Lance and the rest of the guys got back to work which was exactly what he needed.  Working and planning kept Lance's mind occupied and every now and then he'd remember that he was in the middle of this soap opera life on the side.  Crawley called every week or two to update both Jenna and Lance, then they would call each other and talk about what Crawley had told both of them.  That was the only real contact between Jenna and Lance, though he left her voicemails just to check in every couple of days.

            After two months had passed, Crawley's calls dwindled and the calls between Jenna and Lance became less frequent.  The guys were headed to New York to do the MTV Video Music Awards so Lance called Jenna, the only person he knew in the city.  He got her answering machine as usual and sighed softly, "Hey Jenna, it's me.  Lance.  Um, well I was just calling to say hi and to see how you were doing and everything.  I'm going to be in town this weekend for this MTV thing, actually... I'm, we're leaving right now.  Anyway, I was going to see if you wanted to get together. Maybe we can grab dinner or something.  I'd – I mean, Chris and Lonnie could come too.  It'd be like a uh… reunion or something.  Anyway, if you get this and want to hang out or whatever, call my cell.  Talk to you soon.  Uh… yeah that's all I guess.  B-bye."  He hung up and shook his head.

            As the weeks progressed he found leaving her messages harder and harder since he knew that she'd be listening to it.  They talked live over the phone every now and then, but somehow the conversations always lagged and the uncomfortable silence's usually ended their calls.  He tried to keep his messages short and sweet, but never ceased to sound like a dork at the end.

            "Hey man.  Lance?"  JC poked his head in Lance's front door.  "Don't mean to rush ya, but we're all out in the car here man."

            "I'm coming."  Lance set the phone back in the charger then grabbed his garment bag and backpack and dropped them over his shoulder.  They'd only be in New York for the weekend then he'd be back home to relax for a few weeks before they all had to get back to work.

            "Anything new?"  Chris asked as Lance squeezed into the backseat beside him.

            "Nope."  Lance moved his feet and put his bag on the floor to give Chris a little more room.  "How come we're all still cramming into a van to go to the airport?  Can't we afford like, a limo or something?"

            "Tradition."  Chris frowned and smacked at Lance's head.  "It's good luck to all ride together.  It's a unity thing." He laced his fingers together in front of Lance's eyes.  "Tell him JC."

            "It's a unity thing."  JC said automatically as he folded his sweatshirt and tucked it between the window and his head to catch a quick nap on the way to the airport.

            "If it's a unity thing then how come Joey and Justin aren't here?"

            "We're on our way to get Justin and Joey's already in New York."

            "So it's not really full unity."  Lance argued.

            "Yeah it is."

            "So we're all gonna have good luck, except Joey?"

            "Joey doesn't have good luck anyway.  Unity trip to the airport or not."  Chris snapped back.

            "Well what if Joey's bad luck outweighs the good luck of the unity ride?"  Lance smiled and tucked his elbows in as Chris stretched out.

            "Well what if you shut up and let the poor guy up there sleep a little?"  Chris made a face and sulked in the corner.  "You're a wet blanket man.  You gotta argue about everything."

            "You're just too much fun to pick on."

            "Yeah.  Well remember, I risked my life for you."

            "Oh you did not."  Lance smiled and rolled his eyes.

            Chris' eyebrows shot up in surprise, "Um, excuse me.  I bought –"

            "Shut up!"  Lance dove and clamped a hand over Chris' mouth.  "Seriously.  You're risking your life right now because if you keep talking I'll kill you."

            "Mmmoy"  Chris muttered under Lance's hand.

            "What's he talking about?" JC asked, half asleep already.

            "Nothing."  Lance licked his lips.  "He's on crack."

            "Okay."  JC yawned and adjusted the sweatshirt under his head.

            "Oh so it's okay for you to tell him I'm on crack but I can't say that I –" Chris started when Lance removed his hand.  Lance pinched Chris' side to get him to shut up again.  "OW!  Bitch.  Move over, I'm gonna go sit by JC." Chris frowned at Lance and climbed over the seat to sit on JC's legs.

            "What the?  Lance."  JC frowned as Chris trampled his legs.

            "It's not me, genius."  Lance scowled and crossed his arms over his chest.

            JC kicked Chris' legs as he moved his feet to the floor.  "Can't you guys just get along for an hour?"  JC whined.

            "Hey he's the one climbing all over the place."  Lance argued.

            "He's the one who was pinching me and being mean."  Chris argued back.

            The security guards in the front seat laughed as JC heaved a heavy sigh, "Just wait till your father gets home." He mumbled as he shook his head and adjusted the sweatshirt under his head.

            Chris and Lance managed to keep it quiet all the way to Justin's house.  They picked him up and he talked non-stop all the way to the airport.  Justin had spent time in LA and he had plenty of stories to share.  JC snoozed through most of them, Chris added his own little side stories to them and Lance let his mind wander. He hoped that Jenna would call and that they'd be able to touch base while he was in town.  It felt weird that he hadn't seen her in months, and hadn't talked to her live in weeks.

            Lance checked his cell phone for the hundredth time before they got on their plane an hour later, then turned it off for the duration of the flight.  By the time they landed in New York it was after dark and they were ready to hit the hotel for a power nap before heading out with Joey.  Lance had no messages on his cell phone, so he called home to find that the only messages he had there was a hang up call and a reminder from his mom about his brother-in-law's birthday that he wasn't allowed to forget.

            He sighed and dropped the phone on top of his luggage in the corner of the room then fell onto the bed to rest up.  He had no idea what Joey had planned but whatever it was he knew they'd be out until sunrise at least and there was no getting out of it.  When they hit New York they were all at Joey's mercy and he never let them forget it.

 

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

 

            As expected, they didn't return to their rooms till after five in the morning.  Those that weren't fall down drunk were equally as off balance from lack of sleep.  Joey followed them up and announced that he was going to crash in JC's room, much to JC's dismay.  Lance let himself into his room before anyone could change Joey's mind then fell face first onto his bed.  They had six hours to sleep before they were expected at the awards rehearsal.  Lance didn't waste any time, and like the others, got the full six hours of uninterrupted sleep.  Even JC.

 

            The rehearsals went as well as could be expected.  They ran over and caused everyone to be a little more cranky than normal as they were rushed back to the hotel to change quickly in order to be on the red carpet before the evening began.

            By the time everyone was settled in inside the theater, all Lance wanted was to go back to the hotel and sleep.  He was mentally and physically bushed, though he knew they still had to present an award before he'd be off the hook completely.  During the third commercial break they were ushered back stage and sent to make-up to get a dusting of "shine reducing powder" and a quick once over by the make up girls.

            The stage manager pulled them from the make up room and lined them up beside the stage with strict instructions to watch for their cue, as though they hadn't done this a hundred times before.

            "Monkey suits!  Monkey suits!"  Chris chanted under his breath as a group of event personnel walked by in tuxes.

            "Just be glad we didn't have to wear them."  JC laughed softly.

            "Yeah well.  It's MTV.  I refuse to wear a tux for MTV.  It's bad enough I have to wear this."  Chris tugged at the neck of his shirt.

            "You chose your own clothes."  Joey laughed and reached to undo Chris' top button.

            "I know."  Chris sighed and rubbed at his eyes, forever fidgeting.  "But I didn't choose my make up.  What the hell do we need make up for?"

            "So the people in the back can see your eyes."  Justin mumbled softly.

            "Who the hell cares what my eyes look like?  They wanna see my eyes they can hop on the net and look at a quadrillion pictures there."

            "Stop being a whiney brat."  JC licked his slick lips and looked out onto the stage where the host was cracking jokes, at their expense probably.  "What are you doing?" He asked as he turned to Lance.

            "Nothing."  Lance shook his head and looked over his shoulder.  He felt nervous, though he didn't know why.  They'd been on stage thousands of times and the people in the audience were his peers and friends.  But for some reason he felt like he just wanted to leave.  It was then that his world turned completely upside down again.

            Lance rubbed his lips together, hating the feeling of the lip-gloss they'd slapped on him as he left the make-up room.  He reached up to wipe it off as his cell phone rang.  "Damn."  He quickly picked it up to turn it off, but recognized Jenna's number on the caller ID and pressed 'talk' instead. "Hello?"

            "We're being introduced right now and you got your phone on?"  Joey rolled his eyes.

            "Hello?"  Lance repeated as he took a step to the back of the line.

            "They got him."  Jenna said, bypassing any greeting as usual.

            "W-what?"  Lance's eyes flew open.  "They what?  Who?"

            "They got him.  They got Marshall.  We were right."  Her voice wobbled and rose to an all new pitch.

            "They got him?  Where?  W-when?"  Lance's heart stopped in his chest and he struggled to breathe.

            "Crawley called me like two minutes ago.  We've gotta get to Vegas.  Where are you?"

            "Holy shit."  Lance said under his breath.  His mind spun with a million different thoughts, finally focusing on the fact that Jenna was in New York also.  "I'm in New York.  We're going on stage to present an award in like, thirty seconds.  Shit… I'll meet you at the airport."

            "There's an America West flight leaving from Kennedy at seven fifty, can you make it?"

            "Yeah, absolutely."  Lance said without checking the time.  "I'll be there."

            "I'll get the tickets, just… just get there.  Terminal seven."  Jenna's voice shook with either excitement or fear, Lance couldn't tell the difference.

            "I'll be there.  Holy shit… where did they find him?  How?"

            "I don't know and I don't care."  Jenna laughed.

            "Put it away Lance, let's go."  JC slapped him on the shoulder.

            "I've gotta go, I'll see you at the airport."  He said quickly before turning his phone off.  "I've gotta go."  Lance grabbed JC's elbow and looked him square in the eye as he lowered his voice.

            "No, first you've gotta do this." JC shook his head and leaned in to talk softly.

            "They found the guy who killed Monica."  Lance took a deep breath as his hands began to shake.  "Holy shit, they found him."

            "That's awesome." JC smiled sincerely.  "But we've gotta present this award first… then you can go.  You're already here... it'll only take a minute."

            "Yeah."  Lance nodded and placed his hand over his stomach.  He smiled and dropped his phone back in his pocket as they filed onto stage to the orchestra playing "Celebrity".

            Lance stood between JC and Chris as they presented the award for best pop video, but he didn't even hear who won.  His head was three thousand miles away and the only thing keeping him on the stage was the presence of the other guys.  Chris' worried glances to the side; hidden by the plastic smile he always wore on stage and JC's foot carefully nudging over to tap his kept him in the moment.  Lance's hands twitched and fidgeted at his sides as the winner took the stage to accept the award.  As soon as he congratulated them he followed the others off the stage, but when they stopped at the press area Lance continued walking toward the exit.

            "What… where's he going?"  Joey asked as he leaned over to bump Justin's shoulder.

            "Who?"

            "Lance."  He nodded toward the hall to see Lance practically running toward the exit.

            "I dunno."  Justin frowned and turned to JC.  "Where's Lance going?"

            "Vegas."  JC grinned and put one hand in his pocket.  "They found the guy."

            "They -" Joey's jaw dropped.

            "Shut up.  Are you serious?"  Chris' eyebrows shot up in surprise.  He quickly looked back over his shoulder to see Lance burst through the door at the far end of the hall.

            "Yeah."

            "When did he find out?"  Joey asked as his stomach did a somersault.

            "Right before we went on.  He got a call."

            "The cops?"  Justin asked.

            "I don't know." JC shook his head.

            "I bet it was Jenna."  Chris shook his head.  "Damn, I wish I brought my phone.  I want details."

            "Well wait.  They found the guy though?  Where?  I mean, he's in jail then right?  What's he going to Vegas for?"  Joey asked as he grabbed JC's arm.  "What's the deal?"

            "I don't know.  All he said was that they got the guy so he has to go to Vegas.  I guess he'll call us later or whatever."  JC shrugged.  "He was a little too hyped to tell me about it as we walked on stage."

            "Jesus… I can't believe this is done man."  Joey said softly as he shook his head and looked toward the empty exit.  "I just hope they really got the guy so Lance can get back to normal."

            "Yeah."  Chris sighed and followed Joey's gaze.

            "Yeah."  JC echoed their sentiments and smiled.

 

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

 

            Lance tried not to stare at his watch as the limo pulled up at the terminal.  "Just stop here.  Stop."  He said to the driver when the America West sign came into view.  "Stop the car."  He said harshly when the driver didn't even slow down.

            The limo rolled up to the curb and Lance had the door open before it stopped completely.  "Thanks."  He shouted over his shoulder as he slammed the door and ran into the terminal with his backpack slung over his shoulder.  Jenna was standing at the counter looking toward the doors anxiously.  "Sorry." He said slightly out of breath as he ran up.

            "It's okay."  She looked at the lady behind the counter, "This is him."

            "Hi."  Lance pulled his wallet out of his pocket and plunked his ID and credit card on the counter.  "Do you have your ticket?"

            "Yeah."  Jenna waved her boarding pass and tapped her foot.  "They're boarding so we've gotta hurry."

            "Do you have any luggage sir?"

            "No."  Lance shook his head and drummed his fingers on the counter.  The lady's fingers flew over the keyboard and in only a few seconds Lance held his boarding pass in his hand.

            "Okay guys, hurry up.  You're at gate 3, just through security."  She smiled as Jenna took off running with Lance only a few steps behind.  They flew through the security checkpoint and ran up to the gate where they were already boarding.

            "Is this the Vegas flight?"  Jenna panted as she held her boarding pass out to the man taking the ticket.

            "This is it.  You guys just made it.  Can I see your ID?"  He checked her license then smiled and put her ticket through the reader.  "Here you go Miss Saylor."  He handed her the boarding pass and looked to Lance.  "Sir?"

            "Yeah, here."  Lance handed over his ID and his boarding pass.

            "Thank you."  The guy passed it through the reader and handed it back.  "Enjoy your flight."

            "Thanks."  Lance said as he and Jenna speed walked down the walkway to the awaiting plane.  Their seats were side by side halfway down the length of the plane on the right hand side. Jenna slid in to sit by the window and Lance took the center seat, though the aisle seat was vacant.

            "Man."  She paused to catch her breath.  "I wasn't sure if you were going to make it.  I was trying to decide if I should just go or if I should wait for you."

            "Sorry about that.  There was a lot of traffic.  I left as soon as I could though."

            "No, it's okay."  She smiled and pulled her seatbelt tight across her lap.  "Oh man."  She placed her hand over her stomach and looked out the window.  "My stomach is all in knots."  She laughed lightly and tapped her feet.

            Lance reached for her hand and gave her a gentle squeeze.  "You don't like to fly?"

            "No I…"  She blushed quickly and looked at their hands on the armrest.  "I'm just nervous about getting to Vegas.  I don't mind flying."

            "Oh."  He released his grip on her hand but she held tight.

            "I wish we could just be there already."  She sighed and kept her eyes on the window.  "It's going to be so late when we get there."

            "We land at ten?"

            "Ten forty."  She nodded.  "And by the time we get to the police station it'll be after eleven.  Which will be two in the morning our time."

            "Will Crawley be there?"

            Jenna nodded slowly and licked her lips thoughtfully.  "Yeah.  He said he'd wait for us.  He hasn't left his desk in weeks, he didn't think tonight would make much of a difference."

            "Cool.  At least we don't have to wait until tomorrow to hear about it."

            "Exactly."  She took a deep breath and forced a smile.  "Thanks for coming."

            "Are you kidding?  I wouldn't miss this."  Lance shook his head and ran his thumb over the back of her hand.

            "God, I just want to be there."  Jenna whispered as she looked out the window.

            "Me too."  Lance whispered and leaned his head back against the headrest.  As much as he wanted to be in Las Vegas already, he also never wanted the flight to end.  Going to Vegas to deal with everything was going to force him to face the truth of the matter one more time. He would again go there and have to be Monica's husband, a role he was never comfortable with.  All of the details of the investigation would come to the surface again, the grisly and ugly facts of the murder.  Everything that Lance had spent the last month trying to put from his mind would be right in his face again.

            Then there was Jenna.  Holding her hand and listening to her hum softly under her breath for the duration of the flight was comforting. He definitely wouldn't have minded flying to China and back if he could do it right there beside her.  For months he'd convinced himself that Jenna was off limits and that she was a friend; and that even that was pushing it.  She was his sister-in-law and there were lines you just didn't cross.

            He knew that; in his head he knew that.  But with her hand in his he pretended to forget. He pretended to forget what they were going to Las Vegas for and he pretended that they were both happy for reasons that had nothing to do with the case.

            The façade played out in Lance's mind until they landed in Nevada.  Jenna yawned and finally removed her hand from Lance's leaving a cold void between his fingers.  She stretched her arms out in front of her before smiling at Lance who had been awake the whole time.  "We're here."  She said softly.

            "Yeah."

            "I never thought I'd be this happy to be back."

            "Me too."  Lance laughed and rubbed at his eyes. His body as saying he'd been up for almost twenty hours, but the adrenaline coursing through him kept him awake.  "I'm… I'm a little nervous though too.  Or something.  I don't know what it is but it's not just happy, you know?"

            "I know."  Jenna nodded slowly and they stepped into the aisle.  When they finally made it off the plane with the rest of the tired passengers, Lance headed for the car rental window to get a car for them to share.  In the end it would be cheaper than taxis all over town and they both liked having the freedom of a car.

            "I'll go get the car and meet you out front. Right over there, okay?"  Lance pointed to the end of the walkway.

            "Okay." Jenna said through a yawn as she juggled her bags on her shoulder.

            With the rental keys in his hand, Lance crossed the parking lot and brought the car around to get Jenna and the luggage.  He loaded it quickly into the back seat then headed for the police station.  They had been there so many times he was sure that they could both find it blindfolded.  As they pulled into the parking lot Lance heard Jenna take a few deep breaths and crack her knuckles, something he'd never noticed her do before.

            When he turned the car off they sat in the dark car for a minute before Jenna said, "So… we should go inside, huh?"

            "It feels kind of weird."

            "I know."  She nodded and laughed softly.  "Are you ready?"

            Lance nodded and bit his lip, "Are you?"

            "Absolutely."  Jenna smiled and pulled the car door open.  She led the way into the station and went directly to the front desk.  "Crawley is expecting us."  She said to the young man behind the desk.

            "Miss Saylor and Mr. Bass?"

            "Yes."

            "Go right up.  Do you know where his new office is?"

            "He… he moved?"

            "He got promoted."  The young man nodded.  "Upstairs, second floor.  First door on the right."

            "Thank you."  Jenna nodded quickly then went to the elevators with Lance only a step behind.

            "He was promoted?  Did he tell you that?"  Lance asked.

            "Nope."

            "Hmm."

            "That's a good thing though.  They don't promote idiots."  She smiled over her shoulder.  "Usually."  She added as an afterthought.

            "True."  Lance chuckled and hit the button for the second floor.  As soon as they stepped into the familiar hallway everything turned serious.  They were there for a reason, and neither of them would forget it.  Jenna set her jaw and took a deep breath as she reached for the handle under Crawley's new brass nameplate on the door.

            "Where is he?"  Jenna asked as she and Lance flew into Crawley's new office.

            "Hi Jenna."  Crawley smiled then nodded towards Lance.  "Lance."

            "Is he here?"  Lance asked.

            "He's in California.  They will be transferring him here in a week or so."  Crawley explained.

            "What happened?"  Jenna pulled up a chair and sat down.  She crossed her legs and leaned forward to rest her elbows on Crawley's wide desk.

            "Well, like I said I had my feelers out for this guy, but we were focusing on some local guys.  We knew he split town -”

            "He went to California.  We knew it." Jenna smiled over her shoulder at Lance.

            "Yes, he went to California."  Crawley nodded.  "Long story short he was picked up for dealing in Santa Cruz using one of his nine aliases."

            "Nine aliases?"  Lance leaned forward to make sure he heard the detective right.

            "Nine."  Crawley nodded.  "We knew of four out here."

            "How did you get the other five?"

            "Santa Cruz had him under a couple from before."

            "Holy shit."  Jenna swore under her breath.

            "So anyway, he was arrested and I got wind of it over here and I called to talk to the arresting officer.  I told him what was going on over here and how we didn't think he was a suspect necessarily but we wanted to ask him a couple questions.  I guess as soon as he brought up Vegas, Marshall started talking."

            "He confessed?"  Jenna asked with a small gasp.

            "Not right away, but yeah.  The investigator asked if he'd ever dealt in Vegas, he was honest and said he had.  He asked if he'd ever come across Monica Saylor in Vegas and Marshall said he had, but he didn't know who shot her and he was tired of talking about it."

            "Who had he been talking about it to?"  Jenna asked.

            "That's what I wanted to know."  Crawley smiled.  "I flew out there the day before yesterday and talked to him myself.  Everything fits; we've even traced the rental back to him."

            "The rental that was left on Sagebrush?  The Cavalier?"  Lance asked as he tried to contain his smile. 

            "Yep."

            "Holy shit."  Lance smiled.  Chris had been right.

            "I called him on that and when we searched the vehicle he was arrested in we found what we believe to be the murder weapon in the trunk, along with a duffel bag of things I'll need you to look over tomorrow.  As soon as we told him we searched his car he pretty much gave in.  He knew what we'd find and he knew that if Las Vegas PD was in town asking about Monica that he was caught."

            Jenna's hands flew to her mouth as tears rose in her eyes.  Lance placed his hand on her back and leaned forward.  "Things?  What things?  What bag?"

            "Personal items that we believe may have belonged to your sister."

            "Oh."  Jenna squeaked from behind her hands as tears overflowed onto her cheeks.  "You… the gun?"

            "We're running ballistics tests on it right now, I'll know in the morning if it was the same one.  But I've gotta tell you, I'm sure it is.  He said it is, but we've gotta cross all our T's and dot all our I's, you know?"

            "Can I see it?"  Jenna asked as she lowered her hands.

            "It's evidence."  Crawley shook his head.

            "I just want to look at it."

            "I can't let you do that."

            "Will they have it in court?"

            "Jenna…"  Lance moved his hand from her back to her shoulder and used a cautious tone.

            "I just want to see it."  Jenna said as she turned to look at Lance.

            "Yes.  It will be in court."

            "Okay."  She nodded and seemed satisfied with that.  "So… so now what?"

            "Well, since he's now wanted for murder in the state of Nevada, he'll be transferred here to await trial."

            "What about the drug charges in California?"  Lance asked.

            "He didn't have enough on him to do any real time.  They'll probably end up dropping the charges or putting him on probation.  If he's convicted here though, he'll be spending the rest of his life in jail anyway.  With or without the drug charges."

            "Can you get him on drug charges here?"  Lance asked.

            "That's something we'll have to look into."  Crawley tapped the papers in front of him into order.  "But listen, I've got a ton of paperwork to do here to make this all run smooth.  It's late, why don't you kids go get some sleep or something.  I'll be here for the next…"  He looked around at the papers, "… three or four days probably.  Come by tomorrow and I'll fill you in on everything else."

            "But wait.  I want - "  Jenna started to complain but stopped when Lance's warm hand found her elbow.

            "You're sure this is going to happen?  The conviction?"  Lance asked.  "We can't leave here without knowing how sure you are."

            "He confessed."  Crawley smiled.  "That's an excellent first step.  I can't say for sure he'll be convicted because fucked up things happen, but if I was a betting man I'd place my money on significant jail time."

            Both Jenna and Lance let out a breath neither of them knew they were holding, then grasped each other's hands.  "This is it?"  Jenna's voice was a cross between elation and depression.  The man who killed her sister had confessed and there was no question who did it, but her sister was still dead.

            "Yep."  Crawley nodded without looking up.  "Now get out of here.  I don't want to see you guys till you've gotten some sleep and can comprehend all the details.  Come back in the morning."

            "Okay."  Lance stood up and pulled Jenna to her feet.

            "And not before ten."

            "Okay."  Lance smiled and extended his hand to the detective.  "Thank you.  For everything..."

            "You're welcome kid."  Crawley shook his hand and actually smiled back.  "Thanks for your help too.  Both of you."

            "Th-thanks."  Jenna stammered as her smile wobbled.

            "G'night."  Crawley was almost cordial as they left his office and walked in a haze down the hall to the elevators.  With it being the middle of the night, the elevator was waiting and took them down to the ground floor without stopping.

            Lance and Jenna left the police station walking on clouds.  She clasped his hand as she bounced down the steps then turned to look up at him before he stepped off the last one.  "I can't believe we got him."

            "I know."  Lance smiled and tried not to laugh.  In less than 24 hours his world had completely changed.  "We need to celebrate.  Are you hungry?"

            Jenna put her hand on her stomach as her eyes opened wide, "I'm starving.  I haven't had anything since lunch."

            "Let's go get something then.  Where's a nice place that's open?"  He checked his watch and cringed, it was after midnight.

            "This is the city that never sleeps, I'm sure we can find someplace."  She smiled even bigger as her heart pounded in her chest.  "I just can't believe he's the guy.  I mean… wow.  This doesn't seem real.  It's like…"  She whispered and shook her head slowly.

            "It's like we're waiting for someone to come and tell us this was a mistake."  Lance finished for her.

            "Right.  Or that this is a joke.  Or they have the wrong guy.  Or this is a dream or something.  It's too good to be true. It's like… I don't want to be too excited yet because then someone will take it all away."

            "This is real though."  Lance smiled and pinched himself, "Yeah.  I'm awake."

            Jenna grinned and shook her head.  "I thought this feeling would go away once we got the guy, but now I don't think it'll be gone until he's in jail."

            "We're one step closer though."

            "Yeah.  I guess we are."  She licked her lips as they walked out to the car.

            Lance unlocked the passenger side door and opened it for her as he tried not to yawn, "Hey… we did good."  He pulled her in for a hug and smoothed down her hair.  In the few months that they'd known each other, they'd somehow grown to be friends when at the beginning they could have killed each other.  Her stomach grumbled against his and he laughed, "Let's go eat."  He released her and waited until she had her seatbelt on before shutting the door and going around to his side to get in.

            Jenna rolled the windows down and smiled out into the cool night air as they drove towards the strip in search of food.  They settled on a little Italian place inside the Venetian on Lance's recommendation and sat in a secluded corner.

            "This isn't too bad considering it's the middle of the night." Lance said as he cut a meatball in half.  "Seriously.  This is good."  With his body thinking it was after three in the morning, he was surprised he wasn't falling asleep in the spaghetti sauce.

            "I'm so hungry right now, just about anything would be good." Jenna laughed lightly as she bit into the thick piece of garlic bread.  "Of course pasta isn't the best thing to eat right before bed, but I'm riding so high on adrenaline right now I don't think it'll matter."

            "Me too."  Lance chewed then licked his lips and took a sip of the red wine Jenna had ordered to help celebrate.

            They ate in silence for a minute with nervous and excited energy running through them causing their feet to tap against each other under the table.  "Do... do you think...?"  Jenna sighed, but didn't finish her question.

            Lance paused for a second and swallowed what was in his mouth, "Do I think what?"

            She frowned as she put her hands in her lap and lowered her eyes to her plate.  "Well… I mean… do you think that uh…"  She paused and sighed again.  "Do you think that we'll still talk after this?"

            "You and me?"

            "Yeah."

            Lance bit his lip, he'd thought about it of course, but he didn't know what the right answer would be.  "I think so."  He said finally.

            "I mean, I know the only reason we really talk is to discuss the case and since that's basically over…"

            "Well we'll still have the trial and all that.  That could take a while."

            "Hmm.  Yeah."  She picked up her fork and poked at her dinner.

            "And I think we've actually become friends during all of this." He ventured a small smile.

            "Yeah."

            "So sure.  I'd love to keep in touch with you.  Maybe we can start an investigation firm of our own."  Lance joked.

            "Oh no."  Jenna shook her head and smiled, "My investigating days are over.  All of my investigating brain cells are dead."

            "Mine too actually."

            "To be honest, almost all of my brain cells period are dead right now." She yawned and put her for down again.  "I need sleep."

            "Same here."  Lance nodded and took one last bite before signaling the waiter for their check.  It was brought to the table where Jenna and Lance argued over it before decided that they'd split it evenly.  "You should just let me pay."  Lance said as they walked out.

            "No way."  She smiled.  "I can afford to pay for my own meal."

            "I know you can, I'm just saying."

            "You've got money to burn?"

            "More or less, yeah."

            "Well don't burn it.  Put it away in a piggy bank.  You may need it later."

            "And so might you."

            "I've got a piggy bank already."  Jenna yawned and smiled again.  "Oh man… I didn't think this one through very well.  It's almost two in the morning and I don't have anywhere to stay."  She frowned and looked up at Lance.  "Where are you staying?"

            Lance glanced around the lobby and shrugged, "Here I guess.  If they have a room.  I didn't plan very well either; I was more concerned with just getting here."

            "Me too."  She smiled and bounced up on her toes.

            "Let's go see what they've got."  He nodded toward the check in counter and she followed him.  "Hi… hey I… um, we are looking to get a few rooms."  Lance said softly as he stepped up to the first available window.

            "For what nights?"  The young man asked.

            Lance was silent for a minute.  What night did he think?  "Um, tonight."

            "I'm pretty sure we're booked for tonight.  The race is tomorrow so just about every hotel on the strip is packed."

            "You have no rooms?"

            "I don't think so."  The kid shook his head.

            "What race?"  Jenna asked softly.

            "Nascar."

            "In Vegas?"  She looked confused, then noticed the racing poster on a nearby wall.  "Oh."

            "Can you check please?  We just need two rooms, whatever you've got."

            "Okay."  The young man clucked his tongue and clicked away on his computer.  "I have two suites.  The Michelangelo is available until check out tomorrow, then I have a Celeste Suite that was canceled for tonight and tomorrow."

            "How much -" Jenna started.

            "I'll take the Celeste Suite."  Lance cut her off and dropped his credit card on the counter.

            "I can't afford the Michelangelo."  Jenna protested.

            Lance laughed.  "You can stay with me."

            "Lance… you don't -"

            "Stop it.  It's two in the morning and this is apparently the only available room in Vegas."  Lance signed the check in sheet and receipt then waited as the young man got their room keys.

            "Well then let me pay for half."  She set her bag down to dig in her purse for her wallet.  Lance just frowned at her over his shoulder and picked up their bags to head for the elevator.  "Lance…"

            "Jenna…"  He imitated her whine and nodded for her to follow.  "Come on.  It's two in the morning and I'm so exhausted I can't see straight.  Either you come with me now or you sleep in the lobby."  He paused for a second to see what she'd do, then he shrugged and lifted the bags again.  The elevator doors opened and Lance stepped on then turned to wait for Jenna who still looked like she was making up her mind.  "Oh for Pete's sake, come on."  He held the doors open with her bag.

            Jenna shook her head, but stepped on the elevator beside him and took her bag.  "Lance, you have to let me pay for half of the room.  A suite in this hotel has to cost an arm and a leg."

            "Fine."  He wasn't about to argue with her.

            "And then tomorrow I'll see if I can find a room of my own."

            "Fine."

            "Are you just agreeing with me so I'll shut up and then tomorrow you won't let me pay for half and insist I stay?"

            "Yes."  Lance closed his eyes and let his head rest against the mirrored walls.

            Jenna sighed again.  "I'm paying for half of the room."

            "We don't have to talk about this right now."  Lance mumbled and silently prayed that they would arrive at their floor.

            "I'm just saying."  She grumbled.  "I'm paying for half the room."

            "That's fine.  You can throw money at me all you want."

            "And I'll go see about getting another room in the morning."

            "Jenna.  There are no more rooms and we've got more to worry about than finding you a room.  Seriously, you can stay here.  It's not a big deal."  Lance yawned as the elevator dinged on their floor.  He followed Jenna off the elevator and stared at the little sign telling them where the suites were.  "What's the number?"

            "Celeste three."  Jenna looked at the key card holder.

            "This way."  Lance adjusted his backpack and headed to the left.  They walked to the room with the expensive looking carved door and fumbled with the key.  "These things make me nuts." Lance grumbled as he slid it in and out several times.  It finally clicked so he pushed the door open and stepped in to turn the light on.  "Oh.  Man."  His eyebrows shot up in surprise and he suppressed a laugh as he took in the room.

            In the center of the wall to the left was a huge bed with a dark red velvety looking blanket on top and a handful of small pillows in varying shades of red and pink.  A dozen red roses waited in a vase on the table and the satiny wallpaper was splashed with pale pink roses.  Overall the room screamed 'honeymoon' and it was all Lance could do to not laugh out loud.

            "Oh… my goodness."  Jenna said as she stepped up behind him.  "Nice."

            "I'll take the couch."  Lance cleared his throat and set his backpack on the ground by the table.

            "Don't be silly."  Jenna shook her head and yawned before dropping her backpack beside his.  "I'll take the couch."

            "Yeah right.  I'm more of a gentleman than that."  Lance kicked his shoes off and pulled the hall closet open in search of an extra blanket.  He pulled a white knit blanket down as well as an extra pillow.  "Don’t sweat it."

            "I have to draw the line here Lance.  I can't let you pay an outrageous amount of money for a suite only to sleep on the couch."

            "It looks comfortable."  He eyed the deep set and very soft looking couch thinking that all he wanted was to lie down.

            "No."

            "Jenna."

            "No."  She crossed her arms over her chest and reached for the blanket and pillow in his arms.  He wouldn't budge or let them go and instead stared at her over the top of the pillow.  "Lance, no."

            "Don't argue with me."

            "I'm not going to argue, but if you sleep on the couch it'll be awful crowded because I'll be there with you."  She held eye contact and tried her hardest not to blink.

            "You wanna sleep with me on the couch?"

            "I'm sleeping on the couch.  If you'd like to sleep there instead of on the bed, that's fine."

            "Well if we're going to sleep together anyway we might as well both take the bed."  Lance shrugged and dropped the blanket and pillow on the floor.

            "I -" Jenna frowned and mentally replayed their conversation.  "I wasn't - that… I didn't mean -"

            "It's okay.  Listen.  I'm going to lay down and be asleep before my eyes even shut.  From there I'm not going to move an inch for a good ten hours.  I'll take up like, a foot of the bed… the other five feet are yours.  It'll be more comfortable than both of us trying to squeeze on the couch."

            "You can take the bed and I'll take the couch."

            "Stop."  Lance held up his hand and closed his eyes for a second.  "Jenna."  He said softly as he slowly opened them.  "It's after two in the morning.  Our bodies are saying its closer to five in the morning.  I've officially been up for twenty-four hours and I'm sure you're right there with me.  Lay down on the bed and go to sleep.  We'll argue about this in the morning."  Lance kicked the extra blanket and pillow to the side, then stepped past Jenna and sat on the edge of the bed to take off his shoes.

            Jenna stood motionless for a minute, then yawned and rubbed her eyes.  "You're the most stubborn person I know."

            "Okay."  Lance shrugged and reached for the buttons on his shirt.  After a few minutes of fumbling he shrugged out of the shirt and folded it over the bench at the foot of the bed.  He left his undershirt on as he reached for the button on his slacks and looked up at Jenna still standing where he left her.  "What?"

            She pursed her lips quickly then averted her eyes, "Nothing."  She picked up her bag and stepped into the bathroom to let him change in private.

            Lance shrugged and shimmied out of the pants then folded them on top of his shirt.  They'd be wrinkled beyond recognition the next day, but he planned on buying himself a pair of jeans anyway since he didn't have time to pack.

            In just his boxer briefs and undershirt he pulled the blankets aside and slid between the already warm satin sheets.  Having never tried satin sheets before, he was surprised at how sexy they felt against his bare legs.  He cleared his throat, then fluffed the pillow beneath his head as he closed his eyes.  The last thing he needed was to be feeling any kind of sexy in the bed with Jenna, so he focused on the lustful thoughts of sleep and felt himself begin to drift away into the darkness.

            A few minutes later Jenna stepped out of the bathroom in an oversized t-shirt and a pair of cotton pajama bottoms with the yellow drawstring hanging halfway down her thigh.  She stood for a moment staring at the discarded blanket and pillow on the floor, then at the couch.  While it looked like it might be comfortable, her body ached for the dreamlike softness that the bed promised.

            With a deep sigh and a quick shake of her head she pulled the covers back on the opposite side of the bed and sunk into the satin sheets.  "Oh my goodness."  She whispered softly as she close her eyes in contentment.  It was more comfortable than she would have thought and she felt positively sinful as her head fell to the pillow and she pulled the thick blanket up to her shoulder.

            Lance inhaled deeply and let it out in a gentle snore.  Jenna smiled to herself; he wasn't lying when he said he'd be asleep as soon as he lay down.  She took the corner of the sheet and ran it over her bottom lip then closed her eyes and followed his lead.  After almost twenty-four hours she was ready for sleep and welcomed it.

 

 

 

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Copyright © 2002, 2003 Amy Lynn