Despite being dressed casually in only a bikini under jean shorts and a towel
around her neck, her uniform for spending the rest of the afternoon by the
pool, she thought that she should check her messages. It was probably a mistake
to check them before she went to go relax. The fact was though that she'd
turned her cell phone off for most of the morning while she'd been sleeping
in, she thought that getting whatever news was in her messages needed to
be done sooner rather than later in case she needed to make any calls back
On the walk from the elevator to the hotel's front desk brought her through
a main sitting area and a bar complete with piano. She stared at the instrument
as she walked, almost hitting into someone due to attention being not on
her walk across the room.
Waiting for a moment until she saw someone at the counter who was free she
stepped up to the chest level counter and smiled at the uniformed woman standing
there behind the counter. "Hi," she said, "Are there any messages for Farzana
Jabbar? Room 425?"
Despite the air conditioning that was blowing through the lower lobby and
rest of the hotel she still wasn't used to the heat. Taking a moment to rest,
she leaned against the counter, propping her chin up with a hand as the woman
went to her computer to fulfill her request.
"Room 425?" the woman asked.
Farzana raised her eyebrows and lazily nodded, "Yes."
"One second," the woman said glancing between her and the computer screen
in front of her.
Farzana wondered for a moment if her future held a job like that. At this
point anything seemed possible. She had begun to worry more about her career
towards the end of the tour and when Patty said that she was taking Gabby
to London to be with Reese she knew that she was at a pivotal point in her
career. Without a manager and a set of contract renegotiations coming up
when she returned to New York in three weeks, she had started to think that
maybe joining the working class wasn't all that bad of an idea. At least
if she was working the only thing she had to worry about was paying rent
instead of album sales and appearances and contracts and lawyers and every
other headache that seemed to come up on a daily basis.
When the woman noticed Farzana's gaze on her she informed her of the status
of her voice mail. "You have three, I'll print them out for you."
"Thanks." Farzana turned a little to look around knowing that it might take
a moment for her to get the pages she was due.
It was then that she saw him standing next to her. Her surprise not only
came from the fact that he'd ended up at the same hotel as her, but the fact
that she hadn't felt those same sparks, that tingly feeling, that she'd always
felt when he was in the same room as her. Now he was less than five feet
away and she hadn't noticed him at all and probably wouldn't have if she
hadn't been looking in the right direction. He wasn't hiding exactly, but
he was probably the last person she thought she'd see standing next to her
while on her hiatus.
"JC?" she asked tentatively seeing that he'd just pressed his cell phone
to his ear. He hadn't yet to talk, but she still didn't want to interrupt
him. She figured that she'd say hello and wait to see if he wanted to chat
with her a little.
"Oh my God girl," he said, "What are you doing here?" He moved the few feet
between them. It took some effort seeing that he had to step over a backpack,
huge duffel bag, a huge plastic case that looked to be like the one that
her band kept the keyboard in, and a rolling suitcase to pull her into a
hug. When he released her he moved back a little to look at her. The way
his eyes roamed over her and took her in made her a little suspicious of
him. It had only been two weeks since the tour had ended, but he acted as
if he hadn't seen her in years.
"Hi," she said with a laugh, "You're in a good mood."
"Well," he said as he opened his arms wide for a moment, taking in a deep
breath. He dropped them to his sides. "I'm officially on vacation for the
next month...no appearances, no traveling, nothing until the first of the
month." He stared at her for a moment, "You look like you're ahead of me
on the whole getting a tan thing."
"I've only been out in the sun for about four hours more than you," she said,
"Remember, I get my color from my parents, not the sun." She smiled at him
and tried not to giggle at his great mood. He acted as if was drunk or something
considering that he was never this openly happy about things. "I would have
thought you would have gone back to LA or to Orlando."
A frown came over his face and he fought it and suddenly became edgy, "Yeah
well there's a reason for that. LA and I aren't getting along right now...it's
too hot out there right now and that dry heat--" He ran a hand through his
hair and looked at her. "So I thought you'd be back up in...Toronto isn't
"Yeah well Toronto and I aren't getting along either," she said figuring
that there must be some drama in LA that was keeping him away the way the
drama back home was keeping her away.
The woman who was helping her passed the messages over to her and after taking
a glance once at the heading she saw that they all were from her father.
"Thanks," Farzana said and folded the paper in half and then again in half,
clutching them to her chest as she turned back to JC.
"So are you staying here for a while?" he asked, "I mean are you on vacation
for a while?"
"Yeah." She nodded and looked around a bit for Bobbie. It was habit from
the tour, always wondering where his other half was considering that she
usually wasn't too far away from him. "Three weeks then I got up to New York
for a week then back to Toronto and after that we'll see."
JC started to look around, "Who are you looking for? Are you here with Patty?
I thought she went back to London."
"She did," Farzana said, "I was just looking to see if your--your security
crew was down here with you."
"Excuse me Mr. Chasez," the man at the desk finally spoke up, "I need your
signature on this and then we'll have someone show you up to your room."
"Sorry," he said and turned back, shoving his phone in his pocket and signed
his name to the paper in front of him then grabbed the key from the woman.
"Someone will be here in a moment to help you get to your room."
"Thanks," JC said and grabbed up his bags and moved away from the counter
a little and set them down. "So what are you up to this afternoon?"
"Just sitting out by the pool," she said motioning towards the door that
led outside to the pool, "I have some calls to make, but other than that
I'm just here on vacation...kinda nice not to have an agenda to follow."
He looked at his key for a moment then looked at her. "At the moment the
only agenda I have is to get a lot of sleep then party my butt off while
"No work at all?" she asked, "I thought you guys were working on a new album."
JC frowned, "Vacation...I believe the dictionary defines vacation as: a scheduled
period during which activity is suspended."
"Been a little bored lately?" she asked with a laugh, "Looking up words in
He smiled at her and winked, "When vacation becomes the most important word
in my vocabulary I want to make sure that I'm using it right."
"Ah," she said raising her eyebrows.
A uniformed employee of the hotel came up to them and smiled, "Can I show
you to your room Mr. Chasez?"
"Uh," he said, "Yeah, hold on just a second."
A silence fell over the two of them.
"I'll be around," she assured him, "Room 425 if you get bored enough to want
to call me and hang out."
"How about dinner tomorrow night," he suggested nervously flipping the key
in his hand while the hotel bellhop stood and stared at them. "You can show
me around a little."
Farzana smiled, "That sounds like fun...I mean I've only been here for a
few days, but there has been some stuff I've been wanting to check out."
"I'll call you around five then," he said, "Or you can call me."
"What room?" she asked.
"Penthouse," he said.
Farzana hated the fact that he could afford that. He was probably renting
it for the entire time there and his bank account wouldn't even feel it.
She'd gotten her hotel room through her contract. Patty had insisted before
they had gone on the road that the record label pay for her vacation at the
end of the tour so that she could unwind from being on the road and being
their little ping pong ball for the last few months.
"How about five o'clock you call me and we'll plan it from there?" she suggested.
"Sounds good," he replied and pulled her into a hug, "It was good seeing
As she walked away JC thought about going after her, but with the bellhop
waiting it would be impossible. So he handed his key to the guy and reluctantly
picked up his keyboard case. He grabbed up his backpack and threw one of
the straps over his shoulder and had the bellhop get the other bags.
"Penthouse Suite," the bellhop said in the elevator, "It's a private entrance
so if you have visitors they'll need to check in at the front desk." He pressed
the button and slid the card through a little security reader thing showing
JC how to do it himself later.
"I'm not expecting anyone," JC mumbled and took a breath and pulled his phone
from his pocket. He flipped through the calls that had registered on caller
ID during his flight and trip to the hotel and frowned. Out of eleven messages,
there were two from his mother, one from his sister and one from Alex's number,
seven were from a 310 area code and all the same number which meant that
she'd been calling him again. He'd expected it, but not seven phone calls.
That meant that there was one call for every hour that he'd been out of Los
Angeles which in his mind was an all new low for her.
He'd made it clear that he wasn't going to talk to her after what she'd said
to him, hence the immediate trip out east, but she was still determined to
drag things out. She wanted her cake and to eat it too, but he wasn't in
the mood to deal with that. He'd given her a date for when she needed to
have her things out of his house and had left the city knowing that Alex
would make sure that things would be taken care of. He loved that his best
friend would do that for him. Alex knew the kind of life that JC lived and
having a now ex-girlfriend to deal with after coming off months on tour wasn't
the way that JC needed to be spending his time.
At the top floor the bellhop stepped out and carried JC's things down a small
hallway passing the three other penthouses before they got to his. "This
is it," he said and put the bags down and opened the door.
JC went through and like with any other hotel he ever stayed in the bellhop
showed him everything. "It's one thousand, seven hundred fifty square feet,"
he said as he walked through the living room pulling open the huge entertainment
center's door to show the television and the stereo system, The remotes are
on the coffee table and shouldn't be too hard to figure out, but if you have
questions I'm sure someone at the desk can help out."
"I can figure it out," JC mumbled and followed him to the kitchen which connected
to the dining room.
"Complete kitchen with everything and a dishwasher," he explained, "There
is a grocery store down the road I think its a Winn Dixie Store something.
If you are really in need of something call room service and give them your
JC nodded then followed him to the bedroom.
"King-sized bed and in here--" he walked into the bathroom that conected
to the room, "Jacuzzi." He pulled out the drawer next to the sink and pulled
out a little booklet. "Directions are in here...it's not too hard to figure
JC nodded again and prayed that the next few minutes would fly by. He hated
this whole formal thing and wanted the guy out of the room and wanted his
His wish was soon granted when the guy came back to the door. "Do you need
help with any of this?" he asked.
"Naw," JC said and reached for his wallet. He tipped the guy a fifty dollar
bill and smiled, "Just don't tell anyone that I'm up here and I'll be fine."
"I--" the guy stuttered, "I won't Mr. Chasez...I mean I know--my sister is
a big fan, but she lives out of state and she'd be the one to--"
"Never mind," JC said with a wave of his hand, "Come by before I leave and
I'll sign something or whatever for your sister."
"Sure," he said.
"Hey...do you know anyplace I can get a drink?" he asked.
"There's Breezer's downstairs or there are some up the road a little ways...Snappers
is always a good one or Zappie's...both of them are just off the main drag...you
can get a taxi up there if you wanted to."
"Thanks," JC said and watched the guy leave.
When the door was closed and JC left to be on his own he took a deep, deep
breath, probably deeper than any he'd taken in the last few months. No stress.
That was a new feeling for him and despite the last few days of turmoil,
first the destruction of his relationship with Bobbie and then his total
lack of inspiration the whole two nights that he'd stayed over with Alex,
he was feeling good. Normally when he went over to the home-studio things
came out of his head right and left, but those two nights all he'd had was
writers block. A huge blank space had formed where everything should have
been. Alex had told him it was probably overload, but JC knew better. Something
was wrong with him and he needed to get away, so instead of just staying
in LA he'd decided to fly to Florida.
When he got home to Orlando he was only in the house for about an hour before
he decided that didn't want to stay in the city with the guys. He'd only
been off tour for a few weeks and there were sixty messages waiting for him
on his voicemail at the house. So without checking the rest of the messages
he'd called up the travel agent they always worked with and booked himself
a spot in the Marriott Key Largo Bay Beach Resort for three weeks.
Flopping down in front of the television he clicked through the channels
then worked with the remotes until he found out how to work the VCR and DVD
players. Finding the silence wasn't helping him relax he turned the stereo
onto a local rock radio station WFKZ SUN 103.1 FM and went to the door that
lead to the porch that ran around most of the penthouse. Pushing out onto
the balcony he found that he could see most of the resort from his porch
and when he saw the pool his eyes automatically searched for Farzana. He
didn't mean to, but even with his need to be alone, a familiar face would
be nice to see from time to time.
When he saw her he watched her for a while, but all she was doing was lying
in the sun so he got bored and went to take a shower and see what he could
get himself for dinner and maybe head down the road to the bars that the
bellhop had mentioned.