Dayna stood by the stage exit as the show ended and quickly kissed JC as the others ran by,  “My crew bus is leaving.  Call me when you get into town tomorrow.”

            “I will.”  JC nodded and watched as Justin bounced by Lance on their way to the dressing room.

            “We’ll do something when you get in, okay?”

            “Yeah, hey this is your last chance.  Ride with us.”  JC gave her a sexy little half smile.

            “Next time.”  She promised as she kissed him again,  “I’ve gotta go.”

            “I’ll call you in the morning.”  JC squeezed her hand then trotted down the hall behind the others.

            Dayna watched until he rounded the corner, then bolted down the hall to jump onto her awaiting bus, she’d already held them up for fifteen minutes and she didn’t want to make them any later.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

            The crew checked into the hotel in Las Vegas early the next morning.  Dayna tossed her over night bag on her bed then yawned and reached for her purse to grab her ID’s and chapstick, which she tucked into the pocket of her shorts.  Her cell phone rang from where it rested on the bed where she’d tossed it, so she hurriedly picked it up and flipped it on,  “Yeah?”

            “Dayna?”  A male voice asked.

            “Who is this?”

            “This is JC.”  He laughed lightly.

            “JC??  It’s…”  She checked her watch.  “Barely eight in the morning, where are you?  Why are you up?”

            “We’re getting ready to leave the hotel.”

            “You’re just now leaving?”  Dayna frowned and rustled through her bag to find the binder with the dates in it.  “You’re supposed to be here in two hours.”

            “I know.”

            “If you’re just now leaving you won’t get here for another 9 hours.”  She sighed.

            “We’re flying.”  JC laughed.

            “You’re flying?”

            “Yeah.”

            “Did I know that?”  She wracked her brain, but it was too early for her to function right.

            “I don’t know.”  He laughed.  “I just wanted to say good morning and to see if you made it okay, are you guys there yet?”

            “Yeah, I’m in my room.”  She yawned and reached for her sweatshirt.  “But I’ve gotta go.”

            “Hair emergency?” JC laughed.

            “Something like that.”  She laughed.  “I’ll see you when you get here.”

            “Where are you going?”

            “A surprise birthday thing for Brian.”

            “Which Brian?”

            “Brian the guy who does the room set ups, makes sure the couches and drinks and snacks and things are there.”  Dayna explained.

            “Oh cool, well wish him a happy birthday for me too.”  JC said.

            Dayna laughed,  “I will.  I’ll track you down later.”

            “I have a few free hours.”

            “I know, and I already know what we can do.”

            “What?”

            “I’ll tell you when you get here.”  She sighed.  “I’ve gotta run.”

            “Okay bye.”  JC shook his head as she hung up her end of the phone.  She grabbed the card from her bag and ran out to the hall where she met up with some of the other people on the crew.  They walked together to the room that would be a cafeteria in another hour, and surprised Brian in the middle of his set up.  They had a little party with candles placed in the breakfast muffins for him and generally had a great time.  Dayna hung around for a while after the initial surprise and watched him open the multitude of cards, then turned quickly when there was a commotion in the hall.

            “Uh oh, the boys are here.”  One of the make-up girls said as she leaned into the hall.

            “Is it ten already?”

            “Ten thirty.”  Brian nodded.

            “Oh man, I’ve got to set up.”  She hugged him quickly then ran out of the room and up the hall.

            “Dayna Dayna Bo Bayna!”  Chris sang as he pretended to toss his bag in her way.  “Where’s the fire?”

            “Nowhere.”  She scowled at him and kicked at his bag.

            “Your lover man is in the lobby.”  Chris laughed as Dayna screeched to a halt.

            “Chris?  Grow up.”  She shook her head and laughed,  “I need to get my stuff set up and I was supposed to have that done before you guys got here.”

            “We don’t need hair until we get to the venue.”

            “Wrong, you need it before.  Hair and make-up before you leave the floor for the show.”

            “What?  Why?  That’s sick.”

            She shrugged.  “I don’t make the rules kiddo.”

            “I’ll pay you a hundred bucks to do my hair when we get there.”

            She shrugged,  “Okay, let me see the cash up front?”

            “Dammit.”  Chris sighed and unlocked his door.  “I can get it.”

            “Show me the money and you’ve got a deal.”  Dayna laughed and continued to the end of the hall where her hair room was.  “Hey!”

            “What?”  Chris stuck his head out in the hall.

            “What’s he doing in the lobby?”

            “Signing stuff.”

            “And you left him down there?”

            “No one stopped me.”  Chris shrugged.  “See I snuck in after JC and Justin so I got to come right up.”  He laughed and leaned against the doorframe.  “Hey I‘m gonna head down to lose some money in a little bit, you guys wanna come?”

            “Nope, we’re going to the Stratosphere.”  Dayna smiled devilishly.

            “Oh God.”  Chris held his stomach and made barfing sounds,  “You got a death wish or something?”  He shook his head then closed his door.

            Dayna let herself into the hair and make-up room was and cringed as she saw all her gear piled in the corner.  “Beautiful.”  She sighed and reached for the little chair.  After twenty minutes she had maneuvered it into the vanity area in front of the mirrors and started setting up her kits.

            “So what’s the plan?”  JC asked as he stood in the doorway with his hands on the top of the doorframe.

            “Hey!”  She turned around quickly, startled by the sound of his voice.  “There you are.”  She laughed and crossed the room to give him a hug.

            “Here I am.”  He laughed.  “So what’s the plan?  You said you came up with something for us to do?”

            “Are you in a hurry to leave?”  Dayna raised her eyebrow at him.

            “No.”  He kissed her softly and kicked the door shut behind him.

            “I’ve gotta finish setting up here, I’m running behind.”  She smiled as she took a step back.  “If you want to get going, you can help me you know.”

            “I could do that, yeah.”  JC nodded and sat in her hair chair.

            “Or you can sit there and watch.”

            “I could do that too.”  He laughed and resisted the temptation to spin the chair around.

            Dayna sighed and leaned in front of him to put her brushes in order,  “You’re a pest.”  She reached into her kit and rustled around looking for her hair mascara tubes to set out with the gels.

            “So really, where are we going?”  He bounced his feet on the little bar under the chair.

            “The Stratosphere.”  Dayna smiled at him in the mirror.

            “Right on.”  He laughed.  “Are we going on the roller coaster at the top?”

            “If you want.”

            “You’re not afraid of heights?”

            “Heights?  No.  Falling?  Yes.”

            “Okay.”  JC laughed.

            “So just don’t let me fall and we’ll be fine.”  She tickled the back of his neck as she brushed behind him to put out some of her most used products.

            “I won’t let you fall.” 

            “Cool.  Then let me finish up here, and we’ll go.”  She smiled and finished doing her set up.  They headed out to the stratosphere with two security guards in tow.  The crowds were ten times worse than Dayna had imagined, so when they finally got to the observation deck she was almost relieved to step off the elevator and into the round room.

            “Whoa!  Oh wow, shit.”  Dayna’s eyes flew open and she took a quick step backward toward the elevator.

            “What?”  JC laughed and reached for her hand.

            “My stomach just fell to me toes.”  She whispered as she closed her eyes.

            “You look like Chris when we brought him up here.”  JC chuckled lightly and stood by her side.

            “Sweet Jesus, its all windows.”  Dayna felt her blood stop as she opened her eyes.

            “Well yeah, so you can see the whole strip.”  JC couldn’t keep the smile off his face.

            “I’m not even kidding.”  Dayna closed her eyes again.

            “I thought you weren’t afraid of heights.”

            “I’m not.”  She shook her head.  “I wasn’t.”  She clarified after realizing that she was standing with her back pressed against the wall.

            “You weren’t?”

            “I’m usually okay in a building.  I’ve been to the Empire State building, and I was fine.”

            “You can’t see straight down from the Empire State building without going to the edge.”

            “I know.” Dayna’s stomach did a flip flop.  “Looking straight out you don’t feel so high, but…”  She opened her eyes a crack.  “Oh God this is really high.”

            “We don’t have to stay if you don’t want.”  JC laughed lightly as a group of girls walked by to observe the spectacle.

            “I can stay, but there’s no chance in hell I’m getting on any kind of roller coaster.”  She opened her eyes to meet his.

            “That’s okay, no roller coaster.”

            “And do not let go of me.”

            “I won’t.”  He laughed and shook his head.

            “This isn’t funny.”  She said as she cracked a small smile of her own.

            “No, I know.  It’s just… you should have seen your face when we got off the elevator.”  JC tried not to laugh again.  “Come on.  I’ll get you a shirt or something to prove you did it.”  JC tugged at her hand as the two security guards snickered at their sides.

            “If I puke, I’m sorry.  I just want to get that straight.”  She looked up at him, and he knew she wasn’t kidding.

            “Dayna… it was your idea to come here.”  He said softly.

            “I know.”

            “We don’t have to stay.”

            “I know.”

            “Let’s just go.”

            “No, I don’t want to go.”  She shook her head.

            “Dayna, you’re green.”

            “I’m not green.”  She tried to frown but he kept smiling at her.  “Come on, let’s go get that shirt.”

            “You’re going to have to step away from the wall.”  JC laughed softly and gave her hand a little tug.  She took two steps away from the wall and leaned on him, trying to make it look like she was getting lovey dovey with him, instead of holding on for dear life.

            “It’s a beautiful view though, really.  You can see the whole strip from this side, and over there you can see old Las Vegas."

            “I’ll take your word for it.”

            “If you just look straight out instead of down, all you’ll see is the skyline.”  JC whispered as they rounded the corner by the little store.

            Dayna glanced up quickly and felt her stomach plummet to her knees again, but she kept her eyes on the street of hotels.  “That’s pretty cool.”  She nodded, but didn’t let go of his hand.

            The two security guards with them tried not to laugh as they entered the store, followed by a small group of girls who had followed them up from the lobby.  They looked around for a little while as Dayna calmed down and let go of her vice grip on JC’s hand.  She was comfortable walking around the store by herself and let JC sign a few autographs without her hanging around.

            After a few minutes JC came over with a gaudy cartoonish t-shirt.  On it was a picture of the Stratosphere with a huge animated face looking terrified pressed against the windows.  Across the bottom was printed,  “I survived the Stratosphere.”

            “I think this is the shirt.”  JC laughed and held it up in front of Dayna.  “Perfect fit.”

            “You’re a smart ass.”  She shook her head, but wasn’t surprised when he took it to the front to ring up the sale.  She stayed at the shot glass display until he came over and placed his hand at the small of her back, sending chills up her spine.

            “We can go now.”  He said as he leaned over to brush his lips across her ear.

            “Don’t do that.”  She shivered again and bumped her shoulder against his arm.

            “What?”

            “When you talk that close to my ear, it gives me the shivers.”

            “Good or bad?”

            “Good.  But we’re in public.”

            JC laughed and leaned over as they got in line for the elevator ride back down,  “So?”  He was playing with her now, doing it intentionally.

            “Knock it off.”  She laughed as he kissed her quickly… and forgot they were 110 stories off the ground.

 

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

 

            They returned to the hotel still holding hands and went directly to the room that Dayna had set up to do their hair.  She was a few minutes late but made up the time by leaving Justin’s curls a little crazy.  “How come we have to do this now?”  Chris whined as he took his turn in the seat.

            “Because that’s the rules.”  Dayna mumbled as she debated trimming his hair.

            “Rules suck.”

            “Complain to someone else.”

            “Can’t you just take this stuff there and do our hair when we get there?”  Chris whined as he bounced in the chair.

            Dayna dropped her hands onto his shoulders and sighed,  “Chris… can’t you just sit still and let me do it now?”

            “It’s gonna look like shit by the time we get there.”  He pouted.

            “Nothing I do looks like shit.”  Dayna thwapped the back of his head with the comb in her hand,  “Give me some credit here.  And for God’s sake sit still.”

            “Dayna, do you – “ He began to turn around.

            “Okay Joey?  Hold his head still so I can do this so we can go.”  Dayna said as she waved Joey over. 

            “You’re on your own Day.”  Joey shook his head and ducked out the door before she could toss anything at him.

            “Chris… please just hold still.  I know you don’t want it done but you’ve got another thing coming if you think I’m letting you leave the hotel looking like a drowned rat.”

            “I don’t look like a rat.”  Chris bounced around in his chair again and faced forward.  Dayna did his hair with swiftness and shooed him out of the room before her scissors “accidentally” slipped.

            “Finally.”  She sat in her chair and turned it around to look at JC and Lance who were talking at the little table.  “Aren’t you guys going to be late or something?”

            Lance checked his watch and stood up,  “Yep.”

            “You’re coming, right?”  JC asked as he stood up and followed Lance to the door.

            “Yeah, of course.  I’ll be right behind you guys.”  Dayna smiled.

            “Are you just gonna wait for the frenzy to die down?”

            “Yeah.”  Dayna laughed,  “I’ll give it an hour after you leave before I head over.”

            “Okay.  I’ll see you later then.”  He kissed her as Lance tapped his knuckles against the doorframe.  “I’m coming.”  JC rolled his eyes and passed Lance.

            “Catch ya later Day.”  Lance laughed and pulled the door shut behind him.

            “Bye.”  Dayna said softly to no one in particular.  She sighed and looked at the mess she had created.  “Well… I could leave it for tonight…”  She said to herself with her hands on her hips.  “Right.”

            Dayna shook her head and began the cleaning process, if she got it done before the show she might actually get some sleep before they had to leave.  She spent almost an hour getting things loaded and stacked in the corner to be moved out that night, then she went to her room to change before heading over to the venue

 

            Without any work to do backstage, Dayna took the time to poke around in everyone else’s work to see if she could watch what they do.  She was on her way to the sound board out of the floor when she spotted a small group of crew workers standing around with Abby, their lighting manager, and another young lady.  A pretty young woman who looked completely out of place among the greasy and sweaty workers.

            “Whoa who’s that?”  Dayna asked Justin as he walked by.

            “Who?”  He turned around to follow her gaze.  “That’s Jennifer.”

            “Yeah but who is she?”

            “Abby’s niece.”  Justin shrugged and turned to walk away but Dayna grabbed the hem of his shirt.

            “What’s she doing here?”  She asked.

            “Dude Day, I don’t know.”  He gave her a weird look.  “What’s wrong with you?”

            “Nothing.  Nevermind.”  Dayna let go of Justin’s shirt and smiled.  “Run along.”  She shooed him away then walked over to where Abby was standing with the younger girl.  Abby was everyone’s mother figure on the road, though she couldn’t have been more than 35.

            “Hey Dayna, I want you to meet my niece Jennifer.”  Abby smiled broadly at the younger woman as the rest of the crew dispersed;  “Dayna is one of the ‘kids’ I take care of.”

            “Hi, it’s nice to meet you.”  Dayna extended her hand to the petite blonde.  “Take care of me huh?  I don’t remember you kissing my ouchies when I biffed my ankle.”

            “Your feet stink kiddo.”  Abby laughed and pulled her hair into a ponytail.  “Hey listen, I’ve gotta go meet with the guys about spotlight four, you know these local nuts never do it right the first time.  Can you show her around a little?  Maybe point her towards the food?” 

            “Sure.”  Dayna smiled.

            “Cool, I’ll catch up with you before the show starts.”  Abby smiled then turned and trotted down the hall to where the lighting guys were doing the set up.

            “This is so cool.”  Jennifer looked around the back stage area with childlike awe.  “This really is impressive.”

            “Yeah, I guess so.”  Dayna smiled and looked around.  “I see it every day so it’s lost its glitz for me, but you’re right… it is pretty impressive.”

            “I just graduated with a degree in engineering, so right now just about everything looks cool.”  She laughed.  “How juvenile is that?”  Jennifer smiled at Dayna and blushed quickly,  “This is so cool.”  She mocked herself.

            Dayna laughed with her,  “No you’re right though, it is pretty cool.  Have you seen the stage set up and everything yet?”

            “Not really.  I got to the arena late last night and barely got to see anything.”

            “Last night in San Francisco?”

            “Yeah, that’s where I met up with Abby.”  Jennifer nodded and continued to look around at the huge metal structures.

            “Oh, are you from the Bay area?”  Dayna asked.

            “No, LA actually.  I was up here visiting some friends at Berkeley when Abby said you guys would be in town.  She said I could catch a ride back down to LA with her… if that’s okay.”  Jennifer blushed quickly and licked her lips.

            “Oh I’m sure it’ll be fine.”  Dayna smiled, Jennifer was sounding better and better with every minute.  “We’ll be in LA for a couple days, you should go out with us sometime.”  Dayna said as Jennifer pulled her hair back into a ponytail.

            “Yeah that’d be fun.”  Jennifer smiled and sighed.  “Do you get to go out very often?”

            “Eh, not really.  But whenever we can we do.”  Dayna laughed and nodded toward the stage.  “Come on, I’ll show you around a little bit and introduce you to the guys.”

            “Great.”  She nodded and followed Dayna around the side of the stage.  “So what do you do on the tour?”

            “I do their hair.”  Dayna nodded.  “And I try to keep them in line.  It’s fun actually, they’re a great group of guys and they don’t take things too seriously, you know?”

            “Yeah, they look like they have a good time… from what I’ve seen I mean.  Unfortunately I’ve never really paid much attention to their music or videos or whatever.  I doubt I could tell them apart.”  Jennifer admitted shyly.

            “That’s okay, I couldn’t either when I came on.”   Dayna smiled.  “And they won’t care.”

            “Okay.”  Jennifer laughed and stuck her hands in her pockets.  “I actually met Justin already… he was running around here a couple minutes ago.”

            “Yeah, that sounds about right.”  Dayna laughed as they climbed a set of stairs up to the stage where JC and Joey were talking to the band.  Joey was playing around with a guitar and laughing with the guitarist while JC’s face creased into a serious expression as he talked animatedly with his hands.

            “That’s Joey over there, and JC.”

            “JC looks serious.”

            “He is.”  Dayna laughed.  “He’s all about the show, making sure it runs right and everything.”

            “Don’t they have people for that?”

            “Sure they do.”  Dayna nodded.  “But that doesn’t stop him from worrying.”  She shook her head and waved at Joey.

            Joey looked up from the guitar and saw Dayna standing beside a girl he’d never seen before.  He yanked the guitar over his head and handed it to the guitarist then trotted across the stage,  “Hey Day.”

            “Hi Joe.”  Dayna laughed lightly.  “This is Jennifer, she’s Abby’s niece.”

            “Nice to meet you.”  Joey shook her hand and gave her a sweet flirtatious smile.

            “Nice to meet you.”  She replied in response.  “Do you play?”

            “What?  Guitar?  No… no I was just playing around.”  He laughed and looked over his shoulder.  “Hey C!  Don’t be rude man.”  He shouted, cutting JC off in the middle of another wild explanation.

            JC said something to the band director, then walked on over to where they stood,  “Hey babe.”  He draped his arm around Dayna’s waist and kissed her quickly.  “Hi, I’m JC.”  He shook Jennifer’s hand.

            “Hi, I’m Jennifer.”

            “She’s Abby’s niece.”  Joey explained with a wink.

            “Oh cool, Abby’s awesome.”  JC smiled.  “She keeps our heads on straight.”

            “She tries to anyway.”  Joey laughed and shaded his eyes to see if he could find Abby up in the catwalks.  “So… are you here for a couple days?”  Joey couldn’t help but flirt.

            “Um, until you get to LA, yeah.”  She nodded.

            “Then you’re going home?”  Joey asked.

            “Well I live in LA, so home will be a lot closer.”  Jennifer laughed.

            “How do you like it so far?  The tour I mean?”  JC asked, bringing it back to a professional level.

            “It’s pretty interesting.”  Jennifer looked around the almost empty stage.  “I didn’t get a chance to see the stage set up or anything in San Francisco, so this is the first time I’ve seen it.  Impressive.”

            “Oh you haven’t seen a show yet?”  JC asked.

            Jennifer shook her head and continued to look around in awe,  “No, not yet.”

            “Well you should go tonight.  We’ve got a VIP section thing near the sound table if you want to hang out there tonight.  It’s elevated so you get a good view.”  JC smiled.

            “Oh really, you don’t need to go to any trouble.  Abby got me a ticket in the lower level.”  Jennifer laughed and looked out across the floor.  “Not that that narrows it down or anything.”

            “Well hey, if you change your mind or whatever you can just show the security your pass and they’ll take you to the VIP seating.”  JC gave Dayna a quick squeeze,  “I’ve gotta go back to work.”  He said softly.

            “Okay.”  Dayna nodded and looked at Jennifer,  “Let me finish showing you around backstage, then we can go grab some food.”

            “Okay.”  Jennifer laughed and waved to JC and Joey as she and Dayna walked to the end of the stage.

“See you later Jennifer!”  Joey shouted after her as he walked backward for a few steps. 

            Jennifer waved again then bounced down the little steps,  “So are you and JC together?”

            “Yeah.”  Dayna blushed but couldn’t hide her big smile.  “That’s kind of a recent development.”

            “You make a cute couple.”  Jennifer said politely.

            “Thank you.”  Dayna nodded and headed down the hall as she cleared her throat,  “So um, this is the game room, lets see if anyone is in here.”  She pushed the door open and looked around,  “Hey Lonnie, have you seen Lance or Chris?”

            “Nope.”  He said without looking up from the pinball machine.

            “If you had to guess, where do you think they’d be?”   Dayna prodded for answers.

            “Uh… I’d try the dressing room for Lance and the cafeteria for Chris.”  Lonnie said as he flipped the ball expertly.  “Have you seen that boy eat lately?  You’d think it was going out of style or something.”

            “He goes through spurts.  After this he won’t eat for a week.”  Dayna shook her head.  “Thanks anyway.”  She looked back at Jennifer,  “Oh well, you can meet them later, let’s go to the cafeteria and grab some food.  I’m starving and those boys will be in my room in another hour.”

            “Okay.”  Jennifer nodded and followed Dayna down the hall to the cafeteria.  She looked around but Chris was nowhere to be found.  They took their Caesar salads and pasta over to an empty table and sat down to eat.  “Do you know where uh… where Abby is?”

            “Nope.”  Dayna shook her head.  “But I’d imagine if we wait here long enough she’ll swing by.”

            “Yeah?”

            “Yeah.  Eventually everyone comes by the food room.”  Dayna laughed and took a bite of her salad.  “So what do you do in LA?  Now that you’ve graduated I mean.”

            “I’m shopping around for a job.  The school is helping a lot though, trying to get me placed in a field that I’ve excelled in.”

            “That’s cool.”  Dayna smiled.

            “Yeah, but right now I’m kind of, between jobs.  I’m one of those twenty-something ‘kids’ that is currently unemployed.”

            “Well you’ve got your degree, it’s not like you’re bumming around or anything.”

            “That’s true.  It just feels weird you know?  I’ve been a student for as long as I can remember, and I’ve worked my way through college so now that I don’t have school any more and I don’t have a job I just feel like going, ‘Ahhh!’ you know?”  Jennifer laughed.

            “Yeah, I can imagine.”

            “Of course you’ve got the perfect job right here.  Doing something you love, putting your skills to work and having the time of your life.”

            “It’s a lot of work though.  Lots of people look at this and go, ‘wow you’re on tour with Nsync!’ but it’s not like that.  It’s leaving at three in the morning to drive eleven hours to the next venue to set up, do hair and pray for a couple hours of sleep before I have to load everything up and start again.  It’s not always that hectic, but there are days that just seem endless.”  Dayna laughed.

            “But would you trade it?”

            “Not for anything.”  Dayna shook her head.  “The job is great, the people have their moments, but overall they’re pretty cool.”

            “And you get to see your boyfriend a lot.”

            “Yeah that too.”  Dayna laughed and knew that Jennifer would be a blast to hang out with again.  “Hey, you really should come out with us while we’re in LA.  We’re usually given a little more free time there, I’m sure we’ll head out for a night on the town or something.”  Dayna smiled.

            “Really?  Sure that’d be fun.”  Jennifer blushed.  “I’m not a big party animal or anything but I… yeah that would be fun.”

            “You don’t have to be a party animal with these guys.”  Dayna laughed and reached for a napkin,  “Here, let me get your number so we can hook up when we get there.”

            “I’m driving down with you guys.”

            “Yeah but if you go home or whatever.”  Dayna shrugged.  “And we’ll be there for a couple days.”

            “Cool, that’d be fun.”  She wrote her number on the napkin as Abby crossed the room and stopped by their table.

            “Hey kids, so did Day show you around?”  She asked.

            “Yeah.”  Jennifer nodded.  “The stage is incredible, I’d love to just spend hours walking around under it.”

            “You’d break your neck.”  Abby laughed.  “They’ve got all kinds of lifts and hydraulics under there, a gazillion moving parts and trap doors.”  She shook her head and looked at Dayna,  “You gonna go to work anytime today kid?”

            “I did their hair before they came to the venue.”  Dayna shrugged.

            “Lance looks like a drowned rat.”

            “What?!  What did he do?”  Dayna’s eyes widened.

            “I don’t know.”  Abby shrugged.

            “Shit, okay I’ve gotta go do damage control.”  She stood up and smiled at Jennifer,  “I’ll see you later.”

            “Okay, thanks for showing me around.”

            “Anytime.”  Dayna waved quickly then ran out of the room to find Lance.

 

            Dayna spotted Lance and Joey walking side by side down the hall, both in hysterics over something.  “Lance!”  Dayna shouted after him.

            He turned around slowly and smiled,  “Dayna!”  He shouted back.

            “What did you do?”  She ran over to him and put her hands in his hair.  “I am going to kill you.”

            Me?  No, you’ve got to kill Chris.”  Lance said defensively as he reached for her hands.

            “I will when I get my hands on him.”  Dayna sighed,  “Dammit, okay come on.”  She grabbed his arm and pulled him down the hall.  “I don’t even have my stuff here.  Shit Lance.”

            “It’s not my fault!”  He laughed but let Dayna pull him.

            “You guys are like sixth graders I swear.”

            “Hey, it was Chris… you know I didn’t stand a chance.”

            “Just…”  She sighed.  “Just don’t move.  Wait right here.”  She pushed him back so that he was standing against the cold concrete wall and poked her head into Dave’s office.  “Do you have a brush?”

            “A what?”  Dave looked up from his cell phone.

            “A hair brush?  And a revolver.”

            “Uh oh.”  He laughed and reached for his bag.  “Who’s dead?”

            “Chris.”  Dayna sighed as he dug in the bag.  “Maybe Lance, I haven’t decided.”

            “Here.”  He handed her a plastic brush and asked,  “Will that do it?”

            “It’ll have to.”  She frowned and went back to the hall.  “Okay Lance, you get to have flat hair tonight.  How do you like that?”

            “Better than no hair I guess.”  He shrugged as she reached up and tore the brush through his hair.  “It’s not the end of the world.  After ten minutes it’ll be all sweaty and gross anyway.”

            “Not the point.”  Dayna grumbled under her breath.  “Chris needs to grow up.”

            “Or you could relax.”  Lance shrugged and took the brush out of her hands before she ripped his hair out at the roots.  He brushed his hair himself then handed the brush back to Dayna,  “He was just goofing around, we all were.”

            She sighed; she wasn’t in the mood to go into why Chris was a child.  “Here…”  She reached up and messed his hair with her fingers.

            “I just brushed that.”  Lance protested.

            “Live with it, at least this way you’ll look close to how you usually do.”  Dayna grumbled.  “I can’t believe I’m letting you go out there looking like this.  Next time I’m bringing my survival kit.”

            “Dayna, no one’s going to be looking at my hair.”  He reached up to smooth it into place again.  “You worry too much.”

            “Do you know where Chris is?”  She changed the subject abruptly

            “Are you going to kill him?”

            “I’m going to try not to.”  She shook her head.  “I have something for him.”

            “I don’t know where he is.”

            “Lance…”

            “I don’t.”  He shrugged and smiled.  “He doused me, we wrestled a little, then he took off.  I’m just hoping he shows up for the show.”

            “If you see him let him know I’m looking for him.”

            “He’s probably going to be avoiding you like the plague after messing up my hair.”  Lance laughed.  “But if I see him, I’ll let him know you’re looking for him.”

            “Thanks.”  She tapped the brush against her leg.

            “Can I go now?”

            “Yes.”  Dayna smiled and put her hands on her hips.  “And just so you know, I can relax and have fun.”

            “Not when it comes to hair.”

            “Hair is my life.”

            “And that is sad.”  Lance laughed.  “Anyway, I’ll see you later Day.”  He leaned over and gave her a quick hug,  “Thanks for coming to the rescue.”

            “Anytime.”  Dayna laughed lightly then realized that Lance was hugging her and she didn’t feel any different.  It could have been Joey or Justin or anyone else.  “Weird…”

            “Hmm?” Lance took a step back. 

            “What?  No, nothing.”  She hadn’t meant to say that out loud.  “I’ll see you later.”  She waved the brush at him then turned to go back to Dave’s room to return it to him.

 

            Dayna slid back into the cafeteria area to grab a bag of chips and a drink before heading out to see what other kind of trouble she could get herself into.  She watched the openers from the side stage and tried to locate Jennifer in the crowd.  She finally spotted her sitting off to the side and by herself in the VIP section, having obviously taken the guys up on the offer.  She snuck out to the VIP section of the audience to sit with Jennifer just before the show started and watched it from the front. It was a completely different feeling seeing it from a fans point of view and she felt herself getting excited and feeding off the energy of the crowd less than ten feet away.

            All of the guys played off the crowd so well; they hit their steps and made everything look so easy.  Only Dayna knew that immediately after the show they’d ride their adrenaline high for a little while before they crashed onto anything flat and preferably soft.

 

            When the show ended Dayna took Jennifer to Abby’s post, then headed backstage on her own to try to locate Chris, she had some unfinished business to attend to.  “Where’s Chris?”  Dayna asked as Joey walked by on his way out.

            “Beats me.”  He shrugged,  “Why?”

            “I’ve got something for him.”  She smiled and waved the folded up napkin with Jennifer’s phone number on it at him.

            “I thought you were going to stop trying to find girlfriends for Chris?”

            “I am.”  Dayna said softly as she tucked the phone number into her pocket.

            “Oh you are?”  Joey laughed.  “Then can I have that number?  Because she was cute and I mean… if Chris isn’t going to use it, and you aren’t going to use it, maybe I can.”  He smirked.

            “No.”  Dayna shook her head.

            “Oh come on!”  He made a move like he might reach into her pocket and grab it.

            “No.”  She swatted his hand away.

            “You suck Dayna.”

            “Rumors, all rumors.”  She laughed and turned to walk away.

            “Wait Day, you’ve got the Jayster to make you happy now so you don’t need to find a girl for Chris so can’t I please just have it?”

            “Joey…”  She sighed.  “You don’t need help finding girls.”

            “I need help finding ‘the one’.”

            “You’re not even looking for ‘the one’.”  Dayna rolled her eyes.

            “So what?  Neither is Chris.”  Joey pointed out before Dayna walked away.  “Hey if he says ‘no’ then can I have it?”  He shouted after her.

            “Joey…”

            “Wait.  Day!  Where are you going?”

            “To find Chris.”  She shouted over her shoulder as she headed for the exit. 

 

            The vans were lined up in perfect little rows against the building but she knew where she was heading.  The third van from the front had a little light on inside and a guard standing nearby so she flashed her badge and pulled the front door open slowly.

            “Chris?”  Dayna asked as she leaned into the front seat.

            “Hang on.”  She heard a soft, deep voice say.

            “Lance?”  Dayna rested her hand on the armrest as she held the door open with her foot.

            “Yeah?”  He pushed himself up from his reclined position on the back seat as he held his cell phone to his ear.

            “I’m sorry, I thought you were Chris.  Do you know where he is?”

            “Midair.”  He shrugged.

            “What?”

            “Hang on.”  Lance said into the phone,  “He’s going to Pennsylvania.”

            “Why?”

            “Something with his grandma.”

            “Is she okay?”  Dayna asked quickly.

            “Yeah, it’s a birthday party thing.”

            “When is he coming back?”

            “Um…” He checked his watch,  “On Wednesday for the James Taylor tribute special.  He’s meeting us at the studio.”

            “But you guys have a behind the scenes thing with Entertainment Tonight tomorrow in LA.”

            “Right.”  Lance nodded.

            “So you’re going to do it without Chris?”

            “Uh huh.”  He glanced at the phone in his hand.  “We do that all the time.”

            “Okay.”  Dayna nodded.  “Thanks.”  She tapped the door again as he turned around to finish his phone call.  She would have to hook him up when he got back on Wednesday, which worked out because then she’d have time to really check Jennifer out.  To make sure she was a good choice for Chris.

 

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

 

            “There is absolutely nothing right with four in the morning.”  JC yawned as he followed the others out the front of the hotel to their buses.

            “The last time I saw 4am, I was just getting in.”  Joey laughed softly, then yawned as he hopped up the steps onto the bus behind JC.  “You’re gonna leave the kid out there to sign by himself?"  Joey asked as JC collapsed onto his bunk.

            “Does he have security?”  JC mumbled into his pillow.

            “Yeah.”

            “Then it’s all good.”  JC fluffed the pillow under his head and tried to drown out the sounds of the fans gathered around the bus. 

            “Where’s Dayna?”

            “Sleeping.”

            “Sleeping?  How’d she swing that?”  Joey asked as he opened and closed every cupboard on the bus.  “Dammit I know we’ve got Red Bull in here somewhere.”  He grumbled.

            “She swung it by leaving at midnight with the crew.”  JC yawned again and shut his drape.

            “Where’s the Red Bull?”  Joey asked.

            “I’m asleep Joe.”

            “Well can you wake up for three seconds to tell me where the Red Bull is?”  Joey mumbled as he slammed the cupboards again.

            “No.”  JC pulled his pillow over his head and tried to drown out the sounds of Joey looking for his caffeine and the others arriving on the bus.  He wasn’t able to get back to sleep until the bus started and they were on the southbound freeway to Los Angeles.

 

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

 

            By the time they got to LA, Dayna had been to the studio to make sure her things were there, checked into the hotel, taken a shower, had breakfast and made a few phone calls.  She was set and raring to go when JC tapped on her door shortly after ten in the morning.

            “Hey you.”  She smiled as she opened the door.  “Oh man… you look like you need a coffee fix or something.”

            “I need a shower, then I’ll be human.”  JC rubbed his hands over his face.  “Just wanted to say hi before I turned into a giant white prune.”

            “Gee thanks.”  Dayna laughed,  “There’s a mental image I need.”

            “Uh huh.”  He yawned and covered his mouth with his hand.

            “You’ve gotta be at the studios in two hours with the buses.”  She checked her watch.

            “I know.”

            “So I’ll see you there?”

            “Are you riding over with us?

            “No, I’m leaving in about, fifteen minutes to head over.”  Dayna shook her head.

            “Why?”

            “Because I’ve got work to do.”

            “Didn’t you already set up?”

            “Nope.”

            “Okay.” 

            Dayna laughed and shook her head,  “Go take a shower and wake up, I’ll see you when you get there, okay?”

            “Yeah.”  He leaned in for a quick kiss and she could tell he’d at least brushed his teeth since he woke up. 

            She smiled and gently pushed him away,  “Go get human.”

            “See you in a few.”  JC gave her his first genuine smile of the day and sauntered down the hall looking half drunk.

 

            When JC and the guys arrived at the Entertainment Tonight studios, everything was set up and ready to go.  They filed into Dayna’s station and got their hair done, then make-up and wardrobe.  Joey and Lance gave the hosts a tour of the bus, and then they all sat around on the set couches and talked about their tour and what they were planning to do next.

            “Well when the tour is done, we’re going to take a couple months off while we work on putting together a new album and tour.”  JC explained.

            “You’re already planning another tour?” 

            “Yeah, these things have to be planned way in advance to reserve the venues and things.”  JC nodded.

            “We’ve already started working on some songs for the album, talking to different producers and stuff.”  Justin added.

            “We’re going to have a lot more input with this one.  I know Justin wrote a couple songs that will probably be on it, and JC of course.”  Lance nodded.

            “So what will you guys do doing your break?”

            “Nothing.”  Joey shook his head.

            “Sleep!”  JC laughed.

            “Work…”  Lance sighed.  “I’ve got some new talent coming into FreeLance, so I’ll be busy with them.”

            “I’m going to stay home and do nothing.  Me and Joey, we’re going to do nothing together.”  Justin smiled.

            “Wrong answer man.  After spending what like… five months staring at you?  You can do nothing at your own house by yourself.”  Joey laughed.

            “So we’re missing a member here, where’s Chris?”

            “He’s visiting his grandma, it’s her birthday I think… today?”  JC looked at the others for confirmation.

            “Yeah, she’s 75 today.”  Lance nodded, silently thanking Chris for calling that morning so he could get the details.

            “Happy birthday grandma!”  They all said into the camera with big smiles.

            “Come back soon Chris!”  Justin pretended to pout.

            They finished up the interview then they all filed back out to the buses to do a little one on one interviews to get ‘honest’ opinions about the other guys.  Chris apparently taped his earlier at a hotel and they would show clips from Chris’ interview so that he would be included.

            Dayna hung out with whoever wasn’t on the bus getting interviewed until they were all done and ready to go back to the hotel.  She bounced back into the studio and to her room to start cleaning up.  When she pushed the door open JC was sitting in her chair reading the back of a bottle of protein spray,  “Hey, why do you use this all the time?”

            “Hi.”  She hadn’t expected him to still be there, so seeing him was a pleasant surprise.  “Because it’s good for your hair, and it smells good.”

            “It smells gross.”  JC sniffed at the nozzle.

            “No it doesn’t.”  She took it from him and spritzed his hair quickly.  “It smells like a salon kind of.”

            “That’s nasty.”

            “Girls love it, trust me.”  She laughed and set the bottle on the little counter.  “It’s good for your skin too, it’s an all around perfect spray.”

            “Lovely.”  He rolled his eyes and used his foot to turn the chair around.  “So what’s the plan for tonight?”

            “Going out.  Joey’s making the plans and coordinating it or whatever.”  She stifled a yawn and reached around him for her selection of brushes.  Dayna kicked open her kit that was lying on the floor and carefully placed each brush in its spot.  “So hey… what did you think of Jennifer?”

            “Who?”

            “That girl I introduced you to the other day.”

            “Abby’s cousin or whatever?”  JC asked as he stood up and leaned over her, running his fingers through his hair as he leaned closer to the mirror.

            “Niece, yeah.  And if you keep doing that I’m going to knock you out, leave it alone.”

            “It needs to be cut.”  JC frowned and caught her eye in the mirror.

            “It looks fine.”

            “I look like Van Halen.”

            “Oh honey, not in this lifetime.”  Dayna gave him a sympathetic look and laughed as she wiped the sticky handprints off of the gels and sprays.  “Anyway, she’s been around for a couple days now I guess and I think when Chris gets back I want to introduce him.  She’s a riot, and I think they’d get along.”

            “Uh huh.”  JC nodded.

            “Do you think so?”

            “I think you worry about Chris’ love life too much.”

            Dayna sighed and sat back on the couch as she dropped her arm over her eyes,  “Will you please just let me do this?”

            “I’m not stopping you.”  He laughed and ran his fingers through his hair one more time while she wasn’t looking.  “I just said you spend too much time thinking about Chris’ love life.”

            “I just want him to be happy.”

            “He is happy.”

            “He is not.”

            “Yeah he is.”  JC spun the chair around like a little kid.

            Without removing her arm she said,  “Stop spinning in the chair.  He’s not happy.”

            “Dayna, he’s happy.  Have you seen him?  He’s always laughing and goofing around.”

            “That’s because he’s hyped up on Pez, which reminds me… I need to spank Joey for that.  He’s not happy.”

            “Dayna.  He’s happy.  I’ve seen him unhappy and grouchy, and he’s not that.”

            “I’m not saying he’s unhappy.”

            “Yeah you are.”  He launched himself into another spin.

            “I’m saying he could be happier.”

            “He doesn’t want to be happier.”

            “You’ve talked to him about this?”

            “Day, he’s having fun like how he is.  You’re the only one with problems with his love life.”

            Dayna sighed and stuck her foot out to stop the chair from spinning.  “Do you think they would get along though?”  She removed her arm and looked at him with an almost sad expression.

            “Yeah I think they’d get along.  I think Chris gets along with almost everyone though.”  JC shook his head.  “Getting along with someone doesn’t mean he wants to date them though.”

            “He said he’d date whoever I picked out for him.”

            “Did he agree to that before or after the psycho stalker chick?”  JC raised his eyebrow at her and smiled.

            “Before.”  Dayna crinkled her nose, knowing just what he was getting at.

            “Yeah, then the rules have definitely changed.”

            “Don’t be such a brat, just support me on this.”

            “Hey, you do what you want.  I think that Chris is fine the way he is.  If it ain’t broke don’t fix it.”  JC shrugged and used the arms of the chair to push himself up.  He dropped himself onto the couch beside Dayna and said,  “You and Chris have never wanted the same things, what makes you think all of a sudden now you do?”

            “I don’t know Jace.”  She played with her earring and shrugged.  “I guess now I know kinda what this is all about.  I’ve talked to him about it and he said that with you I’m the silly goofy girl he wanted me to be when we were dating and I’m totally happy right now.  Even though at the time I didn’t want to be goofy and stuff, you know?  So maybe if I help find the girl that can make Chris be a sentimental serious boyfriend type… I don’t know, maybe then he’d be happy like me.”

            JC was silent for a minute,  “You really, really spend too much time on this.”  He laughed as he leaned over to kiss her.

 

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

 

            They left the Entertainment Tonight studios just before four and stopped to sign a handful of autographs before they climbed into their vans and were shuttled back to the hotel to get dinner while they did an interview with Rolling Stone Magazine.

            “Are you gonna do our hair while we eat?”  Justin asked as he took a bite of his chicken.

            “No.”  Dayna frowned.  “It’s just an interview, you don’t need cool hair to talk.”

            “What about pictures?”

            “You did them a couple weeks ago.”  Dayna explained.

            “We did?”  Joey asked.

            “Yeah, that shoot you did in the hotel garden or whatever?  It took like an hour to get the lighting right?”  She reminded them, then stole a french fry from JC’s plate.

            “That was for Rolling Stone?”  JC asked.

            “Jeez you people…”  Dayna rolled her eyes and laughed as the double doors opened and three magazine representatives came into the room.  “That’s my cue to leave.”  She gave JC a quick kiss then licked her lips, tasting the bar-b-cue sauce from the ribs on his plate.

            “Hey!”  Joey shouted as she headed for the door.

            “Hmm?”

            “Are you going out with us later?”  He asked.

            “Yeah, Jennifer and I are going to tag along.”  She nodded.  “We discussed that already.” 

            “Just making sure.”  Joey winked and looked at the interviewers,  “Gotta cover my bets you know?”

            “Good bye.”  Dayna laughed and shook her head as she left the room.

 

            The guys spent more than an hour with the guys from Rolling Stone Magazine and left them in stitches just being themselves.  They were released to go back to their rooms a short while later to get things situated for their night off.  Chris, Joey and Justin went straight to their rooms while Lance left through the side door to pick up Patty at the airport and JC went to Dayna’s room to check in with her. 

            “You and Jennifer are riding over with us, right?”

            “Yeah…”  Dayna frowned and looked at him,  “Are we supposed to walk or something?”

            “I didn’t know if you were riding over in her car or whatever.”  JC shrugged and leaned on her doorframe.

            “Nope.  We’re going in style.”

            “In a black van huh?” JC laughed and watched her roll velcro curlers into her hair.  “How on earth do those things work?”

            “They hold my hair in a curl while it dries.”  Dayna mumbled as she took two bobby pins from her mouth.  “They’re fabulous.”

            “They look like space ships.”

            “You watch too much TV.”  Dayna shook her head and put in another curler.  “Are you just going to stand there while I look like a dork?  You know, boyfriends aren’t supposed to see their girlfriends until their hair is done and their make-up is perfect.”  She raised an eyebrow at him.

            “Oh really?”

            “Yep.”

            “You see me all the time with my hair looking like shit and no make-up.”

            “You’re a boy.”

            “I’m a boy?”

            “Yes.”  She laughed.  “Come on, leave me alone so I can get ready.” 

            “I’m bored.”  He whined pathetically as he laughed with her.

            “Well you’re pretty much useless standing over there.  If you’re really so bored that you’d rather stand in my doorway, then come over here and help me roll.”

            “I can’t do your hair.”

            “I wouldn’t ask you to.”  She smiled.  “Rolling my hair on the rollers is not considered ‘doing’ my hair.”

            “I’ll mess it up.”

            “You’re messing me up by just standing there staring.”  Dayna sighed and reached for another curler.  “Be useful.”

            “Fine.”  JC sighed and let the door shut as he crossed the room.  He picked up a blue curler and ran his finger over the velcro,  “So I just take the hair and wrap it?”

            “Take a thin section, like this.”  She demonstrated, then put a curler at the tips,  “Then roll it up like this.  Then take a bobby pin and pin it into place.”

            “What if I put one in my hair?”

            “You’d have wavy hair.”

            “Really?”

            “Yes.”  Dayna sighed and took the roller from his hand, knowing he wasn’t going to be much help.  She rolled it in her hair and watched as he took a small section of his own shaggy length hair and wound it around a curler.  “If you roll it that way it’ll be in your eyes all night.”  She said softly.

            “Oh.”  He took it out and wrapped it the other way as she continued to curl her own hair.  When she finished a few minutes later she looked like she had a big blue hair do.

            “Are you going to watch me do my make-up now?”  She asked as she stood up.

            “Nope.”  He sighed and stood up.  “Do I look as cool as you do now?”

            “Cooler.”  She laughed as she wrapped her arms around his neck to kiss him,  “A man in curlers is such a turn on.”

            “You need help.”  JC laughed with his lips barely touching hers, then reached up to remove the curler.  “Were you always this silly?”  He asked after a second.

            “What do you mean?”

            “You’re just… more fun than I remember you being before.”  JC shrugged but didn’t take his eyes off hers.  “And I don’t mean that in a bad way… I’m just…”

            “Wondering what Chris saw in me?”

            “As dumb as that sounds, yeah.”  He finally broke eye contact and cleared his throat.  “I mean… you’ve said it yourself, you’re complete opposites and you get on each others nerves.”

            “I don’t know.  There was just this immediate chemistry that I think we mistook for romance or love or whatever.”

            “And it wasn’t?”

            “No, obviously not.”  Dayna smiled and took JC’s hand to keep him from backing away.  “I still think Chris and I have chemistry.  He’s a great friend and to be honest one of my best friends ever.  No matter what happens with anything, Chris and I will always be friends.  Our relationship was a sore spot for a while, and… I don’t know… probably still is.  Things went wrong there but the whole thing never should have happened in the first place I don’t think.”

            “Would he agree?”  JC asked softly, suddenly sounding unsure of himself.

            “That it shouldn’t have happened?”

            “Yeah.”

            “I think so.”  Dayna nodded.  “It’s no big surprise.”

            JC squeezed her hand then laced his fingers through hers to press their palms together,  “If things… if he was attracted to you at the beginning, to all of you I mean, not just your beauty… then did you change or something?”

            “No.”  Dayna shook her head.  “And he didn’t either.  At first I liked his craziness and sarcasm, but it got to be a bit much.  That’s probably the same for him… with me I mean.”

            “So what if… what if after a while things I do start to get to you?”

            “JC…”  Dayna tilted her head to the side and pursed her lips.  “You and Chris are nothing alike.  You bring out the best in me I think… and for however long this lasts, whether it’s a couple weeks or years or a lifetime, JC I’ll never think this was wrong from the start.”  She shook her head, genuinely touched at his concern.  “I’m standing here with big blue curlers in my hair trying to be serious... come on now.  How can this go wrong?”  She tried to lighten the moment.

            "I’m not saying it will.”

            “Why are you worried now?”  Dayna leaned back a few inches and made him look at her.  “Jace, what’s wrong?”

            “Nothing’s wrong.”  He forced a smile.

            “That shit doesn’t work with me.”  She shook her head and took the curler out of his hand.  “You were fine three minutes ago.”

            “I just wanted to know if you were always this silly and if so how did I miss it?”

            “No, I don’t think I was always this silly.  I think Chris might have helped me see that life isn’t always as serious as I think it is.”

            “So Chris is what made you who you are today?”

            “In a very, very, very round about way… I guess.”  Dayna nodded.  “And you bring out that silly side of me.”  She smiled and leaned up to kiss him.

            “Good, then I probably shouldn’t be kicking myself for not asking you out a long time ago.”  He smiled.

            “A long time ago?”

            “When you started with us.”

            “You wanted to ask me out?”

            “I thought about it.”  JC nodded.  “Hell we all did, you were the only girl on the tour under thirty.”   He rolled his eyes.

            “Gee, thanks.”

            “Just forget I said anything.”  JC laughed softly and looked down at their hands.  “I’m glad you’re silly now, and I’m glad you decided to give me a shot.”

            “You are the strangest person I know.”  Dayna smiled and shook her head.  “Are you okay now?”

            “I’m fine.”  JC nodded.

            “Okay, then lay one on me before you go.”  She puckered up and tilted her head to the side as she closed her eyes.  JC laughed and kissed her, slowly breaking her out of her silly mood and making her knees go weak. 

            “I’ll see you tonight, around nine thirty right?”  He asked as he took a step back.

            “Uh, yeah.”  Dayna nodded as she wondered how he could still have that kind of effect on her.

            “Cool, I can’t wait to see how this turns out.”  JC gently touched her curlers,  “Because right now you look like Marge Simpson.”

            “Hey now…”  Dayna threatened as she gently shoved him toward the door.  “By the time we’re ready to go tonight, I promise I’ll look presentable.”

            “Alright.”  JC nodded.

            “Alright.”  Dayna smiled and nodded back, then watched as he hesitantly stepped out the door.  How he could ever imagine that she would think that he was a mistake as beyond her.  “You’re too perfectly imperfect to be a mistake.”  She whispered to the closed door. 

            Dayna sighed and stepped into the bathroom to begin the work on her make-up, a task she loathed, but wouldn’t go without.

 

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

 

            By ten that night everyone who was going was dressed and waiting by the elevators,  “Where’s Lance?”  Dayna asked softly as she looked down the hall.  She had gotten so used to watching him closely and always wondering where he was; it was hard to break that habit… even if she was over him.

            “Patty’s in town, he’s hanging out with her tonight.”  JC explained with a slow smile.  He reached out and tucked a stray curl behind her ear, “I like your hair.”

            “Ahhh, thank you.”  Dayna nodded, and realized that she could forget all about Lance with JC smiling at her that way.

            “I can always call and see if they want to join us…?”

            “No, no that’s alright.”  Dayna laughed and gave JC a look.

            “Where’s Jennifer?”  Justin asked as he walked up.

            “She’s meeting us in the lobby in… five minutes ago.”  Dayna sighed and hit the ‘down’ button again.

            “Is she next on your list?”  Justin snickered as Joey playfully shoved him into the wall.

            “You mean for Chris?”

            “Yeah.”  He laughed and almost fell into the elevator as the doors opened.

            “Walk much?”  Joey asked as he followed Justin.  Three large security guards joined them on the cramped elevator and rode down with them.

            “I think he’d like her.”  Dayna nodded.

            “She’s got legs and boobs.”  Justin shrugged.  “Yeah he’ll like her.”

            “We’re talking about Chris here, not Joey.”  Dayna snickered.

            “Hey now!”  Joey said defensively from the back of the elevator.

            “She seems cool.”  Justin nodded as they all ignored Joey.

            “I know I’d like her.”  Joey offered.

            “Joey, no.”

            “Hey, I’ve got dibs!  Man, Chris isn’t even here!”  He continued to complain as they stepped off the elevator.

            “Joey…”  Dayna sighed.

            “Oh come on.”  Joey tapped JC on the shoulder,  “Standard rules right?  I saw her first?”

            I saw her first.”  Justin said softly.

            Joey sighed,  “You’ve got little miss thing.”

            “You’ve got who?”  Dayna asked, jumping into their little conversation.

            “No one, nevermind.”  Justin turned to look at the numbers on the control panel.

            “Who does he have?”  Dayna asked Joey as the elevator doors opened and everyone stepped off.

            “Who cares, I saw her second.  Come on Jace, tell her.”  Joey tapped JC again.

            “Forget it, I’m staying out of this one.”  JC laughed and held his hands up as they approached Jennifer.

            “Hey there.”  Dayna smiled as they walked up,  “You’ve met everyone, right?”

            “Yeah, hi again.”  She laughed nervously and kind of gave them a half wave as she looked at the security.

            “You won’t even notice them after a few minutes.”  Dayna said softly, noticing her glance.

            They started out to the car as JC asked,  “So where’s a cool place to go around here?  We’ve done most of the big clubs and stuff.”

            “Um, have you tried the Copa?”  Jennifer asked.

            “As in the Copa Cabana?”  Justin laughed as he and Joey began to sing.

            “Yeah.”  Jennifer laughed and waited as the security guards opened the van door for her.  They all slid in and got situated, then headed out following Jennifer’s directions.

            "Do they have a bar?"  Joey asked as he leaned over the back of the seat with an inquisitive look.

            "Yeah."  Jennifer nodded.

            "Reggie, can you call ahead for the kid?  So he can get in?"  Joey shouted towards the front of the van.  Reggie nodded and got on his cell phone.

            "Where... where are the others?"  Jennifer asked.

            "Lance has company, and Chris doesn’t get in until tomorrow."  JC explained.  "Do you go out dancing a lot?"

            "No, not a lot."  She shook her head and tried to stop smiling so much.  "I've been a full time student for the last four years, plus I had a job and an internship with a structural design firm so I was usually too tired at the end of the day.  Now that I’ve graduated I’ve been job hunting and visiting friends in the Bay area, then I met up with Abby and now here I am.”  She laughed,  “Plus, when I get do free time I like to go to my sisters and play around with her three kids, you know… chasing them around and tiring them out before bed type stuff.”  She smiled and reached to touch her tiny earring.  “After that I usually just go home and crash."

            "Ah ha, you goof around with the kids huh?"  JC laughed and caught Dayna's eye in the far back seat.  He was beginning to see how she’d be good for Chris, she was over 21, she had a serious education with the possibility for an actual career and she goofed off, this might just work.

            "Oh yeah, I'm the ringleader in that group."  She laughed and seemed to relax a little as they drove across town to the dance club.  Reggie and Pete escorted them in through the front door and located the VIP floor where they all sat and got situated.

            "Man… she's cute.  You’ve gotta find one for me." Joey leaned over as they walked back down the stairs to the dance floor.

            "Dream on frat boy."  Dayna laughed and went to step around him.

            "Fat boy?" Joey gave her a look and pretended to smack her mouth.

            "Frat boy.  You flirt like a frat boy."  She laughed and slapped him back. 

            "Ha, find me a piece like that and I'll change my ways."

            Dayna laughed out loud and shook her head,  "Joey, the day you change your ways, I'll quit my job and move to Abudabi to sell sand or something."

            "Get me a girl like that and you can book a flight and buy a tent."  He laughed.  His next words were drowned out by the sound of the music as they hit the floor, and Dayna let it go.  She caught JC’s eye as he turned around at the edge of the dance floor and looked up the staircase.

            He smiled with his eyes and sent Dayna into girly mode.  She could hardly contain a giggle as she trotted down the remaining steps to where JC was waiting with his hand extended,  “Wanna dance?”  He asked as he brushed his lips by her ear.  She nodded and squeezed his hand as he pulled her to into the crowd.

            With a smile like that, he could ask for anything…

 

Next...

 

Copyright � 2001, Amy Lynn