After filling themselves at the buffet, Joey and Lance went back up to their rooms.  Lance pushed his door open and was hit with the freezing air of the air conditioner blowing from the far side of the main room.

            "Damn."  He grumbled as he crossed the room quickly and turned it down.  "It's like a fuckin meat locker in here."  He pulled the curtains open so that the desert sun could try to warm the room a little.  The window was warm as Lance leaned against it, thinking to himself that he really needed to call Johnny back.  He didn't want to and he was not looking forward to the speech he was sure was coming, but he knew he had to.

            Lance dialed Johnny's office number from the address book on his cell phone, and bit the corner of his mouth as he frowned down at the city beneath him.

            "Hey."  Lance said softly when Johnny answered.

            "Hey."  Johnny responded softly, and Lance could hear the exhaustion in his voice.  "How you doing kid?"

            "I'm okay."

            "Yeah?"

            "Yeah."  Lance sighed.  "I uh… I don't know what Joey told you, but I… we went to the station today and I talked to the police."

            "When I talked to him this morning he said you were going.  What happened?"

            "I just, I told them how we met and what happened there and everything.  Then I gave them a sample to test against anything they find and uh… stuff like that."

            "A sample of what?"

            "Semen."  Lance mumbled.

            "What?"  Johnny asked.  Lance repeated himself a little clearer and Johnny cleared his throat.  "What for?"

            "Because…"  Lance pinched his brow.  "Because I had sex with her and they want to know who would be expected there in case they find anything else.  I guess."

            "Oh Jesus."

            Lance was silent for a minute, letting that all sink in for a minute.  "Did… Joey said you were calling a lawyer?"

            "Yeah.  I called Jack Richardson.  He's finding someone in Nevada and he'll call you today with the lawyer’s name."

            "When will he be here?"

            "The lawyer he finds will contact you either today or tomorrow."

            "Okay.  So until then what do I do?"

            "Stay in your room as much as possible."

            "Yeah, I'm doing that."  Lance nodded.

            "And cooperate with the police."

            "I am."

            "Have they questioned you yet?"

            "I… I don't know.  I mean, they asked me questions about how I knew her and stuff like that… but nothing like, I mean… I don't know.  I wouldn't consider it questioning me, no."

            "Did they read you your rights?"

            "No."

            "Dammit Lance."

            "But they said I could leave anytime I wanted and that I didn't have to answer anything I didn't want to and they said I could have my lawyer around anytime I wanted."

            "Lance…"

            "They didn't ask me anything about the murder or anything.  I didn't feel uncomfortable at all."  Lance said quickly.  It wasn't entirely true, telling the officer about the rough sex wasn't 'comfortable' exactly, but he didn't feel pressured or pushed into talking.

            "Do me a favor and wait till the lawyer gets there before you go talking to the police any more."

            "But I need to help them out so they can find this guy and clear my name completely."  Lance protested.

            "You can help them out with your lawyer present.  Dammit Lance, you know who you are.  You're a celebrity whether you like it or not and once the press gets wind of this it's gonna blow sky high.  You're going to want a lawyer there looking out for your best interests."

            "I know."

            "So I mean it.  Don't say anything else until your lawyer gets there."

            "Okay."

            "Swear."

            "I swear."  Lance sighed.

            "Okay.  Now go call your parents."

            "You haven't called them?"  Lance's eyebrows shot up.

            "You really want me to make that call?"  Johnny asked after a moment's pause.

            "No."  Lance bit his lip.  The truth was, he didn't want to make that call either.  "Shit…"

            "It won't be that bad."

            "Yeah right."  He rested his head in his hands and sighed.  "Thanks Johnny."  He hung up then stared at the phone in his hand.  As his thumb hovered over the quick dial number to his parent's house, Lance's heart began to race.  There was no instruction book on how to tell your parents that you'd gotten so wasted that you don't remember marrying a girl, oh and by the way, she's dead and the police are talking to you.

            Lance jumped up and paced the small room from the bathroom to the wide windows and back again, “They can't kill you over the phone." He mumbled to himself as he covered the area again, pausing at the window to pull the curtains open.

            With his eyes closed he clicked his sneakers together and whispered, "There's no place like home.  There's no place like home."  As he opened his eyes he sighed and bit his lip.  He was still in the hotel room and nothing about his situation had changed.

            Lance attempted to dial his parent's number several times before he tossed his phone on the bed and angrily ran his hands through his hair.  He stomped off to the bathroom where he removed his clothes and stood under the hot water until his skin was bright pink and he stopped feeling it.  Lance fantasized about staying in there until the hot water ran out, which in a hotel that size might be a long… long time.

            When he began to feel lightheaded he knew he couldn't wait any longer.  He shut the water off and stepped out to dry himself with one of the half dozen towels left on the counter.  The maid obviously thought there was more than on person in the room with him, and with the evidence he'd left on the bathroom floor, she had good reason to suspect.

            Lance pulled his sweats on over his damp body and lay on his back across the bed with his cell phone in his hand.  "Maybe I'll get lucky and they won't be at home."  He thought to himself as he dialed and held the phone to his ear.

            No such luck.  His mother answered on the third ring with a cheerful, "Hello?"

            "H-hi mom."  Lance croaked.  He cleared his throat and tried to smile.  "Hey."

            "Hi sweetie!  How's Vegas?"

            "Do you have a minute?"  Lance swore his mom could hear his heart pounding in his throat as his breathing quickened.  He thought for a moment that that was how Justin must feel when he's ready to have a panic attack.

            "Of course, is everything okay?"

            How could he answer that? If he said no his mom would panic.  If he said yes he'd be lying.  "Not exactly, no."  He answered softly.

            "What's wrong?"  He heard her pull a chair out and sit down.

            "Is dad there?"

            "He's helping Julie and Dave move."  She shook her head.

            "When will he be back?"

            "Not until late tonight.  What's wrong honey?"

            "I uh… shit…"  Lance pressed his hand over his eyes and forced himself to take a deep breath.  That didn't make him feel any better, but it gave him another second to put it off.  "I just… I really don't know how to say this."

            "You didn't go get married did you?"  Diane asked with an almost amused sound to her voice.

            "Well…"  Lance pulled his knees up so that his feet were flat on the bed.  "Yeah, but let me explain."  His mother remained silent on her end as he explained in as few details as he could what happened only two nights before.  When he got to the next morning he heard her exhale sharply.

            "Lance."  She drew out his name like only a mother can.  In one word she expressed all of her concern and disappointment.  "What... what were you thinking?  Were you really that drunk?"

            "There's more."

            "More?"  She couldn't even imagine what else he could have to add.

            "This morning I uh..."  Lance caught his breath again.  He could barely hear his own voice, so he hoped his mother could.  "The police came to my room.  The… she was killed."

            There was no sound on the line, and Lance thought that his mother had passed out.  When he didn't hear the thud, he thought maybe she had hung up on him.

            "What?"  She whispered a second later.  "What?  What do you mean?"

            Lance bit his lip hard enough to draw blood, then opened his eyes and stared at the ceiling as he told his mom the whole story, with all the details he thought she might need to know.  He wished his dad was there so he could just tell them both; he didn't want his mom to have to tell anyone what had happened.

            When he was done he was physically exhausted and feeling worse than he did when he first picked up the phone.  His mom tried to be supportive, but her fear came through loud and clear.  It took everything Lance had to convince her not to hop on a flight to Las Vegas, but he couldn't dissuade her from calling Johnny.  Lance was sure Johnny would be expecting the call, so he didn't say anything.

            As Lance dropped his phone back on the bed it rang again.  His stomach dropped as he picked it up, “Hello?"

            "Hi, Lance?"  A male voice asked.

            "Who is this?"

            "This is Jack Richardson, how are you holding up?"

            Lance relaxed noticeably and dropped his arm over his eyes.  "I'm doing alright."  He nodded.

            "Yeah?"

            "As good as can be expected I guess."

            "Well I'm glad to hear it.  Hey listen, I just wanted to tell you that I'm calling around and I think I might have found someone to represent you out there in Nevada."

            "Really?  Okay."

            "I'm still waiting for a call back, but I wanted to give you a heads up."

            "Does he have experience in… in this?"

            "From what I've heard he's the best in the area."  Jack nodded.  "I'm still looking though, you hangin' in there?"

            "Yeah, thanks."

            "No problem.  If you need anything you just give me a call, okay?"

            "I will."  Lance licked his lips and looked at his watch.  "I've gotta run."  He lied just to get off the phone and he didn't feel guilty at all.

            "Okay, take it easy Lance."

            "Yeah, you too."  Lance forced a smile as he hung up the phone and stood up.  He stretched his arms over his head and took a deep breath as if to prepare for what lay ahead.

            Without anyone else to call and without anything else he could do, Lance made himself comfortable in the room and pulled out one of the books he had brought with him to read.  He turned the TV on to give him some kind of sound, then read for hours to try to take his mind off of everything that had gone on.

            It was a valiant effort, but every other page brought him back to what was happening all around him.  He finally put the book aside, crawled under the covers and watched movies on Pay-Per-View until he fell asleep well after midnight.

 

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

 

            When Lance woke up the next morning he had a strong urge to find a church and go to it.  Not a chapel, not a little hole in the wall corner praise club, but a church.  After everything that had happened in the previous few days he needed some sort of answer and he thought it couldn't hurt to try the church.  As he was growing up that was a strong pillar of support and he'd all but neglected it over the past few years.

            He showered and dressed himself, then pulled the white pages out of the drawer in the desk to find himself a nice church that wasn't too far.  The breakfast he ordered was getting cold, so he ate it while he flipped through the pages looking for something to jump out at him.  Instead, the phone rang on the desk beside him.

            "Hello?"  Lance answered as he tried to swallow the bite in his mouth.  "Hello?"  He repeated again when no one answered.  There was a click on the far end as the other person hung up.  "Dammit."  Lance grumbled as he pushed his plate away.  That was probably the start of the reporters calling and he was really in no mood to deal with them.

            He put the call out of his mind and finally found two churches that looked like they might work.  He called them for their service times, then got directions to the second one.  As he circled the address he began to feel a little better.

            The phone beside him rang again as he shut the white pages and he debated letting it go to voice mail.  If it was the press, he didn't want to talk to them, but if it was Joey…

            Lance sighed and answered the phone, “Hello?"

            "You need to come down to the funeral home."  Jenna said without any kind of introduction.

            "What?"

            "The medical examiner won't release the body without the next of kin's signature and that's you."  Jenna said through clenched teeth, obviously pissed about that.

            "O-okay."  Lance's heart raced in his chest.  "Where is it?"

            "Morningside Mortuary."

            "What's the address?"  Lance asked as he got his pen ready.

            Jenna sighed with annoyance and asked someone on her end.  She relayed the address and rough directions to Lance, then hung up without another word.

            Lance sighed heavily and folded the paper in half.  He stuck it in his pocket, then grabbed his wallet and room key off the bed and called down to Joey's room.  "Hey, I need the car."

            "See?  I told you we shoulda got two cars."

            "You need it?"

            "I might."

            "I need to go to the funeral home.  You wanna take me?"

            "Those places give me the heebiest of jeebies."  Joey shook his head and made a face.

            "Then I need the car."  Lance sighed.

            "Well wait; do you want me to go with you?"

            "You don't have to."

            "Are you gonna have to… to uh… see her?"

            "No.  Her sister is down there and the medical examiner won't release the body without the next of kins approval or whatever, and as her husband, that's me."

            "Damn."

            "Yeah."

            "I'll go with you if you want."  Joey offered again.

            "No, it's cool.  I just need the keys.  I won't be there long; I guess I just have to sign something.  She's already said she doesn’t want my input on anything as far as a funeral goes."

            "Yeah, she made that kinda clear." Joey nodded.

            "So I'll be down in a minute."

            "Alright."

            "Thanks Joe."

            "No problem."  Joey tried to smile as they hung up.

 

            With the address of the funeral home in his hand, Lance walked slowly up the hall to Joey's room and got the keys to the car.  "You're sure you don't want me to go?"

            "If you want to come you can, but I just have to go sign some stuff."

            "What if she goes ape shit?"

            "We'll be in the funeral home; I don't think she'll flip out there."

            "Yeah… well… she flipped out at the police station."  Joey pointed out as he placed his hands on his hips.  Lance just shrugged and looked at the floor.

            "If you want to come, you can."  He said again.  "But seriously, I just have to sign some papers, and then I'll be right back."

            "If you're not back in an hour I'm gonna kill you." Joey shook his finger at Lance with a warning look.

            "Okay."

            "Seriously."

            "I'll be back in an hour."

            "And take your cell."  Joey said.

            "I'll be fine."  Lance frowned, thinking of his phone left back in his room on his bed.

            "I know, but if you're not back in an hour I'm gonna send out the cops looking for you."

            "Joey…"

            "Forget it, I'll go with you."  Joey took a step into his room and grabbed for his shoes.

            "No, come on.  I'm just going to go sign the papers and leave.  We can grab lunch or something when I get back."

            "Yeah?"

            "Room service and a pay-per-view movie."

            "And some poker?"

            "No I uh… Johnny doesn't want me to leave the room."

            "What?"

            "Just to keep a low profile."

            "Seriously?"

            Lance raised an eyebrow at Joey and just nodded.  Johnny didn't kid around very often, and he definitely wouldn't kid around about that.  "Yeah."

            "Well shit."

            "I don't feel much like gambling anyway."  Lance shrugged.  "But thanks anyway."  He swung the car keys from his finger as he walked down to the elevators with his shoulders hunched over.

 

            Lance followed the directions on the scratch piece of paper to the tiny funeral home nestled on the corner of two side streets.  He let himself into the humid front room and looked around nervously.  Death, and anything having to do with death gave him the shivers in a bad way, and seeing the casket models lining the walls of the room to his left made his stomach sink.

            "May I help you?"  A soft female voice asked, causing him to jump back from the doorway.

            "I… I uh… I'm looking for Jenna, um, Saylor?  She's… I'm supposed to meet her here?"  Lance's eyes darted from the tiny woman to the casket room, then back.

            "Oh certainly.  Miss Saylor is down the hall in Mr. Bernard's office.  Let me show you."  She smiled sweetly then shuffled past Lance and led the way to the private office three doors down.  "Here you go."  She pushed the door open and patted his arm.

            "Thanks."  Lance muttered as he stepped into the narrow office.  Jenna was sitting in an antique leather chair at the desk with her back to the door, and didn't bother to look up or acknowledge him.

            "Mr. Bass?"  The Mr. Bernard stood and walked around the desk to shake Lance's hand.  "I'm very sorry to hear about your wife sir."

            Lance didn't know how to respond so he simply nodded and mumbled something that may have sounded like, "Thank you."

            "I will just need you to sign these papers so that we can begin making the final arrangements."

            "I'll be making the arrangements."  Jenna said gruffly from her seat by the desk.  Her arms were crossed tightly over her chest as she waited for Lance to sign and leave.

            Lance chose to ignore her as he nodded at the funeral director, "Thank you."  He said softly as he sat in the vacant chair beside Jenna.

            "Okay then.  If you would please sign here. This is a release form so that your wife can be transported here."  He slid a thin form over to Lance who read it carefully.  One thing he'd learned by being in the spotlight was to read everything before you signed anything.  "I know this is rather sudden, but have you given any thought to how you would like to have your wife -”

            "Stop saying that."  Jenna spoke up, cutting the director off.

            "Jenna…"  Lance sighed and looked over his shoulder at her.

            "Stop saying that.  They may have been legally married but she was not his wife.  He didn't even know her so any decisions regarding my sister will be made by me."

            The funeral director looked shocked for a moment, then looked over at Lance for clarification.  "She will be making all of the decisions."  He nodded in agreement.  "Thank you for understanding."  Lance added softly.

            "C-certainly."  Mr. Bernard nodded stiffly and reached for another form, carefully placing it in front of Jenna, as if any sudden movement might provoke an attack.  "This here is to let us know what exactly you've chosen to do.  Whether it's cremation or burial, what have you."

            "I'd like her to be buried."  Jenna nodded, noticeably calming down after a few deep breaths.

            "Is there a family cemetery nearby?  Or a church?"

            "No."  She shook her head sadly as she looked over the paper in her hand.  "No, I uh… I haven't had time to look.  We don't… I mean, we're not religious."

            "Perhaps your parents might -”

            "No."  Jenna looked up sharply.  "They died when we were very young; it's just her and I."  She explained with her jaw clenched.  "I'll find a suitable cemetery nearby and let you know.  Do you need to know right now?"

            "No, no of course not."  The director shook his head and pulled out several color pamphlets.  "Here are some local grounds that you may want to consider."

            "Thank you." Jenna reached for them and flipped the first one open.  The first thing to catch her eye was the price per plot.  "Jesus…"  She moved on to the second one to find that it was just as outragesouly priced.  "They know that the person going there is dead right?  This is more than my rent."

            "I can help with -”  Lance began.

            "I've told you no."  Jenna turned to him.  "Just sign the release."

            Lance scribbled his name across the bottom and handed it back to the director with a sigh.  "The offer is there though if you want.  I'd like to help you pay if you'll let me.  She's your sister, and she deserves something nice."

            "You don't have the first clue what she deserves."  Jenna placed the pamphlets in her purse and pressed her eyes shut.

            Lance bit his lip and turned to the funeral director, “I'm at the Venetian.  If there are any additional expenses, please let me know."  He looked at Jenna one last time.  "You too…"

            "Good bye."  Jenna refused to look at him as he left the tiny office and shut the door behind him.

 

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

 

            When Lance returned to his hotel room his cell phone was ringing on his bed and the 'message waiting' light was blinking on his phone.  "Hello?"  Lance asked as he picked up his cell phone.

            "Okay, talk to me."  JC said in his no-nonsense tone.

            "Hi Jace."

            "How come we had to hear about this from Johnny?"

            "Things have been kinda -”  He sat heavily on the bed as JC cut him off.

            "No, huh uh."  JC shook his head.  "That's fucked up and you know it."

            "I know."  Lance sighed and dropped his head into his hands.

            "Johnny's been doing double time with PR to get the waters calmed around here.  Apparently the wonderful Las Vegas PD has better things to do than comment on this case."

            "Has it hit the media?"

            "Not that I've seen."  JC shook his head.  "But Johnny's got the crew out here assessing the possible damage or whatever.  But if the police make a 'no comment' statement when this hits, you know people are going to assume that means you're a suspect."

            "Fuck."  Lance said under his breath.  "But it hasn't hit anywhere yet?"

            "Nowhere I've seen, but from what Johnny said he won't be surprised if it hits tomorrow."

            "Dammit."

            "When are you getting outta there?"  JC asked.

            "I don't know.  I have to wait for all the lab tests to come back."

            "They're keeping you there?"

            "No."  Lance said quickly.  "I can leave anytime I want, but they asked if I wouldn't mind sticking around for the tests."  JC was silent for almost a full minute on the other side of the phone line and for a second Lance though he'd lost his connection.  "Jace?"

            "Yeah."  JC said softly.

            "What's wrong?"

            "What the hell happened?"

            "I don't know."  Lance answered truthfully.  "I went out the other night and got wrecked and apparently got married to this girl.  The next day Joey and I went out looking for her, but we didn't come up with anything, then the day after that the police showed up."

            "And you don't know anything?"

            "I don't know anything."  Lance shook his head.  "Everything the police have told me so far has been new.  Her sister is here though and she's just... she's all..."  He sighed and scowled when he couldn't think of the right word.

            "Her sister?"

            "Her twin sister."  Lance nodded.

            "Oh for crying out loud, are you serious?"

            "I'm serious."

            "You're living in the middle of a cracked out 'CSI' episode, you know that right?"  JC forced a smile that Lance could hear from 3,000 miles away.

            "I know."

            "You still shoulda called."

            "I know."  Lance sighed.  "I just… well at first I thought that I could get this whole marriage thing taken care of and no one would ever have to know.  But now with… with everything else?  Man… I've just been going a little crazy over here."  He pinched the bridge of his nose.

            "Yeah you sound horrible."

            "I think I'm coming down with a cold or something."

            "Just what you need."

            "Tell me about it."  Lance sighed and rubbed his eyes to try to get them to focus on something.  There was a beep in his ear signaling another call was coming in.  Lance bit his lip and said, “I'd better get that.  I'll call you later okay?"

            "Yeah, okay."

            "Tell the other guys what's going on too."

            "They know."

            "Okay."  Lance said as his phone beeped again.  "I'll talk to you later."  He clicked over to the other call and said, “Hello?"

            "Hi, Lance?"

            "Yeah."

            "This is Jack.  Jack Richardson.  How's it going?"

            "I've been better."

            "Yeah, I'll bet you have.  Hey listen, I called around and actually found an old school buddy of mine who is practicing in Carson City."

            "Really?"

            "Yeah, I talked to him this morning and he's hopping a flight to Vegas.  He should be there this afternoon sometime."

            "Okay."  Lance nodded.  "And he… he knows about this?"

            "I filled him in as well as I could, yeah.  You'll want to give him all the details though when he gets there, that's really his playing field, not mine."

            "He'll be here today?"

            "Yeah.  His name is Cody Monroe."

            "Okay."  Lance scribbled the name on the pad of notepaper and wrote lawyer beside it.  As he circled the mans name a half dozen times, there was a knock on his door.  "Shoot, I think Joey's here."  Lance glanced at the door as he stood up.  "Is there… I mean is that all I need?"

            "Yeah, that's about all you'll need.  If you have any problems or whatever, don't hesitate to give me a call."

            "I will, thanks."  Lance hung up the phone and dropped it back on the bed before going to the door.  "Hey."  He ran his hand through his hair as he opened the door.

            "Good, you're back.  I've been waiting for you."  Joey said as he walked into the room.  "So did you meet your lawyer yet?"

            "No.  Jack just called and told me his name and everything.  I guess he'll be here today sometime."

            "That's cool."  Joey nodded.  "Justin called me in mini-panic mode."

            "Yeah?  JC called me in full-on panic mode."  Lance smiled.  "I guess they all know back there huh?"

            "Yeah, it looks like it."

            "Cool, well hey I already ordered room service so I hope you're hungry."

            "I'm starving."  Lance sneezed into his hand and shook his head.  "Dammit.  I think I'm getting a cold."

            "Good.  Isn't that old saying 'feed a cold, starve a fever'?"

            "I don't know."

            "We'll pretend it is.  I got us some pizza and a salad for you because you do that healthy eating shit."  Joey flopped down on the bed and reached for the remote.  "I also got some of that tollhouse pie stuff that we can never finish, but I thought it'd be worth a shot."

            "Okay.  Thanks."  Lance sat on the edge of the bed and stared at the TV screen.

            "So.  How'd it go at the place?"

            Lance shrugged, "It went alright.  I signed the papers and that was about it."

            "Did the girl lose her mind?"

            "Jenna?"  Lance asked to stall.

            "Was there another girl there?"

            "No, she wasn't too happy to see me."

            "She called you though."

            "Well yeah.  But I mean she wasn't happy that I had to be involved.  She's planning the whole thing; she doesn't want my help at all."

            "Well…"

            "I know."  Lance wiped at his nose.  "But still, I feel like I should help out or something.  I mean, funerals are expensive."

            "Are you gonna pay for it?"

            "I offered to help but she basically told me where I could stick it."

            "At least you offered."  Joey clicked the remote until he came to the movie menu.

            "Yeah."

            "So what'll it be?  Action or comedy?"

            "Comedy."  Lance kicked his shoes off, then kicked them up against the wall to be out of the way.

            "All right.  How about 'Shallow Hal'?"

            "That'll work."  Lance yawned as someone knocked on the door.

            "Sweet, perfect timing.  That's dinner."

            "I'll get it."  He stood up slowly and let the room service guy in to set up their food on the dining room table.

            "Dude, just bring it in here."  Joey shouted from the bedroom.  The room service guy looked at Lance with a raised eyebrow and tried not to smirk.

            "Thanks."  Lance ignored the look, he was used to it, and pulled his wallet out to hand him a five.

            "No problem."  The kid smiled and shook his head as he left the room.

            "What'd you get?  It smells like feet."

            "I got you pepperoni and mushrooms and I got me sausage and green peppers.  Extra peppers."

            "Ugh, yeah that’s it."  Lance made a face and carried the two pizza boxes and napkins to the bedroom.  "Napkins.  Use them."  He said as he dropped them on the bed beside Joey.  He went back to the main room to get his salad and the two plates with huge slices of pie on them, and then set them on the bed as well.  "You didn't get drinks."

            "You've got a bar."

            "I don't have a bar, I have that little fridge thing."

            "A mini-bar."  Joey nodded.

            "The cokes are like, six bucks if you take them from there."

            "I'll pay you back."  Joey rolled his eyes and opened his pizza box.  "Toss me a Dew."

            Lance sighed and opened the mini-bar to get sodas for them both, then sat back on the bed and tried to eat his pizza as the movie started.  With his nose getting more and more stuffed up he couldn't really taste the meal, but it felt good to have something in his stomach.

 

            They ate the meal and nibbled on the pie until the movie was over, then Joey rolled over and patted his stomach.  "Oh my God.  I can't believe we ordered pie.  What were we thinking?"

            "We?"

            "Share the blame, kid."  Joey closed his eyes and burped softly.  "Damn."

            Lance blew his nose on one of the spare napkins, then sneezed and had to do it all over again.  "It was good though."  He said around his hand.

            "Yeah it was.  Never underestimate hotel pizza."  Joey pulled himself to a sitting position and stretched his arms over his head before he stood up.  "Did you eat all that pie?"

            "No.  I think I took a bite or two.  I'm stuffed."

            "Yeah."  Joey picked up the pizza boxes and put all of the left overs into one box, then threw the empty one in the trash.

            "Take that with you."

            Joey shook his head, “I'm gonna head downstairs to see if I can lose some money, wanna come?"  He put the pizza on top of the fridge and looked back at Lance.

            "Nah."  Lance shook his head and leaned his elbows onto his knees.  "I should probably… I mean, I need to keep a low profile."

            "It's like, three in the afternoon on a Sunday."  Joey rolled his eyes.   "C'mon, it'll take your mind off things."

            "No thanks.  But have fun."

            Joey looked at Lance and tilted his head to the side.  "You're sure?"

            "Yeah."  Lance tried to smile.  "I think I'm just gonna pop some meds or something and try to rest a little.   Sleep off some of that pizza."

            "Okay.  Well you've got the rest of that pie to keep you company."

            "I'll barf if I eat any more."

            "Yeah but at two in the morning, it'll be a nice snack. Don't forget to put it in the fridge."

            "I won't."  Lance shook his head as Joey opened the door.

            "Last chance."

            "Go ahead."  Lance waved him off as Joey stepped out into the hall.  "I'll see you tomorrow or whatever."

            "Gimme a call if…"  Joey let the sentence dangle but Lance knew what he meant.

            "Thanks."  He smiled tapped on the doorframe as Joey bounced down the hall.

            Lance shut the door when Joey turned the corner, then turned around to lean against it.  His hands pressed against his eyes till he saw stars then he walked over to the desk in the corner.  It had been a long day and it wasn't over yet.  He sighed and ran his fingers through his hair, then stood up to find himself some cold medication.

            Just before he got to the bathroom, there was a knock on his door.  "Dammit Joey."  Lance grumbled with a smile.  It was just like Joey to leave something behind.

            He backtracked and went back to the front door but when he pulled it open Joey wasn't standing there.  Instead a sandy blonde surfer looking guy in a suit was smiling back at him.  "Lance Bass?"

            Lance remained silent as he raised an eyebrow at the stranger in front of him.  "Can I help you?"

            "Yeah hi, I'm Cody Monroe."  He extended his hand and Lance shook it hesitantly.

            "You… your Mr. Monroe?"

            "Yes sir, that's me."

            "You're too young."

            "Ahh, I get that a lot."  Cody smiled.  "Nope, I'm it.  I'm your lawyer."  He held his arms out and shrugged.  "I look a lot younger than I am.  I'm thirty-four and I've been practicing law for more than ten years now.  I graduated from high school at age sixteen and went right into college to get a degree in Political Science.  I graduated law school in the top six percent of my class, Harvard, and passed the bar on my first try.  I've worked criminal cases exclusively for the past eight years, and have been inside countless courtrooms.  I can assure you that I'm qualified."  Cody switched his briefcase to his other hand then looked up at Lance.  "And I ran track with your buddy Jack Richardson."

            "Good."  Was all Lance could think of to say.

            "So, are you busy?"

            "Not exactly."  Lance shook his head and looked around the halfway messy room.

            "Okay then, let's get started.  First things first, call me Cody.  Mr. Monroe sounds like I'm in trouble."  Cody set his briefcase on Lance's table and pulled out a mini recorder.  "Why don't you start by telling me everything that’s happened so far?  Starting with when you left the hotel with Joey that night."

            Lance sighed and made himself comfortable in the chair across from his new lawyer.  He recounted the story for the thousandth time, making sure to touch on all of the details one more time.  When he finished his side of the story a short while later, Cody asked a few questions then turned the recorder off.

            "You've told all of this to the police?"

            "Yep."  Lance nodded and sniffed to try to clear his sinuses.

            "And you've supplied them with the samples they want?"

            "Yeah."  He blushed easily and immediately heard Chris' voice calling him a girl.

            "Any records?"

            "What?"

            "Did they track any of your records?"

            "My records?"  Lance's face twisted into confusion.  The first thing he thought of when someone said 'records' was Nsync's albums.

            "Bank records, phone records?"

            "Oh!"  Lance sat up straight.  "Yeah, sorry.  Yeah they took my phone records from I guess the hotel and my cell phone."

            "What about your home phone?"

            "Well… I uh, I don't know.  I didn't give it to them, they uh, they didn't ask."  Lance shrugged.  "I don't know what they'd use it for."

            "You'd be surprised."  Cody made notes in his binder.  "Okay, now have they questioned any of your family or friends?"

            "No."  Lance shook his head.  "I'm not a suspect."

            "You've been cleared?"  Cody looked up with his pen hovering above his day planner.

            "Well no, but…"

            "Then there's still a possibility."

            "I'm going to be cleared, I didn't do anything."

            "Until then, we've got to assume that they think you're a suspect.  Have they questioned anyone else?"

            "Her sister I think."

            "How is she involved?"

            "She's not."  Lance shook his head and explained about how Jenna was in London and flew in straight from New York when she landed.

            "Have they talked to Joey?"

            "Nope."

            "Do you know if they actually have a suspect?"

            "No, I don't know.  If they do, no one's told me about it."  Lance shook his head again.  "I've been cooperative and done everything they asked."

            "Did they ask you to stay in town?"

            "Yeah."

            "They did?"

            "Well they asked if I wouldn't mind staying in town until the lab tests came back.  I can leave if I want though."  Lance pressed his fingers against his temple as he closed his eyes tight for a second.

            "But they didn't tell you to stay?"

            "No, I'm staying on my own.  The detective said I could leave whenever I want, but I want to get myself completely cleared before I go so there are no loose ends or whatever."

            "And when you're cleared?"

            "Then I'm out of here."  His hand ran through his hair as he blew out his breath.  "I'm leaving Las Vegas, I'm leaving Nevada, and I'm not coming back."

            "I hear ya."  Cody smiled.  "Now, what's the press had to say so far?  I haven't caught anything out in Carson City, but…"

            "Nothing.  As far as I've seen this hasn't gotten any coverage."

            "And with your name on it, it would have."

            "Yeah, I've talked to my management and I guess the PR group is working double time.  But so far I haven't seen anything.  I mean, nothing my management could say would keep this outta the news, so I don't know what's going on."

            "Well just be ready man, because the shit is going to hit the fan."

            "I know."

            "Well listen, I'm gonna go on down to the station and see what I can find out from the police, introduce myself, things like that."

            "Oh.  Okay."

            "Did you want to come?"

            "No.  I've seen enough of that place, thanks."  Lance shook his head and tugged on his lower lip.

            "Understood.  Who's the lead on this case?"

            Lance shrugged and shook his head, “I've been talking to a guy named Crawley."

            "Okay."  Cody made a note in his book then zipped it shut.  "Well Lance, it was nice to meet you.  I'll give you a call tomorrow so we can set up a time to get together."  He extended his hand to Lance, who shook it slowly.

            "Tomorrow?"  Lance reached for a kleenex and wiped at his nose.  The cold that was coming, was now there.

            "Yeah.  I'm going to take all the information I have and work it around tonight.  Tomorrow we can go over 'what ifs' and try to lay out a plan of action."

            "Oh."  Lance frowned and dropped his eyes to the carpet.  "How does… I mean, does this look bad, or…?"

            "Well."  Cody shrugged, then looked Lance in his eyes.  "The big picture doesn't look that bad, but from right here, “He pointed to the floor, ", it doesn't look that great."

            "Dammit."

            "Hey, we'll work it out.  No worries, right?"  Lance nodded and bit his cheek.  "I'll go talk to this Crawley character and I'll give you a call tomorrow morning, okay?"

            "Yeah."  Lance looked up.  "Thanks for coming by."

            "Not a problem.  Try not to think about it too much."

            Lance scoffed softly, “Yeah."

            "Eh… at least try."  Cody smiled, then raised his briefcase in a wave and headed for the door.  "And don't comment to anyone."

            "No one's called."

            "They will, and when they do I don't want you to give anything away.  They'll tear apart whatever you say.  You're familiar with that I'm sure."

            "Yeah."

            "So I'm advising you not to say anything.  Let me and your PR team handle the statements."

            "Okay."  Lance nodded reluctantly.  Staying quiet was never his strong point.

            "Take it easy."  Cody let himself out of the room and Lance sunk deeper into his chair.

            "I hate getting sick."  Lance mumbled to himself as he reached for another kleenex.  The heat from outside combined with the air conditioning inside was finally taking it's toll on his sinuses and Lance knew from experience that in the morning the headache would be full blown and he wouldn't be able to breathe.

            As luck would have it the only medication he had in his bag was NyQuil and he didn't feel like running downstairs to buy anything else.  He popped two caplets and swallowed them down with a large swallow of room temperature water from the bottle on the counter.

            He was screwing the cap back on as the phone on his bedside table rang.  Before it could ring a second time Lance sat on the edge and reached for the phone.  "Hello?"  He asked as he leaned forward on his knees.

            "Holy shit."  Was not how Lance expected to be greeted.

            "What?"  He asked with a frown.

            "You're him."

            "I'm what?  Who is this?"

            "This is Jenna Saylor.  You're Nsync."

            "I'm…?"  Lance continued to frown at the phone in his hand.  "I'm in the group, yeah."

            "Jesus."  She groaned under her breath.  "I should have known."

            "You should have… what?"

            "I should have known who you were."

            "What?  Why?"

            "You're one of the most famous people in the world, and I didn't recognize you or your name?  Your face is all over the TV around here, you and your little friend playing golf.  Why hasn't this hit the media yet?  I can't believe it's not splashed all over the TV.   'America's good boy is being charged with the murder of his wife'."

            "Hold on, wait a minute."  Lance felt his blood begin to boil as his head ached.  "First of all, I'm not America's good boy, that's Justin.  And second, I am not being charged with anything.  You need to watch what you say before it turns into slander."

            "I know the law."  She snapped.

            "Jenna."  Lance sighed.

            "So what have your public relations people been saying to keep this under wraps huh?  What have they said to make sure that your precious name isn't tarnished?  Meanwhile keeping this whole case out of the papers which, you know, may actually help my sisters’ case."

            "Jenna, I don't know what they've been saying.  But whatever they say wouldn't be keeping this out of any papers.  If what they said had that kind of pull you'd never hear about any of these celebrity scandals."  He sighed.  He was in no mood to argue the finer points of being a celebrity with her.  "As far as I know they haven't even been contacted yet.  I know I haven't."

            "Bullshit."

            "Why would I lie about that?  If I had been contacted and didn't say anything, the article they would print would say I had no comment.  You haven't seen anything because there hasn't been anything.  I can't control that."

            "You could go to the media."

            "Wrong."  Lance shook his head.  He wouldn't go asking for this kind of attention.

            "I could."  Jenna set her jaw firmly and breathed deeply into the phone.

            Lance thought for a minute about arguing with her, but he decided that ruffling her feathers any more than they already were wouldn't help him any.  "Yes, I suppose you could."

            "What would you say if I did?"

            "Since when do you care what I'd say or think?"  Lance asked sharply.

            "It could ruin your career."

            "I'm not a suspect, and I'm not being charged with anything.  The only facts to this case are that I married her and she was killed shortly after."  He explained.  "I have absolutely no problem admitting that.  It's not something I want to run out and scream in the streets, but in the grand scheme of things getting married isn't bad at all."

            "So you'd turn this around so it looks like you loved her and are devastated by her death?"

            "I don't know what channel you're listening to Jenna.  All I said was that she and I getting married is a fact.  It is also a fact that she was killed.  You're the one reading way too far into what I said.  If you want to go to the media, then go.  I can handle it on my end."

            "You can have your people handle it you mean."

            Lance sighed, “If you only called to give me shit for my profession then this call is over.  So unless you actually have something useful to share, I'm going to hang up."  He waited for her to respond and when she didn't he shrugged.  "Fine.  Bye."  He hung up the phone and pressed his hands to the sides of his head.  He needed aspirin in a major way.  "No, what I need is someone else's life."  Lance sighed and fell back onto his bed; he would work on those things after he had a nap.  Maybe then he would feel better…

 

 

 

 

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Copyright 2002,  Amy Lynn