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Zack stirred in the hotel bed at the sound of Leonard's monotonous voice. The guitarist appeared to be on the phone with the record company. He sounded disappointed, but accepting of whatever they were saying to him. Staying in Chicago for two weeks when the band was supposed to be on tour is not good for ticket sales. Zack knew they were in trouble.
Leonard got off the phone, breathed a sigh of relief and turned towards Zack, "Hey, did I wake you?"
"Nah, not really. Where's Ace?" Zack got out of bed and headed towards the mirror to comb through his tangled head.
"Getting coffee with some girl, I think," nothing unusual.
"Yeah. Reprise Records," he said with a hint of disgust.
"What's the deal?" Zack prepared for the worst.
"Well, he wants us to get a temporary replacement for Beck and continue the remainder of the tour."
Zack rolled his eyes, "Yeah, right. That's completely insensitive," Beck glared at the wall. They had just lost their brother, and all their bosses cared about was money.
"I know. But if we don't go, we're out," he replied, sounding somewhat nervous.
"That's bullshit, the band is popular enough that we hardly need to be signed anymore."
"That's reckless talk, Zacky. We're not really that big yet, you know," Zack was getting frustrated with Leonard's negative attitude.
"I'm not going with you guys."
"I thought you would say that. Look, we'll get you a replacement, but as soon as you want to join us again, the new guy is out, okay?"
"Sure, whatever. I can't believe you would give in so easily, Leo," Zack shook his head at his friend.
"Sorry man, I just can't be out of a job, I can't lose Mia," They both knew this was just a weak excuse. Mia was head-over-heels for Leonard no matter what.
Zack could not bring himself to argue with his friend, and decided to just accept it. There was already no doubt Ace was going to blindly follow Leo anyway.
"Oh, Zack…" Leonard said hesitantly as Zack made his way towards the door.
"I hope you don't mind telling Ava…she's been such a mess lately…"
Fire built up in Zack's throat, but he repressed it, "No problem…"
Leonard was ignorant. For the past two weeks, yes, Avarielle has been in tears. She has looked broken and she has said a few crazy-sounding things about Beck's kidnapping. But ever since he's been gone, she has been working, non-stop to find him. If she isn't researching the case and the suspects online, she was in town, questioning people and searching old buildings. Zack knows this because he goes with her. He has helped her through all of this, unlike Leo and Ace. It took all of Zack's strength not to slam the door on the way out of the hotel room.
He crossed the hall delicately to Ava's room to break the news to her.
Ava reluctantly saved her work at the sound of a knock on the door. She hated being interrupted.
She moved the short, but sturdy table out of the way and looked through the peephole. It was Zack. The only person she would even bother acknowledging at the moment. She simultaneously undid the lock and removed a small cup of water from the ledge above the door, and pasted on a fake smile for her friend.
"Hi," she said, unconvincingly cheerful.
"Hey Ave…" Zacky looked almost as uncomfortable as her. Something happened. Thoughts began to shoot through her head, all revolving around the case, and Beck.
"What's up?" She spoke anxiously, trying to hide her hopes and fears.
"Uhh, can I come in? There's been a change of plans…" She stepped aside, wanting to hear more, but getting suspicious. She closed the door behind her and waited silently for him to continue.
"Ace, Leonard, and Mia are leaving to finish the tour."
"What about you?" She knew he was probably staying, but she couldn't fight her insecurities at a time like this.
"I'm staying." He answered firmly.
She shook her head and moved on, not having the time to get emotional.
"So do you want to stay in here now? It doesn't make sense to pay for separate rooms when we can share the price of one."
"Yeah, sure," He hated his heart for leaping at the thought of living with Avarielle. His best friend was gone, possibly dead, and he was still crushing on his girl, like a douchebag.
She gave him a quick smile and returned to her laptop without another word. She was so quiet nowadays. She would get this way in the past when she was focused on something, but this was for so long. Sometimes Zack feared she would never return to normal.
"Got any leads?" He asked, hoping to actually get more out of her than the usual elusiveness.
"Not really," She answered without looking up at him. He knew she was searching for that girl at the signing. She was just embarrassed to admit it. As far as Zack could tell, the fan had nothing to do with the kidnapping. But he trusted Ava. He decided she needed to trust him too in order for this to work. He made up his mind to ask her who this girl was. It was obvious Ava knew more than she let on.