‹ Prequel: True Love

I Had My Heart Set on You

New York State of Mind

October 21st, 2002

The plane bounced, everything inside the cabin shaking slightly as they finally touched down.

New York was the last place on Earth Zack wanted to be, but against all odds, a company called Hopeless Records bought out their contract with Good Life Records. It happened out of nowhere- one Tuesday afternoon the phone rang, and that was it. Hopeless was interested in their band. They offered to buy out the rights for Sounding the Seventh Trumpet -which they would re-release- while fronting the money for another album.

The skyline illuminated through the tiny windows of the jet.

He had seen it a few times before. They had been through New York a few times, but that was packed into the back of a cargo van, and it looked completely different- it was dirty, trash littered the streets and smog bellowed through the thick city air.

But this? It was amazing.

It was beautiful. It was hopeful, and under any other circumstance, he would have fallen in love with the city.

Except, it was the place that took Mia from him and for that, he couldn't help but hate it.

But the beauty of the city was overshadowed by how gruff everyone seemed to be.

New York was only 2,500 miles away, but it might as well have been another world. The people in Huntington were salt of the earth- they would have given you the very shirt off their back, but here? Everyone seemed to move in such a hurry, not even bothering to make eye contact as they hurried along with their lives.

It was after eleven o'clock, but the city was still bustling- the neon signs lighting the night so brightly it was almost blinding, the streets still overrun with yellow taxis

A waiting van took them to their hotel -a Holiday Inn- not exactly classy, but it was a far cry from the back of the van.

The label had put them up in two adjoining rooms, which left the six of them to split rooms. Val, Matt and Jimmy took the first, while Zack, Brian and Johnny decided they would take the second.

They hadn't been in the room long enough to drop their luggage -or at least, what little luggage they did have- before Jimmy had raided the mini bar.

"Jesus Christ, mashuga nuts and a bottle of Corona. This shit is a joke- let's find a bar!"

"Preferably one with tits-" Brian interjected, getting a resounding nod of approval from Johnny and Jimmy. "Zack, you in?"

"Nah, I think I'm going to stick back here. Get some rest-"

They had all been worried about him.
It had been over three years, but the very thought of Mia was still triggering for Zack, but being in the same city as Mia? They were terrified- for him, for his emotional well-being...

"I can stay behind if you want-"

"I'll be fine Val, just go enjoy the city."

"You'll be alright?" she passed a worried glance at Matt.


"Okay..." she hesitated. "I'll have my cell phone. Promise you'll call if you need anything?"

He nodded, "yeah." They all started at him, their hearts heavy with worry. "Get the fuck outta here! I know this place never sleeps, but the strippers do!"

And that was all it took.

Zack waited until the door clicked shut- listening as the voices disappeared down the hallway before he pulled the top drawer of the nightstand open, revealing a bible and a phone-book.

Odds are, tonight he'd need both.

His hands trembled as he pulled the white-pages from the drawer, placing it in his lap.

He couldn't help but stare at the book- hesitating.

Once he opened the book, he would know.
He would have some sort of answer- if she was, would she see him? And if she did, would she welcome him with open arms or would she turn him away?

The possibilities were endless.

He swallowed hard, doing everything in his power to summon the strength to open the book.

He lit a cigarette, taking a long drag before he finally grabbed the white pages. He began to thumb through the book- his fingers leafing through the pages in chunks as he searched for the "W's". He was so nervous that he had to chant the alphabet to himself as he fingered through the pages.










There it was, plain as day -Winters- staring back at him, but he felt his heart sink.

There must have been a thousand of them, from Aaliyah Winters all the way to Zoie Winters- they spanned three pages. His eyes searched- his desperation growing ever-more evident as he he searched a second...and finally a third time.

He couldn't believe it.

There was no Gavin Winters...

He was irrationally angry- how could that be possible? It was a damn phone book!

He wanted to down his sorrows, but he couldn't- not with that sorry excuse of a mini-bar.

So he did the only thing he could.

He drank the one piss-warm Corona and ate half the can of nuts before collapsing into bed.

He stared into the darkness, tossing and turning as he silently begged his brain to stop, but it wouldn't.

As hard as he tried, he couldn't sleep.

Not with her on his brain.

It was past midnight, but he wasn't even close to tired.

The idea that she was here- in this city, he could almost feel her energy coursing through his veins, and it was better than any cup of coffee.

For the first time in two years, he felt alive.

Something -though, he wasn't sure what- compelled him to get out of bed.

He flipped on the light- digging through his backpack he grabbed a clean Metallica shirt and yesterday's jeans before making his way to the lobby.

He trailed over to the reception desk- waiting (kind of) patiently for the woman to acknowledge him, but she never did.

"I um-" Zack finally interrupted her, motioned to the phone book laying on the desk. "I have a question."

"Okay-" the receptionist didn't even bother to look up from her computer as she continued to type.

"I'm looking for someone in the phone-book but...I can't find them."

"Are you spelling their name correctly?" He had to choke back his every urge to roll his eyes. He dated the girl for over a year, of course he was spelling her fucking name right.


"They may be unlisted."


She let out an irritated sigh, "In New York, one can choose to be unlisted in public phone books and records. It's actually quite common, especially for the upper class. Do you know what the person does?"

"Oil executive..."

"Name?" the woman finally dared to look him in the eye.

"Gavin Winters..."

He watched in silence as the woman began to type again.

"As luck would have it..." she began, grabbing at a Post-It note as she began to scribble. "he bought a new home not too long ago- the sale information is online." She handed the note over the counter.


"Anything else?"

"Yeah, about how far is this?"

"On foot? About thirty blocks, give or take a few."

She gave him very specific instructions and when she noticed just how confused he was she plucked a city map from under the counter, circling the hotel and his destination in red.

Stuffing the map into the back pocket of his jeans, he lit a cigarette and took off into the night.

His old Converse hit against the pavement, his heart beating a little faster with his every step.

He had underestimated the thirty-two block walk, but in a way, he was thankful for it- it had (sort of) helped him to clear his mind.

He drank in every last step.
No matter how menial it seemed- be it the street lights wrapped in an endless bevy of bumper stickers and fliers or the endless neon lights hanging from every shop window, or the Jew-talian deli off of 3rd, or the Thai place situated at the corner of East 58th and Lexington, or the bookstore off 5th.

He took a moment, stopping to marvel at Bergdorf Goodman, a store he was sure she spent a great deal of time in. It was a marvel indeed- even in the dark of night, the window displays were lit bright.

He stopped, listening to the sirens screaming as an ambulance squealed down Madison- lights flashing as it headed straight towards New York Presbyterian.

As insignificant as it all seemed, it wasn't.

At least...not to him.

Because she had been here. She had walked these very streets, she had eaten, shopped, laughed, cried, celebrated holidays and created memories.

It was here that she had lived.
It was the place that she found life without him.

But just like a dream, the building seemed to appear before him.

Even in the darkness, he could see the way the building towered over him- the washed bricks accented with hints of gold. Trump Park Avenue was scrolled in gold across the overhang. A brand new Bentley parked just in front of the building, most likely waiting for the valet.

He must have looked like he didn't belong- because the moment he seemed to move one pace too close to the building, a security guard exited the building, his right hand holding tight at the holster on his side, his left hand clutching at the radio hanging on his jacket.

"Can I help you?"

Zack took one last drag from the cigarette before tossing it to the ground, stomping on the butt before clearing his throat.

"I uh-" he faltered, his words failing him. "I'm looking for Mia Winters."

The man's hard expression seemed to soften if only a little. "It's uh-" the man finally let go of the holster, pulling at his sleeve to reveal his watch. "it's 1:30 in the morning- sorry kid. The Winters' don't take company after 8:30 PM, I have strict orders from Mr.Winters himself. No exceptions."

"Fuck..." Zack swore under his breath.

"Look-" the guard started, pulling a tiny notepad from his pocket before he began to scribble something. He tucked the ink pen behind his ear before tearing the sheet free, "here's the number. If it's important, I'd call up and leave a message- wait for the prompt, then press '3' for her line."

Zack hesitated before taking the paper from the man- to his surprise, it was a phone number.

"But, hey-" the guard huffed, his finger pointing firmly, "you didn't get that from me, you hear?"

Zack just nodded.

"Do you uh-" he hesitated, his fingers scratching nervously at the back of his head, "do you know if she's home?"

"I believe she is."

Zack just nodded, mumbling a 'thanks man' before he made his way across the street to the payphone. He grabbed the receiver, positioning it between his ear and shoulder as he fished through his pockets, producing a handful of change.

He grabbed at the coin, depositing it into the payphone before shoving the rest of the change back into his pocket. His hands trembled with every number he dialed until finally...it rang.




Four times,

and then, her voice...

You've reached Gavin and Mia Winters- please leave a message after the beep and we'll get back to you as soon as possible!

But in that moment, it was all too much.

The sound of her voice.
The knowledge that she was likely only a few hundred feet away.
The knowledge that, even though this was the closest they had been in three years, they had never been further apart.
The knowledge that she had a new life- one that didn't involve him.
It finally broke him.

The beep sounded, but he couldn't find the words.

Instead, he cried.

He cried for Mia and the way he loved her.
He cried over the life and future they should have had.
But most of all, he cried because the girl he loved, was really gone.
♠ ♠ ♠
Visual: Zack

I'm just...not even going to venture into why this took so long- I had a massive surgery in August and...yeah. So...to make it up to you I'm releasing two.

I REPEAT- TWO. THIS AND CHAPTER FIVE (my favorite so far on our journey of remembrance!!)

Some things I'm sure you're wondering "why in God's name are you giving us this kind of memory?"...you see...Mia had to move on- she didn't have a choice she had two little ones to go on for, but Zack? Zack had only himself to worry about, so he couldn't move on.

Also, I want you guys to see how many times in their lives their paths crossed because it's really quite a lot.

So...check out chapter five as well and then tell me what you think?

As always, thanks for reading. It really does mean the world.