FACT: This was how it was always meant to be.
The two-day break from touring seemed to rejuvenate the group. Cassia was greeted with smiles and the normal pleasantries, which was a huge improvement in and of itself. With still hours until show time, Jon, Ryan, and Spencer buzzed about complaining of items that had been misplaced since the last, while at the other end of the bus, Regina and Brendon were huddled in a whisper at the counter. The pair had been acting odd since reuniting with the group, taking up hushed tones or ceasing their conversation all together when someone else came around.
When Cassia humorously mentioned this new behavior Regina acted as though she had no idea what she was talking about. This worried Cassia. It was obvious that Regina and Brendon were hiding something, and Regina had never hid anything from Cassia before. In the midst of trying to cunningly decipher the reason for their whispers Cassia’s phone rang loudly.
Excusing herself, even though no one was listening, she stepped off the bus to take the call. “Hello.” She chimed into the speaker of her cell phone. “Hello?” She asked again when her first greeting failed to receive an answer.
“Hello?” She greeted one last time.
Someone’s exhale was evident in her earpiece. She waited just another second before they spoke in a gruff and jumbled voice almost mechanical voice. “Cassia Meyer.”
“This is she,” Cassia replied carefully.
“Your in danger.” Flooded into her ears and stopped her heart. Cassia, not daring to listen to even another word, clicked the phone’s “End” button. As she stared, frightened, at the silent phone in her hands, debating whether the voice on the other line spoke of any real danger, Cassia became oblivious to the activity in the parking lot she stood in. She definitely hadn’t heard Jon’s approaching footsteps, so when he slinked his arms around her waist and rested his chin on her shoulder she nearly jumped from her skin.
Holding back the urge to chuckle, Jon assured her she was safe with a simple, “It’s just me.”
Relieved, Cassia tilted her head toward his. “I knew that.” She countered although her heartbeat had yet to steady.
“Regina and Brendon seem to be up to no good.” Jon announced, changing the subject for sake of keeping her engaged in conversation, and loosened his embrace on Cassia. He laced his fingers with hers to maintain contact.
“I feel as though I’ve said it before,” Cassia started, tilting her head to the side and biting at her lip as she watched Jon’s face change in anticipation of the rest of her sentence, “but I’m fairly certain they are either perfect for each other or just one big menace to the world.”
Jon laughed; he often felt the same way. More than anything, though, he was glad to see that his friend had found true happiness. (He was even more thankful that Brendon’s happiness had been the driving force of bringing him back to Cassia). His thoughts wandered as he watched her talk slowly, not because he was uninterested in her account of the suspicion surrounding Brendon and Regina but instead because he looked at her enough to see the subtle changes in her appearance. The tiny bump of her belly straining against the fabric of her shirts, the slight rounding of her jawline, the glow of her skin, the just brighter twinkle of her eye. He had once heard it said that a woman is most beautiful when she is pregnant and honestly, at this moment he couldn’t agree more.
“I’m really glad you’re here Cassia.” He stated although the sentiment didn’t exactly fit the conversation. She turned to him with a slight smile. With one hand he brushed hair from her face. He ran the other hand the length of her arm. Her eyes fluttered closed and he neared her slightly parted lips.
“Jon!” Two voices squealed in unison. Cassia snapped to attention immediately, Jon withdrew his hands from her waist. Both had forgotten they were standing in a parking lot in perfect view to the public. Zach blocked off the young girls before the pair could even think of what to do. He tried to send them away, they didn’t budge from their spot on the sidewalk behind the busses. Jon apologized to Cassia several times despite her encouraging him to “Go!”
Cassia hung back, as Jon signed autographs and took pictures with the pair of tweens, each dressed in a sickenly neon shade of denim skinny jeans. They were speaking so quickly Cassia could not read their lips to decipher what they were so excitedly saying, but Jon nodded interestingly. She had been feeling so protective of him lately, to the point it was making her anxious that he was “working” on his time off. She complimented his patience when he returned. He simply shrugged, turning back to wave at the pair one last time.
“I love them.” He explained, “I love meeting them, talking to them, because honestly, we would be nowhere without them.” The answer satisfied her anxiety but the moment that would have shared without the interruption had passed and they returned to the bus to continue getting prepared for that nights show. The careful prodding of Jon had convinced Cassia to take a more “backseat” approach to the work she did on the tour. Less hands on with the fans. Truth be told, Jon worried about her too.
Cassia settled into a book in the back lounge. She relished in the tranquility of the story until Ryan joined her. He sat down across from her and laid two folders out on the table. “I have a proposition.” He announced. She placed her book down at her side deciding to hear him out. Ryan cleared his throat.
“Now, I am proud to say that it is hard to miss how happy Jon is when he is with you and because of that I would like to apologize for how immature I have acted up to this point.”
“Apology accepted.” Cassia smiled.
“With that being said.” Ryan paused for an uncomfortable amount of time. The conversation waited so long Cassia had reached for her book to begin reading again. “With that being said” He began again, “here is my offer.”
“If you return Jon now, I will overlook the current damages as well as reward you with a very happy beagle.”
“Current damages?” Cassia laughed pretending to mull over his proposition. Ryan nodded sharing a smirk. With Brendon’s time dominated by his infatuation with Regina there had been much less joking on during this tour. Ryan found this a fitting time to return the bus to a more normal state of light-heartedness.
“This is a limited time offer.” He announced, sliding the 4x6 picture toward Cassia. “Her name is Hobo.”
“I think I’m going to have to decline at this time.” Cassia said after much thought, “I’m not sure Hobo would be very good at crushing bugs, opening jars, or changing diapers.”
“Fine then, I will also trade you Hobo for the baby.” Ryan tried again. Cassia rolled her eyes and with a shake of her head she returned to her book.
“I regret to say you are passing up a very lucrative offer.”
“That’s a chance I am willing to take.”
“Suit yourself,” Ryan shrugged before leaving her to continue reading. Cassia smiled to herself. That interaction should be written down somewhere. It was, after all, the first time she and Ryan, one of Jon’s best friends, had shared a calm conversation.