"Take My Breath Away"

by: AmyK

 

Elizabeth’s pager went off for the second time in five minutes. She sighed and casually reached down to quiet the incessant beeping. She was trying to break up with her boyfriend as painlessly as possible and this beeping in her purse was not making it easy. "Will you excuse me for just a minute?" She asked quickly as her pager started beeping near her feet again. She hadn’t even started the whole break up speech and at the rate she was going, she never would.

Beth rounded the corner to the ladies room and flipped open her alpha pager. She had three new messages, "No kidding." She thought to herself.

Message 1 from 4077028@airmessage.net: Beth Beth Beth! I need help – msg me back asap!

Message 2 from 4077028@airmessage.net: C’mon! I’m on a time limit here!

Message 3 from 4077028@airmessage.net: Call my cel, 321-421-4990

 

Elizabeth sighed and picked up her cel phone, carefully dialing the number Joey had left on her pager. It rang once before he answered it, "Where are you?" He asked.

"Joey, I’m breaking up with Aaron right now, what do you want?"

"I need some help."

"I know that." Beth sighed and leaned against the wall.

"I’m at the flower shop thing and I need to know what kind of flowers to get for Marty." Joey said quickly.

"Marty?"

"Yeah, the girl from the Grammy’s."

"The seat filler?" Beth asked, looking confused.

Joey sighed, "Yes, the seat filler. Come on Beth, I’ve got like 4 minutes here."

"Till what?" Beth asked with a smile, knowing she was killing him.

"Come on!" Joey whined.

"Fine, what are you getting them for?"

"For Marty!" He was getting antsy.

"For what though? Her birthday? I’m sorry? I wanna do you? Get well soon? What are you getting them for?" She pulled her curly, dark brown hair off her neck and sighed.

"I’m sorry."

"What’d you do?"

"Bethy come on, we can talk about that later. I seriously have like 2 minutes here."

"That’ll help decide which flowers. Sheesh, come on, I’ve got a heart to break here."

"She walked in on me and another girl."

"Jesus Joey!"

"Oh for Christ’s sake we weren’t doing that." He made a face, "We were just kissing."

"Joey…" Beth scolded lightly, "Well forget roses… save those for when you really need them."

"Hey!" Joey said defensively.

Beth ignored his complaint and continued, "I’d go for something delicate, maybe tulips?"

"Tulips, okay what color?"

"I don’t know Joe." Beth sighed and glanced around the corner at Aaron sitting alone at the table. "What do they have?"

"Hey, what color tulips do you have?" Joey asked the sales woman, never once moving the phone.

"Red, purple and yellow." She answered.

"Get a bunch of purple ones with a couple yellow ones thrown in to break it up."

"Yeah?" Joey asked hesitantly.

"Dude, Joey if you’re going to interrupt me while I’m eating dinner and breaking up with my boyfriend, and then doubt my advice, I can’t be your friend any more."

"Yeah right." Joey laughed. "You couldn’t not be my friend. Thanks Beth, I owe you one."

"You owe me about a zillion." She smiled and shook her head and she flipped her phone closed and tucked it back in her purse with her pager. She took a deep breath before going back to Aaron to break it off.

Two hours later Elizabeth was single again and back at her own little apartment in downtown Boston. She was sitting at her little kitchen table eating a bowl of cold cereal while she read yesterdays paper, so when her pager began to go off in her purse beside her she almost jumped through the ceiling.

She flipped it open and read the text message:

 

Message 4 from 4077028@airmessage.net: Thanks! You saved my ass again. Busy?

 

Elizabeth smiled to herself and quickly typed in her own message to send to Joey’s pager,

            To: 4077028@airmessage.com: I’m at home.

 

She hit send and waited for a couple minutes, then right on time, the phone beside her rang. She laughed and picked it up, "You owe me SO big Joe." She answered.

"I know. I totally do." He nodded and leaned back on the headboard of his bed. "Actually I’m calling to ask you a favor."

"Sheesh Joey. How about 'hello, how are you'?"

"Hello, how are you?" He asked quickly.

"I’m fine, thank you for asking. How are you?"

"Fabulous." He laughed, "So that favor."

"Like I haven’t done enough for you already?" She laughed and took another bite of her cereal. "What is it? You know I can’t turn you down."

"Well actually it’s not for me."

"Who’s it for then?"

"A friend."

"Spit it out Joey." Elizabeth sighed and smiled.

"Chris needs a date for the Oscars next week."

"Yeah right." Beth rolled her eyes and laughed, dribbling milk down her chin in the process. She wiped the back of her hand across her mouth quickly and asked, "So really, what is it?"

"Chris needs a date for the Oscars." Joey repeated with a smile.

"Oh come on." Beth laughed and leaned back in her chair. "One, why are you going to the Oscars? Two, where’s his girlfriend? Three, like he can’t find a million other girls who would jump at the chance. And four, I don’t do blind dates, you know that. Not after the Mickey incident."

Joey laughed and said, "One, because ‘Music of my Heart’ was nominated. Two, probably dating Aaron."

"Ouch." Beth winced and laughed.

"Three, yes, but he doesn’t want to take a screaming crying teenybopper, he’s 28 for crying out loud. Four, that wasn’t my fault, how was I supposed to know he didn’t have a job?"

"Or a car."

"How was I supposed to know?" He laughed.

"You should screen them better than that Joey."

"Well I’ve screened Chris real good. He’s pretty all right. Besides, I’d hardly call this a blind date, you’ve met Chris before." Joey smiled and cradled the phone between his shoulder and his ear as he flipped through a magazine at his table. "He’s got a job. He’s got a car. He’s a little weird, but I think you’d have fun."

"Joey…" Elizabeth whined.

"You owe me." He said quickly.

"How? How do I owe you?" She laughed as she stood to rinse her bowl. "Explain that one to me Joe."

"When we were at that thing for your parents? Like 2 years ago? I saved you from being cornered by your grandma when she was squawking about wanting great grand kids." He said triumphantly.

"No, no, no. That does not count. I’ve paid you back for that a long time ago." Beth shook her head, her chestnut brown curls swishing acorss her back. "And that was 3 years ago at their 25th anniversary."

"How can you not want to go to LA for the Oscars? I mean come on. Think of how many autographs you’ll get in your Donald Duck Autograph book."

"Shut up." Elizabeth shook her head and blushed. She bought that book when their families went to Disneyworld when she and Joey were 10 years old. She made everyone run around getting "autographs" from all of the Disney characters.

"You can meet Marty if you go." He explained.

"Oh yeah, that’s gonna convince me." Beth said sarcastically.

"Why don’t you ever want to meet my girlfriends?" Joey changed the subject.

"I’ve met some of them."

"You’ve met two."

"You say that like you bring all your girlfriends to Boston to meet me."

"I should start doing that, you’re a good censor."

"What’s that mean?" Beth laughed as she turned the water on and rinsed her bowl, then began loading the dishes into the dishwasher.

"Whenever I tell you about a girl or anything like that, your first response is almost always right."

"Huh?"

"Okay like when I told you about Nicole? How we met and everything. You said she sounded like a skank, and you were right. Then with Kim, when you met her you practically fell in love with her yourself and you said she was wonderful, and you were right. I just need to start running my friends through the Beth-O-Meter."

"Speaking of Kim, did you get an invitation to her wedding?" Beth asked casually.

"She’s getting married?"

"Yeah Joe." Beth laughed. No matter what they ended up talking about they had permanent smiles on their faces the entire time they talked.

"Well no, we don’t keep in touch. Besides who would invite an ex-boyfriend to their wedding."

"I would."

"Yeah I bet you would." He laughed softly.

"Well I’m inviting you."

"I’m not your ex-boyfriend."

"Yeah huh." She laughed as her eyebrows shot up. "We dated for three weeks during our senior year."

"That doesn’t count."

"Yes it does."

"Whatever." He shrugged with a smile. "So why don’t you want to go?

"It’s not that I don’t want to go." Beth said slowly.

"So you’ll go?" Joey asked hopefully.

"When is it? I’ll have to get the time off work." She gave in as usual.

"Next week. Sunday."

"As in this coming Sunday? In two days?"

"No, a week from this Sunday."

"Okay." She sighed. "You’re buying my dress though."

"What?! I have to buy Marty’s, why do I have to buy yours?" Joey put his magazine aside and walked into the bathroom. He yawned as he reached for his toothbrush and applied the toothpaste.

"Because I can’t go in my jeans and because you owe me."

"Chris should buy the dress then. It’s for his stupid date." Joey ran water over his toothbrush and stuck it in his mouth.

"Nope. You have to."

"Fine, whatever." He said as he began brushing.

"What are you doing?"

"I’m brushing my teeth.  What does it sound like?"

"You can’t wait till we hang up?" Beth pretended to be annoyed, which wasn’t hard with Joey.

"Yeah right. It’s only 9:30. I’ve got you on the phone now, we’ll be on for another hour or two." She could barely understand him with his mouth full of toothpaste.

"No we won’t. I have to be up at 4:30 tomorrow.  I’m going to bed as soon as I finish loading the dishwasher."

"Aww come on Bethy." Joey whined. He spit into the sink and held his mouth under the faucet.

"Oh stop, how many times have we cut my rantings short because you had something you had to go do or because you had to sleep?"

"I can’t help that." Joey wiped his mouth on the clean towel by the sink and walked back out to the ‘bed room’ of his burgundy hotel room.

"And I can’t help that I have to work at the butt crack of dawn tomorrow."

"Okay fine whatever." He said angrily. She would have bought it if he hadn’t started laughing a second later.

"Yeah whatever." She mocked him. "Well call me later with the details. I’ll put the dress on your debit card, okay?"

"Oh sure. Let me give you the number." He reached into his back pocket for his wallet.

"I have it."

"You have it?" He asked, confused.

"Yeah, you gave it to me when you had me order those balloons and stuff for your moms birthday."

"And you kept it?"

"Yeah. I hope you don’t mind that I’ve used it. I can pay you back if you want."

"You… what did you buy?" He asked.

"Just a couple outfits and my new DVD player. That’s okay, right?" Beth smiled.

"Serious?"

"No, sheesh relax." She laughed and closed the dishwasher. "I haven’t used it except when you asked me to."

"I was gonna say…" He sighed with relief.

"You were gonna say what?" Beth asked, putting him on the spot.

"That uh… that it was fine and I hope you enjoyed them."

"That’s what I thought." She laughed and said, "Don’t worry, I won’t go over board. Call me later with details."

"Okay." Joey nodded. "Thanks again for your help today."

"Anytime." Beth shut off the kitchen light and walked down the hall to her room, "Good night Joe."

"Sweet dreams." He said softly.

"You too." She smiled and hung up as she shut her bedroom door and got ready for bed.

~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ Oscar Night ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~

Elizabeth waited nervously to get off the plane in Los Angeles. She carried her garment bag over her shoulder and the hanger was digging into her palm. She should have checked the bag at the airport, but there was no way she’d risk losing her dress to the United Airlines closet in the sky. It was Oscar night, and there was no way she could find a replacement in time.

When she made it off the plane she looked for the familiar sign with her name on it.    She found it, but was surprised to see Dean holding it. "Dean-o!" Beth laughed as she ran up to him and gave him a big hug.

"Hey kiddo." Dean laughed and held her tight. He had been with the guys since the beginning, and he’d always been Joey’s own security guard; she had no idea he was still with them.

"I didn’t know you were still with Joey!" She laughed as he took her garment bag and they headed out to the parking lot.

"Yeah, I took about a year off, but I’m back now." He smiled as they stepped out into the warm LA sunshine. "How’s Boston?"

"It’s good. It’s a lot like New York in some ways, but different." Elizabeth smiled and followed Dean across the asphalt.

"Aw come on. You can take the girl outta New York…"

"That’s true. Where’s Joey?" Elizabeth adjusted her backpack strap.

"Back at the hotel getting ready." Dean said as he stopped behind a dark blue rental car. He unlocked the doors and laid her dress carefully across the back seat. "How long are you here?"

"I have to be at work the day after tomorrow, I think my flight leaves at noon."

"So you literally just came out for this awards thing?"

"For the Oscars, yeah." She laughed. "Like I could turn this down."

"You’re gonna have fun. They’re performing with Gloria tonight, man she’s got a set of pipes you wouldn’t believe." Dean shook his head and started the car.

"I know, they all sound great together too." Elizabeth smiled as they headed back to the hotel where the guys were staying.

When they got to the Regent Beverly Wilshire, Dean dropped Beth off out front and got her bag out of the back, "I’m going to park, I’ll see you tonight though, okay kid?"

"All right Dean, it’s good to see you again."

"You too." He smiled and gave her a quick hug before jumping back into the car. Elizabeth took her bag and walked into the almost empty hotel lobby. She asked the lady at the front desk where the elevators were, then followed her directions down the hall to the shiny brass elevator cars.

She rode up to the 5th floor and stepped into the dim hallway. She took three steps before a security guard stopped her, "Do you have a pass ma’am?" He asked.

"Oh um, no." Elizabeth stuttered before looking up to meet the guard’s eyes. "Fred?" She asked with a smile.

"Yeah?"

"Fred, it’s me Elizabeth. Joey’s friend from… wow from years ago. I can’t believe you and Dean-O are still on the team here." She smiled and hugged him quickly.

"Little Beth?" He laughed and took a step back.

"Oh come on… I was never little."

"Look at your hair, wowzers." Fred lifted a section of curls. She’d kept it short for so many years, this was definitely a change.

"Yeah, it’s actually a lot easier this way." She laughed and looked down the hall.

"Are you looking for Joey?" Fred asked with a smile.

"Yeah, I guess." She shrugged. "I’m uh, actually here to go with Chris, but I think I’m supposed to get ready in Joe’s room."

"All right, well he’s down there in 554.  The last door on the right." Fred smiled and pointed down the hall.

"Great, thanks a lot."

"Anytime Bethy." He laughed and sat back in his chair as Elizabeth made her way down the hall. She knocked softly on the door at the end of the hall and waited nervously for someone to open the door.

"Hi." Chris said as he held the door open. "I’m Chris, you must be Elizabeth."

"I… yeah, hi. I’m sorry I thought this was Joey’s room." Beth looked at the room number to double check.

"It is." Chris smiled and held the door open wider to show a beautiful blonde sitting on the bed brushing her hair.

"Is he here?" Beth asked uneasily, still standing in the hall.

"Yeah." Chris said looking over his shoulder. He saw the girl on the bed and said, "Dangit he was just here. Come on in." Elizabeth stepped around Chris and into the room as Joey came out of the bathroom with a toothbrush in his mouth.

"Bethy Wethy!" He said as he licked the toothpaste foam from his lips. He jumped over a pile of discarded clothes and gave her a big hug, "You’re late."

"I’m not late I’m right on time. I told you my flight got in at 2:30pm." Beth smiled and took a step back.

"Well hurry up and get dressed, we’ve got the pre-show stuff to do and all that starts at 4." Joey said as he headed back into the bathroom to finish brushing his teeth.

"Hi, I’m Marty." The girl on the bed smiled as she stood up to extend her hand. "I swear Joey has no manners."

"Trust me, I know." Elizabeth smiled and shook her hand, "I’m Beth, it’s nice to meet you." She turned to face Chris, her date, "We’ve met before, Chris." She extended her hand anyway and shook his.

"We have?" He asked, with a confused look.

"Years ago, but yeah." She laughed. "I’ve known Joey since we were like, 5."

"Oh! You’re Bethy!" Chris laughed and scratched at his goatee. "Okay that makes sense." He nodded.

"That’s me." Beth smiled and looked at her bag, "Is there somewhere I can change?"

"Sure, there’s another room in there." Chris pointed to the door to the adjoining room. "That’s my room, just don’t go through my stuff." He laughed and held the door open.

"I won’t." Elizabeth smiled and walked by him.

"I’m just kidding, you can look if you want."

"Okay." Beth smiled over her shoulder as Chris shut the door.

"Wow." He said once the door was shut.

"She’s pretty." Marty said as she pinned her hair into place without the help of a mirror.

"Wow." Chris repeated as he sat at the little table.

 

Beth stood in the large hotel room by herself and got her new dress out of her garment bag. The room was warm and still smelled like soap from Chris’s shower. She’d seen him on TV and magazines recently, but she was still surprised to see him in person. She was used to seeing Joey, he was nothing special, but Chris actually seemed like a celebrity and it was exciting to meet him.

Elizabeth lay her dress on the unmade bed then quickly took her jeans and t-shirt off. She took her new black undergarments out of her bag and slid them on, feeling sexy just having them on. The black material made her skin appear to glow and she smiled as she pulled her silk stockings on slowly. She walked to the bathroom wearing only her underclothes and pinned her hair up as she did her make up. She kept it simple, nothing too flashy, then went on to her hair. She wasn’t sure what she was going to do with it but with as thick, long and curly as it was, there weren’t many options. She wished that just for tonight whoever it was that did "Felicity’s" hair on TV would come and do hers. She played with it for a few minutes then decided that down would have to suffice.

Beth splashed a bit of perfume behind her ear and across her chest before she slid into the elegant black dress she chose just for this occasion. She adjusted the straps and straightened the neckline as she looked at herself in the mirror. "Man I love this dress." She whispered to herself as she laughed.

She pulled her plain black heels on and opened the door to Joey’s room to look for Marty. The only person she saw was Chris playing with a coffee stirrer at the table, "Where’d everyone go?" She asked quietly as she peeked her head in the door.

"Oh." Chris jumped and dropped the stirrer, "Uh, they went down to the elevators.  Apparently there’s someone here to take pictures."

"Oh… shoot. Well, can you zip me up?" Beth stepped into the room and moved her hair off her back as Chris came to stand behind her.

"Yeah… sure." Chris blushed as he placed his left hand on her bare shoulder and used his right to pull the zipper up slowly. Elizabeth’s skin felt warm to the touch and he was hesitant to remove his hand when he was through.  Instead he left it there and turned her towards the door, "Are you ready to go?"

"Yeah, you?" She asked as she turned to face him.

"You bet." He smiled and they left the room. They walked down the hall towards the flashing at the end. "Thanks for coming today.  I know you didn’t have to." He said quietly.

"Sure, it’s no problem." She smiled sweetly and reached for his hand. "I think it’ll be fun."

"Of course it will." Chris laughed as they got to the elevators and were immediately blinded by the flashes. "Just smile." Chris said softly as he felt Elizabeth tense up. The space by the elevators was relatively small but with ten people all dressed up, it felt absolutely tiny.

Elizabeth stood between Joey and Chris as they took a group photo, then posed with Chris for some couples shots. More than a half hour later they all left the hotel in two separate limos and headed for the theater.

"So are you glad you came now?" Joey asked Beth as they bounced down the freeway.

"Yeah, it’s been okay so far." Elizabeth said as she looked out the window. "It’s better than sitting at home watching the awards on TV." She smiled.

"Yeah, of course we have to perform so we’re going to get all sweaty and gross, you guys are still gonna look hot when we leave." Joey laughed and draped his arm over Marty's shoulder, causing Elizabeth’s stomach to tighten as she blushed. For some reason seeing Joey with other girls, no matter how great the girl was, always made her uncomfortable.

When they got to the theater they were let out of the limo at the red carpet where the group reconvened and began the slow walk towards the entrance. Chris placed his hand lightly on the small of Elizabeth’s back as they walked behind the others towards the first reporter, "We have to do the media thing for a couple minutes." Chris said apologetically.

"Yeah, that’s okay." Beth smiled and looked over at Marty and Joe, kissing playfully for the camera. She quickly averted her eyes and went to stand beside the other girlfriends of the night.

Elizabeth introduced herself to Lindsay, Kate and Diane, then followed the guys down the carpet slowly. She tried not to gawk as stars like Tommy Lee Jones, Gwynth Paltrow and Jack Nicholson walked by, but it was hard not to stare. She felt completely out of place and almost intrusive as stars hugged and waved hello to each other.

When Ethan Hawke walked by with Uma Thurman, Marty grabbed Elizabeth’s arm and sighed, "Man, what I wouldn’t do for that man."

"I know!" Beth laughed and from that point on relaxed and enjoyed her evening.

 

On to part 2

 

Copyright 2000 Amy Lynn