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 to people.
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
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
"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
"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 it?"
"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
"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 I'm here."
"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 the
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
"Sounds good," he replied and pulled her into a hug, "It was good seeing you
"Yeah," she said, "You too."
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 shopping list."
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 out
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 privacy.
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
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
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