Well, well, well. It's been a while. Sorry for such a long delay in between chapters. I started writing this one five months ago and hit a major writing snag... and then my life fell apart a bit. But all is well now. And I've managed to kick my writer's block to the curb. Yet, the draw back from taking such a major pause is that I feel like I sort of lost my footing on the story. I hope this chapter doesn't seem too disjointed and I hope you all enjoy it. And I promise the next update won't be five months from now. Comment/Review please and thank you!
As the moderate speckles of consciousness crept into Angela's brain, she stretched out her limbs. She was now able in her "adult years" to touch the expanses of her childhood bed. In her younger years it had seemed so spacious, but now was crowded with memories of easier mornings of a forgotten time. She forced her eyelids apart and canvassed the well-known walls forming her perimeter. Patti hadn't moved her bed from the spot it had remained throughout her childhood, so the view she awoke to was something that had been engrained in her mind.
Directly ahead was her dresser: four medium sized drawers that formerly contained all of her pants, skirts, sweaters, socks and underclothes. Her old boombox/cassette player combo sat covered in a layer of dust atop the dresser. To the right was her closet door. Behind it lay decades of bad fashion choices which she hoped to keep hidden for the rest of eternity without being reminded of them. In the left corner, there was her bay window. Angela could remember countless hours spent with her knees curled into her body hoping and imagining the day that all of her ideal romantic scenarios came true. The views of Three Rivers offered little in the field of window scenery, but Angela was happy to wake up to the shadowy images of the large Elm tree outside her window. She knew from experience that it had dropped all of its leaves in one emphatic release. Now all that remained were the dark spindly branches which were privy to the whims of any forceful wind. On this morning she could hear the skeleton like branches scraping against her window. Angela swung her feet over the side of her bed and gently padded over to the last piece of furniture in the room: her old vanity. The mirror was dusty and now reflected a woman rather than the girl who sat in front of it daily just a few years ago.
All of the random cosmetics and toiletries had been long since cleared away. She tugged on the drawer closest to her hand. It resisted slightly from years of neglect, but eventually gave and slid open. In it was half full of forgotten trinkets. An old earring, half used compact of makeup, a rainbow of colored bottles of nail polish, and other random objects. She pushed the contents about wondering if there was some sort of hidden treasure buried at the bottom.
Angela gave up and moved on to the next drawer. This one held items of more substance. On the very top was an old notebook, she picked it up and leafed through it. Most of the pages had been ripped from their binding, but a few scant sheets remained with various geometry and algebra equations scribbled on them. Angela could remember saving the notebook in the fear that she might come across some tricky math problem in her life after high school. Thankfully, she had absorbed more knowledge than she had led herself to believe and had never needed to reference her old notebook. Before putting it back in the drawer, she noticed that the inside of the back cover was completely graffitied with hearts and the initials "J.C.", as if anyone would have been fooled by the abbreviation. Angela laughed to herself, setting the notebook down, thinking that it might be a nice token to send to Jordan.
Beneath where the notebook had been Angela found a pile of old cassette tapes. She rummaged about through them feeling quite content in the merit of her musical tastes decades ago. She passed over Archers of Loaf, Buffalo Tom, The Cranberries, Smashing Pumpkins, Sonic Youth, Nirvana, and a few other timeless favorites that she now had full digital copies of on her laptop at home. After digging for a minute Angela found a cassette that sent her mind reeling back ten years…
She was standing thirty feet from him; but she might as well have been on a completely different planet. Jordan Catalano was in his own world. His shoulder firmly stationed against the wall of lockers behind him and his beautiful eyes closed serenely. Angela was an interested observer struggling to forge her way through the sea of students during the mad rush between third and fourth periods. She felt safe assuming that Jordan wouldn't be making it to forth period English. From his current state she could tell he had already checked out for the day.
It was nearly two months after she had forgiven him for having drunken sex with her best friend. And it had now been six weeks since he had admitted that the beautiful letter that stilled her heart wasn't exactly written by him. Things were awkward between them to say the least. She wasn't angry anymore, but couldn't really allow herself to jump back into a relationship with him when she found out about the letter. Yet he still clouded all of her waking thoughts and heavily occupied her dreams, but the words that Brian had wrote still lingered between them, creating a very uncomfortable triangle of feelings for Angela. They had agreed to be friends for a while and see where things went from there. But on days like this where he looked so perfect and oblivious to the world around him, Angela regretted her stance as just friends. She stood resisting the urge of walking over and drawing him back into the world of the living with a kiss.
Instead she walked up casually as she could muster and greeted him, "Hey."
Jordan didn't even bother to open his eyes, he knew her voice instinctually. Her face was burned into his brain. Seeing how pretty she looked today and not being able to put his mouth on her because she wanted to be just friends would make his day even worse.
"Hey." He said trying to seem as aloof as possible.
"You know Katimski's class is on the other side of the building right? You're going to be late for English since I bet you haven't even gone to get your book from your locker yet. We're reading The Great Gatsby in case you forgot..."Angela tired to joke with him. But when he opened his eyes, he looked slightly irritated about being roused from his daze.
"I left my book at home. It's not like he's going to ask me to read out loud anyway. Plus I can always just look off yours if I need to." he said as a slightly over entitled smile crept across his face.
"Oh yeah? Maybe I won't be letting you look at my copy today. You're never going to learn to be responsible if I keep babying you." Angela teased.
"Oh well. I'm going to sleep through forth anyway. What do I care about some rich dude finding the girl he used to be in love with anyway? It's boring." Jordan shoved off the lockers and started to make his way towards the South wing of the school. He expected Angela to follow him since they would both be walking to the same class. But when he turned to his left she wasn't there, nor to his right. He stopped in the hall causing the freshman behind him to run directly into his back. The young blonde hair boy looked up in terror as all of his books went tumbling to the floor.
"I… ugh.. I'm soooo sssssorry." The small kid stammered as he picked up the three large textbooks.
"Whatever man. No big deal." Jordan said as he reached down to grab the biology book that had fallen at his feet. He handed the kid his book and looked around in wonder trying to figure out where Angela had disappeared to. Through the mass of scurrying students he finally picked out her auburn hair standing in the same place he had left her. Fighting his way through the crowd, he stopped right in front of Angela. She smiled up at him like she knew a secret that he didn't. Jordan put his hand on the locker next to Angela's head, putting all of his weight on it, he leaned in closer to her until he could smell the soft clean scent of her shampoo.
"Miss Chase, I believe you are going to be late for English."
"I'm not going to Katimski's today. I have a dentist appointment and my mom will be here any minute to pick me up. I just wanted to give you this before I left for the rest of the day." Angela held up a cassette tape.
After all the drama between her and Jordan and Brian and Rayanne, she had retreated into music to find tranquility. Angela had made countless mixes over the last few weeks. The one she held now was a copy of one that she had been listening to nonstop for the last two weeks. Even though the songs were slightly poppy and not as moody or heavy as what Jordan normally listened to she thought there might be something in the songs that he could connect to. A lot of them said what she felt, but wasn't able to articulate to him. She hoped that maybe he'd pick up on her message and understand more where she was coming from. That she still cared about him, but things were different for her now.
"What's this?" He asked even though he clearly knew it was a cassette tape. He was flattered at the idea that Angela took the time to make him a mix.
"It's just a mix that I made and thought you might like some of the stuff on it." Angela tossed it to him and walked away, leaving Jordan standing in the middle of the hall reading the band and track names that were inscribed on both sides of the cassette.
For a May morning the air was chilled. The grass was crunchy underneath her feet. Angela had been getting geometry tutoring every Wednesday before school. Today's session hadn't lasted as long as usual since they were coming up on the end of the year and she was finally starting to pick up on all of the things she had missed during her boiler room saga. She decided to take a walk outside before the hallways started filling up with students trudging into their final weeks of classes. Angela had already crossed the vacant parking lot and now found herself wandering by the football field. She began to weave and snake her way underneath the bleachers when she recognized a memorable shape in the foreground. His corduroy clad shoulders where hunched due to the cold and smoke from his cigarette billowed up around him. In the silence of the morning she could hear him humming and quietly singing a familiar melody as she covered the distance between them. When she placed her hand on his back, he jumped due to surprise. Jordan had been facing the opposite direction and had been wearing headphones so he hadn't heard her sneak up behind him.
"Jesus Red. You scared the shit out of me." Jordan pulled his head phones down around his neck and flicked his cigarette away. Angela smiled, he rarely called her Red, but she was still quite fond of the nickname. And the connection to the song he had played for her at the loft was not lost on her… even though he swore up and down that the song was indeed about his car. Jordan noticed that she was only wearing a cardigan over a tshirt and that he could see the smoke like traces of her breath in the chilly morning air."What are you doing outside? It's freezing."
"My geometry tutoring got done early so I decided to take a walk before first period. What in the world are you doing at school so early? You are the last person I ever expected to see here before the bells ring." Angela said as she shivered slightly. Jordan took his coat off and wrapped it around her, rubbing the sides of her arms hoping to coax some warmth into her. The fact that this gesture seemed so natural struck Angela. Jordan's concern for her seemed second nature to him. It was casual and unforced and made Angela feel happier than she had been in weeks.
"There's a leak in one of the break lines on my car. I started fixing it last night but couldn't finish before I had to start working on that stupid biology take home test. So I had to walk to school this morning. It didn't take me nearly as long as I expected… so here I am. Wasting my life away."
Angela could hear the soft notes of music escaping from Jordan's headphones and could see the outline of a Walkman buried in the pocket of his jeans.
"What are you listening to?"
"Oh nothing. Just… I don't even know really… I grabbed the first cassette I saw on my dresser…"
Angela leaned in closer and automatically recognized the chorus to Found Out About You by the Gin Blossoms. She knew instantly that he was listening to the mix she had given him a few weeks ago.
"Is that the mix I gave you?"
"What? I don't know… maybe. Like I said… I just grabbed it on the way out.." Jordan stumbled over his response as Angela rolled her eyes. "Okay. Yes. I've been listening to it nonstop. Happy?"
Angela couldn't help but smile broadly. She was indeed happy. Knowing that Jordan appreciated her small gift meant the world to her. She had guessed right, he had picked up some of the messages she was trying to convey through the lyrics of the various songs. Every time he listened to the tape he thought of her. It made him feel that she still cared about him and made him hopeful that eventually things would work out between them.
"Very happy," she said with her smile only growing larger. And in that moment Jordan chose to forget that they had agreed to only be friends. The way she was smiling at him warmed his entire heart; he hadn't allowed himself to feel this hopeful for months. Jordan took a step forward and rubbed his fingers softly along Angela's jawline. He bent down slowly until his lips met hers. They spent the next few minutes completely wrapped up in each other. Angela had so missed his touch and his taste that this moment was euphoric for her. And if those sentiments had been vocalized Jordan would have agreed whole heartedly. But instead of using words they used their mouths in a better way to convey their still burning feelings for one another.
Finally the rumble of school busses and the clamor of the student population brought them out of their little bubble. Angela stepped out of Jordan's embrace, her face fully flushed and her hair slightly tangled where Jordan had wove his fingers through it. She slouched out of his jacket and handed it back to him. She couldn't let herself lapse back into the blissful daze that washed over her whenever Jordan Catalano kissed her. She had said only friends and had meant it until she sorted everything else in her life out. Jordan only looked back at her in confusion and disappointment that they were no longer fused together at the mouth.
"I can't be late for my first period. I have a huge history exam. Um.. I'm glad you like the tape. I'll see you later, okay?" Angela said as she started to back away towards the school.
"Yeah. Sure." Jordan said as he put his headphones back on. He would never understand Angela Chase. But that was what he loved about her, no other girl had ever left him wondering and continuously wanting more. She was an anomaly.
After a moment or two Angela's mind was back in the present. She was no longer under the bleachers with Catalano, but was still sitting on front of her vanity. She walked over and dropped the cassette into her ancient boom box and pressed play. The tape started at the beginning of the B side. The first initial plucks of the guitar strings easily told Angela what song was playing. As Doug Hopkins's voice broke through the instrumental melody, Angela walked over to her bed and flopped down on her back, staring at the ceiling she listened to the lyrics that had meant so much to her years ago.
All last summer, in case you don't recall,
I was yours and you were mine - forget it all.
Is there a line that I could write
that's sad enough to make you cry?
All the lines you wrote to me were lies.
The months roll past - the love that you struck dead.
Did you love me only in my head?
The things you said and did to me
they seemed to come so easily.
The love I thought I'd won, you give for free.
Whispers at the bus stop;
I heard about nights at the school yard.
I found out about you.
Rumors follow everywhere you go.
Like when you left and I was last to know.
You're famous now and there's no doubt
in all the place you hang out.
They know your name and they know what you're about
Whispers at the bus stop;
I heard about nights at the school yard.
I found out about you.
She lay there thinking about how this song seemed to apply to various stages of her life and relationship with Jordan Catalano. It was like the first half of the song was directly narrating the way she felt about him when she was a teenager. Like Hopkins had followed her around during her sophomore year and had turned her heartbreak and angst into the first few verses of the song. And the second half seemed to easily relate itself to the situation she now found herself in with Jordan. She worried that his life in the lime light was going to end up having a bigger effect on their relationship than she wanted it too. Was it so wrong for her to not want to share Jordan Catalano with the masses of female populations in all of the 50 states, not to mention countries abroad? Maybe she had been fooling herself that this could work out between them. They were clearly living in two very different worlds.
Now that the sorrow and grief of the last few days had passed, Angela began to dwell more on the fact that she hadn't talked to Jordan since she had left Michigan; also that he hadn't bothered to return any of her messages that she left on his voice mail. Angela winced at the pang of neglect she felt upon this insight. It had been five days since he had bothered to call. For a normal relationship a five day dead zone wouldn't matter much when you were able to spend time together, but when it was the only interaction she and Jordan had, Angela was suddenly more than slightly irritated. Catalano had a lot of nerve.
As her thoughts lingered on Jordan, Angela thought about where he might be at that very minute. He would be three hours behind her and since it was early morning in Pennsylvania she figured Jordan was sleeping somewhere in L.A. She knew that he would have gotten into town yesterday because the band had two large finale shows lined up for this week. The first he would be playing tonight, the last and most important farewell to the tour would be two days nights from now. Angela assumed that he was probably busy and most likely exhausted, but would a five minute phone call be too much to ask? She had let him know in her messages that she was staying at her parent's and that she could be reached there. When he did manage to call she was going to give him a piece of her mind. She hadn't let Jordan Catalano walk all over her in high school, just because he was a big celebrity didn't mean she was going to start now.
As the B side of the cassette wound down, Angela dragged herself from the bed and started packing up her things that she had strewn around her childhood bedroom. She knew that Rickie would be picking her up later that evening to take her to the airport and wanted to have adequate time to spend with her family before having to leave them again. Her movements were lethargic with the idea of being separated from her friends and family again, but she was roused by the scent of a dark roast coffee and bacon wafting up from the kitchen below her feet. The pleasant smells and sounds of happy morning conversation convinced her to abandon her packing and join them.
Jordan turned around and scanned the hotel room once more. He had his wallet, his phone, his keys, his sunglasses, and his old paperback copy of Wildseed was snuggly fit in his back pocket just in case he stumbled across some down time at any point during the day. Jordan grabbed the black hoddie that he had tossed on the back of an arm chair and pulled the door closed behind him. He turned to see Shane standing in the doorway of his hotel suite directly across the hall.
"Hey.. Katie..er Kari.. ummm Kayleigh? Hurry up. My car is leaving in five minutes and you're not staying in my hotel room while I'm gone." Shane was shouting back into the room. Jordan heard a mousey whimper of a voice come from within the suite, but could not make out exactly what the complaint was.
"Yeah. I'll talk to the guy at the door; see if I can get you on the guest list or something." Shane stopped and ushered out a petite woman with caramel brown hair who looked quite disheveled in last night's clothes. Jordan just stood and smirked at his friend as they made eye contact. Shane's guest skipped over to the elevator, while the two friends met in the middle of the hall.
"Mornin'." Jordan said with a knowing grin.
"It's too early if you ask me to have to go and prep for the show tonight. They couldn't have waited at least until after lunch?" Shane's irritation was only being magnified by his current hangover. "You don't have to keep pressing the button. It takes a minute for the elevator to climb all thirty floors." He snapped at the girl.
"Someone is in a chipper mood this morning. Sorry about my friend. I don't think we've been introduce. I'm Jordan." He held out his hand to the girl who now looked embarrassed after being reprimanded by Shane.
"I'm KateLynn." She shook his hand shyly. The trio boarded the elevator and waited for it to rest at the main floor. "Can you believe that I just randomly met Shane Jones at the bar last night? I mean… it's not every day that you get to meet one of the best drummers in the entire world. It must have been fate."
"Best drummer in the entire world? Wow. That's quite a compliment." Jordan said holding his laughter in as he continued to smirk at Shane, who was trying his damndest to ignore the conversation.
"Well he is. I mean… Like seriously… he's better than… well everyone. Shane said he's going
to try and get me on the guest list for tonight. I'm so excited I can hardly stand it. I love that song you guys do... the one… oh I can't remember the name of it, but it's my favorite!"
Jordan noticed Shane roll his eyes and check his phone or missed calls, fully ignoring the ramblings of his young guest. Jordan also couldn't help but notice how young the girl was. He was surprised she was old enough to get into the bar. Shane's decisions on women over the past few weeks had slowly been in decline. Jordan was hopeful that with the end of the tour, Shane's tour of women would also cease.
As they reached the main lobby Jordan walked over the front desk to speak with the concierge. He and the rest of his bandmates frequently stayed at the same hotel when they were in L.A. The staff was respectful of their privacy and, from their frequent visits, knew them well.
"Ahh. Good morning Mr. Catalano. It looks like we're going to have another lovely day today. This package came in the mail for you. I'm happy I caught you on your way out." The man handed a small brown box over the counter to Jordan.
"Thank you Bernard. Also, I was wondering if there were any calls for me last night or this morning?" Jordan had told Angela what hotel they would be staying at while in town and was hopeful that even though she hadn't called his cell phone maybe she would try to reach him at the hotel.
"Well, sir, there are frequently calls for Jordan Catalano when Residue is playing in L.A. but no one knew the private name that you make your reservations under so I didn't assume they were personal acquaintances."
"Right. Well if you happen to get a call from a young woman named Angela Chase would you please give her have her try and reach me on my cell phone? She might not know my private name, but that's alright."
"It will be no problem, sir. Enjoy your day."
Jordan walked out of the large glass doors in the main lobby of the hotel. He pulled his simple, classic, black Rayband frames over his blue eyes as the bright California sun was a bit abrupt. Jordan climbed into the back seat of the car that the venue had sent over to pick up him and the rest of his band mates. Their tour bus Edna was parked and undergoing some repairs for the hardships she had endured over the last leg of their tour. A few moments later, Shane opened the car door and crawled in next to Jordan. He let his head fall against the back of the seat and exhaled in exaggerated exhaustion.
"Remind me to never do that again."
"Did you send your friend off? I wonder if she missed home room. I hope she doesn't get detention." Jordan joked.
"Whatever man. She's at least a sophomore in college… I think. Definitely eighteen though. I made her show me her I.D. to prove it. What's that you got there?" Shane nodded his head at the small brown package that was seated next to Jordan.
"Oh. It's nothing… just something I forgot in New York and had sent over." Jordan turned the box over in his hands looking for the easiest way to open it.
"Right. Well I'm going to try and take a nap. Wake me when we get there."
Jordan assumed by Shane's silence that he had instantly drifted off to sleep. He could only guess how worn out his friend was from last night's company. He shook his head as he reflected on the fact that they certainly weren't as young as they once were.
Jordan succeeded in getting the tape off the top of the box and pulled out its contents. An old beat up Sony Walkman with a pair of well worn headphones. Jordan popped open the door and checked the tape inside. The familiar handwriting of the band names and track titles were a comfort. He flipped the tape over to listen to the B Side. The first guitar notes of Found Out About You leaked from the headphones and filled Jordan's head. He followed his friend's example and leaned his head back resting it on the seat. For the first time in his life Jordan was thankful for the morning traffic, it allowed him a few extra moments to enjoy the mix tape that Angela had made for him years ago. He couldn't explain why the desire to listen to it had popped into his brain the day before, but he was glad that he had decided to have it overnighted to from NYC to L.A. If he couldn't see her or talk to her, at least he had part of her with him for now.
She was in pain again, but this time was happy for it. Angela's face aced and she had a throbbing headache, all brought on by couple of hours of being contained in a vehicle with Rickie and laughing uncontrollably the whole way. She couldn't remember a time when she had laughed so hard and for so long. After the weighty stay at her parent's house it felt good to just be silly with a close friend.
Finally arriving upon their destination, Angela expected Rickie to pull up to the curb and drop her off at the main entrance. Instead he circled around to the long term parking ramp and pulled through the gate.
"Umm. What are you doing Rickie?"
"Didn't I mention that I'm flying out tonight too? I have a conference and a training session on social work with abandoned and abused children out in L.A. It's a happy coincidence that you needed a ride to the airport today. However, my flight doesn't leave for another three hours. Good thing I brought the newest issues of W and GQ to keep me busy." Rickie informed her as he grabbed their luggage out of the trunk. Once inside the building the two friends exchanged long hugs and vowed to make phone calls more frequently. Angela squeezed Rickie once more before parting ways to their separate airline counters to get their tickets.
There were only five people occupying the positions in front of her in line, yet it seemed to be taking a life age for the customer service rep to be able to help each person. This gave Angela some time to reflect on the last few days and what she would be returning home to. Neither of these two things held much weight in her mind once it crossed over to thoughts of Jordan. She knew that the next couple days were really important to him: he would be finishing the biggest tour of his entire career. It was a moment that she wished she could share with him. Angela smiled in spite of herself when she thought about how proud he would be of his accomplishment, but how heartbroken he would be to see it all end. And in that moment she knew that she had to be there for him. Angela diligently stepped out of line and crossed the airport to where Rickie was standing in line still waiting to purchase his ticket to L.A. She walked past the hand full of people standing in line behind him, all giving her dirty looks for cutting past them in the queue.
"Oh, honey, I'm sorry it took so long for me to park the car. I can't believe you've been in line this whole time. I didn't expect them to be this busy on a Wednesday evening." Angela said in a faked tone as she walked up to Rickie and linked her arm through his. He gave her a very confused look. She quickly whispered under her breath to him, "Shhh. Go with it. I'm coming with you to L.A. I have to see Jordan."
"Oh darling." Rickie said theatrically as he patted the top of her head. Following her lead, "You're always so impatient." He lowered his voice, "I like the spontaneity. Catalano will be a very happy man. It'll be late when we get into L.A., let's get a hotel room and you can track him down in the morning."
"Sounds like a plan to me."
With her plane ticket for the West Coast safely in her hand, Angela curled up next to her best friend in the airport waiting room. They watched the people around them scurrying off to their different destinations and different lives.