Chapter 30: It Ends Tonight
A few months had passed since James and Taylor broke up. In that time neither had spoken to the other and tried their best to not talk about each other and they were certain they were just going to remain exes. James tried to brush the subject off as much as he could in interviews and Taylor never mentioned him. They both thought distancing themselves mentally would help them get over it but truthfully it never worked. Taylor usually went to sleep at night wondering what her life would have been like if she had forgiven him while James still had pictures of her on his phone. It was like a the heart wants what the heart wants situation but they didn't know how to get what they wanted.
Jake and Michelle's relationship had taken a toll. Jake's drug use had gradually gotten worse. Michelle had heard rumors but she refused to believe them. Even when he would build up walls with her, flake out on dates, and she had seen more stories of his partying she still believed he was the guy she had fallen in love with. It all changed one night though. Deciding she had enough she made her way to his hotel, it was the last night before the boys were leaving for Australia and he hadn't shown up to dinner like he promised. Michelle found him laying in the bathroom floor, empty baggies on the floor around him. "Jake, what are you doing?!" She exclaimed.
"Nothing." He slurred trying to hide the evidence.
"Stop," She slapped his hands to grab what he was holding. Holding the pills in her hand her mouth dropped. Now everything made sense. Him canceling dates, acting so distant to her, and seeing articles of his friends carrying his passed out body out of nightclubs.
"You don't understand..."
"How long have you been doing this?"
Jake ran a hand through his dark hair. "A-a few months," He muttered, refusing to look her in the eye.
Michelle didn't know how to react. Collapsing on her knees she started crying. Jake never could stand the sight of her crying, she knew that but she pushed him away when he tried to touch her. "No, no you've lied to me for this long? How? Why?"
Jake sighed, his voice shaky. "E-everything with the album was stressing me out. Do you know how much pressure they put on us? Our management? The fans? Everything we do is under a microscope. I needed an outlet."
"You could've came to me." She said bluntly, finally looking up from the tiled floor. "I would have tried to help you."
"I know." He whispered. "I'm sorry."
Shaking her head Michelle stood up. "No, no its gonna take a lot more than a pathetic 'I'm sorry' to make up for this. You've put yourself in danger for this long without even thinking about all those that love you."
"What do I have to do? I can't lose you."
"You know what you have to do. Until then I can't be around you." She mumbled throwing his drugs at him and leaving the room.
"Michelle wait." He tried to say but the words stopped in his throat.
Leaning his head on the bathroom counter he noticed the pills laying on the floor. Picking them up he was tempted to swallow them, to get rid of the pain he felt like he had been for the past few months. He could just disappear and no one would care but then one face appeared in his mind. Her. She was always there for him, even when he pushed her away. She always thought the best of him, when no one else did. Clenching his hand in a fist he held his hand over the toilet, dropping the pills in. After he flushed them he didn't feel any pain anymore. He felt ready to face the world and get the person he cared the most about back in his life.
After that night Jake started attending Narcotics Anonymous meetings. Management helped find the meetings whenever they were on tour and the press had no idea. Half of Jake wanted the public to know that way he could help anyone who was struggling but at the moment all he could think about was getting Michelle back. One day he flew back to America by himself to see her. He bought her favorite flowers and stood on her front porch, anxiously hoping she would talk to him. Taking a deep breath he rang the doorbell. After waiting a few minutes he heard the lock click and noticed the door slowly open. "Jake?" A soft voice asked.
Jake grinned seeing his girlfriend standing there, she looked a little worried but he hoped a small part of her was happy to see him. "Hi," He breathed out.
"Hi," He muttered. "W-what are you doing here?"
"I came to see you and apologize." He explained looking down at his sneakers. "I was selfish, I know that, I wasn't thinking of you, or the boys, or even my family. I didn't know how much I was hurting everyone else."
"So what? Am I supposed to instantly forgive you?" She snapped crossing her arms.
"No, not at all. I'm more than ready to prove myself worthy of you. I just hoped I haven't missed my chance."
Michelle felt a smile tug at her lips. "You haven't, but it might take a while."
"That's perfectly all right with me." He suddenly remembered the flowers. "These are for you."
"Thank you," She smiled taking them. "Do you want to come in?"
Nodding his head he followed her inside. After she put the flowers in a vase he gently grabbed her in a hug. "Thank you," He mumbled into her hair. "Thank you for always being there for me."
"Always." She whispered running her hands up and down his back. And he hoped he never lose her again.
Lynne and Edward were stronger than ever. Lynne being away at college caused a little bit of a problem though. When she told him she had a tutor named Peyton, he thought it was a girl. Then as time went on he found out she was actually a he. "Does that bother you?" Lynne asked one night while they were on the phone.
"What? No, not at all. If you tell me nothing is going on then nothing is going on." He chuckled, feeling a little uneasy though.
"Babe, if you're jealous just let me know."
"I'm not jealous." He reassured her.
As time went on and Lynne's classes got increasingly more difficult she started spending less time talking to Edward and more time studying with Peyton. "She hasn't called me today." Edward sighed as he paced the floor of his and Lucas' living room.
"Mate, calm down, she told you yesterday she had a big test to study for." Lucas mumbled as he flipped through the channels on the TV.
"She would at least text me though!" Edward exclaimed. "That's it I'm calling her."
He waited. And he waited, but then nothing. "Its her voicemail." He announced before trying again.
"I'm beginning to think you're jealous." Lucas smirked.
"What? No, I'm not, I just wish I could talk to my girlfriend. That's all."
"Uh huh, just don't come crying to me when she says you don't trust her." Lucas said holding his hands up.
Finally an hour later Lynne called him back. "Hey, where have you been?" He asked as soon as he picked up the phone.
"Whoa, calm down, I was in the library. We have to turn our cell phones off in there." She explained. "You all right?"
"I just wish you would tell me if you're not gonna be able to talk to me for a whole day. You were probably with that guy for all I know."
Lynne's mouth dropped. "Wait a minute, are you really worried about Peyton? How long have we been together again?"
"Look, you're just in college, I don't know what goes on there!"
"Well here's something that you should know, Peyton is gay, that's why you shouldn't feel threatened."
Edward's eyes widened. "Uh...I..."
"Yeah, feel like a jackass now? You should." Lynne snapped hanging up the phone.
Edward stood there motionless for a few seconds before dropping his phone. "God, I'm an idiot." He whispered running his hands through his curly hair.
"So how are you gonna make up for it?" He heard Lucas ask.
Thinking about the question for a few minutes he finally lifted his head. "I have an idea." He smirked, grabbing his phone off the floor.
Lynne sat in class a few days later. She had cooled off but she told herself she wasn't going to be the one to call and apologize first. Sure, she could have told him about Peyton sooner but she just assumed her boyfriend trusted her. As she finished her test she heard a knock at the door of her classroom. Confused she watched as her teacher went to answer it. "Um excuse me, you can't bring those in here." He tried to say but a boy with flowers was already making his way into the classroom.
"Delivery for Lynne Carroll?" The boy said.
"Um, that's me." Lynne announced raising her hand.
The boy placed the flowers on her desk before reaching into his back pockets. "These are for you," He explained gesturing to the flowers. "And so is this."
Lynne raised an eyebrow as he handed her two envelopes. "Ms. Carroll could you please not open your mail in class?" She heard her professor snap.
"Sorry." She mouth stuffing the envelopes in her purse.
For the rest of class all Lynne could think about were the envelope, the flowers, and who had sent them to her. She didn't even have time to check the card in the flowers to see who they were from before her professor made her put them under her desk. When class was finally dismissed she almost ran back to her dorm room to open them. Dropping her back pack on the floor grabbed the envelopes from her purse. Tearing one open she saw three plane tickets. "New York?!" She exclaimed picking up the second envelope she saw three invitations to a masquerade party in New York City. One was for her, one was for Taylor, and the last was for Michelle. "You are cordially invited to the release party celebrating Midnight Carnival's new album."
Grabbing her phone she called Michelle, knowing she would be up for the trip. "New York?!" She yelled making Lynne pull the phone away from her ear.
"Yeah, apparently whoever is throwing this party is going all out." Lynne explained looking over the invitations. "So I'm guessing you want to go?"
"Uh of course I want to go."
"Even though you and Jake aren't officially back together?"
Michelle sighed. "We talk every day, he's still going to his meetings, but we're headed in the right direction. I think this party could be good...or it could be bad but I'm hoping its good."
"Now we just need to convince Taylor."
At first Taylor was totally against the idea. "How is going all the way to New York City, just to go to my ex-boyfriend's release party a good idea for me to get over him?"
"Well maybe since you haven't seen him in a while now would be the perfect time for you two to just be friends?" Lynne reasoned.
Sighing to herself Taylor finally nodded her head. "Fine, I'll go, but only because I've always wanted to go to New York. I'm not going for him."
"There ya go!" Michelle exclaimed. "Pack your bags ladies, we are going to New York City!"
After convincing their parents and several hours of packing the girls were finally ready for their plane ride up north. The whole time all Taylor could think about was seeing James again. She hadn't seen him since he left her house months ago. In that time she tried her best to avoid Twitter and Tumblr, not wanting to see him happy or potentially with another girl. Now here she was on a plane heading his way. 'This was not a good idea.' She thought as she felt the plane land.
The boys were rehearsing their new single that was to be premiered at the party that night. "Can we start it at the chorus?" Dakota asked into his mic.
After the sound guy gave them a thumbs up the boys sang. "Going up a million miles and I'm not coming down. Won't stop til I feel the sky at my feet. My dreams are my wings, I'm flying, flying high."
"Sounds good boys." Bruno smiled from the side of the stage.
"Thanks, so any word from the girls?" Edward asked making James' head snap up.
"Girls? Your girls?"
"Yours too." Lucas smirked.
"What? I don't have a girl." He muttered running a hand through his now shorter hair.
"Oh cut it out, mate." Dakota laughed. "We all know you still got it bad for Taylor, and yes she is coming."
James' eyes widened. "Yep, and you're gonna sing the song you wrote for her tonight." Edward explained. "We already got it worked out."
"So no backing out of it." Jake said from the side.
Now James felt the pressure. Not only was he performing new material for the first time but now he was performing one of the most personal songs he had ever wrote to a girl he wasn't sure would ever be his again. "I'm not." He sighed walking over to the grand piano off to the side of the stage. "I just need to get a little practice in." He smiled running his fingers over the keys.
The girls just had arrived at the hotel when they heard a knock at their door. "Were we expecting visitor?" Taylor asked as she looked through the key hole.
Opening the door the girls saw Kris standing on the other side. "Hey girls!" She grinned. "Nice to see you again."
"Whoa, Kris, we haven't seen you in forever." Lynne smiled.
"I know, well I come bearing beautiful dresses for you three to wear tonight." She explained pulling a rack of dresses behind her. "I'm pretty sure I got your sizes right so just go through and see what you like."
The girls glanced at each other before fumbling through the hangers. Soon each girl had found a dress they loved. "Wow, these are amazing." Michelle gasped running her fingers over the black dress.
"Glad you like them. Now hair and makeup will be here soon to get you girls even more beautiful than you already are."
"Wow...the boys are pulling out all the stops aren't they?" Lynne muttered holding her dress up to her frame.
A few hours later they were ready. Lynne stepped into her pumps, pulling down her short silver dress as she stood up from the bed. Looking in the mirror she was surprised. The dress fit her perfectly, accenting her curves with just a little bit of sparkle to make her stand out. Her hair was pulled to one side, in tight curls and her makeup was absolutely perfect. All in all she was happy and ready for the night. "Girls hurry up!"
Michelle was the first to step out of the bathroom. Her dress was short, just like Lynne's, the bottom half was black while the top had different color jewels giving the dress a fun look. Her hair was straight, in a pretty updo while she kept her makeup simple, just like she liked it. "I must say we look good."
"Tay, you ready?" Lynne asked grabbing her clutch off the nightstand.
"Yeah," Taylor sighed stepping out of the bathroom. Her dress was white, with crystals all over it, reaching about mid-thigh she felt comfortable with it. Her long blonde hair was in loose waves, with her bangs pulled to the side with a sparkly clip.
"Aw you look like a princess." Michelle smiled.
"We all do." Taylor grinned looking at her friends.
"Now lets go knock those boys dead." Lynne smirked as they walked out of their hotel door.
Downstairs they were greeted by paparazzi outside. Flashes blinding them as they headed to their car. Once they were inside the driver took off towards the venue. On the way Lynne couldn't help but notice how quiet Taylor was. "You ok?"
"I just can't believe I'm gonna see him again." She frowned looking down at her lap.
"But at least you look amazing, he won't know what hit him."
Giving her friend a small smile she relaxed a little. 'Maybe it won't be that bad.' She thought as the driver stopped in front of the venue.
There was a small red carpet but the girls were ushered by an assistant to the back where they could get in without any hassle. "Where are the boys?" Michelle asked.
"They'll be here soon. They have to do press then they're gonna perform." She explained guiding the girls to their own table.
Outside the boys stood in front of the photographers, they knew the drill; stand with their arms across each other's backs, smile, and look happy to be there. James was shaking, in just a few minutes he was going to see his ex and he wasn't exactly sure how to react when he saw her. Hearing their assistant call them over they were escorted inside where they saw a few familiar faces from the record label, some friends from home, but they didn't spot the girls right away. Finally Edward found a face he wanted to see. "Excuse me?" He whispered in her ear making her jump.
"Hey..." Lynne smiled weakly turning around to face him.
Reaching over he gently grabbed her hands. "I'm sorry, I was an idiot, and yes I felt like a jackass. I do trust you, I guess I know how you felt when you saw those pictures of me and that girl."
Lynne took a deep breath. "Thanks for bringing those up again."
"Sorry." He muttered. "If it helps any, you look absolutely beautiful tonight."
Blushing she finally gave him that smile he loved so much. "Thank you," She whispered stepping towards him. "And you're forgiven."
"Thank God." He sighed in relief, leaning down to give her a light kiss.
Michelle smiled at her friends. "So cheesy right?" She heard a husky voice ask.
Looking around she found Jake standing right behind her. "Yeah, its like I'm watching my own version of 'The Notebook.'" She laughed.
"Wow," He smirked looking at her. "You look amazing."
"Oh well," She blushed, playing with the bottom of her dress. "It was mostly your hair and makeup team responsible for that."
Grabbing her hand he gave it a gentle squeeze. "No, I think its just you." He mumbled, kissing her forehead.
James looked at Lucas and Dakota talking to Taylor. Seeing her smile made his heart clench, it still made him happy. He couldn't get over how pretty she looked, he wanted to tell her but before he got the chance the boys were being dragged to the stage. "Time to perform boys."
Edward gave Lynne a quick kiss before he was literally pulled away from her. "Tell Taylor to stay tuned after the first song."
Lynne was confused at first but she didn't get the chance to ask him what he meant. "What did he say?" Taylor asked.
"Uh he said to be sure to stick around after the first song." Lynne explained as they took their seats.
"Ready for this boys?" Dakota asked grabbing his mic.
"Lets do this." They all smiled, giving each other a hug before taking the stage.
When the music started they were back in their element. It felt like forever since they have been doing what they loved. Smirking James stepped forward. "You think you see me, you haven't seen nothin. I'm looking for something more than this. I'm feeling no limits. I'm seizing the minutes. Don't wanna, don't wanna just exist."
Jake smiled, putting his mic up. "Don't want my feet on the ground, wanna feel the speed of sound. I want it now I want to fly. Like a rocket to the sky."
The rest of the boys stepped forward. "Going up a million miles and I'm not coming down. Won't stop til I feel the sky at my feet. My dreams are my wings. I'm flying, flying high."
Lucas grinned, finding Maddie in the crowd. "I'm climbing, I'm rising, I'm striking like lightning. Write my name in sky writing for all to see." Looking back at Edward he joined him. "I'll do something epic, and they won't forget it. Good enough, not good enough for me."
Jake put his mic to his lips. "I want the ride of my life. Wonder at the speed of light. Want it tonight, I want to fly. Like a rocket to the sky."
"Going up a million miles and I'm not coming down. Won't stop til I feel the sky at my feet. My dreams are my wings. I'm flying, flying high."
"Never gonna make my way down." Dakota sang. "I'll make the galaxy my playground."
Closing his eyes James belt out his final part. "Like a rocket to the sky, going up a million miles. And I'm not coming 't stop til I feel the sky at my feet. My dreams on my wings, I'm flying.
Once he took his last breath he heard the crowd erupt in cheers. "Mate, the piano." He heard Edward say.
"Right," He whispered running over to their roadies. "Hey, now." He instructed.
He watched the two men push his piano towards the middle of the stage. "All right, we need to slow it down for a little bit." Lucas smiled. "James, its all you now."
As his friend walked offstage he suddenly felt more nervous than he ever had in his career. Looking out into the crowd he spotted Taylor, watching him with a confused look on her face. "Ok...this next song is really special to me." He explained running his hands over the piano. "You see I wrote it for someone, she was probably the most special person to me. She still is." Sitting down he placed his hands over the keys. "Tay, this one is for you."
Taylor's mouth dropped. "What is he?"
"Just listen." Edward smirked wrapping his arms around Lynne's waist.
Hitting a few keys he opened his mouth. "This is not gonna last forever. Its that time you must hold on. And I won't let you surrender and I'll heal you if you're broken. We can stand so tall together. We can make it through the stormy weather. We can go through it all together, do it all together, do it all." Smiling he looked out to the audience. "I'll be your strength. I will, I will, I will. I'll be your strength. Yes I will, yes I will."
Taylor felt tears sting her eyes. He must have wrote this when she lost her grandmother. The words were exactly what she needed to hear at that time and James knew that. "You know when he wrote that?" She heard Dakota ask.
"Yeah, yeah I do."
"He's miserable without you." Lucas sighed. "Its like he's on autopilot."
"He hasn't found anyone else. Have you?"
"No...no, I couldn't even go on a date." She muttered. "Whenever I would talk to another guy all I could see was his face."
"So what now?" Jake asked.
"I'm gonna enjoy this song and then decide."
"Hold on, hold on. I'll be there soon. So hold on, hold on. So hold on, hold on,I'll be, there soon. So hold on, hold on. I'll be, there..." Closing his eyes James made everything he was feeling come through his voice. "I'll be your strength. I will, I will be. I'll be your strength. I'll be, I'll be. I'll be your strength. I'll be, I'll be. I'll be your strength. I'll be, I'll be. I'll be your strength. I'll be strong for you. I'll be your strength. And I'll keep strong for you."
When the song ended Taylor didn't know whether to cry or clap but she did know she had to talk to James. Pushing her way through the crowd she stood in front of the stage. James spotted her instantly. "Tay." He whispered bending down to talk to her. "I'm so sorry. I know it probably means nothing now but...but you need to know."
"I know you are." She smiled. "That was beautiful, you wrote that?"
"Yeah...a few months ago I started it but I didn't finish it until...I lost you." He explained. "Look I need you in my life again. Whatever I have to do I'll do it I just need..."
Taylor cut him off by pulling him down in a kiss. "I need you too...it might just take a little time to get back to the way we were." She whispered against his lips.
"That's perfectly fine with me." He smiled leaning down to kiss her again.
As they broke apart they heard cheers and applause coming from the crowd and mostly their friends. Everything was right again, at least it was back to the way their group liked it.
So that's it! So glad you all enjoyed this story, it was really fun to write. The songs used were Rocket and I'll be Your Strength by The Wanted :)