He sighs heavily. “This isn’t ideal, Bren. You’re in the middle of recording an album. You walked out of your session yesterday. The label isn’t going to be happy.”
He’s right, bailing now wouldn’t be wise, but cutting an album doesn’t happen overnight either. It could be months in the making, especially when I’m forced to sing songs about bubble gum.
“I’ll work while I’m there,” I reiterate my earlier statement. “I’m just asking for a couple of months. I need to get some affairs in order.”
“Ah, shit, Bren. Did you knock a groupie up or something?”
His question gives me pause. The only possible person would be Natalie and the thought of her pregnant makes me smile, but if she was, I think she would tell me. “No, Vance. Nothing like that.”
He groans. “Do what you need, but don’t be surprised if the label throws a fit.”
“Thanks, man. I owe you.” I hang up and head for my closet to grab my suitcase. I’m pulling clothes off the hanger without paying attention to what I’m packing. Same with my socks and boxers, and this time, I make sure to have a couple sweatshirts. I pack my charger, laptop, notebooks of lyrics, and message my housekeeper, telling her I’m going to be gone for a bit and to make sure everything stays in working order at my apartment.
Instead of driving to the airport, I order a car and wait not so patiently outside for it to arrive. I know what I’m doing is right, it’s the best thing. I’m also leery my plan will backfire. When I come face to face with Natalie, she could tell me to go pound sand. Thing is, if she told me to go away, I would. I wouldn’t bother her with my life anymore because she deserves better.
I’m able to book a last-minute flight. As much as I would prefer to sit in first class where no one will bother me, I’m regulated to the last row of a very cramped airplane. Before I board, I put on a toque and pull the hood of my sweatshirt up over my head, hoping to give of a vibe that would keep people from talking to me.
At my seat, I stare out the window and keep my body angled away from the two people sitting next to me. There’s an older lady in the middle who’s unlikely to know who I am, same goes for the man sitting in the aisle seat. But the people around us, they’re young and could possibly recognize me. I want to remain incognito for as long as I can.
Once the flight is in the air, I pull my hat down and close my eyes. I’ve never been able to sleep on a plane, but if I can get an hour or something, I’ll be good. I’ll take anything at this point.
I startle and look around. There are a few people moving around the cabin and the flight attendants are walking the aisles, collecting garbage. I rub my hand over my face and clear my eyes. The pilot comes on and tell us we’re about to land. Six hours, that’s how long I was out, and I feel like I could sleep another ten.
As the plane touches down, my heart starts to race. I didn’t call my parents because I’m hoping Natalie wants me to stay with her. If not, I’ll tuck tail and head back to Los Angeles. The plane pulls up to the gate, and while I’m usually one of the first to deplane, this time it takes forever. I’m literally the last person.
When I get into the terminal, I head toward baggage claim where I know I can hail a cab. I walk with my head down and mumble an apology when I bump into someone. Before I head outside, I stop at one of the gift stores and buy a dozen roses.
Outside, the wind blows, forcing me to pull my jacket tighter around me. “Where to?”
“Mass General, emergency room.” I’m lucky in the sense she had already given me schedule for the week.
The cab driver speeds off and I feel like a weight has been lifted off me now that I’m back home. I never realized how much I loved this city until Natalie showed me what was missing. It wasn’t like we went out, but being with her, reminded me what I gave up when I moved to California.
Thankfully, traffic is minimal and before I know it, I’m standing outside the emergency room. I go in, take off my hat, and ask the woman at the desk where I can find Natalie. She points to the hall and tells me to stand over there and wait.
Waiting, I can do.
I get myself situated and pull out my phone. I can see my text message was delivered but she hasn’t responded. I call her, and her phone goes to voicemail. I call her again. And again. And by the fourth time, I’ve reached stalker level.