“I can’t believe we already have to go back tomorrow. I feel like this last week flew by way to quick” I say to Sydney as we lounge in bed, neither of us in a hurry to start the day after yet another late night of shenanigans with Desiree and Ivan.
“Yeah, I know,” she sighs, “ I don’t want it to be over either. I’ve really loved having this time away with you. Real world be damned.”
“So, have you made a final decision about what you’re going to do?” I ask her, referring to whether or not she’d actually want to tour with the band until my contract is up.
“Have you?” She counters, “does this mean you’ve decided to stay with the band?”
“I just think that I should honor the commitment I made to them. I signed up for this, so I should follow through with it at least for this last album, but then after that, I think I’m done for good.”
“And it’s only for another year or two right?”
“That’s about it. Having this time off to spend with you, really helped me gain some new perspective. I was so burnt out, but having you with me feels like a breath of life has returned to me. I feel like as long as I’m with you, I can take anything.”
Sydney smiles brightly at me, and I kiss the tip of her nose.
“Then I definitely have made my decision,” she says, “If my being with you truly helps you, then I want to be there for you. Like I said before, it could be really fun, like an adventure. How are the guys going to react though?”
“I don’t give a shit what they think…but I think that they’ll be happy about it if it means I’m staying in the band for a while longer,” I pause and pull Sydney even closer, “You know what I’m not looking forward to though?”
“Talking to Jake about his ill-advised move on you. I still need to know what the fuck he was thinking when he did that.”
“I’d like to know the answer to that question as well actually,” she says, a frown forming on her face, “it was so confusing, I never in a million years thought that he’d get the impression that I wanted him to do that, I just thought that we were just becoming friends or something.”
“Knowing you, I feel like he would have known that too…which makes me wonder if there was something else at play there.”
Sydney sits up and turns to face me then, her brows furrowed.
“What do you mean?”
“Well, I’ve been giving it some thought, and the fact that somehow someone was conveniently able to snap a photo of him kissing you, and the fact that his phone died, etcetera…just too many things start to make it seem like something fishy is going on,” I explain, finally voicing my suspicions.
“You think I was set up?”
“Maybe, but I’m not sure it was you they were setting up, or if something more than that. I don’t know but I’m going to get to the bottom of it I hope.”
Sydney is quiet for a moment as she mulls over what I’ve just told her, when there’s a knock on the door.
“Cover up, I’m coming in,” Desiree hollers through the door before barging in. Luckily, Sydney is wearing one of my t-shirts and I have my underwear on. The boundaries within this villa had disappeared, it seemed, the night we all skinny dipped in the pool. That was about as far as I was willing to take it though.
“Hey Des,” I greet her, “what’s up?”
“You guys are wasting the day away, and we leave tomorrow. We should all be outside enjoying the sunshine, so come on, up and at em.”
The following evening, we land back on US soil. I decide to stay with Sydney at her place for the next couple of days while I get my shit in order. I have to call the guys and Lyle, meet with them to tell them I’m staying with the band until my contract is up, but that Sydney will be accompanying me for the foreseeable future. We take a cab to her apartment, both of us tired from the long flight. When we enter her apartment, Sydney turns on the lights then stops dead in her tracks.
“Wait,” she whispers to me, “something’s not right.”
The hairs on the back of my neck stand up, and I instantly pull her back so that she’s under my arm.
“What’s wrong?” I ask her, my eyes searching the room. Nothing immediately jumps out at me.
“Look,” she murmurs, pointing to a vase of roses on her table.
The long flight must be affecting my brain because the significance of some flowers doesn’t register.
“I’ve been gone for just over two weeks, Conrad. For one, I don’t think flowers last that long, and two, they most certainly weren’t there when I left.”
“I guess that means this wasn’t you?” she asks and I shake my head.
“No, and I don’t think the delivery guys would have a key to your apartment.”
“Which only means one thing. Dane was here.”
“He has a key to your apartment?” I ask, raising my eyebrows. I realise that they may have been more serious than I thought they were. Still, that doesn’t matter now, she’s one hundred percent with me now. I need to focus on the fact that Dane was in Sydney’s apartment while she was gone, uninvited and up to god knows what.
“I gave it to him in case of an emergency. I totally forgot he had it.”
“So why would he come back here after you dumped him. It wasn’t exactly on good terms if I remember.”
“Oh, it wasn’t, not on his side anyway,” she replies, walking towards the flowers, with me close behind her.
I watch as she finds a card in the quite large bouquet of blood red roses. My eyes continue to scan the room, my senses on high alert now.
“We’re getting that lock changed immediately,” I murmur, “what does the card say?”
Sydney opens the card and reads the card to herself. I watch her eyes go wide with what I can only assume is fear or shock.
“What does it say?” I ask her again, and she just hands it to me. I take the card from her and before I read it, I watch as Sydney scoops the vase off her table and throws the entire thing, flowers and all into the trash. I read the card then.
So once again, here I am, the fool who allowed you to break my heart. I love you, and yet, you still don’t care. I know it’s because of him, It’s always him.
But what if there wasn’t a Him anymore? Then what? Could we be together then? I think that I’d like to find out. We belong together you and I, whether you want to admit that or not. It’s our destiny.
This won’t be the end, I will not just go away this time, I can promise you that.
I read the card over and over again.
“What the…” I mutter.
“It sounds like a threat, Conrad, to you,” Sydney murmurs, her voice shaky. I look up at her and her eyes are wide like saucers.
“I uh…I agree with you, it does,” I tell her, “but I’m not worried. What is he going to do? I’d bet this is just a scare tactic to try and scare me off, but it’s not going to work. Besides, in a few days we’ll both be gone and he will have no way of knowing where we are, and even if he did, I can just increase security.”
Sydney takes a deep breath and lets it out slowly.
“I guess you’re right, but I still don’t like it. He just seemed so different you know? I thought he was done acting all crazy.”
“Sydney, you know how I feel about him. I never trusted him around you, I always had a bad feeling about him right from the get go. This just makes me angrier…”
“Angry, at me?”
“No, at myself for leaving you and leaving you vulnerable for him all over again. I thought he was out of the picture for good, but I was wrong.”
“It’s not your fault. He was gone for a really long time until just recently. I shouldn’t have even gone down that road with him, whether he seemed different or not, I should have known it would be a bad idea.”
I tuck the card into my back pocket then, and Sydney tilts her head in question.
“I’m keeping this evidence,” I tell her, “ I think that we should stay in a hotel tonight.”
“No, I want to stay here,” she says, shaking her head, “We’ll chain the door. I doubt he’ll be back tonight.”
“Okay, but like I said, we’re having the lock changed on your door bright and early. I’m even more relieved that you’ll be coming with me. There’s no way in hell I’d leave you alone here now.”
The next morning, I make some calls. First call is to a lock smith to come have Sydney’s locks changed and install a new security system as soon as possible, even though it’s Sunday, when I told them I would pay generously they were more than willing to oblige. Second, to Lyle to let him know that we were back and that I wanted to have a meeting with him soon. When I’m finished, I find Sydney in her kitchen, scowling into her fridge.
“What’s wrong?” I ask her.
“I have nothing to make for breakfast, and anything I did have went bad while I was away,” she explains, shutting the fridge door and then opening a cupboard.
“So we’ll go out for breakfast, then we can grab a few groceries to last us a few days. Lyle won’t be back in New York until Wednesday, and the lock guys won’t be here until three,” I tell her.
Sydney nods and closes the cupboard.
“After you have your meeting with Lyle, what’s next?”
“Well, the whole band is supposed to be back in New York City by Wednesday, so we’ll leave here Tuesday night. There’s a few meetings there, then it’s off to LA on Friday for awhile while we begin recording the new album. It’s going to be pretty busy.”
“So I need to have everything I need ready and organized by Tuesday?” Sydney confirms.
“Yes. Let anyone you need to, know that you are going to be gone for a few months at least,” I say, then I look around her apartment, “you know, maybe you should consider moving out of here. You won’t be here for a while, and if I have it my way, you won’t be coming back to it when it’s over.”
“But all my stuff…” she gestures around her, what would I do with it on such short notice?”
“Secure storage unit. It’d cost a lot less than what you pay on rent, and you don’t need to worry about asshole ex boyfriends breaking into it.”
I don’t add that I wouldn’t let her pay for it anyway. If she says yes, I’ll have this done by Tuesday morning. I watch as Sydney contemplates my suggestion. She sighs loudly.
“I love this little space. It’s not much, but it’s me,” she starts, and I think I’m going to need to try harder to convince her, “but I think you are right. Why have everything just sitting here if I’m not even going to be here, and I’d feel better if I knew my things were safe and sound, and I don’t have to worry about rent or anything else for a while. Who knows how long we’ll be gone for.”
I can’t help but feel triumphant, she’s on board.
“My feelings exactly,” I tell her reaching for my phone and finding the numbers I need to make it all happen.
Sydney and I go out for breakfast, meanwhile I’m still on my phone working out the details. I hate being on the phone so much while we’re out, but Sydney happily eats her waffles as I arrange for a moving company to come pack up her apartment tomorrow. I found a reputable storage company in Mayfair so that if she were to need something, her parents could access it for her, or Sydney could whenever we went home to visit her family. Sydney called her mom and let her know what was happening, much to her mothers surprise, and luckily support. We couldn’t just have her take off with me and not let her loved ones know what was going on. I draw a deep breath of relief after the final call to her landlord, who agreed to let her out of her lease at a cost of double three months rent, the dick! Oh well, it’s finished. She is free as a bird now, nothing to hold her back.
“It’s done,” I tell Sydney, who smiles at me through her mouthful. Adorably, she’s got whipped cream on her chin and I reach over and swipe it off with my thumb, “you’re all mine now,” I add, sucking the cream off my thumb.
“Always have been,” she counters, “but thank you Conrad. That was a lot of negotiating by the sound of it.”
“Nothing a few dollars won’t fix,” I shrug.
“I will pay for the storage,” she offers.
“No you won’t,” I shake my head, “I told you, I plan on taking care of you now, and when I have time, we’re going to find our dream house and move all of your things into it. You’re stuck with me now Miss Chase.”
“You want us to move in together?” she sighs with a dreamy expression on her face.
“Duh!” I smirk at her and laugh, “don’t act like you didn’t know that.”
“I guess I did, but it’s still a dream to hear you say it.”
“I’m just glad I have the honor of being able to say it. If I hadn’t let Kevin convince me to stop being such an idiot, then somebody else might have.”
“If you’re referring to Dane, anything like that was a very, very long way off. I guess I always held back because there was always a part of me that hoped you would come back to me, and that part of me was pretty smug when she got her wish.”
“I got my wish when you forgave me Syd.”
“Of course I forgave you Conrad. I was a goner for you after the first time you kissed me.”
“Well from now on, I’ll be the only one kissing you.”
“Fine by me, just tell everyone else that okay? Speaking of one of our issues, what’s going to happen with you and Jake? I hope you guys can work it out. Maybe he didn’t really want me, maybe he’s just…lonely.”
“You are far too forgiving sometimes Syd, but yeah I hope we can work it out with too much drama. I’ll get to the bottom of it in hopefully a civil manner, but I’m still pretty pissed off that he had the audacity to kiss you. Whatever happens though, either way, he won’t be in a room alone with you anytime soon.”
“Agreed. Okay now, can we just finish our breakfast now and stop worrying about who else is out to get us?” Sydney says with a giggle.
I know her laughter is to hide her worry about the situations that surround us. I really look forward to the day when she and I no longer have to worry about ‘who’s out to get us’ and just be happy, when life can just be simple.