The House of Blues was packed that night.
In the parking lot he'd parked in a VIP section and they'd walked in the long
way, back by the water and came in a back door, being checked by security twice
before they got into the main part of the restaurant/bar. Neither of them were
phased by the extra measures taken, although he thought that she looked a little
worried when they entered the big crowded room.
A loud whistle pierced the air over the sound of talking and a voice called out.
"Lucca!" JC yelled over the crowd throwing up a hand to wave. His hand found
her's the crowd of people and he turned back towards her. "Tony's over there at
the bar. His set hasn't started yet."
She nodded and followed him squeezing onto his hand nervously. If he had been
with Bobbie he would have squeezed her hand back, but instead he drew her up
closer to him and put an arm around her guiding her over to the spot where Tony
was signing autographs and having a drink before he went on.
JC hugged his friend after not seeing him for a few months then pulled Farzana
up next to him. "Tony, this is Farzana. Farzana this is Tony."
"Nice to meet you," Tony said, "Thanks for coming out here and dragging him with
you. I didn't think he'd get to see the show until I got back to LA."
"No trouble," she said.
"I've got some stuff to talk to you about J," Tony said, "But I gotta go on in a
minute so can you guys wait around and we'll hang out afterwards?"
"Sure," JC said, "I think we're gonna head over and grab a table."
"Just go to VIP," he said, "Some people from high school are over there hanging
out. They've got it blocked off so you should be safe."
"Cool," JC said, "We'll see you afterwards."
"Nice meeting you," Tony said to Farzana and gave him a look.
JC knew that this was one of his "nice girl" looks and pulled Tony into another
hug, "Don't start gossipping now Tony. I still have dirt on you and Keri I could
"Sure," Tony said, "You guys have fun and stay safe."
Safe. The word triggered something in his head. He had forgotten after so many
days of freedom down in The Keys that he needed security with him and when he
turned around to face the crowd he couldn't catch his breath for a moment. He'd
totally forgotten that he should have called someone to be there with the two of
them. He wasn't safe there alone.
"You ok?" Farzana asked him.
"Sure," he lied, "Let's go get a drink."
"Ok," she said.
It took a minute, but he finally got to the bar and found Lizet serving that
night. He turned back to Farzana once he'd said hello. "What do you want to
"Just a coke," she said.
"Yeah," she said.
He turned back to Lizet. "A coke and a Corona with lime."
While he waited he pulled out money for the drinks and leaned against the
counter. "You look nice tonight," he said to Farzana, "In case I forgot to tell
"Thank you," she said.
Moments later the drinks were in their hands. JC paused for a moment to run the
lime around the mouth of the bottle then squeezed the lime a little and shoved
it into his beer. He licked his thumb and watched Farzana's eyes watching his
fingers. This was kind of fun. He held out his finger to her. "Want some?" he
"No thank you," she said looking at him nervously. He'd made her uncomfortable,
but somehow he liked that feeling. She could have easily said something back to
him about being nasty or something, but she'd just taken her drink to her lips
Without another word to each other they made their way over to the VIP section.
"I don't know who I might know over here so be patient with me...ok?" he asked,
"If they are here I haven't seen them in about 6 months so the family reunion
could get a little sickening."
"It's ok," she said.
"I'll try and introduce you to everyone," he said, "But knock me up side the
head if I get carried away. Ok?" He felt bad about doing this to her, but he
couldn't avoid them. Staying in the general population of the club would be
hazardous, not only to him phsycially, but to him mentally. He didn't need to
have people asking for his autograph when it was clearly Tony's night to get the
The next half hour was spend socializing with his friends. Most of them he
didn't really remember at first, but after a few stories he remembered them and
started to talk to them. He noticed Farzana being taken into the group of girls
there and smiled at her when she got caught up in a conversation about her being
on the road with the guys. Everyone wante to know what it was really like.
He loved the way that she just smiled at him. Bobbie would have looked bored or
something, but she seemed to be enjoying herself. Actually made him feel a
little bad. He figured that she was kind of bored just hanging out with him
since she seemed to be having so much fun with everyone else.
When the show started everyone seemed to quiet down. JC took a seat and pulled
Farzana's chair up next to his. He put an arm around the back of her chair as
they watched Tony. It was strange to be there with her. Normal trips to Tony's
shows were done with Bobbie in LA. This was all just to strange.
The set lasted for about an hour and he enjoyed the quiet time. When everyone
started to clear out and go to the bar Farzana got up and went to talk to Jenna,
a girl he barely knew, but seemed to have latched onto Farzana.
He talked with his guy friends for a while then slid over towards her and slid
an arm around her ducking his head to speak to her. "I need to go talk to Tony
for a minute about some stuff," he said, "Are you gonna be ok? I don't think--"
"Yeah," she said looking around, "I think I'm gonna go to the restroom then go
out onto the patio and get some air. So come and find me when you're done."
"Ok," he said, "You want another drink before you go?"
"No," she shruged, "Go talk to him. I'll be ok...and tell Tony that the show was
JC nodded and leaned and kissed her cheek. "Have fun Zana. I shall return."
"Don't get too deep into shop talk. I would like to leave sometime before dawn."
"Gotcha," he said and turned to make his way towards where he'd seen Tony go off
stage. He knew the place well enough to know how to get backstage so he made his
way there trying not to get noticed by the crowd. A few people seemed to notice
him and flashes went off as he walked, but he made it there ok.
Her bathroom trip ended up taking about fifteen minutes due to the line, but
when she emerged she found herself a little lost. Jenna had disappeared and she
didn't know if she'd be able to get back to where JC was so she decided to make
her way out to the patio like she'd told JC. At least out there she figured
she'd be able to grab a seat and wait for him instead of being pushed around by
the crowd inside.
She turned thinking it was JC behind her, but it turned out to be Garrett, one
of JC and Tony's high school friends. He looked as if he was just coming out of
the men's room. "Hey," she said, "Garrett isn't it?"
"Yeah," he said, "Where's JC?"
"He's out back with Tony I guess talking shop or whatever," she said looking
around once more just to make sure that she didn't miss him in the big room.
"Cool," he said, "I'm gonna go have a cigarette...want to come out back with
me?" He looked around for a minute, "It's kinda crowded in here."
"Sure," she said, "I was headed that way anyway."
"Let me lead the way," he said, "It's easier for me to elbow my way through."
"Thanks," she said.
He took her hand and they pushed their way through the crowd. She wasn't trying
to be paranoid, but she thought she'd heard a few people say comments about her
being there with JC, but when she looked around people didn't seem to be paying
attention to her so she kept her eyes on Garrett's back and finally made it
When they found a spot on the railing of the porch Garrett pulled out a pack of
cigarette's and a lighter. He offered her one and she refused then he put one
into his mouth and lit it. "So you're JC's new woman?"
Farzana almost choked, "Well don't beat around the bush."
"Sorry," he said taking a drag on the cigarette. "Bobbie has just been his
sidekick for so long that I think everyone was shocked to see him here with you
She didn't make eye contact with him. Her eyes stayed on the cigarette. With one
lung full of air and smoke he'd pulled in almost half the cigarette. "JC and I
are working together and hanging out while he's on vacation."
"Oh," he said flicking the ashes away. "He's been a hermit the last few months.
The Crew hasn't seen him around here since like Febrary."
The air that had been hot and muggy earlier seemed to have cooled down a bit and
she found herself shivering a little. She'd worn a sweater that night, but it
seemed as if the change in temperature was more extreme than she'd thought it
be. It was still fairly warm, but the slight wind made it cooler. "He's been
"You want a jacket or something?" he asked pausing to pull another drag on his
cigarette. She liked the way he turned almost completely away from her when he
blew the smoke out his mouth, "I've got one inside behind the bar."
"I don't want to put you out," she said and leaned against the railing taking a
moment to look across at the Virgin Megastore that had the NSYNC Celebrity Album
cover hanging in the window. For a while that night she'd forgotten that he was
a huge superstar, but the poster sized advertisement brought it back to her
"I'm gonna go get another beer anyway," he said and then motioned to his
cigarette, "After I finish this anyway...do you want a drink?"
"Sure," she said, "Can you get me a coke?"
"Sounds good," he said.
He left and Farzana drew her cell phone out and checked to see if she had any
messages. When she didn't she put the phone away and stared over at the store
"Excuse me," a voice said in front of her. She turned to find a younger girl and
her friend standing there. "Are you Farzana Jabbar?"
"Yeah," she said with a smile.
"Can I get your autograph?" the girl asked, "I saw you play in California and my
friend bet me that it wasn't you..." She turned to her friend, "I told you so."
"No trouble," she said and took the pen and paper offered and signed the
When Garrett returned he had his jacket flung over his arm. He held the drinks
in both hands so he moved his arm so she could take the jacket and pull it on.
When he looked at the girls he seemed a little confused. "Hey girls."
"Hi," they said then looked at Farzana. "Thank you."
"No problem girls," she said and looked back over at Garrett as he handed her
"So what was that all about?" he asked.
"Some of my fans," she said wincing at the sound of the word fans. She was used
to people at the shows coming up to her, but this was different and the fact
that she'd lost her record deal made the moment bitter sweet.
"Oh," he said, "You should have told me. I would have brought you your drink on
a tray or something."
"I'm not that well known," she said, "Really."
Time passes quickly in social situations and it seemed like only minutes later
that she was asking to see the time and realized that it was almost one in the
"I need to go find JC," she said tiredly.
Garrett put his beer down and jumped the fence into the bushes that lined the
"What are you doing?" she asked.
"Come on," he said, "I know a way to cut around back from the outside."
"You sure?" she asked.
Her head seemed groggy and she wasn't sure that she should be jumping fences in
her current outfit, but Garrett seemed to convince her with his smile. He'd been
paying attention to her all night unlike JC who seemed to be paying attention,
but not the right kind of attention to her.
"I'll carry you."
"You sure?" she asked.
"Yeah," he said, "Come on."
True to his word he carried her over the plants in the Garden and set her down
on the cement before taking her hand and walking down to the far side of the
restaurant. He found a small hole in the huge fence that lined the street
between the House of Blues and Bongos then a moment later pushed a small door
"We aren't gonna get in trouble are we?"
"No," he said, "Just come on."
She nodded and went through the fence. "It's kinda dark back here," she said.
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