FACT: They had never really been in love before
“Have you seen Jon?” Cassia asked a crewmember whose name she could never place. She had received a simple text ten minutes before “Hot tea? Please.” It read. Cassia welcomed the opportunity to pull herself away from the Friends marathon she had been watching for an hour since the night’s show had ended. Her evenings had become considerably dull now that she was no longer in charge of the fan club events.
“Radio Station Meet and Greet.” The man replied before getting back to his careful work of dismantling the stage props that wouldn’t be needed until they reach the next city. Cassia nodded turning on her heel. She entered noiselessly, scanning the clusters of mostly young teenage girls who lined the perimeter of the room. She allowed the door to close behind her. The clicking sound it made as the lock caught couldn’t be heard over the nervous chatter bouncing off every surface.
Sticking to the shadows near the entrance, Cassia handed the paper cup filled to the brim with licorice tea to Zach who, in turn, placed it on the table in front of Jon. Jon stole a glance over his shoulder and smiled at her. Cassia tried to conceal a wave.
“That’s her,” a few girls near the front of the line buzzed, “That’s Jon’s girlfriend.”
Cassia felt her cheeks tinge pink. Their whispers weren’t hard to comprehend. She was immediately glad the hoodie borrowed from Jon covered the bump that had been becoming more and more obvious when she wore her own clothes.
“I feel like I’m on trial,” She whispered to Zach who still stood near her. The first girls’ comment had seemed to send a chain reaction down the line. Slowly, more and more of those who waited to meet their favorite band strained to get even just a glimpse of her.
“Don’t worry Case,” Regina whispered sneaking up on her best friend, “They like you.” Cassia knotted her brow, she wasn’t perfectly sure what “they” Regina was referring to. When her best friend didn’t immediately clarify, Cassia nervously picked at her cuticles. A few moments later Regina nudged her side, “Can’t you tell he’s talking about you?” She asked tipping her chin toward Jon.
Cassia tilted her head; confounded by the fact Jon would be spending the short moments he had with these fans mentioning her. He was biting his lip when he looked back at her again. “Cassia.” She heard him whisper as he quickly scrawled his name on the cover of an AP magazine
“That’s really pretty.” The girl directly in front of him smiled. The girl’s gaze had followed Jon’s to Cassia. Her hair was tied into a loose bun at the back of her head but her dark bangs still fell over one eye. The shadows served Cassia no disguise.
“She’s really pretty, too” a curly-haired teen beside the first girl added. Cassia waved, smiling meekly at the two girls. Only then did they break their attention from her to whisper giggles to one another as they moved down the table to greet Spencer. Jon smirked at the pair shaking his head slightly before greeting the next fan.
Cassia admired him, the girls that filed by him were excited and chattering. Jon was so patient, so friendly, as they passed him. She was sure that if she were in his place, her nerves would be on edge after the first handful of fans. She wasn’t a people person, which had proven to be a inconvenience throughout her life, as the ability to network was highly valued in the social circles her family ran in.
“Cassia, bowling?” Regina nudged after Cassia didn’t chime in with her opinion of the outing. However, ‘we should go bowling!’ was not a proper greeting, but they were the only words Brendon spoke after the last of the contest winners had filed out of the small room. While Cassia’s first instinct was to politely decline this offer, she was trying harder these days to actually show Jon she wanted to be a part of his group of friends.
“Bowling it is.” Cassia replied with an unenthusiastic shrug. And just a mere hour later the group found themselves beneath the blinking black lights of a local bowling alley. Amidst plastic nacho containers, cardboard personal pizza containers, and brown bottles of alcohol the group laughed as Brendon slid down the lane in attempt to show off once more.
“This is fun.” Cassia whispered to Jon resting her head on his shoulder as they shared the bench behind the scoreboard screen.
“I told you they weren’t so bad,” He nudged her teasingly, “It’s nice to see you smiling for once.”
Cassia rolled her eyes, her vibrating cell phone interrupted their conversation. “It’s my sister,” she sighed, “I’ll be right back.”
Over the line Sabrina cried. It was the hysterical kind of shout that Cassia had heard escape her sister’s lips on many previous occasions. There was nothing different about the uneven breaths and shaky words that streamed through the telephone line. Cassia’s hushed tone did little to calm her younger sister.
“Someone....they....they broke into the house.” She sobbed heavily.
“Broke in? Bri, are you okay? Were you home?” Cassia asked in a breath full of worry.
“No. No. I’m fine. They cut the wires of the security system. Broke a window. I...I...I can’t even tell if they took anything. They were looking for something, but I can’t imagine what, they didn’t even go near the safe.” Sabrina explained. Cassia twisted the cap off of her water bottle a took a couple of quick swigs of its cool contents while listening to her sisters explanation.
“I’m worried Case. What do I do?”
“Have you called Mom and Dad?” Cassia suggested leaning against the cracked orange level of one of the stools at the closed bar of the snack shop, “I’m sure they know someone who can fix the security system for you guys. Maybe add some additional protection?”
Sabrina whined, “I can’t tell mom and dad! They’ll just get back up on their pedestal and tell me I rushed into getting married and am just too young to take care of myself!”
Cassia steadied herself on the stool, using her elbow to prop her head up with the same hand she held the phone to her ear with. “Don’t you think that’s a bit dramatic Sabrina?”
Ignoring Cassia’s words completely, Sabrina continued her tears calming with every additional word she spoke, “Logan came and wrote up the report.” Cassia gulped at the sound of that name, she vividly remembered the attractive police officer that had taken up brief residence innocently on the other side of her bed a string of nights she had chosen not to spend alone. “He asked why he hasn’t seen you around recently...did you date him or something?”
Jon approached Cassia’s perch with a patient smile, “You okay?” He mouthed silently. He had quickly learned conversations with her sister hardly ever left Cassia in a good mood. Cassia nodded comforted by Jon’s comforting touch on her back.
“It lasted like two seconds Sabrina.” Cassia argued suddenly uncomfortable with the turn their conversation had taken.
“Well, as he left, he said something about wanting his shirt back.” Sabrina chuckled now more an amused gossip columnist than a rattled victim of burglary. Cassia smiled a bit to herself. As clearly as she remembered Logan’s piercing blue eyes and stunning bone structure, she remembered the powder blue t-shirt that read “Los Angeles County Sheriff Department” that he had left in the loft of her apartment. She had made a mental note to return it if she ever found a reason to call him again. Ironically, Jon had chosen that very shirt to wear after changing from his stage attire.
Cassia played with the edge of that shirt’s sleeve as Jon waited patiently for her to finish her conversation. “Look, Bri. I’m really sorry about what happened, but it sounds like everything is okay now. I’ll be home soon, okay?”
Reluctantly, Sabrina agreed and Cassia was relieved from her “big sister” duties. “Someone broke into their house.” Cassia relayed the important information from the phone call even if it had gotten lost in later conversation.
“Is everyone okay?” Jon shared the concern the Cassia had previously exhibited.
“They’re fine. Just shaken up for now.” Cassia explained, “That’s the kind of thing that makes it hard, not being home.”
Jon felt immediately guilty, that he was selfishly keeping her from her family in a time of need. She saw the worry paint across his features. “And still, I’d rather be here, right now, with you.” She gazed over his shoulder noticing that their group had cleared the two lanes they had previously occupied. He held up her shoes in explanation, only that didn’t tell her very much beyond the fact that bowling was done.
“The manager didn’t appreciate Brendon’s antics.” He told her as she removed the brown and red bowling shoes she wore, quickly replacing them with a pair of converse.
Cassia chuckled, “So we’re getting kicked out of the bowling alley?”
“No,” Jon continued as they walked toward exit, “Brendon got kicked out of the bowling alley. The rest of us are leaving voluntarily.”
Cassia shook her head glancing out the double glass doors that led out to the parking lot. Regina’s laugh echoed through the early morning hours as Brendon had jumped onto Spencer’s back and was waving his arms around madly. “We can’t take them anywhere, can we?” Jon shook his head, laughing in agreement as he pushed open the first set of doors.
“Jon, wait.” Cassia’s voice trailed off as he obeyed without even the hint of question in his eye. She looked all around them, apart from the small group of teenagers on the furthest lane who were too preoccupied by each other to notice much of any thing else, they were completely alone (and that was something that rarely ever happened). He looked at her, unsure of the reason for their hesitation. “This is the part when you kiss me.” She whispered as a certain sense of bravery had crept over her.
“This?” He questioned, “This. Right now?” The smirk playing at the corners of his mouth told Cassia he was in a joking mood. “Nah, I don’t think this is it.” He shrugged pushing open the second set of doors allowing the cold late December air brush at their cheeks.
Letting the glass door close silently behind her Cassia stopped. She recalled words that she had spoken only once before. “Have you ever been in love?” She asked. Jon turned quickly on his heel. He paced backed to where she stood looking small and vulnerable on the pavement.
“I believe I’ve answered this question before” He whispered, “But I don’t think I got the answer right.”
“It probably doesn’t matter.” She replied in a similarly hushed tone. Her words escaped in thin wisps of white cloud that filled the small space between them. Her gaze floated to his lips before meeting his eyes once more, “I don’t think I knew how insignificant lust was then.”
Their exchange was quick and fiery. The air was growing heavy around them. “So tell me Cassia, have YOU ever been in love?” The warmth of his words across her face caused her to shiver. In reply, Jon brushed a lock of hair that had fallen down from her ponytail out of her face.
“The jury is still out on that one.” She smirked as his warm fingertips caressed her cheek. Cassia’s eyes fluttered closed and she parted her lips slightly. Jon’s lips brushed across hers softly. She leaned her body farther into his as he embraced her. It was the part of the movie where the audience murmur in unison, but the only others in the parking lot had yet to notice. Parting only centimeters, their eyes met once more, “That is probably going to sway my answer a bit.” Cassia admitted. Jon chuckled and kissed her again. “I’ll have to get back to you with a definite answer,” She continued.