Elizabeth stayed in New York with Joey for four days until he had to go back on the road with the guys. After the funeral on the day Joey had to leave, Beth pulled him aside and sat across from him. "Joe, hey listen, I just wanted to say I’m sorry. For everything these last couple weeks." Elizabeth shook her head and rested her hand on his shoulder as they sat side by side.

"I’m sorry too Bethy."

"I mean, I know it must be weird to see me and Chris together. I should have thought about that. We should have talked about that I think." She sighed as Joey ran his fingers through his hair and looked away.

"I shouldn’t have been such a prick." He shook his head.

"Are we even?" Elizabeth smiled shyly.

"Yeah, we’re even." He looked at her and smiled. Elizabeth smiled back and leaned forward to kiss his cheek lightly. He leaned away at the last second and wrapped his arm around her as a confused look crossed her face. "Thanks for coming Beth."

"You’re um, you’re welcome Joe." She said. What was that about? She’d been kissing his cheek for as long as she could remember.

"What time are you leaving to go home?" He asked as he sat back.

"Uh, whenever." She looked over her shoulder and into the house where the family was still gathered. "Do you want me to give you a ride to the airport?"

"Nah… you don’t have to." He shook his head and stood up.

She stood beside him and brushed her pants off, "I know I don’t have to Joey, but I’m going to be driving anyways."

"Okay." He nodded. "My flight leaves at 4:30."

"Okay." Elizabeth nodded and followed him back into the house. "Where are you flying to?"

"Um, South Dakota."

"Ahhh…" She laughed thinking of the Pauly Shore movie "Son-In-Law", one of their all time favorites. "North Dakota, South Dakota, East Dakota, West Dakota!" She sang softly, hoping to elicit a smile but all she saw was the back of his head as he trotted up the stairs to retrieve his bags.

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

"Hey guess what?" Chris asked more than a week later.

"What?" Elizabeth asked as she placed her bowl of popcorn beside her on the couch.

"I get two days off next week."

"You do?" She asked with a big smile. "Any chance you’d like to fly on out to Beantown and let me show you around for a day?"

"I’d love to." He laughed. "You gotta take me to Cheers though."

"You know that it’s not like the TV show, right?"

"Yeah, I know Cliff and Norm won’t be there." He laughed and caught his balance as the bus shifted beneath him. They were barreling down the highway headed for Albuquerque.

"Chris honey, it doesn’t even look like the bar on the TV show except from the outside." She laughed lightly and flipped her TV on.

"So what? I want to see Cheers."

"Where everybody knows your naaaaame. Dun dun dun dun. And they’re always glad you caaaaame." Justin sang as he pulled himself onto his bunk.

"Can it, Curly." Chris said as climbed into his own bunk.

"You’re cutting out on me." Beth said as the line crackled with static.

"Sorry, I climbed into bed."

"Oooooo." She said as she raised her eyebrow, "Sounds like fun." She laughed.

"Naughty girl." Chris laughed and flipped his little light on.

"Naughty girls need love too." Justin sang from the bunk across the way.

"Dammit Justin, for reals… shut up. What the hell are you singing?"

"Samantha Fox." Justin said, as if Chris should have known.

"You were like 5 when that came out.  Why do you know that?" Chris asked as he pulled his curtain aside and frowned at Justin.

"I don’t know." Justin laughed and shook his head.

"Well I’m on the phone here, can you keep it down?" Chris smiled and shut his curtain again.

"Chris? I’m just going to let you go… I can barely hear you." Elizabeth said as she reached for her remote to mute her TV.

"Okay… I’ll give you a call later with the details." He said loudly, to make sure she heard him.

"Okay." She laughed and held the phone away from her ear. "Bye." She blew exaggerated kisses into the phone as he did the same.

Chris laughed and flipped his phone shut before folding his pillow in half and shoving it behind his head. He turned his light off and pulled the thick Mexican blanket up to his shoulders then made himself comfortable.

Joey laid in the bunk directly beneath Chris frowning up at the bottom of his friends bed. He snatched his headphones from the little shelf above him and roughly put them on his ears as he cranked the volume up full blast.

"He’s trying to make himself deaf." Justin said from behind his curtain.

"Yeah he is." Chris sighed, and rolled over to face the wall, it had been a long day and they were all tired.

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

"Hey Chris, what are you doing with your free weekend?" Joey asked as he tossed his ratty old backpack over his shoulder. He pulled the Atlanta Braves cap on over his attention grabbing hair and bent the brim.

"I’m gonna go see Beth in Boston." Chris said softly, following Joey onto the bus that was taking them to the airport. It was early Saturday morning and they were all excited to have a couple days off.

"Oh." Joey said a second later. He cleared his throat and dropped himself into the seat beside Lance.

"Why? What are you doing?" Chris asked as he sat behind Joey and Lance and rested his arms on the backs of their seats.

"Nothing." Joey shook his head. "I was going to see if you wanted to come with me and Lance."

"What?" Lance asked, hearing his name.

"Where are you going?" Chris asked.

"Huh?" Lance asked, looking from Chris to Joey.

"We’re going to do that dolphin adventure thing. You know where you spend the day in the water training the dolphins and stuff." Joey smiled, casting Lance the ‘just go with it’ look.

"In February? Dude the waters gonna be freezing." Chris laughed and shook his head. "No thanks, I’d rather go to Cheers."

Joey shrugged, "Okay."

"Justin!" Chris shouted as he dove over the backs of the seats to where Justin was fiddling with his walkman. Chris landed in Justin’s lap and they began a wrestling match between the seats.

"Hey man, I’m not going on that dolphin adventure thing. Chris was right, it’s too cold." Lance shook his head and stuck his thumb in his mouth to bite the nail.

"I know." Joey said softly as he sighed and sunk down into his seat. Lance bit off a portion of his nail and spit it towards the ground, accidentally hitting Joey’s shoe. "Gross Lance." Joey stood up and moved across the aisle where he sat alone by the window.

Joey pulled his walkman out of his bag as the pull started and got on it’s way towards the airport. He put the earphones on and hit play as the music filled his ears. He was listening to a CD that JC had made for Bobbee when they first started dating. It was full of sappy sweet ballads, but it was just what Joey was in the mood for. A rarity for him.

He skipped ahead to his favorite song on the album, "Take my breath away" by 98 Degrees. He’d listened to it over and over again the past couple days, and he knew every word.

"If I had castles built on high, I’d find a million ways to write your name against the sky… just to let you know you’ve caught my eye. And if I had more than wealth could buy, I’d sell it all and start again for just a chance with you, girl I’d give my all to win your love… And I would be rich…. And I would build all my world around you, just to show you how you take my breath away… and you would find love… no body else this side of heaven knows how you take my breath away… If I could turn the day to night, if I had faith to walk on water maybe you would see the reason I thank God for miracles. ‘Cause baby when you walked into sight, you turned an ordinary man like me into a king… I would do anything to win your love…"

Joey closed his eyes and drifted off listening to the song that summed up his feeling for Beth. He would spend the weekend deciding if… and how… to tell Bethy how he felt. It wasn’t going to be easy, and he was not looking forward to it.

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

Elizabeth placed her fork in the sink as the buzzer sounded at by her front door. She licked her finger as she walked across the small apartment and pressed the speaker button, smearing a chocolate fingerprint over the white plastic, "Shit... hello?"

"Nope… not shit." Chris laughed from the street. His voice sounded tinny over the intercom, but he was here.

"Chris! Yay you’re here, hang on." She pressed the other button, making a huge mess of the intercom. A buzz sounded down stairs and Chris pulled the door open.

"Wait!" He shouted in the general direction of the intercom.

"What?"

"Where am I going?" He laughed and held the door open with his foot as he leaned to press the intercom button.

"One flight up, on the left." Elizabeth laughed and shook her head.

"Okay." Chris released the button and took the stairs two at a time to get to the second floor landing that much quicker.

"Hi!" Elizabeth smiled as she pulled her door open in time to see Chris walking down the hall with his backpack hanging carelessly from his hand.

"Hey gorgeous." He pulled her in for a tight hug and a quick kiss before following her into the apartment and shutting the door. "Oooh what smells good?"

"Brownies." Beth laughed, "With chocolate icing. Can you tell I’m PMSing this week?"

"Thanks for the warning." He laughed and followed her through the living room to the kitchen. "So what have you been up to?"

"Working, you know, the usual." Elizabeth took the spatula from the counter and ran her finger up the side to scrape off the icing. She licked her finger quickly and said, "Oh, and I got a pedicure. That’s about all that’s been going on since the last time we talked." She held out her bright blue painted toes for Chris’s inspection.

"Cute." He reached for the spatula and licked some of the icing off.

"Gross, Chris I wasn’t done with that." Beth laughed and took it back.

"What? You just licked off it."

"No, I used my fingers." She shook the spatula at him and playfully swatted at him.

"So what are you saying? I’ve got cooties or something?"

"Yeah." She laughed as he grabbed her from behind and bit her neck like an animal.

"Cooties huh? That didn’t seem to bother you last time." He laughed and kissed her chocolatey lips, keeping his arms around her waist.

"Yeah but other people are going to eat these." She laughed as his stubble tickled her neck.

"You didn’t make those for me?"

"You can’t eat a whole tray of brownies." She shook her head and turned her head to face him.

"Bet me." He said as he kissed her again.

"You’ll be sicker than a dog."

"You’re dog’s sick?" He asked with a raised eyebrow.

"I don’t have a dog. It’s a old saying you goob." Elizabeth shrugged Chris off her shoulders and went to work icing the rest of the brownies.

"So what’s the plan for today?" Chris leaned against the counter beside Beth and played with an empty ice cube tray.

"Well… you wanted to go to Cheers, so I thought we’d go there for dinner. Is there anything else you wanted to see?"

"Other than you?" He smiled.

"Yeah." She blushed and caught his eye.

"Nope. Cheers and you, that’s all I need to make me happy."

"You’re pretty easy to satisfy." Beth raised an eyebrow at him and smirked.

"Yep." Chris nodded proudly. "So hurry it up so we can go."

"Christopher daaaarling." Elizabeth exaggerated an English accent.

"What?" He whined and hopped off the counter.

"Where exactly do you want to go?"

"Well let’s see, I’ve been on a bus and/or plane, and/or arena for the past couple weeks… I want to go outside." Chris took the spatula out of her hand and set it carefully on the side of the baking pan.

Elizabeth sighed, but let Chris pull her out of the kitchen, "Wait, can I change my clothes first?" She asked.

"What’s wrong with that?" Chris looked at her dark green jeans and cream colored sweater. Her dangerous curls were being held at bay with a neon orange scrunchie , though a couple had managed to escape the binding and were framing her face.

"I look like a bum." She looked down at her bare feet, "And I need shoes."

"Get shoes then and lets go. You look fine." He smiled, not letting go of her hand. "You look beautiful." He leaned his forehead against hers and kissed her softly.

"Give me just a sec." Elizabeth said when they finally separated. She kissed him again quickly then ran to her room to find her boots.

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

As Elizabeth showed Chris around downtown Boston, Joey sat in Justin’s living room in Florida. "Come on Joe… we’re going to The Stack, how can you not want to go with us?" Justin asked as he ran his hands through his crazy curls.

"I’m not in a dancing mood. Jesus Justin, we spend all day every day dancing, how can you want to dance more than that?" Joey stood up and walked to the doorway of the bathroom where Justin was applying gel to his hair. Lance sat on the counter leaning against the mirror, as he flipped through a car magazine.

"Do you actually read this garbage?" Lance looked up at Justin.

"It’s not garbage." Justin said as his hands froze mid-air. "If you actually owned a decent car you would know."

"Yeah, whatever." Lance mumbled under his breath and opened the magazine again.

"Joey’s not going with us." Justin said as he reached for his hair spray.

"Why do you put that crap in your hair, it just makes it all sticky and hard."

Justin busted up laughing, expecting Joey to do the same, but Joey just sat there picking at his fingers. "Hard? Sticky? Earth to Joey." Justin said as he continued to laugh.

"I’m gonna take off guys. Gimme a call tomorrow when you know what you’re doing." Joey stood up straight and yawned.

"Seriously? You’re not coming with us?" Lance asked.

"Nah, I’m beat." Joey shook his head and covered his mouth as his yawn continued.

"He’s getting old." Justin laughed and held the hair spray out to Lance, "Soft hold, see?"

"You need help." Lance shook his head and hopped off the counter.

"So call me tomorrow?" Joey asked as he led the way to the front of the house.

"Oh just come with us Joey. You’ll have fun." Justin opened the hall closet and stared at his selection of jackets.

"Nah, it’s cool." Joey waved over his shoulder as he pulled the front door open. "Have fun." Joey walked down the brick path with his hands deep in his pockets.

"What’s wrong with him man? He hasn’t gone out with us in weeks. That’s like… anti-Joey." Justin shook his head.

"Beats me." Lance shrugged and picked his jacket up off the couch. "Are you ready to go now Barbie?"

"Shut up." Justin took a shot at Lances head as he grabbed the garage door opened and headed for the car.

"You’re the most high maintenance person I know." Lance laughed as he stood by the passenger door, waiting for Justin to lock up.

"So seriously, you don’t know what’s up his ass?"

"Nope." Lance shook his head as Justin unlocked the door. He slid into the smooth leather passenger seat and said, "Ever since he broke up with Marty he’s been this little anti-social being. I mean he’s not even goofing around at meet and greets."

"I know. He needs to get laid is what I’m thinking." Justin laughed and started his car. He let it purrr in the driveway for a minute before he pulled out slowly.

"I think I’m going to have to agree with you there." Lance nodded, and they headed out for a night on the town.

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

"What is this?!" Chris asked as Elizabeth held the door to the Bull and Finch open. The dark interior was lit with neon bar lights and loud music pounded from the juke box.

"You wanted to come here Chris."

"What the-" Chris looked around, totally confused. "What is this?"

"This is Cheers." Beth laughed.

"It’s not! Look at this! The bar is not even in the right place. Man, what is this?"

"Chris, I told you that it was nothing like the bar on TV. I meant it… it’s nothing like on TV."

"Yeah, no shit." Chris frowned. His dreams of spending the evening "where everybody knows your name" went down the tubes.

"Come on… let’s go upstairs and get dinner." Beth took his hand and led the wary Chris up the narrow flight of stairs.

"The stairs aren’t even in the right place." Chris grumbled as he reluctantly followed. Elizabeth laughed quietly as they walked to the host and requested a table for two.

"Right this way." The host took two menus and led the way into the small adjoining room where they were seated against the wall.

"I can’t believe how different it is." Chris shook his head and looked around.

"You’ve been living a lie." Elizabeth laughed.

"Shut up." Chris laughed and opened the menu. "So what’s good here?"

"The clam chowder is heaven…. If you like clam chowder that it. And the chili is deadly."

"Really? Like how deadly?"

"Like if you get it you might as well purchase a plane ticket home tonight because I will not let you befoul my home with the stench." Beth smiled sweetly.

"So the clam chowder huh?" He laughed and flipped through the menu some more.

"I think that’s a safe option." She smiled and looked at the desserts.

"Cool, I can do that." Chris said softly as he nodded. He casually reached across the table and held Beth’s hand as he turned to the back of the menu. "You should come out to visit us again, we had fun last time."

"Yeah… well um, I don’t know." She said uneasily. "I mean, Joey’s still kinda weird about this whole thing."

"I don’t know why he’s all bent about this, I mean really." Chris shook his head and frowned.

"No, I know. I just don’t want to go there and be all… you know, in front of him."

"All… you know?" Chris laughed.

"You know what I mean." She laughed quietly and blushed.

"I know." He nodded as the waiter came to take their orders.

"You’ll be done with the tour soon anyways, right?"

"Yeah, 5 more weeks. Then we’re off to Japan for two weeks, then home for some rest and relaxation." He sighed, savoring the thought of actual free time.

"Cool." Beth studied the wine list casually.

"Yeah… so will you be able to take some vacation time around then?" Chris asked a minute later.

"I think… I think I can arrange some time off, yeah." She nodded and looked up to meet his eye.

"Then we’ll have to maybe plan something." He smiled slowly.

"Okay." She nodded, keeping her bursting excitement to herself. She let a broad smile escape, and Chris snickered as he heard her feet tap the floor excitedly across from his.

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

"Hey Diane?" Joey asked into the phone. This was his fourth time dialing Lance’s parents house, and the first time he’d actually let it ring.

"Yes. Who’s calling please?" She asked.

"Hey, it’s Joey." He said as her nervously folded the ATM receipt on the table in front of him.

"Joey, hi how are you?"

"I’m… I’m doing alright. Hey listen, remember when we all went out to dinner a little while ago?" He asked.

"You mean with Lance?" She asked.

"Yeah." He nodded and cleared his throat quickly. "Remember I told you about that girl that I grew up with, Bethy?" He torn the receipt in half, then in quarters.

"Yes, I remember that. She was seeing Chris wasn’t she?"

"Um… yeah. She still is. He’s there now in fact." Joey said quietly. He cradled the phone between his ear and shoulder and wrapped the thin piece of torn paper around his pinky.

"Okay…" She said slowly, not exactly sure why Joey had called her. "Is everything alright Joe?"

"Hmm? Yeah everything’s fine." Joey sighed and closed his eyes. "Kind of… well.. not really."

"Can I help?" She asked. She was the coolest ‘friends mom’ Joey could hope for.

"Yeah… I uh… sheesh, okay well here’s the thing." He paused and took a deep breath. "I’m pretty sure I love Beth."

Diane was quite for a second, trying not to laugh into the phone. She knew Joey was being serious, it just sounded so funny, "You’re pretty sure, Joey?"

"No… nope, I’m sure." He nodded. "I’m sure. I do."

"Okay…" She said slowly. "Does she know about this? Or does Chris know?"

"No." Joey shook his head. "That’s kind of why I’m calling."

"Oh, I see." She nodded and sat at her kitchen table, stretching her phone cord across the counter.

"How do I tell them? Or do I even have to tell them?"

"How serious are they?"

"I don’t know. I’m guessing they’re kinda serious. I mean, he’s in Boston right now. They talk on the phone I guess. I don’t know. But they’ve only known each other for a couple months."

"If this is just some passing thing, then I don’t think you should tell them. But if this is serious, I think you should. Just to get it off your chest."

"Wait, you mean if they are serious I should tell them?" Joey was confused. Wouldn’t that make matters worse?"

"I meant for you. If this is a passing thing, your feeling for Beth… then you might just want to let it lie. But if you’re serious, then you should probably tell them, before they get too far."

"Shit." Joey said under his breath. "Sorry."

"It’s okay." Diane smiled.

"Okay but how?"

"How do you tell them?"

"Yeah. I mean do I just sit them both down or what?"

"You could do that… sure." She said slowly. "It might be easier for you if you tell one of them though, to kinda gauge the reaction. To see how serious they are, you know?"

"Okay." Joey nodded. "Which one?"

"I can’t answer that for you, honey. That’s something you’ll have to decide for yourself." She shook her head.

"I’ll tell Beth I think. If I tell her and I make an asshole out of - sorry."

"It’s okay." Diane laughed lightly.

"If I make a fool out of myself, Bethy can just shrug it off. Chris is more.. I don’t know… having to see him every day might be hard after that."

"Yeah." Diane agreed.

"Okay." Joey smiled and breathed a sigh of relief.

"Is that all you needed hun?" Diane asked as the buzzer on her stove went off.

"Yeah." Joey nodded and picked up the tiny pieces of torn paper. "Thanks."

"Anytime."

"Bye." Joey smiled and hung up the phone… he’d have to tell Beth.

~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ 2 days later ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~

"Joey let’s go." Justin said as he held the door to the florists open.

"Just a sec." Joey said quietly as he stared at two flower arrangements. He couldn’t decide between the dozen and a half red roses, which seemed a bit much, and the dozen mixed roses that were red, white and pink. He frowned as the sales lady moved across the counter to help someone else.

The bell over the door chimed again as it was pulled open 10 minutes later, "Joey Joey Joey! Come on man." Chris shouted.

Joey winced at the sound of his friends voice, then turned to him and said, "Jesus, give me just a minute."

"The bus is running and ready to go, we’ve gotta move." Chris said before he shut the door.

"Excuse me, I’d like these." Joey said to the sales girl. He held up the mixed roses and tried to smile.

"Did you fill out a card?" She asked as she took the flowers to the register.

"Card? No." Joey shook his head and followed her.

"Here, you can personalize one of these." She pointed to a spinning metal rack filled with tiny flower cards. Joey picked one at random and grabbed the pen off the counter. He thought for a second, then wrote "… no body else this side of heaven knows how you take my breath away…"

Joey furrowed his forehead as he thought about how to sign it. The sales girl rang up the flowers and he absentmindedly handed her the cash. Love, Joey. Love, Joe. All my love, Joey. Joseph Fatone. He sighed… he’d never signed a card that meant what this one did. He frowned and rested his chin in his hand on the counter.

The bell chimed again and JC said, "Now Joey, come on. If you can’t find the right "I’m sorry I boinked your friend" flowers by now, then it’s not gonna happen. Let’s go."

"Just a second." Joey said as he waved over his shoulder.

"The bus is here." JC said as the driver sounded a short blast on the horn. He shut the door and trotted back to the bus as the door chimed again.

"Shit." Joey swore under his breath. He scrawled "Love – " and started to write the J when he was grabbed by the arm and pulled toward the door.

"We’re already late, Joe." Justin said as he pulled Joey toward the bus.

"I was in the middle of writing!" Joey complained as he stepped up onto the bus.

"You were in there for like a half hour. A half hour on our ten minute stop." JC growled from the front seat.

"Whatever." Joey said as he retreated to his bunk. "How much longer till we get there?"

"Four hours." Lance said from his bunk. "Four more loooong hours."

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

Message 3 from 5547799@airmessage.com: hey Joe, you busy?

Joey looked at the pager vibrating on his hip. He was in the middle of an interview with a local radio station, wherever they were, and was honestly looking for a free minute. He’d just spent the last 15 minutes listening to the others talk about their girlfriends and teasing Joey, Mr. Player Man.

He flipped the pager open and responded:

 

To 5547799@airmessage.com: hey liz. kinda. whats up?

 

"What do you have there Joey?" The DJ asked.

"That’s his proof that he’s a techno junkie." Chris laughed.

"It’s my pager." He held the bright blue plastic piece up for the DJ to see.

"That’s pretty cool, can you get e-mail on that thing?" The DJ asked.

"Yeah." Joey nodded. "Like right now I just responded to an e-mail."

"Cool, can I see it?"

"Sure." Joey handed his pager over to the DJ who flipped it open and pressed the buttons.

"This is pretty cool, so who want’s Joey’s pager number?" The DJ laughed.

"No no no, don’t give that stuff out." Joey laughed and reached for the pager as it began to vibrate in the DJ’s hand.

"Hey can I see the message?" The DJ laughed and pushed a couple more buttons.

"Sure." Joey laughed.

The DJ held the pager up at eye level and read it out loud, "Don’t call me Liz. I just need to vent. You owe me." He laughed, "Who’s Liz?"

"Dude, who’s Liz?" Justin looked over at Joey.

"Bethy." Joey said softly, taking the pager back from the DJ, he quickly typed in a message and sent it.

 

To 5547799@airmessage.com: gimme 15 mins?

 

"Bethy?" JC asked. "Elizabeth?" He looked from Joey to Chris.

"Chris’s Elizabeth is paging you?" The DJ laughed.

"I… we’re friends." Joey said.

"Hey Chris, it looks like the smooth operator is making a move on your girlfriend." The DJ laughed again as Joey’s heart sped up.

"Nah, Joey had his chance." Chris laughed. "How come she’s paging you though huh?" Chris looked down at his silent pager.

"She just… we’re friends. I’ve known her since we were kids." Joey explained to the DJ. "I don’t know why she paged me." He shrugged.

"Why don’t we call her and see?" The DJ picked up the studio phone.

"No!" Joey said quickly, thinking of the flowers he had sent two days before. He had been impulsive and hadn’t yet talked to her. He knew that had to be what she was calling to talk about.

"Yeah call her." Chris laughed and wrote her number on a piece of paper and handed it to the DJ who promptly dialed it.

"Joe?" Beth answered the phone on the first ring.

"Hey Bethy, we’re on the radio." He said quickly, so that she hopefully wouldn’t start venting right away.

"On… on the radio? What do you mean?" She asked.

"We’re doing a radio interview, everyone is here." Joey explained.

"Hi!" Justin laughed as the others joined in.

"Hey honey." Chris smiled and leaned closer to the phone.

"H-hi." She said, mildly shocked. "What radio station am I on?" She asked.

"KKLQ in San Antonio." The DJ said, "We were just calling to say hi, we saw Joey get your messages on his cool little pager."

"Oh… uh.. well hi." She tried to smile. "How are you guys?"

"We’re good." Lance said as he leaned back in his chair.

"What are you doing today?" Chris asked.

"Um, not much." Beth ran her hand through her hair and sat at her computer desk. "I was just calling to vent."

"So we were wondering why you called Joe instead of your boyfriend." The DJ asked, embarrassing not only Elizabeth, but Joey as well.

"I always call Joe to vent. He doesn’t care how immature I sound." Beth smiled uneasily. "Joey can you call me later though? After you’re done?"

"Sure, yeah." He nodded. "I’ll call you when we get done here."

"Okay." Beth sighed, "I’ll talk to you all later, I’m going to get going."

"Bye Beth." JC said.

"Later Bethy." Justin laughed.

"I’ll call you later hun." Chris smiled.

"Bye." Beth laughed and hung up, while Joey breathed a sigh of relief. They finished up the radio interview and went out to the cars. Joey and Justin and Lance were on their way to the arena while JC and Chris headed back to the hotel to check out and do another phone interview.

As soon as Joey got in the car he reached for his cel and called Elizabeth, before she could even say ‘Hello’, he said, "I’m sorry about that."

"It’s okay… I just wasn’t ready to be on air." She laughed nervously.

"So… uh… what’s up?" He asked quietly as his palms began to sweat.

"Oh… well… I got these flowers yesterday…"

"I know… I think I shou-" He started.

"I mean, Chris is so sweet and everything, but the card says the "L" word and wow… I just don’t know about that. He’s great, don’t get me wrong, but still… we’ve only known each other for what? Two months?"

Joey’s jaw fell open and he blushed slightly, "I – Wuh – Um – Chr – Wel –" Joey’s mouth couldn’t form words, only sounds.

"Joe?" Beth laughed nervously, "You okay?"

"Huh? Yeah… yeah I’m okay. So…" He cleared his throat, "So, well maybe you shouldn’t worry."

"How do I not worry? If he’s saying stuff like this, I mean… he wrote that I take his breath away. Joey I’m not looking for anything like this. He’s wonderful, really he is… but… what do I do?"

Joey sat in silence trying to figure out what to say, Lance looked at him weird as he took a breath intending to talk, but each time just letting it out, "What if he didn’t send them?"

"He can’t just go un-send them Joe. And I can’t un-receive them." She sighed. "He never came across like this type, he seems like he’d shy away from this… but now…" She frowned. "I’m probably just making a big deal out of this, it’s probably nothing. But I mean, I got butterflies in my stomach and a warm fuzzy feeling when I read the card, I could tell he really meant it. It just freaked me out."

Joey felt like he was going to throw up as he rested his head on the back of the seat in front of him. "I meant what if he wasn’t the one that sent them." Joey said softly, not needing everyone in the car to be a part of the conversation.

"These aren’t exactly ‘dad’ flowers." She rolled her eyes. "These are definitely ‘love’ flowers. Beautiful ‘love’ flowers." She continued to stare at the pale pink rose in front of her.

"Maybe you have a secret admirer." Joey closed his eyes.

Elizabeth laughed out loud and re-read the card, "Well if it is, I wish I knew who was too afraid to tell me. No, this card had to have been written by someone who knows me, it shook me, really." She shook her head and said, "No, these have to be from Chris. They’re perfect… just like he is. It’s just the message that throws me... and that he signed it ‘Love’."

"Elizabeth…"

"I should probably just call him and talk to him." Beth said softly as she nestled the card back between the roses.

"Yeah." Joey said automatically, before what she said hit him, "I mean no!" He lifted his head.

"No?"

"Yeah, no, don’t."

"Joey I have to." She shook her head. "Just to find out where he stands."

Chris didn’t have a clue about the flowers, how could he? He did however know that Joey sent flowers the day before. Chris would make that connection, he wasn’t stupid. This was all going down wrong. When he sent the flowers he wasn’t thinking straight and right now he was thinking even less straight.

"Don’t call Chris, Beth." Joey said softly as he leaned as close to the door as he could. He took a deep breath and closed his eyes, "I sent the flowers."

He waited a second, then heard the soft click as Elizabeth placed her phone down on the cradle and broke the connection.

  

On to the 4th part

 

Copyright 2000 Amy Lynn