Walking into the club that morning made her breath catch in her throat and brought tears to her eyes. She wished that JC could have been there with her because she was going to have a hard time getting through the day alone.
Rodney's voice was low as he let the door shut them inside. "Honey, you're gonna be ok, right?"
"Yeah," she said turning to smile at Rodney. "I just missed this place."
She took a breath then turned back to look around. The blackened room had the lights on, but being in an empty hall that was built for a crowd of a few hundred or so really was amazing. She'd seen it empty a million times, but that day it was like standing in a church and was glad that there wasn't a million people there to ruin the experience.
She took a few steps onto the dance floor where the audience would stand during a performance and looked at the stage. She prayed that no one would bother her that day and that she'd be able to get back up on the stage, but she feared that sneaking feeling that this moment was going to be only that--a moment.
The voice was so familiar she pictured him to a T before she even heard his feet on the floor. Hart Waterford had owned Finnian's Rainbow--known around town as Finnian's--for the last fifteen years and had been a driving force in getting her up on the stage. His daughter had worked with their neighbors and from word of mouth she'd gotten an audition there after her neighbor had seen her in a school play. The rest of it was destiny.
"Oh my God!" she said when she finally caught site of him coming out from behind the empty bar. The sound of his feet on the floor echoed as he came towards her.
"Girl, what are you up to? Don't you ever cower in my doorway like that again." He wore a flannel shirt and jeans and smiled at her widely. "You're a big star now. You need to make an entrance."
"Hart," she said with a sigh and hugged him when he got close enough, "You're--you're a sight for sore eyes."
"Where's this boyfriend of yours?" Hart asked.
"He's working," she said, "He said he's gonna try to make it up here so you can meet him on Friday, but I'm not sure that his schedule will let him get away." In the back of her mind she knew that it wasn't the schedule that would keep him away, but his own stubborn strive for perfection that would keep him in New York and not there with her. He couldn't blame him though because in his shoes she'd be the same way making the work the bigger priority.
"I've been keeping track of you."
The man smiled at her and she tried not to connect the smile with her father. It seemed as if everything about the city was reminding her of him, but Hart's smile was something she always connected with her family and friends. Hart was there for her first performances and had kept her as an act for far longer than Farzana ever expected. Her father had been there for all of it and had been proud of her up on that little stage across the room.
"I'm trying to get your group up here to perform." He nudged her and made a face at her. "Think you can hook me up?"
"With The Next Ones?" She asked shocked that anyone in Canada even knew about them.
"Yeah," he said, "They're good from what I heard and it'll be good to have more of your music in here."
"Awee," She sighed, "Hart you're gonna make me cry."
When her phone rang out that she had voicemail she looked down to her pocket. She'd had her calls go straight to voicemail, but the alarm of a message being left drew her attention and she figured that it was either Wendy or JC calling her.
"If you need to answer a call," He motioned towards her pocket, "Don't mind me. I've got plenty of things to keep me busy."
This is the part of her life that she hated the most. She was totally connected to a million other places in the world and having all those places wanting her time and her attention was really the only thing that drained her. She had to balance it all and it wasn't the easiest thing to do. "Don't worry about it. I'll call them back in a few minutes."
She knew that she had two hours for an early dinner break so she had come down to the club while she had time.
"You should call them back now. I have to get the bar set up for tonight and do some ordering for Friday."
"Yeah," he said, "You're playing here still aren't you?"
She looked around and felt her heart racing. "Here?"
"Yeah," he said, "Some lady booked you a show here on Friday night. She told me that she was your manager, but God knows who that is now since you've left home."
"Yeah," he said, "She's a bit pushy, but when I found out it was you I let her have her words."
"Yeah," he said, "That's it."
"I should call her and ask her about this." She pointed towards her phone.
She dialed to check her voicemail and sure enough the message was there. "Hey girl," Wendy's voice came across the line. "You're booked for Friday at Finnian's. I'm going to meet up with you tonight to talk about the rest of your week, but for now have fun with the recording and tell all your friends that you'll be at the show on Friday. Your old band has been booked and you'll have rehearsals the night before and the morning of the show." She was rushing somewhere. "I'll see you in a few hours. Bye."
"I guess I am booked," she said and turned to Rodney and smiled. "Can you believe it?"
"It's gonna be great hon," he said.
"I gotta call JC," she said.
Her heart rate could be heard in her ears as she dialed. She didn't understand why all of a sudden she was feeling like she was brand new to this relationship but it was something that she loved. It was still new and she wanted it to stay that way. If she got bored with him it would only cause trouble.
She took a deep breath and prepared herself to leave a message since she'd been getting his voicemail a lot lately.
His voice came across the line, stunning her with it's rumble. "Hey there."
"Oh shit," she said.
She tapped her foot and looked at Rodney who was looking around at the posters on the walls. He'd been there before, but not enough to know the place like the back of his hand like she did. "I thought you were going to be the machine."
"Nope," he said, "It's me...but I can transfer you if you want to leave a message."
"No honey," she said putting a hand up as if he could see her, "Don't do that."
Silence filled the line as she tried to figure out what she needed to say to him. She wished that he was at the hotel and not in a different country at the moment. True, he was only an hour or so away by plane, but it was far enough to make her realize how much she missed him.
"Are you ok?" he asked, "What's going on?"
She looked around for a moment then started to walk a little. This was the first time she'd been in the place in years that no one was there to interrupt her. "Guess where I am?"
"Where?" he asked.
"The club," she said and started to walk towards the door that would lead her to the stage. "I'm standing in Finnian's and I'm going to perform here on Friday."
"That's great Zana!" he said, "I heard from someone that you were going to be performing this week. I bet everyone up there is really excited about it."
She sighed and found her way to the stage, careful of the electric equipment around her. "I wish you didn't have to work so you could be here."
"I know Zana," he said with a slightly dramatic tone that matched hers, "I'm working my butt off down here so I can get up there and spend the weekend with you."
"Really?" she said.
"Yeah," he said, "Carson already found out I was in town so I'm gonna stop by TRL next week, but for now Brian and I are all going to be stuck in the studio until the weekend."
"Are you there right now?"
"Yeah," he said and coughed. She heard him take a sip of water. "Sorry about that. We've been working hard since I got here. We just stopped for a lunch break."
"How's it going?" she asked and got all girly and twisted her hair around her finger, "How's the song coming along?"
"Great," he said, "my flight was smooth."
"I'm glad," She wished that she was having more fun. "I know how much studio time means to you and how much you'd rather be at home."
"Yeah," he said, "How's things up there?"
She paused closed her eyes for a moment. "I saw my brother for a little while this morning and I saw Hallie."
"How's BJ doing?"
"Good," she said, "He was skipping school to see me, but he's good."
"You tell him to be careful. I don't want him getting in trouble with your dad."
"I'll make sure that he won't."
"Keep inviting him down to Los Angeles."
"I will," she said. "I'm gonna get him down there one way or another."
"I hate to cut this short, but I need to get back in there. I'll give you a call tomorrow. I'm gonna be out later with Lance."
"Ok," she said, "I love you."
"I love you too."
The room was darker that it had been outside in the hallway of the Seventh Avenue building, so when he slid into the room he stood by the door for a moment letting his eyes adjust. He hadn't expected it to be so nice since it was mid October now, but the sun had peaked out from behind the clouds long enough to make JC regret leaving his sunglasses in the hotel room. The professional studios always made his home one look like small potatoes, but today that wasn’t what he was concerned with. Today he was there to work and work hard until the song that he’d written had been approved, recorded and sent to the labels to be considered for the next album or soundtrack that Brian was working on.
“Hey J,” Brian said coming out of the booth. He wore a velour running suit and slightly tinted sunglasses that looked more like reading glasses than looking as if they would keep the sun out of his eyes. “How was the flight?” He walked with the swagger of a man in his position in the world. He knew he was good at what he did and he let it show just enough. It was more confidence rather than cockiness that showed.
“Good,” JC said and hugged Brian with that guy hug that celebrities seemed to be using too often lately. They didn't know each other well enough to give a true hug, but the celebrity hug at least got them both into the friendship mode right away and that their work was going to be more than just work.
“That’s good,” Brian said backing up. He moved over towards the couch and picked up a magazine before throwing it in the corner, “You want a drink or something.” He walked over to a small refrigerator and pulled out a bottle of water. “We’ve got cokes and water and juice or something—“
“No,” JC said waving a hand towards him. He wiped his palm on his jeans and took a breath. “I already had breakfast this morning. Thanks though.”
Brian motioned towards a chair near JC. “Well have a seat and show me what you’ve got.”
“Can I play it?” he asked looking around. The studio was quiet and only the two of them were standing there, but it seemed as if the whole world was watching him right then. He wanted to get the first run through done or he figured he’d never get it out at all. “I know it’s just a rough cut of the song, but I thought it'd be better to hear it before—“
“Sure,” Brian said, “Piano or keyboard?”
“Piano,” JC slid his backpack off his back and took out his sheet music. He shuffled through the pages as he set his bag down in a chair and followed Brian into where the piano sat in the middle of the studio.
“Are you sure you don’t want to hang out a while before we start?” Brian asked.
“Yeah,” JC said as he set his sheet music out so he could read it and play. “I really want to hear what you have to say about this. I’ve been sitting on this song for a week now and only Farzana has heard the rough parts of it. I—“
“You need feedback,” Brian said with a smile. “Such the writer you are—“
JC shrugged. “Always have been.”
“So what did she think of it?”
JC lowered his eyes from Brian's. “She said that I better be writing this about her or I was in trouble.”
“She’s a smart one,” Brian said, “I should meet her sometime.”
“Anytime you want,” JC said, “She’s in Toronto right now."
“I thought she was done performing." He sat back with a smile on his face. "Last I heard she was writing a lot.”
“She is,” JC said, “She went up there to work on a song and people found out that she was back home so they set up the show and interviews and now she’s on this spur of the moment promotional tour or something.”
“Shit in this business happens too fast,” Brian commented.
“Tell me about it,” JC said thinking about how the year or so before he’d been in a totally different place in his mind about what he wanted to do and the music that he wanted to make. "She doesn't have any new songs out. She's up there recording a new song, but I didn't think anyone knew about it."
"I'm sure some internet freak found out about it, " Brian said, "I found pictures of you getting off the plane in NYC yesterday about fifteen minutes after you landed."
"One of the receptionists found them and showed me," Brian said with a smile. He laughed a little. "The power of the internet."
Clapping his hands together once, Brian rubbed his palms together. “Sing ‘em out to me,” Brian said in his smooth way, lifting a bottled water to his mouth as he made himself comfortable in the chair across the room.
“I’ve got the melody pretty much down, but it could use some tweaking and I’m sure you’ll—“ He paused and looked at Brian who seemed to be amused by his nervousness. “Sorry. I’ll just—just play this.”
“J, chill out ok?”
He nodded and took a deep breath before he let his fingers slide over the piano and let his voice filled the room.
Oh, I want to be yours.......
Heart of mine, I'm sure you'll agree
We've never been in love before, honestly
I think she's the one
The lady for me
I know she feels the same way sincerely
Girl you're the on my mind always
Come feel my nights and my days
You make me so crazy
Darlin' you know I wanna
Playing the piano let him relax and for the first time since he’d walked into the studio he took a full breath of air into his lungs. His mind wandered back to the night when he’d gotten back from Japan and how Farzana had joined him in the studio. He’d missed her the last few nights. He knew that she had to be in Toronto, but he wondered after this trip if she wouldn’t want to stay there. He always found himself missing home usually more after he’d just been home to see his parents.
I want to be yours
I long to be forever yours
I want to be yours
I want to be yours
Every night I go to sleep
I wantcha layin' next to me-truthfully
I need ya by my side
To take care of me, I'm on my hands and knees girl
And show me the way to your heart
Don't make me wait forever
Now that you know I wanna
“Damn man!” Brian clapped a little.
"What?" JC’s mind screamed that he just wanted a yes or no and having Brian say Damn instead wasn’t helping.
Brian’s expression was hard to read as he watched JC’s reaction. “I’m not sure I can use it.”
JC’s stomach dropped and he felt a cold sweat run over him. Being told that his song couldn’t be used was the last thing that he’d thought he’d hear out of Brian’s mouth. He hadn’t had a song rejected in a while and having the one person he was writing the song for say that it wasn’t useable was a shock to the system. “What?”
“No, no,” Brian said coming over to him. “It’s good, definitely good, but I’m not sure I could sing something that is so clearly personal to you.”
JC shrugged “It’s not personal. It’s just a song.”
“Every night I go to sleep, I wantcha layin' next to me-truthfully, I need ya by my side, To take care of me, I'm on my hands and knees girl,” Brian mimicked the song perfectly. “If that isn’t a personal song then I don’t know what is.”
“Are you sure?”
“Look,” Brian said, “I want to work with you and I thought of a hook last night if you want to help me finish it up.”
“That’s a song that only you can sing to your lady. Keep that one. You should put out an album anyway.”
“You should put out some solo stuff. Justin has been working on stuff this break. You should join in the—“ Brian stopped and looked at him. “Hasn’t anyone ever told you that you should go solo?”
“Sometimes,” JC shrugged, “I’m not all about being up there by myself though.”
“What about with your buddy Tony?” Brian asked.
“How do you know so much about me?” JC asked then felt instantly stupid for asking.
“Other than the normal ways—I did a little research on your writing background. No offense, but I don’t just ask anyone to write songs with me and being random like that was something, but I did my research since then and now.”
JC nodded. “So you have an idea for a song?”
“Yeah,” Brian said, “The movie that came up is about a girl who is fighting against her family for her independence—“ He looked at JC closely for a moment. “I know you’re not a girl of course, but do you think you could get in the mindset of someone who is fighting people they love so that they can be who they want to be?”
“Actually,” JC said with a laugh, “Probably easier than you’d think.”
“Really?” Brian sat back. “You’re going to have to explain this one now.”
Taking a breath JC explained about Farzana’s family and her career and their relationship. He didn’t want to get too far into it, but he thought it’d be good for inspiration for the song and for once in his life someone was just sitting there listening to him and taking it all in without trying to give advice or push a judgment on him.
When he was done Brian moved back into where the control boards were. “Come here man,” Brian said. He sat down at the tabletop and pulled out a legal pad and a pen and scribbled for a moment.
“This is my hook,” Brian said and started to sing, “Don't cry, it's over now, Don't sigh, things are better now, I will give you everything you need, You can always count on me.” He paused for a moment. “I got this stuck in my head while you were talking about your girl.”
“Fiance,” JC said, “Well after this weekend anyway.”
“You’re going to propose?”
“Yep,” JC said, “I picked out a ring last night with Lance.”
“Wow,” Brian said, “Congradulations.”
“Hopefully,” JC said, “I mean eventually we’ll be together, but who knows if right now is the right time.”
“I think it will be,” Brian said and started to scribble on the paper.
Given a chance
I like that," JC said with a nod. "Can I borrow your pen?"
"Sure," Brian said.
"Do you have a melody to go with it?"
"Sure," Brian started to sing the verse again. "Given a chance, I'd make it up to you, Given a chance, I'd prove this world was wrong, Given a chance, I'd give my all to you."
JC took the pen in his hand and closed his eyes to listen before he started to sing what came to his mind. "You're not alone, no, And no one's gonna hurt your heart again, And this I know, yes, You can count on me, I'll be there as your friend, For no one knows the pain that you've endured, They took the best from you, Girl, I know, You gave 'em all ya got."
"Damn." Brian said.
"Definitely not," Brian said, "You know that girl must have your heart because you sing like a man in pain which can only mean that you're missing her."
JC shrugged. "No more than usual."
[Later that night...]
JC found himself feeling overwhelmed when he saw Lance in the lobby. He'd been alone most of the day, going over his last minute notes while catching up on some phone calls that needed to be made and sleep that needed to be had. He'd called Farzana, but only got her voicemail, which had depressed him then had only had a short conversation with her later on in the day that didn't leave him with a good feeling. He'd lied to her and said that things were going well, but the truth of it was that Brian hadn't shown up in the city yet and he was going insane thinking that his song was going to be dumped. He'd gone to the gym to work out his frustration then had slept the rest of the afternoon, leaving him to be without bodyguards for most of the day.
They made only a quick greeting, that whole guy hug thing then started for the door knowing that their guards were coming with them. "I got us a car for the night." Lance glanced back at the guards with them. "We need the extra room and I'm not messing with a cab with these guys."
They made it to the curb and found a black Escalade waiting for them. JC had gotten a ride to the hotel earlier from the hotel service, but when he went out in the city with his guards he had planned to just take a cab or something so that he wouldn't have to bother with anything extreme. With a group this size though they needed a little something more.
"Where to then?" JC asked as they all piled in.
"Mondovi's--" Lance explained. "--Jimmy West's club. He's that producer that I worked with when I was doing On The Line stuff."
"Oh yeah. Nice guy." JC cringed. He didn't want to be in a club without Farzana. He knew the stories that they liked to spin about him and having the general public see him in a club wasn't the best idea. Actually when he thought about it he didn't want to be in a club with her that night either. "Club?"
"It's a cool place," Lance said, "Low key place out in the middle of nowhere."
"It's a jazz club with killer Italian," Lance said, "I figured that I wanted Italian and you'd like the jazz so..."
It was comforting to know that Lance would make them reservations or whatever in a place that was out of the way. Most of his other friends would have thrown a party for him if he seemed even a little under the weather.
"So how is Colleen?" JC asked leaning back in his chair.
"Good." Lance slid out of his jacket and sat back, tucking his phone into the pocket of his button down shirt. "Sorry about dressing up, but I had a meeting about a new soundtrack that is going on at Happy Place."
"Anyway," Lance sighed. "Colleen's working some flights on the West Coast this week so while I get to meet with everyone on this side of the world, she gets to serve beverages to the West coast."
"She's still working?"
"Yeah," Lance said, "I wouldn't want her to be sitting home all the time or anything waiting on me."
"But isn't it hard?" JC asked. "I know that sounds dumb coming from me, but I'm starting to think that it's almost too much trouble to keep up the two careers--wait--three. I sing, I produce and I'm someone's boyfriend. It's more work than I thought it was going to be."
"It's hard work," Lance said, "But it's worth it. I'm gonna see her on the weekends this month and then next month she's gonna be with me while I work. She's taking a vacation while I work with the group doing shows in Orlando."
"That show was great by the way. I don't remember if I told you that. Farzana went out of her mind that night and I kind of had to take her home." JC scratched his head and tried to think what had happened that night. "I wasn't sure if I told you that. I'm really proud of you man."
"Well it's all your woman." Lance hit his shoulder good naturedly. "She's got a passion for writing like no other."
"I know. That's one thing that never changes with her," JC said, "She's performing on Friday in her old club and I told her I wasn't going to be able to make it, but I'm gonna sneak in and see her."
The car pulled to a stop and they slid out onto the street. JC had been all over New York in the last few years, but tonight he couldn't recognize where he was.
"Come on," Lance said and pulled him along.
The song that Brian and JC work on is called: Given a Chance