Chapter 8

Later that evening

        She was glad that Brandon, Mouse, and Jake had not come with her. She had never expected to see HIM again. They would have demanded answers. She didn’t have any. She tossed and turned restlessly. She was staying at the compound, where the rest of the guys stayed at the beginning of a new album. They were all out, at a club somewhere, she assumed. They had invited her along, and she had declined, claiming jet lag. JC had just looked at her, knowingly.

        She shuddered, and threw off the covers. She wrapped her long hair in a high ponytail, changed into a pair of Mouse’s boxers that she had stolen, and put on one of Jake’s muscle tee’s. She loved stealing their clothes. They never noticed they were gone, anyway. She wandered out into the hall, hoping she remembered the way to the kitchen. This place was huge, even larger than her mansion on the outskirts of New York City. She could get lost very easily. She turned a corner, and went down a flight of stairs. The kitchen was on the ground floor. She padded down another hall, until she recognized the familiar decoration of the kitchen. It was dark, and she didn’t bother to turn on the light.

        He didn’t know how long he had been sitting there, in the dark, sipping a glass of vodka on the rocks. He didn’t handle alcohol well, and he knew he would regret it in the morning, but he felt he was entitled. His ears perked up when he heard footsteps enter the kitchen, and the refrigerator light come on, illuminating the intruder. He sucked in a breath. Gray. His eyes roamed over her tiny frame, remembering how well they fit together when they danced, a long time ago. He took in the man’s tank top and short boxers. Must be Mouse’s boxers, and Jake’s tank top, he thought. Some things never change. He reached for his glass, and in his haste, knocked over the salt shaker.

        It clattered to the table, and she jumped. He sighed, and flipped on the light.

        “Jesus,” she gasped. “You scared me,” She looked flustered for a moment, but then it disappeared. She narrowed her eyes. “What are you doing?”

        He smirked at her and raised his glass. “Drinking. Would you like to join me?”


        He shrugged, the sardonic half smile never leaving his lips. “Because I’m legal. And so are you. Have a drink with me. Just like old times, hmm?”

        She glared at him. “No thanks. I don’t drink.”

        He smiled. “You did, though. Excessively.”

        “I don’t need you to remind me of past mistakes, Jo…JC.” She replied, as calmly as she could.

        He smirked. “No? Is that what I am?” She looked at him, and JC felt his false bravado slip away. Those eyes…

        “I don’t know.” She said.

        He stood up. “Bullshit.”

        He half expected her to back down. She didn’t.

        “No. It’s the most honest thing I’ve said to you since…”

        “If you say what I think you’re going to, you’ll regret it.” He said softly.

        He was dangerous in the light. She nodded. “Yes, I think I would. Goodnight, JC.”

        She turned and left the room, leaving him alone.

        He sighed again and fell back into his chair. He reached for his vodka and downed the rest of the glass. He reached for the bottle. He had a feeling he was going to need it.
Early the next morning

        “Wake UP!”

        The voice was right in his ear. He pried open one eye. Big mistake.

        “Owwww,” he moaned cowering under the blankets. The covers were yanked off.

        “JC! What is WRONG with you? You’re acting like you have a hangover or something.”

        Hangover. The bottle of vodka. Gray. Oh, shit. He sat up abruptly, ignoring the pounding ache in his head. “What time is it?”

        “We’re supposed to be at the studio by 8, Jace.” Lance said, eyeing the clock.

        JC looked. 7:50. “SHIT!” He jumped up and ran for the bathroom, holding his stomach.

        Lance watched him go, shaking his head. He had seen the empty bottle of vodka in the trash. JC hardly ever drank, especially alone. What was going on?

        Gray played with the end of her ponytail as she waited outside in the warm Orlando sun for the rest of the guys. Sunglasses hid her tired eyes. After her encounter with JC, she hadn’t gotten much sleep. According to Johnny, all they were doing today was finding a song that they all liked and wanted to sing. She rolled her eyes. They had planned all day for this. Surely it wouldn’t take that long. The sooner this little project was over with the sooner she could go back to New York and Mouse and Jake and Brandon. She missed them. She slung her backpack onto the ground and fished out her cell phone, hitting Mouse’s number on speed dial.

        “’Lo?” his groggy voice answered.

        “Glad to hear you weren’t too worried about me or anything…” she teased.

        “Gray!! You’re there!”

        She smiled. Good old Mouse. “I’ve been here, Mouse. I was…missing you guys and home, I guess.” She could hear Mouse’s pleased smile over the long distance phone line.

        “Babe, New York isn’t the same without you.”

        She smiled. “Make sure you guys check in on Annie every once in a while, alright? I’ll come visit soon.”

        “Sure, Gray. Looking forward to it. I’ll tell Jake and Brandon you said hi.”

        “Thanks, Mouse. I was planning on calling them a little later.”

        “Oh, I get it. You could wake me up at 3 in the morning, but not Jake or Brandon?”

        “Exactly. Talk to you later, Mouse. Bye.” She clicked her cell phone off. She frowned. She had forgotten to tell him about JC. Oh well. She wasn’t sure she wanted Mouse to know in the first place.

        A black car pulled up and Justin was tossed out of the backseat, clutching a box of Apple Jacks. An exasperated looking Joey, who was dusting his hands and snickering, followed him. No sooner than the door had opened, Chris tumbled out of the drivers seat.

        “Okay, I HAVE arrived. The party can begin.” He exclaimed, wandering over. He snatched Justin’s Apple Jacks, and Justin was on his feet.

        His blue eyes narrowed. “Give them back, or die.” He growled.

        Chris cackled. “He speaks!”

        Justin took a step forward. Chris stepped back.

        “Run fast, old man,” Justin seethed.

        Chris dropped the box and took off.

        Grinning happily, Justin reclaimed his cereal and shoved a dry fistful in his mouth. “Bliss,” he mumbled, in between sprays of crumbs.

        “Justin, that’s disgusting,” commented Joey.

        Justin just opened his mouth wider. Joey gagged and turned away.

        Gray couldn’t help but smile at their early morning antics, and she wondered where JC…and Lance were. The door flew open and JC raced out, dragging a smirking Lance behind him.

        “We’re here, let’s go,” JC ordered, skidding to a stop.

        “Finally,” Justin complained.

        “Oh, shut up. You guys just got here,” JC shot back.