I watch after Sydney as she goes to the bathroom and shuts the door behind her. What was she thinking? I know I shouldn’t be too mad, but when I woke up to a dark room and no Sydney at this time of night, I had a moment where I thought she had changed her mind about everything and left me. It was a horrible feeling, until I seen all her bags were still here, then an even worse feeling came over me that something might have happened to her. I’m still mad, but I’m relieved that she’s here and safe. Fucking Jake, I’d bet anything it was his idea to go late night exploring, and I’ll be sure to ask him about it tomorrow. But right now, I’m still dead tired, and now that Sydney is back, I might be able to get a little sleep. I crawl back into the bed and turn off the light.
About twenty minutes or so later, I hear the bathroom door open and then Sydney crawls under the covers with me. I feel her body against mine and her arm wraps around my waist. I sigh and turn around and face her, even though it’s pitch black in the room.
“I apologize that I got so angry. I was just scared,” I say softly.
“And I apologize that I went out after the gym. It was a stupid idea,” she whispers.
“Was it Jake’s idea?” I ask, needing to know for sure before I give him shit.
“Yeah. He just said that the lights at the bridge would be nice and that we wouldn’t have any time to see them tomorrow because we’re all leaving.”
“By bridge, do you mean…”
“The Golden Gate Bridge.”
“You went all the way there with him?”
“We took a cab.”
That asshole. I remember mentioning that I wanted to be the one to take her there.
“Sydney, if you wanted to see it, I would have taken you.”
“I know, but I wanted to see it at night.”
“And I would have taken you anytime you wanted to go.”
“Aren’t we leaving today though?”
“If you want to sight see, we could stay another day. Just because everyone else is leaving, doesn’t mean we have to.”
“Oh…I didn’t know that. Sorry.”
“It’s fine,” I say, growing increasingly irritated by Jake.
“Well if it helps, I would have much rather went with you,” she offers.
“Thanks Syd. I just wish you would have come up and told me you were planning to go. I know it doesn’t seem like a big deal, and it’s not even just the fact that you went with Jake, it’s that you don’t know this city and it could have been dangerous venturing out so late at night. If anything had happened, I wouldn’t have even known where you were.”
“Okay, I get it Conrad,” she replies, I can tell that she’d just like to drop the subject, but I can’t let her off too easy. “Um Conrad…” she then murmurs.
She pauses and I wait.
“So where were you planning on us going anyway?” she then asks me, but I feel like that wasn’t what she was going to say.
“It’s a surprise,” I answer, “but like I said, if you want to stay another day or two here.”
“No, I’m good. I just want to spend time with you, somewhere I can have you all to myself with no interruptions or drama.”
“That’s all I want too Syd, more than anything.”
“Okay,” she breathes.
I pull her closer to me and kiss her softly.
“Okay baby, this guy is in need of some sleep, so no more sneaking out tonight,” I half joke.
“I’m not going anywhere,” she assures me.
We sleep in until ten, order room service breakfast, then start packing our bags. Luckily I have some spare room in my bags since Sydney had more than she came with after her shopping trip. Just as we’re double checking that we have everything, there’s a knock on the door. I open the door to find Harrison, Kevin and Jake on the other side. Without a word, I swing it wide open, inviting them in. They all follow me into the living area. Sydney joins us and takes a seat on one of the lounge chairs
“We just wanted to say goodbye before we all went our separate ways,” Kevin tells me, taking a seat near Sydney.
Harrison and Jake linger awkwardly before finally taking a seat on the couch. The mood between us is still tense after our fight in the limo yesterday. I glance at Jake, who avoids my gaze, but I catch him stealing glances at Sydney.
“Thanks Kevin. When’s your flight?” I ask him.
“Not until five. How about you guys?”
“A few hours…” I murmur, trying to pay attention, but finding it difficult. Ah screw it. “Jake?” I address him and he finally looks up at me.
“Can you tell me why you didn’t answer your phone when I called you last night?” I ask him, trying to keep my voice casual, but I’m sure I fail.
“When?” he asks, feigning ignorance.
“Any time after midnight last night when you were out with Sydney,” I say. Harrison and Kevin both look at Jake at the same time, the same confused expressions on their faces.
“Oh…yeah my phone died,” he tells me.
“Yep,” he simply answers, which annoys the hell out of me. Then he glances at Sydney again. I turn to look at her and I catch her frowning in his direction. A weird feeling runs down my spine.
“You went out with Sydney last night? How’d that happen?” Harrison asks Jake, “when you left the restaurant you said you were going to bed.”
“I said I was going to the gym first,” Jake insists, but I see a flash of guilt in his eyes.
“Where’d you go?” Harrison then asks him, almost sounding suspicious himself.
“He took me to the Golden Gate Bridge to see the lights, and a walk afterwards,” Sydney tells him.
“Hey, didn’t Conrad say he was going to take her to the bridge?” Kevin cuts in. Thank you Kevin. I try and send him a telepathic high five.
“Must have slipped my mind. Damn, why is everyone giving me the third degree? So I hung out with Sydney, what’s the big deal? We’re all friends right? If Kevin had gone with her, would you care?” Jake asks, then turns to me at the end.
“Kevin wouldn’t take my girlfriend out with him in the middle of the night without checking to see if it’s cool with me first,” I answer, hoping it’s a correct assumption, “would you Kev?”
“Probably not…” Kevin says, but Jake cuts him off.
“What? So I’m the bad guy because I thought it might be nice for her to do a little sightseeing? She obviously thought it was okay since she agreed to come with me right?” Jake argues.
All eyes turn to Sydney then, including mine.
“I really didn’t think it was a big deal at the time,” she says, “but I realised afterwards that it probably wasn’t a good idea.” I watch as she frowns at Jake again who quickly averts his gaze away from her. Okay, now I know something is up, the question is, who’s going to tell me what that is?
“Why is that?” I ask her, but Harrison interrupts.
“Okay, okay,” Harrison groans loudly, “who the fuck cares? So they went out. Jake’s about as harmless as a fruit fly, so why do you care so much Conrad. He’s sorry, she’s sorry, can we drop it?”
“Fruit fly?” Jake mutters, clearly offended, “thanks man.”
“Just saying,” Harrison says, “it’s not like its a huge scandal or anything. What I want to talk about is a little more important than this crap. What I want to know is, when this break is over, do we still have our lead guitar, or do we need to start holding auditions?”
All eyes are on me now. On the spot, I’m not sure how to answer. It’s a huge decision, and part of me wonders if I should take a few more days or so to make my final decision.
“I still need to think about it,” I tell them.
“He needs to think about it,” Harrison repeats wryly, “Conrad, what is there to think about? We’re at the top of the game right now man, who in their right mind would quit at this point in their career? And we’re just about to drop another album too. Can’t you just wait until that one is finished? One more album, one more tour. That’s what, two years tops?”
“I know Harr, and that’s why I need some more time to think about it,” I tell him, “trust me, I don’t want to leave you guys high and dry or anything.”
“Don’t leave us man,” Kevin pleads with some over-acting by dropping to his knees on the floor at my feet, “not yet. Just give us this last hurrah before you run off into the sunset.”
I laugh at him, then so do the other guys. I think it helps dispel a little bit of the tension, if only for a moment.
That moment is gone when we hear a banging on the door.
“What now?” I mutter as I go to answer the door, and find Lyle on the other side.
“We need to talk,” he says, barging in past me. He stops when he sees everyone else. He turns and looks at me again, “in private.”
I nod once and gesture to the bedroom.
“What’s going on Lyle?” Harrison asks him.
“Nothing that concerns you just yet,” Lyle tells him as he heads to the bedroom. I follow him in and close the door behind us.
“What’s up Lyle?”
He’s pacing the room, flustered as always. He pulls out his phone and starts tapping the screen.
“Some interesting news has come to my attention,” he says, pausing for my reaction. I just gesture for him to continue. He holds his phone out to me, “you might want to have a look at this.”
I sigh and take the phone from him and take a look on the screen. It’s a photo. It’s slightly fuzzy, but as I zoom in, I can make it out perfectly. Blazing hot anger runs through me as I realize what the photo is. It’s Sydney and Jake, kissing in front of the hotel.
“Where did you get this?” I hiss, afraid to raise my voice any higher, otherwise I’ll lose my cool.
“It was sent to me anonymously,” he tells me.
“Uh huh,” I mutter, staring at the picture. So this is why Jake won’t look at me. How could Sydney not tell me this? I forward the picture to myself for later and hand Lyle his phone back.
“What are you going to do?” Lyle asks me, “and you were actually considering leaving the band for that girl when she’s running around behind your back with other band members?”
“Be careful what you say next Lyle,” I warn him, “there has to be an explanation for this, and I highly doubt this scenario was initiated by Sydney.”
“And how would you know that? This girl just came out of nowhere, and all of a sudden you announce that you want to leave? She’s going to ruin you!” he says.
“She didn’t come out of nowhere. I’ve been in love with her for five years, and I just got her back. I told her to come here with me, so don’t you dare blame her for anything,” I growl.
“Then you had better find out what the hell is going on.”
“Trust me Lyle, I will. But if I were you, I’d start looking for a new bass player too, because I’m about to kill the one you have now.”
“Don’t do something you’ll regret,” he warns me.
“Oh, I won’t,” I tell him, “just keep your mouth shut and let me handle this my own way.”
Lyle sighs in resignation as I open the bedroom door and walk out, and then he follows me out and heads straight to the mini bar to pour himself a drink. I stand behind the chair that Sydney is sitting in.
“Is everything okay?” Kevin asks me, concern evident on his face.
“I’m not sure,” I answer, “I have a bit of a problem that I’m not sure what I should do about.”
I place a hand on Sydney’s shoulder and she reaches up and places her hand on mine. I look down at the top of her head and I feel torn. I’m mad as hell at her for not telling me what happened, but I feel like there has to be a reason she didn’t. Deep down, I know in my heart that she wouldn’t lie to me, so why is she keeping this from me? I look over at Jake who is staring down at his phone. What’s his game here? Jake has never given me a reason not to trust him, so why is he trying to mess around with Sydney all of a sudden? I decide then to not tell him that I know just yet. However, I do need to talk to Sydney about it as soon as I can. I can’t let this plant any seeds of doubt between us when we are finally getting back on track.
“Conrad?” Kevin prods when I haven’t said anything, “your problem, what is it?”
“Oh it’s nothing really. I’ll figure it out soon enough. Don’t worry about it,” I say and force a smile on my face, but the look on Kevin’s face tells me that he knows I’m hiding something.
Harrison stands up then and stretches.
“Well as much fun as this wasn’t, Jake and I need to take off so we can catch our flight to Miami. Beaches and babes is what I’ll be doing for the next couple of days, then who knows where the tide will take us,” Harrison boasts, “see you soon, and Conrad, please reconsider in the meantime.”
“Okay Harrison,” I nod at him.
Jake stands up too and I see him look at Sydney again, then up at me.
“I guess we’ll see you in a few weeks,” Jake says.
“Mmm hmm,” I murmur, “see you soon.” Fucking prick.
He nods and follows Harrison out of the room. Once we hear the door shut, Kevin turns to me.
“What’s going on? I can tell something is up,” he asks, glancing between Lyle, Sydney and I. Sydney turns in her seat to look up at me and I remove my hand from her shoulder and she watches me as I walk over to the couch and have a seat across from her and Kevin. Damn Kevin, sometimes he can be so intuitive, but I don’t think Sydney would appreciate it if I called her out in front of him. Besides, I’m still wondering if she’ll offer up the information on her own. Lyle finally walks over to us then.
“I just had some logistical questions for Conrad in case he does decide to quit,” Lyle says, “I need to know if I need to start drawing up the legal paperwork and what have you.”
Kevin nods thoughtfully, and I glance at Lyle with a silent thank you nod.
“Come on man seriously, you can’t leave yet. I know you’re tired of all this, but we need you. We aren’t Un-Classic Heroes without you. I know we can always find another guitar player, but he won’t be you,” Kevin implores me.
“Maybe he’s right Conrad,” Sydney says, “maybe you shouldn’t leave the band right now.”
“It’s not like I’m one hundred percent decided yet,” I tell them, “I said I would think about it.”
“Just one more album at least,” Kevin adds, “we can call it your farewell album. Then do what you gotta do. That would give us more time to figure out a new guitar player.”
I look to Lyle who is nodding at Kevin.
“Not to mention that it’s in your contract to do one more album. If you do it then afterwards you’re free to do whatever you want without the legal hassles,” Lyle explains.
Then I look to Sydney. She’s nodding along to what Lyle is saying, but I can see in her eyes that she’s not entirely happy about it.
“Anyway, I need to be going now,” Lyle says to us, “have a good break Conrad. You’ve got some serious thinking to do in the next few weeks.”
With that, Lyle is out the door. I quickly call the front desk for someone to come get our bags.
As we wait, I wander over to Sydney, who is staring out the window, seemingly deep in thought.
“Something on your mind love?” I ask her gently, wrapping my arms around her waist and resting my chin on her head.
“I think you need to stay with the band a while longer Conrad,” she says quietly, still staring outside.
“And what will that mean for us?” I ask.
“It won’t change anything between us. It just means that we’d have to do the long distance thing for a little while longer. I can wait, I was prepared to do it before. The question is, can you?”
I turn her around in my arms and look her square in the eyes.
“Sydney, I told you that I’m not leaving you ever again. Don’t you believe me?”
“I do believe you, but I believed you before too. It’s hard not to feel nervous about it.”
“I understand that Syd, but please don’t be nervous. And I know you said you’d wait, but I’m not sure I can anymore. I want to be with you now, not later. I don’t want to have to wait months between seeing you. I want to be with you every night.”
She smiles up at me, her eyes shining.
“I want that too,” she whispers, “but we can’t be selfish here. Maybe there’s a way we can do both?”
“And how do you suppose we do that?” I ask curiously. I know what I’ve thought about, but I can’t bring myself to ask her to do that for me.
“Well…I could postpone getting a job and come with you,” she says, sounding almost afraid of my answer. But is she afraid because she thinks I’ll say no, or is she afraid I’ll say yes?
“You would do that for me?” I ask her carefully.
“I would. I would do anything for you Conrad,” she states seriously, looking at me like I should know better.
“But what if you hate it? Being on the road all the time, staying in hotel rooms, being swarmed by fans, bossed around by people like Lyle. The list goes on.”
“As long as I’m with you, I’d gladly do all of it. But would you want me there? I feel like I’d be in the way or something.”
“Sydney, you would never be in the way, and anyone who thought so could go straight to hell. But I’m also worried about you putting off your career for me. I don’t want you to resent me for it.”
“Why would I resent you? I couldn’t. I’d be doing what not too many people have the opportunity to do. I’d get to travel around with a famous rock band, and see and do crazy and fun things with the person I love the most. I’m young, I have all the time in the world to worry about work. Maybe now is the time to play,” she explains, sounding sure and even excited about the prospect.
I can feel a stupid grin begin to stretch across my face. God damn it how I wish I had this conversation with her years ago. Mind you, that was college and I still wouldn’t have wanted her to postpone going, but if I had known how much she was willing to do to stay with me, maybe I could have afforded her the same thing instead of doing what I did to her.
“Well then, that gives me something to think about,” I tell her.
“I can’t be the reason you quit. I want to be the reason you succeed,” she adds, “I don’t want anyone to think that I’m holding you back.”
“I don’t care what anyone thinks.”
There’s a loud knock on the door then. I answer the door and its the bellboy to collect our bags. He loads them up and leaves.
“Hey Sydney,” I say to her as we get ready to leave the room. I want to ask her about Jake, but I don’t know if now is the right time. It’s killing me, knowing that his lips were on hers and I want to know why. What happened between them that made him think he could do that? Did she kiss him back?
“Yes Conrad?” she smiles so sweetly at me. I can see by the way she looks at me that she loves me, and me only. My resolve is gone.
“You’re sure you have everything?” I ask instead.
We leave the room, head down to the lobby and check out, then we’re loaded into an awaiting town car headed for the airport. I will find out what happened soon enough. I just hope it’s sooner than later.