every move punctuated by beeping horns, and the occasional angry gesture from passing cyclists. Sara gripped the edge of her seat, trying to contain her impatience. All she wanted was to see Jack and get to the bottom of everything, but she was trapped on this interminable journey. At last, she spotted the bright facade of the hotel in the distance; they were only two blocks away, but the city was gridlocked. She could easily spend another twenty minutes in the cab.

'Forget it,' Sara cried, exasperated, 'I'll just walk. How much do I owe you?' The cab driver responded with a barrage of thickly accented French. Sara had no idea what he was trying to tell her, but he sounded annoyed. She wished she was better at languages.

'How much? I'll pay you…um, combien? Euros?'

With a scowl, the driver pointed at the meter, conveniently tucked away just out of her line of sight. With a sigh, Sara pulled out her envelope of hastily purchased travel money, and added on a generous tip. She thrust the notes at the driver, who merely nodded, and hauled herself and her small suitcase out onto the sidewalk. Within a few steps she was already soaking wet, water running down the back of her neck and sending shivers down her spine. Tired and worried, Sara felt like crying. But she steeled herself and marched down the street, weaving her way through the sea of umbrellas.

The receptionist wrinkled her nose as a wet, bedraggled heap emerged from the revolving doors, almost tripping over it's own suitcase. Sara slunk towards the desk, leaving brown marks on the impeccable tiles. She blushed as she pushed her hair away from her face and attempted a smile.


'Bonsoir, Mademoiselle.'

'Umm…anglais, s'il vous plait?'

'Certainly, how may I help you?' Sara pulled a crumpled piece of paper from her pocket and scanned the text.

'Um, I need to find room 320?' The receptionist eyed her suspiciously. Well, Sara thought to herself, I guess I do look quite like a crazed fan. Or maybe an axe murderer. There were a few tense moments while the young woman tapped away at her computer.

'Your name, please, Mademoiselle?'

It was as if Sara had whispered the secret code word. Suddenly the receptionist was all smiles. Before she knew it, an attractive young man had taken hold of her suitcase and was ushering her towards the elevator. Sara felt her heart lurch in her chest as the doors slid open on the correct floor. This was not the first time she had visited Jack's hotel room, but previously she had been full of excitement. Now she was all nerves, a vague sense of foreboding pulling at her insides. She almost expected the corridor to be the same one as her dream; she was a little relieved when they stepped out and the carpet was a different colour.

The bell boy knocked loudly, and they both waited. Sara hoped he didn't notice her breathing a little heavily. There was no answer, and he gave another loud rap. Still nothing. With a shrug, the bell boy slid his own key into the lock and the door swung open. The inside was dark until he flicked the light switch with a practised hand.

'Mademoiselle.' The bell boy gave a little bow and made a swift exit, leaving her all alone in the empty room

Sara slumped down on the bed. Where on earth was Jack? He knew what time her flight landed. From the rumpled bed covers and stack of empty vodka miniatures on the bed side table, she guessed he'd been holed up in here most of the day. His suitcase was still on the floor, open, clothes spilling out everywhere. Sara spotted the t- shirt he had worn the night they first met, and her heart gave a little flutter. She pulled out her phone, but his line went straight to voice mail. Damn it. Suddenly Sara realized she desperately needed to pee. The bathroom was palatial, all shiny white surfaces and gleaming gold fixtures. In the corner was the biggest shower Sara had every seen, with nozzles pointing in all directions. After hours on the plane, and a battering by the French weather, Sara felt completely gross. Surely Jack wouldn't mind if she freshened up a bit while she waited? After finally mastering the control panel, Sara gladly stripped off her clothes and flung them in a pile on the tiles. The sensation of the hot water hitting her skin was incredible, and at last she felt herself relax a little. Grabbing a bottle of divine smelling body wash, she gently soaped her entire body. Jack would be back soon, she reasoned. Maybe they would take a shower together, or a nice long bath in the huge tub on the opposite wall. She could make him feel better, she was sure of it, and before long the press would realize they had made a mistake, and this whole stupid story would be old news. Maybe Jack would take a bit of time off, come back to the states. Maybe they would finally get to have that dinner. Running her hands over her full breasts, following the smooth curve of her hips, Sara imagined Jack's hands on her body. All the stress, all the fear, would just melt away the moment he touched her, she was sure of it. A sound from outside snapped her out of her reverie. Her eyes flew open, and she reached over to switch off the spray. Yes, that was the door opening. Jack was back! Hurriedly, Sara squeezed the water out of her hair and grabbed the first towel to hand, not caring that it barely covered her butt. She wished she'd had time to dress and apply makeup, but a look in the mirror told her she would do. She hurried into the bedroom.


Michael stood sheepishly by the door, key card still in his hand.

'Sorry, I didn't realize…I just came to see if Jack was back. Jared's going crazy, we're supposed to leave for the venue in half and hour. Have you, um, have you seen him?'

'No, the bellboy let me in,' Sara stuttered, trying to tug her towel into a more decent position. 'Why do you have a key?' The question was out of her mouth before she had time to think the accusation through.

'We keep spares,' Michael said curtly, narrowing his eyes at her. 'Do I know you from somewhere? I feel like we've met, sorry if I've forgotten.'

'I don't think so,' Sara said coldly. She couldn't get the image of him pulling at Erica's clothes out of her head. Once, she thought ruefully, she would have been asking for Micheal’s autograph. Now she wanted to slap the sleazebag in the face.

'I guess not. I wouldn't forget a face like that in a hurry.' Michael winked at her, casting a lingering glance at her bare, wet legs. She glared at him in return.

'So you've no idea where Jack is?' Michael asked again, and Sara shook her head. 'Probably gone on one of his walks. Sometimes he disappears for hours. I figured he was in the bars, but he says he just walks for miles. Thinking, he says, god knows what about. I can't believe he's being such a selfish bastard.'

'Have you seen what people are saying? Wouldn't you be upset?'

'I'd get over it. The papers write all sorts of crap. No use crying and running away, for Pete's sake. We're a band. It's not all about him.'

'Maybe he could do with your support right now.' Sara's tone was icy. Michael just rolled his eyes.

'Looks like he's got his own personal cheerleader already. Good luck with that one. If you do see him, tell him not to bother showing up to the venue tonight. We can do it without him. It's not like I don't know the words.'

Michael slammed the door, leaving Sara almost quaking with rage.

Jack breathed out into the cold air and watched his breath disperse. Around him, the city continued to hum with activity, but he was closed off from it all in a shroud of silence. The bench was cold and damp; he could feel the moisture seeping through the seat of his pants. He took a swig from his hip flask, and felt the burn of the alcohol warm his insides. Jack turned his cell phone over in his hands, willing the battery to come back to life. Sara should be in the city by now, maybe even at the hotel. He'd made sure earlier in the day that the staff would look after her. He should find a telephone booth — assuming those still existed- and call. He should walk back to the main street and hail a taxi. But somehow he couldn't bring himself to move. It was a mistake, calling her, he knew that now. Though every fibre of his being longed to see her, the truth was they barely knew each other. One mad night of passion, a few emails and text messages…that barely counted. She would have seen the papers by now, and she would think exactly what the rest of the world thought; that he was scum. He couldn't expect anything else. The thought of seeing her face to face, trying to explain the whole mess, the thought of Sara rejecting him…it was all too much. He just couldn't. Jack sat paralysed, consumed by his own misery, no idea where to go or who he could turn to. Years ago, in what felt like another life, it would have been Laura. Holding his hand, trying to make him laugh. No matter what happened, Laura could always get a smile out of him. She had looked at her big brother like he was a hero, the guy who could do no wrong. Right up until the end, she had believed in him. For a moment, Jack could almost imagine her sitting beside him, ten years old, her strawberry-blonde pigtails sticking out at funny angles, a grin on her face that revealed her crooked front tooth. This would always be the image he kept of his

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