"Shit." She turned towards the bed and frowned at him. "I thought I wasn't going to wake you up until I had to leave."
He pushed himself up on his elbows and rubbed his face with his hand. He shivered a little due to the covers falling away from his bare chest. "You're already leaving?"
"Yeah," she said pulling on the other arm of her jean jacket. She moved her hair out of the back of the jacket and fixed her collar.
"Are you gonna be ok this week?" he asked as he pushed out of bed, tugging at his boxers so they were higher on his hips before he held out his arms to hug her.
She shuffled over to him and curled up against him. "I don't wanna go now. This weekend was the bestest," she said with a pouting tone.
"I don't want you to go either," he said tipping her head back so she'd look him in the eyes. He moved her hair out of her face before he spoke again. "But you've got stuff to do and I have to finish my song and get my ass to New York to turn it in."
"How's your song going?" she asked.
"Good." He backed away from her a little and held onto her hands. He didn't understand why this trip was so different for them. He was just going to be away from her for a week. It was actually a short amount of time considering the trip he'd just gotten back from, but the thought of her being out of Los Angeles still left him with a shaky feeling. "I think I may go out a day early and talk to Brian before I officially turn it in to him and the record label."
"Call me and tell me your plans, ok?" she smiled, "Maybe we can catch a flight back home together."
"Sounds good," he said, "I'll be here until Wednesday at least then I'll be over at the W and working out of Cleveland Street Studios."
She nodded making a mental note of his location for the next few days. "Ok."
He sighed. "You're gonna be up in Toronto and working at Damon Rushford's studio right?"
"Yeah," she said.
There was a knock on the open door and Rodney stuck his head into the bedroom. "Whoa. Sorry. I didn't mean to interrupt, but we're going to be late if we don't leave."
"Thanks," JC said over Farzana's shoulder as Rodney left the room.
He went over to the closet and pulled out a pair of sweatpants and pulled them on. "Did you eat breakfast?"
Her eyes widened. "We're stopping at Krispy Kreme on the way."
"Sounds good," he said, "I'm jealous."
"Sure you are," she sighed, "You're going to go back to sleep as soon as I leave."
"Not right after," he said with a laugh as they made their way out of the bedroom to the stairs. "Maybe I'll get some breakfast then get back into bed."
"I love you too honey," she said.
"What?" he asked, "You're going to be gone. I'm gonna be working the next three days before I hit New York to work the rest of the week while you're working."
"I know. I know," she said, "I'm just tired and getting on a plane isn't what I need right now. I need a spa treatment and some apples and caramel."
"We'll have that when we get back," he said, "We'll head up to Santa Cruz for the weekend and hide out."
She hugged him again. "That sounds great."
He walked down to the first floor and Rodney was standing by the door. He started to open the door.
She turned back towards him and kissed him. "Call me tonight."
"Not unless you call me first ok?" he said with a laugh. He didn't like saying goodbye to her and he didn't like the look that Rodney was giving them.
They hugged one last time before she slipped out the door, and he slipped into the kitchen to get breakfast.
[ Five Hours later...]
She didn't look up when she heard Rodney answer for them. "Yes?"
"We've gotten word that there is a crowd a the gate--"
Farzana looked up from her magazine. "What does that have to do with us?" Farzana said. She knew that it was possible to have people waiting there for her at the gate, but she wouldn't have assumed that there would be very many people.
"Well--" The woman seemed to be struggling with the way to handle the situation. "Not to be too blunt about it, but they all seem to be waiting for you."
She seemed a bit shocked and wondered if she'd fallen asleep. She'd been out of the spotlight for a million and one years it seemed like and was sure that she was mistaken. "Me?"
"Yes," the flight attendant said.
"Seriously?" she asked.
The woman nodded.
"How many?" Rodney asked instantly believing the woman and already starting to hatch a plan in his head. She'd seen him like this before and she knew that was why she always trusted him as a traveling partner.
"A few--" She hesitated. "A few hundred."
"A few hundred?" he asked.
"Are you sure?" she asked. She pulled her jean jacket closer around her and shivered.
The woman nodded, "The pilot has a line open if you'd like to talk to the Canadian authorities."
Rodney undid his seatbelt. He turned to her, "Stay here and don't freak out."
She sat back in the chair and tried to read her magazine, but soon she found it impossible to sit still. Reaching for the air phone she pressed in the number of her calling card and dialed his cell phone number.
"Baby what's wrong?"
"I'm freaking out over here," she sighed and slid her magazine away. She turned towards the window and stared out into the afternoon sun.
"I know this isn't your cell number. Is--Is the plane ok?"
"Did I wake you up?" she asked.
"No," he said, "I was napping earlier, but--what's wrong?"
She sighed and moved to try to see where Rodney was, but she couldn't see him. A few people were staring at her now probably wondering who the hell she was and why the Canadian Police needed to be called for her. "There are some people waiting for me at the gate."
He sighed and sounded confused. "There were or there are?"
"There are," she clarified, "Rodney is talking to the Royal Mounted Police right now and we haven't even landed yet."
"That's great--" He paused. "--Isn't it?"
She felt her hands start to shake. "I don't know."
She could hear him walking around in the house. "I told you that people up there would love that you were home."
She closed her eyes and pictured him standing in the kitchen, leaning against the counter with a smile on his face. It helped, but it didn't fix her problem. "I'm scared."
"Baby don't," he said, "You'll be fine. You've been in crowds and stuff before."
"With you," she said with a shaky voice, "I haven't been out here--" She looked around for a moment. "I'm sorry. I don't mean to be so girly, but this morning--"
"I'm sorry about this morning," he said, "I'm tired and I hate that you're going to be gone this week and the song I'm working on is stuck and--" He sighed. "Rodney will have everything under control."
She wiped tears from her eyes. "I wish you'd come with me."
"I know," he said, "I'm gonna change my plans and come out and see you on Friday night. I'll be in the city on Wednesday, then Thursday I'll be up in the studio with Brian and Friday I'll take a night flight up there and see you."
Looking forward to that would help things, but at the moment she was too tense thinking about the reaction of the people in the airport to think about him. "Thank you."
"I'm gonna let you go honey," He yawned. "I've gotta get some more work done, but call me tonight and I'll talk to you some more, ok?"
"Okay," she sighed.
The sound of a hand smacking onto the counter next to him and the words from his friend brought him back from the day dream he’d been having. His brain had been clicked to some other world since she'd left town that morning. "You look depressed.”
“What?” His head shot up from where he was scribbling on his note book. He’d zoned out thinking about the lyrics of the songs and wondering about how Farzana was doing. Sending her off on the plane had been torture. He didn’t even understand why she was getting so upset, but he guessed it was because he was there in the airport with her. If he’d stayed home and said good-bye there it probably wouldn’t have been so tearful.
“Your woman has been gone for like three hours and you’re already freaking out about it.”
“I’m not freaking out.” JC lifted the beer next to him to his lips and took a long drink. He looked across the room at the clock and saw that it had been closer to twelve hours instead of three. "I didn’t sleep much this weekend because of the party and Farzana leaving town." He saw them smirking at him. "I’m trying to concentrate on the lyrics.”
“Sure,” Alex said.
“Leave it alone Alex,” JC sneered at him. He set the bottle down again and picked up the pencil. This was the most relaxed he’d been in a few days. With Farzana packing up to leave for the week or so and him working on lyrics the stress level had been high, but he’d decided that morning after he’d taken her to the airport that he was going to spend the next two days working on material before he went back to the Brian McKnight story.
“Let’s see what we have so far.”
“It’s nothing permanent.”
“I know.” Alex sat in the seat next to him and closed his eyes. “I’m all ears.”
JC cleared his throat and nodded his head a few times before he let the song flow from his lips. He wasn’t sure how this was going to turn out considering that he probably should have been working on his other song for Brian and was getting the two mixed up in his head, but he saw Alex smile as the first verse met his ears and tried to relax.
Staying home alone on a Friday
Flat on the floor looking back
On old love
Or lack thereof
He glanced at Alex and saw the smile on his friends face. It wasn’t the normal type of song that he’d been used to writing, but collaborating with Farzana nothing of his writing style or his life had been the same.
After all the crushes are faded
And all my wishful thinking was wrong
I hate it
“It’s good,” he said. “I think it’s more of a guitar song though. Nothing with a big back beat or synthetic about it.”
He smiled at his friends, “That’s what I thought.” His hands were automatically shoved through his hair. “I picture Zana just sitting there with her guitar-“
“OK. I don’t need-“
“I’m talking about a performance-“
“If that’s what you call it-“
“Hey now,” JC said with a scolding tone. “I’m not talking nasty about my girlfriend. I’m just saying that I picture her alone on the stage, just her and a guitar singing this.”
[ Later on that evening...]
"You ok?" Rodney asked.
When they had arrived at the airport there was a group of fans waiting for them and the number hadn't at all been padded. She'd dealt with those types of crowds when dealing with JC's fans, but this was the first time in a long time that she'd been the focus of attention. She'd been walking only holding Rodney's hand, but when she'd started to lag, he'd hugged her against him and told the Royal Mounted Police that they needed to get to the car.
She kept her eyes on the scenery out the window and tried not to let the impact of the moment hit her too hard. It wasn't just the shock of the moment or the fact that she still had fans in Canada, it was actually the opposite. If she didn't have anyone standing there she would have been able to justify her father's anger with her choice of professions, but with a crowd like that there was no way her father should be telling her to give it up.
"Farzana, please tell me that you're ok and that the airport didn't freak you out."
She turned back to him when he asked her a second time. "I'm--" She looked back out the window. "I'm home."
"Awe girl," he said, "Why don't you try and call some people and have them over to the hotel. You don't work until the morning and you should hang out and get adjusted to the time difference."
"I don't even know who is still here," she said, "I never talk to them anymore. I'm always busy and--"
"Call up Hallie and see if she can come over and call your brother up and see if we can get him over here."
"I'll call Hallie," she said, "But not BJ. I don't want to fight with my father my first day back."
"If they need rides I'll go and get them."
She shook her head a bit. "Thank you Rodney," she said, "I didn't mean to freak you out earlier."
"It's ok honey," he said, "We'll get you up to the room, get you some dinner and relax."
She sighed and smiled. "I didn't think that it was going to be so complicated."
They entered the lobby of the hotel without incident. There were people waiting out front, but Rodney had talked to the police about how to handle things so they were ushered right in.
"I didn't know this place was so nice," she said to Rodney as they walked towards the front desk.
"You've never been in here?" he asked.
"No." She looked back towards where the fans were waiting outside, waved at a few of them then turned back around towards the front desk. "We always stayed at home when I was anywhere near Toronto."
She turned around and saw Damon Rushford standing on the far side of the lobby. "Hi!"
Damon Rushford didn't look like a producer at all. He was a twenty-seven year old savant when it came to producing, but looked more like he should be in high school than be the head of a multimillion dollar recording studio. She'd met him in Los Angeles a few months back and had been keeping tabs on him to keep up with his career. Today was no different than any of the other pictures she'd seen of him. He wore baggy jeans, a huge jacket and a baseball hat. The one thing she had forgotten was his slightly French accent, "I heard about the airport fiasco and thought I'd come over and grab dinner with you."
"You heard about it?" she asked. "It just happened twenty minutes ago."
He shrugged and casually mentioned, "It was on MuchMusic."
"MuchMusic had me on?" she asked.
"Yeah," he said, "I thought you'd have known about this. The channel has been running your songs and performances--"
She cowered back from the attention he was giving her. She wasn't at all used to being the center of attention and when she'd been in Toronto last she'd gotten some attention, but nothing like what Damon was explaining to her. "They have been?"
"Yeah," he said, "You've been working too hard again. You've forgotten how much people in Canada loved you. Everyone here has been waiting for you to come home for months."
She looked back at the door to where the fans were standing outside. "Really?"
Her cell phone rang and she held up a hand when she saw that it was a New York number and the name Wendy flashed on the screen.
"Hello?" she said as she answered it.
She looked at Damon. "Yes?"
"This is Wendy Weaver at Jive," she said, "I just called to update you with your schedule for the week. I faxed over a copy to your hotel, but I wasn't sure that you'd gotten there yet so I thought I'd run it over with you."
This was freaking her out now. She knew that her agent knew that she was going to be in Toronto, but no one else had been contacted. She didn't think that anyone else needed to know that she was traveling. "Schedule?"
"Yes," she said, "Didn't Marta Dalstrom call you and tell you about the interview requests we've had this week?"
"No," she said. She could feel her heart rate jump. This was all too much to handle, "What's going on?" Rodney waved her over so she grabbed onto Damon's arm and pulled him towards the front desk. "What's going on with my schedule?"
"Are you at the hotel?" she asked.
Rodney turned around and smiled as she slid up next to him.
She sighed. "We're just checking in now."
"I'm going to come over and meet with you. I have a flight up there coming in around ten and I know you'll be in the recording session all day tomorrow, but I think I'll take you out to lunch. I've talked to Damon--"
"Hold on--" Farzana pulled the phone from her ear. She turned towards Damon. "Did you talk to Jive today?"
"Yes," he said, "We're going to do your sessions in half days this week instead of full days. They said that you had approved the change due to your schedule."
She stopped and turned back to the phone call. "Ok. So I'm doing interviews for the next few days. What else?"
Wendy sounded like she was in a rush and it took Farzana a moment to catch up. "They want you to perform at some clubs next weekend."
"Yes," Wendy said, "We're going to set you up with a back up band and have you perform over the weekend...Friday night they want you at Finnian's Rainbow...maybe on Monday if we can get you into some radio interviews."
"The label is jumping on this interest and is going to extend your stay in the city so they can get you into all the hotspots all over the city.
"Ok." She sighed. "So you'll be at the studio around lunch time tomorrow?"
"Yes." She said, "Check over your schedule with your guard and we'll plan for the rest of the week."
She couldn't believe how easily she was switching back into work mode so quickly. Toronto wouldn't feel like home without the hectic schedule.
The song JC sings in the studio: John Mayer's Love Song For No One