His feet hit pavement and he almost
tripping at the hardness of the surface. Coming from the soft sand that he'd
trudged across, he should have been more stable now, but he wasn't. His legs
ached from the run.
He paused only for a moment to kneel down to pull his key from where he'd shoved
it into his sock. It was late, but being out alone still seemed strange to him
after so many months on the road. Normally he had at least one person with him
at all times and he hadn't realized how strange that was until they weren't
JC hurried from the back door that led to the beach towards the elevator
noticing casually that some younger girls were watching him. At the moment, in
sandy running shoes, a sweat-soaked Planet Hollywood t-shirt, and pair of baby
blue North Carolina basketball shorts he'd stolen off of Justin after he'd
gotten a whole shipment from Nike he wasn't in the mood to be seen and
photographed. He just wanted to get to the room and get changed and relax. In
his experience if he didn't make a big deal about acknowleging people they
didn't make a big deal about seeing him. Mostly kids like them asked for
autographs or took pictures and didn't really want to bother him.
"Hi JC," a girl said as he passed.
He ducked his head trying to act more shy than anything. He didn't like making
eye contact in situations like that. It would mean that they would see that he
had time to talk, which he didn't at the moment. He waved then went to the
elevator door and pressed the button for his floor then watched them in the
mirror imagine on the shiny door. Without security there they could be camped in
the lobby for the rest of his stay in the Keys.
He'd seen them on his way out the front door that morning and then again when
he'd gone out to the beach that night. He'd almost expected them to follow him,
but he'd gotten down to the beach and had his run in peace. Running wasn't
usually a part of his day. On the road he was the last to step into a gym and
especially when he wasn't on tour he gave up his exercises, but he'd decided
that he needed some time away from the suite and running seemed to be like a
good way to not only tire himself out, but to give himself time to think about
On his floor he walked quietly hearing instantly that everything seemed to echo
even though the place was carpeted. He wiped the sweat and dirt off the card on
a spot low on his shorts then let himself into his suite and found all the
lights off. Figuring that she had gone to bed while he was out he quickly shut
himself in the room and locked the door before standing there without moving,
letting his eyes adjust to the light.
When his eyes finally adjusted to the low light coming through the window from
the lights around the hotel outside and the moon he found that Farzana was
asleep on the pull out couch. She wore a t-shirt and shorts and must have been
having a hard time getting to sleep due to the way the sheets were tangled in a
mass around her legs.
He stood there for a moment watching her, making sure that she was ok before he
disappeared into the bathroom to shower. He had a plan and staring at her wasn't
part of it. He was going to write that night, or at least doodle a little. She'd
been right about one thing. He needed to get back to his music. Now that there
were no distractions, no work, no people pulling him in a million different
directions he needed to get back to the basics.
Hot water soon eased his muscles and washed away the evidence of his exercise
and the salty air he'd been out in. It felt good to be normal. On the road they
didn't get to get out an run or anything so if he did exercise it was always
inside a gym. That night had been the first time in months that he'd been able
to go more than a few hundred feet away from where he was staying on foot. Every
trip he made on the road had been by car, bus, or taxi.
When he stepped out of the shower he dried off and threw a towel around his
waist before moving into his room to get a fresh pair of boxers and some shorts
to change into. He found his noteboook with his ballpoint pen still hooked in
the spiral binding in his backpack and got out his CD player, CD case and a pack
of gum and moved to stretch out on the bed. As a last minute check he found his
phone where he'd left it next to the bed and checked his messages.
"Josh, it's Lucca," the recorded voice said, "I thought you were gonna be in LA,
but I guess I got the dates wrong. I'm gonna be out in Florida this week and
thought I'd stop by for a beer or something. I'm playing House of Blues at
Pleasure Island -- TONY LUCCA LIVE--" He laughed. "Anyway I'll also be doing a
showcase thing at Universal at one of their clubs too so maybe you can catch a
show or something. Anyway gotta run, but I'll talk at you later."
JC smiled and quickly wrote on the open notebook page to call Tony back then
clicked onto the next message.
"Mr. Chasez, this is your landlord in Orlando, Mr. Igram. We had a pipe burst in
the condo above yours and we're going to need to get into your apartment to fix
the damage. I understand the circumstances of your rental agreement and I wanted
to clear it with you before I go in. The damage should be contained to the
master bathroom area so I have a feeling that things won't be damaged, but
please give me a call so we can get someone in to assess the damage."
"Shit," he said aloud and clicked off the phone. He immediately dialed Melinda's
"This better be good Chasez," the sarcastic voice greeted him.
"Melly?" he said sweetly.
"What do you need me to do?" she instantly asked.
"My landlord in Orlando called and there was a plumbing thing or whatever that
happened and they need to go work on my apartment. I need someone to go over
there and make sure that the apartment is ok."
"Did you call me first or return your landlord's message first?" she asked.
"How did you know--" He shook his head, "Nevermind...I called you first."
"Call him back and give him my number," she said, "Wait...where are you? I heard
a rumor that you disappeared for a while."
"I'm in the Keys," he said, "I've got my cellphone and I'm being good so don't
you worry about me."
"I'm not," she said, "Just don't disappear for too long. We miss your ugly mug
"Awwee," he said, "If this is love, let me stay here forever."
JC heard a noise in the background. "I gotta go, I've got people over, but I'll
see ya laters, ok?"
"Sure," he said, "I'll be back up in O-town in a few days to visit. I'll take
you out to eat when I get up there."
"Sounds good. Tell Bobbi I said hi," she said.
JC's mood went all to hell with that comment. "Yeah," he said, "I'm not with
"Well tell her hi anyway for me...whenever you see her."
JC took a deep breath. He'd yet to really tell anyone about the circumstances of
the situation. There had been Alex, but that had been necessary. He knew Melinda
would change plans just to sit on the phone with him and talk it out, but he
wasn't sure if he was ready to launch into a full on girl chat with her at the
moment. "Errr...I'm not with Bobbi anymore...as in...we're no longer...no longer
an us," he said.
It sounded like she'd been drinking something because when she heard his news
she sounded like she spit something out then she coughed a few times. "Are you
"No," he said, "Look...you've got people there and I've got stuff I need to get
done...we can talk about this later."
"You can't drop a bomb like that and hang up the phone Josh," she scolded.
JC tapped the end of his pen on his notebook then flipped open his CD's to keep
his mind off the subject at hand. He didn't have many with him, but he found
BT's new one and put it into the CD player. "This isn't meant to be a drop and
run," he said, "But you've got people over and I was trying to do some work
tonight...We can talk about it later."
"Give me the Reader's Digest version."
"No big deal. We got in another fight and this time I told her to move out. I
can't deal with her anymore. It's not my fault that I'm away so much and she
blames me so--"
"Booted her and everything?" Mellinda asked. They'd fought before, but this was
the first time any moving had been done so it wasn't at all strange for Melinda
to want more information.
"Yeah so now I'm down in the Keys hanging out with Farzana and working on some
"Farzana?" she asked, "You mean the opening act?"
"Yeah." He paused. "I'm working on some songs for her...well with her," he said
feeling the adrenaline rush that came along with the idea that he was writing
again....or at least that he'd written something with her earlier.
"Wow," she said, "Sounds like...fun?"
"Don't worry. It's purely coincidence that she's down here and since she was
around I thought we'd hook up and write some stuff together. She just lost her
record deal and with Patty back in England with Gabby and her husband she's
kinda alone down here."
"Have you told your mother about this?"
"She knows about the break up and that I'm down here and I'm already planning to
go home in two weeks to see them."
Melinda made a noise in the background to tell her guests to be quiet. "So you
really did run away?"
"I went on vacation," he said.
"Well don't stay away too long and keep me updated ok?"
"You know I will."
"I'm serious Josh," she said, "If you need to talk I'm always here."
"Unless you're on the other line or in a meeting or yelling at someone or
beating someone up," he joked.
"You'll be next."
"Ooohhh," he said, "I'm shaking."
"Watch it," she warned. "Anyway gotta run, but call me ok? I wanna see you face
to face when you get into Orlando."
"Yes mom," he said.
"I love you too," she said.
"I'll see you soon," he said and hung up a moment later.
His notebook stared up at him and his phone flashed that he had more calls. He
had to make a decision, but he couldn't figure out what he wanted to do. He knew
that he had business to attend to even though he was on vacation, but he needed
to write. If he didn't do it now he felt like he might never do it again. He was
on a roll of sorts that he needed to stay on.
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