Isla ambushed me the minute I walked back through the door. She pulled me into a hug. “You're leaving the Going Nowhere tour.” She murmured. Her face showed a mere shadow of the happiness it had an hour beforehand.. Guilt rushed through me again, it was my fault.
“Yes, sorry. I know I should have said something, but I was kind of pretending it wasn't happening.”
Isla pulled back and smiled, but her eyes were sullen. “I understand, I'm going to miss you is all.”
I willed the tears that were threatening to surface away. It was Christmas and I wasn't going to cry in front of everyone. “I'm going to miss you too. But we'll both have breaks, and I'll be visit Xavier or vice versa. We'll see each other.”
“What are we? 6?” I smiled.
“Just humor me.”
I held up my pinky and connected it with hers. She smiled and wrapped her arms around me.
Once I'd explained everything to my parents, and the rest of the patchwork family Christmas day continued unaffected. For 24 hours we all pretended that I wasn't leaving the Going Nowhere tour in three weeks.
The thing about pretending is, it's only a matter of time before the facade ends, before something or someone comes along and reveals the cracks.
For me, it came in the form of my replacement. She revealed every insecurity I never knew I had. She was everything I'm not. Tall, blond, perfect body, and a face so beautiful I couldn't help back gaze at her in wonder. Only a few days after Christmas DJ had her flown over from the states.
“I thought we'd bring her along, you guys have your Auckland concert in a couple of days, and I thought we could let her watch how it works from the side of stage.”
I frowned. I knew I was jealous, and I knew it was unreasonable. Xavier loved me. But it didn't stop the green eyed monster from raging.
“Arabelle.” She murmured, shoving her hand out in front of Xavier first. She batted her eyelids at him. “I'm a big fan by the way, I saw your first concert in New York a few years back. You're fiery passion was what drove me to make music.”
Xavier smiled and put his hand in hers. “That's great.” He replied. “Uh, this is my fiancé Scarlett and these are the rest of the guys, Jay, Doc, Cris and Jace.”
Arabelle gazed over the other guys then finally her eyes settled on me. She was still shaking Xavier’s hand, and it had gone about 10 seconds longer than normal. She scowled and pulled her hand from Xavier’s finally.
“Fiancé?” she replied dryly. “What a lucky girl.”
I looked at Xavier who was grinning. I could almost see his ego inflating before me.
“Excuse me. I need to go check my gag reflex.” I replied monotonously.
I heard Jace laugh from behind me as I walked from the room. I knew it was him because we'd used that line for years. It was what we said when someone was clearly ass kissing. Well Arabelle was ass kissing so much her nose was brown.
I, for one wasn't going to stick around and listen to it.
I escaped to the hotel bedroom. It was sunny out, and the beach was inviting me for a swim. I undressed and put on my swimsuit then left the room through the balcony door.
Strictly speaking, leaving the hotel without adequate support was a no no. But with Arabelle around, no one was going to take any notice of my absence.
I walked across the road and let the golden sand move between my feet. The summery heat bounced off my skin and warmed me up. I walked until my feet touched the hard wet sand and waited for the inevitable rush of salty sea water.
Here I was just Scarlett. No one on the beach bothered me, and unlike most of the other places we had been to so far, cameras weren't hunting me down. Maybe one day I'd talk Xavier into living here.
After a few minutes, I walked back to the hotel and my thoughts about the break going unnoticed proved incorrect, because as soon as I walked into the room. Xavier looked at me. He looked semi frustrated, Yet somehow semi aroused.
“It's hard to be angry with you when you're wearing so little you know.” He whispered.
“You're a hot mess Xavier.” I laughed.
“You're supposed to leave with security.” His smiled fell and his eyes darkened.
“Xavier. This place is like a world of its own. I was 1 minute away, and I was fine.”
“This time.” He warned.
“I needed time out.”
I laughed and chucked my towel on the chair beside the bed. “I leave in three weeks. I'm going to miss you.”
Xavier softened and walked across the floor. He took me in his arms and kissed the curve of my neck gently. “Is that it huh?”
“And Arabelle is a bit flirty.” I groaned.
Xavier pulled me in tighter. “Arabelle isn't you. But I like Jealous Scarlett. She's feisty.”
“I'm always feisty.” I retorted, it was a trait that he himself brought out in me, and he knew it.
“I know. I like it.” He murmured then pulled on the string of my bikini. “Almost as much as I like this string bikini.”
He pulled the flimsy material from my body and tossed it to the side. “You don't need to be worried. Or jealous. You have my heart.”
“I'm not jealous.”
“Mm hmm” He said with a disbelieving look. He bent down and pressed his lips to the apex of my left breast, slowly, seductively he moved to the right, trailing kisses across.
“I'm sad I have to go, and jealous of anyone that gets to see you more than I will. That makes me jealous of thousands of people.”
Xavier lifted his head and looked me in the eye. “Don't go then.”
I sighed, if it wasn't my opportunity to break into the market on my own then I would have almost been tempted to throw the contract I had signed down the drain. Being thousands of miles from Xavier wasn't my idea of a dream come true. I had tried it once, and the memory still hurt.
“You know it isn't that simple.”
“I know.” He kissed me, then spoke with his lips still grazing mine. “So let's forget you're leaving, least for now.”
He didn't give me a moment to answer or agree as his lips crashed down upon mine once more. His hands cupped my ass, and with a little force he pulled me in closer to him. I arched my back slightly, which put a little distance between us. Xavier groaned in disapproval. his hands moved up my bare back and pulled me into him until I was flush against his chest.
“I need you as close as I can get you.”
I nodded and wrapped my arms around his neck.
“I’m all yours”
“Good.” he murmured, as his mouth grazed my lips.
It may have taken us 23 years to find out just how perfect we fit together, but we had learned to more than make up for it. His fingers knew just how to hold me, how to move along my skin. He knew my body, heart and my spirit and I knew his. People aren’t possessions, but he belonged to me, and I belonged to him.
I fell into his kiss, letting it sweep me away from everything we were facing. My mind was cleared of everything but the way I felt in his arms. gently he lifted me and walked toward the bed. He placed me down, and gravity had us fall on to the bed together. Xavier didn’t waste any time, He hovered above me for a second, kissing me like his life depended on it.
“You make me feel alive.” He whispered as he pulled back.
“I know what you mean.” I responded breathlessly. Before Xavier had returned, before I had truly experienced love, my life was just a series of calculated decisions. I never took chances, I never stepped out of the shadows, I never let myself be who I really was. Now everything was different.
Xavier moved down the bed, hooking my bikini bottoms with his fingers. Gently he tugged them down, until I was laying naked in front of him,
“Do you ever get enough?” I giggled, a blush crossed my face but I embraced it.
“Never.” He grinned as he pulled his shirt over his head. he threw it at me, then hovered over me once more, his lips pressed against my stomach, and then my hip, slowly he made his way down, over my thigh, until finally he stopped at my center. I let out a muffled moan, which only spurred him on. I heard him murmur “Don’t hold back.” so I listened and let go.
He had me like putty beneath him, in that moment I would have done anything and everything for him and he knew it. When I moaned softly, so did he. I looked down at him, and our eyes met. It was all I needed and then I fell apart. My world rocked hard and fast, leaving me shuddering and shaking in the afterglow as he lifted himself on to the bed. He lay back, ready to rest, but I wasn’t having that. I needed to repay his favor, more than I needed oxygen. I took him in my mouth, surprising him, he jolted but only slightly and then relaxed, placing his hand on my back.
His heady scent filled my nostrils as I ran my tongue along his length.
“Scarlett.” he managed to whispered, his voice was tight. His fingers gripped my back, and then with thrust the warm liquid filled my mouth. Xavier let out a moan and pulled me up on to his chest at the same time. For a few minutes we just lay naked together without saying a single word.
“We're going to have to get creative.” I said finally.
“We're going to be apart weeks at a time. I have needs you know.” I laughed.
Xavier laughed as well, then wrapped his arms tightly around me.
“We've got the phones that DJ gave us.”
“They're video call capable.” He murmured, the sexual undertones were not lost on me. I let out a shy giggle then sat up.
“Hey! You knew what I mean. What does that say about your mind huh?”
Xavier and I spent the rest of the afternoon in bed. We met the others in the hotel restaurant for dinner around 6pm. Mom and dad were heading home in the morning, and we'd arranged a big get together to say good bye.
Dad stood up and raised his glass.
“It's been a lovely Christmas down here, and we've loved every moment. I'm looking forward to sending my scouts out here to scour the place for talent.” He looked down at me. “But I can't lie. I'm glad my youngest daughter will be back in the US within 3 weeks however.”
Xavier squeezed my hand. Dad continued speaking about family and how important it was. Over the past 6 months, going nowhere had become an extra addition to mine. Leaving them behind wasn't going to be easy. I didn’t eat much. My mind was far too distracted with thoughts of Xavier and leaving.
After dessert was served, I went to the hotel bar and ordered a drink. Arabelle moved beside me. She looked at the bartender, smiling. She had him in the palm of her hands, her beauty had confounded him the moment he had seen her. I could see it in his eyes.
“I'll have what she’s having.” She murmured to the enamored man. She turned to look at me, a smirk on her almost perfect face. I couldn’t help but dissect her words. Had that been a warning… Did she want Xavier?
“I really envy you.” She murmured, breaking me from my thoughts.
“Uh... thanks.” I replied confused.
“Don't worry, I'll take really good care of the boys while you're away.” She smiled, but it wasn’t genuine, I could sense it with everything inside of me. Something about her wasn’t right.
I grimaced. “I think they'll be fine” I replied with hesitance.
“6 months is a long time though. I don't think I could leave my fiancé for that long... You know if I had one.”
I shrugged and paid the barman for both drinks, then turned to face Arabelle. “Xavier and I have a strong relationship. We've been through far too much to let a little distance come between us.”
Arabelle smirked and picked up one of the glasses. “Famous last words.” She laughed, although her smile faded and she raised her eyebrows. “Thanks for the drink.”
I watched as she sauntered away, unable to shake the sinking feeling in my gut. That girl was bad news.
When day of our Auckland concert came it suddenly hit me that this would be my second to last concert with the guys. We were flying over to Australia in a few days, and then I was due to leave before the guys moved through Australia. The thought made me feel more than a little emotional. This crazy madness had become my life, and changing it up suddenly was going to take some getting used too.
“I don't know how I'm going to feel not opening for the band.” I murmured to Jace as he sat with the hair and makeup girl. “I mean, it's been my life... my security blanket for 6 months. I don't know if I'm ready to go out on my own.”
“Scarlett, you've been ready since the very first show.” He replied. “We all know it.”
I shrugged and looked over at Xavier. My heart twitched. Us being apart didn't work, it never had. Our entire lives we'd stayed away from one another, living half-lives because we didn't know how it could be if we lived in unison. Now I knew how good it was, willingly leaving him, even if it was only temporary scared the hell out of me.
Jace stood up from the hair and makeup chair. He placed a hand on my shoulder.
“I'll keep an eye on him okay.” He murmured. “This is different than last time.”
I nodded and looked back at Jace. “It’s not him I’m worried about Jace.” I murmured.
Jace nodded knowingly, his gaze tracked over to Arabelle who sat by the boys.
By show time my fears of leaving were replaced with the familiar fear of stepping out on to the stage. Even after 6 months of opening Going Nowhere concerts, every show both excited and scared me to death. Performing for the stadiums filled to the brim of screaming fans was no easier than it had been the first time, the pay off, the rush of adrenalin had only increased. The stage was my drug.
“You know, when this tour started, they were chanting the band’s name.” Xavier murmured, his arms wrapped around my waist and he rest his head on my shoulder. “But listen baby.”
I closed my eyes and let the chanting filter through my mind. They were calling my name. I hadn't even released a single yet. I was still relatively unknown in the music world, but in this bubble, in the Going Nowhere world, I was something special.
“You've got the world at your fingertips babe.” He whispered.
“I don't need the world.” I whispered. “I just need you.” I turned around and kissed him softly on the lips. They were warm and inviting, begging me in to get lost in him, begging me to forget about the world.
Doc brushed past us and scoffed. “Get a room you two!” He laughed. “After the show though, you're on in like a minute Scar.”
Xavier pulled away slightly then pressed his soft lips to my nose. “You'd better go show the new girl what it takes to rock the stage.” He murmured.
“Oh I don't know. She looks like she thinks she knows what it takes.” I laughed.
“Thinks she knows... Baby, she has no idea.” he replied raising an eyebrow.
I smiled and nodded then turned and walked up the metal staircase. The arena exploded as I walked across the stage. The crowd was alive with movement. I pulled the mic from the stand and waved awkwardly at the audience.
“You guys are the second to last to see me perform with Going Nowhere.” I said into the mic, my voice boomed around the arena, bouncing off the walls until it flew back at me like a freight train of truth. The emotion in my throat surprised me. The audience let out united ‘Awww’
I smiled and shrugged. This was harder than I had expected, I swallowed down a reluctant to leave ball of emotion and opened my mouth to speak once more. “Truth is, the last six months have opened so many doors for me and it's because of you guys that I have these opportunities. So with any luck I'll be back here again, and who knows. Maybe Going Nowhere will be the ones opening for me.”
The audience began cheering again, so loud I could barely hear myself think. I smiled and looked to the side of the stage. Xavier stood there shaking his head with a goofy grin on his face.
“This song is for Vax.”
“I woke up last night, your skin was warm against mine.
Peaceful sleeping, memories seeping, will it last when the daylight comes?
Someone told me true love is blind,
Well then my love is so true, I was blinded by the sun.
When I'm gone, close your eyes
I'll come back again, back again
When I'm gone, don't say goodbye
I'll come back again, back again.”
I was supposed to stick to my set list, but the melody I had written the day I'd found out I was leaving the tour had been swirling through my mind all day. I needed to sing it, for him, and for me.
My back up band didn't know the song, so it was just me, standing there, with Xavier’s black guitar singing softly.
When I sang the last line, the emotion finally overcame me and I had to turn around for a second. The audience didn't realize. They were too busy cheering.
I signaled the band and they started my set.
After my last song finished I left the stage and walked down the steps. Xavier kissed me quickly as he walked passed but I knew he couldn’t stop, it was their turn now. Isla walked over and placed her arm around my shoulder. “You never cease to amaze Miss Jackson.”
Before I had a chance to reply, Arabelle walked over to us. “You were really great” She murmured. “But, one show with me and they'll forget you were ever here.”
She turned on her heel and walked up the steps, stopping on the last run to watch the guys from the side of the stage. Isla let out a hissing sound. “Meeeow” She whispered. “I knew that girl was bad news.”
“I'm not scared of her.” I replied, although, part of me wasn't actually sure I believed myself. She was gorgeous and clearly talented if DJ had brought her in to replace me. Maybe she was a threat.
“You shouldn't be. Besides, like your song said. True love is blind, and hon, your man is blind to anyone but you.”
I laughed and nudged her in the side. Her moments of cheesiness always came at the right time.
When the boys walked off stage after the show had ended Arabelle threw her arms around Jay and Xavier. I bit back at the jealousy rising and smiled.
“We should go have a few drinks, I'd love to pick your brain about music. Your lyrics are revolutionary.” She oozed sex appeal as she spoke directly to my fiancé. She looked at me and smirked as she leaned her head on Xavier’s shoulder. Xavier looked at me though, his eyes bright, his smile wide, and wriggled from Arabelle's grip.
“Not tonight.” He murmured as he held his hand out for me. “I'm taking my girl on a date.”
I smiled and stood up. I heard Isla let out an amused laugh as Arabelle sort of fell back into the background, into nothing.
We walked through the corridors, leaving the arena through a back door. “Where are you taking me?”
“I told you, on a date.”
“Xav... it's like 11pm.”
We walked to a car that was sitting there waiting. Xavier held the door open for me then climbed in beside me. “Thunderbirds are go.” He said patting the front seat twice.
“Why are you being so cryptic?”
Xavier sat back and put his seatbelt on. “Put your seatbelt on and just relax.”
I did, and the car began moving. It was a clear night, warm and balmy. We drove until the lights of the city were behind us, replaced by the soft glow of the moonlight. Finally we stopped.
“Are we going for a midnight swim?” I laughed.
“We can, if you want.”
I hopped out of the car and looked out at the glistening water. “I didn't bring my swimsuit, and I'm not skinny dipping. It would have been nice though.”
“Mmm, skinny dipping.” He groaned walking around the car until he stood right in front of me. “I could have been interested in that.”
“You would be!”
Xavier let out a chuckle then grabbed me by the hand.
“Merry Christmas.” He whispered turning me to face a house. I stood there confused. The house was beautiful, modern, and new. There was a for sale sign on the outside and a bright red sold sticker across it.
“It's a house.”
“Our house.” He replied.
“I don't understand.” I mumbled. “When did you find the time to buy a house?”
“When did I find the time to plan a proposal and bring everyone over here? I have my ways.”
I rest my head on Xavier's shoulder. “It's beautiful.”
“We don't have to live here, I thought maybe it could be a holiday house. For when we need a break.”
I nodded, a tear rolled down my cheek and hit Xavier's shirt. “I want to live here.”
I felt him move. “Really?”
“When the tours are all over, I want to come back and live here for a least a year.” I said softly, my voice clouded by emotion still stuck in my throat. “With you.”
“I'd like that too.” he paused for a moment then chuckled softly. “Your father is going to hate me.”
Xavier pulled me across the road, up the drive and up the porch steps. Suddenly we stood in front of the door. In front of our door.
Xavier pulled a set of keys from his pocket and placed on inside the keyhole. He opened the door and ushered me inside.
I gasped in shock, the place was already fully furnished. The walls in the entranceway adorned with pictures of Xavier and I. Including the one of us in the sheet hammock. I blushed and walked across to it. My fingertips ran along the outline of us.
“I love that you know me so well.” I whispered. “This is perfect.”
Xavier wrapped his arms around my waist. “So you like it?” I turned to face him.
“I love it.”
We were forever and neither Jealousy nor Arabelle could touch us.