“Well- well you look amazing,” Nikki giggled, composing herself as she and her friend exchanged a warm, friendly hug. “When did you get here? I didn’t think I was going to see you until Thanksgiving?”
“Did you really think we were going to miss this?” Alexa asked. “The closest Angel launch event to Minnesota, AND it’s Jamie? Of course we’re going to be here!”
“Well I am seriously glad you are!” Nikki giggled, wiping the tears from her eyes. “Ugh, my mascara’s probably wreck- wait, you said ‘we’? So Jenny’s here too?”
“Did you really think she was going to miss this either?” Alexa replied with a smart Alek grin that widened as her wife approached and gave her a gentle kiss, before greeting their English friend with a hug.
“Hey Nikki!” Jenny squeaked, bouncing up and down with excitement as she hugged her friend.
“Hey Jen!” Nikki giggled happily. “Ugh, did- you didn’t hear what happened just now, did you?”
“Who d’you think was doing most of the shouting?” Alexa asked, causing her wife to briefly pout before giggling.
“Well- well I’m glad you’re both here, I really am,” Nikki said. “I have been so stressed about this week, you really have no idea.”
“Well… Your mascara does kinda give me a clue,” Alexa said, making her British friend moan and roll her eyes as she wiped some of the smeared make-up off her face. “Bathroom break?”
“Took the words right out of my mouth,” Nikki giggled as she and her two friends headed toward the backstage area. “So when did you two get into Chicago?”
“This morning,” Jenny replied. “We’re flying back tomorrow. We were going to do some sightseeing, but SOMEONE decided she’d rather come straight here. And to be fair, she was right, hehe!”
“I’d say so!” Nikki giggled as Alexa and Jenny shared another kiss.
“It was tough trying to get to get leave from the foundation, seeing as I’ve only been working there a few months,” Alexa said. “Fortunately, SOMEONE has some sway with the owner!” Nikki giggled as this time, it was Jenny’s turn to pout, which was only ended by another kiss between the two wives.
“We’d have been in New York too, if we could’ve got more time off,” Jenny explained as the trio entered the bathroom and Nikki began repairing her make-up. “The launch looked amazing! Lex of course couldn’t wait to add all the New York Angels on Instagram.”
“They all look really cool,” Alexa said as she gave her lipstick a quick touch-up. “Bit surprised there are no, you know, transgendered girls in the group…”
“Yeah, Jamie was surprised as we-“ Nikki said, before pausing. “Wait, have you seen Jamie yet?”
“What, here?” Jenny asked. “No, we thought she’d be along later?”
“No, she’s here already,” Nikki explained. “Getting changed now. Do you two want to go meet up with her?” The excited squeaks from the married couple were all the answer Nikki needed, and after her make-up was once again immaculate, she led her friends back through the corridors of the venue toward her mentor’s dressing room. Before they had got ten yards, though, the three women froze when they saw the venue’s manager walking toward them.
“Hello- umm, hello,” Mr. Kovlachek mumbled in a quiet, cowed voice. “I, umm, I want- I want to apologise for my behaviour just now. I’ve re-read the contract your company sent, and it does say that only one member of the Angels will be present today. So again, umm, I’m, umm, sorry.”
“Apology accepted,” Nikki said in a quiet voice as the scruffy man scuttled away, before breaking into a fit of giggles with her friends once he was outside earshot.
“He’ll know better than to shout at my sister next time!” Alexa said with a proud grin as she wrapped a comforting arm around her British friend’s shoulder.
“Girl power?” Nikki asked with a smug grin.
“You said it, girlie!” Jenny giggled as the trio approached Jamie’s dressing room door, which Nikki playfully knocked on.
“Come in,” Jamie said from the other side of the door, smiling as Nikki let herself into the room before giggling excitedly as she was followed by their American friends. “Alexa! Jenny! Hey you two!” The married couple collectively known as ‘Jexy’ both squeaked as Jamie greeted them with a gentle hug each, before directing them and Nikki to the dressing room’s plush sofa. “So how are you two enjoying married life, then?”
“It- it’s great,” Jenny replied as her fingers instinctively interlocked with her wife’s. “I’ve genuinely never been happier.”
“Me either,” Alexa said.
“I’m glad to hear it,” Jamie said with a wide, genuine smile.
The four women relaxed and chatted for the next fifteen minutes about their lives, the tour and their plans for the future, including Thanksgiving and Christmas. The conversation was only interrupted when a knock came from the dressing room door, notifying Jamie that she was due on stage promptly.
“Looks like it’s show time,” Jamie said with a grin as she escorted her friends out of the dressing room.
“I should probably get back to doing actual work as well, heh,” Nikki said as she grabbed her iPad.
“Luckily you’ve got a boss who’ll count ‘chatting’ as ‘working’ on your timesheet, eh?” Jamie teased as her protégé blushed, before turning to talk to her American friends. “And as for you two, normally I’d suggest getting a drink or two after the show, but I’ve got a 21 month old waiting in my hotel suite and I know that where you guys are concerned, ‘drink or two’ doesn’t usually stop at just two drinks!” Alexa, Jenny and Nikki all pouted in mock offence, before giggling and blushing as they were forced to concede that their friend was right.
“…We’re not THAT bad,” Jenny feebly mumbled.
“What was it your friend Katie called you?” Jamie asked. “The fearsome foursome?” The blonde Englishwoman smiled smugly as her friends all blushed deeper shades of red, before breaking down in a fit of giggles herself. “Ah, I’m just teasing, heh. God knows me and Charlotte had a few nights to forget before we had ‘other responsibilities’. Just have fun, and take care, okay?”
“We will,” Jenny said with a smile as she and her wife headed back to the main auditorium. “Oh, Jamie?”
“Yes…?” Jamie asked.
“What- what are you doing for Thanksgiving?” Jenny asked.
“Umm, I’m not sure,” Jamie replied. “I know we have to fly early on Friday to get to LA, so we’ll probably eat at the hotel.”
“Why don’t you come and have Thanksgiving dinner with us?” Jenny asked “You, Stuart and Olivia.”
“Y-yeah,” Alexa agreed
“Oh- I couldn’t, really,” Jamie said as her own cheeks started to flush. “I mean, it’s a family thing…”
“Nonsense, you ARE family,” Jenny insisted. “There'll be plenty of food, so don't worry about imposing.”
“And besides, Nikki’ll be there too,” Alexa said, flashing a smart Alek grin at her British counterpart that earned her a playful shove.
“…I’ll ask Stuart,” Jamie said, grinning as her American friends squeaked excitedly. “And I’ll see you there if I don’t see you after the show. And if I don’t, try not to have TOO much fun, okay?”
“We will,” Jenny replied, before letting out another squeak as Jamie made her way to the stage. “This is so exciting! I’ve got to call daddy, let him know he’ll have to set out three extra places! Are any of the other Angels free? Maybe we could-“
“Whoa, slow down a bit!” Alexa said, before biting her lip and grinning. “Nikki…?”
“…All of the other Angels are either at their individual appearances or already in LA,” Nikki replied with a giggle of her own. “Out of Heaven are still in New York, Jamie’s probably the only one close enough to fly last minute.” Nikki suppressed a grin as Jenny pouted, before shrugging her shoulders and smiling.
“It’s probably for the best,” the blonde woman said. "We don't want daddy thinking we've turned his home into a guest house, heh" Nikki smiled as the married couple shared a giggle, before looking at her iPad and sighing.
“I’d better get back to work now too,” Nikki said.
“But we’re still getting a couple of drinks after the show, right?” Alexa asked with pleading eyes that made her English counterpart giggle.
“…A couple,” Nikki said, flashing a sad smile that Alexa and Jenny immediately saw through.
“Nikki, is- is everything okay?” Alexa asked.
“Yeah,” Nikki sighed. “I- I’m just missing Sarah a bit, that’s all. Jamie called us ‘the fearsome foursome’ but I’m only counting three of us.”
“She couldn’t get any time away from her course?” Alexa asked, smiling sympathetically as Nikki shook her head.
“You know what a workaholic she is,” Nikki said. “And this course seems about ten times more intense than her degree. Ugh, god, I dunno…”
“How about,” Alexa said, “we keep your mind off your ‘withdrawal symptoms’ for the rest of your stay in the States?”
“Well- that’d be nice,” Nikki chuckled. “Kinda gonna have to do it long range when we’re in LA, though I can sorta drag Jacinta and Katie- well, Hendo, heh.”
“And us too,” Alexa said smugly. “What, first ever ‘AngelCon’, did you really think we WOULDN’T be there?”
“…You guys are the BEST,” Nikki said as she shared a group hug with her friends before heading to her designated backstage spot. “See you after!”
“See you!” Jenny said as she and Alexa headed back to the main auditorium. “Jacinta and Hendo are here too!?”
Despite Nikki’s reservations, the event went off without a hitch. Jamie and her Italian friends entertained the audiences with tales of their lives, answered the audience's questions and posed for a seemingly endless number of selfies. When she left the auditorium, Jamie was equal parts exhausted and exhilarated from her time in front of her fans.
“Great show, yet again!” Nikki squeaked as she escorted Jamie back to her dressing room. “And… That’s you done until Friday, if I’ve got my charts right!”
“Which you always have,” Jamie replied, causing Nikki to smile and blush. “Nikki, I- I heard about the little, umm, ‘confrontation’. One of the staff- well, you know…”
“Yeah,” Nikki whispered. “Lucky I had my- well, A guardian angel, hehe!”
“It’s just a pity they live so far away from New York or Los Angeles,” Jamie said. “Alexa and Jenny would make perfect, you know, ‘proper’ Angels.”
“Well, if memory serves, Chicago IS the third largest city in America,” Nikki teased, giggling as Jamie rolled her eyes.
“Don’t you dare get their hopes up like that,” Jamie said. “It was enough of a legal nightmare getting together the two groups that we have! But they’ll always be-“
“Friends?” Nikki said with a grin.
“You can never have too many,” Jamie said, giving her protégé a gentle hug as she entered her dressing room to get changed back into the comfortable (but still stylish) white turtleneck and black dress she wore to pick Nikki up from the airport.
After escorting Jamie to the taxi that took her back to their hotel, Nikki returned to the reception area to find it nearly deserted save for two fans, whose wide grins mirrored Nikki's own.
“That was so cool!” Alexa gushed. "Jamie looked SO cool up there, and those Italian girls seemed so nice too!"
“Even if you didn’t get to ask your question?” Jenny teased her wife, who rolled her eyes and pouted until Jenny made it up to her with a gentle kiss. “Ah, but there were so many people who asked questions, if Jamie tried to answer them all we’d still be here at Christmas, let alone Thanksgiving!”
“I kinda expected more questions about, you know…” Alexa trailed off as she gestured to herself and Nikki.
“I think Jamie might’ve done too,” Nikki said quietly. “But it just shows that the Angels- all of them- have really cool fans, hehe!”
“Yep!” Alexa giggled.
“Have- have you, you know,” Nikki asked, “had any more, like, ‘problems’?”
“Way to bring the mood down, Nikki!” Alexa teased, earning an eye roll from her British counterpart. “But sometimes, yeah. Now that I work at the foundation there’s no one who really knew ‘Alex’, so I haven’t had any issues there.”
“And they know they’d have hell to pay from dad and grandma if they did!” Jenny said, wrapping a protective arm around her wife.
“It’s when we’re out that it can be a problem,” Alexa said, returning her wife’s gesture. “There are still some people who see a same-sex couple and HAVE to tell us that they think we’re- well, you of all people should know, right?”
“Ugh, yep,” Nikki spat.
“And it always hurts me more to see Jenny be on the receiving end of it,” Alexa sighed sadly as she held her wife tighter.
“Yeah, I know that feeling too,” Nikki sighed. "I don't keep in touch with anyone I knew from second- high school, I never really had any friends there and I'm not interested in any opinions they might have. Though I kinda feel guilty for Sarah sometimes. She only joined the school in year 10- umm, whatever that would be in America, when you're, like, 14?"
"Ninth grade," Alexa clarified.
"Right," Nikki said. "So she's only at the school two years but makes a lot of friends- besides me, I mean, girl friends- well, friends who were girls at the time."
"I still can't believe that you were ever anything other than a girl," Jenny said, giggling as a proud smile spread across her friend's face. "Sorry, you were saying?"
"So, I come out, Sarah basically declares that now that I'm a girl, she's a lesbian," Nikki continued. "None of her friends support her. Literally none. Sarah says she's absolute fine with this- I mean, we met Katie- our Katie, that is- and Lauren on our first day of college, then Jacinta and Ophelia when Sarah went to uni, and loads more from the LGBT society, 'cause Sarah really threw herself into that. But- ugh, I dunno."
"I think I can guess," Alexa said with a proud grin. "If Sarah were here, she'd say 'stop moping and go out and have some fun with your friends who you barely ever get to spend time with'?"
"...She'd probably say 'whinging' instead of 'moping'," Nikki said, giggling as her American counterpart stuck her tongue out at her. "But yeah, now that I have ID confirming that I am 21, and more importantly, legally female, I think we should have some fun, hehe!"
"So does that mean you're buying the drinks then?" Alexa teased as the trio set off in search of an LGBT-friendly bar.
Nikki woke up the following morning grunting in pain at the familiar throb in her head, before letting out a louder, more pained moan as she rolled over to yet again find herself alone in bed. Before even shaking the cobwebs out of her head, Nikki reached for her phone to check for any messages from her wife. As with the previous few mornings, there were several messages from Sarah telling Nikki how much she loved her, and several more 'intimate' photos that had been taken shortly after Sarah had got out of bed. However, when Nikki went to reply, she let out a sigh as she saw that her wife's status was offline, despite it only being mid-afternoon in England.
With a loud sigh, Nikki padded through to the shower, and when she was done cleansing herself, returned to her room to dress for the day in a casual thick grey turtleneck and a short pleather skirt with warm black tights underneath. As she was applying her make-up for the day, Nikki’s phoned bleeped to inform her of a new message. Nikki’s heart sank when she saw that the message wasn’t from her soul mate, but she quickly perked up again when she realised it was from the airline confirming her flight later that morning from Chicago to Minneapolis, especially as it meant that a few rooms away, her friends would be waking up with the same hangover as her.
When Nikki headed down to breakfast, however, the only friends that she could see were English.
“Hey guys!” Nikki said as she got her fruit and cereal and sat down with the young family. “Hey Olivia!” Nikki giggled as the infant girl squeaked at the sudden attention she was given.
“You’re not suffering too much this morning, then?” Stuart teased his young friend, who let out a sarcastic laugh in reply. “I saw who you were out with last night, you’re all over Facebook again!” Nikki’s eyes widened and her panic levels rose as she reached for her phone, only to be stopped by her mentor.
“Relax, relax!” Jamie reassured Nikki. “You three were good last night, it's just that some BOY thinks it’s funny to play a practical joke on a hungover girl!” Nikki and Jamie both scowled as Stuart shrugged and beamed a smart Alek grin at them.
“…And I was going to ask you if you had fun in Cleveland,” Nikki said, before giggling and shaking her head.
“It was great!” Stuart replied. “Definitely something off the bucket list. Just wished I could’ve gone with my family but, well, there’s always time for that later.”
“And me and especially Olivia would’ve been bored to tears,” Jamie said. “And yes, yes, I know I’ve dragged you to things you’ve found boring.”
“Every single shopping trip, for starters,” Stuart said.
“BOY,” Jamie and Nikki replied, sharing a giggle and a knowing look.
“So,” Nikki said, her mood quickly brightening, “have you told the BOY about the plans for tomorrow?”
“Yes, by text,” Stuart replied, before smirking. “Though I was never going to turn down the invitation.”
“Glad to hear it,” Jenny said as she and her wife approached, exchanging hugs with all the adults at the table and gentle cuddles with Olivia.
“Well, you two are definitely perkier than I’d expect for first thing in the morning!” Jamie teased as her American friends simultaneously blushed.
“We knew we had an early flight today, so we weren’t out late,” Jenny mumbled.
“And we made sure we’d switched our phones OFF,” Alexa said, earning a giggle from both her wife and Nikki. “Besides, it wasn’t the same with just the three of us there.”
“You can say that again,” Nikki sighed sadly.
“Well, you’re going to be seeing Sarah soon, right?” Stuart asked. “You’re in an amazing part of the world, just, you know, try to enjoy the experience. I know I’d have enjoyed Cleveland yesterday much more if Jamie and Olivia were with me, and I missed them like mad when I was there.”
“I’ve got him well trained,” Jamie said with a smug smile.
“But I thought to myself ‘I’m here, this is great, make the most of it’,” Stuart shrugged. “And knowing you- all four of you- you’re definitely gonna be back over here at least once in the next twelve months, right?”
“…Next two months,” Nikki mumbled, before giggling and letting out a sigh. “You know, you can be pretty wise for a BOY sometimes?”
“Well, I support Chelsea, so you’re not wrong,” Stuart replied with a smug grin.
“Annnnd normal service is resumed,” Jamie said, smirking as her husband rolled his eyes. “What time’s our flight, Nikki?”
“11:45, so we should get moving pretty soon,” Nikki replied, before grinning as Alexa and Jenny squeaked excitedly. “Looks like it won’t just be the four of us on the flight, hehe!”
“Just as long as you three behave,” Jamie giggled as she helped her daughter finish her breakfast and gently wiped her face with a napkin.
The three young women indeed behaved themselves during the short flight north, as did the young family, though when the time came to disembark the plane, the English passengers were in for an unpleasant surprise.
“Okay, bit colder than the last time we were here!” Jamie said as she hastily zipped up her daughter’s winter coat and pulled a beanie hat over her head.
“I swear I will never complain about British weather again,” Stuart concurred. “Except for when it rains, of course.”
"It's barely below freezing," Alexa said with a giggle. "You should come here in January when the temperature gets below zero."
"Freezing IS below zero," Stuart said, before sighing and nodding. "You mean below zero Fahrenheit, right? I think I'll take a pass on that if you don't mind."
“Fortunately, the house is always nice and warm,” Jenny said as the small group grabbed their cases and headed toward the parking lot.
Just under an hour later, the travellers pulled up outside the vast family home of the Thompson family and the six travellers piled out of the taxi, eager to get into the warmth of the house.
“Just drop your bags in the cloakroom,” Jenny instructed before heading into the kitchen.
“So,” Alexa said to her British friends with a wide grin, “are you looking forward to your first proper American Thanksgiving?”
“Oh- definitely, yeah,” Jamie replied. “I’m just wondering if there’s anything, you know, we should do? Like, do you exchange cards and gifts, or decorate the house?”
“All I really know about Thanksgiving I learned from repeats of Friends,” Stuart said with a chuckle. “Sorry- I mean ‘reruns’.” Alexa giggled at her friends’ confusion, and Nikki couldn’t help but notice that her friend was more excitable than usual- though she quickly put this down to anticipation of the coming holiday.
"We don't really exchange gifts, or cards," Alexa explained. “Some families do, but the main thing is spending time with friends and family and enjoying the meal. It’s kind of a time to be thankful for what you have in your life… And god knows I’ve had a lot to be thankful for this year, heh. Though it’s not unheard of for there to be, well, a surprise or two…” Nikki gasped as a pair of hands suddenly covered her eyes, before her heart began to race as a familiar scent filled her nostrils and a familiar voice announced her arrival.
“Miss me?” Sarah whispered in her wife’s ear, who replied with a tender kiss and a long, tight hug.
“I missed you so much,” Nikki whispered in her wife’s ear as tears trickled down her cheeks.
“I missed you too,” Sarah sniffled, not letting go of her soul mate as their friends looked on. As they embraced, Nikki looked over at her American counterpart, who had a wide, proud grin on her face.
“Thank you,” Nikki mouthed, the look of genuine gratitude on her face bringing a tear to Alexa’s eye.
After the young couple had finally broken their embrace, the three families headed to the living room, where they relaxed on the warm, plush sofas. Nikki, however, had a question she needed to ask.
“Go on,” Nikki said with a sigh as she and her wife cuddled together on the sofa. “How long did you have this planned?”
“Since you told us you were coming out here by yourself,” Jenny replied with a smug grin. “I called Sarah, she said she’d planned to meet you in LA, and everything kinda fell into place from there.”
“Well- I appreciate it, I really do,” Nikki sighed happily.
“Hopefully now you’ll be a little less stressed out,” Stuart teased.
“BOY,” the five adult women in the room replied, making the lone man chuckle and shake his head.
“And hopefully even though the four of you are reunited, you won’t go TOO mad tonight!” Jamie cautioned as she gestured to the infant girl in her lap.
“No guarantees,” Alexa said with a devilish grin as her wife nervously fidgeted in her chair.
“And I’m hoping for an early night anyway,” Sarah said. “Still on London time, heh.”
“That, and you’ve got a lot of catching up to do?” Stuart asked, flinching as his wife shot a quick elbow at him before playfully covering their daughter’s ears.
“BOY,” the five women said once again, before giggling as the door to the kitchen opened and a distinguished-looking older gentleman came walking through.
“Daddy!” Jenny said, smiling as she and Alexa jumped up to greet the older man with hugs.
“Hi Mr. Thompson!” Nikki said as she and her English friends exchanged polite handshakes with the man.
“Hello everyone,” Marty said with a smile. "Glad you made it back safely from Chicago."
“Thanks for inviting us for Thanksgiving dinner,” Jamie said politely.
“You’re welcome, but it wasn’t me who did the inviting,” Marty said as he stared at his daughter, who blushed and smiled bashfully. “Still, it is their home now too, and since they will be doing most of the cooking tomorrow..." The older man allowed a grin to creep across his face as Alexa shared in her wife’s blushes.
“Don’t worry too much,” Sarah reassured her friends. “Alexa is an excellent cook. Jenny, on the other hand…” Sarah giggled as Jenny shot a stealthy kick toward her shins.
“…I think I’m going to need a drink,” Marty said with a tired laugh. “I think I’m going to need several drinks over the next few days!”
“Daddy…” Jenny protested.
“I’ll leave you all to it,” Marty said. “What time will your friend Hayley be here?”
“We’re picking her up from campus tomorrow morning,” Alexa replied, before exchanging another hug with the older man as he left the room.
“Who’s Hayley?” Jamie asked as the group sat back down.
“A freshman at the university,” Alexa replied. “We’ve been kinda acting as, you know, ‘surrogate big sisters’ to her as she’s living away from home for the first time.”
“Ah,” Jamie said. “So- so is she, you know…?”
“Oh- oh, no, she’s not, umm, like us,” Alexa said as she fidgeted in her seat.
“Oh- oh god, I’m sorry,” Jamie said with a grimace. “I just, you know, assume, since you mentioned it…”
“She’s Jessica’s sister,” Jenny interjected. “You know, from London, works for the airline? So you’re not, you know, completely wrong to assume…”
“Ah, right,” Jamie said. "Well- that's still cool. Even if she's not, you know, like us', there's still a lot she can learn from you, Alexa."
“Thanks,” Alexa said, sniffing back another tear. “Also, Hayley’s a good friend, and I don’t need to tell you the old saying about how many friends you can have, do I?”
“Indeed you don’t!” Jamie replied as her daughter began to squirm in her lap. “Ah… Think someone really needs a nap, heh! And no, I don’t mean Sarah.” The occupants of the room giggled as Sarah stuck her tongue out at Jamie.
“I’ll show you to your room,” Jenny said as she escorted the mother and her daughter up to one of the guest rooms.
“Thank you so much for letting us stay,” Jamie said with a wide, genuine grin.
“What are friends for?” Jenny replied with a giggle. “I knew daddy wouldn’t mind, really. Besides, he’s probably going to spend all his time fussing over Olivia anyway, and then spend the next 6 months pestering me and Lex about grandchildren.”
“Well Olivia COULD use an American cousin…” Jamie said, before giggling as Jenny shot her an angry glare. “I’m kidding, really! Though if I could ask one favour… Can you give me the Wi-Fi password, please? Kinda need to Skype the other Angels, let them know the new plans.”
“Sure,” Jenny said. “Is it, you know, going to be a work call? Confidential, I mean?”
“No, just catching up, seeing how everyone is,” Jamie replied, before rolling her eyes and giggling. “…Yes, you and Alexa can sit on it if you want.” Jamie smiled as her American friend let out an excited squeak at the prospect.
After Sarah finished hooking up her laptop to the living room's widescreen TV, Jamie logged into her Skype account and smirked when she saw that a chat was already in progress- a chat she was immediately invited to.
“Hey girls!” Jamie said with an excited squeak as Krystie, Mary, Hannah, Viks, Alice, Kelly and Malaika’s images appeared on-screen.
“Hey Jamie!” The seven women replied simultaneously.
“Ooh, and hello to the chat’s special guest stars!” Krystie teased, making the two married couples on the sofa next to Jamie blush. “Don’t need to ask if you’re still in Chicago then, do I?”
“I got a very generous offer that I couldn’t refuse,” Jamie replied with a giggle. “Stu’s here too, he’s just seeing to Olivia right now. Did Mikey get to you safely?”
“Yep, and he’s on a short leash for the rest of the week,” Krystie said with a sly grin. “And babysitting duties too, hehe!”
“Glad to hear it,” Mary chuckled as her husband mock pouted in the background, before cheerfully going back to playing with his daughter.
“How’s everyone been, anyway?” Jamie asked.
“Great!” Hannah replied. “Even if I did spend a good chunk of the day dressed as a cheerleader, what with being in Dallas and all that.”
“Try spending all day dressed as a showgirl!” Alice scoffed. “Think my make-up weighed more than my costume!”
“Make us jealous, why don’t you?” Nikki said, earning teasing jeers from the other women on the screen.
“I think someone’s just picked the theme for their birthday party!” Hannah teased, making Nikki giggle and blush.
“Oh- shut up…” Nikki mumbled. “Besides, wasn’t that the theme for our hen night?”
“And Katie and Jacinta’s birthdays are before then anyway,” Sarah interjected.
“And yours is next Tuesday!” Viks reminded the soon-to-be 22-year-old woman, who shared her wife’s blushes. “Though you’ve got a point, especially about Jacinta… Shall we get her in on the call?” The Minnesota-based women all grinned as the other Angels murmured in agreement, and after a quick text message from Nikki, the grinning faces of Jacinta and Katie Henderson appeared on the big screen, while Alexa sent a sneaky text message of her own.
“Hey girlies!” Jacinta squeaked. “How’s everyone?”
“SO great,” Hannah replied. “How are you two, are you still in New York?”
“Nope!” Katie replied. “Followed Kelly to San Francisco, heading down to LA tomorrow to get ready for Saturday’s launch.”
“…And I kinda tagged along,” Jacinta giggled.
“They’re at a different hotel to me and Kurt, that’s why they’re not on my side of the call,” Kelly explained.
“They’re at the Hilton, of course,” Katie teased, giggling as the Chinese transwoman sighed and rolled her eyes.
“Did you three enjoy San Francisco then?” Jamie asked.
“Oh- totally,” Kelly replied. “Chinatown was amazing, of course, but it was surprising how many- well, you of all people should know what I’m gonna say next, right?”
“Yeah,” Jamie said. “Had a few questions like that in Chicago, not quite as many as I expected though.”
“We’ve been getting a few, you know, ‘questions’ as well,” Viks said hesitantly. “You know, along the lines of ‘what’s it like being friends with someone who hasn’t always been a woman’, that sort-of thing.”
“…And?” Jamie asked nervously. “How- how do you answer these questions?”
“By telling whoever answered it that Jamie-Lee Burke is every bit the woman that we are,” Mary replied in a defiant voice. “That who she was in the past doesn’t stop her from being our friend, from being a wife, a mother, and a role model for girls- ALL girls- around the world.”
“And the same goes for Kelly Watson,” Krystie said. “And Nikki, and Jacinta, and Alexa, and Stephanie, and anyone else you’d care to name.”
“Aww- you guys…” Jamie sniffed as tears formed in the eyes of everyone on the call.
“After seven and a half years, right?” Krystie asked with a warm smile. “The world will get it eventually.”
“Even if we have to educate them one person at a time,” Viks said.
“Which we’re more than happy to do,” Malaika interjected. “I mean, ten years ago this country put a man with the same ethnicity as me in the White House. How long before there is a transgendered president?”
“What do you say, Alexa?” Jacinta asked, causing the Minnesota native’s eyes to widen.
“Oh- I, umm, I dunno…” Alexa stammered as Jacinta burst into a fit of laughter. “He- hey, not fair…”
“I’d vote for you, babe,” Jenny said as she soothed her wife with a gentle, loving kiss.
“Hell, I think we all would,” Katie said. “God knows you’d be an improvement over the current president.”
“No offence intended,” Viks hastily interjected.
“Ugh, believe me, none taken!” Alexa said. “Good job Paige isn’t on the call, heh!”
“Well, why not see if she’s available?” Alice asked. “The more the merrier, right? Or to put it another way, you can never have too many friends, right?”
“Too right,” Jamie giggled as she sent a text message to the Scottish woman and her wife, before pausing. “I’m gonna invite Steph and the rest of Out of Heaven as well. As you really can never have too many friends, hehe!”
“Right then,” Krystie said, “if that’s the case, I’m going to invite Zoe and Nat too! Think Zoe should be back from our adult class by now.”
“Absolutely!” Jamie giggled as Stephanie’s face appeared on the screen. “Hey Steph!”
“Hey Jamie!” Stephanie giggled. “Ah, hello Out of Heaven tribute act! Are we going to be treated to a Skype concert, then?” Stephanie let out a cheeky grin as her question was answered by four stealthy middle fingers.
“Olivia’s upstairs,” Jamie explained. “So they know they have to behave themselves.”
“Not sure whether to be disappointed or relieved,” Stephanie giggled. “So what’s up? Is this, like, just a general chat? Where are Charlotte and Abbey-Gayle?”
“A-G’s still onstage in Florida,” Hannah explained. “’Cause she’s in the half of us that doesn’t have a family, she’s actually doing some work, heh. Charlotte’s in a conference call with some other international Angels, doing a formal interview, she should be free in a bit.”
“Tell her to bring all of the international girls with her!” Stephanie said.
“So where are you, Steph?” Alice asked. “Still in New York?”
“Umm, no, flew to LA earlier today,” Stephanie replied.] “Going to get a late lunch with Becca and Adeola in a bit.”
“Why not get them on the call while you wait?” Jamie shrugged.
“Are we stress testing Skype or something?” Alice giggled.
“Ooh, can we invite Ophelia and Lauren too, then?” Jacinta asked excitedly.
“Why not?” Jamie giggled as Jessica, Paige, Natalie and Zoe all joined the call. “Hey girls!”
“Hi Jamie! Hi everyone!” Jessica giggled. “Ah… SO sorry I couldn’t be there on Saturday, but, you know, still kinda having trouble getting around, hehe!”
“It’ll get better,” Jamie reassured her American friend. “Are you two still in New York?”
“Nope,” Paige replied. “Flew to Baltimore yesterday evening.”
“Ravens flock!” Jessica cheered, smirking as the two American women sat next to Jamie sighed and rolled their eyes.
“For the record,” Paige says, “when she’s off the painkillers she’ll have to take a drink every time she says that to someone who ISN’T a Ravens fan. If I have to drink every time someone mentions the orange-“
“Drink!” A large number of the women, including all of those in Minnesota, shouted at the Scottish woman, who grinned and took a sip of her wine.
“See you haven’t gone native yet, then,” Natalie teased her friend and former colleague.
“Give it time,” Jessica said with a proud grin as she cuddled her wife close to her, before turning back to the screen. "What time's Hayley getting there tomorrow?"
"She has to take a drink every time she asks about her sister as well," Paige whispered, making Alexa and Jenny giggle while Jessica rolled her eyes.
"We're picking her up tomorrow morning," Alexa replied. "And yes, we have been looking after her the past few months, and no, we haven't got her into any trouble."
"And we're not going to," Jenny said. "Even if her sister is over a thousand miles away and not able to travel long distances right now!"
"You'd better not," Jessica said, before giggling and shaking her head. “So, how’s everyone liking America, then? Those of us who don’t live here, anyway?”
“Really loving it,” Kelly replied. "Everyone's so friendly, and there's a lot of excitement about the brand as well."
"I doubt this'll be the last time all of us are on this side of the Atlantic," Viks concurred.
“Glad to hear it,” Jessica chuckled.
“Alice, I’ve lost your car at the craps table,” a deep, Yorkshire accent shouted from behind the red-haired Angel, who rolled her eyes and groaned loudly.
“We didn’t rent a car, you pillock!” Alice retorted as Ricky sat down next to her. “Girls, say hi to Ricky, for those who haven’t met him yet he’s my boyfriend and a total moron.”
“BOY,” most of the women yelled at Ricky, who smiled smugly.
“And the only one on this call, apparently,” Ricky said. “Kinda feel like Hugh Hefner, being in Las Vegas and all.”
“What, old, shrivelled up and perverted?” Hannah asked, making the other women on the call laugh and Ricky roll his eyes.
“Guess what theme I’m having for my birthday party, then?” Ricky asked to more eye-rolling.
“Your birthday’s not until June,” Alice reminded her boyfriend. “I’ll think of something else to distract him by then.”
“I’ll just have the Playboy party in 2020, then,” Ricky said smugly.
“By which point your sister will be eighteen…” Krystie retorted.
“You wouldn’t dare invite her along,” Ricky snorted. “You used to be her teacher, for god’s sake!”
“Just try us,” Zoe said in her refined southern French accent as Jamie and her friends sat back and giggled.
“Ah…” Jamie giggled, before lowering her voice so the microphone wouldn’t pick it up as easily. “You sure you two still want to be in on this call?”
“Are you kidding?” Alexa replied. “I LOVE this.”
“Me too,” Jenny said with a happy, contented grin. “I mean, I’ve watched every episode of the Angels, but this is, like, a real reality show, if that makes sense?”
“Kinda,” Jamie said with a smile. Alexa and Jenny both giggled happily, before their smiles widened as the living room door opened and Stuart entered, followed by two other familiar faces.
“Danny!” Alexa giggled as she jumped up from the sofa and gave her brother a tight hug.
“Oh- for god's sake, Alexa,” Danny grumbled as he tried to wriggle free of the embrace, before sighing and surrendering as Jenny joined in the hug. “Hi Jamie, Nikki, Sarah.”
“Hi Danny,” Jamie said with a giggle at the siblings’ antics. “Alexa was telling me earlier you’ve been up here a lot recently?”
“Yeah,” Danny said with a loud, exaggerated sigh. "These two are moving back here after Christmas and they wanted the place modernizing a bit, and they decided I should do the job. And they decided they should 'help' me every free moment they get."
“Aww, that’s cute, you getting to spend so much time together,” Nikki teased.
“When they’re not trying to kill each other, anyway,” Katie- Danny’s fiancée- said as she greeted the five women with a gentle hug each. “What’s everyone- woah.” Katie froze as she gazed at the room’s widescreen television, and the cavalcade of faces on the screen.
“Katie!” The English Katie, who consented to be known by the nickname ‘Hendo’ in these situations, exclaimed when she saw her American namesake.
“Katie!” The American Katie replied with a nervous giggle.
“Jeez- how many people have you invited to Thanksgiving, you two?” Danny asked his sisters, who immediately blushed.
“Ah, this- this was my idea,” Jamie said. “I wanted to have a group chat with the other Angels, and things have kinda got out of hand!” Jamie giggled as she gestured at the faces on the screen, which now included Lauren Burnett, Ophelia Love, Ricky’s sister Laura and her friends Ashley and Megan.
“Hey ‘new’ girls!” Nikki teasingly said with a wave, which the five additional young women eagerly returned.
“Hi Stuart,” Ricky defiantly said. “Hi other guy.”
“BOY,” at least eight of the women said simultaneously, including all the women in the living room.
“Hi Rick,” Stuart said with a tired sigh. “Ricky White, meet Danny Quinn, Danny, this is Ricky, Alice’s boyfriend and sister of Laura, who’s the young girl in the top-right corner there. She and Ashley are in the fellowship with me, Jamie and Nikki and- and this is where it starts to get a little complicated.”
“Starting with what the ‘fellowship’ is,” Danny said. “I mean, I’ve seen Lord of the Rings…”
“You may want to sit down,” Jamie chuckled.
“Especially as I explained the ‘fellowship’ to you at the wedding,” Alexa said in a low, tired voice, earning an eye roll from her brother.
“Maybe it’d be easier if us guys had a separate chat?” Stuart suggested.
“Oh- no, really,” Hannah said. “Just ‘cause you’re guys, it doesn’t mean you can’t be part of, you know, ‘the family’.”
“Even guys who, for some reason, actually enjoy being guys,” Nikki teased.
“Okay,” Ricky said. “So could the rest of you get your husbands in on the chat then, please?”
“Of course,” Krystie said as she, Viks, Mary, Lauren & Ophelia called for their other halves before returning to the screen. “You do realise then even with all the other BOYS on the call, you’re still not going to get a word in, right?”
“What else is new?” Stuart asked as he sent a text message.
“BOY!” The women all shouted at once.
“Who are you inviting?” Jamie asked her husband. “I am right in assuming you’re inviting someone else into the chat, right?”
“Ian,” Stuart replied. “Only one of the ‘fellowship’ not in the call yet. Assuming you’re okay with another BOY on the call?”
“You can never have too many friends,” Jamie reminded her husband as she pressed the ‘send message’ button for him.
The group, who were soon joined by Ian and his friends Lee and Ellie, spent the next two hours chatting non-stop. People came and went throughout the chat- Ashley only stayed for a few minutes, citing homework as her reason, though Jamie and Nikki couldn’t help but observe some awkwardness between her and Laura, who also left a few minutes afterward. Becca and Adeola from Out of Heaven also briefly joined the chat, though Kayla was unable to do so- something that prompted Stephanie’s departure from the chat a short while later. Eventually, as early afternoon turned into late afternoon in America and evening in Britain gave way to night, the chat dwindled until it was just Jamie, Mary and Krystie- though they were soon joined by one other Angel.
“Hey girls!” Charlotte said as her image appeared onscreen. “Just us tonight, then?”
“Oh- you have NO idea,” Krystie chuckled. “About an hour ago there were, like, twenty people on the chat. Seriously.”
“Let me guess- Mrs. Milton invited her entire ‘fellowship’ around?” Charlotte teased as Jamie blushed and giggled.
“She did, and it was AWESOME,” Krystie said. “We really should have more chats like that.”
“Speaking of which, how was the interview?” Mary asked.
“Great!” Charlotte said. “Really got the brand promoted well, the other girls were all fine too, though they did only send along the English speakers.”
“So no Melissa or Chiara?” Jamie asked.
“No,” Charlotte replied, immediately sensing what her BFF implied by her question. “But McKayla from the Australian Angels was there, and she was- well, just as good as you’d have been if you were there.”
“Glad to hear it,” Jamie said with a grin. “Ahh… I am looking forward to LA more and more, hehe!”
“Same here,” Charlotte replied. “God, who’d have thought seven years ago that we’d be right here, right now? About to have our own convention, millions of followers on social media…”
“Wives and mothers?” Jamie asked as she gazed down at her own slender, feminine body. “God knows I wouldn’t have done. Especially after- well, you of all people should know.”
“Really?” Mary asked. “’Cause I never doubted it. Everything we are, we deserve, we have earned.”
“Especially you, MRS Milton,” Krystie said.
“Aww- guys…” Jamie sniffed as tears started to form in her eyes. “What- what are you all doing for Thanksgiving tomorrow?”
“Oh, get you, desperately changing the subject!” Krystie teased. “But, if you want to know, I’ll be flying out to LA tomorrow afternoon with my family. Well, my husband and daughter, anyway. The rest of my family is who I spent the last couple of hours talking with.”
“Same here,” Mary said. “Speaking of which, there are two little girls who need their dinners, so I’d better love you and leave you, heh!”
“See you Friday!” The other girls said as Mary dropped out of the chat.
“Same here,” Krystie sighed. “Maria’s become such a fussy eater lately. See you two in LA!”
“Bye!” Jamie and Charlotte replied, before each letting out a deep sigh as they were left by themselves.
“I’d better go too,” Charlotte said. “Got as many little mouths to feed as those two put together, and two of them aren’t even close to weaned yet, heh. But I really did need to check that you were okay.”
“Me?” Jamie asked. “Yeah, I’m fine, why d’you ask?”
“Because EIGHT years ago, you must’ve had some very different dreams about your future!” Charlotte said.
“Honestly? I don’t even think about that anymore,” Jamie said. “THIS is my life. Mary was right, it’s who I was meant to be all along. And none of this would’ve happened without you. No wonder they wanted to call the show ‘Charlotte’s Angels’ when it launched.”
“Thank god I talked Joshua out of that,” Charlotte giggled. “Because this is 100% a team effort. No- a family effort. Even if the Angels as a brand does eventually come to an end, we’ll still be friends, right?”
“Friends?” Jamie replied. “Try ‘family’.”
“Can’t think of anyone who’d make a better sister than you,” Charlotte said, before sighing. “I’d better get going. Send my love to Stuart and Olivia.”
“Will do,” Jamie replied. “As long as you send my love to my brother-in-law, nephew and nieces, hehe!”
“Will do,” Charlotte said with a wink as she ended the call and left Jamie by herself on the sofa- though the excited sounds coming from the kitchen reassured Jamie that she wouldn’t be alone for long.
Nikki couldn’t help but giggle as she entered the kitchen and found her American counterpart in an almost trance-like state, fixated on her pots and pans.
“Just stick it on the counter, babe,” Alexa said, not looking up from her cooking.
“Sure thing, sweetheart,” Nikki replied in an exaggerated American accent, before giggling as Alexa turned around with an angry look in her eyes.
“Oh- shut up,” Alexa grumbled as she threw a tea towel at her laughing British friend. “I thought you were Jenny…”
“Yeah, I hope you did!” Nikki teased. “Think she’s getting some wine from the cellar. Dinner smells delicious, though!”
“Thanks!” Alexa said with a proud grin. “This is nothing compared to tomorrow, though.”
“Oh- yeah, believe me, been there, done that!” Nikki chuckled. “Has Sarah ever told you about the time we hosted Christmas dinner?”
“No,” Alexa replied. “But I’ve been in your kitchen, cooking dinner for the nine of us when we were over was- huh.” Nikki frowned as Alexa paused and a wistful look came over her face.
“…Alexa?” Nikki asked.
“Oh- nothing, it’s just-“ Alexa said, before blushing and mumbling. “The nine of US. Sometimes I forget that ‘us’ includes me, heh. Like, I am just ‘one of the girls’.”
“’One of the girls’?” Nikki retorted. “Absolutely. ‘Just’ one of the girls? Nuh-uh. This world, this whole universe even, it just wouldn’t be complete without you in it.”
“Oh- oh for god’s sake…” Alexa said with a tired chuckle as tears formed in her eyes, before reaching out for a warm, friendly hug with her British friend.
“I leave you alone for ten seconds are you start bawling like a baby,” Jenny teased her wife as she returned to the kitchen with the wine in hand.
“It’s Nikki’s fault, you know she sets me off,” Alexa retorted, grinning as her British friend’s jaw dropped.
“Oh- you!” Nikki snorted as her friends giggled.
“Oh god,” Katie sighed as she entered the kitchen and found her three friends bickering. “Am I going to have to play referee for you all holiday?”
“I’m sure you know the answer to that by now, ‘sensible big sister’!” Alexa teased, giggling as Katie rolled her eyes and reached into a cupboard for some wine glasses.
“Better get that bottle open quick,” Katie said. “It’s going to be a long few days…”
The whole household sat down to dinner a short while later, after which they returned to the living room to relax while Stuart entertained everyone with a medley of songs on the piano. Eventually, evening made way for night and the residents of the house all headed to bed, none more eagerly than Nikki and Sarah, who wasted no time in enjoying each other's company the second they climbed into bed.
Nikki’s arms were still wrapped around her wife’s sleeping form when the sun rose the following morning, but it wasn’t the light streaming through the curtains that woke Nikki from her slumber.
“Mmph,” Nikki grunted as she felt her body rocked from side to side, before yelping with panic as a hand pinched her nose shut. “I- who- Alexa!” Nikki growled at the American transwoman, who wore a look of smug triumph on her face.
“I figured I owe you for all the times you were my ‘alarm clock’,” Alexa said, her grin widening.
“Mm,” Sarah lazily moaned as the noise woke her up. “Nikki? What time is it?”
“Time you were both getting up,” Alexa ordered. “I’m gonna need your help all day in the kitchen.”
“Oh- come on,” Sarah moaned. “I’m still jet-lagged…”
“It’s 1:45pm London time,” Alexa retorted as she motioned to remove the bedcovers, only to be stopped by Nikki wrapping them tightly around herself and her wife.
“And we’re naked under here and it’s cold out there,” Nikki said. “We’ll be down in a bit…”
“We’ve saved some hot water for you in the shower,” Alexa said smugly. “But I think there’s only enough water for one shower…” Alexa giggled as Nikki replied by throwing her pillow at her, before sighing and leaning back into her wife.
“We probably should get up,” Nikki mumbled to her wife, who moaned in reply and cuddled the sheets closer to her. “We have got a long flight later…”
“All the more reason to get more sleep now,” Sarah protested.
“…And Alexa probably isn’t going to leave us alone until we do get up,” Nikki sighed.
“Nope,” Alexa confirmed with her arms folded over her shapely chest.
“Ugh, FINE,” Sarah groaned. “But we’re NOT getting out of bed naked while you’re standing there!” Alexa giggled as she left the couple to slowly extract themselves from their sheets.
A short while later, with their long hair still damp from the shower, Nikki and Sarah padded downstairs hand in hand, dressed in warm sweaters, thick tights and knee-length skater skirts.
“Ah, good morning girls!” Marty said as the English couple entered the kitchen. “Happy Thanksgiving!”
“Happy Thanksgiving!” Nikki and Sarah replied simultaneously.
“Where are Alexa and Jenny?” Nikki asked.
“Alexa had to run to the store to pick up a few things,” Marty explained. “Jenny’s having breakfast with her grandmother. So I’m afraid you’re stuck with me this morning, at least until your other friends from London get up.”
“I think I heard Olivia earlier this morning,” Sarah said with a tired smile.
“Yes, it’s been a while since we’ve had anyone that young in this house,” Marty said, a sad smile creeping across his face. “Anyway, what do you two have planned for today? Do you need the living room for any more video conferences?”
“No, we’ve all got today free,” Nikki replied. “Well, up until we fly later this evening, anyway.”
“Pity, really,” Sarah said. “Flying AWAY from the biggest mall in America the day before the biggest shopping day of the year.”
“Well, I know my credit card’s breathing a sigh of relief that Alexa and Jenny will be flying that particular day,” Marty chuckled. “Even if the house will seem a lot emptier than it is today.”
"Kinda reminds me of what Alexa said yesterday about Thanksgiving," Nikki said. "About being thankful for the people you have in your life."
"Don't you have any similar celebrations in the UK?" Marty asked.
"Only Christmas," Sarah replied. "You could also include Mother's Day and Father's Day, but nothing like this. And I really hope this isn't the last Thanksgiving we celebrate over here."
"So do I," Marty said, smiling as both Englishwomen suddenly developed tears in their eyes. "A couple of years ago I had only one daughter. Now it feels like I have four- five if you include Alexa and Jenny's friend Hayley. Which I fully intend to today."
"Thanks," Nikki whispered with a happy smile on her face.
“Hey girlies!” Jenny said as she walked through the kitchen door, taking off her coat, hat and gloves before exchanging a hug with Nikki and Sarah and leading them through to the living room. “What were you three talking about?”
“Your dad wants grandchildren,” Sarah bluntly replied, making Nikki giggle and Jenny roll her eyes.
“What else is new?” The blonde American woman said with a giggle as she and her friends waited for her wife to return with their 'fifth sister'.
The three women didn’t have long to wait, and the rest of the morning was spent preparing a feast fit for a king. Roast turkey with all the trimmings, as well as two different types of stuffing, pillowy mounds of mashed potato, sweet potatoes, turkey gravy, vegetables and cranberry sauce. Alexa even went out of her way to ensure that Olivia had food to eat, having baked a tiny turkey meatloaf for her and cut it into fun shapes. After the meal, all the four English men and women, as well as a very tired Olivia, wanted to do was relax and digest their meal, but they had flights to catch, and after an hour long car ride, they were in the concourse of Minneapolis-St. Paul airport bidding farewell to their hosts for the previous two days.
“Ugh, why am I crying so much, we’re going to see each other in 24 hours anyway?” Nikki sniffled as she exchanged a hug with her American counterpart.
“Eh, just practice for Sunday, I guess,” Alexa sighed. “God, I wish you guys, you know, lived in America, or at least closer than 6000 miles away…”
“I know what you mean,” Nikki sighed, before exchanging a hug with Alexa’s wife. "However long we get is never enough."
"Jamie likes to say you can never have too many friends," Sarah said as she hugged Alexa. "She should actually say you can never have enough time with your friends. So treasure the time you do have."
"Absolutely," Jenny said with tear-streaked eyes as she hugged Sarah.
“We’ll see you two tomorrow, okay?” Nikki asked as she grabbed her luggage and waited for her friends.
“We’ll see you,” Jenny said, wiping a tear from her eye before bidding farewell to Jamie, Stuart and Olivia.
A short while later, the English men and women's plane took to the air, heading south-west to the final destination of the Angels’ tour. Nikki and Sarah took the opportunity to sleep off their large meal, while Jamie and Stuart took turns watching over their tired daughter for the duration of the four-hour long flight.
Eventually, the plane touched down at LAX airport and the tired group disembarked, grabbed their luggage and flagged down a taxi to take them to their fancy Hollywood hotel, where they all let out tired chuckles at the sight that greeted them in the hotel lobby.
“Flashbacks to New York,” Stuart whispered to his wife as they joined the check-in line and were immediately drawn into the conversation in front of them.
“Oh, hey Jamie!” Saoirse, one of the Irish Angels, said with a grin. “I was just telling Helena about the cartoon, we’re really excited to watch it tomorrow!”
“For sure!” Helena replied in her refined Berlin accent. “I just hope they make one with us in it as well, or we can be guests in the next season!”
“Think we need to get the first season out of the way before we think about the second season,” Jamie nervously chuckled.
“We said that about the live-action Angels show, though,” Viks said as she joined the conversation and greeted each woman with a gentle hug.
“We said that about the first EPISODE,” Jamie reminded her friend.
“And look where we are now,” Viks said with a grin. “About to film our sixth season?”
“Even if it will be a lot different than the previous five,” Jamie said. “What with the live studio audience and all…”
“Why are they doing that, anyway?” Saoirse asked.
“Probably because of the Grand Tour abandoning the studio format,” Viks shrugged. “They want something they can sell tickets to, and this way we can have celebrity guests as well.”
“AngelCon is pretty much the same idea,” Jamie said. “I know James Corden’s going to be there, as well as Seth MacFarlane, Ariana Grande...”
“But each extra celebrity we interact with raises our profile,” Viks said, making Jamie smile and nod, as every time the Angels’ profile was raised, so was awareness of the message Jamie wished to spread.
“So, have you guys already had dinner?” Jamie asked. “I mean, like, a real Thanksgiving dinner, rather than an aeroplane meal?”
“No, and thanks for showing off that you have contacts here in America,” Saoirse teased, making Jamie giggle and blush.
“We all ate on the plane,” Helena explained. “It is probably too late now to find a restaurant. But one year for sure I would love to have a real American Thanksgiving. Maybe this weekend I can get a contact here?”
“I wouldn’t say they’re ‘contacts’ exactly,” Jamie said. “The word I’d use is- heh. The word I’d use is ‘friends’. And I think we all know what saying comes next, right?” The cheers from her multinational friends were all the confirmation that Jamie needed.
The men and women in the lobby opted for an early night, wanting to be fresh for the long weekend ahead of them. However, Jamie still felt fatigued when she woke up the following morning, which didn’t alleviate when she headed down to breakfast to find many familiar faces already sat and eating.
“Hi Jamie!” The tall, elegant figure of Ella Henry said in her distinctive Australian accent as she approached Jamie in the line for the food.
“Oh, hey Ella!” Jamie replied. “Long time no talk, heh! I was hoping I’d get to chat to you this week, how’ve you been?”
“Great!” Ella replied. “SO happy to be living back in Melbourne, I can’t wait to get back there, heh. Not that I haven’t loved America- Florida was amazing, especially Universal Studios with Abbey-Gayle. Kinda like the old days, heh, when me, Abbey-Gayle and the girls would plan all the trips we’d take when we were famous… Almost hard to believe that, you know, me and Abbey-Gayle made it. Even harder to believe than- umm, never mind…” Jamie smiled sympathetically, knowing exactly how Ella was going to finish her sentence.
“Harder to believe than one of the girls not being a girl anymore?” Jamie asked, smiling again as Ella blushed and nodded. “It’s okay. And I doubt Ian would be that offended either.”
“’Kayleigh-Ann’ would’ve made a great Angel,” Ella mumbled, before letting out a sad sigh.
“Maybe,” Jamie said. “But HE had to follow his own dreams, and I know he’s a lot happier now where he is. I actually spoke to him yesterday, he said as much.”
“That’s good to hear,” Ella chuckled. “What time are we heading to the convention centre?”
“Early afternoon, I think,” Jamie replied. “They’ll still be setting things up, but we’ll have a private room to watch the cartoon, maybe a few photos as well. Nikki’s got all the details, she should be down in a bit.”
“Ah, the REAL boss of the Angels!” Ella teased as Jamie sighed and shook her head. “God knows where we’d be if we didn’t have Shae, our PA, on hand whenever we need her. Where is Nikki, anyway?”
“Probably enjoying the lie in she didn’t get to have yesterday,” Jamie replied with a smirk as she thought of her PA and protégé, who was indeed still in bed, but was far from asleep, and nor was her wife...
Eventually, Nikki was able to tear herself out of bed and away from Sarah, and after a quick shower, she headed down to the hotel restaurant to find it virtually deserted, save for a handful of people- one of whom she instantly gravitated toward after getting her meal.
“Hey Steph!” Nikki said as she sat down.
“Hey Nikki,” Stephanie replied with a barely suppressed yawn. “Ugh, sorry, still a bit jet laggy, heh.”
“I thought you didn’t get jet lag?” Nikki asked. “Not as bad as Kayla, anyway?”
“…Yeah,” Stephanie sighed as she lowered her head.
“St- Steph?” Nikki asked quietly. “Is everything okay?”
“As okay as things have been lately,” Stephanie said, before sighing. “I- I’m sorry, I know you’ve got a lot on your plate with this tour, you don’t want to hear-“
“I’m all ears,” Nikki said softly. “Seriously. A friend in need, right?”
“Yeah, but- ugh, I guess you’re right,” Stephanie sighed. “God knows Becca and Adeola have babysat me enough this week, heh.”
“Did you speak to Kayla last night?” Nikki asked.
“Yeah,” Stephanie replied. “We FaceTimed a bit, the time difference kinda helps as when she’s done with rehearsals her time, it’s, like, late morning over here.”
“Yeah, it was the same with me and Sarah, with her uni,” Nikki said. “Still, this time on Monday, we’ll either be back in London or on our way back, heh.”
“You sound almost disappointed?” Stephanie asked.
“Meh,” Nikki shrugged. “I mean, I did miss London, but now that Sarah’s here… Heh, guess I missed Sarah more than I missed England. And I’m going to miss Jexy when we go back too.”
“Yeah, I saw the Instagram posts yesterday,” Stephanie said. “Wish I’d known about that in advance.”
“What, Thanksgiving?” Nikki teased, making Stephanie roll her eyes.
“You know what I mean,” the famous singer retorted. “Probably wouldn’t have been enough room for me there anyway.”
“Oh- believe me, Jenny would’ve made the space,” Nikki giggled. “You should’ve been there when she invited Jamie, if every Angel in this hotel had been present she’d probably have invited them too, hehe!”
“Yeah,” Stephanie sighed sadly. “Ah well. Next time, maybe.”
“Well- well me and Sarah are going to spend New Year with Jexy in Florida,” Nikki said. “Since there’s not going to be a party at Charlotte’s because of the twins… You and Kayla could, you know, tag along?”
“If we’re not busy,” Stephanie replied. “And- and obviously I’d need to clear it with Kayla first. Heh, when we get back to England, anyway…” Nikki smiled sympathetically as her friend continued nibbling at her breakfast.
After all the guests had eaten their breakfast and changed into their most chic, fashionable clothes, a fleet of taxis arrived to deliver them to the nearby convention centre, where Jamie and the rest of the Angels were ushered into a large conference room that had been temporarily repurposed as a small cinema.
“God, I don’t know why I’m so nervous,” Hannah said as she sat down next to Jamie. “I mean, we’ve seen previews of this, right?”
“True,” Jamie said.
“But, like, it was months since we recorded our lines for it,” Hannah said.
“You’ll be great,” Charlotte reassured her friend. “We ALL will. We’re all gorgeous, successful women, and that’ll come across even if you can only hear our voices. Right?”
“Right,” Jamie said in her effortlessly feminine voice. “Ooh, it’s starting…”
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