Rowan walks quickly with his suitcase dragging behind him and constantly checking his watch. Today is the day he goes to New York City with JD for Cassie’s birthday and to visit Emma. In other words, they’re going to New York City for Cassie’s birthday and avoid Emma as much as possible. Despite having filming for his movie start, Rowan has been able to have lunch or breakfast with JD everyday this past week and a half. Their flight is for 7 AM and it’s all ready 6:57 AM with four more airport gates to run past, but JD is taking his sweet, precious time to get to the gate. Rowan spins around on his heels and keeps walking backwards while he talks.
“JD, you’re one of my best friends, but you are extremely slow and we have to get on our flight within the next three minutes!” Rowan shouts.
“Row, relax. It’s my private jet. The plane isn’t going to leave without its owner,” JD chuckles.
Rowan stops and widens his eyes. “You have a private jet?”
JD stops and slumps. “I’m a multi- billionaire; of course I have a private jet.”
Rowan laughs. “Come on. I don’t want to hold up the whole airport.”
JD smiles and walks alongside Rowan. The flight attendant smiles at the two when they reach the gate at 7:03 AM. She leads the way and JD allows bashful Rowan to follow behind her. Sure Rowan has ridden first class in planes, but he has never flown in a private jet before. Rowan is practically skipping by the time they reach the jet’s doors. The pilot and co- pilot greet the Rowan and JD at the door. While JD denies a flight attendant for the flight and the pilots retreat to the cockpit, Rowan goes to look at JD’s private jet. He drops his suitcase in the front of the plane and a smile sprawls across his face.
The inside of the jet is beautiful. The room is very lush and a creme color with plush seats and plenty of legroom for moose- like Rowan. Rowan meanders around and touches the leather seats. He spots a mini fridge and opens it up to find hard liquors, club soda, and various juices. Rowan smiles to himself at JD’s very different options then stands up to see JD closing all the jet’s window shades. Rowan tilts his head in confusion. JD notices Rowan staring then slowly closes the shade with his eyes locked on Rowan the whole time. As soon as the shade clicks and JD puts his hands at his sides, the two break into hysterical laughter.
“Why are you closing all the shades? Don’t you want to see how the Chicago view changes to country then city again?” Rowan asks.
JD frantically shakes his head. “Nope, not in a million years!” JD immediately states.
Rowan chuckles then leans over the seat to face JD. “Why don’t you want to look out the window at all? Are you afraid of flying?”
“Not so much flying as engines failing… planes crashing… and surviving the crash only to die in a fiery blaze. I’m feeling woozy,” JD admits as he goes on and begins to fall to his side.
Rowan grabs JD’s shoulders and balances. “Okay, take it easy,” Rowan quickly says. JD looks up at Rowan. Rowan smirks at him and takes JD’s hands. “You’re going to be fine because I’m with you,” Rowan assures.
JD smiles and quickly kisses Rowan. Rowan looks at JD worried someone might have noticed. JD laughs. “Don’t worry, the jet is custom made. My mom had it built with absolutely no cameras or recording devices in the plane cabin,” JD clarifies.
“There is absolutely nothing to worry about, right?” Rowan asks. JD nods. “Perfect,” Rowan whispers. He kisses JD.
The intercom buzzes. “Good morning Mr. John Davidson and Mr. Rowan Saunders! Welcome aboard! I am Captain Rick Smith and I will be your pilot for the flight. The time is 7:09 and we are expecting for liftoff in approximately twenty minutes. If you would please sit down and buckle up, that would be great. We will announce when you are free to roam about the cabin and free to get whatever you’d like from the snack areas. As of right now, we are looking at a smooth two and a half hour flight. Enjoy the trip!”
Rowan and JD take seats across from each other and JD immediately pulls a pill bottle out of his khakis. Rowan sighs. “Come on, JD.”
JD snorts. “Didn’t I just tell you that I’m terrified of engines failing, plane crashing—?”
“Yeah, yeah, I know,” Rowan cuts off. “But talk to me. It’s only two and a half hours. Please?” Rowan begs.
JD looks into Rowan’s sympathetic hazel eyes. He sighs in defeat. “Fine, I’ll stay awake.”
“Yes!” Rowan cheers.
JD laughs. “What do you want to talk about?”
Rowan smirks. “Tell me about your life. The only thing you ever tell me about is the first twenty five years of your life with Cassie, your mom, and sometimes your grandpa.”
“That’s because they were the only ones in my life,” JD whispers.
Rowan crinkles his eyebrows together in confusion. “What do you mean?”
“I really didn’t want to tell you about this,” JD mutters. “Rowan, please promise me you won’t judge me for any of the things I did in my past.”
“I would never do anything like that to you,” Rowan swears.
JD takes a deep breath. “Until I was in high school, I was a loner and didn’t understand myself, really. Everyone in my school knew me because I was an heir to be one of the richest men in the world. I was friends with a lot of girls; more specifically choir and band girls. I always looked out for them and they all adored me. My first kiss was with Bethany Grimes freshman year while we were hanging out at her house. She was a flutist in the school band. I was close with her, not as close as I was with Cassie, but we were fairly decent friends and she had a massive crush on me. When she kissed me though, I didn’t feel anything. I talked to Cassie about it and she said I probably just didn’t like Bethany in that way.
“I shrugged it off and never went out with Bethany. A few months later I kissed Cassie, because I thought it was right and maybe I liked her in that way. She was /so/ mad, but I didn’t feel anything anyway. I carried on with life normally, then my first actual crush moved into town. His name was Hugo Wolff and he was a German exchange student. I fell head over heels for him. I can speak fluent German so we became very good friends. Gosh, I fell head over heels for him. I decided to kiss him during his final days in America and I felt fireworks for the first time, but he was repulsed by me after that and the next time we talked was when we said goodbye. The only good thing that came out of it was I was able to come out to my mom. The next ten years I spent learning and only really remaining friends with Cassie. I went on to get a masters degree in math, French literature, American history, and biology simply because I was bored. I dated one guy named Kenneth for two and half years. He was an artist. He scored a big deal in Paris then decided to leave me for the job.
“Two weeks after my twenty fifth birthday is when my life began to fall apart; my grandpa’s kidneys began failing and he was diagnosed with dementia. I had to move back to Palm Beach with my mom to take care of my grandpa while my mom worked on rearranging the whole business. It was a a long two years to sit and watch my grandpa die. Then, when he eventually did pass, we discovered six months later that my mom had stage four breast cancer… which then spread to her bones… then her liver… then eventually her lungs. We were really close before she was ill, but we really bonded spending days just talking to each other while I took care of her. Only a week after Halloween, my mom’s body finally gave up,” JD sighs.
“You are now able to unbuckle and roam about the cabin! Only two hours until we are in New York!” The pilot announces.
JD looks at the ground teary eyed. “How did you handle it?” Rowan asks.
JD gulps. “Not very well,” He croaks looking back up at Rowan. “After my mom’s funeral, I turned to alcohol to solve my problems. I drank at least one six pack by eleven each morning. I spent a majority of my time getting drunk. Cassie’s family kindly invited me to Thanksgiving that year and instead I was chugging a bottle of gin until I passed out vomiting in my bathroom. It’s hard to believe that those were the better days… After a few months I started picking up random men, screw them senselessly, then have them leave the next day and try to drink that pain away. Cassie literally had to come into my house screaming at me to knock some sense into me. When I tried to tell her I didn’t have a problem in a drunken slur, she had to slap me across the face for me to understand her. She practically dragged me into rehab after keeping me sober for a week. I shouldn’t be drinking at all, but I haven’t fallen off the wagon since,” JD wraps up.
They are both quiet for a few seconds. JD sighs and looks at the carpet of the jet. He knew he should not have told Rowan any of that stuff. “Did you ever see my movie ‘Pennies and Marbles’?” Rowan randomly asks. JD shakes his head. “It was a movie about a man who wife had died, was thriving on the little money he had, and raising an Autistic daughter. The most acclaimed scene in the movie was when my character, the dad, was getting kicked out of a motel because he couldn’t afford it, the school was threatening to kick his daughter out of school if she didn’t start going to a therapist or go on medication, and his boss was asking him why he should let him keep his job. Then my character had an emotional breakdown and confessed he didn’t know anything anymore basically because his life was so screwed up. Everyone said that it was the best acting they have ever scene and the best acting of my career. The reason why was because I had some experience with emotional breakdowns.”
JD tilts his head in confusion. “From your mom’s death?”
Rowan snorts. “From my mom’s death, kissing a guy for the first time and not being able to tell anyone, worried my secret would be revealed before I started dating Emma,” Rowan trails off. “They weren’t good at all. I would scream and cry. One time I went as far as to punch a whole in a wall. It’s hard, I know. I’m not one to judge you for how you live your life and I never will judge you,” Rowan states taking JD’s hands.
JD smiles. “I’m so happy I found you,” JD admits.
“That makes two of us,” Rowan says.
They kiss each other. When they break apart, JD squeezes Rowan’s hands. “Oh my gosh we’re going to die. This plane is going to crash and we’re going to die. I can feel this plane shaking like crazy,” JD cries.
Rowan chuckles. “You’re fine! This is as smooth of a ride as we could ask for! Look at it this way: We only have two more hours until we’re on the ground again.”
“Is it too late for me to go to sleep?” JD asks.
Rowan laughs again. “No, you’re staying up with me, because I need someone to talk to.”
“Ugh, fine. Why are you so needy?” JD jokingly groans. They both laugh.
- - -
JD waits with Rowan outside the terminal for Cassie. JD looks down at his watch to see the time is a little after 11:45 AM. There was a little trouble landing the jet because of all the other planes that needed to land, so JD and Rowan took their bags then walked to the other side of the airport to arrive at the terminal just as her plane from Palm Beach landed. JD surprisingly enjoyed his flight with Rowan. That is, he enjoyed the flight until Rowan wanted to push JD’s limits by getting him to look out the window and JD almost threw up. Other than that, they learned a lot about each other. Rowan spots a giddy brunette in a gray cardigan and jeans walk out the terminal door with a single Vera Bradly duffle bag on her shoulder looking around frantically.
JD waves his hand in the air. “Cassie!” He calls.
The brunette looks up and smiles even wider. She runs across into JD’s arms and they embrace each other tightly. When they finally break apart, the girl still holds tightly onto JD’s hands. “You are the best friend I could ever ask for!” She explains.
“We’ve been friends for decades! You deserve it!” JD states. JD directs his arm to Rowan who the girl had not noticed up until then. “Cassie, this is my friend Rowan. Rowan, this is the slightly infamous Cassie you’ve heard about.”
Rowan waves to her. “It’s a pleasure to finally meet you.”
Cassie’s face goes into complete shock. She turns to JD in awe. “Wait, you don’t mean…?”
“Yes,” JD replies.
“This Rowan?” Cassie asks.
“Yes,” JD repeats.
“You’re kidding!” Cassie gasps.
“Cassie, you know I don’t kid around with stuff like this,” JD seriously points out.
Cassie rolls her eyes. “I know, but seriously?”
“Yes!” JD shouts as if it’s so obvious.
Rowan crinkles his eyebrows together in confusion. “I feel like I’m missing something here.”
JD sighs. “She knows about it.”
“Well, not so much that I know as I figured it out,” Cassie states tilting her head back and forth.
“Wait, so does she know /everything/?” Rowan hesitantly asks.
JD shakes his head. “Only the important details.”
Rowan gulps and his face flushes. Cassie puts her hand on Rowan’s shoulder; realistically, as much of her hand as she could reach on Rowan’s shoulder from her petite structure. “Rowan, I’ve known JD a majority of his life. I noticed something was up, got him to convince just enough, and then figured the rest out on my own. Nothing is obvious and you can trust that your secret is safe with me. Do you understand me?” Cassie asks. Rowan slowly nods. Cassie smiles and pats his jaw line. “Great! Now I hear you have an embarrassing picture of JD impersonating an ape on your phone and I need to see this!”
Rowan chuckles. “You have to see it! It’s priceless!” He says taking out his phone.
“Oh come on, guys! Can’t we save me from embarrassment for one night?” JD cries.
Cassie looks up at Rowan. “If you carry my bag to the car, I’ll tell you the story of the first time JD kissed me,” Cassie bargains.
“What do you mean by /the first/ time?” Rowan laughs eyeing JD.
“JD tried to convince himself he was straight numerous times freshman year,” Cassie says with a wink.
“Deal! JD, why haven’t you introduced me to Cassie earlier? I like her,” Rowan informs him.
“Because I needed to have her with us so I could tell you about the time she saw the midnight showing of ‘Pennies and Marbles’ then called me crying at two in the morning afterwards,” JD jokes.
“Shut up! Shut up! Shut up!” Cassie cries.
“I think you two are going to make dinner much more bearable,” Rowan states with a smirk.
“If Emma is anything like I read in the tabloids, you’re going to need us,” Cassie mutters. Rowan laughs because Cassie couldn’t be more accurate.