JC watched Farzana's back as she slipped outside. He'd seen the look in her
eyes and the change in her personality. Something had happened. He knew that
talking to Melinda would help him, but he hoped that she hadn't said anything
to Farzana about what they'd been talking about. He'd told her about Bobbie
and everything, but he wasn't sure that he wanted Farzana to know the intimate
details of what had gone on.
"You want a drink?" Melinda asked.
He waved When he reached in the refridgerator for a beer he immediately looked
back at Melinda with a scowl on his face. "What'd you say to her?"
"Nothing," she said crossing her heart with a finger, "Cross my heart. She
was putting her stuff away and I told her to come out here because you wanted
to know what she wanted to eat."
"I swear," she said turning to pull out a bottle opener out.
She threw it across to him and he opened his bottle and didn't speak to her
until the level of his beer in his bottle was lower. "What's wrong with her
Melinda went and grabbed a beer and took the opener from his hand then put
it away. "Beats me."
When he heard a honk he looked over towards the door and could see Justin's
mom's SUV pulling up. Meredith got out of the passenger seat and Jusitn got
out of the driver's seat and they waited for a moment before coming in the
door. Justin burst in the door with Meredith on his tail and Farzana slipping
in the door behind them almost unnoticed. His friend came immeiately to him
and hugged him and with a dramatic tone to his voice hugged him. "You're
"Get off me Justin," he said pushing him away.
He looked at Meredith over Justin's shoulder with an expression that screamed
HELP ME. He took a breath, "I was gone for like a week. It's not like I was
lost at see or one of those guys in that movie ALIVE."
"Still," Justin said, "We thought you'd--"
He read the expression on his face and knew that Bobbie was behind this reaction
to him being gone. "How many times did she call you?" JC asked with a groan.
Meredith came and hugged him, "Only six times. She's a little psychotic like
that, but do you blame her? You disappeared and everyone was worried about
you...ok?" She leaned and kissed his cheek then moved over and curled herself
JC was instantly jealous of the two in front of him, but he wasn't sure exactly
why. Maybe it was because normally if they were all there socializing he'd
have Bobbie at his side like Justin had Meredith with him. Even the loss
of the act of her holding his hand was something that he missed. There was
something about that kind of contact that he missed. It wasn't often that
he even touched someone where the feelings weren't fake or at least held
back. When he dealt with fans he hugged them and was personable, but it wasn't
the same kind of physical contact that a person needed to stay sane.
Meredith looked at him strangely. He must have zoned out again. "We heard
that you were in the studio today."
"Just for a few minutes," JC said then leaned and looked at Farzana who was
staring at all of them. "Farzana was trying out some new songs." He waved
her over and stopped to ask, "You want something to drink?" He needed to
get away from the situation. If they knew that he hadn't sung a note since
he'd left the tour everyone would freak out and he'd have something the size
of a natural disaster on his hands.
Farzana stood with her hands crossed across her chest. "I can get it," she
"No," he said moving in between her and the refridgerator, "Tell Justin and
Mere about the songs we're working on. I'll grab you a coke. You drink coke
"Can I get a sprite?" she asked nervously touching her forehead a moment
then turned to face Justin.
"Oh," he said, "Yeah right."
As he looked in the refridgerator he caught Melinda staring at him. "What?"
he asked with a low voice.
"Nothing," she said with a shrug.
"So what happened to your head?" he heard Meredith ask Farzana.
"Ummm," he heard her say.
"Farzana got in a bar fight," JC said with a laugh coming back to her with
a coke in his hand. He could hear it in her hesistation that she wasnt' comfortable
talking about the incident so he saved her the agrivation by making something
"Yeah," she said, "Those Tony Lucca concerts are mad." She laughed. "That
whole mosh pit was amazing."
When silence filled the air between her and the others in the room she prayed
for something to break up the tension. God must have been listening because
her cell phone rang.
"Excuse me," she said and moved away from them to answer it. "Hello?"
"Baby where are you?"
"Mom?" she asked.
"Yes," her mother said, "Who do you think it is?"
"Sorry," she said, "I didn't expect you to be calling."
"Where are you?" she asked.
She cringed. She should have called and told them where she was. She hadn't
even thought about it. When they'd been on the road she'd never really done
the whole day to day check in thing. Her parents had her itinerary and she'd
called when she could, but with her parents always wanting to have her come
home she'd limited the calls to necessary ones. She and her brother had kept
in better contact, but even he didn't know where she was at the moment. Her
hand automatically covered her eyes for a moment. "Orlando."
"What are you doing in Orlando?" The shock in her mother's voice wasn't something
she couldn't just gloss over. She was in trouble and she was going to hear
about this, if it wasn't now then it would be later.
Farzana looked over at the group. Melinda was now chatting with Justin and
Meredith and JC was staring at his beer bottle with wide eyes. He wasn't
blinking and it was starting to scare her. "Working on some demos."
"When are you coming home?"
She looked around for a moment. This was it. If she told her mother she was
coming home right away she'd never get back to New York to work on getting
another deal, but if she stayed in Orlando she wasn't sure that she'd be
able to support herself while she waited around for her auditions.
JC finally blinked and when he did he came over to her and put an arm around
her. "What's wrong?" he mouthed to her.
"Mom can you hold on a second. I need to answer the door," Farzana lied.
"Sure honey," she said.
Farzana put her hand over the microphone and took a deep breath. "My mother
wants to know when I'm coming home."
It wasn't his problem. She should have told him that nothing was wrong. She
knew his personality well enough by now to know that he'd try to help her
and she wasn't sure that she should be his shadow like she had been for the
last week or so. She needed to get back on her feet and get to New York and
if that didn't work out then she would go back to school like she should
have a long time before. "I don't know what to tell her."
"Want me to talk to her?" JC asked.
"No," she said, "It'll just make things worse. I need to just tell her something...but
if I tell her I'm coming home I'd have to leave like tomorrow. She and my
father I'm sure have already gotten paper work to enroll me back in school."
JC paused only for a moment, "Tell her that you're going to be staying in
Orlando with me for the rest of the month."
"What?" she asked.
"I'm hiring you for a month to...to...to be my assistant." His eyes went
wild. "I'll pay you two thousand dollars to help me out until we go back
out on tour."
"Just tell her," he said, "We'll talk about details later."
Her hand dropped to her side, but her finger stayed over the microphone.
"Are you sure?"
He rolled his eyes at her. "Do you want to go back and be in school by the
end of the week?"
"No." The group was still talking, but Meredith seemed to be glancing over
at her every once in a while checking to see what was going on with her and
"Then tell her that you got a new job and that you're needed here in Orlando
or wherever until the end of the month."
"Are you sure?"
"Yes...now do it."
This was probably the hardest thing that she'd done since she'd told her
parents about wanting to chose music over school. She knew that her mother
would be upset, not that she didn't support her, but any time she seemed
to chose something other than being with her parents, they seemed to take
it totally personally, as if taking something over them was a direct reflection
on how she felt about them.
"I'm not coming home until the end of the month. JC and Lance have a position
for me for the month and I'm going to work for them and work on some demos."
"What about school?"
"Mom," she said trying not to whine, "Please let me do this. Don't you get
it? This is what I want to do."
JC leaned and hugged her and ended up sheilding her a bit from the looks
on the other's faces. They almost looked like they were going to say something
to her, but instead some more people arrived, taking the tension off her
shoulders while they all greeted each other.
"I don't want to argue with Farzana, but I think you need to come home."
"Please mom," she said moving back from JC so that she could speak. "I'm
an adult. Please try to remember that."
The noise grew in the room and before Farzana could burst into tears she
spoke into the phone, "Things are getting crazy around here. Can I talk to
"Call me tonight," her mother said, "We haven't finished talking about this."
"Ok Mom," she said, "I love you...tell daddy and everyone else back home
that I love them."
"I will." Farzana hung up and held her breath. She looked at the door and
turned and started to walk outside.
"Where are you going?" JC asked grabbing her arm back just as Chris was walking
in the door.
"I need to go outside," she said, "It's getting crowded in here. I'll be
"Yeah," she said looking around for a minute, "I'll be back soon."
"Did it stop raining?" he asked.
"I don't know," she said, "Why don't you go down into the studio or something
so you don't get wet?"
"No," she said with an urgent tone looking at the door. "I'll be fine."
Pushing her way out the door she walked across the driveway and found her
way to the gazebo. Never in her life had she had so many decisions to make.
She shouldn't have agreed to JC's plan. His head wasn't on correct at the
moment. He was still emotionally unstable and being around him wasn't the
best thing for either of them. He didn't need to be taking her on as a project
and she didn't need to be hoping that something would happen between them
when it was likely that nothing would happen.