[The next night...]
"You're going to do it? You guys just got there last night?"
"Yeah," he said, "Late last night wasn't the time to do it. We ended up going to sleep as soon as we got here. Today was kind of wasted just hanging around the room and the weather is so-so." He took a breath and tried not to freak out. He'd made his decision and he was going to go through with it. That wasn't the issue at all. Now he just had to stay calm until then. "We're leaving tomorrow night at six so I've gotta do it before we leave because it has to be done here."
"What's the rush?"
"I just don't want to do it anywhere else." He turned to jell-o thinking about it. Being there with her was the best thing that had happened to him in more than a few weeks. "The Keys are special for us."
His brother still seemed a bit upset about his decision. "Not that I'm at all discouraging you because I think it's great, but this is huge--are you sure you want to do this?"
"Yep," he said coming out of the elevator. He'd ended up calling his brother because if he'd called anyone else the news of what he was about to do would have ended up in the news before he got to their room. He took a deep breath and checked his pockets once more. "She's been up in the room reading since it's been raining off and on. I figure that I'll be able to catch her off guard if I do it now."
"So how are you going to do it?"
"It sounds stupid," JC said rubbing his forehead, "But I'm going to propose to her in the laundry room."
"THE LAUNDRY ROOM?" Tyler laughed at him. "You're an idiot."
"I'm not. I swear it. It'll work out. She'll know why I brought her there to do it. There's a good reason for it."
"Like what?" his brother asked.
JC lowered his voice. "It's where I fell in love with her."
JC sighed. "When I was down in The Keys she and I wrote a song together in the laundry room of our hotel and that's when I fell in love with her."
His brother laughed again. "If you say so."
"I swear it."
"Speaking of freedom," she said with a big smile. She sipped her drink then
set the glass down and moved across the room towards where her bag of laundry
sat next to the bottle of detergent. "I'm gonna go down and do my laundry."
"Doing laundry is freedom?" he asked. It wasn't at all the response he'd been looking for.
"Don't look at me like that. It sounds ridiculous, but I have a feeling that you haven't done much of anything normal for a while. You'd be amazed how much fun it is to be in a laundry mat."
He scratched his head and smiled at her. It shocked him to find that the simplest things were what he had been missing out on. He'd never thought that doing laundry was something that he'd ever like to do again, but the look in her eyes made everything seem like an adventure. He wasn't about to let her know that. He didn't at this point know how he felt about her, but he knew he couldn't show too much too soon or it would ruin everything. "I'll have to trust you on that one."
"You don't want to come?" she asked gathering up the handles of the bag, "The hum of the dyers is really relaxing."
"I'll have to trust you on that one too," he said. That too was definitely something that she'd never expected to hear.
"Ok," she said, "Your loss then." She picked up the bag threw the strap over
her shoulder, grabbed up the detergent, then clutched her book to her stomach.
"I'll be downstairs."
"Have fun," he said and gave her a wave.
He plopped back down on the room as she went out into the hallway. When he heard the door close he went into find something to change into. He pulled out his surf shorts and a wife beater, found his sunglasses and flip-flops before he left the room to find her.
It only took a little while to find the laundry mat. There were a few people in moving clothes from the washer to the drier and folding clothes. He ducked his head as he entered the room and looked around finding her with her bag at an empty table in the small room. Her head was bent as her hand scribbled for a moment before he saw her sigh and sit up and start to scratch lines through her work.
sighed, "It's all crap. Crap, crap...that's a perfect name for a song."
Farzana dropped her pen to the table and looked up at him. She smiled up at him and covered her writing with her hand.
"Having trouble?" He asked motioning towards the book as he took a seat next to her.
Her nervousness was apparent. "I'm just trying to get something on paper."
"Can I see?" He asked tentatively. He knew how private people could be when they wrote, but he was interested in what she was doing, it was probably better than most of the stuff he'd been thinking about lately.
She pulled her book towards her. "I don't know."
"Save you?" He asked tipping his head a little, "Writing an SOS song?"
"No," she said, "I...I mean...I don't know."
"Don't be embarrassed," he said, "I won't look at it if you don't want me to."
"I really would love to write with you," she said shyly, "I mean everyone would like that. I mean considering who you--"
Her eyes left his face when he flipped his sunglasses down over his eyes. It was just a defensive move and it was completely obvious, but he needed to get away from the idea that he was famous. One of these days he wasn't going to be a star and he needed to learn how to live a normal life again.
"I'm sorry...did I say something
"No," he said and leaned back, "I--I just don't--"
"Why are you so scared of who you are?" She asked, "I mean that's it isn't it? I start talking about your reputation and you act like I've just insulted you instead of praising you--"
He took his sunglasses off and glared at her. "If you had people kissing your ass all day long you wouldn't want your friends doing the same thing would you?"
A silence fell over them. It was an uncomfortable absence of conversation that hinted that both of them wanted to say something, but neither could get the words out.
"So I'm a friend?" She finally asked, starting out with the obvious comment he'd just made; one that surprised her.
"I gotta go. I'll call you in a few. Don't tell anyone about what I just said ok?" He stopped and took a deep breath. "Especially not Mom and Dad. I'll come up there in a few days and tell them myself. Ok?"
"Fine," Tyler said.
"I'll talk to you later," he said and hung up the phone.
The room was silent when he came inside from the hallway. It was dark too and for a moment his heart sank thinking that maybe she'd gone to bed early. He didn't know if he could wait another day to do this, but at the same time he wasn't sure that he could deal with her being asleep when he walked into their bedroom.
Her voice sounded relaxed, but not sleepy. "Yeah Josh?"
He stayed where he was. "Are you going to bed?"
"No," she said and came out of the bedroom. "I was just packing up the rest of the stuff I brought along. I did laundry today."
"You did?" His nervousness shown and he hated that.
"Yeah," she said.
He touched his jeans pocket where the ring lay and took a deep breath. "Are you going to go to bed soon?"
"No, why?" she asked.
He shrugged and tried to relax. "I was going to go on a walk and wanted to know if you'd come with me."
"It's kind of raining," she said looking out the window.
"I know. I just wanted to walk around the halls or something." He kicked his foot into the carpet. "I'm antsy right now after getting so much sleep and I need to tire myself out."
"Ok," she said, "Let me grab a sweatshirt."
He nodded and watched her walk out of the room again and began to pace. He didn't want to scare her, making her think that the important things that he had to say to her were something bad, but he couldn't help his urge to walk off his nervous energy.
A few minutes later they were on the ground level of the hotel walking through the covered hallways of the building. He walked her past the laundry room three times before he finally had enough courage to actually walk in there and when he finally decided that he needed to pop the question they were across the huge quad area in the middle of the resort. Taking a deep breath he started across the grass, hitting the walkway crossing the huge space after only a few moments.
Her feet started to drag, he could hear her sandals scrape on the cement. "Josh, I'm tired."
He held onto her hand tightly knowing that if he didn't get her to their destination that his proposal just wouldn't mean as much as he wanted it to. "We're not going far."
Her feet kept moving, but she was still slow. "I'm getting wet," she complained.
He stopped and turned around to face her. "Baby, it isn't that wet and it isn't that far to where I want to take you."
She moved her weight from one foot for another then finally stopped all movement and frowned. "I don't understand why we're out in this weather in the first place," she said.
"Please," he said, "Trust me for five more minutes--" He turned back towards where they were heading knowing that it was just around the corner from where they were. She wasn't going to understand why he had her come with him, but he knew once they got there and he said what he had to say, things would be perfectly fine. "I promise you that it'll be worth your while."
"Are you sure?" she asked.
"Yes," he sighed and turned back to smile at her. His hand moved to the pocket of his jeans and he could feel the ring box sitting there waiting to be opened. "I swear."
"Fine," she said.
When they entered the laundry room no one was around. The dryers and washers were running and it was a little hard to hear, but he when he saw the table they'd sat at he pulled her over to it. She started to sit in one chair and he told her to move to the other one.
"What's up with you?" she asked, "We were in the room and having a great time--now you're pushing me around--"
"Please just sit down," he asked of her, calming his breaths as his hand again touched his pants pocket. "I have something to talk to you about--Ask you about--"
"What?" she asked. "What would we need to be here for?"
"Because," he said. His heart rate sped up and he felt for a moment that he was going to throw up and that's when he knew he needed to ask her or he'd completely chicken out.
"Are you going to at least sit down?" she asked looking up at her. "You were pacing in the room and now you won't sit down."
He waved his hand at her and took a deep breath. He put a hand to his eyes and turned away from her for a moment before turning back. "No."
"So you got me here to sit down and you're not going to sit?" She tapped her fingers against the table and looked around the room.
"No," he said and bent one knee to kneel next to her.
"You know there is a chair over there."
He could tell that she was trying to cut the tension and he loved that she was trying to do it with comedy, but he knew that it was an easy way to get distracted from the task at hand. "Will you let me do this?"
He stuck his hand into his pocket and pulled out the ring box. He could see the expression on her face fall and then she looked confused. "Propose."