Authors: Adora Bell
Front Man: One Night in Paris
Part Two of the Front Man series.
Sara sighed as she stepped off the bus. The weight of her bag was starting to hurt her shoulder; she should have left some of those files at the office. Even though it was only a five minute walk from the stop to her apartment, she wasn't looking forward to it. Her whole body sagged from exhaustion as she dragged herself along the sidewalk, but she managed to look on the bright side. Working late wasn't so bad when you love your job. Sara had only been at Waters and Prescott Advertising for two months, but she already felt like part of the team. Her boss had hinted that a promotion might be in the works if she put the effort in, so she was doing everything she could to get ahead.
Sara wiggled her key in the lock, until finally the heavy door swung open. All the lights and the television were on, but there was no sign of Erica. She was probably holed up in her bedroom with Matt, the new guy she'd been dating. Sara only hoped they weren't too loud; it had been a long week, and she badly needed some sleep. She kicked off her shoes, hung up her jacket and stretched luxuriously. Catching sight of her laptop sitting on the coffee table, Sara was tempted to log in to her email. She hadn't heard from Jack for a few days, and he wasn't answering her texts. To be honest, she was beginning to worry. Though she told herself he was just focused on the tour, she had a feeling things weren't quite right. Since meeting him backstage three months earlier, Jack had been in contact nearly every day. Though he was hundreds of miles and several time zones away, they had grown close over the past few months. They had only made love that one, incredible time, but Sara felt a connection to Jack that she hadn't experienced before. Sometimes his messages sounded so hopeless and lonely, that she wished she could magic herself over the ocean and wrap her arms around him, tell him everything was going to be okay. Other times he was upbeat, full of life, excited about travelling and writing new music. Either way, she longed to see him. As far as Sara was concerned, the tour couldn't be over soon enough.
As she opened her in-box, Sara felt a wave of disappointment. No new messages. Grumpily, she slammed the lid shut and headed for her room. A long, hot shower and bed were the only things on her mind.
Wrapped in a fluffy towel, Sara twisted the handle of the bathroom door. She didn't hear the sound of the shower running until it was too late.
Erica and Matt were entwined under the spray, running their soapy hands over each others glistening wet bodies.
“Oh,shit, sorry!” Sara blurted, and went to back out of the room. Matt look startled and tried to position himself behind his naked girlfriend, although not before Sara caught a glimpse of his sizable erection. Good for Erica, she though to herself. Her friend stepped out of the shower completely nude and wrapped a towel loosely around herself, leaving her boyfriend cowering in the corner of the shower.
“Sara! You're back, I thought you might have gone out. Sorry I forgot to lock the door.” Erica giggled, entirely unembarrassed. By the slight lilt in her voice, Sara guessed she'd had a few glasses of wine already.
“No problem, I'll wait till you're done.”
Erica laughed again. “We might be a little while. Did you just get back from work? It's so late! I feel like all you do is work these days, I never see you.”
Sara felt a small stab of guilt. She'd assumed Erica would be too busy with Matt to notice, but she had been neglecting her best friend. Erica grabbed a bottle of wine from the counter and swigged straight from it before offering it to Sara, who shook her head.
“I think I'll just head to bed, I'm beat. Don't want to rush you guys.”
“You could always join us. There's plenty of room.” Erica smiled and dropped her towel, revealing her soft curves. She turned and stepped back into the shower, wrapping her arms around Matt's neck and pulling him into a deep kiss. One hand snaked down his firm body, and she began to gently stroke his length. Sara felt her cheeks flame, not sure what to do. Yet she found her eyes drawn to their bodies as they pressed into each other, Matt's hands roaming over the slickness of Erica's skin. Erica beckoned to her, smiling and giving her a wink.
“Come on, Sara. Be a bit naughty for once. It might be fun.”
“Yeah, maybe a little. But the offer still stands, doesn't it Matt?”
Matt looked up at her shyly, and she could feel his eyes trying to burn through the towel that covered her. Sara couldn't help but notice how good he looked naked, with his toned chest and muscly arms. In her most private moments, alone with her vibrator, she had dreamed about having a threesome. Part of her wanted to drop the towel, slip into the shower and allow herself to be pleasured. After all, Erica was her best friend. They had seen each other naked plenty of times before. It wouldn't be that strange...except, of course, it would. Sara shook her head again, rolling her eyes at her friend. As much as she might be tempted, there were certain lines she knew not to cross, however fun things looked on the other side.
“I think you'll be fine without me. Thanks all the same though. You two have fun now.”
“Oh, we will,” Erica laughed, pressing herself into Matt as she slid the shower door closed. Sara hurried out of the bathroom, half freaked out and half amused by their antics. She also couldn't help feeling a little jealous. It would be so nice to have someone to come home, someone to soap her up in the shower after a long day. But the only man she was interested in was half way around the world. His life was full of gigs and hotel rooms, not Friday nights in with take out and a bottle of wine. Suddenly, Sara felt miserable. To her surprise, tears welled up behind her eyes, and she bit her lip, trying to pull herself together. There was no use pining over a guy she barely knew. It was just one night, she told herself, as she slipped into her coziest pj’s and climbed beneath her comforter. However much she hoped, she would probably never see Jack Carter again.
Jack's eyes fluttered open, and for a moment he couldn't remember where he was. As his eyes adjusted to the darkness, he could pick out the shapes of the generic hotel furniture, the lumps of his discarded clothes lying on the floor. But what city was this? Cologne, Hamburg, Stockholm, Rotterdam, London...no, they had left London in the middle of last night. Paris, then. He was in Paris. Blearily, he turned his head to the digital clock on the bedside table. 5am. He cursed under his breath. You'd think after three months away, he'd have got over his jet lag. But they kept jumping through different time zones, a new country with a whole new language every couple of days. Rounds of press interviews with translators in tow, meeting hyperactive fans who babbled at him incomprehensibly. They were only half way through the tour, and Jack was already exhausted. Maybe if he could have just one good night's sleep, he would feel better.
Jack heaved himself out bed and padded over to the window. The sun was just peeking above the rooftops of Paris, gently lighting up the intricate architecture of the city. Already, people were bustling through the streets below, vendors setting up their stalls and opening their storefronts. Stepping out onto the balcony, Jack was hit with the smell of baking bread. His stomach growled. When had he last eaten? He remembered having breakfast at an airport, but he couldn't be sure which one.
Slipping into his jeans, he pulled a warm sweater and a hat out of his suitcase. It was bound to be chilly at this time of the morning. In the hotel elevator, an elderly french couple eyed him suspiciously. For a moment he thought they might have recognized him, but he suspected they were judging his scruffy appearance. Even at 5.30 am, they were both impeccably dressed. With a sigh, Jack ventured out into the streets of Paris.
Ten minutes and several identical looking side streets later, Jack was lost. All he wanted was some food and a packet of cigarettes. He stomped over the cobbles with growing irritation. Why were there no street signs anywhere? He tried to ask an old lady, who rounded the corner with her shopping bag, but she just gave him a confused look and scuttled away. Finally, taking a left that he hoped would take him back to the main street, he spotted a little red sign that read 'Tabac.' This looked promising. He pushed open the small door and heard a doorbell jingle. The shopkeeper, a stout, middle-aged man with an impressive moustache, gave him a hard look before returning his eyes to his newspaper. Jack scanned the small store. He picked up a tempting looking chocolate bar; one thing he was enjoying about Europe was the chocolate, especially the Belgian stuff. He could see why that was famous. He spotted the cigarettes in a small locked case behind the counter, and approached the shopkeeper with what he hoped was a friendly smile.
“Er...bonjour....um, j'aime...cigarettes?” Jack murmured hopefully. All he received in return was a withering stare, followed by a barrage of incomprehensible french.
“Um...non francais...cigarettes, s'il vous plait?” Jack tried, pointing at the locked case. The shopkeeper rolled his eyes and reached into his pocket for the key. Swinging the case open, he grabbed a box of some brand that Jack had never heard of and plonked them on the counter. Jack thought about arguing, but he didn't have the energy. He just set his chocolate down next to them and held out a twenty euro note. The shopkeeper took it wordlessly, dispensed a tiny amount of change on the counter, and went back to reading the newspaper. Charming.
“Merci beacoup,” Jack muttered, and the little man grunted in return. Jack left the store, taking care to slam the door behind him. Jerk. Would it kill people to be a little friendly?
Jack leaned against the wall of the store, next to a battered old magazine rack, and tore the cellophane from the packet of cigarettes. Jack lit his cigarette and dragged the smoke deep into his lungs. He had given up, almost...but some days, he just really needed a cigarette. For a moment, he felt at peace. Then out of the corner of his eye, a familiar face jumped out at him, and he froze. Jack had become used to seeing his face in print. Compass had done a few magazine covers in their time, and there were always the paparazzi shots. Jack, bleary eyed, stumbling out of a nightclub with his buddies. Chatting to an old friend over coffee, who the tabloids would transform into his 'secret lover.' Making out with a daytime TV star at some award show or other...that was not one of his finest moments. But this picture was different. Jack felt like he'd been slapped in the face. His cigarette had lost all flavour, and he threw it onto the cobbles and ground it out with his foot. Then he snatched every visible copy of the magazine from the rack, marched back up to the counter and slammed down a fifty euro note. The shopkeeper began to say something, but Jack was already storming off down the street.
Sara groaned as the irritating buzzing sound penetrated her consciousness. She had been in the middle of a good dream. She stretched out her hand and fumbled on her bedside table until she felt the familiar shape of her phone. It wasn't her alarm after all; the screen said 'Unknown Number.' Sara contemplated ignoring it and going back to sleep, but she supposed it could have been work calling.
"Hello?" she mumbled.
"Sara?" The voice was familiar, but the line was bad.
"Who is this?"
"It's Jack. Hey."
Sara's tummy gave a little flip. Suddenly, she felt wide awake.
"Oh, Jack, hi! Did you get my messages?"
Oh great, why did that have to be the first thing out of her mouth? Way to sound needy, Sara.
"I, um, haven't been online for a few days, sorry. It's been kinda hectic out here." Something in his voice worried Sara. She couldn't put her finger on it, but he sounded a little...off. Had he been drinking, she wondered? She hoped not. Sara liked to think she was more than just a drunk dial.
"No worries. Are you okay?"
There was silence on the other end of the line, until Sara thought they might have lost the connection. Then she heard him let out a long breath.
"No. No, I'm not, not really." His voice cracked a little, sending a spasm of pain through Sara's heart.
"Oh, Jack, what's the matter?"
"I...Oh man, I'm sorry, I shouldn't have called. Just, I've been sat holed up in this stupid hotel room for the last few hours, and I realized the only person I really wanted to see was you. Oh god, that sounds lame."
Sara felt a little glow of warmth in the pit of her stomach, tempered with concern for Jack
"I'm here, Jack. Just tell me what's going on."
"Oh Sara, everything's just so fucked up. I don't even know where to start...it'll be in the papers there too I expect. Would you just...ugh, I'm sorry...have you got any plans for the weekend?"
"Um, no, was just going to have a quiet one. Big week at work," Sara responded, thrown off by his sudden change of subject
"Look, I know it's a lot to ask. But would you consider coming out here for a couple of days? I'll buy you a flight, and I could have you back in time for work on Monday. I know it's a long way and everything, I just...I really need to see you."