"Maria! Maria! Maria! Maria! Maria! Maria!" The crowd's chants echo through the arena. My eyes roamed the jam-packed stadium, seeing everyone smiling, waving their signs back and forth, clapping and cheering for me. Before I knew it, my eyes were watering.
I smile as I bring the microphone closer to my chest. I am so unbelievably fortunate, how is this my life? How are there over 53 thousand people here to see me? I'm pretty sure at this point my makeup was running down my cheeks but I don't care. At this moment, I'm over the moon.
"You guys are the best," I say into the mic, sniffling, "Ugh I'm sorry I'm such a baby I always end up crying!" I joke causing the crowd to burst out laughing.
"Thank you for an amazing show Toronto! You guys are the fucking coolest! I love you all so much, thank you for coming. Take care and goodnight!" I smile at them and blow a few kisses as my eyes roam back and forth in awe of the love they are giving me in this very moment and the love I receive daily. I owe everything I have to these beautiful humans. I wave one last time before I walk towards the end of the stage where my manager Stacy is waiting for me. Stacy's emerald green eyes were glowing in the dim-lit backstage area, her blonde hair pushed away from her face in a low ponytail as she stands there with open arms and a huge smile plastered on her face "You never cease to amaze me" Stacy says wrapping me in her embrace.
I smile pulling away from the hug," They never cease to amaze me!" I say gesturing to the audience," will I ever go on stage and not come back crying?" I joke wiping my tears causing Stacy to chuckle.
"It shows you're human babe, the industry hasn't gotten to you yet," Stacy says as we start walking towards my dressing room.
"Yet" I raise a brow at her causing her to chuckle.
"Go change, get some rest" She squeezes my arm as we reach my dressing room, flashes me a warm smile, and walks away.
I step inside the dressing room and immediately I'm face to face with my best friend Javed, Jay as I call him. Jay looked extra dashing tonight, his short dark brown curly hair was styled flawlessly, giving his curls extra volume. He was wearing a half-sleeved yellow shirt with a vintage sleeveless plaid knitted blue and yellow patterned vest sweater which complemented his tan skin, with dark blue flare jeans and black boots. There were 2 silver necklaces around his neck and three silver rings on each hand. One thing I admire about Jay is how well he dresses, he's honestly taught me so much over the years.
"You fucking killed it mate!" Jay says imitating what sounded like a mix of a British and Jamaican accent, not a good one might I add.
I laugh, "thank you bestie" I smile as he pulls me into a hug.
Jay holds me by my arms and stares at me intently, "have I ever told you how remarkably proud I am of you? I get chills every damn time you perform" He smiles at me.
"Jay please, I just cried 5 minutes ago why are you tryna make me sob again?" I pout as I pull him into a hug yet again.
"What can I say, I'm a sadist. I enjoy seeing you cry" Jay grins at me and I roll my eyes good-humoredly moving away from him.
"Where's Andrew? I thought he was stopping by?" Andrew is Jay's boyfriend question mark? Well, they aren't exclusive yet but they sorta are? I swear dating in this day and age is so complicated. I sit by my vanity and grab a makeup wipe and start wiping away the smeared makeup.
"Oh, he was acting like a dick so I told him not to come" Jay simply shrugs.
"Are you alright?" I ask looking at him through the mirror.
"Ya, ya, ya. It's fine." Jay says casually but I can tell he's lying. "Quickly change out of these flashy clothes so we can go to dinner. I'm starved!" Jay whines making me smile.
"Alright" I get up from my vanity and walk inside my bathroom.
Benefits of touring:
The beautiful, gorgeous, sparkly outfits.
Drawbacks of touring:
The uncomfortable, tight, sparkly outfits.
After what felt like forever, I finally slipped out of my black sequin full bodysuit and grabbed the blue satin dress hanging behind the door. I quickly slip it on and check out myself in the mirror. The dress fell a few inches above my ankles, it was loose yet it hugged my curves in all the right places. See this dress is beautiful and comfortable, why can't I wear stuff like this while performing? If I was a male artist I could walk on stage in pajamas and have no stage presence at all and still sell out arenas but fortunately for me as a female artist I need to be glammed up, have at least 4 outfit changes per show, and a choreographed dance routine per song not to mention if I'm caught lip-syncing that's it, that marks the end of my career. I'll be canceled on Twitter before I even finish my set. Oh, do I love the double standards for women in this industry.
I recently got blonde highlights on my chestnut brown hair and to say I was obsessed with how it made me look would be an understatement, I used some water to defrizz my hair a bit and fix some of my runny makeup and step out of the bathroom. I place the bodysuit on the sofa and grab my purse, "Let's go buddy" I say to Jay who was frowning at his phone. It's probably Andrew again, but it doesn't seem like he wants to talk about it, so I don't interrogate him any further.
Jay looks up from his phone, "Yeah let's get out of here" He says getting up.
I grab my phone and give Ryan my publicist a call, after 3 rings she answers, "Hey Jay and I are heading out, is the back door clear or should we move around from the other side of the stadium?" I ask her.
"Don't worry I fazed out the paps, go ahead. Have fun" Ryan says.
"Sure will do" I smile at Jay who was grabbing his stuff.
"Make sure you don't leave without Gerald though okay?" Ryan says.
Gerald is my bodyguard, "Yes Ma'am!" I say and head out of my dressing room with Jay in front of me.
I woke up to the sound of my phone going off in the background. I roll over and pull the covers over my body hoping whoever is bothering me would take the hint and call later. To my dismay, the phone kept going on and on. I roll my eyes as I sit up on the bed leaning against the bed frame as I pick up my phone from the bedside table.
I see that none other than Allan Richards was requesting to facetime me. Where do I begin with Allan Richards? One of the best R&B artists of our time, topping the charts with his music, winning awards left and right, and basically just taking over the world. Not to mention he's my literal rock. Allan, Jay & I have been friends since 2015 when I first moved to the States to pursue my dreams. They took me into their wing and have been like family ever since. I don't mean to get too sappy but I don't know who or what I would be without these two.
Suddenly I don't feel so grumpy anymore. I smile to myself as I press to answer and I'm soon met with Allan's smiling face. Allan recently got a faded cut which really suits him, as always his beard was shaven and cut to impress, the hair and beard really complimented each other along with Allan's facial features "Hello hello hello!" Allan exclaims throwing gun signs at me making me chuckle.
"I was about to yell at you for ruining my sleep but since I miss your dumbass, you shall not be yelled at today." I smile at him.
"Why thank you, I am flattered" Allan grins at me, "Where is tweedle dum?" Allan asks referring to Jay.
"Oh, he's right here sound asleep. Hold on lemme wake him up." I say as I grab the pillow behind me and hit Jay in the head, making Allan laugh.
"Ouch what the fuck" Jay screeches.
"Wake up, we need to have a chat with you," I say.
"Who the fuck is we?" Jay mumbles rolling over to the other side.
"Allan and I who else?"
"Allan's in LA you weirdo" Jay grunts.
"True, but he's also on facetime right now so can you please," I say pulling him over causing him to groan," look if I have to be woken up to Allan's ugly face so do you c'mon," I say making Jay sit up.
"Offense is taken" Allan glares at me through the screen.
I smile and flash a peace sign at Allan causing him to roll his eyes," You guys are pissing me off already and it's only 8 am" Jay groans.
"Why is little Jay Jay so grumpy today? Last time I checked you're on vacation with your boyfriend" Allan says.
Jay snatches the phone from my hand," First off I am not on vacation with him, he just happens to be here. Second off, he was never my boyfriend and is probably never going to be" Jay says glaring at Allan and then handing me back the phone.
Allan and I exchange a look," You alright buddy?" Allan asks as I rub Jay's shoulders.
"Yes yes, I'm fine. Can we just talk about something else please" Jay mumbles running his fingers through his hair.
"Al, I'm not going to lie it's so bizarre being in your hometown while you're not with us," I say.
"I know, I'm having such major FOMO" Allan sighs, "and Mar you killed it last night as always. I'm so proud of you. Wish I could be there."
"She really did," Jay says scooting closer to me. I smile at Allan than Jay.
"It's okay, we missed you. How's recording the album coming along? Almost done?" I ask.
"Oh just 2 more tracks left to finalize, you guys are going to love the record," Allan says with the biggest smile on his face, "especially you Jay."
"Well, when do we get to hear it then?" Jay asks grinning at Allan.
"soon my friends, very soon" Allan smiles.
Jay had just ordered some room service as we got off the phone with Allan, I get out of bed and freshen up a bit. It's still too early so I don't change out of my sleeping attire which consisted of an oversized shirt that fell a few inches below my knees. I brush my teeth and tie my hair in a bun before making my way back into the room.
As soon as I close the bathroom door, I'm surprised to Nayel standing in my room, dressed in a black button-down shirt and black pants. His jet black hair was messy as always, his hands are in his pockets as he's talking to Jay. Sigh, why does he always look so damn good?
Nayel Jafari is Jay's older brother. I have had the biggest crush on him since I first became friends with Jay when I was 15 at that time though Nayel was 25 and simply saw me as a little kid. Now I'm 21 and I'm certain he still sees me as a little girl.
"Hmm hi," I say getting their attention and they turn around to face me. A smile appears on Nayel's lips as he locks his dark brown eyes with mine. As always he was completely clean-shaven with a slight 5 o'clock shadow on his face. Seriously why do I always run into him when I look like absolute shit.
"Hi Maria, How are you," Nayel asks pulling me into a quick hug. He wraps his arms around my lower back sending chills down my spine before moving away. Just as always he smelled so good. I should ask what cologne he uses so I can get it for my future boyfriend.
I smile, "I'm good. I didn't know you were in Toronto"
"Yes, I had a couple of clients to meet. I really wanted to drop by your show but the clients kept going on and on. I saw the highlights on the internet though, you smashed it as always" Nayel smiles at me, the sun coming from the window making his eyes sparkle.
My cheeks heat up slightly, "thank you means a lot" I smile at him before moving to the bed with Jay.
"So how long are you here for?" I ask and I notice Nayel's eyes trailing down my bare legs before quickly looking away. I look down and blush, my shirt rose to my mid-thigh as I sat on the bed. My eyes widen as I quickly pull it down. Nayel notices and a sly grin appears on his lips.
"Just leaving with baby bro later today," Nayel says.
I furrow my eyebrows and turn to Jay, "You're leaving today? I thought you were staying the week?"
"Yeah I'm sorry I forgot to tell you but I have 3 papers due this weekend and the company that's sponsoring my mini-series really needs me out in LA to do some promo work for them," Jay says apologetically. Jay is currently getting his master's in media and entertainment, he's also a well-known YouTuber/influencer.
I look at him dolefully," I was really hoping to have you for a couple more days but I get it"
"If you want, I can stay a few more days? If you think you won't be okay by yourself?" Jay asks.
I shake my head and smile at him, "No no I'm fine. I just get bored during the day."
"You sure?" Jay's face laced with concern.
I nod, "Yes, I'll be fine. I'll be just fine".
Will I be fine though?