Chapter 36

Jenna was laying awake in her bunk. The gentle jostling and rocking of the bus usually eventually put her to sleep, but tonight, she couldn’t.
She had gone to bed much earlier than anyone else, and she was still wide awake while everyone else had been asleep for quite some time. She had made the excuse of having a headache, wanting time to think, but instead, she had opened her book.

She sighed heavily and pushed herself out of the bunk. She stretched and quietly placed her feet back on the floor of the bus. She pulled her t-shirt down over her hips and tip-toed into the small kitchenette.

She opened the fridge and removed a bottle of water. They were set to arrive at the next hotel bright and early the next morning, and she knew the best thing to be doing was sleeping, but she couldn’t bring herself to fall into slumber.

The situation with Taylor was beginning to become more complicated. She loved Luke, but they hadn’t spoken in longer than she could remember, and they seemed to be going nowhere quickly.

And she could no longer deny the feelings for Taylor which were already beginning to brew.

She sighed heavily. Taylor was one of her best friends, and if they were to ruin that, she would be loosing out on one of the most important friends in her life.

She glanced down at the bottle of water in her hands, decided she wasn’t thirsty and shoved it back in the fridge and closed the door a little too loudly, before heading back to her bunk.

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As usual, Becky was the first person awake. She pulled a hair brush through her long blonde hair and flipped on the coffee maker. She sat down to wait for the first fresh pot to be ready and idly finished the word search in the magazine Christy had purchased the day before.

“Good morning,” Christy greeted her, stretching stiffly. “Coffee ready?”
“Should be just about ready. You okay?”

Christy stretched, popping the joints of her spine. “I’m just a little stiff.”

“Wild night?” Becky teased.

“Not particularly. I couldn’t sleep so I climbed into Ike’s bunk.”

“You managed to fit in there with him? In one of those little casket shaped bunks?”

“Not well.” Christy laughed. “I slept, but it was quite uncomfortable.  I guess you just get used to sleeping next to someone for so long it gets difficult to sleep without them.”

“I know, I feel the same way. I’ve become accustomed to Zac snoring and kicking in his sleep.”

“Coffee…” Isaac entered the kitchen, reaching two mugs down from the cupboard. “Becky? Coffee?”

“No thank you.” Becky replied.

Christy slid into the booth next to Becky.

“Baby, what time are we scheduled to arrive in LA?”

“Umm… should be a couple of hours. Not long, I don’t think. We’ve got some radio interviews and stuff to do when we get there, so we’ll have to be there early.”

“Oh good. Do you think we can do a bit of shopping?” Christy asked, hopefully.

“I’m not sure. We’ll have to see if the bodyguard-“

“That’s okay, we can go without him.” Christy said quickly.

Isaac chuckled slightly at her eagerness. “We’ll see about that, okay?”

Christy sighed heavily and muttered, “That’s a no.”

Zac came out of the bunks, stretched, belched loudly and scratched himself. When he realized he was standing with three people staring at him, he quickly excused himself.

Becky rolled her eyes. “Well, at least he said ‘excuse me’.”

“Sorry babe.” Zac smiled slightly and leaned over the table to kiss her.

“Aww… aren’t they just adorable?”Christy teased, accepting a mug of coffee from Isaac.

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Becky was wedged amidst a sea of chairs in the VIP room. She had found a chair that looked comfortable, and sat down with her book. Before long she was stretched across two different chairs with her feet up on the back of a third. She knew she probably looked ridiculous, but it felt very comfortable. She flipped the page in her book and was nearly halfway through the page, when she heard a pair of clunky footsteps enter the room. She knew immediately it was Zac by the sound and looked up to greet him with a smile.

He went to the fridge and removed a bottle of Gatorade.

“Hey babe. Comfy?” He teased.

“Actually, yeah.” Her smile broadened.

“Want anything?” He asked, motioning towards the fridge with his free hand.

“No thank you.”

Zac crossed the room and turned a chair around, seating himself backward in it. “Are you bored yet?”

“Not really.” She replied, closing her book over her hand. “That radio interview was quite interesting this morning…”

He lowered the bottle of Gatorade from his mouth. “Yeah? What was so interesting about it?”

She shrugged, and looked back down at the cover of her book. She pretended to scratch off an imaginary spot on the cover. “Just the part about you saying you were single…”

“Oh… That.” He paused. “Look, babe. That’s just… for the fans, you know? So they keep being fans.”

“Your fans aren’t twelve year old girls, Zac. They can handle that you guys have social lives.”

“I know that. But our management thinks that if we appear ready and available to women, we’ll sell more records. Sex appeal sells, right?”

“I guess….” She sighed. “I know that. There’s just a part of me that wishes you could admit to the world that you love me as much as you say you do…. Sounds really stupid doesn’t it?”

“No, it doesn’t.” Zac smiled and placed a hand on her knee. “One day, the whole world will know. Like when we get married…”

“You want to wait until then?” She asked.

“Well, no…” He paused. “I’ll call management when I get a chance today, and see if they’re okay with me telling the truth…. Will that make you happy, babe?”

“Zac, you don’t have to do it to make me happy. I know that it’s good for your career for you to be single. I just… I don’t know, would like it to be different.”

“Becca, I want to tell the truth too, you know. I want everyone to know the name of the girl I’m crazy about. I’ll just have to check with management.”

“I don’t want to talk about it anymore.” She smiled slightly. “We’ll just end up arguing.”

Zac smiled. “Okay. I don’t want to argue with you either.” He stood. “I really should get back to the sound check though.”

Becky nodded. “Okay.”

“We’ll talk more later?”

She nodded. “Right, later.”

“Great.” He leaned over her and kissed her.
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Jenna checked her cell phone, hoping for a text message from Christy or Becky.

She was beginning to feel both bored and lonely being cooped up in the hotel room. She checked her text messages and found two. She opened the one from Taylor. It was short and sweet. “Hi, feeling better?”
Jen decided not to reply right away. She wanted more time to think about what was going on between the two of them before she spoke to him again.

She sighed heavily and immediately went to the second message.

Jen nearly dropped the phone when she realized that the text was from Luke. She immediately put down her cell phone, snapping it closed. She definitely wasn’t ready to hear from Luke yet.

She rummaged through her purse and removed a bottle of Aspirin. With two in hand, she got up from the sofa and removed a cold bottle of water from the mini-fridge. She downed the two aspirin quickly and tightened the cap back on the water bottle.  

She glanced back at her cell phone, which was resting on the coffee table.

She sighed and climbed over the back of the sofa and scooped up her cell phone, unable to stand the suspense.

She flipped open her phone and sat with her fingers over the button for a couple of minutes: one last opportunity to change her mind.

She nearly lost her nerve and deleted the message before even looking at it.

She closed her eyes tightly and drew in a deep breath and opened the message. It was short and simple, but honestly more than she expected. It said simply: “Jen, I still care about you a lot. When you’re ready to talk, let me know.”

Jen sighed heavily.
As if this new message from Luke made what was going on any easier.
Now that she knew for certain that Luke still had feelings for her, it make it much more difficult to decide what to do.

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Christy had been standing next to the lighting booth in the club, while Isaac and Taylor argued over guitar tuning on the stage. While they weren’t paying attention, Zac had snuck off the stage.

A roadie had brought her out a chair, and she thanked him politely and sat down.

After Isaac and Taylor finished fighting on the stage, and Zac had returned, they got back to business and began playing a song Christy didn’t recognize.

Both Isaac and Taylor interrupted the song numerous times to fix small mistakes and to nit-pick at each other.

She caught Isaac’s eye, and offered him a small wave. In return he winked at her.

He stopped playing and Taylor and Zac’s music also came to a loud halt.

“Ike! Keep going!” Zac shouted to be heard.

“Taylor is playing too fast!” Isaac shouted back.

“I am not!” Taylor shouted back.

“Dude!” Zac interrupted. “Stop yelling!”

Both Isaac and Taylor apologized.

Christy smiled.

A roadie appeared at her side and offered her a drink, a coffee or water.

Christy politely declined and gave him a friendly smile. It was the same man who had brought her the chair.

Jimmy appeared next to the roadie and with one cold glare, caused him to back away quickly.

Christy stood up to face Jimmy. “I love how you do that. Send grown men crying to their mothers with one look. How long did it take you to learn that?”

“A couple of years.”  Jimmy shrugged effortlessly. “I’m here to round you girls up for dinner.”

“Okay, good. Where’s Becky?”

“Backstage. I’m not sure where Jen is.” Jimmy observed. He held the door open for Christy.

“She’s back at the hotel. She said she wanted to sleep. Headache or something.”

“Okay. I’ll call her and check in just to be sure.”

“Can I do it? I’d like to speak to her… After dinner though, maybe.”

“She won’t be joining us for dinner?”

“I doubt it… Do you know when the boys will be done? I’d like to spend some time with Isaac before he goes onstage…”

Jimmy checked his watch. “They should be wrapping up the soundcheck any minute now.”

“Awesome.”

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Isaac walked off the stage after Taylor with a sigh. He grabbed a towel off the stack which was awaiting them backstage. He dried the sweat from his face and draped it around his neck.

“Oh, man. I’m starving.” Zac groaned, clutching his stomach.

“You’re always hungry.” Isaac laughed.

“Actually, this time, I’m with Zac on this one.” Taylor shrugged. “I feel like I haven’t eaten anything all day.”

Zac kicked open the door to the VIP room, making his presence known much more loudly than necessary.

“Hey girls-“ He stopped suddenly. “Oooh, pizza!” He was instantly diverted to the open box of pizza.

Isaac laughed and went to Christy’s side. He leaned over her and kissed her gently. “Enjoy the sound check?”

Christy smiled, putting down her small charcoal kit. “It would have been better if you guys didn’t fight so much.”

Isaac grinned and kissed her forehead. “Yeah, I know. We’re terrible for that. But at least it’s all in good fun… sort of.”

“Yeah, right. It you weren’t such a perfectionist we could do double the work in half the time.” Taylor observed, his mouth filled with pizza.

Isaac rolled his eyes. “Whatever Taylor. If you would quit worrying about what’s going on with your hair and whether or not your clothes compliment each other, we could do a concert everyday.”

Zac laughed and slapped Isaac’s hand in a high-five. “Good one!”

Taylor shrugged his shoulders and flopped into a chair. “At least my girlfriend doesn’t dress me.”

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After the radio interview and concert, Taylor was very much relieved to have a day off before the next concert.

While his brothers had gone off to spend the time with their respective girlfriends, Taylor returned to the hotel room he was sharing with Jenna.

He unlocked the door and found Jenna sitting alone in the dark room by the glow of the television.

He watched her from behind for several minutes. When she barely moved for quite some time, he assumed she was asleep.

“Jen?” He asked softly.

She turned slowly. “Hey, I didn’t hear you come in.”

“Sorry.” He smiled slightly. “What have you been up to?”
“I’ve just been watching a movie. How was the concert tonight?”

“It was great, actually.” He eased himself onto the sofa next to her. “A few of the lighting cues were off… but I think we played well and the crowd was really into it. How come you weren’t there?”

“I…” She paused briefly, searching for an excuse. “I had a headache, so I took a nap and an aspirin, and just laid low.” She folded her knees up to her chest and hugged them tightly. 

“Yeah? Are you feeling better now?”

She nodded. “Much better, actually.”

“Good.”

An awkward silence passed between them. Several moments passed.
”Well, I think I’ll go and shower, and get off to bed, then.” Taylor said, placing his hands on his thighs. He moved to stand.

“No, Tay. Stay.” She urged, placing her hand gently on his arm.

Taylor looked down at her hand, and slowly moved his gaze back to her face.

Jen-“ He began.

“No,” She spoke softly. “Don’t… Just…” She leaned forward and kissed him.

The kiss lasted a few seconds, and broke slowly.
Taylor quickly allowed his heart to take over and leaned forward to return her kiss eagerly.

Jen tangled her hands in his hair and pulled her body closer to his, kissing him deeply.

Taylor found himself devoid of any rational thought.  He leaned her backward, still holding her close, and expertly slipped her cardigan over her shoulders, leaving her in a thin tank top.

Her bare arms reached around him and slipped his t-shirt over his head.

His bare skin brushed hers, as their kisses became more urgent and passionate. 

“Jen.” He muttered between kisses.

“Come here,” She urged, getting to her feet and pulling him along with her. She led the way towards her bedroom, but halfway there, his arms circled her waist again, and pulled her closer, kissing her shoulder and throat. She pulled him willingly into her room, and together they fell onto the bed in a fit of kisses.

Taylor’s head suddenly cleared, and he realized what he was doing.

He broke the kiss with a heavy sigh.

“Tay? What is it?” Jen asked, brushing his blonde hair out of his eyes.

“We can’t do this.”

“Of course we can-“ She tried.

“No, Jen. You love Luke, and you belong with him. No matter what my feelings for you are, you deserve to be with the man who will make you the happiest. And that’s Luke.” He swallowed hard. “As much as it kills me to admit it.”

“But Tay-“

“We should keep this between us.” He muttered, pushing himself into a standing position, and sauntering quickly from the room. He slammed the bathroom door and immediately ran the shower.

Jen groaned and dropped back onto the bed in vexation.

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