"So are you packed?" JC asked over dinner the next week. He took a bite and glanced up at Sara across the little table in what was becoming their favorite little Italian restaurant.

"Yep, in fact my bag is already in my car and ready to go." She smiled.

"This will be fun, have you been to San Francisco before?"

"My aunt took me when I was 15 or 16." Sara nodded.

"Oh, so not for a while?"

"No." She shook her head.

"Cool, well tomorrow we’re meeting with the strategy guys, but after that we’ll be able to hang out with Chris if you want. Saturday morning is going to be pretty much filled with more meetings and stuff, but the rest of the day is all ours."

"What about Chris?"

"He’s flying out after our meetings." JC shook his head and wiped his mouth on his napkin.

"Oh, okay." Sara said softly.

"What? What’s wrong?"

"Nothing." Sara shook her head and forced a smile.

"Nothing?"

"Nothing." She repeated, "This is going to be a fun weekend."

"Who are you trying to convince?"

"Myself." Sara said after a moment of thought. She smiled and placed her fork beside her plate, "I know it will be fun, I’m just not that big on traveling."

"You don’t like to fly?"

She shrugged and laughed, "I just don’t like the idea of leaving. It’s no big deal." She was also unsure of spending a whole weekend with JC as boyfriend and girlfriend, but she’d have to get over that sooner or later.

"We could take the train if you want."

"No, that’s okay." She shook her head. "Sitting on a train for 8 hours doesn’t sound like a whole bunch of fun."

"It’s not that long, we could leave first thing in the morning."

"No, that’s okay, we can fly up tomorrow as planned. You have meetings and things in the afternoon, remember?" Sara shook her head.

"You’re sure?"

"I’m sure." She smiled to reassure him, and they finished their meal.

They went out to the movies at the theater in the mall nearby, then went back to his house when they were done. Sara made a cup of tea for herself and leaned on the counter beside JC as she sipped it carefully. "What time do you want me to be here in the morning?"

"Four thirty." He said in all seriousness.

"Yeah right. Seriously… what time?" She smiled and warmed her hands on the ceramic mug.

"Five thirty." He smiled.

"For a flight that leaves at nine? You’re nuts." Sara watched him over the rim of her cup as she blew on the tea.

"Well you asked what time I want you here." He smiled and placed his hand on her side. "I want you here all the time."

"Specifically tomorrow, what time?" She laughed lightly, but didn’t move away as his arm circled her waist.

He checked his watch and said, "How about 12:03?"

"Is that what time it is now?"

"Yep." He nodded with a playful smile.

"I’m exhausted, I need to go get some sleep before we leave."

"You can sleep here if you want." He whispered as he leaned his forehead on hers.

"I know." Sara whispered back.

"Will you stay?"

Sara thought about it for a minute, she would give anything to stay in his arms all night long, just to feel him solidly next to her and to hear his voice in the morning. But she wasn’t sure if she was ready for anything like that; this was all so new still. "JC I don’t think…" She started to argue, then stopped and nodded. She would have to get comfortable being alone with him sometime.

"You don’t have to if you don’t want to." JC said as he brushed her hair off her cheek.

"I know."

"If you’re not sure, I’d rather if you didn’t."

"It’s not that." She laughed lightly.

"I just want you to be comfortable. Nothing’s going to happen… if that’s what you're worried about. I just… Sara I just want to be there when you wake up." He smiled slowly and kissed shoulder.

"I want you there too." She nodded as butterflies danced around her stomach. JC smiled and dropped his hand to her waist, then pulled her closer.

"So you’ll stay?" He smiled.

"Yes." She yawned and set her cup on the counter. "But I wasn’t kidding when I said I was tired." She covered her mouth as she yawned.

"I am too." He nodded slowly as he took her hand. "Come on, we’ve got a long day ahead of us tomorrow." They walked down the hall to his bedroom and he gave her an oversized T-shirt to sleep in. They changed in separate rooms, and Sara waited nervously beside the huge, intimidating bed.

"I’m not even close to ready for this. I need Dr. Grayson. Maybe I can call her real quick before JC gets back. I’m going to make a giant ass out of myself." Sara thought to herself. She fidgeted with her hair as JC came into the room from the bathroom. His flannel pajama bottoms were loose fitting, and his tank top didn’t match. Sara smiled at the image, but that didn’t stop her from feeling so nervous she thought she’d throw up.

"I set the alarm for seven, that way we can get up and shower before we have to leave for the airport." JC pulled the covers back and slid between the sheets as he flipped the small bedside lamp off.

"Okay." Sara nodded slightly, but made no move to climb into the bed beside JC.

"Unless you’re some kind of giraffe, I don’t think you can sleep standing up." JC whispered into the darkness.

Sara closed her eyes and pulled the covers on her side of the bed back, then climbed in as she held her breath. She lay flat on her back with the blanket pulled up to her shoulders and her eyes wide open.

"Why do you look terrified?" JC whispered, as he tried not to laugh.

"I don’t." She said quickly.

"Come here, babe." JC reached over and pulled her close to him. He wrapped his arms around her from behind and she slowly rolled onto her side. "See? This isn’t so bad."

"No." She shook her head and forced herself to relax into his arms.

"I love you Sara bear." JC said softly as he snuggled deeper into the pillow and curled his legs behind hers.

Sara nodded slightly in response and closed her eyes, enjoying the feeling of his warmth behind her. She let that feeling take her into dreamland as she rested her hand on his,

Sara’s eyes flew open the next morning and she hurriedly looked around. It took a moment for her mind to clear and for her to register where she was, but when she did her stomach did a flip-flop. She’d spent the night at JC’s and he was still there beside her with his arms around her and his breath warm on her neck.

She rolled over carefully so not to wake JC, then wrapped her arms around him as they faced each other. He grunted softly and let his hand fall to her behind in his sleep. She looked at his sleeping face and smiled at his hair sticking up like a madman.

"You snore." He said softly without opening his eyes.

"I do not." She whispered back with a quiet laugh.

"You do to. Like a logger."

"You lie."

"I promise you Sara, you snore like a truck driver." He cracked his eyes open and smiled.

"You’re mean."

"I’m not mean." He kissed her lips as he smiled again. "I’m the nicest guy you know."

"You think so huh?" She raised her eyebrow and smiled.

"I know so." He kissed her again. "How many other guys would let you stay here knowing you snore like that?"

"If I snore why didn’t any of the guys say anything? We rode in close quarters for weeks."

"Because Justin’s snoring drowned you out."

"Justin snores?"

"I have no idea how you slept through that." JC laughed and propped himself up on one elbow. "Do you want breakfast?" He asked as he traced her bottom lip with his finger. She shook her head and pulled the blanket up to her shoulders and tried not to yawn.

"Do you have coffee?"

"I think so." JC nodded, but didn’t make a move to get out of the bed.

"Do you want me to go check?" She asked.

"No."

"Are you going to go see?"

"No."

"JC…"

"I just want to stay here for a little bit, cut me some slack." He laughed and pulled her close to kiss her again.

"Guess what?"

"What?"

"There's a Starbucks in the main terminal at the airport, so if we get a move on it I can stop and get my mocha, and then everyone will be happy." She stood up and stretched before going into the bathroom. She shut the door and turned the water on as JC rolled back over and turned his clock radio on to the morning show.

They took turns under the hot water and were out the door with time to spare. They took a cab to the airport and stopped at the little Starbucks cart in the main terminal to get Sara her mocha and a chocolate croissant.

JC's security team met them at the San Francisco airport when they landed and took them directly to the 20 story office building where their meetings were going to be held, "If you want to go to the hotel, you can. You don't have to wait around here." JC said as they walked down the hall.

Sara cast a worried glance at the security team, then looked at JC, "What about them?"

"One of them will go with you just to be safe." He noticed her look and lightly touched her arm, "There's nothing to be worried about, but if fans are there, you'll be glad to have him around. It shouldn't be that bad though."

"Hey Sara!" Chris smiled as he walked down the hall with a security guard of his own.

"Hi Chris." She smiled and gave him a quick hug, "How are you?"

"Good, you?"

"I'm doing good." Sara nodded and looked more at ease.

"How's it going?" Chris nodded at JC.

"Well, we're on time, so that's a good start." JC laughed and checked his watch, "But just barely. What's it gonna be?" He asked Sara.

"I guess I'll go to the hotel." She looked over her shoulder at the guard. "Does he really have to come?"

"You won't even know he's there." Chris laughed. "He'll just be this big guy that hails you a cab and pays for it. It's all good."

"We'll be done here in a couple hours, then the three of us can hit the wharf or something, grab some dinner." JC smiled and hugged her quickly.

"Okay."

"Don, can you take Sara to the hotel and get us checked in?" JC asked as he stepped back. The smaller of the two guards stepped up and introduced himself to Sara, then took her little bag and headed for the door.

"See you later Sara." Chris waved as JC blew her a kiss. She smiled and shook her head, then followed Don out the door and into the California sunshine.

Chris and JC made it back to the hotel a few hours later, and it was after five when they met up again and headed out for dinner as a threesome. They ate at a little sea food place on the end of a pier and looked around at the collection of little stores lining the planks.

 

"Wow, look at you. You're all girly." Chris laughed as Sara stepped into the hall in her little sundress and sandals.

"Shut up." Sara blushed and giggled softly. Her hair was for once doing what she wanted it to, and it curled delicately around her face in dirty blonde ringlets. "I'm a girl, what did you expect?"

"I don’t know." He shook his head and hit the elevator button. "Where's Jace?"

"He was right behind me." She looked over her shoulder to see JC walking down the hall towards them.

"Are you making him take you out for a real romantic dinner now that I'm out of the picture?" Chris asked softly.

"Yeah, it took you long enough to leave. Sheesh." She laughed and gave Chris a quick hug, "No… he wants to go out tonight because after this week you guys are gonna be nuts back in the studio."

"Ahh, I see how it goes. Like the Last Supper or something."

"Something like that." Sara nodded as JC walked up and planted a quick kiss on her cheek.

"Something like what?" JC asked.

"Last supper. Taking Sara out tonight since we'll be in the studio next week." Chris explained as the guards turned the corner to follow them out of the hotel.

"Ahh, yep. Once we start we're going to busy busy busy." JC nodded. The five of them stepped onto the elevator and rode down, discussing the recording schedule and the promo TV tour they'd have to do before the album came out.

They said goodbye to Chris in the hotel lobby as he left in a limo to go to the airport. JC, Sara and their security guy Don walked the dozen blocks to pier 39 to do some shopping and sight seeing before their flight left later that night.

Sara bought little magnets for Dr. Grayson and Cassandra, then they visited the aquarium and the Wyland art exhibit before they wandered into Bubba Gumps for a quick dinner. Sara got a taste of what it would be like to date JC when a fan came up during the meal to get an autograph. JC smiled and signed the girls' napkin and T-shirt, then chatted with her for a minute before she went back to her table.

"Okay… that was weird." Sara laughed and stirred the ice in her cup.

"That was nothing." JC shook his head. "You've seen it worse than that."

"Yeah, but that was on tour, this is like… being normal. It's just weird."

"You'll get used to it. It's not that bad."

"I guess I'll have to, won't I?" Sara smiled.

"I guess so." JC nodded and stared at Sara across the table. How'd he get so lucky?

They finished their dinner and walked hand in hand out of the restaurant. "Let's take a walk on down here to watch the sunset before we have to leave." JC nodded down the length of the fishing pier. "We're cool." He said to Don who was following a few steps behind.

"You're sure?" Don asked.

"Yeah, we'll be fine. It's been quiet." JC nodded.

"See y'all at the hotel then." Don reluctantly left the two of them alone and walked back up the planks to the street to catch a cab.

"You're such a romantic." Sara laughed lightly and rolled her eyes.

"Of course I am." JC smiled smugly then laughed with her.

"Had lots of practice have you?" Sara walked to the side of the pier and looked out towards the west.

"Not lots." JC shook his head. "Nothing like this."

"Oh really?" Sara looked out at the sea gulls diving toward the water making little splashes where their beaks broke the water.

"I love you Sara." JC said with a smile as he wrapped his arms around her waist and rested his chin on her bare shoulder. It was starting to get chilly out on the water and he held her close to keep her warm.

Sara leaned forward and rested her elbows on the rail of the pier as JC laced his fingers through hers and gently moved his hand back and forth. She heard what he said, just like she heard it every time he said it. But as they stood on the rickety planks of the pier she knew that it would be different this time, she didn’t respond or move at all.

"Jeez, can’t you even say it?" He asked softly. He was serious, but smiling.

"JC…" She sighed and tried to wiggle out of his arms, but he held her tighter.

"Come on, it’s not that hard. Three words."

"You know I do."

"I know, but I’d still like to hear you say it." He pulled back a few inches, but kept his arms around her waist. "I’m not going to let you go till you say it." He said softly without a smile.

"Don’t. Just… just don’t JC." Sara frowned and pulled away with an exasperated sigh. She swatted his hand away as she turned to walk back up the pier with her arms crossed over her chest.

"Sara… come on." JC sighed and took two steps to follow her, then stopped when he realized she was already out of earshot. He shoved his hands in his pockets and shook his head slowly as he walked toward the parking lot. "Great." He walked back to the hotel alone, and let himself into the room.

Sara was in the shower when he got back, and gave him a simple version of the cold shoulder until they left for the airport more than an hour later. She didn't totally ignore him, but she didn't go out of her way to be friendly or smile. "I'm sorry." JC said quietly as Sara clicked her seatbelt in place.

"It's okay." She said tightly as she opened the shade on the window to her left. JC reached over and held her hand in his as they taxied down the runway and took off. He didn't let go until they landed in LA and hopped in a cab back to his house. They rode in uneasy silence and stood together on his porch as he fumbled for his keys.

Sara said goodnight to JC in the yellow light of his porch light, and declined his offer to sleep over. She had to work the next day and it had been a long and tiring weekend. She kissed his cheek quickly then got in her car and drove across town to her own little apartment. Sara went through the motions of dropping her bag by the door, and her keys on the table just like she always did, but she was half asleep. She made it to her bedside where she pulled her jeans and bra off, and fell asleep on top of her covers in just her T-shirt.

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

"I love you Sara." JC whispered softly.

"Okay."

"Do you love me?"

Sara thought for a minute, "No." She lied and shook her head.

"No?"

"No." She repeated as she took two steps backward.

"Okay." He nodded and turned around. Sara followed him the length of the house and stopped in the doorway as he stood in the tiny bathroom. She looked on with confusion as he pulled a tiny razor from the medicine cabinet and stared at Sara.

Without looking he drew the blade up his arm and cringed as the blood dripped down to his fingertips and to the floor. Sara didn't move, she couldn't, as he bent and sliced his thighs. All the while, keeping his eyes on Sara.

"Do you love me now?" He asked as he dropped the razor in the sink. Blood pooled around his feet and he began to slip on the slick tiles.

"No." She shook her head, then walked away, leaving him in his bathroom alone.

Sara gasped loudly as she sat up in bed and flipped the light by her bed on. She panted for a minute and wiped the sweat off her upper lip. "Shit… shit shit." She whispered to herself as she jumped out of bed and quickly paced back and forth. "Just a dream, it was just a dream." Sara repeated that to herself as it started to sink in.

The water from the pitcher splashed onto the counter as Sara poured herself a glass a minute later. She wiped it up quickly and drank it in three big gulps. The phone on the wall looked tempting, she could just call him to make sure he was okay, to make sure he could answer the phone.

Sara placed her hands on the cool tile of the counter and took a deep breath, "It's three in the morning, it was just a dream, JC is fine." She said out loud, as if hearing it would make it real. It took several minutes of convincing before she carried herself back to bed and forced herself to lie down.

She didn't sleep well that night, but waited until nine before calling JC's house to completely alleviate her fear. It would have been alleviated much faster if he had answered the phone, but he didn't. She let it ring through to his answering machine three times before leaving a message, "Hi, this is um, Sara. Can you call me please? As soon as you get this? It's um… it's nothing urgent I just… just please call. Bye." She hung up and tugged at her lower lip. Now all she had to do was wait.

She took a shower and got herself dressed, then forced herself to eat a bowl of cereal before calling him again. Again, there was no answer and she began to get more and more worried. Then an awful thought struck her, what if JC was avoiding her calls on purpose? What if the little scene on the pier had really upset him enough to make him not want to talk to her? She knew he had been okay about it at the time, but now that he'd had time to think maybe he was mad at her.

Sara's brow furrowed in thought, had she just ruined everything because she was scared to say three little tiny short words?

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

She waited until the next day to call again, but there was still no answer, and she began to get worried. She had been noticing that JC was acting almost too normal, more normal than she had ever seen him, and she was starting to worry about him. Now that she’d gone and upset him, her worry began to turn to fear. What if he wasn’t avoiding her, what if he’d hurt himself?

Panic began to set in when she hadn’t reached him by the end of the day, so she called the only other person she could think of who might be able to help. "Please tell me you’ve talked to JC." She said when Chris answered his cell phone.

"Who is this?" Chris asked with a confused tone.

"This is Sara."

"Oh hey Sara. No, I haven’t talked to him since San Fran. What’s up?"

"Shit. Do you know where he is?"

"No. We aren’t getting together until Thursday, so I don’t have any idea where he might be. Did you try his house?"

"Yeah, there’s no answer." She said quickly.

"Is something wrong?"

"We got into a fight kind of." She said softly. The dream was a little too personal and possibly inconsequential.

"Oh."

"And I’m just really worried now."

"You think he may hurt himself?" Chris asked as he jumped to attention.

"I don’t know." Sara said softly. "I mean, it’s possible. He’s been acting kind of weird lately and with the recording and stuff coming up, and now this fight thing… I just don’t know."

"I thought he was doing okay."

"Well yeah, but it’s like he’s trying really hard to make us all think he’s okay. I don’t know how to explain it."

"Have you gone to his house?"

"I was going to head over there if you hadn’t heard from him."

"I haven’t." Chris shook his head.

"Okay." Sara sighed.

"Are you going over?"

"Yeah."

"Do you want me to call someone and have them go with you?"

"No." She shook her head and stood up to grab her keys.

"Call me as soon as you get there."

"I will."

"He's gonna be okay Sara."

"Yeah." She said with little conviction, "Bye." She hung up and left as quickly as possible.

She drove as fast as she could across town and up the hill to JC’s little house. Sara parked in the driveway beside his car and was relieved to see it there. That meant that he was inside. Good or bad, he was inside.

On the drive over her imagination ran wild with what she might find at the house, so when she finally got there she jumped out of the car and ran up to the front door. She rang the doorbell and pounded on the door. "Come on… come on… answer the door." She said to herself. She waited what felt like an eternity, then raised her hand and knocked again, wishing now that she’d have thought to get a set of his keys made.

She was in the middle of banging when the door suddenly opened and JC blinked back at her, "Sara?"

"You’re okay?" Sara asked quickly as she shoved her way into the house, grabbing his hand as she went. She was so relieved to see that he was standing, she didn’t even notice that he was only barely standing.

"What?" JC asked softly, his voice was almost completely gone.

"You’re okay." She said again as she held his arm out to check. JC’s left arm was scratch free so she grabbed his right and looked closely. There wasn’t a mark on it, save for the small red dot of a needle stick in his arm.

"No, I feel like shit." JC dropped his arm to his side and frowned.

"Wait." Sara knelt in front of him and ran her hands over his leg.

"Am I being strip searched?" JC tried to be funny, but the humor didn’t make it into his voice.

Sara’s fingers found a patch of dried blood by his knee and she looked up sharply, "JC…"

"Yeah?"

"You’re okay though." She nodded with tears in her eyes. "I’m sorry." She threw her arms around his neck and almost knocked him off balance.

"Hang on, Sara… what’s wrong."

"I had a dream that you cut yourself. "

"I didn’t cut myself." JC frowned and held her at arms length.

"Your knee?"

He bent quickly and touched the side of his knee, "Oh… no, Sara… I fell."

"You fell?" She asked with a concerned look.

"At the doctors. I passed out."

"You’re sure?"

"Yeah I’m sure." He smiled weakly and placed his hand on his forehead. "They had to take blood and I worked myself up so bad I passed out. I banged my knee on a drawer or whatever, and they got their blood sample from my arm." He held it out for her to see.

Sara looked and for the first time noticed his red nose, puffy eyes and chapped lips. "What’s wrong?"

"I have a gnarly cough, a sinus infection and an ear infection." JC reached into the pocket of his sweat shorts and pulled out a handkerchief. He paused for a second, and let the strange scene sink in, "You really thought I’d cut myself?"

"It was so real." She hung her head and held her hands in front of her to make them stop shaking.

"I’m okay Sara." His head throbbed behind his eyes.

"I know."

"Hey." He tilted her chin up to look her in the eye. "I am."

"I know." She averted her eyes and sighed.

"But I really feel too much like shit to be having this kind of conversation right now." He tried to blow his nose again, but it was completely stuffed. "I don't want to get you sick."

"Oh. Uh… okay." Sara nodded and took a few steps backward toward the front door. "I'll give you a call later."

"Okay." He croaked before he coughed into his handkerchief.

"Bye." She said softly as she turned the handle and stepped out onto the porch, not feeling that much better than when she got there.

She called Chris from her car on the way back to herself and explained to him that JC was fine with the exception of his head cold and ear infection. Chris was relieved and secretly happy to hear that Sara would be that concerned for JC. She kept proving to him and the others that she really was a great thing in JC's life. She really did care about him, more than he thought.

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

Sara stayed away for a couple days to let JC get better. She couldn’t afford to get sick and miss work, not after she had to practically beg to get her job back. She spent a few hours on the fourth day in Dr. Grayson's office talking to her about mundane things, skirting the topic of JC.

"How are things? Really?" Dr. Grayson asked, she was no fool.

Sara sighed and rested her chin in her hands; "I had a dream that JC cut himself." She confessed.

"What happened?"

"I don’t know."

"You don’t know?" Dr. Grayson raised her eyebrow.

"I… I had this horrible dream. I dreamt that he cut himself, a lot." She said softly with another deep sigh.

"What happened in the dream to make him cut himself?"

"He told me he loved me and I told him I didn’t love him."

"Has he said that?"

"That he loves me?"

"Yes." Dr. Grayson laced her fingers together and rubbed her knuckles over her lips. "Yeah." Sara leaned back in the soft leather chair. "He's said it a couple times."

"And what do you say?"

"I don't say anything." Sara sighed and covered her eyes. "We were having such a great weekend until then. The dream just seemed so real." She shook involuntarily. "It really scared me. And then I couldn’t reach him when I called for like, two days, so I started to freak out and I went over to see if he’d really cut himself."

"Have you talked to him since then?"

"Yeah, he's been sick though, so we've only talked on the phone." Sara pulled her feet up onto the chair, an indication to Dr. Grayson that she was planning on staying for a while. "Why do I do this Dr. Grayson? JC is like, the best thing that’s ever happened to me, why do I have to ruin it?"

Dr. Grayson took her glasses off and rubbed her eyes in preparation, "Well first of all Sara, you didn't ruin anything. You can't control the dreams that you have, and I doubt JC is mad at you for not saying you love him."

"No, I know."

"Now how about this love thing?"

"What love thing?" Sara asked softly.

"You said he told you he loved you, but you didn't say anything?"

"In my dream I told him I didn't love him."

"Okay, but what about when he told you? In real life?"

"I didn't say anything I just nodded." Sara repeated.

"Why?"

"I don't know." Sara tried to glare at Dr. Grayson like she had when she was a student there, but it just didn't come out the same.

"Do you love him?"

"Yeah."

"Then what's stopping you?" Dr. Grayson raised an eyebrow at Sara, hoping she'd break down that little barrier wall and answer the question from her heart. Instead Sara just shrugged and fidgeted in her chair.

"I came here today because I don’t know what's stopping me."

"You want to know what I think? I think you don’t want JC to love you." Dr. Grayson waited for a response. "I think you love him but you don’t know what to do with that. I think you’ve got stuff going on up here." She tapped her temple, "And I think that you’re scared."

"I’m not scared."

"Yeah you are." Dr. Grayson smiled. "But that’s okay. This can be scary at first."

"You think I don’t want JC to love me?"

"That’s what I think."

"Why?"

"I don’t think that you believe you’re worthy."

"What if I’m not?"

"If he loves you Sara, than you are." Dr. Grayson smiled.

Sara just sighed and picked at her fingernails, "So what do I do now?"

"You come to a conclusion yourself, and then you talk to JC."

"What if he hates me?"

"You just said he tells you he loves you?"

"But what if me not telling him, has made him hate me?"

"That’s not how it works." Dr. Grayson shook her head. "JC’s a good guy, if he loves you then not much can change that."

"He hasn’t said anything."

"Maybe he’s giving you space."

"Maybe he hates me."

"He doesn’t hate you."

Sara made a face and stuck her thumbnail in her mouth. She thought about that for a minute then asked, "Promise?"

"Promise." Dr. Grayson nodded. "Now… how are you doing with the school stuff? Have you talked to your enrollment counselor?" And with that, the therapy session ended and the friendly chat started.

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

Sara stood on JC’s doorstep and nervously shifted her weight from foot to foot. It had been twenty four hours since her session with Dr. Grayson and she had felt miserable since then. She didn’t eat or sleep well, and she couldn’t think about anything other than JC. She’d picked up the phone dozens of times to call to explain; she had even gone as far as dialing, but she always hung up before he answered.

Sara raised her hand to knock on the door, but stopped herself as her hand got closer. Her stomach sank to her knees as she thought about what she was about to do. She turned around and sat on the front step then rested her head in her hands. She took a few deep shaky breaths and tried to mentally prepare herself. One of two things could happen, either he’d be pissed off and say ‘forget it’, which was a possibility. Or he could understand what she was saying, and everything would be okay, which is what she hoped would happen. But she knew she had to be prepared for either reaction, she only hoped she would handle it okay no matter what.

She took another deep breath and ran her hands through her hair as she began to stand up to try the door again, but as she pushed herself up the front door opened slowly. JC stepped out onto the small patio and asked, "Are you going to sit out here all day?"

"I um…" Sara stuttered and tried to regain her composure. Her chance to runaway was just taken away from her. "JC I… I think…"

"Come on in." He said as he held the door open. JC watched her as she brushed past him and into his house.

She stopped just inside the door and took a breath before she turned to face him; "I’m sorry JC." She said quickly. Before he could respond she continued, "I haven’t been honest with you and that was the one thing I promised you that I would always do." She reached out and grabbed his hand, but dropped it when she saw his lack of emotion.

A look of confusion crossed his face as he met her eye, "What? What haven’t you been honest about?" His heart sped up with anticipation as he thought of all of the things she might have lied about.

"I thought that you deserved better, and that I wasn’t what you needed, no matter wh- "

"Sara you don’t – "

"Please let me finish." She held her hand up to silence him then continued, "I have spent my whole life virtually alone, and then you came along and changed everything and that was such a huge change for me. And then just when I was getting comfortable being your friend you sprang this whole relationship thing on me and I – "

"Sara, I – "

She cut him off again and finished her sentence; "I wasn’t sure how to handle that. Then you said you loved me and you have to understand that no one has said that to me before that I can remember. No one. Not my parents, not anyone. I know you meant it JC, that’s not the problem. The problem was in my own head I immediately thought that this couldn’t possibly be meant for me. For twenty-three years I’ve been unlovable, or unloved… or at least felt that way. After feeling like that for so long you begin to think that that’s how it’s supposed to be. As twisted as that sounds you start to believe it." She took a deep breath and clasped her hands in front of her. "JC you deserve so much more than I can ever give you, you’re perfect and sweet and the most caring and compassionate person I’ve ever met in my life. I don’t feel like I’ve earned the love that you’re trying to give me, I’ve done nothing good to deserve it. But JC, every time you say you love me I feel like I’m taking something that’s not mine." She frowned and tried to decide if she was making any sense at all, by the look on his face she could tell that she wasn’t. "Over the last week I’ve really thought about everything you’ve told me and you always said to do what’s right for me. You’re right for me JC." She nodded and wiped at her eyes quickly. "I don’t know if I can do this right, and I don’t know if I deserve it anymore, or if I ever did. But I want it. So even if I haven’t earned it… I want this. And I want to be able to say it back… but that’s just… it’s just real hard for me." She took another deep breath and let it out loudly, suddenly relieved to have shared all of her feelings with him.

"You can’t be serious." JC said softly as he shook his head.

Sara’s stomach took a nosedive; her first thought was that he was going to spell out for her exactly why she was right to feel that way. "I am serious." She whispered.

"Sara… you deserve so much more than that. Baby… you need more love than I have to give you. You need it more than anyone else." He bridged the gap between them in one quick step and placed his hand on the side of her face, "I love you Sara… of course I do. Nothing is going to change that. I can’t believe that you would actually think that you were unlovable, or that I deserve something more." He shook his head and smiled slowly, "We need each other in ways that other people can’t even begin to understand. You’ve been there for me when I was at and below my lowest, and I can’t ever repay you for that. All I can do is go with what I’ve got and all I’ve got is me." He shrugged and placed his free hand around her waist then kissed her gently.

Sara wrapped her arms tightly around him and whispered, "I’m sorry."

"Don’t be Sara bear… don’t be sorry. I’m sorry if I freaked you out." He softly rubbed her back as she clung to him. This whole relationship was going to be harder than he expected, for both of them.

 

 On to part 4…

 

Copyright 2001, Amy Lynn