She'd heard him come in the door and had listened intently to the sounds
of him in the shower. He didn't sing or really make any specific noise, but
it was knowing that he was in there that made her listen. She could have
said something to him any of the times that he'd walked by her when he came
in or later when he walked by his open door, but she didn't.
She'd left him on his own until he'd started to explain to Melinda on the
phone about him being away from Bobbie and being in Florida. She normally
wasn't one to eavesdrop, or at least she didn't like to think of her as someone
like that, but it had been hard not to listen to the conversation considering
that he hadn't closed his door all the way. He sounded like he was more worried
about that break up than he'd seem to let on.
Through the crack in the door she could see that JC was ready for bed. Shorts
were the only clothing that covered his body and he was lying back on a few
pillows. She'd expected him to be getting ready for bed, pulling down the
blankets to slip under the sheets, but he wasn't. Even though he wasn't currently
writing, he surprisingly enough sat with his notebook by his side. Phone
in hand he stared at it with a strange look on his face. She'd had moments
like that, when either the last conversation was too emotional or shocking
to start the next or when the anticipation of the next conversation was too
hard. Either way he sat there caught in time staring off into space.
"Pick-" She cleared the sleep away from her voice and tugged at her pajamas.
"If you have to chose between the phone and the book. Pick the book." She
leaned against the doorjam and pushed the door a little more open.
The sound of her voice startled him and he dropped the phone into his lap.
"Oh shit," he said. He recovered after a moment putting a hand over his eyes
for a moment. He glanced at her nervously as if he was expecting some kind
of yelling match out of her. "I didn't wake you up did I? I'm not really
used to having roommates. Busmates is one thing, but roommates is another...I
mean Bobbie was a roommate but she usually--"
The hurt came into his eyes as he began to explain about Bobbie so she stopped
him. He hadn't really explained everything to her, but she'd heard enough
of his phone conversation to know that it wasn't something good. She truthfully
wasn't in the mood for having a cry-fest. "JC," she said, "It's ok."
"Still I'm sorry," he said. He sounded tired, not physically, although she
suspected that after his run that he would be, but more that he was mentally
exhausted, about like she was.
"Really," she said suddenly feeling stupid for interupting. She should have
gone back to bed and left him alone. Hadn't she seen enough movies with situations
like this? Eavesdropping wasn't the way to keep a friendship going. She started
to panic. What could be said at a moment like this that wouldn't sound too
forced, but would get the message across without making him feel bad about
waking her up? Nothing came to mind so she took a breath. "It's fine. It
was hot and I wasn't sleeping well."
"What's on your mind?" he asked.
The expression on his face wasn't at all mean, but she wanted to ask him
why he was torturing her like this. She wanted to just run away from him.
She shouldn't have moved into his room. She should have just gone home to
Toronto when the record label cut her off. It wasn't the smartest thing to
stay, she'd known that from the begining, but this was looking out to be
She pushed her hands through her hair nervously and waited a moment before
"You staring at me like you want to say something," he said. He picked up
his pen and scribbled something in his notebook. "So say it. Was something
on your mind that is keeping you up?"
"Nevermind," she said and started to walk away. "You're busy."
"Zana?" he said with an urgency to his voice, "Zana wait."
She paused and turned back to him. "I didn't mean to interupt. I'll just
go back to bed."
"Zana," he said, "Come here."
Farzana took a breath as she walked into the room. Here it came. This was
it. One of those pivotal moments in life where everything could change. If
she was brave enough she might come out of this with something added to her
life or she could slink away and save the truth for some other time.
"Sit down," he said.
She didn't know him well enough to guess what he was about to say to her,
but the look on his face was enough to tell her that she should do it. Still
she felt like she needed to at least appear that she wasn't following orders.
With the way things were going he could ask her to jump and she'd ask how
high. "You sure?"
"Uh oh," she said with a groan, "The first name again."
"Zana just sit down." He was starting to get angry with her and that wasn't
what she wanted. It would be an easy way out, her being able to be upset
with him, but it wasn't how she planned on spending her time with him. Arguing
was the last thing either o them needed to be doing. "You're making me nervous."
"I make you nervous?" she asked, "That's a switch."
"What? Wait. I make you nervous?"
"Of course you make me nervous..." Her hand flew to her mouth when she let
the words fly out. Her eyes closed and she could tell that her face was turning
pink. She prayed that it wouldn't be too noticeable.
"Zana stop trying to act so...so I don't know..."
She slowly moved her hand away from her mouth. "I'm not acting."
"Yeah you were," he said, "You've been this Jekyll and Hyde person...There
are moments when the real you comes out from behind the prim and proper person
that was on the road with me...but the person you are right now isn't the
"The better me?" she asked. He was confusing her.
Maybe it was the late hour or maybe it was his honesty, but either way she
wasn't sure she could handle him saying so much so quickly. She wasn't Jekyll
and Hyde. She was just trying to figure things out and consistancy wasn't
her strong suit. She herself couldn't figure out what she wanted so she couldn't
explain to him or anyone else what she wanted either.
"Just tell me what's on your mind. You were about to say something earlier
in the kitchen and I saw the look in your eyes when you decided to censor
yourself," he said, "You shouldn't do that...not ever...and especially in
your song writing."
"I didn't censor myself," she said knowing for sure now that he'd put two
and two together and really had figured out what she didn't say before. "I
told the truth."
"You said that I'd been taken by something," he said pausing for a moment
to look in her eyes, "What did you mean by that? You said that it was work,
but I know it was something else. There had to be a better reason for you
thinking you had to stay away from me."
"Don't flatter yourself," she said angrily.
His eyes clouded over for a moment with emotion then he stopped and wiped
his hands over his face. "I'm not taken anymore," he finally said, "Bobbie
and I broke up...so you don't have to worry about that any more."
Farzana covered her face and took deep breaths. This wasn't the way she'd
wanted things to happen with him, but she guessed that she couldn't control
JC the way she wanted to. "What does that have to do with anything?"
"That was what you were talking about earlier," he said, "I saw it. I saw
it in your eyes and don't try to lie to me."
She wanted to cry. She wanted her curl up in a ball and let the tears flow
for this was the most embarrassing experience of her life. She could remember
a million times in grade school when things like this came up and she'd run
away from them, but this time there wasn't anywhere for her to run.
"Zana," his voice came across softly as he put a hand on her leg, "We're
mature adults and you don't have to be embarrassed. Just say it. I know it's
true. We're not in school or whatever. I'm not going to make fun or you or
His words didn't help, but she knew she should take her hands away from her
face and look at him.
"Now," he said when she finally look at him. "That was it...wasn't it?"
"Yeah," she said and coughed. Her voice was catching again which meant only
one thing. She was nervous. It always did this to her when she had something
really important that she wanted to say, but couldn't get the words out.
"You want a drink of water?" he asked.
"No," she said.
"You sure?" he asked.
She moved to get up and he pulled her back down. "Where are you going?"
"Back to bed," she said, "I'm sure you're tired after your run and have more
phone calls and stuff to do so I'll see you in the morning."
"Not yet," he said, "I need to explain something to you first."
"What?" She felt like she was a little girl again and she was trying to avoid
an argument with her parents, but they weren't letting her.
"I can't date you," he said bluntly. "It never works out. I just want to
warn you of that."
His news was a shock and she couldn't deny that it hurt her feelings. Bluntness
never seemed to be
"I didn't--" She took a breath, "I didn't stay here because I wanted to try
to weasel my way in here. I stayed because I thought you seemed a little
lonely and I knew that we could do some writing. As for the whole dating
thing...it hadn't crossed my mind. I mean it had, but not seriously."
"Good," he said, "Now that we have that settled...do you want to watch a
movie with me?"
"I should go back to sleep."
She wanted to leave right then before more was said. She didn't need to be
standing there talking to him like that. She should leave it alone before
something worse happened.