**Note: Although the following is part of a previously self-published eBook, portions have been modified. However, it has not been professionally edited and likely contains typos and other errors. It is offered as an example of raw science fiction storytelling.**
In the morning, Julie was first to awaken which did not really surprise her. Everyone else was exhausted from traveling. What surprised her was that Cristina awakened next. Julie had actually figured she would have a few hours to converse with Chase after he awakened.
She was alone in the kitchen with Cristina who looked beautiful without any makeup. She envied her that gift. Chase frequently assured Julie that she had the same kind of natural beauty, but she did never seemed to see it whenever she looked in the morning mirror.
“If you are hungry I have all sorts of things for breakfast: eggs, ham, bacon, sausage, toast, bagels – I can make waffles, pancakes just about anything you might want,” Julie told her.
Cristina tried to suppress a yawn but failed. “I really want a toasted bagel with cream cheese, if you have it.”
Julie laughed. “I think I can accommodate that.”
“Alix will want pancakes or waffles and sausage,” she warned.
“I can handle that, too,” Julie said.
“I can help, you know.”
“Well, I didn’t want to ask, but yeah, it would be appreciated.”
Cristina smiled. “You know what you and I need to do?”
“Just go out together, get drunk and stagger back to the apartment. After that, I sort of think we’ll understand one another a whole lot better.”
Julie laughed. “You might be right.”
“I know I am,” Cristina said.
“The problem is pulling it off when all the guys are around.”
Cristina focused on her. “Let them go out on their own, do the ‘man’ thing, whatever that is.”
“I mean, seriously.”
Julie silently acquiesced. “Well, I just don’t like being away from Chase. It was necessary for the tour and these silly meetings he had last week, but when we’re apart I feel like I have lost something important. It’s time we’ll never have again.”
“Chase is very capable of handling things. I know you like to feel indispensable to him in what you can do, but that’s also the source of your enslavement.”
“I’m not Chase’s slave.”
“Maybe not in the classical sense, but he relies on you to do things that he could do.”
“Well, yeah. Of course, he does. We work together, though. It’s a relationship. It’s a partnership. He does all sorts of things for me, too.”
Cristina stepped back both physically and mentally. “I’m sorry. I have no idea where your relationship is with Chase. Maybe I’m out of line. It’s just I’ve seen relationships that are all one-sided and that’s harmful to both people.”
“I love him,” she began. “I think probably he’s the only guy I could ever love. I want to bear his children. That’s a bizarre thing for me to say. I never wanted to have children before meeting him,” Julie revealed.
“I can understand that. I’ve never wanted children either. But lately… I don’t know.”
“What about you and Alix?”
“I feel like I have known him for all my life. We’ve known one another for ten years, but it’s different now. Before a few days ago, he was just like the rest of the band. They sort of made this mutual pact amongst themselves to protect me.”
“Protect you from what?”
“Apparently from them but also others. They always looked out for me on tour, especially whenever we were playing in a club in a rough section of town. You probably know how it is to some extent. You play a small club, where you can touch the crowd. The intimacy of the environment and the consumption of alcohol lead to inflated egos and some bold propositions from the crowd.”
“It’s good they protected you from guys hitting on you.”
“Yeah, it was like having four brothers, really. Sometimes, I would meet a guy after a show and we would sit down and talk and have some drinks together. They were always keeping an eye on us, though. If I didn’t feel safe with the guy they would step in. To their credit, they always let me have a social life if I wanted.”
“Well, that’s good.”
“Yeah, except the guys in the band always kept their distance from me. That sort of bothered me. I could tell that sometimes they felt attracted to me, but they always held back.”
“So what’s different about Alix?”
“Nothing, even after we went out together the first time he was holding back. I think it led to him getting drunk in an effort to deal with what he felt. Maybe he wanted to let go and thought the alcohol would help that, but he didn’t let anything get out of control. It was nice in a way, but in another way it was frustrating. He was waiting for me to initiate something or tell him it was okay. Now, he is my boyfriend and so it has evolved, but getting the relationship to that point was an effort.”
“Do the others know about your relationship?”
“Pete does. Pete is Alix’s best friend. I would suspect that the others know by now, from him if no other source. I can understand completely. The reluctance to have a relationship within a band is nothing new. If the relationship goes sour, usually the cohesion in the band is adversely affected. We have to continue on as a band and be professional, but on a personal level there’s some enmity lingering between two of the band members and that’s not a good thing. I certainly didn’t want to get into the habit of dating the guys in the band. If I had a relationship with one and then we broke up – even if it wasn’t all that serious – and then I had a relationship with another guy, and then another…it is like I’d feel like the band slut or something. That’s definitely not me or how the band wants me to be. I like to have fun just the same as anyone else, but I’m not going to be anything that I’m not.”
Julie continued her preparations for making pancakes while Cristina thawed the sausage links in the microwave. Silence lingered for a few moments until Julie broke it, “The other members of the band, are they like us?”
“I don’t know,” she said. “It is not like that sort of thing comes up in conversation. I didn’t know about Alix until he came over to my apartment to see about me because he was worried that no one in the band had heard from me.”
“No one else checked up on you, just him?”
“Well Pete and Alix were out the night before and Pete mentioned that no one had heard from me. So everyone noticed and I think they were concerned, but I have always been a very private sort of person, especially when we’re home. So maybe it was more about not wanting to disturb me”
“But Alix showed up at your door.”
“Yeah, he was that worried about me,” she smiled. “At first he was worried that I was annoyed, but really I was flattered.”
“I think Pete might have the attributes. Alix and Pete have always hung-out together. They practice together, just the two of them. So I would suspect that Pete might have the attributes. But I have not spoken to him since we left tour. Since Alix and I started seeing one another, he spends less time with Pete.”
Chase came into the kitchen, ostensibly for a glass of water, fully intending to go back to bed afterward. Zombie-like, he mechanically leaned over and kissed Julie on the cheek.
“G’morning, hon,” she said. “We’re having sausage links and pancakes for breakfast.”
“Uh hmm,” Chase barely articulated.
“Are you hungry?”
“Uh yeah, a little,” he said, and then cleared his throat.
“Well it’ll be ready in a few minutes. Why don’t you sit down at the table and see what’s happening on world viewer.”
“Uh…okay,” Chase groaned as he took his glass of water with him, and then left the cramped kitchen to the ladies. He ended up at the table where he plopped on a chair and picked up the remote and programmed in a variety of channels to scan, and then brought up the local entertainment channel. “Uh, I was thinking we should go out to a club and show Alix and Cristina the real Andromeda.”
“Yeah,” Julie said. “That would be fun.”
“I’d like that,” Cristina said. “I know Alix will be all about doing it.”
“Good,” he said as he checked what bands were playing where, and then noticed a channel where the latest Duae Lunae Mod cover drew his attention. “Hey check this out,” he rewound the stream-fed drive to the start of the report then hit play.
“There are reports coming from the ministry of commerce that the fourth Duae Lunae Mod card which was released last year has been put under a trade embargo by Andromeda authorities due to unconfirmed reports of hidden messages in a number of the tracks. The New Milan-based band appeared in Andromeda live on several occasions within the last year. Currently they have the number four song on local stream charts. There has been no response from Global Star, the band’s distribution agents, but it seems certain the embargo will adversely affect the sale of single and complete Mod cards for at least the near future.”
“That’s total bullshit,” Cristina erupted indignantly.
“In a related story, two band members of Duae Lunae reportedly have arrived in the city and are staying with friends. Sources say that the band members were seen at the railcar station downtown along with at least one Andromeda resident. It is not known at this time whether the arrival of the two band members is in any way related to the local embargo on their music.”