The next morning as JC packed up his room, he kept looking at his phone.  He was sure Lori would call before he left and demand to see Kyle again, or want to know where they would be staying in San Diego… but the phone didn’t ring once.

            “Okay Kyle my man.  You ready to go?”  JC tossed Kyle’s backpack over his shoulder and reached for the duffel bags.

            “Yeah.”  Kyle yawned.

            “Okay, hold onto the bag strap right there.”  JC nodded at the strap closest to his hand.

            “Me up?”

            “No, I can’t hold you right now Kyle.”  JC shook his head and adjusted the bags in his hands.  “My hands are full.”

            “No bag.”

            “I can’t leave the bags.”  JC sighed but smiled at Kyle’s persistence.  “Just hold onto the strap, maybe Chris or someone can carry you.”

            “No hole.”

            “Yep, you need to hold on.”

            “Doe wan.”

            “Hey.”  JC dropped the bags and gave Kyle his stern fatherly look.  “I know you don’t want to but you’ve gotta hold onto the bags.  We’ll be on the bus in five minutes.”

            “No bus.”

            “Yes bus.”  JC sighed and picked up the bags again then headed for the door.  Kyle remained rooted to the floor.  “Lets move it.”

            “I say.”

            “You want to stay here?”  JC tried not to smile.  “Okay, I’ll pick you up in a couple months.”  He stepped out in the hall, leaving Kyle in the room as the door began to swing shut.  JC stopped the door with his foot as he heard Kyle run toward the door.

            “No!”  Kyle shouted as he ran into the hall.  “No go.”

            “Yeah, we’ve gotta leave.  You know that.”

            “I say.”

            “You can’t stay.”  JC sighed.

            “And Jussin.”

            “Justin isn’t staying.”

            “And Joey.”

            “Joey isn’t staying either.  We’re all going to get on the bus right now.”

            “Sink say.”

            “No, Nsync isn’t staying.”  JC stood in the hallway and argued with Kyle as the others made their way to the elevators.


            “Jessica is already gone.”

            “Jessi bus?”

            “You can’t ride on her bus, her bus is already gone.  She’s already there.”

            “I see?”

            “Kyle…” JC signed and dropped one of his duffel bags at his side.  “I’m not playing around here buddy.  We’ve got to go.  Grab onto the straps and – “  He stopped himself as a wave of fear washed over him.  He’d lost Kyle once in a hotel because he wasn’t holding his hand, and right then there were people all over the lobby wanting to snap a picture of him.  Not to mention Lori not wanting him to leave Los Angeles.  “Shit…”  JC grumbled under his breath.  “Okay, come here.”  He picked Kyle up with one arm and tried to carry both bags in one hand, throwing him completely off balance.

            “Can say?”

            “No, you’re going with me, but I’m going to carry you.”

            “I wak.”

            “You can’t walk, no.”

            “I can.”

            “I know you can walk, but right now I need to carry you to the bus so you don’t get lost.”

            “Hole bag?”

            “Nope.”  JC sighed and dropped the bags by the elevator doors.

            “Need some help there C?”  Joey asked.

            “Yeah, can you carry one of these?”  JC asked.

            “You bet.”  Joey reached for Kyle and tossed him in the air,  “I’ll take this one!”

            “I meant one of the bags.”  JC frowned.

            “The bags weigh more than the kid.”  Joey laughed.  “Hey little dude.  What’s up?”

            “Hi Joey.”  Kyle laughed and reached to touch Joey’s earring.

            “Don’t touch that, that’s connected.”  Joey stopped Kyle’s hand and pretended to chew on his fingers.

            “Yeah I can’t imagine where he learned to bite.”  JC rolled his eyes and picked up the bags as they stepped onto the elevator.

            “Hey Kyle?  What do we think about biting?”  Joey asked as he bounced the little boy on his hip.

            “I fink no by.”

            “No biting?”

            “No, hurts.”

            “Yep, it hurts.”  Joey nodded.  “Hurts like hell.  And what happens if you bite me again?”

            “Hitin and you by.”

            Joey laughed, “Yep, you’ll get a spanking and I’ll bite you right back.”

            “No you won’t.”  JC shook his head and leaned against the far wall.

            “If he bites me again you bet your ass I’ll bite him back.  Two can play that game Mr. Man.”  Joey raised his eyebrow at JC.  “But we don’t have to worry about that because no one’s gonna bite anyone right?”

            “Only by eat.”

            “Only bite what you eat, got it.”  Joey nodded.  “High five my man, right here.”  He held out his hand for Kyle to slap and laughed as they all filed off the elevator.

            “Joey be careful.”  JC said as he walked closely behind him.

            “I know how to walk.”

            “Just keep his head down and go right to the bus.”  JC sighed and looked at the group of fans outside.

            “I can sign a few autographs with my free hand.”  Joey said as the security guards pushed the doors open.

            “Then give him to me and take one of the bags.”  JC stopped and dropped the bags.

            “Chill out Jace.”  Joey shook his head and tickled Kyle’s side as they walked toward the bus.  JC smiled at the fans and helped two crew guys load his bags into the underside of the bus, then adjusted his backpack and walked over to Joey. 

            “Hey, how’s it going?”  JC smiled for the fans and reached to take Kyle from him.  “Time to go inside buddy.”

            “Go bye?”  Kyle asked.


            “And Joey?”

            “Yep, Joey too.”  JC tapped Joey on the shoulder and nodded toward the bus,  “Let’s get a move on it.”

            “Mobe it.”  Kyle laughed and the small crowd joined in.

            “Let’s go.”  JC’s face broke out in a smile as he waved to the fans and hopped up onto the bus.

            “Joey say?”

            “We’re not going to leave without Joey.”

            “We might if he doesn’t get his ass up in here.”  Chris mumbled as he sat on the couch and swung his legs out in front of him.

            “Lonnie’s on his case.”  Justin laughed as he moved the curtain aside and saw the guard literally pulling Joey away from the fans.

            “Okay, alright, keep your shirt on.”  Joey laughed as he jumped onto the bus.  “What’s the hold up?  Let’s go.”  He dropped himself into the recliner chair and looked around at the other guys,  “We’re late you know.”  He leaned his head back and closed his eyes with a smile on his face.

            “He seepin.”  Kyle sighed and shook his head.  “Is nap?”

            “Joey takes a lot of naps.”  Justin nodded as he headed for the back of the bus.  “Come on shorty, let’s go play Land Before Time.  I’ve still gotta kick your butt.”

            “No I kick.”

            “Yeah, you think so huh?”  Justin laughed and took Kyle’s hand.  “We’re gonna go play.  Call us for snacks.”   Justin smiled as he and Kyle disappeared into the back of the bus.

            “They were made for each other.”  Lance laughed and shook his head as he and JC climbed into their separate bunks to relax for the duration of the short ride.




            When they arrived in Anaheim they were greeted by the usual mass of fans and a few local reporters.  As they stepped off the bus, flashes went off left and right and the screams went up a notch.  JC carried Kyle on his shoulder with the hood of his sweatshirt up over his head to try to shield him as much as he could.

            “Oh my God!  Justin!”

            “Is Kyle’s mother with you?”

            “Joey!  Look over here!”

            “Smile!  Smile over here!”

            “How do you feel about his mother being found?”

            “Chris!  Ahhhh!  Oh my God!   Chris!”

            “Wait, what did she say?”  JC slowed down a second and gave Chris a look.

            “Something like ‘aaahhh!  Chris!  Aaaaah!’.  That?  Or did you mean something else?”  Chris laughed and continued walking into the hotel.

            “About Kyle?”  JC frowned and hopped up the two shallow steps with his security guard at his side.

            “I didn’t hear anything.”  Chris shrugged and ran ahead.

            “JC, now that his mother is back will we be able to meet her?”  The final question followed JC into the lobby and took him completely by surprise.

            Lance turned to see if JC had caught what the reporter said,  “Jace?”

            “Yep.”  JC nodded, answering Lance’s unasked question.  “Is Sean here yet?”

            “He’s in his room.”

            “Where’s that?”  JC asked, keeping his eyes on the elevators at the other end of the lobby.

            “I don’t know.”  Lance looked to the security guards that flanked them.  “We need to go to Sean’s room.” 

            “You got it.”  Les nodded and held the elevator door open.  They rode up to the twelfth floor where Lance headed to his room and JC went down to Sean’s room.

            “Can you take him for a few minutes?”  JC asked as he looked at Kyle.

            “Just a few minutes?”  Les asked as he took Kyle from him.

            “Yep.  I just have to talk to Sean for a second.”  JC nodded then smiled at Kyle,  “Can you show Les your new book?”

            “Yeah.”  Kyle sighed and smiled up at Les.  “See book?”

            “Sure kid, I’ll look at your book.  Come on over here.”  Les jerked his head toward the end of the hall where a large window let the sun in.

            JC watched them sit on the floor then knocked loudly on the door in front of him.  Sean pulled the door open and before JC could say anything Sean said,  “We need to talk.”

            “Yeah you could say that.”  JC nodded as he stepped into the room and shut the door.  “What the hell was that?”  He dropped himself into the nearest chair and looked up at Sean.

            “She went to the press.”

            “She what?!”  JC raised his voice as he balled his hands into fists at his sides..

            “Well now we don’t know it was her.  An ‘unnamed source’ has leaked to the press that Kyle’s mother is back in the picture now, and they’re eating it up.”  Sean said calmly.

            “Dammit.”  JC fell back in his seat and pressed his hands over his eyes.  “What else can she toss at me now?  I swear, I feel like I’m just running in place here.”

            “This isn’t that bad Jace.”  Sean shook his head.  “All things considered.  You took it public that you were looking for her, she took it public that she was found.”

            “She wasn’t found she strutted right back in.”  JC sighed. 

            “Same thing.”

            “So how’s this going to affect anything else?”

            “It’s not.  You know the media though.  The fact that you had a child out of wedlock and the mom was nowhere to be found was a big deal, now that the mom is back they’re going to be looking at your reaction towards her.”

            “Which means I’ve gotta be professional about it.”  JC rolled his eyes.

            “Exactly.”  Sean nodded.  “No bad mouthing her, no saying that she won’t be able to see him… nothing like that.”

            “I just have to say ‘no comment’ over and over?”

            “You can say what you want Jace, I’m just saying that from a business point of view you want to say as little as possible.  If anything ever comes of this, you’re going to want to really watch what you say.”

            “What’s she said so far?”  JC sighed and tugged at his lip.

            “She hasn’t said anything.  The ‘unnamed source’ has said that Kyle’s mother hopes to re-establish a relationship with both you and her son.”

            “Dream the fuck on.”  JC laughed out loud.  “Wrong.”

            “I think she just means that she’d like to be on talking terms.”

            “I don’t care what she means.  Ugh, Sean really.  I know that her life may have been hard or crappy or whatever and I’m sorry for that, but dude.  She could have told me about Kyle to start with and you know I would have helped both her and the kid.  Even if we didn’t get married or whatever I’d have made sure they were taken care of.  She wanted to do this on her own man, that was her decision.”

            “I know.”

            “So when it got too hard she wanted to leave him with me, which I probably could have handled if she came up to me and told me what she was doing and why and all that but just dropping him in the lobby of the hotel?  I mean, that’s messed up.  I wouldn’t leave my dog with a stranger, let alone a kid.”

            “She knew who Chris was.”

            “Yeah but she didn’t know him.  It’s not like we’d publicly announce that Chris was a child abuser or anything.  He could be this drunk druggie who got off on hurting kids in his spare time but because our PR team portrayed him as this clean cut nice guy she thought she knew him.”

            “Chris is – “

            “No I know Chris isn’t a child abuser.  Shit he’s better with Kyle than I am.  I’m just saying, she had no idea.  Hell she had no idea if I was a druggie or whatever.  That’s just stupid.”

            “I’m not gonna sit here and argue with you about this Jace.”

            “Because I’m right.”  JC sighed.

            “Because it’s not worth the fight.”  Sean raised his eyebrow.  “I just wanted you to be aware that the media was sniffing around wondering who this illusive mother is.”

            JC was silent for a minute,  “You think I should work with her on this?”  Sean didn’t answer him, he just reached into his briefcase for his glasses,  “You think I should wipe her slate clean and start from scratch?  Arrange some kind of joint custody thing?  Bend over backwards to accommodate her?”

            “I think you need to work with her JC.  She’s going to be in your life from now on and it would be better if you didn’t hate each other.”

            “I don’t hate her.”  JC wasn’t going to convince anyone with that tone.

            “You know what I mean.”

            “She didn’t accommodate me for the first two years.”  JC pointed out.

            “She made a mistake.”

            “So maybe this is a mistake.  This will be my mistake then.  She’s had hers, let me have mine.”

            “Two wrongs don’t make a right.”

            “No, but it might make me feel better.”  JC uttered under his breath.

            “This isn’t about you anymore JC.  It’s about Kyle.”  Sean pointed out.

            “He’s the only one I’m thinking about here.  She can’t handle him?  Fine.  I will.”  JC stood up and opened the door of the tiny office.  “Thanks for letting me know.  I’ll be sure to keep my trap shut.”  He let the door slam behind him as he stomped down the hall to collect Kyle.

            JC thanked Les and took Kyle down to their new room,  “Anano boo?”

            “Hmm?”  JC asked distractedly as he dropped Kyle’s bag on the bed.

            “Anano boo.”

            “Ana – what?”  JC gave Kyle a look then fell across the bed so he was eye to eye with Kyle as he stood by the door.

            “Boo.”  Kyle patted the bedspread.

            “Oh blue?”  JC tilted his head to the side and looked at the blue and beige room.

            “Yeah anano.”

            “I don’t know what you mean buddy.”

            “Kay.”  Kyle sighed and laid his head on the bed by JC’s.  “We sim?”

            “We can’t go swimming right now, no.  We need to go get some lunch then go to the venue.  You get to hang out with us there tonight, is that cool?”

            “Cool.”  Kyle nodded.

            “I’m sorry this sucks for you.”  JC sighed and rested his chin in his hand.  “Just wait till we get home, we’re going to have so much fun.  You’re going to have your own room and a play set thing in the backyard and all kinds of fun stuff.”

            “Go sopin.”

            “Yep, you’ll be able to go to shopping with me and everything.” JC smiled.  “Only a couple more days.”

            “Kay.”  Kyle nodded as if he understood.

            “Why don’t I go get a bath started and you can take a bubble bath, how does that sound?”  JC asked as he looked at his watch.  It was a little after ten in the morning, they had a few hours to kill.

            “You too?”

            “You want me in the bath too?  I don’t think so.”  JC shook his head as he pushed himself up from the bed.

            “Pay bubbles?”

            “I’ll play with the bubbles with you, you bet.”  JC nodded.  “But I’m not getting in there with you.”   He laughed and went into the bathroom to start the water.

            JC poured in more bubbles than necessary and plopped Kyle down in the middle of them.  They threw bubbles at each other and made designs on the tub walls, then JC gave Kyle a big clown hair-do with bubbles.  “You’re a goof.”

            “No you!”  Kyle laughed. 

            “You should see yourself, you’ve got bubble hair out to here.”  JC laughed at the sight as he held his hands out to show how big Kyle’s bubble hair was.

            “I see?”

            “Sure, hang on.”  JC stood up and carefully grabbed Kyle under his slippery shoulders.  He lifted him high enough to see his reflection in the mirror.

            “Is silly!”  Kyle laughed and reached to touch his bubble hair.  “Boing!”

            “Yeah.”  JC chuckled under his breath.  “Your hair is going boing.”

            “An you?”

            “My hair does not go boing.”  JC smiled and shook his head as he sat Kyle back in the tub.

            “Yes.”  Kyle sighed.  “It boing.”

            “Okay that’s about enough fooling around.”  JC changed the subject,  “We’ve gotta get ready to go, I’ve got a show to do.”  He used a big cup and rinsed as many bubbles as he could off of Kyle then flipped the switch to let the tub drain,  “Do you want to wear your Raiders sweatshirt tonight?  Or the one with the big pocket?”

            “Raids.”  Kyle yawned as JC wrapped him in a towel and carried him to the other room.

            “Good choice.”  JC pulled Kyle’s clothes out of the little suitcase and looked around for his sneakers.  “Where are your shoes?”


            “No your black and white ones?”

            “Doe no.”  Kyle shrugged.

            “Those don’t match.”

            “Is shoe.”  Kyle said as he swung the red and blue shoe by the shoelaces.

            “Yeah it’s a shoe but it doesn’t match what you’re wearing.”  JC tried to explain, then he looked at his son walking around the room naked with shoes dangling from his hands, doing a funky little dance as the towel he was covered in fell to the floor.  “Then again I guess it doesn’t really matter if your shoes match, huh?  You’re two.”

            “I two.”  Kyle nodded.

            “Right.  Maybe when you get old like me you’ll care if your shoes match.”  JC laughed.  “Come on, let’s get you dressed.”


            He got Kyle dressed and packed up to go, then met up with the others to go out to the buses.  They had an hour to get to the venue to do their sound checks and meet and greet.  Kyle was going to have to hang out backstage for the show while Jessica fielded calls from designers and helped coordinate colors with other presenters at several awards shows that they would be presenting at in the next year.

            JC frowned and kept his head down as they walked through the lobby and out to the circular driveway.  “Daddy bus?”

            “Yep, we get to ride the bus.”  JC nodded and kept his eyes on the bus door so he could try to block out the crowd around him.

            “JC!  Is it true that Kyle’s mother is seeking custody?”  A reporter asked as he stepped off the red curb toward the awaiting bus.

            Any other time JC would have brushed by and pretended he hadn’t heard the question, but for that one he stopped and surprised his security team.  “Hey Chris?  Take him up?”  He handed Kyle to Chris as he passed and turned to look at the reporters,  “I can’t comment for Kyle’s mother, but as of right now he will remain in my care, or under the supervision of his current caregiver on tour with us.”

            “Are you saying that there are legal proceedings in the works?”

            “Not that I know of.”  JC shook his head as his heart skipped a beat.  “This is a personal and private matter and I would appreciate it if you let us sort this out on our own.  I wouldn’t come to your work asking you about your personal life.  I’d appreciate the same respect. Thank you.”  Without giving them the time to respond, JC turned and hopped onto the bus with Lance only a step behind.


            The guys played their show at the Arrowhead Pond as Kyle watched from the sidelines with his tiny earplugs in place.  Jessica stood with him and danced with him just out of the audience’s view, but where the guys could easily see if the stepped back far enough.  Between songs when they would disappear from stage they would make a point to run by on their way on or off the stage, depending on their exit, and say hi.

            Kyle was wired during the show and clapped wildly each time the fireworks went off or the guys flew over the audience.  “Wow!”  He shouted with every new effect he saw.  “I go?”  Kyle pointed toward the stage.

            “No.”  Jessica shook her head.  “You can go tomorrow during the day.”  She shouted to be heard over the screams.  Kyle nodded and turned his attention back to the stage as he laughed and bounced in Jessica’s arms. 


            When the show was over they were hustled immediately back to the hotel to get ready for the drive the next morning.  Jessica went to her room after a quick goodnight to Kyle in the hall as he slept in JC’s arms.  “I’ll see you tomorrow.”  She said softly.

            “G’night Jess.”  JC whispered as Kyle squirmed in his arms.  “See ya.”  He waved with his free hand and let himself into his room.

            Jessica yawned, but didn’t dare to look at the clock as she fell onto her bed.  She knew it was late, and she knew that five thirty was going to come faster than she wanted.  Jessica tossed her room key and badges toward the table, then fell asleep in her clothes on top of her blankets, saving her a few precious minutes in the morning.




            They spent the night in Anaheim then left early the next morning for San Diego.  JC kept his cell phone on and within reach constantly, still just waiting to hear from Lori.  He decided that if he hadn’t heard from her by that night, he’d swallow his pride, bite his tongue and call her himself.

            Kyle tagged along with the guys through their appearances in San Diego, including a stop at a radio station and a visit to the local Children’s Hospital.  While they were at the hospital Kyle stayed in the lobby with two of the security guards, JC didn’t want to take any chances with Kyle’s health and certainly didn’t want him to freak out if he saw a doctor.

            “I see no.”  Kyle shook his head as JC picked him up from the hard plastic chair on their way out the door.  The security team escorted them out to awaiting vans to take them to lunch downtown.

            “You see no what?”

            “No doc.”

            “No doctors?”  JC asked.

            “Yeah.”  Kyle sighed as JC strapped him into his seat.

            “Nope, you’re one healthy little boy.”   JC smiled and sat back in his seat as they left the parking lot.  “Healthy kids don’t usually have to see the doctor.”

            “No lie.”

            “You don’t like the doctors?”

            “No.”  Kyle shook his head.

            “The doctors made you better though.  Doctors are important, they make sure that you feel better when you hurt yourself.”

            “Ow ina hand.”  Kyle clasped his hands in front of him.

            “They had to give you medicine that way to make you all better.”  JC tried to explain.

            “Doctors are cool.”  Chris nodded from the front seat.  He leaned back and looked at Kyle,  “Doctors rule.”

            “No, ow.”

            “If they didn’t give you a shot then you might get really really sick.”  Chris sighed and pursed his lips.  “If you got sick you couldn’t see Lello or Justin or me or daddy any more.”

            Kyle pondered that for a minute,  “I sick?”

            “No, you’re not sick.  But if you get sick then the doctors can make you better.”

            “I betto see Lello?”

            “If you’re better you can see Lello, yep.”  Chris nodded.

            “An Jussin?”

            “Yep.”  JC patted his arm.

            “An sink?”

            JC and Chris laughed,  “Yeah, if you’re better you can see Nsync.”  JC rubbed his hand over Kyle’s hair.

            “An mommy?”  Kyle asked a minute later.

            Chris raised his eyebrows and turned around in his seat, he didn’t even want to start that line of conversation.  JC cleared his throat quickly,  “Y-yeah.  The doctors make you better so you can see m-mommy too.”

            “I see now?”

            “You want to see her now?”  JC asked softly.

            “Yeah.”  Kyle nodded and reached down to pull at his shoes.  “Off?”

            “No you have to leave your shoes on.  We’re going to get out here in a minute.”  JC said as he pulled Kyle’s hand back.  “You can’t see your mommy right now, she’s not here.  But uh, but I’ll call her later, okay?”

            “Kay.”  Kyle nodded and looked out the window.  “A truck!”  He pointed at a huge eighteen-wheeler, his mom forgotten for the moment.

            “You’re gonna call her?”  Chris asked softly.

            “I haven’t heard from her since LA.  If she doesn’t call by the time we have to go to the venue I’m going to call to see what’s going on.”

            “You’re asking for trouble.”  Chris shook his head.

            “I’m doing what’s right.  Whether I like it or not.”  JC shrugged.  He only had to convince himself of that.




            By three that afternoon, Lori still hadn’t called and they had to be downstairs in twenty minutes.  JC watched intently as Kyle made his T-Rex growl and claw his way up the side of the couch as he held his phone in his hand.  He didn’t want to call her but he knew he had to.  He had to be the grown up in this situation and show her that he was going to work with her no matter what.  If she wasn’t going to take the initiative, then he would.

            JC dialed her number before he could change his mind and sighed as he listened to it ring once.  “Yeah, hello?”  A girl answered gruffly.  She didn’t sound like Lori and JC debated hanging up in her ear.

            “Uh hi, is Lori there?”  JC asked softly.

            “Speak up man, I can’t hear you.”  The girl said.

            “Is Lori there?”  JC repeated, a little louder.

            “No she’s not here.”

            “Okay, can you have her call me?  This is – “

            “Yeah I’ll tell her to call, she has your number right?”  She cut him off.

            “Y-yeah she has my number, this – “  JC started to identify himself again, but was cut off as she hung up the phone.

            “Nice.”  JC sighed and rolled his eyes.  “Okay Kyle, let’s get your stuff together.”

            “I go?”

            “Yep, we’re going.”

            “Go see?”

            “We’re going to go see Jessica.”


            “Yep, again.”  He nodded.  “She has your fuzzy blanket thing.”


            “Then we’re uh… we’ll go to the show.”

            “I say?”

            “Nope, you can go.”  JC dropped a few cars into Kyle’s backpack as well as two clean diapers and wipes.

            “No, I say.  An Jessi.”

            “I don’t think Jessica is staying, I think she’s going to the show too.”  JC shook his head.  “And besides, you always stay with Jessica, I think you’ll have fun at the show.”

            “No.”  Kyle shook his head and smiled up at JC,  “I say an seep.”

            JC laughed,  “We’ll see.”

            “See.”  Kyle nodded.  “We go.”  He headed for the door as JC laughed.  Kyle was talking so much more and compared to even just a few weeks before, he was so much surer of himself.

            “Okay then.”  JC smiled and picked up the backpack then took Kyle’s hand.  “Lead the way kiddo.”

            They walked down to Jessica’s room to collect his blanket before they went to the show.  Kyle knocked softly from knee height, while JC knocked louder and higher.  “Hey guys, come on in.  I’m right in the middle of sorting this stuff out.”  Jessica held the door open as they walked in, then went back to her bed where there were three piles of clothes.

            “What are those?”

            “Yes, no and maybe.”  She indicated each pile.  “It’s stuff for those two awards shows you’ll be doing on your break.  Which kind of denotes the whole purpose of the break, but whatever.”

            “Ahh, okay.  Need some help?”  JC asked.

            “Nope, I’ve got it.”  Jessica smiled and brushed her hair behind her ear.  JC followed Kyle over to the window where the little boy was pressing his face against the glass.

            “I tall.”

            “Yep, you look pretty tall up here, huh?”  JC asked softly.  “Hey, well I don’t want to keep you from this really exciting looking work…”  He laughed easily,  “We just need to get Kyle’s blanket, and I think he left it here.”

            “Yep.  It’s right over there on top of my suitcase.”  Jessica nodded toward the closet.  “I was going to send it along with one of the crew guys.”

            “You’re not going tonight?”

            “To the venue?  No.”  She shook her head.  “I was there earlier and everything set up and ready to go.  I have to finish sorting these clothes then I’ve got some serious infomercial watching time coming to me.”

            “Ooh man that sounds like a ton of fun.”  JC smiled broadly.

            “Do you want to leave Kyle with me tonight?”

            JC stared out the window for another second before he turned to face her,  “Would you?”

            “Sure.”  She said softly.

            “He asked if he could stay with you, you know?”

            “He did?”

            “Yeah, I told him he was going to come hang out at the show and he was all,  ‘No, I stay with Jessi’, it was cute.”

            “That’s cool.”  Jessica blushed quickly and looked over at Kyle.

            “But hey, I know that the last couple shows are just a bunch of parties and stuff, if you want to go just let me know…”  He shifted his weight from one foot to the other.

            “No, I’m not a big party animal.”  Jessica scrunched her nose at the thought.

            “I just don’t think I’d be able to keep an eye on him very well and… and it goes kind of late and stuff.”

            “It’s okay.”

            “But I mean, that’s what being a parent is all about right?  Making sacrifices?  Coming home early?  Not going to parties?”

            “Yeah.”  She shrugged; realizing that’s what she had been doing for the past four months.

            “I’ll be back as soon as the show is over.”  JC said quickly.  “I uh… I haven’t heard from Lori since we were in LA and I kind of…”  He sighed.  “I mean, not that I want to hear from her, but at the same time it kind of worries me you know?  I’d feel better if I knew where she was or what she was thinking.  I don’t want her to think she can just drop in every couple months to say hi.”

            “Have you tried calling her?”  Jessica bit the inside of her cheek as the words left her mouth.

            “Yeah, some other girl answered and I guess took a message, but she didn’t get my name, so...”  JC shrugged and sighed deeply.  “She called the press you know?”

            “She did what?”

            “Lori?  She called the press.”

            “You’re kidding.”

            “You’ve seen how nuts they’ve been over the last couple days right?”

            “Well I just thought that was because the tour was… she really went to the press?”

“How else did they find out that his mom had shown up again?  That’s why they’re trying to get more pictures, they’re speculating about almost everyone who walks into the hotel, ‘Is that Kyle’s mom?’ it’s sick, really.”


            “Yeah, which is just another reason why I don’t want him out and about.  Man this is going to suck for him.”

            “Well, you can’t keep him cooped up forever.”

            “Why not?”  JC laughed.

            “Because that would be child abuse.”  Jessica smiled,  “You’d better get going.”


            “I’ll see you after the show.”

            “Right after.”

            “Take your time.  We’ll have a little party of our own right here.”  Jessica looked across the room to where Kyle and Elmo were laying on the bed reading a book together.

            “Thanks.”  JC smiled and cast one last glance at Kyle,  “Bye.”  He ducked out the door quickly, before he could convince himself to stay any longer.

            It was getting harder and harder for JC to leave Kyle, even if It was only for a couple hours.  He trusted Kyle with Jessica more than anyone else, but he still felt like he should be the one taking care of his son.  He just wanted to get through the next two shows and get back home to Florida where he and Kyle could get into the normal lifestyle and spend quality time together.




            Lance’s girlfriend Amy arrived at the venue more than halfway through the show and wandered around the backstage area looking for Kyle and Jessica.  No one seemed to know where they were they were so she made herself comfortable in the wings and watched the show from there.

            When the show was over Lance was the first out of the dressing room,  “Hey you.”  He walked up to Amy and threw his arms around her.  “Let’s get out of here before the traffic is nuts.”

            “The traffic will already be nuts.”

            “Nope, the lights are still down, we’ve got about two more minutes.”  Lance laughed and pulled her hand as they ran for the exit.

            “So how come Jessica isn’t here with Kyle?  I’ve looked all over for them.”  Amy said as she and Lance slid into the backseat of the van to go back to the hotel.

            “Um, Kyle’s mom showed up the other day and the media has gone ballistic.”

            “How’d the press find out?  I mean, he’s kept this whole thing pretty quiet.”  Amy frowned.

            “Yeah, I’ll give you two guesses how they found out.”  He rolled his eyes.

            “She did not.”  Amy shook her head in disbelief.  “You’ve got to be kidding.  That girl took it to the media?”

            “Yep.”  Lance nodded.  “Well, no.  I can’t say that.  I mean, we don’t know for sure.  She hasn’t said anything about it or anything, but somehow or another it was leaked that Kyle’s mom has danced back into the picture.”

            “Jesus.”   She shook her head,  “What’s JC say about this?”

            “He’s been amazingly calm believe it or not.”  Lance smiled,  “All he said was that Kyle would have to stay indoors for a little while until things settled down.”

            “I’d be livid.”

            “He is livid.  Deep inside I know he’s about ready to blow his top… but really Ames, you should have seen him in action.  It was awesome.”  Lance shook his head and laughed lightly,  “He was all, ‘I have no comment about that at this time, and my son will remain under constant care and supervision of either myself or his current care giver.’  It was smooth.”



            “How’s Jessica taking it?”

            “Jess is uh… well, she’s fine I guess.”  He shrugged.  “She’s being quiet about it but she has a harder time hiding her true feelings I think.”

            “Yeah I’ll bet.”  Amy smiled as one of the security guards slid the door shut and they headed back to the hotel.  “We’ll definitely have to spend the day at the spa tomorrow.”

            “All day?”  Lance whined softly.

            “Not all day, but a good portion.  She needs to vent and talk girl talk.”  Amy laughed,  “Trust me, you’ll be better off.”

            “Okay.”  Lance sighed.  “I guess I’ve just volunteered to watch Kyle huh?”

            “Why?  Where’s JC going?”  Amy asked.

            “He’s meeting with our PR people and management and lawyers and stuff.”


            “It’s just a precautionary thing you know.  Now that Kyle’s mom is around that opens up a whole bunch or doors and stuff.  I mean, there’s custody and visitation and criminal charges… all that.  He just wants to make sure he’s covering his own butt, you know?”

            “Yeah that’s just scary though.”

            “Yep.”  Lance yawned and rested his head on Amy’s shoulder.  “But I’m sure you’ll hear all about it tomorrow at the spa while you get your feet waxed or whatever.”

            “Feet waxing huh?”  Amy laughed.  “You wouldn’t make a very good girl.”

            “Good.”  Lance smiled and kissed her quickly.  “Because when we have kids I want to be the one supporting you.  You handle stuff like that better than I do.”

            Amy froze for a second then nodded slightly,  “Yeah.”  She managed as they pulled onto the freeway.

            They rode the rest of the way in silence, and didn’t say another word until they were in their room at the hotel, but by then Lance was off on a side topic and talking passionately about a new artist he was going to check out on their break from the tour.




            The wake up call rang through Jessica’s room at eight fifteen in the morning and she grudgingly rolled out of her warm bed.  She pulled the curtains aside to let in the sun then hobbled to the bathroom to take a shower and wake up a little more.  She washed quickly, then dried and dressed herself before throwing her hair into a loose ponytail.

            When JC picked Kyle up the night before, he asked if she could watch him the whole day and she of course said yes.  He looked like he was dreading whatever it was he had to do so the least she could do was watch Kyle, that would be one less thing for him to worry about.  She checked her watch as she brushed her teeth and picked up the pace a bit; he would be there at any minute.


            Jessica looked her room over to be sure she had picked up anything breakable or hazardous to a two year old.  Her irons and spray starches were put away, the new clothes were on racks and her own stuff was packed up in her suitcase in the closet.

            JC knocked on the door as she was checking the sliding glass door to make sure it was locked.  Kyle had found out how to open them if they weren’t locked, and she didn’t feel like having a heart attack that afternoon.

            “Hi guys!”  She said cheerfully as she opened the door.

            “Hi!”  Kyle screeched as he wiggled to get out of JC’s arms.  Kyle ran over to Jessica and quickly squeezed her knees, then went immediately for the sliding glass door.  He pulled the curtains back and reached for the handle.

            “It’s locked.”  Jessica said softly as JC made a move to intercept Kyle’s hand.  “He can’t get it open.”

            “Man, I don’t know when he started that but I almost died when I saw him out on the balcony the other night.”  He shook his head.

            “Two year olds are smarter than we give them credit for.”  Jessica laughed.

            “Heck yeah they are.”  JC smiled and ran his hands through his hair.  “I’m sorry to keep dumping him on you.”

            “It’s okay.”  She nodded and watched Kyle place his hands flat on the glass door to try to slide it open.  She was getting used to having Kyle every day, so it didn’t feel like such a chore.

            “I’ll make it up to you one of these days, I promise.  As soon as I get all my crap in order.”

            “I’ll remember that.”  Jessica laughed and looked at JC closely,  “What are you doing today?  You’re all dressed up.”

            “I’m not dressed up.”

            “Your shirt has buttons and you’re not wearing sneakers.  You’re dressed up.”

            “I’m meeting with some lawyers today.”

            “What?  Why?”

            “Just to uh… you know, to talk about how this is going to work.”  JC nodded at Kyle.  “I’m also meeting with our publicist, the management team and all kinds of people.  It’s going to be a long day.”

            “Sounds like it.”  Jessica nodded.  “You look weird.”  She creased her brow as she looked closely.

            “I’m nervous.”  He gave a short laugh,  “This is new for me.”

            “I don’t think I’ve ever seen you nervous before.”  Jessica smiled and tilted her head.    “Nope, probably not.”  JC quickly turned his wrist to check the time,  “I’ve uh… I’ve got to go.”

            “All righty, say bye Kyle.”

            “Bye daddy.”

            “See you later tough guy.”  JC smiled and kissed Kyle’s cheek before ducking out the door.

            Kyle sighed and looked up at Jessica as the door slammed shut,  “Daddy go.”

            “Yep, he’ll be back later though.  We’re going to hang out today, does that sound like fun?”  Jessica asked.  She knew he had to be getting tired of playing in a hotel room with her.  He needed other kids to play with, and not just childish adults, he needed other two and three year olds to interact with.

            “Yeah.”  Kyle nodded.  “Is fun.”


            “Ona bus?”

            “You want to go to the bus?”

            “No.”  Kyle shook his head and sighed again as he dropped to the floor to open his backpack.

            “We’ll have to find something new for us to do today.”  Jessica sat on the floor across from him and pulled some matchbox cars out of his backpack.

            “Lello get agator.”  Kyle picked up his floppy dog and walked to the far end of the room.

            “Oh of course!   Lello can help us find more alligators, that’s a great idea buddy.”  Jessica smiled as the phone behind her rang,  “Oops, hang on.”  She scooted over to the nightstand and lifted the phone off the receiver,  “Hello?”

            “Miss Jessica!”  Amy sang into the phone.

            “Hey you!  You’re here!”  Jessica laughed,  “No no sweetie, Lello doesn’t use the people toilet, he uses the puppy box.”  Jessica said to Kyle just before he dunked his dog in the bowl.

            “Yep, I’m here and Lance told me that you owe me.”

            “I owe you huh?”

            “A day at the spa?  Something like that?”

            “Oh yeah.”  Jessica cringed as she watched Kyle slam the lid to the toilet shut.  “Hey buddy, out of the bathroom, come on.”  She shook her head and waved for Kyle to come out.

            “I pay.”  Kyle frowned.

            “Not in the bathroom, no.”  Jessica shook her head.  “Here check it out, I got some new key chains for your backpack.”  She tossed two plastic key chains on the bed by his bag and smiled.  “Sorry.”  She sighed into the phone.

            “It’s okay.”  Amy laughed lightly.  “So what do you say?  Let’s go get pampered.”

            “I’ve got Kyle…”  Jessica made a face and tried not to think about the mud mask and massage she’d be missing.

            “So Lance will watch him.”  Amy shrugged as she rested the phone between her shoulder and ear.  “Won’t you babe?”


            “You’ll watch Kyle so Jessica and I can go get spoiled downstairs at the day spa?”  She threw him a glance that said that the correct answer would be ‘yes’.

            “Sure thing.”  He nodded.

            “See?  Lance will watch him.  Come on, we’ve got an appointment in a half hour.  Bring Kyle down now so they can get things situated then we can go.”

            “Are you sure its okay?”

            “It’s fine.”  Amy nodded.   “Cruise over.”

            “All right, we’ll be down in a minute.  I need to get his bag ready.”  Jessica sighed.

            “Cool, see you in a few.”

            “Bye.”  Jessica hung up and looked at Kyle,  “Okay buddy, let’s get your things and pack them up.”

            “We go bye?”

            “Yeah, we’re going to Lance’s room.”


            “No, I don’t know where Joey is.  Lance is going to watch you.”

            “Kay.”  Kyle grabbed Elmo off the bed and walked to the door, he knew the routine.

            “It’ll only be for a little while, then I’ll be back, okay?”

            “And daddy?”

            “Daddy will be back after we eat dinner tonight.”  Jessica nodded.  “He’s working really hard today.”

            “He wok?”



            “He’s working so that he can do a show tomorrow then go home to Florida on Monday.”

            “And me?”

            “Yeah, you’ll get to go with him.”

            “And you?”

            Jessica paused as they stepped out into the hall.  “No, I’m not going to Florida.”

            “Go home?”

            “I’m going to my home, yep.  I live in Connecticut.”

            “Oh.”  Kyle sighed and scratched his ear.  “I see?”

            “You want to see where I live?”


            “Hmm, maybe one day I can show you my apartment.  It’s pretty cool.”  Jessica smiled as they walked down the opposite hall in search of Lance’s room.

            “Cool.”  Kyle nodded and stopped to adjust Elmo in his arms.

            “Here we go.”  Jessica knocked on the door and stood back to wait as she heard Lance run toward the door.

            “Hey guys.”  He smiled as he pulled the door open.  Jessica followed Kyle into the room and stopped just inside the door.

            “Lance is going to hang out with you for a while, okay?”  Jessica asked as Kyle reached for her hand.

            “Kay.”  Kyle smiled and kicked at the leg of the chair beside him.

            “I bet Lance will get some good food for lunch, maybe even pizza.”

            “Go ouside?”

            “You guys can go out on the balcony, sure.”  Jessica nodded as Lance stood off to the side tying his shoes.

            “An eat?”

            “You’ll have to see if Lance wants to eat outside.”  Jessica nodded.

            “Kay.”  Kyle sighed and looked up at Lance,  “A nap?”

            “What?”  Lance looked from Kyle to Jessica.

            “He wants to know about a nap.”  Jessica smiled.

            “Does he need one?”


            “Okay, when?”  He asked.

            “Whenever he gets tired, usually right after lunch.”

            “Okay.”  Lance nodded.  “And he wants pizza for lunch?”

            “You can pretty much get whatever you want.  He’s like a little vacuum cleaner, he eats just about anything.”

            “So he’s like Joey only shorter?”

            “Exactly.”  Jessica laughed as Amy stepped out of the bathroom.

            “Hi Kyle!”  Amy exclaimed as she knelt in front of him.  “I bet you don’t remember me, do you?”  Kyle shook his head shyly and wrapped his arm around Jessica’s legs.  “My name is Amy, I’m Lance’s friend.”

            “Hi.”  He said softly.

            “Hi.”  She laughed.  “Hey you know what?  If you brought a book in that bag of yours, I’ll bet Lance will read it to you.”  She said softly.

            “I have.”

            “You have a book?”


            “Very cool.”  Amy stood up and looked at Jessica,  “So, are you ready to go?”

            “Yep, are you guys going to be okay here?”  Jessica looked at Lance who actually looked unsure.

            “Yeah, we’ll be cool.”  Lance gave a small nod.

            “You’ve done this before hun.”  Amy smiled to reassure him.

            “I know.”  Lance laughed and extended his hand to Kyle,  “Come on bud, I heard your little red doll thingy here laughs or something?”

            “He tako.”  Kyle smiled and took Lance’s hand while he carried Elmo in the other.

            “Sweet, this I’ve got to see.”  He waved over his shoulder as he and Kyle headed for the big recliner chair.

            “Let’s leave while we can.”  Amy pulled Jessica’s hand and they left the room together.

            “Ugh, I don’t know about you, but I could definitely use a full treatment today.”  Jessica took a deep breath as she leaned against the wall to wait for an elevator.

            “I think we can manage that.”  Amy smiled.  “I made an appointment to have a one hour full body massage and a deep cleansing facial.”

            “Have I mentioned that I love you yet?”  Jessica pretended to sob with happiness.

            “You really look like you could use it.”

            “Thanks… I think.”  Jessica gave her a look as they climbed onto the elevator.  “This whole last week has passed in a blur.  I mean, it’s the last week so it’s more hectic than any other week to start with, but with Kyle here it’s just a little more nuts, then…”  Jessica sighed.  “This week has just been crazy.  I need some wine and a massage before I can talk about it.”  She laughed as they stepped off the elevator on the top floor and into the sky lighted hall.

            “This is gorgeous.”  Amy looked around in awe.  “I could get used to this.”

            “Me too.”  Jessica said under her breath as they walked to the reception desk.  Amy signed them in for their appointment then sat beside Jessica on the mossy green leather couch.  They only waited a few minutes before they were taken back to the changing rooms and given a soft, thick robe and a glass of wine to sip while they waited for their masseurs to arrive.

            They arrived after each girl had finished her wine and they got to work preparing the massage tables side by side as well as setting the mood with light music in the background.

            “Okay, spill it.”  Amy said as she and Jessica lay on tables side by side.  Their masseuses stood beside the tables and lowered their towels to massage their backs in unison.

            Jessica sighed,  “Well, as you know Lori came back.”  Just saying her name brought a foul taste to Jessica’s mouth.  “She showed up out of nowhere at the show the other night and now all of a sudden she wants to see Kyle.”

            “Lovely.”  Amy rolled her eyes as she rested her cheek on her arms.  “Did she give any kind of explanation for leaving him?”

            “Not to me.”  Jessica grumbled.  “I did tell her that JC and I are dating though.”

            “You what?”  Amy laughed as her eyes flew open.

            “Well she was just so cocky.  I swear it was either slap her or say that, which actually probably had the same effect.”  Jessica sighed and let her eyes close as the muscles in her back relaxed.  “Then of course I had to tell JC that I told her that, and he was just all ‘why’d you tell her that?’, but then when she came to visit Kyle I ran into them in the hallway and he kissed me kind of.”

            “He kissed you?  Kind of?”

            “Yeah, and he said to play along.  So I guess he wants Lori to think we’re dating too now.  I mean… obviously he does.”  Jessica sighed.  “I haven’t really talked to him about that yet though… I don’t know, I mean I guess it’s not really my business.”

            “Except that you’ve raised her kid for the last couple months.”

            “Well yeah…”

            “I think you have a right to know just as much as anyone.”

            “It’s between her and JC.”  Jessica sighed.  “I just wish he’d share it with me just to share it you know… not because I need to know but because he thought I’d like to know.”

            “You could always ask him.”  Amy pointed out.

            “Yeah… I could.”  Jessica frowned.  “Maybe I will.”

            “How’s Kyle’s handling it?”

            “Kyle’s great.  I mean, I don’t see a difference at all.”

            “Has he said anything to you about his mom?”

            “Nope.”  Jessica shook her head slightly.  “He just said ‘I see mommy’ then it was right back to playing with Tickle-Me-Elmo.”

            “I wonder how he took it.  Seeing her again after all this time I mean.”

            “I don’t know.”  Jessica continued to frown.  “So far it’s only been that once though, like three days ago.  But get this… she was late.”


            “She was supposed to be there at eleven for an hour long visit and she came rolling in around noon.” 

            “Jesus.”  Amy said under her breath.  “Is she serious?”

            “Who knows?  That just goes to show how committed she is though, I mean, she hasn’t seen her son in four months and when she finally gets the chance she shows up an hour late?   And she hasn’t called JC since the meeting either.  That’s messed up.”

            “Yeah it is.”

            “Ugh, I just want to take him and run away to Mexico or something.”  Jessica grumbled.

            “Ooo, take me with you.”  Amy laughed.

            “He’s meeting with his lawyers today, did you know that?”

            “Yeah, that’s what Lance said.”

            “He’s scared out of his mind.”  Jessica said softly.  “You should have seen him this morning, I mean really.  He’s completely torn over this, and nothings even happened really.”

            “Is he going to talk to Lori about it?”

            “I don’t know.”  Jessica sighed.  “He hasn’t said anything to me about her.”

            “Well maybe they’ll talk and work things out between themselves, all this lawyer talk might be pointless.”

            “Yeah but the fact that he has to talk to them at all give him the shakes.   There’s no way he could give up Kyle now.”

            “Of course not.”

            “Ugh… forget it.  Let’s talk about something else.  This just makes me tense and I don’t need any more of that.”  Jessica frowned deeply and took a deep breath. 

            They lay in silence for a few minutes before Amy opened her eyes and looked at Jessica,  “Lance mentioned kids last night.”


            “Yeah.  As in his and mine.  Ours.  He mentioned our kids.”

            “Are you serious?”  Jessica almost sat up straight.

            “And it kinda freaked me out.  What does that mean?”

            “That you’re smart and not ready for kids yet.”  Jessica laughed.  “Being around Kyle all the time has taught me one thing.  While I adore him and he’s the best possible kid, there’s no way I could be a real mom right now.”

            “Oh God, me either.”  Amy sighed.  “But I don’t think that’s what he meant.  Or what I meant, I mean… I know he didn’t mean the kids we’d have right away, but just the fact that he’s thought that far ahead you know?”

            “Haven’t you?”

            “Well yeah, of course.  I’ve day dreamed like any normal girl.”  Amy smiled like a teenager in love.  “But still…”

            “So how long have you guys been together now?”

            “Total?  About three years.  About two before… when we were in high school kind of a the beginning of this whole Nsync thing.”  Amy laughed lightly,  “Then two years off while he went out and made it big and we were just friends.  We’ve been dating now for more than a year.  Since right before No Strings came out.”

            “So maybe he’s thinking about more?”

            “Oh man…”  Amy closed her eyes.  “I can’t think about that right now, I’ll get all fluttery in my stomach and nervous.”

            “Okay.”  Jessica laughed.  They were there to relax and have a good time,  “So what are you guys doing next week?”

            “We’re going to Florida for a couple days, then to Mississippi for a week or so.”

            “To see his family?”

            “Yeah.”  Amy sighed.  “They’re like the perfect family.  Like a Norman Rockwell painting, it’s amazing that Lance turned out so normal.  I know if my parents had been that perfect cookie cutter type, I’d have gone bananas.”  She laughed and let the masseuse melt away the tension in her shoulders.  “What about you?”

            “I’ve got a few glorious weeks of doing absolutely nothing.”  Jessica yawned though she wasn’t tired.  “My room mates will pick my brain for the first week or so, then it’ll be back to late night munchie parties, bike rides, movies.  Man, I love being normal.”

            Amy laughed and nodded in agreement, they were lucky that they could go back to being normal at the end of the day.  “How do you think Lance is doing with Kyle?”  Amy asked as they left the massage room an hour later on their way to get facials.

            Jessica laughed,  “There’s not a doubt in my mind that Kyle has Lance wrapped around his tiny little finger.”

            “Oh definitely.  Lance is such a softy.”  Amy shook her head and held the door open for Jessica.  “I’ll bet he’s teaching Kyle the fine art of bird watching or something thought provoking like that.”

            Jessica shook her head and smiled,  “Lance is in for a big surprise.”  With that, the girls forgot all about Lance and Kyle and headed into the next phase of their day at the spa.





Copyright � 2001, Amy Lynn