to face what I will because you are a good man. I should’ve done the same thing when I met these guys but I was still a kid.”
“But is that why you gave up singing?”
I nodded slowly, “My stage name was Rave Life. I used to be the singer for this band.”
“But why did you have to leave town? We were going on tour and you wouldn’t see us again.” Ash asked as he came over to me.
I looked away, “I left town ‘cause I didn’t want to get married,” I whispered and everyone gave me an odd look, “If I stayed in town I would’ve had to marry Chris.”
“Who’s Chris?” Austin asked and I looked away.
“No one, he’s no one and this is nothing,” I went over to Nicky and took her hands in mine, “Do me a favor?”
She nodded, “Anything.”
I smiled, “Let my brother outta there in a few minutes. I’ll be sure to get far enough away that he can’t come near me again. Also, I’m still intrustin’ the guys to you, so don’t let me down.”
She hugged me, “I won’t.” She whispered and I quickly pulled away. I looked to Austin.
“I understand if you don’t want to see me anymore so don’t worry about. I’ll see ya’.” I whispered before quickly leaving the stadium. I drove to my brother’s grave and stood in front of it, “What can I do now? I’ve got to leave again. But this time I don’t have you at my side. How can I leave you here?” I asked the stone as I stood in front of it, “I’ve got nothing left,” I added but covered my eyes as I started crying, “Why did you leave me here? Why couldn’t you take me with you?” I sat on the ground and cried until I couldn’t anymore. I then made my way home in order to sleep. I did not get out of bed the entire Sunday after the concert and did not want to leave when I had to at 6. Regrettably I got up, changed into a blue suit, grabbed my bag, slipped on my jacket, and left my apartment. I drove to school but was surprised to see Olivia standing near my parking spot. I quickly parked and got out.
“You’re running later than usual today.”
I nodded, “Sorry.”
“Don’t apologize, it happens.” she replied but did not look at me directly.
“Is something wrong, Olivia?”
She finally looked to my eyes and seemed to weaken, “There’s someone in the dean’s office waiting for you.”
She nodded with pain, “He…he’s threatening to kill the dean…he said he would not leave without you and…” She suddenly ran to me and squeezed me to her. A loud bang went off and she seemed to slump. I felt warm liquid touching my stomach, “Run!” She whispered in a gasp of pain and I looked down. A hole appeared in her stomach as she collapsed. I grabbed her before she hit the ground but was pulled from her by someone. I fell to the pavement and looked up to see Eli smiling as he crouched over to me.
“You can’t get away.” He hissed as he ripped my shirt in half and his gun sounded. I jumped up with a scream as I realized I was in my bed, alone. My body was shaking and I quickly started to cry as I put my hands over my eyes.