"So… where to first?" Elizabeth asked after she and Chris checked into Caesars.

"I don’t know, what do you want to do?" Chris asked.

"I don’t know, what do you want to do?" Beth laughed and fell face first onto the bed. "Have you been up on the roller coaster at New York, New York?"

"Um, no. But me and roller coasters don’t mix well."

"You don’t like them?" Beth rolled onto her back, letting her head fall over the side of the bed so that she was looking at Chris upside-down.

"Not really." Chris smiled down at her bright red face. "We should probably keep a low profile for a little while though."

"Hmm… maybe they can bring some slot machines up here for us to play." Beth laughed.

"Hmm… maybe not." Chris sat on the bed beside her and flicked at her hair that hung almost to the floor. "How about we see about going to a show tonight, then go to the M&M factory thing."

"That’s keeping a low profile?"

"Well, it’s not as obvious as gambling." Chris smiled and shook his head. "You know… you’re going to get a bloody nose if you hang like that for too long."

"Blood is good for your brain." Beth explained as she pulled herself back into a sitting position. "Okay, let’s go get tickets and M&M’s."

"What show do you want to see?"

"That Cirque de Soliel thing. I’ve heard that it’s just amazing."

"Works for me." He leaned over her legs and reached for the phone. Chris called down to the concierge and arranged to have tickets for the show for the next night. It was amazing what being "Chris Kirkpatrick from Nsync" could get you. "Done." He kissed her quickly and they headed out for the M&M factory up the street.

When they got out to the street Beth squinted into the bright afternoon light, "We can just walk." She smiled and pulled Chris’s hand toward the sidewalk.

"I um… okay." He looked nervously up and down the street, half expecting to see the mob of girls. He pulled the baseball cap lower on his head and fell into step beside Elizabeth.

An hour later they had finished the M&M factory tour, and were in the gift shop surrounded by a rainbow of M&M’s. "Oh my god! They have purple M&M’s!" Elizabeth excitedly grabbed a gift bag and ran over to the purple chocolates.

"This is bizarre, who would want black M&M’s?" Chris asked as he held up his little bag with the offensive M&M’s on the bottom.

"Um, you apparently." Beth laughed and scooped up another handful of purple ones.

"They’re for JC, he’s into weird stuff like that." Chris shrugged and headed over to the 10-foot tall gumball machine.

"Ahhh! Joey look at these!" Elizabeth said as the held up a bag of two toned M&M's. Chris looked at her for a second and she realized her mistake, "Chris." She laughed, "Sorry."

"It's okay." Chris smiled oddly and reached for the bag that Beth was holding out to him. "Those are cool, are you going to get them?"

"Heck yeah." Beth laughed and turned back to the counter, trying to hide her blush.

They spent the rest of the day checking out Vegas and trying to avoid the fans that were lingering around the city. They enjoyed the show that night then took in the sights of Old Vegas before heading back to their hotel to play the slots a little.

Beth dropped a handful of quarters into the machine and sighed as she sat in front of it. She was having a great time with Chris, but somehow, somewhere over the last couple days something changed. She wasn’t sure exactly what it was that was missing, but she was sure it had something to do with Joey. Beth frowned and stared at the slot machine, not making any kind of move to push the button or pull the handle.

"Earth to Bethy." Chris said as he waved his hand in front of her face. Bethy… that was Joey’s nickname for her and she felt irrationally irked that Chris was using it now.

"What?" Beth snapped out of her translike state and focused on Chris.

"What are you thinking about?" He asked with a playful smile.

"Nothing." She shook her head and hit the bid max button.

"Are you okay? I mean… you seemed like you were having fun earlier and now… you seem kinda sad or something." Chris looked worried as he rubbed her back softly.

"No, I – I’m fine." Beth smiled and faked a yawn, "I’m just tired I think."

"Okay…" Chris said, not sure whether he should believe her or not. He decided to let it go and said, "Let’s just go on up to our room then. Tomorrow we can just take it easy."

"Okay." Beth nodded and played the last of her quarters before grabbing her bucket and following Chris.

They went up to the room and Elizabeth immediately stripped down and jumped in the shower. She took a long time under the hot water, and when she finally made it back to the room Chris was asleep on top of the covers.

Beth sighed and watched him sleeping. She didn’t want to feel anything more than friendship for Joey, she really didn’t. But how could she help it? If he hadn’t said anything at all, if he hadn’t sent the flowers, or spilled his heart… or kissed her… things would be so different. It would be a lot easier if things could go back to how they were just a few short months ago.

But that wasn’t going to happen, and now Beth had to deal with her changing feelings toward both Chris and Joey. She sighed and switched the light off before she slid into bed beside Chris. In a vain attempt to spark something, anything, inside her, she wrapped her arms around his middle and kissed his bare shoulder softly. He remained asleep, but snuggled closer to her and pulled her arms tighter around him.

Beth brushed her hair out of her face, then wiped her eyes as she began to cry softly. This wasn’t how she thought her life would ever turn out. This was too dramatic and too "Sunday Night Movie" for her. She wanted to plain life. The regular old boring life where she met and fell in love with one man, outside of the spotlight, outside of the photo lens. Where he would love her back and they’d buy a small house in the suburbs without having to worry about a security system or stalker-like fans. Not this crazed hysteria surrounding her and her boyfriend, or the drama of his best friend… her best friend, being in love with her, and her feelings ebbing towards him.

She clung to Chris throughout the night hoping to hold him tight enough o change everything, but still awoke to a feeling of sadness… and the smell of cinnamon. Beth slowly opened her eyes and rolled over to find the home of the scent.

"Good morning babe." Chris smiled as he wheeled the room service cart into the room from the hall. "I hope you’re hungry."

Beth’s stomach growled loudly as she sat up, "I am."

"Good, I’ve got cinnamon rolls, french toast and some fruity stuff that’s probably good for you." Chris smiled and parked the cart beside the bed. "You looked kinda down in the dumps last night, and I know you like sweet stuff for breakfast." He said softly. Chris had heard her crying last night, but hadn’t said anything. She obviously didn’t want to talk about it… or she’d have said something when he asked earlier.

"I was I guess a little." She shrugged, then smiled as she reached for a sticky cinnamon roll..

"Anything I can do to help?" Chris climbed onto the bed beside her and pulled her half onto his lap, cinnamon roll and all.

Beth thought for a second and chewed intently, "Yep." She licked her icing coated lips and smiled, hoping it would work, "Kiss me."

"Oh is that all?" Chris smiled and ran his hands up into her hair as he kissed her deeply, tasting the sweetness of the cinnamon roll and the warmness of her mouth. He gladly filled her request for the next couple minutes before she pulled back and took a bite of her breakfast to calm her growling stomach.

"Thanks, I needed that." She smiled and licked her fingers.

"Anytime hun, you know that."

"I know." She set the roll down on the tray and kissed him again. As long as their lips were touching she could put Joey out of her mind and focus just on Chris. It really was a win/win situation.

"Are you better now?" Chris asked as he brushed Beth’s hair off her forehead.

"Yes." She nodded slowly. "I’m sorry if I’ve been weird, I must be PMSing or something. I know these mood swings can be brutal." She laughed softly and touched his friction red lips.

"Do you want to talk about it?"

"No." She smiled and shook her head. "Can we go for a drive today? I want to go to Hoover Dam."

"You wanna see a dam?"

"Yeah." Beth smiled and reached over for her cinnamon roll.

"It’s a big concrete wall that holds back water."

"Lot’s of water."

"Okay, so it’s a big concrete wall that holds back lots of water." Chris frowned.

"It’s a tourist attraction." Beth argued playfully.

"Bah." Chris took a piece of french toast and poured syrup on it.

"We only have what, today? You leave tomorrow right?"

"Yeah." Chris nodded. "So do you right?"

"Yeah, but I’m going to my parents." She explained as she crawled out of bed and headed for the bathroom. "You leave Friday right? For Japan?"

"Yep." Chris took a few bites of his breakfast and washed it down with the now room temperature coffee.

"For two weeks?"

"For 16 days."

"Then what?" Beth asked through the door.

"Then we go back to Florida for a little break then into the studio, then to Washington DC for that opera thing."

"For the Three Tenors." Beth walked into the room with her hair in a ponytail.

"Right. You’re going, right?"

"Yeah." Beth nodded and sat at the foot of the bed.

"Awesome."

"Yeah, awesome." Beth laughed lightly and shook his foot. "So let’s get a move on it. We need to leave pretty soon if we’re going to see the dam."

"The damn dam." Chris rolled his eyes.

"Do you have a better idea?"

"Yeah, the pool."

"Dream on Paco." Beth shook her head and reached for her bag. "Come on."

"Awww mom do I have to?" Chris whined.

"Oh don’t even start." Beth smiled over her shoulder and gave him her best "mom" look.

"Okay, okay. We’ll go see the damn dam." He took his last bite of french toast and pulled himself out of bed.

Beth dragged Chris through the entire tour of the dam, including the gift shop and museum exhibit. They spent the evening packing up their room and eating another meal from room service.

In the morning they shared a cab to the airport and Beth said goodbye to Chris at his gate, "So… I’ll see you in a couple weeks, right?" He asked.

"Yeah, give me a call when you get back from Japan and we can work something out."

"I’ll have my people call your people." He smiled and kissed her quickly.

"Yeah something like that." She laughed. "Just let me know when you’ll have some free time, maybe you can come up to Boston and see me."

"Sure, we can do that." Chris nodded and hugged her tight. "I can even call you from Japan you know."

"Oh! Oh wait, here." Beth opened her purse and dug around to look for the pen she knew she had in there. "I have an international calling card that I use for work. If you use it it only costs like five cents a minute anywhere in the world." She explained as she pulled stuff out of her purse and handed it to Chris to hold.

"You know I can just call, it’s okay. I don’t need a calling card or whatever."

"No I know, but I mean five cents a minute? You can’t beat that." Beth sat on a nearby bench and set her purse in her lap to use both hands.

Chris looked down at the stuff in his lap, there were receipts from here till next Thursday, a plastic photo holder thing that should have been in her wallet and a little business card. Being as nosey as ever he flipped the business card over and saw that it wasn’t a business card at all, it was a little greeting card that was sent with flowers… "Nobody else this side of heaven knows how you take my breath away." He read slowly, recognizing the handwriting first thing.

Things became a little clearer for Chris, of course Beth had been acting a little weird. If Joey had said anything to her, and he obviously had, she’d have felt awkward. She undoubtedly hadn’t wanted to say anything to Chris so that he wouldn’t feel weird around Joey either. She’d taken this on herself and didn’t want to do anything to hurt his and Joey’s friendship.

"Here." Beth handed him a scarp piece of paper with the calling card number written on it. "You can use this."

"Oh, thanks." Chris quickly tucked the card into the photo holder and handed her purse junk back to her. "You’ve got a lot of stuff in there."

"Only stuff I don’t want to lose." She smiled and kissed him quickly as his flight was called. "I’ll talk to you soon."

"Okay… I’m gonna miss you." He kissed her again and smiled.

"I’m going to miss you too." She said softly as he walked toward the tunnel to board the plane. She sighed and watched the back of his head as he walked away, "Man am I going to miss you." She shook her head and walked the length of the airport to her gate to board the plane that would take her home.

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

"Mom… I can’t just say, ‘oh hey Chris, I’m going to go date Joey now.’" Beth rolled her eyes as she sat across the table from her mom two nights later. She’d spilled her guts to her mom, as usual, and was now seeking advice.

"Oh Elizabeth, you know that’s not what I meant." Her mom placed a cup of tea in front of her and sighed. "I just meant that if being with Joey is what you want, then stringing Chris along isn’t helping anyone."

"I know it’s not. But what if I don’t know what I want?" Beth dropped her head onto her arms and pretended to sob, "This sucks mom."

"Of course it does. This is life, and life sucks." She smiled.

"I like Chris mom, I really really do."

"But…?"

"But I mean I’ve known Joey forever."

"That doesn’t mean anything." Her mom shook her head.

"I know." Beth sighed and lifted her head. "I’m back to kinda of the same problem. I don’t want to hurt either of them, but staying with Chris is hurting Joey, and if I go with Joey it’ll hurt Chris." Her mom didn’t say anything, she just nodded and looked at Beth, "I should just get rid of them both and start over fresh with some other guy." Beth laughed softly.

"You could do that."

"No." Beth shook her head and took a sip of her tea. "Nope, I can’t to that. I love him, mom."

"I know you do." Her mom smiled and nodded. "You just need to decide which ‘him’ that is."

Beth paused for a second then sighed, "Yep…"

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

Beth stood in her room staring down at the black dress laying flat on her bed. She smiled and dropped the deep red wrap beside it and cocked her head to the side. It was missing something. She frowned and carefully opened her jewelry box on top of her dresser. She pulled a few drawers open before finding what she was looking for, an old piece of jewelry that her grandmother had given to her. It was only colored glass, and probably not worth anything, but it was pretty and it fit the outfit, so she dropped the ruby red pendant necklace into her suitcase and smiled.

She had only a half hour until her ride would be there to take her to the airport, and she wasn't even close to ready. Beth looked down at her painters jeans, "selfish in bed" shirt and bare feet. "It's a good thing I clean up real nice... this look just would not fly tonight." She mumbled to herself. It wouldn't fly for that night, but for the plane trip and cab ride to the hotel, it would do. Beth finished packing her bag and was waiting by the curb when the airport shuttle came to pick her up.

She hadn’t seen Chris since he flew up to Boston to see her almost a month before, when they’d returned from Japan. She was anxious to see all of the guys, it was almost strange how close they’d all become since she started seeing Chris. They were so desperate for "real" friends that they latched onto anyone who showed a true and genuine interest, which were few and far between.

She hadn’t seen Joey since the day he left Vegas and the separation seemed good for her. She seemed a little more sure about her relationship with Chris, and was thrilled to see him again after so many weeks, but he was also excited to see Joey. She hadn’t even talked to him in three weeks.

Beth relaxed for the short plane ride to Washington DC and listened to her Sting CD on repeat, it was going to be a great night.

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

Elizabeth climbed out of the taxi in front of the Capital Hilton in Washington DC and looked up at the giant hotel. She smiled and squinted her eyes as the setting sun peeked through the clouds and reflected off the building. She draped her bag over her shoulder and headed into the nearly empty lobby.

Beth looked around cautiously, this was totally out of the ordinary for an Nsync hotel. There was not one screaming fan, not one teenie bopper, not one hand made banner. "Shit… I’ve got the wrong hotel." She mumbled to herself as she crossed the marble lobby to the front desk. "Um, hi…" She smiled at the middle aged lady behind the counter. "I’m not sure if I have the right hotel, I’m looking for… well for Nsync." She smiled and blushed.

"Who exactly are you looking for?" The lady asked.

"Oh, um, Chris. Kirkpatrick. Chris Kirkpatrick." Beth stuttered.

The lady pecked on her computer, then smiled and said, "Would you like me to ring his room for you?"

"I have the right hotel?" Beth asked with a surprised look.

"Yes, can I connect you?" She handed the phone to Beth and smiled.

"Yes… thank you." Beth played with the silk plant in front of her and waited as the phone rang in her ear.

"This is Chris." Chris answered the phone.

"Hey! Guess where I am?" Beth smiled and curled the silk leaf around her finger.

"Bora Bora?" He laughed.

"Not quite." Beth shook her head and adjusted the bag on her shoulder.

"I’ll be down in just a minute." Chris laughed again and turned to the others in his room, "Who wants to go to the lobby?"

"Oh oh! Me me!" Justin laughed.

"Me too! Me too!" Joey joined in.

"I’m bringing the kids with me." Chris laughed into the phone and said, "I’ll be down in a sec."

Beth waited patiently by the front desk and fiddled with the straps on her bag. When the elevator doors opened, she heard the boys before she saw them, "I did not." Joey insisted as they walked around the corner. "I wasn’t drunk."

"Yes you did! And yes you were." Justin laughed and playfully shoved Joey into the wall. "Ask Beth." Justin said looking in her direction, "Bethy! When Joe was drunk in Vegas, didn’t he run up and down the hall in his Superman cape?" Justin winked at Beth and smiled.

"I don’t remember him running up and down the hall." Beth smiled.

"Ha!" Joey thwaped Justin in the back of the head as they walked across the marble floor beside Chris.

"I do however remember you ballet dancing up and down the hall with your cape… but not running." Beth laughed and watched Joey’s face turn bright red.

"I did not!"

"Yes you did." Beth laughed and started to walk towards them so they wouldn’t have to shout. "And for the record, yes you were drunk."

"Man I missed everything." Chris smiled.

Beth hesitated as she looked up and watched the three men saunter towards her. Her boyfriend and her best friend were walking side by side… she had to hug one of them first. A nervous feeling crept up in her stomach as she looked from one to the other. This should have been a no brainer, Chris was her boyfriend, enough said. But deep down she was almost more excited to see Joey.

As they drew nearer she could tell that both man expected a hug so without hesitating she opened her arms and hugged Justin first. "I’ve missed you so much!" She cried into his hair, then laughed at the other guy’s reactions.

"Oh Bethy I’ve missed you too, come on, let’s ditch these two and run away to France!" Justin spun Beth out in a dramatic dance move then laughed.

"Ugh, France? No thanks." Beth made a face then released Justin’s hand and hugged the nearest of the two.

"Hey babe." Chris said as he kissed her quickly, "You brought your dress, right?"

"You mean I can’t wear this?" Beth looked down at her dirty pants.

"Well… I like the shirt." Chris smiled and shook his head, "But the pants… you know… they just don’t work."

"Maybe I can borrow a pair of yours?" She asked Joey.

"Hey you bet. How about my yellow cammies?"

"Oooh, I like." Beth laughed and gave Joey a big hug and a quick kiss on the cheek. Her arms lingered for a second around his neck, and she hoped no one noticed. "Is Kathryn here?" Beth asked Justin as they headed back to the elevators.

"Yep, she’s over at the Hyatt getting ready with Joey’s –"

"Date." Joey said quickly. "With my date."

"Oh so they’re not here? I have to get ready with you foolios?" Beth frowned and stepped onto the elevator behind them.

Chris tapped the button for their floor and said, "Well JC’s girlfriend thing is here I think."

"Girlfriend thing?" Beth laughed.

"Well…" Justin shrugged.

"Yeah yeah I know." Beth rolled her eyes and shrugged. "That’s okay, I’ll just kick Chris out and take over his room."

"Then where am I supposed to get dressed?" Chris asked and looked at his watch. "We have to leave here in 2 hours."

"It’ll take you that long to figure out the cuff links." Justin laughed as the doors opened on their floor.

"Great, so I’ll meet you where?" Beth held out her hand for the room key and Chris just stared at her.

"Seriously? You’re kicking me out of my room?"

"I seriously am." Beth laughed and kept her hand out. Chris sighed and reached into his pocket to produce the key card. "Thanks. Joe, where’s your room?"

"3434 at the end." Joey nodded down the hall.

"See you in two hours then?" Beth asked.

"Wait I need to get my clothes." Chris sighed and followed Beth into the room. He grabbed his heavy nylon garment bag and his overnight bag from the bathroom. "Have fun."

"You too." Beth giggled as he headed for the door.

"You know, putting me and Tweedle Dum together to get dressed could be a bad idea."

"I figure between the both of you, you should be able to make yourselves presentable." Beth smiled sweetly and shut the door. She had work to do.

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

Two hours later Beth put the finishing touches on her now tamed hair, then spritzed on a light spray of perfume, and she was ready. She draped her wrap over her arms and held her purse in her hand as she stepped out into the hall, careful to pull the door shut behind her.

"Elizabeth! Hi!" Kathryn smiled from the end of the hall. Justin stepped into the hall beside her and tucked the room key into his pocket.

"Hi! How are you?" Beth asked as she walked toward Joey’s room.

"I’m doing great, how about you?" Kathryn hugged Beth quickly as she walked past.

"I’m doing good." Elizabeth nodded and smiled, "You look great."

"So do you." Kathryn took Justin’s hand in hers and smiled even bigger.

"It’s just you and Chris and us. We’re stuck in the last limo together." Justin smiled.

"Okay, let me just go get him, and we can head out." She tapped on Joey’s door and waited as Chris ran his fingers through his still damp hair.

Chris made a face at the reflection in the mirror, then shook his head and opened the door, "Hey, I think we’re go-" He stopped and took in the sight of Elizabeth standing in the hall. "Wow… you look great."

"You sound shocked." Kathryn laughed.

"No I… I just. You really look great." Chris said quickly. She did look great, her dress fit her just as if it had been sewn for her, the deep red of her wrap made her skin glow and her hair was falling in curls down her back. Chris saw her, and noticed the beauty… but something wasn’t there. He’d noticed it last time they were together, but it still came as a shock.

"Great, yeah you look fabulous Beth, can we go now?" Justin asked as he pulled Kathryn’s hand down the hall.

"What’s the hurry?" Beth asked.

"Everyone else left like 20 minutes ago, that’s what." Justin smiled over his shoulder. "You know, to get drinks and stuff."

"Yeah I’m going to need a serious drink to sit through four hours of opera." Chris rolled his eyes.

"It’s the Three Tenors." Kathryn and Beth said in unison.

"So?"

"So if you didn’t want to come, why’d you drag me all the way from Boston?" Beth asked Chris as they all climbed onto the elevator.

"I had to come." Chris explained, "And I knew you would want to come."

"No culture… I swear." Beth said to Kathryn, shaking her head.

"I know… sheesh, you can lead a man to the opera, but you can’t make him enjoy it." They laughed lightly and headed out for a night of music and celebrities like no other.

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

As the limo stopped in front of the Kennedy Center, Chris and Justin stepped out first, then reached back to help Beth and Kathryn out. Beth took Chris’s hand and stepped from the limo, adjusting her wrap to cover her shoulders as the cool air hit her bare skin.

"Have I told you how great you look tonight?" Chris asked softly as they walked up the steps to the entrance.

"Yes, quite a few times." Beth laughed nervously, "But thank you."

"You’re welcome." He smiled and held the door open for her. She stepped into the heated grand foyer where she was met with a large crowd of celebrities and dignitaries. Justin and Kathryn led the way through the hall to where the rest of the guys were waiting off to the side.

"Hey you…" Elizabeth smiled as she walked up beside Joey, "You clean up real nice." She tried not to stare at him in his simple black and white tux.

"Thanks, so do you." He smiled and turned to the side, giving Beth a glimpse of his "date" for the night.

"Janine! Wow, hi, how are you?" Beth smiled and hugged Joey’s sister tightly. "I didn’t know you were coming, wow, what a surprise."

"It was a last minute thing." Janine laughed and stepped back from the hug. "Baby brother over here couldn’t get a date." Joey blushed and looked away as Janine continued, "So how have you been?"

"I’m uh… I’ve been good." Beth said slowly as the others began chattering around them.

"Well you look wonderful." Janine beamed, "Joe, doesn’t she look great?"

"Breathtaking." Joey said softly, with a slow flirty smile.

Elizabeth blushed deeply and tried to maintain her composure as her heart melted into a tiny puddle of love for Joey. How was it that he always said the absolutely perfect right thing? She cleared her throat quickly and fidgeted with her wrap, "Um, th-thank you." She forced a wobbly smiled and turned back to Chris who was standing there with a half confused smile on his face.

Chris had seen the changes taking place over the last month or so, and tonight it was crystal clear that he’d been right. If Beth didn’t say something, he would have to.

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

Chris held Beth’s hand throughout the performance, but he'd noticed her casting sideways glances at Joey most of the evening. He squeezed her hand reassuringly and smiled, like a good friend should.

When it was over they followed the rest of the guests out to the grand hall and stood in a small group to themselves. "Do you want a drink?" Chris asked, nodding toward the little bar set up in the corner.

"Sure, that'd be great." Beth smiled and adjusted her wrap to cover her bare arms. "Hey Lance." She smiled as the blonde walked over with a glass of champagne. "How was Japan?"

"Oh it was great. Have you ever been?" He smiled and casually leaned against the cool marble wall.

"No." Beth shook her head, "I've never left the country." She laughed and reached for the clasp on her purse, "But I'm like Sandra Bullock in 'While you were sleeping'. I've got my passport."

"You have it in your purse?" Lance laughed and leaned over to watch as she pulled it out and handed it to him.

"Hey, you never know when you'll have to leave the country suddenly." Elizabeth laughed and blushed as he looked at the picture, then back up at her, "I know… I look like an axe murderer."

"No one takes a good passport photo." Lance laughed and shook his head. "You should see mine, I look like an albino." Beth laughed out loud and took the passport back.

"Well Lance… you know…"

"Shut up, yeah I know." He laughed again as his cheeks turned red.

"So where's Gail? I thought for sure I'd see her here."

"Ahh, no, she's in Vancouver taping." He shrugged. "Besides, I don't think she's too happy with Mr. President over there, and I'd hate to see what she'd have to say if she met him."

"Ahh, very true." Beth fumbled in her purse to get the passport back in, and a tiny card fell out. "Crap." She said under her breath as she knelt to pick it up. She turned it over in her hand and realized it was the little flower card that came with the roses. The roses that started this whole mess. She stared at the card for a second, reading and rereading the words quickly scribbled on the front.

"You okay?" Lance asked softly.

"What? Oh, yeah." Beth stood up and tucked the card back in her purse, then closed the clasp. Her cheeks flushed suddenly as her hand shook slightly by her side.

"Here you go." Chris said, magically appearing at her side. He handed her a glass of champagne and smiled, "You okay?"

"Yeah." Beth nodded and took a sip of her champagne. "Can we… let's go outside." She nodded towards the door leading to the balcony that wrapped around the building.

"Sure." Chris nodded and followed her across the room and out thick glass door. They walked to the railing and Beth leaned her elbows on the rough concrete. She sighed and looked out over the mall with the monuments on either end.

"Hey Chris… I’ve been thinking…" Beth started slowly as Chris wrapped his arm around her waist. He leaned on the railing beside her and rested his chin in his other hand.

Chris paused for a second and smiled slowly at Beth as she pulled her wrap tighter around her bare shoulders. "About Joey?" Chris asked softly.

"Chris, I thi-" She stopped short and said, "What?"

"You’ve been thinking about Joey." Chris said matter of factly. "I’m not blind you know." He let a small smile slide across his lips.

"Chris…" Beth crinkled her forehead and shook her head, "I’m sorry."

"Don’t be." Chris looked out over the city and squinted at the Washington Memorial. "He’s got it bad for you too."

"I… I know."

"You know huh?"

"It’s a long story, I’ll have to tell you some time."

"About the card?" Chris asked with a sly smile.

Elizabeth just stared at Chris for a second with a confused look on her face, "How do you know everything?"

"I’ve seen the little card in your purse and I know Joey’s handwriting. I just can’t figure out when he gave it to you…"

"A long time ago. At the beginning." She said softly.

"And you’ve… you…"

"No." She shook her head slowly and met his eye as the wind blew a stray curl across her cheek. "No… I only, well I’ve only felt like this for a couple days. But I guess it’s been coming. I don’t know." She said.

"That’s okay."

"Chris… I’ve had a great time with you. I really have. You’re the best and I can see why Joey considers you a brother."

"And I can see why he loves you so much." Chris touched her hair gently and smiled.

"I… it’s… I feel terrible Chris."

"Why?" He asked with a soft laugh, genuinely confused.

"Because, I mean… you brought me here as your girlfriend and… and it just feels like I’ve been so dishonest with you. I’m sorry Chris, I really am."

"Don’t be sorry Beth." Chris shook his head. "You’re a great friend, you really are. I’ve had a great time with you, but it’s been obvious someone else was on your mind."

"I’m sorry."

"Stop apologizing." Chris laughed. "Joey’s a lucky guy. And you’re a lucky girl."

"Can’t you be even a little distraught over this? I just broke up with you?" Elizabeth smiled and looked up at him quickly.

"Oh Bethy please don’t leave me! Please! I can’t go on without you." Chris said in mock desperation.

"That’s more like it." Beth laughed. "But seriously Chris, I’m sorry if I’ve lied to you… and everything."

"Elizabeth?" Chris looked over his shoulder quickly, then back to Beth.

"Yeah?" She asked softly, almost hopefully.

"I think you should go inside now. It’s getting cold out here."

"But-"

"Go on Beth. Joey’s waiting for you." Chris took her by her shoulders and turned her around so that she was facing the plate glass windows where Joey stood watching quietly.

Beth turned around quickly and threw her arms around Chris’s neck and held him tightly, "Chris, you’re the best friend anyone could ever hope for. I hope that doesn’t change."

"Go Beth, before he leaves." Chris smiled and kissed her cheek softly.

"I love you Chris."

"I love you too Bethy." He smiled as she kissed him quickly then took off running towards the building, her wrap flying in the breeze behind her.

Joey witnessed the entire scene from the silence of the hall. He didn’t know what was said, but whatever it was, was just what Elizabeth had wanted to hear, and she hadn’t been able to contain her happiness as she threw her arms around him. She’d held him like he’d just given her the world, and she couldn’t wait to open it. Joey frowned and looked at the pager in his hand… it hadn’t gone off in a long time. They were happy, and Bethy hadn’t needed his help anymore.

Joe sighed deeply and turned away from the window, he’d seen enough. He had tortured himself enough over the last couple months. Putting on the happy face around them when each time he saw Beth he just wanted to grab her and shake her and make her see that he wasn’t going to stop loving her.

He was ready to stop that now. He slowly dropped his hands in his pockets and started towards the exit, away from the happy couple.

Elizabeth threw the doors open in time to see Joey walking towards the exit at the other end of the dim entry hall. He had his hands in his pockets and was concentrating on each step. "Joey?!" Beth called down the wide hall.

The few people still waiting around after the play stopped and watched as Beth walked quickly in her high heels. She carried her wrap by one end, letting the other fall dangerously close to the floor, the tassels brushing her calves as she walked.

Joey stopped walking, but didn’t turn around as Beth drew nearer. He’d heard her, there was no question of that. He just didn’t know what to expect, or what to say when he turned around.

"Joey." Beth stopped beside him with a big smile on her face, "Do I…" she paused, out of breath, "Do I still take your breath away?"

"What?" Joey asked, his heart lifting in his chest. Not entirely what he was expecting her to say. "What?" He repeated again.

"Do I?"

"You’re the one who’s out of breath." Joey eyes crinkled at the sides with a flirtatious smile.

"Just answer me." Elizabeth smiled, still standing more than a foot away from him. She took a deep breath and exhaled slowly, "Do I still take your breath away?"

"Bethy… you will always take my breath away." He smiled and reached for her hand to pull her close to him.

"Good answer." Elizabeth laughed lightly and raised her lips to his as they shared their first real kiss… in front of others this side of heaven, who now knew… how she took his breath away.

 

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Copyright 2000 Amy Lynn